An Administration at War With Our First Freedom

Thursday, March 1, AD 2012

“Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

James Madison, Federalist 10

The video above is from the Heritage Foundation and incisively sets forth how ObamaCare is at war with religious liberty.  The Founding Fathers made it clear that they viewed freedom of religion as being at the core of the framework of what they were seeking to accomplish:


“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart.  In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”

George Washington




“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

Patrick Henry






The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

James Madison




“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”

Charles Carroll of Carollton



Pope Benedict recognizes the threat to religious freedom that exists in our country:

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level.

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32 Responses to An Administration at War With Our First Freedom

  • “One of my ancestors died at Bunker Hill to establish this Republic and I intend not to see what he fought for ended in my lifetime.”

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

    I pray that this does not mean the inevitability of civil war, but the liberals are not going to give up without a fight.

  • I do not think that it will come to that Paul, but it is important that we all speak out now and act to defeat an Administration that is at war with traditional American notions of liberty.

  • I pray that this does not mean the inevitability of civil war, but the liberals are not going to give up without a fight.

    Hugh Thomas’ histories of the Spanish civil war include accounts of Spanish political life immediately prior (1931-36) and the mentality of the bourgeois republican parties depicted therein (and manifested in the figure of Manuel Azana) is disconcertingly familiar.

  • I pray that Donald’s optimism proves true and Art’s analogy false. (No offense intended, Art.)

  • It seems Pharaoh is intent on denying Americans unalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

    Seems as if the “general welfare” and “commerce” clauses, and social justice are being used as alibis for tyranny.

  • Pingback: Religious Liberty: Obamacare’s First Casualty « Circle or Line under Most Beautiful Absolute
  • “Seems as if the “general welfare” and “commerce” clauses, and social justice are being used as alibis for tyranny.” Yep – for about the last 75 years. See “FDR’s New Deal.”

    “Social Justice” is a straw man, propped up by Progressives to underscore their collectivist philosophy. Christianity, and by default the Church, can be concerned only with Individual Justice. Salvation is not offered to “Society.” It is offered to each man, woman and child as individual creations in and of God’s image. Anything that lumps people together into a faceless blob is dehumanizing and derogatory; in and of themselves two qualities that are inherently unjust.

    This is why the government is inherently unjust. It does not see individuals. It Socializes everything, and now it has come this far.

    I fear Paul may have the most prescient point of view. This election will tell the tale.

  • The Senate vote to kill the Blunt Amendment today 51-48. This amendment would have killed the HHS Mandate. Three Democrats voted against tabling the Blunt Amendment: Manchin, Casey and Nelson. One Republican, the worthless pro-abort Olympia Snow who just announced her long overdue retirement, voted in favor of tabling the amendment.

    Here is how each of the Senators voted:

    kaka (D-HI), Yea
    Alexander (R-TN), Nay
    Ayotte (R-NH), Nay
    Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
    Baucus (D-MT), Yea
    Begich (D-AK), Yea
    Bennet (D-CO), Yea
    Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
    Blumenthal (D-CT), Yea
    Blunt (R-MO), Nay
    Boozman (R-AR), Nay
    Boxer (D-CA), Yea
    Brown (D-OH), Yea
    Brown (R-MA), Nay
    Burr (R-NC), Nay
    Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
    Cardin (D-MD), Yea
    Carper (D-DE), Yea
    Casey (D-PA), Nay
    Chambliss (R-GA), Nay
    Coats (R-IN), Nay
    Coburn (R-OK), Nay
    Cochran (R-MS), Nay
    Collins (R-ME), Nay
    Conrad (D-ND), Yea
    Coons (D-DE), Yea
    Corker (R-TN), Nay
    Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
    Crapo (R-ID), Nay
    DeMint (R-SC), Nay
    Durbin (D-IL), Yea
    Enzi (R-WY), Nay
    Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
    Franken (D-MN), Yea

    Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea
    Graham (R-SC), Nay
    Grassley (R-IA), Nay
    Hagan (D-NC), Yea
    Harkin (D-IA), Yea
    Hatch (R-UT), Nay
    Heller (R-NV), Nay
    Hoeven (R-ND), Nay
    Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
    Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
    Inouye (D-HI), Yea
    Isakson (R-GA), Nay
    Johanns (R-NE), Nay
    Johnson (D-SD), Yea
    Johnson (R-WI), Nay
    Kerry (D-MA), Yea
    Kirk (R-IL), Not Voting
    Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
    Kohl (D-WI), Yea
    Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
    Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
    Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
    Leahy (D-VT), Yea
    Lee (R-UT), Nay
    Levin (D-MI), Yea
    Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
    Lugar (R-IN), Nay
    Manchin (D-WV), Nay
    McCain (R-AZ), Nay
    McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
    McConnell (R-KY), Nay
    Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
    Merkley (D-OR), Yea
    Mikulski (D-MD), Yea

    Moran (R-KS), Nay
    Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
    Murray (D-WA), Yea
    Nelson (D-FL), Yea
    Nelson (D-NE), Nay
    Paul (R-KY), Nay
    Portman (R-OH), Nay
    Pryor (D-AR), Yea
    Reed (D-RI), Yea
    Reid (D-NV), Yea
    Risch (R-ID), Nay
    Roberts (R-KS), Nay
    Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
    Rubio (R-FL), Nay
    Sanders (I-VT), Yea
    Schumer (D-NY), Yea
    Sessions (R-AL), Nay
    Shaheen (D-NH), Yea
    Shelby (R-AL), Nay
    Snowe (R-ME), Yea
    Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
    Tester (D-MT), Yea
    Thune (R-SD), Nay
    Toomey (R-PA), Nay
    Udall (D-CO), Yea
    Udall (D-NM), Yea
    Vitter (R-LA), Nay
    Warner (D-VA), Yea
    Webb (D-VA), Yea
    Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
    Wicker (R-MS), Nay
    Wyden (D-OR), Yea

  • The fact that Casey voted against it is really no surprise. I know some had high hopes for him but it was never to be.

    Knowing how liberal northeast Catholics from Pa tend to be it was probably more popular for him to vote against the Amendment.

    Regarding this whole situation, I for one really wish the Church leadership would take this opportunity not just to rail about general notions of “religious” liberty, but stand firm and bold and explain why contraception is immoral. This is the opportunity given to them to proclaim the Truth!

    Instead it’s been left to Santorum to discuss contraception in a medium not best suited for this fight. He has earned my immense respect, for he is essentially the lone voice talking about the evil of contraception and being clobbered for it.
    Our Catholic leadership has been given a perfect opportunity and it is being squandered. I keep hearing “it’s not about contraception, it’s not about contraception”, but it’s about “religious liberty”.

    Well, for our President and his minions it’s about contraception…

    It’s like

  • Actually Chris a no vote was in support of the Blunt Amendment, so Casey the Lesser voted in favor of religious freedom. I have no doubt that Reid allowed this vote to get to the floor without a filibuster only because he knew that he had the votes to kill it. The Republicans should bring this back to the floor every week and make the Democrats vote over and over again against religious liberty.

  • If I’m a D, I vote with D’s – virtue and life don’t belong in the Party mindset.

  • thank for this list! the three states of most interest to me.. Iowa- the 2 senators cancelled each other, as usual; South Dakota, the 2 senators cancelled each other, but Nebraska was totally pro -life.

    My concern is that Non Resident Nebraskan Bob Kerrey is running for Nelson’s seat. I believe he is swooping down from his high perch in the East, to forward his ideology– not to represent the good people of Nebraska.

  • I do wonder whether Obama’s father in fact came from Kenya.

    Judging by the way he’s acting, he came from Zimbabwe – and that despotice president Mugabe is Obama’s role model and hero.

    It really staggers me that so many Americans think that all this is okay. They are so blinded that they cannot see an assault on their freedom???

    And this, of course, is the thin end of the wedge – surrender once, and you’re going….going…..GONE.

  • Actually Chris a no vote was in support of the Blunt Amendment, so Casey the Lesser voted in favor of religious freedom.

    My fault, very suprised he voted that way. Would like to give him the benefit of the doubt on no ulterior motives via Reid, but I think you have it right……

  • Even more striking: it appears that more Catholic Senators (13) voted AGAINST the amendment than for it (11)!

    The breakdown as enumerated in the above story:

    Catholics who voted for Freedom (i.e. to NOT table the amendment) include Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pennsylvania), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Susan Collins (R-Maine),John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska),Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

    Catholics voting to table the amendment (thereby voting AGAINST the Church in this case) were: Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), Patty Murray (D-Washington), and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island).

    The latter list, of course, reads like a roundup of the usual suspects when it comes to Catholic Democrats voting pro-abortion and all that. What does it say when Baptists (including Sen. Blunt himself) and Methodists were more “Catholic” than the Catholics were on this issue?

  • I wonder how many of these Catholic Senators sent their kids to Catholic schools. Schools that are now in jeopardy of closing.

  • The latter list of Catholic Senators voting against the amendment includes 4 who are up for re-election this year: Cantwell, Gillibrand, McCaskill, and Menendez. Just FYI for residents of the affected states… don’t forget the Senate race on your ballot!

  • I have one word for the USCCB: “excommunication.”

    Those people are liberals not Christians. One cannot serve both masters. They have chosen the secular over the eternal.

    Salvation and doing the heavy lifting for the despicable party of envy, hate and murder are mutually exclusive.

    They deploy social justice as the alibi for every mortal sin in the Book.

  • T. Shaw, it would be good for the sake of the confused faithful and uninformed youth to have some word from that authority on how to think through the onslaught of the liberal legislation. By November, if there is no concise word to counter their rhetoric, we will be shamed before God. Right now, on EWTN, there is a special program with its CEO on Women of Grace live discussing the situation of spinning contraception.

  • It seems to me that no one is mandating that the Catholic CHURCH, or Catholic individuals to do anything against their belief system. It is businesses administered by Catholics, that are being required to follow the law. Businesses who accept government funding are required to follow the laws. Businesses run by Catholics, are considered Tax- exempt due to a ruling in 1959 about church-related businesses, on a par with 501(C) 3 non-profits. Catholic Hospitals and churches pay NO taxes (corporate welfare), build their buildings with the help of government-funded bonds; and Catholic Hospitals accept government patient funding in the way of government insurances- Medicaid and Medicare. I suggest if the Catholic Bishops do not want to follow the rules of laws by the government, that they stop taking government benefits and become totally private unto themselves. Sell private insurance to people who do not want contraception, or any other objectionable treatment, and only want to be treated in Catholic Hospitals.This might be an appropriate time to look again at those tax exemptions, anyway.

  • “It seems to me that no one is mandating that the Catholic CHURCH, or Catholic individuals to do anything against their belief system. It is businesses administered by Catholics, that are being required to follow the law.”

    Rubbish. Businesses are made up of individuals. My law firm is me.

    “Businesses who accept government funding are required to follow the laws.”
    No, the HHS Mandate is not limited to businesses who accept government funding. In any case you cannot strip individuals of their constitutional rights simply because Uncle Sam decides to purchase services from them.

    “Catholic Hospitals and churches pay NO taxes (corporate welfare),”

    Catholic hospitals and churches and schools provide far more in charitable services than the taxes that could be squeezed from them. Calling this welfare merely indicates you do not have any idea what you are talking about.

    “I suggest if the Catholic Bishops do not want to follow the rules of laws by the government, that they stop taking government benefits and become totally private unto themselves.”

    Hilarious. Catholic schools receive no assistance from the government, and the impact of all those students suddenly going to public schools would be immense. The free care provided by Catholic hospitals to the poor is an immense saving to the taxpayers in this country each year.

  • Something Donald wrote caused me to start thinking. I had always believed that Catholic institutions shouldn’t accept money from the Government because it makes them beholden to Government. But really, isn’t the onus on the buyer, not the seller, hence the warning, “Buyer beware”? Let me explain.

    If Government gives money to Catholic institutions because of the educational or charitable work that they do, then Government is in effect the buyer. If Government doesn’t like what it is buying, then it needs to stop buying. It has no right to force the seller to give a different product or the same product in a different way. So regardless that Government might have given Catholic institutions money, it did so ostensibly for the educational or charitable work that those institutions provide which Government demonstrably cannot provide.

    Now the only exception to this thumb rule or principle is when we are dealing with things like nuclear energy (US NRC), or aircraft structures and engines (FAA), or medical instrumentation and controls equipment (FDA). For example, in my industry, the Government gets to tell my company what our nuclear products will do when installed, how they will operate, and how they are made, inspected and tested. It does this by regulation promulgated from the US NRC (i.e., 10 CR 50), and because of the overriding need to ensure public health and safety, no one here would want that process to be any different [ unless you would prefer to glow in the dark while sterile 😉 ]. None of that, however, applies to any Catholic institution.

    If Government buys a charitable product, then Government needs to shut up on how that product is provided. Stupid godless liberalism, however, says differently.

  • I forgot to add something in my analogy above. Issuing regulation to protect the public and the environment from radiological releases does not equate to issuing regulation to provide free contraception so that men and women may immorally titillate their genitals without fear of unintended pregnancy.

    In the first case, regulations are issued to ensure the safe use of radioactives (and hence the safe generation of electricity) without threatening human life or the environment.

    In the second case, regulations are issued so that perverts can wallow sexual filth on the public dime without either responsibility or accountability.

    People can die from excessive radiation exposure, but there have been ZERO such cases in 50+ years of commercial US nuclear power in large measure because of intelligent regulation.

    However and paradoxically, the regulations that promote contraception use will result in MORE instances of venereal disease and MORE deaths among the members of the public.

    No one will ever die from sexual abstinence. Yet Obama’s Government wants to shove the hedonist life style of sexual perversion down especially the Catholic Church’s throat. He’s going to find that that throat is a part of the Body of Christ before whose Head he will one day find himself standing – and wanting (God forbid!).

  • No!

    It is not about the First Amendment.

    It is not about birth control.

    It’s about distracting your attention and energies from 100,000 failures the regime has accomplished.

  • If Government gives money to Catholic institutions because of the educational or charitable work that they do, then Government is in effect the buyer. If Government doesn’t like what it is buying, then it needs to stop buying. It has no right to force the seller to give a different product or the same product in a different way. So regardless that Government might have given Catholic institutions money, it did so ostensibly for the educational or charitable work that those institutions provide which Government demonstrably cannot provide.
    All taxes remain the property of the taxpayer even while being administered by the adminstration. For the administration to return some of the taxes to the tax payer is absolutely legal. Government in and of itself can own nothing, because we the tax paying citizens own the government. Eveything belongs to each and every citizen in joint and common tenancy.

  • Originally posted as a response to THE WHITE HOUSE HOPES FOR A SCHISM. This post belongs here as it is about religious freedom, which comes from God our Creator, not from the state. Can the state create your immortal soul? Your conscience? Your intellect? your free will? The duty of the state is to protect and defend, virginity, innocence and the citizens’ civil rights. How does Obamacare protect virginity, innocence or civil rights?
    Sovereign immunity is that shield from the state’s penetrating into one’s immortal soul and taking God-given freedom from a person, sucking the marrow from his constitutional bones. The Catholic Church has been compliant with rules and regulations to help the state, such as incorporating as a non-profit or as a religious institution. This is in good will. The Church does not need to do this. The state cannot, in reality, give the Church a tax-exemption, because the state cannot tax the Church. Therefore, an exemption implies that the state may tax the Church, but is being a nice guy about generosity. Well, generosity is a virtue, a God-given virtue and the practice of religion by the state in rendering the virtue of charity through the God-given virtue of generosity to the Church. And God is left laughing.
    Sovereign immunity, like diplomatic immunity, defines the realm of the Catholic Church as being autonomous in its existence through the Catholic Church’s institution by Jesus Christ, of the Catholic Church’s creation by God, of which the state has had and may have no part.
    In redefining freedom, the state has dissolved the very foundations of its existence as constituted by the sovereign persons who have constituted the state. In violating the will of the people, the state has failed to be the state. In violating the will of God for His Catholic Church and for the people of God, the state has incited the wrath of God.
    Back to the future in the catacombs.
    As President, Bill Clinton wrote an executive order making all free lands and waters the privilege of the president. As President, Obama wrote executive order 13575 Rural Councils, making all private land the object of eminent domain, to be taken at will from all persons, but not FOR all persons, as eminent domain requires. The LOST treaty, not ratified by Congress (only Congress ratifies treaties) signed by Hillary Clinton, secretary of State with the United Nations, an atheistic entity without sovereign authority or immunity since only God gives sovereignty through the immortal soul of man, privatizes all the oceans and seas and the mineral rights under the seas to the United Nations. American citizens will now have to pay to sail the seas. The reason this is of utmost importance, is that now, when Obama nationalizes the Catholic Church and her property, there is nowhere to say Mass. Once upon a time, in Ireland, Mass was said in a goat drawn cart hauled onto the land exposed by the receding tide. This riprarian land was no man’s land. The exiled Catholic Church Mass was free to be said on this land which belonged to God. Obama has usurped what belongs to God and redefined God’s property as his own. There is nowhere for the Catholic Mass to be said, once Obama nationalizes all church property, except the catacombs, once again.

  • wow- very interesting Mary– if what you said is correct, the LOST treaty mentioned is one among the many precipitous actions of the last three years that have escaped much real scrutiny! There seems to be more we don’t know than what we do know about why we so need a new administration.
    How can such (almost subterranean) issues all be made a part of the the national discussion? Who can capture the microphone now so ably held by the counter-Christian culture movers and shakers?

  • This thread is getting far removed from the topic of the post. Stay on topic please.

  • Excuse me please.

  • Obamacare is a blank check. What Congress representing its constitutents signs a blank check? What citizen in his right mind signs a blank check to a government entity? Is informed consent to any contract still valid? Is informed consent to a “mandate” still a necessary part of that mandate? If Obama can demand a blank check from citizens and tell them that it is in their best interest to provide him with a blank check, isn’t giving Obama what he demands like signing a blank contract, leaving it to the seller to supply you with his choice of products not described or offered for sale?

HHS Mandate Hastens The Demise Of Liberal Catholicism & Ensures The Growth of Catholic Orthodoxy

Tuesday, February 14, AD 2012

In a bizarre way President Barack Obama, through his Health and Human Services Mandate (HHS) has united religious orthodoxy across the spectrum as never before. In its wake liberal religiosity is going the way of striped pants, bell bottoms and lava lamps; something that is only seen on rare occasions usually when too much alcohol is flowing. At the precipice stands liberal Catholicism, for soon there will be no need for them to retain any religious presence. Liberal Catholic mouthpieces like the National Catholic Reporter are destined to go the way of so many other products whose users outgrew the usefulness of what they read and believed.  Mainline liberal churches have imploded all the while the numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals continue to grow. Apparently the liberal religious elite are so smart, they have disappeared into the mists of history.  Even if the current baby boomers remain religious, their liberal minded children have by and large abandoned the faith to the whims of Hallmark and Deepak Chopra styled spirituality.

In my last book The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I noted that having worked in the Church with a good deal of liberals I cannot think of a single instance in which their children retained their liberal views and also practiced their Catholic faith. I have met their children and while some have become Evangelicals and others have seen the light and come over to orthodox minded Catholicism; those who have remained liberal would only darken a church door if a close relative passed away. Sadly not only have they left their faith but many can’t find a single good thing to say about it. Their compliments are reserved for Big Government and Libertinism.

I am not writing this to sound clever or flippant or negative, simply to relate what I see. In many ways, the tide is turning like never before, and we can’t say that Jesus didn’t tell us that wheat would be separated from the chaff. Indeed we can’t serve two masters and the liberals by and large have thrown their lot in with the Herod’s of the world. While the liberal elite pretend to live oh so sophisticated lives; they in reality are nothing more than a fallen character in a 1980s hair band ballad video, succumbing to the vices on Sunset Boulevard that the liberal elite relegated to some degenerative red state tourist. As angry as we may be at the religious left’s venom and their apostasy, they most certainly need our prayers and we should never forget that supposedly wise people can be fooled as much as anyone by the dark side.

In my previous article, I noted the striking metaphor of the pall of smoke hanging over the Acropolis in Athens caused by rioting Greeks who could no longer pay for their extravagant lifestyle. They are merely the first example of a culture that has aborted and contracepted itself into oblivion, prophetically predicted by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. For the Greeks, Big Government had the answers and their Epicurean ancestors had the lifestyle that seemed oh so appealing. However in reality they couldn’t pay the bills because charged with the simple mission of reproducing they felt it too complicated of a task.

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9 Responses to HHS Mandate Hastens The Demise Of Liberal Catholicism & Ensures The Growth of Catholic Orthodoxy

  • when they get rid of the carol keehans and all the clowns running our
    institutions their own way i’ll believe the tide is turning.

  • The Holy Spirit is truly at work here to rejuvenate our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by separating wheat from the chaff just as Jesus Christ Himself promised us, oh so, so long time ago. + Laudetur Iesus Christus +

  • Good essay, Doug. But Donald’s essay on “The Catholic Left Falls into Line” is sadly depressing because the regime in charge will listen only to the Catholic Left. The Bishops have to start public excommunications. 1st Corinthians chapter 5 comes to mind.

  • How will this affect our Catholic universities?
    Wouldn’t it be great if a Catholic college taught Catholic faith, doctrine and morals. Girls living in an all girls dorm. No overnight visitors. Religion classes, including Catholic philosophy and Church history be taught for 4 years. Wouldn’t it be great to have Catholic universities that teach science AND morals.
    And I agree with Paul P above, the Church REALLY needs to address the Liberal Left, anti-Church Catholics who work against the Church Monday-Friday, but go to communion on Sunday and publicly call themselves good, devout Catholics. This would be HUGE for us folks in the pews – I find it hard to talk to my children about the faith when Catholics in public life (politics) promote ideas opposite of the Church teachings but call themselves good Catholics (“I will punch you in the face with my rosary”)

  • too many gifted and talented individuals are not even attempting to dip their toe in the waters of entrepreneurialism because it may be too much work.

    And: too much financial punishment — high taxes, in other words — for those who do dip their toe in that water.

  • Amen. Amen. Amen. I can sense the shift in the air… a slow grinding shift building momentum… the teeth gnashing from the enemy is sentient also.

  • Mr. Hartline, I would love to read your books. Have you considered formatting them for kindle?

  • Vicki I hope that when my new book tentatively titled; “The Tide Continues to Turn Toward Catholicism” comes out, we should have a kindle option available for my books. Thank you for your interest. Honestly all of you out there who fight the good fight in your special way are all part of that turning tide.

The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism

Monday, February 13, AD 2012

The militant secular left thinks they have won a victory with President Barack Obama’s “Accommodation” with regard to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate ordering religious based institutions to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and the morning after abortion pill. Some of the left couldn’t contain their glee, one guest on MSNBC described President Obama’s move as “brilliant.” In their distorted thinking they surmise that since not all Catholics adhere to the Church’s teachings, especially on birth control, they can cause a split in the Church.

First of all, the militant secular left continually cites the Guttmacher Institute’s polling, which is about as accurate as the daily pronouncements of Syria’s Bashar Assad. Secondly, it is one thing for Catholics to go against the Church’s teachings, it is quite another to say they are proud of it and want more Big Government telling them what they and the Catholic Church to do. The sheer nuttiness of this was illustarted in a discussion which occurred on Sean Hannity’s the Great American Panel seen on Fox News last week. One of the participants Jehmu Greene told fellow panelist Andrea Tantaros that without birth control she wouldn’t be here. When the incredulous Tantaros wondered how that could logical be, Greene went on a tirade that demeaned women who have children and or decide to work at home.

For years the militant secular left has treated pregnancy as a disease and families as inconvenient truths interfering with their own narcissistic ends. Powerhouse television shows like Sex and City helped to illustrate this point. Katharine Jean Lopez of the National Review wrote some time ago how disgusted she felt seeing men demeaned as objects in the Sex and City movie, the very treatment feminists have railed about for years.

However with the narcissistic Sex and City lifestyle comes another reality playing out in the streets of Athens, Greece and soon to come to a city or country near you in the western world. The declining birth rate means the youngest among us will have to eventually have to pay for a culture that aborted or contracepted itself into oblivion. The generous benefits demanded by those cultures, especially from the militant secular left can only last so long. As the old saying goes; “The problem with Socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The ancient Greek world gods who hailed narcissism and hedonism and whose lifestyle was proselytized by the Epicureans seem as irrelevant as ever as the pall of smoke hangs over the Acropolis, a fitting metaphor for what the militant secular left has wrought.

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11 Responses to The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism

  • November 2012 cannot come soon enough!

    Here is additional evidence (as if it were needed) that one is repreating oneself when one uses the words liberal and idiot in the same sentence.

    This rank stupidity is the reason the economy continues to flounder and why government should be limited so that it can inflict limited harm on us.

    With his talents, Obama ought to be on an urban street corner dealing “three card monty.”

  • T. Shaw – but instead liberalies are letting the executive branch play monopoly in the WH with other people’s money and no rules because cheating etc. is easier. The jail corner says send someone you don’t like directly to court. The community chest cards are awards for using racist and bigot on opponents.
    What a waste.

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  • Regarding – The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism
    Published Monday, February 13, 2012 A.D. | By Dave Hartline

    I agree with everthing the writer has said, but I have trouble with one thing.
    Are we willing to fight as hard for the living child after birth as we are for the child in the womb? Are we willing to provide a higher level of education, of health care, of food and housing OR do we prefer to pay in the back end when the unwanted, uncared for, fatherless child becomes a miscreant; someone on drugs, alcohol or at least in poor health or pertetuates more unwanted pregnancies…
    I would rather put the same energy and money to providing the programs the child would need to be a caring, involved citizen rather than a fatherless child in a broken home with little love and education. I hope to see Catholics turn a cheek and start realizing that if we want to lower the abortion rate holistically, the best way to do it is to educate and provide the necessary programs so woman don’t find themselves in an unwanted pregnancy to begin with. It does start at home, but the home alone will not win the battle…we must help, with love.

  • My friend, I have no doubt that you mean well and sincerely believe that old canard that the Militant Secular Left has been pushing concerning not caring for those who have been born. Let me tell you why it is a canard. My wife and I have been blessed with the gift of adoption. I can tell you first hand what a great gift it is and how long it took. Sadly parents wait untold lengths of time and spend untold amounts of money to adopt, jumping through all kinds of hoops.

    Years ago when we decided to adopt, we sat down with an adoption specialist who told us that before Roe v Wade there were about two million couples who couldn’t have children and wanted to, and about two million women who didn’ think they could raise a child in their current situation. It was a Providential give and take, something that Roe v Wade took away. Adoption wait times and costs continue to grow because millions of parents who want nothing more than to love a child have to wait while millions of unborn babies are aborted.

    Sadly ever since Roe v Wade, and most notably now the militant secular left treats pregnancy as a disease, all the while children are called “punishments” by our very leaders. We are also told that we are ignorant because we “cling to religion.” God help those who will have to answer for that.

  • “In their distorted thinking they [the Militant Secular Left] surmise that since not all Catholics adhere to the Church’s teachings, especially on birth control, they can cause a split in the Church.”

    The split is already present in the Church in America, and has been since Vatican II. Many “liberal” Catholics feel more animosity toward the Church, and her Bishops, than they do toward the militant secularists who oppose the teachings of the Church. Obama is merely using that split in an attempt to secure his political base for 2012. You may think this will not work, but many “liberal” Catholics, in the end, will side with Obama versus the Bishops.

    I hope I am wrong, but the political calculation that Obama has made may work. Those who oppose his HHS mandate, did not vote for him in 2008 and will not vote for him in 2012. However, many on the Left who voted for him in 2008, who have recently had serious doubts about Obama, will now be MORE inclined to support him in 2012, not less inclined. It is a classic divide-and-conquer electoral strategy, based on the very theological and ideological split that already exists in the Church.

    President Obama is merely exploiting what already exists. Again, I hope and pray that I am wrong, but he may very well succeed in exploiting the divisions that already exist in the Church.

  • Tom D, I have no doubt that militant secular left who call themselves Catholic will rally behind President Obama, including those who work within the Church. Having worked for the Church in various capacities, I know their names, believe me. However, the rank and file Catholic will be upset by this, even those who voted for President Obama, believe in contraception and attend Mass here and there. Those Catholics who have a nagging suspicion of Big Government will also find this more than a little disturbing.

    However, I must reiterate this point again. There are people who vocally call themselves Catholics who haven’t attended Mass regularly since the Ford Administration. Yet, they proudly they say they are Catholic. Take for example someone who is a lukewarm Methodist or Lutheran; they will probably say they are Christian but won’t attach a demoninational tag behind their name, thus taking their church off the hook when it comes to matters that may look heretical to their respective churches. This doesn’t take place with Catholics because of our strong sacramental and ethnic identity. In the depths of their soul, they know what is right but their flesh is weak.

    The only Catholics who will openly rally to President Obama are those who wear their heresy on their sleeve as a badge of honor. Even though far too few of the faithful actually follow the Church’s teachings, in their heart of hearts they know the Church is right and thus will abandon those who openly want to stick it to the Church.

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  • I think the joke is on the Left–because the mandate is not only unconstitutional but also illegal; see this long article: It made me realize the mandate really was an assault on the Catholic Church–and a stupid one, blatantly violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, for no rational reason because contraception IS readily available. You wonder whether the most powerful man in the world ever listens to the numerous lawyers he has available (never mind the people in his inner circle who give him contrary advice, like, in this case, Joe Biden and Bill Daley). I think many Catholics will still vote for Obama, but hope and believe fewer than in 2008, and I hope that people of other faiths will stand and work with us in turning him out of the White House.

Pope Benedict: Religious Freedom Under Threat in America

Friday, January 20, AD 2012


Pope Benedict, judging from this address on January 19 to American bishops in Rome, apparently understands the high stakes in the outcome of this year’s election, even if many American Catholics do not:

Dear Brother Bishops,

I greet all of you with fraternal affection and I pray that this pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and deepened communion will confirm you in faith and commitment to your task as Pastors of the Church in the United States of America. As you know, it is my intention in the course of this year to reflect with you on some of the spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization.

One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

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9 Responses to Pope Benedict: Religious Freedom Under Threat in America

  • Quite timely, given the Administration’s offering of the tall finger of fellowship on conscience protections today.

  • “For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man [or woman] to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his [or her] spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1st Corinthians 5:3-5

    It is now time for the Bishops to act consistent and in synchronicity with St. Paul’s instructions with respect to Kathleen Sebelius, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and all the rest of the liberal Catholycs who have exchanged the truth and mercy of God’s only begotten Son for the convenience of childlessness by murder and the fleeting pleasure of homosexual filth.

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  • The American atheist, in denying other citizens’ Creator endowed unalienable rights, forfeits his own unalienable rights and has no legal standing in a court of law and must be prevented from removing other civil liberties and freedoms set forth in our founding principles: The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. The atheist may choose to be an atheist for himself, but the atheist may not choose atheism for me or any other human being endowed with unalienable rights to LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, our destiny as a person, as a citizen, as a people, and as a nation. Government of the people, for the people and by the people will have none of the chicanery going on in Washington: abortion is human sacrifice offered to the devil and the establishment of a religion. sue HHS. In cases of rape, the innocent victim is put to death for the crimes of his parents, JUSTICE? Fornication is the second form of religion to the devil. Lies, perjury, perversion. God created man in FREEDOM. NINCOMPOOPS, IMBECILES, IDIOTS, MORONS, MISCREANTS, THE HIERARCHY OF POLITICIANS IN WASHINGTON, EXCEPT CHRISTOPHER HENRY SMITH R. NJ. I feel bad Chris Smith has not be drafted for president. He’d be real good at it. And thank you for letting me sound off.

  • I love Pope Benedict’s way with words in how he both teaches and cares about us :

    – the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation –
    – countering cultural currents which seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth –
    – a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience –

    Our marching orders and perfect prayer intention for USA in:

    – a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics –

    ” … or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule, they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God.”

    “With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth.”

    “Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.”

    “There can be no doubt that a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics to their deepest convictions would make a major contribution to the renewal of society as a whole.”

  • @PM: Pope Benedict XVI’s words bear repeating. Thank you.

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Our Intellectual Elites: Pope Benedict XVI is a Nazi

Monday, October 17, AD 2011

Susan Sarandon comes out at a film festival and calls our German Shepherd a Nazi.

Words can’t describe what I want so say, so I’ll just print the excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter:

Sarandon was interviewed by Bob Balaban at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor on Saturday. She said she sent the pope a copy of the anti death penalty book, Dead Man Walking, authored by Sister Helen Prejean. Sarandon starred in the 1995 big-screen adaptation.

“The last one,” she said, “not this Nazi one we have now.”

Tofu anyone, while trying to digest the latest from Hollywood?

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16 Responses to Our Intellectual Elites: Pope Benedict XVI is a Nazi

  • What a moron.

  • Mike, I was just contacted by the Moron Anti-Defamation Coalition. They apparently take extreme umbrage at being compared to Susan Sarandon.

  • Gentlemen,

    She was not cc’d on the memo by the DNC regarding push for civility and stopping violence following the Gilford shooting tragedy. I am sure they will be sending her one in the near future.

  • Susan Sarandon, ‘nough said.

  • What do you expect from Susan Saran-wrap?

    Semper Fi!

  • Fair enough, Don. I withdraw my remark and apologize to morons everywhere.

  • Our Intellectual Elites

    Susan Sarandon ? BWAHAHAHAHAH.

    Seriously? Susan Sarandon – now you’re really jagging me – right? 🙂

    Another Hollywood air head has a brain fart and Our wonderful Lame Stream Media gush over it.

  • Thank you Mike. The League of Blithering Idiots sent me an e-mail and they are taking a poll of their membership to determine if they will extend honorary membership to Ms. Sarandon.

  • Isn’t that kinda like not Politically Correct, kinda like a profiling no-no, kinda like bullying, kinda schizo on the life concept, kinda not really high-minded, kinda devoid of the milk of human kindness, kinda like an Archie Bunker gone totally mean type mentality?

  • Susan Saradon attended catholic schools her whole life and graduated from The Catholic University of America.

    “If you want your children to fight for their faith, send them to public school. If you want them to lose their faith, send them to Catholic school.”
    -the wonderful Bishop Fulton Sheen

  • More deep theological insights from Ms. Sarandon:

    “In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Sarandon and Tim Robbins campaigned for John Edwards in the New Hampshire communities of Hampton, Bedford and Dover. When asked at We Vote ’08 Kickoff Party “What would Jesus do this primary season”, Sarandon said, “I think Jesus would be very supportive of John Edwards.”

    I guess I missed the section of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said “Blessed are the ambulance chasers with expensive haircuts for they will find favor with the Hollywood Glitterati!” but I am sure it is in there somewhere.

  • Supposedly Kipling was a nazi sympathizer because he had a reverse swastika attached to some of his book covers…as were members of this 1900’s Native America basketball team:

  • The swastika was a good luck symbol before it got appropriated by the Nazis.

    I was pleased to see Abe Foxman of the ADL also criticizing Ms. Sarandon’s remarks – props.

  • Poor parrot. Polly is a cracker. Polly is a cracker.

  • If anyone, Catholic or non Catholic, were to read “Jesus of Nazareth” by Pope Benedict they would know what a very kind, holy, devout Christian gentleman he is. What a privilege it is to have him as Pope, in these times when truth and faith are being utterly rejected. Interesting to note Pope Benedict recently asked for a stay of execution for an African American man in the United States who swore he was innocent. As usual, no one paid attention to the Holy Father. I wish those who judge him would read a bit about him first.

  • As a German-American with a distinctivly German given name and surname, I recognize that calling any German a Nazi is a too common but still bigoted slur. She degrades herself with such language.

    Of course, it should be remembered that Joseph Ratzinger was very much a liberal until his change of heart in the early 1970s. During the Right Wing dicatorship, the Ratzingers stood with the German Left and the Catholic Left in being very much opposed to Nazism. Blessed Nikolas Gross, pray for us.

Pope Benedict’s Address to the Bundestag: God, Law, History and Politicians

Sunday, September 25, AD 2011

In the history of the Church we have had brilliant Popes, and not so brilliant Popes, an agile mind not necessarily being first on the list of priorities of the Holy Spirit when it comes to choosing Pontiffs.  Without a doubt, our current Pope is brilliant, his acute intelligence shining through his writings and his speeches.  This attribute of Pope Benedict was on full display when the Pope addressed the German Bundestag (national parliament) this week.  He gave a truly fascinating lecture on how what we mean by law has changed in modern times.  I suspect it went over the heads of most of his immediate audience, but it deserves study by all Catholics, and particularly those Catholics who, as I am, are connected with the law professionally.  Here is the speech of the Pope, interspersed with color commentary by me:

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9 Responses to Pope Benedict’s Address to the Bundestag: God, Law, History and Politicians

  • God bless Pope Benedict.

  • Awesome! Thanks for sharing, Don.

  • ‘Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he listens to his nature, respects it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.’

    A lot there to parse, as well as the entire speech, which “sails over most of our heads,” I believe. This is a speech that needs to be studied and cannot be absorbed in one hearing or one reading. If nothing else, Benedict provides a lot of food for thought. I’m not sure he is right in saying, “Man does not create himself.” In a way, we all create ourselves and as for “listening to nature,” it’s never been clear to me what nature is saying except that it is totally objective and cares not a whit about mankind.

    Still, the Pope’s comments are always worthy of reflection. Thanks, Don, for posting.

  • Thank you Mrs. Z and Joe. In our soundbite and videoclip age, the Pope reminds us that the need for thought and analysis of complex matters has not disappeared.

    I join whole-heartedily in your sentiment T.Shaw.

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  • I’m surprised there were no direct references to Communism.

  • Governments, especially of the U.S.A., could consider this address/appeal for action as well.
    “The conviction that there is a Creator God is what gave rise to the idea of human rights, …”
    “If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture.”
    “The same also applies to reason, according to the positivist understanding that is widely held to be the only genuinely scientific one. Anything that is not verifiable or falsifiable, according to this understanding, does not belong to the realm of reason strictly understood. Hence ethics and religion must be assigned to the subjective field, and they remain extraneous to the realm of reason in the strict sense of the word. Where positivist reason dominates the field to the exclusion of all else – and that is broadly the case in our public mindset – then the classical sources of knowledge for ethics and law are excluded. This is a dramatic situation which affects everyone, and on which a public debate is necessary. Indeed, an essential goal of this address is to issue an urgent invitation to launch one.”
    “In the awareness of man’s responsibility before God and in the acknowledgment of the inviolable dignity of every single human person, it has established criteria of law: it is these criteria that we are called to defend at this moment in our history.”
    “I think that, even today, there is ultimately nothing else we could wish for but a listening heart – the capacity to discern between good and evil, and thus to establish true law, to serve justice and peace. Thank you for your attention!”
    we are blessed by God to have Pope Benedict XVI so able to discern between good and evil, to teach us about our situation, and urge us to remember, question, debate, and defend, and establish true law. And to pay attention.

  • I liked the reference to positivist reason to a windowless bunker, while speaking several hundred meters from the site of the Fuehrerbunker at the Reichs Chancellery.

Paul Krugman and Hatriotism

Monday, September 12, AD 2011


Yesterday while almost all Americans were recalling 9/11 with sadness, mixed with pride for the heroism and self-sacrifice amply displayed by so many of their fellow citizens that dark day, economist Paul Krugman in his blog, hilariously entitled Conscience of a Liberal,  at the, where else, New York Times, posted this:

The Years of Shame

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.

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17 Responses to Paul Krugman and Hatriotism

  • Krugamn & Co are way too smart for all that old-fashioned “God Bless America” claptrap. They snigger at the hardhats chanting “USA! USA!” and the “God and guns” morons who inhabit who inhabit flyover country.

    Give me Archie Bunker any day.

  • Talk about projection.

    The only thing I am ashamed re: 9/11 of is that Krugman is a countryman of mine.

  • What’s really funny about this is that there was a marked sense of unity immediately following 9/11 as well as an increase in church attendance. GWB was increasing in popularity and was receiving support from many or most on the left. It wasn’t until the Dems realized they can’t win elections by taking the position of “yeah, what Bush said” that they commenced building a wedge and driving it in.

    There’s a reason why Krugman is only respected by the NYT editorial board and one other guy, and it is coherent thought.

  • Charcters like Krugman are demographically unimportant. Unfortunately, they often hold consequential positions in the world of public discourse. How that came to be and what is to be done about it are the interesting questions.

  • Indeed, Art.

    Also, it strikes me, Krugman’s wish for the “unity” that might have been reflects the Orwellian concept of unity which predominates among extreme partisans of all sorts: the idea that “unity” consists of a world completely cleansed of those with whom one disagrees. Krugman could only find the unity which he wishes he could look back on if most of the population of the country ceased to exist.

  • …and it is coherent thought.

    Ugh! ISN’T Duh…

  • I dunno. I’m no fan of Krugman, but he’s putting the blame on the politicians he disagrees with, and only secondarily on the country for letting the politicians get away with (what he thinks are) their misdeeds. Everyone but the most chauvanistic gets frustrated at his country for not following his vision for it.

  • Charcters like Krugman are demographically unimportant. Unfortunately, they often hold consequential positions in the world of public discourse.

    I hope it’s just the squeaky hinge problem, but I fear it isn’t… local radio jocks have been making the same sort of “What happened to our unity, why can’t you horrible nasty people be unified” type arguments, and some of my relatives (Alright, by marriage, and known flakes, but still) are echoing it.

  • Krugman is supposed to be an economist, which is a job for people who tell people why they don’t have jobs. He’s out of his league on most issues, along with Friedman, Dodd & Co.

  • Paul really needs to stop giving his wife free rein to add his byline to her rants. His reputation as a pundit is getting cuckolded.

  • The American Catholic?

    You bring me back to my youth with Brooklyn Tablet.

  • Sir Walter Scott.

    Very good, Don, and very apt.
    Krugman needs some HTFU pills.

  • Krugman was labeled by national Review Online as the Most Dangerous Man in America (this was before Obumbler was elected President).

    Krugman’s writing would get him run out of town in most American cities and towns, but in New York, the epicenter of 9/11, he has his constituency, as well as a lousy, third rate publication with an editorial policy that puts it beneath the National Enquirer that provides him with the means to blather.

    The New York Times is a despicable piece of garbage. I do not know why Carlos Slim puts his money into it – without Slim the paper would have gone out of business.

  • Another thing: he complained about a “subdued” observance of 9/11! What did Krugman want, the country to make like it was the Fourth of July, with fireworks and marching bands? The people at Ground Zero, Shanksville and the Pentagon were solemnly commemorating the anniversary of a mass murder. I don’t know if Krugman was in NY on 9/11, (he seems to reside in a galaxy of his own making), but, gee, Paul, surely someone told you it wasn’t a happy day.

  • Another thing: he complained about a “subdued” observance of 9/11! What did Krugman want, the country to make like it was the Fourth of July, with fireworks and marching bands?

    Well, clearly if it was not subdued it would have featured Obama and Greek columns — not to mention the oceans ceasing to rise.

    It strikes me that to any sane person somber commemorations are quiet natural. Our parish had asked policemen, firemen and military personnel to come in uniform and had a blessing out by the flag pole after mass. Our pastor read our Pope Benedict’s prayer from when he visited Ground Zero.

    Sure, it’s just one small town in Ohio, but there’s not a single other commemoration (including Memorial Day or the 4th of July) which gets that level of attendance and participation for something outside of mass. I think every single person who was at mass came — no one just hurried home.

  • Agreed, Donna V., that “oddly subdued” is a puzzling turn of phrase, considering the gravity of the events being recalled. Reading on, it appears that another ten or eleven phrases in Mr. Krugman’s brief post are also quite beyond my understanding.

    I know a “hatriot” and he is without a doubt the unhappiest person of my acquaintance. And he wants everyone to be just like him.

  • Crunkman. Glugman. Drugman.

    At least I’m a happy drunk. Queued up some of that Gosling’s Black Seal, mates.

Pope Benedict Asks for Forgiveness

Friday, September 2, AD 2011

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI told the annual gathering of his “Study Group” (some of his former students) to ask God’s forgiveness on behalf of generations of “cradle Catholics” who have failed to transmit the faith to others.

No doubt, evangelizing others is an important dimension of Catholic life, as Pope Paul VI reminded the Church in his 1975 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi:

…what matters is to evangelize man’s culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots), in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et spes, always taking the person as one’s starting-point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God. (#20)

Where evangelization first takes place is in the home as parents evangelize their children in the Roman Catholic faith and its practice.  Today, the most-often heard lament is that Roman Catholic parents, in general, are not evangelizing their children and, of those who do, they are not evangelizing their children in the Roman Catholic faith and its practice but in some generic form of Christianity that emphasizes democratic values and aspirations.

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7 Responses to Pope Benedict Asks for Forgiveness

  • Mama, who pays for Neighbors A to go to school?

    Well, daddy pays for some of it in property taxes.

    Mama, who pays for Neighbors B to go to school?

    Well, daddy pays for some of it in the church tithe.

    Mama, who pays for our school?

    Daddy does.

    The Catholic homeschooler who belongs to a parish with a school gets triple taxed.

  • It seems to me that the Catholic Church needs to address the major cause for the mass exodus of the children of the Baby Boomers, the failure of the Church to give good catechesis in their formative years. I was born in 1947 and was the last child in my family to receive formation in the Baltimore Catechism. After me, the catechism was rejected in favor of whiffly, nondoctrinal, feel-good fluff. None of my younger siblings are practicing Catholics. They don’t even know what Catholicism is!
    I remained a faithful Catholic through all the storms of Humanae Vitae and pseudo Vatican II “reforms” largely because I had good formation, and hung around with others who had likewise. By God’s grace, I married a man who also knew his faith, and we have a large family of 10 children who have all maintained their Catholic identity, some even with religious vocations. When asked by other heartbroken friends how this happened, I tell them I think it is largely because when my husband went to his first Catholic school experience for parents to involve them in their child’s first sacraments, what he heard there so horrified him that he began to teach the children the Baltimore Catechism at home. It can be found online, and I know grandparents who quietly teach it to their grandchildren on visits.
    But noone can estimate the damage done by generations of no catechisis by a Church that used to take that role very seriously. Even homilies can be mostly “fluffy” instead of dealing with Church teaching on tough issues.
    THAT should be what the pope apologizes for, and for which the Church is responsible. Nevermind the colleges, bring those Catholic parochial schools up to speed! Where is their “oath of allegiance”?

  • But noone can estimate the damage done by generations of no catechisis by a Church that used to take that role very seriously.

    Check your Catechism of the Catholic Church. Parents have primary responsibility for the catechesis of their children.

    I’m of the opinion that the institutional church’s takeover of that parental role, however well-intended its motives were, was a grievous mistake that over time has done great harm to the Body of Christ that is His Church – as your personal testimony illustrates.

    The institutional church must humbly recognize that its role is to be an assistant to parents in their role of chief catechist to their children, not an usurper of that role. I believe this will require that formal, classroom catechesis through the Church be aimed primarily at adults, not children. And adult catechesis must be understood by the faithful as a commitment to lifelong learning.

    There’s a push in many dioceses for more “youth ministry.” Some hope that will be a fix for the poor catechesis of children in prior years. I’m doubtful about that.

  • Micha, I have run your response by one of my adult children , and he agrees that it is the enthusiasm for the Faith that parents communicate which makes the difference for growing children.
    On further thought, I also tend to generalize our experiences here in our diocese regarding Catholic education. We are in a liberal area, and experimentation, beginning in the 70’s and continuing until recently, has left our faithful quite scarred.
    The children were the most harmed, since they were the least protected by a sense of how the Church had been historically. “Bring a new Church into being” is one of the songs we still sing here, and incapsulates the attitude that remains here.
    I agree with you that evangelizing the parents is the key. Pope John Paul II said that evangelization has to proceed catechizing, for there to be an authentic renewal of the whole person. My husband read your remarks and remembers back to his Irish small town experience of the Faith. His parents distributed the local Catholic paper, went to devotions regularly, put up brothers who were evangelizing in their house, read Catholic literature, went to St. Vincent to Paul meetings and helped distribute food and clothing to the needy.
    Needless to say he has always had a vibrant faithlife. But he also had a warm family life, without the incredible stressors of addiction, violence, or divorce. My awareness is that the family lifestyle is also critical to an understanding of Who God Is. For better or worse, the father image of alot of us leaves much to be desired.
    Luckily, God works with each of us as we are, and gives familes the tools they need for them to play a part in His plan. And only He knows what has been given and what is expected.
    Thanks for your thoughtful answer.
    ps I have one child involved with ministry to youth, for two years on a college campus (FOCUS) and now in a parish. She finds the Holy Spirit is very active in converting these young people and making them in turn apostles and evangelizers. Apparently the Holy Spirit is alive and well and able to bridge the gap left gaping by family or schools!

  • The majority of Catholic parents send their children to government schools where practical atheism is the norm. Many times I’ve heard governmetnt school Catholics, particularly those who work there, chide the Faith for failure to adopt modern secular norms. As long as most Catholilc parents prefer to save tuition money and send their children to be schooled among atheists, we’ll not evangelize society.

  • One of the little known parts of the health care act are the sections that deal with the adult formation of children.

    Title V of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 701 et seq.), as amended by sections 2951 and 2952(c), is amended by adding at the end the following:

    It is as a result of this law that children’s upbringing now belongs to the State.

    From the health care act:

    `(C) ADULTHOOD PREPARATION SUBJECTS- The adulthood preparation subjects described in this subparagraph are the following:
    `(i) Healthy relationships, such as positive self-esteem and relationship dynamics, friendships, dating, romantic involvement, marriage, and family interactions.
    `(ii) Adolescent development, such as the development of healthy attitudes and values about adolescent growth and development, body image, racial and ethnic diversity, and other related subjects.
    `(iii) Financial literacy.
    `(iv) Parent-child communication.
    `(v) Educational and career success, such as developing skills for employment preparation, job seeking, independent living, financial self-sufficiency, and workplace productivity.
    `(vi) Healthy life skills, such as goal-setting, decision making, negotiation, communication and interpersonal skills, and stress management.

    This is a secular/atheistic government that does not recognize inalieanable rights as endowed by a Supreme Being (God) and will be teaching children a world view devoid of Chrisitan/Catholic spirituality.

    The government embracing a UN perspective regarding the ‘rights of a child’ to sexual activity is especially frightening. It is also a perspective in which parents have no rights.

    Santorum makes an interesting point in this video clip (about 28 secs in):

    He states that those who hold certain faith beliefs will be identified as “bigots” and then those identified as ‘bigots’ will not be allowed professional licenses. I believe it was Dr. Jane Orient who, after reading the act expressed concern that if drs don’t participate in Obamacare they will also have their licenses pulled. Here is another article that she wrote that addresses various concerns related to licensing. Excellent article:

    What to me is particularly sad is just how many Catholics supported this abominable evil (there is so much more in this law that I am not addressing here….particularly as it relates to unlimited authorization of medical, biological, social, behavioral, psychological (etc) research according to guidelines established by a government that does not recognize God nor the sanctity of life). It is no accident that the law was passed connected to the education law. Thru curriculum regulation you will see Catholic preschool, grade school, high schools closed,and universities lose their ability for students to get student loans to attend their programs. And despite Sr. Keegans believes, yes, Catholic hospitals, and clinics will be forced to shut thier doors — unless they embrace the atheistic/secularism world view.

    “Evangalism” regarding correct Catholic doctrine is critical. It needs to be an evangalism based on true Catholic doctrine where Life is sacred and man is the steward of the earth, not the servant of the earth. A world view where God created the earth for man, and not a world view where man is expendable and subservient to the earth.

Pope Benedict on Saint Joan of Arc

Wednesday, June 1, AD 2011


Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang.

                                               Sir Winston Churchill

One of the examples of the direct intervention of God in human affairs, the brief history altering life of Saint Joan of Arc has attracted the admiration of the most unlikely of men, including the Protestant Sir Winston Churchill, and the agnostic Mark Twain who called his book on Joan of Arc the finest thing he ever wrote.  She was not canonized until 1920, but almost all of her contemporaries who met her had no doubt that she was a saint sent by God.  Some of the English who were present as she was burned at the stake cried out that they were all damned because she was a saint.   Jean Tressard, the Treasurer of Henry VI, King of England, wrote the following soon after the execution of Joan:   “We are all lost for it is a good and holy woman that has been burned. I believe her soul is in the hands of God, and I believe damned all who joined in her condemnation”.  With Saint Joan humanity came into contact with a messenger from God, and the result to her was as predictable as it was lamentable.  However, the outcome of her mission was exactly as she had predicted.  The weak Dauphin that she had crowned would reign as Charles VII and end the Hundred Years War in victory for France, something that none of his contemporaries thought remotely possible before Joan embarked on her mission.

On January 26 of this year Pope Benedict spoke of Saint Joan:

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4 Responses to Pope Benedict on Saint Joan of Arc

  • I hadn’t run into this address of Benedict’s. Amazing stuff. Thanks for posting it.

  • Thank you Darwin. It is rare that we have a pope who is also a fine historian. Pope Benedict has put together quite a few good historical monographs like this, and I will be featuring them on the blog from time to time.

  • So many saints worthy of study!

    The few things I’ve read about Joan are from a more secular perspective, focusing on the rarity of a girl warrior, and questioning her sanity. It’s interesting to read Benedict’s address about Joan’s spirituality.

    Benedict’s words about the holy Church and its flawed leaders are very relevant to today, and really touching.


Sacred Music

Tuesday, May 31, AD 2011

We have an awesome Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, on the occasion of the institution’s 100th anniversary. In this letter the Pope highlights the importance of sacred music and the type of music that is at the heart of proper worship.

The Pope then emphasized how, since St. Pius X until today, “even though evolving naturally, there has been a substantial continuity of the Magisterium on sacred music”. In particular he cited Paul VI and John Paul II who “in light of the conciliar constitution ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’, reiterated the purpose of sacred music, that is to say, ‘the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful’ and the fundamental criteria of the corresponding tradition…: a sense of prayer, dignity, and beauty; full adherence to liturgical texts and expressions; the assembly’s participation and, therefore, the legitimate adaptation to local culture, at the same time maintaining the universality of language; the primacy of Gregorian chant as the supreme model of sacred music and the careful assessment of other expressive forms that make up the historical-liturgical patrimony of the Church, especially but not just polyphony; and the importance of the ‘schola cantorum’, particularly in cathedral churches”.

“However, we always have to ask ourselves: Who is the true subject of the liturgy? The answer is simple: the Church. It is not the individual or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God’s action through the Church with its history, its rich tradition, and its creativity. The liturgy, and thus sacred music, ‘lives from a correct and constant relationship between healthy traditio and legitimate progressio’, keeping always in mind that these two concepts … are interwoven because ‘tradition is a living reality that, therefore, encompasses within it the very principle of development and progress'”, the Pope concluded.

In just a couple of paragraphs Pope Benedict XVI superbly describes what the Mass is all about.

Did I mention that we have an awesome Pope?

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5 Responses to Sacred Music

  • So I wonder how a lovely rendition of God Bless the USA I heard at Mass last weekend should be taken. Do you think it best illustrates the ‘glory of God and the sanctification of the people’ or ‘legitimate adaptation to local culture’? Personally, I think it was wrong to use a country song that has very little to do with God other than the line “God bless the USA.” “I’m proud to be an American/ where at least I know I’m free” doesn’t seem to be appropriate for the worship of Jesus. What are your thoughts? Should I approach my priest and music director and let my feelings be heard?

  • In general, there is nothing wrong with approaching your pastor – in a respectful way – about any issue you may have. No problems would ever be solved if we remained silent. So if you feel passionately that the musical selection was inappropriate, then you should feel free to tell your pastor.

    As to the specific hymns, I have no problem with patriotic anthems so long as they are also liturgically appropriate – in other words they should not take away from the point of the liturgy. “God Bless America” would not necessarily be my first choice of hymn for the occasion.

  • I would only be favor of singing God Bless The USA as a hymn if it were sung by a chipmunk choir. 🙂

  • A very balanced letter from the Holy Father. If forced to quibble, I would just say when he refers to the church, I assume he means the Western Church.


Why Do Popes Bother?

Wednesday, March 2, AD 2011

Last fall, Pope Benedict issued the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini, On the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. With a handful of exceptions, the response of the American Catholic blogosphere (and the Catholic commentariat in general) was crickets.

It seems that unless a papal document somehow touches on an issue of the culture wars, near-silence is the response.

So, why do popes bother?

The question is rhetorical, of course. The fact of the matter is, Catholics ought to be reading these documents, and not just “professional Catholics” or clerics, but all of us. Look at whom Verbum Domini is addressed to, for example: bishops, clergy, the consecrated, and the lay faithful. Virtually every other major magisterial text is similarly addressed (curiously, one of the more technical ones which does get greater attention — JPII’s Veritatis Splendor — is addressed only to bishops), yet all too often, even informed, orthodox Catholics seem to fail to read them.

Why is that?

Look at the documents of Vatican II… both before and after they were elected to the See of Peter, Popes John Paul II and Benedict were emphatic that the renewal of the Church which the Council hoped for would not happen unless the members of the Church actually read the documents and internalized them. Even in his apostolic letter closing the Great Jubilee (Novo Millenio Ineunte), John Paul called for the further implementation of the Council, again, with the actual reading of the texts. Have these calls been heeded?

With Lent nearly upon us, now seems an appropriate time to prayerfully discern which one of these gifts of the Magisterium we might take up and read.

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5 Responses to Why Do Popes Bother?

  • Why do Popes bother?

    Well, because eventually all of their writings will be posted on TAC! 🙂
    With the advent of the internet and Catholic blogs, my guess is that Papal writings are probably reaching more readers than any other time in the history of the Church. This is a very new development and it will take time to see what the impact of this will be.

  • Actually have been reading Verbum Domini for about six weeks now as spiritual reading. Taking so long as might only read a paragraph need to stop and think/meditate. Also like to look up the biblical references. Suspect I might take most of this year to finish it.

  • Phillip – Cardinal Arinze recommends doing exactly that with the CCC.

    Chris – Thank you for reminding us on what is really important. That’s a great idea about implementing some type of Lectio Divina during Lent. Too often I find myself distracted by secular topics, i.e. politics. God help me during the upcoming election cycle.

  • I actually read through the whole CCC. Wasn’t given it as spiritual reading by my spiritual director. Read alot of the footnotes but to my shame didn’t look up many of the biblical references. What can I say, I was young.

  • That should read “Was given it as spiritual reading…”

The Coming Open Rebellion Against God Part II

Sunday, February 6, AD 2011

In my first article The Coming Open Rebellion Against God, I spoke of a time where God would reveal his omnipotence and some would simply leave their faith behind.  Why? Because just as in John 6, some would say it simply doesn’t make sense and walk away. Some have prayed that if only God would show His omnipotence; many would fall on their knees and believe. I truly believe the time is coming when some of our intelligentsia, including clergy will see the hand of God and say; “No thanks, this doesn’t mesh with my worldview.”

Father Dwight Longenecker recently wrote a review of the movie The Rite Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, a movie somewhat inspired by a real life Italian exorcist. The movie was given praise by many Catholic writers including Father Longenecker for actually showing the Church in a positive light. Perhaps this was due to the film’s producers using a California based exorcist Father Gary Thomas who actually was present at the filming of the movie. In a key passage Father Longenecker pondered the fact that far too many in this modern rationalistic world see the idea of the devil and demonic possession as beyond them, even though if they truly followed their rationalistic approach, they would come to see that there simply was no medical or scientific explanation for some cases. Sadly, for too many the sin of pride all too often is their downfall.

Recently Father Gary Thomas was interviewed by Leticia Velazquez of Catholic Exchange; some of his remarks about the way in which the teachings of the Church with regard to evil were defiantly rebuked by some within the Church including bishops were more than a little disconcerting. This movie review of The Rite by Father Raymond Schroth SJ associate Editor of America Magazine is one such example. As you can see, the devil is so passé to Father Schroth SJ. It hardly jibes with the high mindedness of those to which he and his urbane friends associate. Check out the comments section in the article, some of the comments left are as elitist and depressing as his treatise on who God is and who He should be.

George Weigel has noted the sad state of some quasi dissident bishops that Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have had to confront. They came from a mindset that preferred the adulation of the dissident intelligentsia of the Ivy League rather than the working class Catholic roots from which many came.

With regard to Jesus and the devil, Jesus spent a good deal of his time fighting the devil and his minions, but alas those who don’t believe in such things seem to indicate that Jesus and the Gospel writers got it wrong, Jesus was not fighting demonic powers but those who were dealing with bouts of depression and epilepsy. According to these liberal dissident elites, Jesus was the precursor to Dr Phil and Deepak Chopra helping those poor seemingly possessed people get their groove back and find their Zen destiny. Never mind what the Church teaches on the subject or the fact that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have specifically spoken of evil and the needs for more exorcists in the Church, these elites know better. Talk about hutzpah, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been labeled as intellectually brilliant, even by their detractors, but no matter to those who don’t believe in such archaic things as the devil. Perhaps we should ask those in the Church, especially in the Church Hierarchy, if you don’t believe what Jesus said about the devil and the manifestation of evil, what else don’t you believe?

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5 Responses to The Coming Open Rebellion Against God Part II

  • Thank you for referring to my interview of Fr Gary Thomas. When I read the book, I was impressed at how deeply their experience of the devil moved both Fr Gary and the book’s author Matt Baglio. I was therefore thrilled to hear that the US bishops had a special meeting about exorcism before their general meeting last November.
    As you assert in your book, the tide is turning. Let us pray that it is in time to save our fellow Catholics, many of whom are hostage to the enemy, thanks to poor catechesis and their own selfishness.


  • Slight spoiler

    The Rite was very well done. Respectful of the Church and enough spookiness to keep you on edge without overplaying ala The Exorcist. Maybe overplayed the “doubting young priest out to prove science over belief” a bit, and showed the Church to be a little too “faith over reason,” in particular I am recalling a scene where our hero challenges his exorcism instructor with scientifically based rationals for the various instances of possession, and the intsructor’s comeback was rather weak – sort of a “you gotta have faith” and left it at that.

    I also think the movie left you with the impression that the Church believes possession occurs far more often than the Church actually believes it does. But then, they gotta sell tickets, don’t they.

  • and by faith over reason, I mean portraying the Church as pitting faith against reason, as opposed to recognizing them as complementing each other.

Signs of despair (and hope) in Christian-Muslim relations

Wednesday, December 15, AD 2010

In his book-length interview Light of the World, Pope Benedict emphasized that, with respect to Muslims:

“The important thing here is to remain in close contact with all the current within Islam that are open to, and capable of dialogue, so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence.”

Earlier in November, he renewed his call for religious freedom in Muslim countries

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5 Responses to Signs of despair (and hope) in Christian-Muslim relations

  • I guess Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad is living in an alternate universe from the rest of his co-religionists.

  • “Why do they hate us?”

  • I guess it would be a little more believable if some actual prosecutions of these perpetrators was occurring. I don’t recall hearing about a Muslim government executing some Muslim who carried out attacks against Christians. Heck, I don’t even recall arrests.

  • I’m afraid we’ll have to give it up as a bad job – Christians simply cannot live in peace and freedom under Moslem rule. Of course, they never really did – even in Islam’s most tolerant times, Christians were subjected to persecution to a lesser or greater degree, depending on the rulers and the circumstances; in modern times, it is has become nothing but a horror. For goodness sake, there is a Christian woman in Pakistan under sentence of death because of an accusation of blasphemy against Islam. This is not a society we can live amongst.

    We can, on the other hand, co-exist – even, at times, work together. But only after Christians in Moslem lands are given, at the minimum, autonomy (though I’d prefer setting up entirely independent Christian States…Assyria, part of Egypt, southern Lebanon, that sort of thing). Only when Christians can rule their own affairs – and defend themselves with arms – will Moslems first learn a bit of respect, and then perhaps some tolerance down the road.

At The Dawn of 2011, Despite Bumps In the Road Catholic Orthodoxy Marches Onward

Monday, December 6, AD 2010

It seems every time a kerfuffle pops up in the Catholic Church, many in engage in hand wringing and doom and gloom scenarios. The latest occurred with Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms, which were wildly taken out of context in his interview with Peter Seewald turned book Light of the World. Following these remarks, some of us have probably been peppered with questions from family and friends as to what this means, and if the Church has changed her teachings in the arena of birth control. Those of us who have welcomed the new orthodoxy taking place within in the Church during the last ten or twenty years, probably have wished this latest kerfuffle had never taken place. However, this in no way shape of form means the orthodoxy movement has stalled. Oddly, I received some gleeful e-mails from some who surprisingly seemed ecstatic to point out that my book; The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism couldn’t possibly be correct. Hopefully, this article will point out that Catholic orthodoxy is alive, well and here to stay.

Church liberals who had long pilloried Pope Benedict XVI even before he was a cardinal, a simple university professor in the famed German town of Tubingen, seemed perplexed on how to treat the latest uproar. Some felt that he was moving in the right (or in their case left direction.) However, the more cynical among them knew that the Holy Father hadn’t changed a thing. They in turn left posts at the National Catholic Reporter decrying the German pontiff’s lack of pastoral ministry. Though I don’t know which saint said it, I am sure someone who was canonized uttered something along these lines; “God please save your Church from these overly pastoral pastors.”

The Holy Father was merely engaging in an abstract theological conversation much like a bunch of guys at a sports bar might conjecture what would happen if modern team x played historical team y for a mythical championship. Yet, the mainstream media along with some in the Catholic media went into a frenzy. The Holy Father was changing nothing in the Church’s teachings concerning birth control. The fault lie with those in the Vatican’s Public Relations Department in making sure the ubiquitous editor Giovanni Vian didn’t somehow put the Holy Father’s abstract scenarios into an excerpt for the L’Osservatore Romano. The comedy of errors in the Vatican could make one’s hair fallout.

Yet, I remember the words of a priest who once spent a considerable amount of time at the Holy See. He told me that the amount of miracles and jaw dropping examples of God’s Grace, that he personally witnessed behind the Vatican’s walls, still amazes him to this day. However, on the flip side the amount of sinister almost demonic style attacks amazes him to this day as well. The evil one knows where his primary target is located and he does his best to cause mayhem.

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4 Responses to At The Dawn of 2011, Despite Bumps In the Road Catholic Orthodoxy Marches Onward

  • You mention as an undesirable example 40,000 Protestant churches and name a few. They are distinguished from one another by their differing beliefs and practices. In the Roman Catholic Church, you find two factions, “us” and “them”, the liberals.
    It is illuminating to identify the large number of distinguishable groups within the Roman Catholic Church today, marked by their differences in beliefs and practices although not yet assigned formal names. Each considers itself the truly faithful. The concept of unity spoken of by the Pope and others seems to have little to do with the Catholic church as a list of clearly different, faithful Catholic factions would show. 450 years ago looks rather similar in some ways.

  • There is a linguistic confusion which conflates the Church with Catholics. Jack B. writes of “the large number of distinguishable groups within the Roman Catholic Church today, marked by their differences in beliefs and practices although not yet assigned formal names”.

    There are many more than a large number: there are groups whose distinguishing characteristics is that they – that we – are all sinners. We may grumble about Rome and the Vatican and those clerics who are continuously interfering in our cosy lives. Looking at the Church is much like looking at a family. Would it be a family were there not regular disagreements? “Differences in beliefs and practices” are like the weeds that have ever encumbered the growth of the Church – the chaff, the tares. They will be with us until the end as Our Lord told us. We just have to live with it.


Wikileaks: US Never Expected Ratzinger Elected as Pope

Tuesday, November 30, AD 2010

[Updated Below]

Wikileaks information has been disclosed by Rome Reports that the U.S. intelligence services were completely caught off guard and surprised at the election of then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

[Found another YouTube video that works]

Updated as of 10:40am Central time, 11-30-2010 AD:

U.S. intelligence was expecting a Latin American as the next pope, and predicted that then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger would have lost in the first round voting.

The rest from Father Zuhlsdorf:

Before the election the staff of the US embassy to the Holy See sent speculations to Washington about the one to be elected.

“The first factor will be age, the cardinals will seek someone who is neither too young nor too old, because they don’t want to have another funeral and conclave quickly” but “they also want to avoid having a long pontificate like that of John Paul II.”  Furthermore, “it will be a person in reasonably good health”.  Another element will be “linguistic ability” and he will have to know Italian.

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16 Responses to Wikileaks: US Never Expected Ratzinger Elected as Pope

  • I wonder who they did expect.

  • One good thing about Wikileaks: It will demonstrate the incoherency (faintly perceptible in Fr. Z’s remarks) of those who are rightfully critical of domestic bureaucracies but who still seem to believe that the State Department and/or the Pentagon could be any less bureucratic or incompetent. Fr. Z seems almost *surprised* at the incompetency of the intelligence. But the State Department and Military *are* largely incompetent. They are no different from the post office or the DMV, just more dangerous.

  • But the State Department and Military *are* largely incompetent. They are no different from the post office or the DMV, just more dangerous.

    Largely ‘incompetant’ by whose standards at what? Dangerous to whom? You can compare the Postal Service to UPS and FedEx as a standard of performance. To what are you comparing the United States Military?

  • “Incompetent”: OED 2.a: “Of inadequate ability or fitness; not having the requisite capacity or qualification; incapable. Const. to, to do something.”

    The concept does not require a comparison with another entity to be made intellegible. What are the final ends or goals of the State Department and of the Pentagon? Do the actions of these entities achieve these ends or fail to?

  • Well, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo (Pontifical Council for the Family) had been on my short list. I suppose it was good that he was not elected because he died three years later (at the young age of 72).

  • What are the final ends or goals of the State Department and of the Pentagon? Do the actions of these entities achieve these ends or fail to?

    You never defined any goals, nor offered a concept of what counts as an achievable goal. (And no, the question of who can do the U.S. Military’s job better than the U.S. Military is not irrelevant to your remarks).

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  • EXCEPT it was not that much of a SHOCK. See my post “Contrary To Wikileaks Reports U.S Government Had Strong Indications Ratzinger Would Be Pope ”

  • Looks like the Internet police have struck.

  • Art Deco,

    What are the end goals of *any* State Department and Military?

  • It is curious that our government would find the election of the Pope curious. Do they also do intelligence on the elections of the Archbisop of Cantebury?

  • Popes matter globally, unlike the Archbishops of Canterbury who do not even matter in the UK.

    I would take these wikileaks with a large boulder of salt. One of the curses of government is the huge amount of useless paper generated. Intelligence agencies are especially prone to this type of bloat, and often the opinions aren’t any better than you could find on blogs, except that the taxpayers pay us zip for doing this. However, if the CIA is ever eager to have a Catholic blog all its own… 🙂

  • What are the end goals of *any* State Department and Military?

    Costa Rica’s or ours?

  • “On the day of the election itself, there was a cable to Washington which pooh-poohed the possible election of Ratzinger. Apparently the election shocked them.”

    I wonder what President Bush’s reaction was? As I’ve noted before, on the very day, and at the very hour, Pope Benedict’s election was announced, Bush was in Springfield for the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. I remember hearing both events reported live on my car radio while driving between newspaper assignments….

    Also, isn’t there a rumor, persistent allegation, or whatever to the effect that when Pope Paul VI was elected in 1963, Cardinal Spellman secretly transmitted the result to a CIA operative in Rome with some kind of hidden two-way radio? Not saying it’s true but I just wonder if anyone else has heard this. If true (and that’s a HUGE “if”) then it would seem to indicate that the CIA cultivated some, shall we say, much more reliable contacts within the Vatican in those days.

  • Meanwhile, via Catholic Vote/American Papist, we learn that more than 800 of the Wikileaks documents still slated for publication involve communications with the Vatican:

Must Read: Mark Brumley

Wednesday, November 24, AD 2010

Mark Brumley is the president of Ignatius Press, which today published a little book by a little German which is generating a little buzz.

Yesterday at IP’s official website for the book Mark posted a “summary interview” regarding the condom controversy. I highly encourage anyone interested in better understanding what the heck is going to read this interview.

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2 Responses to Must Read: Mark Brumley

Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

Tuesday, November 23, AD 2010

I have placed together another roundup of the better informed among us in the Catholic blogosphere concerning the Pope’s comments on the use of condoms (to build upon a previous similar post).

In my personal opinion, the more I read up on this issue, the more confused I become.

For the record, I am no philosophy or theological expert.  I have a more rudimentary understanding of the teachings of the Church, ie, I clearly understand what and why, not necessarily the minutiae and nuance.

So I comprehend what the pope meant that if the person in question (example of a male prostitute in the act of fornication) decides to use a condom to protect a client, thus indicating that said person is heading in the right moral direction.  Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?

Nonetheless, one cannot come away thinking that the pope himself has allowed for the use of a condom. Period!

This point is obvious enough that Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph is breaking his own arm from patting himself on the back so hard from this discovery (here, here, and here)!

Before I give the impression that Pope Benedict has given his blessings to the rise of a brave new condom nation, His Holiness was not speaking ex-cathedra.

But considering the weight of the papal office and the high standing the Church herself holds as a pillar of morality in a depraved world, the comments are disconcerting to the average (practicing) Catholic.

Anyone Can Use a Condom? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Clarification of Pope’s ‘Male Prostitute’ Reference – John Thavis, CNS

Deflating the NY Times Condom Scoop – George Weigel, Natl Rev Online

When Are Points Not Worth Making on Pope & Condoms – Darwin

Wisdom of The Cross: Benedict & Contraception – Reginaldus, NTM

Ed Peters: L’Osservatore Romano as Origin of Problem – Fr. Z

Did Pope ‘Endorse’ Condoms? – Steve Kellmeyer, Fifth Column

Confusion On Pope’s Condom Views – N. Squires/J. Bingham, Tlgrph

Stop the Presses! – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

(Hat tip:  The Pulpit)

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48 Responses to Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

  • Steve Kellmeyer’s analysis is brilliant and depressing:

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010Anyone Can Use A Condom?
    Well, the Pope has doubled down on his statement concerning condoms:

    “I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.” [There is that insistence that condom use is a move towards objective good. Again.]

    “This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point. The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another,” Lombardi said.

    The clarification is significant.

    Yeah, I’d say that last sentence was the understatement of the year.

    Here’s the problem.

    In order to be able to use condoms, the principle of double effect must apply.
    In order for the principle of double effect to apply, the following must be true:

    The nature-of-the-act condition. The action must be either morally good or indifferent.
    The means-end condition. The bad effect must not be the means by which one achieves the good effect.
    The right-intention condition. The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect, with the bad effect being only an unintended side effect.
    The proportionality condition The good effect must be at least equivalent in importance to the bad effect.
    1a) The use of a condom in a heterosexual encounter is not morally good or indifferent. Insofar as it is contraceptive, it is intrinsically evil. Fail on Test #1 for heterosexuals.

    However, insofar as the use of a condom is NOT contraceptive, it is NOT evil. Since the use of a condom between homosexuals is not a contraceptive act, Pass on Test #1 for homosexuals.

    2a) Since the seminal fluid which carries the sperm also carries the STD, and these two cannot be differentiated or separated, the means of achieving the bad effect (stopping the sperm from being communicated) is identical to the means for achieving the good effect (stopping the STD agent from being communicated) – the same barrier prevents both from obtaining. Fail on Test #2 for heterosexuals.

    Since the presence or absence of sperm is immaterial to the sodomitical act, Pass on Test #2 for homosexuals.

    3a) All that you have, according to the Pope, is a good intent – the desire not to transmit disease, either to yourself or to others or both. Pass on Test #3 for both groups.

    4a) The good effect, keeping disease from being transmitted, is a lesser good than preventing the coming into existence of an immortal person who has the capacity to praise and glorify God for all eternity. Disease and death are temporally self-limiting – at most, they will only apply for a few decades out of eternity, while the person that may be conceived will exist for all eternity. The difference in goodness is infinite. Fail on Test #4 for heterosexuals.

    Since homosexuals cannot bring an immortal person into existence, Pass on Test #4 for homosexuals.

    In order for double effect to apply to the use of condoms in marriage or any other encounter, all four tests must pass. As you can see, for heterosexuals, three out of four do not. For homosexuals, all four tests pass and condom use is not a problem.

    Indeed, as I pointed out yesterday, the principle of double effect doesn’t even apply to the homosexual act, since the homosexual act has only one effect – pleasure. There is no procreation, thus there aren’t two effects whose relative merits have to be judged, as there are for the heterosexual act.

    But, of course, because the Vatican is not bothering to explain any of this, and because the Ignatius Press book does not bother to explain any of this, all of this is being ignored. The Pope’s failure, the Vatican’s failure, to adequately contextualize the Pope’s words is creating a firestorm.

    As I said yesterday:

    Just as an action can have multiple consequences, so I can have multiple intentions when I carry out an action.

    According to the Pope, when I use the condom, I may sin through the intent to commit sodomy or fornication, but I do NOT sin by intending to reduce disease transmission.

    Insofar as I use the condom only for that purpose, I do not sin.

    Indeed, according to the Pope, insofar as I use the condom for that purpose, I take the first actions towards moral good, the humanizing of the sexual act.

    It’s counter-intuitive, but that’s what he himself says in the first part of his answer.

    Now, when it comes to sodomy, there is NO difference between the use of a drug that reduces the probability AIDS will be transmitted and the use of a condom.

    So, it is absolutely the case that the Pope is endorsing the use of a condom to prevent disease transmission per se because when I use it FOR THAT INTENTION, I am moving towards the good, which the Church endorses.
    So this is not a question of “how to sin in the least offensive way.”

    The Pope is saying anyone who uses a condom with the intent to reduce disease transmission is doing objective good – taking “a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

    And, just as an aside, the Washington Times reports today on the development of EXACTLY the same kind of drug I hypothesized in my example yesterday: a drug that when taken daily by an HIV-negative person reduces the incidence of AIDS acquisition and transmission by 70%.

    Several people have asked whether this isn’t really just an academic question.
    After all, how many people actively involved in sinful sexual activities are worried about condom use?

    As I’ve pointed out previously, the way people rationalize sin is impressive. How many times have we heard the story of the priest or bishop who thought homosexual activity didn’t violate celibacy vows?

    Similarly, is it really outside the pale for those same priests or bishops to insist that they didn’t want to use a condom during their “celibate extra-curricular activities” because the use of a condom was sinful?

    No, I don’t think this was ever just an academic discussion.”

  • Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?

    Not at all, and I’m having trouble understanding why some Catholic commentators are not getting this.

    For instance, I don’t think that all and every one of those young misguided college activists vocally criticizing the Church for its condom stance are motivated by purely malicious desires. Some of them genuinely want to help suffering people, albeit in an ignorant and misguided way. Their advocacy of condoms is intended to be a recognition of the human dignity of African AIDS victims. They are wrong, of course, but it’s a better position that not caring whatsoever about the human dignity of suffering Africans.

    The Pope explicitly states in the interview that the use of the condom is not a moral or acceptable solution. He is simply recognizing the gravely and deeply misguided but nevertheless well-meaning intention of using them in this case.

  • Even with the clarification, this really ought not be as disconcerting as some apparently think it is. (As I’ve noted in another thread, I *do* think that it was highly imprudent of L’OR to publish *this* excerpt, particularly without comment or context.)

    The use of a condom in intercourse is gravely immoral. The intent does not change that.

    *But*, the intent in this example can and does indicate *some* positive stirring in the heart of the contracepting person, even though it doesn’t change the gravity of their sin.

  • Hey Tito,
    Add me to the chorus?

    By the way, good point Michael B.

  • Michael B. said : The Pope explicitly states in the interview that the use of the condom is not a moral or acceptable solution. He is simply recognizing the gravely and deeply misguided but nevertheless well-meaning intention of using them in this case.

    Perfectly and concisely written, Michael B. – thank you. Someone high up in the Vatican should say this. It won’t help with calming down the drumbeat from the major media outlets but the faithful could use more authoritative and concise teaching.

  • Interesting that Fr L. implied that Transsexuals are neither male nor female, but something apart.

  • From a comment on Brett’s thread over at Vox Nova:

    “So may I ask a serious question? For those people that are the so called cafeteria catholics, that read what is written, and yet use their own minds and come to their own conclusions on certain things. Were they wrong then? I mean I often listen to people who love to call out the cafeteria catholics and basically make them feel like they are sinners- or more prone to sin than others are. However, one has to reason for themsleves in some ways based on certain situations in the world. Another thing I notice when I look around on Sundays is, if everyone was not using some form of birth control, then why are the pews not filled with families with children of 5 to 8 children? I think this reversal by the Pope is really something. I personally was sort of amazed at the take by so many that it was only homo-sexuals the Pope was referring too. I just didnt see it that way when I read the statement for myself. Now more light has been shed by the Pope. Ijust think sin is what it is. Everyone know’s what sin is and sometimes we sin anyway. We are all sinners. Yet if we are going to sin, then wouldnt one take precautions? I mean I know that makes me a class ‘a’ sinner I suppose. But isnt that logic? With what we know today, and how man is fallen, why can we not use our own logic sometimes?”

    This I think is not going to be an atypical reaction among many, many Catholics. The Pope has blithely done serious damage through his remarks to basic Church teaching in this area. For the sake of what reads like hair-splitting advice to confessors, he has devastated the fight of the Church against artificial contraception. I will leave to others the task of picking out the slivers of silver in this deeply black cloud.

  • It’s interesting that the orthodoxy in Humanae Vitae seriously damaged Pope Paul VI’s papacy to the point he never issued another encyclical.

    The irony being that on the surface it looks as if Pope Benedict XVI has challenged this orthodoxy (Humanae Vitae) and in the end ultimately damaged his papacy to the point in which anything he says will be rendered irrelevant because of his off the cuff remarks.

    His Holiness has created a crack in Church teaching, as much as it was carefully worded, this “opening” will be used by dissident Catholics to further deconstruct more Church teachings.

    That is my grave worry.

  • It’s not clear that double effect is doing the heavy lifting here. In Rhohnheimer’s fuller articulation of his position in his debate with Fr. Benedict Guevin (available here: he *rejects* the claim that his argument is grounded in double effect. He does so because (1) not *everything* praeter intentionem is analyzable according to double effect and (2) on his reading “using a condom” does not sufficiently render the *object* of the intentional act clear. If Rhonheimer’s thought is behind the recent clarification–and I would guess that it is–then double effect is a red herring. Now, you may not be persuaded by Rhonheimer’s arguments; but you don’t have to be. You just have to trust that the CHurch knows what she’s doing, here.

  • Donald,

    I would encourage you to better your understanding of the Church’s teaching in Humana Vitae and of the principles behind her sexual ethic before you go running around tellings us all that the sky is falling. Have you even considered the possibility that your own view is not as complete or subtle as Benedict XVI’s on this matter?

  • “For the sake of what reads like hair-splitting advice to confessors, he has devastated the fight of the Church against artificial contraception.”

    If the distinction is true, it’s true, Donald, even if it might make it harder to understand and explain.

    There is no crack in Church teaching either, Tito… this position has been a licit one.

    Just yesterday I had a phone call from a woman who was very distressed because of the Church’s teaching on the illicit nature of having a tubal ligation even in the case where a pregnancy would be life-threatening. The subtlety of the Church’s teaching made it difficult to explain, but it is what it is.

    Not only is Benedict a brilliant theologian, but he spent 20+ years addressing precise questions like this and discerning the Church’s teaching. I understand why it might be somewhat confusing, but I think we can trust in the Holy Father.

  • WJ may be correct. Rhonheimer is clearly using a distinct understanding of the moral object of the act and double effect than has traditionally been used. Again he is taking off from Grisez’s development of the moral object if I understand correctly. This understanding of the moral object as well as double effect leads to some different and controversial conclusions including the validity of using condoms in marriage to prevent disease transmission. (It also allows for craniotomy to deliver a baby in order to save the life of the mother. But that’s a whole other can of worms.)

    This understanding of the moral object of the act and double effect has not been definitively endorsed by the Church and the Pope has called on moral theologians and philosophers to write about this theory so that the Church can proceed to pronounce on it. There are many out there who do disagree with it.

    The bottom line is the Pope, being the theoretician he is, offered a conditional “may” to his statement on the licitness of condom use. But that subtlety is lost on the MSM.

  • “Have you even considered the possibility that your own view is not as complete or subtle as Benedict XVI’s on this matter?”

    His view should bloody well be more complete and subtle than my own since he has spent his entire life doing theology and I am just a country shyster. However, it takes no great subtlety of intellect to recognize that the Pope’s comments are an unmitigated disaster for the Church in regard to the use of condoms as contraceptives, and that the Pope doesn’t seem to be bothered by the havoc that his remarks have created. That strikes me as extremely irresponsible for the Vicar of Christ. If a Pope blunders badly, in my view, I am not going to pretend that I think he has engaged in some masterstroke.

  • One issue at play for the Church is that most people were already rejecting her teaching on artificial contraception. In my experience, anyone who was looking for an excuse to ignore the Church on this question already felt they had one. I’m not sure Benedict could have screwed this up as much as Donald and others think he did. What was there to screw up? Who is this demographic that was willing to listen to the Church on the question of artificial contraception until last weekend?

    It may even be possible that there is a demographic (though also a tiny one) that has now found the Church’s teaching more credible. Or at least they are more ready to hear it now that it is clearer that it doesn’t imply that the Church thinks prostitutes etc. are better off unprotected.

  • What do you think he should’ve done, Donald?

  • Prostitutes are better off not fornicating. Not using a condom.

  • Tito,

    Benedict said that condoms are never a moral solution. *Never*. He was clear on that.

  • Tito,

    That’s very true. But the Pope is not rejecting the proposition in question, so the point seems to be moot. Or do you think he is rejecting the proposition in question?

  • I know I’m stating the obvious when I point out that moral theology can be complex and very precise, exactly because the human person is a complex entity, particularly when it comes to human action. So if a question is posed which *necessitates* giving an answer with fine distinctions, we either try to avoid the question or explain the answer as best we can. But the cat is already out of the bag, so to speak… the question was asked.

  • “What do you think he should’ve done, Donald?”

    Oh, maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex, and that in regard to the example of the homosexual prostitute with aids, the prostitute’s idea of using a condom with its failure rate indicates that in addition to being involved in mortal sin he is also either hopelessly foolish or callous.

    This whole farce demonstrates that Popes should have long ago left collegiate bull sessions behind before ascending to the chair of Peter.

  • “maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex”

    But he *did*. Condoms are never a moral solution. That’s what he said.

    Why do you think this is a *farce*?

  • “Oh, maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex”

    But Donald–this would not have been true to say! I understand that this is what you you *prefer* Church teaching to be on this issue, but that doesn’t make it Church teaching! The reality, as Chris Burgwald points out, is much more complex and involves a much higher degree of precision.

  • Let me specify, in case there is confusion. Donald’s statement is not unambiguously correct for two reasons:

    1. “For any purpose” is too broad. Suppose that, for example, a married couple uses a condom during the act of fellatio (not ending in male orgasm) prior to the act of intercourse itself. The Church has no stance on this. What Donald means is something much more precise–that a condom may not be used in order to impede the properly procreative aspect of the marital act. But specifying what this entails is very difficult, especially in some circumstances, like:

    2. The case of an infertile couple one of whom is HIV positive. As Fr. Rhonheimer points out, the Church’s teaching on the use of a condom in this scenario is *not defined*. That’s not to say that there’s no answer to the question; it is to say that the Church has not been able, yet, to determine what the proper approach to this scenario should be. These are hard issues.

  • I guess WJ and Chris need to debate each other now.

    Chris, after the muddying of the waters the Pope engaged in his with his remarks, I wouldn’t wager five bucks on what he would say next in this area.

    It is a farce because the Pope obviously made a blunder and he is too proud or too cautious or too something to walk it back. Poor Father Lombardi gets to play the bumbling go between twixt a Pope who is apparently not going to explain himself any further and Catholics crying out for further direction from their Pontiff. It would take a heart of stone not to to see the comedic elements in this.

  • I don’t imagine that Chris and I disagree on anything substantive in this area. I am open to his correction or clarification, in any case.

    Donald, you continue to assert that the “Pope obviously made a blunder” even after you have admitted that the Pope has a far better grasp of the moral theology at work here than you do. Your claim that he “obviously made a blunder” is grounded in nothing than your obsession on what everybody is saying about this clarification in the two or three days since its first being reported, and your forecast that this clarification will somehow sound a death knell for the Church’s teaching on contraception–a teaching, as Brett points out, that was not exactly uncontroversial or readily accepted by Catholics even before the Pope’s comments. If you want to apportion blame to somebody, a better target, given your concerns, would be the editorial staff of LOR rather than Benedict XVI himself, who did nothing other than answer, truthfully and honestly, a question that was posed to him. Your own ‘preferred’ answer which you would substitute for Benedict’s actually misrepresents Church teaching! Reality is complex, Donald, which does not mean it is not also precise. It is both, and the moral theology of the Church, because it is *true*, is also both.

  • Okay, if we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty, WJ is correct. So there is no debate between us. Jimmy Akin has done an admirable job recently and less recently trying to give a layman’s explanation of this… see here ( from 2005 and here ( from the other day (Tito linked it on Monday).

    Don, do you think he made a doctrinal blunder or a PR blunder? I’ve seen people accuse him of both, but I’m not sure yet which side you fall on.

  • Here’s a key section from Jimmy’s recent article:

    “What the Church—in Humanae Vitae and the Catechism—has done is say that one cannot deliberately frustrate the procreative aspect of sexual intercourse between man and wife.

    “That’s actually a fairly narrow statement. It doesn’t even address all situations that may arise in marriages, because there may be situations in which the law of double effect would allow the toleration of a contraceptive effect as long as this is a side effect of the action rather than being intended as a means or an end.

    “It thus would rule out the use of a condom to prevent a husband and wife from conceiving a child, but that doesn’t address condom use in other situations. Thus far the Church has not explored the question of condom use—or other, typically contraceptive acts—in cases outside of marriage.”

    What Don wished the Holy Father would’ve said is something which the vast majority of Catholics — including orthodox, practicing Catholics — think the Church’s teaching is. And honestly, that’s often how I’ve personally taught it for “popular” consumption, because it’s simpler and easier. But in the end, it’s I who have done the disservice to the truth, not the Holy Father.

    (There’s a reason I chose dogmatic theology instead of moral! 🙂

  • “Don, do you think he made a doctrinal blunder or a PR blunder? I’ve seen people accuse him of both, but I’m not sure yet which side you fall on.”

    I think he blundered in a number of areas actually:

    1. Interviews to be published in book form are not a proper forum for a pope to be engaging in fairly abstruse theorizing. Save that for lengthy encyclicals where he can provide a full array of caveats for specialists to earn their butter analyzing for the next few centuries and the specifics of which the laity will happily be ignorant of.

    2. Not explaining himself once a furor arose and not addressing it himself rather than shoving the hapless Father Lombardi out the door to face the media. (This truly would make a good comedic Italian film with poor English voice overs.)

    3. Not realizing, or not caring, the havoc the remarks were going to cause when it should be obvious to the newest seminarian that when a Pope speaks about condoms the sparks are going to fly.

    4. Not addressing the failure rate of condoms which is a factor to consider when addressed with the hypothetical that he was presented with.

    5. Addressing a hypothetical at all. That is work for a Catholic theology professor producing articles that no one other than his fellow drones bothers to read and not for the head of the Universal Church.

    6. Allowing LOR to continue on its merry way of causing as much chaos in his Papacy as it can, without apparently the Pope lifting a finger to resolve the matter.

    7. Failure to recognize that the Pope wears many hats, and theologian-in-chief is only one of them and far from the most important one.

    8. Failure to recognize that advice to confessors hearing a confession is bound to be misconstrued by the media and many, many Catholics.

    I am sure that I can think of many more. This is a disaster of the first water on so many levels. As to the doctrinal implications, we will simply have to wait until the Pope sorts out this mess, assuming he ever does.

  • Donald,

    I continue to think you are exaggerating the fall-out from this (Will anybody even talk about this two weeks from now? I doubt it.), but I have to chuckle at a couple of your items: the “hapless Fr. Lombardi” is really a terrific phrase.

  • Actually WJ I hope no one will be talking about this in the next two weeks, as I think the whole affair is damaging to the Pope. Unfortunately the Pope has sent in motion debate in an area where there are many questions, and until the Pope addresses the questions, if he ever does, the debate will continue. The mainstream media, which knows as much about Catholicism as Bill Clinton does about chastity, will move on to other things until some priest begins handing out condoms to gays and says he is doing this out of obedience to the pope or a nun decides for the same reason to pass out condoms to female prostitutes for use by their male clientele. Sadly, I think this particular tempest is just beginning.

  • There’s another distinction which needs to be made…

    WJ has been noting (and I’ve concurred) that there’s actually greater complexity on the question of the morality of condoms than we often think. And that’s true.

    But in my reading of the excerpt from LOTW, I don’t think the Holy Father is necessarily getting into that topic. As I and others have noted, I think he’s making the point that someone who uses a condom to avoid passing on HIV is manifesting even the smallest spark of an awakening in their conscience. Even if condoms were wrong in every circumstance, this would be true. And we need not and ought not fear the truth.

    (I started this comment much earlier, hence its lack of interaction with the last couple posts.)

  • I concur. My presentation of the complexities involving the use of condoms was not intended as a parsing of the Pope’s statements in LOTW, but as a response to those who (seem) to think that a correct reading of HV allows no leeway for the Pope to do this. Chris is correct, though, that the interview itself doesn’t necessitate bringing in these other considerations. (They rather arise in trying to explain to others *why* what the Pope said isn’t a change or a development so much as a clarification of an existing position.)

  • I disagree. If he had said this in an encyclical it would have been worse. this interview was designed to be accessible to the general public; non-theologians can read it. Encyclicals largely aren’t read by the general public, which means what they get is entirely through the media. Putting the nuances in an encyclical is a waste of time, b/c those nuances aren’t going to make it into the NYT.

    2. Not explaining himself once a furor arose and not addressing it himself rather than shoving the hapless Father Lombardi out the door to face the media. (This truly would make a good comedic Italian film with poor English voice overs.)

    I think he did. It’s pretty clear; I really don’t know what the argument’s about. What else does he need to say?

    3. Not realizing, or not caring, the havoc the remarks were going to cause when it should be obvious to the newest seminarian that when a Pope speaks about condoms the sparks are going to fly.

    I think the Pope has accepted that no matter what he says, it will be taken out of context or manipulated to serve the narrative of the secular world. He’s stop caring b/c there’s nothing he or anyone else can do about it. While the Vatican could do a better job with PR, it’s not like the bad press is BXVI’s fault.

    And sometimes, havoc is good. If someone using contraception reads this and sees “well, I can use it for disease prevention but not for other reasons,” then that is probably an advance in moral reasoning for that person. We can argue about the disease cases, but for most people that’s not an issue. The real issue is the ones who contracept so they can buy a Lexus, and those people may actually be struck to reexamine Church teaching, and their hearts may convert.

    4. Not addressing the failure rate of condoms which is a factor to consider when addressed with the hypothetical that he was presented with.

    It’s a factor to overall morality. But the failure rate doesn’t affect whether it’s a step in the right direction. It’s still immoral; failure rate is only relevant when we’re discussing whether you can use double effect to justify the use, a position the pope explicitly rejected.

    5. Addressing a hypothetical at all. That is work for a Catholic theology professor producing articles that no one other than his fellow drones bothers to read and not for the head of the Universal Church.

    This isn’t a vague and unrealistic law school hypo; people have this situation in real life and need guidance as to how to their lives in accordance with the truth. Theology has very practical purposes, and this question and answer have very practical ramifications. Let’s not pretend this is a waste of time.

    6. Allowing LOR to continue on its merry way of causing as much chaos in his Papacy as it can, without apparently the Pope lifting a finger to resolve the matter.

    I agree with this one. LOR needs to have its shops cleaned. Heads need to roll.

    7. Failure to recognize that the Pope wears many hats, and theologian-in-chief is only one of them and far from the most important one.

    So when confronted with difficult questions, the pope ought to back down? I really don’t buy the notion you seem to be pushing, namely that the pope ought to avoid these difficult and tricky questions. If the Church is going to be a credible source of guidance, we need to plunge into these issues in order to provide witness even in the most of circumstances.

    As has already been said, this will be a non-issue outside of Catholic circles at least in the US. Many in Africa will try to justify use of condoms with this, but they’re the ones who have already been skirting the rules. I imagine it will take some time, but I expect there to be a more detailed discussion from the Vatican.

    And finally, all this snarking at the pope boils down to one thing: do you think the pope is a holy man? I think he is, and I think he is one who follows what he discerns is god’s will. I trust him to make the right decisions for the Church, and even when it seems cloudy I think all will turn out for the best. The pope can make mistakes, and while this didn’t go down in the ideal way, it’s hardly an unmitigated disaster. I think much fruit can come from this.

  • If what some have been saying that the Pope is very well aware that his comments would cause such a stir, then maybe an explanation is forthcoming from His Holiness in anticipation of the brouhaha.

    And if it isn’t, then this indeed is a blunder on the part of good Pope Benedict.

    If the pope is going to rely on “theologians” to explain away his comments, then why bother with the Magisterium.

    A statement such as this needs to be fleshed out in an encyclical, papal bull, apostolic letter, whatever means necessary on a controversial and heated topic such as condom-use.

    Not a second-rate paper that is the semi-official mouthpiece of the Vatican and armchair theologians such as myself.

  • “do you think the pope is a holy man? ”

    Not knowing him personally Michael I have no way of knowing. The Church has had holy men as Popes who have been disasters, Saint Celestine V is a prime example, and less than holy Popes who have been effective stewards of the Church, Julius II coming to mind in that category. Until this fiasco I would have said that on balance the Pope was an effective steward of the Church. Now I would not say that.

  • “Let’s not pretend this is a waste of time.”

    Yes, the Catholic world was in anguish over whether male prostitutes using condoms were taking a baby step toward God as a result. What may be going on here of course is that the Pope took a lot of flak last year for his stance against the use of condoms by aids infected heterosexuals in Africa and he is simply tired of taking the flak. Until the Pope explains himself further, if he ever does, who knows.

  • Tito, the norm (with occasional exceptions) throughout the life of the Church is that the Magisterium presents what the Church teaches, and one of the tasks of theologians is to explain that teaching. Paul VI didn’t explain HV… theologians did.

    In many cases, the explanation requires significantly more paper than the teaching. To give an example which is one of the exceptions to the norm, JPII sought out to explain HV… look at the number of words he took in Theology of the Body (let alone his pre-papal books) to present his explanation of HV (which is a fairly short document).

  • HV is a very well written document, with the exception of order of certain topics.

    I didn’t need to read a 500 page theological journal on condom use through the lens of HV to know that using condoms at all was wrong on all levels.

    HV is a beautifully written and simple document.

    If it takes a 500 page theological journal to explain certain aspects of our faith, then I’m all for it.

    Hence my confusion with the pope’s latest statement. He wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra, regardless of how many times people such as Damian Thompson say that the pope gave his blessing to justified use of condoms (which His Holiness did not say whatsoever), nor was he expounding on a theological point.

    He gave his “opinion” in a certain situation where it “may” arise that a condom may be used.

    That is where my confusion comes from because was he then speaking and creating a new Church teaching or was he simply stating his opinion, or a little a both.


    His Holiness cannot say seven months prior that condoms have caused an increase in the spread of AIDS in Africa and then reverse himself and say that it is acceptable in certain situation.


    I’m confused! Confused. Confused.

  • Tito, he didn’t say it was acceptable. He didn’t say a condom may be used (i.e. he didn’t say it was moral to do so). Please read Brumley’s interview.

    And as Jimmy Akin indicates in the article at NCRegister which you and I have both linked to, HV doesn’t say that condoms are always and in every instance wrong.

  • Chris,

    I was paraphrasing and mocking Damian Thompson.

    I know he (Pope) didn’t say it was permissible.

  • Tito,

    Sorry, I didn’t catch the sarcasm… I haven’t read DT on this yet. 🙂

  • Chris,

    No biggie.


    I know we’re engaging in dialogue on a difficult subject.

    I have friends who are solid Catholics with better foundations than I do that are just devastated by what the Pope said and so I want more clarification of what His Holiness meant by his comments.

    So I’m also commenting as proxy for them because the pope’s comments have disturbed me enough that I need to flesh it out myself in this forum to clear the catechetical cobwebs.

  • Don’t let this imbroglio unduly disturb you Tito. In 2000 years we have had plenty of them as one would expect of an institution that is Divine, but also Human.

    Mentioning Julius II above always reminds me of the finest film depiction of any pope:

  • Don,

    I’m not to worried about the Gates of Hell prevailing one bit.

    I guess my concern is more for my friends who seem to be having a minor (hopefully not major) crisis in their faith due to the Pope’s ‘comments’.

    That is a great film! The Agony and the Ecstasy!

    I love the line where Pope Julius II is setting contractual terms to a kneeling Michelangelo and he says “…for this you will be paid three, ahhhh, two thousand ducats, less the rent of the house”.


  • I finally read the entire two pages (if that) of the ‘condom comments’ Pope Benedict was quoted in saying.

    The entire passage is pretty much clear on Church teaching and other topics.

    It’s the follow up question that provokes the ‘condom comment’.

    Peter Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

    Pope Benedict XVI: She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

    Basically the Pope did not endorse, justify (sorry Damian Thompson), nor bless (again, sorry Damian Thompson, you need new reading glasses) the use of condoms.

    It’s a first step.

    Meaning that a progression of this persons morality towards abstinence is in order, ie, understanding the fuller sense of sexuality. The procreative and unitive act that is ultimately what sex is for, of course, in a marital state.

    I feel much better.

    I’m purchasing the new book by Peter Seewald.

    The very first Peter Seewald interview(s)/book with then Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, was a major factor in bringing me back into the faith.

    Talk about a desert of heart and mind that needed the refreshing waterfall of Cardinal Ratzinger’s insight and wisdom.

    L’Osservatore Romano needs to be purged.

    First the editor, then the rest of the staff.

    Those guys are nasty, mean-spirited, and vindictive invertebrates.

  • I wouldn’t say that L’Osservatore Romano editors and work-staff are incompetent, they are fully competent.

    They openly and with full knowledge purposely released snippets of the book to get the media to react the way they did. Putting PBXVI in a tough situation on the narrowest of exceptions (if it can even be called that).

    L’Osservatore Romano is no better than the New York Times or National Catholic Reporter.

  • Glad you found the actual words helpful, Tito.

    For what it’s worth, a couple hours ago I recorded the weekly podcast, “Prairie Rome Companion”, I host in my day job, and my guest co-host this week was Carl Olson. I’d asked Carl last week to be on to talk about the new post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini which came out a couple weeks back (Carl wrote an article for it for OSV), but given his work for Ignatius Press, we also talked about the book. I’ll try to remember to give a link once we’re able to get it online, which will probably be early next week.

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