Bishops, That is a Pretty Nice Tax Exemption You Have There. Wouldn’t Want Anything Bad to Happen to It.

Wednesday, June 13, AD 2012



Modern liberals are not noted for their subtlety.  Case in point is Melinda Henneberger.  A writer for the Washington Post, she is a liberal in good standing and a Catholic, a graduate from Notre Dame in 1980, who has written for the New York Times, Commonweal, a Catholic journal for those who like a dollop of incense with their leftism, and was a contributing editor for Newsweek, the magazine that is almost worth the buck its latest owner paid for it.  Henneberger is pretty ticked at the Church in regard to what she perceives as political attacks on the South Side Messiah.  Her recent column on this subject is deserving of a fisk, and I am happy to oblige:

The Catholic Church practically invented politics, so it may be asking too much to expect American bishops to steer completely clear of affairs of state.

Good, a snide start illustrates the fury with which this column was written as the good ship Obama begins to take on water.  Liberal writers are usually at their nastiest when they start to perceive that a political pasting of Biblical proportions is on the way for their team

There are times when they couldn’t if they wanted to, and they think this is one  of those times.

Ah, but you know better, don’t you Ms. Henneberger?

The upcoming “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign to push back against this  administration’s health-care mandate for contraceptives, however, sounds so much  like a “Fortnight to Defeat Barack Obama” that I’ve gotten to wondering what our  prelates would have to do to cost the church its tax-exempt status. (IRS rules  are pretty clear that churches have to give up their exemption if they campaign  for or against a political candidate.)
Please, that paragraph is a bad joke.  Democrat candidates for decades have campaigned in black churches and many of those same churches are quite forthright in their political advocacy.  Think of the Reverend Wright, the man who Obama, hilariously, claims led him to Christ, and his sermons which were merely long political diatribes.  The IRS has long turned a blind eye to this type of blatant political activity.

That is not going to happen, and I’m not suggesting it should. But as a thought exercise, what would it take to provoke such a thing?

She is certainly right that it is not going to happen unless the Democrat party has a true death wish. 

If a bishop compared Obama to, I don’t know, Hitler and Stalin, would that be campaigning against him?

Oh, but wait, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria tried that already. Jenky wasn’t exactly a household name before that tirade.

We can see from the above that whatever Ms. Henneberger studied at Notre Dame, reading comprehension was not high on the list.  What Bishop Jenky actually said was:

Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.

In the late 19th century, Bismark waged his “Kultur Kamp,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.

Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.

Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.

In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.

Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.

This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries — only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.

No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.

What Bishop Jenky was doing Ms. Henneberger is called issues advocacy and is perfectly permissible under IRS regulations.  Nice try however to ignore the obvious.

What if, however, the best-known bishop in the country — and among the  most likeable — said “the White House is strangling the Catholic  Church”?

No again; Cardinal Tim Dolan of New York did that, too. And Bishop Salvatore  Cordileone of Oakland said we have reason to fear “despotism” under Obama.

What Cardinal Dolan actually said:

The exemption given to the church is so strangling and so narrow and it’s also presumptuous that a bureau of the federal government is attempting to define for the church the extent of its ministry and ministers,” said Dolan on CBS’s “This Morning.”

What Bishop Cordileone actually said:

My own experience, I sort of backed into this religious liberty debate by my involvement with her Siamese twin–the definition of marriage in the law. And I got swept up in that, not exclusively, but in large degree because I was enlightened by Dr. [Robert] George and other people of his kind as to the erosion of the rights of religious institutions to serve the broader community in accord with their moral principles precisely because of this issue. As well, the rights of individuals to have their freedom of conscience respected.

When I saw what was happening my eyes were opened, it made me fear that we could be starting to move in the direction of license and despotism.”

Once again, both examples of issues advocacy. 

(Even Pope Benedict XVI has joined the fray – though the former Joseph Ratzinger is really not much of a fray-joiner. “Many of you, he told American bishops, “have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection…with regard to cooperation in instrinsically evil practices.’’ Abortion, he means. Birth control, which is barred under church teaching,  must be provided free to employees of Catholic institutions as part of their health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. Where does abortion come in? Some opponents argue that the Part B ‘morning-after pill,’ which is also provided as part of the bill, is an abortifacient, though science doesn’t support that claim.)

Ah, how Pope Benedict does set the teeth on edge of “progressive” Catholics!  Go here to read the Pope’s warning of the erosion of religious liberty in this country.  Once again, the Pope’s remarks would be considered issues advocacy.  The fact that Ms. Henneberger brings up these remarks indicates the depth of her ignorance on the subject of political activities deemed impermissible by the IRS regarding churches.

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18 Responses to Bishops, That is a Pretty Nice Tax Exemption You Have There. Wouldn’t Want Anything Bad to Happen to It.

  • Ms. Henneberger – a typical liberal progressive Democrat whose God is not Jesus Christ but Caesar Augustus.

  • Parishioners pay their taxes as citizens. The Catholic Church is organized as a Non-profit tax-exempt trust. The trustees have paid their taxes as citizens. To remove the tax-exempt status of the Catholic Church would be taxation without representation, two taxes for one vote. The property of the Catholic Church is held in trust for all generations to come by the trustees of the Church. What would Ms. Henneberger know about our constitutional posterity, taxation without representation or even “their Creator”?

  • When Congress passed Obamacare, Congress knowingly or inadvertently imposed atheism on the country. Atheism was tried under the penumbra of Freedom of Religion and found to be a religion but atheism is only a belief, an erroneous belief that may not be imposed on the people by government. Obamacare deletes the freedom of conscience, the act of free will endowed by “their Creator”. “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Freedom of conscience is redefined by the government and Congress. Atheism imposed in the HHS mandate in Obamacare and passed by Congress redefines FREEDOM and RELIGION. Obamacare may be changed after it has been passed by Congress by unelected officials. Informed consent has been stripped from the law and secular humanism has been established as religion by law by Obamacare.

  • Science does not support that the pill can act as an abortificeant? Even the manufacturer admits that it does on the medical insert.

    (Insert for Femodene):

    Femodene is a combined oral contraceptive pill (‘the Pill’). You take it to stop you getting pregnant.

    This low-dose contraceptive contains two types of female sex hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. These hormones stop you getting pregnant by working in three ways: by preventing an egg being released from your ovaries; by making the fluid (mucus) in your cervix thicker, which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the womb; and by preventing the lining of your womb thickening enough for an egg to grow in it.

    And by egg, they mean a fertilized egg, i.e., embryo, i.e., human being.

    But then, I wouldn’t expect a journalism/communications major and a leftist to understand science.

  • Correct me if I am wrong. but priests and bishops pay taxes. What they own is their clothes. The rest belongs to the church and the church belongs to the people who have already paid their taxes as citizens. Do members of the Lyons Club pay taxes as Lyons Club members? NO. Taxation without representation. Two taxes one vote. But if Ms. Hennenberger is going to remove tax-exempt status she needs to be sure all tax-exempt organizations are included, public schools, The Capitol Building, Pelosi’s tax-suppported new jet plane, The American Civil Liberties Union.

  • I was once told that the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution no longer was valid and that the founding fathers were over two hundred years old and out of date. Don’t believe a word they say. They are just trying to bully us.

  • As far as religious liberty and conscience is concerned, the government does not have the authentic authority to enforce a law to send us to church, only to refrain from prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and to make no law of establishing any, no, not any religion, not atheism, nor secular humanism, not Catholicism, but the churches, religion have an obligation to preserve freedom and especially that freedom of conscience that defines the human being as having unalienable rights, unalienable rights to be passed on to our constitutional posterity as their inheritance. That progressive Catholics slash and burn the only real inheritance, freedom for our posterity, that this generation must, is obliged, to hand on is dispicable and degrading.
    Priests and bishops do not surrender their citizenship when they take Holy Orders. As citizens whose sovereign personhood constitutes the U. S. A. from the first moment of their existence as human beings, priests and bishops are political and may not be disenfranchised except for treason. Not wishing to be disenfranchised is not treason. Ms. Henneberger needs to put up or shut up. Viva Fortnight for Religious Freedom.

  • Old adage: “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”

    It’s not so much that the Church is a non-profit or a charitable organization.

    The First Amendment, IMHO, does not allow the Federal government to tax religion.

    First, they came for the Catholics. Then, they came for the States (tax exemptions), . . .

  • How could she even use the term “wafer wars”. I was reading and reading and that made me feel sick. This is a Catholic woman saying “wafer wars”.

  • anzlyne: same here.

    This situation isn’t child’s play, accusing another of what one is blatantly doing.
    OK to label and accuse the Church of politics, but not OK for the Church stand for its belief when that belief (Thou shall not kill.) has become political mandate for the Church to accept?
    The attitude in the writing takes her ‘work’ straight down past sarcasm and irony to a dark place.
    Melinda Henneberger sounds like a ‘smarty pants’, a term which was used years ago by teachers who singled out pupils acting disrespectfully, ignorantly, and hurtfully to get someone’s approval for their scorn.

  • Oh NO what do I do? I can’t vote, I am only 16, and only a greencard citizen. I hope that Bishop Jenky will find me exception for not having the ability to vote.

  • Your age doesn’t stop you from volunteering to work in campaigns Valentin. A very educational experience indeed!

  • One problem among many I see is the statement that politics come from the Bishops, first off that is a flatout lie there have been politics around before Christ was born.

  • Donald I see your point but I also have a very totalitarian feminist mother who I get in fights with a lot, I don’t have a drivers licence so getting out of the house is hard at this point because I live in a backwoods suburb pretty far away from my Catholic friends and almost any businesses to work at other than horse farms but I am allergic to horsehair, I have however been talking to many people about the contraceptive problem so other than taking part in rallies and voting both of which I can’t do very well without my mother abusing me and my brothers with rhetorical assault, I have been active both online at school and talking to people about the problem with abortion so in a way I am active in the campaign just not the standard way.

  • I certainly don’t suggest you do anything your mother disaproves of, but you can also probably participate over the internet, as you have been doing. There are also probably youth groups forming up in your area for the Fall campaigns. Don’t give up hope for your mother. In politics, as in religion, the most unlikely converts can be made.

  • Politics began with Adam passing the buck to Eve, who then passed it to the Serpent. No human society has ever existed without politics of a sort. I assume that the comment about the Catholic Church inventing politics was supposed to be funny, which is yet another example of the maxim that life is easy and comedy is hard!

  • Don I am reminded of the Book of Sirac where it says that the best way to honor your parents is by doing good.

They Will Shoot Me on Tuesday

Saturday, June 2, AD 2012

I die but God does not die!

Blessed Anacleto González Flores before his martyrdom, April 1, 1927

Something for the Weekend. El Martes Me Fusilaran.  (They will shoot me on Tuesday.)    A  song performed  by Vicente Fernández Gomez celebrating the fight for the Church and religious liberty by the Cristeros in Mexico in the twenties of the last century.  This seemed appropriate on the day when my family and I will be seeing For Greater Glory.  Go here to read my post on the film and the historical background on the Cristero War.  Here are the lyrics of the song translated into English:

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6 Responses to They Will Shoot Me on Tuesday

  • With a few young men from the Church, I saw the movie “For Greater Glory” last night. It is shocking to see what atheism will do in its hatred. But the theatre was only half full. The apathy of our society towards this is astounding.

  • Christ overcame death and so if someone is in communion with Christ he should not fear death this is some the wisdom which martyrs teach us.

  • Saw the movie. A rather emotional experience. I will review it either on Sunday or Monday.

  • Paul W. Primavera: I can only hope to see For Greater Glory. Only for killing a man can a man be put to death. Priests were murdered with impunity because of the “Law of the Land”. The Sun of Justice was exiled. Calles was born an innocent virgin. People in America have been intimidated for so long that they do not recognize the “boot on the neck.”

  • Pope Benedict has spoken about “faith fatigue” and how much we need a new evangelization to overcome this doubt and sadness and lack of joy regarding God whose existence calls me into being and sustains me. I saw “For Greater Glory” on opening day and found it stirring, inspirational and renewing. I walked out of the theatre with a renewed sense of the glory of the Faith. It is significant that the immigrants, the Mexicans, so despised by so many in this country, are shown as such courageous leaders in the fight for faith. I think of the lukewarm and compromising attitude of the Obama administration toward faith and I know better what Jesus meant when he said he would spit the lukewarm out of his mouth. Our life of faith here in American will be renewed by the vitality of the Hispanics and the Africans. We should be open to the grace that flows into the Church through them. Viva Christo Rey!

  • We Catholics of America have to realize that we of the present generation have not had to suffer physical persecution for our precious Faith. For that reason, we will have much to answer to Almighty God if we have not lived this faith to the fullest everyday, and most of all in all humility have given Him much thanksgiving for this great gift.
    The people of the past in Mexico will stand in judgement against us!

Roger Ebert Pans For Greater Glory For Being Too Catholic

Friday, June 1, AD 2012



Roger Ebert is one of the more celebrated movie critics in the country.  He is also a secular liberal of a fairly exteme variety.  This was on display in his review of For Greater Glory.  Go here to read the review.

Ebert confesses that he had never heard of the Cristeros war:

This war has all the elements to make it well-known, but I confess I’d never heard of it. A close Mexican-American friend, well-informed in Mexican history, told me she never has, either. Is it in the usual history books? You’ll learn a lot about it in “For Greater Glory,” the most expensive film ever made in Mexico, an ambitious production with a cast filled with stars.

Judging from the rest of the review, this confession of ignorance was superfluous.

Ebert seems to lack any concept of the Catholic beliefs regarding martyrdom:

It is well-made, yes, but has such pro-Catholic tunnel vision I began to question its view of events. One important subplot involves a 12-year-old boy choosing to die for his faith. Of course the federal troops who shot him were monsters, but the film seems to approve of his decision and includes him approvingly in a long list of Cristeros who have achieved sainthood or beatification after their deaths in the war.

Yes Mr. Ebert, we Catholics do believe it is better to die than to deny Christ.  We have it from the mouth of Christ that this is what we should do.  If you have problems with this, take it up with Him.

Ebert seems to believe that it is OK to persecute the Church a little, but Mexican President Calles took things a wee bit too far:

President Calles (Ruben Blades), who can’t believe the Cristeros can possibly be successful, pursues the war beyond what seems to be all common sense. It’s one thing to enforce legal restraints on the Catholic Church and another — a riskier one — to order such extremes as sending all the bishops and foreign-born clergy out of the country and authorizing the murder of priests in their own churches.

Overall Ebert thinks that For Greater Glory is a good film, but all this Catholic business ruins it:

For Greater Glory” is the kind of long, expensive epic not much made any more. It bears the hallmarks of being a labor of love. I suspect it’s too long for some audiences. It is also very heavy on battle scenes, in which the Cristeros seem to have uncannily good aim. But in its use of locations and sets, it’s an impressive achievement by director Dean Wright, whose credits include some of the effects on the “Lord of the Rings” films. If it had not hewed so singlemindedly to the Catholic view and included all religions under the banner of religious liberty, I believe it would have been more effective. If your religion doesn’t respect the rights of other religions, it is lacking something

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35 Responses to Roger Ebert Pans For Greater Glory For Being Too Catholic

  • If Mr Ebert were a true intellectual he would to the research and see that President Calles actually built Protestant schools while commandeering Catholic institutions. He was a Mason who was viciously anti-Catholic. It was an agenda driven vendetta against the Church which, as Mr Ebert rightly indicates, surpassed reason. The disgraced American Ambassador in the film, said, “the more Catholic priests and whores they kill in Mexico, the better.” No wonder he was replaced by President Coolidge!
    I recommend Patrick Madrid’s CD from Lighthouse Media on the Cristero War for a quick, reliable overview of historical background and the filmmakers are coming out with a study guide to accompany the film, with the help of the US bishops.
    Learn from the suppression of our Faith in Mexico how to stop the Obama Administration in its tracks as he attempts to begin the same process of alienation and suppression in the USA. It is nothing short of providential that this film comes out the same month as the USCCB’s “Fortnight for Freedom”.

  • Lacking something?

    What would that be, exactly, according to Ebert? Obviously there’s some higher, universal secular religion that he adheres to that all other religions must be compared to in order to pass muster.

    I will say, however, that one of the problems with Vatican II’s statements on religious liberty, from whence those Catechism statements are derived, is that the Church actually did insist that Catholic states prohibit the free exercise of religion, i.e. violated the alleged “human rights” of Saracens and others throughout the Middle Ages. The public profession of Islam was to be banned solely because it offended God.

    I see no need, unlike a lot of modern Catholics, to apologize for this. Who decided that the modernist, Masonic standards of people like Roger Ebert are those to which we must scramble to conform? That transgressions against them must be eternally apologized for and any hint of a policy that might transgress against them again scrubbed vigorously away?

    Pope Leo XIII’s position was perfectly adequate for me. It does not declare religious liberty to be some sort of “human right”; it rather views it as a prudent policy given the times in which we live. Vatican II and the moderns go a step further by making what was arguably a necessity into a virtue. I can’t do that, because to do so would be to logically condemn Christendom and its policies, and I will never do that.

  • I have to add that the view that insists, as a fundamental principle, that all people are entitled to religious liberty is almost always found with the view that all religions are more or less the same. It’s the business of the state that is of the highest concern, and the business of science to tell us the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is a subjective thing that might make some people and communities happier but will also distract from this “real” business if taken too seriously.

  • I just saw the film, and my feeling was very different from Mr. Eberts. I didn’t think the film was as well crafted as it could have been, and what seemed missing the most was actually perceiving a faith motivating the characters. They said “Viva Christo Rey” but I wanted to see them live it, to mean it. That never quite came through (at least to me- I might view it again and see if I feel differently).

    The thing is, Mexico DID persecute Catholics and kill them- so I’d not call it Catholic tunnel vision. It had less of that than some movies of the past.

    I do think the film suffered from not being sure if it was about freedom in general, religious freedom, or defending the faith. It was all over the place as far as that– very out of focus.

  • In regard to religious freedom and the Church, we have to keep in mind that what we understand as religious freedom is a modern creation ushered in largely by the Founding Fathers. Prior to that time the Church was usually suppressed or placed under severe disabilities wherever non-Catholic religions gained the upper hand. Ireland was a typical example. The idea of a truly neutral state on matters of religion was something not considered as possible until the United States demonstrated that it was possible. The popes were somewhat sceptical initially, but gradually understood how religious freedom as practiced in the United States, where the Church was almost totally left alone, was of value to the Church. I think it was Gregory XVI, no fan of new-fangled Republics, who stated that in no country was he more Pope than in the United States. The example of the United States helped convince the popes that religious freedom, in a governmental arrangement where the Church was free to conduct her mission, was something to be supported. Catholic confessional states often constantly interferred with the Church, including having a voice in the choosing of bishops, and even intervening in Papal elections. A state which left the Church alone definitely had its advantages for Catholics, and to preserve that dispensation is precisely what the current fight for religious liberty is all about in the US.

  • That Calles could torture and execute a twelve year old boy does not need a movie around it. That Ebert thinks that all religions are the same, Catholicism, atheism (a belief in no God) is why the Person of God has been exiled from the midst of the state along with the Commandments and civilization. Now, America after aborting our constitutional posterity can torture and kill twelve year old boys too, equality and RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.

  • “I have to add that the view that insists, as a fundamental principle, that all people are entitled to religious liberty is almost always found with the view that all religions are more or less the same. It’s the business of the state that is of the highest concern, and the business of science to tell us the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is a subjective thing that might make some people and communities happier but will also distract from this “real” business if taken too seriously.”
    God’s gifts to man are Faith, first and foremost, the universe and the scientific method for discerning the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is man’s response to the gift of Faith from God through which man discovers the science of man. Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. Subjective ordering of human rights is what got us into where twelve year old boys are tortured and executed and another man’s response to the gift of Faith from God can be criminalized. Which is where we are now, in America, TRUTH has been ostracized and criminalized and we are about to have the practice of medicine criminalized through Obamacare. There is only one Supreme Sovereign Being and love for God is called Catholicism. His people are called Americans.

  • This movie got a meager 19% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from the critics, but 72% of audiences liked it. Quite a disparity.

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  • Finally saw a commercial for this.

    I think about a half-dozen people from our group alone are going to go see it in theater because of that– outstanding video clips. (I won’t, but that’s because I never do. ^.^)

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  • Another reason why no one should ever give a damn about what a film critic says.

  • It’s one thing to enforce legal restraints on the Catholic Church

    I wonder what “legal restraints” he thinks are appropriate?

  • Rush Limbaugh was praising it on his show. My mother called me up and wanted to know more, because she’d never heard about it. Cracked me up, because I’d just been talking about it the previous weekend, and my mom had totally tuned me out!

    I’ve seen a lot of commercials for it, in some unexpected places. I think it would appeal to anyone, of almost any background or political stripe. I mean to go see it soon.

    Ebert is one of those ex-Catholics who really feels guilty about leaving the faith, and thus can’t admit that he feels guilty. His autobio said he used to be fervent before he did stupid stuff in the Sixties, so of course the little kid martyr makes him feel uncomfortable. I hope it does him good over the long haul, and I’m sure he has the martyrs’ prayers.

  • Re: the Cristeros, now that I think about it, Ebert must have heard about them. The Power and the Glory, and that other John Ford movie about it — they are famous, as was mentioned over on Greydanus’ column. Did Ebert think all that stuff was made up?

  • I haven’t seen the movie yet. I do agree that internal biases may be at work with regard to reviews by professional film critics who don’t like the fact that the movie has an unabashedly “Church good, government bad” point of view.

    That said, there is a difference between the quality of a film’s subject matter and the quality of the acting, directing, cinematography, scripting, etc. that went into it. A movie with wonderful and inspiring subject matter may be spoiled by poor acting, a cliched script, clumsy editing, or any number of elements that a film critic would notice. Likewise, a morally offensive movie may have a great script, brilliant acting, etc.

  • All I have to say is… everybody in the theater applauded when this movie was over. It’s not too often you get that. They certainly didn’t think it was “too Catholic.”

  • Catholic means universal, and by definition there is no tunnel vision in Catholicism.

  • I think that the reason for religious freedom is that you cannot be Catholic unless you do it out of free will and hold the faith to heart and if other people make someone act catholic than they are not actually being Catholic.

  • I don’t think any actual Muslim can be a good leader simply because their faith says “be Muslim or we kill you.”.

  • “If your religion doesn’t respect the rights of other religions, it is lacking something.”

    Unless the Catholics in the movie actually did this, what was the point of this comment? Is Schindler’s List anti-Gentile because it focuses on how the Nazis primarily targeted Jews instead of encompassing the persecution of Roma, homosexuals, and people with disabilities as well?

  • The problem with atheists, humanists, and secularists is that they do not have a solid foundation for what they call ethics.

  • Roger Ebert is a dolt. I am being kind in calling him a dolt as far more coarse words also fit Ebert. However, these words will cause me to go to Confession, which is where I likely need to go anyway.

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  • This is the problem when a Secular Atheist tries to understand religion. It shows Ebert to be woefully ignorant of matters of faith.

  • “Too catholic”? Really!? Umm..Ebert…it would be kinda hard not to make it Catholic since it was about the persecution of Catholics! That’s like saying America is too American! I guess it goes to show what liberals and druggies have in common-the more into it they get, the more brain cells they lose.

  • He’s sorta being an idiot, since there were basically no other religions in Mexico…fighting for religious liberty meant fighting for the Church.

  • Credit should be given where credit is due: although Ebert is off-base here, and is indeed a secular liberal, he has a history of panning films that are mendacious, ignorant, or otherwise demeaning toward the Church, probably as a result of his own Catholic upbringing.

  • That some one as presumably educated as Roger Ebert had never heard of the Cristiados, or knew of the history of Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s, is a clear indication of the sad state of education in the U.S. But Ebert surely might have been expected to know Grahame Greene’s THE POWER AND THE GLORY and the various films and television shows made from it.
    I doubt he is a dolt; he seems simply ignorant; and proud of his ignorance.

  • Most critics don’t appreciate “The Faith” displayed in ANY movie, unless it is clearly & overtly disparaged. Americans should learn from this movie how “religious freedom” can be legislated away by corrupt leadership. The moves of our current leadership to control religious freedom should be acknowledged by ALL FAITHS, and especially the CHRISTIAN FAITH, as it seems to be in the crosshairs. The movie was well-done with superior acting. Sad, but then real life can be, and God forbid, government control of our lives will be something we ALL will regret.

  • First of all, Mr. Ebert’s review was not even remotely a pan. It had some criticisms, but also a lot of favorable things to say. “Pan” does not mean “didn’t give extravagant, unqualified praise to a movie that I liked.”

    I am not religious, certainly not Catholic, but I lived in Mexico for several years, am fluent and literate in Spanish, and return to Mexico frequently. While absolutely not an expert on Mexican history, I am much more conversant with the subject than most gringos.

    While the anti-clerical laws in Mexico went WAY too far, the underlying principle of separation of church and state is indispensable to the functioning of a secular democracy. And it is important to remember that these laws did not happen in a vacuum. The history of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico must be taken into account to give some contest. With rare exceptions the RCC in Mexico has always supported the landed aristocracy, the economic elites, and the politically powerful. It supported the physical and cultural conquest of indigenous peoples; with every troop of conquistadores came a priest to encourage them and provide moral justification for their actions. The Church brought the Inquisition to the New World. It opposed the movement for independence (Padre Hidalgo, one of the leaders of the 1810 revolution, who gave the famous “grito de la independencia” was defrocked and excommunicated before his execution), opposed the 1910 revolution as well as any and all efforts at democratization or land reform (quite possibly because the Church owned a huge amount of the best land in Mexico until after the 1910 revolution). While the Church has also sponsored charitable enterprises, schools and such, it’s hard to argue that, on the whole, the RCC has been a force for good in Mexico. At best its legacy is extremely mixed.

    While the Cristero rebellion was certainly in part a legitimate reaction to religious oppression, it was also in large part an effort by the landed elites to reclaim their privileges. Without excusing government atrocities, it is important to remember that the Cristeros committed their own, including the torture and execution of rural school teachers.

    I know a movie, even a long one, can’t portray every possible historical nuance, but the story of the Cristero revolution is much more complicated than this movie suggests, and it’s not always so easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. At least a little of those nuances and ambiguity would be nice.

  • ““Pan” does not mean “didn’t give extravagant, unqualified praise to a movie that I liked.””

    No, Ebert panned the movie for being too Catholic, precisely as I stated.

    “I am not religious, certainly not Catholic,”
    Do tell!

    “While the anti-clerical laws in Mexico went WAY too far, the underlying principle of separation of church and state is indispensable to the functioning of a secular democracy”

    The anti-clerical laws had nothing to do with Church state separation and everything to do with seeking to eradicate the Catholic Church and infringing on the religious liberty of the Mexican people.

    “RCC in Mexico has always supported the landed aristocracy, the economic elites, and the politically powerful.”

    Rubbish. The Church has opposed political forces that have sought to plunder her and impose restrictions on the religious liberty of the Church.

    “It supported the physical and cultural conquest of indigenous peoples; with every troop of conquistadores came a priest to encourage them and provide moral justification for their actions.”

    More rubbish. The Church actually extended every effort to protect the native peoples and was unceasingly critical of the depredations of the Spanish upon them, beginning with the priests who accompanied the conquistadores.

    “The Church brought the Inquisition to the New World.”

    It would be more precise to say that the Spanish brought the inquistion to the New World, since the inquisition in Spain and its dependencies functioned largely as an arm of the Spanish government. Compared to the usual treatment of the liberties of the Mexican people by most of the secular governments of the 19th and 20th centuries, the inquisition in Mexico at its worst was mild by comparison.

    “It opposed the movement for independence (Padre Hidalgo, one of the leaders of the 1810 revolution, who gave the famous “grito de la independencia” was defrocked and excommunicated before his execution), opposed the 1910 revolution as well as any and all efforts at democratization or land reform (quite possibly because the Church owned a huge amount of the best land in Mexico until after the 1910 revolution).”

    Padre Hidalgo was a better revolutionary than a priest and I would think that a Church State separation champion such as yourself would frown upon a cleric leading an armed revolt. In regard to the Church lands, most of those were stolen by Liberal governments in the Nineteenth Century. The Church attempted to survive in the chaotic Mexican Revolution and only opposed those forces that sought to destroy her.

    “While the Cristero rebellion was certainly in part a legitimate reaction to religious oppression, it was also in large part an effort by the landed elites to reclaim their privileges. Without excusing government atrocities, it is important to remember that the Cristeros committed their own, including the torture and execution of rural school teachers.”

    The Cristero rebellion was almost entirely an attempt of Catholics to preserve their religious freedom. Public schoolteachers in the thirties were attacked in cristero regions because they were imposing a socialist education, as the government called it, and one of the prime elements of that education was that God did not exist. This was at a time when the Church was suffering a pitiless persecution throughout Mexico and in some provinces, Tabasco comes to mind, priests were banned, churches burned, and priests and layman executed if they defied the persecutors.

  • I still say there is too much positive in his review to call it a “pan.”

    I think we shall just have to agree to disagree about the history of the RCC in Latin America. While certainly individual priests and other religious have done wonderful things (the late Archbishop Romero of El Salvador is a great hero of mine) the larger institution has generally not been on the side of the angels, so to speak.

    I do appreciate your printing opposing viewpoints, though, and taking the time to reply.

    I would like to clear up one thing. As an advocate of the separation of church and state, I believe that religious people, including priests or other clergy, have every right to participate in the political process, just like any other citizen, so no, I have no problem at all with Padre Hidalgo being one of instigators of the Mexican war for independence. One of the many ways the Mexican laws went overboard was to strip priests of voting rights. This was wrong, period.

    What I do object to is the RCC, or any church, acting as a government partner and imposing its religious dogma on everyone, whether they share that church’s religious beliefs or not. So it was not wrong for the Mexican government to end the Church’s participation in public schools. And while I agree with you that the schools should have not have been actively teaching against religion instead of maintaing neutrality, I don’t really think that that justifies the murder of schoolteachers.

  • Not sure what I did wrong with the italics, but only the phrase “just like any other citizen” should be italicized.

Review of For Greater Glory

Thursday, May 31, AD 2012

There is well known to Us, Venerable Brethren – and it is a great cause of consolation for Our paternal heart – your constancy, that of your priests and of the great part of the Mexican faithful, in ardently professing the Catholic Faith and in opposing the impositions of those who, ignoring the divine excellence of the religion of Jesus Christ and knowing it only through the calumnies of its enemies, delude themselves that they are not able to accomplish reforms for the good of the people except by combating the religion of the great majority.


The film, For Greater Glory, the heroic story of the Cristeros who fought for the Church and religious liberty in the twenties of the last century in Mexico, is opening on June 1.  Go here  to read my first post on the film and the historical background of the Cristeros War.   I will be seeing the movie with my family on Saturday, and I will have a full review of the film on Sunday or Monday.  In the meantime, reviews are beginning to come in.  I enjoyed this one by Dustin Siggins at Hot Air:

Over the last several years Catholics in America and Europe have experienced what they believe are the stripping of religious rights, and many are concerned the situation could easily turn into a public confrontation with various governments. One example of this is in England, where just this week the federal government has moved to declare wearing crosses in public is not a right. On this side of the water, my church’s parochial vicar Father Robert Lange often quotes His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, who in 2010 said the following: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

Such things were on my mind as I watched “For Greater Glory,” a movie about the Cristeros, or “soldiers for Christ,” who fought against religious persecution by the Mexican government from 1926 to 1929. The movie starts with laws which encroach upon religious freedom relatively benignly, such as not allowing the public wear of religious symbols. The Mexican government then moves to decry foreigners who allegedly control the nation’s citizens, particularly the Vatican, and rounds up all foreign-born bishops and priests to force them to leave the country. Peaceful rallies and protests are responded to with military force, which leads to an economic boycott.

The boycott is the last straw for Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles. Ignoring the counsel of his advisers, he begins invading churches and killing Catholic priests and parishioners. This leads to protests of various forms, from peacefully marching in the streets to violent rebellion. At the heart of the entire movie are a teenage boy who sees his mentor shot before his eyes, an atheist whose wife’s Catholic faith and his own belief in religious freedom cause him to lead the rebellion, a woman whose network of faithful Catholic women is critical to the rebellion’s early formation, a rebel whose legendary fighting skills are matched by his disdain for authority, and a priest whose violent leadership in the rebellion causes a great deal of spiritual uncertainty.

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9 Responses to Review of For Greater Glory

  • Steve doesn’t give it a rating, but my guess is he would give it a B+ or A- on his Decent Films scale.

  • A fourteen year old boy is executed after torture for loving Jesus. Calles is a Mexican Hitler. St. Agnes was only twelve years old when she was butchered. Fourteen year old children are not even executed for capital one murder and Calles was butchering children for loving Jesus. Calles is a Mexican Herod.

  • Why do they (Obama and the Dem party) hate us?

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  • Don: I posted this over on your other blog entry, “They will shoot me on Tuesday” before I saw this area. With your permission, I’ll repost my question here:
    What is known regarding how the Cristero’s ended up? I read in a blog yesterday by Steven Greydanus, the movie critic at the National Catholic Register (the good NCR) [and lauded by you here earlier], that the Mexican government and the Catholic Church eventually came to an agreement whereby the Church stopped fighting the federal forces. As a result, the Cristeros became isolated and cut off from support and more were killed after the agreement than before. I realize the events in Mexico almost a hundred years ago are not the same as the attacks on religious liberty here in the US in 2012 but the ending in Mexico, if correct (and here I rely on you and your readers for help), sounds ominous with the Church leaders cutting a deal and leaving the people to fend for themselves against the State. It just makes me wonder about how current events will unfold…

    God bless you – thanks for this blog!

  • Some of the Cristeros were reluctant to accept the agreement, although most did. Most Cristeros expected that the Mexican government negotiated in bad faith and they were correct. Cristeros were persecuted and their leaders massacred. Many Cristeros fled to the United States where they usually received a warm welcome from Catholics here. The situation became intolerable in Mexico in the thirties and led to a second Cristeros revolt in the mid to late thirties. It should be noted that Pius XI bitterly denounced the Mexican government for reneging on the terms of the agreement With the election of Manuel Ávila Camacho, a believing Catholic, as President of Mexico in 1940, the situation dramatically improved, with the worst attacks on Catholics ended.

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