PopeWatch: Liberation Theology and the Smoke of Satan

Friday, May 8, AD 2015

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

In this regard, beloved Brothers, it is worth remembering that last August the Instruction Libertatis Nuntius on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith celebrated its 25th anniversary. It stressed the danger that is entailed in an a-critical acceptance on the part of certain theologians of theses and methodologies that derive from Marxism. Its more or less visible consequences consisting of rebellion, division, dissent, offence, and anarchy make themselves felt, creating in your diocesan communities great suffering and a serious loss of vitality. I implore all those who in some way have felt attracted, involved and deeply touched by certain deceptive principles of Liberation Theology to consider once again the above-mentioned Instruction, perceiving the kind light with which it is proffered. I remind everyone that “”the supreme rule of her [the Church’s] faith’ derives from the unity which the Spirit has created between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church in a reciprocity which means that none of the three can survive without the others” (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, n. 55); and that in the context of Church bodies and communities, forgiveness offered and received in the name of and out of love for the Most Blessed Trinity, whom we worship in our hearts, puts an end to the suffering of our beloved Church, a pilgrim in the Lands of the Holy Cross.

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, in union with Christ the Virgin Mary, so deeply loved and venerated in your dioceses and the whole of Brazil, precedes us and guides us. In her we find pure and undefiled the true essence of the Church and thus, through her, we learn to know and love the mystery of the Church which lives in history. We feel profoundly part of her, we become in our turn “ecclesial souls” learning to resist that “inner secularization” which is threatening the Church and her teaching.

Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Brazilian Bishops, December 5, 2009

 

 

 

 

Whenever PopeWatch thinks of Liberation Theology these days, the song Springtime for Hitler from The Producers runs through his mind.  (If only Liberation Theology, as it should be, were an absurd song in a musical comedy!)  It certainly seems like springtime for this Marxism, barely in disguise, at least judging from stories like this:

The Vatican’s rehabilitation of liberation theology is continuing under Pope Francis with the movement’s founder appearing at an official Vatican event next week talking about “a poor church for the poor.”

Peruvian theologian the Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez will be one of the main speakers at a gathering of the Vatican’s charity arm, Caritas Internationalis, and will appear at an official Vatican press conference launching the assembly Tuesday.

Go here to read the rest.  John Zmirak at The Stream reminds us of just how fundamentally anti-Christian Libertation Theology is:

 

We learned this week from Mihai Pacepa, a former Communist spymaster, that Liberation Theology was at least in part the creation of Soviet espionage agents, who saw the Catholic peasants of Latin America as vulnerable to Marxist recruitment through gullible, idealistic or power-hungry clergy. As Pecepa recalls,

[I]n 1968 the KGB-created Christian Peace Conference, supported by the world-wide World Peace Council, was able to maneuver a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a Conference of Latin American Bishops at Medellin, Colombia. The Conference’s official task was to ameliorate poverty. Its undeclared goal was to recognize a new religious movement encouraging the poor to rebel against the “institutionalized violence of poverty,” and to recommend the new movement to the World Council of Churches for official approval.

The Medellin Conference achieved both goals. It also bought the KGB-born name “Liberation Theology.”

In subsequent years, hundreds of priests, nuns, and lay workers used their positions of influence over ordinary people to instruct them in a new, revolutionary reading of the Gospel. When the Marxist Sandinistas came to power in Nicaragua, Liberation Theology priests worked closely with the government, over the objections of Pope John Paul II.

John Allen offers a thoughtful analysis of the accuracy of Pecepa’s claim, which The Stream’s David Mills discusses here. Steve Skojec analyzes the relevant church documents, and then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s take on Liberation Theology, here.

What’s most intriguing in Allen’s account is the counter-theory, current among some Catholics in Latin America who resent the competition of Pentecostal missionaries in countries that were for centuries a legal Catholic monopoly: Even as the Soviets were seeding Latin American Catholics with Liberation Theology, the Reagan administration was fighting back by fostering Pentecostal churches there — to build up solidly anti-Communist Protestants. Now I’d never heard that conspiracy theory before, but if it were true, all I could say as a Catholic is, “Thank God for the Gipper!”

Whatever problems one might have with Pentecostalism, it is genuinely Christian, which Liberation Theology isn’t. It’s scarcely theology. And it doesn’t liberate. In Latin America, it served or serves as the pious fig-leaf for nasty dictatorships like the Sandinistas’ in Nicaragua, and the Chavistas’ in Venezuela. Its watered-down American version — popular among leftists who still claim to be Catholic — offers political cover for pro-abortion, anti-marriage lawmakers, who hope they can buy back their souls by dispensing some extra food stamps and reducing their carbon footprints.

Much worse than Liberation Theology’s worldly effects are the spiritual poisons it trades in: toxic envy, gut-gnawing resentment, a craving for the chance to mete out violence, a scorn for thrift and honest work and an acid cynicism that reduces every human relationship to a swap of money or power. All this in the name of Jesus.

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22 Responses to PopeWatch: Liberation Theology and the Smoke of Satan

  • Thank you for your courageous persistence in playing shepherd for today’s naïve and vulnerable sheep.

    I am praying that “Liberation theology” does resurrect as “pastoral care,” “mercy,” or as the coming “global climate change agenda” converted into “stewardship.”

    Was there ever an evil that wasn’t first painted with a golden halo?

  • That should have been “doesn’t resurrect.” Once again the demons control my keyboard….

  • I admit, all I’ve ever heard about Liberation Theology comes from others talking about it, and reading Wikipedia. So, as I understand it…..a problem many people are saying they have with Liberation Theology is that its proponents took what could be considered good ideas (NOT letting dictators get away with suppression and hurting the poor because they were Catholic, and trying to improve this world as much as we can, even while focusing our efforts and hearts on the world to come and acknowledging our inability to create paradise on our own)…..and took it into a direction of promoting total rebellion, including against Church teaching on faith and morals?

  • The problem with Liberation Theology is that it is a complete lie. It does not lead to liberation and it has nothing to with the study of God. It is warmed over Marxism with a patina of Christianity that has been seized upon by Leftist clerics as an excuse for espousing political platforms of envy, hate, massive violence and an all-powerful State. It has as much to do with Christ as the singing strumpet who goes by the name Madonna has to do with the real Madonna.

  • Liberation theology is theologized, violent envy (one of the capital sins) advanced by latter-day “useful idiots” masquerading as concerned clerics. There is nothing like it written anywhere in Sacred Scripture.

  • All one needs to know about Lib Theology is to learn how the Jesuit Cardenal brothers took the buzz-phrase “preferential option for the poor” (sounds familiar today?) to mean revolution by taking Uzis into the Nicaraguan Jungle while conditioning the “Catholic” peasants to boo Pope John Paul II at mass because he dared to use his papal authority to squelch Lib Theology at Medellin right after he became pope.
    It is no surprise to this long time observers that our (abortion; before and after birth) president also comes from a lib theology agenda.

  • Liberation theology fits perfectly with City of Man political orientation of the Francis papacy. It also fits with the United Nations agenda of income redistribution. I expect Pope Francis to be at least nominated for a Nobel prize and the Vatican given a regular seat at the United Nations assembly. As of this is a transmutation of the Catholic Church into a technocratic humanist organization. God and Jesus will be repositioned as benevolent and benign mystic presences, a sort of modern golden calf. God is not happy about this. I expect we will hear from Him. Soon I hope.

  • “God is not happy about this. I expect we will hear from Him. Soon I hope.”
    .
    Romans 11:17-24:
    .
    17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

  • Liberation Theology is Marxism dressed up with Catholic Social Teaching. In other words, it’s garbage. Chile doesn’t need stinking Liberation Theology.

    The current Roman Pontiff is in a position to shove this Marxist crap down everyone’s throats, just like his climate change encyclical and his No Fracking T-shirt and the German Cardinals and Cardinal Rodriguez from Honduras. If he or a successor decides to squelch Summorum Pontificum, I’ll head the the local SSPX church with a clear conscience.

  • Liberation theology fits perfectly with City of Man political orientation of the Francis papacy.

    That’s what gets you. I doubt there’s been a more other-directed cretin to occupy the Papacy in centuries. He’s the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church of What’s Happening Now!

  • God bless our suffering church.

  • Malachi Martin covered JPII’s battle with Jesuit Liberation Theology heretics in his book “Jesuits”. JPII was humiliated and defied by those heretics. He became so angry he tried to shout to be heard. They just turned up the sound system to drown out his voice. Satan unleashed.

  • J.M.J.

    While your statement “Whatever problems one might have with Pentecostalism, it is genuinely Christian, which Liberation Theology isn’t ” is OK as far as contrast goes, it’s
    inaccurate re Pentecostalism: Pentecostalism is NOT Christian. Like all Protestantism, it is heretical. The only thing Christian is genuine Catholicism. The other stuff is partial, and thus lousy. Liberation Theology is just lousi-ER. CHRIST IS RISEN!

  • I think we are all beginning to suffer from Pope Francis derangement syndrome. It is difficult even finding words to describe such aberrant behavior as that coming from the Vatican. And, of course, it is not only Pope Francis but it would seem his entire court and most of the Cardinals and Bishops he has selected for the Family Synod. One wants to throw up his hands in despair. But I guess we should put our hands together, knee down and pray for our dear Pope, his henchmen, and the entire Church. We are on the edge of something and it doesn’t look good.

  • Pentecostalism is simply one expression of a perennial tendency in Christianity, identified by Mgr Ronald Knox in his masterpiece Enthusiasm:-

    “There is, I would say, a recurrent situation in Church history – using the word ‘church’ in the widest sense – where an excess of charity threatens unity. You have a clique, an élite, of Christian men and (more importantly) women, who are trying to live a less worldly life than their neighbours; to be more attentive to the guidance (directly felt, they would tell you) of the Holy Spirit…The pattern is always repeating itself, not in outline merely but in detail. Almost always, the enthusiastic movement is denounced as an innovation, yet claims to be preserving, or to be restoring, the primitive discipline of the Church…

    I would have called [this] tendency ‘ultrasupernaturalism’. For that is the real character of the enthusiast; he expects more evident results from the grace of God than we others. He sees what effects religion can have, does sometimes have, in transforming a man’s whole life and outlook; these exceptional cases (so we are content to think them) are for him the average standard of religious achievement. He will have no ‘almost-Christians’, no weaker brethren who plod and stumble… the emphasis lies on a direct personal access to the Author of our salvation, with little of intellectual background or of liturgical expression… at the root of it lies a different theology of grace. Our traditional doctrine is that grace perfects nature but leaves it nature still. The assumption of the enthusiast is bolder and simpler; for him, grace has destroyed nature, and replaced it.”

    One thinks of the Montanists, who entrapped the learned Tertullian, of the Mediaeval Brethren of the Free Spirit and the Spiritual Fransiscans of the Quietists who found a champion in the devout Fénelon, of the Jansenist convulsionaries of St Métard. Protestantism has produced its own crop, ranging from the Anabaptists of Münster to the Quakers, to the early Methodists, not to mention Camisard child-prophecy or lrvingite glossolaly.

  • If Pope Francis does not instruct his people about the condemnation associated with receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ unworthily, then Pope Francis too, will share in the condemnation.

  • One thinks of the Montanists, who entrapped the learned Tertullian, of the Mediaeval Brethren of the Free Spirit and the Spiritual Fransiscans of the Quietists who found a champion in the devout Fénelon, of the Jansenist convulsionaries of St Métard. Protestantism has produced its own crop, ranging from the Anabaptists of Münster to the Quakers, to the early Methodists, not to mention Camisard child-prophecy or lrvingite glossolaly.

    You forgot the Corinthians.

  • “Pentecostalism is NOT Christian. Like all Protestantism, it is heretical. The only thing Christian is genuine Catholicism. The other stuff is partial, and thus lousy. Liberation Theology is just lousi-ER. CHRIST IS RISEN!”
    .
    I’ve heard Protestants say something similar about Catholics.

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  • I used to listen to a 15 minute radio program called Amondo Pablo (sp?) he was a Christian preacher in Costa Mesa CA who’s church was in South America. I thought to myself back then that the Catholic Church better watch out because this guy is good. Many years later my instincts proved right – pentecostal Christianity is taking over in South America, not just in numbers what Catholics are, but in living the Gospel, which most Catholics aren’t in SA, U.S., and now obviously in Ireland.

  • Speaking of “liberation theology.”

    The USCCB is promoting their so-called “immigration” reform policy using Mt 25: 35 as their motto : “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, a stranger and you welcomed me….”

    Question – who is “me?”

    The bishops are saying it is “anybody who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger….” Are they right?

    The footnote in my Catholic bible – The New American Bible, 1989-1990 Edition, is interesting for Mt 25: 31-46, from which the bishops get their motto. I’ll summarize it. “The criterion of judgement will be the deeds of mercy that have been done for the ‘least of Jesus brothers’ [40] An difficult and important question is the identification of these ‘least brothers.’ Are they all people who have suffered hunger, thirst, etc. (35,36) or a particular group of such sufferers. The criterion of judgment for ‘all the nations’ is their treatment of those who have borne to the world the message of Jesus, and this means ultimately their acceptance or rejection of Jesus himself; cf 10, 40. ‘Whoever receives you, receives me.'”

    I don’t think these 15,000,000 illegal aliens are Christian missionaries.

    Who do I believe? The footnote in my bible or the USCCB?

Encyclicals For Our Time: DIVINI REDEMPTORIS

Sunday, February 8, AD 2015

LiberationTheologyChart

 

The start of a new series on encylicals that have a special relevance for our time.  First up Divini Redemptoris.  At a time when the heresy that goes by the name of Liberation Theology is making a comeback, it is good to recall the words of Pope Pius XI against Communism, so the errors of the last century may not be repeated in this one:

 

 

DIVINI REDEMPTORIS


ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI
ON ATHEISTIC COMMUNISM
TO THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS, AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE.

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

The promise of a Redeemer brightens the first page of the history of mankind, and the confident hope aroused by this promise softened the keen regret for a paradise which had been lost. It was this hope that accompanied the human race on its weary journey, until in the fullness of time the expected Savior came to begin a new universal civilization, the Christian civilization, far superior even to that which up to this time had been laboriously achieved by certain more privileged nations.

2. Nevertheless, the struggle between good and evil remained in the world as a sad legacy of the original fall. Nor has the ancient tempter ever ceased to deceive mankind with false promises. It is on this account that one convulsion following upon another has marked the passage of the centuries, down to the revolution of our own days. This modern revolution, it may be said, has actually broken out or threatens everywhere, and it exceeds in amplitude and violence anything yet experienced in the preceding persecutions launched against the Church. Entire peoples find themselves in danger of falling back into a barbarism worse than that which oppressed the greater part of the world at the coming of the Redeemer.

3. This all too imminent danger, Venerable Brethren, as you have already surmised, is bolshevistic and atheistic Communism, which aims at upsetting the social order and at undermining the very foundations of Christian civilization .

 

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5 Responses to Encyclicals For Our Time: DIVINI REDEMPTORIS

  • The perfect storm is brewing. It’s target is America. It is not if it will hit us but when will its full force hit us?

    You are aware! Thank God.

    As I read this encyclical my heart was saying beware of the next revolution.
    The incubators have warmed the egg-heads ( indoctrination in our schools ), and the tide is red. I hope I’m completely wrong!

    If I’m not wrong in my forecast of the perfect storm, then may we ALL partake in sharing this timely message with neighbor. 2016 is closing in.

    ps….thank you Mr. McClarey for your outstanding job as sentry at his post!

  • ” … While the promises of the false prophets of this earth melt away in blood and tears, the great apocalyptic prophecy of the Redeemer shines forth in heavenly splendor: “Behold, I make all things new.”[50] Venerable Brethren, nothing remains but to raise Our paternal hands to call down upon you, upon your clergy and people, upon the whole Catholic family, the Apostolic Benediction. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, on the feast of St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, on the 19th of March, 1937 ”
    .
    Thank you for the series, I look forward to it. Saint Joseph from the house of David might have done the same for our time.

  • This will be an appropriate series. In this way we remind ourselves (and unite ourselves) to the 2000 year old teachings of the Catholic Church, despite the present attempts to distort these teachings.
    There will be NO SCHISM.

  • America will be the target? America IS the target. the United States, North
    america, South America, the entire Hemisphere that appeared to be won to the Church, except for a small English speaking sliver, centuries ago.

  • The Pope speaks hierarchically, and each note or number shows a great, solemn depth of care for mankind.
    .
    71. To all Our children, finally, of every social rank and every nation, to every religious and lay organization in the Church, We make another and more urgent appeal for union. Many times Our paternal heart has been saddened by the divergencies – often idle in their causes, always tragic in their consequences – which array in opposing camps the sons of the same Mother Church. Thus it is that the radicals, who are not so very numerous, profiting by this discord are able to make it more acute, and end by pitting Catholics one against the other. In view of the events of the past few months, Our warning must seem superfluous. We repeat it nevertheless once more, for those who have not understood, or perhaps do not desire to understand. Those who make a practice of spreading dissension among Catholics assume a terrible responsibility before God and the Church.
    .
    Reminiscent of ‘c’atholic politicians and educators these days of infamy, except that the radicals are way more numerous than when this was written in 1937 and their causes are not so idle.
    .
    72. But in this battle joined by the powers of darkness against the very idea of Divinity, it is Our fond hope that, besides the host which glories in the name of Christ, all those – and they comprise the overwhelming majority of mankind, – who still believe in God and pay Him homage may take a decisive part. We therefore renew the invitation extended to them five years ago in Our Encyclical Caritate Christi, invoking their loyal and hearty collaboration “in order to ward off from mankind the great danger that threatens all alike.” Since, as We then said, “belief in God is the unshakable foundation of all social order and of all responsibility on earth, it follows that all those who do not want anarchy and terrorism ought to take energetic steps to prevent the enemies of religion from attaining the goal they have so brazenly proclaimed to the world.”
    .
    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/02/09/prince-charles-meets-iraqi-christians-refugees-in-jordan/ Doing good, by example.
    .
    59. But “unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.”[38] And so, as a final and most efficacious remedy, We recommend, Venerable Brethren, that in your dioceses you use the most practical means to foster and intensify the spirit of prayer joined with Christian penance. When the Apostles asked the Savior why they had been unable to drive the evil spirit from a demoniac, Our Lord answered: “This kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.”[39] So, too, the evil which today torments humanity can be conquered only by a world-wide crusade of prayer and penance.
    .
    This is such a hope I have. Doctors of our souls have the highest calling of men in the whole world and, with bulletins, internet, and offices, could then reach many.

Liberation Unless You Are Unborn or Cuban

Monday, July 14, AD 2014

 

jesus-marx

Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report has an interesting post on a liberation theologian:

 

 

Former Catholic priest and liberation theologian Mike Rivage-Seul, who directed Berea College’s Peace and Social Justice Studies Program until his retirement, wrote a poem of sorts about his reaction to Americans standing up and cheering the homecoming of a Marine from Iraq.

In it, he compared the U.S. military to the Nazi S.S. and to the Roman persecutors of Christ. He also called them names like “robo-grunts” and then said we should be kind and merciful to all. Go figure.

Here it is:

Two weeks ago/ Between innings/ Of a Cubs-Pirates game/ At Wrigley Field/ They celebrated a Marine from Iraq — A local boy/ Who emerged from the Cubs’ dugout/ Waving/ To a hero’s welcome/ From a crowd on its feet/ Cheering/ Between swigs of PBR/ As if the poor kid had hit/ A game-winning dinger.

Reluctantly I stood up with the rest./ I now regret my applause./ I should have remembered shaved-headed/ Brain-washed innocents/ Kicking in front doors/ Profaning the sacred portals/ Of everyman’s castle,/ Petrifying children/ Calling their parents “mother f_ _kers”/ And binding tender wrists/ With plastic handcuffs./ To rid the world of evil.

Pitiful lobotomized innocents,/ They are/ Driven to slaughter by poverty/ And debt/ To Haditha, Fallujah, Abu Grahib,/ To weddings transformed in a flash and bang/ Into funerals/ Leaving mourners shocked and awed — “Collateral Murder,”/ By what King called/ The world’s “greatest purveyor of violence”/ And the Sandinista hymn identified as / “The enemy of mankind.”

I should have remembered/ Iraq (and Afghanistan btw)/ Were wars of choice, Of aggression,/ “The supreme international crime.”

Why did I not recall Zechariah? / And the peace-making Messiah / Christians claim he prophesied./ The prophet’s Promised One would be/ Gentle and meek/ Riding an ass/ Rather than a war horse

Or Humvee/ And banishing chariots, cross-bows/ And drones raining hell-fire/ From the skies./ His kingdom disarmed/ Would encompass the entire world./ Refusing to call/ Any of God’s “little ones” (To use our military’s terms of art) “Rag-heads” or “Desert ni_ ggers” / Paul called such imperial hate-speech “flesh.” /(Judging by appearances like skin color, nationality, religion)

“Live according to Christ’s Spirit,” Paul urged. (Compassion for all, works of mercy) No room for door-kickers there.

I should have remembered Jesus And his yoke./ So good and light/ He said Compared with The heavy burdens The Roman War-makers Laid on their subjects Who kicked in Nazareth’s doors And called parents like Joseph and Mary “Mother f_cking Jews.”

Their imperial generals were “learned” and “wise” In the ways of the world But they piled crushing burdens On the shoulders Of those “little ones”

Jesus preferred — In places far from the imperial center/ Like Palestine (or Iraq today)./ Victims there might be out of sight And mind/ For those enjoying bread, circuses/ Cubs and Pirates, But not for the All Parent Described by the Psalmist today

As gracious, merciful, slow to anger, hugely kind, benevolent to all, compassionate, faithful, holy, and lifting up (rather than crushing) those who have fallen under the weight of the burdens Jesus decries.

I should have asked, If following that Messiah If worshipping that All Parent Allowed standing and applauding A robo-grunt returned From a war Where over a million civilians have been slaughtered To rid the world of violence.

(In 1942 would I have joined the crowd Applauding an S.S. “hero” in a Munich stadium Just back from the front –or Auschwitz? Or a pilot who had bombed Pearl Harbor At a “Wrigley Field” in Tokyo?)

No: I should have had the courage To remain seated. And so should we all Instead of

Celebrating the military/ Waving flags on the 4th of July/ Paying war taxes/ And wondering with Fox newscasters What makes America great?

Intrigued by this outburst of jejune  far leftism, I wondered what else I could find out about this gentleman.  Well, it will come as absolutely no surprise that he is a pro-abort:

Embracing children like the one Jesus held doesn’t mean legally restricting abortions beyond Roe v. Wade. Neither does it mean “tough love,” nor forcing impoverished mothers to bring their children to term and then telling them “You’re on your own.” Rather, embracing poor children – truly being pro-life – means creating a welcoming atmosphere that receives children as we would receive the Jesus who identifies with them in today’s gospel. Yes, it suggests supporting those “Big Government” programs that work so well elsewhere.

Remember all of that when you hear your pastor’s sermon on abortion this Sunday.

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11 Responses to Liberation Unless You Are Unborn or Cuban

  • Brevity is the soul of wit.

    He could have said it in eight monosyllabic (so that even a liberal could understand) words, “I have a lump of $#!+ for brains.”

  • That man is a certifiable lunatic. He embraces hatred of the United States, abortion, Castro worship….a prime example of Lenin’s useful idiots. The West has never been short of them since Lenin took power. They have infiltrated academia, politics, entertainment and the Church.

    Think about it – how often do we ever hear a priest speak out against repression of Catholics in China, Cuba, the Middle East, etc?

  • “As I said, I’m not discouraged by all of this. Instead, my faith in the Holy Spirit has been renewed. Her ways are strange indeed.”
    .
    “HER WAYS…”?and Rivage- Seul taught for 36 years that God is a woman? and Peggy Rivage-Seul chairs a Women’s program? Run, Run like hell.

  • There’s so many of these older weirdoes lurking on faculties and parishes and rectories around the country– people who just quit learning and thinking 30 or 40 years ago. I don’t know how these pendulum swings work, but there’s a whole number of young kids now who are so libertarian that they are liberal.
    .
    People just have to learn how to think. I mean people don’t seem to know how to process information. We should have classes in logic in our schools.

  • Anzlyne said: “People just have to learn how to think. I mean people don’t seem to know how to process information. We should have classes in logic in our schools.”

    Human logic is not what is wrong with these people. Their spiritual condition (the condition of their heart/inner spirit) is the problem.

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD–Isaiah 55:8

    And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

    A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45

  • Also, when I think of the absolute denial of reality by these folks I also think if Rimans 1

    21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…

    And then verse 28 with the “reprobate” or “debased” mind reference–

    “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind”

    My understanding of a reprobate mind is a mind that cannot take 2 + 2 and get it to equal 4 in a moral sense. The reprobate mind will give a person a total of 3 or 5, but never the correct answer of 4. That is why it is pointless to reason with such a person. The reasoning in their mind is not coming from their human logic–it is coming from the hardened spiritual condition of their heart.

  • You are correct Barbara! There were plenty of intellectual idiots in the nazi regime for example. Phd’s, doctors and lawyers who participated in the carrying out of the Solution.

  • “My understanding of a reprobate mind is a mind that cannot take 2 + 2 and get it to equal 4 in a moral sense. The reprobate mind will give a person a total of 3 or 5, but never the correct answer of 4.”
    .
    To hide their moral corruption, 2+2 = 5 in Common Core curriculum is being imposed on every school, public and private to hide the immorality at every level in government.

  • Anzlyne said: “You are correct Barbara! There were plenty of intellectual idiots in the nazi regime for example. Phd’s, doctors and lawyers who participated in the carrying out of the Solution.”

    I truly wish we were able to fix such problems with a simple logic class. It sure would make life simpler. *very long, sad sigh*

    I often think about the story of Elijah & the Prophets of Baal. If logic solved the problem, when God sent fire down and consumed Elijah’s sacrifice, everyone present would have worshipped the Israelite God for the rest of their life. That didn’t happen.

  • Mary De Voe said: “To hide their moral corruption, 2+2 = 5 in Common Core curriculum is being imposed on every school, public and private to hide the immorality at every level in government.”

    You are correct. *another long, sad sigh*

  • Should that be “a leading figure at the Berea school” or “a leading figure of the Beria School”?

In Memoriam: Tiananmen Square

Thursday, June 5, AD 2014

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

Thucydides

 

Yesterday, June 4, was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the brutal suppression of the pro-Democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.  Over 3000 of the protestors were murdered by the Communist government of China.  Tyranny won that round, but I have absolutely no doubt that Democracy will ultimately prevail in the Middle Kingdom.  When it does, the heroes and heroines of Tiananmen Square will be remembered and their murderers forgotten.

 

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2 Responses to In Memoriam: Tiananmen Square

Woody Guthrie vs. Joseph Ratzinger ;-)

Saturday, October 2, AD 2010

Communist Liberation TheologianOver at Vox Nova, Henry Karlson draws our attention to a video of Bono, expounding on why U2 felt compelled to cover Woody Guthrie’s song “Jesus Christ”. In short, “it’s more relevant today than when he wrote it.”

But why is it more relevant? — For Bono, “we decided to do it because of the line, “the bankers and the preachers, they nailed him in the air.”

Curiousity provoked, I took a look at the complete lyrics:

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20 Responses to Woody Guthrie vs. Joseph Ratzinger ;-)

  • Christopher

    Key word, “reduced.” One song does not prove a “reduction,” as much as just one part of the overall picture. The only reduction here is from you.

  • “You will find that a good many Christian-political writers think that Christianity began going wrong, and departing from the doctrine of its Founder, at a very early stage. Now, this idea must be used by us to encourage once again the conception of a “historical Jesus” to be found by clearing away later “accretions and perversions” and then to be contrasted with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we promoted the construction of such a “historical Jesus” on liberal and humanitarian lines; we are now putting forward a new “historical Jesus” on Marxian, catastrophic, and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold.

    In the first place they all tend to direct men’s devotion to something which does not exist, for each “historical Jesus” is unhistorical. The documents say what they say and cannot be added to; each new “historical Jesus” therefore has to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another, and by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary life, but which is enough to produce a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares, and new Swifts in every publisher’s autumn list. In the second place, all such constructions place the importance of their “historical Jesus” in some peculiar theory He is supposed to have promulgated. he has to be a “great man” in the modern sense of the world – one standing at the terminus of some centrifugal and unbalanced line of thought – a crank vending a panacea. We thus distract men’s minds from Who He is, and what He did. We first make Him solely a teacher, and then conceal the very substantial agreement between His teachings and those of all other great moral teachers. For humans must not be allowed to notice that all great moralists are sent by the Enemy, not to inform men, but to remind them, to restate the primeval moral platitudes against our continual concealment of them. We make the Sophists: He raises up a Socrates to answer them.

    Our third aim is, by these constructions, to destroy the devotional life. For the real presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke a strange language and died a long time ago. Such an object cannot in fact be worshipped. Instead of the Creator adored by its creature, you soon have merely a leader acclaimed by a partisan, and finally a distinguished charcter approved by a judicious historian.

    And fourthly, besides being unhistorical in the Jesus it depicts, religion of this kind is false to history in another sense. No nation, and few individuals, are really brought into the Enemy’s camp by the historical study of the biography of Jesus, simply as biography. Indeed, materials for a full biography have been withheld from men. The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact (the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine (the Redemption) operating on a sense of sin which they already had – and sin, not against some new fancy-dress law produced as a novelty by a “great man,” but against the old, platitudinous, universal moral law which they had been taught by their nurses and mothers. The “Gospels” come later, and were written, not to make Christians, but to edify Christians already made.”

    CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters, number 23

  • I heard that Arlo Guthrie made a 180 and is now a Republican…

  • “If Jesus is seen thus, if his death must be conceived in terms of this constellation of antitheses, his message cannot be one of reconciliation.”

    Exactly!

    Need to read the Screwtape Letters again. A great work with a lasting effect, but refreshers would be useful.

  • Mr. McClarey: 100% correct!

    Mr. Bono: Infallible ignorance.

    I’ve been thinking (no, really!) about Lazarus and the rich man. Do theologians “think” Lazarus would rest in the “bossom of Abraham” if he envied and hated that rich man?

  • He does not envy or hate the “preachers and bankers” that crucified Him. Jesus is true God and true man, like us in all ways except sin. To equate His sacrifice (the Crucifixion was the most disobedient, ignorant, vicious and unjust sin in the history of mankind) to man’s fallen condition is simply WRONG.

    Jesus loved us so much and was so desirous of redeeming and saving us that His Sacred Heart was filled even more with love for us in His three hours of agony on His Holy Cross; and He asked God the Father Almighty to forgive us because we didn’t know what we were doing.

  • “I heard that Arlo Guthrie made a 180 and is now a Republican”

    I didn’t believe it at first, Jasper, but apparently it’s true; this is from Wikipedia’s entry on Arlo’s politics:

    “Guthrie endorsed Texas Congressman Ron Paul for the 2008 Republican Party nomination. He said, “I love this guy. Dr. Paul is the only candidate I know of who would have signed the Constitution of the United States had he been there. I’m with him, because he seems to be the only candidate who actually believes it has as much relevance today as it did a couple of hundred years ago. I look forward to the day when we can work out the differences we have with the same revolutionary vision and enthusiasm that is our American legacy.” He told the New York Times Magazine that he is a Republican because, “We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition.”

  • Sounds as if this rediscovering of the ‘historical Jesus’ is the 21st century version of gnosticism.

  • For Bono, “we decided to do it because of the line, “the bankers and the preachers, they nailed him in the air.”

    Bono’s rather an ingrate. What would U2 and all the other lefty multi-millionaire rock stars do without bankers advising them on tax shelters? U2 was widely criticized a few years back when they moved their business operations to the Netherlands, cutting their corporate tax bill considerably.

    This was around the time when Bono was standing on stage telling his fans (you know, the ones who made him and his fellow band members fabulously rich) that they – the little people – should pay more in taxes.

    As I recall, Our Lord also had a few things to say on the subject of hypocrites.

  • I’d be wary of putting too much stock in Arlo’s “conversion”–Libertarianism and Republicanism are not interchangeable and his remarks sound pretty noncommittal to me.

    What I find interesting is that it appears Woody borrowed stylistically from a popular ballad about Jesse James–one that cast the outlaw as a “friend to the poor” who’d “never see a man suffer pain” (never mind that the James gang occasionally shot unarmed bystanders in the course of their robberies and weren’t known for their charitable work.) The meter and the repetition of the adjective “brave” and the line “laid…in his grave” are right out of it. Was his intention to cast the Son of God as a Robin Hood-ized folk hero in the fashion of James? If so, he sold God short–and the U2 guys ought to know better.

  • The U2 sound became repetitive, the lyrics trite and ridiculous but instead of fading away quitely as other better bands such as Steely Dan and Dire Straits have done, our friend Bono would rather ride out a little bit more on the name of Jesus.

  • … nstead of fading away quitely as other better bands such as Steely Dan and Dire Straits have done, our friend Bono would rather ride out a little bit more on the name of Jesus.

    Actually, U2’s cover of “Jesus Christ” was over a decade ago, on the Folkways Woody Guthrie Tribute — I’m actually a fan of their music, if not Bono’s pontificating. =)

  • Republicanism and libertarianism might not be interchangeable, but neither are they incommensurable.

    Also the Greek of Matthew 19:21 does not translate to “give your money to the poor.” It can be roughly, but more accurately, translated as “sell your possessions and give to the poor.” As always with Koine Greek there is wide room for interpreting the wording in American. The phrase lacks the linguistic articles common to ancient Greek that would specifically denote apposition, yet there are undeniably two clauses separated by a conjunction. So it is misleading to state that Jesus was commanding the young gentleman to sell everything he had in order to give the receipts to the poor. Rather, it sounds to me like Jesus was offering simple, practical advice on how to be His contemporaneous disciple, something that clearly involved a lot of travel and study and would therefore be difficult if one were the landlord of a large estate and concerned with maintaining many material possessions.

    U2 makes terrible music. Bono should stick to working on that.

  • I challenge the rich to prove their detachment to wealth by giving it away.

  • Nate,

    I like the way you think!

    There are some rich people that do donate their money to Catholic charities, but it can be said that more money by much more well-to-do should be giving their wealth away willingly.

  • …it is the Feast Day of Saint Francis. The very saint that gave away his tremendous wealth for a life of poverty. He was justly rewarded by God with an enriching life of harvesting many souls!

  • Nate,

    I would agree that the rich can give more. Though the rich man may in fact be more detached from his goods than a poor person. St. Josemaria Escriva used to tell a story of a noblewoman who had great wealth. She paid her servents well and was quite giving. He contrasted her to a poor man he saw in a soup kitchen who had one possession in his life – a spoon. That man he noted greedily held onto that one good and was quite attached to it. That person St. Josemaria noted was not living the virtue of detachment.

    I also recall in our area about two years ago a very rich family’s home burnt down. It turns out the family’s six year old with Down’s Syndrome accidentally set fire to the house. The father said that he loved his son even more after this. This was true detachment.

    I would also add that a rich person may donate more of his time and talent that he could otherwise use for himself. Donations that are not seen and that in their own way “cost” significantly.

  • Wealth today facilitates travel, which facilitates the continuance of the mission of Christ and His church. During the age in which our Lord lived on this earth, all the money in the world dcouldn’t buy a plane, train, or bus ticket. Back then, wealth surely encouraged people to be sedentary, or at the least immobile. I again maintain that the scripture (Matthew 19:21) has nothing to do with choosing to be willfully impoverished as a way to salvation.

  • What kind of commentary did you expect from a man who gave only 1.24% of his charity’s money to the poor? I also think he has a tax and wife problem in Ireland.

    And the born agains use U-2’s music in worship services… We truly live in strange times.

  • Guthrie was the scion of one of the wealthiest families in one of the wealthiest states in America. He adopted an offensive and false hillbilly persona and a BS story about “ridin’ the rails” and was flown out to California and given a coast-to-coast radio show with support from the Governor, a US Senator, and LA’s fanciest folks. After he retired from mass media he spent the rest of his career working for the US Government.
    Enough of this hagiography already!

If Liberals Lose Big In This Fall's Election, The Professional Left Will Mock The Religious Faithful

Wednesday, August 18, AD 2010

This fall all of the hopes and dreams of those who have detested Middle American values stands in the balance. Those values are best exemplified in religious beliefs shared by many faith traditions. However, Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Jews are those to which the angry Professional Left, to use Robert Gibbs (President Obama’s Press Secretary’s) term, will most turn their anger.  Some may say this seems a little far-fetched, after all aren’t some of those people from the “Professional Left” religious themselves? Yes, some on the “Professional Left” are religious, but they often go to great pains to say they are not affiliated with any faith tradition. They often classify themselves as “spiritual.”

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, then Senator Obama made by his own admission his biggest gaffe. The future President, speaking in  San Francisco, called those middle Americans of western Pennsylvania, “bitter clingers.” In his own words, the future President described western Pennsylvania residents as hard working salt of the earth folks who clung to “their guns and religion,” presumably because they weren’t enlightened enough to understand the modern world.

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8 Responses to If Liberals Lose Big In This Fall's Election, The Professional Left Will Mock The Religious Faithful

  • “Our Lady of Mount Carmel”

    The True Story of “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” Occurred in Puerto Rico between 1899 and 1909, and has been narrated by eyewitnesses.

    We can see The Terrible Situation of Poverty in Latin America at this time; The Initial Disbelief of the Bishop; The Miracle Flowering of Faith… go through the Miracle Mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    The fulfillment of 73 of over 76 of their Prophecies, are consistent with Her Messages in La Salette; Lourdes, Fatima and Garabandal.

    “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” Prophesied for the “End of Time”, and your Message can be Announced by a Film Made by You.

    Thanks,
    Ricardo Fernández – Franciscan Mary

  • Please do not blame only the left, as your italicized section above strongly implies, for religion in tatters, especially the Catholic Church. The so called, good Catholic conservatives have their share too.

    I consider myself a conservative, for whatever that may matter and yes, the left is a particularly heinous lot, but they are not alone.

    Thank you.

  • Karl, the italicised words to which you refer link to an article which I wrote. Perhaps the prudent thing to do would be to read that article before you comment. Since you went out of your way to stick up for the left, perhaps you are an altruistic poster who defends conservatives from attacks on the many liberal blogs. That is only known to you, however, in retrospect, I would suggest you read the article to which you referred before you claim that I only indict the left. I would also suggest you read the italicised section referring to the Conservative Intelligentsia. I take them to task as well. Take care!

  • Is the “professional left” composed of those who oppose a Cross in the Mojave Desert? Or, those who stopped rebuilding of the Orthodox Church at Ground Zero? Or, those oppose “In God We Trust” on the money? Or, who oppose “Under God” in the pledge of Allegiance? Or, oppose private enterprise? Or, oppose equal opportunity? Or, oppose the free market? Or, oppose the right to life? Or, those who hate America? Or, . . .

    We need to pray for said professional left. That they come to a better mind/repent, confess, do penance, amend their lives, and through good works glorify Almighty God.

  • T Shaw, we certainly do need to pray for the Professional Left. I was immediately drawn to the term because if Robert Gibbs uses it and feels the White House’s policies aren’t liberal enough for some in the mainstream media (my guess is he was talking about the talking heads at MSNBC) than heaven help us all.

  • We’ll just have to keep our trust in God that he will draw good from evil, even if that means allowing for the far left to accede to power as a way of awakening Americans to the reality of the “Party of Death.”

  • Well okay, they will snicker and mock, oh my, not that!

    If anyone wants or has even a bit of expectation of being admired by the elite in this time that we live in, for fighting for the things we believe in, had better expect some kind of reaction. I will gladly take all the mocking, snickering etcetera, rather than alternatives that can be expected, when and if the left becomes stronger in the future. The fact that they are still making fun of us is better than then arrest and trial for holding illegal and irrational beliefs that we may come to expect.

    Recent history of Russia and Eastern Europe shows clearly the fate of traditional believers. There are lessons like this all over the planet.

    Secularism is one thing, arrests in the night is another thing all together. These things are not impossible here, however unlikely. It is uncanny how close the beliefs and values of our progressives are to those of that the left widely held, one hundred years ago in another part of our civilization.

  • This is a good article, thanks. However, just to pick on the title a bit, the Pro Left will bust our nuts whether they win or lose.

5 Responses to USCCB Promoting Anti-Catholic Speaker This Weekend

  • Not a comment–a question:

    Does anyone ever call up the USCCB and just ask them what they have to say about this (or any of the other idiocies they inflict on us)?

  • Carol,

    They don’t return phone calls.

  • I know the USCCB isn’t open to the public but I emailed Cardinal George a very civil letter asking him basically “whassup with this?” Speaking of doing a yoeman’s job, he is & I have nothing but admiration for him & most of our bishops. What I cannot understand is why they don’t dissolve the USCCB & just start over. Do these people have tenure or what?

  • gb,

    I’m not sure why they don’t do a complete overhaul of the place.

    But it’s human nature to resist saying “I was wrong”. Pride then kicks in when the pressure mounts.

    In my opinion, nothing will be done.

    Just look at the pedophilia scandal.

    Nothing was done about that. Only when the media pressure became overbearing did “individual” bishops act.

    No bishop likes to be told what to do, especially from us plebians.

  • Cardinal Newman quoting St. Basil writing to the Western bishops on the onslaught of the Arian bishops:
    “The dogmas of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set to naught; the discoverers of innovations hold sway in the churches. Men have learned to be speculators instead of theologians… The aged sorrow, comparing what is with what was; more pitiable the young, as not knowing what they are deprived of”. [Ep. 90]

I Would Abjure This Heresy If It Existed

Tuesday, January 5, AD 2010

I was very struck by a comment which was made on another post on this blog by a defender of liberation theology. I’m not going to attempt to speak in this post to what liberation theology is and whether or not it represents a correct understanding of Christ’s message, but what does interest me a great deal is this response to the concerns expressed by Benedict XVI at the time that he was the head of the CDF about liberation theology, and the similar concerns expressed by John Paul II. As has been observed elsewhere on this blog, liberation theology has not been officially condemend by the Church.

However, a number of aspects of liberation theology have been criticized by the Church, and in reponse to the mention of these criticisms, we are given this defense:

I don’t dismiss what they say. If the version of liberation theology that they critique actually exists, then they are right about those versions. But they cite NO ONE and in my studies I have seen no evidence of the distortions that they claim exist. Here they are not distinguishing between the practice of various Christians and liberation theologians. When they critique something called “liberation theology” I assume they mean the latter. But the image that they critique is just that: an image with little reality. In fact many liberation theologians have actually praised the CDF statements on liberation theology, saying that if such a theology existed it should rightly be criticized, but that what they are doing bears little resemblance to those caricatures.

This defense reminded me very strongly of some reading that I did a while back on the Jansenist heresy.

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100 Responses to I Would Abjure This Heresy If It Existed

  • This post would contain a valid argument IF the blog contributor in question (as well as Ratzinger for that matter) demonstrated ANY evidence of having read much liberation theology.

    The “you don’t seem to understand us” response would be too easy of course if Joe actually read the texts and offered a critique based on those texts. But Joe has not done so. He has admitted that he has not read any liberation theology. Let Joe read some liberation theology and then criticize specific authors and texts. Until he does so, “you don’t seem to understand us” is a PERFECTLY VALID and ACCURATE response to make.

    Do you understand the difference?

  • Probably one of the reasons why the CDF did not explicitly link to any actual work of Liberation Theology was, in part, they were trying to criticize without actually naming names. It is a good way to deal with people, as long as it is understood by the readers what is going on, who is being criticized, and where those remarks can be found.

    The problem I see is how these documents have been handled by the non-specialist. They have tended to read the CDF comments are condemnations, and of universal tendencies within LT. This is not the case.

    Instead of dealing with the condemnation of Jansen, which is a condemnation of a specific person, and therefore one can more readily examine the issue and know who exactly is being criticized, we should look at the CDF documents along the lines of Tempier’s condemnations of “radical Aristotelians.”

    Many could and did use Tempier’s condemnations as a way to reject the whole scholastic method; of course, we, in hindsight, see the differences in the schoolmen, and appreciate some of the things which were initially censored. Liberation Theology really is like this, especially when dealing with generalities and “certain” ideas within the “school of thought.”

    I think a better comparison with the situation around Jansen would be to look at the CDF on Haight. I believe in both situations the Church is correct, though I know defenders of Haight are critical of the CDF’s reading of him, and it is similar to what you say about Jansen here.

  • Michael, it would be very unlike Ratzinger to have issued a correction of aspects of LT without having familiarized himself with it to begin with. His work — personal and ecclesial — always indicates a familiarity with his subject matter, regardless of his agreement or otherwise. I’m thinking, for instance, of the Jacques Dupuis case… having read the work that was reviewed by the CDF, it was clear that Ratzinger was familiar with it and the general discussions in question.

    That’s not to say that he could have done otherwise in this instance, but it would be completely out of character, and hence extremely unlikely. I’d prefer to give *him* the benefit of the doubt and presume that he had in fact familiarized himself with these works.

  • Very interesting article. BTW there’s a typo in the title. “Adjure” should be “Abjure”

  • And again, let me make clear, I have no interest at all in discussing liberation theology on this thread. My point is that the method of argument itself is very dangerous. After all, I’m sure that Antoine Arnauld was sure that he had a much better understanding of the virtues of Jansen’s work and the body of theology that had grown up around it than critics in the French monarchy or in Rome. From the inside the argument will always appear to be valid.

  • DC, it is dangerous, and yet, abusus not tollit usum… that it is dangerous doesn’t mean that there are not instances in which it is in fact the case, as you seem to grant in your OP.

  • Chris – The only liberation theologian that Ratzinger tends to cite is Leonardo Boff. The exchange he had with Boff was quite in depth but even there you see some glaring misreadings of Boff’s positions. Have you read Boff’s Church: Charism and Power and the CDF statement on it? His criticism of Boff’s supposed “Marxist” understanding of the sacraments, for example, is embarrassingly backward.

    I’m not suggesting that Ratzinger has NO familiarity with liberation theology. He surely has had some exposure to a few early works. But it is clear that he bases his judgments on a very narrow selection of texts. To anyone who has read the stuff, his critiques simply make no sense. Surely he attempted to “familiarize” himself with “liberation theology,” but to think he could get an accurate picture of it from Germany or from Rome with his European assumptions about theology and ecclesiology is absurd.

    You and Joe and all your buddies here are welcome to take Ratzinger’s word for “it”, but none of you should claim to be able to pronounce on liberation theology’s strengths and weaknesses if you have not read it yourself or if you have no connection to or interest in (and in fact often loudly and actively oppose) the social movements of the poor from which it was born.

  • Darwin – To reiterate: “that type of argument” is not dangerous at all when it is clear that the person in question knows nothing about the intellectual and ecclesial movement in question. “You don’t understand this theology” is an acceptable response to someone who admits he has not read any works of that kind of theology.

  • How is it that the Holy Father has so clearly demonstrated that he is unfamiliar with the strands of liberation theology? Because the criticism was not as detailed as a claimant might wish?

    Two things are mutually reasonable and applicable at the same time: 1) the reasonable ability to disagree, up to the point of being honest with one’s own soul and abandoning a claim to Catholicism 2) wide deference, particularly in matters of theology, to one of the unquestionably great theologians of our time, and the successor to St. Peter who occupies an office under the protection of the Holy Spirit.

    And so in the Pope’s condemnations, it is reasonable to follow his lead concerning theology.

    As for the method of argument, context is always king. It is not feasible for any rationalizing, unrational human to be seperate from experience, hubris, and bias. “Objective argument,” being impossible, should in this case take us back to my first point about theology and those that wish to claim Catholicism.

  • How is it that the Holy Father has so clearly demonstrated that he is unfamiliar with the strands of liberation theology? Because the criticism was not as detailed as a claimant might wish?

    He demonstrates it when he says that liberation theologians believe certain things that they in fact do not believe. The classic “reducing faith to politics” line is one very general example. Endorsement of “class warfare” is another. No liberation theologian that I have ever read believes either of those two things. Yet that myth continues to be perpetuated. Ratzinger cites no theologian in these charges. The only way that you would be able to know this, though, is to be familiar with liberation theology and no one here is willing to give LT the time of day to see for themselves.

    And so in the Pope’s condemnations, it is reasonable to follow his lead concerning theology.

    First, Ratzinger did not “condemn” liberation theology. That is another myth. And no, it is not reasonable to follow his lead on liberation theology when his judgment has been shown time and time again to be inaccurate. Catholicism does not mean “check your brain at the door,” [personal attacks removed.]

  • Jonathan

    Once again there were no condemnations of Liberation Theology as you just suggested. That’s the problem. There were concerns and criticisms of certain tendencies of some people within the movement, the same as Tempier with Aristotelians.

  • In fact, jonathan, it is clear that you do NOT “take Ratzinger’s lead” on liberation theology if you would characterize his position as one of “condemnation.” Not only have you obviously have not read liberation theology, you don’t seem to have read the Vatican’s statements on liberation theology in which you supposedly place your trust.

  • to think he could get an accurate picture of it from Germany or from Rome with his European assumptions about theology and ecclesiology is absurd.

    And yet somehow you manage to get an accurate picture of Ratzinger’s views with your assumptions from your own geographic locale? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, Michael.

  • But at the same time, it strikes me that Arnauld was doing a very dangerous thing in asserting that he agreed with the pope’s correction but not with the pope’s conclusion that the condemned propositions were in Augustinus.

    …and yet that’s precisely what the American bishops did in the 19th century when Pope Leo XIII condemned the Americanist heresy. “They just don’t understand us” was the cry of many an Irish Catholic prelate in America during the late 19th and early 20th century — you can even hear echoes of it today.

    Fascinating history, though I would argue that Americanism still lingers; Jansenism not so much.

  • Michael,

    Yes, it’s true that if leaders of the Church genuinely do not understand a school of theology, they may issue condemnations which condemn beliefs that members of the school do not actually hold. It’s a possibility. It may have happened at some times in history.

    At the same time, anyone who is going to come at their faith with the faintest shred of humility much recognize that for someone who at the same time believes himself to be in union with the Church and holds some belief which the Church is accurately condemning, it may invariably look like the Church does not understand their thought.

    It is a self-fullfilling argument from the dissenter’s point of view. “I hold a set of beliefs. The beliefs are true. My beliefs are compatible with Catholicism. Thus, if the Church tells me that my beliefs are not compatible with Catholicism, it must be because the Church doesn’t really understand my beliefs.”

    As several people have pointed out, it’s rather hard to believe that Ratzinger was as deceived/lazy as one has to posit in order to follow your theory. While I think that the argument is valid in certain circumstances, it’s something we should be very hesitant about rolling out, and which is usually going to lead us to false conclusions.

  • Given an “I agree with what you say, but no one is saying otherwise”-type response to ecclesial criticism, I’d say the first thing to do is confirm the agreement — that is, to make sure everyone has the same understanding of what the Church is saying. A cardinal may certainly misunderstand a theologian, but then a theologian may also misunderstand a cardinal.

    I think I’ve read somewhere that Vatican criticism of liberation theology named no names at least in part to settle the doctrinal questions without getting into the “but you misunderstand what X is saying” swamp.

  • It is a self-fullfilling argument from the dissenter’s point of view. “I hold a set of beliefs. The beliefs are true. My beliefs are compatible with Catholicism. Thus, if the Church tells me that my beliefs are not compatible with Catholicism, it must be because the Church doesn’t really understand my beliefs.”

    I understand what you are saying and I agree that the kind of defense you are targeting is easy to make. But it’s a whole lot easier to see what is going on if you are willing to hear out what the “dissenter” says and actually take the time to see what kind of conversation is taking place. You and Joe and everyone else on your blog refuse to actually give one side a hearing, assuming that they are “dissenters” and not worth listening to at all which is precisely NOT what JPII or Benedict have ever suggested that you do. Your method is to ignore liberation theologians and the things they say. That’s irresponsible both intellectually and ecclesiologically. It’s not how the church works. It’s not how believers are supposed to think. In fact, it is precisely an evasion of thinking.

    You can’t point to my defense of liberation theology as the “dissenter’s self-fulfilling argument” unless you can show that liberation theology and/or particular liberation theologians are in fact at odds with church teaching. And you can’t do that unless you are willing to hear some of them out.

  • “I hold a set of beliefs. The beliefs are true. My beliefs are compatible with Catholicism. Thus, if the Church tells me that my beliefs are not compatible with Catholicism, it must be because the Church doesn’t really understand my beliefs.”

    This is an excellent summary of some arguments I have heard. This would seem to stand in constrast to the Bible: “Anyone who goes ahead as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.”
    – 2 John 9

  • Michael,

    Personally Michael I know you don’t want to associate with things that have been condemned by the Church, so I know that you are trying to speak honestly and do so from a superior position to me at least, having studied LT for some number of years.

    But if you’ll let me I’ll say one thing to the point you make above – Fr. Gutierrez very much believes in class warfare, at least in his “A Theology of Liberation”, where he holds that the wealthy and aggressive Western nations have created their wealth at the expense of the poor in the Southern hemisphere. If this cannot be understood as class antagonism I do not know what the concept could mean. As you know, I tried to do what I consider to be an extensive study of this book, and I posted my comments on it on my personal blog. For whatever reason, at the time, you did not respond but to say a few things. Perhaps I can pull those out and post them here and we can have another round.

  • Michael, can you point to a primer on LT? If it hasn’t been given a hearing here, it’s only because you haven’t made one, only asserted that we’re all idiots who don’t know what we’re talking about, more or less. So: is there an online resource which you find does a competent job of presenting LT?

  • Zach – As I think I probably mentioned to you before, you are getting Gutierrez wrong, but you are not alone in this. He indeed believes that “the wealthy and aggressive Western nations have created their wealth at the expense of the poor in the Southern hemisphere” but this is not to believe in “class warfare.” In other words he does not believe in creating “class antagonism” because it already exists as an inherent feature of colonial capitalism. He believes that the church should “take sides” with the oppressed classes in their desire for liberation from a system that itself creates class antagonism.

    Chris – Yes I can suggest some good books as introductions but I’d have to poke around to see what’s out there online. Surely any of Oscar Romero’s pastoral letters would be a good introduction to liberation theology. As would the documents of the Latin American Bishops conference at Medellin and Puebla. Those are likely available online.

  • Chris B.,

    abusus not tollit usum

    I learned something new today, thanks!

    Good conversation gentlemen.

  • Michael,

    I’m not trying to say that you are a dissenter. I’m saying that this is a very dangerous way of dealing with criticism of the Church. I agree that if I wanted to personally issue a condemnation of liberation theology or point out errors in liberation theology, I would need to make a thorough reading of some liberation theology texts and be very clear about what they said and why it was wrong. Because I do not have the time (and frankly, the interest) for doing that, I’m making absolutely no attempt to issue such a critique or condemnation. Indeed, in my post I said that the Church has not condemned liberation theology.

    I’m just pointing out the danger of accustoming oneself to always insisting that when the Church criticizes one’s sacred cows, it must be because the Church doesn’t understand them. I do hear you saying that it’s obvious to you and unnamed other liberation theologians that Ratzinger and others in the Vatican do not understand liberation theology. That I don’t assume you to be correct in your feelings on this is mostly a matter of my having much more confidence in Ratzinger’s understanding of the Church than in yours.

    (I’m sorry if it frustrates you that many of us have little interest in studying liberation theology. Everyone ends up making decisions about what to spend time studying in depth, and not everyone makes the same decisions. Nor do they necessarily have to never talk about topics they haven’t studied, or haven’t studied from the inside. For instance, you routinely make a lot of assertions about free market economics, about business, about conservative politics, etc. which I think are quite misguided and display a fair amount of ignorance. However, I don’t go around insisting that you need to cite chapter and verse from Adam Smith or Milton Freidman or F A Hayak or the Federalist Papers or Burke or what have you before you blast classical liberalism or capitalism or what have you. I may not take your arguments in regards to these topics very seriously, but trying to tell people what they can and can’t speak about just doesn’t work that well.)

  • “But if you’ll let me I’ll say one thing to the point you make above – Fr. Gutierrez very much believes in class warfare, at least in his “A Theology of Liberation”, where he holds that the wealthy and aggressive Western nations have created their wealth at the expense of the poor in the Southern hemisphere.”

    So that is what you mean by class warfare? So, you would agree that the following statement is in support of class warfare:

    “The poor ask for the right to share in enjoying material goods and to make good use of their capacity for work, thus creating a world that is more just and prosperous for all. The advancement of the poor constitutes a great opportunity for the moral, cultural and even economic growth of all humanity.”

    Or

    “The Marxist solution has failed, but the realities of marginalization and exploitation remain in the world, especially the Third World, as does the reality of human alienation, especially in the more advanced countries. Against these phenomena the Church strongly raises her voice. Vast multitudes are still living in conditions of great material and moral poverty. The collapse of the Communist system in so many countries certainly removes an obstacle to facing these problems in an appropriate and realistic way, but it is not enough to bring about their solution. Indeed, there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure, and which blindly entrusts their solution to the free development of market forces.”

    Or

    “More than forty years after Populorum Progressio, its basic theme, namely progress, remains an open question, made all the more acute and urgent by the current economic and financial crisis. If some areas of the globe, with a history of poverty, have experienced remarkable changes in terms of their economic growth and their share in world production, other zones are still living in a situation of deprivation comparable to that which existed at the time of Paul VI, and in some cases one can even speak of a deterioration. It is significant that some of the causes of this situation were identified in Populorum Progressio, such as the high tariffs imposed by economically developed countries, which still make it difficult for the products of poor countries to gain a foothold in the markets of rich countries. Other causes, however, mentioned only in passing in the Encyclical, have since emerged with greater clarity. A case in point would be the evaluation of the process of decolonization, then at its height. Paul VI hoped to see the journey towards autonomy unfold freely and in peace. More than forty years later, we must acknowledge how difficult this journey has been, both because of new forms of colonialism and continued dependence on old and new foreign powers, and because of grave irresponsibility within the very countries that have achieved independence.”

  • Shaun,

    I think you make a good point. It is, I think, very human not to see ourselves reflected in criticisms. Usually when someone tells me that I’m wrong about something or doing a bad job at something, my first tendency is to think that they must not really understanding.

    In personal interaction this may often be the case (though, of course, often those who criticize us have something of a point as well) but it seems to me that, hard as it is, we have to take criticism from the Church pretty seriously. I try to apply this as best I can on my own intellectual hobby horses, such as democratic government, classical liberalism, and free market economics — all things which the Church has at times criticized aspects of (though as with liberation theology, certainly not condemned). Where I haven’t yet worked out to my satisfaction the right understanding of these topics from a Catholic point of view, I try at least to stick to the basics that I’m sure of and not go around telling people what “the church says” on the topic.

  • I suggest the latter documents knowing that they are official ecclesial documents but liberation theologians were involved in their writing.

    Might also check out liberationtheology.org. He has a broad definition of LT though.

  • We tend to understand heresies from a distance: Jansen said “X”, the pope said “not X”. In truth, theological disputes take decades, as each party fleshes out what each side holds to be doctrinally correct. Additionally, each heresy has a proto-, a semi-, an ultra-, et cetera. Each proposition has to be teased out before it can be accepted or condemned.

    And that was in the old days, when it was all written in the same language. It’s worse now.

    Even valid movements were sometimes condemned, or placed on “watch lists”. At such times it is essential that the followers of the new movement submit to Church authority. If Luther had had a more humble heart or if Gonzaga were arrogant, church history would be completely different.

    Now, it’s possible to humbly submit to the Church while contending that theologians have mistaken your writings as heresy (or disobedience or whatever). Aquinas had to grovel; why shouldn’t I? But in practice, it’s tricky. You look at Regnum Christi over the last few years and you can see how even a hint of insubordination can snowball.

  • In fact, michael, what is clear that you wish to remain quick in the personalizations and heavy in the hostility. That’s you issue, as at the end of the day you have to live with your own hatreds.

    I think it is more than reasonable 1). to characterize the Holy Father’s reaction to some strands of what is commonly understood to be liberation theology as a condemnation 2). to follow his lead, as a great theologian and as the successor to St. Peter, on these issues, particularly as they relate to theology.

    Obviously I am not as well versed in the literature of this subject as you are. But I wouldn’t, and haven’t in the past, react as you have if were discussing my areas of expertise, Anglo-American political philosophy. This sort of pathetic negativity may mask insecurity, or something else, or nothing at all, but it’s an e-representation you should drop.

    Now, michael and Henry, why did I again make the same point 1.) ? Take the Guiterrez example, cited by Zach. The Holy Father’s “ten observations” were indeed a condemnation of politicization and of supporting something like a temporal messianism.

    And, as folks that we should safely assume are familiar with this sort of history (one of several examples), I understand you can quibble about what makes for a “condemnation.” But it is quite reasonable to label it as such, and it quite reasonable – particularly as we are all folks that wish to claim the Catholic mantle – to state that we should give the Holy Father wide and deep deference on these questions, given his role as theologian, steward, successor, and chief priest.

    One need not be well versed in the diverse texts of this movement (I certainly am not) to easily recognize Vatican condemnation, particularly of the elements of Marxism and comfort with violence.

  • Jonathan

    Condemnation is not a word to be used lightly; criticism and investigation and concern about various ideas is not condemnation. Playing fast and loose with the idea of ecclesial condemnation is not wise.

  • Henry,

    You are quite correct that words should not be used lightly. And let me make more explicit that I am aware of and appreciate the point that it is cheap and easy to “cherry pick” from marginal and extremist claimants, and then broaden to smear a whole. That is not my intention – and such is the difficulty of this medium (one reason why I will reinterate my point about charity and not assuming the worst of an “opponent”).

    All the same, condemnation is a word that fits (of the extremist/marginal elements, certainly), and this is noteworthy. I refer, specificially, to the Holy Father’s view, expressed in his writings throughout the 80s most notably, that much of liberation theology (“much” being measured by political influence) viewed reality as “political,” making “liberation” also first and foremost a concept of politics, thus making “liberation” to be a guide to political action. In sum, that which he thought to be a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church deserves the label “condemnation.”

  • One could also quote these thoughts:

    “Finally, development must not be understood solely in economic terms, but in a way that is fully human. It is not only a question of raising all peoples to the level currently enjoyed by the richest countries, but rather of building up a more decent life through united labour, of concretely enhancing every individual’s dignity and creativity, as well as his capacity to respond to his personal vocation, and thus to God’s call. The apex of development is the exercise of the right and duty to seek God, to know him and to live in accordance with that knowledge.”

    “The modern business economy has positive aspects. Its basis is human freedom exercised in the economic field, just as it is exercised in many other fields. Economic activity is indeed but one sector in a great variety of human activities, and like every other sector, it includes the right to freedom, as well as the duty of making responsible use of freedom. But it is important to note that there are specific differences between the trends of modern society and those of the past, even the recent past. Whereas at one time the decisive factor of production was the land, and later capital — understood as a total complex of the instruments of production — today the decisive factor is increasingly man himself, that is, his knowledge, especially his scientific knowledge, his capacity for interrelated and compact organization, as well as his ability to perceive the needs of others and to satisfy them.
    It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs. But this is true only for those needs which are “solvent”, insofar as they are endowed with purchasing power, and for those resources which are “marketable”, insofar as they are capable of obtaining a satisfactory price.”

    “The Church acknowledges the legitimate role of profit as an indication that a business is functioning well. When a firm makes a profit, this means that productive factors have been properly employed and corresponding human needs have been duly satisfied.”

    “Marxism criticized capitalist bourgeois societies, blaming them for the commercialization and alienation of human existence. This rebuke is of course based on a mistaken and inadequate idea of alienation, derived solely from the sphere of relationships of production and ownership, that is, giving them a materialistic foundation and moreover denying the legitimacy and positive value of market relationships even in their own sphere. Marxism thus ends up by affirming that only in a collective society can alienation be eliminated. However, the historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency.”

    “Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?
    The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”.

  • Hey Michael,

    What you say about Gutierrez makes sense. Maybe I can explain why I think this still constitutes class antagonism, or why it’s an indirect way of advocating for perpetual class warfare.

    “In other words he does not believe in creating “class antagonism” because it already exists as an inherent feature of colonial capitalism. He believes that the church should “take sides” with the oppressed classes in their desire for liberation from a system that itself creates class antagonism.”

    I think this is an attempt to project a vision of reality onto the world, rather than an attempt to know the world as it is. I also think that the attempt to project a vision of reality onto the world is what constitutes ideology. Why? Because I think it is factually untrue, strictly speaking. It is reductionistic and absolutist in its claims to understanding the myriad causes of human wealth and human poverty. It’s not simply that there is a system in place which oppresses people in South America. That’s an easy way out of understanding an extremely complicated problem.

    Then again, I agree that the Church should take sides with the poor. I agree wholeheartedly that as a society we should have a preferential option for the poor, and think and talk about how the poor are treated and served in a public way. But I do not believe its necessary to posit that the poor are an oppressed class of people. This also ignores the fact that poverty itself has myriad causes, some of which are not social, as unwilling as we are to admit that. Some poor may be oppressed, but not all poor.

    I also think this binary distinction that is made between the oppressed and the oppressors detracts from the complicated ways in which the poor are actually rich and the rich are actually poor. I think this philosophy implicitly assumes that material reality is all that matters, and I do not think this is true.

    Further, if you begin from the premise of “oppressed” and “oppressors”, you begin by dividing people. I do not think people are or need to be divided like this. I do not like the language.

  • Then again, I don’t think it’s always bad to make distinctions between people. But I don’t think distinctions always divide. If you’ll allow me that nuance 😛

  • Zach,

    I agree with your criticism. Good points.

    And I reject the notion that the Church should “take sides” in a political struggle. The strength of Catholic social teaching is that it outlines the rights duties of all members of society. Unlike some schools of social thought it does not deny the existence or importance of class, and unlike still others, it does not claim that existence of classes is inherently evil.

    The Church does not need to “take sides.” The Popes have been Distributists, calling for the spread of property ownership among more workers, and for it to be used by communities. Private property is an inviolable right, and its social/communal use is also a strong moral obligation.

    If Catholic social teaching, as it has been written and not as it has been reworked by quasi-Marxists, were followed, and Distributism more widely impelmented, classes would exist the scene not with a bang, but with a whimper.

  • It’s clearly not worth discussing with you jonathan.

    Zach – I think the idea that the poor are not oppressed is puzzling. As for your critique of the “binary” language, this is in fact a critique that liberation theologians have come to see for themselves. They still used “oppressed/oppressor” language, but they admit that it’s much more complicated. Oppressors are often also oppressed and vice versa. Some people and groups suffer from multiple and complex oppressions. I will say that despite your discomfort with the language, people are in fact divided along these lines. It is difficult for people with various degrees of privilege to see it. This is why we need to make an epistemological option for the poor and oppressed too: they help us to see things we couldn’t see before.

  • Joe – Thanks, and I see your point as well. But I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of stratification of material wealth. Not sayin’ we shouldn’t try. Distributism is an interesting idea, but I wish I knew more about its practical implementation. Perhaps you can suggest some books that speak to this? I’m familiar with it theoretically but in theory it is not persuasive to me.

  • Unless… you can say that the Church should “take sides” against injustice…. and the struggle for justice is a political struggle…but the Church is not a political force really… so perhaps it can stand against injustice? I’m not sure.

  • I see Darwin’s point, but being as I am part of some all too often misunderstood and misrepresented communities – Catholicism, postmodernism, deconstruction – I am very sympathetic to Michael’s defense to liberation theology and his insistence that its critics deal explicitly with its flesh and blood arguments, and I furthermore find it not unlikely that many of its critics, even among authorities in theology, criticize what they mistakenly believe it to be.

    Danger is my middle name…

  • Kyle – then liberation theologians ought to be more precise in what they say. why shroud the discipline in gnostic language that is accessible only to specialists. It’s not very catholic.

  • Zach,

    Distributism doesn’t promise to get rid of stratification of wealth. It might result in less stratification, which is good, but nothing could abolish it totally.

    Moreover, Distributism can encompass a wide, wide range of things. It does not just exist ‘in theory’ – there are more workers in Employee Stock Ownership Programs than there are in labor unions.

    As for more information on practical stuff, start here:

    http://www.nceo.org/

  • Unless… you can say that the Church should “take sides” against injustice…. and the struggle for justice is a political struggle…but the Church is not a political force really… so perhaps it can stand against injustice? I’m not sure.

    Yes, that the Church should take sides against injustice is simply another way of saying it. But “injustice” is abstract. What many sectors of the Church in Latin America came to realize is that taking sides against injustice needs to be made concrete. And in an extreme class based society like Latin American ones opting for justice and opting for the poor means opting for concrete classes of people and against systems that create classes of oppressed people.

    And yes, the Church IS a political force! How anyone could claim otherwise is beyond me. Of course the Church is more than that, but it is indeed a political force.

    Kyle – then liberation theologians ought to be more precise in what they say. why shroud the discipline in gnostic language that is accessible only to specialists. It’s not very catholic.

    But the point, Zach, is that with the exception of yourself, no one here is even reading liberation theology and yet they make claims about what “it” says.

    Your concern about “gnostic language” for “specialists” is off the mark as well — liberation theologians have always been criticized by the theological mainstream for being too simplistic, not academic enough, etc.

    A great introductory text is Gustavo Gutierrez’s We Drink From Our Own Wells. Its language is not “gnostic.” It is less academic than Theology of Liberation. It is a beautiful book. A new 20th anniversary edition is out now from Orbis, with an introduction by Henri Nouwen. Will not take you long to read it.

  • Zach – Let me say again that I think it’s really commendable that you took the time to read (some of?) A Theology of Liberation. If I neglected your posts, it was because of my school work (I think I was in the middle of a comp). Happy to discuss it with you via email if you like.

  • I think the idea that the poor are not oppressed is puzzling.

    Well, obviously it’s invariably oppressive to be poor, if that’s what you mean. But it is not necessarily the case that people who are poor are poor because someone actively made them poor — because someone oppressed them. They might just be… poor.

    For instance, many of the poorest people in sub-Saharan Africa are those who are still living semi-nomadic hunter/gatherer lives in exactly the way that people have done in the same region for centuries. When their ancestors lived under pretty much the same physical conditions 1000 years ago (except for the occasional UN, NGO or missionary representative driving in to dispense immunizations, anti-biotics, and other modern help) there was clearly no one oppressing them and keeping them poor. They simply lived the way they did. That they still live in similar conditions now does not necessarily mean that someone is keeping them from changing to a more affluent way of life (though certainly, that is sometimes the case) it could just be that they haven’t changed.

  • “I’m sorry if it frustrates you that many of us have little interest in studying liberation theology. Everyone ends up making decisions about what to spend time studying in depth, and not everyone makes the same decisions.”

    Fair enough. It’s virtually a concession that the bloggers on this site barely know what they’re talking about when they post or comment on liberation theology.

    And that’s fine. You don’t want to visit my blog to get info on auto repair, economics, or any number of other subjects.

  • Fair enough. It’s virtually a concession that the bloggers on this site barely know what they’re talking about when they post or comment on liberation theology.

    Exactly. For people who have “little interest” in liberation theology, they sure do post on it a lot.

  • Being statistically minded, I did a search on the number of posts containing the worlds “liberation theology” which has been written on this site and found a whopping 14 out of 1677. Of these, the only one I wrote was this one.

    Clearly, I need to write less about topics I don’t focus on. (Though as I pointed out several times, this post was written to deal with Jansenism and with how people deal with correction from the Church — it’s not about liberation theology.)

  • By “post” I mean it comes up a lot on this blog, in “posts” or in the comments.

  • “And yes the Church is a political force.”

    How is this so, particularly in light of this:

    “The Church has no models to present; models that are real and truly effective can only arise within the framework of different historical situations, through the efforts of all those who responsibly confront concrete problems in all their social, economic, political and cultural aspects, as these interact with one another.84 For such a task the Church offers her social teaching as an indispensable and ideal orientation, a teaching which, as already mentioned, recognizes the positive value of the market and of enterprise, but which at the same time points out that these need to be oriented towards the common good. This teaching also recognizes the legitimacy of workers’ efforts to obtain full respect for their dignity and to gain broader areas of participation in the life of industrial enterprises so that, while cooperating with others and under the direction of others, they can in a certain sense “work for themselves”85 through the exercise of their intelligence and freedom.”

  • Ah the same stupid discussions, circling around perpetually.

    Phillip – Just because the church does not offer particular political programs (so it says, but it clearly does sometimes) does not mean the church is not a political force.

  • 14 out of 1677: not a lot, but the last two sure seem to be very popular with us in the commentariat.

    It’s a false logic to cite similar behavior in heretics and LT advocates/sympathizers. We’re dealing with a good theologian (Cardinal Ratzinger) who seemed to have a very selective reading in LT. The advocates/sympathizers protested. No problem there; the protest dealt simply with the facts of mischaracterizing LT. Lots of human beings protest. Terrorists are protesters of sorts. So are political parties when they are out of power.

    To equate Jansenism with LT isn’t a stretch unless you bring Republicans, terrorists, and my ex-neighbor in Chicago who thought my Memorial Day flag was out too long and stuffed it in my mailbox the last Tuesday of one May.

    That Cardinal Ratzinger might get LT wrong doesn’t merit some whitewash. In a healthy Church, theologians would have the opportunity to present their accurate position and discuss accordingly. Sort of like a blog like this, only with more Latin.

    Phillip, you have a long quote there. Citation?

  • Michael,

    Fine, but in what sense do you mean the Church is political?

    Todd,

    All the above quotes from Centessimus Annus

  • I would think by “political force”, MI means the Church can influence government policy through moral suasion. That seems to be the case to a greater or lesser degree depending on the time and place. If that’s what he means, or close to it, then I would wholeheartedly agree and endorse such political forcefulness.

  • To be more precise, that influence can be direct (eg, getting legislators to pass the Stupak amendment) or more indirect, such as addressing moral issues with the voting public that then act on particular representatives/legislation (eg, the ssm referenda). It’s pretty hard to deny the Church is a political force in that sense.

  • That would be fine when the moral choices are clear (for example when Pius XII instructed Italian Catholics not to vote for Communists in the 50’s.) Where prudential judgment is in play, I think the Church herself would be shy to promote specific programs. Though as pointed out, promoting Stupak would probably be reasonable though I think a Catholic could licitly disagree with such a choice by the Church as a prudential judgment. Especially as such would not be a judgment of the “Church” but rather of a regional conference or even a specific bishop.

    That is in distinction to moral principles themselves which the Church presents to society for the laity to enact through the political process. Though with such political processes Catholics of good will will frequently come to different conclusions on how to enact the principles.

  • c matt – Yes, the church is political in the sense of influencing government. But more than that it influences persons, societies, alternative communities, the church itself as a community, etc.

  • In other words being church (when church truly exists, not a white middle class american conservative social club) is a political act.

  • Where do you come up with this idea that people think of The Church or their parishes as a white, middle class, American, conservative social club? First off, not all of us here are “white” (and frankly, my Hispanic half is getting very tired of being lectured on being white-focused by Mr. West Virginia), and further I have yet to belong to a parish which isn’t at least half Hispanic, with significant groups of Vietnamese, Filipino, Lebanese and Nigerian parishioners. There’s nothing white about American parish life.

  • Michael,

    So that which is political is that which influences other things.

  • Michael,

    I’m a whitexican and I find your comments awfully racist and belittling.

  • I believe the discussion could go on indefinitely for a fairly simple reason: the lack of a definition of “liberation theology”.

    Such as has been written by its promoters make it sound like sociology.

    Certainly there is much to be done in the impoverished countries of the world. The Church has been among the leaders in attempting to alleviate the poverty [the chief problem]. this is called a corporal work of mercy.

  • I’m half Lebanese and I’m a little sick of it too.

    Here in Orange County, the Churches I’ve gone to have been overwhelmingly Asian and Hispanic.

  • Its part of the class struggle.

  • In the context of the whole “Church in politics” discussion, I think people often use “Church” when they mean “Magisterium”… the *Church* *should* be involved in politics, although her bishops may — out of prudence — speak publicly only on occasion. Although the phrase is employed by unorthodox groups, it bears remembering that “we are [the] Church”. In fact, the *role* of the laity *as members of Christ’s body* is to bring Him and His Gospel into the world.

  • Michael, thanks. I did end up reading the whole book. I have written something on it but its nothing polished or scholarly. I will try to pick up the conversation sometime in the near future. I understand about the busyness and school… I’m surprised half of us find the time to do anything on the internet. And I may check out “We Drink from these Wells” in the near future. When I do I will try to write about it in the hopes of having a fruitful conversation.

    And Chris, great point! That is a very helpful distinction.

  • Darwin – Apologies if I contributed to the derailing of this thread. I totally agree with your logic as expressed above, and I have a hard time staying focused especially when the conversation can get so damn interesting around here.

  • Joe,

    What exactly is half Lebanese? ANd why is it making you sick? I was born in Lebanon, but that doesn’t make me Lebanese (well at least not anymore). I’m not sure Lebanese is a race, heck, its barely a country.

    I still get the question, “where are you from?” and when I answer, “Northern Virgina” the response is, “I meant your nationality” and I tell them to just drop the Northern part.

    I thought Catholic meant universal. What would make anyone think a Catholic parish would be homogeneous? If it wasn’t for praying in Latin, I probably wouldn’t be able to communicate with half the people in my parish. My Latin is improving but my Tagalog, Mexican, Honduran, Bolivian, Korean and Liberal ain’t so good. 🙂

  • Darwin:

    1) I didn’t say people think of the church in those terms. But that’s very much what many u.s. parishes are like, whether or not the congregation thinks so. It’s for good reason that someone (I forget who) said that Sunday churchgoing is the most segregated hour in america.

    2) I didn’t lecture you. The comment was not directed to you.

    3) Of course there are many people who are not white in u.s. parishes. It is worthwhile to ask whether or not the style of worship is white, the theology is white, and to what degree non-whites are expected to act white.

    Phillip: No. Try again.

    Gabriel: The point of liberation theology is not the insistence that “there is much to be done in the impoverished countries of the world,” but that there is much to be done in the so-called First World, i.e. conversion that is both individual and communal, and that is both spiritual and socio-political.

    Joe: Have the churches been Asian and Hispanic, or have a lot of the people in those churches been Asian and Hispanic? These are important distinctions.

    Chris Burgwald: When I say the Church is political or a political force I mean the whole Church – laity, clergy, and religious.

    American Knight:

    I thought Catholic meant universal. What would make anyone think a Catholic parish would be homogeneous?

    Your first point is true. Part of the problem is that in the united states parishes might look awfully diverse sometimes but all are expected to be americans first. Oppose a u.s.-led war? Then shut up. Live in the u.s. but disagree with its foreign policy? Shut the hell up. Live in the u.s. and have deep deep suspicions about its relationship with your home country or race? Get the hell out. Etc. Etc.

  • Michael,

    1) I didn’t say people think of the church in those terms. But that’s very much what many u.s. parishes are like, whether or not the congregation thinks so. It’s for good reason that someone (I forget who) said that Sunday churchgoing is the most segregated hour in america.

    3) Of course there are many people who are not white in u.s. parishes. It is worthwhile to ask whether or not the style of worship is white, the theology is white, and to what degree non-whites are expected to act white.

    You know, I’m sorry, but that it total BS. Try telling that to any of my last three pastors that churchgoing in the most segregated in America — two were from Mexico and the third was from Lebanon. Try telling our previous associate pastor, who was ordained in Nigeria. (And let me assure you, our Nigerian community has by far the most traditional liturgical taste in the parish, you wouldn’t like them a bit.) Try telling it to our parish lay leadership, which put together an Our Lady of Guadalupe mass in nine languages (and sung in Spanish, English, Latin and Igbo) — which you would have hated because the Mexican immigrant community want the US and Mexican flags hung together behind their massive reconstruction of the Hill of Tepeyac.

    This “I the mighty white man who has studied radical theology must hector all of you about how undiverse you are” routine is not only tiresome and inaccurate, it’s a bit ridiculous as well.

    This is the beauty of our Catholic faith: It is not made up of white liturgy, Hispanic liturgy and African liturgy — we have one liturgy which is universal and celebrated by all, in unity. We do not have “white theology” and “black theology” and “brown theology” — we have Catholic theology.

    Part of the problem is that in the united states parishes might look awfully diverse sometimes but all are expected to be americans first. Oppose a u.s.-led war? Then shut up. Live in the u.s. but disagree with its foreign policy? Shut the hell up. Live in the u.s. and have deep deep suspicions about its relationship with your home country or race? Get the hell out. Etc. Etc.

    Actually, I think here we get to your real gripe. I’ve never been in a parish where the pastor or the lay leadership tells people they need to shut up or get our because the have opinions which are not within the American political mainstream. However, every pastor I’ve known seeks to avoid division and acrimony within the parish, so they tend to keep any loudly political groups (conservative or progressive or “radical”) from using parish resources or imposing themselves on parish activities. In a parish which is seriously diverse, it’s going to cause problems when you allow one group to make a lot of noise about topics which offend other groups. (After all, it’s not just what people think about the US — often you’ll have groups within the parish whose countries of origin are actively hostile to one another.)

    As such, the sort of race baiting and “radical” advocacy which you would probably like to see imposed on everyone is generally not going to be encouraged by any sane pastor of a highly diverse parish. It’s not, however, because he’s trying to tell people to shut up or get out — it’s because he doesn’t want people like you telling lots of other members of the parish to shut up or get out.

    If you don’t like that — well, I’m sorry. As you observe, Catholic parish life should not involve telling people you don’t like to shut up or get out.

  • “But more than that it (the Church) influences persons, societies, alternative communities” Michael

    “So that which is political is that which influences others.” Phillip

    “No, try again.” Michael

    Actually Michael, given that’s what you said you need to try again.

  • Darwin,

    I have to say that my experiences have been quite similar. I don’t know what world MI lives in, but it isn’t the one I live in.

    And what the hell does it mean to “act white” anyway? At the TLM I attend, everyone acts the same way – reverent. They dress the same way – respectfully. They all give off the same vibe – civilized, whether they are Asian, Hispanic, mutts like me, or white.

    Race doesn’t come up. And that’s a good thing. I’m sick of race pimps trying to create problems where they don’t exist so they can see a world view to which they are psychologically attached come to life before their eyes, and give their post-graduate thesis on racial oppression in America a valid reason for existence.

  • AK,

    LOL, I didn’t mean I was sick of being half Lebanese!

    I meant sick of MI and other’s constant invocation of race when no one else is thinking about it or letting it ruin their lives. Oh yes, I know – next we’ll hear, “that’s just the problem – you don’t think about it!” Right! We were all just existing together, praying together, treating one another like Christians and human beings, without realizing how we were oppressing and dominating!

    Please! Accept this reality that doesn’t correspond with anything you experience in your life!

  • And what the hell does it mean to “act white” anyway? At the TLM I attend, everyone acts the same way – reverent. They dress the same way – respectfully. They all give off the same vibe – civilized, whether they are Asian, Hispanic, mutts like me, or white.

    Yeah, I’m not sure what what that’s supposed to mean. Certainly, I see different dress from different communities, though everyone is wearing their best. You’ll hear a couple different languages in the breezeway after mass, and goodness knows there’s a variety of food at parish events.

    Is the expectation that there should be a bunch of people jumping around like “happy natives” for National Geographic?

  • Aside from some fairly substantial issues in worldview between Michael and myself (and presumably others in this forum), I think one problem here might just be a matter of ignorance.

    West Virginia is a state where the white population is 96% (and less than 1% Hispanic) and a Catholic population of only 8%. I have no doubt that there is very little diversity in the parishes he is accustomed to in WV (contrast with Toronto where he probably experienced a great deal more diversity). However, it should go without saying that WV is not a very good sample demograhpic for the country as a whole and projecting observations from there on the rest of the country would be innacurate and perhaps even unjust.

  • Darwin,

    Considering your experiences are CA and TX, I’m not surprised. CA isn’t considered America for most discussions of the American experience. TX is much like the rest of the South in that there simply isn’t much Catholic tradition except in a few enclaves. TX is a little more unique in that whatever Catholic tradition is like CA and tracing itself to Mexico and ultimately Spain.

    Although somewhat an accident of history, the catholicism of the Upper Midwest to the East is pretty much separated by race and class. This is somewhat an artifact of their being separate parishes for the different ethnic groups such as the Irish and Germans.

    I can’t speak to the TLMs as much, but they are mostly ghettos anyway and not normative. No offense against the TLM. I don’t think our diocesan TLM has more than 300 families in a diocese with about 400,000 catholics.

  • TX is much like the rest of the South in that there simply isn’t much Catholic tradition except in a few enclaves.

    Although your next sentence is a bit of a qualifier, this one isn’t accurate. There is a strong and deeply rooted Catholic tradition in Texas. This is true among the Mexican, Anglo, and Asian populations, although not the African one. And the state is more “Southwest” than “Southern,” but that’s not really accurate either. I’d say that Texas is unique in that its history and geography shape a geographic mindset of isolation and uniqueness, and one that exists not just in the minds of its citizens but also exerts itself in policy. Demographics might well change this, however, as libertarian and independent-flavored policies have facilitated more statist voters.

  • I’m not a TX historian but any means, but I thought even in Texas the wealthy whites were more likely to be Anglican or Methodist and the poor whites were more likely to be Southern Baptist. That has probably changed some. I seem to recall that prior to the Texas Revolution, the wealthy families converted to Catholicism and then became Protestants once they joined the States.

  • It’s obvious, isn’t it? Michael has lived a segregated life in an all-white state, and he has an unfortunate but common cognitive bias of assuming (wrongly) that everyone else’s experience is like his own.

    He needs to grow up and experience the world before pontificating — maybe get to know a few of the black and brown people whom he has never met but for whom he dares to pretend to speak.

  • MZ,

    I think even that perspective is somewhat dated. Here in “white” Idaho my parish has two priests, one from Kenya and one from Mexico. The last two seminarians ordained for the transitional diaconate were from Latin America originally. The next parish over has a pastor from Colombia. They do have a token “white” Polish priest there. The celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was well attended even by “whites.” Major feasts at the Cathedral are bilingual services (at times trilingual with Basque or Polish depending.)

    Having lived in the East, there was not much of the separation that you refer to. Historically that was the case but many parishes have so changed demographically (at least in the major cities) that if they are ethnic, it is a mix of varied latin cultures/Asian and even African. Go to the Arch Street Shrine in Boston and you will see a mix of races and socioeconomic groups that range from major financial dealers to the recent immigrant.

    Actually the most uniform parishes I have been to have been in Mexico and Europe.

  • I thought even in Texas the wealthy whites were more likely to be Anglican or Methodist and the poor whites were more likely to be Southern Baptist.

    That’s not wholly inaccurate (and it would be nice if this were an easily empirical question), but it hasn’t been accurate in the main for some time, probably since the influx of farmers 150 years ago. In Central Texas, for example, the presence of Catholic whites (from Germany, mostly), is very strong.

    That has probably changed some. I seem to recall that prior to the Texas Revolution, the wealthy families converted to Catholicism and then became Protestants once they joined the States.

    I think there were some “high profile” cases, but not much in the way of statistical significance.

  • Well this thread became kind of amusing, simply because of a fairly peripheral comment.

    I lived in Toronto for over 3 years. It’s one of the most diverse cities in north america. The parish we belonged to (and other parishes I visited) were demographically diverse. But they were still by and large white parishes. I’m not sure why you can’t catch the distinction, other than the fact that something rages inside of you when I say such things, clouding any thought processes you might normally go through.

    Darwin – When you say This is the beauty of our Catholic faith: It is not made up of white liturgy, Hispanic liturgy and African liturgy — we have one liturgy which is universal and celebrated by all, in unity. We do not have “white theology” and “black theology” and “brown theology” — we have Catholic theology.

    This is about the most liberal thing I’ve heard you say. It’s “catholicity” filtered through north american liberalism. The beauty of the C/catholic faith is unity in diversity. Forget the second half and the first half is meaningless and impossible. Catholic theology is a multitude, symphony, and even tension of theologies, not a single thing. If it were a single thing, then unity would simply be uniformity. And that ain’t catholicity.

  • Uh-oh. Is jonathan going to start talking about the need to keep communities homogeneous again?

  • 43% of Toronto’s population is part of a minority group, and more than half of those are Asians. The black population is 8.4%, and the Hispanic population is 2.6%. There are easily thousands of towns in America where you’ll meet more black and Hispanic people than in Toronto.

  • Uh-oh. Is jonathan going to start talking about the need to keep communities homogeneous again?

    The hostility, status posturing, and preening remains pathetic, and now is ironic given your calls the past few days for others to engage arguments and texts at the expense of such frivolity. Feel free at any point to actually do that with me or anyone else on such issues, although given your history one can’t help but remain quite pessimistic you will actually do so. As a pacifist that we all respect wrote in a private forum, you write and respond in a bitter spirit of contention, and you will be responsible for the hearts you harden. It has been evident here as well. Follow his charge to you to drop that spirit and I will be happy to discuss cultural issues with you.

  • It’s true that having primarily lived in CA and TX, I may have a somewhat biased view on this. (Though the inner city parish I know in Cincinatti is now majority Hispanic.) In both Southern California and Central Texas we have very large Hispanic communities, dwarfing anything Toronto would have. We also have a large population of African Americans who are Catholic (mostly via Louisiana) and given that this is such a tech hub we have a lot of African immigrants, Indian immigrants, and Vietnamese immigrants.

    I think what we have here may just be a case of Michael having a particularly parochial set of personal experiences, filtered through a very strong ideology which tends to make him see what’s in his head rather than actually paying attention to the real human stories of people.

    And yes, I’ll admit that hearing Michael do his “I [the white man] understand how minorities want to be be and you [the mutt] don’t” makes me angry– not only because I think it’s very culturally imperialistic (in the worst way) but also because it is something he rolls down via ideology with little to no interest in what real people are like.

    This is about the most liberal thing I’ve heard you say. It’s “catholicity” filtered through north american liberalism. The beauty of the C/catholic faith is unity in diversity. Forget the second half and the first half is meaningless and impossible. Catholic theology is a multitude, symphony, and even tension of theologies, not a single thing. If it were a single thing, then unity would simply be uniformity. And that ain’t catholicity.

    Unity in diversity, of course. But that unity is in Truth, the one truth that is the one God. As such, it makes no sense to talk about ethnic theologies. Aquinas was Spanish, Augustine was North African, von Balthasar was Swiss: so what. They all studied the one true God in different ways, but not because God is different things to different races or nationalities, and not because different races and nationalities have different abilities to address God. They are shaped by their times and places, but the Truth remains the same. This is because God is real, there is a real object to theology. Having a theologies for different ethnic groups would be as nonsensical as having different mathematics for different ethnic groups.

    Similarly, while there is a certain diversity even in liturgy (between the different rites) the liturgy itself is the same, and the “style” we bring to it is (or should be) minimal. A Nigerian choir and a Vietnamese choir will sing the Kyrie very differently, because of the different rhythms and speach patterns to which they are accustomed, but the Kyrie itself is the same, and the mixing of those differences is one of unity, not divergence.

    If my blood boils when I hear your race-baiting approach to Catholicism and to life in general, it’s for two reasons:

    First, it’s because I see this approach as trying to emphasize what divides us rather than what unites us. As Catholics, this is fundamentally contrary our faith and culture.

    Second, this kind of identity politics fundamentally clashes with what I am as someone who is mixed race. I’m not Hispanic and I’m not Anglo, I’m both and neither. I see people who are primarily interested in stirring up conflict between races and ethnicities as doing something fundamentally anti-human and anti-life. (Indeed, I generally refuse to select a single race on principle when filling out forms, I think the idea of pinning everyone down to a specific race is corrosive.) And so I see your insistance that people go fit into pre-determined ethnic advocacy boxes which you’ve come up with through your reading as fundamentally wrong.

  • And yes, I’ll admit that hearing Michael do his “I [the white man] understand how minorities want to be be and you [the mutt] don’t” — not only because I think it’s very culturally imperialistic (in the worst way) but also because it is something he rolls down via ideology with little to no interest in what reall people are like.

    This is the most disgusting attempt at twisting my words that I have ever seen on this blog. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Really? You don’t think that when you go around insisting that Catholic liturgy and parish life consists of forcing minorities to “act white”, you might perhaps be imposing on minorities your own ideological pre-conceptions of what minorities should act like, and doing so in a way that they would themselves disagree with?

    Nor do I see why you are surprised to recieve spirited responses when you accuse the Catholic Church (at least in this country) of essentially being oppressive and racist. Seeing as most of us here love the Catholic Church deeply, people are not going to appreciate the accusation.

    Still, perhaps I’m being deeply unfair to you. Your approach to race does, as I admitted, make me very angry. I’ll put it before anyone else who’s reading at this point, and if people whom I respect tell me that I’m being unfair to you, I’ll certainly apologize.

  • Think you’ve been fair Darwin. Suspect that Michael doesn’t get out of his academia sphere much and can’t understand when people disagree with him. Can only be the result of stupidity, racism or class suppression.

  • That’s another twisting of what I said, not quite as severe as the previous one. Keep it up; you might be able to outdo yourself.

  • You’re being more than fair. mike always deploys the colorful adjectives when he’s been cornered.

  • Darwin, you are not out of line at all. There’s a fairly long history of michael’s e-persona being called to task for the inability, or unwillingness, to engage charitably, and with the benefit of “doubt” granted to “opponents.” The hostility, derision, and name calling get old fast, as not just the “oppressors” or whomever have told him more than once. This has been expressed by a variety of people with a variety of opinions, and maybe one day he’ll actually take some of the feedback to heart.

  • [While everyone loves affirmation — even cold-hearted SOBs like me — let me just say that there’s no need for everyone who doesn’t think I stepped out of line to pile on, unless you particularly want to. I wasn’t trying to beg for backup — just provide an opportunity for correction if I really had allowed rage to get the better of me. Also, I have a feeling the topic of this thread has become “things Darwin and Michael disagree on” which is obviously something which extends rather widely, so short of being called on to apologize, I’ll just leave things rest at this point.]

  • You didn’t twist his words at all . . . you just revealed the ugliness and cultural imperialism that lies behind his thoughts. I’m impressed that you have as much patience as you do in dealing with the likes of him.

  • I guess my only constructive advice is to step away from the exchange in question for a while, let the adrenalin levels drop and re-read it from a fresher, calmer perspective. That’s what I did with the two times on the web that I realized I’d done someone a major injustice.

    Of course, it helped that the two persons in question weren’t reflexive, snarky, manichean a-holes unable to put their assumed personas aside.

  • “LOL, I didn’t mean I was sick of being half Lebanese!”

    I know, but you left an opening and I couldn’t resist. Anyway, I’m pretty sure the Church is against us being Lebanese, or is that lesbians. 🙂

    Most people don’t even know where Lebanon is. Here’s a clue, it isn’t in western Virginia (and, no I don’t recognize West Virginia, that land is ours and we are going to get it back!)

    Iarfate, I have become confused by the direction of these posts. Are we being anti-white or anti-American or making the false assumption that those are the same thing? What happended to justice and Charity?

    I’ve tried acting white, it helps that I am a Caucasoid, but I tend more to the olive end of the white spectrum. It hasn’t worked out to well, I end up doing a bad Eddie Murphy impression. That is one of the most ridiculous things I have seen. How do you act white? Either you are white or you are not, either way, there is no white behavior, it is a physical characteristic.

    We’ve established that I am Semitic (which means I descend from Noah’s sons, which we all do, it is not exclusive to Jews anymore). Yet, I fly the stars and stripes and the stars and bars on national holidays. Most ignorant people (especially Yankees and liberals) would think that makes me a member of the KKK or a neo-Nazi. Of course we know how they feel about Catholics of any color so that is ridiculous. Does flying the flags of my chosen national heritage mean I am acting white? Or, does it mean that I am acting american (I did notice the use of the small a, please tell us how you really feel?)

    I see nothing wrong with acting American. It is our responsibility to embrace our chosen culture and national identity; rather, than expecting our new home to conform our old culture. Somehow anti-Americanism has been established to hint that white parishes are requiring people to be American first. That’s not true, we are required to be Catholic first. Of course it is reasonable to expect someone who makes permanent residence in our parish to accept our culture. What’s wrong with that? My experience is that there are more intolerant people outside of the uSA – most of them feel the way Iarfate feels about the uSA.

    Since when does being American force you to support ideas you disagree with? Our national standard is to allow the murder of the unborn, none of us on here accept or support that (at least not those with eyes on Heaven).

    The proper order should be Catholic-family-community/parish-state/commonwealth-Confederation.

    It seems some on here choose to be Left wing/heterodox catholic/anti-American. Someone needs to get their head screwed on right. I am not condemning; this is a charitable correction, for your own good and the peace of the discourse on this site.

    American Knight, former middle-Easterner, Proud Virginian-American and Catholic too!

  • Darwin: “I’m not Hispanic and I’m not Anglo, I’m both and neither. I see people who are primarily interested in stirring up conflict between races and ethnicities as doing something fundamentally anti-human and anti-life. (Indeed, I generally refuse to select a single race on principle when filling out forms, I think the idea of pinning everyone down to a specific race is corrosive.) And so I see your insistance that people go fit into pre-determined ethnic advocacy boxes which you’ve come up with through your reading as fundamentally wrong.”

    Bravo! Bravo! Thank you for that.

    Technically we are one race. We were one race in the Garden. Sons of Adam and then sin brought about genetic corruption, migration (because we were expelled) and division followed by Babelization. So one could argue that we are different races. Of course that misses the most important fact, we are all made new creatures in Christ Jesus. So we are actually a new race, sons of God in Christ through Mary. It seems we are one shiny, new race. We need to act like it.

    In any event, our divisions are usually cultural and/or ideological, they are seldom actually racial. That is a tool of the Devil to divide the soldiers of Christ. We needn’t help him in that effort.

  • “I [the white man] understand how minorities want to be and you [the mutt] don’t”

    My guess is Michael read this as, “I, the white man, understand how minorities want to be and you, the mutt, don’t,” making it an imputation of more or less explicit racism.

    I took the meaning to be “I* understand how minorities want to be and you** don’t.”
    *The white man in this exchange
    *The mutt in this exchange
    Making it an imputation of ironic tone-deafness.

  • You might have a point there, Tom. My intention was the second of the meanings you list.

  • Michael I.,

    It seems you are the only one obsessed with color. Why is it always the liberal that starts a race war? We’re all Catholic (I’ll give you that), so why is it important?

    Especially if in the same Latin Rite!

    Now to other nonsensical items…

    To be more accurate, I’m actually a Japhethite with a little Shemite, but does it really matter?

    I’m Catholic first, everything else second.

  • Michael Iafrate writes:
    “Gabriel: The point of liberation theology is not the insistence that “there is much to be done in the impoverished countries of the world,” but that there is much to be done in the so-called First World, i.e. conversion that is both individual and communal, and that is both spiritual and socio-political”.

    I did not ask what is its point [or purpose]; I asked what is it?

    What you describe seems to be the ordinary [difficult] work of the Church.

    The Holy Office does not condemn persons; it examines and question books and writings. When Fr. Curran asked who had referred him to the Holy Office, Cardinal Ratzinger replied: “Your books”.

  • Aquinas was Spanish? tell it not in Gath nor in Naples.

    As I am of half-Irish back ground, I can calmly look at all these discussions about ethnic background with a certain calm condescension. Hard as the wild geese tried, not everyone can be Irish. But it’s no one’s fault.

Towards a Proper Appreciation of Liberation Theology, Some Resources from Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, December 22, AD 2009

In a recent post to Vox Nova, Michael Iafrate (aka. “The Catholic Anarchist”) offers a welcome reminder concerning Pope Benedict’s admonishment to the Brazilian bishops of “more or less visible consequences, of rebellion, division, dissent, offense, anarchy are still being felt, creating amidst your diocesan communities great pain and a grave loss of living strength”, stemming from “he non-critical import, made by some theologians, of theses and methodologies originating from Marxism.” To which Michael replies:

No where in this document, nor in either of the Vatican’s other two documents on liberation theology, does the Church condemn liberation theology as a whole. Nor does the Church even condemn all of the ideas of Marxism. John Paul II in fact used Marx very clearly in his encyclical Laborem Exercens. Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of Marxian themes can see Marx’s influence on John Paul II. Paul VI affirmed the compatibility of some forms of socialism with Catholicism and used Marxian terminology in his encyclical Populorum Progressio. In fact, by warning against “a-critical” uses of Marxism, the Church implies that critical use of Marxism is in fact acceptable, and this is what most liberation theologians in fact do. Indeed this is what official Catholic social teaching has done since the Second Vatican Council.

Once again, this is not a condemnation of liberation theology. It is merely a warning against certain tendencies. The only way one would know this, though, is to know the history of the disputes and to know the Vatican’s two previous texts on liberation theology neither of which condemn liberation theology in toto.

Finally, it is important to consider not only this message to the Brazilian bishops, but a message to the same bishops delivered by the Venerable John Paul II who insisted that liberation theology is “both useful and necessary.”

Michael is certainly right that the Church has never condemned liberation theology in toto. (Nor has it condemned capitalism or capital punishment or sexual relations in toto, howbeit that is the impression one often receives reading the rantings of the fringe left and/or right, or even many presentations within the mainstream press which abandon, for the sake of a catchy headline or a cheap soundbyte, the carefully-nuanced position of the Catholic Church.

At any rate, as Michael wisely suggests, on the matter of “liberation theology” the remedy here would be a close study of the texts. For our readers’ benefit, a compilation of texts by Pope John Paul II himself.

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18 Responses to Towards a Proper Appreciation of Liberation Theology, Some Resources from Pope John Paul II

  • In regard to the picture of the Pope and Cardenal, here is the story behind the picture:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=-mzOGzb2T2UC&pg=RA1-PA454&dq=john+paul+ii+nicaragua+cardenal+weigal&cd=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

  • I have been meaning to compile a list of “must reads” for a while now, and at your invitation I will do so sometime over the holidays.

    A good starting point for sure would be Gustavo Gutierrez’ We Drink From Our Own Wells.

  • Michael is certainly right that the Church has never condemned liberation theology in toto.

    The relevant point, however, is that it most certainly (and rightly) has condemned liberation theology as to the ideological ends that michael and his ilk prefer — all of the reinterpreting Christ as a political figure, the constant and small-minded reduction of Christianity so that nothing is left but the hackish promotion of leftist politics, etc.

  • I know such distinctions are difficult for you, S.B., but I’d like to reiterate that Jesus was not merely a political figure but he was indeed a political figure. No time to explain “political figure” at the moment as I’m about to hit the (ice covered) road, but you might assume I mean he was a figure who has political significance. In Jesus’ time, the idea that “spirituality” could be separated from “politics” was unthinkable. And they, unlike us, were correct. This is hardly controversial.

  • Well, that’s just the usual intellectual ju-jitsu in which “political” is used equivocally — Christ is described as “political” in the sense that he sometimes told human beings how to treat each other in a community (polis), but then his teachings are (mis)interpreted as if they gave definite answers to modern “political” issues (meaning governmental and economic policies).

    All of this sort of analysis ignores the crucial fact that Christ never concerned himself with Roman policies at all — with one exception, that being to recommend radical submission to the worst policies! (“If a Roman demands that you carry his stuff one mile, carry it two.”) One could hardly imagine anything more contrary to the spirit of Christ than the sort of “politics” that michael recommends.

  • In a sense the question of whether liberation theology has or has not been condemned is a moot question. Liberation theology is, if not already a spent force, well on its way to becoming so.

  • I like this site. I don’t understand why it sometimes tries to act as a secondary Vox Nova message board.

  • I like this site. I don’t understand why it sometimes tries to act as a secondary Vox Nova message board.

    Well, speaking for myself, on occasion there’s something written on Vox Nova which I want to respond to — but since most of us are banned on that site most of the time, it works better if we issue any critiques on our own turf. 😉

  • It takes a creative mind to ignore this phrase: “certain deceptive principles of Liberation Theology.”

  • By and large Liberation theology is a Christian adaptation and incorporation of Marxism. Insofar as Marx got a few things right, liberation theology gets a few things right. But I think some of the premises from which liberation theology works are flawed. And yes I’m aware that there is not one “liberation theology” – there’s one for every class of people.

    Christ was only a political figure if you mean by “political” that his teaching had social implications. If you mean by political that he was some sort of ruler, or that he described the means by which we ought to order our lives together, then you are wrong.

    The reason there is confusion is because Michael means by political the former, and everyone else means the latter. The latter definition ( that politics is about how we ought to order our lives together) is the common definition, employed by nearly all political philosophers, scientists and also the common man.

    FWIW, Most of my comments at Vox Nova get rejected, too.

    Part of the reason for this website responding to Vox Nova is that disagreement about political means and ends between putatively faithful Catholics, who share common principles, is very interesting.

    I, for one, tend to think that disagreement about means is often rooted in disagreement about principles. The conversation between Vox Nova is an attempt to root out these differences in the way we understand Catholic morality.

  • Saying that Jesus “wasn’t a political figure” seems to be an easy way to justify certain policies without having to worry about their morality.

    I don’t understand this, Zach:

    “Christ was only a political figure if you mean by “political” that his teaching had social implications. If you mean by political that he was some sort of ruler, or that he described the means by which we ought to order our lives together, then you are wrong.”

    Christ is a ruler – he is our spiritual king. That’s why we have the feast of Christ the King; it was specifically instituted to remind men that their allegiance is to an authority higher than man (at the time, Pope Pius XI was targeting Mussolini).

    And he did describe “the means by which we ought to order our lives together” – albeit in a broad sense. Christ and His Church have established the moral parameters for politics. They have outlined what is not acceptable and given us room to experiment with what is.

    In the narrowest sense of politics the Church has no preference – democracy, republic, monarchy, presumably even a dictatorship are all theoretically acceptable (the Church supported Franco and Salazar, after all, against the communists). If this is what you mean by “order” then you are right.

    But “order” implies a lot more, especially when you say “order our lives together” – how we are to distribute resources, what our moral priorities are to be with respect to the law and its enforcement, how we are to engage with other nations, and so much more.

    It isn’t that there is only ONE way to order these things, but it IS to say that there are certain ways in which they must NOT be ordered.

    The Old Testament contains a very specific order for God’s chosen people. The New Testament might free us from the particulars of the old law, but it is rather clear to me based on my admittedly limited studies of Scripture that there is a moral core passed on from the old law to the new, and that much of it is social (compare Ezechiel 18 with Matthew 25).

    It is impossible to speak of what is social without speaking of politics – politics is an expression of social currents, moral ideas, cultural values, it does not stand alone and apart from everything else.

  • In a sense the question of whether liberation theology has or has not been condemned is a moot question. Liberation theology is, if not already a spent force, well on its way to becoming so.

    On what basis do you say this?

  • Joe – Good response to Zach. Zach, your narrow understanding of politics simply does not match up with reality I’m afraid.

  • Joe, you’re probably right. I just meant to say that Jesus didn’t take Caesar’s place. Christ’s Kingdom is, as He said, not of this world.

  • Zach –

    Jesus didn’t take Caesar’s place in the sense of taking over his position, job, seat, etc. Jesus simply wasn’t interested in Caesar’s gig. But the early Christians DID think Jesus took Casear’s place for them in terms of Lordship, authority, allegiance, etc. And they understood it not only “spiritually” but politically.

    What do you think Christ meant when he said his kingdom is “not of this world”? That it is somewhere else? Would that then mean that this world is not part of Christ’s kingdom?

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Pope Benedict Warns Against Marxist Liberation Theology

Monday, December 7, AD 2009

17 Responses to Pope Benedict Warns Against Marxist Liberation Theology

  • Leftist Catholics rightly identify Christ as the savior of human beings, body and soul alike. What they fail to understand is the consequences of Original Sin for the body, and the limitations on human life imposed by sin and finitude. They wrongly think that if everyone on Earth was a Saint, there would be no more suffering. Leftist Catholics think that there are no limits to human progress, which is to say they are very modern.

  • Some Leftist Catholics remind me of the Zealots who thought to bring about the Kingdom of God through the sword. A communist dictatorship though is a funny sort of Kingdom of God.

  • Such words for the “Catholic Left.” Then what is wrong with the “Catholic Right,” I wonder? Or does the “Right” comprise of the Catholics who “get it?”

  • Selective interpretation of the social teaching of the Church… which ultimately stems from liberalism as Leo XIII and Pius XI understood it.

  • In regard to the Catholic Right Eric, I can’t think of a comparable attempt by Catholic conservatives to trojan horse a body of doctrine completely inimical to Catholicism into the Church as has been the ongoing effort of some Catholics on the Left to baptize Marx. The nearest parallel I can think of predates the French Revolution with the unfortunate throne and altar doctrine of many clerics, although at least they could make the argument that the states they sought to wed the Church with were not anti-Catholic. In the case of Marxism, its overwhelming anti-Christian praxis should have innoculated Catholics from it without the necessity of papal intervention, but such was not the case.

  • Tito,

    No. 🙂

  • I think there’s a pretty strong throne and altar doctrine on the Catholic Right today, at least in the U.S., where the throne takes the form of military power.

    A case could also be made for a “‘Shut up, your Excellencies,’ he explained” doctrine, which denigrates the role of the bishops, individually and especially collectively, in developing social policies.

  • I read the Pope’s document carefully.

    Now I’m perplexed:

    1. Exactly what is objectionable in what he said?

    2. Has the Pope not condemned, in this very document, the arms buildup and the disgrace of military solutions? He only appears as a right winger if you’re looking from the vantage point of an extreme left wing ideologue.

    Maybe a few here ought to put down their Che Guevara coffee mugs read it again. The Holy Father is spot on.

    It is simply a fact of history that collectivist movements have enslaved the very people they promised to liberate.

    I am frankly a little more than concerned at the prideful inability of many leftists to acknowledge this fact of history, nay, the desire to whitewash this disgrace from history.

  • Who here is attacking the Pope?

  • MI,

    They participated and got deeply involved with Marxist governments. Dissidents such as Jesuit “Father” Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua who was involved with the Communist government then.

  • I’m always amused when people, especially conservatives who decry the tactic in others, appoint themselves the experts of All Things Liberal.

    I don’t think that Acts 4:32 is a bad things for which to strive. Certainly better than cuddling up to Pinochet or Cheney.

  • I’d rather cuddle up to Cheney than Karl Marx or Joseph Stalin any day of the week.

  • The early Christians quickly abandoned common ownership as completely unworkable Todd. Outside of monasteries and convents it has only been revived by Christians for short periods, usually with dire results. The Pilgrims tried it, and almost starved to death. William Bradford, the governor of the colony relates what happened next:

    “All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

    The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

  • Michael I.,

    Donald will delete it at his leisure.

    For the time being I’m just amusing myself by reading your comments, thanks!

Adios Heretics, Hello Orthodoxy!

Wednesday, December 2, AD 2009

With the recent scandals rocking the Catholic Church here in America as in President Obama receiving an honorary degree at the University of Notre Shame to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claiming that abortion is an open-ended issue in the Church, we have seen a reemergence of ecclesial leadership on behalf of our shepherds.  Many bishops have awoken to the fact that being “pastoral[1]” has been a remarkable failure in resolving the deviancy emanating from Catholics and Catholic institutions.

The upsurge of young adults rediscovering their faith to the excellent parenting of Catholic families in raising fine orthodox Christian children, we have seen what is only the beginning of a Catholic renaissance here in America.  And let us not forgot the ever faithful cradle Catholics among us that have contributed in keeping the faith in the tumult arising from the Second Vatican Council to today.

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6 Responses to Adios Heretics, Hello Orthodoxy!

  • Gates are not an offensive construct, they are purely defensive.

    It seems to me that Hell’s defenses are weak and rather than sit back and hold off Satan’s attack we should be taking the offensive. Christ has assured us that if we attack Hell’s gates, they cannot prevail against us.

    How do we attack Hell? We must seek virtue.

    Thanks for posting this. Will our orthodoxy increase the attacks against us individually in spiritual warfare? I don’t know about you, but the current situation, both in the Church and the secualr world; think more and more Tridentine Masses and mantillas as well as Tea Party Protests, is pusing more and more of us to conservatism and orthodoxy. Will that cause a step up in demonic attacks – it sure feels that way.

    Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio. . .

  • I wouldn’t have said “Goodbye, Liberals” as the title to Michael Voris piece, but “Goodbye, Heretics” which is more accurate in my opinion.

  • It sure is inspiring to see young people be proud of their faith. When my 16 year old daughter came back from an A.C.T.S. retreat, she inspired me to be closer to Jesus and proud to be Catholic. I was supposed to teach her and she ended up teaching me.

  • protestantism=institutionalized dissent….it also bleeds into Holy Mother Church members as well unfortunately.

  • Diane,

    I agree on some levels. It’ll be a generation or so until most (unfortunately not all) dissidents and heretics leave or are purged form Holy Mother Church.

    Ora pro nobis!

Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the world of Catholicism:

reagan pope john paul ii

1. Today is the twenty year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin WallPope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher all played pivotal roles in bringing down Communism and discredited all socialistic and atheistic systems the world over.  Pope John Paul II played the most important role of the three, providing the moral backbone that is needed when confronting these manifestations of evil.

Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich, and Vince Haley wrote a timely article concerning this important anniversary titled The Victory of the Cross: How spiritual renewal helped bring down the Berlin Wall.  For this article click here.

2. Dave Hartline has already posted three articles here with us.  His latest is titled, Following the 2009 Election Results which Way is the Tide Turning toward Truth or Relativism?

For the article click here.

For all of Dave Hartline’s articles on The American Catholic click here.

3. Catholic Culture has changed their look again.  Unlike the last time I mentioned their new look, I have to say it is a major improvement.  It’s much easier to find Diogenes of Off the Record (under Commentary).  Blue has replaced what I think was the color pink as it’s primary color and the fonts are much stronger.

For the Catholic Culture link click here.

For Diogenes, which is under Commentary, click here.

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2 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

Eschaton Si, Immanent No!

Sunday, August 30, AD 2009

Over at Vox Nova, Henry Karlson offers some thoughtul reflections on eschatology (Part I | Part II | Part III), or rather — those who employ the catch phrase “Don’t immanentize the eschaton!” as a cudgel against those “doing the work of Christ”:

How many times do we find these words repeated, time and again, since Voegelin has suggested to do so is Gnostic? How ironic is this claim, when authentic Christian theology believes that the eschaton has been immanetized in Christ. Voegelin, and many of his followers like Buckley, became critical of anyone who would try to connect the supernatural with the natural in a way which understood the eschatological ramifications of Christ have any this-worldly implications. But this is exactly what Christian theology proposes. God became man; the eschaton has been revealed; the world and all that is in it has been affected by the immanentizing of the eschaton that history can never be the same. Christians are called to live out their lives in and through Christ, bringing the eschatological implications of Pascha to the world itself. The world is meant to be transformed and brought to its perfection, and we are to be Christ’s workers in helping to bring this about; of course, our work is not on the same level of Christ’s, but, if we truly become one with Christ in his body, we must understand this is exactly what we are called to do. Anything else is a rejection of the incarnation, anything else which tries to establish an absolute duality between the immanent and transcendent is what really qualifies as gnostic!

In response, I’d like to say a little bit about why I find myself sympathetic to Buckley and company.

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62 Responses to Eschaton Si, Immanent No!

  • Three questions, if I may:

    1) There is, however, the thorny matter of what it actually means to “transfigure the world and bring it to its perfection” (to quote Henry Karlson), or “prefigure the Kingdom in history” (to quote Michael Iafrate).

    That does indeed sound like something I would say, but from where exactly are you “quoting” me?

    2) Where/when did Ratzinger “encounter” “revolutionary Marxism”?

    3) What’s with the picture of the bullet-wearing Jesus? Where did you get it? And what does it have to do with liberation theology? Don’t you think that that picture has much more in common with ya’ll’s affection for the pro-gun, “open carry” movement than it does with “liberation theology” the latter of which advocated violence no more than standard “just war” Catholicism, and in fact leaned more toward a nonviolent ethic than mainstream Catholicism did/does?

  • Nevermind, I see now the quote you mean. Disregard #1. I would appreciate answers to 2 and 3.

  • Where/when did Ratzinger “encounter” “revolutionary Marxism”?

    Well, I was thinking primarily of Ernesto Cardenal (who he discusses in Church, Ecumenism, and Politics; not a face to face encounter per se. Likewise, Ratzinger’s encounter with Marxist political theory/theology while teaching at Tubingen.

    What’s with the picture of the bullet-wearing Jesus? Where did you get it? And what does it have to do with liberation theology?

    I thought it was illustrative of Marxist liberation theology per se, at least the type that advocates violent revolution (see Cardenal). (Of course, I understand at the same time that not all liberation theologians advocate such). Likewise, I suppose the image of the ‘revolutionary Christ’ is also illustrative of Ratzinger’s concern over theologies in which everything is subsumed into the political and class struggle, as expressed in detail here.

    Don’t you think that that picture has much more in common with ya’ll’s affection for the pro-gun, “open carry” movement than it does with “liberation theology” the latter of which advocated violence no more than standard “just war” Catholicism, and in fact leaned more toward a nonviolent ethic than mainstream Catholicism did/does?

    I’m not particularly a fan of the “open carry” movement, but gun-control isn’t exactly the focus of this post.

    Anyway, thank you for expressing your thoughts on the image. I’m curious what you think about the remainder (and actual content) of the post itself?

  • An excellent critique, Chris. The time and effort you put into this is greatly appreciated.

    There is an excellent Ratzinger homily called “My Joy is to Be In Thy Presence”, which appears in “God Is Near Us”, a collection of Ratzinger homilies.

    He most certainly “confronts” revolutionary Marxism in that work, rejecting the pursuit of utopia and insisting that our task is to do what we can to resist evil and promote good.

    It was one of the essays that helped me let go of, for good, any dwindling notions of “liberation theology” I might have held at one point.

    Ratzinger presents what I consider a mature Christianity that rejects the vainglorious aspirations of radical leftism without rejecting the kernel of moral truth in its message – a moral truth that the radicals themselves would have never possessed if it weren’t for Christianity in the first place.

  • Christopher – My point, as you can probably guess, is that Ratzinger did not “encounter” “revolutionary Marxism” at all, save in some books. Nor did he ever really encounter liberation theology, which is clear when one reads most anything he has written on the subject, whether as a private theologian or in his role in the CDF.

    I thought it was illustrative of Marxist liberation theology per se, at least the type that advocates violent revolution (see Cardenal). (Of course, I understand at the same time that not all liberation theologians advocate such).

    It’s not “illustrative” of liberation theology in the least. You are more interested in resurrecting the specter of the “violent” liberation theologian than you are in any serious engagement with liberation theologians and their actual views — which is clear from your post, as it simply relies on Ratzinger’s misreadings of liberation theology. Perpetuating the myth of “violent” liberation theology allows folks like yourself to distract attention from the violence involved in your own political views.

    I noticed that you did not answer my question about where you got the image of the “revolutionary Jesus.” That is telling.

  • Hi there!

    Just noticed an error: Joachim de Fiore wasn’t Franciscan, he lived before St. Francis. He was a Cistercia Abbot.

  • So after reading this more attentively, and riffling through your countless Ratzinger citations, it’s clear that you and Henry (and me, by extension) do not disagree. As I read you, this is the main concern you have with Henry’s (and my) position(s):

    At the same time, our work on this earth is provisional — we should enter into the social, political and economic realms, cognisant of the necessary imperfections of human affairs, accomodating the demands and reality of human freedom, and particularly vigilant concerning pseudo-messianic attempts to realize “the absolute in history.”

    I agree 100%. The problem I have is with the way you are following Ratzinger in the way that he implies liberation theologies to be an example of a “pseudo-messianic attempt to realize the ‘absolute in history.'” You, like Ratzinger, cite no liberation theologians as examples of such distortions, nor have you how even the few liberationists who participated directly in revolutionary movements have identified such activities and projects with the Kingdom in its fullness. When liberationists participated in these concrete political activities, they no more thought that they were bringing the Kingdom, in its fullness, to earth than you do when you advocate particular political programs such as the need to make abortion illegal.

    In other words, to become passionately involved in a concrete political project which seeks to make a social situation more in keeping with the Kingdom is not the same thing as believing one is helping to bring the Kingdom, in its fullness, to earth. Neither you nor Ratzinger has demonstrated that liberation theologians or the various European “political theologies” (Metz, Solle, et al.) ever made such ridiculous claims. In fact, what you find OVER AND OVER again is that they repeatedly show that they are “cognisant of the necessary imperfections of human affairs,” as you say.

  • Sorry, left out a word in paragraph 3. The sentence should read:

    “You, like Ratzinger, cite no liberation theologians as examples of such distortions, nor have you shown how even the few liberationists who participated directly in revolutionary movements have identified such activities and projects with the Kingdom in its fullness.”

  • Ralf: Thank you for the correction — and to Joe Hargrave, for the recommendation for further reading.

  • How is this an excellent critique when it fails to address the points I’ve raised properly? It fails to relate to the place Christians are in Christ, as Balthasar himself makes clear? It fails to deal with the fact that we are co-workers with Christ in the world. It fails to deal with the role of being stewards of creation.

    What does it mean to transfigure the world? I have already pointed to the work of St Maximus the Confessor– the divisions of the fall are to be worked out, in Christ, through humanity.

    If Christopher had done as I told Lizzy and read the post I did on the history of Gnosticism, he would also have read that I agree with Voegelin against making utopias — the problem is that his methodology is GNOSTIC -which is the irony of it all. Just because you agree with a conclusion does not mean the method to the conclusion is valid or just. Gnostics themselves laugh at Voegelin’s assertions — as I pointed out, basically anything and everything was called “Gnostic” by him as a catchphrase, though later in life he sort of realized the fault of it, but not others who had read his work. Ratzinger didn’t go the route of Voegelin in reference to Gnosticism. Again, the whole entire Gnostic enterprise is about the DENIAL of the immanence of the eschaton — that is the whole point of escape from this world! Just because others might therefore go the other direction in utopian fantasies does not mean they are Gnostic. If you want to know how Voegelin made the mistake, it is from the influence of Theosophia on early 20th century occultism; while there was elements of Gnosticism there, when put into this worldly roles, it was no longer Gnosticism but theurgia, which is NOT Gnosticism — Platonism is not Gnosticism, indeed, the Platonists refuted Gnosticism. But Platonic theurgia could lead to Promethean designs, as Balthasar much often suggested — that is the issue, Prometheus, NOT Gnosticism.

    Next, the idea that we must keep to the cross as central is right — but that does not mean we have no roles or missions in this world, as Balthasar also makes clear. Indeed, as my posts make it clear, THE CROSS IS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and it is in and through the CROSS that IT IS FULFILLED.

    So, Christopher is trying to suggest something with my posts and refutes a strawman! WELL DONE indeed!

    Beyond that, it is always amazing to see people quote Ratzinger against “political theology” on the one side (ignoring all the contexts of the Pope’s thought, and indications where he does encourage Christian work in politics!) while engaging a political theology themselves! See my critique on utopia once again!

  • “His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is “truly” life.”

    Is exactly the point; his kingdom IS PRESENT wherever he is loved! And when I have pointed out that time is flowing into the eschaton, that is exactly the point of the now-not yet, which I also specifically pointed out in post 2. As examples of Christopher’s strawman.

  • You know, Henry — I think I tried to be charitable, and at a number of points I even indicated where I completely agree with you. I was hoping to engage in something resembling a dialogue — recognizing the points of agreement, but I’ll address your sarcasm in the morning. Cheers.

  • Christopher

    Charitable to write a post which infers upon me positions I did not take? That’s dialogue? If you had said “he is right about Voegelin’s error, but Voegelin is right about these concerns…” that would have been different; but instead, to refute positions I didn’t take as if I did, that is not charity.If you wanted dialogue, you would have asked questions first before the hatchet job!

  • Thus, Christopher, I would once again recommend the post I suggested to Lizzy — where Voegelin is brought up and seriously engaged, where I pointed out I agreed with him on some things, but his claims about gnosticism was where the error lies — Gnosticism and utopianism are antitheses of each other, for Gnosticism is about escape from this world, while utopian thought is about trying to be saved in this world by this world in a completely secular order. The Catholic answer has always been the interdependent relationship between the natural and supernatural — there is, as Lubac would put it, no pure natural without the supernatural; this is also Balthasar’s point to Barth, when Barth seeks to undermine all that is human.

    So if you want dialogue, we can discuss what it means to transfigure the world in Christ. But since you like to post books, here are some references I would suggest: Mystery of the Supernatural by Lubac; Christian State of Life by Balthasar; The Eucharist by Schmemann; Maximus the Confessor by Louth (though hopefully the volume released in September will be more inclusive and reveal more of the cosmic work of humanity); Russia and the Universal Church by Solovyov.

  • In sum:

    1) I think Voegelin is right in his concerns about various attempts by man through history to ‘immanentize the eschaton’ or realize the absolute in history. (Whether Voeglin had an adequate grasp of gnosticism I’ll leave to Henry; apparently Ratzinger found his analysis of benefit).

    Ditto for Buckley’s concern about “rational limits to politics’.

    Ditto for Ratzinger’s assertion that “The demand for the absolute in history is the enemy of the good in it.”

    2) As for indications of those areas where I find myself in agreement with Henry, I invite a re-reading of the entire latter part of my post.

    [Henry]: Beyond that, it is always amazing to see people quote Ratzinger against “political theology” on the one side

    I don’t really think I was disputing that Christians ought to be involved in politics. (I seem to recall only recently where I was defending the need for Christians to take an active, legislative role in the legal defense of the unborn). I do, however, think there are obvious dangers in anticipating what politics can possibly accomplish.

    [Henry]: if you wanted dialogue, you would have asked questions

    Q: What do you actually mean when you assert “The world is meant to be transformed and brought to its perfection, and we are to be Christ’s workers in helping to bring this about”?

    It does seem that we might actually be in agreement — as far as the inherent limitations of political engagement and the imperfection of this present world is concerned. Do I understand correctly that you are in agreement with the excerpts I cited from Ratzinger and the Catechism?

    (I admit I am very much relieved).

  • Christopher

    1) As I pointed out in my series on Gnosticism, which has a lengthy discussion on Voegelin, my concern is his claims of what is or is not Gnostic, and this in part is because I’ve seen people quote “Do not immannentize the eschaton” as a way to criticize liturgy! I think one can agree that Promethean/Utopian attempts are erroneous and leave it at that; to try to claim it’s all because of Gnosticism, that’s problematic. To be concerned about Joachim is right as well (and I’ve read Ratzinger’s work on Bonaventure — it lead me to read Bonaventure’s work on the Six Days).

    2) The issue for me is not where we have agreement, but where you seem to discuss, debate and imply positions which I have not raised. The concern for me is Gnosticism, and the proper understanding of it (Gnosticism is other worldly, period, anything this worldly is anti-Gnostic). But, I agree with the problem of seeing the state as some sort of savior figure, not because it is about Gnosticism, but because it is about idolatry. That’s a different issue.

    Thus, the whole question of prudence and debate as to what politics can accomplish is an important point, but it has nothing to do with immanentizing the eschaton. Indeed, one of the criticism which is often given is that the abortion dialogue is often “idealism,” ignoring what is possible (for now) in politics. I am myself one who is very anti-political, which is why I agree with Tolkien on politics, a position I’ve said a few times on VN.

    3) Thus, when I am talking about transfiguring the world and making it better, working to heal the sick, alleviate the poor, etc, I am thinking on many levels. Of course Christians should work for respectful politics on these issues, but not rely upon them — they are to be the ones doing these outside of the political sphere and transcending the political sphere, because we are the ones with the mission in Christ.

    And so of course I agree with the catechism — indeed, with Balthasar who points out that with the work of Christ done, the evil will be made more apparent as well, and will fight and gain power in history even though the eschaton has already been revealed — it is because of the eschaton this confrontation in history is possible, for history is made in the light of the establishment of the kingdom in the cross, which ends with an “apparent victory” of evil only to find the true victory of love. But in the light of this, we are to live out the work of Christ in history, which, despite the increasing “no” of humanity (and the dangers of the industrial-scientific utopianism, which I’ve also written of many times), Christ’s work does also heal within history and work to keep the presence in history as well.

  • So to continue for 3, of course I agree with the Catechism and the Pope. That, to me, is the problem. Where assumptions of my position which was not my position came into play.

  • If it would help, here is some of what I said in the post I have suggested people look into:

    With all of this talk about Gnosticism, we must be careful and not propose more about it than can be demonstrated by the facts. Not everything which is uniquely American is Gnostic. Nor must we believe that everything which we find to be wrong in the world is Gnostic. Nor is everything which is Gnostic false in all its particulars. Strange as it might seem to some, there are many elements of Gnostic thought which orthodox Christianity readily affirms with its Gnostic rivals and this does not mean it is Gnostic or influenced by Gnosticism. For example, which Christian could say Gnostics are wrong when they say that some sort of God exists? Even if they are wrong in how they understand God, clearly Christians must agree with them here. These points need to be made so we do not follow Eric Voegelin who, at one time at least, saw Gnosticism as the root error behind all that is wrong in the modern world. “For Voegelin, Gnosticism becomes a catchall term that embraces everything in Western civilization that he hates and fears,” Richard Smoley, Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), 177. For it could lead us, like it did him, to call things as Gnostic which actually are not. In The New Science of Politics, a rather influential work of political philosophy, Voegelin, properly understood that Gnosticism had not died out and that it has had a tremendous amount of influence in the development of Western thought. Nonetheless, he confused Gnosticism with any system of thought where he could find traces of Gnostic influences (a distinction which must always be kept in mind, otherwise one could incorrectly suggest that St Augustine, even at the end of his life, was a Gnostic). Despite Voegelin’s desire to classify utopian thought as Gnostic, this must not be done: utopianism is vehemently anti-Gnostic. Utopian visionaries look for perfection here on the earth. They want to bring paradise to us in the here and now. Gnosticism denies such perfection is possible in the world, because as we have seen, the world to them is fundamentally evil and ruled by an evil principle and that evil cannot be turned into something good. Voegelin is correct in assuming that alienation is a problem, and like the Gnostics, utopian thought addresses that problem and tries to find a solution to it. But so does Christians theology. The theology of the fall is a theory of alienation; but instead of Gnosticism, Christian theology believes in the original purity of creation and the final salvation of creation by the work of God’s grace. Thus, we all know that something is wrong in the world; just believing this does not make us a Gnostic. Christians do not put the blame on the creator God; Gnostics do. Marxists, if they are orthodox, clearly cannot claim the problem lies with God, because they do not believe in the existence of God. Since the problem is percieved to be different, the solution is different for each as well. Christians look for salvation which manifests itself not only in the spirit, but in a materialistic, bodily fashion; Marxists, like Christians, hope for salvation here on earth, but do not see any spiritual dimension to it; the Gnostic, on the other hand, desires liberation from the material world and entrance into the realm of pure spirit. And this is where Voegelin really went astray. Christianity, not Gnosticism, is about the immantization of the eschaton, where the two join together as one in the person of Jesus Christ. Marxism is interested in the immanent world; Gnosticism in the transcendent world; Christianity is interested in joining the two together into one non-dualistic integration. The two are one (but not confused). In his extreme denial of Marxism, Voegelin is the one who became the Gnostic. Despite this flaw, Voegelin presented a telling and important critique of secular utopianism, one which demolishes not only the utopian vision of Marxism, but of American neo-conservativsm as well.

  • Even though I have always been actively interested in Catholic social and theological issues, worked in the Catholic press for nearly 15 years, and visit this and other Catholic blogs regularly, this is the first time I ever encountered the phrase “immanentize the eschaton” and the first thought I had upon seeing it was “What the heck does that mean?”

  • I think Voegelin and all would have done something better if they said, “Don’t identify the absolute with the non-absolute.” It’s when you do such identification (instead of communio-participation) which gets problematic — and where Balthasar’s point against Prometheus could be raised, and is where Ratzinger/Benedict is coming from. And it would be something I would agree with as well. The problem to me is that catchwords/slogans often bring more with them than people realize, and this was one such case, and I think revealed the dualistic/idealistic background Voegelin himself was infected with, and that infection continued in Buckley. The ideal would be to look at the situation through the anaologia entis, which then shows why human action is important and should continue, even if in history, there is also the apocalyptic side to be revealed.

  • Henry,
    If we assume Voegelin was a smart fellow, why was he so wrong about the relationship between gnosticism and utopianism? What you say about Gnosticism and it’s other-worldliness coincides with what I remember of my studies in the history of early Christianity. Why did he attribute the desire to transform the world through politics to gnosticism? My only guess might be that gnosticism denies connection of divine things to worldly politics, which secular utopianism (with its Kingdom lacking God) also does, although that hardly happens in liberation theology.

  • Henry,
    I fear you’ve gone too far over my head this time. I don’t know what “anaologia entis” means, but I assume it has something to do with comparing politics to the order found among the tree-herds of Fangorn.

  • Zak,

    As I sort of hinted at the situation, it goes back to the 19th century and Theosophia (Blavatasky, Steiner, and others), whose occultism had an influence in Germany (and other places, even Russia, even in Communist Russia — there is a good book I have which points out some of the occult influences involved with communist science). Anyway, so we have Blavatsky and other theosophists who merged many traditions (Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Gnostic — especially Gnostic, Platonism, Theurgia, etc). This was a major foundation for the modern occult movement (although it was founded upon the Renaissance movement which has Ficino, Pico, Bruno, Reuchlin, et. al. involved). The interest in Gnosticism in this group was quite apparent, so that it was seen by some as “this is what Gnosticism is about.” The problem is, it wasn’t pure Gnosticism, and more importantly, while it influenced 20th century occultism, and with it, various ideologies, how it influenced went outside of its Gnostic side and into classical occultism and theurgia — and of course, the Promethean times of the Enlightenment (idealist+ absolutist+ monism; think Goethe) but not Gnostic. But since “occultism” was seen as “secret knowledge” some still called it “Gnostic,” and misconnected it with Gnosticism. Voegelin’s connection of course is with the occultism in Germany which was influenced by the revolution of Blavatsky et al but again, became materialistic absolutist, contrary to Gnosticism proper.

    As for “analogia entis,” that is the principle of the “analogy of being.” It’s the point that the human person is both like and radically different from God — but because there is this analogy, the positive is not to be distrusted just because it is human, though it is understood, because of the difference, that it is limited and not unlimited in power. Hence why it is the mediating balance — it points to our condition as good, but limited; the problem with Prometheus is to identify the absolute with the non-absolute, which moves for a monistic-totalitarian society, philosophy, etc.

  • Zak; you are welcome — I hope the further explanation made sense to you?

  • The “analogia entis” is also what underlies the general Catholic approach/view of “both/and” rather than “either/or.”

    Wow, I thought I was up late.

  • I’m coming on this late, as I haven’t read Henry’s series of posts, but by reading this thread I have some comments.

    I do think Henry has a point in which Voegelin goes overboard with Gnosticism, but I don’t think that has to do with Voegelin’s mis-understanding of Gnosticism but of his very strong animosity towards dogmas. Essentially, Voegelin is very wary of declarations of unchanging truth (at least in the moral/metaphysical sense, not the hard sciences), as this makes finite the infinite (or immanentizing the eschaton-the role of the philosopher is simply to contemplate the divine in a very mystical way). This really renders the philosopher helpless to say much of anything without being Gnostic. Indeed, Voegelin seems to have not liked the Church, and bashes it unfairly in his book “Hitler and the Germans.”

    Of course, since such declarations were dogmatic and not in the infinite, they had to be based on secret knowledge. Voegelin does like to find secret knowledge where there is none, but I don’t think that means that it’s unfair to note that the ideologies of fascism and communism where based on a secret knowledge. Indeed, the strength of Voegelin’s analysis comes from looking at the connections between the ages of history conceived by Joachim, Nazi fascism, and communism and that this conception of history came from a belief that we have discovered the key to unlocking history and that we can predict history using this ideology (another favorite word of Voegelin).

    So I think Voegelin and Ratzinger were fair to diagnose one of the ills of fascism and communism as Gnosticism. Ultimately, they both asserted eschatons that could be immanetized through this secret knowledge.

    Ultimately, I think the dispute here gets back to the question of “Was Voegelin a Christian and if so why?” If Voegelin was a Christian (as a lot of his followers assert) then you have to ask on what grounds people could make declarations like “Christ is God” without having secret knowledge that renders it dogmatic/ideological? If Voegelin is not a Christian, then you can see why he embraces this heavily Platonic (which PS-Voegelin loved Plato and hated Aquinas/Aristotle. someone said something that sounded like Voegelin hated Plato on this thread) conception and attacks way too much stuff as being dogmatic and “immanentizing the eschaton”

    I’ve kinda rambled, but I hope this helps.

  • It’s been ten years at this point since I was reading and writing about Voeglin, so I’m working from memory and impression here, but my reading of him was not that he was (as Henry seems to think) convinced that political utopianism (with its accompanying dualism) was in fact Gnostic in the sense of considering the world evil and the non-material good, but rather that he diagnosed the idea of the world consisting of a titanic stuggle between dualistic forces as being a fundamentally Gnostic concept.

    So no, he wasn’t asserting that Gnosticism was politically utopian, but rather that politically utopian movements fall prey to a false view of the world and our place in it which he described as originating in (or being identified with) Gnosticism.

  • Michael

    I think we are on the same track, though I would add a few things. The occult is about “that which is hidden.” The occult transcends Gnosticism, but Gnosticism can be a part of the occult. Which is where I was pointing out that I would agree that the Nazis, the Russian Communists, et. al., embraced ideologies which had elements of the occult shaping their viewpoint. It’s when it is said to be Gnosticism which the problem comes about, because it then begins to misrepresent what Gnosticism is and encourage, from it, a misreading of Christianity and its fight against Gnosticism, allowing real Gnosticism to come into play (which is in part my point of my posts). And I’ve seen this before; indeed, when I first did a discussion on this issue, it came out of one such person claiming incarnational thought was Gnosticism because it immanentized the eschaton.

  • Darwin

    As I have said many times- utopian visions are the complete opposite side of the Gnostic coin: Gnostics look for salvation outside of this world, in the spirit, while the utopian tradition is for salvation in this world, in the purely material world while denying the spirit. In this way one can discuss a common aspect of the two, but it is a common aspect of Christianity as well: looking for salvation. But Christianity looks for the unity of the spirit and the material for its salvation — the Gnostics deny the material, the utopians the spiritual. That they deny the spiritual of course means they deny the transcendent, which is again why this phrase is troublesome. If he just kept with a criticism of Promethean tendencies of utopia, he would have helped everyone more — and if he wanted to discuss some of the occult qualities of modern ideologies, that too would have been fine. But it is the confusing of genus and species which is problematic and causes, in the end, a Gnosticism within some Christians who work within his tradition. And again, the idea that “we can’t have utopia” also leads to a kind of quietism is a trouble, but that is a different issue for a different day.

  • Michael

    One more thing, I didn’t say Voegelin hated Platonism. I brought up Balthasar, who, despite have much appreciation for Platonism (especially Plotinus) saw within it, and with philosophy in general, a Promethean attempt of synthesis of all things into a monism. Having a criticism of this tendency was not to show dislike, but rather, caution. Indeed, Balthasar, who would also put Goethe with Prometheus, was highly influenced by Goethe as well.

  • However, it is when the idea of “the Kingdom” becomes politicized and ultimately perverted, taking the form of a political manifesto or concrete program for revolution — when we perceive politics itself as a suitable vehicle for “the transfiguration of the world”, that I find myself sympathetic to the wariness expressed by conservatives.

    This is the key point.

    I am in the middle on Kenneth Keulman’s The Balance of Consciousness and hope to be able to contribute more as the week draws to a close on some of these points. V has a lot of very important things to say about symbolisms in the history and development of communal order.

  • I think as to Darwin’s point, I think I can formulate Voegelin a little clearer:

    Gnosticism is not necessarily utopian, as Henry has pointed out. However, Voegelin would argue that utopianism, I think in general but at least in the modern forms, is necessarily gnostic.

    Henry, I gather you are challenging Voegelin’s point by saying that to be utopian is to necessarily reject Gnosticism. I’d like to challenge you on that, b/c I tend to think Voegelin is right on that point, but I’d like to read your post on Gnosticism before I stick my foot in my mouth. Could you provide a link to that post? (Assuming it’s not one of the ones Chris links to). Ultimately this seems to be a fight over the definition of Gnosticism.

    As to Plato, I just wanted to be sure. I got the impression but I couldn’t find the quote when I scanned the thread again, so thanks for the clarification.

  • Henry Karlson:

    Why do you keep referring to things relating to the utopian enterprise as being “Promethean”?

    If anything, wouldn’t things pertaining to the utopian notion actually be Platonic rather than Promethean, especially since Plato happens to have been the very person (a la Res Publica) who conceived the earliest notion of a utopia in the first place?

  • Michael

    As I have pointed out, Gnosticism is inherently anti-material. Utopian thought is materialistic. They are opposites of each other.

    I’ve written many things on Gnosticism on VN. I did a series on Gnosticism:

    http://vox-nova.com/2007/12/27/gnosticism-some-of-its-beliefs-practices-and-its-continued-influence-in-the-world-part-i/ is the start

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/01/29/gnosticism-some-of-its-beliefs-practices-and-continued-influences-in-the-world-part-viii-2-the-christian-response/ has links to all but the final part

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/02/01/gnosticism-some-of-its-beliefs-practices-and-continued-influences-in-the-world-some-brief-concluding-reflections/

    Is the final part. As you can see it goes through the history of Gnosticism, the kinds, and also its influences.

    Now that was a point I also raised: being influenced by Gnosticism is not the same thing as Gnosticism. St Augustine, even as a Catholic, had tendencies from his past creep into his writings; despite those problems, I wouldn’t call him Gnostic.

  • e.

    Prometheus is the attempt of super-man to unite everything in one great system, and to do so by usurping the place of the divine in the process. This is a self-assertion which places man on top over everything, including God, and assuming the place of the absolute — which is exactly the problem of utopian ideals. And where do I get this from? Among other places, the many works of Balthasar, esp his Apocalypse of the German Soul. But you will find his discussion of Platonism within this context in his Theological Aesthetics Volume 4.

  • e.

    Ok, I put up a post which will explain this better:

    http://vox-nova.com/2009/08/31/a-brief-examination-on-balthasar%E2%80%99s-apokalypse-der-deutschen-seele-1937-%E2%80%93-1939/

    It comes from an rough draft of my dissertation work, in a section which had to be later excised as the dissertation moved from a historical analysis to a systematic one.

  • Henry,

    Thanks!

    All things considered, there is erudition in you that I have yet to survey and plum the very depths (in spite of your apparently leftist tendencies, ofcourse)! Much appreciated! ;^)

  • You are welcome (it could interest many people, not just you); however, the claim that I have “leftist tendencies,” certainly shows you are right and you have indeed failed to survey and plump the depths of my thought. The idea that I am “leftist,” is laughable to say the least; I’m a Tolkienesque man.

  • Henry,

    I’m not sure how one could actually “plump” the depths of your thought (or lack thereof); however, adducing as evidence the historicity of your very conduct at VN wherein you preeningly played advocate for Obama would make you such.

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  • e.

    I did not support Obama. I criticized him and continue to criticize him.

  • Oh, and that typo is a laugh. But that’s what happens when I had 5 hours sleep last night!

  • michael — if you’re really curious about where the picture came from (and if you really believe what you just posted on VN), you might want to take the trouble of clicking on the picture itself. Lo and behold, it is linked to (and came from) a pro-liberation theology article. http://religion.info/english/articles/article_176.shtml

  • It’s interesting that in his lengthy response to this post on Vox Nova, Michael Iafrate spends a full three paragraphs discussing the painting of the revolutionary Christ above. Michael speculates:

    (Of course, he didn’t tell where he got the picture. It’s more likely that he got it from a right-wing site than from a site about liberation theology.)

    Unfortunately, the depths of research that have allowed Michael to classify both Benedict XVI and Chris Blosser (I hope someday I write something that gets me refuted in the same mouthful as the pope!) as ignorant of liberation theology does not extent to things like clicking on the image, which is itself a link to it source, a fairly pro-liberation theology assessment of the status of Latin American liberation theology today on Religion.info :

    http://religion.info/english/articles/article_176.shtml

    The source for the image is listed as artist David Silva and this website:

    http://www.mestizo.tv/

    Looking through the paintings on the site, I don’t see the revolutionary Christ painting there, but from the general tenor of the paintings I think I can assure Michael that the source is not conservative.

  • Michael

    It comes as little surprise that you would focus on two single excerpted paragraphs of Ratzinger’s commentary on liberation theology out of the entire post. I personally happened to find Ratzinger’s analysis helpful. However, given that you pride yourself in your familiarity with the topic, I look forward to your post explaining why our former Prefect / current Pope simply didn’t know what he was talking about.

    (P.S. Michael, as to the source of the image, simply put your mouse over it).

    Henry

    Initial late-night/early-morning tensions aside, I’d like to honestly thank you for your continued comments and more than helpful explanations of your research into Voegelin and gnositicism. The discussion here has been good and clarifying and offers much food for thought.

    The chief purpose of the post was really to note some common and hard-not-to-notice themes I had picked up reading various books by Ratzinger across the spectrum of his life on politics / political theology; Dr. Twomey’s observation of Voegelin’s influence on Ratzinger was helpful.

    Suffice to say I look forward to reading your additional posts on the subject of gnosticism and further evaluation of Voegelin.

    Jonathan Jones

    Looking forward to your input on Voeglin as well when you’ve finished reading.

    All others to date

    Thanks for commenting!

  • Granted, the source of the image is not “conservative,” one of the main points of the article is to criticize the portrayal of liberation theology as violent. Thus, the use of the image is precisely to critique that kind of imagery, that kind of false perception, of liberation theology. Blosser’s use of the image and the liberation theology article’s use of the image could not be more different!

  • I personally happened to find Ratzinger’s analysis helpful.

    It’s helpful, but only as an abstract warning about potential theological dangers, but that’s all. It’s not helpful in the least in terms of offering any understanding of what liberation theologians actually say.

    However, given that you pride yourself in your familiarity with the topic, I look forward to your post explaining why our former Prefect / current Pope simply didn’t know what he was talking about.

    Ratzinger’s descriptions of liberation theology are merely descriptions of a very very marginal portion of those who identify as liberation theologians. He notes this in his article on liberation theology, as well as in the first CDF document on liberation theology. (Of course, as I said, he NEVER CITES any particular theologians.) But then he proceeds to continue the discussion of “liberation theology” as if these marginal voices represent the views of “liberation theology” as a whole… right after he acknowledged that he was only describing the views of a few.

    Of course this has led to the impression that “the Vatican” “rejects” liberation theology as a whole, a view parroted even today by Vatican officials. It’s a myth. JPII said liberation theology was “useful and necessary.”

  • Christopher

    I’m not sure if/when I will do a part 4 yet. I have something else I want to write upon next, and this week, I’m having to revise a huge portion of my dissertation work, while also working on applications for teaching positions for next fall, both of which will keep me from doing the writing I would otherwise desire. But I expect I will write more on Gnosticism later — it’s an issue which has many connections to me, in part because I like many authors who have been influenced by it (Solovyov, PKD) it’s made me be more aware of it so to be careful (also when I first started reading patristics, after the Apostolic Fathers and Athanasius, I took on the anti-gnostic works of Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria, and that continues to influence my theological studies). I’ve also had, and continue to have, a serious interest in the development of science, and that connects to the history of the occult (obviously) — a history which also is used in fiction I write from time to time.

    On the other hand, you might find the piece on Balthasar interesting (as I said, it’s from a rough draft of my Balthasar section of my dissertation, and this is what is being rewritten; this part of it is not going to have much of a place in the rewrite). It goes into some of the same issues and concerns we are discussing here.

    As for tensions, well, when I wrote in the morning, I had woken up around 2 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. So today I’ve been on the edge in general.

  • Christ as a revolutionary is not an unsual motiff at Leftist websites.

    Well of course. Christ was a revolutionary. But the important question is what kind of revolutionary?

  • Then for that Leftist revolutionary on your Christmas List:

    http://tinyurl.com/jesust

  • Donald – Surely you’re not suggesting that depicting Jesus with a gun is inherently wrong? I thought guns were just neutral objects? Maybe Jesus was part of an early version of the “open carry” movement? How dare you condemn gun owners by suggesting that Jesus would not own and carry a gun!

  • A lot to digest. I hope to comment in some substantive way soon.

  • Careful, Donald, michael is likely to start saying litanies to those shirts.

  • Rather, my intent was to identify what I think were the perfectly valid and shared concerns, of Voegelin, Ratzinger (and perhaps even Buckley): that time and again, humanity’s desire to “immanentize the eschaton”, to bring the world to its perfection through political means, has resulted in a complete (and oftentimes bloody) disaster.

    I appreciate this clarification. I never thought that you thought that I hold such positions.

    What I take issue with is the way you and Ratzinger continually point to “liberation theology” as the preeminent example of the “bloody” dangers of “immanentizing the eschaton.”

  • Well of course. Christ was a revolutionary.

    I’m sure that sounds wonderfully edgy, but if you’re going to go around saying that you’re going to have to accept that you’re intentionally associating Christ with people who are almost invariably violent in their ideologies. One can’t have the Che chic without celebrating a man who like to dialogue with opponents by putting a revolver bullet in the back of their heads.

    Especially in a political context, revolutionary strongly implies violent. When you’re talking Marxist revolutionaries in Latin America, there can be no doubt one is talking about violent people. (Not to say they were the only violent people in play, but they were unquestionably violent.)

  • I’m sure that sounds wonderfully edgy, but if you’re going to go around saying that you’re going to have to accept that you’re intentionally associating Christ with people who are almost invariably violent in their ideologies… Especially in a political context, revolutionary strongly implies violent.

    Baloney. There are countless nonviolent revolutions and revolutionaries throughout history.

    When you’re talking Marxist revolutionaries in Latin America, there can be no doubt one is talking about violent people.

    Many of them were violent, but many of them were not. You are making blanket statements that are inaccurate and unhelpful.

    One can’t have the Che chic without celebrating a man who like to dialogue with opponents by putting a revolver bullet in the back of their heads.

    It’s astonishing that you can make such a critique considering your own politics which has no trouble justifying violence, so long as it’s the “right kind” of violence.

  • What I take issue with is the way you and Ratzinger continually point to “liberation theology” as the preeminent example of the “bloody” dangers of “immanentizing the eschaton.”

    Like I said, out of a 4140 word post on a lot of other topics besides ‘liberation theology’, you focus on two single paragraphs. As with Ratzinger and Voegelin, I’d just as likely point to National Socialism and Communism as examples of ‘immanentizing the eschaton.”

    And actually, the two paragraphs I cited were not so much a criticism of liberation theology per se as Marxist hermeneutics, which I specifically noted — and Ratzinger’s observation of how, within such, fundamental Christian theological concepts like “Hope”, “People of God,” “The Kingdom of God”, etc. are perverted.

    JPII said liberation theology was “useful and necessary.”

    John Paul II’s letter to the Brazilian Bishops, 1986. I know. He charactized it as one being “in complete fidelity to the Church.”

    Do you have an actual copy of the full text in English? (Italian translation via Google is a bit choppy).

  • Yes I have a copy but it’s in a book.

  • You can claim all you want that liberation theology is only present in “two” paragraphs, but it is clearly one of the gigantic boogey men haunting nearly the entirety of your post.

5 Responses to Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 3)

  • I think the Catechism deals with the question of patriotism vs. what you call “My Country Right or Wrong abuse of patriotism”. The Catechism would call the latter nationalism. Patriotism itself is seen as a reflection of the virtue of justice as as such a proper duty for each person.

  • No argument there. Patriotism is a good thing, but is soured when it begins the process of excusing/overlooking/or outright supporting moral evils or lackings in a given nation. I use the term patriotism more than nationalism because most Americans are unfamiliar with the term nationalism to describe things here in the U.S., and find it convenient to hide behind the term- patriotism- as if you couldn’t go wrong being patriotic even to the extreme. What is that old saying- patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels- or something like that. I see this sort of thing in the drumbeat to war- in the debate on how best to “Support the Troops”. I will write a future article on my own decision to join the military in the early 80’s, and how my thinking goes today. Patriotism is something that we can all relate to, and it is a great discussion to have among serious Catholics. We don’t want to fall into the Zealots camp anymore than we want to become likened to the Pharisees- both missed Jesus bigtime!

  • C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves” discusses the various types of love of country. To summarize what he said — which I have found very helpful — patriotism exists on several levels.

    At its most basic it is simply an attachment to your home and culture, to the things you grew up with (food, music, holidays, landscape, etc.) This type of patriotism, Lewis says, is usually not at all aggressive, but simply wants to be left alone, and respects other people’s right to enjoy their “homes” equally. I suspect that for many Americans, this kind of patriotism attaches to their home state or city as well as to their country.

    Another type of patriotism is pride in the legendary or iconic deeds and words of the country’s heroes and founders (e.g. the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, Washington chopping down the cherry tree, Old West cowboys). Lewis says there is nothing wrong with this kind of patriotism or pride in one’s country, but it should NOT be confused with the actual, factual history of one’s country, which has to include the bad as well as the good.

    The last and potentially most dangerous form of patriotism is the belief that one’s country is inherently superior to all others. Attempting to remake other countries in the image of one’s own can be done aggressively through war, or commercially through colonization, or in more subtle ways. It is this kind of patriotism that corresponds most closely with “nationalism” in the sense that the Catechism uses.

  • Right on elaine- I have absorbed a lot of C.S. Lewis over the years- I really like the above description- thanks

  • Tim,

    Back from Father’s Day weekend. It may be that Americans may confuse the term but perhaps that is that it has not been used with them. Given that we are seeking to form the basis of the conversation for understanding political community it would also be good to start with proper terms. I agree with Elaine that C.S. Lewis has good insight to this though again it would be good to distinguish the terms. I find most Americans capable of learning this even given the status of Public Education. As for the Zeolots/Pharisees and Nationalism see:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11789b.htm

    Since we are trying to understand the political community I would also say that we do not think of Jesus in terms of “revolution.” Such a term has political implications all its own. Redemption is I believe a better Catholic starting point.

Miguel H. Diaz Is A Latino, Yeah!

Thursday, May 28, AD 2009

Miguel H. Diaz has been chosen by President Obama, peace be upon him, as the new ambassador to the Holy See.  The Miguel H. Diazsecular media and Catholic Left has been hailing Mr. Diaz as a Rahner scholar and “pro-life” Democrat.  Jesuit Father James Martin of America magazine, who recently claimed that Obama is not pro-abortion, has praised Mr. Diaz for being a Latino, in addition to being a “faithful” Catholic and for receiving a degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s Abbey had this to say about Mr. Diaz’s Latino and theological credentials [emphasis mine]:

“He is a strong proponent of the necessity of the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural [I guess we need priestesses to be more multi-cultural], to recognize and appreciate the role that culture plays in a living faith [sounds too much like a living, breathing constitution]. Born in Havana, Cuba [Being born in Havana, Cuba is a good start in creating his Latino credentials.], he is a leading Hispanic theologian in United States.”

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22 Responses to Miguel H. Diaz Is A Latino, Yeah!

  • Michael I.,

    What part of “satire” don’t you understand?

    I asked the question if Mr. Diaz holds fidelity to the teachings of the Church not because he doesn’t, but because I want to know if he does. It was a question.

    Your comments will not be approved if you continue to insult people.

  • 1. Bad sign- he wears a t-shirt under his sport jacket. Sorta like the flipside of the aging dissident priest- badly mismatched sport jacket and tie. The Diaz Look- so 2003.

    2. “Born in Havana, Cuba-” on to Abbot Klassen’s glowing review. Only means that Mama and/or Papa had the good sense to raise their offspring outside of a Marxist dictatorship.

    3. “A leading Hispanic theologian-” the good Abbot sets both himself and Prof. Dr. Diaz as butts of jokes here so we will proceed further.

    4.”The need for the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural…..” There’s a ringing endorsement. I would think Prof. Dr. Diaz would understand the need to preach Christ Crucified, in season and out, as both a personal and professional priority. Perhaps I am too insensitive.

    5. So is he pro-life? Or is he the best that Dear Leader can find in an increasingly limited pool of likely candidates- Dear Mother of God, he might have actually considered Caroline Kennedy? Hope Prof. Dr. Diaz- married? Ex-priest? Metrosexual?- doesn’t do the t-shirt and jacket number in official meetings. Might be a little too multi-cultural for the Vatican.

  • Let’s see he worked actively to have the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history elected. He signs on to a letter supporting the fanatically pro–abortion Sebelius, the friend of Tiller the Killer, to be Secretary of HHS. With “pro-lifers” like Mr. Diaz, who needs pro-aborts?

  • TO be honest the least of our concenrs should be his Theology.

    Is he competent!! I am relieved that it is not Kmiec. Kmiec showed in his actions the last couple of monthys he had no business beingan Enoy to the Island Nation of Naru or the Artic for that matter with his temperment

    What sort of strikes me about this pick is that it is much much lower profile name than usual compared to Envoys that we have sent in the past.

    As

  • Question: why would it be that important to Obama for the Vatican ambassador to be a pro-choice or even pro-Obama person? Or a dissident Catholic?

    If he’s really a uniter, why can’t he just take his lumps on this particular position and install a practicing/ faithful Catholic to the job? Is it really that unacceptable?

  • Perhaps, contra some who think otherwise, it is to develop a liberal Catholic and Hispanic voting bloc for the Dems. for the forseeable future.

  • Exactly, Phillip.

    I’ll assume that the Hispanic vote was lacking in his first campaign–as a politician (and nothing more) he always looks to the future; his own.

  • If the Catholic left is hailing him, his ‘Catholicism’ is immediately questionable, and more likely than not, contrived.

  • Is it not somewhat racist to applaud the nomination of Mr. Diaz [as also that of Judge Sotomayor] because they are Hispanic?

  • Is it not somewhat racist to applaud the nomination of Mr. Diaz [as also that of Judge Sotomayor] because they are Hispanic?

    No, of course not. What an impoverished (or ideologically tainted) definition of “racism” you must have. Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.

  • Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.

    The hard left has found its new bogeyman in the post-Bush era.

  • No, they still use Bush. But even they know they need a new object for division.

  • Tito:

    “Miguel H. Diaz has been chosen by President Obama, peace be upon him…”

    You gettin’ all Mohammedan on us now?

    (On another note, why in heavens name do I yet remain a 2nd class citizen on this here blog?)

  • Be glad for that, I’m a third class. 🙂

  • I haven’t even been assigned a class; my wife says it’s because I have none…

  • Well, it seems even the Ever Infamous Iafrate, in spite of his seemingly horrid presence, retains a much higher standing than we few, we happy few, we Catholic band of brothers so grievously persecuted by The Guardians of this Realm simply because we are, at bottom, classless… oh well.

  • No e., the Catholic Anarchist is continually in moderation.

  • Is it not somewhat racist to applaud the nomination of Mr. Diaz [as also that of Judge Sotomayor] because they are Hispanic?

    No, of course not. What an impoverished (or ideologically tainted) definition of “racism” you must have.

    I thought we moved beyond race. Didn’t Martin Luther King say we should judge someone based on the content of their character and not of there skin? Oh, that only applies to conservatives, while liberals get to be racists.

    Mark DeFrancisis,

    Nonconstructive comments will not be approved.

  • I thought we moved beyond race.

    Who is “we”? How the heck do we “move beyond” race? “Colorblindness” is a false “solution” to racism. We should see and appreciate racial diversity, not “move beyond” it.

  • We should see and appreciate racial diversity, not “move beyond” it

    I’m glad you feel that way. Since Sotomayer believes that Latino’s are superior to everyone else, I hope you recognize my intellectual superiority to you and your race.

  • Michael I.,

    Personal insults will not be tolerated. Keep up your unChristian behavior.

  • Since Sotomayer believes that Latino’s are superior to everyone else…

    She did not say this.

Video: Senator Obama Praising Jeremiah Wright

Saturday, November 1, AD 2008

Kerry Picket of NewsBusters posted a 1995 video of Barack Obama talking about his book, “Dreams From My Father”.  In it Senator Obama says of Reverend Jeremiah, “wonderful man” and “the best of what the black church has to offer“.  In the video excerpt Senator Obama gives high praise and further positive commentary to the bigot Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

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8 Responses to Video: Senator Obama Praising Jeremiah Wright

  • S_T_A_L_E_ D_E_S_P_E_R_A_T_I_O_N_!

  • Oh no! He said LIBERATION!

    So do the documents of the Catholic Church.

  • Listen to the words of Obama (hear them yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpzHQ_PC1uI).

    “I’ve got to give a special shoutout to
    • my pastor
    • the guy who puts up with me
    • counsels me
    • listens to my wife complain about me.
    • He’s a friend, and
    • A great leader (not just in Chicago but all across the country).”

    But who is Jeremiah Wright?
    • Pastor of Trinty United Church of Christ, the church that gave a lifetime membership to the racist, anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, who has said that “Hitler was a great man” and ”White people are potential humans; they haven’t evolved yet.
    • A man who encourages blacks not to say “God bless America” but rather “God damn America.”
    • A man who INSPIRED Barack Obama TO TEARS (according to Obama’s own book) with an epiphany at the first sermon of Wright that Obama heard. In this sermon Obama spoke that Wright spoke of “white folks’ greed runs a world in need.” Clearly Obama (despite his disingenuous disclaimer) was fully aware of Wright’s anti-white rants from the FIRST SERMON HE HEARD.

    Can America really afford a President, who is so enthralled with a man who “counsels” him, is a personal “friend” and a “great leader.” Yet he was fully aware of the fact that the man he praised so was actually a vehement racist.

  • We know so little about Senator Obama it’s frightening that he’s close to being President of the United States.

  • I’d take Wright over a neo-conning clergyman any day.

  • I wouldn’t take either.

    I’m so glad I’m Catholic.

  • I wouldn’t take either.

    Riiiight. You prefer neo-conning lay persons. I get it.

    I’m so glad I’m Catholic.

    Yes, it’s nice being safe and perfect and right, isn’t it?

  • Michael I.,

    Yes, you know me so well.