Alfred Hitchcock and the Jesuit

Sunday, August 14, AD 2016

(Yesterday was the 117th birthday of Alfred Hitchcock.  That gives me an excuse to rerun this post from 2012 with new video attachments.)



When I was a kid I loved watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents, known in its last four years as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.  His sardonic wit and macabre sense of humor I found vastly appealing and no doubt had an impact on my own developing sense of humor.  Hitchcock was a Catholic, although some have claimed that he became estranged from the Faith later in life.  Father Mark Henninger in The Wall Street Journal relates his own encounter with Hitchcock shortly before his death.

At the time, I was a graduate student in philosophy at UCLA, and I was (and remain) a Jesuit priest. A fellow priest, Tom Sullivan, who knew Hitchcock, said one Thursday that the next day he was going over to hear Hitchcock’s confession. Tom asked whether on Saturday afternoon I would accompany him to celebrate a Mass in Hitchcock’s house.

I was dumbfounded, but of course said yes. On that Saturday, when we found Hitchcock asleep in the living room, Tom gently shook him. Hitchcock awoke, looked up and kissed Tom’s hand, thanking him.

Tom said, “Hitch, this is Mark Henninger, a young priest from Cleveland.”

“Cleveland?” Hitchcock said. “Disgraceful!”

After we chatted for a while, we all crossed from the living room through a breezeway to his study, and there, with his wife, Alma, we celebrated a quiet Mass. Across from me were the bound volumes of his movie scripts, “The Birds,” “Psycho,” “North by Northwest” and others—a great distraction. Hitchcock had been away from the church for some time, and he answered the responses in Latin the old way. But the most remarkable sight was that after receiving communion, he silently cried, tears rolling down his huge cheeks.

Continue reading...

3 Responses to Alfred Hitchcock and the Jesuit

  • Amen! Alleluia!!
    See Luke 15:7.
    Repent. It is never too late.
    Finally (Thank God!), it would be such gracious articles that convinced me that the Wall Street Journal subscription price was worth the money.

  • “At the end however we are confronted with the stark reality of death and the time for illusion ceases…” I think it would be more appropriate, indeed correct, to say that the time for “self-delusion” not “illusion” ceases.

  • I know that Hitchcock had a well-formed Catholic upbringing in his school years, studying for a time at St Ignatius School (prep) in Stamford Hill, in London. (He had to leave, according to his biographers, about age 15, because his father died and the family was left in tight circumstances.)
    Of course, Jesuit training, especially by the English Jesuits in the then-pre WWI era, was something substantial and to be proud of,…then. That era of spiritual formation apparently stayed with him quite well and brought him home at the end.

Give Them That Old Time Religion: Socialism

Wednesday, June 18, AD 2014


“In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of state, the so-called ‘Welfare State.’ This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoke very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the ‘Social Assistance State.’ Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good. “By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending, In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them who act as neighbors to those in need. It should be added that certain kinds of demands often call for a response which is not simply material but which is capable of perceiving the deeper human need.”

Saint John Paul II, Centissimus Annus





Timothy Cardinal Dolan wrote a mainstream defense of the free market which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 22.  Go here to read it.  His word set off some “Catholic theologians” who believe that the current Pope will allow the Church to go full frontal socialist.  Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report gives us the details:

A number of theologians took aim at Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s defense of free markets and his warning about the dangers of collectivism’s inherent violation of human rights.

Cdl. Dolan wrote, “the answer to problems with the free market is not to reject economic liberty in favor of government control. The church has consistently rejected coercive systems of socialism and collectivism, because they violate inherent human rights to economic freedom and private property. When properly regulated, a free market can certainly foster greater productivity and prosperity.”

Charles J. Reid, Jr., Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas responded in the Huffington Post that Cardinal Timothy Dolan “misunderstands Church teaching on both economics and the role of the state.”

Reid labeled the free market a “sociopathic economy” and said that only “a reinvigorated state would bring to bear in the regulation of the marketplace a set of humane values” and “rebalance the marketplace so as to fairly serve the interests not of capital alone, but of all employees and all interested human beings. “

Joseph A. McCartin, director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University reportedly criticized Cdl. Dolan, saying “It is a shame that the Cardinal seems more interested in making Pope Francis’ statements seem less threatening to free-market-celebrating Americans than he is in applying the Pope’s critique to the American scene as it really exists.”

In the same piece in the National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Drew Christiansen S.J., professor of ethics and global human development at Georgetown University, also had some pointed remarks aimed at Cdl. Dolan. “Cardinal Dolan misses what Pope Francis sees so clearly,” he reportedly said. “The growth of inequality everywhere including the U.S. is a result of American-style capitalism and the financialization of the economy.”

He added pointedly that he believed, “too many well-to-do Catholics prefer getting their economic ethics from the Acton Institute rather than the Vatican.”

John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, reportedly said Dolan’s arguments “provide moral cover to free-market fundamentalists and anti-government zealots who preach a gospel of radical individualism that Catholic teaching rejects. Furthermore, he said “the cardinal veers close to echoing GOP talking points.”

Professor Mark Allman, chair of Religious & Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College, reportedly said Dolan’s piece “reflects a heavily individualistic understanding of morality.” He bemoaned that “there’s no mention of the need for structural change.”

And you wonder why so many kids come out of Catholic colleges as progressives.

Continue reading...

15 Responses to Give Them That Old Time Religion: Socialism

  • Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Quod Apostolici Muneris of 1878, still applies:

    PS, whatever happened to that blog post on the bishops and sex abuse? I was about to read it and then it was gone.

  • Reid’s distinct idea is to double the minimum wage and promote the sort of trade unionism which has made General Motors what it is today.
    Christiansen fancies that ‘no holes barred American Capitalism’ nearly took down the world economy. But the most salient problems concerned the decay of underwriting standards at mortgage lenders (promoted by regulators and by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), the hypertrophy of the secondary mortgage market and the escalating market share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (who benefit from a regulatory matrix they influence through contacts in Congress and in the Democratic Party generally), the merger of deposits-and-loans banking with the capital markets (a phenomenon common in Europe, most notably in Germany’s ‘social-market economy’), thin capital cushions at American banks and securities firms (again, Europe’s were worse), and the failure of the regulatory apparatus to keep pace with technics of finance (notably with regard to the advent of credit-default swaps).
    The firms responsible were, again, deeply implicated in the political favor bank (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac), part and parcel of our most intensely regulated economic sector (American International Group), highly responsive to the social goals of Democratic administrations (Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Freddie Mac), or persuaded the government would rescue them (Lehman Brothers).
    Among perpetrator enterprises, the best examples of no-holes-barred American capitalism would be Wachovia, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Bear Stearns. All four are in very regulated sub-sectors. Standard procedures and extant institutions were adequate to finesse the problems which Wachovia (and Washington Mutual) posed and some minimal brokering was sufficient in the case of Bear, Stearns. Much of the trouble with processing a bankruptcy of Citigroup was that it was not an example of ‘American capitalism’ but a global firm with interests in the United States; two-thirds of its deposits were domiciled abroad.

    It does not seem to occur to Christiansen that there might be systemic dysfunctions which limit the capacity of the regulatory state to contain disasters.
    The rest of them just appear to be tossing about verbiage.

  • Art Deco: “The rest of them just appear to be tossing about verbiage”.
    Absolutely anyone can call themselves a ‘Catholic theologian’ these
    days. Our bishops have abdicated any sort of oversight, and the mandatum
    required by Canon Law is routinely ignored. The old practice of issuing an
    imprimatur and a nihil obstat has been largely abandoned, even
    in the instance of theology textbooks, which Canon Law still demands.
    The Church our so-called ‘theologians’ are supposed to serve has no part in the
    credentialing industry. Rather, it is the gatekeepers of the graduate programs
    at our increasingly un-Catholic universities, the tenure committees at the
    same, and the publishers and editors of theology texts and journals. Those
    are now the people who determine who is a “Catholic theologian”. (Note that
    none of those people need necessarily be Catholic themselves). Bishops are
    not part of the equation.
    Ask yourself this– could I find a “Catholic theologian” who could argue for
    the virtues of abortion, “gay marriage”, pedophilia, eugenics, communism,
    indifferentism, or modernism? Yes, of course! It’s child’s play to find someone
    calling themselves a “Catholic theologian” who will deny the very divinity of
    Christ. Theology used to be called the “Queen of Sciences”, but these days
    she’s just a laughingstock.

  • Art,

    Regarding FNMA/FHLMC political graft:

    9/18/2008: GWBush signed the housing and Fannie Mae bailout bill, after the Senate passed it with 72 votes. An underreported story is that Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow a vote on Republican Jim DeMint’s amendment to bar political donations and lobbying by FNM and FRE.

    1980-2007 FNM cash recipients (partial list):
    Brookings institute = $3,906,000
    ACORN = $797,000
    Rainbow Coalition = $660,000
    Center for Policy Alternatives = $635,000
    Congressional Black Caucus = $608,000
    Congressional Hispanic Caucus = $28,000
    Barrack Obama – $104,000

    Jesse Jackson’s Citizenship Education Fund, an offshoot of his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, has received more than $500,000 from Fannie and Freddie since 1996. A decade ago Mr. Jackson accused Fannie and Freddie of discriminatory lending practices. Those charges of racism went away once the graft money started flowing. Groups on the left complain about “corporate welfare” all the time, but curiously nary a one has opposed the Fannie and Freddie bailout — which amounts to one of the biggest corporate welfare gifts in U.S. history.

    Fannie gave $10,000 to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, $10,000 to third-ranking House Democrat Rahm Emanuel, $5,000 to Barney Frank, $10,000 to Republican House whip Roy Blunt, $8,500 to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and $7,500 to Minority Leader John Boehner and . . . you get the picture.

    A year (2007) before the crisis, Freddie Mac’s foundation handed out $25 million to political groups, think tanks and other Beltway outfits, more than any other foundation in the country, according to the Washington Business Journal. Guess which foundation ranked number two? Fannie Mae gave out $21 million.

    Pacem, Art, “systemic dysfunctions which limit the capacity of the regulatory state to contain disasters.” Said “system dysfunction” is endemic to the administrative economy (not a free market) which exponentially magnified the disaster, if it were not the casue of the disater.

    Bankers, lobbyists and politicians blew up the economy. Then, they bailed out each other. Then, they created even more laws/policies/regulations impeding economic growth and further misallocating capital. The Fed, FDIC, FHA, FHLMC, FNMA, HMDA, HUD, SEC, UST, et al created “administrative” (e.g., housing, but also equities, bonds) markets with prices affected by government policies, not free market forces. Then, the lying rats blamed the “market.”

  • Clintion,

    I aplogize in advance.

    My definition of theology: Making up stuff about God. Philosophy is making up stuff about stuff.

    I’ll stop now.

  • The contradiction at the heart of liberalism (including classical liberalism) lies in its simultaneous assertion of popular sovereignty and universal human rights.

    Rousseau saw this very well. “Each man alienates, I admit, by the social compact, only such part of his powers, goods and liberty as it is important for the community to control; but it must also be granted that the Sovereign [the People] is sole judge of what is important,” for “ if the individuals retained certain rights, as there would be no common superior to decide between them and the public, each, being on one point his own judge, would ask to be so on all; the state of nature would thus continue, and the association would necessarily become inoperative or tyrannical.”

    As Theodore Roosevelt put it in 1910, “Every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.” Unlike Rousseau, Roosevelt did not enter into the all-important question of who decides.

  • “The contradiction at the heart of liberalism (including classical liberalism) lies in its simultaneous assertion of popular sovereignty and universal human rights.”

    MPS, that’s just a tension, not a contradiction. The tension is reduced by adherence to limited government. Only people temped by majoritarian tyranny see a contradiction. And yes, near the end of his otherwise fine career Teddy Roosevelt was tempted by such.

  • The Treasury department was in the summer of 2008 approached by an outside expert with a plan to re-capitalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through a debt-for-equity swap. They rejected it in favor of financing the deficits of the firms for years on end. Not to keep flogging this, but large slices of the public do not realize that bank holding companies have paid back over 95% of the money they were loaned through the Capital Purchase Program and paid dividends on the preferred stock in the interim. The losses to the Treasury were on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the auto industry components, and AIG; less than a 10th of those losses are attributable to AIG (the only money pit that was not a Democratic Party client).

  • I don’t buy into the Clinton campaign’s dictum: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Cardinal Dolan may get the economy nearer right, but he wanders away on other issues. Those other Catholic thinkers listed here are misfiring probably at least partly because they (and we) have been misled by bishops and priests as to justice.

  • I commented on this subject ages ago lol. There are two traditions within Catholic Social Teaching. Both condemn Marxism and statism. Both take Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII as foundational. However one emphasizes the need for the society ( I don’t want to localize this to the State) to intervene to assist ” the poor”,etc and build on this principle. this tradition received new life with Paul VI’s Populorum Progression ( Progress of People) and even by, a surprise for conservatives, Pope Benedict VI’s Caritas in Veritatis Those in this tradition question, sometimes vehemently, such phenomenon as ” lasses-faire capitalism”

    The other tradition however, focuses on Leo XIII’s pointed call for respect for private property, emphasize Pius XI’s principle of subsidiarity found in Quadragessimo Anno (On the Fortieth Year of Rerum Novarum), and St John Paul’s Centissimus Annus (on the One Hundreth Year of Rerum Novarum) which recognizes the dignity of the person, his/her freedom etc the dangers of over control etc. of economic forces-with the understanding that each person and the whole culture work in economic issues recognizing, dignity of persons, the common good, solidarity etc. in short there is no economy tha t does not serve people and does not work within moral principles based on human ecology/ natural law

    I see the two traditions merging in the future, however it will take some time. Both bear the truths of Catholicism, emphasizing certain for the time being, different elements.

  • TomD said: “The tension is reduced by adherence to limited government. Only people temped by majoritarian tyranny see a contradiction. And yes, near the end of his otherwise fine career Teddy Roosevelt was tempted by such.”

    Mr. TomD,

    Here, here!

  • Botolph

    Mgr Ronald Knox argued that “traditional Christianity is a balance of doctrines, and not merely of doctrines but of emphases. You must not exaggerate in either direction, or the balance is disturbed.”

    He offers some examples (less controversial, perhaps than Catholic Social Teaching, but illustrating your thesis), “An excellent thing to abandon yourself, without reserve, into God’s hands; … but, teach on principle that it is an infidelity to wonder whether you are saved or lost, and you have overweighted your whole devotional structure… Conversely, it is a holy thing to trust in the redeeming merits of Christ. But, put it about that such confidence is the indispensable sign of being in God’s favour, that, unless and until he is experimentally aware of it, a man is lost, and the balance has been disturbed at the opposite end;”

  • In sum, the economy is too important to be left to the experts.

    Economics is politics: Economic arguments are used as often justification for whatever politicians want.

    The economists/experts did not foresee the financial crisis and have changed anything. The latest financial crisis tells us that we cannot leave the general welfare to central bank heads, economists and assorted ‘technocrats.’

    “Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.” – John Maynard Keynes
    “. . . an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world . . .” – John Maynard Keynes on Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital”
    “I can be influenced by what seems to me to be justice and good sense; but the class war will find me on the side of the educated bourgeoisie.” – John Maynard Keynes

  • Pingback: Why Fulton Sheen? Why Now? -
  • You first problem was reading ANYTHING posted at the National Catholic Reporter. It is a rag that neither represents good Catholicism or good journalism. It is unworthy of lining the bottom of bird cages.
    The priests who work there should better spend their time hearing confessions and yeah that’s about it…

Pope Francis, Marriage, and the “End” of Infallibility

Thursday, May 22, AD 2014


What will it mean if Pope Francis follows the counsel offered by some of his closest advisors, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, and permits divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion?  This prospect has only come to seem more likely given the Holy Father’s much discussed phone call to the Argentine divorcee.  This subject has been much on my mind for the past few months, and now that the worthy Ross Douthat has raised its implications in a highly public forum—and a number of important  Catholic  commentators are writing about it in depth—I think it is time to lay out a few of the scenarios that come to mind. 

Because the options are all rather unsettling, and opinions are deeply divided, it seems most useful to me to present the argument in the form of a three person dialogue, with each character representing a different perspective within the Church.  In the past, some readers have objected to this genre, making assertions such as “fictional dialogues belong in fiction.”  Tell that to Plato, St. Anselm, St. Thomas More, Erasmus, and Peter Kreeft.

To make things a little easier, I will label the characters’ viewpoints right up front:

John Paul: A faithful, orthodox Catholic who attends the most reverent Mass offered at his geographical parish. 

Marcel: A self-identified “traditional Catholic” who attends the Latin Mass exclusively. 

Josip: Raised a Byzantine Catholic, he attends that liturgy. He is politically and doctrinally conservative, but somewhat skeptical of Western conceptions of the papal Magisterium.


Marcel:  Hey John Paul! If Pope Francis blows up the sacrament of marriage, will you still insist that Vatican II was a “renewal” of the Church sent by the Holy Spirit?  Or will you finally start giving some thought to the alternative?

John Paul:  This issue is completely separate from the texts of the Second Vatican Council. They are the only aspect of the Council that binds us—and none of them says anything implying that divorced, remarried Catholics are eligible for Communion.  So your question is kind of incoherent.  But go on—what’s the alternative?

Marcel: That we have been witnessing since 1960 the Great Apostasy predicted by a number of apparitions of Our Lady.  That the orthodoxy, and hence the authority, of the popes who supported Vatican II is pretty dubious.

John Paul:  You know what’s dubious?  Private revelations.  You know what’s binding?  General councils of the Church and official statements of validly elected popes.

Josip: What happens if the official statement of a validly elected pope contradicts a fundamental Church teaching?  Such as the indissolubility of marriage, based on the clear words of Our Lord, and infallibly taught by the Council of Trent.

John Paul: That could never happen.

Josip: Yeah, but what if it does?

John Paul: It’s sacrilegious even to play with such hypotheticals. It shows your lack of faith in the Church.

Josip: St. Paul was willing to consider what it would mean if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead.  Divorce seems considerably less earth-shattering than that. What will it mean if Pope Francis does what he seems to hint he will do, which his closest advisors are saying in public he should do?  According to Cardinal Kasper, the Church should give divorced Catholics a “pass” on the Ten Commandments and the words of Christ, and treat their sexual relationships with their new “spouses” as something other than adultery. That’s the only possible implication of allowing them to receive Holy Communion without vowing to refrain from sex.

Marcel:  Which is exactly what the schismatics in the East have been doing for centuries. I’ll tell you what it would mean if “Pope Francis” does this: It will mean that he has lost the Catholic faith—and therefore the office of pope.  The throne will be empty, as some say it was when Paul VI endorsed the heresy of religious liberty, and when John Paul II and Benedict went on to teach it as well.

John Paul: At Vatican I, the Council closed off the idea that a pope could lose the throne through personal “heresy.” Saint Robert Bellarmine had made that argument, but Vatican I rebuked it.

Marcel: What use is infallibility if it doesn’t prevent a pope from endorsing a Council that teaches heresy, then reiterating it in countless public statements and in a Catechism?

John Paul: What use is papal infallibility if a pope can go ahead and teach heresy—God won’t stop him—but then we get to say that he’s no longer pope?  That makes infallibility an empty tautology: The pope is infallible, until he isn’t—at which point he isn’t pope anymore.  The Pharisees would have winced at that kind of legalism.  I certainly can’t imagine Christ winking at it.

Josip: If a pope ever taught heresy ex cathedra—which of course, I don’t expect will happen—it would prove something all right—that the Eastern Orthodox have been right all along. That Vatican I was not an infallible council, and neither were any of the other councils we have held without the Orthodox since 1054.

Marcel: Do you think Our Lord will be winking if the pope contradicts His plain words about divorce and remarriage?

Josip: No, I don’t.  We’ll get back to the implications of that in a minute.  First, I want to deny that religious liberty is a heresy.  Yes, there are many, many papal statements endorsing the persecution of “heretics.” Obviously, the Council Fathers and the pope knew about those statements, which their opponents such as Abp. Lefebvre were constantly quoting in the debates.  Clearly, the Magisterium concluded that those previous statements were not infallible—that in fact, they were wrong, because they endorsed violations of natural law and divine revelation, according to Dignitatis Humanae.  Papal assertions that it is right to imprison Protestants would have been false—like papal statements condemning all lending at interest as sinful “usury,” and statements permitting the enslavement of Muslims defeated in “just wars.” Of course, admitting all this should make us a lot more careful about how much weight we attach to papal statements.  Even when they reiterate “venerable” teachings like the condemnation of all lending at interest, and the embrace of religious persecution, most such statements are not infallible—and quite a number of them, in retrospect, were wrong.

John Paul: It’s unhealthy and impious for faithful Catholics to be sifting papal statements and determining which ones are “wrong.” If the Church decides, at a later date, to override what a previous pope has said, then and only then may we draw such a conclusion.

Marcel: Like good little Communists, we should wait to hear what Moscow decides is the new “party line,” then pretend that we have believed it all along?  I don’t buy it.

Josip: So John Courtney Murray should not have written in defense of religious liberty, since it wasn’t yet Church teaching?  And Catholic bankers shouldn’t have loaned money at reasonable rates of interest, but waited for the centuries to pass until the Church realized that the previous teaching hadn’t been infallible—and in fact, was wrong?

John Paul: That would seem like the safe, obedient course of action.

Josip: And if Pope Francis approves Holy Communion for sexually active divorced Catholics, will it be safe and obedient to accept that as well?

Marcel: It will be proof that he has lost the Catholic faith, and the right to call himself pope.  I bet that the bishops of the SSPX hold an election to find a real pope.

John Paul: I renew my objection to talking about such a development as if it were really possible. But for the sake of argument: If Pope Francis permits this kind of pastoral policy, it will be gravely mistaken—on the order of popes in past centuries allowing choir boys to be castrated to sing in the Vatican.

Josip: Surely this issue has greater implications than that.  How will we explain to homosexuals that they cannot be sexually active outside of marriage, and still receive Communion—when we permit that to heterosexuals?  Even I’m kind of offended by that.  Will anyone, anyone at all, still take the Church’s ban on birth control seriously, when it’s giving people a pass for adultery?  Which one is a more obvious violation of natural law?

John Paul: The pope would not be teaching error, but merely tolerating it.  As in previous centuries, when popes were lax about enforcing clerical celibacy, or allowed the sale of indulgences.

Marcel: No, you’re wrong.  If the German bishops started allowing this evil practice—which they probably already are, because they don’t want people to stop checking the “Catholic” box on their tax forms, and depriving the Church of money—that would be one thing.  But if the pope permits it for the universal Church, that’s something else entirely.  It’s right up there with him personally ordaining a woman as a priest, or adding an eighth sacrament.  It would be heresy, plain and simple.

John Paul: But he wouldn’t be teaching ex cathedra….

Josip: So if this happens, it won’t necessarily prove that Vatican I was wrong and the Eastern Orthodox are right about the structure of the Church. (Though of course, they will still be wrong about marriage—but then they don’t claim to be infallible.)

John Paul: No.

Josip: Or that Marcel is right and that the pope will have lost the throne?

John Paul: Absolutely not.

Josip: But it will prove that papal authority, and the divine protections we attribute to it, are a heck of a lot narrower than we used to think.  It will completely demoralize faithful Catholics who have been relying on papal statements to decide what they believe about critical issues—from war and peace to economics, from birth control to gay “marriage.” In effect, it will say that every papal statement in history is subject to future revision—except for the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.  Those, at least, will be set in stone.  Apart from that, everyone will be reduced to a kind of cafeteria Catholicism—unless, as Marcel said, they decide to stuff previous Church teachings into the Memory Hole and simply follow the Party Line.  That would make things simpler.  Oceania has ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia.

John Paul: I miss Pope Benedict XVI.

Marcel: I miss Pope Pius XII.

Josip: What do you think really motivates Pope Francis? I don’t think he’s just another post-Conciliar progressive.

Marcel: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Josip: It might in fact be a decoy.

John Paul: It seems to me that the pope is reaching out to the kind of people with whom John Paul II and Benedict XVI somehow couldn’t connect.

Marcel: People who want to claim that they’re “Catholic,” in the same sense that they’re “Irish” or “Italian”?

John Paul: No! I think he’s trying to convert the liberal’s false compassion for the “marginalized” into a genuine Christian concern for the needy.

Marcel: The “needy,” in this case, being prosperous divorced couples in Germany and the U.S.? Weakening marriage, in any way, really hurts the poor.

John Paul:  But I wish that Pope Francis would keep his outreach within the bounds of Catholic orthodoxy.

Marcel: Yeah, that would be nice.  It seems like the least we can ask… of a POPE.

Josip: What if there’s something else going on?  What if Pope Francis thinks that papal claims have been exaggerated, to the point where they needlessly block ecumenism—especially with the Eastern Orthodox?

Marcel: For all his talk of collegiality, he seems to have no problem using his power—against us Traditionalists.

Josip: But if he uses his power this time, to dismantle the traditional teaching on marriage, what would that mean for the authority of the papacy?

John Paul: Assuming the Holy Spirit allows it to happen…

Marcel: …And we don’t see a sudden resignation, “health crisis,” or falling meteorite…

Josip: The doctrinal contradiction would dismantle the papacy too—at least as we have known the papacy since… 1054. Which would remove the main barrier to unity with the East.

Marcel: So you think Pope Francis is practicing ecumenism by “auto-destruction”?

Josip: I don’t know.  Maybe he thinks of it as Perestroika.

John Paul: That’s impossible.  It’s apostasy.  God will never permit it.

Josip: Unless He does. In which case… well then, we’ll know who was right all along, won’t we?


John Zmirak is author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived here.

Continue reading...

39 Responses to Pope Francis, Marriage, and the “End” of Infallibility

  • We should be in a pretty pickle if we treated the logical implications of past papal laws, judgments, policies and so on as infallible teachings.
    As Bl John Henry Newman asks, “Was St. Peter infallible on that occasion at Antioch when St. Paul withstood him? was St. Victor infallible when he separated from his communion the Asiatic Churches? or Liberius when in like manner he excommunicated Athanasius? And, to come to later times, was Gregory XIII., when he had a medal struck in honour of the Bartholomew massacre? or Paul IV. in his conduct towards Elizabeth? or Sextus V. when he blessed the Armada? or Urban VIII. when he persecuted Galileo? No Catholic ever pretends that these Popes were infallible in these acts.”


    Bishop Athanasius Schneider answers to Catholics of the above blog.

  • Whatever the pope decides it is adultery: a mortal sin.
    My conscience will rule me.
    I would not do it. But, If I were to leave the warden to live (in sin) with, or to marry, a rich, nymphomaniac that owns a liquor store (or a bass boat and knows how to cut bait), I would have self-eliminated from receiving Holy Communion and likely go to Hell.
    You never can tell. You may go to Heaven or you may go to . . .
    If your value system places the here-and-now ahead of the hereafter you may go to Hell.

    The historical effects of Paul IV’s and Sixtus V’s bulls were to make much harsher English Catholics’ lives and deaths.

  • Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!

  • PP: Is that something akin to “General Absolution”? Or, amnesty for illegal aliens?

    Hocus Pocus! Poof! All is right with God and man.

  • Perhaps this is shaping up like Humanae Vitae: everyone THINKS he will allow Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, but then he comes out with a beautiful but short encyclical on marriage that talks about how society’s acceptance of contraception (and denial of the truth of HV) is what got us into this mess of divorce and other messy marriage issues.

    He will affirm marriage. He will affirm the True Presence. He will affirm Catholic teaching on faith and morals, much to the chagrin of his advisors.

    Then we will have 40 years of “Well, that was not infallible.”

    All his advisors will be so upset that he didn’t listen to their magisterial fidelity to the god of Modernity.

  • Oneros
    1 wk, 6 days ago
    I would agree, first of all, that any reform will not touch the three principles: 1) that those who are conscious of mortal sin should not approach communion without confession, 2) that adultery is objectively a mortal sin/grave matter, 3) that sex with a new partner when your spouse from a validly ratified and consummated sacramental marriage is still living…is adultery by definition with no way out of it.

    However, I think that the reform might come more in the area of “pastoral approach.” And yet “pastoral approach” can also mean a development of doctrine (albeit not a reversal of dogmas, such as the above) inasmuch as pastoral approach always “teaches” or has some theoretical foundation.

    I think specifically a few “double standards” need to be addressed:

    First, the distinction between “public” or manifest sinners, and private sinners. This idea causes no end of Phariseeism and hypocrisy in the Church and needs to be phased out of Catholic thought. Unless someone is a vocal heretic or is explicitly publicly excommunicated (no more automatic excommunications either; even Ed Peters supports getting rid of THAT vague and slippery category)…we shouldn’t be presuming anything about their soul.

    Yes marriage is a public act. But that’s not exactly a dogmatic reality: Trent put a stop to clandestine marriages, but it didn’t say that previous clandestine marriages were invalid. So there IS room in theology for “broomstick marriages” because ultimately it is the consent of the man and woman that make a natural marriage. How much we want sacramental marriage/canon law to require beyond that is another question. But ultimately the bare minimum theologically (changeable canon law aside) is the consent of a man and a woman, even in private.

    But either way, remarried couples aren’t having sex in public! Therefore, they should get the benefit of the doubt that they are, in fact, living “as brother and sister” and should not be actively denied communion (refraining oneself, and active denial or withholding by the priest, being of course two different things in the Church’s pastoral policies). “Scandal” is an odd thing to claim: I’ve never known how someone else’s sin is scandalizing me, given that scandal means “to cause someone else to sin.” Mere knowledge of someone else’s sin doesn’t cause me to sin, and it is especially true if I am merely presuming they are sinning. Further, the theology of scandal puts the blame on the original scandalous ACT, not on the knowledge of it. Emphasis on the latter (such as asking couples to receive in another parish where they are unknown)…well, that’s what led to priest abuse cover-ups and such: thinking that even though the scandal had already taken place (the act of molestation itself), that things were somehow made “less scandalous” by containing the spread of the knowledge OF it. That’s just bad moral theology, that’s not how scandal works (see Catholic Encyclopedia), it’s never about “keeping up appearances” (though that’s an unfortunate recent misconception).

    Lots of Catholic couples contracept, etc…the idea that a civilly remarried couple is somehow “manifesting” private acts isn’t applied equally across the board either, as “boyfriends and girlfriends” (though often probably having premarital sex) are given the benefit of the doubt even though their premarital couplehood is manifest (that is, unless, oddly, they move in together/”cohabitate”; another odd distinction from a previous age: I know plenty of couples who live together/share a domicile for economic reasons but are waiting until marriage for sex, and certainly plenty who fornicate who don’t live together! Sharing an apartment isn’t a declaration of sexual activity or even “aping marriage.” Some people are just room-mates, some are room-mates who happen to be “dating.” Modern life is not made up of easy clear-cut social scripts.)

    This leads into the second double standard which I think is the real “meat” of the current problem and the contradictions many people perceive: the distinction between “living in sin” and plain old sinning (which is certainly no dogma!) Many people have noticed the spiritual/moral contradiction that a man who cheats on his wife, repents, confesses and receives communion time after time is just “struggling” and “a sinner like all of us”…but that if people actually have the realism and maturity to formally separate from the relationship that isn’t working, and institutionalize the new one as something stable and responsible…then they’re “living in sin” and unable not just to receive communion, but even unable to be absolved!

    This is one area where I think there is room in Church teaching for some “development of doctrine” with pastoral effects: in the question of what exactly the “resolve to amend” necessary for a valid confession is. What practically does that have to look like, how must it be formulated? The Eastern Christian view sees sanctification as an ongoing “medicinal” process, not a toggle-switch of sanctifying grace; there is a gradualism to it. At the same time, they see confession as very much a prerequisite for communion in general, so there is no sense of letting people receive in a state of sin.

    Most people with any spiritual sense would say that, for example, a loving cohabiting couple are in a better place spiritually than the guy who goes out and hires prostitutes each weekend, feels guilty, swears it off, tries to abstain, only to “slip up” again and again in the guilt-repentance cycle that simply compartmentalizes rather than trying to move towards integration. And yet under current widespread thought in the Church, he can receive communion each week after he confesses, whereas the loving couple is “living in sin” and don’t even have valid intention to be absolved unless they totally rearrange their life and make firm positive acts of “resolve” to do things different with lasting consequences (whereas the habitual sinner’s “resolve” on the other hand, can be merely theoretical and disappear days or even hours later as long as it was “sincere” AT the moment of confession).

    And yet the Apostolic Penitentiary released a vademecum saying, “Sacramental absolution is not to be denied to those who, repentant after having gravely sinned against conjugal chastity, demonstrate the desire to strive to abstain from sinning again, notwithstanding relapses. In accordance with the approved doctrine and practice followed by the holy Doctors and confessors with regard to habitual penitents, the confessor is to avoid demonstrating lack of trust either in the grace of God or in the dispositions of the penitent by exacting humanly impossible absolute guarantees of an irreproachable future conduct.”

    Perhaps, then, remarried couples need merely to uphold the idea that abstinence and living as brother and sister is the ideal, but then as often as they “slip up” just come to confession and mention it like every other sinner, without needing to provide “humanly impossible absolute guarantees.” I’ve seen too many people in a delusional cycle of “this is the last time!” (confess, commune, sin-again, repeat). Maybe the standard for intent to amend in confession need not be so strict or based on unrealistic (and often bad faith) expectations on the part of habitual sinners. A couple who has sex after remarriage can’t be absolved time after time unless they separate or rearrange their whole lives, but no such burdens are really put on the habitual porn user. This double standard needs to be addressed.

    And there could perhaps also be a greater emphasis on the spiritual life as, often, a series of “lesser of two evil” negotiations (also a very Eastern Christian view).

    Finally, there is also the question of internal versus external forum. The interesting thing about the Church’s teaching on annulments is…they are supposed to merely determine, in the external forum, that a marriage was ALREADY invalid. Which means that when a couple remarries and then seeks an annulment…in hindsight, they weren’t actually committing objective adultery ALL ALONG. So there are very real questions as to why a couple who, in conscience, believes they have personal moral certitude (in the internal forum) that their first marriage was invalid…should have to “wait” for the annulment in the external forum. It takes three years only to declare “Oh, well, you weren’t married all along, so you really WERE free to remarry this whole time!” Perhaps the Church could pastorally tolerate couples “anticipating” annulments like this. And even if the annulment comes back negative, annulments are not infallible. There is a tension between internal and external forum here, but one that gives individual souls and pastors room to negotiate, though there would be no public recognition (internal has to remain internal).

    Perhaps the Church could even enshrine in canon law a sort of “automatic conditional radical sanation” of remarriages after an invalid first marriage (even if annulment has not yet been determined in the external forum). In other words, declare that IF a first marriage was in fact invalid in the eyes of God (whether annulled or not), then a second marriage is automatically sanated even if it lacks canonical form (though this would not be established as a public fact unless a public determination was made). That way a couple anticipating annulment won’t be fornicating in the meantime (only to find out, “Oh, guess what, you really were free to marry all along. Sorry for making you wait”) and won’t have to time the sacramental status of their marriage from a later convalidation.

    As a final point, I think the Church could also restore something like “fraternatio” or “adelphepoeisis” to recognizes partnerships that are not marriage. This would apply to remarried couples after divorce, but the logic would seemingly extend seamlessly to same-sex pairs. The idea would be that even if the Church can’t recognize a relationship AS marriage, ie even if it can’t sanction it as sexually active, it nevertheless can recognize and celebrate the relationship/partnership/friendship itself (apart from the sex question) and therefore not leave these people feeling like they are second-class citizens or “merely tolerated.” The official teaching would be that such relationships are supposed to be celibate “like siblings,” but then there is always confession if people “slip up,” and in the case of remarriages, always the possibility (discussed above) that the first marriage really was invalid and so (if the conditional automatic sanation is in place) is a sacramental marriage even if not recognized as such in the external forum, even if in the external forum it is only recognized as this brother/sister non-marital partnership.

    I’ve spoken with Orthodox folk, and it turns out that their biggest guff over us re: marriage isn’t solvable merely some idea that their divorces could be interpreted as annulments. They actually are most concerned over the idea that we think the first marriage simply didn’t exist. I would therefore also add the following as an ecumenical gesture to the Orthodox: the current Catholic thought is that a marriage between two Christians is always the Sacrament, or else “nothing at all” (except a “putative” marriage). The Orthodox, on the other hand, have a view that seems more holistic which says that sacramental marriage starts as a natural marriage (such as exists between two pagans, etc) in the porch of the church, and then is “sacramentalized” by being brought into the Church.

    Perhaps then there is some room here to investigate the possibility (for the sake of reaching out to the East) that even if a marriage is found to not reach the level of an indissoluble sacrament (ie, an annulment), it might still have been a natural marriage (if there was no natural impediment) rather than “nothing at all” and so a subsequent remarriage would be under the Petrine privilege and have a “penitential” tone, recognizing the first relationship that tragically failed as something more than a mere non-entity. It would have to be explored how changeable the “either a sacrament or nothing at all” principle is; Eastern theology certainly doesn’t seem to see it that way, it sees natural marriage as the “matter” of the sacramental version.

    Perhaps the system would look like this: actual annulments in the external forum allowing for a second full-on wedding would be rare (for very basic reasons like first spouse still alive, consanguinity/incest, etc). The existence of invalidity on account of more nebulous psychological reasons wouldn’t be denied, but in such possible cases, it would be more of a private negotiation: remarried couples would only celebrate a “fraternatio” penitential in tone with a caveat something like “IF your first marriage was valid, you’re supposed to live as brother and sister…but of course confession is available. On the other hand, if it was invalid, sacramentally at least if not naturally, then the new marriage is automatically radically sanated, but unless there were an external-forum annulment that determination has to remain a private matter of conscience for you and you can’t act as if the Church is publicly sanctioning your sex life.”

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

  • Perhaps this is shaping up like Humanae Vitae: everyone THINKS he will allow Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, but then he comes out with a beautiful but short encyclical on marriage that talks about how society’s acceptance of contraception (and denial of the truth of HV) is what got us into this mess of divorce and other messy marriage issues.

    He will affirm marriage. He will affirm the True Presence. He will affirm Catholic teaching on faith and morals, much to the chagrin of his advisors.

    Then we will have 40 years of “Well, that was not infallible.”

    All his advisors will be so upset that he didn’t listen to their magisterial fidelity to the god of Modernity.


    Wow. You make the comparison to HV like it was a *good* thing. It was a complete, unutterable disaster. Yes, it preserved the Church’s teaching on paper–and that was it. The reality was that it was only paper. Pope Paul then proceeded to allow a culture of open dissent and the flouting of Church teaching on a level that swallowed the Catholic university system and entire national episcopal conferences (see, e.g., the Winnipeg Statement). The bottom line? Maybe–maybe–10 percent of Catholics observe the teaching. You want to know why Catholics–even mass attending ones–favor gay marriage and abortion? Because with HV they saw there was no cost to shelving Church teaching. NONE. The culture of dissent is so ingrained it can’t be eradicated at this point.


    And, frankly, your vision is the very best case scenario–Church teaching is defended on paper, but raised expectations cause a HV-style blowback in the Church which lead to it being cast aside. Hurray?

    [br] But the best case scenario is not going to happen–you haven’t been paying close enough attention to the Pope’s statements and actions.

  • I don’t think Jesus would approve of all this legalistic foolishness. This conversation also reminds me of the Little Flower, who had headaches reading anything other than the Gospels.

  • Pingback: Evangelize in D. C. Through Rosary & Music -
  • In response to “P. Plante on Thursday, May 22, A.D. 2014 at 10:39am: Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!”
    cf. Jn 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.”

  • What on earth is going on? This is madness. I was brought up in what appears today be a very “traditional Roman Catholic family”. The parish grammar school. The local Augustinian High School, and a a few years at a Jesuit University.

    From my understanding of the Deposit of Faith (de fide definta/ infallibly defined) which I am to believe is the fullness of revelation found in the Scripture, the Church Fathers teachings, doctrinal counsels, Synods of Bishops called by the Holy Father and “statements” made by the Holy Father Ex cathedra (Papal Bulls), not general statements or personal opinions made in conversation with others. That being said, one would assume that the Holy Father’s “statements” would be much more carefully stated. Dare I say “guarded”? To do so otherwise would be an invitation for scandal, would it not?

    If the “Popes, any Pope” were to teach or promulagate that which is contrary to the Faith He would ipso facto ex communicate Himself from the One, Holy, Apostolic, Roman and Catholic Church founded by our Lord Himself. There have been Anti-Popes in the past why not in the present or the future?
    In light of the Feast of Ascension andthe Feast of Pentecost upcoming, all our Lord promised His little flock was: “…fear not and, know that I am with you until the consumation of the world”. and “…for I must leave you for a short while and return to the Father to prepare a place for you for, if I do not the Paraclete will not come…”. and in His prayer for unity “..that all may be one as the Father and I are one”. And, His instructions to Peter and the Apostles, Peter being first in primacy, “…if you hold bound upon the earth it shall be bound in Heaven and, that which you loose upon the earth shall be loosed in Heaven..” All in compliance with the Divine law. I believe when and if Sacramental Matrimony is conferred our Lord’s teaching on the indisollubility of Marriage/Sacrament of Matrimony would thusly apply. Atleast, that’s who I’m go’in with. There does not appear to be much “wiggle room” for those who like to “dance”. Pope or otherwise.
    No statute can make any unlawful act lawful, it only confers license for a FICTION to comit an act that remains UNLAWFUL. (see legal abortion)


  • The two upcoming Synods are on “the Family”, not “divorce and remarriage”. The Christian Family founded on the marriage between one man and woman for life, on the conjugal charity of that couple in human, total, exclusive, love which is open to new life. Divorce and remarriage is only one ‘shadow’ that partially prevents the Good News of Marriage and the Family to shine in the splendor of truth. Other ‘shadows’ are cohabitation, polygamy [in Africa] and so called ‘gay marriage’. The Synods, I believe, will tackle the anthropological [vision of the human] issues underlying marriage and the family and I would bet, actually ‘receive’ Saint John Paul’s teaching on sexuality.

    WHat I am about to say concerns elements within the Church, not the wider society or the media. There are those who do not really believe we have received any revelation (read: Gospel) concerning sexuality, marriage and the family. They do not see why the Church doesn’t get with the program and accept what the wider society has come to accept in the midst of this vast cultural revolution which we are immersed in. Many of these members of the Church believe that the culture sets the agenda for the Church. They will be deeply distressed that the Church will be upholding her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the nature and elements of conjugal charity [Humanae Vitae]. Within the Second Vatican Council the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation [Dei Verbum] is the fundamental document and ultimate interpretative key among the four fundamental documents [On Liturgy, Church and Church in the Modern World]

    On the other hand there are those members of the Church who frankly seem to fail to recognize that the Church has been dealing with the pastoral issues of marriage and family from the very beginning of the Church. It is the Sacrament of Reconciliation and with the canons that the Church has addressed this fundamental aspect of her ministry and life. Whatever sins she looses, they are loosed in heaven; whatever sins are held bound, they are held bound. Here is where the so called ‘changes’ MAY occur. However these are not doctrines but disciplines within the Church [of course the Sacrament of Reconciliation-Penance itself is an actual sacrament/doctrine etc]

    As the Church moves forward, there are two things to keep in mind. First, the two synods are expressions of the ‘synodality’ of the Church. At Synods as at Councils of the Church, all sorts of things are stated, positions and even sides taken. However, it is the ‘consensus’ coming out of the Synod which will be the key-the content and direction it takes. Just because some bishop from some place says ‘something’ in terms of the approaching synod, (especially with twenty-first communications) just take it in and don’t get into a panic etc

    The other real issue which the Church needs to address in some manner-better sooner than later-is what the Church and world witnessed back in the 60’s during the Ecumenical Council. The media feeding popular opinion and being fed by media smart but rather shadowy (and sometimes sinister) personages in the Church (i.e some theologians) were already forming their own ‘Council of media-popular opinion’. No one can deny this existed and you can see the handwriting on the wall already on this. The Church in some way will have to address this distinct but related issue before the “synod of the media’ overwhelms the actual ‘Synod of Bishops’

  • You have shown the difficulty of writing this fictional dialogue! It is hard not to put your own interp into the mouths of the characters, or at least color the characters according to you own understanding of them.
    I wouldn’t think John Paul would have said: “the texts of the Second Vatican Council. They are the only aspect of the Council that binds us”.
    I hadn’t read very much further when I came to this speed bump:
    John Paul: You know what’s dubious? Private revelations. You know what’s binding? General councils of the Church and official statements of validly elected popes.”
    That just sounded out of character to me if the argument is to show JPII’s “side” of the story.
    Anyway, my thought is that John Paul would not have responded in that way… so then the dialogue takes a certain fork in the road after that… and that road as you have laid it out, leads to the broken authority, disappearing Church scenario that is part of understanding Vat 2 as a rupture.
    It seems that the teaching Authority of the Church has already disappeared – the foundation, the rock, the authority of Peter – is cracked and crumbling and Vatican II is implicit as the crack in the rock, by your story line, because of J.C. Murray and Dignitatus Humanae?

  • A very good article. I don’t think I could contribute an analysis any better than the many that have already been written.
    So I will do what I do best, focus on the trivial and inconsequential.
    So here goes….
    Isn’t that picture a weeping angel from Doctor Who? 🙂

  • As an abandoned husband and father, I have seen, starkly, where Francis is heading. Marriage already means nothing. His “pastoral”
    approach has long been mainstream.

    The Catholic Church is imploding and deserves it. His methods have simply hastened what it already a “messy divorce”.

    If Francis had any good will, he would jettison his plan for a synod of bishops unless they were only the audience, in a gathering of contentious annulment respondents, especially those with some children, so these men could actually hear some truth and some harsh realities. He should also have our adult children speak as well.

    But I do not believe the horrors they would hear would move them to
    actually begin to defend marriages.

    I cannot imagine any course of action that will “save” the Catholic Church. Not really.

  • But the best case scenario is not going to happen–you haven’t been paying close enough attention to the Pope’s statements and actions.

    Dunno. The man is erratic. The conclave made a wretched error, ’tis true.

  • John Paul is right it won’t be ex cathedra. That means infallibilty is intact no matter what he says.
    I’ve heard that in the hierarchy of truths ecumenical councils are on the top, then papal encyclicals, then everything else. This isn’t the end of the world either way.

  • That’s a low quality dialogue. I look forward to the days when no one in charge has a personal investment and attachment to Vatican II. Then we can cut it up and move on with actual tradition instead of the manufactured ones from recent decades.

  • Naughty! you have Marcel referring to “Pope Francis” i.e. in quotes. The SSPX are not sedevacantist.

  • Perhaps, we should take comfort in the words of Cardinal Manning: “The enunciation of the faith by the living Church of this hour, is the maximum of evidence, both natural and supernatural, as to the fact and the contents of the original revelation. I know what are revealed there not by retrospect, but by listening” “Do you or do you not believe,” he asks, “that there is a Divine Person teaching now, as in the beginning, with a divine, and therefore infallible voice ; and that the Church of this hour is the organ through which He speaks to the world ? If so, the history, and antiquity, and facts, as they are called, of the past vanish before the presence of an order of facts which are divine namely, the unity, perpetuity, infallibility of the Church of God: the body and visible witness of the Incarnate Word, the dwelling and organ of the Holy Ghost now as in the beginning.”
    Bl John Henry Newman was of the same mind, “There is, I repeat, an essential difference between the act of submitting to a living oracle, and to his written words; in the former case there is no appeal from the speaker, in the latter the final decision remains with the reader… I can fancy a man magisterially expounding St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians or to the Ephesians, who would be better content with the writer’s absence than his sudden reappearance among us; lest the Apostle should take his own meaning out of his commentator’s hands and explain it for himself.”

  • I think there is a distinction to be made. It is possible for the Pope to decide that in our current society most marriages are entered into with a presumption that divorce is an option and if the couples “fall out of love” the appropriate course is to divorce. Obviously if either person enters into a marriage with this belief they lack the intent to a lifelong commitment and were never married. ( Their marriage is invalid) , for this reason a prenuptial agreement is almost prima faciae evidence for an annulment. and thus many Catholics might be able to get an annulment via an internal forum. Now I am not asserting I agree with this line of reasoning entirely, as it leaves itself open to great abuse and may effectively undermine marriage ( which in many ways is on life support already), but the Pope could reason this way and not contradict any doctrine or teaching of the Church. I think if we go down the divorce and remarriage route this is what we will see. The practical consequences of this however will likely play themselves out as a further Protestantization of the Catholic Church. It is a lot easier to believe that God would expect marriage to be permanent, then that he becomes substantially present in the Eucharist. We should all be saying the Rosary for the Church, since we are headed for a cliff at present.

  • I, and I’m sure at least a few others, who would dearly love to see the “extraordinary rite” become more accessible and available, find the characterization of “Marcel” a painful stereotype that somehow tars us by implication.

  • Dan Allman,

    I appreciate your statement. The problem of characterization by stereotype may be a useful rhetorical flourish but it actually creates more ‘smoke’ than ‘heat’ or ‘light’. Many on this list would characterize me as the John Paul character-but that is not me either.

    The Extraordinary Rite is a beautiful form of the much larger Latin Rite [there are several forms of it]. There is a problem however when people in any ‘rite’ [and here I speak of my own “Ordinary Form” as well as any others] either want to make ‘our’ rite ‘the only rite’ or even worse, into an ideological camp which in fact impairs and often harms the catholicity and unity of the Church.

  • All of the doctrines and statements re marriage are based on interpretation of what Jesus said via the lens of western cultural thought. Divorce was allowed by God in the Old Testament and the process was prescribed in detail in the law. God in his grace and mercy allowed divorce and remarriage. Jesus was talking to the Jewish religious leaders and the upholders of Jewish religious law. He was saying that they weren’t following the law and men separating from their wives weren’t following the proper procedures and granting them bills of divorcement – thereby causing them to commit adultery in their new relationships. Putting away or separating was not the same as divorcement and a certificate of divorce is required by God to properly end a marriage otherwise people who remarry are in a state of adultery.
    The teachings of the churches both Catholic and Protestant have created a mess regarding divorce and remarriage and bound people in ways that God in his grace and mercy never ordained.

  • That sounds plausible Jane, if I hadn’t read the text for myself.
    Just so we are talking about the same thing:
    Matthew 19.1-15

    19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there.

    3 Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked,
    ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?’
    4 He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”,
    5 and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?
    6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
    7 They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?’
    8 He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so.
    9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.’*

    10 His disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’
    11 But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given.
    12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’

    not based on western interpretation, look at the Church Fathers.
    sample: Athenagoras (about 177 AD) “Plea for the Christian”

    A person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery. “For whosoever puts away his wife,” says He, “and marries another, commits adultery”; not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to many again. For he who deprives himself of his first wife, even though she be dead, is a cloaked adulterer, resisting the hand of God, because in the beginning God made one man and one woman, and dissolving the strictest union of flesh with flesh, formed for the intercourse of the race.598

  • What is infuriating about this piece is not that the argument it fictionalizes is implausible, but that it it does nothing to resolve them. I agree with Ross Douthat—we need to take seriously the possibility that the Synod will do something earth-shatteringly stupid and start thinking through the implications. Not just satirizing (albeit well) the ensuing conversation. As others have said before, the best-case scenario is “Humanæ vitæ II,” which is catastrophe. And it’s all downhill from there. Unless Francis resigns or is recalled to the head office before the Synod, and his replacement stops it, we are in for the roughest ride in generations.

  • Anzlyne

    The issue of second marriages, even after the death of a spouse was a vexed one in the early Church and Anthenagoras’s remark that “he who deprives himself of his first wife, even though she be dead, is a cloaked adulterer” had many supporters.

    St Jerome famously took a middle path, saying that, whilst he did not commend second marriages, he did not condemn them.
    In the East, the rite for second marriages has a penitential character and is seen as a concession (economia) to human frailty and, in the West, the rule that a woman might receive the Nuptial Benediction (the blessing at the end of the Pater Noster in the Nuptial Mass) is a relic of the severer view.
    Again the rule that men who had married twice (or who had married a widow) are irregular and cannot receive Holy Orders is universal in the East and applied in the West too, but subject to the dispensing power, until the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

  • “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” I am not speaking of marriage between a man and a woman, I am speaking of the Sacrament of Matrimony instituted by Jesus Christ. If Divine Wisdom chooses that Matrimony is to be between a man and a woman exclusively, leaving out the Creator, procreation cannot happen. The begetting of children cannot happen without the Creator.
    Since Adam and Eve, in the garden, when God brought Eve to Adam, the first marriage, God created marriage as surely as God created Adam and Eve. God is a part of every marriage. Jesus raised marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament.

  • Mr.Price is right about H.V. The Pope drew an authoritative line in the sand and then watched passively as Priests created a storm that obliterated it.

    And now he too will be canonised

  • The Pope drew an authoritative line in the sand and then watched passively as Priests created a storm that obliterated it.

    The Pope is not in a position to discipline priest bar in spot circumstances. Bishops have to do that. The trouble with Paul VI is that the Holy See interfered with Cdl. O’Boyle’s attempt to do that and this set a bad example.

    That having been said, the disciplinary breakdown in the Church was pretty comprehensive at the time and it’s doubtful other bishops were inclined to do much (and were preoccupied with other disasters as well). Some years ago, Louis Tarsitano and Patrick Henry Reardon offered some reminiscences about life in minor and major seminaries prior to 1970 and in the period succeeding. Leon Podles has also offered his memory of seminary life ca. 1966. Recall the Rudy Kos case? The salient decision on his admission to seminary was made in 1974. Here, there, and the next place there was a mad insistence on keeping the sacramental assembly line rolling. That had to have severely vitiated the inclination of bishops to discipline errant clergy (over and above losses from departures from the priesthood).

  • Pope Paul VI had Universal Jurisdiction and he should have dropped the excommunication bomb on the Curran 600 the day they went public confessing their heresy

  • The dissent from within, from the clergy down, is what will destroy the Church – but not completely…. there will be a remnant.

  • Amateur Brain Surgeon wrote, “Pope Paul VI had Universal Jurisdiction and he should have dropped the excommunication bomb on the Curran 600 the day they went public confessing their heresy.”

    As Art Deco points out, we know that Rome pursued exactly the opposite course. The Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ. George Weigal has called this the “Truce of 1968.”

    We had been here before. I have always seen a quite remarkable similarity between the “Truce of 1968” and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy.

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document had been issued that was intended to be definitive and in both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten, whilst argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question at all.

    In the Jansenist case, in 1664, Alexander VII decided to require the subscription of the clergy to Innocent X’s bull of 1653, condemning the Five Propositions. There was enormous resistance, particularly in France and the Low Countries, with widespread and vocal opposition from bishops, theologians and the lower clergy.

    Peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit. The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI, in Vineam Domini Sabaoth declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was even more resistance, with a cardinal, 18 bishops and 3,000 priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

  • Francis is not a seething modernist. He is not some wily really smart politician trying to reach out to more people while retaining crypto-orthodoxy. He is not trying to connect with the East. All three interlocutors are wrong. He is just not the most dazzling PR guy, savvy politician, or theologically minded person to sit on the throne for the past century or two. A vague set of opinions, rather than a clear ideology or theology; friendly chatting and speculation, espousing a lack of clear presentation; and a belief that to be taken seriously he has to impress the cool liberal kids, characterize the learn-as-you-go papacy. He just says stuff. He just does stuff. He was raised Catholic, gets asked questions about religion, rather like your friend down the street. Except he can quote more authors – I mean, he could if he wanted to, but he probably thinks that would bore people more than analogies about Martians and stories about how he rode the bus to work; so, he doesn’t.

  • George Weigel opined:
    “the Truce of 1968 “decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle should lift canonical penalties against those priests who informed the cardinal privately that they agreed that the Church’s teaching (in Humanae Vitae) on “the objective evil of contraception” was “an authentic expression of [the] magisterium.” The Congregation explicitly avoided requiring that the priests, who had dissented publicly, retract their dissent publicly”.
    Some 46 years later:
    “…The Truce of 1968 taught theologians, priests, and other Church professionals that dissent from authoritative teaching was, essentially, cost-free…(ii) taught bishops inclined to defend authoritative Catholic teaching vigorously that they should think twice about doing so, if controversy were likely to follow; Rome, fearing schism, was nervous about public action against dissent…and (iii) Catholic lay people learned…“that virtually everything in the Church was questionable: doctrine, morals, the priesthood, the episcopate, the lot.” Thus the impulse toward Cafeteria Catholicism got a decisive boost from the Truce of 1968…”
    Should any Catholic really be concerned about the fate of nineteen rebel priests whose public dissent from Pope Paul VI’s teaching yielded so much tainted fruit.
    It is written that “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:16.

  • Slainté asks, “Should any Catholic really be concerned about the fate of nineteen rebel priests whose public dissent from Pope Paul VI’s teaching yielded so much tainted fruit?”
    Insofar as that fate was the result of the decision of a Roman dicastery (probably with Papal approval), yes. Like Clement IX’s failure to discipline the four French bishops that dissented from Regiminis Apostolici, it produced precisely the results that George Weigal describes; it weakened the supporters of papal authority and strengthened its opponents.
    The “Peace of Clement IX” produced a whole generation of the “duped Jansenists” and the “Truce of 1968” has produced a similar effect.
    Suppose the subscription of the clergy had been required to the central dogmatic teaching of Humanae Vitae, namely, “No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law. It is in fact indisputable, as Our predecessors have many times declared, that Jesus Christ, when He communicated His divine power to Peter and the other Apostles and sent them to teach all nations His commandments, constituted them as the authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel but also of the natural law. For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men’s eternal salvation,” I believe the overwhelming majority would have subscribed.
    It would not, of itself, have resolved the question of pastoral prudence in its teaching and application: “we know,” says Lord Macaulay, “through what strange loopholes the human mind contrives to escape, when it wishes to avoid a disagreeable inference from an admitted proposition. We know how long the Jansenists contrived to believe the Pope infallible in matters of doctrine, and at the same time to believe doctrines which he pronounced to be heretical,” but the principle of the authority of the Magisterium would have been put beyond question.

  • MPS, if the rebellious 19’s dissent was limited solely to the teachings contained in Humanae Vitae, might they not have just claimed “conscience” as a basis for their dissent?
    Instead, they attacked magisterial infallibility. In effect, they sought to cast doubt on the entirety of infallible teachings held by the Church…possibly a way to renegotiate dogma in line with a “living and evolving faith”?
    How then does the Church discipline would be reformers without turning them into martyrs (especially in the chaotic 1960s)?

The Wimpification of Catholicism

Wednesday, December 4, AD 2013


And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,  
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.

GK Chesterton, Lepanto


Father Z has an on target post on the transformation of the Church Militant into the Church Mushy:

There is a good post at Cream City Catholic, which originates in Milwaukee, WI.  He tackles the question of why fewer men go to Mass than women.

This article, appearing in The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, discusses various efforts being made by Milwaukee-area churches (Catholic and non-Catholic) to attract men back to the pews. [Reason #12 for SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM!!] The concern is that men are, for some mysterious reason, [Not mysterious to me.] checking out from liturgy or other Christian services.


According to a statistic presented in the article, the male/female discrepancy is especially felt in the Catholic Church, where 64% of parish life is comprised of women.

So why are the guys MIA?

This is another one of those instances within our local Church where you have a lot of people who subscribe to the conventional wisdom scratching their heads and asking “Why? Why? Why?” when the answer is not particularly elusive. This really isn’t a surprise to me, or to many others. I recall attending Mass in Rome at a local parish and, unbeknownst to me when I entered, it was a “Children’s Mass”. Start to finish, the liturgy was replete with childish, Sesame Street-styled songs and embarrassing hand motions. As I scanned the pews, only two groups of people were participating: the small children, and the women, especially the older women. The men, from young to old, were standing there, stone-faced, arms crossed, totally disengaged. It was painful. The music and everything else was thoroughly emasculating. No self-respecting man would participate in that. And they didn’t. If this is what is meant by “active participation” on the part of the laity, I and lots of guys, want nothing to do with it. Run for the hills.

This phenomenon has been replicated ad nauseam in the United States as well.

Authentic masculinity has been knee-capped in our Church. [OORAH!] This trend is conspicuously apparent in our liturgical life, as any manifestation of authentic masculinity is attacked as boorish male chauvinism, old manifestations of discrimination and oppression from a Church that is “unfairly” dominated by an all-male hierarchy. (The article cites an example of a parish in the Diocese of Madison where the pastor insisted on only boys serving as acolytes. Predictably, he received tons of criticism as a result. Fortunately, Bishop Morlino backed up his priest.) [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] What’s more, many of the “liturgical planning committees” have been taken over by women. The embellishments of many church buildings often look like a Jo-Ann Fabric was detonated inside. Pastel ribbons, crafts, baskets, streamers, quilts…BOOM!

What I’ve often referred to as the “Oprahfication” of our Church has had a direct effect on the number of men who opt out of liturgy. Much of our Church culture has imbibed a pandering, touchy-feely, soft sofa approach to dealing with real challenges, and guys don’t dig that. Coupled with a de-emphasis on the Sacramental life, the Eucharist in particular, many men simply see no point in attending Mass if all they’re “getting” is meaningless psychobabble and Stuart Smalley motivational talks.


Dead on.

Vast swathes of the Church have been wussified.   Part of this is internal to the Church.  Part of this comes from the decades long war on boys and men.

Continue reading...

58 Responses to The Wimpification of Catholicism

  • This is dead on. Cream City Catholic hit it right on the head!

  • Very good.

    Our Arch-diocese in Wellington has been taken over by the feminazis. They have banned deacons from being ordained for Wellington. They have “Lay Pastoral Leaders”- mostly women -because they are running out of priests – they haven’t had an ordination to the priesthood for about 7 years, and of the 50 odd priests in the diocese, about 35 are over 65 and due for retirement in the next 5 – 10 years. We have a couple of deacons in our diocese -migrants, one from South Africa and one from UK – who have moved to Hamilton because of the ban on deacons in Wellington.

    My last homily a few weeks ago, I had a couple of complaints, all women. One of them was the same one (of three) who complained about my homily a few months ago. The Truth is the Truth – irrespective of what anyone thinks. I love getting the complaints; it shows that you are getting the message through, and the ones who complain are the ones the message is for. And besides, I have always loved a scrap. 🙂

  • “And besides, I have always loved a scrap.”

    Same for me Don! I rather suspect my Irish ancestors, not to mention my Cherokee forebears, would disown me en masse if it were otherwise! 🙂

  • My brothers and I have been saying this for years. However, real men need to fight back and not exit – even when it likely means you will be looked upon and treated as diseased.

  • Amen. They’re right it’s across the USA as I know plenty of protestant churches dealing with the same.

    I suspect infection from the wider culture which has twisted the “original sin” concept into what is now known as “privilege”. Thus males have it, females don’t.

  • There was a time when the Pope called men to battle against things like the Islamic incursion into Europe. Today we are told to be conciliatory, to have dialog, to maintain an open mind to diversity, and to be inclusive. Not me. Not ever.

  • I love this. As a woman, even before becoming a Christian and then converting to the Catholic faith, I struggled with finding a real man. It made me squirm to get a fish handshake. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be brought to tears by an overly “gotta break the bones’ type of handshake, but what attracted me to my husband was he treated me like a lady. When introduced he firmly shook my hand and opened doors for me. When I was wrong he gently but firmly corrected me, most especially since I was a new Christian and he wanted to make sure my foundation was strong. We raised our 5 children to do same. Don’t back down when you’re right. Our parish has an ALL BOY altar. No girls are allowed. Before finding this tiny, beautifully masculine church, we attended the church in our neighborhood. They were taught that only boys should be on the altar (by me, in this my husband did not have an opinion, at that time) so when girls were being pushed onto the altar, my boys stepped down. Also, in a children’s Mass where the priest called the children to the altar for hand holding lalalala singing children to come up during Consecration, my boys, under the age of 12 (we were in the front pews) stood up, walked to the door, knelt down towards the altar and prayed for God’s forgiveness for leaving. I followed and took them to a different Mass explaining that although I was proud of them for standing up for what is obviously wrong, leaving at the time of Consecration was probably not the best thing to do. 🙂 All of this is to say, MEN… don’t give up. Stand strong and proud. There are still good women out there that need REAL MEN. Our little parish in the projects (we lovingly nicknamed it “Our Lady of the Hood”) is turning out priests because the men are standing up with gentle and loving corrections without backing down. Yes, we have had ladies leave for being told to cover their bodies and yes, we have had several complaints. But the men, beginning with our spiritual father on down to the committees stand fast to being men and don’t back down. Stand fast. I beg you. Stand fast.

  • This is absolutely a problem. A major part of the issue lies in the last half century of the 20th century in which the West went through a vast cultural and therefore civilization revolution. A major aspect of this cultural revolution was the rise not simply of feminism, but militant feminism, which actually was/is just as much a fundamentalist movement as the Islamicist version-just different ‘doctrines’. Coupled with this was the rising of the Gay Liberation movement beginning in the late 60’s in Greenwich Village. These revolutionary social movements, coupled with the sexual revolution and then sprinkled with all sorts of leftist and even marxist ideologies was a potent mix for the West in general and America in particular.

    Vatican II did not arise from this potent brew, and while calling for the equality of women and the dignity of the person, was in no way part of that revolution. Of course, sadly, there were Catholics who saw it as part of that revolution, both what we now might call the so called “progressives” and now the ‘traditionalists’-both of whom see VII as a radical break in the Tradition of the Church.

    Catholics in America cannot underestimate the sociological implications of the election of the first Catholic President in 1960. That along with Vatican II reforms led to a certain ‘inculturation perspective’ which in the words of Father Robert Barron left the Church ‘beige’, an mild, non-offensive color that speaks of blending in, of not standing out, but definitely an absence of striking color-always a real Catholic aesthete.

    We have entered the age, not of gender equality (something to be valued) but gender neutrality. Forgetting the idiotic moves to make single sex public rest rooms and the like, we see it in women breaking through all ‘glass ceilings’ [again this can be a value] but understood as breaking through all limitations [which in other words marks them specifically as ‘women’: all gender identity limits:all!]. The other is the move of society away from the sense of identity one has and receives in one’s own body: gender: as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’, and moving to the real inner person an one’s own sexual attraction identification. We have gone from the incarnate objective sense of marriage between man and woman, to the same gender unions [I refuse to call them ‘marriage’] We have gone from the incarnate and objective sense of self to the fluid sense of self based on ‘feelings’ and ‘attractions’

    What we have is the rise of the ancient, resilient and virulent heresy called ‘Gnosticism’. Creation is bad, the body is bad, the inner person is what counts; salvation is found in the enlightenment that comes with real knowledge of who we are in the cosmos. Gnosticism arose about the same time as the Church (we see it [its refutation] in some of the ‘later’ New Testament Letters). Saint Irenaeus led the charge in the third century to undo the damage it was doing in the Church at that time. Gnosticism later arose in the new heresy of Manicheanism, which had trapped the young academic Augustine. Its virulent form portrayed itself as ‘the new Christianity’ [are forms of Christianity today following suit?] , nonetheless it preached the same old dualisms, most especially against creation and sex. Saint Augustine was able to respond and to defeat its forces, after his conversion. It arose again in the Cathars, the Pure Ones in southern France in the 12th and 13th century. While ‘crusades’ were called to extirpate the insidious heresy, it was Saint Dominic, his band of Preachers and the rosary that really defeated the Cathars. I would hold that Gnosticism arose again within the more radical elements of the Enlightenment. Descartes dualism of mind and body, his distaste for and desire to rid the world of all traditions, his call for a ‘reformation’ based on ‘reason alone’ all centered on his rather simple yet profoundly dangerous: Cogito ergo sum. “I think, therefore I am” [or as it is found today: I think, therefore it is=ideology] This new form of Gnosticism has been at work well over two centuries, and we are witnessing its fruits.

    We need to rediscover ‘male spirituality’. There is one, although people suspect it as being a front for male ego. I am not speaking about going off to find one’s primal rage etc. I am speaking of a very simple, embodied spirituality: man desires to DO. There are other aspects which I would like to put on the table as well. Man in his innards ‘challenges’, draws one out of oneself [He both needs that as well as to do it for others]. He seeks to ‘guard and protect’. These are just a few that come to mind at this moment.

    The Church in the 21st century needs to rediscover in the saints our real ‘archetypes’. Knights, soldiers-how many saints began as knights or soldiers! Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Camillus de Lillis, John of God. While they didn’t begin as soldiers who could ever question the male spirituality of a Francis Xavier or Isaac Jogues? Or how about Francis De Sales in his Introduction to the Devout Life? or the ‘tough’ spirituality of Saint John of the Cross [his name alone could make some shudder]. There is certainly nothing squishy or beige about Thomas More, layman, married man and father, lawyer, politician, chancellor of England, “The King’s servant but God’s first’.

    Let’s forget the beige and put some color back into the Church and the world

  • You’re talking too much Truth, Botolph!


    Sadly, people like Marcus Tallius Cicero and John the Baptist lost their heads for speaking Truth.


    Do keep yours on. We need it.

  • Well said Botolph. I think it ultimately goes back to original sin and the delusion that we are gods or evolving into gods and of our own making. Like with God there is no flesh to limit us, no matter to bound us, no deign imparted to direct us. It is my will that I determine who and what I am, not anyone else’s will that has limited me to what I really am. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be whatever you want to be! Your possibilities are limitless!” But as GK Chesterton pointed out the paradox, in limitation we find freedom.

  • Anecdotal: Of a Saturday afternoon a few years back, I went to the parish Church to make a Confession.

    As you may understand, these days the lines are short; even with one priest hearing. I went behind an elderly woman, and thought, “I’ll be in in no time.”

    ‘Twasn’t so.

    The saintly-looking woman was with Father McCarthy for a half an hour. I could not imagine what Father heard from this octogenarian.

  • Hey guys,

    What’s more, many of the “liturgical planning committees” have been taken over by women. The embellishments of many church buildings often look like a Jo-Ann Fabric was detonated inside. Pastel ribbons, crafts, baskets, streamers, quilts…BOOM!

    Let’s just remember that some of us girls don’t like the Jo-Ann detonation, either. Post-traumatic stress disorder. When I go to church I want to get away from all that. And the maneuverings of female-dominated liturgical planning committees.

  • Even the quilt-like avatars generated by WordPress for these comments make me anxious. I need to look into getting an avatar for myself.

  • At Tamsin: lol! I thought it was just me! lol… The Crucifix, stained glass windows, flowers (in humble moderation), altar candles… that is enough for me. My heart swells with joy at the simplicity of an under-decorated church. 🙂

  • Even the quilt-like avatars generated by WordPress for these comments make me anxious. I need to look into getting an avatar for myself.

    Don’t you wish you were manly like me? lol

    My heart swells with joy at the simplicity of an under-decorated church.

    You should see some of the church buildings of my protestant denomination. “Dry wall? That’s just the first step in decoration and distraction!”

    Seriously though, while I will praise Catholic churches for so often being very beautiful and breathtaking, it’s not for every believer. Maybe unity could be achieved (or get closer) if a little more variation was allowed. Like why can’t there be some buildings designed for those of us preferring an ascetic worship room?

  • As a convert, I remember that all too well. 🙂 After my first Mass I remember thinking that God touched all my senses with His beauty – my eyes with the stained glass windows, my nose with incense of prayer raising up to God, my ears with the angelic choir, and the touch of a warm handshake as we greeted one another as a sign of peace. I didn’t need anything else… until my first Communion. Ahhh… now there… the taste sense – even though there is no flavor in the Eucharist, the thought of Jesus entering my body was overwhelming. No need for anything else.

  • You, (dare I say it?) “ladies” are inspirational~

  • I always had the impression that elaborate ritual, dress and decoration was a “girly” thing and men want to keep things simple and uncluttered. (How many men, for example, really care about the color scheme and decorations for their wedding, or on the length of the curtains in the living room, etc.?) If that were the case I would think the “new” Mass and newer-style churches devoid of all the smells and bells would be MORE appealing to men, not the other way around. Why is this, apparently, not the case?

  • Elaine, I’m not sure I understand your question.

  • Pingback: 50 Years Since Sacrosanctum Concilium -
  • First let me say I admire the mastery of seamstresses and tailors. The more so because of my own failed, albeit necessary, attempts at sewing by hand and by machine. I can appreciate the competence of others.
    To my mind, Jo-Ann fabric decor is temporal. It fixes me in the here-and-now, rather than in the eternal. Much the same can be said of OCP music and Marty Haugen.
    Even if lace surplice designs were at one time temporal, they now seem eternal. Chant is other-worldly too, now. I think that’s why I like jazz music. Though very recent, certain varieties can slip the surly bonds of earth, so to speak. The rhythm dares to be irregular, like chant.

  • Elaine: I would imagine that men don’t much care about the wedding decorations and dress, etc, because they aren’t allowed to. The Bride, and certainly her mother, will quickly overrule anything the poor groom has to say. So he wisely keeps his mouth shut.

    My son used to be long to the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts Honor society. His particular chapter had some very nice (and expensive!) “Native American” garb and drum, flute set for the Cub Scout/Webelos cross over ceremonies. And then of course there is the entire induction into the Order ceremony and all that. Lots of pomp. Give men a chance (and no women to quibble about their choices), and, yes, they care just as much as the women.

  • Nate Winchester….
    “Like why can’t there be some buildings designed for those of us preferring an ascetic worship room? –

    Ummm, that would be the confessional. Can’t get more ascetic than a dark box…very restful too. When you’re all done giving over your sins to God, you leave feeling like a million pounds have been lifted off your shoulders. Highly recommend it on all accounts….saves on therapist bills too. : )

  • Botolph

    The great Catholic philosopher (and my former tutor), Miss Anscombe, explained the illusion of “the self” very well.

    “The first explanation of self-consciousness that may occur to someone, and what the form of the expression suggests, is this: it is consciousness of a self. A self will be something that some things either have or are. If a thing has it, it is something connected with the thing, in virtue of which the thing that has it is able to say, and mean, “I.” It is what he calls “I.” Being able to mean “I” is thus explained as having the right sort of thing to call “I.” The fanciful use of the word, if someone should put a placard “I am only a waxwork” on a wax policeman, or in the label on the bottle in Alice in Wonderland “Drink me,” is a pretence that the objects in question have (or are) selves. The self is not a Cartesian idea, but it may be tacked on to Cartesian Ego theory and is a more consequent development of it than Descartes’s identification of ‘this I’ with his soul. If things are, rather than having, selves, then a self is something, for example a human being, in a special aspect, an aspect which he has as soon as he becomes a ‘person’. “I” will then be the name used by each one only for himself (this is a direct reflexive) and precisely in that aspect.

    On these views one would explain “self” in “self-consciousness” either by explaining what sort of object that accompanying self was, or by explaining what the aspect was. Given such explanation, one might have that special ‘way of being given’ of an object which is associated with the name one uses in speaking of it.

    Now all this is strictly nonsensical. It is blown up out of a misconstrue of the reflexive pronoun. That it is nonsense comes out also in the following fact: it would be a question what guaranteed that one got hold of the right self, that is, that the self a man called “I” was always connected with him, or was always the man himself. Alternatively, if one said that “the self connected with a man” meant just the one he meant by “I” at any time, whatever self that was, it would be by a mere favour of fate that it had anything else to do with him.” [The First Person 1975]

  • Kimberly, what I mean is that men like my own father had little if any use for formalities of any kind. He disliked wearing suits and ties — he called them “monkey suits” — and preferred blue-collar work. Although he was a longtime Knight of Columbus, he never had any interest in becoming Fourth Degree because he didn’t want to have to wear the fancy “getup”. He preferred paper plates to china and would eat just about anything set before him as long as it was edible. He owned only used cars and didn’t care what they looked like as long as they got you from Point A to Point B. Not the kind of guy who would fuss over anything.

    He was a faithful Mass-goer all his life, until he became too infirm to continue. I never had the chance to ask him what he personally thought of the switch from the Tridentine Mass to the Novus Ordo, but I suspect that he either didn’t care or actually preferred the switch to English and the simpler, more prosaic prayers. He, and many other guys of his generation, simply were not into aesthetics, and I can’t imagine why they would, either consciously or unconsciously, think that moving away from Latin and all the “smells and bells” made attending Mass less manly.

    As for the notion that men aren’t “allowed” to participate in wedding planning, well, isn’t that kind of a chicken and egg question — men are left out because (generally, not in every instance) if they had their druthers they would just as soon reduce the wedding ceremony to 5 minutes, replace the reception with a hot dog roast and be done with it? The stereotype, at least, is that they merely endure all the planning and ritual for the sake of making the bride happy.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour,

    First, it is good to see you back commenting! Secondly, you were indeed blessed to have had Miss Anscombe as your tutor, although I confess my knowledge of Wittgenstein is not what it should be.

    Although Descartes was attempting to find philosophical “terra firma” in an age of great skepticism due to the vast social changes arising in the early Modern Era, he inverted the traditional metaphysics ( being, reality) and epistemology ( knowing) so that epistemology (what I Know, what I think) reigned supreme over metaphysics (being, reality, what can be known). Idea, not Being, Reality, reigned/reigns supreme

  • Sadly, over the past half century, we have witnessed the degeneration of the Church
    Militant into the Church Milquetoast. Even Vatican documents have stated that we are to merely propose the Gospel to the world, not proclaim the Gospel as the eternal and saving truth of God.

  • Thomas Collins,

    The Church’s statement is: “The Church proposes not imposes”. There is no backing away from the proclamation of the Gospel and the fullness of the Catholic Faith. In fact, this is what the New Evangelization is all about. What the statement, ” the Church proposes not imposes” means is that the Church proclaims and teaches without socio-political power imposing herself or her teachings on others overwhelming their freedom. God doesn’t do this an neither can/should the Church.

  • Ahh yes, Elaine. I understand what you are saying. I’m sorry I didn’t before and appreciate your explanation. First, let me say… you have a beautiful father. How wonderful it must have been to be raised by such a Godly and humble man and I’m sure the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I agree that there is a good portion of men that won’t notice because their focus is on their relationship with God not the ruffles decoration the church.

    Wow. To the incredible gentlemen of philosophy. I envy your ability to understand. My husband is amazing like that too but I cannot even come close to philosophical discussion that deep without getting dizzy… 🙂 It’s always a prayer of mine that God will bless me with the ability to become a deeper thinker… until then, I’m always impressed with those who have that strength.

    I do want to say, I love the dark Confessional… I always tell my Confirmation students that it will save their parents loads of therapy bills! So when I read you comment, Nate, I cracked up.

    When I married, my dad gave my husband marital advice that went like this: “Son, if your wife wants pink lacy curtains in your dining room, trust me on this…. just smile sweetly and say, ‘yes, dear’…” this all in a very pink, lacy dining room. The funny thing about it is that my husband actually has a better eye for decorating than I do so I always give him a choice and go with that. It does make him feel like he had a part in it and I still get my way because I always bring my 2 favorite choices to him to choose from. Win win. But in the end he always says he could live very well with crates and white walls. 🙂

  • [I]f they had their druthers they would just as soon reduce the wedding ceremony to 5 minutes, replace the reception with a hot dog roast and be done with it? The stereotype, at least, is that they merely endure all the planning and ritual for the sake of making the bride happy.

    In my case, it was the opposite–I wanted to elope (or a least a much smaller wedding) and have pizza at the park for the rehearsal dinner. I got overruled by the groom’s father–and given a huge list of invites; many people I didn’t know. My own father would’ve let us go to Lake Tahoe, but he might have been a bit hurt if we did. As it was, the suit he wore was way more expensive then the suit the groom wore.
    Our former priest (from Russia) wanted one altar boy (and certainly no girls!). The new priest wants as many boys/men up with him as possible to carry candles and incense and engage in processions. The Novus Ordo and the new style parishes buildings themselves may appeal to men, but I think they are turned off by the felt banners and emotionalism of it all. My boys much prefer the Byzantine Rite.

  • The 17th century was indeed an age of great scepticism, the principle cause of which was the stalemate in which the Wars of Religion in France ((Nine of them between 1562–98) and the Thirty Years’ War in Germany (1618–1648) ended.

    Montaigne’s life from 1533 to 1592 spans the Wars of Religion and Descartes’s from 1596 to 1650 runs from their conclusion to the end of the Thirty Years’ War.

    The deadlock between Catholic and Protestant with neither able to gain ground against the other, in controversy or in arms, led many to believe that traditional metaphysics had been completely discredited. That they coincided with great advances in mathematics (not least the analytical geometry of Descartes) and in the physical sciences inspired the hope for a Copernican Revolution in philosophy.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    The unity of the Catholic vision (not always well presented) underlying Western Civilization which saw communion between faith and reason, truth and beauty, the male and feminine, Scripture and Tradition, the one and the many, had been shattered by the Reformation’s “faith alone/Scripture alone/grace alone, led by Luther. The unity of the West was shattered (and we are still attempting to regain it). As you related: the Wars of Religion in both France and Germany left the West in deep skepticism and thus open to the secularizing force of the next revolution, the Enlightenment led by Descartes who’s revolutionary cry was ‘Reason alone!” Both the Reformation and the Enlightenment scorned tradition. Both saw themselves as beginning a brand new era.

    You mention Montaigne. I took a double major in college: Philosophy and French. The French was less on the spoken language and far more on the great literature. Among others I read Montaigne in the original 🙂 I basically had a double major in Philosophy 🙂

  • Botolphe wrote…”…Both the Reformation and the Enlightenment scorned tradition. Both saw themselves as beginning a brand new era….”

    You have just expressed a thought which some Catholics embrace regarding whether the Second Vatican Council wasn’t merely a continuation of this secular liberalizing trend which was willfully imbued and incorporated into the Church by some of her own bishops under the guise of “pastoral considerations”.

  • The church is the foundation of our civilization and our order. As such, it will always provoke resentment among the male of our species, who generally prefers to watch things blow up and burn down. Oftentimes, the only reason men bothered to come to church at all was because the women worth marrying, or else the pestering mothers that they became, insisted they do so — echoing the role of Mary instructing the crowds to do whatever Jesus says. That is at least part of the reason why men like Clovis and Constantine and Augustine eventually gave up the struggle. Then as now, if you want to know the best way to get men to do something, cherchez la femme.

  • “As such, it will always provoke resentment among the male of our species….”

    I am a man – a male of our species. I love Holy Mother Church with all my heart.

    “…who generally prefers to watch things blow up and burn down.”

    I as a man prefer to build things – like giant 1000 megawatt nuclear reactors to supply low cost, pollution-free energy.

    “Oftentimes, the only reason men bothered to come to church at all was because the women worth marrying…”

    Yes, the woman whom I am to marry is a very beautiful Filipino Roman Catholic. That’s not why I go to Church, and in fact, we never met at Church since she goes to one Parish and I to another. I actually go to Church to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. So does she. Sometimes we even worship together.

    “…else the pestering mothers that they became, insisted they do so….”

    Yes, my pestering mother – a devout Assemblies of God Pentecostal – wouldn’t give up on my conversion, which took a turn that she never expected. Thank God for pestering mothers.

    “Then as now, if you want to know the best way to get men to do something, cherchez la femme.”

    I do what I do not because of my mother or my fiancée. I do what I do – go to Church, attend Confession, go to Adoration, etc. – because I am a sick human being and I know that left to my own devices I shall surely drink and drug again, and then die. I prefer to avoid that fate, so in a fit of selfishness (I really want to live) I do all those things because I know that one day at a time they will keep me sane and sober (in spite of my best efforts to the contrary) so that I can love my pestering mother and adore my beautiful Filipino financee.

  • Slainte,

    Your comment is interesting. Indeed there are two groupings of Catholics who ‘see’ Vatican II as a rupture of tradition. Neither can stand the other but they actually end up in the same category. They are so called ‘progressives’ and “ultra traditionalists’ [I use this term so as not to confuse with those who simply love and deserve the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

    Vatican II is very much in continuity with the tradition of the Church when we understand tradition as the essentials. It is those who rejoice and those who lament that Vatican II is the beginning of a brand new era who are the ‘children of the Enlightenment’

  • I am a man – a male of our species. I love Holy Mother Church with all my heart.


    I do not doubt that, and good on you. But while there are exceptions to every generalization, they do not make those generalizations useless. I am not saying every little boy loves playing in the mud and staying dirty, but in general, washing up is not something they come to without some prodding. Even in your case, it is apparently a mother’s persuasion that churched you up, even if it was not in the way she might have expected. And I suspect if you were able to trace the details of how Christianity came to be a presence in your family to begin with, displacing the blood sacrifices or warrior gods or mystery cults or whatever else might have appealed more to the boy in you, you would find numerous other examples of what I am talking about.

  • “And I suspect if you were able to trace the details of how Christianity came to be a presence in your family to begin with, displacing the blood sacrifices or warrior gods or mystery cults or whatever else might have appealed more to the boy in you, you would find numerous other examples of what I am talking about.”

    HA, are you a Christian?

    Blood sacrifices – the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

    Warrior God – Jesus Christ when He returns on that great white horse with the Sword of Truth coming out of His mouth – Revelation 19:11-16

    Mystery Cult – the ultimate mystery: the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist.

    Everything that a boy may want is all here in authentic Christianity. Neither blood sacrifice, nor warrior God, nor mystery has been displaced. Rather, it is paganism which displaced the authentic truth of God’s plan of salvation for mankind that began in Genesis 1:1. We have the prelude and foretelling of all these things in the Jewish Scriptures – our Christian Old Testament. The Egyptian, Greek and Roman pantheons were but a pale and crude replacement for what is Truth.

  • Botolphe,

    Some initial thoughts in response to your statement.

    i. In 1960, would any reasonable Catholic layperson, or a priest, suggest that there were three categories of Roman Catholics?

    ii. You suggest that the council maintained “essentials” which implies that some categories of sacred tradition were deemed “non-essentials” and removed or altered. What were the “essentials” and the non-essentials and by what authority may a Council of bishops or a sitting pope change, remove, or alter any part of the deposit of faith which the pope is called to safeguard?

    iii. Councils were traditionally utilized to define and clarify points of doctrine and dogma…why was a Council used to address “pastoral” issues?

    iv. Some of the same bishops and periti who participated in the VII Council were also participants in the Canadian Winnipeg Statement where they publicly undermined Pope Paul’s authority by affirmatively rejecting Humanae Vitae and its teachings.

  • Again, you keep offering your own opinions as a counter to general observations. It is fine for you to say that the Church supplants all that pagan religions offered, or to say that a priest breaking a wafer is just as profound as watching an animal’s blod spilling out on a sacrifical altar, etc., but that is your opinion. I suspect that those who initially resisted Christianity found it to be a pale and wimpified substitute for what came before, your own experience notwithstanding.


    There is a reason why Islam swept across a continent-sized swath of land in the span of a century, whereas Christianity took centuries to spread throughout Europe. I submit that has something to do with the fact that Islam asked relatively little from those who ran things in the Arab world. They could go on raping and pillaging (and I mean that literally) and still be fine Muslims. Christianity demands a more extreme change of behavior, one that take centuries to spread across a culture. That is all I am saying. If you find that Christianity is just perfect for you, that’s wonderful, but really, that is only because of centuries of efforts of those who came before you

  • Slainte,

    Sacred Tradition is the essentials, the essentials are Sacred Tradition

    However, I now see you really are not here to dialogue but ‘debate’ for whatever purpose. While debates occasionally arise on this list due to the nature of the particular dialogue, I can smell a debater-for whatever reason you want one-when I encounter one. You will no longer have the pleasure of dialoging with me.

  • Botolph,

    I interact in good faith and am a cradle Catholic. The issues I raise are ones that have perplexed me for some time. My understanding of Vatican II (as someone who grew up post Vatican II) is primarily from reading Catholic magazines, some of which are SSPX which describe what are presented as deficiencies of the Council. I also have read Saint Augustine, and am proceeding through Saint Thomas’ Summa Theologiae. My ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of why the Church is so fragmented today, and why so many are uncatechized and confused. I have observed authors and commenters qualify “types” of Catholics as you did within the pages of “First Things” and find it very troubling as it suggests a break in the unity of Catholic laypeople.

    I am a lawyer by profession and I tend to reflexively communicate in a very straightfordward fashion, or as you interpret, a debate style. I am not sure how else to approach this other than through a series of questions. I appreciate your responses to date, especially as they relate to your clarification of Ecumenism. I would like to dialogue with you if you are receptive to doing so. If you can suggest an alternative method, I am receptive. Pax

  • Slainte,

    Ok you got my attention and you have really explained yourself and where you are coming from. I will now know that you are a youngish lawyer (raised in post- Vatican II Church) and that this simply is your professional style. Got it.

    Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am in my early 60’s which means I was in the 7th grade when Vatican II began [first week of Vatican II was the Cuban Missile Crisis] I not only attended {word we used back then for going to Mass) the Tridetine Mass but served it-I had all the Latin down by heart (but honestly never knew why the people could not be taught the same responses) I was in the 8th grade when President Kennedy was assasinated, and only a few days later the first two documents of Vatican II were promulgated [Liturgy and Social Communications] I was a sophomore in HS when the Council came to an end. I graduated from HS tin 68: social and cultural revolution was taking place Dr King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated just before I graduated. Race riots broke out after Dr King’s July of that year Pope Paul VI published Humanae Vitae. [All this before I even entered college]

    Humanae Vitae was the first shoe to drop. What I mean is this. You are talking with someone who fully accepts its teaching, but I also recognize that with its publication the first group I mentioned in the post above, the so called Progressives not only dissented from that encyclical [and I am speaking about some priest theologians from around the world as well some religious and well known laity. The dissent did not stop there. More central teachings to the Church’s teaching came under fire, criticism and eventual dissent. At another time in history this probably would have resulted in a full Reformation type break up, but I think the Church wisely chose the patience and yes mercy path. Truth always wins out even if it takes time, and this was but one generation who like us all will age, retire and die. It gives one pause to wonder if we could have handled the Reformers in the same way. However that is Monday morning quaterbacking.

    The second shoe to drop was the promulgation of the Roman Missal of Paul VI in 1970 (actually Advent 1969). The reformed Roman Rite was introduced almost universally with very little if any catechesis, no explanations, nothing. It was just done under the name of authority [Aquinas says that is the poorest way of getting something done] At the same time, and here I disagreed with “Rome” on this ‘pastoral decision: the Tridentine Mass was for all practical reasons banned. Everyone was to celebrate (priests) or participate (rest of the Faithful) in the Roman Mass promulgated by Pope Paul VI. The Mass my ancestors and I myself had attended and served was with the snap of a finger, ‘disappeared’ over night. Many did not like that at all. They believed what the Church taught (unlike the progressives) but this simply was too much. Many simply wanted the “Latin Mass” back-and now, thank God, they have it. However, before that happened, the damage was done. Some began to radically question the Second Vatican Council itself. Archbishop Lefevre and others criticized these liturgical changes strongly but they also began to believe there were other, even deeper problems with Vatican II and that the post Vatican II Church was no longer in line with the Tradition of the Church [FYI there is Tradition=received from the Apostles; it is the essentials etc; there are also many many traditions, beautiful, helpful etc but not essential. One of the biggest issues for Catholics is which is which. The other big issue is who gets to decide which is Tradition and can’t change and what is tradition which can change. Easiest answer: pope and bishops in union with the pope]

    Here is an example of Big T and little t that hit Catholics in the 60’s and threw them for a loop. Before 1965, using birth control and eating meat on Fridays were both mortal sins (for two very different reasons) The problem was everybody wanted the bottom line, keep it easy-and there it was-both are mortal sins. Well Pope Paul VI comes along and changes the penitential discipline of the Church on meat on Fridays (except in Lent) Literally, one week if you ate meat it was a mortal sin and the next week it was not. Ahhhhh said Catholics this is great, I always loved a hamburger on Friday [sadly completely missing the real teaching the pope had made concerning the need to do penance on Fridays [look it up it is in the new code of canon law] just not a mortal sin to eat that hamburger. People were confused. We were so used to easy ‘rules and regulation’ style communication. Along came `1968, the Pope upholds the Tradition on the meaning of conjugal (marital) charity and opposes the use of contraception. Who wait a minute, the pope can change meat on Fridays why can’t he change the teaching on birth control, or (later) abortion, (or later) women priests, (or later) gay marriage? After all aren’t they all mortal sins? (yes but…….) To be honest Sainte people are still not through all of this.

    Bringing this to a close, progressives believe VII (Vatican II) was the greatest thing since sliced bread. For many (most?) they think it was the total reboot of the Catholic Church. Put in more theological terms, thanks to Pope Benedict, they hold to a hermeneutic of rupture {they do not believe) that Vatican II was, while different in the way it presented the Church’s teaching [more exhortatory, something like the Acts of the Apostles is) it nonetheless continued the Tradition of the Church, presenting the Gospel (Church’s teaching) in a positive manner ( with none of the anathema sits etc you see in other Councils)

    The UltraTraditionalists (not just lovers of the Extraordinary Form) actually believe the exact same thing as the Progressives: that VII was a complete or almost complete break with the Tradition of the Church. unlike the Progressives however thy lament, mourn grieve not simply the crazy stuff that went on in the 60’s and 70’s (and it did and there was some crazy stuff we all didn’t like back then) but that “Rome” has lost its way and needs to return to the true Catholic Faith by abrogating or radically reducing the authority of VII (basically putting it under the Church’s bed and be forgotten). FYI there are even among the ultratraditionalists, two groupings. One you are familiar with, the Society of Pius X. They are not that radicalized and with Pope Benedict I pray that they are fully reconciled with the Church. The other group however, I am sorry to say,is totally radicalized. They are the Society of Pope Pius V (Pope at the time of Trent) They do not only believe Vatican II was ‘bad’ but not a Council at all. Because in order to have a Council it needs to be ‘ratified’ by the pope (which it was). Thus they do not believe that there has been a real pope since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958 ;-(

    It is a lot to take in, I know, especially for a younger member of the Church trying to figure some of this out. On one level I agree with your assessment, who would ever believe in 1960 that the Church would have three distinct groupings -if not totally schismatic [Pius V group]. But remember what I said. Everything was done with authority and rules and regulations (I am not antinomian I believe in law in society and in the Church, but the Church is built on Christ and Peter in faith, hope and love, not rules and regulations (think of the no meat on Friday-mentality and confusion; FYI I really work at keeping Fridays meatless as a form of penance :-))

    Evangelization, Catechesis, evangelization, catechesis, evangelization, catechesis are what we need, big time.

    Hope this helped (sorry it went long but it is no small matter)

  • Botolph,

    Thanks for telling me about your background and for the summary review of pertinent points in recent church history. You have clarified some ambiguities for me.

    I am not so youngish; I am a little more than a decade behind you. I attended Catholic grammar, high school, and university, but a non Catholic law school, all in NYC.

    I have spent most of my career as a commercial litigator and only seriously started delving into the faith about five years ago. I developed a very strong interest in theology…something that did not hold much interest for me when I was younger. My faith has always been important in my life although mass attendance was treated casually. That is no longer the case as I attend mass regularly…both the Novus Ordo and the Latin Tridentine Masses. I much prefer the latter which I find deeply prayerful and just awesomely beautiful. Latin is not an issue as I learned it very well in school thanks to a wonderful Sister who imparted to her students her love of Cicero and Julius Caesar, and required us to dutifully translate their orations. I understand and am able to meaningfully participate in the Latin Mass.

    As I read theology…especially St. Thomas, I found it necessary to venture into Philosophy for greater clarity; in particular Aristotle. I note that you were a Philosophy major…so you likely understand its complexities, especially for the self taught. I just keep at it…I am confident that God will open my mind further if I remain diligent in my efforts.

    As a child, I recall my father testing me on points of the Faith from the catechism; he was perplexed that I could not name the seven deadly sins or the virtues, or recite the Nicene creed, or the Rosary, or explain devotions to saints. He was able to recite many of these things by rote from his Catholic schooling; he was appalled that not only did I not know these things but I wasn’t being taught from the Catechism. In the 1970s grammar schools, we were taught general concepts of the Faith…ie., love your neighbor; Jesus is love; be merciful to your neighbor; general bible stories; donate to the missions, etc. The schools I attended were excellent; but I surmise a sea change had occurred in religious education post VII. I think perhaps doctrine and dogma became viewed as legalisms which gave way to teaching the perceived “bigger” lessons of pastoral love and mercy. This shift in focus made its way into the form of the new liturgy, and then the physical alterations of the churches from the placement of the altars, to the priest facing the people instead of ad orientum and the removal of Statues, the use of empty crosses instead of crucifixes. These changes no doubt have influenced Catholics by virtue of “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi” (the Law of Prayer, the Law of Belief)…Whether the changes proximately caused or contributed to the fragmentation within the Church today I do not know. But what I do question is why the changes were made so quickly with so little respect for the sensibilities of the faithful. You touched on this point in your discussion.

    I have learned a great deal in the last few years about theology and some philosophy, also History as it relates to the Reformation, the Enlightenment. the religious issues underlying the French Revolution and the American revolution, etc. I understand the distinctions you discuss when you reference faith and truth, and the ordering of one to the other. I also understand the Enlightenment assertion of the primacy of reason over faith; of subjective truth and secular humanism vs. objective truth and God’s primacy over His creatures.

    I have read many papal encyclicals; I am, however, concerned that many contemporary bishops do not reference back to any papal encyclicals of pre-VII popes. I am very impressed with Pope Leo XIII and his courageous battle against freemasonry and his devotion to Archangel Michael….also, his social teachings with respect to justice, fair wage, and private property concerns.

    I have many pieces of a scattered puzzle that collectively constitute my understanding of the Faith. If you would be so inclined to assist me to put these pieces together in a logical and Faith filled way, I would be very grateful. Hopefully this exhortation has not sounded too much like legal-ease…but when I slip into it, please excuse me. Thank you.

    Pax tecum.

  • Botolph, in his response to Slainté, mentions the controversy over Humanae Vitae

    Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968,” as George Weigal calls it, when the Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

    In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In the Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

    The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

  • Slainte,

    I am willing to continue our dialogue although I am not sure how to proceed: i.e. what woulld be most helpful for you

    Vatican II canonized actually a very old movement within the Church: Return to the Sources. As Pope Benedict has shown, we need to begin with the Word of God, the Revelation of God [The Second Person in the Blessed Trinity who became flesh in Jesus Christ] To return to Him means ongoing conversion and ever deepening faith, hope and love. This will take place as we turn to the revelation of God found in the Apostolic Tradition (notice this is one Source) that is found in two forms: Sacred Scripture and the Tradition (big T) of the Church (If one takes a step back this teaching of Vatican II is modeled after the Oneness of the Person of Christ [Council of Ephesus: Mary is the Mother of God] and His two Natures [Divine and human: true God and true man]). This Apostolic Tradition is passed on (traditio), maintained, protected and authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium [Pope and bishops in communion with him]. Not sure if it is clear, but in the passing on (traditio) of the Apostolic Tradition we have a ‘trinity’: Apostolic Tradition is found in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and passed on and interpreted by the Magisterium.

    How is that for starters?

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour,

    When I read your post this morning I suddenly felt like Pope Francis. I made a side comment and opened up a proverbial can of worms lol 😉

    However I will begin a response anyways. FYI I was not referring to the particular intervention in what is now the famous Cardinal O’ Boyle intervention, which George Weigel has interestingly (and not inaccurately) called ‘The truce of 1968’ George Weigel has pointed out in other commentaries that he did not believe for one minute that ‘the truce’ was thee cause of the vast dissent in the Church against Humanae Vitae, and I would have to agree. If that decision which in fact only effected the local church in Washington, we would not have had such incident as the ‘famous’ European nun who strummed the song to St Dominic in “Dominique” and got on the record charts, also sing a song in praise of the pill. Good grief, those were indeed wild days. No the dissent was already going on, was far deeper and far ranging than perhaps what the hierarchy realized. The public dissent in 1968 was orchestrated by certain Moral Theologians, one in particular in Rome, who posted copies of the Encylical to all his students throughout the world, who then, en masse, went public on the very day of the publication of the Encyclical making their dissent and protests. Those professors understood the power of the media far more than Rome or the bishops did, just as Luther understood the power of the printing press long before the Church did.

    That would be my first comment. 1968 marked a new culture in social communications-a revolution which has not stopped. Just as in the 1400-1500’s there was a transformation of the culture from auricular to literary [the whole translation of the Bible in the hands of the people, as well as the pamphlets and ‘little catechisms’ of both Luther and Calvin were all part of that revolution] so too we are in the midst of a revolution still developing in social communications. The first two documents of Vatican II were promulgated December 4, 1963 [just fifty years ago] They were on the Liturgy and Social Communications While there is controversy about the one on the Liturgy, there is none about the one on Social Communications-it was too weak and bland. Yet, intuitively, the Council got it right-the Liturgy and social communications are the way the Church is most known.

    My second comment concerns ecclesiology [who/what is the Catholic Church]. In the pre-Vatican II Church, using a authority/juridical institutional model of the Church [this is not a criticism, merely a hopefully accurate description] things were very clear, defined. You either were a Catholic or a non-Catholic [of course non-Catholic Christians were not considered non-Christian etc, but the primary identification was Catholic/non-Catholic]. Within that identity, you had practicing and non-practicing Catholics (yes these existed back then). with this model you adhered to the teachings on doctrine and morality and kept the disciplines (laws) of the Church are you didn’t. If anyone even desired to go public with dissent they would be termed ‘Protestant’, and it would be over. Very clear, very neat. The fact was that this particular form of the Church favored a conformist (obedience) culture and a cultural Catholicism that definitely had its strengths but also its weaknesses. Generations knew their Catechism answers, but were never asked if they really believed (of course many many did as we know-thank God, but not all by a long shot). Generations knew their prayers but were never asked etc whether they really prayed. In fact it is not another ‘either/or’ it is a ‘both/and’, We need both the ability to know the Faith and to believe it; to know the Prayers and to pray them, etc

    Vatican II came and taught a distinctly different but actually more ancient, traditional form of the Church: communio. By “commuunio”, considered to be the very essence of the Church, as the ‘image of the Blessed Trinity’, one entered into the Church of Jesus Christ which subsides in the Catholic Church through faith and baptism. Baptism was both the foundational sacrament and common sacrament among all Christians. By baptism one becomes a member of the Church of Christ which subsides in the Catholic Church. Someone baptized into the Orthodox Church or into a Protestant ecclesial body were indeed baptized and already sharing in a profound identity with Catholics-however they were not yet in full communion with the Church. A baptized Catholic needed the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the ongoing sacrament of the Eucharist to be in full communion with the Church (non-confirmed, and ‘non-practicing’ Catholics are not in full communion with the Church-granted in the case of children, not by their own volition). The Church further explained that there are FOUR ‘aspects’ to being in full communion with the Church: 1) faith in the full teachings of the Catholic Church (questions are one thing, but any real dissent: not in full communion) 2) participation in full sacramental life (here it means one is fully initiated: baptism, confirmation, ongoing Eucharist, participating in the sacrament of penance on an ongoing level, and acceptance of the reality, truth of the other sacraments [here we would have to state that someone in full communion would accept all seven sacraments as sacraments of Christ and now: only men are ordained bishops and priests-I will leave diaconate aside for the time being; and that marriage is between one man and one woman for life 3) full acceptance and union with Governance of the Church: Pope, bishops in union with pope, and priests ordained and fully delegated by those bishops in union with pope 4) ongoing life of charity [to be honest this is very hard to discern, even for the individual about their own lives. Certainly it is not obvious to others. However, having said that-there is so much anger among Catholics, with the Church in general and among themselves-that one has to take a step back and begin to ‘question’ your/my own self–am I really being charitable here, living in charity, etc

    My point on this long reflection on ecclesiology Michael is that while on the surface it might seem that the Truce of 1968 was simply a ‘tactic’ to prevent a ‘schism’ on the part of the so called Progressives, I believe it was actually a manifestation of the ecclesiology of communion in which the truth of the faith is proclaimed, faults pointed out [for example some theologians have had their ability to be called Catholic theologians taken away; same with universities and colleges], but the communion while not full, is nevertheless maintained. It is not as neat and clear as the older model of the Church. That model communicated teaching through authoritative decisions to which obedience was expected. In the Communio model, very much like that of the Fathers of the Church, the model was teaching by persuading leading not to obedience but conversion and faith. I am sure there are many who would like the ‘older’ way, sometimes I do lol, but “Wisdom is proved right by all her children” [Luke 7.35]

    As to the actual issue of contraception, Humanae Vitae, etc. All the teachings that the Church has put forward in and since 1968 on sexual issues are true. Period. But notice something? True as they are, they have not convinced and led to conversion and faith. The Cultural/sexual revolution was just getting steam up when Vatican II closed. The “Modern World” which we face today is not really the same one the Church faced during the Council. Among other things, we are now living in what pretty much everyone realizes: the post-modern world. What that means is a whole other issue. But bottom line, the Church has never really been able to tackle the sexual revolution. The truths won’t be changing but will be expressed in a way in which the culture that has gone through the sexual revolution can at least understand. They do not; they cannot not, right now. Our languages are too different. Here, I believe is where the Extraordinary Synod of 2014 which in turn is preparing for the Synod of 2015 will finally deal with this very important issue. Sexual issues, in the Catholic vision, cannot be separated from issues of the Family. I believe we are about to see the Catholic Church tackle the whole sexual revolution en masse, maintaining the truths of the Faith yet really answering the questions, crisis and issues of the age.

    I apologize that this was long.

  • Great for starters. If I may out forth some statements to determine whether we agree on fundamentals.

    St. Thomas in his embrace of Aristotelian truths focuses on the proposition that all things are purposeful. My understanding of the purpose of the Catholic faith, and the Church, is that they exist, by the grace and mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of souls by leading all men away from sin and toward God.

    We become most like Him in our recognition that we are made Imago Dei to seek our perfect end by conforming ourself to HIs will. He has graced us with intellect to know Him and He has made our movement toward sainthood possible be accessing, through the Church and the clergy,

    i. His Divine Law comprised of the Old and New Testament which we call Revelation;

    ii. His Eternal Law made known to us through unaided Reason; we ridentify this as
    Natural Law

  • Apologies please disregard earlier printing which should not have posted.

    Great for starters; if I may set forth some statements to determine whether we agree on fundamentals.

    St. Thomas in his embrace of Aristotelian truths focuses on the proposition that all things are purposeful. My understanding of the purpose of the Catholic faith, and the Church, is that they exist, by the grace and mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of souls by leading all men away from sin and toward God. We become most like Him in our recognition that we are made Imago Dei to seek our perfect end by conforming ourselves to His will. He has graced us with intellect to know Him and He has made our movement toward sainthood possible by accessing, through the Church and the clergy,

    i. His Divine Law comprised of the Old and New Testament which we call Revelation;

    ii. His Eternal Law made known to us through unaided Reason which we call Natural Law;

    iii. Magisterial Teaching of the Bishops in union with the Pope;

    iv. Sacred Tradition in an unbroken line of succession from the Apostles through and including today.

    We understand God’s Revelation as provided in Holy Scripture, through the Apostles, to be complete. How then does the Church view Private Revelation (ie., Our Lady of Fatima and her teachings) and our obligations, if any, to conform ourselves to their truths?

    Father Robert Barron in connection with the New Evangelization has spoken about a return to the sources; this theology is also referred to as “Ressourcement Theology” or “Nouvelle Theology”. One of its proponents Henri De Lubac, I believe, questioned our ability to know the Eternal Law by unaided reason alone. If this is accurate, where does this leave Natural Law? If not through reason, how else might we know the God who has written His law on our hearts?

    Why did the Ressourcement theologians conclude that it was necessary to return to the sources rather than just continuing forward and building upon age old teachings and beliefs?

  • Slainte,

    Yes, I agree on all of these [why shouldn’t I lol?] with a few minor nuances and corrections.

    1. All things (indeed) are purposeful. They have a ‘teleos’, an end, purpose, also the word used in Scripture for ‘perfection’

    2.The Church indeed exists by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ…: Vatican II going back to the Fathers speaks of the Church being the New Eve (Woman) coming forth from the pierced side of Christ (the New Adam) when water (baptism) and Blood (Eucharist) flowed from Christ as He slept, the sleep of death

    3.(the Church exists) for the salvation of souls by leading all men away from sin and toward God….: The Extraordinary Synod of 1985 synthesized the whole of Vatican II into this one sentence: “The Church as communion is the sacrament of salvation for the world”

    4. “We become most like Him in our recognition that we are made Imago Dei to seek our perfect end (teleos) by conforming our self to His will: Yes, as the Fathers put it: we are created in His image to participate (or become) in His likeness. Based on the teachings of the Council of Trent, Saint Francis De Sales certainly taught this in his Introduction to the Devout Life by which he said, ‘perfection’ (teleos), holiness was not just for the ordained or consecrated religious but for every baptized person. Vatican II continued this in its fundamental chapter on the Mystery of the Church: you cannot understand the Church without this: the Universal Call to Holiness

    5. He has graced us with intellect to know Him and… : what happened to Thomas’s teaching on the ‘will’ [love] and affections? Thomas’ anthropology is based on “intellect and will==knowledge and love. [not criticism really but these are extremely important. In fact Thomas was way ahead of his time in giving positive teachings on the role of affections in attaining our ‘end’ (teleos) thus giving Catholics a sound foundation for affective conversion and the affective life.

    [Slainte, these are not corrections etc. I am simply showing the continuity between Thomas and Vatican II] Now I will offer a slight correction:

    Eternal Law came forth from the “Mind of God” according to Thomas. In some senses it is a manifestation of the Mind of God [since Thomas emphasized the Mind of God—-Realist philosophy/theology while Bonaventure emphasized Will/Love. Bonaventure’s disciple Duns Scotus then took this one step further focusing on the Will of God being Transcendent and free leading to Occam’s Nominalist school, unfortunately because we are still living with it ;-()

    For Thomas Eternal Law comes from the Mind of God

    Eternal Law is manifested (incarnated?) in two forms: Natural Law and Divine Law

    Divine Law has two expressions, The Law of the Old Testament (commandments) and
    The New Law of the New Testament
    Here is the real shock. Most people would identify the New Law as the law to love one another. Not untrue, but not what Thomas was getting at. The New Law according to Thomas was ‘the Law of the Holy Spirit’, the New Life, the Grace of the Spirit that comes to us through the Sacraments [you can check this out. Obviously correct me if you find me wrong]
    But see, here is the great synthesis of Thomas. The Law expressing the Eternal Law is found in Natural Law and in the Scriptures [commandments, Sermon on the Mount etc] but left just with that-and ‘just’ with the Teaching of the Church by bishops and priests, we are ‘left’ buried and condemned by the Law—after all who has not broken even one of the ‘least’ commandments? However, the Eternal Law is expressed in the New Law of the Spirit which is the ‘law of grace’ coming to us through the sacraments which both cleanse us from sin, make us new creatures (justify and sanctify us) but also empower us to live the life of holiness, our teleos.

    Make sense?

  • Slainte,

    LOL Ok I just sent a response to your first editio lol I am busy but I promise to go over and respond to your second editio by tomorrow evening deal?

  • Thanks for what you wrote so makes a great deal of sense.

    Fair warning my thinking is choppy in connection with Ressourcement and other issues; it will show through in my writings…what I promise you is that all questions and comments I make will be made in good faith and respectful both to you and the Church.

    There is no rush to respond..not even by tomorrow night. Have a great weekend; thank you for what you do.

  • Slainte,

    You are doing fine. I know you are hungry and thirsty. However time and prudence tell me that it is better we go slow, at first anyway, and also in small bits at a time. After all, Rome was not built in a day lol

    You have a great weekend too

  • Slainté wrote “My understanding of the purpose of the Catholic faith, and the Church, is that they exist, by the grace and mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of souls by leading all men away from sin and toward God.”

    You may want to consider what Cardinal Henri de Lubac says, “The church is not instrumental to God’s purpose of redeeming the world; rather the world is instrumental to God’s purpose of fashioning a body and bride for his Son.” The difference in perspective is central to the Nouvelle Théologie. What they denied in their controversy with Neo-Scholasticism was the claim that the natural and the supernatural have utterly separate ends, in and of themselves.

    Thus, Maurice Blondel, insisted that we must never forget “that one cannot think or act anywhere as if we do not all have a supernatural destiny. Because, since it concerns the human being such as he is, in concreto, in his living and total reality, not in a simple state of hypothetical nature, nothing is truly complete [« boucle » in the French], even in the sheerly natural order”
    Jacques Maritain, too, declared that “the knowledge of human actions and of the good conduct of the human State in particular can exist as an integral science, as a complete body of doctrine, only if related to the ultimate end of the human being . . . the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account” That is why they reject the idea of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. As Maritain reminds us, “Man is not in a state of pure nature; he is fallen and redeemed.”

  • MPS, Because I was so impressed with your writings in other venues, even though I was confused by some of their content, I googled your name and found this site several months ago. I have observed and tried to learn through the many posters here, most particularly Botolph and yourself. Hence my outreach for clarity on so many issues.

    I am grateful for the exchanges by which you have shared valuable insites and thought provoking ideas with me and others. I listened well to your discussions on Cardinal de Lubac and Natural Law and Grace. For additional clarity, I have ordered from the booksellers a tome entitled, “Ressourcement, A Movement for Renewal in Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology”, (Edited by Gabriel Flynn and Paul D. Murray, Oxford University Press).

    I look forward to reading it upon receipt and understanding the fullness of the Ressourcement’s teachings including their vision of the Church.

    Thank you again for imparting your wisdom on the issue of the Church in the world today. Your intellect is beyond brilliant.

    Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh.

  • Slainte,

    As promised I will take up the second editio of your questions.

    When I wrote about Eternal Law manifested in Natural Law and Divine Law, I was speaking.of Thomas’ actual teaching in his teaching On the Law. I gave what I believe to be an accurate account of what Thomas actually teaches/taught. I did not, at least consciously get into various schools of Thomistic theology- and there are several. MPS rightly points out one of those major schools, one of which I have great admiration- but it is a schoo of interpretation. FYI in your reading you will find a name associated with Thomas Aquinas: Suarez. He interpreted Aquinas after the Council of Trent and greatly influenced an interpretation off Aquinas called Neo-Thomistic school. I believe MPS will agree w/ me in saying, stay away from that interpretation. Suarez interpreted Aquinas by means of Nominalism. He created a chasm between nature and grace- one so great that I would state that he greatly misinterpreted Thomas. Fr Barron is a good interpreter, another name is Leverring, or the older giants such as DeLubac, Maritain.

    You asked a bout ” revelations” of such phenomenon as Fatima, etc. Revelation came to a close at the end of the Apostolic Age. There is and cannot be further revelation. What Fatima represents ( and in transparency I will tell you I do believe Mary appeared at such major apparitions as Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima-and Knock- I see your name and am also of Irish heritage and descent :-)) However any message is. Considered a private revelation. No one has to believe Mary ever appeared let alone believe what she is reported to have said. Given this, with approved and non-approved(which are many) apparitions there are some people who go off the rails on the things, with all sorts of conspiracy theories, the real truth behind x or t he plot of the Vatican…. To be honest there just are so many other important issues to talk out I simply don’t want to go down this road- at least at this point.

    Let ‘s stop here for now. Ressourcement is a big as well as important topic. Perhaps that can be the next topic

  • Thank you for responding Botolph…I am glad that you are Irish too; the Faith is so important to our tribe notwithstanding where we reside on this planet. I have been to the Shrine of Our Blessed Mother at Knock in County Mayo many times as a child and as an adult. Its location is beautiful….with an ever present mist in the air that makes for long, soft days and the fragrance of burning turf always in the air. Many of Knock’s attending priests are now from Africa. The Irish missions in years past brought the faith to Africa and now Africa’s priests are returning the favor. : )

    I believe that MPS, in an exchange with another poster in a different forum, mentioned that Suarez was part of the Salamanca School. I will heed your advice and nix Suarex for the time being.

    I will also review all that you have written and revert. I think it makes sense that you should lead the discussion and I will respond as we progress. Set whatever schedule works for you and I will align my schedule with yours.

    Thanks again for all your help.

  • Botolph, I have re-read your comments and have meditated upon them. I am inclined to proceed as you discuss relevent points vis a vis the Ressourcement. I will withhold questions until later.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Helicopter Ride Full of Historical Images and Analogies

Sunday, March 3, AD 2013

It was a stunning video, one full of historical and modern analogies all pointing to back to the man (Pope Benedict XVI) and the institution he ran (the Catholic Church.) The helicopter ride Pope Benedict XVI took from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo flying over modern Rome and the ancient landmarks known the world over, such as the Coliseum and the Apian Way made for a breath taking array of images. For faithful Catholics one of the illuminating high points of watching papal transitions is the fact that the mainstream media is not always in control.

The historic images speak for themselves which must be somewhat maddening to those who have to throw their digs into the Church that Christ Himself started via Peter. NBC News anchor Brian Williams made the mainstream media’s point Friday on the lead off segment of the NBC Nightly News when he stated the Catholic Church does images well, but there is scandal behind the images we see. One could say the exact same thing about the mainstream media’s coverage of the White House and yet nary a word of that sort is heard.

Perhaps the helicopter ride of the Holy Father made many of the media’s gatekeepers cringe because those historical landmarks (the Coliseum, the Apian Way) were like many modern secular government’s landmarks, supposedly everlasting. If someone would have told the Roman power structure in Diocletian’s time that within 100 years Rome would be Christian and the empire would be gone, howls of laughter would have echoed through the Pantheon. Modern secular leaders and the often militant secular scholars whom they follow, view traditional Christianity much in the same way those in the seats of power in Rome once did, something that should have no influence or bearing on the affairs of its citizens.

Though a towering intellectual giant, Pope Benedict XVI is a simple man who never wanted to be Pope and pleaded that Pope John Paul II let him go back to Bavaria and write when then Cardinal Ratzinger reached the age of 75. His gentleness was seen in the Conclave when it was said he won many of the Third World Cardinal’s votes. It is said that he did so because he showed a kind father or grandfatherly hand when other princes of the Church were perhaps not so welcoming upon the Third World’s prelates arrival in Rome. This sort of gentleness coupled with a refusal to water down the truth made the man from Bavaria a towering figure in the history of the Church. Often the stature of towering figures grow with time, unlike our pop culture heroes whose legacy becomes all too often faded and forgotten.

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Pope Benedict XVI’s Helicopter Ride Full of Historical Images and Analogies

  • Dave Hartline-
    Poetic words for a “towering man.”
    You captured the man and the pulse of this moment in time.
    Thank you.

  • I am just now getting around to reading this, like it so much going to share the link with some groups to read. When I read good articles like this I think of Saint Augustine’s “City of God”. As you wrote the media will look for anything ‘black’ in the Church but not look at the ‘black’ in front of them.

  • How awesome is the Pope Emer.?

    My Mormon neighbors are sad that he resigned. (also very curious)

  • He wasn’t as prolific or as profound a thinker as John Paul, though he seems to have shared much in common with him.

  • Jon

    I would say Benedict XVI is every bit as profound a thinker as JPII was, albeit in different ways. BXVI is much better at making complex theological truths accessible to the average person than his predecessor.

  • Foxfier:
    With Pope Benedict’s resignation, surrender of his Title and Chair of Peter, and title of Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI has promised to remain the Servant of the Servants of God, the most beautiful title he holds. Realize that when Pope Benedict XVI removed himself from the Vatican, the head of the Lavender Mafia was crushed. All heads of departments in the Vatican are vacated as well, a new era of holiness and trust may be established, akin to St.Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. I love Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

  • Pingback: The Renaissance of the Mass Propers
  • This is a beautiful tribute to Benedict XVI and Mary De Voe’s comment puts the icing on the cake.

  • It has been amusing to listen to the secular media trying to make what they think are relevant comments on the renouncing of the papal throne by Benedict and the upcoming conclave. It reminds me of an old lesson on the art of writing. Write about things you know. They certainly sound foolish and it becomes obvious that their concerns are not ours. Pray for us, Benedict XVI as we will pray for you.

Knute Rockne & The Eucharist

Monday, January 7, AD 2013

After the college football national championship game, faith filled fans of Notre Dame Football need something positive on which to dwell, so how about a miraculous story surrounding Knute Rockne? Many readers may be aware of legendary Notre Dame Football Coach Knute Rockne’s winning prowess on the football field. However, he was also a budding scientist and man of faith. Before becoming a coach, then promising student Knute Rockne worked with famed Notre Dame Priest and scientist Father Julius Nieuwland who helped invent synthetic rubber and is the only priest in the Inventor’s Hall of Fame. Father Nieuwland CSC believed that a bright future lie ahead for his promising Chemistry student named Rockne. Both Father Nieuwland and the future Notre Dame Coach were immigrants, Father Nieuwland from Belgium and Knute Rockne from Norway. However, the labratory was not to be for Rockne, for it was the college gridiron where he would earn his lore.

While Rockne was surrounded by Catholicism, he was a Norwegian Lutheran. However, it was Coach Rockne’s players that helped convert him to Catholicism. What was it about Catholicism that did it? The Eucharist.  During the early 1920’s when the Four Horseman strode the gridiron in South Bend, Coach Rockne was worried that all of the new found fame might make his players stray from the straight and narrow. The late George Gipp was known to do just that and a slightly older 30something Coach Rockne didn’t want that to happen again, so the coach would often keep a close eye on his players.

One morning Coach Rockne noticed several of his players leaving their dorms in the wee hours of the morning. He followed them to early morning Mass. Before practice that day he asked them about their movements in the wee hours. They informed him that they had early classes and couldn’t get to Mass any other time.  “It’s that important to you,” Coach Rockne asked?”They told him that the Eucharist was just that important.

Coach Rockne then discussed the matter with several priests who gave him books to read about the Faith. In 1923, Knute Rockne was received into the Church, thanks in great part to the personal witness of his own players.

Knute Rockne is hardly alone in being a faithful example of Catholic leadership on the gridiron at Notre Dame. While Coach Gerry Faust will hardly be remembered for his record, no coach stands taller as a faith leader than Coach Faust who would tell anyone who would listen about the Catholic Church and “Our Lady.”  Coach Faust was certainly helpful to me with regard to my first book and went out of his way to help me promote it. Keep in mind he didn’t know me from Adam only from meeting me at a high school football game, talking on the phone and reading the book’s manuscript. He spends many days a year at small Catholic school fundraisers that help those schools keep their doors open.

He is much beloved by his former Notre Dame players as well as those at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati where Coach Faust garnered his fame. While some have gone on to become college and NFL stars, others have achieved success in many different venues. In the late 1960s, one overachieving young man who played for Coach Faust at Archbishop Moeller High school came from a large working class Catholic family. He would go on to become the current Speaker of the House. Speaker John Boehner and Coach Faust remain in contact to this day and speak highly of of another.

I would be remiss in not mentioning former Coach Lou Holtz who also does his fair share of fundraisers for worthy Catholic charities. He can rattle of the names of every grade school nun who taught him back in East Liverpool, Ohio. Obviously there is so much more I could write, but I go into much more detail about this and many other matters in my book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn. I hope this helps paint the picture of Knute Rockne and two other coaches at Notre Dame who were leaders of men and personal examples of faith.

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Knute Rockne & The Eucharist

  • Pingback: On Feasting and Fasting: It's Still Christmastime | Big Pulpit
  • My first experience with Lou Holtz was when he was coaching at the University of Arkansas, and through the years my respect for him as a coach, as a person, and now as a sports commentator has really deepened. What a great credit he is to the sports world.

  • Please spellcheck post, then delete this comment.

  • Pauli is your comment directed at me? I would worry about my own posts before I take on the role of being Der Kommissar of the Language Police.

  • Wonderful article! The Eucharist is the heart of all life!

  • CK thank you for your kind words. It is a pleasure to write about such inspiring, but little known stories. I must confess to having a pet peeve at those who find it necessary to correct posts that seemingly need to correcting. If I sounded a bit harsh in my last post directed at Pauli, it was not my intention. However, it was my intention of bringing to light the problem some have with taking away from the joyous tone of articles such as these.

    I have worked with a number of editors and the funny thing about editors is they disagree and will readily admit that one can agree to disagree over grammar and style. Jesus reminded us that we shouldn’t get worked up over gnats.

    Robert, great comments on Coach Holtz. I am amazed as to how many of these busy men gave of their time to be quoted in my two books, when they didn’t know me from Adam. They only knew I was writing a positive book about the Catholic Church. I will be forever grateful to Coaches Faust and Holtz, as well as a former Catholic basketball coach (University of Detroit now called Detroit Mercy) turned big time college basketball commentator, Dick Vitale. God Bless them all.

  • Great catholic stories from ND but don’t forget Fr. Teddy who along with so many liberals has destoyed the Catholic university system in our country. Love to discuss how he allowed the smoke of satan to flow from the golden dome to all the Catholic universities. What a great man who was the ceo of the infamous Rockefellar Inst. that financially supported hitler, yes i said the H word and all their diabolical acts not to mention planned parenthood,ect let the debate begin!!

  • Increased reverence for the Body of Christ will eventually put an end to the murder of His innocent miracles

  • Pingback: Baptism of the Son of God | St. John

Alfred Hitchcock and the Jesuit

Tuesday, December 11, AD 2012

When I was a kid I loved watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents, known in its last four years as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.  His sardonic wit and macabre sense of humor I found vastly appealing and no doubt had an impact on my own developing sense of humor.  Hitchcock was a Catholic, although some have claimed that he became estranged from the Faith later in life.  Father Mark Henninger in The Wall Street Journal relates his own encounter with Hitchcock shortly before his death.

At the time, I was a graduate student in philosophy at UCLA, and I was (and remain) a Jesuit priest. A fellow priest, Tom Sullivan, who knew Hitchcock, said one Thursday that the next day he was going over to hear Hitchcock’s confession. Tom asked whether on Saturday afternoon I would accompany him to celebrate a Mass in Hitchcock’s house.


I was dumbfounded, but of course said yes. On that Saturday, when we found Hitchcock asleep in the living room, Tom gently shook him. Hitchcock awoke, looked up and kissed Tom’s hand, thanking him.

Tom said, “Hitch, this is Mark Henninger, a young priest from Cleveland.”

“Cleveland?” Hitchcock said. “Disgraceful!”

After we chatted for a while, we all crossed from the living room through a breezeway to his study, and there, with his wife, Alma, we celebrated a quiet Mass. Across from me were the bound volumes of his movie scripts, “The Birds,” “Psycho,” “North by Northwest” and others—a great distraction. Hitchcock had been away from the church for some time, and he answered the responses in Latin the old way. But the most remarkable sight was that after receiving communion, he silently cried, tears rolling down his huge cheeks.

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Alfred Hitchcock and the Jesuit

  • Every so often I read something such as this (last Friday’s WSJ) and say to myself, “It’s still worth the subscription price.”

  • Whenever I read a story of a penitent, I think of the sermon that Bossuet preached at the solemn profession of Mlle de la Vallière, (Sister Louise de la Miséricorde) the former mistress of Louis XIV, as a Carmelite nun.

    He took as his text, “And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new'” (Apoc 21:5).

    He also discusses the mystery, even the paradox of grace, both “Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” (Ez 18:31) but also, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.”(Ez 36:26)

  • One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Isaiah 1: 18:

    “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

  • You have a good heart Donald. Thanks for the touching story.

  • Donald…..very good story. It reminds me of the movie, “immortal Beloved” about the life of Beethoven. In the movie, the dying composer refuses to see a priest and receive the last rights. In reality, according to Thayer’s Life of Beethoven, he died during a terrific hailstorm after having devoutly received the last sacraments. His Missa Solemnis, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, ” is a mighty profession of faith in a personal God by one of the greatest geniuses of all times, who composed it in the midst of the growing doubt and impending moral and spiritual disintegration of his age.” I don’t know the reason why Hollywood and the publishing industry do not want to tell the truth or downplay the influence of belief in God but it must have something to do with the agnostic/atheistic ingrained prejudice against the compatibility of Catholic faith and intellectual or artistic genius. They think only stupid or simple people could believe in God.

  • ” They think only stupid or simple people could believe in God.”

    This fits in with their usual ignorance of history, religion and ludicrous overestimation of their own intelligence.

  • Arrogant, half-witted hypocrites think everyone else is (if it were possible) stupider than they are.

  • Pingback: Brethren | Big Pulpit
  • And also that ‘veritable icon of modernity’ the great poet Wallace Stevens:

  • Poetcomic…..thank you very much for the informative link…..great story also.

Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days

Sunday, December 2, AD 2012

Their stories are as old as time but worth repeating in this present age where so many seem to think they are too smart for God, religion and all of His love and grace. I must admit that being a fan of contemporary music and literature, I threw the stories of Jack Kerouac, John Lennon and Bob Marley’s late in life embrace of faith and tradition into my book without giving it much thought. However, I am surprised to find that so many who have read or perused my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn have stated that they were not familiar with these stories and found them very revealing. Perhaps it is because our rebellious society has lionized figures who want to throw out God or just leave him as far distant as possible. Yet all three men realized that the traditional values, in which they were raised and the love of God they were once shown, was too important to forever jettison.

Continue reading...

24 Responses to Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days

  • Thanks for this, I’m going to have to buy your books! i tried reading a biography of Kerouac and threw it away in disgust before I even got half way through; all that ‘behaviour’ with Ginsberg, Burroughs, et al. It put me off his books too, which I had enjoyed in my rebellious youth. This sheds a new light on him, for which I’m grateful; it’s never nice to have to give up on someone.

  • There has been much discussion of the “Catholic turn” in French philosophy, i.e., the way in which the most original and prominent thinkers of contemporary France seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague and Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac.

    The Faith is alone capable of answering the existential challenges posed by modernity and post-modernity and more and more people are recognising this.

  • Now if you could get more than 3% of the population of France into Mass on Sunday …

  • I suspect that John Lennon had a bit more of a conservative/traditional streak than people think as evidenced by his rejection of the “overpopulation” propaganda of the time:

    Is it possible that one reason we don’t hear more about Lennon’s conservative leanings is because Yoko Ono, who has spent the last 30 + years as the keeper of his legacy a la Jackie Kennedy, wasn’t completely on board?

  • Pingback: St. Francis Xavier Pope Benedict XVI Joins Twitter @Pontifex | Big Pulpit
  • Lennon also stated in his last interview that he was a “most religious fellow”, and that he had come to appreciate what Christ had taught in his parables. He had outgrown the childish nihilism of “Imagine”. It’s a shame that so few people knew about this.

  • Sources please? What are your sources?

  • I heard this many years ago about John Lennon, but rarely is it mentioned. Let’s hope he’s at peace with the Lord. Even in his earlier days I never felt that he was evil, just very confused. Unfortunately, his “Imagine” is still used as a socialist national anthem. I’m sure he regrets it. Also, from what I’ve read, Bob Dylan too has embraced Our Lord, though he keeps a very low profile these days.

  • Elaine, yes the whole Yoko question is one that might never be truly answered, but it certainly seems both John and Yoko were headed in very different political and religious directions. Pete, the book has extensive endnotes that reference the sources for this and every other segment of the book.

    Siobhan, Bob Dylan has always been somewhat of an enigma. After the 1963 March on Washington, he became disillusioned by the Left and some on the Left became upset at his lack of support for their causes. He never ranted against God or any particular faith as did some of his generation. In addition long before his Christian Slow Train Coming period, Dylan had lyrical references to God. Incidentally, the Slow Traing Coming album might be the finest religious album ever written and recorded by a non-religious oriented artist. Today Bob Dylan seems to be part of a Messianic Jewish group, but I am not sure anyone really knows.

  • Pingback: Socon or Bust » Imagine…Religion!
  • Imagine! John Lennon in heaven.

  • Pingback: Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days | The American Catholic « Servus Fidelis: the faithful servant
  • I, too, have never heard about these men embracing traditional Christianity in the latter part of their lives. I am interested to learn more.

  • I read an article recently that discussed how Andy Warhol lived a devout Catholic life, though he was surrounded by people who liked to party. This was a complete surprise to me. It was a very interesting article. I recommend doing an internet search on the topic.

  • As Pete says, sources please! I have to be frank: I don’t believe any of this. It sounds too good to be true. It sounds to hard to believe. It sounds like urban myth. Please provide sources with quotes.

  • I have to admit to being slightly stunned. I have been writing articles here and other Catholic sites, as well as political sites like the National Reivew, for some time. However, never have I been sought out in this demanding of a manner, via e-mail and other communications to provide details for the sourcing of this article. The lack of faith in the conversion of souls is rather revealing. As I indicated in a previous post, this information is thoroughly provided in the endnotes of my book. However, here are a couple of links for those who fall into the category of a Doubting Thomas. Read and believe!

  • This is truly amazing. I was a huge fan of Dylan, Marley, and Lennon in high school and college. They all certainly pined for something greater than themselves in many (not all) of their songs and lyrics. Marley got me interested in the Psalms in a better way than the Christian rock music of my day, and Dylan’s Slow Train Coming stopped my in my path. After I commented to my friend’s roommate how much I loved that STC and why it was so relatively unknown, he simply said that Dylan’s music producers thought it was just too Christian or religious and they just did want to promote it. It took Dylan years to get the songs released, he explained to me.

    I am forwarding the article to all of my 80s and 90s hipster siblings. I was just so heartneded to hear Lennon reject the overpopulation myth as presented in his time. And I like how he just rejected the interviewer’s snarky retort. Thank you so much!

  • I believe it was Fulton Sheen who said that at the end of time, we’ll be surprise to see who the Lord will put to the right and who to the left. Another rock star that comes to mind is Jim Morrison, who on the surface, was a pretty bad dude (though in my younger years I was a fan of his.) I read that after he died in Paris, they discovered notebooks of his “poetry” which were later published, though one notebook they found he wrote on every page, “God help me, God help me” over and over again. Now did the evil one snatch him away before he was able to convert, or did God hear his cry and take him? Time will tell.

  • Excellent post Siobhan, Jim Morrison is one of those figures that electrifies the militant secualr left, for to them the Lizard King seems to be thumbing his nose at God or worse throughout his life. To see him scribble and plead for God to help him shows humility, another characteristic the militant secular left hates. We could go on and on about major rock stars coming full circle. For example Rick Wakeman of Yes, who not only plays benefits for Conservative Party candidates in his native England, but also has embraced his childhood church.

    If more of these stories became known, it would be blow the lid off the facade that our popular culture has tried to cultivate about faith and traditional values.The idea of John Lennon challenging Jesus or Jim Morrison getting arrested for lewd behavior on state behavior in Miami is the kind of thing the militant secular powers that be want us to remember. They don’t want to see the late in life humility shown by Lennon and Morrison and their pleas for God’s help.

  • “I was a huge fan of Dylan, Marley, and Lennon in high school and college. They all certainly pined for something greater than themselves in many (not all) of their songs and lyrics.”

    That is a quality I see in the much-maligned “Imagine” — Lennon’s attempt to envision an un-fallen world, where there would be no NEED for religion in the sense of conscious submission to beliefs or morality (it would “come naturally” to us), or nations, or possessions; where there would seem to be “no heaven” since it would be one with earth, and “no hell” because no one would go there. Of course where he went wrong was in thinking this un-fallen world could be produced purely by human effort — sort of like a child thinking that all that mumbo-jumbo about aerodynamics and airplanes was bunk and people could fly just fine without it if they simply flapped their arms hard enough.

  • Imagine there’s no Heaven. It’s easy if you try. No Hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today. You, you may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will be as one. -John Lennon.

    It’s a beautiful message. But I think it’s a little late to start claiming John Lennon for the “Traditional Religion” Team of Heavenly Pick-up Basketball.

  • Russ, you might want to check your facts. Imagine was written and recorded in 1971. John Lennon started having doubts about his utopian views by the mid 1970s. As referenced in my book, “The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn” through various sources including the links below among others, by the mid 1970s Lennon had a serious change of heart about his political and religious views. It was a full fledge change of heart by the late 70s.

  • Jean-Louis Kirouac (as baptized) and the sad reality of the mythical Jack Kerouac.

    It is on page 143 of “One and Only – The untold story of On The Road” (Gerald Nicosia & Anne Marie Santos – Viva Editions) ) that one can find the most paradoxal photo of Jack Kerouac, taken in his bedroom while looking through his photo collection of his girl friends. On the wall, in a little black frame, the Black Cross of Temperance; hanging from the luminaire, his black Rosary.

    But all that has not kept him from rejecting before her birth his only and legitimate daughter Janet (Jan) Michele Kerouac (from Joan Heverty, his second wife), an abandonned child to whom he left knowingly a whole hell of misery and sufferings.

    But it is with that myth called ON THE ROAD, written in a long fit of frustration that poor Jack continues to mystify all his fans. Read One and Only and Kerouac will never be the same… for the worst and the best.

  • “Help Me To Help Myself” – demo not included on Double Fantasy album but produced as part of that project.

    Well, I tried so hard to settle down
    But the angel of destruction keeps on houndin’ me all around
    But I know in my heart
    The leaves are shining in the sun,
    That we never realy parted.
    Oh no, oh, help me, Lord,
    Oh, help me, Lord,
    Please, help me, Lord, yeah, yeah,
    Help me to help myself,
    Help me to help myself.

    They say the Lord helps those who helps themselves,
    So I’m asking this question in the hope that you’ll be kind
    ‘Cause I know deep inside
    The leaves are shining in the sun,
    I was never satisfied
    Oh no, oh, help me, Lord,
    Please, help me, Lord, yeah, yeah
    Help me to help myself,
    Help me to help myself.

    Who knows?

Newt Gingrich on His Catholic Faith and the Eucharist

Saturday, December 3, AD 2011

Newt Gingrich was interviewed by Sean Hannity a few days ago where the topic of conversation were his thoughts on his presidential run.  During the course of the conversation the topic of faith came along in which Speaker Gingrich spoke about receiving the Eucharist.

Look for his comments on the Eucharist at the 00:52 exactly.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Newt Gingrich on His Catholic Faith and the Eucharist

Not Just One Reason

Friday, November 4, AD 2011

Growing up, my family had a lot of odd conversations, especially on the rare occasions we watched TV. One of these led to my mom pointing out that a lot of the “strange” things that the Bible told the Jews to do were not just for religious reasons (I think it came out of a TV character using ‘religious’ as a synonym for ‘serves no practical purpose’)—they made very good practical sense, too. Simplest example, pork is horrifically dangerous if you don’t have a fridge and don’t know about invisible dangers.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Not Just One Reason

  • Good reflection there Foxfier. God isn’t stupid, and I don’t think there is any genuine religious tradition that is simply arbitrary or exists for no reason — they all have some logic to them.

    The “practicality” of the Mosaic Law can be glimpsed in other aspects. For example, the 40 days of ritual uncleanness, followed by purification, that women underwent after giving birth correspond almost exactly to the standard 6 week recovery period after childbirth today. Being “unclean”, though it sounds bad, meant women were excused from most of their ordinary household duties like cooking and cleaning (since anything they touched became unclean) and it also allowed them time to bond with their babies.

    Also, the Law of Niddah, which prohibited sexual contact (or any contact at all) between a woman and her husband during her menstrual period and for 7 days afterward, meant that the period of abstinence would usually end right around the time the wife was most fertile — sort of a reverse rhythm method.

    Then there are the economic laws like the “sabbatical” year every 7 years when the land was allowed to “rest” (to prevent exhaustion of the soil) and the “jubilee” year every 50 years when debts were canceled, slaves freed, and lands that had been sold to pay debts were returned to the original owners. Whether this was ever actually carried out exactly as prescribed in Scripture is a bit doubtful, but it did seem to have some logic to it… it would allow everyone an economic “do over” at least once in their lifetimes and prevent the rich from perpetually getting richer while the poor sink into a permanent underclass.

  • Pingback: SATURDAY EDITION |

Non-Human People

Thursday, August 18, AD 2011

(First time posting, so hopefully I don’t mess up the formatting too much; that would be a bit much after folks were kind enough to invite me to post!)

Time for a bit of Catholic applied to geekery! (Not to be confused with straight up Catholic Geekery, which is more the Holy Father’s area– does anyone doubt that he dearly loves thinking about, playing with and elaborating on Catholic theology? You just don’t end up writing THREE books on the life of Jesus without the love, intellectual interest and deep enjoyment of a geek for his geekdom.)

There’s something about Catholics and blogs that always ends up going into the old question of what makes a man– or, more correctly, a person. “Man” in this context would be a human, and there are several examples of people that aren’t humans– like most of the Trinity. Sadly, the topic usually comes up in terms of abortion; even the utterly simple-science-based reasoning that all humans are human and should be treated thus will bring out the attacks. (Amusingly, the line of attack is usually that someone is trying to force their religious beliefs on others, rather than an attempt to explain why a demonstrably human life is objectively different from, say, an adult human. The “bioethicist” Singer is famous for being open about valuing life in a utilitarian manner, but there aren’t many who will support that angle.[thank God])

Continue reading...

164 Responses to Non-Human People

  • Fascinating. If there are other sentient races in the universe then there arises the question as to whether God would provide ways for them to attain salvation other than through Christ. CS Lewis was intrigued by this question as demonstrated by his Out of the Silent Planet trilogy and the Narnia books.

  • When I think of what differentiates us as humans, Donald, I think of how we are spiritual beings. We yearn for God (whether we know it or not). And we of course look over the horizon to find something that will fill that gap. So we’re spiritual. As Augustine said, Thou hast made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless til they find their rest in Thee. We are at the center, too. There is a great chain even while Sir Lovejoy charted its intellectual demise. Regardless of our physical location in the universe, our spiritual plight places us right at the center. As far as we can tell, we alone are consciously troubled and preoccupied more than any other creature. We know of no others comparable to us.

  • “We know of no others comparable to us.”


  • Whether God created other beings than those mentioned in Scripture cannot now be known. Depsite what scientists have said, we live in a human-centered, geocentric universe till this day.

    C. S. Lewis was a fascinating, imaginative man, of course. His works are all classics. I appreciated The Abolition of Man. When we divorce our concept of man from the Christian worldview, we get a distortion. Our understanding is still dependent on the Christian worldview (to some extent). We’re at a transition, surviving on borrowed capital. But there are those who argue for a different view, and that other viewpoint is gaining in acceptance. So we have our feet in both worlds. Are we beings of worth and responsiblity? Or are we animals of instinct determined by forces?

    So what separates us? I don’t think it’s reason. I think it’s spirituality. We are accountable to God. He made us as priests over creation, to offer up sacrifices pleasing to Him. We failed in that assignment. So He initiated a rescue mission to restore us to that role. Once again we can be “priests of God and of Christ,” and we can reign with him (have dominion over creation). It’s the marriage of heaven and earth, where God, the temple, comes down to the garden never again to depart.

  • Priests and kings. We were created as priests and kings. To that we are restored if we are in Christ. This priestly and kingly role to which we’re assigned, then, is what differentiates us from all other created beings that are known.

    To possess dominion over creation, offering it back up to God, is the essence of the human being, I believe, when restored to God’s image. After all, who is God in whose image we were made?

  • Pat-
    I would agree “we” (culturally) are living on borrowed worldview– one of the things that this kind of discussion does is get people to realize how many of the things they assumed were just universal human views are Christian, and not shared by other cultures. (This is a major, major issue in dealing with time off the ship in the Navy–utterly ignoring the applications in terrorism!)

    I think the difference you draw between reason and spirituality might be an artifact of definition. Short version: you can’t be spiritual if you can’t choose.

    St. Augustine got it right in general, although I don’t think his biological detail is required:
    But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast. We can distinguish the common human nature from that which is peculiar, and therefore wonderful.

  • Well, Foxfier: People have long distinguished us on the basis of reason. But do not animals reason? I have before me a dog that reasons. She’s not apparently spiritual, though. So I guess that’s the sense in which I meant to get that difference across. (Also, people vary in mental capability and sometimes profoundly so). I trace ‘the reason thing’ to the Greeks, Aquinas, Western phil., Victorian sensibility. I don’t think of it as a purely Christian notion. We’re spiritual beings, I know. I don’t know that reason really separates us from other seen beings. First of all I don’t know that we all reason. Secondly, I’m not sure all other seen beings don’t.

  • It’s that priestly and kingly role to which we were assigned that separates us from the rest of creation. We were to reign over it and offer it back up to God. We failed in that mission. He in His goodness, came down to us as high priest in Jesus Christ offering up a perfect sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. He thereby restored us to Himself. We are atoned for. We find in Christ our roles re-established. Priests of God and of Christ who reign with Him. There’s a polis in a garden that God has sanctified. He’s Immanuel forevermore.

    The human being is made in God’s image, fallen in Adam, and then redeemed and restored in Christ. Made by a triune God, we find our fulfillment in Him and in His community, the New People. The world is very old and is passing away.

  • You know I’ve been tempted to use reason and/or morality to separate us from other beings. It just doesn’t make any sense. Unless you’re living in one of the better parts of Victorian London. No. People are different from animals because they are spiritual beings, made in God’s image, and fallen from thence, though redeemable in Christ. This is our essence.

  • But do not animals reason?

    In this meaning of reason, no, they don’t reason, are not rational beings. Mental capacity of an individual is likewise not involved– we’re talking classes, groups, not individuals. I don’t remove your soul if I do so much brain damage that you’re unable to express the rationality of said soul.

    I’m not sure how you figure your dog reasons, since you don’t explain it, nor how you’d be able to tell if she felt a yearning for something greater than herself– after all, dogs do tend to desire a pack.

    You might want to go read Jimmy’s post that I linked.

    It’s that priestly and kingly role to which we were assigned that separates us from the rest of creation.

    Problem being, who is “we”? Rather the whole point of the exercise….

  • No idea what you’re getting at by the frequent references to Victorian London, either.

  • Well I think we are that: beings made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable. Priests before and after. Lords before and after. We are spiritual. In Christ our identity is reclaimed. We find our place again in God’s creation: kings and priests. Does God need us? Of course not. But this is what he created us for. He loves us and engages us in his creative work.

  • In the Western world beginning wiht the Greeks, we at the height of culture/ civilizaTION HAVE thought of ourselves as rational beings. I think it’s old.

  • YOu see, the problem is that we’re not rational. We’ve found that out. We just have to accept it.

  • When we think of human beings, we must think not only of what we were, but of what we are and what we will be (assuming we are Christians). Our essence is this: Made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemed in Christ. This is what separates us from vegetation, animals, angels, etc. I do not mean to say creation in general is not redeemed. I believe very strongly that it is. I simply mean to point out our difference. Our essence. We are spiritual, with souls as well as breath, accountable spiritually since we were made in God’s image, since we failed his assignment, since we find redemption in Him through Christ, and restoration.

  • Well I think we are that: beings made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable.

    Who is included in “beings made in God’s image”? That is the point of this post.

    Obviously it includes male, female, a huge range of hair, skin and eye colors, a huge range of body types, a huge range of mental abilities… we often use the short-hand of human, or homo sapiens; as we learn more about homo neanderthalensis, that becomes less reasonable.
    Like St Augustine reasoned, if “monstrous” births are still people, would it not be possible for there to be “monstrous races”?

    YOu see, the problem is that we’re not rational. We’ve found that out. We just have to accept it.

    That people don’t use the ability doesn’t mean that we don’t have it. It would take a lot of proof to “show” that your dog is rational, but humans aren’t!

  • Hmnn, I think you might be looking at it a bit too literally or precisely. Whether one is profoundly retarded or genius level is irrelevant. God made human beings in His image. We failed in that. But we have souls as well as ‘breath’ or life. We are spiritual. We were and could once again be priests and lords within the context of this creation. Whatever else is going on way out there is another topic, really. As for prodigies, unusual differences, etc., we still know they are human if they are. Otherwise it’s an animal. Darwinism and evolutionary thought has us confused on this. Secular scientists would like to blur the boundary between animals and humans by focusing on ‘deep time’ and theorizing.

  • Reason became a distinction, and perhaps the one distinction of the human being because of the Greek inheritance. Acquinas was reason-oriented within the western heritage. But the Bible’s dinstinguishing mark for the human is what? The soul, created in God’s image, fallen, redeemable in Christ, priests and kings. This is the pattern. It’s our essence. I was made by God, in God’s image, for Godself, and can be restored to that image in Christ the Redeemer. This is what’s central about the human.

  • Yes, that’s it. Animals have breath. Life is there….there’s blood. Human beings have souls too, however. We were made in God’s image. We were meant to be that. We can be that again. That’s the marker.

  • I think you’re bypassing the point entirely, Pat– who is “we”? Who has souls?

    To our knowledge, people/men/humans have souls, animals do not, but that makes for a circular definition– or for abject horror, when you consider that it’s pretty standard for a culture’s word for their own group to translate as “people,” “mankind” or “humans.” Just as with “rational,” the meaning of a word in context is very important.

    A person is one with a soul; how do we figure out if someone who is outside of our previous experience is a person or not? Appearance won’t work, obviously, and we are not God so we do not see their souls. Obviously, we have to assume that those who seem to have a soul do in fact have one– but what are the markings of having a soul?

    Can you argue against Augustine’s ‘rational, mortal animal’ definition? Actually argue, not assert?

  • correction:
    To our knowledge, people/men/humans have rational/spiritualsouls, animals do not

  • All made more complicated because “soul” refers to several different things– life, including that of animals; essence of something; the part of a human that is eternal….

  • Too much classification….why order it like that? Not necessary for our conception. No little green man will come by to confuse us. It’s just us. If it looks like a human, walks like a human, and talks like one, it’s a human. That includes the Elephant Man, the circus workers, those referenced by Augustine in the City of God, and anyone else who’s uniquely interesting and remarkably different. They’re all human. The trinity teaches us that there is diversity in unity, vice versa. The Fall teaches us that we’re not as we should be. Yes there’s variety. But I know a human when I see one. And I’ll bet the farm that they possess breath and a soul, and the same origin and destiny too, if in Christ.

  • No. The soul is not eternal. That’s a Greek error. Christ alone has immortality. That’s where the Christian gets it. Soul and body resurrect. We’re not eternal. No portion is. But the soul gains immortality in Christ. The body is resurrected in Him.

  • Our first parents were made in God’s image. The animals were not. Plants were not. The earth was not. Neither was the sky. We alone were made in His image. We fell. We’re restored if in Christ. That image manifests in the priestly and kingly role. Exercise dominion. Offer up creation. And St. John said, they came to life and reigned with Christ. Kings and priests.

  • Too much classification….why order it like that?

    Because meaning is important. You can’t say that only humans have souls, because everyone who has a soul is a human. That’s circular.

    We can’t say it’s obvious who is human and who is not, because it’s sadly not obvious– a quick glance at history will show that, and a moment’s thought on the current pro-life issues of abortion, eugenics and euthanasia show it’s ongoing. People are very, very good at making themselves believe things that suit them. God made this world in a manner that we can learn about systematically– why would he have not done the same when it comes to who is a person?

    If it looks like a human, walks like a human, and talks like one, it’s a human.

    And what constitutes “like a human”? From your prior statements, you mean “being made in God’s image”– which we cannot define by the standard use of “human,” which is a biological term.

    That question is the entire point of this post.

  • No. The soul is not eternal. That’s a Greek error.

    From Catholic Answers:
    The glossary at the back of the U.S. version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “soul” as follows:
    The spiritual principle of human beings. The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature. Each human soul is individual and immortal, immediately created by God. The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection.

  • Humans give birth to humans. Animals give birth to animals. Both have life. But the human was initially created in God’s image. We are now fallen, but redeemable. What’s the question? I think you’re trying to argue with secular ethicists and pragmatic people who represent what the late John Paul II termed a culture of death. I understand that if you are. But these people make distinctions the Bible does not. We shouldn’t. We know life. We continue to know life. Not everything can be proven. God only holds us responsible, in those casses, for maintaining faith and conviction and obedience to truth. If they press us, we may not be able to answer. They want to know what is special about a fetus. I don’t know exactly. It’s a human. God knits us together in the womb. They won’t believe that, though. And there’s no strict definition of the kind for which you’re searching. If they don’t have faith, it won’t be life to them. But we know it is, and will continue to say so.

  • Christ, who alone has immortality, be glory forever. Forgot which epistle. But we are ‘clothed’ with that immortality. It’s not ours. We ‘died’ because of sin, the fall…the soul would live on in death or die forever, however you wish to say it. But that’s not the same as “being eternal by nature.” The Greeks thought we were. Plato thought that. Some of it’s semantic. But those not saved in Christ are not immortal. They don’t live forever. They die forever. Christ is the Life.

  • Pat, where does the Bible define made in God’s image?

    Where does it define soul?

    Where does it define human?

    It’s obvious that people– from the embryonic through the senile, sound of mind and body or not, in all our wide range of characteristics– are different than animals because we’re made in God’s image. The question remains: who is “we”?

  • Why is that a question? I’ve never been confused over whether a created being was a human or an animal. I’ve always distinguished the two. I’ve never yet seen a demon or an angel. No aliens either. “We” are those two-legged creatures that walk upright, etc., though we sometimes are born with issues. “We” may be Siamese, etc. Humans though. ANd we all know them. What’s the question? You want a definition? Don’t tell me you dont’ knwo one when you see one. I can’t kkeep from laughing. I jsut don’t udnerstand where you’re coming from, Foxfier.

  • The Genesis myth tells us about our first parents, who they were, what happened. Who we are now. Who we can be in Christ. The new creation. Humans are at the center because made in His image and capableof being restored to that. It’s the focal point. Well, God is really, but then we in Him and He in us forever. That’s at the center of the story.

  • I jsut don’t udnerstand where you’re coming from, Foxfier.

    I noticed.

    Why is that a question?

    Because you claimed that the Bible has said the soul is the “dinstinguishing mark for the human.”

    You claimed that I’m making distinctions where the Bible did not– you still haven’t supported that claim.

    I’ve never been confused over whether a created being was a human or an animal. I’ve always distinguished the two.

    So? I’ve never had to splint a broken arm– doesn’t mean that the information isn’t important, or will never be used.
    As I pointed out, there are several times where people mistakenly classified other people as non-persons; more amusing are the times when people mistakenly classified non-persons as people. (Was it Mark Twain that wrote about a town mistaking an ape for a Frenchman?)

  • Admittedly, apart from the Biblical story, there is no way to define and separate people fromm the rest of creation. Paganism blurs the distinction. IT’s through the light of Scripoture that we learn of who we are. Our identiy is derived from our Creator who communicates revelation. Otherwise we wouldn’t know. And people today don’t know. The Christian identity of the person is wearing off. You can’t fix a defintion of the human for the non-Christian. It won’t work. It’s through Scritprue that we find out who we are. The Greeks tried and all they came up with was reason. No good. Priests and kings. Not simply reason. If only reason, why preserve a human?

  • Humans are at the center because made in His image and capableof being restored to that.

    To repeat myself a final time tonight:
    you can’t define “human” as “those made in God’s image,” then say that those who are made in God’s image are human.

    Bring in actual quotes, with citations. Make an argument for what you’re saying, rather than just claiming it.

  • You’re getting really incoherent, Pat.

  • You wihs to go with Etienne Gilson’s choice? Do you wish to have a universal sense of the human, that can prove to everyone, that can force everyone to believe it and be OK with it rationally? Then it would be watered-down. It would not be the udnerstanding given by Scripture, the identity we have within the narrative of God. It would be something far less, something paltry.

  • Well how coherent do you suppose you can become on something like this? It’s not that kind of a thing. Either you’re human or an animal in our visible realm here. I do not have to create new definitions because someone feels like they might face an alien soon. It’s simply either an animal OR a human. If you approach it, talk to it, and stay with it for about five minutes, you ought to know which classification it falls within. If it has two heads and two permanently separate personalities and identities, it’s two humans joined from birth. Two souls, not one. Otherwise, one soul per human. And that’s about it.

  • You see, it’s through God’s story that we learn who we are, why wer’re here, where we could go, etc. Apart from faith there is no correct definition of the human. God alone gives it. If you are willing to accept it then that’s what it is. If not, you live in ignorance as pagans always have. It’s nothing complicated. Very simple. No God, no man; Lewis wrote “THe Aboliton of Man.” That’s what he meant.

    If ever there’s confusion as to whether a creature is human or animal, I’d like to know why. I’ve never heard of someone being confused in our time.

  • God’s story is our story too. It’s our meaning, our identity. We are told everything that way. It IS circular. That’s why it’s faith. If it were otherwise, it would be human philosophy. What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Jerusalem saved Athens, and so we continue to think as it did.

  • I always thought of people as possessing dignity. Then I read of a minister who visited the dying. He said that dying is the most undignified thing. He’s right. I feel we should be thankful that God made us for himself. Life is a gift. It’s precious. We’re responsible for how we live it. We need to be good stewards of all that God gave us. To live again is possible. But it happens in Christ alone. This is being human.

    I experience no despair over my lack of a scientific definition. Humanity cannot be defined philophically or scientifically. And that’s OK, since we gain our understanding from Scriptural revelation.

  • pat,
    It is basic Catholic teaching that we gain our understanding of God and His Creation not only through Scripture, but through reason as well. I don’t know you and perhaps you are a sola scriptura Protestant, and this thread is not intended to debate that point. I only point out that the notion that humanity cannot be defined philosophically or scientifically, but only by reference to Scripture alone is a singularly unCatholic point of view.

  • It would not be the udnerstanding given by Scripture, the identity we have within the narrative of God.

    What is this understanding? Lay it out.

    And that’s OK, since we gain our understanding from Scriptural revelation.

    If it’s in the scriptures, it can be cited. Go for it. Jesus Himself, if he said “is it not written,” would then give the actual quote.

  • Pingback: SATURDAY EDITION |
  • In Genesis, it says that God created our first parents in His image. Let us make man in our image, after ouor likeness. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. That’s the actual quote. This is NOT true of animals or the rest of the visible creation.

    The understanding is arrived at through progressive revelation. As the story unfolds, we learn of who we are: where we came from, where we’re at, and where we can go. It’s not fixed. It depends on who and where you are within the story. That’s our identity. It’s what it means to be a human being. But it cannot be abstracted to be a precise, universal idea. That’s reason at it’s best and it still falls radically short of scriptural revelation. Don’t baptize it. Don’t synthesize them.

    You’re trying to arrive at a universal, modernist understanding of the human, analytically or philosophically abstracted from concrete time, space, and the story that changes as it unfolds and moves eschatologically, or teleologically, toward its fulfillment, the story that informs us and gives us our understanding. We cant do that.

    The Greeks abstracted from the concrete because they beleived in the heraclitean/parmenidean split, the platonic this world of change versus that world of static reality, etc. No, we see it eschatologically.

  • So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. That’s the actual quote. This is NOT true of animals or the rest of the visible creation.

    Now, where does it say what, exactly, His image is? Clearly it’s not too physical, since the difference between male and female in the human species is rather large. The wisest idea would be to read the original, or as detailed an explanation as possible of the known meaning of the original.

    Given that information, we could very easily come to the conclusion that being able to create things is what makes us “in God’s image.”

    But it cannot be abstracted to be a precise, universal idea.

    How do you come to that conclusion? Much like the other claims you make, you don’t support it– you just state it.

  • No….we’ve wound up talking past one another because we’re starting with different assumptions. I’m assuming that Scriptural revelation is what we are given, and that that’s meant to inform all that we think and find elsewhere. I don’t hold to two separate categories. There is faith and it seeks understanding. I don’t maintain that reason or tradition are separate or reconcilable compartments. Never thought that way.

    Citgations, quotes….what good would that do? You prooftext with one set of references. Somone else uses another set. Everyone has their own pattern. That still doesn’t answer the question. It simply reveals paradigms. It’s like the Methodist who finds all the proofs. They back it up. Then the Calvinist does it with their proofs. The Catholic wiuth theirs. The Mormons have their documents from which to prove their arguments, and they are coherent within their own system, more or less.

    I advocate a better way. Let’s transcend these systems and get back to the BIble. Not Sola Scriptura per se. But let’s go back to the narrative first and foremost. That’s our story. Let’s learn it and allow it to inform our thinking. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I’ve tried to get across the Bible’s sense of who we are in relation to the one who has made us. We are humans, and the story tells us what that means. We happen through the story. It’s eschatological, that is to say that we are ‘on the way.’ We are pilgrims if we are Christian. We’r’e in transition. If not, we’re part of an old world that’s passing away, and that means death. Definitions? Not really. But definiately a reality that is wondrously amazing!

  • Once again: priests to God and kings over creation. Sacrifices acceptable, our creative service. Worship. That’s the image reflected. It’s the life we’re called back to. He’s not jsut the Creatior. He’s the Redeemer too. We participate redemptively in his plan. Also, He’s triune. So we exist in community. All this is what’s meant by being in his image. If we are in Christ, we are alive again! We see signs of that now. It will come about fully when the Lord returns in glory.

    A scientific or philosophic definition of the person that I can insert in Merrium-Webster’s? I really and truly don’t think it’s possible. There are two kinds: the saved and the unsaved…two very different definitions, and within each there is the telos—they’re in flux. You can try….I used to attempt that sort of thing. I find at the end of it soemthign like this: You learned all this information and wonder to yourself what you know. Then you come to realize that what really matters is who you know. The path, the truth, and the life is a person, Jesus. Not some abstract set of propositions. Propositions exist. But Chrsitianty is life. Our faith is never in truth itself. It is in Truth itself. Do you get what I’m saying? It’s not in the written word, but in the Word. Christ was the Word who spoke. We beleive the One who spoke. We therefore speak.

  • No….we’ve wound up talking past one another because we’re starting with different assumptions.


    I assume that when you say “the Bible says X,” that you can actually show where it says ‘x’.

    You seem to assume that when you say “the Bible say X,” that is enough– because you think that’s what it means.

    Perhaps you should try to mimic Christ in how He taught– as I said before, when He said “is it not written,” he followed with what was actually written.

  • Christ spoke things without quoting too. BUt the fact is that we have a Bible and it presents a story. We have to let that story inform our life.

  • To learn of the human, we must read the WHOLE story. Where we came from, where we’re at, and our destinations. I cannot quote the whole bible. We have to read it from cover to cover. You would never do that with a movie or another book. SO why would you only take a part of the Bible? I don’t like that.

  • Christ spoke things without quoting too.

    When teaching things on His authority as the Son of God, not when trying to explain his position as a guy in a compbox….

    SO why would you only take a part of the Bible? I don’t like that.

    Jesus Himself quoted. Don’t like it, take it up with Him.

  • We know from the Bible that the human is created in God’s image, made to reflect him. We are fallen. But we can be redeemed and this is life. Not everyone is redeemed. So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed. To be human is to be all that God has called us to be and do. And what is that? What the Bible says. You know the quotes. I don’t have the time to offer them now. But we see throughout Scripture that we are called to service and worship.

  • I don’t have the time to offer them now.

    You’ve spent roughly three days failing to offer them, Pat; small wonder you have no time left!

    The one quote that I asked for and you partly offered was out of context and didn’t actually say what you implied it did. (1 Tim 6:16.)

    Still, you beg the question- who is “we”?

    So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed.

    This contradicts what you’ve said before– that being made in His image is what makes us both people and able to be redeemed.

  • Yes, three things. We were made in his image. We fell. We can be redeemed.
    Some are. Some aren’t. Where you are in that defines who you ar as a person.

  • We were made in his image. We fell. We can be redeemed.

    Good start! Mr. Wright’s post touched on these aspects, pointing to aliens that never fell as being something that would actually cause trouble with folks’ faith.

    So, “we” are those made in God’s image, who fell and can be redeemed; how do we identify those who fit that category? Objectively– as I pointed out, there are a lot of people right now who can’t recognize a baby as a person, just because of where they happen to be located. (Be it in the womb or inside of Israel’s borders.)

    Where you are in that defines who you ar as a person.

    Has nothing to do with the conversation.

  • Well, we have not yet seen aliens. To be honest, I don’t really believe we will. We’re the focus now. We’re accountalbe to God. We must deal with this fact. What God chooses to do elsewhere is His business. We musn’t evade our responsibility for service and worship, to come home and accept his embrace, to arrive spiritually with God.

    Yes, if we’re redeemed, then we are a new creation. Old things have passed. New things have come. Otherwise we are part of a world grown old and dying.

  • So there are two different kinds of peole. Those saved and those unsaved. Again, a precise definition for the ‘universal human’ will allude you.

  • The only alluding going on here is your alluding to there actually being something to back up your claims; somehow, the notion that you actually have to support your assertions eludes you…..

    You’re still saying “we.” Of course people are “we” in a religious context. How to go about figuring out who is “we” is the point of this post.

  • Yes, in Genesis we learn that God created various creatures. And human beings were initially made in his image. Having given us dominion, he launched us into that priestly and kingly endeavor. God knew what would happen. The plan was built in so we can find restoration as it unfolds. We can find redemption in Christ. So the image is restored, as well as our initial purpose. As Augustine said in The City of God, though, it’s on a higher level. There’s a garden, now a polis, and a temple—God is with us forever. New Jerusalem. It’s taken to a higher level.

    What distinguishes the human being? Made in his image, responsible to Him for what he requires. We fell. The law came. The kingdom has come; now grace. Human beings can respond to their Creator as he engages us in a relationship with Him. This is special. Nonhumans, i.e. animals, don’t share in it in this way. How do we knwo? Revelation. Without it we are unenlightened as the pagans. A rational way to affirm? I don’t think so. A scientific way? I don’t think so. We sort of had that but it wares off without revelation. Science and rationality turn unscientific and irrational as our hearts and minds are darkened once again. They still call it science and ratioanlity, but it’s not. Apart from Revelation we simply wouldn’t know what human means. We wouldn’t accept it.

    So abortion, euthenasia, suicide, etc. is wrong. He gives us life with his plan in view. If an animal is put down do to severe complications or rabies, it’s just not the same thing. The animal is not made in His image and designed for this plan I described. THAT IS WHAT DISTINGUISHES US FROM THE OTHER VISIBLE CREATURES OF GOD. Then there are angels elect and fallen. That’s a different matter. The Bible gives us a sense of what that’s about too, but it’s different. Another order. Other life? If so, a different order. So yes, there is a classification.

    So to define it would go something like this: Human beings are made in God’s image, responsible morally. Can’t meet the law’s requirements. We tried. We’re responsible for “going through the eye of the needle.” How do we do it? Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Grace. He sent Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice. The human is responsible to God’s law. The provision is in Christ alone. With God all things are possible: we go through the eye of the needle. Our humanity is restored. That’s really human. New people. New community. New creation.

  • To clarify the kingdom, Christ is King and we His subjects. He reclaimed the world, creation. (When the strong man is tied, his place is looted by one stronger.) The nations are no longer deceived. Now we can live and reign with Christ a thousand years. It was promised. So it is.

    When we acknowledge Christ as the Lord, the King, the Messiah, we yield our political allegience to Him. Our inclusion in His kingdom is marked by the acknowledgement that He is Lord to whom we bow. Ours is a polis…an outpost in the world as it passes. So we are the New People. Creation waits for us to find itself again.

  • Creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. Who are the sons of God? Those redeemed in Christ. Creation too, is liberated from its bondage to decay and set free in the glorious liberty of Christ. God’s re-creation of the New Day. Humanity restored in Him. To be human is to be created by God in his image to worship and serve Him. But we fell. How to we reclaim our humanity? In Christ there is a new creation. Old things have passed away and new things have come. So we can be human again. I think this is the best way to answer the question of what defines us. It’s our essence.

  • You still don’t get it, Pat.

    You jump from those made in His image to “human”– without either defining the word or giving a reason why.

    Also, I thought you were out of time? Where are the verses you owe me?

  • I’m assuming macro-evolution never took place.

  • Genesis Chap. 1 versus 26-28. That’s the part that explains that human beings were made in His image. Revelation Chap. 20 verses 1-6 describes the reinstatement of dominion, as these are “in Christ.” They reign with Him.

  • In his image, dominion over creation, creatively offering up sacrifices well-pleasing. Worship and service as kings and priests. This is not given to the animal kingdom. Extra-terrestrial life doesn’t figure into this. It’s our story for now, so it doesn’t include what God may be doing elsewhere.

  • So we find our understanding of the human in the unique way that the Creator has made us, and for the unique purpose to which we’re assigned. And that’s what I’ve been detailing throughout this thread.

    That identity was given at the start of creation in Genesis. It is reclaimed in Christ.

  • Gen 1:26-28
    l Then God said: Let us make* human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.
    God created mankind in his image;
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female* he created them.
    God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.* Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.m

    (With many, many footnotes.)

    That does not say:
    So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed. To be human is to be all that God has called us to be and do. And what is that? What the Bible says.

    It’s only the same tiny snippet you’ve offered several times before, in various phrasings, still not defining who is human.

    How about we go back before you started just repeating yourself– how do you conclude that your dog both reasons and does not yearn for God? Evidence?

    Can you explain this phrase?
    You know I’ve been tempted to use reason and/or morality to separate us from other beings. It just doesn’t make any sense. Unless you’re living in one of the better parts of Victorian London.

    Justify this one?
    YOu see, the problem is that we’re not rational. We’ve found that out. We just have to accept it.

    Can you justify why we should abandon reason when all you can offer is

  • So we find our understanding of the human in the unique way that the Creator has made us, and for the unique purpose to which we’re assigned. And that’s what I’ve been detailing throughout this thread.

    No, it is not. You’ve been asserting various things, and failing to follow through the reasoning or offer justification for why you have reached various conclusions.

    You can not even explain the incredibly simple, basic question, the entire point of this post:
    why do you assume that ‘we’ consists of only those you have personally identified?
    You don’t even apply that consistently, since you’ve also said that only those who have been redeemed are truly people!

  • No, I do not beleive we have seen or will see extra-terretrial life. Humans are those who were created in God’s image, fallen and redeemable in Christ. Each human is somewhere within that story. Either we’re still fallen or we’ve been redeemed. Two entirely separate destinies, regardless of the same origin.

    What we were, what we are and what we will be are not necessarily the same. Once, again, it depends on where you are within the narrative.

  • You wish to abstact a definition so it will be static. That is not possible. You have to read the story to find out.

  • You wish to abstact a definition so it will be static. That is not possible. You have to read the story to find out.

    I “wish” support for the assertions you keep making, especially when you claim they are Biblical. Your track record on the Bible actually saying what you think it does really isn’t very good.

  • I don’t know what you’re referring to. In the scriptural narrative, human beings were created one way, fell to become something else, and are heading somewhere else if “in Christ.” I’m not sure how you would define that philosphically or scientifically. You have to read the story and find your place within it.

  • We need to understand that Scripture is a narrative. In any story things change. It’s in flux. We need to find out where we are in the story and decide what that means. What the implications are.

  • I don’t know what you’re referring to.

    That explains why you aren’t making any sense….

    By the way, you still haven’t supported your claim that your dog reasons, or any of the other claims you made that were actually related to the topic.

  • You want to know what makes a human and what differentiates them from other created beings. I told you: God made us in His image to reflect Him. We failed in that mission. He promised restoration in Christ. Some people claim that by being recipients of God’s grace. Others don’t.

    Animals stand outside that category. We have not seen, and I think we will not see extraterrestrial beings. So I’m content with the answer I gave. It’s biblically informed. It makes perfect sense. What part of it don’t you understand?

    On a broader level you can say that we are spiritual. This separates us. Not the ability to philosophize like the Greeks on a sunny day. No, but the fact that we were made for God in the unique way I described. As Augustine said, You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you. This makes us spiritual and that is what’s most profound about us. People have that need.

    From a non-Christian, Western vantage point, people often feel driven to say it is reason that separates us. But reason is merely a part of the ‘image.’ It fails, furthermore, to describe the person adequatly. It only mentions a facet, and does not get at our essence. Also, there are people who do not reason because of some predicament, e.g. severely low mental capacity. Animals can reason: they put two and two together to reach an end that that person I described would not. My dog sees someone and is hungry. She picks up her paper plate and growls as she moves toward you. Other animals are smarter yet.

    So you see it is not reason that separates us, but that we are spiritual beings, and in the way I described based on Genesis and the narrative’s development.

  • The quote from Augustine you gave earlier is not satisfactory. Mortal, rational? No, this is what I’ve been saying is not the case. Mortal, yes. Rational, no. Reason or rationality is a facet. That is not our essence, though. Our essence is that we’re spiritual, with souls, originally created in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable through Christ. This is what defines us if you look to the Scriptures. And any sense of the human that derives from elsewhere must be checked against that. I don’t even think the Greeks held reason or rationality to be central. Only aristocrats or freemen of their kind. They beleived that the rest of the world were Barbarians. And then there were slaves. No universality there. The universal notion came much later with Christianity. That’s because Christianity recognized a common descent for humanity and borrowed heavily from the Greeks for ideas. What the Greeks said was appropriated wrongly.

    It is true to say that reason or rationality is generally a facet of human beings. But it’s not the defining characteristic. It’s not our essence.

  • 1) You utterly miss what I “want.”
    2) You are still asserting, not arguing, supporting, giving any reason beyond “Because I’ve said so, several times.”

  • Foxfier, I’ve supplied an udnerstanding of the human in line with Scripture. It’s pretty scripturally-informed. I can’t see getting any more exact than that. I’ve supplied reasons and explanations. I even quoted Scripture. I’m not sure what else you’re looking for. This is best I can offer based on my understanding of the Bible:

    We were created in God’s image. We experienced a fall from that first estate. Christ can restore us to that. That’s human.

    All other visible created beings we usually see were placed under us.

    Angels are God’s ministers. They are (usually) unseen. Demons are angels who also fell.

    Extra-terrestrial beings: I don’t believe they’ve been mentioned in Scripture.

  • If you wish to engage in a thomistic exercise, and write the way he did in the Summa with quotes, citations, unreasonable and dramatic logic, I cannot afford you that kind of an experience. I don’t even udnerstand the Summa myself. I have a copy of it but it’s become a dust-collector.

  • No, Pat, you’ve just kept making claims and unsupported statements.

    Argument by saying it over and over, and then failing to provide any support, is what you’ve provided.

  • Support? We have the weight of Genesis and the whole Bible in fact. How much support do you want? I won’t go outside Scripture. I’ve quoted verses from Genesis. You know the story as it develops. The Fall, Redemption, Restoration….the themes speak for themselves. This is the basic Christian narrative. What is more central to the human person than this? Can you please tell me? I’m quite satisfied with what’s said. If you went to any Christian book to find answers to who we are as persons, you will find this. It is what Christianity has always taught.

  • This is where I draw my understanding of the person: the scriptural narrative. What do you base it upon?

  • Since you like quotes, I came upon this one from Laurens Van Der Post, quoted in L’engle’s Walking on Water: “The extreme expression of his spirit was in his story. He was a wondrful story teller. The story was his most sacred possession. These people know what we do not: that without a story you have not got a nation, or a culture, or a civilization. Without a story of your own to live you haven’t got a life of your own.”
    I introduce this to underscore the importance of ‘story.’ It is through ‘story’ that our meaning and purpose is derived. That is where our identity is found.

  • Support? We have the weight of Genesis and the whole Bible in fact.

    Great! So show your work.

    I’ve quoted verses from Genesis.

    Yes, and I’ve pointed out that it isn’t sufficient for your claims. Heck, you’ve quoted it to establish something not related to the topic!

    It is through ‘story’ that our meaning and purpose is derived. That is where our identity is found.

    That doesn’t mean what you seem to think it does, that your “the whole thing” sourcing is good… it’s a statement on personal identity.

    Nobody forced you to come here and start making claims, or dragging the conversation away from what could have been an interesting, fun route. Seeing as you decided to insert yourself, why can you not do the incredibly simple task of supporting your claims? In a manner other than just saying them again or ignoring that you ever said them!

    How do you figure your dog reasons, but isn’t “spiritual?” Etc.

  • I think that would be taking scripture out of its context. To see it as a whole, to catch the grammar or morphology of things, is rather the aim for me. The story is our story, yours and mine. It teaches us about origin and destiny, and where we fit within all of that.

  • I think that would be taking scripture out of its context.

    Now that is funny, since the very first quote you offered was out of context and clearly didn’t say what you claimed….

  • Hmmm, I’m not sure what you mean. I know I quoted something from Genesis about being made in God’s image. But the thing you raise goes to the heart of what I’m saying regarding definitions. We are not as our first parents (humans) were; we (humans) fell. But we (humans) can reclaim the position in Christ. Or rather, he can reclaim us (humans). So here is the quandary: how to fix a definition of the human given this dynamic reality. I feel that cannot be done scientifically or philosophically. So I let the story inform my understanding. And stories move from a begining to an end. As said Lewis Carroll, I like to begin at the beginning and end at the end.

    You see, here is the problem. If I say that human beings are creatures made in God’s image, well, that’s not true. Adam and Eve were. Then they fell. We can be among the redeemed or the unredeemed at this point along the story. At the consummation of things, those redeemed will be raised up body and soul, resurrected as a unity. You see the problem? No definition fits throughout, unless of course we include everything. That is why quoting just parts of the Bible doesn’t work. Gotta read the story. I do appreciate very much your spirited debate. There is a new (or not so new) trend known as narratival theology. It stresses the fact that Scripture affords us a story. It is less concerned with universal statements and propositions than with how this story shapes our lives and how we find our place within it, letting it inform us. I’ve been somewhat influenced by narratival theology. I find that the Bible makes much more sense this way. I used to think like a Fundamentalist, always wanting to locate a verse or two, or a passage in order to feel like I had proof. Yet those parts of Scripture are part of an ever-widening context, until we find ourselves within the broadest circle of the Word itself. And that Word presents us with a story.

  • When you tried to claim that immortal souls were a Greek invention, using a quote about the resurrection of the body.

    The reason you don’t want to offer text to support your claims is because, based on the evidence, you can’t. All you can do is make claims and hand-wave that it’s all there, somewhere.

  • I also said confusion could arise in part due to semantics.

  • But what has that to do with the discussion?

  • To get back on track, you wish to define the human. I’ve told you that the meaning and purpose of the human is found in the Christian story. By reading any story, you learn character development. We must do this witht the Bible.

  • Still waiting for support for a single one of the claims I’ve asked you about.

  • Foxfier, you’ve not listened to a single thing I’ve said. You continue to insist on supporting things with verses. People do this all the time. And they’re often wrong. To give you an example: i had a discussion with a man the other day who said alcohol was sinful. I said why? He said let me show you, and he brought me a gigantic King James Version of the BIble, and he pointed to a line where it said “do not be givne to strong drink.” Well, upon reading the epistle, I was reminded that this was advice for bishops/elders of the church. It was not a pronouncement on alcoholic beverages. Anotheher version reads “not a drunkard” which of course is binding upon all Christians anyway. It was horrendous. I just couldn’t explain it to him. THe understsanding simply wasn’t there.

    So no, I strongly feel, and this is my conviction (no proof here) that we should read the whole Bible and let its meaning come forth.

  • No, Pat, the “problem” is that I have listened to what you said– and asked you to actually support your claims, with something besides waving at the whole Bible.

    Every time you try to get into detail, you fail.

    Small wonder you try to change the subject, especially when asked to support your claims.

    I do not care what you strongly feel. This is not a post on “what Pat strongly feels.”
    This is a light-hearted, whimsical post about applying Catholic personhood theory in imaginary situations, which is a useful exercise for dealing with the darker, real situations that show up in day to day life– such as the trans-human embryos already in England.

    You’ve shown that you’re not going to defend the few statements you made related to the topic, let alone discuss the actual topic.

  • Too often it degenerates into prooftexting. Here a verse, there a verse, pick and choose them, divorce them from their contexts and use them to prop up an idea. Why? Because you hold a beleif prior to Scripture which you wihs to prove, whether it’s temperance, forms of church polity, views on baptism, or whatever else people subscribe to. They go to the BIble to prove things, and they uproot verses from their context. I can find ‘proof’ of the congregational politiy, the presbyterian government, the episcopal form, etc., for example, depending on which texts I use. Likewise, I can find ‘proof’ for many other things. There is always a tendency to do this in Chrisitnaty.

    Instead, I choose to read the BIble from cover to cover as a story, and to let that story inform me. And if something is unclear i don’t go back and try to find the verses that fit the belief I hold most dearly becasue of sentiment or preference. I let the story unfold. I find where I belong in it. I become enveloped by the story. The story then dictates to me. As Tom Wright said regarding our time, we are called upon at this juncture to improvise, to pick up where the apostles left off, and to play out our role until Christ returns (paraphrase). I do not solely conform to propositions, though those exist to which we give assent. Christianity is more importantly a living faith.

  • Can you give me an example of Catholic personhood theory? I’m not aware of this. I don’t see personhood in specifically ‘Catholic’ terms. I view the human in a Christian light as I’m informed by the Bible.

  • Too often it degenerates into prooftexting.

    The irony of you warning of is amazing…..

    You are still trying to change the subject away from your failure to support a single claim when challenged.

  • YOu say this is a light-hearted, whimsical post. I can see that. We move back again and again and again to your need for supporting versus despite all I’ve said. I wonder if you’ve really been reading my remarks, or simply skipping over them. Do you understand anything about what I’ve said thus far? About the narrative and the need for us to find our sense of ourselves within that structure? Or the need to take into account where we are along the timeline? Has any of that meant anything to you?

  • Can you give me an example of Catholic personhood theory?

    Read the post. There are several different examples, multiple links, many phrasings.

    For love of little green apples, you claimed to disprove it by assertion.

    We move back again and again and again to your need for supporting versus despite all I’ve said.

    That happens when you claim the Bible says something: people say “where?” Shockingly, the rest of us aren’t willing to accept the word according to Pat as a binding source of enlightenment.

    I notice you’re trying to change the subject to your favorite– “Pat.” Amazing how your sources all seem to be by your own authority, and every attempt you make to justify that with evidence fails.

  • The human being cannot be distilled into a definition such as would be broadly understandalbe and acceptable. I don’t wish to play fast and loose wtih Scripoture by engaging in prooftexting.

    Revelation teaches us who we are. Our identity develops through the narrative that is the Word of God.

    Whatever verses one has, another has theirs and so on. It just keeps going. There’s no way out until we discover truth. And that truth is in a person, the Truth, Jesus Christ. Once our God engages us, we learn who we are. We know it. The world cannot know this as we do. It’s spritually discerned.

  • I believe you misudnerstand what I’ve said. I’ve tried to explain my position: I read the Bible as story. That story informs my life. I find myself within that story. Before you know it, I’m a living part of that reality. I speak this way because this has been my experience. It’s wonderful. It’s truly human. And I think that’s what I’ve been trying to get across. Our experiences, if they relate to the Word, demonstrate that humanity we strive for. It is not what we were, and thank God we will not always be what we are. As tge past and present are taken up in the cross of Jesus Christ, we are transformed. We’re a new breed.

  • Pat, I don’t think you’re getting the point:
    You already showed that you’re not able to quote scripture–or anything else– without prooftexting.
    You already claimed to define what makes people be people, but couldn’t defend your objection to a rational soul or your support for “spirituality.”

    The thing that keeps going on and on is your attempt to change the topic to being all about you.

  • We each see things from our perspective. Hopefully we come to see those things accurately. I’m able to quote scripture and other sources. I have with regard to the human, by going back to Genesis. That’s classic. Nothing peculiar.

    Yes, I maintain that we are spiritual beings, and that this separates us off from the rest of creation. Having been made in his image, yet fallen, we’re accountable for that kind of creaturehood which we possess.

    I don’t prefer the ratioinal soul idea. I just don’t see it as getting to the core. I see it as Greek. I know we absorbed the Greeks. But I don’t agree with it, which is one of the reasons I welcome postmodernism.

  • We each see things from our perspective

    No, we’re not just seeing things from different perspectives.

    You made claims. You still haven’t backed them up. You misquoted, you still haven’t corrected yourself. You try to change the subject… in pretty much every post.

    What is so difficult about this topic? The simple fact that it’s not “Pat,” or something else?

  • I appreciate the spirited discussion on what makes us human. I of course don’t go at it the way you expect. For me, defining the human is not a logical exercise or a rational sort of thing. It’s not really about quoting a verse or a passage either. But when I think of what defines a human, or what their essence consists in, I think of how we’re spiritual. We live lives based upon our beliefs. Our convictions. We can’t prove such things. But if we have faith in the Word despite appearances to the contrary, we develop conviction. As John Ortberg has said in “Faith and Doubt,” we bet the farm on it. On all that we’re told throughout the Scriptural narrative about God, ourselves, and His ongoing interaction with us. I feel that life is worth it. That all that happens occurs redemptively in Christ. That our suffering, loss, grief, pain, uncertainty and all our trials are taken up into the cross of Jesus Christ and sanctified. That we’re loved by him and that being a recipient of his grace makes us entirely gifted and priveleged. I hope you can come to see that being human means recognizing what we were created for and finding our home once again in God. There are those who wish to remain apart from their Creator in darkness and alienation and confusion. I don’t totally understand how all this can be. But I’ve “bet the farm on it,” I know all that God’s story says, and I believe it. To present this to the world as an “ambassador” I believe I must share this in life, in love, and in action. I cannot communnicate all of this in a way that resonates wiht those who wish to keep their ears shut. I can only hope that “whosoever will” listens.

  • Still trying to change the topic.

  • It is true that Christianity is confessional. And the world seeks after wisdom. But to define the human in a way that’s embraced by everyone on the basis of proof is not possible. So to get right to the topic, here it is: The human cannot be understood outside of revelation and faith. Call me fidiestic, I don’t care. But it’s our story and we’re convicted it’s true because we persevere in faith.

  • You’re still trying to change the topic.

    Guess it’s pretty embarrassing to have evidence that you’re willing to quote things only when they don’t say what you claim, right above where you claim you wouldn’t do that? Probably annoying to find a place that keeps asking for more support than what you “feel.”

  • Another example of the serious applications of personhood theory, and why it matters to have a defensible, reasonable definition of what a person is.

  • Hmmm….I just can’t seem to figure out what you’re getting at. If the purpose of this thread was to work toward an understanding of the human as differentiated from all other creatures, I think we’ve been pretty successful. If the purpose of this thread was to do so on the basis of scriptural evidence, I think we touched on that when I quoted Genesis and spoke about the Fall and Redemption. But more important than single verses is the narrative as a whole. We find meaning and purpose and identity for the human in that story. It’s our meta-narrative, if you will.

  • Pat, the only thing you’ve done here is make unsubstantiated claims, misquote the Bible, complain about how you don’t understand what I’m saying and how I’m not listening to you, and go off on tangents to try to change the subject.

  • Oh, and misquote other sources, too. Mustn’t forget that.

  • Thanks for the example. Yes, indeed it’s a problem. But I think you’re assuming all people share in this rational thing that can be expressed and agreed upon.

    God chooses to make himself known to HIs people. THe world does not know him. They therefore see things from the perspective of that world.

    How would the nations have known of the one God and his ways? Revelation. How would we know of his plan? who we are? the anser is revelation. ONce known, revelation informs our reason and we go on to develop further understanding. But we remain people of faith whose minds have conformed to revelation and the way that revelation shapes our “reason.”

  • You’re trying to change the subject again.

  • Thomistic philosophy cannot hold onto the one while retaining the other; either we must accept that revelation is requisite always or we must reject the light that enlightens. There is no ‘reasonable’ concept of the human. Our ‘reasoning’ apart from the story of God will be to no avail.

  • On topic, with support for assertions, Pat. And your feelings aren’t evidence.

  • The issue does not relate to that at all. It relates to our approaches. I’ve explained that for me, the narrative of God tells us who we are. Read the story and find out. I give precedence to revelation.

  • For some people, faith and reason are equally valid categories, reconcilable systematically.

    I am not a thomist. Never was. Never thought that approach worked. God reveals himself to us personally through the Word and Spirit. Then revelation informs our lives and our minds are transformed. So our ‘reasoning’ is altered after conversion. Without this experience one would think from a worldly vantage point. You simply could not tell them what being human means, its implications, its worth, etc.

  • Calvinism, Thomism, all these systems want to be logical and universally compelling. They want their understanding to reach the world. To make sense to everyone. It’s as if the faith were a matter of common sense explanation. As if those who rejected it could be laughed at. That’s not how it is. Two radically different positions exist: we are either darkened in our minds and lost in sin, or we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Two viewpoints and no bridge but that of the Holy Spirit and of Christ.

  • Still not on topic.

    Still not supported by anything but your say-so.

  • I don’t know what you’re looking for in a thread. I tried to tell what it means to be human based on an informed biblical understanidng. I feel I have done this. I have no regrets. I would like to know what you specifically disagree with and why.

  • If you point to something you don’t udnerstand or highlight a disagreemnt you have, I can address that. But to ask for quotesand citations for everything stated is a bit odd. That’s something that might happen in an official debate. I would not expect to see that in a compbox. That’s just too much. When a priest offers a homily or a pastor delivers a messsage, it’s true they quote scripture. They do not do this constantly though. It does not go on from beginning to end. If operating on a calendar, tehy have the passages. They build from there. I know that fundamentalists are fond of quoting more often. I’m not fundamentalist. I don’t agree with that approach. I find it unnecessary and even confusing. Too often people quote scripture without understanding what it means and this confuses people. I told you about the gentleman who argued against alcoholic beverages. I spoke with another person who quoted verses in support of Sabbath-keeping for Saturday. No, the entire story must be reaed. That’s my approach and I’m sticking with it. Once againm, if there’s anything you wish to debate specifically, tell me what that is.

  • You made claims; the few times you’ve tried to support them with quotes, you failed. When asked for details or support, you try to change the topic.

    Your only approach is to try to change the subject to “Pat.”

  • I’ve expressed a lot throughout this page. I’d like you to glance back at it and see what’s there. Especially since you haven’t necessarily found soemthing you disagree with or can prove wrong.

  • First read through what I’ve written one more time. Try to get the gist of it,the basic idea. Then cite what you disagree with, if anything at all. And I’ll try to substantiate it. But we have to get this narrowed down.

  • I already pointed out where you misquoted, where you failed to support your claims and where you changed the topic. Two or more times for some of them. I even provided the quotes you misused.

  • I don’t see that. What I’ve stated is pretty classic, although it’s admittedly said in a different way at times. I don’t believe I’ve said anything contrary to the Bible. I believe I’ve communicated the sense of being human based upon our controlling narrative. I’m not sure what could be there that you’d disagree with or be uncertain about.

  • Behind everything lies conviction. I don’t know what your precise convictions are. I’ve tried to state mine.

  • I don’t see that.

    *dryly* Hadn’t noticed.

    I do notice that you’re still trying to change the subject, though.

  • Foxfier, are you interested, really interested in what makes us human? If you are, I would think you’d look back on what I’ve said to get the basic idea. Do you really want to know our essence? It’s there.

  • Oooh, nice try on changing the topic again! Too bad “Foxfier” isn’t my favorite subject….

  • Creation, the fall, redemption and restoration, these themes and our relation to them define us. We must of course trust the narrative. I believe it’s true. So I’m perfectly settled in my notion of the human. I know of no other source that can get to the heart of who we are. Acceptance of this requires a faith response.

    Now I know that people disbelieve this. I know that ‘Christians’ sometimes believe in macro-evolution and hold to variations of Darwinism. They say that human beings and animals possess a common descent. That at some point humans evolved. I just don’t beleive this. While the creation portion of Genesis is mythic in one sense, I see God intentionally creating creatures after their kind, with humans alone made in his image having dominion over all others. That kind of language doesn’t sound evolutionary.

  • I’m trying to get you to think. I want you to see what I said about faith in revelation, and about finding our place in God’s story. Our sense of ourselves must derive from this. Not from attempts at reconciling the Bible with knowledge from a worldly vantage point. Spengler, the historian, knew that evolution was a Western projection.

  • And Pat goes back to his favorite subject- “Pat.”

  • You’re trying to change the subject because people are actually paying attention to the lack of substance to what you say on the topic.

  • This is not about me. This is about what defines us as human beings. It’s about the story we’re given through revelation, the story that we find ourselves a part of. For those who can accept it, it’s ‘Everyman’.

    I’ve said nothing eccentric or heterodox to my knowledge. If anything strikes you as untrue, point it out and we’ll get to the bottom of it.

  • This is not about me.

    The topic isn’t; your posts are.

    I have pointed out your misquotes, incorrect claims, unsupported claims and where you keep trying to make the subject you, you, you. The Word According to Pat is not the topic, but it’s about the only one you’re willing to expound on– at great length.

  • I don’t see this as being about me. However, Christianity is a faith that involves the person. We experience it. There is no subjective/objective split. What the Bible says it says to all who would listen. For those who do, their experience is at one with what’s been said.

  • Again, trying to change the topic….

  • I’m not a fudamentalist. I don’t see the point in throwing out verses here. Anyone can find verses to support their view. That’s prooftexting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been upset by people who do just that. They grab hold of some verse and use it to support their belief or claim as you put it. So we have people going aroudn saying it’s sinful for Christians to drink alcohol. There’s a thousand years of bliss in store for the Jews when Christ returns to the David throne and reinstates the sacrificial system. A rapture will occur that will beam us up to the sky because Christ won’t come all the way down. We’re not allowed to eat anything with blood in it. Vegetarianism is God’s best. David and Jonathan were homosexuals together. We can literally move mountains if only we believed we could. We must practice footwashing. Ministers should support themselves through their own means because Paul did, and on and on it goes. All these things sound like true statements for all time. They’ve been abstracted from the Story.

  • Still trying to change the topic, and still all about you.

  • This is not about me, Foxfier. It’s about what makes us human. It’s applicable across the board. Now this has become about prooftexting. You don’t accept something unless someone cites a chapte and verse. I don’t see that happening on any of the other threads.

    If you disagree with what I’ve stated, then say so. Tell me what you don’t believe in and why. Then we’ll take it from there. I’m fully ready to tackle that. I’m totally confident about what I’ve stated.

  • This is not about me, Foxfier.

    Nice of you to realize it, finally. So, when are you going to stop making it all about you?

    It’s about what makes us human.

    Close, but no– it’s about what makes us people.

    If you disagree with what I’ve stated, then say so. Tell me what you don’t believe in and why. Then we’ll take it from there.

    I’m not going to go back over all this again and collect up your unsupported claims, prooftexting quotes and attempts to shift the conversation.

    I’m fully ready to tackle that. I’m totally confident about what I’ve stated.

    Again, it becomes all about you. Same as the last several times.

  • Hmmm….don’t know what to say. But again, Christians are people of faith, of conviction. We have revelation from God, his Word, and we have faith. I don’t know what else you want to hear, but this is the most I can offer.

  • I don’t know what else you want to hear, but this is the most I can offer.

    Scroll up to the top of the page.

    See the post? See how it has a topic?

    Notice how it’s not “the word according to Pat”?

    Frankly, I doubt your sincerity. You were vaguely on topic up to the point where I started asking you to support the claims you made, such as that your dog is rational, or to explain the off-handed comments you made, such as about Victorian England.

  • Foxfier, dogs reason in a sense. They figure things out. SOme humans don’t. For example due to a profoundly low IQ or some other state they’re in. I mentioned Victorian England because people think of humans as rational—I intended my allusion to hit home, in other words, we’re not the rational people we tend to think we are. CIvilziation is precarious. Rationality adn civility are not givens. Intellectual edifices and official definitons based on rationality come and go, and people may or may not be willing to accept that understanding for long. In the end we have our faith, the revelation from God whom we place our faith in, and the convictions that develop as we persevere through life.

  • 1) Wrong kind of rational
    2) You’re still not supporting your claim that dogs aren’t “spiritual”– pretty hard to do, since they clearly do have a desire for something larger than themselves, most obviously their pack, and the God-shaped hole is traditionally detected by that yearning.
    3) How does Victorian England show that humans, as a group, are not rational?

  • Intellectual edifices and official definitons based on rationality come and go, and people may or may not be willing to accept that understanding for long.

    Fallacy. Truth isn’t determined by how popular a belief is.

    In the end we have our faith, the revelation from God whom we place our faith in, and the convictions that develop as we persevere through life.

    Again, you try to change the subject.

  • I don’t believe I have to support a claim that dogs aren’t spiritual. True, they are created by God. But they are not spiritual in the sense humans are. When it comes to something like that, I believe the burden is on the oteh person to prove that they ARE spiritual, i.e. made originally in God’s image and responsible to him in the way we are with the central purpose for which we were made.

    What God-shaped hole lies in the animals?

    Victorian England doesn’t necessarily show in itself that we’re not rational. World Wars and genocide do. Rebellion against the very Creator that made us creatures does. That’s irrational.

    Truth is not determined by popularity. Well said. But the acceptance of truth waxes and wanes throughout a civilization. The popularity level alters. What society is willing to take from the church changes. And it is for that reason that I remark on faith, revelation and conviction. Truth is spiritualy discerned. If civilization is not Christian, don’t expect it to heed truth from revelation that once was accepted. It’s wearning off. We can again see the separation of those who know and those who don’t, or to be more precise, the righteous and the wicked.

  • I notice you don’t believe you have to support most of the claims you make, or define your terms, or even hold with what you’ve previously said.

    You’re trying to change the topic again, too.

  • That separation occurs during times like this. Christianity and culture are not one and the same. They interact. It’s dynamic. The church is influenced by society and culture and also influences society and culture. This happens in varying degrees at different times.

    Thomism, Etienne Gilson’s choice, seems to some Christian philosophers to be the anwwer to our troubles. I just don’t see that. I think it creates more problems than it solves. Thomism, Calvinism, and all these scholastic methods don’t work out.

  • Would you please answer my questions? How is a dog spiritual? How is being rational at the center of being human?

  • I already did for the dog, and you’re still trying to change the conversation.

  • Foxfier, the conversation has remained the same throughout–the human–what makes us so. I’ve stated that we’re spriitual, originially amde in God’s image, fallen yet redeembable, and we have souls. That’s our identity, our meaning. Our purpose too. We were made to be priests and kings, to offer up sacrifices pleasing and acceptable, lives of service and praise, as we participate as co-creators, creatively engaging the world to God’s glory. Under God, over the earth.

    I’m sticking by this. It does not pertain to the animals, plants or othe aspects of visible creation. If extra-terrestrial life exists beyond angels and demons, we haven’t seen them yet and I suppose they’d be for another chapter. Thats’ God’s business, not ours. As of now, they exist as products of our creative imagination. We can posit other worlds and beings. It’s fabulous, but irrelevent to the discussion of what makes us human (except insofar as we can imagine other beings).

    You did not explain how a dog is spiritual. You only explained how they seek out things beyond themselves. Other aspects of creation. You didn’t prove they seek out or know God the Creator of all.

  • Yes, we are creative, and i’ve addressed that throughout the thread. We imagine other worlds, better worlds, more powerful beings. We hypothesize in all kinds of different ways. We have the creative capacity to invent new things. God engages those he calls in his plan. He invites us to work redemptively alongside him. He restores us. We live and reign again. Lords of the earth. That’s why we love myth. A new world’s coming and we’re going to reign as priests and kings in the kingdom of God.

  • Foxfier, the conversation has remained the same throughout–the human–what makes us so.

    No, it has not. Partly because the topic is not “what makes a human,” and partly because you keep dragging it off into The Word According to Pat.

    We’re now in stage three– stage one was making assertions until challenged, step two was offering quotes that didn’t say what you claimed or weren’t related to the topic, step three is you demanding that I do this or that.

    All of that, rather than just reading the post and responding to that.

  • As far as I can tell, and it’s not totally lucid, you’re trying to understand the human and to distinguish the human from the non-human who may also possess intelligence. Is that correct?

  • I don’t beleive it centers on intelligence or being rational. I beleive the Creator created a world and arranged it according to a plan. The plan, I believe, is what tells us about each being, who they are and what their purpose is. As the story unfolds, we learn of that in detail. We see where it goes and we get a glimpse of the outcome.

    That we are creative means we can posit OTHER worlds and beings similar too but not the same as us. I’m not sure what can be said beyond that. The dramatis personae in Scripture is pretty straightforward. We have the script, etc., and we live in that world.

  • We are characters in a story already underway. Through revelation, we learn that story and who we are. We wouldn’t know this otherwise. We otherwise wouldn’t know what being human versus being nonhuman meant. The distinction would not be clear.

    The world we inhabit is understood, if at all, through scriptural revelation. Otherwise it would be an existential exercise. We’d wonder about it. And we’d worship creation rather than the one Creator whose plan we are a part of.

  • I think I’ve ansered everyuthing as best as I can. I ‘ve told you how I feel concerning the whole thing. I’ve given you my very best understanding about who we are and what separates us from other biengs. I'[ve asked you to point out any paritcular disagreemnets you had with me and I told you I’d address them one by one. I answerreed several of the items you cited. What more do you expect? Yes, this should have been a fun exercixe, an enjoyable discussion aobout what makes us human and what separates us from other seen and unseen aspects of God’s order. Instead, this has become about reducing what I say to nothing by insisiting on literal quotes, citations, hair-splitting logic that would make a Presbyterian seem mild, and a sense that what you say matters and what isay does’nt. I don’t know where you learned to debate, but using terms like beg the question and so on when it’s a nice talk among Christian-minded people is not necessary. Straw-man, and all ofthis is used among adversaries or within debates that surpass this level. I’m a bit disappointed. I wish we could have discussed this thing in a fun way like you said without it becoming so literal and exacting.

  • This post has gone off topic, and there is apparently no pulling it back.

    I’m closing comments.

If I Weren’t Catholic, I Would…

Friday, February 11, AD 2011

As a Catholic, one is sometimes accused of being so mindlessly doctrinaire that one “accepts anything the pope says without thinking”. However, at other times, one is faced with the opposite challenge: Does your Catholic faith cause you to take any political or moral positions that you wouldn’t take anyway?

Typically, both of these objections are leveled by people who don’t like one’s political or moral stances, but while in the one case it stems from a belief that one would obvious agree with the speaker if only one’s head wasn’t befuddled by religious notions, the other seems to stem from the idea that if only one really took one’s faith seriously, one would agree with the speaker on the point at issue. (Or perhaps alternately, merely a skepticism as to whether anyone actually modifies his life at all due to religious beliefs.)

I think this is a pretty valid question, but if one attempts to think about it seriously, it is a very difficult question to answer, since it leaves one to try to puzzle out how much of one’s beliefs and character are the result of one’s faith, versus how much one picks one’s faith based on beliefs or tendencies one already has.

Continue reading...

28 Responses to If I Weren’t Catholic, I Would…

  • I think my views on domestic and economic matters would be largely unchanged. In regard to foreign policy, I would support a foreign policy largely based on Machiavelli’s The Prince, with a smattering of Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West.

  • Why would you be less likely to empathize with the poor and oppressed? Secularists are all for helping the poor and oppressed, though they are less likely to actually get their hands dirty. They tend to be less violent. They’re driven by a desire to reduce human suffering.

    Having spent some time away from the Church, I can say that I was more consequentialist in the expected ways except a few. I was an absolutist when it came to opposition to capital punishment. Oddly, faith made me less opposed to the practice.

  • Why would you be less likely to empathize with the poor and oppressed? Secularists are all for helping the poor and oppressed, though they are less likely to actually get their hands dirty. They tend to be less violent. They’re driven by a desire to reduce human suffering.

    Many of the friends I had as a kid are now “spiritual but not religious” kind of secular, and they do indeed tend to take a very bleeding heart view of social justice issues.

    So that would certainly be one way of looking at things. But my overall personality has always tended towards the judgmental and pragmatic, so in attempting to think how I might look at things without a belief in God I figured I might sound more like some of the agnostic/atheist libertarian types I’ve run into who look at things more along the lines of: Well, that’s one less undesirable element of society.

    Now I guess I could say that if I weren’t Catholic I’d still have an instinctual idea derived from natural law that one should treat all people as having inherent dignity — but that’s still assuming that Catholicism is true, but that I didn’t believe in it.

  • I think an important element in answering this question for anyone is to consider that, if they weren’t Catholic, they would be something else and that something is not some imagined neutrality. (Darwin hinted at this without saying so explicitly.) At various times I have thought that, if I weren’t Catholic, I would be an atheist (in high school), a Buddhist (in undergrad), or, most recently, a Mennonite (as a grad student in theology). But even those things that appeal to me in other world views tend to do so because of my Catholicity. It is a difficult hypothetical.

    In any case, I know that in my concrete personal situation I would never have even heard that artificial contraception was morally problematic were I not Catholic. I suspect that, were I a non-Catholic, it would sound vaguely like the JW prohibition on blood transfusions. Only if I came face-to-face with serious consequences of using AC would I question such a widespread societal norm.

    And if I had no concerns about the separation of sex from procreation, I would have no problem at all with homosexual acts as such.

    I suspect I would also be slightly less pacifist and slightly less opposed to the death penalty were I not a Catholic, but that, of course, would depend widely on what I was instead. Were I a Mennonite, I would be more pacifist and more opposed to the death penalty.

    I’m the sort of person who would find a cause somewhere though. I would want a systematic worldview and the sense that following through on it passionately would make the world a better place. In other words, I’d be pretty dangerous were I anything but a Catholic. 😉

  • I’m where Mac is, except in foreign policy I’d support the Roman and English model: conquer the world and send all its wealth back home.

    I still could not vote demokrat cxandidates. They create poverty.

  • If I weren’t a Catholic, I would have committed suicide a long time ago. There’s no way I would have made it through my most serious bout of depression without the knowledge that suicide is a mortal sin. Even as a Catholic, at one point I found myself reading moral theology to see if there were exceptions to the prohibition.

  • A Catholic can consider any point of view. The idea that one follows the Pope blindly while seemingly not considering other options is quite silly. Of course many of us do consider other points of view, find either fault or merit in them but at the end of the day, for me at least, no other worldview is as consistent and unemotional and correct as the Catholic one. The non-Catholic argument presupposes an incorrect Catholic view or perhaps a Catholic rejecting his Catholic view for an inferior view, perhaps to spite himself.

  • “You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was *not* Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.”

    –Evelyn Waugh.

  • Like Darwin, I’m a cradle Catholic so it’s tough to determine. I’d likely be a bit more libertarian economically if I were not Catholic, and most likely would not oppose the death penalty.

  • Dale,

    That’s always been a favorite quote of mine — though I didn’t successfully work it in here.


    Stay Catholic, then! (All joking aside, just sent a quick prayer your way. Hang in there.)

  • DC – It’s ok; I know the rules, and everyone’s got their crosses. It’s just that when I tried to reason through the topic of this article, I realized that for me, any question about where I’d be today as a non-Catholic is moot.

    It is interesting that most of us have said that we’d have less respect for life, in one way or another.

  • I would have married that really hot nurse I knew when I was overseas in the Navy. Only problem with her, from a Catholic standpoint, was that she was in favor of contraception and did not really want kids. And was a functional atheist.

    I suspect we would have been divorced by now.

  • Personally, i have a very hard time imagining what I would be like if I were not catholic. It’s like trying to imagine myself as male-I really wouldn’t be me anymore if I wasn’t catholic!
    I suspect that if I had to choose another faith I would likely have become an evangelical Protestant. I’d still be pro life but not have any problem with birth control, divorce, or the death penalty. I might be more of a doctrinaire conservative if that were the case.

  • If I weren’t Catholic, I would probably be some sort of pagan, and my politics would probably more closely resemble Aristotle’s.

    I would still oppose homosexuality and so-called “gay marriage” because I believe it is anti-social and destructive, but I would “look the other way” and perhaps even facilitate its discrete practice among those who felt they had to satisfy that urge.

    I’d probably be ok with the use of artificial contraception among married couples only, like today’s Protestants. I would still combine that with economic incentives to bear children, because Western birth rates are in the toilet. And I would still totally oppose the distribution of condoms to teenagers.

    I’d be more inclined to support violent revenge in many cases.

    And I certainly wouldn’t have an absolute prohibition on lying (I’d disagree with Aristotle on that one).

    But then, I don’t really want to speculate too much on how dark my personal life would become, and what I would be willing to justify or indulge in, if I didn’t believe in God.

  • The only thing that would stop me from doing “anything” was the possibility of being apprehended. If I had no family, that would be a weaker disincentive.

    From and old cowboy (C&W) song, the most important things in life (updated).

    Older whiskey;
    Younger women;
    Faster cars;
    More money.

    Eat when yer hungry.
    Drink when yer dry.
    If the sky don’t fall in,
    Ye’ll live ’til ye die.

    Cum a Tai Yai Yippee Yippee Yay Yippee Yay

    Too many take seriously too many worldly “things.”

  • Born Catholic but having since strayed, I see no reason to return to the Church, especially in light of the lurid scandals that have plagued. As a betting man who has gambled and usually lost, I still might take Pascal up on his wager. After all, sooner or later, I might win. When God gave out faith as a gift, I somehow got passed up.

    Good thread, though. As usual TAC is provocative.

  • When I read the title of this post “If I Weren’t Catholic, I Would…”, in my mind I immediately completed the sentence “… become one as soon as possible.” I’m Catholic for the same reason I believe everything else I believe in my life: my faith and my reason inform me that it’s true with metaphysical certainty. Imagining the Catholic faith not to be true is like imagining that two plus two does not equal four or the sky is not blue; it makes no sense whatsoever. I’ve read all sorts of apologetic material from all sorts of viewpoints, Catholic, non-Catholic Christian, non-Christian, agnostic and atheist, and the only viewpoint that coheres philosophically is Catholicism. I was providentially born a cradle Catholic, but if I hadn’t been, I surely would have converted, led by the same reasoning that led me to all that I believe. To imagine myself as anything but Catholic, I should have to imagine myself as not being me.

  • “especially in light of the lurid scandals that have plagued.”

    Yeah Joe, that Judas scandal was earth shaking! 🙂

    Which reminds me of a story. A Jewish merchant and a Catholic merchant were friends in a medieval Italian city. The Jewish merchant becomes interested in Catholicism, but hesitates about converting. His friend encourages him, but then is alarmed when the Jewish merchant decides to go to Rome to investigate Catholicism at its heart. The Catholic merchant is alarmed because he is aware of the corruption rampant in the Church there. The Jew comes back in two weeks and anounces that he is now a baptized Catholic. His friend sputters, “But all the corruption in Rome…”. The new Catholic holds up his hand. “That is what convinced me! If I ran my business the way the Church is run, I’d be bankrupt or in jail in a week! Yet the Church has endured for centuries! It must be of God!”

  • Joe,

    Before worrying about what it means to “return to the Church”, focus on what it means to hold the Catholic faith. Truth does not depend upon the morality of the hierarchy or the bureaucracy. Many of us “traditionalists” will readily concede that there is corruption and immorality rampant in the Church, at the parish and diocesan level and even higher up than that. But this does not shake our faith in the least. The Church is a 2000 year old divinely established institution that has seen her share of crises and scandals and survived them all. And even if this is the scandal to end all scandals, it only means that the day is near when Christ will return, the consummation of the world.

  • As my old friend Thomas Hardy once said, “There is a condition worse than blindness, and that is, seeing something that isn’t there.

  • Joe: By their fruits, ye shall known them.

  • An odd thing for Hardy to say Joe considering his interest in spiritism.

    A good article on Hardy and his faith haunted life:

  • Don, thanks for the interesting link. Hardy is one of my favorite Victorian authors, along with George Eliot (another apostate). Hardy wrote: “Pessimism … is, in brief, playing the sure game … It is the only view of life in which you can never be disappointed.” I Hard-ily agree.

  • I prefer Thomas Babington Macaulay myself, not so much for his history as his essays, which are some of the best writing I have ever read. Anti-Catholic as he was, I have always liked this tribute he wrote to the Church:

    “There is not and there never was on this earth a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphi-theatre. The proudest Royal houses are but of yesterday when compared to the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. The line we trace back in an unbroken series from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eigth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the Republic of Venice was modern compared with the Papacy; and the Republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated her for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendancy extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri, and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished in Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broke arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St Paul`s.”

    As for pessimism, I rather like this view of a late Victorian I bet you are familiar with:

    “The gallows in my garden, people say,

    Is new and neat and adequately tall;
    I tie the noose on in a knowing way

    As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
    But just as all the neighbours–on the wall–
    Are drawing a long breath to shout “Hurray!”

    The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all
    I think I will not hang myself to-day.
    To-morrow is the time I get my pay–

    My uncle’s sword is hanging in the hall–
    I see a little cloud all pink and grey–

    Perhaps the rector’s mother will not call– I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
    That mushrooms could be cooked another way–

    I never read the works of Juvenal–
    I think I will not hang myself to-day.
    The world will have another washing-day;

    The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
    And H.G. Wells has found that children play,

    And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall,
    Rationalists are growing rational–
    And through thick woods one finds a stream astray

    So secret that the very sky seems small–
    I think I will not hang myself to-day.

    Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
    The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;

    Even to-day your royal head may fall,
    I think I will not hang myself to-day.”

  • Don, skimming that assessment of Hardy; first impressions are that it is misleading and skewed in its analysis. I just finished The Woodlanders. Townsend quotes Grace Melbury, the main female character as saying she felt “bitter with all that had befallen her—with the cruelties that had attacked her—with life—with Heaven.” Yes, a bitter moment. But he omits the constant prayer visits by her and Marty South, who loved Giles more than anyone, and Marty’s solitary visit at the end which bespeaks of spiritual faith.

    The Mayor of Casterbridge is one of the greatest novels ever written. More later.

  • If I weren’t a Catholic I would convert to Catholicism…I suppose I could try to separate out what parts of me are particularly Catholic and which parts I might still have if Catholicism were absent but, my goodness, I am 10 times the person I was before I became a “re-vert” to actually living the faith after a long time of slackness. I’m still 1,000 times less the Christian I could be (naturally), but I can’t even stand the thought of myself when I wasn’t going to Mass every week, wasn’t saying daily prayers, wasn’t even trying to follow my Lord.

  • Little about being “a” Catholic ever sunk in, growing up, and I dropped out not long after Confirmation because of a plague of suicidal tendencies that afflicted me daily for about 25 years. I think I recall trying to live a moral Christian-ish life on my own strength? Something like that. Never hurt anybody else, etc. Not help them much, either. I remember vaguely thinking abortion was the woman’s choice, the pre-born didn’t count as individuals, but politically at least I never voted on that satanic joke of a platform. It didn’t mean enough to make a dent in an otherwise rock-ribbed conservative view. I suspect topics like gay marriage and birth control would fall under that I-just-don’t-give-a-damn heading, if I was still wandering in the desert.
    If you’ve never strayed, it’s pretty hard to picture, and if you have strayed and returned, it’s pretty hard to remember. Post-re-verting, all I can say is that I’m recognizable on the outside, but the interior life is completely different. Seriously, 100% different. As others have said, to imagine not being Catholic is to imagine not being YOU.

  • More seriously, if I weren’t Catholic I almost certainly would not have five children.

    Politically, I would lean much more to the right on economic matters, have no problem at all with waterboarding or other forms of torture, would be mildly restrictionist on abortion, and would probably favor widespread contraception programs pushed by the government. Overall, politics would serve as a religion substitute, with all that entails.

As The September 11 Anniversary Nears, A Review Of Al Qaeda's Little Reported-On War Against The Catholic Church

Tuesday, September 7, AD 2010

While most of the world mourns the nearly three thousand who were brutally murdered by Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001, many assume all of Al Qaeda attacks stem from a warped political motive. Most may not be aware that since the day of its inception many of Al Qaeda’s targets have involved the Catholic Church and her holy sites.

Less than one year before the September 11, 2001 attacks Al Qaeda was planning a spectacular Christmas attack at the large and historic Strasbourg Cathedral in France. While this attack was foiled, an attack on the Catholic cathedral in Jakarta, Indonesia was not thwarted, resulting in the deaths of several churchgoers and those on a nearby street.

Yet, five years before this brazen plan, an even more sinister plan was nearly carried out by the chief planner of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheik Muhammad, which he coordinated to coincide with the visit of Pope John Paul II to Manila for World Youth Day in January of 1995. The plan called for the pontiff to be killed along with countless of the faithful who was planning to see him in Manila that day. Incidentally, some speculate that the crowd that came to see the Polish pontiff that day was nearly the same size that came to see his funeral some ten years later. Some speculate it may have been the largest religious gathering at one place in our known history, some five to seven million strong.

Continue reading...

21 Responses to As The September 11 Anniversary Nears, A Review Of Al Qaeda's Little Reported-On War Against The Catholic Church

  • Pingback: As The September 11 Anniversary Nears, A Review Of Al Qaeda’s Little Reported On War Against The Catholic Church
  • Excellent article, Dave!!

    While I was aware of some of what you stated, your post gave me both further and great insight into Al Qaeda’s war against the Catholic Church. I will be passing this along. God Bless.

  • Good paper. Keep up your good work.
    We are, and have always been, in a “moral and
    religious” war. That war is between those that
    believe in (faith in) the God of the Bible that
    gave us individual UNalienable rights of life
    and liberty vrs. those that believe in arbitrary man made collective INalienable privilages.
    Read more on the link below. Begin with the
    article on the “paper” menu and then review the

  • Thanks for putting this out for everyone to know.

  • I can’t thank you enough for this post. My husband and I will spend Saturday at a seminar on spiritual warfare by Fr. Corapi. You make the case for warfare very real. God Bless you in your work.

  • Thanks for this article. You are very brave to voice out facts that most Catholics could only whisper. God bless.

  • Sorry David, dig deeper in your research please..Al Quaeda was founded by, trained by, and still bankrolled by the CIA…The CIA is in cahoots with the Mossad and the English CIA…they are a tool of the conspirators that are out for total control of the world…at the highest levels they worship satan and are out for the total destruction of Christian Civilization..they may win but only for a short time…lets start telling the truth about world events…thanks…Rob Epperly/Author.Sons of Thunder.

  • Step one: turn off your TV
    Step two: meditate on the Gospel daily.
    Step three: stay out of debt…zero credit cards..
    Step four: simplify, live within your means..give away your possesions to the poor.
    Step five: (should be step one) reconciliation and holy communion.
    Step six: holy reading.
    STep seven: pray that all Christians unite against this juggernaut anti-christ we call illuminati. Unite all Christians against satan..

  • St. Michel the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil, may God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou o prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, throw into hell satan and all evil spirits that prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls, amen.

  • David, please submit this to Columbia magazine. I have shared it with my immediate fellow Knights of Columbus. Note: Operation Bojinka was hatched in Manila in 1996, the same year that the training camp at Salman Pak Iraq opened. reporter Jayna Davis recorded Terry Nichols wife saying how he had visited persons in Manila at that time.

  • “Sorry David, dig deeper in your research please..Al Quaeda was founded by, trained by, and still bankrolled by the CIA…The CIA is in cahoots with the Mossad and the English CIA…they are a tool of the conspirators that are out for total control of the world…at the highest levels they worship satan and are out for the total destruction of Christian Civilization..they may win but only for a short time…lets start telling the truth about world events…thanks…Rob Epperly/Author.Sons of Thunder.”

    Your tinfoil hat needs loosening Robert.

  • i might go with trained by and bankrolled by, but not founded by, the CIA isn’t 1600 years old….

  • Pingback: The last Tweets and Trends » As The September 11 Anniversary Nears, A Review Of Al Qaeda’s Little Reported-On War Against The Catholic Church « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Al Qaeda’s Little Reported-On War Against The Catholic Church | CatholicMaine
  • Thanks for the kind words everyone. As for those who spew nutty conspiracy theories; unless we suffer from mental illness, we will be held accountable for the crazy things we say.

  • Pingback: Why Is Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral In Al Qaeda’s Crosshairs? « The American Catholic
  • The Crusades were small defensive actions fought by amateurish Christian soldiers who truly felt they were answering the call of God. They were hardly in it for the gold and the girls that so many ridiculous movies and research articles have asserted.

    True. Eleventh-century Europeans making war “for the gold and the girls” accompanied William the Conquerer in 1066. He led his armies west, away from the Holy Land.

  • “Your tinfoil hat needs loosening Robert.”

    I’ll say. You know, I always wonder at these people who think the Mossad – an admittedly crack team working for a country the size of a potato chip – run the world. For one thing, the number of the Jews on the entire planet is something like 14 million. That doesn’t even amount to a Chinese statistical rounding error. The Mossad is a teensy tiny fraction of a teensy tiny fraction. When gentiles whisper about “the Jews” or “the Mossad” what they are actually saying is that a miniscule fraction of Jews are so incredibly smart they are able to control all the dumb gentiles in the world. It just shows how contemptuous characters like David are of the goys – he thinks we’re so stupid the brilliant Jews can easily dupe us.

    My boss is Jewish. She’s a nice lady but I wouldn’t call her an Einstein. Nor do I think all us goyim are as dense as David obviously thinks we are.

    David, if you think all Jews, or all Israelis, are so incredibly intelligent that they can run the world with the mass of gentiles remaining dumber than sticks of gum, all I can say is “Speak for yourself, dude.”

  • Also, it seems to me that if the Israelis control PR, someone is obviously sleeping on the job, judging from the barrage of criticism the Israelis are subjected to. These world-class geniuses somehow can’t keep a lid on the Guardian, BCC, CNN or MSNBC and yet we’re supposed to think they control governments – yeah, sure.

  • Pingback: Two Momentous But Little Remembered Dates In Western & Church History « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Two Momentous But Little Remembered Dates In Western & Church History: The American Catholic « Deacon John's Space

Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois

Friday, July 9, AD 2010

I am an alum of the U of I.  I obtained my BA in 79 and my JD in 82.  My wife is also an alum of the U of I, obtaining her MA in Spanish in 82.  Our eldest son will be entering the U of I as a freshman in August.  I therefore found the news that  Professor Kenneth Howell, an adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, has been fired for teaching in a course about Catholicism  basic Catholic doctrine on homosexuality quite alarming:

Continue reading...

39 Responses to Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois

  • Looking at the e-mail from the student to the administration, and the original e-mail from Howell, two things seem clear:

    1. Neither the student nor his “friend” have a clear understanding of the purpose or content of Howell’s e-mail. They clearly cannot distinguish between advocacy and presentation of a fairly standard-issue argument in Catholic moral theology. I might expect this of high school students. College students should know better.

    2. This supposed college student’s grasp of standard English is most distressing. “Anyways”? Yikes!

    I am forced to question the Department Chair’s ability to notice the above.

  • In other words: Teach Catholicism, but don’t teach that it has anything to do with reason and reality. We must continue the lie that faith and reason are at odds, that the Church opposes gay marriage solely as a matter of religious faith, and that religion is purely a matter of private opinion, not public action.

    And this is supposed to “promote independent thought”? I’d wager that those students have never encountered any though quite so radical as Prof. Howell was exposing them to. He was doing exactly what they say they wanted.

  • Elena Kagan demonstrated how liberal pandering to any special interest group trumps your right to freedom to exercise your religion.

    Kagan on Whether Catholic Church Could Recruit at Harvard Law

    This is precisely how Hitler took over Germany. It began with politically correct “thinking” which led to politically correct “law” and everything Hitler did was “legal”. This “judge” who never met a politically correct cause she didnn’t love and support (regardless of it’s standing the law) is about to take a seat on the highest court in the land.

    Yet she is touted for her “brilliance” and legal scholarship. They teach you all about the law in law school – they don’t teach you a thing about JUSTICE.

    “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    ~ President John Adams

    “Authentic democracy is possible only in a state ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person. It requires that the necessary conditions be present for the advancement both of the individual through education and formation in true ideals, and of the “subjectivity” of society through the creation of structures of participation and shared responsibility. Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life. Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends. It must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”

    ~ Pope John Paul II – Centesimus Annus

  • theory of Catholicism

    So now Catholicism is a theory and not a faith?

  • Just read the emails. I’m no natural law philosopher, but wasn’t the professor’s explanation of natural law a little weak? It was more about biology than teleology. Nor was his description of utilitarianism exactly correct.

    Still not grounds for dismissing him, however.

  • Does anyone else see the immediate bias by Kaler when saying “the theory of Catholicism.” This sums the issue up. Another situation of higher education punishing the religious guy.

  • I hope that it is starting to dawn on the “Catholic Church” that when you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas. Amen!

  • TonyC,

    Are you referring to the U of I as dogs?

  • Do you think if he had taught what Islam tenets are in the Koran on morality and homosexuality and the handling of those of that orientation, he would have lost his post.

  • “When I joined the military it was against regulations to be homosexual, then it became optional. I’m getting out before it becomes mandatory.” GySgt Harry Berres, USMC

  • Guys, guys! Remember, you’re free to talk all you want about Catholicism, as long as you don’t believe it!

  • Very, very troubling indeed! May God have mercy on us. It is so hard for me to see the radical decay all around. May I work to be faithful, to pray for the Catholic Church and for men like this, punished harshly for speaking of their religious beliefs, that were once protected by the very Constitution that is now used to persecute them.

  • This is just awful. Kenneth Howell, in case you don’t know, is a former Presbyterian minister who converted to the Catholic faith — which of course, forced him to give up THAT job — and who has written several books on Catholic doctrine. He converted well BEFORE he took this job. He was hired by the U of I specifically to teach classes on Catholic doctrine, which have been offered, for credit, for decades. It should not surprise anyone that he agrees with Catholic teaching on homosexuality and other issues.

    What he said is not “hate speech” any more than, say, an observant Orthodox Jewish professor who teaches classes specifically on Judaism attempting to explain kosher dietary laws and having a student who raises hogs back home take offense at it.

  • Friend, huh? Might this ‘friend’ not be a student? Is it possible that someone just wants a politically correct elucidation of the theory of Catholicism without any of the truth of what the Church teaches?

    I am also curious, how does saying that sodomy is an unnatural act ostracize people with homosexualist proclivities? Any biologist would tell you that certain human orifices are for evacuation and not anything else, except in cases of medical testing. Should we outlaw the theory of biology?

    Apparently the school wants to teach the theory of Catholicism and disassociation themselves from what the Church actually teaches. Why? Does anyone really think the UI Religion Dept. is somehow associated with the Church or with Catholics in anyway? Why did his statement violate the ‘inclusivity’ policy? Was he banning homosexualists from his class? Did he tell them that Sodomites aren’t allowed to learn about the theory of Catholicism? Were they told they were not allowed to disagree with Natural Law? Since when does the Church or those who teach her truths believe that humans don’t have free will?

    Are we going to fire history teachers who teach the offensive act of killing Jews? How do you study Nazi Germany without addressing the wholesale slaughter of Jews, Catholics, etc.? You can’t. It is the truth. Nazis did kill Jews. It is offensive. It certainly isn’t inclusive. I seriously doubt that any history teacher worth their mettle thinks it is OK to kill Jews – but they teach it nonetheless, because that is what Nazis did and what they believed. No one has to agree with it. This is ridiculous.

    I wonder if its OK to teach about Nazism because most Nazis were Sodomites and not OK to teach about Catholicism because the Church teaches that Sodomy is not OK, despite the proclivities of a small number of her members – of course, we don’t talk about pederast priests, we talk about pedophile priests because if we addressed the real problem, we may have to indict Sodomy. Me thinks there is an agenda here and just like in the late Wiemar Republic it starts with the homosexualists.

  • I was tempted to say that this development would make Msgr. Edward Duncan, the VERY longtime U of I Newman Center chaplain (over 50 years, from the 1940s to the 1990s), “turn over in his grave”, but after doing a quick google search on his name it appears he’s still alive, or was as recently as 2008. Anyone know his status? I don’t doubt he would have a LOT to say about this.

  • They would never have pulled this Elaine if Duncan were still in charge of the Newman Center. He was a formidable presence on the campus and not a man to brook any insult against the Church, as I noted when I was at the U of I. Judging from the spineless reaction of the Newman Center to this outrage, I guess the University decided that Catholics would just take this slap in the face lying down. Time to prove them wrong.

  • Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?

  • “spineless reaction of the Newman Center to this outrage”

    I just hopped over to Thomas Peters’ blog and read the actual letter from Dr. Howell himself, explaining his side of the story.

    After reading it, I’m almost as ticked off at the Newman Center and the Diocese of Peoria as I am at the university! It APPEARS that they told him “Sorry, can’t help you, and by the way, we no longer need your services either, so good luck and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” What’s up with that?

  • Do I have this right? A man teaches the 2,000 year old teachings of Holy Mother Church in a U course on Catholicism and is terminated for hate speech.

    But Obama supporters call for murdering crackers and their babies; and that’s free speech.

    Go figure.

  • If the “Institute of Catholic Thought” for which Dr. Howell worked is structured in such a way that an instructor can no longer work for the Institute if they no longer work for the university, well, isn’t this living proof that the Newman Foundation and the Diocese had better do something about that? If they don’t, then I will have to take back all my past comments about the U of I being a more “Catholic” university (because of the quality of its Newman Center, and of the ICT classes) than some Catholic in name only schools are.

  • Pingback: Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois  |
  • As a no longer proud alum of U of I it shows me that the motto Learning and Labor has left the learning behind. Universities understand only one thing now and that is money. Don’t just write comments on blogs, write the president of U of I at [email protected] If you are an alumm tell him you won’t send them another dime until this is fixed. Send emails to all of your alumni friends. Post this on all of your blogs.

  • Pingback: "University of Illinois Instructor Fired Over Catholic Beliefs [UPDATED]" and related posts
  • Msgr. Duncan is still alive. His health isn’t so great anymore, but he occasionally makes appearances at St. Johns. I know he was there as recently as last fall for a special event.

  • This is simply further proof that the so-called Diversity Movement is about anything BUT diversity. It is about conformity to a set agenda with dogmas as entrenched as those of the Catholic Church with whom they are at war. Homosexuality and the praise thereof top the list of that agenda.

    I was particularly awed by the following excerpt taken from the email sent by the offended students “friend” and the mention of “independent thought” : “Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing,” the student wrote in the e-mail. “Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another. The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one’s worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation.”

    Who is genuinely aware of the meaning of true public discourse here? Who is promoting genuinely independent thought? Who is being ostracized? It certainly isn’t the Diversity Movement, not is it the offended student, who is still a student, while the good Prof. is beating the streets looking for a job.

  • Food for thought received in an email from the Manhattan Declaration group:

    ” . . . may be one of the gravest, most insidious threats to religious freedom I’ve seen in my lifetime: What may be an attempt, at the very highest levels of government, to RE-DEFINE the very meaning of religious freedom, from “free exercise” to merely private worship.”

  • “Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?”

    No, only anti-catholic bigotry is allowed.

  • Is there any anti-Buddhism, anti-Hinduism, anti-Islamic, anti-protestant? Why there is anti-Catholic Bigotry? If there is answer please answer me. Thanks!

  • GM: I think (bombs away!) that there is anti-Catholic bigotry because Holy Mother the Church (the minority that actually adheres to its precepts) is a major safeguard against secular humanist cultural/societal hegemony.

    And, if one believes (as a small minority of so-called Catholics believes) that we are IN this world, but not OF this world, one is less easily controlled and, thus, one is a threat to the statist, fascist far-left liberals intent on controlling aspects of our lives.

    And, because the majority of bishops, nearly all so-called catholic scholars, catholic university regimes, etc. have sold out to Obama and the socilaists. In this rounnd the bowl of pottage is full of human dignity, peace, social justice, etc.

    I could barf!

  • T. Shaw,

    Food for thought received in an email from the Manhattan Declaration group:

    ” . . . may be one of the gravest, most insidious threats to religious freedom I’ve seen in my lifetime: What may be an attempt, at the very highest levels of government, to RE-DEFINE the very meaning of religious freedom, from “free exercise” to merely private worship.”

    That is why the Obama administration and many liberals continue to say “Freedom of Worship” instead of “Freedom of Religion”.

    They want to eliminate faith completely from the public square by redefining certain precepts of the U.S. Constitution.

  • You can say that Catholic bigotry is alive at the University of Illinois, but your church is a most dangerous foe of civil and religious liberty. The Catholic Bishops descended on Congress and pressured our legislators to pass Obama’s health care bill, even though the nation could not afford it and is on the verge to ruin and bankruptcy. The Bishops have no respect whatsoever for the U.S. Constitution. All across the board the church is pushing its’ agenda, seeking to dominate and control. The papacy is battering down the walls of church-state separation every where she can. She is pushing to enforce Sunday observance upon all of Europe, and is pushing for Sunday enforcement in the U.S. also. The Founding Fathers enacted safeguards, but these are being dismantled. Persecution is returning as sure as day. The words of John Adams, our second president, are proving true, as liberty of conscience is more and more threatened, “I have long been decided in opinion that a free government and the Roman Catholic religion can never exist together in any nation or Country.” “Liberty and Popery cannot live together.”

  • Logan,

    The Catholic Bishops are U.S. citizens.

    You need to brush up on the constitution.

    The last time I read it we all have freedom of expression.

  • Actually Logan the Bishops opposed Obamacare due to fear of it funding abortion. However I have found that anti-Catholicism and rank ignorance tend to go together so I am unsurprised that you are misinformed.
    As to your comment about the Church attempting to enforce Sunday observance, that is a fantasy you either got from an anti-Catholic website or dreamed up in your fevered imagination.

  • Logan, if you are some sort of Christian, then you should prayerfully read John 8:32.

    If you aren’t Christian, then you should pray, “God, if you really exist, help me understand what you are telling me in this Scripture reading.” and then read John 8:32.

    God and His Church do not impose, He proposes – the rest is up to you. Know that your Father loves you, despite any feelings you have otherwise.

  • Logan,

    The wall of separation between Church and States is from a letter Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists, a religious minority fearing that they would not be able to worship the way they were inclined and Jefferson was assuring them that the first amendment to the Constitution protected their religion from interference by the federal government.

    Jefferson was an adept diplomat and knowing his audience, Baptists, he wrote in terms they would understand. The wall of separation was drawn from a sermon by Roger Williams, whose sermons would have been known well among Baptists in 1802.

    The particular sermon is titled, “The Garden in the Wilderness” preached in 1644. He said, “When they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the Church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the candlestick, and made his garden a wilderness, as at this day. And that there fore if He will e’er please to restore His garden and paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world.”

    Clearly Jefferson was referring to the fact that the wall separated the Church (the garden) from the State (the wilderness of the world) to protect the Church from the corruption of the political power. He was not even intoning that the State had a right to be ‘protected’ from the Church. In Jefferson’s time, even though it followed the Enlightenment, people of faith knew that religion formed men in virtue and virtuous leaders, men of character, were what was required to govern the Republic.

    Twisting this wall of separation to mean that religion has no place in public life is an atheistic Communist ploy. Probably concocted by the Communist front – the ACLU. It is a lie and intelligent people using the gift of human reason wouldn’t employ such a tired and weak argument.

  • “Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?”

    An excellent question! Are similar courses in Islam being taught there?

  • Pingback: Dr. Kenneth Howell-Update « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Victory! Dr. Ken Howell Reinstated at the University of Illinois! « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Faculty Committee Finds That Dr. Howell’s Academic Due Process Rights Were Denied « The American Catholic

Soccer's World Cup Gives Us Insights Into The Current State Of Politics & Religion

Wednesday, June 30, AD 2010

Every four years the sporting world, especially Europe, Africa and Latin America is held in rapt attention by soccer’s World Cup. It can tell us many things about the state of the world, from politics to culture and even religion, and that’s even before we get to the sporting angle. Now for purposes of full disclosure, my favorite sports are college football and college basketball, though having a mother who grew up in Germany has helped me gain some soccer knowledge. Many a book or intellectual statesman from Henry Kissinger on down the line have mused about soccer’s effect on the world, which seems to change each and every World Cup to reflect the sign of the times.

Unlike a relativistic world where social engineering has taken hold, it appears that sports are the world’s last venue where sheer work ethic and determination hold sway. Perhaps this is why sports are so popular in the world, especially Europe’ s social democracies. One should keep in mind that as high as the Super Bowl ratings are for US television, World Cup TV ratings for nations in the championship game are even higher. Let’s look at this World Cup to see what it can tell us about the state of the world.

Some of the political developments from the last World Cup were the rise of the African nations in the soccer world, perhaps reflecting the rise of the continent itself on political and religious grounds. Keep in mind tiny Ghana won the 20 and under World Championship last year defeating Brazil, quite an accomplishment. Also of note in the last World Cup was Germany’s rising national spirit as seen in public displays of flag waving, which had been a post World War II no-no for Deutschland.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Soccer's World Cup Gives Us Insights Into The Current State Of Politics & Religion

  • I still see many european soccer players cross themselves entering the pitch, at least the Spanish players (and see how far they have gotten!).

  • Not everything that’s French is necessarily a loser; the fleur-de-lis, lowered in defeat in 1763 on this continent, is a symbol of the 2010 Superbowl Champion New Orleans Saints.

The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism Because Nonsensical Believers & Non Believers Are Unwittingly Showing Many the Way

Wednesday, January 20, AD 2010

Throughout the last few years and specifically the last decade or so, the voluminous number of kooky quotes and statements coming from religious believers (heterodox Catholics included) and non believers alike is mind boggling. It can’t but help push the reasonable minded into the Catholic Church. Most casual observers are familiar with the number of high profile converts and reverts to the Catholic Church in the last 25 years or so. They range from theological luminaries like Dr Scott Hahn and Dr Francis Beckwith to political figures like Deal Hudson, Laura Ingraham and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Many like them have come to the Church after years of study and reason, but many also have come to the Church after years of seeing their particular religious denomination become unrecognizable.

The latest world calamity has given us two examples of sheer kookery coming from a religious leader and a secular voice. After the horrific earthquake that left the western world’s most impoverished nation in tatters, the Reverend Pat Robertson chimed in with a quote that was not only tragically insensitive but historically inaccurate. The onetime presidential candidate (who actually came in second in the 1988 GOP Iowa Caucus) and a leading voice of the Evangelical world blamed the earthquake on Voodoo, a cult that sadly far too many people practice in Haiti.  Robertson voiced his opinion on his popular 700 Club television program. Robertson repeated the fundamentalist canard that in the early 1800s the leaders of a slave revolt fighting against French colonial forces forged a pact with the Satan to thrown off the chains of their oppressors.

Continue reading...

12 Responses to The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism Because Nonsensical Believers & Non Believers Are Unwittingly Showing Many the Way

  • Since when is pro-abortion Brown “the truth”?

  • Who said he was? I never mentioned his name in the article. However, when the people of Massachusetts (the only state who voted for George McGovern) can see the craziness of the left, you can rest assured that they are not alone.

  • “As evidenced by the stunning results in the Massachusetts special election seat vacated following the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, even in the most liberal of locales the public will eventually clamor for the truth.”

    You didn’t have to say his name to mention him — you most certainly mentioned him through that statement. Do not confuse “naming names” as the only way to mention someone. And from all you wrote here, “a pro-choicer” is now the right and the truth.

  • “You didn’t have to say his name to mention him — you most certainly mentioned him through that statement. Do not confuse “naming names” as the only way to mention someone. And from all you wrote here, “a pro-choicer” is now the right and the truth.”

    Hmm, I didn’t get that from this statement. In any case, one doesn’t have to be impeccable to demonstrate the principle that the mind of the people is changing. Brown is obviously not perfect, but I don’t think Dave is talking about his politics or theology so much as the change that his election represents.

  • The change the election represents I don’t think is exactly as Republicans are making it out to be; while some of it might be on Obama, and other aspects of it might be on health care, another aspect people have to remember is Coakley assumed the seat was hers and didn’t campaign properly. That, I think, is the lesson all sides might want to remember: don’t assume you are a sure-win and do nothing because of it. Nothing, however, to do with “truth.” Nothing in the results shows truth wins — since abortion does.

  • I agree with Henry.

    Brown did make the centerpiece of his campaign as a referendum on ObamaCare, though other factors such as Coakley’s poor campaigning certainly played a factor into it.

  • “I agree with Henry.”

    Tito, that’s the first sign of the apocalypse!

  • The truth that believing Catholics shouldn’t be barred from working in emergency rooms certainly won.

    Brown is quite problematic (and it’s not like I sent him money), but at least we are spared the spectacle of another Massachusetts Catholic baying for abortion in DC.

    I’ll take my silver linings where I can find them.

  • Dale

    So, what silver linings do you find for Obama? Can you find some?

  • I questioned authority relentlessly. Holy Mother Church had all the answers.
    Some retreat to the Church, others flee or are driven, some even backtrack, and many seem to crawl, but, always, the door is wide open.
    Inquisitive mind + Road To Damascus (TM) moment = conversion/re-conversion. Sweet.

  • Despite the badly-concealed sneer with which you pose your question, Henry, sure. Haitian relief, support for a limited range of renewable energy sources, uniting (briefly) the country after the Fort Hood terrorist massacre, helping a limited range of distressed homeowners and credit card and equal pay protection come quickly to mind.

    But, as you know, he’s been a pro-abortion stalwart–deceptively so–when it comes to the protection of human life and issues of conscience.

    Thus, my great relief that a putative sister in the Church–one who expressly finds the Catholic faith disqualifying from life-saving work–will not be able to work on a national stage to implement her bigotry, nor be able to lend her support to the most problematic parts of the President’s agenda.

    Your mileage evidently varies.

The Construct of Rebellion

Monday, January 11, AD 2010

In 2010 the Catholic Church in particular and Christianity in general are under attack because age old truths are being abandoned for the Dictatorship of Relativism. One might ask; how did we get here? It didn’t happen overnight; as a matter of fact many of those doing the rebelling actually think they are doing us all a favor.  Centuries and millennium evolved into a construct of rebellion where self appointed leaders who thought knew better than the Church and society itself tried to change all that was sacred and holy into something, they but most importantly their friends in the intelligentsia, could accept. Too many cooks in the kitchen can be bad for your acquired culinary tastes, but when truth is watered down it is something entirely different and far more serious. In this instance, we are talking about souls, not taste buds.  If this is so then how could the thesis of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism be true? The answer is simple because the world is getting closer and closer to the precipice. Some may chose to jump but thankfully more will chose to come back from ledge into the world of reality and when they do they will see the many positive developments happening in the Church. One’s own mortality has a way of causing self preservation.

Continue reading...

55 Responses to The Construct of Rebellion

  • Well said, Dave. Thank God for Mary’s heel crushing the head of the serpent that is rebellion, or the whole place would have turned into one boring, childish, real-life version of “Wayne’s World.” It’s no wonder so many folks despise her as she has done what they ought to be doing.

  • What is the evidence for The Porsche?

  • My compliments for a well argued post. I am unaware of the O’Brien site or books, but I cannot disagree with any of your assessment nor your conclusions. I have been making a similar argument via my Canadian blog ( trying to point out the logical contradiction of modern day relativism – a contradiction that exists because moderns no longer possess a knowledge or sense of the role of the church in times past. I offer the following taken from one of my posts written when the European court ordered the removal of the crucifix from Italian classrooms:

    Where I freely admit that the governing authority of any school should be able to either choose or not to present this symbol of Christian/Catholic faith, it is entirely another thing to deny the right to express their faith/convictions/belief in the public square. The principle that is expressed as “separation of church and state” also implicitly includes the freedom to express those values that we believe are the path which leads to the betterment of all humanity.??Read the story, and ask yourself whether the secular argument that leads to this European suppression of the freedom of speech of believers is any different from the agenda that marks the direction of North American society today.??This story is proof positive of the price of failing to argue in defence of the principles which are the accumulated human reasoning that stretches back to the earliest days of recorded history. Whether the moral principles of our modern civilization evolved as the refinement of simply human wisdom, or whether it is a still imperfect vision of God’s will, they have brought Western civilization to the point where we are today. The “rights” that are now so suddenly being tossed aside in the last twenty-five years are the foundations upon which the right itself is rooted. The poisoned fruit of the civilizational tree now endangers the root from which it sprang. ??Freedom of expression of faith in the public square must be respected; it is the essential corollary of the freedoms of thought and speech. I pray that leaders of our faith, our Bishops, would look to the European (or Québécois for that matter) social experiment and heed the need to “teach”, in every forum possible, the wisdom and teaching of our Church: to educate those raised in the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” generation (the first generation of essentially uncatechized “C & E” Catholics (i.e., “Christmas and Easter”) who now have moved into society’s corridors of power) of the wisdom of these first principles before they use the levers of power to shape the debate. ??Freedom of life… Freedom of belief… Freedom of speech: these are the Bishops’ menu of first principles to defend in full. Let’s pray that they fashion sumptuous salad of arguments, no matter how appealing the dessert table secularism seems to offer. ??Society needs strong bones to grow and prosper. We eat of the poisoned fruit at our own peril.

    Fr. Tim

  • Excellent commentary, Fr. Tim, which very much reflects why us California voters are now being put on trial for having the temerity to vote for changing the Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

  • Pingback: Helping A Fellow Warrior Member… | The Blog
  • Lest one begin to think that this is all new, I quote St. Basil to the western bishops in the 4th Century:

    “The dogmas of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set to nought; the discoveries of innovators hold sway in the churches; men have learned to be speculatists instead of theologians… The aged sorrow comparing what is with what was; more pitiable the young as not knowing what they are deprived of”. [Ep.90]

  • Thank you Dave for letting history teach us, at least some will repeat the errors and call for a “king” to rule and guide or other idols instead of our Lord and Savior. Your recent Times article was excellent also.

  • Dave, you’ll be thrilled to know that Spirit Daily posted this today in its second most prominent spot.

  • Thank you for writing this. Thank you for mentioning the Blessed Mother crushing the devils head.I attend morning mass and pray the daily rosary for conversions and repentence(for many years) and within the last month have had 3 people say they want to come back to the church and I have been taking them to Sunday mass with me. One has already talked with the priest.The other I am taking to a Catholic healing service. The 3rd is actually an unchurched person who accepts what I am teaching him and wants to talk to the parish priest. When the Blessed Mother said she will give graces of conversion and repentance when you say the rosary, she means it. Thank you.

  • Great article !! Truer words were never spoken. We need to hear more of the truth to stir all Catholics
    into reality and into standing up for the Church and our rights.

  • There are 3 essentials ingredients in the Church that keep any soul on the correct road. The Eucharist. Confession and the Rosary. Stay faithful to these and you and your household will be saved. The world is passing away and we are passing through it to something that we can not even begin to understand. Show mercy to all those who are in darkness.

  • As a simple un-educated mother of seven I read the whole article Construct of Rebellion, and thought it was most informative and full of truth.
    However, what it was lacking was the matter of placing some blame on the church itself for the departing of so many Catholics from their true faith during the 2000 years of excistance.
    I asked should the church not have been more alert and listened to the complaints from the faithful on some liturgical customs and for the lack of education in the full deep meaning of scripture and the bible, also the lack of explaination the dogmatic reasons for truth?
    Even the fathers of the church were weak at times and had to also endure the evil one.
    Now we have at least been assured through the workings of the wonderful Popes we have had with John Paul and Benedict that the church will always remain. Both of them have used the media and every other medium to prove that the Catholic church is the only true one to embrace all of the world’s people.

  • as one person commented I echo: Confession, Mass, the Eelfucharist….and let the world blow its up and fall into hell…..or let it REPENT FAST.…….. CALL IT UP…

  • In Worcester, Massachusetts, a Diocese is coming unglued because it embraced dissent and New Age occultism. Visit:

  • I am wondering which diocese in Worcester Roger is talking about.Eileen George gives monthly

  • teachings there and she is veryorthodox andoutstanding catholic

  • The same diocese which hosts a “Commission for Women” which has New Age links. The same diocese where numerous children have been sexually abused. The same diocese where a Holy Cross professor (and ex priest) promotes homosexuality and is “married” to another man. I could go on but you wouldn’t accept the facts.

  • How does Eileen George feel about the College of the Holy Cross sponsoring Planned Parenthood on its campus? How about the Newman Center at Fitchburg State College promoting homosexuality as a simple variant of normal sexuality as well as homosexual “marriage”? Is she concerned that the Diocesan Commission for Women has links to Joyce Rupp? Read what Donna Steichen and other orthodox Catholics have had to say about Rupp.

    With all due respect for Eileen George, the Diocese of Worcester is losing many of the faithful (75 of 120 parishes are in economic crisis by the Diocese’s own admission) for a reason.

  • Holy Cross has engaged in homosexual agitprop:

    Sorry Martha, Eileen George’s presence in the Worcester Diocese doesn’t justify that.

  • While I agree with your basic outline, there are two things that bother me with what you wrote: 1) The many grammatical and typing errors. Sorry, but when people have a good idea and they’re trying to communicate it, it helps to do so with correct punctuation and without typos.

    2) Whether or not people believe what Michael Brown wrote in his book or posts on his site is no indication of their adherence to the truth or lack thereof and no one should take it as such. Mr. Brown may be a Pulitzer-nominated journalist, but that doesn’t mean everything he writes is of the same quality as his work on Love Canal. Mr. Brown is not the sum total of the Catholic Faith. That comes to us from the apostles and their successors.

  • Pingback: The Construct of Rebellion « Mary’s Anawim
  • Thomas, while you may claim to be an excellent grammarian, you might want to brush up on your reading skills. Where did I say or insinuate that Michael Brown is the sum total of the Catholic faith?

  • “Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.” A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.

  • “…self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church…” It’s the authority of the Church that’s being rebelled against. Not Michael Brown.

    Thomas, are you simply here in an attempt to wear down the author of this article?

  • No, John, I’m not. I made two observations about what I consider to be an otherwise well-constructed argument – grammar and saying that not liking Michael Brown’s book is part of the construct of rebellion.

  • No Thomas, you wrote: “A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.”

    No one said that Michael Brown is the authority being rebelled against. Instead, the author of the article wrote about, “..self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church..” That’s the Church. Not Michael Brown.

    You are engaging in dishonesty.

  • On the contrary, John. The author writes (with my edits): “However, the pull of being accepted by the world is tough even for self-professed, orthodox-minded Catholics. For example, the secular scholarly world rolls its eyes and snickers at modern day miracles and apparitions. One of the most popular Catholic websites, Spirit Daily, is one such site that makes mention of both. However, mention you read this site and you are bound to be looked at with suspicion even in the world of orthodox-minded Catholicism…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.”

    Hence my statement that in order to rebel, one must have something authoritative against which to rebel. Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.

  • This kind of dialogue appears to be feeding the egos of the individuals. Are we working for our own glory or God’s. I think the best road to travel is the one of Humilty and Love. Why not focus on ourselves individually and see where we are on the road of repentance and reconciliation.

    Better still why don’t we focus on Christian Unity and do positive things, – let us do the will of the Father and not our own, let us take this opportunity to love one another and at least celebrate Easter on the same date every year. At least the rest of the world will see that we are united on the essence of our faith; the death and resurection of Jesus Christ.
    It is only through unity that we will have :
    Peace, Love and Reconciliation
    Mary Joanne

  • I don’t appreciate your unfair criticism Mary. I was merely attempting to defend what the author wrote. Hiw words are being twisted. There is no peace without truth Mary. It is the truth which sets us free (John 8:32), not falsehood.

  • The author wrote, “…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics…”

    What the author is saying is that because some rebel against the Church’s authority, they even reject or disregard Our Lady’s appearances to mankind. Our Lady always leads people to Jesus her Son and His Church. The author is not saying. or suggesting in any way, that Michael Brown is some sort of ersatz Magisterium of the Church or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    To suggest otherwise is to engage in dishonesty.

  • Thomas, you are demonstrating the pedantic nature of the “lawyerly” arguments for Relativism. Argue all the brush strokes away and soon the painting itself will no longer exist for you.

  • “Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.”

    I agree. I read Spirit Daily, probably more than I should, and I always come away from the site with confusion, not peace.

    What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval. I certainly believe Mary has and still does appear in the world, but there are so many alleged apparitions, and many of them contradict each other.

    I certainly don’t believe they should all be thrown out, but they need to be examined. Michael Brown is always going on about today’s Church “throwing out the mystical”, but I don’t believe that’s a fair claim. Why is it so “bad” to discern these apparitions, and if something about one doesn’t make sense, discard it? Why did God give us intellects if He doesn’t want us to use them?

    Michael Brown may be well-intentioned, but the net result of reading his site is confusion.

  • Elizabeth writes “What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval.”

    Elizabeth, calumny is a sin. I would refer you to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say in that regard. Mr. Brown has said – repeatedly – that we MUST accept the Church’s final decision on ANY apparition site. And this includes Medjugorje. For you to imply that Mr. Brown is someow failing to discern the authenticity of an apparition site or that he does not accept the Church’s ultimate authority is preposterous.

    Gaudium et Spes (specifically No. 28) forbids judging a person’s interior dispositions. I suggest you meditate very carefully on that teaching.

  • In Fides et Ratio, No. 16, Pope John Paul II teaches us that, “The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. Faith intervenes not to abolish reason’s autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.”

    Faith and reason are described by His Holiness in this important Encyclical Letter as two lungs. Imagine how difficult it is to breathe properly with only one lung!

    Michael Brown is all for discernment of private revelation. But, along with St. Paul, he believes that we shouldn’t despise prophecy. Understand the difference?

  • peter santos: You accuse Elizabeth of sin because she expresses concerns about a Catholic writer and speaker. You accuse her of “judging a person’s interior dispositions”, and then lecture her on how she should meditate on Church documents.

    Elizabeth states that, in her opinion, Michael Brown relies heavily on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. This is not judging Mr. Brown’s “interior dispositions”, but simply stating fact. On Spirit Daily, Mr. Brown mentions the “1990 prophecy” VERY frequently, and is quick to defend Medjugorje. Yes, he does state clearly that we should accept the final decisions of the Church on these matters. But, that does not negate what Elizabeth wrote.

    It seems to me that because you disagree with Elizabeth YOU assume evil motives on HER part. She says nothing in her post that would constitute the “sin” you claim she has committed. YOU are the one who has accused someone of sin because of a post. Elizabeth makes no such accusation.

    As an aside, I follow Spirit Daily and have for about 4 years now. I enjoy reading both the links and Mr. Brown’s own articles. Much discernment is needed in digesting these writings, clearly, as Mr. Brown’s opinions do not constitute official Church teaching. Stating that plain fact is NOT a sin, Peter.

  • For Elizabeth to assert that Michael Brown believes all apparitions or private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval,” is calumnious. It’s a lie. He has written against certain private revelations which were obviously false. The rest he commends to the Church.

    Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.

  • For Elizabeth (and anyone else who falsely accuses Michael Brown of accepting all apparitions), I submit the following words of Mr. Brown himself from 2005:

    Discerning Apparitions A Difficult Process

    [Q & A by Michael H. Brown]

    In the past twenty years there has been an explosion of alleged apparitions, locutions, stigmatics, and healers. Which are real and which are not?

    I would never attempt such a list, because I don’t have the authority to do so. We simply go by what the Church has decided, unless there is not yet a decision, in which case we try to exercise discernment.

    How do you tell if an apparition is real?

    This is one of the hardest questions in the world to answer. The process of what we call “discernment” is intensely complex. It’s also very personal. There is no formula. Some apparitions miss certain criteria and yet bear signs of authenticity while others seem to fill most standards but have problems at their very root. In the end, only through prayer and fasting can we get a true inkling. It is the spirit — not the mind — that discerns.

    You mean a “gut feeling”?

    No. I mean a feeling in the depths of the spirit after a period of fasting. When we fast, we are more sensitive to evil. We are more likely to know if it is present. This is very important.

    But aren’t there some tips to discernment?

    In the Bible it says that “by their fruits you will know them,” and so this is certainly one major facet. But we have to be careful about what we consider “fruits.” I have seen many cases in which people adhering to what turned out to be a deceptive circumstance had a great first impression, or even found the visit a major step in their return to the faith, to their conversion. God can take good from evil. He can draw with crooked lines. It is for that reason that we must be careful in speaking negatively about a circumstance, even if there are indications of problems; we don’t want to discourage those who have had good experiences.

    Are there often problems?

    Most claims of apparitions, visions, or locutions are a mix — in other words, there are parts that seem inspired, parts that come from the person’s subconscious, and parts that may be from a source that is deceptive or demonic. All of us are in touch with God and those who feel they have a special “line” of communication may in some cases have such a special gift, although too frequently this leads to ego, and ego leads to a person putting his or her own spin on what they think they have been “told.” This is very common, and why so many predictions do not materialize: The prophecy was not a direct communication but filtered through the ideas, preconceptions, and feelings of a person. It is the demonic component that of course concerns us the most. A demonic influence can cause not only spiritual trickery but also deep discouragement, division, and illness.

    Is divisiveness a standard of discernment?

    Certainly, it’s one. Now, remember that even with the authentic apparitions like Fatima or Lourdes or Medjugorje, which the Pope discerned as worthy of devotion (in recently publicized private letters), there is resistance. There is spiritual warfare. And that can lead to division. There will be some division. But that division usually is far outweighed by good fruits such as conversion. If division is the main effect, or if there is constant, lasting rancor, and a lack of peace, then there is a problem with the apparitions. We can also say to watch out for pride among the seers, attempts at self-promotion, and the spawning of a cult-like following. Cults in the bad sense of that term are a bad fruit (there are also holy cults, when proclaimed as such by Rome). Those who begin to exclude others because they don’t believe in a certain apparition are not in tune with the Holy Spirit, Who tells us through the Church that we don’t have to accept a private revelation. Meanwhile, we must watch for prophecies that are too gloomy and dark, that give messages of tremendous specificity, that ramble on at great length, and that contain messages threatening people who don’t believe in the particular revelation. There are some messages that have denounced anyone who won’t help purvey a private revelation. As soon as I see that, I know there is deception.

    What about those that mention the anti-christ?

    We have to weigh these with special caution. In my discernment there is truth to the coming of a personage of evil, and certainly major events, but we have to be cautious about believing that the coming scenario will exactly fit the scenarios spawned by those who have speculated on specific end-times schedules. Are we in the end times? We are at the end of an era. It is a very, very important time. It is not the end of the world. What is about to happen will fit the general prophetic pulse we have heard now for nearly 25 years (since the onset of Medjugorje, which caused an explosion in private revelation), but it will occur in ways we don’t specifically anticipate and that make sense (the feeling of, “oh, yeah, of course”) only in retrospect.

    What percent of seers are authentic?

    It’s impossible to say. What we can say is that very, very few are corporeal apparitions at the level of a Lourdes or Fatima. “Corporeal” is to see the Blessed Mother as a full-bodied, multi-dimensional apparition similar to the way we see another person: with eyes wide open. Some who claim this are imagining it, are projecting a “vision,” and a vision can be authentic, but it is not at the level of an apparition.

    How prevalent is actual demonism in alleged revelations?

    It is not uncommon. That is one way to put it. This is the fast lane of mysticism, which is one reason the Church is cautious. I might add that I am always perplexed by why a local bishop usually uses the term, “no evidence of the supernatural,” to dismiss a troublesome apparition. Often, there is plenty of evidence of the supernatural, but it’s supernaturality that is coming from the wrong source. At the same time, and overall, private revelation is of great benefit and as in Jesus’ time, among the Pharisees and Sadducees, it is sorely neglected by the official Church.

    Is the U.S. Church more closed and skeptical toward apparitions and phenomena like weeping statues than other nations?

    Yes, due to our scientific bent, much more skeptical.

    Why do you believe in Medjugorje?

    I have been there I think seven times, and I didn’t believe in it the first few hours I was there. I thought it was collective hysteria. Then I started to see phenomena myself — a lot of it — and tremendous, tremendous fruit, whereby virtually everyone who was going there was experiencing a deepening of faith or outright conversion unlike any other religious encounter with which I was familiar, just really profound and in most cases lasting. I had never seen people touched on such a massive scale. Dozens of millions have been affected in a way that can be compared only with older sites such as Lourdes or with trips to the Holy Land. Medjugorje leaves a feeling of peace and well-being and conversion.

    Whereas a false apparition?

    Another way of discerning a false apparition or a false anything is that it tends to drain you. It takes your energy. This is a hidden means of discernment: it takes more than it gives. It is temporary. This is often a good way to evaluate any situation, although like everything else in this field, there are exceptions (no foolproof means of discernment). We are very open to mysticism — it is crucial to our time and to any time — but we urge folks not to become involved in new such claims unless they are fasting and staying close to the New Testament. Daily reading of the Bible puts us in the correct frame of mind and is probably the best way to discern an apparition.


    As for his acceptance of Medjugorje, there is nothing against faith there. A decision has not been made regarding that alleged apparition site. Mr. Brown has already said that he will ACCEPT THE CHURCH’S DECISION.

    Elizabeth is engaging in calumny. She should make this right.

  • I don’t understand where you’re coming from. How can you be so bold as to assume I’m in a state of mortal sin? Isn’t that up to God to judge? Not you?

    What exactly IS the “1990 prophecy”? Has it undergone Church scrutiny? Has it been submitted to any Church authorities for discernment and/or approval? I have been reading Spirit Daily for about 5 or 6 years. This is what I meant by an unapproved private revelation. There is no source and no mention of it ever being submitted to the Church.

    Medjugorje is different. It hasn’t been formally approved by the Church, but the Church is more than aware of it, so to speak. Not so with the 1990 prophecy.

    There is good on his site (his articles on Maria Esperanza, but much that leaves me, and others I’m sure, scratching their heads. There is a lot of stuff from his “mailbag” that makes me wonder. How much of this is real, and how much of it is coming from people’s overwrought imaginations? He needs to be more careful when presenting these viewpoints and some sites he links to. It’s all very confusing and doesn’t help the average person on their spiritual journey. That is all.

  • Elizabeth, Peter never said you are in “a state of mortal sin.” Your dishonesty is showing again. He wrote, “Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.”

    You falsely accused Mr. Brown of accepting ALL private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval.” This is – objectively speaking – calumnious. But rather than acknowledging that your post was false and unjust, you now assume a defensive posture and accuse Peter of judging your soul.

    When will your dishonesty cease? You are behaving very poorly.

  • I know what I wrote. I don’t appreciate Elizabeth’s false accusation against me.

  • This is the time I will ever read or visit this site. I’ve been accused of being a poor reader, of trying to wear down an author after a mere two posts, being dishonest, being egotistical, twisting words which were clearly written, and of being a relativist. Elizabeth comes along and gives her opinion that Michael Brown relies too heavily on Marian apparitions and personal revelation and she’s accused of calumny. There is no engagement of ideas here, only personal animus. The impression one is left with is that if one does not agree with everything written at this site, then that one is necessarily part of the construct of rebellion. Not exactly the best impression to leave with anyone.

  • Sorry, meant to say “This is the last time I will ever read or visit this site.”

  • Thomas, you’re not here to participate in a “dialogue.” Like Elizabeth, you’re here to level false accusations. Read Peter’s post of Michael Brown’s article from 2005. He does not accept all private revelation uncritically. Nor has anyone (including himself) held up Mr. Brown as “the authority” on all private revelation.

    As Christians, let us refrain from such falsehoods.