Clinton and the Left’s War Against Christianity

Thursday, July 7, AD 2016



I unsay nothing that I have said against Donald Trump who would make an appallingly bad president.  Having said that, John Zmirak makes a compelling case as to what a disaster a Hillary Clinton presidency would be for Christians:


Hillary Clinton, whose actions were more destructive than Edward Snowden’s, might squeak her way into our country’s seat of supreme power, which she has just learned she may abuse without any consequences. If so, she has promised her Planned Parenthood financial backers to pack the nation’s courts with the likes of Mark Tushnet, the Harvard law professor who in May proclaimed that the “culture wars” are over, and that Christians and other conservatives ought to be treated as the Allies did the defeated Nazis and Japanese.

Not since the Soviet dupe Vice President Henry Wallace was a heartbeat (and FDR’s fading heartbeat) away from the presidency in 1945 has the Republic been in such danger. The mainstream left in this country used to be just an opponent — a movement that shared our basic premises about civic order and common decency, but differed on how best to guide the economy, on the wisest foreign policy, on how much to tax and where to spend.

That is no longer even remotely true. Now the left is threatening to tax our churches, close our colleges, force our doctors to sexually mutilate mentally ill patients, and make our pharmacists hand out abortion pills. The people of Massachusetts have just been told that they may not even vote on whether the multiculturalist, dumbed-down Common Core curriculum will be imposed upon their children.

The leaders of our elite universities will not defend the teaching of basic texts of Western civilization, while the unhinged hysterical “snowflakes” whom they diploma-fy after four years of pricey coddling are screaming for their loans to be paid off by the taxpayer. So Walmart workers without college degrees would foot the bill for the next Lena Dunham’s M.A. in Women’s Studies.

Meanwhile our government proposes to spend our tax money providing sex change surgeries for soldiers and importing unvettable Muslim refugees all the way here from their safe havens in Turkey, while leaving local Christians to die.

A Supreme Court that Hillary Clinton has not yet had the chance to pack has tossed out basic safety laws that briefly made Texas abortion clinics less dangerous to women than Kermit Gosnell’s butcher shop, perhaps undoing similar laws in many other states — the fruit of decades of patient, scrupulous incremental work by the pro-life movement through the democratic process. All tossed in the trash. The icy contempt which British elites expressed for that nation’s voters after Brexit is reflected perfectly here, as the Citizens of International Business Class unite to repress the “racist,” “xenophobic” masses.

The left has made itself not our opponent but our enemy. While its partisans are still our fellow citizens and deserve basic Christian charity, they do not deserve our trust. We are long past the time when it was possible to compromise with the left in view of some agreed-upon common good. They have blasted it into No Man’s Land.

We are locked in a Hobbesean conflict for mere civic survival.

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21 Responses to Clinton and the Left’s War Against Christianity

  • I think open persecution of Christians will occur during a Clinton presidency. It will start with mandatory corporate training at various companies to teach people to embrace gay rights and women’s rights and so on (a friend works at large banking company which is already doing this), and when orthodox authentic Christians default to the timeless teachings of the Gospel, they will be told to comply or be fired. People who advocate for traditional Judaeo-Chrisian values on blog sites, facebook and other social media will be marginalized, ostracized and denied employment. Those who make a nuisance will be dragged into court on hate crime charges and will be imprisoned. And sooner or later what happened under Plutarco Ellias Calles in Mexico in the 1910s and 20s will happen to us here in the United States. I see it now. Any day I expect mandatory corporate training in LGBT rights or some such other nonsense. I expect someone in my profession to identify me (regardless of my pseudonym) and use that to black ball me from the nuclear industry, and since the industry is so closely regulated by the Federal govt which has fostered this idiocy, I will be regarded as a loose canon, an untrustworthy person to be around anything nuclear. Mark my words. This is happening now. There is already a nuclear blog meister who is a rabid liberal progressive and who has the ears of important people in the industry. If you’re conservative and keep your mouth shut and go in the closet with your religion, then no problem. But if you dare say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” then God help you!

  • ‘then God help you!”

    Oh, He will.

  • Amen, Donald. Sometimes that is the only consolation there is.

  • So what are those of us who have spouses and/or disabled adult children who may have to depend on us for the rest of our lives to do? It’s one thing to sacrifice your own career if it comes to that, but how can you make that choice for others who may not agree with it, or may not be capable of assenting to it? That is the biggest worry I have, not that I see anything immediately on the horizon in my case, but one never knows.

  • Luke 14

    25 Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. 33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

  • I assume that Christ was likely the sole support of His mother Mary. Doubtless many of the Apostles had families that might have been better off materially if the Apostles had not followed Christ. The militia men at Concord and Lexington, certainly the majority, had families dependent upon them. We never get anywhere in this Vail of Tears except through the efforts and sacrifice of those who embrace the path of truth, which is often also the path of heroism.

  • Should the Hildebeast assume power and attempt to do the things many think she may try, then it will be time (I think it is past time) for a revolt. The Democrat Party is organized crime. Texas needs to go ahead and enforce the laws the Supreme Court has thrown out, daring little pissants like Ginsburg and Breyer to go there and enforce those decisions themselves.

    Before the Cacophany of Errors known as Vatican II, the Church did not back down from a fight when necessary. The American Left talks tough, but I consider them to be a bunch of wimps if they are really challenged.

    To hell with being a martyr to this bunch. Forgive ’em after you kick their asses. John Sobieski cared not about how many soldiers his enemies had. He said he would count ’em after they were beaten.

  • What is going on in Iowa is very serious. Churches will be singled out for bankruptcy under these guidelines & for suing churches for their large liability policies.

  • Right now Christians cannot teach in various states and or various school districts around the country that require direct involvement with these evil transgender theories.

  • For sure, a most convincing argument for voting for Trump. If Hillary is elected I’m in favor of a military coup.

  • “If Hillary is elected I’m in favor of a military coup.”

    If this country ever has another civil war, Michael, horrific beyond belief, that is precisely the type of idiotic talk that will help fuel the beginning of it.

  • Donald, we are already in a kind of civil war: liberal vs conservative, black vs. white, Islam vs Christianity, Democrats vs Republicans. The killings have already begun. My idea of a military coup was to bring law and order, not civil war. As things now stand we are heading for another American revolution. What is the plan to bring the country peace again? God help us all.

  • No we are not in a civil war Michael, and people who speak about military coups will be banned at this blog. I will not tolerate comments that blithely talk about destroying this nation under the guise of saving it. First and last warning.

  • Please seek out Holy League gathering’s.
    Men. This is a powerful three hours of fellowship, presentations, dinner and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
    Topics are chosen by the group and guest speakers are happily available to provide a lively discussion on current events and disturbing trends. Priests… priests are present and during the Holy Hour confession is available. We meet once a month.

    It is refreshing to surround yourself with concerned Catholic men who are aware and ready to advocate Truth in the middle of this liberal storm.

    Cardinal Burke started this version of a practice that surfaced centuries ago, The Holy League, to combat the evil that threatened Christianity. At that time St. Pope Pius the V called the League’s together, 1571. On October 7th the victory was ours at the battle of Lepanto. Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Queen of Victory lead us in our day.
    Prepare our hearts and guide our steps so victory over evil empires will materialize only after victory over ourselves is accomplished.

    We are not enemies of the State.
    We are defenders of Truth.
    Preparing to give witness when and wherever required or demanded. Rosaries and courage to counter any assault. Let us defend ourselves and our family members by prayer and preparation. Come what may we will be ready. Fear God and no man.

    Donald. This organization is responsible and respectful. Never has it mentioned offensive actions or directives. It is solely for defensive preparations and preservation.

  • Michael Dowd wrote, “If Hillary is elected I’m in favor of a military coup.”
    There will never be a military coup in the United States; there is no American embassy in the United States.”

  • On the Left, everything is politicized and all the answers are to be derived from more and more government, less and less personal freedom and the personal responsibility that goes with it. The Left comes out of its confused closet with crazy anti-marriage nonsense, while the illegitimacy rate soars. The Left perpetuates generational dependency on welfare, ignores the crime ridden streets of our inner cities, save to use the criminal statistics generated within them to disarm the peaceful law-abiding and productive population. The Left celebrates an evil bloody sacrifice of abortion reminiscent of the Moloch-worshipping Ammonites. One can see in the Left of today a continuum of rebellion against the will of God stretching back to the first Non Serviam of Satan.

  • But there is one in Scotland MPS, or rather will be when you Scots go crawling back to Brussels, so mind your manners!


  • William P Walsh.

    You speak the truth.
    Your last sentence is extraordinary.
    This is a return to the battle waged in heaven.
    This is Satan’s last chance and his minions are showing up proudly and without shame.

    We are witnessing and participating in the formation of the two camps. In the end, Her Immaculate Heart will Triumph. The other camp is doomed to repeat the failure it suffered in heaven, so many years ago.

  • I am very much in agreement with Elaine Krewer–those of us with dependent family members are forced to think carefully before we act, because we put them at risk, too.

    But the coming situation, which we have to prepare for, at least as a possibility, given the utterly divided opposition to Hillary, calls to mind for me the situation in Dialogues of the Carmelites. Blanche de la Force seeks to escape into the Carmelite monastery, but the world inexorably comes hunting for her and for each one of them—despite their compliance with the insane revolutionary regime edicts. It may be the same for us, nonetheless despite our best efforts, though we try so hard to avoid the slouching beast, ambling slowly toward Gomorrah.

  • Steve Phoenix, thanks for the reference to the opera “Dialogues of the Carmelites” “Blanche de la Force seeks to escape into the Carmelite monastery, but the world inexorably comes hunting for her.” To my memory comes a petition in Anima Christi,
    “Intra tua vulnera absconde me/Within Thy wounds, hide me.”

  • Elaine Krewer, comfort yourself with the words of Joshua, “But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, Douay-Rheims Bible – emphasis added)

John Zmirak Has a Beef With CS Lewis

Monday, October 26, AD 2015

Lewis Quote


It is your duty to to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men. There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of the other.

CS Lewis, Easter 1945






At The Stream John Zmirak has a complaint lodged against CS Lewis:


I have a bone to pick with C.S. Lewis. Yes, of course the man was a fine writer and his work has taught countless readers how to love God better. But as an author, he proved a little careless in completing his novels. Instead of sealing them up tight when he was finished with them so we could safely enjoy them without side-effects, Lewis apparently left the bolts unscrewed, and now the characters are escaping into the real world.

I am sure Lewis never intended this, but it is happening, and something must be done, if only to avoid poisoning interfaith relations. I’m not speaking of The Screwtape Letters; the devils we have had always with us. No, I’m talking about the third book in his space trilogy, That Hideous Strength.

Reverend Straik

The first escapee was Lewis’s liberation theologian, Reverend Straik — whom readers will recall for his stark, this-worldly, radical creed. Straik denounced the historic, really-existing Christian church as the subterfuge by which the World, the organization and body of Death, has sidetracked and emasculated the teaching of Jesus, and turned into priestcraft and mysticism the plain demand of the Lord for righteousness and judgment here and now.

The Kingdom of God is to be realized here — in this world. And it will be. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. In that name I dissociate myself completely from all the organized religion that has yet been seen in the world.

It is the saints who are going to inherit the earth — here in England, perhaps in the next twelve months — the saints and no one else. Know you not that we shall judge angels? . . . The real resurrection is even now taking place. The real life everlasting. Here in this world. You will see it.

I was sobered to learn that Reverend Straik had eluded Lewis’s safeguards, slipped into the real world, and taken up residence in Honduras, under the nom de guerre “Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.” In his prominent role as one of nine cardinals chosen to reform the Catholic church, Maradiaga has been increasingly outspoken about the need to reject that Church’s historical legacy and start again from scratch. As he said in a famous address in Dallas: “With the New Evangelization we restart (start anew) from the beginning: we once more become the Church as proclaimer, servant, and Samaritan.”

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7 Responses to John Zmirak Has a Beef With CS Lewis

  • Wow. Thanks be to God.

  • Might just as well rebuke Fyodor Dostoevsky for thinking Cardinals would rather be Grand Inquisitors.

  • The good cardinal is a charlatan. At least he could focus on his little corner of the world instead of bringing his brand of corruption to the rest of us.

  • “… But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We
    never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of
    is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them.”

    A friend of mine is the nephew of a certain Episcopalian bishop famous for both his love
    of the camera and microphone and for his disdain for what C. S. Lewis would describe
    as “mere Christianity”. Instead, his version of Episcopalianism seems to built from
    planks taken from the Democrats’ party platform, even to the removal of the idea of a God.
    Since he assumes his nephew is a fellow-traveller (never bothering to ask otherwise), the
    bishop has made some very frank admissions in his nephew’s presence– that all faiths,
    Christianity especially, are ridiculous, and that only simpletons actually believe “all that
    I have no idea when the bishop lost his faith, or how he developed such contempt for
    those who still have theirs. He seems to believe that he should remain where he is–
    with his very comfortable, secure livelihood and the attention and marks of respect it
    brings– because he is doing important work, tearing down an old church so a new,
    improved one may rise in its place. His flock, inasmuch as they persisted in clinging
    to their orthodoxy, were an impediment to his real calling.
    He and his sort are out there, and I suspect they aren’t as rare as we’d hope.

  • They’re like the poor that way, Clinton.

  • Good post. Thanks.

  • Sounds like a permutation of Poe’s Law– ‘good parodies are at very high risk of becoming pre-news’ or something.

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A Libertarian?

Friday, February 20, AD 2015




As faithful readers of this blog know, I have absolutely no use for the late Ayn Rand, a  puerile novelist who got rich on the formula of writing didactic libertarian novels like Atlas Shrugged, and filling them with smut at a time when smutty mainstream novels were still a rarity.  I also have little use for libertarians, the perfect political philosophy for fifteen year old nerds.  However, , at The Stream, is quite correct about a new form of “red baiting” going on in Saint Blog’s today:


Today Catholic circles are seeing the exact same tactic, except that now the use of guilt-by-association and false implication is serving the cause of big-government statists. The targets are conservative Catholics who distrust the modern secular state, and the smear-word is not “Communist” but “libertarian,” which is then connected with the thought of Ayn Rand. Welcome to the age of the Rand-baiters.

An entire conference held last summer at Catholic University of America was devoted to such Rand-baiting, to speeches that said, implicitly or explicitly, that Catholics who oppose the expansion of government and the large-scale redistribution of wealth are “dissenters” from Catholic Social Teaching. Listening to them speak one would imagine that opposing the leviathan state was a heterodoxy on par with supporting partial-birth abortion and euthanasia. Austin Ruse wrote a fine response to this conference, which provoked a sneering answer from Matthew Boudway at Commonweal.

Go here to read the rest.  Can we supply an example of this Rand Baiting?  Can we?  (Mark, you are missing your cue!)

I am similarly dubious. When I hear Ryan a) ceasing to pretend that he was never an acolyte of Rand and b) doing more than paying lip service to Thomas and citing more than the word “subsidiarity” to give his rhetoric a veneer of Catholic respectability, I will take his Sister Souljah Moment with regard to Rand seriously. Till then, I’m not buyin’ Ryan. He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice. When the Randian jargon goes and is replaced with actual Catholic social teaching beyond the bare repetition of the sacred word “subsidiarity” (interpreted to mean “individualism and hostility to the state”) I’ll start to trust that he is serious.

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24 Responses to Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A Libertarian?

  • Maybe Mark could take the time to carefully elucidate Church teaching on economics. After all, he has made his vocation as a Catholic apologist, and as such he should have the time and opportunity to delve deep into the roots of Catholic teaching. As a full-time apologist, certainly he has the time and ability to read through and thoroughly research documents dating back to the time of Aquinas and well beyond. As someone whose life’s work is calling people to conversion, he could lay out a meticulous and well-documented long essay or even book that deconstructs centuries of writing and distill Church economic teachings to its very essence.

    Alternatively, he could just write shrill blog posts that mock people who disagree with him without making a substantive case as to why the person being derided is wrong.

  • “He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak…”

    Actually, it seems that the current social justice crowd are the class warriors, resurrecting Marxism with a Christian veneer. Neo-Marxism perhaps. Or perhaps more a Christian materialism.

  • I don’t waste a second reading their crap. That’s why I come to this blog.
    Your “certain catholic circles” are pathetic. They have nothing but dishonest ad hominems and hysterical shrieks of, in this case, “Libertarian!” That is equally as honest and intelligent as the noises heard from a wind chime in a hurricane. If the crux of the essay is errant, typing in words such as “epigone” doesn’t make it right.

    The catholic/social justice cranks are demonstrably not self-aware. hey fail to recognize that their, and their democrat/statist allies’, agendae are based on envy, hatred, and lies. They aid and abet liberal politics and the state which essentially are coercion/force and deceit.

  • Ayn Rand Objectivists and Libertarians are two different things, although they share some similar points of view. Both points of view are however flawed. That said, I used to consider myself Libertarian until I came to realize that the Libertarian Party in the United States supports abortion and homosexual marriage. I prefer to simply be called Catholic. As such, Caesar is not my God.
    BTW, why would anyone find as admirable an adulterous woman of insatiable sexual need who died of heart disease and lung cancer because she lack the self control to stop smoking cigarettes? The selfishness which she deified was abominable.
    Also interestingly she was a Russian Jew.

  • “Alternatively, he could just write shrill blog posts that mock people who disagree with him without making a substantive case as to why the person being derided is wrong.”
    He-who-should-be-ignored has become nothing more that a caricature. He’s quite pathetic, really. I almost … ALMOST … want to feel sorry for him because of how far he’s fallen from his apologist roots to become whatever it is that he is now.

  • Sorry to be a repetitive bore on this subject, but the problem that Shea, Dineen, et al do not confront re this subject is that the social encyclicals (esp. Rerum Novarum) are difficult to operationalize. That named seems to assume master-journeyman-apprentice configurations which were disappearing then and are non existent in our time. So what do you do? (You also get the impression that the Pope’s thinking was clouded by the experience of daily life in an ecclesiastical economy wherein everyone has a stipend or benefice which has little relation to marketable skills). This superstructure sits on top of the bowl-o-spaghetti which is papal teachings on usury. I’ve heard some reasonable arguments from economists and medieval historians on the implications of lending at interest in poor agricultural economies where the ratio of cash to real income was low to get a sense of why it was considered a dubious practice in that context. You still have at least one papal encyclical (addressed to the Italian bishops in 1745 or thereabouts, not the whole Church) which explicitly addresses that and denies that interest is licit in any context.

    Keep in mind the sort of thing we’re arguing about in this country would be the pros and cons of various means of financing medical care. It’s difficult to see how papal teachings (even without the lacunae which infest them) can adjudicate disputes that granular. Append to that the tendency of people without much aptitude for mathematics and statistics to think in terms of nominal categories rather than spectra. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are vehicles for different sets of interests and different subcultures and that is reflected in public policy dispositions. So the fact that Republican legislators are less inclined to advocate or accede to state allocation of one or another resource is transmogrified in the minds of innumerate yappers into advocacy of the nightwatchman state. The innumerate yappers also do not take into account the ways in which our political institutions fuel obstructive veto groups. The federal government is a Fibber McGee’s closet of agencies which were derived from the pet projects of Lyndon Johnson or long departed members of Congress. Has anyone done a tally of which of them would be eliminated by Ryan’s don’t-rock-the-boat multi-year budget plans? Veronique de Rugy has been writing a series on the efforts to shut down one modest corporate welfare sink, the Export-Import Bank and the resistance that’s getting from both sides of the aisle. That’s the reality of public policy in the making.

    In fairness to the yappers, you knock-about in discussion fora frequented by partisan Republicans and there is an abrasive retro-libertarian element therein. These people all have two things in common: they have no familiarity with how much anything costs even in sketchy outline and they are not in positions where they actually deal with policy questions in their professional life. Republican policy is not likely to ever reflect the viewpoints of these types.

    /rant off.

  • Libertarianism is a bit like communism– a really pretty theory that does massive damage when over-applied. For communism, that’s pretty much any time it’s outside of the family; for libertarianism, it’s more not so clear cut. (maybe because there’s so much less control involved?) They both have baseline issues– communism, who decides what is fair; libertarianism, who decides who is a person, and what harm is, and similar things.
    They’re both trying to make messy, personal and complicated things simple, neat, systematic… and they fail, in pure form, because of that.
    For the howler monkeys– they’re name calling. Don’t give it any more dignity than that. When they bother to make an actual argument, then answer it; other than that, point out the fallacies and refuse to dignify them with more.

  • I’ve never been a libertarian because of their stand on drugs and sex. And I, like Don and several others, I have no use for Ayn Rand because she was a heartless person who exploited the people who followed her. For a devastating portrait of ‘Miss Objectivism’ read Daniel Flynn’s “Intellectual Morons” which also has some spot on looks at several other liberal loonies.

  • Paul: that Rand was Russian Jew has absolutely no impact on her ideology.
    Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:”I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property–until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
    I am fearful that giving government access to taxing the citizens for an agenda such as Social Justice, Obamacare or Global Warming will only bloat the government will little, if any, serious trickle down effect to help the poor. In evidence, there is Obamacare, willing to murder people to balance their idea of who ought to be given the Right to Life and who must be euthanized by our tax dollars. The virtue of charity is a matter of personal conscience of the individual citizen, not of government. Government has already violated man’s individual conscience by denying a man and his personal conscience. So, how is government going to do Justice to Social Justice?
    Another example of government abdicating its obligations after taking our tax money, is how our veterans are being ignored and abandoned after giving their all to defend our nation. Private organizations are helping, but the government has taken our tax money. Taxation without representation. Do not let it happen again.
    Now, that I am a digit with a social security number to the government, the government has little care about eradicating me.

  • died of heart disease and lung cancer because she lack the self control to stop smoking cigarettes?

    Rand died at 77, a perfectly unremarkable life span for a woman born in 1905 (about normal, in fact). I do not think cigarette smoking has ever been considered a healthy habit, but by the time the association between cigarettes and lung cancer was a matter of public record, Rand was 61 years old. I have a fairly proximate relation who quit smoking at age 59. He still died of lung cancer. I’ve consulted actuarial data which tells me I remain at elevated risk for lung cancer (not having smoked in nearly a quarter century). Tobacco’s one of life’s pleasures (which no one indulges in moderation, sad to say).

    It’s conceivable her sexual appetite was ‘insatiable’. I had not heard about anyone other than her husband and Nathaniel Branden. Of course, carrying on an affair with a man 20 years your junior is not something ordinary women in their 50s do…

  • Also interestingly she was a Russian Jew.

    With a social viewpoint and a set of mores quite different from the median among Ashkenazic Jews in the United States. She also intermarried, which was not done in 1929. The significance of her origins is that she was a child of Russia’s small merchant-professional class and her family saw its property (an apothecary shop) stolen by the Bosheviks. That triggered the development of her social thought.

  • Art Deco: “It’s conceivable her sexual appetite was ‘insatiable’.”
    Anything “insatiable” is, in reality, flight from mortality, death.

  • ”I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property–until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

    Fake quote. It has been conning people since 1937:

  • Sorry, Mister McClarey. I will be more careful.

  • Everyone gets fooled now and then Mary including me. Fake quotes drive me up the wall and I expose them whenever I see them.

  • Anybody had a chance to read Anthony Esolen’s book yet? I haven’t, but it sounds worthwhile; at least based on this review:

    Like the thought of Pope Leo XIII, Esolen’s thinking is suffused with Christian realism about men and how they live. In his discussion of social life, for example, he summarizes the concreteness of Christian love in a memorable way: “Jesus did not command us to love ‘mankind.’ There is no such reductive abstraction in true Christian morality. Jesus commanded us to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The neighbor is not someone conveniently on the other side of the world. The neighbor is inconveniently here, now. He is the man who never mows his lawn and who drinks too much. She is the woman escaping from her troubled home to meddle in the lives of the victims of her benevolence. He is the man fallen among thieves, right there in the ditch, bleeding his life away.” It is only with this sort of understanding that any sense can be made of how social life works.

    Catholic social teaching has become, certainly in this country, almost completely politicized. Many, perhaps most, Catholics hear the phrase and automatically associate it with the political left. Esolen’s erudite primer eviscerates this distortion by restoring a sound understanding of this area: not left (or, for that matter, right) on the ideological spectrum but Catholic: rooted in the family, in the common good, and ultimately in the source of all Catholic life—the Eucharist.

  • Art Deco wrote, “You still have at least one papal encyclical (addressed to the Italian bishops in 1745 or thereabouts, not the whole Church) which explicitly addresses that and denies that interest is licit in any context.”
    You have in mind Vix Pervenit by Pope Benedict XIV, probably the greatest Canonist ever to sit in the Chair of Peter (his only competitor is Innocent IV).
    He declares that “The nature of the sin called usury has its proper place and origin in a loan contract. This financial contract between consenting parties demands, by its very nature, that one return to another only as much as he has received. The sin rests on the fact that sometimes the creditor desires more than he has given…”
    However, he continues, “By these remarks, however, We do not deny that at times together with the loan contract certain other titles – which are not at all intrinsic to the contract – may run parallel with it. From these other titles, entirely just and legitimate reasons arise to demand something over and above the amount due on the contract. Nor is it denied that it is very often possible for someone, by means of contracts differing entirely from loans, to spend and invest money legitimately either to provide oneself with an annual income or to engage in legitimate trade and business. From these types of contracts honest gain may be made.”
    This is really obvious. A loan for consumption of money or other fungibles (mutuum), like a loan for use (commodatum), or deposit or pledge, is a real contract. The obligation arises from the delivery and receipt of a thing (“res”) and can only be one of restitution (or of repetition, in the case of fungibles). Contrast commodatum with hire (locatio conductio), where a rental is legitimate, for there the title constituting the obligation is different; it is a consensual contract, not a real one.

  • As I’ve said before on this and other blogs, my take on Ayn Rand is that her Objectivist philosophy was basically a massive overreaction to Soviet Communism that went off the deep end in the other direction. She fled Stalinist Russia and despised anything that reminded her of it; and because that regime used concepts like “common good” and “shared sacrifice” to justify what they were doing, she decided that these concepts were bad.

    The two books by her that MAY be worth reading are “The Romantic Manifesto,” which explains her view of art (and articulates why so much modern art leaves people cold) and a collection of essays titled “The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” which does a great job of skewering the pretensions of liberals. In these two instances, Rand was the proverbial stopped clock that happened to tell the correct time. Other than that… forget it.

    I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a political or social philosophy that doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach of “Government is always the solution” or “Government is always the problem.” Is it just possible that we really need a balance between these two extremes and that the balance may need to be periodically adjusted as conditions change? A dash of libertarianism, or government intervention, may be appropriate in some circumstances but totally disastrous in others.

  • Elaine Krewer wrote, “I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a political or social philosophy that doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach of “Government is always the solution” or “Government is always the problem.”
    Recall Rousseau’s answer: “The question “What absolutely is the best government?” is unanswerable as well as indeterminate; or rather, there are as many good answers as there are possible combinations in the absolute and relative situations of all nations.
    But if it is asked by what sign we may know that a given people is well or ill governed, that is another matter, and the question, being one of fact, admits of an answer.
    It is not, however, answered, because everyone wants to answer it in his own way. Subjects extol public tranquillity, citizens individual liberty; the one class prefers security of possessions, the other that of person; the one regards as the best government that which is most severe, the other maintains that the mildest is the best; the one wants crimes punished, the other wants them prevented; the one wants the State to be feared by its neighbours, the other prefers that it should be ignored; the one is content if money circulates, the other demands that the people shall have bread. Even if an agreement were come to on these and similar points, should we have got any further? As moral qualities do not admit of exact measurement, agreement about the mark does not mean agreement about the valuation.
    For my part, I am continually astonished that a mark so simple is not recognised, or that men are of so bad faith as not to admit it. What is the end of political association? The preservation and prosperity of its members. And what is the surest mark of their preservation and prosperity? Their numbers and population. Seek then nowhere else this mark that is in dispute. The rest being equal, the government under which, without external aids, without naturalisation or colonies, the citizens increase and multiply most, is beyond question the best. The government under which a people wanes and diminishes is the worst. Calculators, it is left for you to count, to measure, to compare”

  • I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a political or social philosophy that doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach of “Government is always the solution” or “Government is always the problem.”

    I do not think any well thought out conception of the political order working in the broad swath of territory between Robert Nozick and Lenin would say either, and neither extreme would be reflected in the policies politicians actually pursue. You’re confounding social thought with rhetorical tropes. The thing is, much political discussion is self-aggrandizing. You can see this more readily on the portside because a lot of it defaults to vacuous babble about various bogies in lieu of discussing a discrete set of issues. On the starboard, much of it takes the form of jabs and complaints that productive citizens such as themselves are being injured by various and sundry social parasites. There is some truth to that, but you try to get them on the subject of how the quality of public services might be improved and you get a complete blank; the only discussion of public agencies they favor is point-and-laugh that said agency bollixed something up.

  • Rand has her heroic characters clearly attempt to obey the Natural Law. The banker’s books balance. The employers pay wages to the last penny. They don’t lie, cheat, steal, defraud, murder, or vandalize. They earn their wealth from their own hard work. The books would be better without the smut – but I’ve seen similar lacunae for different cardinal sins from “Catholic” authors. She held to “Objectivism” – that the moral law was objective, like CS Lewis pointed out, and that places her and her followers far closer to truth than the moral relativists – including those claiming to be Christian or Catholic. Her reasoning was sometimes faulty, and even rationalizing (she only committed adultery after finding a loophole). But she was aiming at the right target.

    The Bishops have found it more convenient to have the national governments do their job. When appearing before the judgment throne, Jesus will say “When I was sick, hungry, etc., you told me to go to Obama for help!”. So “Catholic” hospitals have to do far more today than burn a bit of incense to the god of Caesar. They have to engage in (unborn) human sacrifice.

    In the movie, “Time Bandits” near the climax, the dwarves go across time to get weapons and aid. Two are futuristic machines, and when the battle starts the Devil says “I control the machines” – one of the dwarves says “he’s right!” and it starts shooting at the dwarves and not the Devil.

    Government is like that. If you keep it simple and direct and appropriate (subsidiarity) the Devil doesn’t have much to seduce and pervert, and the corruption is usually obvious. But centralize and complicate power and the Devil has an easy time. Acton was a christian and libertarian, and what he said is true: Power corrupts.

    That is what the US Declaration and Constitution are about. Limiting, dispersing, and causing conflicts of power. Just enough to do the job Government has the competence and authority to do. And leave the Church free to do things proper to its sphere, and citizens free to go about their business in peace and freedom.

    Ayn Rand understood and got a large part of that right. Too many Catholics today don’t understand any of it. They think that the gospel says to get Caesar to do the works of mercy.

  • tz: “(she only committed adultery after finding a loophole). But she was aiming at the right target.”
    Actually, tz, if Ayn Rand was looking for a loophole to commit adultery, she wasn’t committed to finding the truth. Looking for a loophole to get out of heaven is not very wise and puts her other judgments into question.
    The rest of your post is very interesting and very well thought out.

  • I’d love to hear the loophole. I’ve had plenty of arguments with hostile-to-tradition type libertarians who don’t even want to admit that she did.
    For those who want a thumbnail: she entered the union with her husband with the agreement that they could sleep around– if the other agreed. She then did it against her husband’s wishes, which is an even bigger deal than is obvious because the entire point is that she couldn’t keep even a deal where she’d designed it, entered it willingly, and entered it with full humanly possible knowledge.
    The hostile-to-tradition sorts tend to reject the social contract because they think it’s not fair to expect people to hold up their end of a deal unless they entered it willingly, and they specifically exclude any non-explicit agreements.

  • Folks,

    You really need to understand how Objectivists view selfishness as a virtue:

    And here is a time line of Ayn Rand, the Brandens and her adultery, and not just hers:

    In my apostasy I tried to adopt the Objectivist philosophy. It depressed me to the point where I had a breakdown and almost drank again. In my opinion, because it has so many things in its philosophy which seem true and correct, Objectivism is one step removed from Libertarianism and closer to true evil.

The Majority Dissent

Monday, February 3, AD 2014

John Zmirak breaks down widespread resistance and dissent among Catholics on the issue of contraception in “The Shame of the Catholic Subculture” for The Catholic ThingThe most salient facts of the situation:

On a grave moral issue where several popes have invoked their full moral authority short of making an infallible declaration, 95 percent of U.S. Catholics (the number is surely higher in most of Europe) have rejected the guidance of Rome. They are not “bad Catholics” so much members of a new, dissenting sect – which happens to occupy most of the seats in most of the churches, and many of the pulpits and bishop’s offices, too.

I’m not sure that I agree that they are not “bad Catholics.” To the extent that they have been poorly catechized, this might be the case. Many of us know from personal experience however that there are plenty of people who say that they are Catholics, understand that Catholics must abide by the dogmatic teachings of the Church, and simply don’t. However they rationalize it is really not important to me.

On the other hand, Zmirak makes a convincing case for extending a tolerant and understanding olive branch to well-meaning dissenters (and that does not include all dissenters, mind you); they’re over 90% of the Church, perhaps over 95%, at least in the developed West. H also makes a good point about conservative/traditionalist circles that, while doctrinally orthodox, suffer from ideological stagnation and social isolation. The 90-95% need those who believe that truth is not optional to speak boldly for it, but not in a way that is alienating or unsympathetic to their concerns.

If, for instance, the problem with contraception is that an otherwise willing Catholic family feels it simply can’t handle the financial burden, then those of us who would have them hold to the teaching of the Church should be devising creative solutions to that problem. Perhaps living as self-contained nuclear families in a mass consumer society is not the way to live as Catholics. Perhaps local, voluntary, and bold projects are needed to unite people who wish to live the faith authentically, to share burdens and responsibilities – something beyond the mere handouts so often advocated by leftists. The pro-life movement has had great success with crisis pregnancy centers and other forms of relief for pregnant women; I see no reason why we can’t take it a step further and devise forms of relief for struggling parents.

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33 Responses to The Majority Dissent

  • I do see John Zmirak’s distinction between “Bad Catholics,” who do not follow, whilst nevertheless acknowledging, the moral teaching of the Church and “a new, dissenting sect” that rejects that teaching.

    How they contrive to do so, whilst still considering themselves Catholics may puzzle us, but we should recall Lord Macaulay’s words about another “dissenting sect,” “We know 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.”

    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?

  • Contracepting and receiving the Eucharist will bring eternal condemnation on many catholics.

  • I owned and operated a Catholic bookstore for 14 years. As approximately 40% of my customers were men, it was not uncommon to find Saturday afternoon discussions concerning living a Catholic life. Artificial contraception was certainly one of the topics discussed. Over the years, ten of these men shared that they had a vasectomy and an eleventh one’s wife had a tubal ligation for birth control purposes. Each of them said, in almost the same words,”Now when I make love to my wife, I can’t get close enough to her.”
    By contracepting, they had inadvertantly destroyed the unitive aspect of their relationship. When they cut God from their relationship, the marital act became profane. It does not matter whether the contraception is the result of a vasectomy, tubal ligation, or the use of any other artificial method, the result is the same. Sexual intercourse is sacred, and self-giving, when God is the center of the marriage. Artificial contraception is a most selfish and destructive act.

  • Having taught about contraception (Humane Vitae) at a Catholic High School, where the subject was nervously ignored, even shunned, along with homosexuality, I experienced many adults who rejected the teaching (including religious) and few if any who could explain it. Nonetheless, the high school students were very open and challenged to learn the design, meaning and purpose of sexuality and it had much impact on their thinking. It should be central to marriage preparation, but again, my experience was absolute fear to even whisper it, or simply a polite chuckle for the insiders on how passé it was.
    In the past I used to speak about it at various college, parish and other venues. (Once to a panel of not Catholic medical doctors). Always lively, always surprising, always greatly appreciated and always fruitful. I have long dropped from the scene and raising my family, but have wondered how to reach out again. Not sure I know a way. It certainly is greatly needed.

  • Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said that many people hate what they think is the Catholic Church. Very few people hate what they know is the Catholic Church. So, it is with pure conjugal love and the use of contraceptive. The 95% of Catholics who purportedly use contraceptives must know the joy of life in truly cherishing the gift of his wife in the marital act and the difference of disfiguring that conjugal love with the barrier to life and love that is contraception. Is it possible to be married and not know the difference? Marriage consists in knowing the joy of life in cherishing the gift of a wife in the marital act.

  • Over my sixty some odd years I have come to a realization that is a sad one. In this ‘contraceptive issue’ both those who hold to the teaching of the Church as well as those who ‘dissent’ have lost sight of the fact that God wants us to be happy-eternally happy [eternal beatitude]. We are created for this, ‘wired’ for this. This happiness is complete communion with God, participating in His very Life and Love

    I used the word ‘wired’. Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis are using the term: “human ecology’. In the past we would be speaking of this reality using such phrases as ‘natural law’ and ‘Christian anthrolopology’. However, they all speak of the same reality, the same truth, that we have been created in such a way that we reveal a certain order, law, ecology within us, that simply is. We can later become conscious of what this is and what it implies, but it is that fundamental that it precedes all human constructs, rationalizations etc

    Animals have sex to continue their species. It is a drive within them that is on the instinctual level. Something much deeper, more awesome is present within man and woman. Man and woman unite in love within a bond that is God-given.

    This conjugal love is HUMAN: it has very little in common with what takes place in the animal world. It is not a matter of instinct and or sentiment but an act of free-will, a fundamental expression of the GIFT-of-SELF intended to continue and grow throughout the life of the couple united in this bond

    This conjugal love is TOTAL It is a unique and very special form of human friendship in which the man and woman share everything, with nothing being held back or reserved from the gift of self to the other.

    This conjugal love is FAITHFUL and EXCLUSIVE until death. This at moments and for even certain periods of time might seem very difficult but it is not humanly impossible. People are indeed capable of making and keeping faithful, exclusive promises and commitments which are virtuous, meritorious and bring lasting happiness

    This conjugal love is ‘FECUND’: life-giving. This reveals that marital love does not ‘end’ with the union of the couple. Love, seeking the good of the other, is diffusive. The couple’s love does not end with itself but gives of themselves in the giving of new life

    Some of you may have realized what I just wrote, but most will not. It is the very core of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae. It is both Good News and life-giving. How many Catholics who are dissenting even really know what they are dissenting against. The teaching is far richer than “Thou shalt not”. It is an invitation and a challenge to live a really human, total, faithful, exclusive, life-giving love. I believe many are actually hungering for this ‘vision’ of marriage and love that raises them above the ‘lab rats’ of the Kinsey Report.

    Donald raises an extremely important point in his comments. How can we who believe in this assist those who both struggle with it or perhaps even ‘reject it’? Certainly casting ‘condemnations’ will not help. Every person, every couple are created for, meant for “happiness”. Do we not have the Good News of Jesus Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the Life”? Now how can we share this-not just with our words but our actions and our lives-in this extremely important aspect of life?

  • Zmirak writes: “We need to stop treating people who don’t “get” the Church’s teaching on contraception as if they were clones of Judas, or heretics like Arius whom St. Nicholas rightly slapped.” He frames the issue almost as if people with lots of kids are ostracizing others. As a father of eight children, I can assure you it’s the reverse. The 95% tend to look down their noses at people like me. This includes priests who ask if we’re in some sort of competition to parents at the parish school that we can’t afford who think if we would just sacrifice a little more we can come up with tuition. If you send them to public school you’re damaging your children, and if you homeschool them you’re weird and isolating your kids. Or the people who during the sign of peace comment with some dismay “Um… there sure are… um… a lot of you.” I think if I became Southern Baptist I’d probably have more and better friends at Church.

    While I appreciate much of his work, Zmirak is completely off the mark here. The parents of large families aren’t pushing people who contracept away from Church teaching through snottiness. They are making real material sacrifices and ruining much chance at a social life and while enduring both subtle and overt discrimination by the majority.

  • Alphatron,

    You are to be commended not criticized or condemned. As for Zmirak I did not see him attacking large families-but maybe I missed it. I did see him call for an end of ‘condemnations’ and working toward both sharing the Good News and assisting/gently challenging those who dissent. Donald asked if we do not have a responsibility to actively reach out and assist those Catholics struggling with this issue.

    I would add however that we need to reach out and assist families such as your own. For example, there are parishes in America where the weekly income is over fifty thousand (most will gasp at that) They completely finance their own Catholic schools and members of the parish can send their children there tuition free-all in the parish sharing the ‘load’-sharing all things in common, This is not just an ideal it can happen and is already happening

    I want to keep the focus on the actual article and Donald’s statement but I do think we Catholics owe families such as your own a great deal of gratitude and support.

  • There may be a middle ground for contraception, without changing any of the Church teaching. One possible first step is to convert the pro-abortion/pro-contraception camp, into the pro-life camp, even if they still hold pro-contraception views. Doing this could save millions of babies in utero. The way to do this is to teach the concept that when birth control fails, as it will eventually in a significant number of people, no matter what BC method they use, that they keep the child. This is the attitude used in NFP. In other words, teach that artificial contraception is a sin, but that abortion is murder.
    Otherwise it will be much harder to decrease the still tragically high numbers of abortions, as over ½ million abortions in the US are performed because birth control failed, and ½ million did not use birth control.
    If one has to chose battles, abortion is the one to work on first.

  • I think Alph’s comments very pertinent to the issue, although I did not catch any slight by Zmirack myself. I happen to be one of 17 children and had I not married so late, probably would have had a large family myself. As it is 3, and my wife unfortunately was culturally prejudiced against a large family. But he is quite correct in the negative attitudes expressed even by Catholics, let alone others. And it is directly related to the contraceptive issue, as it is considered “responsible” unlike the “irresponsible breeders” to be anti-life and avoid “too many” by contraception. We say and teach the right things about family, but I never thought we were true to these teachings in actual support for family and marriage.

  • In the Novus Ordo Church we also have encountered quite scandalous responses from ostensible Catholics over 4 kindern (let alone Alpha’s 8). Here in the ever so intellectually profound San Francisco Bay Area, in our parish, we actually had a self-identified Catholic woman of some “rank” and much more chutzpah say to Mrs Phoenix: “Oh, my GAWD, you have four CHILD-REN?! Couldnt you STOP yourself!?” (I kid you not.)

    Suffice to say that the glacial gaze she received from said-same lady of the house had absolutely no effect: The aforementioned woman of social rank and chutzpah proceeded to explain the usefulness of contraception. (Can you spell “t-o-ne d-e-a-f”?)

    At the diocesan approved TLM, a family with several children receives smiling faces and implicit approval, even on bad-hair days. I am sure the notorious SSPX Churches are the same.

  • The original article addressed the isolationism of the more orthodox Catholics. I have likened it to a small circle of people in the center of a crowd, who at their best are facing outward and trying to pull people in, but at their worst can be facing inward and trying to push people out. Of course the more orthodox may be sneered at; that’s just part of following Christ, although it is more irritating when it comes from fellow Catholics. But the priority has got to be increasing the number in the circle.

    This article reminds me of a recent discussion about the Jake Tapper interview, specifically: when did people stop expecting the truth? Actually, now that I think about it, it reminds me of a reply I wanted to make to the Pope Wunnerful article. I think the same thing applies, that people aren’t worried if the Pope says a few things against abortion because, they suppose, he probably doesn’t mean them. We’re at a point in our society, thanks to spin doctors or modernism or whatever, that people don’t assume that the person they’re talking to is being honest. They don’t judge you harshly for lying – I wish they did! – but they just assume that you’re not being honest. My guess is, you show up with a family of ten, they know you’re serious. But most of the time, people just sort of nod along when you talk about morality and assume that you’re as kinky or kinkier than most.

    That’s I think the new hurdle we face. You have to convince people that you really believe what you’re saying. Or maybe it’s not a new hurdle. Maybe people have always just sort of nodded along, just now they’re admitting it to the pollsters. I don’t know.

  • One thing that is not really clear to most people, at least until one talks with the 95% of women who use artificial contraception, is that many are not really engaged in a ‘hard’ dissent with the Church.

    Yes, most feel justified in what they are doing, many feel they have no choice. Yet when you ask them what do they think of the 5% who use NFP, you get variations on what is really admiration. Many if not most of the women who are in the 95% admire the 5% and wish they could be like them. They know sanctity when they see it.

    This is why these women do not leave the Church. Their dissent is a ‘soft’ dissent. They do not question the basic truths that are to be found in the Church’s teaching. They just cannot bring themselves to adhere to it.

  • Let me partially answer my own question. After the SOTU, Limbaugh echoed a lot of the comments I saw under the Tapper thread. He also said that speeches are given to evoke emotions, not present facts. I think that’s a lot of what I’m seeing. People don’t trust each other’s content because they assume it’s spin.

  • Wow! I hadn’t read any of the comments before I posted mine. I really believe these comments are accurate and that there are chutzpah contraceptive Catholics out there. I do believe Mrs Phoenix suffered what she suffered, and I believe that we all suffer with her.

    But, my experience is that they must be in the minority, at least as far as active parish life is concerned, and at least outside of San Francisco. I really believe, based on my experiences, in the facts on my first post.

  • A family of three or four or five or eight ought to be finding nothing but support and affirmation within the Catholic Church. The question remains from the article and Donald’s comments, how can we who believe the Church’s teaching reach out to struggling families, those beyond our own comfort zone etc.?

  • Too many women today are developing breast cancer; it is epidemic.
    The World Health Organization has identified the contraceptive pill as a Class 1 Carcinogen. Ingesting the Contraceptive Pill causes breast cancer.
    Is it really worthwhile for any woman to assume the risk of developing breast cancer and not being available to raise one’s children just to satisfy a cultural zeitgeist that is anti-children. From a purely temporal perspective, contraception is deadly to a woman’s well being and that of her entire family.
    Practical, fact based, health disclosures dissemintated in parishes will assist women who may not be aware of the risks of contraception.
    If one prints out the above linked article and leaves it next to the Sunday bulletins (with your pastor’s consent), I believe you will perform a great service for many women and their families.

  • Actually, Botolph, I am to be criticized because I didn’t start out as a faithful Catholic. I was with the 95% and came around after a few years of marriage. I have the advent of the internet to thank for my reversion. I was able to read the Catechism, and papal encyclicals for the first time. Poor catechesis in my youth left questions unanswered, so I rejected it. I am hopeful that others will come around as well. The Church provides mercy and forgiveness, for which I am grateful. I found nothing but support from orthodox Catholics who bore with my struggles and deficiencies with patience and love. It was the 95% from which I had come who put barriers in my way.

  • Pinky wrote, “He also said that speeches are given to evoke emotions, not present facts.”

    Λόγοσ ούδέν κινεί – Reason moves nothing – Aristotle

    Orators have always known that if one wants people to actually do something, rather than just nod in approval, it is necessary to “call the passions to the aid of reason.” If one wants them, for example, to make war on Philip or impeach Warren Hastings, then inspiring indignation and (moderate) fear is the way to move them to action.

  • “how can we who believe the Church’s teaching reach out to struggling families, those beyond our own comfort zone etc.?”

    A more liberal political site would call for government programs. I think the answer here would be to do it the Republican way. Private donations, say to the local Catholic school, encouraging a multi-student family discount. Support for the parish. Or just talking – “outreach”, I guess it’s called. Become friends with a big Catholic family. There are a lot worse families your kids could be hanging out with. Babysit, playdates, whatever.

  • Pinky,

    I believe it was Chesterton who said Christianity has not been tried and failed, it has not been tried. How about a Catholic approach-first of all renewal of our parishes in which large families would not only not experience what has been reported above, but the person attempting to sneer at them would be the one who would be seen as ‘not with the program’. Certainly as you say, and I had said in the post above, a greater sharing of resources of parishioners etc within the parish etc. so that no family etc will ever be left high and dry, etc

    I would take this further however. Encourage (don’t push) priests to bring the good news that the CHurch indeed has concerning marriage and marital love more to the fore in their preaching, If a Catholic is challenged for having a large family or believing in the Church’s teaching on this subject, turn the table around-ask that “Catholic” on what Catholic grounds do they base their argument. This will get them to begin to think and hopefully begin to see that the basis of their position is an ideology that belongs ultimately to the culture of death [it might not be the same as abortion but behind both contraception and abortion is an anti-life, anti-human ideology-the contemporary form of the god Moloch

  • You’re right about the pulpit. I think a lot of priests are embarrassed to talk about sex, and it makes them come off as embarrassed by the Church’s teaching. I also – pet peeve here – am tired of the way “vocation” has come to mean “please, kids, consider the priesthood”. I respect the priesthood, and it’s important to get kids to think about the consecrated life. But we’ve got to get kids, and adults, to realize that the married life is also a vocation, a lifelong commitment to an important, sometimes difficult, state of witness and service.

  • Pinky,

    I totally agree that being ‘married in the Lord’ is a Christian vocation which also needs to be put out there and prayed for.

  • Pinky: Vocation is following the will of the Lord in one’s life.

  • The trouble with the nuns on the bus is that in trying to become priests, they are not being who they are supposed to be, creating a vacuum, a vacuum that nature abhors.

  • As a man who came to the Church somehwat later in life, after the birth of my kids and a vasectomy, I am genuinely curious about what, if anything, the Church would be able to do to restore my “wholeness?” I do not mean this as a petulant challenge; reversals are expensive (as in there’s no way I can afford one,) and after a time not medically recommended, so what is somebody in my position to do?

  • Wk Aiken,

    If you haven’t already done so, the Sacrament of Penance: “Confession” And if you have not done so, ‘be not afraid’

  • Botolph-

    That I did, the first time just before Easter upon finishing up RCIA; I did not hide the topic then and was granted absolution. I have continued to avail myself of that Sacrament on a regular basis in the dozen-ish years since.

    However, an old and uncomfortable chord was struck by Victor Claveau’s words: “Over the years, ten of these men shared that they had a vasectomy and an eleventh one’s wife had a tubal ligation for birth control purposes. Each of them said, in almost the same words, ‘Now when I make love to my wife, I can’t get close enough to her.'”

    I know that Reconciliation absolves me of sins past, including my ongoing sterile state. But I am now celibate, in a sense, without being called to celibacy by service in Clergy. There is an inherent wrongness to this.

    I will talk to my parish priests. They’re good, trustworthy men; the younger one graduated college in 4 years with a 3.9 GPA carrying 5 majors: History, Chemistry, Physics, Theology and Philosophy.

    And thanks – I do appreciate your concern and input.

  • WK Aiken

    You will be in my prayers

  • “I do not mean this as a petulant challenge; reversals are expensive (as in there’s no way I can afford one,) and after a time not medically recommended, so what is somebody in my position to do?”

    I had a friend in a similar position. I advised him to ask a very good priest I knew. He came back and said that there was no requirement to reverse the vasectomy for forgiveness.

  • Thank you, Phillip. That is comforting. I’ll still have a chat, if for no other reason than to get it off my chest, but it’s good to know others have found answers. Thanks again!

    And thanks, Botolph, for the prayers. It is impossible to obtain too many of those graces.

  • Mr. Aiken,
    I recall some time ago viewing an EWTN television show “Women of Grace” which is hosted by Johnnette Benkovic in which she discusses in detail the issue of vasectomy reversal with a Catholic surgeon who performs these procedures as an apostolate for a very reduced cost. Some of the experiences raised by you and other men in this thread are addressed by Johnnette and the surgeon.
    Here is a link to the tv program:

    Vasectomy Reversal: Taking Care of the Damage, Part 1

    See, “Lifesite News” article pertaining to same:

    “Texan surgeon gives hope to sterilized men seeking wholeness”
    Hope this is helpful to you.

Religious Liberty: Necessity or Virtue?

Tuesday, January 21, AD 2014

Hello again TAC! It has been nearly a year since I posted here, and it is good to be back. I have a long one for you this time, but I think you will find it interesting and my hope is that it will contribute to an ongoing discussion about an important topic.

In December of last year John Zmirak, a Catholic author I know and respect, wrote a piece for titled “Illiberal Catholicism.” In it, Zmirak takes to task a growing tendency among both Catholic traditionalists (bear in mind I consider myself a traditionalist) and various leftists to denigrate liberalism in general and America’s classical liberal heritage in particular. The piece rubbed quite a few people the wrong way, as several hundred Facebook posts I skimmed would attest. There were lengthier responses from some corners of the Catholic blogosphere as well. If I had to offer the thesis statement of the piece, it would be this:

 [T]here is something very serious going on in Catholic intellectual and educational circles, which — if it goes on unchecked — will threaten the pro-life cause, the Church’s influence in society, and the safety and freedom of individual Catholics in America.  The growth of illiberal Catholicism will strengthen the power of the intolerant secular left, revive (and fully justify) the old anti-Catholicism that long pervaded America, and make Catholics in the United States as laughably marginal as they now are in countries like Spain and France…

From there, Zmirak provides us with an overview of the lack of tolerance in Church history that was bound to rankle traditionalists, as well as an endorsement of political and economic liberty that anti-capitalist traditionalists and leftists could not but despise. He also explicitly identified with “Tea Party” Catholicism – what could be more philistine for the enlightened anti-capitalist crowd, traddie or leftie?

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81 Responses to Religious Liberty: Necessity or Virtue?

  • I have always felt this way, but I am conflicted partially. I mean, force and the threat of force when it comes to religious convictions seem to be woefully inadequate just in terms of human nature; there is a big difference between “I believe God is real” and “I believe if I say that I believe in God, this will keep me from getting whacked, or could get me a nice government job.”

    So, I wonder, is religious liberty always and everywhere going to be the best option, even though it (in and of itself) is no more than a concession to human nature rather than something to be sought for its own goodness?

    A lot of the popes I have read on this seem to suggest that the ideal state has no religious tolerance, but I wonder whether the ideal state could exist, and whether this belief falls within the parameters of their statements taken holistically.

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  • At the same time we cannot reject religious liberty in practice, unless we are prepared to be denied the right to publicly exist and profess as authentic Catholics. We must know and profess that our religion is true, and yes, that other religions are in fact false, while simultaneously defending their right to be false.

    Which Judaism and Christianity can do, adhering to the common belief that man is made in the image and likeness of God, and so has free will to choose Him.
    But some religions do not play well with others; I’m thinking of Islam and Leftism, each of which is built to exclude all other ways of finding God (or the Good). To defend religious liberty is necessary but not sufficient when professing Christians cannot profess and still earn a living baking cakes.
    As to the separation of Church and State, I get awfully frustrated when we argue with Leftists over laws, and we accept the Left’s characterization of themselves as rationally guided towards the Good, and ourselves as irrationally driven by God and making everybody miserable to boot. And no, simply repeating the phrase “human flourishing” over and over again does not correct the characterization.
    Eugene Volokh had a recent blog post addressing this problem with how arguments are framed: Your side tries to impose your beliefs; my side seeks justice. Any Catholics of whatever stripe who assist the Left in framing arguments this way are scoring an own goal. Religious Liberty is a mirage until everybody comes clean about having a system of beliefs.

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  • Here, here!!

  • “Religious Liberty is a mirage until everybody comes clean about having a system of beliefs.” Excellent statement of truth, tamsin.
    Films, movies, books, the media, and every politician have agendas. Jesus Christ came to serve God and man. Religious Liberty is about the freedom to come to know, to love and to serve God in thought, speech, press and peaceable assembly.

  • “Which Judaism and Christianity can do, adhering to the common belief that man is made in the image and likeness of God, and so has free will to choose Him.”

    I do not believe that Catholic policy in the age of Christendom denied man his free will. The Church never recognized forced conversions as valid. The Church has always held that a baptism is not valid for a person of the age of reason who does not consent to that baptism. What the Church did do, however, was forbid the public expression of religions such as Islam within Christian lands. I would not recommend this practice today, but can I condemn it as an intrinsic evil in violation of a basic human right? I won’t.

    “I get awfully frustrated when we argue with Leftists over laws, and we accept the Left’s characterization of themselves as rationally guided towards the Good, and ourselves as irrationally driven by God and making everybody miserable to boot.”

    Did I do that somewhere? For my part, I view the left as irrationally driven by radical egalitarianism. It is a civilization-destroying ideology.

  • In order to speak in a complete way about “religious liberty” one must first come to grips with the Tradition concerning “Church and State”.

    Christ Jesus introduced a distinction between state and religion for the first time in human history. Since all governments, and families for that matter, saw a profound unity between ‘authority’ and ‘the divine’, leaders of governments and ‘fathers of families’ were raised to new heights. In most cases, being divinized, becoming ‘gods’ or having ‘god-like’ authority. Even ancient Israel when it finally established their monarchy endowed the king with divine authority-just take a look at Psalm 2 (read in the context of the ancient monarchy). Also recognize the very close association in the Jewish mind of the authority in families with God, in the relationship of the fourth commandment immediately following the first three all of which have to do with the Lord God.

    When Jesus was speaking, both Rome and Jerusalem saw no real separation of religion and state, yet Jesus said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. It might seem that this statement was a coy avoidance of a dispute over giving taxes to Caesar, but the whole question about the coin, and whose image was on the coin-Caesar’s has a deeper meaning. Caesar himself, as a human being is created in the image of God. Thus, the ‘state’ has only certain rights and expectations while the Original-God has the right to all or love with out whole being etc.

    If there were a question about this, then the Lord’s response to Pilate during His trial cinches it. There in John 18, Jesus says that His Kingdom does not belong to this world. Jesus is indeed a king, but not a political king. He reminded Pilate that his authority did not come from Caesar but God Himself yet that power and authority is not absolute. It is both under God and bounded by “truth”: the truth about God and the truth about ‘man’

    The Church Fathers were very clear about this ‘distinction’ [I call it a distinction because I do not want to confuse it in anyway with the supposed principle of the “Separation of Church and State” as it is understood today. This distinction however is closer to the “establishment” clause of the First Amendment.] In the Letter of Diognetus, there is a wonderful pithy remark which sums it up: “we pray for the emperor, we do not worship him”

    In the Arian crisis, there was a profound political implication at work as well in the heresy. If indeed Jesus Christ was not the consubstantial Son of the Father, then all bets were off who represented God’s authority on earth. If the Arians were right, then the Emperor represented God’s authority [there was more than conviction at work with so many emperors fighting the nicene bishops]. However, if Jesus Christ is indeed homoousion [consubstantial] with the Father then He first of all images the authority of the Father and after him, the bishop, most especially the bishop of Rome. The Fathers of the Council understood this implication. That is why they put a permanent reminder into the Creed: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate” They were reminding people for all time that “Caesar” is not God but very much a frail, sinful man.

    Pope Gelasius would further this tradition in his ‘two swords”: the political sword (authority) and the religious sword-with the understanding that there was a separation of the two powers.

    In all of this there was never a hint of equivocation of watering down the ‘true religion’ whether in terms of the Church’s relations with the pagans or the ultimate heretics, the Arians. In the early Councils, the Church (on al sides of the disputes) found the machinations and scheming of the “Christian emperors” problematic to say the least. Their scheming led to the exaltation of the bishop of Byzantium into becoming the Patriarch of Constantinople, second only to the pope (but for political reasons!). In later councils both Nestorians and Monophysites broke with the Church more for the interventions of the Emperor than for the doctrinal language and questions at hand.. More than one Pope was pressured by the Emperor to soften his stand or abide by a decision etc, even one being abducted from Rome and brought to Constantinople in chains. The Church, especially the Church in Rome saw very specific distinctions between the two powers. it would be only later that things got confused and even mushy

    It was Augustine, the great Church Father who really brought in confusion. In order to quell the reactionary schism of the Donatists, Augustine, in exasperation, wrote to the local Roman authority to intervene and to squash the reactionaries. In his letter he gave all sorts of high sounding reasons to do so, and in this way paved the way for the Church from that time forward to use the arm of the political authority to deal with the Church’s ‘problems’. From this heretics were burned, witch hunts took place and pogroms of the Jews found ‘succor’

    So which is really the more traditional?

  • Liberty is God-given.

    A government that infringes on a God-given, human right is illegitimate: organized brigandage. They can take your life and property. They cannot take your liberty or your soul.

    Fear not that which can only destroy your physical life but cannot kill the soul. Fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell. See Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:2-7.

  • “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” God created Caesar and Caesar’s state through the sovereignty of personhood. Personhood comes before citizenship in order. Caesar belongs to God. Christ was put to death for blasphemy. Separation of church and state will forbid state punishment for sins. The church forgives sins, the state prosecutes crime. As Thomas More said: “then let God arrest him.”
    Atheism undermines the sovereign state, denies unalienable civil rights and the Divine image in man. “Religious Liberty: Necessity or Virtue?” Both, as church virtue and state necessity. Only by admitting to church and state can there be separation in principle of each.

  • Botolph,

    I appreciate your overview of the ancient Christian conception of “church and state.” It certainly isn’t the first issue that St. Augustine may have mucked up either. But I don’t believe that the Medieval/Early Modern view of church and state that prevailed – at least officially – up until Vatican II was in any sense a contradiction of the “two swords” doctrine. Popes from Boniface VIII to Leo XIII reaffirmed this doctrine and always understood the demarcating line between secular and ecclesiastical authority. The question of religious liberty is related but ultimately distinct. Church and State may have different functions, which is what the two swords refers to, but States still have positive duties, among which is the recognition of the true religion.

    I don’t believe that this recognition necessarily entails the sort of repression that Augustine requested. The ideal Catholic statesmen would have discretion regarding the implementation of the doctrine. Religious toleration is compatible with an established religion, in which case the established religion would simply receive preferential treatment while all others would more or less be on their own, to sink or swim according to their merits.

    To put it simply, there’s a difference between the idea and its implementation.

  • Bonchamps,

    You are correct that the Medieval and early modern Church is not ruptured from the earlier ‘two swords’ of the early and Patristic Church. My point was to show that the ‘two swords’ and the accompanying way the Church dealt with its problems [persuading and if necessary calling a Council: basicallly putting into practice Matthew 18] was very different than the way the medieval/early Modern Church dealt with such issues: call in the govt, the troops and the use of force.

    See my point is to put a mirror up for us to see ourselves in a very distinct/different light. A light we used to be, but over the centuries became frustrated with dissent, error etc and began to rely more and more on the other sword to enforce our issues. Until the American experiment prevented it for their own reasons [not theological ones], we believed that this second way of doing things was the only way to deal with our problems. The American experiment ‘shocked’ us into looking at our whole history and soon we discovered this older truer way.

    We still hold that the Catholic Church is the true Church etc but we can deal with our difficulties with our own tools, ‘our own ‘sword”, and not turn to the State to enforce our doctrines etc.

    There are moral issues that are very much in the vanguard in our own day. Let’s take for example Life issues. Is it enough for us to work to change laws and criminal codes in order to end such atrocities as abortion etc. Yes, they are important but the real work is to raise consciousnesses, begin to illuminate clouded and even ignorant minds, melt hardened hearts and seek the conversion-but not forced conversion-of our neighbors. It is then and only then that America will truly be pro-life.

    Error does not have rights. People who are in error have the rights

  • I would distinguish between whether or not it is prudent for the Church to demand the use of force to further some aim on the one hand, and whether or not the Church ought to proclaim a positive obligation on the part of governments to acknowledge the one true faith, or – if dealing with non-Catholic governments – the obligation of Catholics to support, when practicable, the establishment of such a government.

    I make the distinction as well between the minimal and maximum demands of an establishment of religion. Religious toleration is entirely compatible with the minimum demands, which are public recognition of the true faith, legislators who profess the true faith, and preferential tax support (I don’t like the idea of subsidies, but exemptions are fine). Nothing about this arrangement necessarily entails the violent repression of those who adhere to other religions.

    This minimal establishment would be in accordance with what Pope Leo XIII prescribed, in my view.

  • Hello Bonchamps,
    I apologize for the confusion — I think we are in close agreement as regards free will, and reason. My complaints were not directed at you. Your discussion of religious liberty got me started thinking about the larger problem: define religion.
    I wonder if we would be better off defending “conscience” rights rather than “religious” liberty, because the word “religion” is poorly understood, or has been mis-defined, to our detriment in the game of writing laws in this country. Per my link to Volokh.
    I view the left as irrationally driven by radical egalitarianism. Agreed. It is a tenet of their religion.
    Thank you for the excerpts from Pope Leo’s writings. Very helpful!

  • If I may, (do not let my appearances of humility fool you, as I will any how.) Faith is a gift from God to which man responds in thought, word, and deed, in a relationship with God, our Creator. This acknowledgement of God cannot be prohibited by any entity, not man, nor beast, nor demon. “…or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”, a constitutional relationship that may not be prohibited.
    In thought, in prayers and petition in meditation and contemplation. In word, speech and free press. In peaceable assembly, community, church, in the forming human being in the womb. Man and his God are inseparable. The atheist denies his Creator and his immortal soul which is perjury in a court of law. The human person is endowed with unalienable, that is, infinite civil rights by his infinite Supreme Sovereign Being.

  • There is not a word in Dignitatis Humanae that prohibits the recognition and establishment of religion by the state. What it forbids is coercion by the state in matters of religion, whilst fully recognising those limitations that may be imposed in the interests of “just public order.”

    The real threat to religious freedom from the liberal state was well summarised by Lord Acton: “Civil and religious liberty are so commonly associated in people’s mouths, and are so rare in fact, that their definition is evidently as little understood as the principle of their connection. The point at which they unite, the common root from which they derive their sustenance, is the right of self-government. The modern theory, which has swept away every authority except that of the State, and has made the sovereign power irresistible by multiplying those who share it, is the enemy of that common freedom in which religious freedom is included. It condemns, as a State within the State, every inner group and community, class or corporation, administering its own affairs; and, by proclaiming the abolition of privileges, it emancipates the subjects of every such authority in order to transfer them exclusively to its own. It recognises liberty only in the individual, because it is only in the individual that liberty can be separated from authority, and the right of conditional obedience deprived of the security of a limited command. Under its sway, therefore, every man may profess his own religion more or less freely; but his religion is not free to administer its own laws. In other words, religious profession is free, but Church government is controlled. And where ecclesiastical authority is restricted, religious liberty is virtually denied.”

  • “There is not a word in Dignitatis Humanae that prohibits the recognition and establishment of religion by the state. What it forbids is coercion by the state in matters of religion, whilst fully recognising those limitations that may be imposed in the interests of “just public order.”

    And yet, MPS, there was a time during which the Church did insist upon coercion in matters of religion for the sake of souls, and not public order. The implication of DH remains: the Church supposedly ignored or denied a fundamental human right for nearly two thousand years, an utterly preposterous conclusion. Moreover, DH does regard as right and good that which Pope Leo XIII and other pontiffs had designated as an evil that at most was to be tolerated. That line of thinking is an insult to the entire history of Christendom. DH goes too far. Pope Leo XIII found the right spot, acknowledging that the Church may have to conform to the times, but still insisting on the fundamental distinction between right and wrong – as opposed to changing it!

    There is another problem. It’s a thin semantic line, but there are likely many people who would regard the official recognition of a religion by a state to be an act of coercion if it is to go beyond mere words and extend into a minimal policy of a religious test for public officials and tax exemptions and/or subsides. It may be impossible to practically separate establishment from coercion.

  • Bonchamps,

    I will certainly let MPS speak for himself. He is extremely capable. However, I might point out that you have a gap in your own logic.

    You state that indeed the Church did use coercion in matters of religion for the sake of souls and not for the sake of public order. We are agreed. That stems back in the West to Augustine’s ‘request’ that the Roman authorities suppress the recalcitrant reactionary Donatists who were creating havoc for the Church in North Africa. We already established this in another post.

    Yet, what is faith? Is not faith a gift which cannot be prevented from being exercised? Is not faith while fundamentally graced nonetheless be a free human act. How could or can the Church possibly hope to gain unity of faith when the unity is nothing more than coerced conformity? Is faith free or not?

  • Botolph,

    As I previously established, the objective of the Church’s coercion, at least in the Middle Ages and beyond, was to prevent the public expression of non-Catholic religions. The point was not to change a person’s religion by force, but to prevent those of other religions from proselytizing or exerting other influences upon the Christian community. I do not claim that this practice is something that ought to be done in all times and places, but I do reject DH’s necessary implication that it was an intrinsically evil act.

    The Papacy had specifically outlawed forced conversions and would not recognize them. So the question, “is faith free or not”, is not relevant to this discussion. What happens in a man’s head and heart is more or less free, ontologically and morally.

  • Bonchamps,

    If I understand you correctly you are saying that ghettoizing the Jews both physically as in Rome or Warsaw or preventing them from owning property as farmers etc thus ghettoizing them into the financial trades (irony of ironies we did that!) not only was ok but still is IF we had the opportunity?

  • Botolph,

    Is “ghettoizing” the same exact thing as “preventing the public expression of non-Catholic religions”? The answer is quite obviously no. The most prominent example I had mind did not pertain to Jews, but rather to Muslims living in Spain. The Papacy insisted that Catholic rulers forbid the call to prayer and other public expressions of Islam in Christian lands, not for “public order”, which I presume John Courtney Murray would be ok with, but for the sake of souls.

    Distinctions and semantics are 90% of the debate here.

  • Bonchamps,

    I agree distinctions and semantics are indeed at least 90% of the debate here.

    My first comment concerning the pope’s insistance concerning the Moslems of reconquered Spain, is that he probably did not have to insist too hard. The Spanish and Portuguese Catholics had been repressed for centuries and, on the human level, it was payback time.

    You make an interesting point however. The pope insisted that Catholic rulers….. Are you interpreting a pope’s insistence, or even a ‘ruling’ to be Church teaching? [As you say distinctions and semantics are 90% of the debate]. You see I would maintain that what appeared to be ‘set policy etc’ based on tradition (notice the small “t” not the capital “T”) is the same as Magisterial teaching. They are not the same.

  • Botolph,

    I would think that a directive issued through one of the official councils of the Church, in this case the Council of Vienne, would count as Magisterial. Here is the entire paragraph, #25, followed by a link to the text:

    “It is an insult to the holy name and a disgrace to the Christian faith that in certain parts of the world subject to Christian princes where Saracens live, sometimes apart, sometimes intermingled with Christians, the Saracen priests commonly called Zabazala, in their temples or mosques, in which the Saracens meet to adore the infidel Mahomet, loudly invoke and extol his name each day at certain hours from a high place, in the hearing of both Christians and Saracens and there make public declarations in his honour. There is a place, moreover, where once was buried a certain Saracen whom other Saracens venerate as a saint. A great number of Saracens flock there quite openly from far and near. This brings disrepute on our faith and gives great scandal to the faithful. These practices cannot be tolerated any further without displeasing the divine majesty. We therefore, with the sacred council’s approval, strictly forbid such practices henceforth in Christian lands. We enjoin on catholic princes, one and all, who hold sovereignty over the said Saracens and in whose territory these practices occur, and we lay on them a pressing obligation under the divine judgment that, as true Catholics and zealous for the Christian faith, they give consideration to the disgrace heaped on both them and other Christians. They are to remove this offence altogether from their territories and take care that their subjects remove it, so that they may thereby attain the reward of eternal happiness. They are to forbid expressly the public invocation of the sacrilegious name of Mahomet. They shall also forbid anyone in their dominions to attempt in future the said pilgrimage or in any way give countenance to it. Those who presume to act otherwise are to be so chastised by the princes for their irreverence, that others may be deterred from such boldness.”

    That and DH occupy two different moral universes, do they not?

  • Bonchamps,

    I do not accept that the Ecumenical Council of Vienne and the Ecumenical Second Vatican Council are in two different moral universes. I do agree they are facing very different issues and problems and arrived at their positions accordingly.

    If you take another look at what the Council states (in your own quote above) you can ask yourself this question. Is the Council addressing a doctrinal, moral or disciplinary issue. Now it is absolutely true that the three are not totally independent, yet, like each Person of the Most Blessed Trinity they are distinct and have their own mission. I believe we both agree that the ‘statement’ is not doctrinal-no doctrine is in question (except of course the preservation of the Catholic Church and faith) But no specific doctrine is being debated etc.
    I will grant that there is a fine line of distinction between the moral and the disciplinary. In fact for many they seem to be the same, however they are not. Moral teaching fundamentally is the Apostolic Moral Tradition that has been passed down through the centuries etc, needs to be passed on, preserved, protected [for example the Church’s teaching on abortion, marriage, birth control]. The Council of Vienne is not passing on Apostolic Moral Tradition here. Instead, what we have is a very important part of Church life called “discipline’. Canon law is very much rooted in this. It has to do with how Catholic life is or ought to be lived out at that time. Unlike doctrine or moral teachings however, disciplines, canon law while organic nevertheless changes.

    As to the authority of ‘canons’ of Ecumenical Councils, they are of varying levels of authority and in fact some are not even accepted at all. I presume you kneel during the Canon of the Mass [Eucharistic Prayer], yet the canons of Nicea I call for the faithful to stand. There are canons from the Council of Constantinople I (381) that the Catholic Church refuses to accept-placing the Patriarch of Constantinople second in rank among the Patriarchs because he is the bishop of the New Rome while the pope is the Bishop of old Rome [notice nothing to do with Peter etc]

    Councils and all Church documents, like Sacred Scripture need to be exegeted Bonchamps. In a letter to Fr Feeney S.J. in the late 1940’s, the official communique stated that no one should interpret a Church teaching, statement etc except with the understanding of the Church.

  • “I do agree they are facing very different issues and problems and arrived at their positions accordingly.”

    Is that so? I don’t know how you can agree, when I would not hold that the issues they face are so different. They are not. The same issue is before both councils, at least in general if not in the specifics, and they came to two different conclusions.

    I never made the claim that it was a doctrinal statement. What I do claim, because it is quite simply true, is that what the Church called for at the council is in direct contradiction to what Vatican II calls for with respect to religious liberty. Now you can say that this is merely a “disciplinary” matter, but frankly I think that what Pope Leo XIII wrote was more aligned with a shift in Church discipline. Vatican II, as opposed to Pope Leo, distinct from Pope Leo, proclaims a fundamental human right, a God-given right. This goes beyond discipline. I do not say it extends all the way to dogma.

    I also don’t see how it is relevant to invoke disputed canons of ancient councils to question the authority of a canon of a council that is not in the least disputed by Catholics.

  • Bonchamps

    One very important point about the mediaeval practice is that the Church courts always claimed exclusive jurisdiction over cases of heresy and apostasy. The temporal courts could only punish those relaxed to the secular arm. In other words, the jurisdiction of the state over religious opinions was consistently denied.

    Throughout the Middle Ages, such cases were extremely rare. In the year 1222, Archbishop Stephen Langton held at Oxford a provincial council, where a deacon who had turned Jew for the love of a Jewess was relaxed and burned. That is the first instance in English history of someone being handed over to the secular arm and burnt. The next recorded case is the burning of Sawtry the Lollard in 1400, also relaxed by a provincial council as a relapsed heretic, having some years before abjured the same heresies before the bishop of Lincoln. He was a priest and his bishop did not even suspend him after his abjuration.

    Two executions in the 800 years, from St Augustine’s mission in 597 to the Statute De Hæretico Comburendo – I leave open the question of whether Sawtry was burned at common law or under that statute; the sources are unclear. Bracton who begins the series of English law reports, on the basis of the 1222 case, says it is the penalty for apostasy; he does not mention heresy.

    In Scotland, the first person burned for heresy was John Resby, an English Lollard, in 1407. He taught that no one not in a state of grace could exercise any authority, ecclesiastical or civil – Heady stuff. In 1433, Paul Craw or Crawer, [Pavel Kravař] a Bohemian physician and a Hussite, was burned.

    It is only when we come to the Reformation period, nearly a century later that we find a spate of burnings: Patrick Hamilton, a Lutheran, was burned in 1527; in 1517, at the age of 13, he had been appointed titular abbot of Fearn, from which he drew the revenues, but never visited. Henry Forrest was burned in 1533, David Straiton, excommunicated for resisting payment of teind in 1534, Thomas Forrest and Duncan Simson, also John Kyllour and John Beveridge, Dominicans and Jerome Russell, a Franciscan, all in 1539, The St John’s Toun Martyrs of 1543 were; Robert Lamb, William Anderson, James Hunter, James Raveleson, James Finalson and Helen Stirke. George Wishart, a disciple of Calvin and Zwingli, in 1546 and Walter Milne [alias Myln or Mill] in 1558.

    Again, the requirements of public order were very different in societies in which the ecclesiastical and civil orders were closely intertwined and where religious dissent went hand in hand with defiance of the established government. The French King, for example ruled by the grace of God as roi très-chrétien, anointed by the Church with the oil of Clovis and to attack the Church was to dispute his title.

  • Bonchamps,

    I thought you would get my point about the disciplines/canons of the Church not being universal, absolute etc I was wrong you did not pick up on that. Sorry. While I would say that no one is calling for a rejection of this particular disciplinary statement of the Council of Vienne, (therefore not in dispute) it is hardly being called to mind in any way to be revived, renewed etc. It simply was/is a time-bounded discipline.

    Tell me Bonchamps, how do these principles break with Catholic Church teaching?

    “The Sacred Council begins by proclaiming that God Himself has made known to the human race how people by serving Him can be saved and reach happiness in Christ. We believe that this one true religion exists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord entrusted the task of spreading it among all peoples……All are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and the Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it.

    The Sacred Council likewise proclaims that these obligations bind peoples’ consciences. Truth can impose itself on the human mind by the force of its own truth, which wins over the human mind by gentleness and power. So while the religious freedom which human beings demand in fulfilling their obligation to worship God has to do with freedom from coercion in civil society, it leaves intact the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral obligation of individuals and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ…..DH 1

    “The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that everyone should be immune from coercion by individuals, social groups, and every human power so that, within due limits, no men and women are forced to act against their convictions nor are any persons to be restrained from acting in accordance with their convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. The right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.

    It is in accordance with their dignity that all human beings, because they are persons, that is beings endowed with reason and free will, and therefore bearing personal responsibility, are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and to direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth. But human beings cannot satisfy this obligation in a way that is in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy both psychological freedom and immunity from eternal coercion. Therefore the right to religious freedom is based not on subjective attitude but on the very nature of the individual person. For this reason, the right to such imunity continues to exist even in those who do not live p to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it. The exercise of this right cannot be interfered with as long as the just requirements of public order are observed. DH2

  • immunity from eternal coercion

    I think you mean external?

  • c matt

    Yes, the ‘x” got dropped. The word is ‘external coercion”


  • immune from coercion by individuals, social groups, and every human power so that, within due limits, … nor are any persons to be restrained from acting in accordance with their convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others.

    Seems this would prohibit the banning of a public Saracen call to prayer as was done by the Council of Vienne.

  • c. matt

    A key phrase of DH is “within due limits”. This is speaking about objective law based on natural law: for example if a religion practiced human sacrifice, or Islamicist terrorist bombing etc.

    Given that, yes, DH would not allow or call for the silencing of the Islamic call to prayer-just as it would state categorically that Islamic countries cannot forbid Catholics practicing their faith etc

  • c. matt,

    You did not explicitly say so, however are you concerned about what seems to be a contradiction between two Ecumencial Councils?

  • Botolph,

    “I thought you would get my point about the disciplines/canons of the Church not being universal, absolute etc I was wrong you did not pick up on that. Sorry.”

    This really isn’t called for. I most certainly understand the general point. I did not argue, at any point, that canon 25 of the Council of Vienne was a binding dogmatic statement. However, I did think obvious that such a directive could only issue from a Church that manifestly did NOT share the view of religious liberty expressed in DH, namely that “the human person has a right to religious freedom.” The Saracens were human persons. The Church did not recognize their right to such a freedom.

  • It is also obvious that the Council of Vienne was NOT concerned with the “due limits” of public order, but rather sought to prohibit the public expression of Islam for entirely spiritual and cultural reasons. It is deemed an insult to God, a scandal, for this practice to continue. No explicit threat to public order is ever mentioned.

  • My problem with DH is that it proclaims as a right what the Church was only ever obliged to recognize as an expedient privilege. It elevates an arguable necessity, given the way the world had changed, into a positive virtue. I believe that goes “too far”, and, as I stated as clearly as I could, Leo XIII’s position represents the ideal point along that spectrum.

  • It is trite learning that Councils are not infallible in the reasons by which they are led, or on which they rely, in making their definition, nor in their legislation nor in their policies.

    As Bl John Henry Newman points out, “Nor is a Council infallible, even in the prefaces and introductions to its definitions. There are theologians of name, as Tournely and Amor, who contend that even those most instructive capitula passed in the Tridentine Council, from which the Canons with anathemas are drawn up, are not portions of the Church’s infallible teaching” and he notes that “in the Third Council, a passage of an heretical author was quoted in defence of the doctrine defined, under the belief he was Pope Julius, and narratives, not trustworthy, are introduced into the Seventh.”

    Following the 1870 decree on papal infallibility, the Swiss bishops declared, “”The Pope is not infallible as a man, or a theologian, or a priest, or a bishop, or a temporal prince, or a judge, or a legislator, or in his political views, or even in his government of the Church”; the same holds for an ecumenical council. What we have from Vienne is a piece of legislation, pure and simple.

  • Bonchamps,

    This did not come up on the agenda of the Council of Vienne, but the Church of that time did not have a major problem at all with human slavery. In fact, as Thomas Aquinas would argue, it a ‘good’ if and when comparing it to the execution of all prisoners etc. However, over time, thanks be to God, the Church began to recognize that slavery was an evil contrary to the human dignity of each and every person created in the image of God. There is something similar going on here. It is a development, not a contradiction or a break in the Moral Tradition of the Church.

    Does this make sense?

  • Botolph,

    In the sense that what you propose is coherent, yes, it “makes sense.” That does not mean I am obliged to agree with it. I disagree with the idea of “moral progress” and all of its Hegelian implications. History is not a process of God coming to understand himself, nor is it the process of the institution that God entrusted with the promulgation of the Gospel coming to understand itself – as has been implicitly and explicitly suggested by the post-conciliar popes, particularly Paul VI and JP II.

    What of slavery? Historically there were different kinds. I think the Christian attitude towards slavery was always practical and humane, as it was towards all social situations it encountered: it established definite moral rules and guidelines that people in positions of power and of subservience had to obey. It made the absolute best out of a situation that was brought about through both barbaric customs as well as the iron laws of scarcity and economic necessity. The abolition of slavery, and we can add serfdom as well, only became a widespread notion when technology had so improved the productivity of human labor that it became counterproductive to rely on masses of raw human labor power to produce goods.

    All of that said, the Church was far ahead of the historical curve in prohibiting the sort of chattel slavery that came to dominate in the early modern period. The Church prohibited the enslavement of indigenous peoples under threat of excommunication. It continued to allow the enslavement of those who were in a state of war with Christendom, such as the Muslim pirates that would take Christian ships and towns and enslave those whom they did not kill. Such was the norm in the world at the time.

    The conditions under which men live, change. The Church, in her wisdom, adapts to these changes. She did not continue to insist that Christian rulers could take Islamic aggressors as slaves, and I don’t believe she continued to insist that Muslim prayers be silenced. Vatican II’s pronouncements were not required for this. It was never necessary to declare that slavery is an absolute moral evil, nor was it necessary to declare, at least by implication, the prohibition of public displays of non-Catholic religions as moral evils. They are simply practices which no longer serve a useful and prudent purpose, and may therefore be set aside in favor of policies that are.

    So you see, I completely agree with you. These are, in the end, policies. It is not me, but Vatican II, that elevates the discourse beyond a mere policy dispute into an absolute moral discussion.

  • Bonchamps

    Vincent of St Lérins (died c 445) – he of the famous “Quod ubique, quod simper, quod ab omnibus – says in his Commonitórium Primum, “Thus even the dogma of the Christian religion must proceed from these laws. It progresses, solidifying with years, growing over time, deepening with age.” It is no great stretch to argue that the same holds true of the moral demands of the Gospel.

    You are right to point to the social conditions which led to tolerance of the practice of slavery (and you could equally have pointed to the question of usury) In societies where religion was central to social cohesion and to the legitimacy of the ruler, individual rights would tend to be marginalised. It is no accident that, as recently as 1745, in the Scottish Highlands, people were Catholic, Episcopalian or Presbyterian by clans. Even now, in Glasgow, the common term of abuse for Catholics is “Fenian B*****s” In an age when religious dissent was closely associated with political disloyalty, the claims of religious freedom were unlikely to be respected..

    This does not mean that the teaching of Dignitatis Humanae does not articulate the demands of the Gospel

  • There is quite a difference, MPS, between what a 5th century saint may have meant by the word “progress” and what people living in a post-Enlightenment, post-Jacobin, post-Bolshevik world may mean by that word.

  • Bonchamps,

    Actually I am pleased. You are developing what is known as a ‘historical consciousness’ for you wrote,
    “There is quite a difference between what a 5th century saint may have meant by the woird ‘progress’ and what people living in a post-enlightenment, post-Jacobin, post-Bolsehvik world may mean by the word”

    Now that’s progress ! 🙂 Of course now that same sense of differences due to historical context applies to everything-including the Ecumenical Council of Vienne and the Ecumenical Second Vatican Council.

    However, for a more recent witness, how about what Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote in his opus magnus “On the Development of Doctrine”?

  • I didn’t think you had a quality that could exceed your pedantry, but you have proven me wrong with your condescension.

    I have had a “historical consciousness” since I have been conscious.

    At no point before Vatican II did the Church ever imply or declare that her practices were at one point intrinsically evil. The pre-conciliar Pontiffs defended the legacy of the Church. They didn’t apologize for it. That’s the difference between “development” and rupture. One of them at least.

  • And your response is not sarcastic etc?

    Point is this. You do not like/ or even reject Vatican II. What you are doing is attempting to justify that stance. If that is the real issue then we can end this here, because this will go on endlessly. I accept Vatican II as both an authentic Ecumenical Council of the Church and authoritative for the faith of the Church. That acceptance is indeed an act of faith, freely made under the grace of the Spirit.

  • Botolph,

    There has been no sarcasm in my response. I have no need of it, or any other rhetorical aggression.

    You are right: I don’t like Vatican II. But I am not engaging in a pointless Vatican II-bash. The point of my post was to highlight a reasonable course between both the rigid reactionary position of some traditionalists and the Vatican II position on religious liberty.

  • Bonchamps

    Ok fair enough. We obviously do not agree on our approach to Vatican II, I both like andaccept it. However, let me say this to you-something I have said repeatedly in here. I do not subscribe in any shape or form to ‘the spirit of Vatican II’. Although a very amorphous phrase etc., there are those who use it (grant you not all) who actually have not simply misinterpreted VII but corrupted it to the point of destroying it. They have done great harm in the Church. They have given support to a supposed style of being Catholic in which one can pick and choose the doctrines etc one likes about Catholicism. At the same time they have so corrupted and betrayed VII that more traditional Catholics are ‘turned off’ or even ‘scadalized’ by what they believe is VII but is really the ‘spirit of VII”‘s interpretation.

    As to the Declaration on Religious Freedom, it needs to be placed in the context not only of the Catholic tradition but within Vatican II itself. For example, Vatican I and Vatican II cannot be divorced as frequently happens by both ideological sides. Vatican I dealt fundamentally with the ab intra of the Church, giving a solid foundation to an understanding of the Church in which the pope is over the whole Church without interference etc of governments etc and the bishop is over the diocese without interference of govt etc. However, the relationship of the Church ab extra-the relation of the Church with the external world was not described etc and as the Bishops entered into the first session of Vatican II it was understood by all that this relationship of the Church with the world outside it needed to be put forward.

    Therefore we have the four fundamental Constitutions: on Divine Revelation, on the Liturgy, on the Church and on the Church in the Modern World. These are the key to VII, everything else revolve around them. Of course they need to be read in continuity and not discontinuity with the Catholic tradition that preceded them. Like Scripture itself, anything quoted out of context etc will give a very different meaning than when it is read in context etc.

    Thus the Declaration (not a Constitution) on Religious Freedom is to be read in the context especially of Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes. It cannot be read or understood without them. It is rooted in the deep Thomistic contemplation found in Gaudium et Spes which has as its focus and base the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. If one is caught up in the Incarnation one begins to recognize that in a mysterious way, the Incarnate Son of God identified Himself with each and every person from the moment of conception until natural death. This does not mean they are “Christians” nor does it mean they are ‘automatically saved”. It does mean that The Incarnate Son has revealed the dignity of each and every human being, a dignity which is not fulfilled by merely giving or gaining certain rights, but that each person from the moment of conception is called to communion, to participate in the Life of the Blessed Trinity in and through the Paschal Mystery of Christ.

    It is only in this light, not some secularist view of man, that the religious freedom of all people can be seen-because it is in this freedom that they are obliged ultimately to seek the Way the Truth and the Life

  • Botolph,

    I do not share your assessment of Vatican II, though I certainly understand why conservative Catholics feel obliged to hold it. I will say upfront that I do agree with the basic idea that leftists and extreme liberals have run wild with statements from Vatican II. I can agree to the basic proposition that they go beyond perhaps what was intended.

    However, the dense, complicated rhetoric of Vatican II lends itself quite easily to misinterpretation. The fact that so many people have misunderstood what these documents supposedly mean is the first indication that they are riddled with flaws. Ambiguity can be the result of a genuine failure in clear communication; it can also be the result of deliberate design, the ultimate aim being to construct a document that can simultaneously uphold and deny certain controversial positions and ideas.
    You speak of the context of DH. I happen to know that it was authored by John Courtney Murray, that it was barely ratified by the council having met with stiff resistance from men such as Cardinal Ottaviani, and that Murray explicitly and repeatedly relied on Enlightenment thought and viewed it as a significant advance over Medieval thought on these questions. This was not the view of the pre-conciliar popes, as the bulls/encyclicals of Leo XII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, and so on amply demonstrate. It is quite obvious to me that there is a historical context that is just as if not more important than the context of the council itself; for over a century and a half the Papacy waged an unapologetic and unremitting war against ideals that Vatican II would – to put it nicely – adapt itself to or even positively declare. You may say that Vatican I & II somehow shared a unity of purpose, but this would require that you ignore a century of staunch and unapologetic encyclicals by some of the aforementioned popes that, again to put it lightly, in no way support the central themes of Vatican II. Religious liberty is only one of these fronts. Pius IX, remember, declared Papal infallibility in defiance of the entire world; Vatican I was cut short because invading armies caused him to flee into exile.
    I don’t even want to touch the idea that Christ united himself with every man through the Incarnation. That’s way off the topic and would take way too long to address. Suffice to say that I am familiar with the issues and controversies surrounding Vatican II, and that I take the positions that I do for definite reasons. It is difficult for me to regard the proposition that one must begin with continuity as a premise as anything other than an ideological assertion. Continuity is something that must be proven and demonstrated, not assumed at the outset. If you being by deciding that there is continuity, then you will quite naturally overlook everything and anything that could prove otherwise. In what moral universe is this an honest way to read?

  • Bonchamps,

    Ok but I would say the discontinuity is just as ideological a hermeneutic. Don’t you find it curious that the spirit of VII people begin with the very same premise as ‘ultratraditionalists’: a hermeneutic of discontinuity? Not to sound sarcastic but that makes strange bed fellows.

    VII needs to be read not simply in a hermeneutic of continuity but that the type of literature which it takes up is ‘exhortation’. It expresses the ideal toward which the Fathers of the Council desired the whole Church to move. What those (on both sides) who read the documents in discontinuity fail to recognize is that the documents very frequently state a very balanced approach to a subject in order to point the way to the future. Its manner of communication will say: a then on the otherhand b. Why? because both are needed. Catholic seldom means ‘either/or’ and very frequently means ‘both/and”. Reading the documents in discontinuity leads one to take a or b but not both together and in context.

    I too know that John Courtney Murray was greatly responsible for the Declaration on Freedom of Religion. I also know that it was the most debated of the documents. I know as well that Cardinal Ottaviani and Archbishop Lefebvre were not in favor of the final document. However, that is the history of all Conciliar documents down through the centuries. There has always been a minority against any one of the documents of Ecumenical Councils and or against the Councils as a whole. The problem comes with what that minority seeks to do when the majority have ratified the Council etc.

    I want to be clear here. You took up the conversation with me concerning DH. I am not sure if you are new to this blog or not. I can say that some very vigorous conversations and debates have taken place. I basically choose not to argue for the sake of arguing. Some like to do that, I find it a waste of time, although having been on a debating team in my youth.
    If on this and other subjects pertaining to VII you want to carry on a conversation etc about what this document means etc fine. If you are seeking better understanding, fine, I am up for it. However, if you want to just debate, that’s not for me, I find I have much better things to do with my time. Just let me know what you want to do and how you want to proceed or not proceed with me.

  • Botolph,

    “Don’t you find it curious that the spirit of VII people begin with the very same premise as ‘ultratraditionalists’: a hermeneutic of discontinuity?”

    Not really, not anymore odd than extreme reactionaries and Marxists beginning with the same premise of anti-capitalism. It’s the whole “beginning” part that I don’t like. I don’t mean to boast, but I feel it necessary to establish that I have read almost every relevant encyclical of the 19th and 20th centuries in addition to the documents of the council. My aim was to discover whether there was continuity or rupture. My conclusion is that it is not the least bit easy to determine what the situation is with respect to doctrine/dogma – I think only a much larger context can tell us in that case and I’ll leave it alone for the moment – but that it is rather obvious that there is a sharp rupture when it comes to overall attitude and orientation. From roughly the French Revolution to Vatican II, perhaps a few years earlier with the beginning of John 23’s reign, the Church was waging war with the hostile powers of the world. At Vatican II, the war was declared to be over, explicitly, by Paul VI himself in his closing address. It may not be a doctrinal rupture, but it is a significant break with the past all the same.

    “Catholic seldom means ‘either/or’ and very frequently means ‘both/and”.”

    Wisdom means knowing when it means one or the other.

    “You took up the conversation with me concerning DH.”

    My blog post mentions DH. You decided to comment, so, I decided to respond.

    “I am not sure if you are new to this blog or not.”

    I am not. I’ve been posting off-and-on for roughly four years.

    “However, if you want to just debate, that’s not for me, I find I have much better things to do with my time.”

    I respond to almost all posts that are addressed to me. I am willing and happy to share my thoughts on Church history and documents. It seems you really want me to see Vatican II the way you see it, though, and I don’t think that likely. So, its up to you. I doubt I’ll change your mind about Vatican II, but if you want to know why I think the way I do, by all means, ask away. I’d rather have a discussion than a debate. In fact I hate formal debates. Ego-driven nonsense.

  • ROFL Ok you have me. I didn’t pick up on the fact that you were the original author. With that in mind, I did in fact take up the response to your original post.

    You are correct. By the end of VII, the ‘war with the modern world’ came to an end from the Church’s point of view. It was not a ‘surrender” but a new tact, one attempting to find what is good, true etc in what the world is saying and then building on that. That is a decisively Thomist position. It is incarnational. There are those who accept VII etc yet believe that this approach (not the teaching) was too optimistic. That I believe is debatable. I too believe that many aspects which the Fathers of the Council built upon was a very optimistic (perhaps too optimistic) approach to ‘the modern world’, ‘with Islam’, and even other religions (yes there is in all religions the manifestation of the religious impulse however, if they are worshiping false gods they are worshiping false gods. I totally agree that the Church must enter into dialogue rather than wage war on all parties. However in taking up that dialogue we have to be realistic and honest recognizing that all ‘men’ are seriously flawed due to original sin.

    In terms of DH, I believe what it teaches, however, it was really ‘pushed’ by the American bishops who lived in post WWII America and everything was very much in the Church’s favor [as opposed to the laicism of France and Europe]. Now however, America has changed. We no longer live in that country in many ways. Now we live in a culture that is similar to what the Church has been experiencing in Europe for two centuries. I don’t believe the answer is to take up the ‘war’ again, but have a vigorous, virtuuous, holy response which is realistic and not simply idealistic

  • It’s one thing to build on what is good in the pre-revolutionary world. It is a different thing to make that attempt in the post-revolutionary world. I would not deny that the Church had to change her orientation to a certain extent, for she was totally overwhelmed by hostile powers. I maintain that Vatican II went too far – from necessity, to virtue.

    When St. Thomas picked up Aristotle, Aristotle had been dead for roughly 1500 years, and the world had hardly changed. When Vatican II baptized liberalism and humanism, and worst of all, egalitarianism, the liberals and the humanists and the egalitarians were still, and are still to this day, waging their war against the Church. No matter how much the hierarchy gives into their demands, still the world demands more, and more. It remains to be seen how much more will be given.

    As for other religions, again, don’t get me started. Do you want to know what I think was the real impetus behind off-the-rails ecumenism and syncretism? It was Rousseau’s overt threat to the Church, in the closing lines of his Social Contract: anyone who says “outside the Church, there is no salvation” ought to be driven from the state, unless the Church is the state. And since, of course, the Church was not the state or ever would be, well – you get the idea. The original, exclusive, and I believe authentic understanding of EENS was seen by the revolutionary world as one of the greatest obstacles to its supremacy. Rousseau held that no man could be civil and peaceful with those he believed were going to hell. The French Revolution and everything that followed developed this idea greatly, and it eventually infested the Church hierarchy as well. It didn’t affect the Papacy, however, until Vatican II. It didn’t become Church policy to basically twist EENS beyond all measure to the point of gibberish without actually renouncing it until Vatican II. And I believe it did so mostly under duress, though as I have said, they elevated what they once saw as a necessity under the gun into a positive virtue that they were happy to shout from the rooftops.

  • I realize my views aren’t popular on these topics. They’re just personal observations based on my studies, that’s all. I think the Church is suffering and I’m willing to suffer with it. I think its leadership is deeply disoriented and flawed, and I’m willing to accept it – critically, though.

  • Bonchamps,

    I have heard in the past those who believe that Vatican II basically took up the three-fold call of the French Revolution “Liberte, egalite, Fraternite: liberty, equality and fraternity” as the basis and hermeneutic by which one could understand VII. I can see that that would be a major concern for someone like Archbishop Lefebvre, born in France, and seeing the results of the revolution on the Church in France. Yet, the Church is more than France and the French Church. it simply does not make sense that a bishop from another nation, especially not from Europe, and there were many, would even have the French Revolution’s call on their radar screen. What this understanding of VII is is a hermeneutic, A political one at that. I do not believe that one can really come to know the Church or the Church’s decisions and teachings from a secular perspective, a political one at that.

    I understand the ‘fear’ involved on the part of those who see VII in that manner, but not the substance.

  • Bonchamps,

    I am not sure there has ever been a period of time in the Church’s history in which the leadership of the Church has not been deeply disoriented and flawed. As I keep telling my friends, remember it has taken the Church two thousand years to get to where we are today! We are all extremely slow learners, stiff necked, sluggard of heart!

    It is not on the leadership that we base our faith, but on the Holy Spirit continuing to maintain, guide and teach in the Church. The difference is this: the Holy Spirit works in and through the successors of Peter and the bishops in communion with the successors of Peter-not how matter how flawed and disoriented they are themselves. The Pope and those bishops in communion with Him are the apostolic college. There is no other. There is no other place to go.

  • Botolph,

    I can’t say I entirely agree. I think the 19th and early 20th century popes were quite strong and courageous. I think they were true and effective leaders, for the most part.

    On the other hand, in the past, popes have been criticized, publicly accused of heresy, driven out of Rome, etc. The post-Trent centuries gave us a very long succession of exemplary popes. But I am not afraid to say what I think ought to be said about the direction of the post Vat-II Church.

    Also, the fact is that the French Revolution changed the world. Jacobinism set the stage for Marxism and Masonic anti-clerical nationalism, i.e. Italy, Mexico, Portugal, etc.

  • Bonchamps,

    I was not limiting my comments about disoriented and flawed to the popes, pre or post VII popes. I do not share you view of the Pope VII popes, although Pope Paul VI has been roundly criticized from many quarters concerning how he allowed the post-VII Church get out of control. He apparently did not have the personal gifts and or skills needed for that aspect of his ministry. I certainly stand with him in his upholding of Catholic teaching concerning birth control although I myself am not sure that his presentation and arguments were the best.

    Blessed Pope John Paul II was an amazing man IMHO, my guess is that we disagree on him. He certainly had his faults, we all do. However, he was God’s gift to the Church in bringing her out of the chaos unleashed by those running with ‘the spirit of VII’. It is unfortunate that he did not allow the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated to the same extent as Pope Benedict did, but that is Monday morning quarterbacking. His calling for the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 was ‘inspired’ (not full meaning of that term). The assembled bishops gave the six principles by which VII was to be interpreted-principles the Church uses today. JPII’s weakness was that he was a macromanager/leader and not a micro-manager/leader. He did not bring the Curia under sufficient ‘oversight’, and with that certain bishops (only some not all) ‘got through the process’ were ordained etc and well history proves they were not the best etc. However, in his encyclicals, ppost-synodal exhortations, apostolic letters, Blessed John Paulgave us great guidance as we prepared for the turn of the millenium. The promulgation of the Code of Canon Law 1983 and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are not only great riches in their own right but sure and solid interpreters of VII as well.

    Pope Benedict was a much maligned figure by pseudo-progressives in the Church. I really I loved and cherished Benedict. He really firmed up the hermeneutic of continuity in interpreting the Council (there will be no more hesitancy etc in the Church about this) but also re set the whole of the Church based on Divine Revelation, the Word of God and the Liturgy of the Church (spirit of adoration and thanks).
    He was not up for the challenge of the intrigue within the Curia that was both savaging him and undermining his own petrine ministry. He had the courage to step down so that another more capable could finally set that house in order.

    I am generally favorable toward Pope Francis-no much maligned by more traditional sources He had stepped on some landmines in the first weeks of his petrine ministry but seemed to have learned from that. I am generally very favorable about the tact which he is taking up-however, number one, he is not without his faults, and secondly it is really too early to come down with a definitive verdict on him

    For the rest, Bonchamps, I would agree that the French Revolution certainly prepared the way for many other revolutions etc especially te Bolshevist one in Russia, however, I do not see the French Revolution having lasting effect. The Enlightenment, while related is not the same thing, and I do see the lasting effects of that. We are actually at a point in time that while it seems that the Enlightenment is just about at its apex I believe it is actually in its last gasps. We are entering a totally new era of history, one that cannot be easily described or understood, but it is already here in some form. That will be our next challenge.

  • Yes, on birth control I think Pius XI’s Casti Connubii was more to the point. As for JP II, I will leave it at yes, we disagree. There are aspects of his theology that are extremely troubling. However I am at least grateful that he allowed the formation of the FSSP, whose Latin Masses I usually attend. I have great respect for the intellect and learning of Joseph Ratzinger. I have virtually none for that of Francis. His statements on everything from morality to proselytizing to economics have been nothing but irritating and/or myopic. If ever there was a pope to stir my inner rad-trad to fury, it would be him.

    On John 23, Paul VI, and JP II, you may want to research the translated critical biographies of Fr. Luigi Villa. For starters.

  • Botolph and Bonchamps,
    Thank you for an interesting discussion. I am interested in your opinions regarding “The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita” and its effect, if any, on the current age.

  • Bonchamps

    To put VII in context, the church had been in turmoil for at least 60 years before the Council, possibly for a century.

    It was in 1904 that Maurice Blondel wrote, “With every day that passes, the conflict between tendencies that set Catholic against Catholic in every order–social, political, philosophical–is revealed as sharper and more general. One could almost say that there are now two quite incompatible “Catholic mentalities,” particularly in France. And that is manifestly abnormal, since there cannot be two Catholicisms.”

    We have only to consider the rival Catholic supporters of Action Française and Le Sillon, who fought each other in the streets, to see the truth of that at a political level, but with deep theological undertones (Both movements were ultimately condemned by the Holy See).

    Responding to a national survey in 1907, Blondel articulated his sense of the “present crisis”: “[U]nprecedented perhaps in depth and extent–for it is at the same time scientific, metaphysical, moral, social and political–[the crisis] is not a “dissolution” [for the spirit of faith does not die], nor even an “evolution” [for the spirit of faith does not change], it is a purification of the religious sense, and an integration of Catholic truth.”

    This is a view that was shared by the leading theologians of the 20th century: Brémond, the Oratorians Bouyer and Laberthonnière, the Dominicans, Chenu and Cardinal Congar and the Jesuits, Cardinal Lubac, Cardinal Daniélou, Maréchal and Mondésert.

    Blondel diagnosed the root of the crisis: “First, the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.” Hence, anything “that would hinder this spirit of domination, everything that would recall the role of this interior hearing (auditus interior) of which St. Thomas did not fear to speak, would be pitilessly blasted (foudroyé).”

    It was because of this that Cardinal Henri de Lubac said of Blondel that “he is the one who launched the decisive attack on the dualist theory that was destroying Christian thought.”

    The primary task of the Council was to heal this division and why I would venture to suggest that Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium were its most important achievements.

  • Slainte,

    I have not been ignoring you or your question. I just came back online. Now to your question.

    “Alta Vendita” is a genuine document arising in the 19th century from Masonic circles. It stated that there was a plan to infiltrate the Vatican and take it over. It was hailed by both Pope Pius IX and Leo XIII as genuine and they wanted it to be widely published to show the real danger of Masonry.

    Those are facts that are indisputable. However, with every true story there is a background, history etc. Up until 1870 a relatively large swath of land across the middle of Italy existed which was known as “the Papal States”. The pope was literally a ruler of a sizable portion of land and numbers of people. He had a standing army to defend it, etc. While the actual size of the lands swelled and shrunk according to the historical and political forces of the particular age, they remained in place from the Dark Ages until 1870.

    While the origins of the lands arises from actually many sources, basically as barbarian overlords came to peace with the Church during the Dark Ages they donated tracks of their lands to the popes in thanksgiving for both the Catholic Faith and peace finally achieved. Chief among these were the Lombards, a Germanic peoples who settled down the spine of Italy. A region of Italy is still named after them, Lombardy.

    Over time, what a legend rose which stated that it was the Roman Emperor Constantine who donated the land, thus it became known as Constantine’s Donation. it was a legend which had/has no basis in history. Constantine was generous with plots of land for churches etc but a Constantine would never have dreamed of giving away the unity of his Roman Empire, not even to the Church. However the legend grew and began to believed [this is very important to keep in mind for the specific topic]. In the 800’s a forged document came to be written supposedly a copy of the deed Constantine had given to Pope Saint Sylvester I (the pope at the time of Constantine). That became ‘proof’ of the right of the pope to have what was then known as the Papal States.

    Now there is a real issue at work here. If the pope was subject to any foreign power, which has happened at various points in history, how could he really be independent enough to minister as the successor of St Peter and not be some king’s stooge [See here the development of the distinction between Church and State-even if its form is ‘different’] The popes saw the defense of the papal states to be essential not only as keeping what had supposedly given them but also as the primary means for them to remain independent [You can catch the flavor of this in the Movie The Agony and the Ecstasy: the story of Pope Julius II, the warrior pope and Michelangelo and the painting of the Sistine Chapel]

    Now to the point Slainte. In the 1800’s there was a movement to reunite all of Italy and Sicily, While popular etc., it was led by Italian Masons who already as Masons had no love for the Church. The leader of the Italian unification movement was the Italian Mason, Garabaldi. The only thing finally in their way to Italian reunification were the Papal States. They waged war in every way they possibly could-including planning on infiltrating the Vatican-via the Curia. It was the Garabaldi forces who invaded Rome precisely was the First Vatican Council was in session in 1870. The Council disbanded and never ended until the very first act of the Second Vatican Council. Italy was reunited. The papal Palace and residence in Rome, the Quirinal Palace was taken over as the residence of the King of Italy (at the time) It is now the official residence and work place of the Italian President. On a hill overlooking the Vatican is a statue of an Italian revolutionary pointing a gun at the Vatican. It is the statue of Garibaldi, the masonic revolutionary.

    Although Pope Pius IX wanted the First Vatican Council to back his temporal role as well as his spiritual and to state that any statement he made was infallible, the Council wisely ‘staked’ out the real claim and power of the Church: faith and morals. Vatican I unified the Church and her mission ab intra (on the inside) [the relationship with the world ab extra still needed to be staked out-which happened in Vatican II] Neither Pius I nor Leo XIII nor any of the popes until Pope Pius XI agreed to the seizure of the Papal States, Rome or so much property in Rome which belonged to the Church. That would all be sorted out during the ministry of Pope Pius XI with Mussolini of all people. With Mussolini the Church was given a very great amount of money in payment for the lost lands property etc. The Vatican City State was established (thankfully) to ensure Papal independence of foreign powers [which would happen very soon with the German Nazi occupation of Rome]. With Pius XI and then Pius XII the Church was able to begin laying the groundwork of how best to ‘work with Italy and the wider world [I would especially point out Pope Pius XII radio addresses on the subject of the Church and State]

    So what of the Alta Vendita? The reason for wanting to infiltrate the Vatican were no longer pressing after 1870. As a group, the Masons do indeed remain inimical to the Church. That needs to be kept in mind. They are not “Protestant Knights of Columbus’. However, there are so many conspiracy theories about them that they give Dan Brown the novelist great material for his novels. Since 1870 the Nazis had plans to infiltrate the Vatican as well as the Soviet Union. Were there ever Masons in the Curia? I would be nuts to say there were not-see that is the nature of a secret organization-but enough to take over the Vatican and the Church? ROFL ! I am sure there were some fascist/nazi sympathizers in the Vatican during those terrible years. I am also sure there were communist spies in the Vatican as well-but again, enough to take over the Church?

    The bigger question is this. Would the Holy Spirit allow such a widespread apostasy of the Church so that popes, councils, bishops etc deliberately set out to subvert, substantially change [for example say: the Eucharist is not the Body and Blood of Christ] the teaching of the Church in faith and morals? There are those who fully expect the anti-christ to be a pope? Can that be? NO! Not unless the whole thing is one big lie/hoax. See Slainte, people really do not think their positions, their conspiracy theories through. If what they say is true then the Holy Spirit is not guiding the Church, Christ is not faithful to His promise, is not the Son of God, and frankly then, there is no god. I believe it was Cardinal Newman who said, take one strand of the truth of the Church out and the whole thing falls to pieces (this is what Pope Francis was referring to in an interview but it was not communicated well)

    In the meantime, and I will end with this. Napoleon Bonaparte marched into Notre Dame in Paris and announced to the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris that he would take over the Church in a month. Now the previous archbishop of Paris had apostasized and went over with the revolutionaries. Knowing this full well the Cardinal Archbishop laughed in Napoleon’s face and said. “Your excellency, if the popes and bishops of the Church have not done this in 1800 years you are not going to do it in a month!” Don’t get caught up with a sense that Christ Jesus is not Lord and Head of His Church. He is. And HIs Promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church built on Peter is very real and true.

  • Thank you Botolph for explaining the historical context of the document regarding the Alta Vendita. Freemasonry is often discounted as the stuff of conspiracy theories, yet not one but several popes took its promises very seriously including Pope Leo XIII who urged that the mask of freemasonry should be ripped off. It is not just the goals but the ideas of masonry that was of concern to the popes.
    The French Revolution is generally understood to have been a masonic enterprise which directly targeted the Church, causing blood to run in the streets, and eventually resulted in the insinstallation of the goddess of reason on the high altar of Notre Dame. From this revolution came the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen” of August 26, 1789 which encompassed many principles we would associate with masonry and the Enlightenment.
    Isn’t “religious liberty’ fundamentally a masonic principle, and if so, how does Catholicism and the Council at VII reconcile this with the traditional faith and the warnings of several popes?

  • Slainte,

    Botolph already established what he calls – and I would concur – the “indisputable facts.” The document is a real thing, popes recognized it as a real thing, and so it would be wise to take it seriously. Between MPS and Botolph, you have already read a tome, so I will try to make my own remarks relatively short.

    Where I differ with Botolph is here: the Masonic conspiracy did not end in 1870, the documents of the Carbonari, that is, Italian Freemasonry, did not limit their intentions to the overthrow of the Papal States, that it was not simply their desire to crack the temporal power of the Papacy, but to transform the Church into a Unitarian clearing house for all religions. Abolishing the Papal States didn’t abolish the Papacy, after all. It was still there, stubborn as ever, insisting on the exclusivity of the one true faith. Completely unacceptable to the powers and principalities.

    Botolph asks if the Holy Spirit would allow the Church to be consumed by a Masonic conspiracy. My answer would be to read about what God allowed to happen to the Jews in the Old Testament. Yes, I do believe God could, would, and perhaps has allowed the Church to be viciously scourged by the hostile forces of the world for a number of reasons.

    What I can’t say is whether or not the possibility of Masonic popes = loss of office = sedevacantism = the whole thing is over and is either a lie, or, the end times are immanent and we’ll be seeing Enoch and Elijah. There are sedes who believe they ARE Enoch and Elijah, and I’ve met some of them. It is the ONLY position a sede can take. The end is here and now. Otherwise Botolph would be right; you would have to conclude that the Church is a false institution.

    I think it more likely that the hierarchy is proclaiming bold and strange new doctrines that have not been formally defined as heresies, though they could well be and certainly have the odor of them. I think this ambiguous state of affairs does not easily lend itself to simple and definite conclusions, as so many on both sides of the question would have it. Anti-sedes make a lot of presumptions about what God would and wouldn’t do and what His promises mean and don’t mean; the sedes themselves make a lot of presumptions about what heresy is, whether it applies, what it means about loss of office, etc. All of this presumption, I seek to avoid. I don’t know if we are in the last days, but it seems obvious to me that we are in a time of chastisement, and that we have many wolves posing as shepherds.

    However, if you want some interesting facts, I recommend the critical biographies of John 23, Paul VI and JP II by Fr. Luigi Villa. It seems almost certain that John 23 was a Freemason. At the very least, it is a fact that he was admired by Freemasons.

  • Slainte,

    If as you say that the French Revolution was a masonic enterprise and if as you say that freedom of religion is a masonic principle [I would give a qualitative agreement with the first statement and a negative assessment of the second] how is it that the Catholic Church was persecuted in the French revolution?

    Slainte, we have spoken over a great deal of time. Just step back and think for a second. Is it not in the least a bit suspicious that everything being said against Vatican II etc is related back to the French Revolution as if the Church were merely just one more sociological given which can only run according to socio-political forces. The very fact that secular political terms such as ‘left’/’right’ and ‘liberal/conservative’ are used by those on both sides who read Vatican II as a break in the tradition should give you pause at least.

    Christ has established the new and eternal Covenant in His Blood and promised to be with the Church until the end of the world. He has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church built on Peter. He promised His Spirit to continue to remind the Church of all that Christ has revealed. As terrible and nasty as the French revolution was and as problematic to say the least that the Masons were and still remain-do you really think Christ would abandon His Church, break His faithfulness to His Bride [Israel was not the Bride], and allow revolutionaries and a secret society take His Church away from Him? That Church either remains the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church or everything we confess in the Creed is rubbish. It is that clear, that important!

  • Bonchamps,

    I actually feel very badly that your own spiritual journey has taken you to this point. I am not being sarcastic nor am I giving you ‘false pity’ [just want to make this perfectly clear] I genuinely am saddened by what you are saying. I feel in a situation as if we were two astronauts and that the tether line you are attached to is fraying and you are drifting more and more into deep space. I want to reach out to you brother, I really do.

    I obviously do not agree with much that you wrote. Let me say this. Ancient Israel and the Church are in two very different eras of Salvation History, established by two very distinct and different Covenants, mediated by two very different Mediators. Christ established a new and eternal Covenant in His Blood, establishing the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as its center and founding that Covenant Community, the Church on the Apostolic College, headed by Peter. We are not looking for a newer covenant, nor another Church etc. Now I can say outright that there has never been a golden age of the Church-that is perhaps the oldest legend, myth even heresy. If anyone wants to dispute this take a close look at Acts or any of the Letters of Paul, or even the seven Letters found at the beginning of the Book of Revelations. The Church has been attacked on the outside by religious and political forces seeking to either exterminate her or control her. The Church has been attacked on the inside by two [not just one] enemies: heresy (the stubborn refusal to accept in faith/teach what the Catholic Church teaches: the great sin against Truth) and schism (the great sin against charity). Sadly with almost every Ecumenical Council of the Church there has been a minority who have rejected what the Church taught or refused to go in the direction the Church was taking-and went there own way. Some into schism others into both schism and heresy. And where is the Church? The Church is that community that remains with Peter and those bishops in communion with him. It is that Church that is One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic and frankly there is no other (although other churches share in a great deal of this they do not share in its fullness).

    There can be no room for nor reason for either presumption or triumphalism among Catholics. To be Catholic is far more than accepting x amount of teachings as true [athough that indeed is important] It is to answer the call of Christ daily to be a disciple in a community of disciples, growing stronger in being witnesses before the world. It means answering the call of Christ to an ongoing and never ending lifelong conversion of life in Christ’s call to us to be holy. It means to grow more and more in communion with the Church in faith, in the sacramental life and in the unity of community under and with the bishops and pope. There is no room for boasting since none of us has ‘arrived” in the Kingdom. I could go on but will stop here.

    However I need to make one more point. Your reading source from Italy states Pope John XXIII was a mason. In fact that would mean John XXIII did not believe in and consciously rejected the Blessed Trinity, the Divinity of Christ salvation in and through His Paschal Mystery etc (I could go on). Yet in a few months time he will be canonized a saint. Every canonization is an act of papal infallibility, declaring without equivocation that the blessed is living in the Beatific Vision etc. So what is about to take place is an absolutely guaranteed declaration of the most solemn teaching of a pope as defined by Vatican I that an apostate rebel is a saint-according to what your source says and you repeated. Do you realize again what this means? If this actually were true the whole thing-the whole thing=and not just for what you are fighting for is absolute rubbish-can you see that?

  • Botolph,
    I am not questioning the holiness of the Church, the integrity or legitimacy of the popes, or that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church and will ensure that the gates of hell will not prevail against her. I affirm and believe all of the foregoing. to be true. I reject sedevacantism as incompatible with the faith and an insult to Truth I do, however, seek to understand how the Church has been attacked historically; the methodologies and ideologies utilized, and whether the same is ongoing today.
    I tend to agree with Bonchamps that God will permit incursions to occur, yet I also agree with Michael Paterson-Seymour that the Church cannot err in matters of faith because of her saving faith, but that she can hold erroneous positions in matters unrelated to the faith, which she eventually will purge and spit out. (MPS please correct me if I have mis-stated your view).

    Do you view “religious liberty” as a matter of “faith” which is infallible or is it a principle which serves some other useful function?

  • Botolph,

    You ask if I realize what it means, if John 23 were in fact a Freemason. I can only reply that I am grateful that I will never know if he was. As for his canonization, believe me, that’s the least of it. It’s the impending canonization of JP II that has many traditionalists on the verge of declaring themselves sedevacantists.

    But if it were true, it would not necessarily make the whole thing rubbish. As I said, the other option is that the end times are here and now, that we are actually living in the Apocalypse.

    I can’t unknow what I know. But I can take comfort in the fact that I don’t know enough to have a definite idea of what the situation really is, nor can I. If I were really convinced of the sedevacantist/end-times narrative, I wouldn’t be getting ready to head out to an approved Latin Mass performed by the Norbertines. I see possibilities and probabilities, that is all. They weigh on me, but they haven’t crushed me.

  • Bonchamps,

    Then my brother in Christ, While we differ over many issue I offer you my hand in communion. I do not believe we are living in the End Times etc. I am not sure how best to proceed in conversation with you but I will not do anything to ‘break’ the communion we still share together.

  • Slainte,

    I think DHs position on religious liberty scandalizes the Church with its implications, but I don’t think it was heretical.

  • Slainte,

    The Church can and has held all sorts of erroneous things over the centuries that are not matter of faith and morals. If anything the Church in more recent years has been more open to admitting this. These are policies, presumptions, contemporary world-views and assumptions (for example the Greek Ptolemaic world view that the sun revolves around the earth). Over time these needed to be and were indeed purged, the gold and silver separated from the alloys-and still is today.

    No new (key word here) ‘doctrine’ or dogma was proclaimed in The Declaration on Human Freedom or the whole of the Second Vatican Council for that matter. However, just because no new doctrine etc was proclaimed does not mean it can be reduced to non-importance etc. In DH [Dignitatis Humanae: Declaration on Religious Freedom] the doctrinal principles are set out in the first two ‘paragraphs’ [1 and 2], in turn they are based on The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes] which states “The mystery of man becomes clear only in the mystery of the incarnate Word….For the Son of God by His Incarnation did in a fashion unite Himself with every man.” [Gaudium et Spes 22]

    It is in this light coming from the Face of the Incarnate Word of God in which we begin to see the human dignity of each and every person from the moment of conception until natural death. That is the doctrinal foundation etc of GS [Gaudium et Spes] an DH. Putting it simply, the rest of the document is that doctrine applied in various areas of the question of religious freedom.

    The whole of Vatican II was a profound conversion of the Church to the further and deeper implications of the Mystery of the Incarnation and to the truth that the Church as communion is the sacrament of salvation for the world. Jesus Christ is the Light of the Nations and the Church is the means by which that light reaches the nations of the world for the sake of their salvation.

    I see “religious freedom’ as a principle that arises from a deep and penetrating contemplation of the Incarnation of Christ Jesus and what that means in terms of each person’s dignity.

  • Botolph,

    I don’t intend on spending a great deal of time discussing the various “ologies” of the Church – ecclesiology, theology, eschatology, soteriology, and so on. My area of study and expertise is politics. So 90% of future posts will be on topics that I think we can all agree on, as a traditionalist who doesn’t hate America.
    However, if those kinds of discussions interest you, I will always be happy to oblige. I don’t know if we are in the end-times or not. We could be. What I do know is that I need the Mass. I can’t let theories about what may be keep me from it.

  • Botolph and Bonchamps,
    Thank you for your perspectives.
    As France has often been the epicenter of tumultuos events in Church history, I will defer to your responding to MPS’ earlier comment regarding the state of the Church in France pre-Vatican II.
    By the way Botolph, every time I begin to write a comment to you, I pause for just a moment fearful that I might give you a heart attack! : ) Thanks for being a good sport and responding so generously. : )

  • Botolph

    On the question of the Temporal Power, I would only note that, from the Congress of Vienna in 1815, so far from preserving the independence of the Pope, it did much to compromise it, for subversion, rebellion and sheer anarchy in his dominions made him wholly dependent on French or Austrian troops for his protection.

    “For twenty years Napoleon III had been the true sovereign of Rome, where he had many friends and relations…. Without him the temporal power would never have been reconstituted [after the Roman Republic of 1849 under Giuseppe Mazzini], nor, being reconstituted, would have endured.” (Raffaele de Cesare)

    For centuries, the Papal States had involved the Holy See in questionable alliances, during the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines and when the Habsburg-Valois rivalry was fought out in Italy.

    All in all, a very mixed blessing and I cannot but feel a certain sympathy for the Abbé Arduini, when he called the Temporal Power, “an historical lie, a political imposture, and a religious immorality.”

  • Slainte,

    LOL Nah I have a strong heart. However, this might give you a little insight into who I am, or rather what I am like. I took a religious personality test years ago. THe test asked certain questions, how you would respond etc to certain issues etc. There were many biblical personalities such as David, Peter, John, Paul. I came out a perfect Paul-minus the saint part of course. This is not a theological boast etc I can pick up Paul’s Letters etc and know what he is getting at very quickly etc. If you have read Paul you know he could be feisty, pointed in his arguments and sometimes well even crude (I don’t go there thanks be to God).

    Of course I recently took a similar test based on Star Wars personalities and I came out a perfect Yoda ROFL Now what does that tell you lol?

  • Slainté wrote, “As France has often been the epicentre of tumultuous events in Church history …”

    There is an old adage, “The Church is governed from Rome, but does her thinking in France.”

  • I suspect Botolph that you just might be an abbe or a pere or a padre or a frere… : )

  • MPS writes, There is an old adage, “The Church is governed from Rome, but does her thinking in France.”
    But her Heart, my dear MPS, is in Ireland and within the Irish people wherever they may be in the world. : )

  • MPS,

    Thank you for that further clarification. I was attempting to catch the kernel of truth at the center of the Papal States etc. I would concur with your evaluation on the necessary compromises etc that the temporal power imposed on the papacy. While the scene is from a movie, it correlates with reality: I can still see Pope Julius II in all his soldier/knight garb sloping around in the mud amid the carnage of the battles in which he was engaged with the papal armies

    I believe that 1870 was a complete blessing for the Church. At one and the same time She was stripped of temporal concerns (Papal States) with which She had no mission nor business Yet Vatican I staked out her real claim: the realm of doctrine and moral teaching. In the process the papacy went from rather mediocre successors of Peter to-beginning with Pius IX and on, some very great spiritual leaders, even saints: St Pius X, Blessed John XXIII Blessed John Paul II (and I believe soon: Pius XII) (I know some will dispute the latter ones but I definitely include them)

  • Slainte

    Ahhhh the mysteries of the internet lol

  • The mysteries of the Internet are not always so mysterious.
    I really am laughing out loud! : )

  • you are funny lol

  • Botolph wrote, “In the process the papacy went from rather mediocre successors of Peter to-beginning with Pius IX and on, some very great spiritual leaders, even saints.”

    The change has been truly remarkable. From Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Leo XIII, who was elected in 1878, we had a virtually unbroken succession of popes, who had risen through the ranks of the Vatican bureaucracy and who were, by habit, taste and training, administrators.

    It is not unfair to describe the result as one of assiduous mediocrity. Even in Catholic countries, they had the same impact and the same popular appeal, as the average Secretary-General of the United Nations or President of the World Bank. Pio Nono was popular because he was pitied.

    Thirty popes and not a Leo or a Gregory, a Hildebrand or an Innocent III amongst them; the very suggestion seems absurd. Benedict XIV (Prospero Lambertini) can fairly be ranked with Innocent IV as a canonist and with Leo X and Clement VII for his learning and he appears as a giant in that age of pygmies.

    Meanwhile, the Church was riven by the Thirty Years War, the Quietist controversy, the Jansenist heresy, the Gallican controversy, Josephism, the suppression of the Jesuits, the French Revolution and its aftermath, and the Risorgimento, in none of which can the Holy See be said to have distinguished itself.

Remembering Bastille Day

Wednesday, July 14, AD 2010

Today is Bastille Day, typically associated with the start of the French Revolution. In honor of that blessed event, I offer up this classic piece by John Zmirak:

Remember when the L.A. riots spun out of control, and engulfed the whole United States? The key moment was no doubt when police and Army commanders took fright and changed sides, throwing their support to the Committee for Public Safety led by Tom Hayden, along with Noam Chomsky, Barbara Boxer, Michael Moore, and Edward Said. After Hayden’s fall and execution, his successor, Marion Barry, insisted that President Bush and his wife Barbara be tried for treason. Their executions shocked the world but sparked wild celebrations in the capital, as the First Couple’s severed heads danced on poles in daylong parades. A crack whore was duly enshrined in the National Cathedral as the Goddess of Reason.

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0 Responses to Remembering Bastille Day

  • They have a half-decent natonal anthem. ‘Nuff said.

  • Really interesting article. Thanks for the link.

  • Irving Babbitt divided the world of political philosophy into those who were followers of Edmund Burke and those who were followers of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The contrast between the American and French Revolution beautifully encapsulates this dichotomy. The French Revolution was one of the most disastrous and horrible events in the history of the world, so kudos to Zmirak.

  • Thus beginning the tradition of starting a new French Republic every couple of decades, which has continued down unto the present day…

  • “Blessed Solomon Leclercq, 1745-1792
    “Feast day: September 2

    “Blessed Brother Solomon Leclerq was beatified on October 17, 1926. Born in 1745, he lived in France, during a time of revolution. The common people rose up against the kings of France, and established a more democratic form of government. As part of this revolution, the new leaders made times difficult for the official religion, Christianity. All Christian organizations became illegal. The Christian Brothers and their work were almost totally dismantled. Bro. Solomon was among these Brothers. He joined the Brothers in 1767, was a devoted teacher and skilled financial manager. These Brothers refused to swear loyalty to this new government. They had to live in secrecy. In 1792, he was arrested by the government, imprisoned with several other church leaders, and, in 1727 (sic), executed. (sic) He, and his prison companions were martyred about a month later. (sic)”

    I edited out some of the PC lies, but . . . left some in for your edification. Plus, someone should have proof read the copy.

    See how they gloss over tyranny, thousands of drumhead executions. The quote is from a Christian Brothers high school site. Note: the author doesn’t state that the brothers’ vocations were to educate poor boys, who would not be educated after 1792. The official religion was Catholicism, not “Christianity.” Sound familiar?

  • My favorite rendition of the French national anthem:

    A post about my favorite Frenchman:

  • Great movie: Casablanca.

    Ach! “Die Wacht am Rhein.”

    That was just about all they could do at the time: sing and weep.

    Lafayette, nous voila (I think)! “Lafayette, we are here!” Spoken by one of Pershing’s staff (I think at lafayette’s tomb) in 1917. And 1944. America doesn’t owe them anything.

  • Thus beginning the tradition of starting a new French Republic every couple of decades, which has continued down unto the present day…

    Constitutional government in France has, since 1860, been interrupted only by German invasion and occupation (in 1870-71 and 1940-46).

  • Constitutional government in France has, since 1860, been interrupted only by German invasion and occupation (in 1870-71 and 1940-46).

    I would consider the May 1958 crisis, if not technically an interruption of constitutional government, then at least close enough for purposes of the witticism.

  • The 1968 Riots are another potential disruption of civil government.

    They rioted for the right to be over-payed government workers.

  • Thanks for the post! My favorite version of the French anthem is the royalist parody, sung by the heroic Catholic rebels of the Vendee:

    Here’s the French text and an English translation (reproduced, with sheet music in my “The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey and Song”:


    Allons armées catholiques
    Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
    Contre nous de la république
    L’étendard sanglant est levé (repeat)
    Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes
    Les cris impurs des scélérats ?
    Qui viennent jusque dans nos bras
    Prendre nos filles, nos femmes !

    Refrain: Aux armes vendéens ! Formez vos bataillons ! Marchez, marchez, Le sang des bleus Rougira nos sillons !

    II Quoi des infâmes hérétiques
    Feraient la loi dans nos foyers?
    Quoi des muscardins de boutiques
    Nous écraseraient sous leurs pieds? (Repeat)
    Et le Rodrigue abominable
    Infâme suppôt du démon
    S’installerait en la maison
    De notre Jésus adorable


    III Tremblez pervers et vous timides,
    La bourrée des deux partis.
    Tremblez, vos intrigues perfides
    Vont enfin recevoir leur prix. (Repeat)
    Tout est levé pour vous combattre
    De Saint Jean d’Monts à Beaupréau,
    D’Angers à la ville d’Airvault,
    Nos gars ne veulent que se battre.


    IV Chrétiens, vrais fils de l’Eglise,
    Séparez de vos ennemis
    La faiblesse à la peur soumise
    Que verrez en pays conquis. (Repeat)
    Mais ces citoyens sanguinaires
    Mais les adhérents de Camus
    Ces prêtres jureurs et intrus
    Cause de toutes nos misères.


    Ô sainte Vierge Marie
    Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs!
    Contre une sequelle ennemie
    Combats avec tes zélateurs! (Repeat)
    A vos étendards la victoire
    Est promise assurément.
    Que le régicide expirant
    Voie ton triomphe et notre gloire!


    Translation by Charles A. Coulombe

    I Let us go, Catholic armies the day of glory has arrived! Against us, the Republic Has raised the bloody banner. (Repeat) Do you hear in our countryside the impure cries of the wretches? Who come—unless our arms prevent them— To take our daughters, our wives!

    Refrain To arms, Vendeeans! Form your battalions! March, march, The blood of the blues [revolutionaries] Will redden our furrows!

    II What of the infamous heretics Who would make the law in our homes? What of the mercenary cowards Who would crush us under their feet? (Repeat) And abominable Rodrigue [Antoine Rodrigue, a local bishop who defied papal authority to cooperate with the Revolution] Infamous henchman of the demon Who would settle in the house Of our adorable Jesus?


    III Tremble you perverse and timid, Before the bonfires of the adversaries. Tremble, your perfidious intrigues shall finally receive their due. (Repeat) All are raised to fight you From Saint Jean d’Monts to Beaupréau, From Angers to the town of Airvault, Our lads want to only fight.


    IV Christians, true sons of the Church, Reject your enemies and The weakness and the servile fear Which you see in a conquered country. (Repeat) But these bloody “citizens,” These allies of Camus, [Armand-Gaston Camus, Secretary of the Revolutionary Convention, who led in the move to seize Church property and execute the king.] These treasonous and imposed priests [This refers to the “Constitutional” priests who had sworn loyalty to the government over the pope, and were rewarded with the parishes of priests who refused; the latter were considered heroes.] Are the cause of all our miseries.


    O Blessed Virgin Mary,
    Lead and support our avenging arms!
    Against an enemy gang,
    fight alongside your zealous warriors! (Repeat)
    To your standards
    is promised certain victory.
    The regicides’ death
    Shall be your triumph and our glory!