PopeWatch: Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagian

Tuesday, December 17, AD 2013



Perhaps one reason we have never had a Jesuit pope before, is that so many Jesuits write in a jargon-laden fashion that is hard for non-Jesuits to figure out.  Case in point:  self-absorbed promethean neopelagian.  Pope Francis uses this baroque insult in Evangelii Gaudium:


94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.

Now what does the Pope mean by this, other than he is really ticked off by people who do not believe that Vatican II is the be-all and end-all of Catholicism?  I’ll be hanged if I can figure it out.  Father Ray Blake at his blog thinks that he knows:

The term “Prometheism” was suggested by the Greek myth of Prometheus, whose gift of fire to mankind, in defiance of Zeus, came to symbolize enlightenment and resistance to despotic authority, it was the name of an early 20th century slightly anarchic Polish political movement but it drew its inspiration from the enlightenment which is perhaps significant here. Perhaps what the Pope is suggesting is something individualistic, something which is actually contrary to Catholic Tradition. It is the self-righteous or as the Pope would say, ‘self-referential’, pretentious Phariseeism that quotes documents and texts to condemn others but actually refuses to be converted by them.

“Neopelagianism” is an easier term, it excludes the necessity of Grace for salvation, again it is individualistic, again it excludes a dependence on God, which is at the heart of Francis’ preaching on ‘mercy’.
He links the whole phrase to those who, ‘observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past’. He has used ‘neopelagian’ previously to describe certain traditional Catholics, well actually the SSPX. I think what he is saying, which the whole of Evangelii Gaudium seems to be saying is that we have be absorbed into the wondrous life-changing joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than being curators of a museum or experimenters in a laboratory.

Uh huh.  Well moving right along, Father Z has decided to embrace the term:

Are you a self-absorbed promethean neopelagian?

I have just the thing for you!

I added a new section to my Z-Swag store at Cafepress.

There are bumper-stickers, car-magnets, coffee mugs, buttons and few other items.

Here is a view of the smaller coffee mug.  Picture yourself drinking your Mystic Monk Coffee or tea from this fine beverageware.

Don’t like coffee or tea… or Orange Fanta?  Get one anyway and put pencils in it.

You surely need a sticker or magnet for your car!  Imagine the puzzled looks you’ll get when you stop at a light, drive down the road, and then pull into your parish’s parking lot!

Having fun with impenetrably vague labels.

Continue reading...

55 Responses to PopeWatch: Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagian

  • The Holy Father’s reference to Neo-Pelagianism echoes the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger used during the Spiritual Exercises of 1986 (in the book “Guardare Cristo: esempi di fede, speranza e carità” [Looking at Christ: Examples of faith, hope and charity] – “the other face of the same vice is the Pelagianism of the pious. They do not want forgiveness and in general they do not want any real gift from God either. They just want to be in order. They don’t want hope they just want security. Their aim is to gain the right to salvation through a strict practice of religious exercises, through prayers and action. What they lack is humility which is essential in order to love; the humility to receive gifts not just because we deserve it or because of how we act…”

    St Thomas teaches that “Since the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things, no one would be better than another, if God did not will a greater good to one than to another.” [Ia, q. 20, a. 3] He also says in article 4 of the same Question and also in Ia, q. 23, a. 4: “In God, love precedes election.”

    This presupposes, according to St. Thomas, a decree of the divine will rendering our salutary acts intrinsically efficacious [Ia, q. 19, a. 8]. For, if they were efficacious on account of our foreseen consent, of two people equally loved and helped by God, one would be better in some respect. He would be better of himself alone and not on account of divine predilection.”

    St Augustine, the Doctor of Grace says, “For they hear these things and do them to whom it is given; but they do them not, whether they hear or do not hear, to whom it is not given. Because, “To you,” said He, “it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matt. xiii. 11) Of these, the one refers to the mercy, the other to the judgment of Him to whom our soul cries, “I will sing of mercy and judgment unto Thee, O Lord.” (Ps. CI: 1) [Praescientia et Praeparatio Beneficiorum Dei 14:35] and, again, “Who would dare to affirm that God has no method of calling whereby even Esau might have applied his mind and yoked his will to the faith in which Jacob was justified? But if the obstinacy of the will can be such that the mind’s aversion from all modes of calling becomes hardened, the question is whether that very hardening does not come from some divine penalty, as if God abandons a man by not calling him in the way in which he might be moved to faith. Who would dare to affirm that the Omnipotent lacked a method of persuading even Esau to believe?” (Ad Simplician, 13-14)

    The scriptures confirm this in many places: “I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please Me” (Exod. 33:19); and “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Rom 9:16)

    One cannot get more traditional than that.

  • Please MPS, the strawmen enemies that the Pope erected will collapse under the verbiage you raise in his defense. One of the more annoying features about the current papacy is the lack of correlation between the world and the world as the Pope chooses to see it.

  • Christopher Ferrara has written of ‘the ugly traditionalist’ and you see fragments of it in The Remnant (and the exchange of brickbats between Ferrara himself and Thomas Woods?). The thing is, such people are a tiny sliver the observant Catholic population most places other than France and are generally tolerated and nothing more by diocesan officialdom. (Try to find a bishop in the English-speaking world who had ever offered the extraordinary form at a public mass at any time since 1970).

    You have a stew of corruption in loci like the California province of the Society of Jesus about which nothing is done that anyone knows about and then you have the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate manhandled terribly. The Holy See has its priorities; just not ones that seem at all sensible.

  • I should clarify that “the ugly traditionalists” constitute a tiny sliver of the Catholic population most places and that traditionalists in general are tolerated and nothing more.

  • This statement is exactly how the Pope views conservative traditionalists, and he fails (and refuses) to realize that it is the liberals whom he embraces who are possessed of the narcissistic and authoritarian elitism which he by covert implication ascribes to conservative traditionalists:

    “The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others.”

    We have gotten the leader we deserve: liberal, progressive leftist.

  • I think the Pope “sounds” like a liberal democrat.

    To wit, Papa’s uncharitable “self-absorbed”(arrogant), “promethean” (humanist – don’t need God, pagan) “pelageans” (deny existence of Original Sin, but Pelagius merely claimed that Christ had abolished Original Sin) are not THE problem facing Holy Mother the Church.

    Pope Francis may see them as one of his “worst nightmares.” And, that is a problem.

  • Is the Pope a Marxist?

    Worse, a Jesuit.

  • “…but who am I to judge?”

    It is an observation, not a judgment, that this Pope:

    (a) Talks like a liberal progressive leftist
    (b) Writes like a liberal progressive leftist
    (c) Acts like a liberal progressive leftist

    “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

    Of course, there have been really terrible Popes in the past, especially during the Middle Ages. The gates of hell, however, did not prevail and will not prevail. We have been fortunate in the 19th and 20th centuries to have overall rather good Popes, but good and bad Popes come and go, yet the Church marches on.

    BTW, considering the current Pope’s age, it is unlikely this will be a long Pontificate, not however that we should ever wish for its untimely termination. Nevertheless, God is in control. He has seen it appropriate to give us the political leader we merit – Barack Hussein Obama – and the religious leader we merit – Pope Francis. We really do not deserve any better, but just as God allowed these leaders to assume their authority, He will remove them from such authority in whatever manner He choses when He sees fit and not until He sees fit. We can only rely on His grace and mercy.

  • Why did you have to link to Mark Shea? Yes, he is a fascinating writer: I have seen no one who is more wrong in how he defends stands that are so correct than Shea. He is palatable only in small doses.

  • Paul, if Pope Francis is indeed a liberal progressive leftist, and if he indeed defends the Faith (and there is little indication that he won’t), then couldn’t he perhaps be God’s agent for the conversion of liberal progressive leftists? Remember the Gospel: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    The rest of us just need to remember that this language does not make leftist progressiveness into the new orthodoxy. Father Z’s phrase “experimenters in a laboratory” would seem to reinforce that view.

  • “Paul, if Pope Francis is indeed a liberal progressive leftist, and if he indeed defends the Faith (and there is little indication that he won’t), then couldn’t he perhaps be God’s agent for the conversion of liberal progressive leftists?”

    Dialogue and conciliation never converted a liberal progressive leftist. Indeed, those are the very things liberal progressive leftists want, using them to obfuscate, confuse, delay and avoid compliance. What converts liberal progressive leftists is to suffer the abject pain of the failure of liberal progressive leftist policies and programs.

    The prophet Jeremiah did not dialogue nor conciliate with the King and his court.

    John the Baptist did not dialogue nor conciliate with Herod and the religious elite of his time.

    St. Paul did not dialogue nor conciliate with the rebellion at the Church of Corinth, nor did St. Clement later on.

    St. John did not dialogue nor conciliate with the Seven Churches in Asia Minor.

    But this Pope is all about dialogue and conciliation. Liberal. Progressive. Leftism.

  • Pelagius denied the biblical sense of human depravity. He failed to grasp its effects. When pelagianism is accepted as a belief it erodes one’s understanding of how we come to God. Fundamentally, we must be made right with him. This does not happen through human effort. It is a gift. A gift that is completely unmerited and undeserved. God extends this gracious offer to the world and we can accept or reject it, but we cannot earn it.

  • Paul, you are being unfair. I for one never used the word “dialogue”, nor when I wrote of Pope Francis being an “agent for conversion” had I been thinking of the kind of dialogue you have in mind.

    Consider this quote from Pope Francis while at Mass on Thursday November 26, 2013:

    “We can not talk about religion, it’s a private thing, no? Do not speak of this publicly. Religious signs are removed. We must obey the orders of worldly powers. We can do many things, beautiful things, but not worship God. Prohibition of worship. This is the center of the end. And when we arrive at the fullness – the ‘kairos’ of this attitude, when this pagan time has come – then yes, it will be Him: ‘And they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’. Christians who suffer persecution, prohibition of worship are a prophecy of what will happen to us all…We should not be afraid , He only asks us for faithfulness and patience. Faithful like Daniel, who was faithful to his God and worshiped God until the end. Patience, so that the hair of our head will not fall off. Thus the Lord has promised . This week we would do well to think of this general apostasy, which is called the prohibition of worship and ask: ‘Do I adore the Lord? Do I adore Jesus Christ, the Lord, or only a little, ‘half and half, I play the game of the prince of this world?” Worshiping until the end, with the trust and faithfulness: this is the grace that we ask this week”

    These are not the words of a Pope destined to be the hero of progressive leftists.

  • Sorry, Tuesday November 26, 2013. Small type for old eyes.

  • Jon sums up the heresy of Pelagius very well, in pointing out that it undermines the sheer gratuity of grace and leads to a “gospel of works.”

    As the Council of Toucy explained, “nothing is done in heaven or on earth, except what God either graciously does Himself or permits to be done, in His justice.” That is to say, no good, here and now, in this man rather than in another, comes about unless God Himself graciously wills and accomplishes it, and no evil, here and now, in this man rather than another, comes about unless God Himself justly permits it to be done.

  • Why does the pope believe there is a war between evangelization and the desire to maintain the integrity of the faith? Both are needed. If you are all evangelization and have no stewards, what exactly are you evangelizing? Mush?

  • Tom D.,

    The Pope says one thing in a homily at Mass and then does another – Cardinal Raymond Burke is now dismissed from the Apostolica Signatura:


  • I am unaware of this Council of Toucy, but it seems to have issued a very nice statement!

  • Thank you Paul Primavera last quote of that article from Card Wuerl:

    “Don’t we have to give this pope time?” he said. I wonder what that means! Time to more completely lessen the Burker effect?

    God bless us

  • Christians who suffer persecution, prohibition of worship are a prophecy of what will happen to us all…

    And he seems to be self-fulfilling that prophecy with the treatment of the FFI.

  • Mr. Primavera, Cardinal Burke is still with the Apostolic Signatura. He is
    no longer a part of the Congregation for Bishops, and his position has been
    given to Cardinal Wuerl.

  • The SAPN’s that Pope Frances speaks of certainly do exist and are only a small sliver of our Catholic population. However, they are a sliver that many, not just the far left, use as their excuse to move away from the faith and sometimes sincerely believe being driven away. Perhaps the Pope is removing this crutch as an excuse by acknowledging it “out loud.” And while the exclusionary, Pharisee Catholic is a problem, certainly not on the scale of the liberal, who knows what they stand for, feeling the love Catholic that want to “unstufferize” our Church if they happen to attend. So why go after the speck instead of the log? Perhaps he is trying to clear our vision before taking on the heavy lifting.
    I understand being alarmed, keeping watch, feeling unsettled right now about this papacy, and it would be uplifting to get a shout out to those of us trying to be faithful to the Magisterium (that we even know the word deserves a clap). However, as an outsider looking in on many of the exchanges here, a very orthodox outsider, it seems some are far to fast to summarily judge this pope in the negative. I share your concerns but he may be just what we need. I don’t think any of us know the answer yet.

  • I believe Kevin is on to something here. He states in his last sentence, concerning peoples’ comments etc on the way Pope Francis is going: “I don’t think any of us know the answer yet”. I believe that to be very accurate, minus the fact that we know he was given the job description of ‘cleaning up the Curia’ [a job that basically has been going on since at least the Council of Trent]

    One paradigm however does come to mind. Now I am stating beforehand-this is just my idea, it is not gospel or teaching of the Church etc. It is simply my taking in all the various factos of what is going on in the Church etc and attempting to make sense of it—-is that even possible lol?

    What if, and I say, what if, Pope Benedict was the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the diverse and hard to describe other than ‘traditionalist’ Catholics who themselves were shocked by what they perceived to be the disruption of Church tradition. While some blame Vatican II itself, others see the problem in the so called ‘spirit of Vatican II’ genre that indeed have a great deal of influence within the larger Church for some time (60’s and 70’s). Many of these people simply wanted their Latin Mass and full Catholic Teachings being passed on to the next generation etc.. Pope Benedict grounded the Church in the hermeneutic of continuity- once and for all banishing ‘the hermeneutic of rupture’ from within the teaching office of the Church [Pope and bishops]. He then began what can be only described as the Reform of the Reform: first within theology of Revelation, maintaining the direction of Dei Verbum with the historical-critical method but now developing that into the canonical method of interpreting Scripture and making Dei Verbum the foundation and fountain of the Church’s reception of Vatican II. With the Liturgy he did likewise, first enabling those who wished to participate in the Latin Mass a full freedom to do so with the hope that the EF and OF of the Roman Rite would learn from each other and grow into a synthesis, and organic reform of the Roman Rite. He drew in very diverse aspects of Catholic Church teaching within the hermeneutic of charity: showing that Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio (loved by ‘liberal’ Catholics) and Humanae Vitae (held if not loved by
    more ‘conservative’ Catholics) were both aspects of Catholic Social Teaching. In short, I believe, Pope Benedict is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the fragmented members of the Church with a more traditional sensitivity. Some will be drawn into the mainstream and others will not-still claiming Vatican II to be the problem etc. But that attempt for reconciliation and communion has been and is still being made.

    Now what if, and again I stress, what if, Pope Francis is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to do for the so called ‘progressives’ in the Church what Pope Benedict did for the so called ‘traditionalists’? He is speaking out of the center and mainstream of the Church as Pope Benedict did [although both groups on the right and the left might deny that about the ‘other’ pope] yet he is definitely speaking in a way that is drawing at least the attention of the ‘progressives’. Pope Francis obviously believes in the hermeneutic of continuity, now he is reaching out to those who have believed in the ‘rupture’ from a progressive ‘spirit of Vatican II’ view, those who believe the Church totally rebooted in 1965.

    I believe also that there is an intuitive sense within the mainstream of the Church that ‘the time is short’. No, no, I am not predicting the end of the world and Christ’s Final Coming. What I am saying is is that ‘the time is short’ for the window of opportunity to reach out to the portions of the Church that are either outright alienated from the Church and no longer in full communion with the Church, or to those wandering out there on the fringes. I cannot predict the future, but I do not believe the immediate future of the Church is ‘peaches and cream’ from the point of view of ‘the world’. I believe we are in for some tough sledding, and there will be a time in which we will no longer really be able to reach out to various disparate groups.

    While I am at it, it might be humorous, but I am a bit dismayed that Fr Z has gone in this direction. While all in the Church are responsible for ‘the communion of the Church’, those in holy orders are to be men of communion, not just officially, but actively fostering and increasing it at every opportunity. I like Fr Z’s comments for the most part, so I am not a real critic of him, however, on this one-I do have a problem with what he has done here.

  • In short, I believe, Pope Benedict is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the fragmented members of the Church with a more traditional sensitivity.
    Why are they fragmented? Very often, it’s because they are in a situation contrary to Church teachings. With Pope Francis, one of two things are going to happen:
    1) The fragmented go beyond the words and realize the pope is not changing Church teachings. They return to their frustration.
    2) The pope speaks “imprecisely.” It’s interpreted as the pope taking a liberal stand and has given license to continue an illicit situation.
    Neither is desirable. But maybe, just maybe, he is able to get the ear of a disenfranchised person, and the person begins to see their situation needs to conform to the teachings of the Church. More than one way to bring people to Mother Church. We’ll see what Pope Francis can do.

  • Folks, if you want to know why the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been belted with a heavy piece of 4×2 timber, the answer is right here in Evanagelii Gaudium. Their devotion to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass marks them out as being “intransigently faithful” (in the Pope’s words) to “a particular Catholic style from the past”. Go to jail. Do not pass “Go”. Do not collect $200. Not “humbly faithful” or “heroically faithful” or “devotedly faithful”, you’ll notice. No, “intransigently faithful.”

    Continuing the Pope’s train of thought, we can therefore conclude, as the Pope himself states, that these pitiful priests and brothers must be “self-absorbed promethean neopelagians” who “feel superior to everybody else”.

    Away with them!!

    Note that the Pope does not use the word “tradition” but “style”, as if the Tridentine Rite was some sort of fad, like flared trousers or hula hoops which can be dispensed with on a whim. However, the real kicker in this screed, is his assertion that people attached to these traditions “feel superior to everybody else”. Really? Isn’t this a little …um……judgmental? What happened to the “who am I to judge?” mantra? This sort of language is most unpapal and is little more than internet combox trash talk. In their writings, popes point out the way forward in a positive manner and when things are condemned, it is ideas; e.g. heresy, false theology etc., and not a particular group of people.

    It’s clear from this passage that the Pope is saying that believing in a hermeneutic of continuity is an impediment to accepting the Gospel in its entirety. One must break with the past in a hermeneutic of rupture in order to embrace the Gospel. Moreover, when one examines the “bigger picture” of what has been happening in the Church over the past half-century, can one really say that its mission has been impeded due to it being overrun with “promethean neopelagians”? Quite the contrary. Surely, it has been the rupture from the past which has spread confusion, heresy, trivialization of the sacred mysteries, liturgical improvization, vocational collapse and catechetical disaster.

    Why this animus to a relatively small number of Catholics who still cling to their Catholic heritage?

  • The “fragmentation” is nothing new.

    In 1904, during the doctrinal crisis prompted by the writings of Alfred Loisy, Maurice Blondel published a series of articles, entitled “History and Dogma.”

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

    A century on, little has changed.

  • No, no, Donald McClarey: you are missing something here: tradionals cant be “straw men” but clearly are the new Red Menace. They are also “crypto-lefebvrian and definite traditionalists” (=stated as the enemy lurking around corners and in dark alleys in the Franciscans/Mary Immaculate case). I love these ‘neo-Baroque’ very Jesuit non-judging categorizations, dont you? So COOL! As Paul Primavera points out, though, far be it from this Pope to JUDGE: oh, no, no, no!
    (I laugh at the paranoia PF and the official Novus Ordo Churchdom is exhibiting.
    Clearly part of the Clintonesque “vast right-wing conspiracy” of the Koch brothers.)
    Warning, Will Robinson, danger!!

  • Hmm I thought it was a new Catholic ice cream flavor. Fragmatiscm knows no bounds.

  • Kiwiinamerica,

    Pope Francis does hold to and employ the hermeneutic of continuity. Only yesterday a close friend of Pope Benedict communicated that he is very much at home with Pope Francis’ theological positions etc. There is continuity not disruption.

    I have said many times that the desire to participate in the EF is not a problem, nor should it be. When PF is making these comments he is not speaking of Catholic traditionalists who desire the EF, hold to the teachings of the Church, hold VII as an authentic and authoritative Ecumenical Counsel of the Church and recognize the OF as a valid (even if they do not prefer it) Liturgy of the Most Holy Eucharist.

    The issues within the Friars, sadly is far more complicated than simply wanting the EF.

    Now whether or not PF ought to direct comments toward those who do not accept VII or the OF and view everything as a rupture-that is another subject. I myself would rather attempt to keep trying to reconcile as many as possible who are closer to the Church than others. It is already becoming evident, and I say this with great sadness, that there is already a fragmentation within the SSPX taking place. Certainly the SSPV splintered away years ago.
    I desire reconciliation and communion not further distancing. At the same time there comes a point when a segment of the Church that cannot abide with a Council does, sadly become distinct and divided from the Catholic Church-it happened at Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Trent, and Vatican I. I pray that difficulties Catholics are struggling with at this point can indeed be resolved constructively, that reconciliation and full communion and peace can once again reign As the Psalmist says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” I do everyday.

  • typo lol Council not Counsel lol sorry

  • Botolph (as usual) makes an excellent point.

    If one rejects VII or the NO, what possible answer does one have to the Armenians and Copts, who claim to be faithful to apostolic tradition by rejecting Chalcedon, or what answer do any of them have to the Assyrian Orthodox, who claim to be yet more faithful by rejecting Ephesus?

    The flaw in the position of all of them is the same. “We are the faithful, for we hold the true faith,” but when asked, “what is the true faith?” they can only answer, “the faith that we hold.”

    Now, there is only one way out of this vicious circle that I know. As Mgr Ronald Knox insisted, “The fideles, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome.” It enables us to determine who the faithful are, without the question-begging preliminary of examining their tenets.

    It is a test remarkably easy of application; just what one would expect of the criterion of a divine message, intended for all, regardless of learning, capacity or circumstances.

  • Yet not as I will, but as you will'” (Matthew 26:39) Does this not continue to be our struggle within the Church and greater world? Had Jesus chosen to do it his way, I am sure he would have chosen something fantastically good. But, like we are all called to do, Jesus bowed His will to His Heavenly Father. And as MP-S points out, a la Fr. Knox, a measure of this is our obedience to the See of Rome. I think Botolph correctly points out that the SSPX problems are not with the Rite, but something deeper. And the deeper problem of “doing it my way” (even if is not a bad way) is the ferment for fragmentation and why this world is so fragmented. It is very possible Botolph’s thread that this Pope is trying to reconcile as many as he can in what looks to be very difficult times ahead for our Church. I do not think he is picking on Traditionalists, nor do I think he is trumpeting liberalism. I do think that he understands what Chesterton pointed out: That is conservatives get it wrong when they try to keep things as they were. The fence gets ragged and needs repainting. It is still a fence but the new coat or paint makes it presentable again. PF, I believe, is trying to get us to make our Church look more presentable to the broader population – but we are still The Church with all of Her teachings in tact. And how can we get others to join us in bowing their wills to the Truth of Mother Church if we ourselves refuse to bow our own wills on how to do things? Methinks if people see we do as we say in all things, some will still turn away, but some will come along.

  • Yes Kevin,

    I read someplace, I wish I could remember where, and who said it-in the interest of transparency it was not me-that the Church has Councils of the Church not to change anything but so that She might remain the Catholic Church-with all the vast changes of history and issues arising within and outside the Church. That is exactly why the hermeneutic of continuity is so important. The pre-Vatican II Church is the same Church as the post- Vatican II Church, even with the cosmetic differences. It is the denial of this fundamental truth that those maintaining the hermeneutic of rupture-from either progressive or ultra-traditionalist sides that is the problem.

  • I could not agree more!

  • If one rejects VII or the NO, what possible answer does one have to the Armenians and Copts, who claim to be faithful to apostolic tradition by rejecting Chalcedon, or what answer do any of them have to the Assyrian Orthodox, who claim to be yet more faithful by rejecting Ephesus?

    It was a pastoral council. I am sure you can find Latin traditionalists who say the NO is not a valid Mass (Christopher Ferrara is not among them). The question at had is whether tinkering with the liturgy was at all prudent. As far as many of us can see, there are two answers to that question:

    1. No.

    2. Yes, because the contemporary clergy are so undisciplined they’d have trashed the traditional rite if they still had to use it.

  • The problem is not with the EF. The problem is that the Novus Ordo was created as a liturgy that would be more palatable to certain Protestant churches in the hope that these Protestants might be willing to join the Catholic Church. It has failed.

    Bishops’ conferences and liturgical committees and bad translations (some recently somewhat corrected) have made a mess of the Novus Ordo, which at its best is not as prayerful as the TLM. I am not rejecting it as invalid, as some in the SSPX do, but pointing out the reality of the situation. The NO as often celebrated has set back relations with the Eastern Orthodox.

    PF hasn’t much idea how to relate to the outside world as he has shown his Latin American upbringing and culture and Jesuit background.

  • Art Deco,

    We keep hearing that the Second Vatican Council was pastoral. In the sense that its mission was to focus on the mission of the Church, rather than on some specific doctrine questioned by some personality or group-that is true. However, “ultra-traditionalists” use the word to minimalize the Council so that it is all but non-existant in their eyes. Of course, first, that is living in a dream world. Vatican II was indeed an Ecumenical Council of the Church and now part of the magisterial tradition of the Church, just as Vatican I, Trent, etc. It is true no new dogmas were promulgated, the Church after the Council is the same One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the one before: hermeneutic of continuity. Nonetheless, it presented and passed on the Tradition of the Church in a way that is very distinctive.

    It is much like the vast shift which took place within the Church when She moved from a Jewish Church to the Graeco-Roman world view, culture and language. It was the same Church but within a major paradigm shift. Some indeed did try to maintain the ‘older paradigm’ but found themselves, in time ‘lost’ and divided themselves.

    Vatican II is an authentic and authoritative Ecumenical Council of the Church and the OF is a valid Mass and real manifestation of the Roman Rite-just as the EF is. There can be no ambiguity to this. There is no wiggle room. I am not sure how much more clearly I can express it.

  • Penguins Fan,

    I appreciate what you said. Certainly the way the OF has been celebrated in places, not according to ‘the rubrics’, has been a problem. I do not hold to that ‘belief’ in certain circles that the OF was formed to placate Protestants etc. What I do believe is that the OF as promulgated in the Roman Missal of 2003, is an expression of a two-fold task:

    1)Continuing what the Council of Trent mandated: that the Liturgy be reformed according to the Fathers [as the general Introduction to the Roman Missal states-the difference is that at Vatican II we had a more comprehensive understanding of what the form of the Roman rite was because of the Biblical, Patristic, historical ressourcement that had taken place for a hundred years before the Council

    2) the Principles and directives of the Second Vatican Council Fathers in Sacro Sanctum Concilium. It is true, there are ‘criticisms’ of the Reform, but if the OF were invalid or even so horrible, wouldn’t Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict have suppressed it or, say called it the EF and the commonly called Tridentine Mass the OF?

    FYI My biggest complaint at this point is the use of hymns versus the Propers: Entrance Antiphons etc and the loss of some continuity of the language of the Liturgy. For example, when Mass was translated from Aramaic to Greek, we kept the Alleuia and Amen. When Mass was translated from Greek to Latin, we kept the Kyrie/Christe eleison, but when Mass was translated from Latin into the vernacular we did not keep any Latin: the Agnus Dei would have been very appropriate and easily known what it meant.

    The loss of the musical patrimony of the Church is the biggest loss I believe we experienced and that needs o be rectified [see I can criticize things too. However I accept VII and the OF]

  • You mean you are not thrilled to be singing, “A a baa, you are our pa a pa, give us our ba a ba, and show us your wuv.” This version of Abba was suggested to me and it has never left my mind. I apologize if anyone liked this piece and now will be haunted by these words. I don’t mean to be irreverent about our current state of music, but it is pretty sad.

  • Penguins Fan

    If by “not as prayerful as the TLM,” you mean “often completely inaudible, so that those present could engage in their private devotions undisturbed,” then I would agree.

    I was 24 years old in 1969, when the Novus Ordo was introduced, so I well remember the Tridentine mass and the manner in which it was, for the most part, celebrated.

    I recall Low Mass in Notre Dame de Paris in the 1950s – the choir, from the chancel arch to the high altar is 36m and the transept adds a further 14m, so someone in the front row of seats was 50m (162 feet) from the priest, under a vault 33m high. The nave is 60m long, so someone at the back was about 100m from the celebrant – about the length of a football field. There was no sound system.

    Not a word of what the priest said could be heard and the Sanctus bell served a very practical purpose. When he turned to us, we knew, of course, that he was saying “Dominus vobiscum,” but, had he said « Salut les copains » only the server would have been any the wiser. Sermons were preached from the pulpit in the nave. Without a homily, mass lasted for some 20 minutes.

    That is, perhaps, an extreme case, but even in the typical parish church of the period, the distance from altar to front pew was often a good 20m (65 feet).

  • Kevin

    LOL no nor Cum bay ya or “Take this bread” or even “Gather us in”. This might shock all on this blog but hymns were part of the tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours, not the Most Holy Eucharist. Being mostly from the religious orders, the Reformers introduced the hymns into their services. Actually the hymns only came into the Mass during the 20th century AND in most cases, before the Second Vatican Council-so it can’t be blamed for that either.

  • are we talking about how the pope is handling the diverse opinions? or are we comparing the masses. I like both at different times. I follow along on the translated page and I don’t do my “private” devotions, when I am at that mass, but I do feel a part of something bigger than just the local cathedral when at the old mass. When at the new mass I follow along and try to participate much in the same way — sursum corda – at either and both.
    as far as how the pope is handling it I agree with someone who said Papa Francis could use some more PR saavy help. I like the pope. I like what bishop Conley said

  • Anzlyne,

    I had not seen the article by Bishop Conley. Thanks for passing it along. I agree with his article

  • Mr. Patterson-Seymour,

    I don’t need to hear the priest’s prayers at Consecration. I can follow them in my missal. The priest is praying to God, not performing for me. Silence is something I appreciate at Mass. I was six in 1969 and I cannot remember going to anything but a NO Mass until 1999.

    The TLM should have been translated into the vernacular – parts of it, anyway – for those who wanted it. That should have been the end of it.

    Boltoph, I never said that the NO was invalid and please don’t think that I am saying that. What I am at this point is so fed up with how the NO is celebrated at almost anywhere I have been in my life that I can’t take it anymore – and I won’t.

    I admit to being influenced by Father Z and his blog. The good Father knows much more than I do and I find his insight fascinating and informing. Fr. Z has never claimed the NO to be invalid. Poorly put together and often poorly celebrated, but not invalid.

  • Penguins Fan,

    I never thought you questioned the validity of the OF. I actually don’t believe most if any who regularly post here do question its validity. That’s why I use the term “Ultra-traditionalists”. Sorry if there was any confusion or ambiguity in my earlier post.

  • I am glad that Botolph and I guess Michael PS have agreed now that no new doctrine was defined @ Vat2 (Botolph: “It is true no new dogmas were promulgated, the Church after the Council is the same One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the one before: hermeneutic of continuity.” But if no new doctrine(s) were defined at Vat2 (as Paul VI, JP2, and BXVI have said) why is it now the sine qua non for “Catholic” faith? What are the occult doctrines that we must believe stemming from a pastoral council, or we are “in schism” as Michael PS likes to throw around. Traditionals believe what we all once believed; worship the way we once worshipped; pray the way we once prayed. If we all were right then, traditional worship is right now. If wrong then, we are all wrong now. Are the above-referenced individuals now admitting what is in fact the case—that what was written in the constitutions and decrees of the Council are quite different from what was subsequently effected under the guise of “The Spirit of Vatican II (Romano Amerio’s “circiterism”). Again, compare what Sacro Concilium actually says, as to what is now the “Ordinary Form” of the Mass: a near-complete contradiction. But that is only one area of the rupture, and we find “Vatican II-Catholics” running to the legal authority of an “Ecumenical Council” which did not prescribe the Novus Ordo Mass, which did not authorize the break in morality and discipline after the Council, which did not authorize universal salvation (it is right there in the Paul VI Mass’ words of institution “for you and for all” and it took 40 years of grinding conflict to drag you Vat2-ers to the facts), which did not set aside unchanging tradition but an “evolving” process of “theological reflection”, which never authorized the setting aside of the traditional Latin Vulgate as the guiding interpretative source of scriptural interpretation, or which never authorized the re-writing and re-defining of the sacraments as has mostly occurred. So, seeing all these things, what are these “new doctines” that must be professed or we are declared by Botolph, Michael PS, and others to be “apostate” (out of a Council which remember, set aside the declaration of anathemas! Ha! a bitter irony!)

  • I think we always have to be on guard against a certain temptation to turn God’s gracious invitation into something self-righteous in nature. St. Paul had to deal wiht the Judaizers, and something like that phenomenon is always around. It is the natural approach. To act the part of the ‘elder brother’ in the prodigal story is forever a tendency we must stand guard against.

  • Jon, well put. I have known some Protestants who have been better Christians than most of the Catholics I have ever met. While I consider Protestantism a heresy, I realize that some of it came about because Catholics behaved badly, starting with Borgia. I struggle with my own sins and temptations and try not to judge others – but often at my advancing age, their words and deeds annoy me.

  • Thanks, Penguins Fan. I don’t think the Roman Catholic/Protestant split should be framed in terms of orthodoxy and heresy, though. When we discussed orthodoxy in anotehr post, I suggested that it was something reached through consensus within the first four centuries. Those were unique circumstances: the church was in a tenuous position and people could gather together and get on the same page. I don’t think that ever happened afterwards.
    FOr me, the real difference with the split concerns justification by faith. I understand that to mean we are ‘made right’ wtih God on the basis of faith alone or beleiving in Christ. Theologians differ about what this (made rigiht) precisely means or entails, of course. But teh general belief is that it is instantaneous and implies sanctificaiton.

  • Never forget that Satan and his dominions believe in both God the Father and Christ. And yet, are not saved.

  • Orthodoxy is not the product of a consensus of opinion..

  • Anzlyne wrote, “Orthodoxy is not the product of a consensus of opinion..”

    No, it is not, but the “sensus fidelium,” what has been believed “always, everywhere and by all” is infallible, for the Church, as a whole cannot err in its belief.

    Bl John Henry Newman’s “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine,” where he makes it clear that he uses “consulting” in the sense of “consulting” a watch or a barometer, rather than asking advice, is very helpful.

  • Kevin raises a good issue. One can believe all of the right things and still be unsaved. How frightening! I recall a remark by St. James: “You believe that there is one God. Good. Even the demons believe this and shudder!” True faith evinces itself in trust and obedience. In fact, that is how we gain assurance that our faith is real. That is how we know we really answered God’s call to salvation. When we see ourselves trusting and obeying God, we know we are his children.

  • Anzlyne, I don’t think orthodoxy is something that can be literally ‘decided’ by a consensus of opinion. We might better say that it was ‘discovered’ as the church grappled with heresy. Truth won out over falsehood as the church had to survive and define itself over against wrong or less than adequate expression of its belief.

PopeWatch: Not a Marxist

Monday, December 16, AD 2013



Yet another interview.  Yesterday Pope Francis gave an interview with La Stampa.  It coverered a fair amount of ground.  Go here to read it.  Here are some of the more interesting portions:

Some of the passages in the “Evangelii Gaudium” attracted the criticism of ultraconservatives in the USA. As a Pope, what does it feel like to be called a “Marxist”?

“The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

The most striking part of the Exhortation was where it refers to an economy that “kills”…

“There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.”

Continue reading...

52 Responses to PopeWatch: Not a Marxist

  • Perhaps, the Pope’s remark about Marxists is merely an example of the old slogan, “No enemies on the Left.” It certainly implies no acceptance of Marxist doctrine. For all we know, from anything he has said, the Holy Father may prefer Proudhon, Sorel and Bakunin – Anti-Marxists to a man.

  • I suspect that the Pope does embrace the slogan “No enemies on the Left” which is precisely the problem MPS. The Pope’s “explanation” of his “trickle down” remark gives me no confidence that he has the slightest understanding of how markets work either in theory or in practice.

  • Donald, William Jennings Bryan once pointed out the two contending ideas. It was his impression that raising the water level would lift everone up. John Paul II was very socially conscious, too. It is hard to express concern without sounding like an economic liberal.

  • Complete and utter rubbish Jon. Citing “Cross of Gold” William Jennings Bryan who had no understanding at all of basic economics does not help your argument. No one does any favors for the poor by seeking to tell them that government intervention is the solution to their woes and that their plight is caused by the rich. That is the path of the demagogue and it never leads to widespread prosperity.

  • “They will not press down upon us this crown of thorns; we will not be crucified upon a cross of gold!” For a speech it was awfully good. I don’t know the answers to this. He was a theologian, not an economist, though he was definately a politician. And he took a stand against business and banking.

  • Oh, Bryan was one of the great orators of American history:


    He spoke economic tripe, but he did so masterfully!

  • Yes, he was a great orator. Unfortantely, since flowery rhetoric was insufficient in a debate like that, it probably did little good for the long term for strict or literal creationists.
    He would have done better to point out the nature of language in general. For example, to this day we say the sun rises and sets. The biblical writers were not intereested in a scientific account as we have come to think of it.

  • Was speaking of the “Monkey Trial.”

  • One conclusion that is self-evident to PopeWatch now is that Pope Francis is absolutely tone deaf to the starboard side of the political spectrum.

    This should not surprise anyone: Pope Francis is not a U.S. national. What you refer to as ‘the starboard side’ is the uniquely American marriage of cultural conservatism with classical liberalism. This is not found in any other country – not even, except in a very incomplete form, in Canada or Australia – for the excellent reason that classical liberalism was never bred into the culture in any other country in the way that it was in the U.S. A classical liberal outside of the U.S. is never a conservative, because the traditions of his country invariably include things like aristocracy, monarchy, or at least a habit of submissive veneration towards ordained authority, which cannot be conserved if liberalism is to flourish. A classical liberal in the U.S. is concerned with conserving the work of the Founding Fathers and the culture that their successors built up. The upshot is that ‘the starboard side’ of U.S. politics does not powerfully resemble any political movement in any other country, and it is only reasonable to expect that the Pope has no particular familiarity with it.

    After months of close observation, I have come round to the view that our new Pope’s problem is neither Leftism nor modernism; it is that he is provincial. He says things that are perfectly correct and understandable within a Latin American context, but are far too easily (and often wilfully) misinterpreted by people who don’t know that culture, its assumptions, or its language. My Spanish is not fluent, but even I can see where his Holiness’s translators simply make a hash of his original statements.

    It doesn’t help, by the way, that ignorance of economics is pandemic in Latin America. I don’t think I have ever heard of an influential economist from that part of the world. In fact, I’m rather afraid that the average Latin American thinks of an economist not as a specialist with useful knowledge, but as a sort of ogre employed by the IMF to exploit the people and countries south of the Rio Grande. With occasional exceptions, the economic policy of those countries could be fairly described as ‘Perónism without Perón’. It would be remarkable indeed if a man who lived his life in post-Perón Argentina had any good understanding of the subject.

  • “Was speaking of the “Monkey Trial.”
    The Monkey Trial was about parental rights to educate their children according to their beliefs.

  • Tom Simon is perfectly right about the unique nature of American conservatism.

    In France, for example, both the dwindling counter-revolutionary, “Throne and Altar” conservatives and the right-wing Nationalists tend to be equally « dirigiste » in economic matters. They tend to be protectionist, not for economic, but for strategic reasons. Indeed, they tend to be remarkably authoritarian. It is the old French belief that, without a strong central power, the secondary powers in society (financiers, organized labour &c, &c) will run riot and oppress.

    Here is a pretty little story: Under the Fourth Republic, Michel Debré at first supported the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance, but defected to the Radical-Socialist Party on the advice of General de Gaulle, who reportedly told him and several other politicians, including Jacques Chaban-Delmas, « Allez au parti radical. C’est là que vous trouverez les derniers vestiges du sens de l’Etat » – “Go to the radical party. It is there that you will find the last vestiges of the meaning of the state.”

  • The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor.

    Donald, this is exactly what I thought when I read that line.
    The Pope’s “explanation” of his “trickle down” remark gives me no confidence that he has the slightest understanding of how markets work either in theory or in practice.

    Perhaps someone should send him the essay “I, Pencil.” It’s a good start in understanding trickle down. You tax the lumberjack or lay heavy unnecessary burdens on him, and those actions have negative effects which trick down through the system. Ditto for any positive actions.

    Did the pope happen to mention if he knew any trickle down economists who are good people? Or, does he just know good Marxists?

    I’m starting to wish he would take a vow of silence for a while. The more he speaks, the deeper the hole he digs.

  • The Pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals. Is he infallible ihn matters of assigning complete control of the economy, all property, and fiscal/monetary policy to a tiny elite? Human beings are utterly fallible. So, marxism deifies dictators and, in today’s iterations, central bankers. It gives them vast powers to “mess up” by misallocating economic resources; mal-manipulating markets, imposing ruinous interest rates and prices; and promulgating massive economic disasters. That system has proven to be (Keynes here) dull, illogical, and destructive, not to mention epic genocidal crimes of the past century.

    While the state engages in its victory laps: Fed and income tax 100th anniversaries, I will commemorate a far happier anniversary – the Boston Tea Party.

  • Yes, Kyle M, I am hoping for a self-imposed vow of silence on PF, but I doubt it is in the offing; As equally I have no doubt about my irritating everyone from the start on this pontiff, seeing “stormy weather ahead”, with his un-self-critical, proudly ivory-tower-Jesuit jargon (phrases like “self-absorbed Promethean neo-pelagians” you have got to know were thrown around the rec room somewhere with his SJ confidantes), and his sometimes bizarre jingle-like phrases (“Money should serve not rule”; “Time is greater than space”; “Realities are more important than ideas”, all these from Evan. Gaudium). The worst problem is his Montini-esque creation of confusion and contradiction in almost all his communications so far. Economic growth, he says, requires “programs” and “mechanisms” and “better distribution of income” (n. 204), yet he demurrs that he is advocating a new populism (205). He discusses in his interviews the problem of re-married Catholics but he states there will be no change in Church teaching. The evangelizer should evidence “attitudes which foster openness to the message: approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome which is non-judgmental (165)”, so is there a dialogue between truth and untruth, life and abortion, the culture of life and the culture of death?
    Oh: and watch ahead for how he intends to re-create the semi-autonomy of episcopal conferences(also in EG: 32), undoing all the work of JP2 and BXVI to bring these bandits back into the territorial governance; so we are likely to repeat the contradictions and deviations of the Dutch Schism of the 1960’s (remember the Dutch Catechism, that fine work of Catholic teaching!), when of all people, Pope “Let-it-be” Montini himself had to try to try to be disciplinarian when the inmates were only operating the asylum according to the Vat2 blueprint. Stormy weather ahead.

  • Also: Pope F: “The Marxist ideology is wrong: But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.” My, my, this is a faint excoriation of a philosophy that killed a few million under Lenin, 20-50 million (or more) under Stalin, easily 40-70 million (or more) under Mao, and whose present leaders most notably in N. Korea and Cuba execute their own populace with impunity. “All for the cause”, the famous Leninist motto. All for the cause, But free-markets of course kill many millions more. Of course.

  • “The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. “.
    That is his opinion but I don’t think it is true, is it? I thought the relatively poor in an expansive economy had a higher standard of living than the poor in a struggling economy .

  • I dunno if the Communist:fascist analogy is as perfect as you guys’re making it. One can be understood in drawing idealistic, somewhat naïve people to it even if it’s evil…the other, maybe some people’d fit that description, but that’s not usually how we think of it.

    although, Communism:fascism is a closer analogy than Communism:Nazism.

  • “One can be understood in drawing idealistic, somewhat naïve people to it even if it’s evil…the other, maybe some people’d fit that description, but that’s not usually how we think of it.”

    That is correct J.I. because there are active Marxists still out there, sometimes occupying prestigious academic positions throughout the West, while fascism is relegated to the fever swamps of insignificance. One hundred million dead, at least, to applied Marxism in the last century, and our current pope does not regard the term Marxist as an insult because he has known good Marxists. I truly hope Pope Francis is not as clueless, or as callous, as that off the cuff remark would imply if anyone else said it.

  • “The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the ‘trickle-down theories’ which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor.”

    In the 1980 Republican campaign for President, George H. Bush belittled Ronald Reagan’s economic plans for recovery calling it, “Trickle-down economics.” The rest is history. Reagan won the nomination, picked Bush as his running mate and skunked President Jimmy Carter. Reagan’s economic plans set in motion the greatest and longest economic recovery ever experienced, lifting employment, earnings, wages and ended the “misery index” created by Jimmy Carter. Oh, by the way, it also made the Soviet Union President realize they would never be able to compete with the U.S. militarily because of America’s roaring economic engine and lead to the breaking up of the atheist Soviet Union and freeing of hundreds of millions of people. Not bad…that “Trickle-down theory,” and the good Pope should learn a lesson from history, including Pope John Paul II teaming up with President Reagan and Prime Minister Margret Thatcher, another free-enterpriser, causing the Soviet Union to dissolve during George H. Bush first term as President 8 years later.

  • I am not speaking from a technical point of view? Then what the HECK was the point of all those denunciations of policy? Macroeconomic policy reccos are, duh, technical! If you profess to have no competency in technical matters, then when it comes to recommendations about technical matters, please shut up.

    I HATE it when people do this; clergy, the glitterati, the academy, and others who get paid the same whether they are right or wrong – just so long as they keep talking – always do this: “Here is a long list of technical policy suggestions”
    “Hey, isn’t that totally wildly inaccurate?”
    “Oh, well, I wasn’t speaking on technical matters; I was just advocating for justice or some such something [implicitly the same as socialism].”

  • When we consider the implications of Christianity, we are brought to the realization that “no man is an island.” Thatcher was correct in one sense when she suggested there is no such thing as society–there is no society in the abstract, in other words. Society is made up of individuals, all of whom must choose community and justice. We make society. It does not happen by itself. But her policies suggested that each person remains atomized. That, I think, its the troubling aspect with classic economic liberalism. It posits a view where individuals are at war with one another, and each is concerned wtih taking advantage of the other.

  • Thanks stillbelieve. I still remember the disdain in adult voices for the “trickle down” idea. It almost seems like I hear disdain from our pope today…. not only in his use of that phrase, but also “self absorbed promethean neo pelagian”
    Some want to embrace the S-APNp label (on a coffee mug and proud of it) but I don’t accept that label.
    I have journeyed in my faith. It isn’t juvenile, immature, narcissistic, self absorbed and anthrocentric. Those terms really seem to me to be more descriptive of the modern liberal idea of social justice.
    In the movie “Christmas Candle” the young Anglican pastor left the pulpit to dish out soup in the soup line. He was not living out his faith more fully, but he was living out a Lack of faith in the transcendent, all powerful, all loving God.

  • In a post above Jon quoted former and now deceased British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher saying that there is no such thing as ‘society’-there is no society in the abstract: society is made up of individuals, all of whom must choose community and justice.

    Before beginning, my arguement is not with Jon, and not even with Ms Thatcher per se. However, is that true? It is how the Western ‘liberal’ philosophy views reality [here ‘liberal’ is that much broader and deeper philosophy of which both ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ ideologies in America spring]

    If this is true, that there is no such thing as ‘society’ and only a mass of individuals who must choose both community and justice [whatever those realities would mean if this philosophy were pushed to their logical conclusion] then there is no such thing as ‘the family’? [See where this view of reality takes us, and is taking us even now? (marriage is whatever two individuals want it to be?)] There are no such things as ‘family ties? Any ‘authority’ of parents is based on the consent of the governed [children in this case]? Any member of the family no matter who or what age can opt out of the family [husbands and wives can in divorce-and there is a growing sense of this with children doing this willingly or taken from parents in some cases for questionable reasons]?

    Of course this does not simply effect ‘the family’ which is a ‘community of response’ (one is a member of it then one responds to it) rather than a ‘community of election (one chooses it) The Church is also a ‘community of response’ and not a ‘community of election’. Thus it makes a great deal of sense-from this ‘no such thing as society’ view-that the right people have is freedom of worship (each individual chooses his/her ‘god’ and right to ‘choose’ to worship that ‘god’) but not freedom of religion-since like ‘society’ the Church is therefore, according to this view, an abstraction, and all it really is, is a massive group of individuals choosing to form community [we call this a ‘denomination’] and do ‘justice’ [according to what the group thinks justice is-there is no real justice to be achieved]. And of course, there is ‘no right to govern’ in the Church (according to this view) except with the expressed will of the governed (here is where ideologies have a field day, then, to see who and what ideology gets into the ascendancy, transforming the Church into a carbon copy of American politics)

    See, words count, ‘philosophies’ count-and we often ‘swallow’ before we have chewed and mulled over what it is we are chewing. Do we really believe that there is no such thing as ‘society’? Do we really believe that man is ‘condemned’ to his/her own solitary existence between the womb and the tomb as ‘an individual’? Do we not believe that we are in the image of God: One and Triune~~~~individual and social by nature?

  • Great points, Botolph! Yes, the idea that there is no society is without validity. The classic liberalism from which today’s American liberals AND conservatives spring is at fault here. We are all liberals and that’s unfortunate. We must return to the Bible for our understanding of life. Family is not contractual. However, the church is something to which people are added on as they come to God. We do not find ourselves born into this; it requires a second birth. It is only then that we belong to it in the truest sense, even if our parents were Christian and we consequently found ourselves in that milieu. So I would disagree wtih that. I believe a faith response is required on the part of the individual. You speak of the Trinity. We are made in God’s image. We reflect him individually and in community.

  • We do well to point out that no state of nature exists in the sense posited by Rousseau. Even for philosophic purposes, this was a very bad way to start. People are communal by nature. We exist in families and amidst others in community. We have been cultural from the beginning. There is no ‘state of nature’.

  • It’s again snowing in NYC. Talk to me about frauds: global warming.

    Ann Althouse and a Bloomberg.com op-ed take to task CST types, in general, and Pope Francis, in particular, for promoting sin: envy.

    Here’s the skinny about CST from Instapundit: “Charity is good for the soul. Exercise is good for the body. Forced redistribution is not charity, and will do no more for your soul than making someone else lift weights at gunpoint will do for your biceps.”

  • Jon,

    Ahh yes yet nonetheless the Church is indeed a ‘community of response’ and not a ‘denomination’. This is key to our self understanding and it is one more difference that we have with “Protestantism’:

    The Church has been from the beginning (I know this is difficult to take in but the Church Fathers spoke of this. The whole of creation and the Old Testament point to and reveal in mystery the truth that is present in and through Jesus Christ. As the moon receives her light from the sun and as the first woman came forth from the side of man [not a teaching on biology but theology] so the Church comes forth from the side of the New Adam, asleep in death on the Cross. It is from the Church that we both hear the Gospel in order to believe and are born from above in the womb of the Church: the sacrament of Baptism. The Church is thus a community of response, not a denomination which is a community of election

  • Botolph, you reflect a more intuitive hermeneutical style that capitalizes on some metaphors through which we may attain insight.
    Spiritual rebirth owes itself to the work of the Spirit. God draws people to himself with prevenient grace and we respond to that with free-will. Baptism is a symbol of our death and rebirth in Christ, and our entrance into the community of believers in Christ. I would venture to say that the church is a community of election in the sense that St. Paul explains in his letter to the Romans. He speaks of what we might term the plan of the ages. God called Israel as a corporate entity and he elects the church in Christ. His election is corporate. This is how I understand it. Of course the chruch is not a denomination. The church is comprised of all those who are ‘in Christ’, past, present, and future. It is also a term used to refer to local meetings, assemblies, or gatherings.

  • Botolph is quite right

    It was a fundamental principle of the Enlightenment that the nature of the human person can be adequately described without mention of social relationships. A person’s relations with others, even if important, are not essential and describe nothing that is, strictly speaking, necessary to one’s being what one is. This principle underlies all their talk about the “state of nature” and the “social contract,” and from it is derived the notion that the only obligations are those voluntarily assumed.

    This is why Yves Simon says that, in this state [of abstraction], man is “no longer unequivocally real.” To clarify, Simon then adds: “Human communities are the highest attainment of nature for they are virtually unlimited with regard to diversity of perfections, and are virtually immortal.” Simon insists that “Beyond the satisfaction of individual needs, the association of men serves a good unique in plenitude and duration, the common good of the human community” and that “The highest activity/being in the natural order is free arrangement of men about what is good, brought together in an actual polity where it is no longer a mere abstraction.”

  • Very well said, Michael.

  • I read the “I’ve known good Marxists” thing as an example of what Tom pointed to, though I’m not sure I’d call it “provincial.” (mostly, not sure WHAT I’d call it)

    There’s places where it’s Marxist or Crony Capitalism– for some forsaken reason, humans tend towards “this or that” and heaven help whoever doesn’t fit.

  • In my online reading today, I stumbled upon an article at Ethika Politika entitled “Pope Benedict defends Francis on Market and Ethics. I was intrigued. This is what I found:

    “In order to find solutions that will truly lead us forward, new economic ideas will be necessary. But such measures do not seem conceivable, or above all, practical without new moral impulses. It is at this point that a dialogue between Church and economy becomes possible and necessary.

    Let me clarify somewhat the exact point in question. At first glance, precisely in terms of classical economic theory, it is not obvious what the Church and the economy should actually have to do with one another, aside from the fact that the Church owns businesses and so is a factor in the market. The Church should not enter into dialogue here as a mere component in the economy but rather in its own right as Church.

    [Noting that Ratzinger went after Smithin economics and in particular a ‘system where voluntary actions contradict market rules and drive the moralizing entrepreneur out of the game’ as a culprit against which the Church must align] he goes on:

    “The great successes of this theory concealed its limitations for a long time. But now in a changed situation, its tacit philosophical presuppositions and thus its problems become clearer. Although this postion admits the freedom of individual businessmen, and to that extent can be called liberal, it is in fact deterministic in its core. It presupposes that the free play of market forces can operate in one direction only, given the constitution of man and the world, namely, toward the self-regulation of supply and demand, and toward economic efficiency and progress”

    Like Pope Francis, the then Cardinal Ratzinger states clearly that Marxism ideology is wrong:

    “In terms of the structure of its economic theory and praxis, the Marxist system as a centrally administered economy is a radical antithesis to the market economy. Salvation is expected because there is no private control of the means of production, because supply and demand are not brought into harmony through market competition, because there is no place for private profit seeking, and because all regulations proceed from a central economic administration. Yet, in spite of this radical opposition, THERE ARE ALSO POINTS IN COMMON IN THE DEEPER PHILOSOPHICAL PRESUPPOSITIONS. The FIRST of these consists in the fact that Marxism too, is DETERMINISTIC in nature and it too PROMISES A PERFECT LIBERATION as the fruit of this determinism. For this reason, it is a fundamental error to suppose that a centralized economic system is a moral system in contrast to the mechanistic system of the market economy. This becomes clearly visible, for example, in Lenin’s acceptance of Sombart’s thesis that there is in marxism no grain of ethics, but only economic laws.

    Ratzinger continues: “Behind [the thirst for power and possessions] lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God.Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. it is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God Who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, and even dangerous, since He calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement.”

    “We can no longer regard so naively the liberal-capitalistic system (even with all the corrections it has since received) as the salvation of the world. We are no longer in the Kennedy-era with its Peace Corps optimism; the Third World’s questions about the system may be partial but they are not groundless. A self-criticism of the Christian confessions with respect to political and economic ethics is the first requirement.

    It is becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the COMMON GOOD depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions. Conversely, it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse. An economic policy that is ordered not only to the good of the group-indeed, not only to the common good of a determinate state-but to the COMMON GOOD OF THE FAMILY OF MAN DEMANDS A MAXIMUM OF ETHICAL DISCIPLINE AND THUS A MAXIMUM OF RELIGIOUS STRENGTH. The political formation of a will that employs the inherent laws toward this goal appears, in spite of all humanitarian protestations almost impossible today. It can only be realize if new ethical powers are completely set free. A morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such it is the antithesis of morality. A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore it is not scientific. Today we need a maximum of specialized economic understanding but also a maximum of ethos so that specialized economic understanding may enter the service of the right goals. Only in this way will its knowledge be both politically practical and socially tolerable.”

    Did Pope Benedict really come out with a statement to support Pope Francis against many critics, but especially against the ones claiming he is marxist? The answer is “yes”-however, it is not a statement made in the last few weeks. It comes from Cardinal Ratzinger’s writings in 1985! Granted, he was not yet pope, but it shows that the statements from Ratzinger and Bergoglio are not way out there somewhere-but arising from the center of the Church. Pope Francis’ statements are in continuity with earlier Magisterial Social Teaching.

  • o man Botolph- that title is a stretch not just because it is anachronistic or just because Cardinal Ratzinger was not speaking in support of the statements made by Pope Francis, but also because what he Was talking about the need for moral prudence and ethics. Sure they both talked about Marxisms failings, but “Benedict” did not talk about the efficacy (or lack of efficacy) of “trickle down” or did I miss that?

  • Anzlyne,

    I don’t blame you; don’t blame yourself. It is there but not obvious:


    Please pardon the caps Anzlyne, I was not shouting aat you lol It seems to be the only way of emphasizing a word or sentence in the blogsphere 🙂

    To your point though: that deterministic view of the liberal economic system as if the only direction it is flowing in or can go in is toward ‘self-regulation of supply and demand, toward economic efficiency and progress’ is a more philosophical way of describing ‘trickle-down economics, IMHO. The then Cardinal Ratzinger and now Pope Francis are radically questioning this ‘deterministic direction in only one direction of what is called liberal economic theory

    Please note that Cardinal Ratzinger went into a long condemnation of Marxism as well-but what even stunned me more were the common points both marxism and ‘democratic capitalism do have in common-per Cardinal Ratzinger. I mean: Pope Benedict is no radical nor ‘provincial’ as some might call Pope Francis.

  • Pope Francis points out things sometimes overlooked, the Imitation of Christ and the Corporal Works of Mercy, and that we should not judge the state of another’s soul. That’s for the Divine Judge. Yet, though we be gentle as doves, we must be wise as serpents. Serpents are rarely stepped upon but we will be, if we put our trust in princes such as most especially the Philosopher Kings of the Left. As to “trickle-down” economics, I recall the phrase as a pejorative appellation of the Left to ridicule the economic policy of the Reagan Administration. So I at last stagger to speculation on Pope Francis’ economic views, which may be favorable to Distributism. If so, he shares the good company of Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton and L. Brent Bozell Jr. Dare I say as well Pope Leo XIII? I understand that Ron Paul is engaging in speculation on Obama’s economic views and tentative concludes him to be a Corporatist. If so, I imagine of the top down variety like Mussolini. Our Lord said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s but did not elucidate as to how much Caesar should lay claim. I think the Widow’s mite is quite enough.

  • “That is correct J.I. because there are active Marxists still out there, sometimes occupying prestigious academic positions throughout the West, while fascism is relegated to the fever swamps of insignificance”

    It’s possible for people to believe that Marx had certain insights, and be drawn to the egalitarianism of Marxist ideology in the abstract, while not being so keen on the “false consciousness” and “revolutionary vanguard” concepts that lead to all the destruction. Yeah it’s an evil ideology taken as a whole but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with recognizing its (one-time) appeal or studying it.

    you could argue the same for fascism, but part of the reason it’s not taken as seriously is cuz it’s not universally aimed in the same way, and arose in particular circumstances where countries felt nationally “humiliated” post-WWI + died after.

  • Please pardon the caps Anzlyne, I was not shouting aat you lol It seems to be the only way of emphasizing a word or sentence in the blogsphere

    Lesser-than symbol, either the letter ‘i‘, ‘b‘ or ‘u‘, greater than symbol; word you wish emphasized; Lesser-than, slash, same letter, greater than.

  • “or studying it.”

    I am confident the Pope Francis was not referring to people who study Marxism. I would be most definitely in that category. He was referring to people who are true believers in Marxism, even after all the blood shed in the last century by Marxists.

  • Botolph,

    I have the greatest respect for Benedict XVI. But I am not sure that his economic analysis is correct either. Here I think is a better definition of Capitalism from Centesimus Annus 42:

    ” Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

    The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”. But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.”

    No where does John Paul see the market as a purely deterministic force but rather a human activity that, with proper limits, can contribute to the common good.

  • T Shaw writes, “Forced redistribution is not charity, and will do no more for your soul than making someone else lift weights at gunpoint will do for your biceps.”

    Paying taxes lawfully imposed would be an exercise of the virtue of obedience and St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that, after the virtue of religion, obedience is the most perfect of all the moral virtues, because it unites us closer to God than any other virtue, inasmuch as obedience detaches us from our own will, which is the main obstacle to union with God (Summa Theologicae IIa, IIae, 104)

    Now, St Paul says everyone is to obey the governing authorities (Rom 13:1) and to be submissive to rulers and authorities (Titus 3:1). Thus, paying taxes lawfully imposed would be an exercise of the virtue of obedience and a mortification of self-will.

  • “Paying taxes lawfully imposed would be an exercise of the virtue of obedience and St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that, after the virtue of religion, obedience is the most perfect of all the moral virtues, because it unites us closer to God than any other virtue, inasmuch as obedience detaches us from our own will, which is the main obstacle to union with God (Summa Theologicae IIa, IIae, 104)”

    Rubbish on stilts. Obedience to a political authority may be moral or immoral depending upon what the political authority is. Obedience to Stalin for example would have been usually immoral, aside from some sort of mundane matters like traffic laws. In a State where we have a say in electing Caesar, assuming a stance of obedience always, as Saint Paul seems to advise, is to deaden the necessary stance of critical evaluation that is necessary in such a State. Of course Saint Paul’s stance regarding Rome was a complicated one, as his execution by that polity would indicate.

  • Philip,

    You are absolutely correct in your assessment of JPII’s Centissimus Annus. In another line of discussions on this blog I mentioned-and agreed with CA’s more positive view of Democratic Capitalism. My point in quoting the then Cardinal Ratzinger is to show that Pope Francis’ comments on economics is not ” way out there” from the Catholic tradition’s view of economics.

    To explain this a bit further, within the mainstream Catholic tradition there are two distinct streams or views. Both condemn Marxism and Statism. However, One has a pretty critical, if not negative view of capitalism ( Populorum Progression of Pope Paul VI, this earlier writing of Ratzinger, and noe Pope Francis). While it might sound funny, this would be the more traditional view. However, a newer more positive vie of capitalism developed with JPII’s Centissimus Annus. I believe that Pope Benedict attempted to synthesize both streams in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate.. Now the more traditional and critical stream is speaking once again.

    Both streams will continue in the Church because both are orthodox. However, the direction of Democratic Capitalism will actually prove which one was more on target

  • Donald R McClarey

    St Paul almost certainly wrote Romans and Titus under Nero, or just possibly Claudius. Nevertheless, he declares “there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” and “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.”

    St Peter, under the same Emperors, enjoins, “Fear God. Honour the king.”

    One could add that the Apologists of the 2nd century stress, over and over, Christians’ loyalty and obedience in all things but sin, especially in their addresses to the Emperors.

  • Yes
    Virtue is oriented to the Good. With Donald McClarey I say Obedience to manifest Evil is no virtue.

    Example: Prudence is one of the cardinal virtues, but look at Stalin’s prudence … For what he wanted to achieve, he was careful, effective. outcome oriented- but oriented to Evil.
    Of course our issue is discerning Good and Evil in our actions as American Catholics participating in a capitalist economy that is trending apparently to a more socialist system.
    Catholics have identified the inherent evil Marxism; pitting people against God and against each other. We know there are dangers of sin attendant to capitalism; that it (capitalism) is a good way and that it requires people to be good. Individuals can be “good” and obedient under marxism but the blessings are not there because Marxism is not oriented to the good. Back in the 60’s many young people fell for the deception that socialism Is good, and that “liberal” was to be equated with “generous”.
    We know that a morals holy economy depends upon a moral holy people which can only exist if the individuals are moral and holy. So in a way the way it works is not by “trickling down” but by “bubbling up”

  • “The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

    Actually the authority that Claudius wielded was established by the murder of Caligula by his guards and the authority that Nero wielded was established by the murder of Claudius, probably by poison fed to Claudius by his charming wife and niece Agrippina, who would go on to be murdered by her ungrateful son and lover Nero, who would be toppled during the series of revolts known to Roman history as the year of the four emperors. I very much doubt that God willed any of that, except in the sense that God, as the prime mover, is the ultimate cause of everything. I know that the Church does not hold to a literal interpretation of Saint Paul’s sacralizing of human governments, due to the number of revolts sponsored by the Holy See against troublesome human rulers.

  • The Catechism clarifies this:

    “1900 The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect, and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will.

    Pope St. Clement of Rome provides the Church’s most ancient prayer for political authorities:18 “Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you.”19
    1901 If authority belongs to the order established by God, “the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.”20

    The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them. Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.

    1902 Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a “moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility”:21

    A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence.22
    1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, “authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.”23 “

  • I agree with everything Donald said in his last comment. However, God does allow us to have the leaders we receive. Rebellion against God is why Israel and Judah had some very wicked rulers. This was not God’s “perfect will,” but it was His “permissive will.” He lets man have a choice, hence 1st Samuel chapter 8 where the children of Israel demanded a king like that if other nations. For us in this post-modern, neo-pagan day and age, that is fulfilled both politically and religiously. We have our soft, pink tyranny because that’s what we wanted. God allows it and His “perfect plan” will go forward in spite of the fact that this occurs as a result of His “permissive plan.”

    Bad leaders are in a sense God’s judgment on us for our wickedness and depravity because nothing happens that will not fulfill God’s “perfect will.”

  • Paul W Primavera is right

    Thus, in Jeremiah, God three times refers to Nebuchadnezzer as “my servant”

    “Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them” (Jer 25:9)

    “Thus saith the Lord now have I give all these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant!” (Jer 27:6)

    “Where these stones are buried, behold, saith the Lord I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and on this place he will erect his pavilion and set his throne as the king over Egypt. I have given Egypt and all the civilized nations of the world into his hands” (Jer 43:10-13]

    That wicked rulers are God’s scourge, when his hand is heavy on His disobedient children has been a common theme of Christian preaching over the centuries.

    Of course, the Holy See, as Donald M McCleary rightly notes has deposed Christian princes and absolved their subjects from their allegiance. As the arch-conservative, Joseph de Maistre explains, power can be limited from above, not from below.

  • “As the arch-conservative, Joseph de Maistre explains, power can be limited from above, not from below.”

    Which is to give a free ride to those at the top of the political or ecclesiastical greasy pole. A study of history would tell us many things about such a theory, but that it is from God would not be one of them.

  • Donald M McClarey

    Joseph de Maistre was not alone among the “Throne & Altar” conservatives.

    “Chateaubriand described Christian Rome as being for the modern what Pagan Rome had been for the ancient world—the universal bond of nations, instructing in duty, defending from oppression. Lamennais argued that without authority there could be no religion, that it was the foundation of all society and morality, and that it alone enfranchised man by making him obedient, so harmonizing all intelligences and wills. And thus the Church, as the supreme authority, became the principle of order, the centre of political as well as religious stability; the only divine rights were those she sanctioned, in her strength kings reigned, and through obedience to her man was happy and God honoured.” [Fairbairn]

    In their favour, the Counter-Revolutionaries did not appeal to abstract principles, but to the judgment of a concrete living authority – the Holy See. It is not without interest that some Liberals are now seeking a secular equivalent in the international community and its organs, with the Security Council and the International Criminal Court replacing the Chair of Peter.

  • Tom Simon: Thank you for the comments pertaining to the role of culture in our evaluation and understanding of PF. I have been a proponent of that from day one. Not sure I know all the answers … but I think I know to ask the questions.

  • So Jorge Bergoglio knew some nice Marxists, or so he claims.

    There are no nice Marxists. Pope Francis seems to know little about the plight of Catholics in Belarus, Communist China, Vietnam and even Cuba.

    The Church will survive this Papacy. However, the lunacy he has unleashed will be with us for some time. The Church in much of Latin America is a mess and Catholics elsewhere are now seeing why.

PopeWatch: Time Envy

Saturday, December 14, AD 2013






From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

VATICAN–Sources close to the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reported that the Holy Father has been silently obsessing over Time Magazine’s recent choice of Pope Francis as “Person of the Year.” ”He got up as usual this morning,” said one source, “said his morning prayers and celebrated Mass. Then he sat down to check Yahoo News with his morning tea, like he always does. When he saw…it…he just got really quiet for a long time. Then when he noticed I was looking, he smiled at me and said, ‘good for him.’ It was weird. He said that without really opening his mouth. Like his teeth were still together as he said it.” Pope Francis is the third Bishop of Rome to be named “Person of the Year” by TIME, following Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. EOTT’s source reported that Benedict then made another visit to his private chapel, where he remained for a good 20 minutes. He emerged and sighed deeply before going back to the Yahoo News site, which he reportedly read and re-read several times, at one point muttering under his breath, “Really? Molly Cyrus?” ”When he finished reading all the comments and refreshing the page a couple times to make sure there weren’t any new ones, he looked for other news sites and did the same thing,” said the source. “After that he went to Amazon.com and started reading reviews of his ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ books. He seemed to feel better after that.”

Continue reading...

27 Responses to PopeWatch: Time Envy

  • “PopeWatch hates to contradict Eye of the Tiber, but PopeWatch has heard that the reaction of Pope Benedict after learning that Pope Francis was Time’s Person of the Year was, “Is Time still being published?” ”
    Thank You, Donald McClarey for clearing the air. TEOTT was supposed to be funny, but it is not funny. It is however, a good example on how to deal with envy if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had any. My first reaction to the Time magazine was as yours: “Is Time still being published?” next came “and who cares?”

  • I’ve always considered Time and Newsweek the only popular news magazines worth reading.

  • Lol…do you consider them that bad? I guess they do pander to what people consider important rather than what may be of central importance according to soem other criteria. But then again, we need to know where the focus is at. It tells us about society if anything.

  • They are anachronisms Jon to the days before television when people needed news magazines to see pictures of events. The internet drove a stake through a dying format. You can get better coverage of the events of the day from many blogs, with usually better writing.

  • How backward of me….and to think not too long ago Time and Newsweek were thought almost essential.

  • EOTT must be desperate. I agree with Mary, this was an attempt at humor that falls mostly flat. I’ve read of his humor while he was a Cardinal, and it could be self-depreciating at times. The problem with this kind of writing is that many people will believe it to be true.

  • Time and Newsweek are liberal progressive pieces of manure best thrown into the garbage heap. May their avid readers so follow.

  • I’ve heard that, too, Paul. But then again, if they report on what’s happening and that’s their primary function, these magazines can’t have that much of an effect on people. The magazines are mirroring society. Of course society in turn mirrors what it sees and reads, so it’s interactive.
    All things really are interactive. I used to think it all starts at the philosophic level and works its way down. NOt really. After all, philosophy doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and for it to take off their must be a ready audience.
    So cheer up. No one’s going to become radical by reading Time or Newsweek!

  • ‘But then again, if they report on what’s happening and that’s their primary function…”

    They do NOT report on what’s happening. They disseminate their liberal progressive fetid, putrid, odiferous, malodorous fecal matter as some sort of august and learned instruction for the masses. They are godless hedonist libertines, outright supporters of the idolatrous Democratic Party, full of all manner of filth and moral disease and rot. I could go on. You get the idea.

  • “No one’s going to become radical by reading Time or Newsweek!

    Jon, I beg to differ.

    I grew up on the liberal press. I of course read of conservative criticisms, but I thought they were overstated. Back then I thought that liberals really were smarter, except when counting money.

    Then I happened to be at a public event involving a Reagan administration cabinet member. A few people in the audience tried to demonstrate against the cabinet member, but were booed down by the audience, to the point that they were throwing things at the protesters. A few minutes later I got to see a replay of the public television camera feeds, and they showed exactly what I had seen. Anyone who saw the video would have seen the same. I got home that night and CBS television news said “Cabinet member booed at public event”. They didn’t show any video.

    That was the event that told me that the conservatives were right, that the media engages in massive manipulation of the news. I have seen several more over the years to know this was not an isolated incident.

  • Yes, the news is arbitrarily picked to some degree, and it goes on to shape our perception of reality. Poeple decide upon what’s newsworthy oftentimes, and that would depend on their values. Also, people offer their slant. If someone beleives they are ‘riding the crest of the future’ they might want to highlight certain things and downplay some other things.

  • It has been decades since Time and Newsweek have been relevant. Newsweek was the national Democrat Party house organ as the Washington Compost was the Washington based house organ of the Democrat Party.

    I have little use for the Stupid Party (Republicans) and the Democrat Party is organized crime. Any mouthpiece of the Democrat Party is not allowed into my home, and that goes for Time. Newsweek ceased print publication….wonder why? Not really.

  • “It tells us about society if anything.”
    No, It does not, Jon. Only the truth has freedom of the press. The disclaimer that the opinion of the authors are not the opinion of the owners of the magazine may protect from lawsuit, but it is a fact that opinions are opinions related to only one individual.

  • Also, the MSM, including these publications, lies constantly by omission. They know about Obama’s radical leanings, communist associations, etc. but choose not to write about them. Scratch a liberal, get a hypocrit – every time.

  • If it is at all accurate, my heart breaks for him. However, to be ‘bothered’ by something like this is not really the Benedict I have come to know, love and respect.

    For Pope Benedict to really care about Time’s opinion is analogous to the Lord Jesus, when asking the disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” When answered, then ask, “And what does Herod’s Court has to say?”

  • This was a parody Botolph. Eye of the Tiber is a Catholic humor site. I apologize for any confusion.

  • Donald

    “Duh”-as I whack my forehead lol Thanks for the clarification lol

  • Yes, Paul…TIme and Newseek can be seen that way. The daily newspapers and the news on the internet reflect what’s important to people, often people of a pretty liberal persuasion. I’m not optimistic enough about the Republican party to completely write off the Democratic, though.

  • “I’m not optimistic enough about the Republican party to completely write off the Democratic, though.”

    I am not a Republican. I joined the Constitution Party whose platform is closest to Church teaching:


    Furthermore, Jesus’ Kingdom is NOT of this world, and it is a Kingdom NOT of filling bellies with food that perishes but of filling souls with the Bread of Life.

  • That’s nice, Paul. I wish there were more people like you to get things stirred up. We need more independent and creative thought in politics, and I lament the all too simplistic polarization of our society today. I’m worried we’re falling victim to tribalism, among many other things.

  • Also, you reiterate the point I’ve made time and again: that God’s kingdom is not of this world. Happily, the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and of his Christ who reigns forever. I still don’t entirely know what that means. I cannot ascertain the nature and extent of its implications for the world prior to the Lord’s return. This is grouped under the heading ‘eschatology’, a very confusing and contentious subject.

  • Nearly twenty years ago Time was giving away subscriptions to schools to try to get people to read– and incidentally to boost their subscription numbers. Our little school got something like 250 subscriptions. I was generally bored out of my mind, so I read it front to back for years.

    Bunch of then-50 something folks stuck in the 60s, when their college stuff was “edgy,” unable to recognize that they are the establishment. Even the kids that pretty much agreed with them thought they were lame and could see through about half of their spin. (Didn’t make the other half any less dangerous, but oy.)

  • That’s an interesting phenomenon. The boomers shaped by the 60’s revolution really did become the establishment if that’s what you’re saying. What they fought for largely became institutionalized–the status quo.

  • Jon: Eschew Time and Newsweek. Supplant them with the American Rifleman and the National Review.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis Shocked by Same-Sex Adoption - BigPulpit.com
  • I have kept the NewsWeek publication that they brought out afterJPJII death, that paid tribute to his life. They did a good job. It was a great edition.

    Don’t blanket rubbish these publications- their content is a mixed bag.

PopeWatch: A Libertarian Take

Friday, December 13, AD 2013




Marian Tupy at Reason has a libertarian take on the economic message of the Pope in Evangelii Gaudium:


It’s official: 2013 has been the Year of the Pope. The latest evidence? Time has named Francis its Person of the Year, noting that the pontiff, during his first nine months in office, “has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.” Indeed, the pope’s writings and public pronouncements reveal a deeply caring and passionate man who speaks from the heart. In Evangelii Gaudium, an “apostolic exhortation” released late last month, the pope bemoans inequality, poverty, and violence in the world.

But here’s the problem: The dystopian world that Francis describes, without citing a single statistic, is at odds with reality. In appealing to our fears and pessimism, the pope fails to acknowledge the scope and rapidity of human accomplishment—whether measured through declining global inequality and violence, or growing prosperity and life expectancy.

The thesis of Evangelii Gaudium is simple: “unbridled” capitalism has enriched a few, but failed the poor. “We have to remember,” he writes, “that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity.”

Just how free the free market really is today is debatable. The United States is perceived as the paragon of free-market capitalism. And yet over the last two decades, according to Wayne Crews of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington has issued 81,883 regulations—or nine per day. Maybe the marketplace should be regulated less, and maybe it should be regulated more. But unbridled it is not.

Moreover, the government redistributes some 40 percent of all wealth produced in America—up from 7 percent a century ago. Much of that wealth comes from the rich and pays for everything from defense and roads to healthcare and education, which are enjoyed by Americans from all income groups. The top 1 percent of income earners  earned 19 percent of all income in 2010 and paid more than 38 percent of all income taxes. The top 10 percent paid more than 70 percent of all income taxes. Maybe the rich should contribute more, and maybe they should contribute less. But contribute they do—well in excess of the biblical tithe.

As for the negative consequences of “trickle-down” economics that the pope bemoans, let’s look at them in turn.

First, consider inequality. Academic researchers—from Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia University, to Surjit Bhalla, formerly of the Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation, to Paolo Liberati of the University of Rome—all agree that global inequality is declining. That is because 2.6 billion people in China and India are richer than they used to be. Their economies are growing much faster than those of their Western counterparts, thus shrinking the income gap that opened at the dawn of industrialization in the 19th century, when the West took off and left much of the rest of the world behind.

Paradoxically, the shrinking of the global inequality gap was only possible after India and China abandoned their attempts to create equality through central planning. By allowing people to keep more of the money they earned, the Chinese and Indian governments incentivized people to create more wealth. Allowing inequality to increase at home, in other words, diminished inequality globally. And global inequality, surely, is the statistic that should most concern the leader of a global religion.

Continue reading...

35 Responses to PopeWatch: A Libertarian Take

  • I particularly like your closing paragraph.

  • What are we measuring? People’s income or quality of life understood in some humanistic sense? This seems to be mostly economic. It is difficutl to say we are doing any better now than beforehand in economic terms. Globally, the situation may be better off. But for American society it is probably worse off.

  • “The United States is perceived as the paragon of free-market capitalism” because the most wealthiest companies and people reside in The United States of America.

    Bill Gates is now the richest person in the world, according to Forbes.

    FatCats like Bill Gates and Buffet are still poking their nose into the reproductive rights of women in third world countries by the entitlement of wealth. Sure they pay taxes, but they also have a very sinister agenda.

    What’s the unemployment level like in America? Not good. Still.

    Yes,not as bad as India and China, and far better working conditions than these countries, but USA is developed, as you cited, India isn’t. It’s also due to religious and cultural factors in India that keep it poor (Caste system). So maybe a developed nation like US is more accountable?

    I’m all for being entitled to everything you work hard for, particularly if you pay your taxes. Capitalism has a right and responsibility. Pope Francis is correct to question unbridled Capitalism in the West. Especially when people like Gates use their money for no good. Or other celebrated personalities like the Kardashians use it for wiping their bottoms (sorry to lower the standard and write that name on your blog).

    Here is something you may (or may not) find interesting. Sorry in advance if I bore you.

    The Labor government here in Australia (equivalent to your Democrats), recently got defeated by The Liberal government- and fortunately so.

    Our current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is not only a practising Catholic (and former Seminarian), he was educated at a prestigous Jesuit school (yes a Jesuit-run private school), but a great believer in small government, thriving big business and less government regulation.

    He is currently working to overturn the idiotic taxes and means-tested family assistance programmes that the demented previous Labor government installed- notably the Carbon Tax (a pollution tax that has killed industry here in Australia, notably manufacturing- ironic since smoggy China is our biggest exporting nation), the mining tax (mining is the backbone of our economy- Labor hated seeing the rich get richer), and the “School Kids Bonus”, also means tested, pointless ineffective and wasteful.

    He has also refused to give rescue packages to our most iconic Automotive Company- Holden- meaning it will shut all of its manufacturing in Australia in 2014. A very sad but unavoidable outcome.

    He is also trying to reverse our countries debt, brought about by the wasteful previous government (does It sound familiar?)

    It’s interesting to note that PM Abbotts greatest supporter and mentor is no-other than Cardinal George Pell- you may know him as one of Pope Francis “magnificent 8”- an advisory body made up of Cardinals appointed by Pope Francis himself. You may not consider them “magnificent”, so Ill beat you to it and acknowledge that.

    By the way, the High Court of Australia, yesterday, overturned the Same-Sex Marriage Act- reversing the Senates decision to allow Gays to “marry”. A decision spear-headed by Abbott who opposes same-sex “marriage”, and this despite of the fact his sister is a Lesbian and a vocal advocate of “gay rights”.

  • A Pope who writes “Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.” is endorsing a policy of incessant government interventions in the economy which invites debate and argument, and not simple obedience.

    “Incessant” seems like weasel word to me. May I presume that if the pope calls for a plethora of non-incessant government interventions in the economy that ‘simple obedience’ is the proper response?

  • Nope. When a Pope makes policy recommendations regarding how an economy should operate he is entering into an area where he has no charism of infallibility, and his ideas stand or fall on their merit like everyone else’s.

  • 2nd Thessalonians 3:10-12

    10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.

    John 6:25-27

    25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.”

    Exodus 20:17

    17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    John 12:3-6

    3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.


    I could go on, but I think we all get the idea.

  • Donald, thanks (and sorry for being snippy). “A Pope telling the Faithful to not forget the poor is not making an argument but relaying a command of Christ.” That is pretty much the lead in to the quoted section of Evangelii Gaudium. In section 203, he says, “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies.” And then also, “Casual indifference in the face of such questions empties our lives and our words of all meaning.” He wraps with this theme in section 207 with a warning against thinking the Church can “comfortably go its own way without creative concern and effective cooperation in helping the poor to live with dignity.”

    As I argued in a separate thread, this is undoubtedly a multi-step process of becoming less “comfortable” or casually indifferent with the status quo. (The pope’s exhortation to us is that we proclaim the Gospel in every interaction with one another, including interactions of a financial or economic nature, and I take that to be the final step of this multi-step process.) The first steps are to identify shortcomings of the existing system and then establish the goals of a well-ordered economic system. I think that is what he is doing here.

  • “processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.”
    So you are thinking the pope means that the above listed processes, sources of employment , and going beyond a welfare mentality should be carried out by a big government ? Could these processes, source of employment and leaving behind a welfare mentality come about through private and or even religious organization?

  • Anzlyne, in the section following that statement, the pope writes,

    We need to be convinced that charity “is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)”. The part within quotation marks is from Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate. (Read Francis through Benedict.) My personal belief is that charity and mercy for the poor should be conducted via wholly voluntary (i.e, private and religious organizations and interactions) such that there is a very direct interaction between the giver and the receiver. I am not certain if either of these popes (or any previous pope) share that view. For one, they are very much concerned with indirect relationships in our global economy. If I buy an article of clothing locally, am I exploiting a garmet worker in Bangladesh? I don’t know for sure, but they are saying I cannot be casually indifferent to the matter.

  • Economic action, like all human action, almost always implicates moral concerns, and indifference is never the appropriate response to those concerns. But neither is concern grounded wholly in sentiment or impulse. It is an odd moral imperative that would impel us to buy a widget from a worker who is economically comfortable rather than from a worker who is in economic distress, simply because we believe that the latter charges too little for his labor. Punishing third world subsistence workers in favor of first world middle class employees has to be about the dumbest idea of morality imaginable.

  • Punishing third world subsistence workers in favor of first world middle class employees has to be about the dumbest idea of morality imaginable.
    Right. On the theme of this global economy or “macro-relationships” that we are in with third world subsistence workers, Francis is saying in section 205 “we can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market” to produce equity. And in section 206: “Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility.”
    These statements taken together are saying that consuming and investing with only our own interests in mind is bad option. If we protest the working conditions of third world garment workers by taking our business elsewhere, we put their jobs in jeopardy and risk making a bad situation worse. I don’t read Evangelii Gaudium as making that decision for us, but rather as making a statement that something needs to be done. Failure to do something, i.e., accepting the status quo casually, is missing an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to both the exploiters and the exploited.

  • Spambot,
    We are mostly in agreement. That said, experience has revealed (at least to me) that the notion that “something needs to be done” is often both dangerous and false. In a fallen world not all problems have solutions, or at least solutions that are not worse than the problems. Of course, prayer for those in pain and those in need is always good, but some problems really do bely practical solutions. A view that nothing can be done that would be helpful is not indifference. Many of our most serious social problems can be traced to a 43% illegitimacy rate and similar divorce rate, both caused is some substantial part by laws grounded in well-intended polices advance by well-meaning progressives who seeing an imperfect status quo decided and continue to decide that “something needs to be done.” Imbedded in those efforts was and still is a malignant hubris that informs relentless advocacy imbued with a self-righteous confidence that is as unearned as it is false.

  • “Imbedded in those efforts was and still is a malignant hubris that informs relentless advocacy imbued with a self-righteous confidence that is as unearned as it is false.”

    Bravo Mike! How many government policies fit under that assessment!

  • Bravo Mike!
    I’m not feeling the love.
    Imbedded in those efforts was and still is a malignant hubris that informs relentless advocacy imbued with a self-righteous confidence that is as unearned as it is false.
    Pope Benedict XVI addressed that somewhat in Caritas in Veritate: ‘The sharing of goods and resources, from which authentic development proceeds, is not guaranteed by merely technical progress and relationships of utility, but by the potential of love that overcomes evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), opening up the path towards reciprocity of consciences and liberties. The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim “to interfere in any way in the politics of States.”[quoting Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio] She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation.’
    It is true that good intentions, i.e., the desire to overcome evil with good, is not sufficient to get good public policy. I suspect that some public policy can produce good (though suggestions are tough to find on politically conservative sites). So I am reading more of Pope Paul VI’s letters, encyclicals etc. in this regard.

  • Libertarians are ridiculously unserious. How are defense, education and roads redistribution at all, and not just basic societal functions? Furthermore is anyone really disputing that the free market has led to large advances in several areas? That doesn’t mean it can’t have side effects.

    not to mention the silly “because we have regulations we’re not super-capitalist” angle. The healthcare plan is the primary area where there’s going to be state control, if you accurately define socialism as state ownership of enterprise (and not the way it’s sometimes used interchangeably with liberal economic aims that have existed since Woodrow Wilson and FDR) then no we aren’t really socialist.

  • No worries Spam, feelings are way over-rated. Regarding conservative-oriented public policy approaches I suggest you visit the websites of AEI, Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institute and the dozens of other conservative-oriented think tanks. You will find many hundreds of proposals and ideas for addressing all our myriad of social problems. The difference is that these proposals and ideas are not utopian and therefore not grounded in the danger of assuming men are angels and earth can be Heaven.

  • Mike, thanks for the suggestion about Heritage. I’ve not thought about them for many years. (Fond memories [off topic] of young conservative pizza parties they threw. I was there to applaud a young and idealistic David Brock, way way back. I don’t what happened that changed him, but it must be very sad. And I met Dinesh D’Souza.) Trying to immerse myself in Catholic teaching, I’ve shied away from secular sources, but perhaps time to go back.

  • PJ,
    You seem to have a fairly wooden and cartoonish understanding of libertarianism, which actually includes a myriad of subsets with different assumptions regarding defense, education and roads — with few or none actually characterizing the government provision of such services as redistribution.
    What is unserious is loose thinking about free markets and “side effects”.
    Finally, the definition of “socialism” varies considerably, but the most common involves “the means of production, distribution and exchange owed *or regulated* by the community as a whole.”

  • Paul W Primavera might have added

    Lev. xix. 9, 10

    And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field; neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God

    Deut. xxiv. 20, 21

    When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

    These are not exhortations, but laws and attract a considerable body of commentary in the Talmud, transgression of which was punishable with stripes. The owner of the crop could not discriminate among the poor; he might not even help one in gathering; nor could he hire a labourer on the condition that his son should be permitted to glean after him. He who prevented the poor from coming into his field by keeping dogs or lions to frighten them away, or he who favoured one poor man to the injury of another, was considered a robber of the poor.

  • Spambot quoted Pope Benedict VI who wrote in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate:

    “We need to be convinced that charity is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)” Pope Francis quotes this as well in his Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium.

    Can we all agree on this? I believe that this goes to the heart of this issue.

  • Can we first agree Botolph that charity ceases to be charity when it is compelled by a government?

  • Donald, Israel was ‘compelled’ collectively by the Law to enact social justice: they left behind corn, cancelled debt and a hundred other things. I think the problem Christians usually have these days is not that it is ‘compelled’, but that it happens in a non-Christian society where people’s sense of justice is out of whack and decisions are made in opposition to God’s will. Am I correct?

  • Michael Patterson Seymour, it is NOT the job of secular government to steal from those who produce and work to give to those who refuse to do so. You do NOT get to redistribute my income for your pet social justice projects. The command is for us Christians to give voluntarily and NOT abdicate our responsibility onto Caesar Augustus. Now keep your fingers out of my paycheck.

  • Perhaps it’s more about the way we go about it. Right now measures seem to backfire all too often. Better approaches need to be discovered. I do think it’s OK for the government to help people truly in need. I don’t think it’s OK for the government to offer assistance to people who seek abortions or suicide or that kind of thing.

  • “Donald, Israel was ‘compelled’ collectively by the Law to enact social justice:”

    How much of that was ever actually carried out historically is open to debate Jon. Much Biblical Old Testament legislation seems to be aspirational rather than implemented historically. Christ of course in the New Testament never gave the slightest hint that Caesar should compel people to help the poor. He enjoins us each to help the poor and we cannot escape that duty by fobbing it off on the State, with all the evils that brings in its train.

  • Donald

    [I sent a response about an hour ago, but it seems to have disappeared. Let me try to ‘reconstruct it now]

    I have never really voiced my opinion etc on what we are experiencing in this period of time in America and what we are witnessing in Washington. Like so many others I am very concerned-worried about what is going on [and I do not think it is simply a matter of the present occupant of the White House. This has been building for some time and is not going to go away with the next election]

    I reject (as does the Church) “Statism” an ideology which sees “the State” [read government] increasing its hegemony and control over every aspect of a country’s life: social, cultural, economic and yes even religious] While not all forms of Statism are the same, its common denominator is belief that “the State is everything” [or at least should be].
    Pope Pius XI, facing Soviet Communism in Russia, the rise of National Socialism [Naziism] in Germany and Fascism in Italy and Spain did not only condemn those forms of Statism but gave a slight course correction to the social teaching of the Church found within Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. Pius XI in Quadragessimo Anno [On the Fortieth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum] gave us the fundamental social principle known as ‘subsidiarity’. Technically it means that larger entities should not take over what smaller units can do. Practically it means ‘local’ and ‘smaller’ is best.

    Getting to your question I need to say that I hold to what Pope Benedict wrote in his first encyclical; Deus Caritas Est: Charity is the mission/responsibility of the Church; justice is the mission/responsibility of the State. Along with that I would point out Saint Augustine’s teaching that justice is charity seeking to give to the other what is their due [charity informs all the virtues]

    The Church has always condemned Communism, as it has the marxist elements within the Liberation Theology movement [the whole movement or theology is not marxist] The Church condemns Statism. Writing shortly after the demise of communism in Russia and eastern Europe, Blessed John Paul wrote Centissimus Annos [on the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum]. He wrote of the newer things that had recently developed-the demise of communism with Democratic Capitalism as basically the sole social/economic principle at work in the growing global society. In that Encyclical JPII stated that now we live and move and breathe in this ‘world view’. Democratic Capitalism is NOT inherently evil. However, like every other human endeavor etc it needs the dialogue of salvation with the Church, a dialogue in which, per JPII, the Church reminds ‘the world’ of the social moral principles or as Benedict would say, calls the world to bring charity into its macro-relationships as well.

    This was not quite a yes or no which you probably wanted, but I believe we are much closer than we may realize in our approach to what is going on in America today. I hope this makes sense and answered your question Donald

  • Good point, Donald. We don’t knwo the extent to which Israel implemented it. We do know God instituted those laws. And there is a vast difference between the O.T. arrangement and livin as Christians under a secular state. I know this. We are called as the church to be charitable amidst the world. This is part of what it means to work toward the fullness of God’s kingdom. I’m not sure how we should view governemnt’s role in this.

  • Thank you for your response Botolph. My own opinion is that charity ceases to be charity when it is compelled from the giver. I think it has been quite a temptation for many within the Church to look to the State to perform “charity”. I think a better role for the State, absent emergency relief, is to stay out of the way and allow people to help the poor. The State getting in the way has been graphically underlined recently, for example, with the State driving the Catholic Church out of adoptions in Illinois by requiring that the Church not “discriminate” against Gay couples in adoptions. Rather than looking to the State to have a role in the corporal works of mercy, Catholics should be fighting to keep the State out of charity altogether. Separation of State and Charity! I like it!

  • My own opinion is that charity ceases to be charity when it is compelled from the giver.


    For what it’s worth, the great Jewish scholar Maimonedes recognized 8 levels of charity. I believe there may be a Catholic analogue, but I am not certain. The highest level consists of teaching a fellow Jew to fish, i.e. giving him a gift or a loan, entering into a partnership with him, or securing him employment. The next level involves giving anonymously to an unknown fellow Jew, and so on. The least level involves is helping a fellow Jew unwillingly, or, according to some translations, out of mere pity. I am not certain if being coerced into giving falls into that 8th category, or belongs to some still lower level unworthy of even being considered charity, but I suspect that in those cases where the money goes to some cause or recipient that the coerced giver recognizes is worthy of charity, it might well make the cut, though I suspect the scholarly opinion on the matter would be contentious.

  • It is perfectly fair to posit that coercion and charity are incompatible. Yet, I am not so dogmatic as to believe that it is inappropriate for a free people to choose to use government as an instrument for charity. Although we can and should acknowledge the inefficiencies and other imperfections of such an approach, there can be advantages too. And I don’t think it is fair to characterize related taxes paid by those who favor such approach as truly coercive in character. To me, the extent to which government should be used as an instrument to help those in need is more a matter of prudence than principle. There are serious doubts as to whether the needs of the feeble and poor can really be adequately satisfied without some public sector role. But it is also true that government rarely excersises this role very well, and the risk that such a role necessarily induces increased sense of pernicious entitlement is very real. Careful and realistic calibration is essential, and in my view the role should be limited to the most basic essentials, generally limited in duration, and designed as much as possible to encourage rather than discourage family integrity. Perfection is not a practical option, and some over-inclusion and some under-inclusion is inevitable.

  • Donald, you speak of separation of state and charity. But I wonder if we can be consistent wtih that. The Enlightenmen proposed secular territory or what we might call neutral ground. As Christians, we know there’s no such thing: Christ is the Lrod and Savior of the wrold, not Caesar. And the implications of this should be felt even as we pray: thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If it will one day be wholly true, should we not work toward that? Should we not insist that GOd’s laws and imperatives are good for everyone? That it is good to protect life, to nurture it, to foster the welfare of others, etc.? This was the medieval vision, was it not? Was this not lost wtih the onset of modernity to where, little by little, the secular ‘ate up’ the sacred? Is it wrong to seek that unity once again, however imperfectly it may be achieved? In other words, should we not work toward social justice, particularly in terms that we as Christians can happily agree upon?

  • “Christ is the Lrod and Savior of the wrold, not Caesar.”

    If you mean that in a secular ruler sense I completely disagree with you and so did Christ who stated that His Kingdom is not of this world.

    “Should we not insist that GOd’s laws and imperatives are good for everyone? That it is good to protect life, to nurture it, to foster the welfare of others, etc.? This was the medieval vision, was it not?”

    Not really. Church and State generally fought like cats and dogs in the Middle Ages which was normally a good thing because CS Lewis was right on the money:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  • Indeed, Lewis disliked anything like that, whether from church or more likely, from the secular State as he saw it in his day.
    I agree that his kingdom is really ‘not of this world’. Yes, utopians can be monstrous in their attempts at imposing what is good for others. I’m not sure we can think in erms of a strict dichotomy, however. There is no private Chrsitianity or personal salvation. It is by definition public. As Wright points out, the proclamation is public that Jesus is Lord. The world rightly shakes upon hearing that. That’s why they fought the church to such an extent. The interaction is not clear; I do think we should bring the imploications of Christianty to bear upon all of life as much as possible. Again, I know of the problems that can ensue. It remains a paradox.

  • “Finally, the definition of “socialism” varies considerably”

    No it doesn’t. Socialism is state ownership of enterprise. People play loose with it when it comes to govt. programs in general but obviously these are present in all current Western democracies to varying degrees.

  • 120. If, however, for this purpose, private resources do not suffice, it is the duty of the public authority to supply for the insufficient forces of individual effort, particularly in a matter which is of such importance to the common weal, touching as it does the maintenance of the family and married people. If families, particularly those in which there are many children, have not suitable dwellings; if the husband cannot find employment and means of livelihood; if the necessities of life cannot be purchased except at exorbitant prices; if even the mother of the family to the great harm of the home, is compelled to go forth and seek a living by her own labor; if she, too, in the ordinary or even extraordinary labors of childbirth, is deprived of proper food, medicine, and the assistance of a skilled physician, it is patent to all to what an extent married people may lose heart, and how home life and the observance of God’s commands are rendered difficult for them; indeed it is obvious how great a peril can arise to the public security and to the welfare and very life of civil society itself when such men are reduced to that condition of desperation that, having nothing which they fear to lose, they are emboldened to hope for chance advantage from the upheaval of the state and of established order.

    121. Wherefore, those who have the care of the State and of the public good cannot neglect the needs of married people and their families, without bringing great harm upon the State and on the common welfare. Hence, in making the laws and in disposing of public funds they must do their utmost to relieve the needs of the poor, considering such a task as one of the most important of their administrative duties.

PopeWatch: Man of the Year

Thursday, December 12, AD 2013



Time magazine has named Pope Francis its Man of the Year.  This ritual hearkens back to the days of yore when photojournalism magazines like Time had real influence, quite unlike the fading anachronisms they are today.  With circulation of 3.2 million and newsstand weekly sales of 60,000 Time has largely been relegated to something that one reads only while waiting in the offices of doctors, lawyers and dentists.  However, the man of the year, or rather person of the year as it is officially designated in these dreary PC times, still receives quite a bit of media attention.

Pope Francis is not the first Pontiff to be named by Time.  Pope John XXIII was named man of the year in 1962 and Pope John Paul II in 1994.  These earlier recognitions of popes demonstrate a curious feature of this announcement.  Pope John had been Pope for 4 years and had announced Vatican II.  By 1994 Pope John Paul II had been Pope for sixteen years, had played a key role in ending the Cold War, and had a major impact on the Church and the World.  And Pope Francis?  Well he has said a lot, written a bit, and hasn’t done much of anything yet.  Considering that he has been pontiff for less than a year, that is unsurprising.  So why pick him?

Continue reading...

17 Responses to PopeWatch: Man of the Year

  • “Pope Francis, for the present, is viewed as a potential ally, at least by comparison with his predecessors, by forces that deeply despise the traditional teachings of the Church regarding abortion, homosexuality, divorce and contraception, and that is why Pope Francis has received this swift recognition from Time”

    Ahem, Donald I’m sure you are well aware:

    1962 Time Person of the Year- Pope John XXIII

    1994 Time Person of the Year”- Pope John Paul II

    We’re these past Popes chosen for the same reason you mention above? Were they allies to evil?

    I wander why you have to come to this negative conclusion, rather than seeing that the MSM recognises that many relate to this Pope, for various reasons, none of which are because he upholds the evils of which you refer to.

    Perhaps our beloved Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI would have had his spot on the cover, had he been Pope long enough…?

  • Ez, I can only assume that you did not read the post with care since I mentioned both the previous covers with popes on them. Careful reading, it saves so much time. What I state in the post is not my interpretation of why Time chose Pope Francis, since they basically tell us that is the reason why they chose the Pope.

    “Perhaps our beloved Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI would have had his spot on the cover, had he been Pope long enough…?”

    Pope Benedict was Pope for eight years while Pope Francis has been Pope for nine months. The current powers that be at Time would not have picked Pope Benedict if he had reigned a thousand years.

  • I feel very uneasy about the praise from such a secular outfit like the Time. They are looking for “hope and change” from Pope Francis. Right now we are up to our collecive necks with “hope and change” in this country. I sincerely “hope” that Time will be bitterly disappointed in Pope Francis.

  • Perhaps our beloved Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI would have had his spot on the cover, had he been Pope long enough…?
    Wishful thinking, but I severely doubt it, not in these politically correct times. When I see the secular, hyper-liberal media fawning over a pope that consistently says things to upset the faithful, I can’t help but to think of this quote from Luke:
    “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”
    I pray that I’m wrong. Pray for Pope Francis and the Church!!!

  • Awarding Pope Francis “Person of the Year” after 9 months smacks of the same lack of seriousness of awarding Obama a Nobel Peace Prize after a similar short time in office. Both show the cheapening of the recognition, and both were awarded for the same reason – you are taking the opposite direction of your immediate predecessor whom we loathed, and we approve. It really is less about the actual recipient, and more about their respective predecessors.

  • Word Origin & History

    c.1400, “foul, filthy, dirty, unclean,” perhaps from O.Fr. nastre “bad, strange,” shortened form of villenastre “infamous, bad,” from vilein “villain” + -astre, pejorative suffix, from L. -aster. Alternative etymology is from Du. nestig “dirty,” lit. “like a bird’s nest.” Likely reinforced by a Scand.
    source (cf. Swed. dial. naskug “dirty, nasty”). Of weather, from 1634; of things generally, “unpleasant, offensive,” from 1705. Of people, “ill-tempered,” from 1825.

    nasty. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 12, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nasty

    But I like yours better.

  • And so I re-read your post and found this at the end:

    “And so Francis signals great change while giving the same answers to the uncomfortable questions. On the question of female priests: “We need to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman.” Which means: no. No to abortion, because an individual life begins at conception. No to gay marriage, because the male-female bond is established by God. “The teaching of the church … is clear,” he has said, “and I am a son of the church, but”—and here he adds his prayer for himself—“it is not necessary to talk about those issues all the time.”

    Looks like the MSM are aware of his stance on these issues. And we talked about them all the time during the past 2 Papacys and achieved what? Homosexual “marriage” and abortion and contraception rampant and on demand. Maybe the adolescent immature world will stop rebelling and fighting God Truth, if we stopped nagging them…?

    Just a thought.

    By the way, the Vatican saw the appointment very differently:


    By the way, my husband just made a comment, “does anyone read Time Magazine anymore?”- its all Facebook and blogs and twitter…

  • “Looks like the MSM are aware of his stance on these issues.”

    Yes and they believe that he is soft pedaling them and will “agree to disagree” while concentrating on issues they find much more congenial, like bashing capitalism. There is no mystery here Ez why in nine months Pope Francis got the cover and in eight years Pope Benedict did not.

  • “By the way, the Vatican saw the appointment very differently:”

    Yep, hapless, and clueless, Vatican press flack Father Lombardi is always good for a laugh.

  • Well, who cares if they recognise Benedict or not. The MSM media are too stupid to recognise the Truth, even if it smacked them in the face! Benedict is such an intelligent and deep theologian.

    And I look at it as the other way around- the MSM are the hapless and clueless ones. Joke will be on them. The Vatican are playing THEM.

  • One recalls a profound observation of Mgr Ronald Knox, “”Let us note that traditional Christianity is a balance of doctrines, and not merely of doctrines but of emphases. You must not exaggerate in either direction, or the balance is disturbed. An excellent thing to abandon yourself, without reserve, into God’s hands; … but, teach on principle that it is an infidelity to wonder whether you are saved or lost, and you have overweighted your whole devotional structure… Conversely, it is a holy thing to trust in the redeeming merits of Christ. But, put it about that such confidence is the indispensable sign of being in God’s favour, that, unless and until he is experimentally aware of it, a man is lost, and the balance has been disturbed at the opposite end;”

  • When I learned Time Magazine had made Pope Francis, the Man of the Year, I found it interesting but nothing more. It is not on the level of say the Nobel Peace Prize, etc. When I hear or read much of what ” the world” thinks or believes Pope Francis is doing with the substance of the Church and her Teaching, I scratch my head, wondering if they are talking about the actual man who at this moment is the successor of Saint Peter.

    I can’t totally blame ” the world” however, in their misperceptions and misreading of the pope. There are those in the Church who put spins on any and seemingly most statements of Francis. I have less tolerance of these spin masters however. Almost to the ‘man’, they are simply trying to form the pope, the Church and the Church’s teachings into what they THINK the pope, the Church and Church teaching ought to be. This is exactly what Pope Francis is challenging when he calls all members of the Church away from ideology to real faith.

    How many of these spin masters listen to Francis’ weekly audiences, daily homilies, major addresses, etc. ?one cannot come to know Jesus Christ without a careful, time taking, disciplined and faith-filled reading and re-reading of the Gospels as read and interpreted within the Church. The Church’s “Rule of Faith” enables us to come to know, love and follow Jesus Christ as disciples who know His mercy-ing call. It likewise takes careful, disciplined, faith filled reading of the Church’s Teachings whether in doctrine or morality. Can one expect to be able to by-pass the same process, whether it be Pope Saint Leo the Great, Pope Saint Gregory VII, Pope Saint Pius V, Pope Blessed John Paul, Pope Benedicy XVI, or Pope Francis?

  • When I hear or read much of what ” the world” thinks or believes Pope Francis is doing with the substance of the Church and her Teaching, I scratch my head, wondering if they are talking about the actual man who at this moment is the successor of Saint Peter.

    The funny thing is, this is turning in our favor– my husband has gone from “pissed at the Church” to “mildly annoyed by some people in the Church, pissed at the folks who lied to him.”

  • Foxfier

    Amen! 🙂

  • (Donald R. McClarey:) “Yep, hapless, and clueless, Vatican press flack Father Lombardi is always good for a laugh.” Wholeheartedly agree. I think Fr. Lombardi should win the “Lanny Davis Spear-Catcher Award”, to be simultaneously awarded with the “Man of the Year” citation to PF. Fr. Lombardi is a magician with a mop.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis Shocked by Same-Sex Adoption - BigPulpit.com

PopeWatch: Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, December 11, AD 2013



Like almost all world leaders, Pope Francis has paid tribute to the late President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela:

It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the Government and to all the people of South Africa. In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity.

One expects a certain amount of accentuating the positive and overlooking the negative when someone dies.  PopeWatch would not expect the Pope to critique the career of Mr. Mandela at this time.  However, PopeWatch does wish that the Pope had been a bit more careful in his phrasing.  Mr, Mandela doubtless deserves the lion’s share of the credit that the power transition, certainly not without violence, in South Africa, did not become a blood bath which it might well have become without the usually conciliatory and statesmanlike tone he followed after 27 years in South African jails.

However, when the Pope stated that Mr. Mandela promoted the human dignity of all South Africans he was incorrect.  Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, corrects the record:

Continue reading...

21 Responses to PopeWatch: Nelson Mandela

  • A bit off-topic but I saw an article in the Atlantic by Ta-Neshi Coates praising Newt Gingrich who supported Mandela unlike many conservatives like Wm F. Buckley who were paid apologists for apartheid: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/gingrich-vs-the-right-on-apartheid-what-would-you-have-done/282138/

    O how the comboxers howled! Certainly no conservative, especially Newt could have principles!

  • However, PopeWatch does wish that the Pope had been a bit more careful in his phrasing.
    LOL, d’ya think? Pope Francis, careful about his phrasing??? Yeah okay, sure. Has it not occurred to you that this Pope is NEVER careful about his phrasing, especially when it comes to press releases? And please, do not blame this one on the media. Ahhh, but people will constantly make excuses. What will it take to convince people that maybe he says what he means? What would Jesus say about this? Do you think He would have praised Mandela for promoting “human dignity”? Or condemned him for his promotion of the abortion of thousands? Something to ponder….

  • I suppose we could argue that those not yet born are not citizens…..

  • @Foxfier
    “we” as in who? You or the Pope?
    Either way, in God’s eyes there is no argument here. In His court, your argument would be thrown out. Case closed.

  • “Has it not occurred to you that this Pope is NEVER careful about his phrasing,”

    Judging from that statement Bob I can only assume that you have not been a regular reader of PopeWatch.

  • He doesn’t have much of a sense of irony, either, Donald.

  • True Foxfier. I assume he must be a stranger to the blog or he would not attempt to get into a combox scuffle with you.

  • Heaven knows it’s easy… though not as easy as the guy who tried to argue against the humanity of the unborn while I was getting kicked in the ribs by my son!

  • My apologies Foxfier. I read you wrong…I was taking you literally. Sorry, I mistook you for a pro-abort troll, LOL.

    Donald, I’ve been reading your blog for about a year (I like many of your points), but rarely post. I understand that PopeWatch is observing a Pope who is causing uneasiness among the faithful (and with good reason). It”s just that phrase you used (which I italicized in my first post), is getting a bit old. You see it on every Catholic blog, every time the Pope puts his foot in his mouth. It’s becoming such a regular occurrence, it’s a bit disappointing, huh? Can you impeach a Pope, LOL (God forgive me)?

    Question: Do you think we’re going to be making excuses for him through his entire papacy? Or do you think he’ll snap out of his spontaneous responses, and actually think about the repercussion of his words? Someone has to be telling him the negative effect he’s having on many devout Catholics.

    Everybody talks about how humble he is, but read the 12 steps of humility.
    Short “sensible” and subdued speech, abstinence from laughter, reticence until questioned…….I mean, I’m no angel (and not really one to talk), but I’ve read so many books on the lives of the saints, and I’m not seeing that same sort of humility that our media is seeing. Maybe it’s just me. I want the best from this Pope, and I pray that he takes care of the Church, but honestly, he worries me more than any other Pope. I had a bad feeling when he started his pontificate, and over time I am seeing my gut feeling was right. I pray for Pope Francis. That is all we can really do.

  • what about whether ANC South Africa would’ve become the People’s Republic of South Africa had the party won prior to 1989? Not necessarily even by Mandela himself, could’ve been some kind of factional struggle.

    maybe paranoid, but I’d say it was a possibility. People act like Reagan’s anti-Communism over everything foreign policy was inhumane but there did happen to be two Communist southern African countries at the time.

  • My apologies Foxfier. I read you wrong…I was taking you literally. Sorry, I mistook you for a pro-abort troll, LOL.

    All good– I don’t even get to READ here as often as I use to, let alone comment or write posts!

    Question: Do you think we’re going to be making excuses for him through his entire papacy?

    Always, and for every Pope.
    Hostile audiences will always manage to find something to exploit, and the less guarded you are the more you’ll be abused. They’ll make stuff up if they don’t find it.

    I’ve been told by many orthodox folks that he deeply appeals to them; I don’t get it, but I’m also the person who dislikes the “stand up and introduce yourself, new people and visitors!” tradition at some parishes.

  • I’m not seeing that same sort of humility that our media is seeing.

    They mean humble like plain, simple and not bold.

  • “I suppose we could argue that those not yet born are not citizens…..” The state gives one citizenship and a tax bill. “their Creator” gives the one-celled human being a rational, immortal soul, sovereignty, free will and all unalienable human rights. The human soul’s will to live is the state’s right to life.
    “I’m also the person who dislikes the “stand up and introduce yourself, new people and visitors!” tradition at some parishes.” – I will not. I come to see Jesus Christ and all persons are in HIs Sacred Heart on the altar. After Consecration some priests leave the altar and profane their consecrated and washed hands with parishioners, who embarrass themselves kissing across the aisle, shaking hands and hugging. These are the same parishioners who might run one over in the parking lot.
    I wait for the crucifix to stand up. Wishing the gift of Christ’s peace from my heart to all by putting all people into the Sacred Heart of Jesus present on the altar after Consecration. It really troubles me that some priests leave Jesus unprotected on the altar after Consecration and treat Christ like He is only bread. There is time for peace and giving the rest of the day. Like have a cup of coffee or tea for me today. Usually I ask for one Hail Mary.
    I am greatly refreshed knowing that you, Foxfier, have some of my own thoughts. God bless you son. We need priests.

  • “While we pray for the peaceful repose of President Mandela’s immortal soul and the forgiveness of his sins, we can only regret that his noble defense of human dignity did not include the youngest members of our human family, unborn children.”
    Thank you Bishop Tobin. I cannot imagine any person not recognizing the humanity of the unborn. And indeed I held Mandela in highest regard until now. What kind of a statesman does not know of the God-given gift of innocent human life?

  • “They mean humble like plain, simple and not bold.”
    I think they mean malleable. The media does not know respect, not even the truth. All the media know is manipulation and abuse. The media is a pack of wolves.

  • I figure they are just going more on emotion than reason– so bad words are for bad people, and good words for good. From their perspective, of course.

  • Foxfier: Let me say that again. God bless you and your son.

  • Thank you– with two big sisters, he’ll need it.

  • I wish Desmond Tutu was mentioned in all of this. Perhaps he was, but I haven’t heard anything about his pivotal role yet. He did much to implement the idea of truth and reconciliation through his theological writings and played an enormous role in the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. It was not a mere matter of secular civilized values prevailing. It was more about the application of Christian principles and the belief that Christianity’s implications should be thought out and applied.

  • ;Jon, Mr.Mandela was asked to appear at this committee by Desmond Tutu…He refused! Regards From New Zealand

  • Trevor, forgive me if I sound ignorant, but why did Mandela refuse to appear at the committee?

PopeWatch: Adam Shaw and Ralph McCloud

Tuesday, December 10, AD 2013



Last week Adam Shaw of Fox launched a blistering attack on Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is undergoing a popularity surge comparable to the way Barack Obama was greeted by the world in 2008. And just as President Obama has been a disappointment for America, Pope Francis will prove a disaster for the Catholic Church.

My fellow Catholics should be suspicious when bastions of anti-Catholicism in the left-wing media are in love with him.

Much is being made of his ‘compassion’ and ‘humility,’ but kissing babies and hugging the sick is nothing new. Every pope in recent memory has done the same, yet only now are the media paying attention. Benedict XVI and John Paul II refused to kowtow to the liberal agenda, and so such displays of tenderness were under-covered.

But Francis is beating a retreat for the Catholic Church, and making sure its controversial doctrines are whispered, not yelled – no wonder the New York Times is in love.

Just like President Obama loved apologizing for America, Pope Francis likes to apologize for the Catholic Church, thinking that the Church is at its best when it is passive and not offending anyone’s sensibilities.

In his interviews with those in the left-wing media he seeks to impress, Francis has said that the Church needs to stop being ‘obsessed’ with abortion and gay marriage, and instead of seeking to convert people, “we need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us.”

This softly-softly approach of not making a fuss has been tried before, and failed. The Second Vatican Council of the 1960’s aimed to “open the windows” of the Church to the modern world by doing just this.

The result was the Catholic version of New Coke. Across the West where the effects were felt, seminaries and convents emptied, church attendance plummeted, and adherence to Church doctrine diminished.

Go here to read the rest.  In addition to working for Fox, Shaw used to be a writer for Catholic News Service.  PopeWatch says used to be, because he has been fired:

Tony Spence, editor in chief of the wire service commented on the firing:

“(W)hen he penned the recent piece on Pope Francis, comparing him to President Obama, and presenting it as an op/ed, he seriously compromised his credibility as an objective Catholic journalist for CNS. Had Adam merely reported on the pope’s apostolic exhortation, even citing unflattering sources, there would have been no problem. However, Adam’s caustic condemnation of the exhortation and of Francis himself, one of the key figures we cover daily with objectivity, fairness and certainly charity, left me little choice but to end his service with us.”

PopeWatch understands this firing.  Catholic News Service is a financially independent arm of the USCCB, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  As in any organization, if you publically criticize the boss you had better polish up your resume first.  What PopeWatch cannot understand is why the USCCB has allowed Ralph McCloud to continue as head of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development even though, as head of that organization, he simultaneously served as campaign treasurer for pro-abort uber alles Wendy Davis when she first ran for her state senate seat in Texas.  Go here to read all about it.  Why the double standard?  PopeWatch is puzzled!

Continue reading...

3 Responses to PopeWatch: Adam Shaw and Ralph McCloud

  • Yes. Mr. McCloud probably raises mucho dinero for the Bishops as head of the CCHD. Note he was campaign TREASURER for Davis. Mr. Shaw just specializes in truth-detection (reporting). And here I thought the Church was supposed to be about Truth, not $$$.

  • Why the double standard? The fact that the CCHD even still exists should answer all you need to know about the USCCB and its reporting arm, CNS.

  • While I might be a bit slower to jump to the conclusion that there is a conscious double standard at work here, the question remains, and needs to be heard and responded to by the USCCB. The CCHD at its beginning was very careful about who and what agencies received its funding from Catholics in America. I am not so sure that the same care is at work.

    What I see is just one more example of two distinct groupings within the Church-at least in America (I do not want to use the term ‘ideology’ in terms of these two groups). One group I like to say, emphasizes Lumen Gentium, the identity of the Church, keeping what are commonly referred to as ‘personal morality’ issues: pro-life, pro-traditional marriage etc. The other grouping focuses on Gaudium et Spes, the Church in the Modern World and emphasizes the social issues, work with the poor, homeless etc. Both groups tend to favor polticians and political causes who and which best further their focus. Both are at Sunday Mass in almost every parish in this country. They are not rejecting Church teaching-in the first group’s case-on social issues; the second group is not dissenting from Church teaching on pro-life, pro-family issues. It is a matter of focus and where they place their energy.

    Two problems arise from these distinctions. First too often each side sees the other as ‘poorer Catholics’ and question the other. The second problem arises when they seek to bring their focus into the social/political arena. Both groupings can really end up with strange ‘bed fellows’, if either group took the time to really look at the ones they are backing.

Evangelii Gaudium: Ordination of Women

Monday, December 9, AD 2013



Father Z points out how disappointing for the Catholic Left Evangelii Gaudium is in regard to one of their top priority issues:  Ordination of women:


I have written before that the ordination of women is the flagship issue for liberals.

So long as Pope Francis won’t change Church “policy”, he will remain in their dog house.

Some conservatives frown when the Pope gets out over his skiis in matters of economics, but liberals attack Francis when he upholds defined faith and morals.

Jamie Manson at the Fishwrap, lesbian activist, tutored at Yale by Margaret Farley (of the CDF Notification), favored speaker of the LCWR, attacks Francis for editors this time.

The good thing about Miss Mansons’ piece is that she totalizes her analysis of Pope Francis: Francis can’t be wrong about gender and right about anything else. Obviously NSR disagrees with that judgment!

On lack of vocations, Francis’ diagnosis comes up short

Like many who care passionately about a fully inclusive priesthood in the Catholic church, I read paragraph 104 of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium with deep sadness, though not surprise.  [Remember when I wrote that Francis had created a split on the left?  Remember also that Sr. Maureen Fiedler already attacked Francis on this point … as the surrogate for the NSR.  The editors work thought surrogates.]

“The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion,” Francis wrote, “but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general.” [For true liberals, priesthood is about power, nothing less.  That is one reason why the ordination of women is a liberal flagship issue.]

“It must be remembered that when we speak of sacramental power ‘we are in the realm of function, not that of dignity or holiness,’ ” the document continues. “The ministerial priesthood is one means employed by Jesus for the service of his people, yet our great dignity derives from baptism, which is accessible to all.

“The configuration of the priest to Christ the head — namely, as the principal source of grace — does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others.”

[And now the Popette speaketh…] Much as Francis would like to erase the dynamic of domination from the priesthood, his teaching will remain unrealistic if he continues to reinforce an unjust power structure [DING!  Say da magic woid, win a hundred dahlahs!] in which only celibate males are permitted to consecrate the Eucharist.


Even as Francis perpetuates the same rigid restrictions on who may and may not answer God’s calling to the priesthood, just three paragraphs later, in section 107, he goes on to blame the “dearth of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life” on “a lack of contagious apostolic fervour in communities which results in a cooling of enthusiasm and attractiveness.” []

Apparently for the pope, “vocations” are limited to the number of people in Roman Catholic seminaries or novitiate programs. He seems unaware that if he were to look into divinity schools and graduate programs in theology and ministerial formation, he would find no lack of Catholic young adults with a fervent desire to devote themselves fully to serving the church. [They can’t do so as priests.  Too bad, Jamie.]


Read the rest there, if you can stand it.  You’ll find a lot of whining about unfairness and an exaltation of lesbianism.

Continue reading...

115 Responses to Evangelii Gaudium: Ordination of Women

  • All people are baptized into the Catholic Church as priest, prophet, and king. The Sacrament of Baptism leaves an indelible mark on the person’s soul. As priest, the person receives Jesus, as prophet, the person evangelizes, proclaims the kingdom of God, as king, the person is made sovereign over himself/herself. It appears that the women demanding ordination to the Catholic priesthood have renounced their baptism, and the priesthood, in themselves. Let me suggest that the reason being, is that, to act in persona Christi, the ordained priest bring Jesus onto the altar, the greatest dignity man can achieve, but the Sacrament of Penance, which no other religion has, has absolution spoken by Jesus Christ, and through His priest, sins are forgiven and exorcism takes place. In Baptism, the exorcism is in general, in Penance the exorcism is in particular. It is this exorcism, warring with the devil, driving the devil to hell that is the battle that the women refuse to acknowledge or accept as part of the sovereignty over themselves. It is like changing diapers on a precious newborn baby and I am that baby in the secret of confession. These women all need exorcism in the Sacrament of Penance. I hope I have shed some light on this matter.

  • I hope I have shed some light on this matter.
    You did well, Mary. Thank you.

  • If they think it through clearly, his statement really won’t matter. Given the stated goals of devolving the Papacy and empowering of local episcopal conferences with doctrinal authority, they’ll get what they want that way.

    And it’s too much for Fr. Z to delight in a “split” based on two of the Wrap’s most extreme fembot writers. Fiedler and Manson won’t be happy until a Muslim lesbian is pope.

    No, the great progressive hope is found elsewhere in the document, and it should gladden their hearts.


  • It is this exorcism, warring with the devil, driving the devil to hell that is the battle that the women refuse to acknowledge or accept as part of the sovereignty over themselves. It is like changing diapers on a precious newborn baby and I am that baby in the secret of confession. These women all need exorcism in the Sacrament of Penance. I hope I have shed some light on this matter.

    Don’t women change diapers? (At least traditionally.)

    I’m sorry, I’m not understanding your point. But I want to.

  • “Don’t women change diapers? (At least traditionally.)
    I’m sorry, I’m not understanding your point. But I want to.”

    Holy Mother Church changes my diapers in the Sacrament of Penance, if she can, that is, if a person is repentant. First, the Prodigal Son returns, then he is celebrated. These women demanding a vocation to the priesthood want the celebrating but not the repentance. They are more like the other son, the brother of the prodigal who wanted the celebration without rejoicing with his father because the prodigal returned. “What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and loose his soul?” If I am not who I am supposed to be, who is going to be me? The Sacrament of Penance is where I am me. No one attains to Holy Orders without being called.

  • “Given the stated goals of devolving the Papacy and empowering of local episcopal conferences with doctrinal authority, they’ll get what they want that way.”
    Empowering of local episcopal conferences with doctrinal authority is a power that can easily be dissolved by removing the head of the local episcopal conference for heresy. If Pope Francis has the taste for it. Infallibility

  • I truly believe that if Jesus walked on earth today he most likely would choose more women today to be priests than he would men! Look around the church during daily Mass and see how many men are there to worship Jesus.

  • Look around the church during daily Mass and see how many men are there to worship Jesus.


    Do you honestly believe that the number of men in the pews (or women, for that matter) will increase once priestesses are ordained? The evidence from the Anglican churches and other sects with priestesses belies the assumption. Or are you saying that the Church should simply write off men as a lost cause?


    Or, consider the case of Islam, a religion not known for being progressive in the matter of gender politics. Women are not even allowed in the main area of the mosque, and this has not been much of an impediment to the religion’s spread. As a matter of fact, Muslims claim that the majority of converts in the West are female. I am not sure if they are correct, but if that were true, I would not be surprised.


    But hey, I guess whatever you personally choose to believe should trump all that, eh? That kind of thinking is increasingly popular these days, but it makes me wonder whom people are really in the business of worshipping, because I do not think it is Jesus.

  • I am not a Sacramentalist. The only objection to women’s ordination to which I’ve ever given a hearing is based on Scripture. And I think St. Paul wrote to his churches with advice dealing with problems peculiar to them. So it is difficult to see his remarks on women in terms of today’s churches. Our circumstances are obviously different. Our problems are different. Our context is different. While much of his advice in other areas remains essentially relevant, I think his advice on women pertained to a unique situation in his day. If one is a Sacramentalist, they will probably tend toward restricting the roel to men. It is said that men mirror God/Christ as pastors. But again, to a non-sacramentalist that’s irrelevant to the argument.

  • When a woman appears in the sanctuary, she, as an altar server or extraordinary minister or minister to the sick, she appears in persona of the priest, the celebrant of the Mass, (with the power of attorney of the priest.). The woman cannot appear or act “in persona Christi” because the woman is not ordained by the bishop to act “in persona Christi.” Nor does the celebrant, the priest at Mass, have the power from Christ to “Do this in memory of me,” , or the power to absolve sins, unless given the power by the bishop. Only the apostles, (the bishops) to whom Christ gave the power to celebrate Mass and forgive sins have the power to continue the priesthood through the ordination to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Not the priest , nor the pastor, nor the individual has any authority to elevate to the altar, only the apostolic successors to the apostles, the bishops, can elevate to the altar.
    This is in holding with Genesis. God created the first man. Then God took the first woman from the first man. The woman is the super abundance of man’s love for God, the buried treasure, the packed down spilling over of man’s love for God.
    The woman in the sanctuary acts in the power of the priest. The woman in the sanctuary cannot act in the persona of the bishop.
    Any bishop who might try ordaining women to the Sacrament of Holy Orders fails in his duty to observe the instruction of Jesus Christ to the Apostles, all of whom were men. The bishop acts in persona Christi. The priest acts in persona Christi through the bishop.
    Women are called to be holy, and therefore cannot be holy violating the will of Christ.

  • Jon: God and Christ in the Trinity are outside of time. The Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle is unchangeable. Who Jesus Christ ordained then, is valid now.

  • “Women are not even allowed in the main area of the mosque” In both the Jewish faith and the Muslim faith, the man appears before God in prayer in synagogue and mosque for himself, his wife, and his children, much like the Catholic priest, who appears at Mass to pray for all generations, for all time, that is, for all people. The woman, through power of attorney, is present in church to pray for all people.

  • “The woman, through power of attorney, is present in church to pray for all people.”

    The woman, through power of attorney, of her father, her husband, if she has one, the priest, pastor, bishop and Pope, is present in church to pray for all people. Awesome.

  • Mary, I think you’re confusing verses that pertain to marriage. While Christ is the head of the church, St. Paul also used marriage as a metaphor of Christ and the church. So he spoke of the husband being the head of the wife to illustrate that. I don’t think this transfers to the church. Some issues were ocurring in the churches he wrote to and we do not entirely understand what those were. Therefore, it is difficult to understand his advice. But it was not framed in terms of sacramentalism. Sacramentalism is a development.

  • “Mary, I think you’re confusing verses that pertain to marriage.” The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony between a man and a woman, is the same as Christ, the bridegroom and His Church, for Jesus laid down His life for her.
    “Sacramentalism is a development.”
    Jon, If sacramentalism is not orthodox, run like hell.
    This is the same advice I give to women whose bishops are considering ordaining women: be orthodox or run like hell.

  • I wonder how you would define orthodoxy. I consider orthodoxy a concensus of the early church that came about in response to challenge. Christian truth was defined and elaborated upon so as to preclude heresy. For example, the Trinity or the dual nature of Jesus Christ and the Incarnation would be examples of orthodoxy in this vein. Heresy would be gnostic readings of Christianity, for example, or an anemic sense of God that did not account for his triune nature. I think people can be solidly Christian and orthodox in this classic sense while holding to differences of opinion. It happens within the Roman branch and throughout the entire Christian church. You won’t find a sacramentalist approach in the pages of the New Testament. I argue that it’s something we read back into it. This anachronism involves what we call eisegesis. One way to describe eisegesis is to say we are putting something from our own minds into the text. So it’s the opposite of exegesis, where we try to extract meaning FROM the text. I really don’t find the sacramentalist system intellectually sustainable. I’m pretty open to whatever the text yields, generally. I don’t have an agenda or serious commitment that would sway me one way or another. Two key points that led me away from the sacramentalist possibility are the following: St. Paul, in speaking about the Lord’s Supper, seems to refer to the believers as the body of Christ and not the bread or Corpus Christi of the crucifixion when he remarks on discernment; baptism seems to have always followed repentence and faith in God. So it’s really difficult to see baptism or the eucharist in the sacramentalist way.
    The fundamental point I would bring out is that there WAS development. The church exists in time, obviously. As the church do so it interacts within its context. The church expresses itself in new forms and adapts to circumstances. The first few centuries saw some really good developments, but some others were not so good. It looks like Roman Catholics consider all development as sacred tradition. Protestants see the necessity of weighing the differernt developements. One theologian has spoken of something called the Great Tradition. This means we accept the traditions of the New Testament and those which followed provided they are weighed and universally approved. Even then traditions which followed the New Testament are not binding.
    Orthodoxy can only come about through a consensus of the entire church. Look for those things which professing Christians everywhere believe, whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox. These beliefs are surely orthodox.

  • Orthodoxy can only come about through a consensus of the entire church.


    What an unBiblical thing to say, and one so oblivious to history. The Bible repeatedly tells us of how small embattled minorities held on to the Faith, while the consensus fell away. The same could be said for the early Church. Whatever consensus was reached with the Arians was brought about by centuries of bitter warfare. Sure, it is easy to claim, centuries later, that the Arians (or the Gnostics, or the Monophysites, etc.) are outside the consensus, but that is just playing with tautologies, in the way badly informed evolutionists sometimes do. “Who survives?” It is the fittest. “Who are the fittest?” Well, it’s the ones who have survived.

  • Jon: “Orthodoxy can only come about through a consensus of the entire church.” The entire church is the church triumphant, all the saints in heaven, the church militant, those of us on earth struggling against the forces of evil and the church suffering, those souls in purgatory, being cleansed from all sins and heresies. Perhaps you might refer to it as tradition but the martyrs and saints in heaven died for the Truth of Jesus Christ and the Truth of Jesus Christ will remain constant even as Jesus lives in heaven. The Truth of Jesus Christ is infallible. God is unchangeable. Perfection of God cannot change. “…Who canst deceive or be deceived.”

  • Ha: ““Who survives?” It is the fittest. “Who are the fittest?” Well, it’s the ones who have survived. Great point, resounds like “We would not have brought HIM to you if He was not guilty.” If Jesus Christ was guilty of any sin or crime He would have had to die for His own sins and crimes. Jesus died for our sins and saved us for Himself.

  • “…Who canst deceive or be deceived.” rather “…Who canst deceive, nor be deceived.” already I am fallible.

  • I always thought ordination was restricted to men because it gives them something important to do. Women give birth. Men need something. Isn’t that in the Bible somewhere? Yup, there it is, John 2:

    And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there.
    2 And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage.
    3 And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine.
    4 And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.
    5 His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.

    See? Waiters, not waitresses. And Mary instituted it. 😉

  • HA, that’s an excellent point! Thank you so much! Allow me to adjust my argument in line with what you said. The first few centuries managed to safeguard certain fundamental Christian truths like the trinity, the nature of Christ, etc. When I say orthodoxy comes about by a consensus of the church, I mean a consensus that took a while to emerge as dominant. That was a good thing. After the first few centuries of the church era, we no longer see that phenomenon occurring. After the split between East and West and the Protestant break we see that Christians everywhere generally continue to believe those orthodox things. But no new orthodoxy emerges because people are no longer in direct communication to make that happen. But I loved your analogy with survival of the fittest…nice! I don’t think we have any real disagreement.

  • Mary, one is hard pressed indeed to find verses in Scirpture to support a notion of purgatory. As N. T. Wright once said, the concept resonates with us because ‘we live in it’. To anyone with insight, this life is our purgatorial experience. The way of the cross is something every Christian is quite familiar with and I need look no further for purgatory outside it. But thank you for your zeal and serious interest in doctrinal matters.

  • Tasmin, you raise some food for thought. It’s been said by philosophers that since men cannot give birth, they hang onto ideas. There’s some merit to that. To bring new life into the world is to reflect our Creator in a very profound way, though I do not think men envy the pain involved….our Lord suffered to give us Life.

  • Jesus said: “I lay down my life and I take it up again.” definitely not purgatory.

  • When I say orthodoxy comes about by a consensus of the church…


    First of all, let me first say that I commend your gracious tone. I should also say that the issues that confronted the early Christians were never really settled. The Muslims are not exactly Arians, and neither are they Monophysites, but that’s essentially what we’re talking about. Pelagianism is rampant among Christians and post-Christians throughout the West, while a fair number of vegans and the more dour feminists and Greens and counter-culturalists look an awful lot like Gnostics. Sure, many of those groups are all nominally (and vociferously) non-Christian or anti-Christian, but they have numerous fellow travelers within Christianity as well.
    Also, in my experience, those who give a lot of weight to the consensus put themselves in the position of the kid from the mixed marriage, whose parents hope he can pick up the best from both their religions, or at least whatever it is that both share, but who ultimately decides neither one is really worth the bother. In the case of Catholicism, there is admittedly a kind of hierarchy between core beliefs and the various charisms or devotions one can follow, but the overall consensus (such as it is) has come by an often heavy-handed procrustean crushing of many a bruised reed, and that is very sad, though I don’t know of any alternative would have worked out better, since for Catholics, maintaining that unity is a non-negotiable.

  • HA, you raise a good point, first of all. You speak of the watered-down Christianity we have in America, and its similarities to heretical thought and its resurrection through the New Age movement. Christianity in America often seems to assume a gnostic tone.
    Concerning the first few centuries, I do think some basic things fell into place through time. An established orthodoxy slowly and painfully arose in response to some challenges presented. The orthodox positions are restricted to what was considered endangered. The orthodox positions were not necessarily the popular ones. Heresies existed within the church, usually in the form of anemic versions of truth, and they were often held by many. They could have won the day. Later on, Constantine would probably have preferred Arianism. But when he gave the argument over to the ‘senate’ they were almost unanimous. So by that time there was a consensus. I think the people who risked their lives and suffered usually took these things more seriously. Also, I like to think the Spirit was involved in the process of safeguarding some truths even as the canon was similarly concluded. But these were not represented by a neat, agreeable process throughout the entire early/ancient church. Neither were they the product of bullying. These things happened through struggle, of course. But again, we find a consensus under Constantine. For some reason, perhaps pragmatic since the faith had to survive and define itself over against not-faith, orthodox responses won out over ‘heretical’ proposels. Later on, it was important that Pelagius–if what the others said of him was correct–be knocked down. Augustine’s udnerstanding of human depravity reflects the overall tenor of Scripture, while Pelagius would lead people away from Scripture. Pelagius may have been fine, but in one generation you have humanism.
    So that’s how it worked itself out, but it could have happened other ways, as I recognize it. All sorts of direcitons could have been taken given different decisions and circumstances.
    After Augustine, I don’t think you really find orthodoxy verses heresy in this classic sense. I’m not sure why. The chruch was established and had much more control. THere was no longer a hostile pagan environment. I guess heretical thought could be dealt with in decisive ways while reiterating the basic orthodoxy.

  • And yes, I’ve picked up on the fact that different devotions exist boht here in Ameirca and abroad. The devotions can be very diverse, and it seems sometimes they represent local indigenous beliefs filtered through the church. Such diversity doesn’t seem to be questioned.

  • Jon: “Huh” You said that purgatory was not outside of the cross and quoted N. T. Wright: “As N. T. Wright once said, the concept resonates with us because ‘we live in it’. To anyone with insight, this life is our purgatorial experience. The way of the cross is something every Christian is quite familiar with and I need look no further for purgatory outside it.” Jesus exalted in His cross, so Christ’s cross is not purgatory. Purgatory comes after death. Death, Judgement, heaven and hell are the four last things. Purgatory is the vestibule of heaven, but purgatory, if one is lucky enough to get there, comes only after passing this life.

    Only the Catholic Church has the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.

  • Jon: May I make a suggestion: The Baltimore Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  • Mary, I don’t know where the Roman branch got the idea of purgatory, but it cannot be found in the pages of Scripture. The Jews never believed it and the early Christians didn’t eaither. Where do you find this idea in the Bible?
    The general idea of purgation in Scirpture corresponds to the life of hte Christian. We live after the pattern of Crhist who, though sinless, was made perfect through suffering. We are sinners, but are sanctified if we grow in Christ. This is teh biblical idea. So the process of purgation, if you will, is played out in what we call sanctification. Sanctification is the Christian life. You r thoughts?

  • Latae sententiae is Latin for self- excommunication. When any individual consents to commit a sin or crime or heresy, he/she instantaneously and automatically self-excommunicates him/herself from the Catholic Church. The heretic separates himself from God, the Truth and the faithful, living and dead.
    In any conversation about consensus in the Church, only the faithful in the church can contribute to the consensus. The faithful are in communion with the saints in heaven, the Fathers of the Church, the faithful Church Militant and the faithful Church Suffering in purgatory. The saints in heaven and the suffering in purgatory have had their relationship with God sealed in eternity through death. It cannot change. Therefore, the truths of the Catholic Church are true today as they were true when Christ revealed these truths to us. Infallibility is preserved. Orthodoxy is the same then and now, no change.
    When one speaks of consensus in the Church, it only can mean that the participants join in the eternal life of the Truth revealed to all by Jesus Christ.
    Note that when priests consented to violate their vow to pray always and did bad things, these priests were already excommunicated and in the hands of the devil, well on their way to hell. …and it is the same for all souls. Dante wrote that the floor of hell was strewn with the skulls of bishops. Women demanding the Sacrament of Holy Orders are self-excommunicated.
    Honestly, I tremble when the priest prays: “…for all the faithful here assembled.”

  • “In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the dead to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin” (2 Macc. 12:43–45).

  • Donald, that’s the danger in quoting from the Apochrapha! That wasn’t included in the original canon–the Jews themselves didn’t consider it part of the scriptures.

  • Thank you, Donald, I was about to find the Book of Maccabees. Without purgatory, the Church would not be in communion with the Church Suffering there. Some souls have asked for our prayers. God is present in hell by His absence, through the love and respect God gives to the gift of free will.

  • “the Jews themselves didn’t consider it part of the scriptures.” Jon: You just disowned the Menorah and the nine days the holy oil burned, one candle for each day.

  • Well, here’s the thing, Mary. The church never accepted the Apocapha as part of the canon knowing the Jews didn’t consider it so either.

  • 1 and 2 Maccabees are certainly canonical.

  • Mike, how can I and II Maccabees be canonical? The Jews did not consider them so and netiehr did the church. They form a portion of the Apocrapha.

  • “The church never accepted the Apocapha as part of the canon knowing the Jews didn’t consider it so either.”

    Untrue Jon. The Church decided what portions of the Apocrypha were canonical and which were not. All the books contained in the Septuagint were accepted by the Church as canonical. The Jews did not begin casting out books from the Septuagint until the late first into the second century AD. These books were accepted by Catholics as part of Holy Writ. Protestant “Reformers” in the Sixteenth Century opted to follow the Hebrew Canon rather than that followed by Christians for fifteen centuries.

  • The Apocrapha is useful as human writing for the intertestamental period, but it’s not canonical. By the time the Hebrew canon was completed, it was rejected as inspired writing. So I would not use those books to form doctrine.

  • That is fine for a Protestant like you Jon. We Catholics believe differently. The Church has the authority to determine what went in and what went out in regard to the Old Testament, just as she did with the New Testament, which, I might add, was a fairly lengthy process in regard to the New Testament.

  • Well, the Apocrypha is very useful in telling us about the nature of the intertestamental period, as I said. But we wouldn’t consider it inspired Scripture because it isn’t a part of the Jewish canon. There has been no reason to think it shold be included and every reason to think it should be excluded. It’s not something we’ve had to really think much about, but if you look into it a little bit you see right away why it was dismissed. I read the Apocrypha years back and noticed it didn’t fit in with the character of the rest of Scripture. I saw that discrepency. I’m always the type to find out for myself and to prove everything.

  • Why would Christians be governed by decisions made by Jews, after the time of Christ, about the Old Testament? The Church was granted the authority to decide for herself directly by Christ. Debates ensued among the Church Fathers about what should be included in both Testaments and ultimately the Church established both canons of the Testaments. That the Jews after Christ decided not to include certain texts among their scriptures was mentioned in some of the debates, but not taken as a deciding factor.

  • True. The Hebrew canon came to its closure later on. But the New Testament cites the Jewish writings we consider inspired, and we find the Law, Prophets, and Writings or wisdom literature. The Abel to Zecharia expression used by Jesus rounds it off.
    The Apocrypa was not in Hebrew, but in Greek, and many of the church fathers rejected it. So it wasn’t a matter of excising something already there. Much later on, the Roman Catholic church declared parts of it inspired, but not the whole thing. Protestants never included any of the Apocryphal books since it was never within the canon. Even Jerome rejected it.

  • “Even Jerome rejected it.”

    Untrue as demonstrated by the books included in the Latin Vulgate. Jerome recognized the authority of the Church to determine the Canon no matter his personal opinion about various books.

    As for the New Testament, it has various quotations from “deuterocanonical books”, a phrase not coined until 1566, along with books not included in the Canon, so going by citations in the New Testament is a fairly weak reed to support your position.

  • Yes, the N. T. contains references from non-canonical writings. I don’t see how that’s any indication that the Apocrypha is inspired, however. As I said, I read the Apocrypha, and it didn’t fit in with the overall tenor of Scripture. The Roman and Eastern Orthodox branches hold onto it. Interestingly, I understand neither churhc has included the entire Apocrypha in its collection.

  • “Yes, the N. T. contains references from non-canonical writings. I don’t see how that’s any indication that the Apocrypha is inspired, however”

    The above quotation from Jon, please shake hands with this quotation from Jon:

    “But the New Testament cites the Jewish writings we consider inspired, and we find the Law, Prophets, and Writings or wisdom literature.”

    Then we have this quotation from Don:

    “As for the New Testament, it has various quotations from “deuterocanonical books”, a phrase not coined until 1566, along with books not included in the Canon, so going by citations in the New Testament is a fairly weak reed to support your position.”

  • What I was saying is that Scripture is summed up in the New Testament as the Law, Prophets, and Writings. After that there was a kind of ‘dead’ period. While it is true the N. T. contains references to non-canonical wriitngs, they are not the apocrypha. They are other writings. According to your reasoning, anything cited int eh N. T. must also be inspired.
    Instead, we should realize the writers of N. T. Scirpture occassionally cited references from non-canonical works.

  • Jon, last night you wrote that “[t]he church never accepted the Apocrapha as part of the canon knowing the Jews didn’t consider it so either.” Of course with respect to Maccabees this statement is undebatably false. Your personal opinion regarding the canonical merits of Maccabees really is of no more interest to the Church than it is of Her sons and daughters. We are all very well aware that the Jews eventually rejected Maccabees just as they rejected Christ. There is no logical reason whatsoever for this rejection to be dispositive for Christians.

  • Thanks, Mike. But I still maintain that the church never accepted the apocrypha. The Roman branch accepted it in the middle of the sixteenth century, rather late in the game. I think everyone understands the Apocrypha is good for historical reasons and perhaps for devotional purposes. But to consider it inspired is gravely msitaken, and would lead people to form inappropriate judgemnts like practicing magic and almsgiving for forgiveness of sin.

  • “The Roman branch accepted it in the middle of the sixteenth century, rather late in the game.”

    That simply is untrue Jon as a matter of historical fact. These books were accepted as part of the Canon by the time of Saint Jerome.

    The preface of the Book of Judith by Saint Jerome:

    “Among the Jews, the book of Judith is considered among the apocrypha; its warrant for affirming those [apocryphal texts] which have come into dispute is deemed less than sufficient. Moreover, since it was written in the Chaldean language, it is counted among the historical books. But since the Nicene Council is considered to have counted this book among the number of sacred Scriptures, I have acquiesced to your request (or should I say demand!): and, my other work set aside, from which I was forcibly restrained, I have given a single night’s work, translating according to sense rather than verbatim. I have hacked away at the excessively error-ridden panoply of the many codices; I conveyed in Latin only what I could find expressed coherently in the Chaldean words. Receive the widow Judith, example of chastity, and with triumphant praise acclaim her with eternal public celebration. For not only for women, but even for men, she has been given as a model by the one who rewards her chastity, who has ascribed to her such virtue that she conquered the unconquered among humanity, and surmounted the insurmountable.”

    The Synod of Hippo in 393 established the Catholic canon of the Old Testament.

  • Jon, the reason the deuterocanonical books aren’t in your bible is because Martin Luther threw them out. Early Christians accepted the deuterocanonicals because they were in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) , and that‘s what the apostles used.

    Of course, no early councils endorsed the 66 books Protestants honor. The first council to address the issue of the canon was the Council of Rome in 382 under Pope Damasus, and it included all and only the 73 books we honor today. This canon was repeated at Hippo and Carthage (A.D.393 and 397), and has been repeated ever since.

    For 1500 years the Bible contained 73 books, and then a disgruntled monk comes along and throws out seven of the Old Testament books because they conflict with his beliefs. The monk then adds words to Scripture (“only” in Romans 3:20; Romans 4:15, “alone” in Romans 3:28) in order to bolster his brand new idiosyncratic doctrine on justification.

    The fact that you accept the 27 books in his New Testament is a tacit admission that you accept the authority of the Catholic Church on at least this one issue. After all, it was the Catholic Church that gathered together the books of the New Testament, grasped the Septuagint, and declared them to be the sum of Scripture. Did the Church have such authority? If not, why not add or subtract books from the New Testament as has been done with the Old? Indeed, Luther did just that but those changes somehow never “took,” basically due to accidents of history.

    Of course, some Protestant traditions do accept 2 Maccabees which just adds to the confusion, but given that each Protestant tradition (and each individual church within that tradition) reach there own conclusions this is to be expected.

    Do you believe in the Holy Trinity? If so, why?

  • Wow, Donald. You’ve said quite a lot. Well, Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith is soemthing I believe. It is a very scriptural idea. You paint the picture quite differently from the way I see it. As far as the canon goes, I don’t think it was decided at any time by the chruch as a whole that the apocrypha should be included. It was included by Rome in the 1540’s, but prior to that there was no unanimous or constant opinion regarding it.
    Lutehr was a little biased. He wanted so desperately to safeguard justificaiton by fiath that he wrongfully inserted ‘alone’. We are justified by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone–it is accompanied by works. This is the right way to see it. Yes, Lutehr had issues and it seems he was often overly emotional. Justificaiton was for him a more personal doctrine. Within the Lutehran tradition today, sanctification is almost not even taught, though it is of course implied.

  • Mike, yes, it is true the chruch has decided many things early on. We continue to honor much of that. It is not a black-and-white issue, though. It’s not one of take everything or nothing. It’s a matter of weighing each thing. We continue to believe the Trinity, for example, because it clearly and accurately refelcts the testimony of Scripture. It seems like there’s always this slipperly slope theory in the back of someon’s mind that equates with going the whole way or believing nothing at all.

  • Jon, Orthodoxy comes from the consensus of the Church… except when it comes to the canon of Scripture? We had consensus. No, the Church didn’t declare the canon in the 16th century. The Church reaffirmed the canon and formally declared it. Why? Because some wanted to introduce unorthodox versions. There was no serious need prior to that point. Why? Because we had consensus.

    To quote Catholic.com:
    “Protestant authors Archer and Chirichigno list 340 places where the New Testament cites the Septuagint but only 33 places where it cites from the Masoretic Text rather than the Septuagint (G. Archer and G. C. Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament: A Complete Survey, 25-32)”

  • Kyle, the issue for me goes back to the fact that the Jews and representatives of the early church never recognized these books called Apocrypha. Now if you read these books, which I’ve done, you find things expressed there that are not in accord with the 66 books of the Bible. The Apocrypha could never be used for doctrine because that would lead to beliefs that are not in sync with Christianity. Those books are not inspired. Rather, they reflect a time that was sad and weary, an interim of heartache and headache, and one of worry and anticipation: the time BETWEEN the testaments. And your thoughts?

  • Jon, 340 references is recognition enough. If it was good enough for the Bible authors, it’s good enough for me.
    I have no doubt you will find some passages not in sync with Christianity in the deutorcanonical books. It was written for those of the Jewish faith. You’re not avoiding shell fish. Are you?
    “they reflect a time that was sad and weary” Is this your criteria for rejecting them? That’s a very low bar because there are several places in the OT that are sad and weary.
    These books were not written between testaments. They are part of the testaments.

  • Kyle, the N. T. writers draw on numerous things to make their point. They draw on the O. T. and non-inspired writings, too. The fact that the apocryhpal works are referred to as intertestamental literature indicates they were produced during the interim between the testaments.
    As I mentioned earlier, the apocrypha teach, for example, witchcraft–the use of organs to ward off the devil. It also teaches almsgiving for forgiveness of sin. This is a problem, obviously. What would you do with that?
    Finally, the church never embraced these apocryphal works in terms of a consensus. THey really weren’t part of the canon. The Roman branch officially declared them so at Trent, but that was something else. The rest of the church wasn’t present to weigh in.

  • Jon: When you write about “the church” whose church are you writing about?

  • Jon, The NT writers drew inspiration from books approving the use of witchcraft and alms giving for forgiveness? What point were they trying to make? Please provide examples of this devilry. Was the hand of the Holy Spirit asleep when the authors referenced such heathenish source material?
    Another great source showing how often the NT writers refer to the Septuagint.
    “The rest of the church wasn’t present to weigh in.” In order to know if enough of a majority was present to make a consensus, you must know what 100% of the church was. What was 100%? And, is the church a democratic process? Is Truth put up for a vote and decided upon by consensus? Or, did Jesus, being a smart guy, know questions will arise after he departs earth and so gives authority to teach, to build His Church to someone?

  • Mary, when I speak of the church i have in mind two things: the church visible and the church invisible. We shouldn’t collapse either one into the other. Make sense?

  • Kyle, what I was saying is that the N. T. writers drew on all kinds of material as they wrote. Sometimes they drew on other inspired writings, and sometimes they drew on writings that were solely of human origin. Either way, these elements were incorporated into writings we collectively term the New Testament, a collection we know to be inspired. Hope that clears it up. So in other words, not everything the biblical writers borrowed was inspired. But they always found ‘stuff’ to help make their point as they wove it all together. It’s kind of like when you use a ‘bad’ author with a ‘bad’ thesis. You borrow a sentence or two and weave it into what you’re writing and it fits in that instance. Obviously you don’t always condone the author or their work. But you borrow what is useful and leave behind the rest.
    As far as consensus and church decisions go, the problem is that in the 1540’s, one segment of the historical Christian church decided that the apocrapha–or at least parts of it–would be considered inspired and part of the canon–in 1540AD! So the onus, as I see it, is on the person advocating these books to prove that they are inspired, and to do so in ways that go beyond merely pointing out that that segment decided such a thing a millenium and a half after the church was launched!

    DOes this make sense, Kyle? Please let me know what you don’t agree with.

  • Kyle, one of the Tobits suggests using organs to chase the devil away. Another of the apocryphal books teaches that sin can be forgiven through almsgiving. This is the problem with saying these books are inspired. People can beleive that and proceed to build doctrines from them. It’s dangerous for the faith.

  • “one of the Tobits suggests using organs to chase the devil away”…only because the Archangel Rafael instructed in the Book of Tobit to do so.
    “sin can be forgiven through almsgiving.” Only the punishment due to sin is forgiven through almsgiving. Pray to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment when reading Scripture.
    “the New Testament, a collection we know to be inspired.” We can only know what books are inspired by hearing the Catholic Church. There are over 200 gospels, but only four are accepted by the Catholic Church as inspired. Heretical writers use some of the uninspired gospels to lead souls away from the Truth.

  • “Mary, when I speak of the church i have in mind two things: the church visible and the church invisible. We shouldn’t collapse either one into the other. Make sense? ” The devil is invisible. The spirit of the world is invisible. Jon is visible. The Church visible and invisible is the Communion of Saints, the faithful souls attached to God through Jesus Christ.

  • Mary, I cannot accept as canonical a book that instructs in witchcraft. It is far easier to just say this is part of a collection of works that are intertestamental. They represent incredulous stories.

  • “a book that instructs in witchcraft”

    The book of Tobit does no such thing. It relays traditional healing wisdom of the type which Jesus followed when he used mud to smear on the eyes of the blind man with cataracts. God can use the untrue to illuminate the true.

    “They represent incredulous stories.”

    And Balaam’s talking ass is not? By that standard be ready to throw out a large part of both Testaments.

  • I say incredulous not because of any miraculous element but because of the conflictual nature of such a thing. How could an agel of GOd instruct a person to approach the matter in a way already clearly condemned in the O. T.? Of course I concede God uses all kinds of things and that good comes out of evil or the raw material of this world.

  • “How could an agel of GOd instruct a person to approach the matter in a way already clearly condemned in the O. T.?”

    Precisely what the opponents of Christ accused him of doing Jon. Besides, the book was not having the angel recommend witchcraft. Instead it was utilizing the knowledge of the time, rather as if today someone wrote a book in which an angel would advise someone to take a particular medicine to cure an ailment. Witchcraft would have been regarded as someone seeking to bind a demon, not someone using a folk remedy to drive a demon off. We see similar things throughout the Old Testament. For example, the driving out into the desert of the scapegoat.

  • Jon,

    Are you talking about Tobit 6:4,6-8? I don’t see anywhere in that passage encouraging witchcraft. The angel Raphael says the items are “useful for medicine,” not potions or magic or some hocus pocus. That was their ancient form of Bayer or Pepto Bismal. It’s not witchcraft.

    Donald addressed this. It was not uncommon of ancients to use ordinary elements to improve circumstances, be it health or otherwise.
    2 Kings 2:21 – Salt to purify waters.
    2 Kings 5:10 – Jordan River to cure leprosy.
    Mark 8:23; John 9:6 – Jesus spitting in the mud.
    Mark 6:13 – Applying oil to heal.
    Luke 10:34 – Using oil and wine to dress wounds.

    In these cases, it was not the elements alone which make them efficacious. It was divine intervention which ultimately made them so, i.e. God via a prophet or angel and Jesus.

    As far as consensus and church decisions go, the problem is that in the 1540′s, one segment of the historical Christian church decided that the apocrapha–or at least parts of it–would be considered inspired and part of the canon–in 1540AD!

    The deuterocanonical books were part of the canon prior to 1540AD. Evidence proves this. There were accepted books of the Bible and in use. Your biases are denying historical fact.

  • Thanks to both of you for pointing that out. Yes, the medicine of yesteryear is strange to us. Alright, we still have to deal with the almisgiving for forgiveness of sins, though. And otehr conflicts exist, such as prayer for atoning the sin of teh dead. I just think it’s easier to see this as intertestamental literature, useful for understanding hte itme period but dangerously unreliable for doctrine.
    There exists a huge list of early fathers who rejected the apocryhal writings. It’s always been a highly questionable matter. Not one of consensus.
    But thanks again for highlighting the changing and imperfect nature of medicine and all knowledge and practice. There is our very inexact science and sense of existence, and then there is the Great Physician who works through various means to offer his healing to the world.

  • Looked a little further into TObit. The angel actually is said to have advocated burning the animal organs so that the smoke from them would drive demons away. I’m of the opinion that God will work through all kinds of means, but that one’s a bit of a stretch I’m afraid. Also, I found out there’s a couple of factual errors in Baruch and Judith. So there’s some real problems to contend with. See, it’s difficult when you have a very strong institutional framework because there’s no leverage, no wiggle room, so to speak. Once something’s accepted it’s very difficult if not impossible to hold to a different opinion. To go against the church’s teaching on something is to go against GOd. That’s why I advocate seeing the church as visible and invisible without collapsing one into the other. It’s a more dynamic view.

  • “That’s why I advocate seeing the church as visible and invisible without collapsing one into the other. It’s a more dynamic view. ”
    Jon, If you believe that life is purgatory on earth, then you have done exactly that, as collapsing the visible and invisible, one into the other. Also: Some translations of the original texts are not up to par. You really need to pray before reading Holy Scripture. Forgive me for being pointed.

  • Mary, this idea of purgatory is not something the entire church has held to. It finds no warrant in Scripture and is better understood as an innovation. If we are justified by faith, it is difficult if not impossible to believe in this intermediate place. Roman Catholics find support for it in Maccabees, but it doesn’t fit with the Pauline theology of justification. The distinction of the church militant and the church triumphant is clear. Souls upon death reign with Christ.

  • Jon, the Catholic Church defines doctrine as becomes necessary. Because the doctrine is undefined does not mean that the doctrine does not exist. Salvation is for all men, but only those men who actually accept the Faith and pray for salvation are saved. The difference between hell and purgatory is that hell is forever, eternal damnation. Once the person dies, his relationship with God is fixed, unchangeable. The damned have chosen to remain in hell, separated from God forever. Some souls, who by nature have not the informed consent to give informed consent to hell are in purgatory until their souls are purified enough to enter into heaven. Purgatory is the absolute mercy of God for finite man. The pure love and mercy of God is a doctrine of the Catholic Faith.

  • My udnerstanding is that God justifies whom he saves and sanctifies them, too. This happens through Christ alone. So purgatory would be superfluous. Why posit a doctrine of purgatory?

  • Jon,
    The angel actually is said to have advocated burning the animal organs so that the smoke from them would drive demons away.

    You are working with a poor bible translation. The only burning going on is of the fish he ate. He salted the rest to save for his journey. I guess he wasn’t into sushi that day.
    You bring up a lot of “This book says this…” Provide some citations and quotes. It would make it much easier to go through these.

  • “May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, amen.”

    One of the Church’s spiritual works of mercy is “Pray for the living and the dead.” If everyone is either in Heaven or Hell, there would be no reason to pray for the dead.

    My understanding is that a mortal sin, unconfessed, gets you to Hell. Other/lesser sins get you to Purgatory.

    Dante’s Purgatorio, allegory, may be of interest. He depicts souls in P. going through penances for specific moral faults so they may advance to Heaven.

    In the Gospels, the Apostles were shocked (“Then, who can be saved?”) when Jesus taught that no one is good except God and after the rich, young man went dejected away. Jesus tells them that for God all things are possible.

    At Fatima, Our Lady revealed to the three shepherd children the following prayer that we say after each decade of the Most Holy Rosary, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fire of Hell. Take all souls to Heaven. And, help especially those most in need of Thy mercy, amen.” I think this prayer covers all three bases: Faith, Hope, and Charity, quite well.

  • “Kyle, one of the Tobits suggests using organs to chase the devil away….This is the problem with saying these books are inspired. People can beleive that and proceed to build doctrines from them.”

    Thanks for the reminder! I’d love to participate in this discussion, guys, but a quick reminder for the Catholics in this thread:

    Don’t forget to get your pig-livers-for-warding-off-Satan-ceremony for Advent! Get the timing right, too–start flinging it into the air *after* lighting the fourth wreath candle, not before! And remember: chant “Semper ubi sub ubi!” in your best calypso voice as you do it!

    OK, back to the thread.

  • Provide some citations and quotes. It would make it much easier to go through these.

    Good idea. An excerpt from Tobit 6 from the New American Bible Revised Edition published at

    7 Then the young man asked the angel this question: “Brother Azariah, what medicine is in the fish’s heart, liver, and gall?”
    8 He answered: “As for the fish’s heart and liver, if you burn them to make smoke in the presence of a man or a woman who is afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, any affliction will flee and never return.

    I can provide additional quotes as necessary.

  • Jon,
    Thanks. Must easier when I can address specific verses.
    Yes. That’s a spiritual healing, which the angel again refers to as a medicine, which distinguishes it from a potion or spell. Is the troubling part of the verse the use of smoke? What if the material used was a handkerchief or apron (Acts 19:12)? As I said, none of these ordinary things would be able to be extraordinarily efficacious without the power of God. (Mt 12:28) In Tobit, it is by an “angel,” not a demon, which delivers the ability. In Acts, it is by Jesus.

  • Sorry. That should have been addressed to Spambot and Jon.

  • Even if it’s a matter of using treatments of the time to address something, we still have to deal with the other problematic parts. One such thing is raised in Tobit 4:11 and 12:9 where it teaches that forgiveness of sins is by human effort. Judith 1:5 and Baruch 6:2 contain historical errors. What do we do with these things?

  • Also, cruelty is taught in Sirach 22:3 and 42:14, and the doctrine of purgatory is taught in 2 Maccabees 12;41-45. Then there is the fact that no prophets existed at this time, to which the apocrypha attests. It is common misperception that these books were accepted or rejected due to the Reformation/Counter-Reformation. The fact is that a serious lack of consensus has always been present regarding those books. They do remain essential for understanding the intertestamental period and should definately be read with this in mind. However, that period was marked by many conflicting visions and the outlook was by no means monolithic.

  • One more thing: 2 Maccabees 14:41-42 praises suicide. We know that some of the Jewihs people during this long tijme took matters into their own hands. We know about the revolt and we see a disordered zeal at work here.

  • Jon: And the vineyard owner (God) said to the hired hands (mankind): “What business is it of yours what I do with my money, if I choose to be generous?” Purgatory is God’s gift of love and mercy.
    Sirach 22:3 and 42: 14 tell of disgrace. You speak as though disgrace is owned by someone innocent. 2Maccabees tells of the lesser of two evils, still practiced by captured spies.
    Life is short, I read mostly the words of Christ.

  • T. Shaw, I read Dante’s Divine Comedy. I echoed N. T. Wright in saying purgatory is where we live. The sanctified life is one of pain and suffering. The New Testament writers bear this out. They explain that our lives are patterned after Christ so that the way to glory is through the cross.

  • The problem is, Jon, you’re using the very same argument approach against Catholics that atheists use against the Old Testament: alleged historical errors (flung against Esther and Daniel), moral failures (Psalm 137:9), superceded practices (Jephthah’s daughter), etc.

    Carping about the alleged cruelty in Sirach when there is OT exterminationist warfare in the books you accept as canonical is a remarkable example of gnat straining. Ditto Psalm 137:9, Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter in Judges…the fact is, the Old Testament is provisional, incomplete and needs to be read in light of Christ and the New Testament. We’ve both managed to do that with dashing infants against rocks, and we extend the same to the Deuterocanon. If you chose to use skeptical materialist (atheist) approaches to our scriptures, that’s you’re prerogative.

    But don’t kid yourself that that’s not what you’re doing.

  • “your” prerogative, not “you’re”


  • Jon, Amen.

    At times, I think I’m in Hell.

    Seriously, all of us are poor, banished children of Eve mourning and weeping in this vail of tears. We hope and pray that after this, our exile, we may be shown the face of Jesus; and be made, by God’s grace and mercy, worthy of the promises of Christ.

    Of course, 24/7 we need to do the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and avoid the near occasion of sins. We need to repent of our sins, confess, do penance, amend our lives, and through good works glorify Almighty God. However, all of that is insufficient. We need God’s grace and mercy, which only He can dispense.

    That’s why I constantly say the above Fatima prayer, and recite many times, “Lord jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Even the moment I leave Church after Confession and penance.

  • Of course all sorts of practices are recounted in Scirpture. We know they aren’t condoned by the writers, however. But in the Apocrypha we find things mentioned in such a way that they seem to be actually condoned. That’s the issue. One can actually build a doctrine on it. That’s the problem. As far as supposed factual errors int eh O.T., they can and usually have, I think, been cleared up. But we have at least two outstanding factual errors in the Apocrapha that do not lend themselves to being resolved in some way. That’s the difference.

  • “daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, How blessed will be the one who repays you With the recompense with which you have repaid us. How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock.”

    Please explain to me Jon how the psalmist in Psalm 137 above was not condoning the butchering of kids.

  • I dont’ think that’s what he was saying. I think he was voicing the heart-felt angst at the condition of Israel. He wanted vindication.
    The issue wtiht eh Apocrypha isn’t so much a sentiment or two, really. It’s the conclusion one can make after reviewing everything. In their expertise, many fathers rejected it because of this kind of an overall assessment. More broadly, the consensus is not there.

  • “I dont’ think that’s what he was saying. I think he was voicing the heart-felt angst at the condition of Israel. He wanted vindication.”

    I think he wanted Babylonian babies dead in revenge for what had no doubt been done to Jewish babies when Jerusalem fell to Babylon. There are a great many sentiments set forth in the Old Testament Jon, in books you view as completely canonical, that are quite repugnant to modern sensibilities. The argument that you make against the so-called Apocrypha could be made in spades against books that you view as divinely inspired.

  • Herem warfare is a doctrine, and it’s right there in the Torah. And the next Catholics I meet who cite the texts and use animal livers for exorcism, commit mass suicide or substitutes alms for repentance…will be the first. No such confused doctrines exist.

    The problem is that you have already decided the texts are not inspired, and hunt through them like a prosecutor seeking evidence to convict them of non-inspiration. Mirabile dictu, you determine that you have succeeded.

    Just like skeptical critics do and continue to do for the entire corpus of Scripture you (correctly) accept.

    But what if, in doing so, you missed something? Something like this:

    “For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves…

    12 “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
    because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
    he reproaches us for sins against the law,
    and accuses us of sins against our training.
    13 He professes to have knowledge of God,
    and calls himself a child of the Lord.
    14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
    15 the very sight of him is a burden to us,
    because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
    and his ways are strange.
    16 We are considered by him as something base,
    and he avoids our ways as unclean;
    he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
    and boasts that God is his father.
    17 Let us see if his words are true,
    and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
    18 for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him,
    and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
    19 Let us test him with insult and torture,
    that we may find out how gentle he is,
    and make trial of his forbearance.
    20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
    for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

  • Even if we were to put aside those portions dealing wiht harsh sentiments,e tc., we still have to face the fact that so many other issues exist in those books, as well as the circumstances surrounding them. It’s a group of wriitngs forwhich we have never had a real consensus. The early church seems ot have rejjected them, and many prominent representatives throughout the ancient church had problems with it. We still can’t address all of those things in a way that would satisfy us at htis point in time. If they have been continually called into quesiton, is it not safest to assume they are not inspired? Do they not read like extra-canonical works? Though they draw on the collective heritage and broadly echo the O. T., do they not stick out as different? I can see very well why many leaders in the church have either been against them or inconclusive regarding them.

  • “The early church seems ot have rejjected them, and many prominent representatives throughout the ancient church had problems with it.”

    The Church made the decision in 397 that they were canonical Jon, just as the Church wrote and decided the canon of the New Testament. Martin Luther, who I might add attempted unsuccessfully to cast out four books of the New Testament, and his colleagues in the Sixteenth Century, cannot alter the fact that for over a thousand years all Christians accepted these books as canonical.

  • Jon,
    Before I address your verses, I want to admit your challenges are not foreign to Catholics. We go through them too, either with Scripture or Doctrine. But, we approach these issues differently. We cast doubt upon ourselves first. We assume in the Church’s 2,000+ year history someone has raised the questions we’re asking. Our job is to find the answers. When you find it, which is a lot easier these days with the web, you will find a rational explanation.

    Challenges are natural. The danger is letting challenges turn into doubt, which is a suspension of the will to believe. There’s no openness there.
    “Ten thousand [challenges] do not equal one doubt.”
    – Cardinal John Henry Newman

    Take the position of St. Jerome. While he questioned the inclusion of certain books or passages, he submitted to the authority of the Church, which comes from Christ.

    Tobit 4:11 – A call to be charitable. Nothing wrong with charity.
    Tobit 12:9 – A reminder that charity builds virtue. All good habits build virtue. Charity is love. This verse is in “sync” with this
    “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 KJV)
    And this…
    “When you give, give generously and not with a stingy heart; for that, the LORD, your God, will bless you in all your works and undertakings. ” (Dt 15:10)
    Judith 1:5 – Addressed here.
    Baruch 6:2 — The 6th chapter is actually a separate piece of work called “The Epistle of Jeremiah.” It’s grouped with Baruch for a variety of reasons. Being separate text, it does not disprove the entire book.
    2 Maccabees 14:41-42 – I don’t see the passage encouraging or recommending suicide. (Does Hosea 1:2 have God recommending prostitution?) It reflects what Razis believed. Perhaps this footnote helps.

  • Martin Luther went too far. That was uncalled for. We know the 27 books that comprise the New Testament. We should never question that, since it was already known by wide consensus.
    While you make some valid points, the apocrypha remains a question in the minds of many. In terms of the big picture, we do not get a clear sense of a consensus regarding these books.
    The most outstanding thing for me is that it lends itself to false doctrine. The O. T. does not do so except when someone misunderstands and/or misapplies it.
    Your thoughts?

  • Kyle, you raise something important: the apocrypha does contain true and useful things. We find it echoing much of the heritage which was commonplace for jews. So naturally one would find these things re-echoed in the New Testament, also. So I’m not sure that’s enough to say these books are canonical. I’m inclined to think that whatever is true and good in the Apocprhya owes itself to the writers’ repertoire held in common by Jewry. And I don’t think the N. T. writers had any problem quoting non-canonical and non-inspired works from time to time. Think of how we might do that today. We might quote from a horrible writer with a really bad thesis just to build on some point of our own.

  • the apocrypha does contain true and useful things
    You said your references, the ones I addressed, were either not true or useful.

    Martin Luther went too far.
    While you make some valid points, the apocrypha remains a question in the minds of many.
    This is why Jesus, being a smart guy, established an institution with the authority to settle these questions. It’s called the Catholic Church.
    We can’t have Martin’s Christianity or Jon’s Christianity or Kyle’s Christianity. Scripture calls us to be of “one mind.” And whenever there are differences of opinion, we take to the Church and the Church settles it. The Church judged these books to be canonical, and it was settled until the Protestant revolution challenged many understood and popular ideas of Christianity and religion. It became necessary to formalize and reaffirm the canon decided hundreds of years before.

  • Yes, well, my argument was that the APocrypha contains good and usefull things as well as dross. If you can separte the gold from that it’s fine. But I don’t see it as inspired, as I said.
    Martin Lutehr had issues. He was personalizing Christianity, reading his anxiety adn experience back into the faith.
    But the matter of the canon is by no means clear-cut. There are common misconceptions about it and when you look into it you find it wsa really a messy affair. The Apocrhypha represents situations during the intertestamental period.
    As far as church organization goes, that’s incredibly complex, as well as the notions people have concerning ecclesiology. I find it’s ussually hard if not impossible to determine questions of that nature on the basis of church history. Church history is good for insights and impressions, but it doesn’t necessarily offer conclusive answers in this realm. It leaves us with fundamental questions unanswered, which is why the Protestants have generally tried to go back to origins. Althought the church has been around before the canon was decided, the canon remains something we can go back to, whereas the church can assume many different directions over time. Your thoughts?

  • Jon, I say this in all charity (my wife isn’t Catholic, so we had to learn how to discuss differences in order to keep our marriage healthy), if you are questioning Catholic doctrines at a deeper level or what the proper canon of the Bible is, this site may not be the best tool for the job.

    Granted, doctrinal discussions are certainly part of the menu here at TAC, but I would say that you’re at a level of skepticism of certain Catholic doctrines and sources thereof that might be served by other resources.

    I can recommend two immediately, Peter Kreeft (Calvinist-turned-Catholic, professor of philosophy, who my wife and I had the pleasure of attending one of his discussions about CS Lewis’ Surprised by Joy) and Dave Armstrong (a former Wesleyian who converted to Catholicism).

    Kreeft is often less snarky than Armstrong, and Kreeft has written a 30-part series for the Knights of Columbus which explains much of the Catholic faith (additionally, much from a general Christian perspective). Armstrong is, while engaging in traditional apologist methodology (ie, may be too combative for some), no less researched and I find rather thorough.

    Kreeft’s Luke E. Hart series (audio and PDF)

    Armstrong’s blog (Specifically a collection for Septaguint / Deuterocanonical books)

    One final note, which is an interesting facet of Old Testament history. The Hebrew text (Masoretic) which is used in most Protestant Bibles isn’t the “oldest” version (hence most original). The Septuagint (a Greek language version of the Old Testament) was a translation from an older version of an original Hebrew that is now lost to the ages. See the following excerpt and link for more information.


    Note, I doubt the author of the book referenced is Catholic, given his blog post here: http://www.timothymichaellaw.com/baptists-vs-catholics-a-religious-view-of-tonights-championship-game/. And the interviewer probably isn’t, given the university at which he is employed. So I don’t necessarily think that any claim of Catholic bias could be leveled against the source.

    The assertion that 27 books comprised the Old Testament and that this was widely accepted is not borne out by the historical evidence.

  • Mis-read:
    “The assertion that 27 books comprised the Old Testament and that this was widely accepted is not borne out by the historical evidence.”

    I should have proof-read better. You didn’t say Old, you said New…my apologies.

  • Well, I fail at com-boxing.

    The quote was:

    An alternative, sometimes older, form of the Hebrew text often lies behind the Greek. When the Reformers and their predecessors talked about returning to the original Hebrew (ad fontes!), and when modern Christians talk about studying the Hebrew because it is the “original text,” they are making several mistaken assumptions. The Hebrew Bible we now use is often not the oldest form of the Hebrew text, and sometimes the Septuagint provides the only access we have to that older form.

    Hopefully that’s it for the gross errors I’ve made posting.

  • my argument was that the APocrypha contains good and usefull things as well as dross
    We’re not talking about the good and useful things. We were discussing verses you had problems with. Are you saying they are good and useful things too?
    Dross is what atheists say of the entire Bible. Dross is a label, not an argument.
    There are common misconceptions about it and when you look into it you find it wsa really a messy affair.
    I realize there are common misconceptions about it. We’re here to dispel them.
    The Apocrhypha represents situations during the intertestamental period.
    Nearly every book of the Bible represents the period with which they were written. None of them are canonical?
    As far as church organization goes, that’s incredibly complex,
    Of course it’s complex. It can’t be anything as simple as Jesus, knowing he was going to leave earth, picked a man to lead his church built by the apostles. Can it? Just doesn’t work with preconceived ideas and biases.
    Church history is good for insights and impressions, but it doesn’t necessarily offer conclusive answers in this realm
    Church history does not give the Church its authority, but it does give it validity and authenticity. The reason the canon was decided in the 4th century is because of what’s happening here, people squabbling about what’s legit and what isn’t. A council was formed to finally answer the question, an answer which held for over a thousand years.

  • I wish you would not call the Catholic Church a branch of the church.

  • Agree, anzlyne. If one may compare Christianity imperfectly to a tree, then the Catholic Church is its trunk, Judiasm is its roots, and the various denominations that deviate from the trunk may be thought of, also imperfectly, as branches.

  • wow that is such a great graphic that I was curious and followed it back to http://www.conglomination.com

    just one of the unexpected perks of regular doses of TAC

  • Yes Kyle, exactly. Facinating, I’ve never seen anything like that before. Thanks for finding and sharing.

  • John,
    Researching the Apocrpha furhtr, I came across a site where this queston is raised. Dr. Bob Luginbill answers it, and his answer is very explanatory. The problems are several. I can see where the Apocrypha would remain inconclusive at best. You might want to see his response, since he raises some things which really can’t be ignored. I’m familiar with Peter Kreeft. I’ll check out what he said.

  • It seems Dr. Kreeft takes the position that the church’s role includes being able to decide the canon. According to Dr. Norman Geisler, it is the other way around. The church is more a product of Scripture, and the church merely discovers the canon. The Apocrypha, Dr. Geisler argues, was finally pronounced canonical at Trent in order to bulster certain doctrines like prayers for the dead and purgatory. It was a polemical stance that led to that pronouncement. Geisler points out that the church is the “child of the canon.” Given all of the circumstances surroudning the Apocrypha as well as its content, it never gained acceptance universally.

PopeWatch: Deliberate Mistranslation?

Saturday, December 7, AD 2013




Joe at Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam , who has been translating Evangelii Gaudium into English from the original Spanish, believes that the official Vatican translation is so bad that it cannot be accidental.  Here is a comment that he made on Father Z’s blog:



I have been following, and for the benefit of my monolingual friends, translating homilies  and talks by then-Cdl. Bergoglio for at least the last five years and posted these translations on my blog. I also, for professional reasons, wind up translating mountains of reports, analyses, etc. between Latin American and Anglosphere clients.

Charity forbids me from accurately expressing exactly how abysmal the Official Vatican English translation AND ONLY the English translation happens to be. (This, of course, is nothing new.) I, personally, do not find it credible to say such a travesty of a translation is the result of simple carelessness, or ineptitude. To me – and this is only my opinion – in comparing both the English to the (presumably original) Spanish and back again, it seems decidedly deliberate.

In fact, I am so incensed by this, that I have taken the liberty to begin retranslating Evangelii Gaudium on my blog. (It’s up there now at http://jmgarciaiii.blogspot.com for anyone who’d like to read it, with the caveat it’s in very much a work-in-progress.)

When someone who is native-level fluent in both languages (as I am) contrasts the two versions, the differences are staggering. The Holy Father extols entrepreneurship, the increase of goods, demands that groups within the Church actually help the poor instead of talking or lobbying, decries the accumulation of national debt. The list goes on and on.

Insofar as I can tell, there are many on “the right” who are using Evangelii Gaudium to beat up on Francis, just like many on “the left” who are using Evangelii Gaudium to beat up on “the right.” But none of this is supported by an accurate translation.

When I see progressive politicians quoting the (mistranslated) Holy Father, something tells me that this is something which the more cynical among us might say is by design.

Sancte Ignatius, ora pro nobis!

Continue reading...

36 Responses to PopeWatch: Deliberate Mistranslation?

  • I praise the hard work done by Joe at Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, but anyone who thinks that the pope extolled the virtues of libertarian economics will be very much disappointed.

    The Good News of Jesus Christ is proclaimed (or not) in every interaction with other people. Merely shrugging one’s shoulders at the plight of the homeless on the theory that a rising stock market will (eventually) mean greater employment opportunities is hard-hearted. The pope decries “the denial of the primacy of the human person,” the “fetishism of money and the dictatorship of an economy lacking a [human] face and a truly human purpose.”

    From Joe’s translation of section 54:
    “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that egotistical ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without warning, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion for others, [of] weeping at the anguish of others, and [we end up] being disinterested in helping care for them, as though all this were an alien responsibility which does not concern us.”

    There is more (obviously), but that hits at the heart of the pope’s concern with certain economic systems.

  • “Merely shrugging one’s shoulders at the plight of the homeless on the theory that a rising stock market will (eventually) mean greater employment opportunities is hard-hearted.”

    Perhaps, but expecting the government to do anything productive about it is foolish, almost as foolish as the search for an alternative economic system to capitalism that does not end in mass poverty, bloodshed and a sea of human tears.

    Provision must be made for the relief of the poor, but the days of huge Welfare States are coming to a rapid end. If the Pope must ponder economic issues, perhaps he could ponder that and come up with ideas as to nongovernmental means to meet the needs of the poor. Of course, that is not the responsibility of the Pope, which is rather the point.

  • Merely shrugging one’s shoulders at the plight of the homeless on the theory that a rising stock market will (eventually) mean greater employment opportunities is hard-hearted.

    Does anyone do this?

    1. The homeless are a tiny minority (perhaps 0.25% of the population, if you credit the Urban Institute). It is a problem sufficiently small that philanthropic efforts are adequate to ameliorate it.

    2. Notable about the homeless is their personal dysfunction, which is not a problem derived from economic systems nor one readily addressed by public policy. Even erecting and maintaining a well functioning adjudicatory procedure to differentiate the disabled from the rest of us has proved difficult. (I recently saw a figure that contended a double-digit share of the ‘disabled’ were awarded benefits for ‘mood disorders’, something not done 25 years ago).

  • Art,
    You are spot on as usual.
    I suppose some folks do the shrugging shoulders thing, but fairly few. The number of Ayn Rand devotees out there who dismiss the morality of charity is larger than zero, but so few that one can live a full life intersecting with numerous social circles and never encounter a single one. Instead, while conservatives out-contribute liberals in time, talent and treasure by every measure, the left focuses instead on cheap moral preening and making cartoons of those who disagree with them. They’d rather masturbate their turgid egos than think carefully or actually make a true sacrifice.

  • he left focuses instead on cheap moral preening and making cartoons of those who disagree with them

    Indeed, though this is not limited to the left, as many good Catholic is guilty of this as well. For example, the other Dave Ramsey wrote a list of 20 things the rich do every day that the poor don’t. Naturally the response to this was to treat Ramsey as some Scrooge-like character who hates the poor. Now you can take a look at this list and the worst thing that Ramsey can be accused of is perhaps being insensitive to the causes behind the disparity. But Ramsey’s main point is that poor folks do not engage in the sort of behavior that tends to lead them out of poverty, and many of these are behaviors that can be adapted by them.

    But that doesn’t matter, because Ramsey committed the unpardonable sin of implying that poor people are at least somewhat responsible for their poverty, and if you’re a good Catholic you evidently have to think all poor people came by their poverty through no fault of their own, and the only thing we can really do for them is to a) spout a lot of compassionate words about them, and b) make the government give them money.

    One Catholic blogger responded with a list of his own, citing 20 statistics that demonstrate how difficult it is to be poor. The list was largely true on its own merits, but I couldn’t help but think that only one of these lists might actually help a poor person abandon poverty, and it wasn’t the list from the really concerned Catholic blogger. There’s a lot of this moral preening, and much of it is based on a genuine concern for the poor. But I can’t help but think the moral preening is a less than effective way of actually helping the poor.

  • Sometimes it may be enough to point out evils of an existing system even if one does not have the complete solution for a better one. In other words, point out the failings of the status quo and state the principles that Christians must uphold.

    In Evangelii Gaudium (202), for example, the pope calls for “attacking the structural causes of inequality.” I cannot help but notice that the pope’s words here echo what the USCCB has said for years (don’t roll your eyes at me just yet) and what Catholic bishops all around the world are saying. Here is Pope Benedict from earlier this year in ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ saying things remarkably similar to Francis (no surprise):

    “In order to emerge from the present financial and economic crisis – which has engendered ever greater inequalities – we need people, groups and institutions which will promote life by fostering human creativity, in order to draw from the crisis itself an opportunity for discernment and for a new economic model. The predominant model of recent decades called for seeking maximum profit and consumption, on the basis of an individualistic and selfish mindset, aimed at considering individuals solely in terms of their ability to meet the demands of competitiveness.”

    As far as offering alternatives and solutions, B16 said, “Concretely, in economic activity, peacemakers are those who establish bonds of fairness and reciprocity with their colleagues, workers, clients and consumers. They engage in economic activity for the sake of the common good* and they experience this commitment as something transcending their self-interest, for the benefit of present and future generations. Thus they work not only for themselves, but also to ensure for others a future and a dignified employment.”

    *(Joe at Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam struggled over the translation from the Spanish of ‘common good’ in Evangelii Gaudium. I notice that B16’s use of the term here.)

    Just this week, the bishops of Zimbabwe, who minister to people suffering severe poverty exceeding 0.25% of the population, quote B16 and plead for fairness in the nation’s somewhat improving economy:

    Zimbabwe seems rich in natural resources ready for extraction, and the bishops want the proceeds to go to the many, not the few. (I picked Zimbabwe only because it is fresh in my mind. I suspect I could find many additional examples if challenged.)

    What I am saying, I suppose, is that Catholic bishops of all backgrounds and upbringings and political stripes are all seem speaking very consistently with one another. So, I recommend giving up fighting them and attempt to accommodate.

  • “Just this week, the bishops of Zimbabwe, who minister to people suffering severe poverty exceeding 0.25% of the population, quote B16 and plead for fairness in the nation’s somewhat improving economy:

    Zimbabwe seems rich in natural resources ready for extraction, and the bishops want the proceeds to go to the many, not the few. (I picked Zimbabwe only because it is fresh in my mind. I suspect I could find many additional examples if challenged.)”

    Of course the problem with Zimbabwe is that it is governed by a mad tyrant, Robert Mugabe. The type of “spread the wealth” proposal of the Bishops would do nothing to address that central problem and would only retard the development of those resources. Really, when Bishops speak economic rubbish they need to be called on it. They are not children and if they are going to make economic proposals they need to be treated like anyone else making such a proposal and not treated with kid gloves because of their offices.

  • I’ve just been to the http://jmgarciaiii.blogspot.com/ website, and I find Joe’s alterations to be very moving and interesting, especially those where the difference is subtle. I have no ability with Spanish (and am sometimes challenged by English), and so I appreciate a translation that is truer to the Spanish. I think it is better to stretch the English reader with a translation that does not overuse English idioms.

    Also, it should be pointed out that Spanish is Pope Francis’ native language, and so it is very important when understanding his writings to be sure that the translations are as close as possible.

    Just look at these two quotes:

    Was: Confession of faith and commitment to society [178-179]
    Now: Confession of faith and social compact [178-179]

    This difference, while equivalent, is historically important because Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s idea of the ‘social compact’ has made a greater impact in Latin than Anglo society.

    Was: The kingdom and its challenge [180-181]
    Now: The kingdom which makes demands of us [180-181]
    Arguably should be: The kingdom has claims on us [180-181]

    Note the passivity of the Vatican English translation: the “us” in the two Spanish versions is only implied in the English. I can see what Joe is complaining about, even putting aside the left-wing / right-wing stuff.

    My only criticism of Joe is that he should be brave and be as literal as possible. Don’t pull punches. It can only increase the English-speaker’s understanding of Spanish.

  • Joe’s “translation” is pure BS. He is the one who is doing mistranslation, showing he does not know the idioms and how they are used in Argentina. For example, he tries to remove “trickle down economics” when it is exactly what the Pope is talking about. Here, from 2005, you can see:


    That’s right, derrame is used for “trickle down economics” in Argentina. When Joe doesn’t know this, or if he knows and tries to hide it, this is indication that HE is the one mistranslating the Pope.

    So many people who have no business doing “translations.” Joe proved himself to be one.

  • Your input would be so much more compelling “BS” if you were not hiding behind the troll shield of anonymity. If you wish to be taken seriously in this discussion, reveal your name and your credentials in regard to translations.

  • Ah, now you can’t deal with the problem of the translation (and ignore the evidence), you just make an attack on the person instead of the argument.

    Here, you can read someone who actually knows Spanish and his problems with “spillover” as a translation.


  • Really, when Bishops speak economic rubbish they need to be called on it. They are not children and if they are going to make economic proposals they need to be treated like anyone else making such a proposal and not treated with kid gloves because of their offices.
    Donald, I am not adverse to criticizing the bishops for bad recommendations. Somewhere along the way, though, we all need to explicitly agree or disagree with them about the evils they point out. In the case of Evangelii Gaudium, Francis points out that a gain the stock market is an insufficient solution to homelessness. Not too controversial of statement, but the response among conservatives has been quite defensive. Francis says that economic decisions by investors, employers and consumers have consequences (again, not too controversial). On the personal level, there is a moral dimension he warns us about: “If we turn a deaf ear to this plea, when we are God’s instruments for hearing the poor we stand outside the Father’s will and his undertaking.” (187; Joe’s translation)
    “Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God.” (57)
    Francis says indifference to the poor is evil. (Not too controversial.) Use of a nation’s limited resources to benefit the powerful immediately accompanied by an expectation that the powerless will benefit eventually is insufficient. Francis says we must make sure that the powerless benefit eventually. And if the poor do not benefit before they are forced to live in squalor, then we are not doing enough. The point of these sections of Evangelii Gaudium is to shake people from misplaced confidence; he wants assurances.
    As I’ve pointed out above, B16’s ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ is quite, quite similar: “A new model of development is needed, as well as a new approach to the economy. … An upright conduct that acknowledges the primacy of the spiritual and the call to work for the common good. Otherwise they lose their real value, and end up becoming new idols.”
    Yes, point out the rubbish of bishops, but that only gets us so far.

  • Please. Sam Rocha used to blog over at Vox Nova and is a leftist on economic matters, hardly a reliable source. From your response I can only assume that you are hunting around the internet and have no skill in translation yourself. Hint: if you wish to be taken seriously in a factual debate do not begin by calling yourself “BS”, not reveal your own credentials, and engage in derogation in your initial comment.

  • “In the case of Evangelii Gaudium, Francis points out that a gain the stock market is an insufficient solution to homelessness.”
    He says much more than that in EG which is rather the problem. It is a Pope’s job, partly, to point out the problems of the poor; it is not the role of the Pope to sound in portions of EG as if he is just back from participating in an Occupy Wall Street rally.

    “Francis says that economic decisions by investors, employers and consumers have consequences”

    Yep, just like every statement uttered and written by a Pope has consequences, something Pope Francis, thus far, seems blithely indifferent to.

    “Francis says indifference to the poor is evil.”
    Yep, it sure is, almost as much as the statist policies that trap the poor in stagnant economies that I suspect the Pope, in his seeming economic ignorance, innocently would endorse.

    “Use of a nation’s limited resources to benefit the powerful immediately accompanied by an expectation that the powerless will benefit eventually is insufficient.”

    Which is precisely what happens like clockwork when government regulation of the economy increases. Insiders always benefit from government expansion and control, as we see time and again with the Obama administration.

    “And if the poor do not benefit before they are forced to live in squalor, then we are not doing enough.”

    Please. The natural state of man is dire poverty. It is only with the rise of largely unregulated markets, and the technological innovations that they help foster, that a few societies have managed to have most of their people lifted out of this natural state of poverty.

    “A new model of development is needed, as well as a new approach to the economy. … An upright conduct that acknowledges the primacy of the spiritual and the call to work for the common good. Otherwise they lose their real value, and end up becoming new idols.”

    You are correct that fuzzy thinking on the economy at the Vatican did not originate with Pope Francis, something I pointed out during the reign of Pope Benedict:


  • The Holy Father is correct that free markets are not a complete solution to the problems of poverty. The problem is that no one but a small handful of Ayn Rand devotees believes that they are. To the extent that the Holy Father is suggesting that free markets are a cause of poverty, he is simply mistaken and very badly so.

  • Which is precisely what happens like clockwork when government regulation of the economy increases.
    “Like clockwork”? Really, Donald? ‘Like clockwork’ well-intentioned efforts by regulators to preserve and share a nation’s resources will backfire and will help only insiders?
    I see from The Motley Monk fine post that we are moving on in a separate thread to the subject of health care. So, I will attempt to wrap up here.
    Pope Francis and Pope Benedict (and bishops from America to Zimbabwe) want us to live the gospel and proclaim the gospel in our daily lives. The fact that bishops are not competent economists is not an invitation to exempt economic decisions from this exhortation. As consumers, investors and employers we interact with others through the money we spend and the decisions we make (including, one supposes, a decision to withhold money). We are free to oppose strong regulation of the economy for our own good, but the ‘common good’ (i.e., the good of all who are affected directly and indirectly) must be in our thoughts. Francis says we must not be ‘indifferent’ to this.

    Mike Petrik — I don’t think Francis is saying that, especially in section 203 of Joe’s translation:
    “Comfortable indifference in the face of such matters empties our lives and our words of all meaning. The vocation of entrepreneur is a noble charge, provided it allows a broader understanding [literally, “sense”] of life; this will enable [the entrepreneur] to truly to serve the good of all by multiplying of, and increasing the access to, all the goods of this world.”

  • I think Mr BS should post his own translation

  • Sometimes it may be enough to point out evils of an existing system even if one does not have the complete solution for a better one. In other words, point out the failings of the status quo and state the principles that Christians must uphold.

    Every time I see something like this all I can hear is:

    “Catholics discover that man is fallen and sinful. Demand government does something about it!”

    But that doesn’t matter, because Ramsey committed the unpardonable sin of implying that poor people are at least somewhat responsible for their poverty, and if you’re a good Catholic you evidently have to think all poor people came by their poverty through no fault of their own

    Well said, Paul. I’ve been wondering when Sloth was removed from the deadly sins list. This isn’t to say that there’s no poor people who are in the rough spot they are through no fault of their own, it just requires prudence on our part to find out those who are and those who, well… http://ace.mu.nu/archives/345439.php

  • Reading Francis through Benedict:
    “There is a need to renounce that false peace promised by the idols [a term used by Francis to include ‘fetishism of money’] of this world along with the dangers which accompany it, that false peace which dulls consciences, which leads to self-absorption, to a withered existence lived in indifference [a recurring theme of Evangelii Gaudium] . The pedagogy of peace, on the other hand, implies activity, compassion, solidarity, courage and perseverance.” ~Pope Benedict’s ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’
    Returning to Mike Petrik’s comment, I suspect that Francis is not suggesting that free markets are a cause of poverty. Rather, he says that some have misplaced confidence in the capability of free markets to adequately address poverty and some are indifferent to the capability of free markets to adequately address poverty.
    (I am not at all dismissive of your complaint that only ‘handful of Ayn Rand devotees’ are implicated here. On numerous, numerous, frustratingly numerous occasions throughout Evangelii Gaudium and his public interviews and sermons I find myself wondering who Francis thinks is need of correction. Who in the Catholic Church is obsessing over the abhorrent practice of abortion? Which priests make the confessional like a torture chamber? Which ‘parish priest speaks about temperance ten times but only mentions charity or justice two or three times’? More and more I think these are strawmen that I wish he would knock down rather than affirm.)
    You see from Pope Benedict’s words and from section 190 of Francis’ exhortation that well-ordered compassionate activity is the proper Christian response to indifference and misplaced confidence.

  • ““Like clockwork”? Really, Donald? ‘Like clockwork’ well-intentioned efforts by regulators to preserve and share a nation’s resources will backfire and will help only insiders?”

    Your assumption of “well-intentioned efforts” is largely unwarranted by the historical facts spambot. Most legislation in the economic sphere involves winners and losers. For example, efforts to raise the minimum wage are usually spear-headed by unions whose members do not make the minimum wage. Why do they do this? Out of the goodness of their hearts? Not at all. Many unions peg their rates to the minimum wage. It is common also in Union contracts to require reopening of wage negotiations following an increase in the minimum wage. Finally, every increase in the minimum wage narrows the competitive advantage that non-unionized businesses enjoy over unionized businesses. This of course comes at the expense of people with marginal skills who are priced out of the work force by an increase in the minimum wage since money does not magically appear for businesses to pay for the government mandated raise in pay, however such individuals are not dues paying union members and their misfortune does not concern the people who run the unions. This is a fairly typical example of people pushing “feel good” economic legislation with ulterior motives. As people act in the market place to maximize their profit, so do people and groups do the same regarding legislation that seeks to regulate the market place. This is not rocket science, and example after example around the globe could be cited, but this basic fact of economic regulation apparently escapes the notice of Bishops and other well-intentioned but economically clueless individuals. This is not an argument against all regulation of markets, but rather a call for strict scrutiny of such regulations as “cui bono” is the important question that always must be asked and answered.

  • If the pope is suggesting the government can help the poor, well he is mistaken. Consider the concept of subsidiarity. Consider the failure of communal government, or communism.
    If on the other hand, we consider Ayn Rand or libertarian approaches to the problem, these are also incomplete. They offer an improved outcome but still suffer. We know the answer, it is free markets governed with an authority that is informed by the Catholic Church.
    Is the media twisting the words of our holy father. Of course! Better translations are needed and welcome. Thanks Joe!

  • Ah, now you can’t deal with the problem of the translation (and ignore the evidence), you just make an attack on the person instead of the argument.

    Your “argument” was an assertion– that is, it depended entirely on your authority and judgement that the “sounds like” on a translation wiki was a better authority than the multiple other translations linked above, and others in process.

    The accusation is especially funny since you opened up by accusing those you disagree with of having no business doing a translation, even when they have obviously looked at the other translations enough to know the English one is…different.

  • We know the answer, it is free markets governed with an authority that is informed by the Catholic Church.
    That works for me. Pope Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate at 32 (emphasis in original) said much the same thing:
    “The significant new elements in the picture of the development of peoples today in many cases demand new solutions. …
    “The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner, and that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone. All things considered, this is also required by “economic logic”. Through the systemic increase of social inequality, both within a single country and between the populations of different countries (i.e. the massive increase in relative poverty), not only does social cohesion suffer, thereby placing democracy at risk, but so too does the economy.”
    He picked up the goal of access to steady employment for everyone again in ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ section 4:
    “If this ambitious goal is to be realized, one prior condition is a fresh outlook on work, based on ethical principles and spiritual values that reinforce the notion of work as a fundamental good for the individual, for the family and for society. ”
    Pope Francis echoes this call in Evangelii Gaudium sections 192 and 204.
    Free markets governed with an authority that is informed by the Catholic Church is a multipart exercise, as we have discussed above, include:
    – identify shortcomings of the existing system
    – establish the goals of a well-ordered economic system
    – state the principles by which Christians should participate in the economic system
    – proclaim the Good News in our interactions with others.

  • What authority did God ever grant the Church to govern free markets?

  • Read it again, Donald: free markets governed with an authority that is informed by the Catholic Church. Not ‘governed by’ the Church.

  • I took out the weasel word “informed” Spambot. Once again, where does God grant the Church the authority to the Church to govern free markets?

  • You can’t rip off your customers by claiming ‘free market! free market!’ You can’t invest in Planned Parenthood stock (if they offered such a thing) by claiming that it gives a better rate of return than other investments. Those are principles informed by the Church. The Church did not ‘govern’ your investments, they ‘informed’ your investment decisions.

  • Now you are hedging Spambot. The Church saying thou shalt not steal is a moral teaching. Its truth is absolute no matter what a government does or does not do, for example say in regard to nationalizing a business, theft on a grand scale. However that teaching does not grant the authority to the Church to bind and to loose in regard to economic matters.

    The mischief of the economic portions of Evangelii Gaudium is that the Pope seems to be giving the blessing of the Church to state intervention in economies and thus will give aid and comfort to every two bit politician who wishes to expand his power by implanting such interventions, always with the best interests of the people at heart, of course. ObamaCare is a prime example of such a disaster, with our own Bishops in this country having shilled for many years in favor of such intervention. That it could turn around and bite them never seemed to occur to them, a prime example of the danger of ecclesiastics meddling in areas where they manifestly have no knowledge or expertise.

  • Peace.
    What I mean by ‘govern’ is taking away or restricting one’s freedom. (Synonyms: rule, preside over, reign over, control, be in charge of, command.) What I mean by ‘informed by’ is allowing one to choose freely between good moral decisions and bad moral decisions. The recommendations by the popes that I have quoted are information not governance. The hope is that good information (based on Christian principles) leads to good governance (one that is just and promotes peace, hence ‘blessed are the peacemakers’).

  • Something Donald wrote is on the mark: “Please. The natural state of man is dire poverty. It is only with the rise of largely unregulated markets, and the technological innovations that they help foster, that a few societies have managed to have most of their people lifted out of this natural state of poverty.”

    As Robert Heinlein wrote in the “Notebooks of Lazarus Long,” a part of his novel “Time Enough for Love:”

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded–here and there, now and then–are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck.'”

    I would make only one change to this statement: “Advances … are the work of an extremely small minority…and almost always opposed by all left-thinking people.”

    There are many left-thinking people in the Roman Catholic Church, extending all the way to the Pontificate itself.

  • At Fatima Our Lady explained that the fundamental problem with the world is sin and the fundamental solution is the conversion of sinners (not just the conversion of Russia, as some have thought).

    If Catholics were more successful converting sinners (Our Lady said through prayer and sacrifices of reparation) then people in general would be more concerned about the poor and more personally involved in helping the poor.

    The American form of government and the original American Christian culture (as pointed out by DeTocqueville) was responsible for making America so successful. But it can’t work in an atheist culture, as we are becoming. An atheist government doesn’t care about the poor except as political tools. Complaining won’t help. Only transformation — e.g., the new evangelization — will work.

    Jesus came to convert the world, not set up a compassionate government for the world. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all else will be given to you.”

  • fatherz’s comments are helpful:
    ‘People in business have to act morally and responsibly, with an eye on their neighbor, and not just sit back and say that “A free market will eventually help all those poor people all by itself“, thus exonerat[ing] them of any personal obligation to do their part.’
    ‘So, if I understand the Holy Father correctly, I entirely agree with that first part of EG 54, so long as it is properly translated.’
    and much more:

  • Pingback: Christmas Eve Special: Pope Francis | Big Pulpit
  • Pingback: Christmas Eve Special: Pope Francis | iwannabeasaint
  • You can’t invest in Planned Parenthood stock (if they offered such a thing) by claiming that it gives a better rate of return than other investments.

    You don’t get to claim the problem you’re concerned about, Spambot, is so widespread that the Church must devote considerable attention to it if the only example you can point to is your own invention, one so absurd that you yourself admit such a thing isn’t actually offered.

    When you realize you’re in one, stop digging.
    –First Rule of Holes

  • You can’t invest in Planned Parenthood stock (if they offered such a thing) by claiming that it gives a better rate of return than other investments.

    You don’t get to claim the problem you’re concerned about, Spambot, is so widespread that the Church must devote considerable attention to it if the only example you can point to is your own invention, one so absurd that you yourself admit such a thing isn’t actually offered.

    When you realize you’re in one, stop digging.
    –First Rule of Holes

PopeWatch: 138

Friday, December 6, AD 2013



PopeWatch recalls hearing a Methodist sermon that went on for an endless hour.  Most priests tend to limit their sermons to 15-20 minutes, although PopeWatch believes that many of those sermons are too long.  PopeWatch therefore was cheered by paragraph 138 of Evangelii Gaudium:


138. The homily cannot be a form of entertainment like those presented by the media, yet it does need to give life and meaning to the celebration. It is a distinctive genre, since it is preaching which is situated within the framework of a liturgical celebration; hence it should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture. A preacher may be able to hold the attention of his listeners for a whole hour, but in this case his words become more important than the celebration of faith. If the homily goes on too long, it will affect two characteristic elements of the liturgical celebration: its balance and its rhythm. When preaching takes place within the context of the liturgy, it is part of the offering made to the Father and a mediation of the grace which Christ pours out during the celebration. This context demands that preaching should guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist. This means that the words of the preacher must be measured, so that the Lord, more than his minister, will be the centre of attention.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to PopeWatch: 138

  • Implicit in this is the idea that there are occasions in which a priest should be giving lectures, and that the laity should be attending non-liturgical Catholic functions. It’s amazing how shallowly we live our Catholic lives.

  • Pimky

    Rosary, sermon and benediction was a common evening devotion in both France and Scotland, until displaced by evening mass.

PopeWatch: Obama and Limbaugh

Thursday, December 5, AD 2013



Well, what do you know.  The most anti-Catholic President in our nation’s history is suddenly quoting popes.

During a Wednesday speech on income equality, Obama remarked, “Across the developed world, inequality has increased. Some of you may have seen just last week, the pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length.”

He went on to quote a line from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” asking, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

Obama called the growing income gap the “defining challenge of our time,” along with the increasing difficulty of upward economic mobility, AP reported.

That is truly hilarious when one considers that Obama has been President now for almost half a decade and that his policies have succeeded only in exacerbating income inequality with his truly wretched stewardship of the economy.  Rush Limbaugh who, unsurprisingly, has been highly critical of the economic portions of Evangelii Gaudium, recognizes that the Pope’s popularity with the port side of our political spectrum is only fleeting because of the Pope’s position on abortion, the holy of holies for the Left:

Continue reading...

17 Responses to PopeWatch: Obama and Limbaugh

  • Did the writer of this article read The Popes letter? Pope Francis is not in agreement with the left on their anti capitalism views. His words were anti CONSUMERISM, greed and envy.

    He never once uses the word Capitalism. Please, go back and re-read his actual words.

  • Everything Obama spews out is counter-factual.

    If Obama was concerned about income inequality, he would confront the income inequality between Washington, DC and the United States of America. From 2006 to 2012, DC median household income (MHI) skyrocketed 23%, while America’s MHI crash-dived 7%.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis to Create Commission on Sex Abuse of Minors - Big Pulpit
  • So much social justice . . . so little charity.

    In NJ, 50,000 sign up for on-line gambling and 741 sign up for ObamaCare.

    Obama says, “We’re not going back . . . “ to that horrid time when 87% of Americans were happy with their health insurance.

  • I read the item by Adam Shaw on FoxNews. I thought it a bit…harsh, but also somewhat understandable. Most Catholics (I know anyway) do NOT get their news about this or that Church teaching from the Catechism, or from a Catholic Newspaper such as the NC Register (or even the NC Reporter), or Catholic blogs, or websites such as The American Catholic. Or even from the local Diocesan website. Assuming they even wanted to read Evangelii Gaudium themselves (assuming of course it occurred to them to actually read it for themselves), they wouldn’t know where to look. They get their news of things Catholic from CCN, NBC, NY Times, Time magazine, Fox News, Limbaugh, whatever. I suspect Mr. Shaw didn’t read EG, until after his mind had been made up for him about what the Pope said (tried to say?) by the secular news media.

    If all I had heard about the latest Apostolic Exhortation (I wonder how many of the Catholics I know understand the different between an AE and an Encyclical–heck, I am not sure I am clear on it) was what Limbaugh had said, I think I might have just thrown in the towel and said, “No more. I will no longer participate in an organization (the Church) that does not care about my children’s future and in fact, actively promotes the destruction of it.”

    Perhaps it is time for the Pope to abandon the “wide ranging” documents and interviews that can be massaged into the latest secular-news-media message, in favor of short, clear, precise twitter feeds and FB posts, although I hear the young people are abandoning FB since it is no longer a “cool” place. Too many middle aged moms posting pictures of soccer games, dinner recipes, and Grump Cat memes.

  • I will confess that I didn’t read the Pope’s Exhortation, and I’m trying really hard to ignore the secular media. I get the tidbits from here & other Catholic blogs & commentators who I know are faithful, practicing Catholics. And I haven’t read it because I am an overly busy homeschooling mom of 3. But, I want to ask a question. Are we even called to be “equal”? I was thinking about this last night for some reason. God made us each as completely unique individuals, each with our own strengths & talents. I don’t see how we could possibly be called to be “equal.” My definition of equal may be different than someone else’s definition, right? None of Jesus’ parables talk about Him giving the same things to anyone. He talked about one guy getting 10 talents, one guy 5, and one guy 1. That’s not equal. He talked about some people working all day long & some people working for an hour, and they got the same pay. In my mind, that’s not equal. All my life, I’ve been taught, and I am training my children, to be happy for those who have, and pray for & help those who have not. It seems like the left/progressives goes out of their way to find leaders, even if they hate them in principle, to agree with their messed up ideas on how other people should live… because as we all know, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

  • What I don’t understand is why the Pope and his aides don’t realize and anticipate the problems his statements cause.. Intended or not, if you know anti Catholics like Obama and the liberals who have recently become fans of the Pope are waiting to USE you for their benefit and turn your words around to prove their point, you might be more clear about what you are meaning. Communication 101–right ??

  • From what I can tell thus far Dan, the Pope seems fairly unconcerned about how his writings and comments are interpreted. I think that is the best case analysis.

  • Liberals want to feed the poor, but they don’t want to make them work. They want to hand out money, but they don’t want to make sure it isn’t used fraudulently. Up the minimum wage irrespective of one’s qualifications or work requirements. Punish the rich with higher taxes they didn’t earn it all by themselves. Let anyone and everyone into the county it will all work out. Encourage women to be sex machines then when the free contraception doesn’t solve all problems give them free abortions. There is no responsibility for anyone’s actions and no respect for others property or accomplishments because it is up for grabs.

  • I’ve read about 1/3 of Papa’s Exhortation between my vocational duties as wife and mother and honestly – respectfully, I disagree with his economical stance. I spoke with this yesterday with my husband knowing that it wouldn’t be long before the exhortation became a weapon of the left’s. I don’t’ agree that it is just about Consumerism… he was clear in paragraph 54 that he believes Capitalism is wrong: 54.
    In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

    However, if what Phillip is saying from the Breibart report that there is a translation error, I will be the happiest free-market American Catholic around – I sure hope they fix this soon. If not, this too shall pass under God’s protective guidance.

  • I just wish people would speak and write and teach plainly! I read the document and as a cradle Catholic I read between the lines. I too feel that he was speaking in reference to the greed and avarice of making money a false idol. However “if you are not Catholic” or a liberal Catholic there is enough gaps to really confuse those who don’t read the Bible, or know the Catechism, or the Corporal Works of Mercy, or the seven sins, or the Ten Commandments, or the teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals. Double speak leads to confusion. Diablo, Dante, Diabolical. The “irrational” mind, will “always” find a way to “rationalize” your personal self. “I feel so much better when I think I am not sinning or not as bad as that other guy”. Especially if you really don’t know the teachings of your faith and you choose to pick and choose your sources. Wah Lah! When I made money, I gave so much away without any fanfare. Now I am experiencing the other side of the tracks again I still understand my responsibility to the Lord and his people. I think that is what the Holy Father is talking about. Of course, dementia could be setting in and I am all wrong.

  • I must admit that I don’t read between the lines of most articles, most especially ones that hold such importance for the fear that I would be putting too much of my own ideas into somebody else’s writings and mis-construe the intention of the letter. I think that can become dangerous and cause miscommunication which leads to disaster. However, with that said, I agree that much of what was written on greed would be fixed, and so would most of our economic problems if all persons followed the example of Christ in charity of all kinds. As I read his exhortation I kept thinking of The Rich Man and Lazarus. The problem with the rich man wasn’t that he had money rather it was that he ignored the plight of Lazarus, the beggar. He did nothing to ease his medical problems or hunger. The rich man went to Hades because of his lack of charity, which was a spiritual issue, and would not have made a bit of difference if he was forced to give to the beggar. Trickling down our money to the poor should be a choice not a forced issue. God gave us our freedom to love Him – we show our love for Him by feeding, clothing, caring for His children. To do otherwise is evil. Simply said, to be forced to give takes our opportunity to love Him away. In equality, God did not make us equal. He gave specific talents of different kinds to His children so that together, we can help one another. Helping needs to come from our heart not the sword or government taxes. On this site alone I see the beautiful, philosophical writing of great Christians alongside those like me, who wish they could communicate better, but writes from the heart as best as possible. I believe being able to think and write clearly stems from first, a gift of wisdom then built upon by loads of studying and education.

    On a personal note: I know for my family, we went from living comfortably as middle-class American citizens to not even being able to buy the food we need to live week to week, and our charitable giving went down to feed our children and make the mortgage under this current administration. Our freedom to give has been taken away by higher taxes. We live in a modest home, with one car that has over 209,000 miles on it and is a gas guzzler. Our children do not have cell phones or decent clothes and our fence fell down last year. We are fixing it 10 boards at a time as money becomes more available. Trickle-down economics only hurts citizens – that has been proven across America, I know I’m not the only one suffering.

  • “Trickle-down economics only hurts citizens – that has been proven across America, I know I’m not the only one suffering.”
    I think this is a good example of part of the problem–lack of a common definitions to economic terms, or at least the terms we use in everyday speech. To my way of thinking, pretty much every economic decision I make that requires money (not all economic decisions require money) is part of “trickle-down economics”–from the groceries I buy, the swim lessons, USTA tennis league fees, gasoline, the home-school curriculum I purchase, the Christmas presents, the tree and lawn services. And yes, I even gave to the my sons’ private school fund a donation (not tax deductible, although I get no direct benefit from it) to cover the teacher’s Christmas Bonus.

    I do not see how my spending my money on this or that thing I want (or need) is a bad thing. (If it were porn, yeah, that’d be a bad thing.) Yes, I suppose, instead of paying my son’s swim coach to teach him to swim, I could just give her the money as a “charity” and allow my son to rot in front of the television, but why not require her to work for 30 minutes in order to get my money? I could just give the school my sons attend part time money and teach them science myself, but why not pay them to do a service for me I’d rather not do? To me, that is all “trickle down.”

  • Just as one must avoid the same mistake when interpreting Sacred Scripture:

    “take a TEXT out of CONTEXT and you get a PRETEXT”

    Rush and others have taken Pope Francis’ words out of context


  • People will quote Christ when it suits them and they will quote the Pope when it suits them.
    I’m getting a little tired of all the talk about theory…. would like a little less theory and a little more response to events. “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
    I ask “How can it be that it is not news (what happened down Argentina way) and neither Obama nor the Pope nor Charlie Rose nor Bill O’Reilly have anything to say.
    Obama uses this opportunity to make it seem that he and the pope have the same theoretical priorities. Another quick movement of the walnut shell. We need to keep our eyes on thinking about the dignity of man, rich or poor.

Down Argentine Way

Wednesday, December 4, AD 2013

Lovely.  As the video above indicates the ultimate expression of the pro-abort mentality is a complete hatred for Catholicism.  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air gives us the details:

After watching the video, one might guess that the police were intimidated by the sheer size of the protest.  Clearly, they didn’t want to intervene on behalf of some people who were turning themselves into passive human shields to protect their place of worship. It’s not as if they had been taken by surprise, though, because this happens every year in Argentina for its National Meeting of Women, and a trek to defile the local cathedral is always on the agenda.

It happened last year in October:

Around 500 abortion activists in Posadas hurled insults, spat and threw paint on young Catholics who prayed the Rosary outside the local cathedral and prevented the demonstrators from entering.

The activists convened in the city Oct. 7 for the 27th National Meeting of Women in Argentina.

According to local media, the group march through the city, painting homes and streets with slogans in support of abortion and homosexual marriage as well as anti-Catholic slurs.

Some activists reportedly stripped naked, while others made sexual gestures at the young people standing in prayer outside the Cathedral of Posadas.

CNA also reported on it in 2009, when the route did get detoured away from the local cathedral:

The self-titled “National Meeting of Women,” which recently took place in Tucuman, Argentina, was not the exclusive domain of pro-abortion propaganda as in recent years, but this year was attended by a well-prepared group of women who spoke up in defense of life and against abortion.

In a report issued by the Christian Family Movement, analyst Eduardo Zavalia said the feminists who organized this event were shocked, as they had been accustomed to “doing and saying whatever they wanted and telling others what to say.” This year, he recounted, they were met with a group of women “firm in their values and large enough in numbers to be a majority in most of the workshops.”

“In some workshops, overcome by mere reason, abortion activists resorted to physically removing those who defended life,” the report said.

Even the usual violent and anti-Catholic march organized by abortion supporters was detoured this year in order to avoid passing in front of the cathedral where they usually harassed the faithful.

They weren’t so lucky in 2008:

A video posted on YouTube.com put on full display the ferocity of abortion supporters who were participating in the National Meeting of Women in the Argentinean city of Neuquen last August. It shows them harassing and insulting a group of Catholic young people who were standing outside the Cathedral of Neuquen to keep the church safe from the protests.

The National Meeting of Women is a feminist event that takes place each year to pressure authorities to legalize abortion and to promote reproductive rights and gender ideology.

Financed by anti-life NGOs and supported by the government of Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the meeting brings together pro-abortion, feminist, homosexual and left-wing organizations.

The meeting usually ends with a protest through the streets of the host city, with organizers planning the route to include a stop at the local cathedral. This year, in order to keep protestors from trashing the cathedral grounds, a group of young people from Neuquen stood outside the cathedral to pray and form a barrier against the protestors.

That’s why the Catholics in the diocese were ready to protect their church.  It’s not much of a mystery why the police weren’t prepared to protect them from these attacks, though, as the Kirchner government supports the thugs rather than the peaceful people they attack.

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Down Argentine Way

  • The only things lacking were brown shirts and arm bands.

    Liberalism is fascism with effective PR and 24/7 media lying/tongue baths.

    FYI items I do not lack: Rosary beads and bullets.

    Reportedly, in 19th century NYC, the 69th NY Militia formed at Old St. Partrick’s Cathedral to defend it from such Know-Nothings.

  • All I can think of is Matthew 5:10-12
    10Blessed are those who suffer persecution in the cause of right; the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 11 Blessed are you, when men revile you, and persecute you, and speak all manner of evil against you falsely, because of me. 12 Be glad and light-hearted, for a rich reward awaits you in heaven

  • A modern day Way of the Cross.

  • It’ll keep happening and get worse as long as we continue to be pacifists.

  • Is it a sin to want to punch somebody in the nose? Asking for a friend.

  • Living martyrs. God bless those brave Catholics!

  • Some of the YouTube videos I’ve seen of this have been taken from Argentine
    network news. Typically, the news reports will show long shots of marching
    pro-abortion LGBT crowds, but omit shots of what happens once they reach
    the cathedral. The announcer describes the events as “protesters clashing”…

    It reminds me of the coverage of mob violence against Coptic Christians in
    Egypt, where islamist mobs march into Christian neighborhoods, smashing and
    burning, and western news agencies blandly describe the violence as a “clash
    of protesters”.

  • Heroic. Incredible strength and restraint. If we could stand with them somehow. Put pressure on our media to cover this world wide war on Christians.

  • Pingback: Ex-Anglicans Break Out of the Ghetto - BigPulpit.com
  • I have a dumb question. Religion aside, were not these men being assaulted by these demented women? Where were the Police?! Can you begin to imagine if the situation was reversed??

PopeWatch: The Federated Catholic Church?

Wednesday, December 4, AD 2013




Sandro Magister at Chiesa looks at a part of Evangelii Gaudium that has been largely overlooked in all the sturm und drang over the economic passages:  the Pope’s vision of a much more decentralized Church:


On the role of the pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio credits John Paul II with having paved the way to a new form of the exercise of primacy.  But he laments that “we have made little progress in this regard” and promises that he intends to proceed with greater vigor  toward a form of papacy “more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization.”

But more than on the role of the pope – where Francis remains vague and has so far operated by making most decisions himself – it is on the powers of the episcopal conferences that “Evangelii Gaudium” heralds a major transition.

The pope writes in paragraph 32 of the document:

“The Second Vatican Council stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position ‘to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit.’ Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach.”

In a footnote, Francis refers to a 1998 motu proprio of John Paul II, concerning precisely “the theological and juridical nature of the episcopal conferences”:

> Apostolos Suos

But if one reads that document, one discovers that it attributes to the national episcopal conferences a function that is exclusively practical, cooperative, of a simple intermediate auxiliary body between the college of all the world’s bishops together with the pope on the one hand – the only “collegiality” declared to have a theological foundation – and the individual bishop with authority over his diocese on the other.

Above all, the motu proprio “Apostolos Suos” strongly limits that “authentic doctrinal authority” which Pope Francis says he wants to grant to the episcopal conferences. It prescribes that if doctrinal declarations really need to be issued, this must be done with unanimous approval and in communion with the pope and the whole Church, or at least “by a substantial majority” after review and authorization by the Holy See.

One danger warned against in the motu proprio “Apostolos Suos” is that the episcopal conferences might release doctrinal declarations in contrast with each other and with the universal magisterium of the Church.

Another risk that it intends to prevent is the creation of separation and antagonism between individual national Churches and Rome, as happened in the past in France with “Gallicanism” and as takes place among the Orthodox with some of the autocephalous national Churches.

That motu proprio bears the signature of John Paul II, but it owes its framework to the one who was his highly trusted prefect of doctrine, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

And Ratzinger – as was known – had long been very critical of the superpowers that some episcopal conferences had attributed to themselves, especially in certain countries, including his native Germany.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to PopeWatch: The Federated Catholic Church?

  • Donald,

    The true title for this particular piece should not be ‘federated’ but ‘synodal’. What most Catholics do not realize or recognize is that the Church already actually ‘runs’ on this ‘synodal’ model. There are 22 churches in complete communion (key word here) with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. Most people see them as ‘rites’ which indeed they have (such as Byzantine, Melkite,Maronite, etc) but these churches themselves ‘run’ on a synodal model. For example, they select their own bishops, which then in turn must be (and almost always are) ratified by Rome. Any difficulties which arise, whether doctrinal, moral or disciplinary, are first dealt with at this ‘local level’. They do not come to doctrinal or moral positions different than the Catholic Faith professed by all (although they might have a different way of expressing it) Discipline issues are all dealt with at the local level in accordance with the general Code of Canon Law of the Eastern Churches. These churches are indeed churches, and not simply ‘rites’. Thus, already, the Catholic Church is a communion of churches, with the Bishop of Rome being the sign and instrument of that communion, ecclesial unity.

    While this synodal form of government might initially look no different than the Eastern Churches Orthodox brothers and sisters, it differs in two substantial and distinct ways. While distinct churches, the Eastern Churches are not ‘National Churches” such as “Greek Orthodox”, “Russian Orthodox” “Serbian Orthodox” etc. While these churches are all Orthodox, nothing prevents one from ‘breaking communion’ with another [In fact the tensions between the Russian and Greek Churches is horrendous]. This simply is not known or countenanced in the Eastern Churches. The sign and instrument of ecclesial communion is the pope, the Bishop of Rome.

    The second substantial distinction between this synodal ‘model’ of the Eastern Churches and the Orthodox is the inability of the Orthodox Churches to either really call, gather for a general synod (council) of the Orthodox Church to discuss very important matter, or what authority to validate and uphold the Synod (council). Their ecclesiology had depended on the Byzantine Emperor (or the Russian Czar) to validate and uphold such a synod. The Eastern Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome, do not have this problem. The pope can call for a Council and it is the Pope who validates an Ecumenical Council of the Church [thus the canonical reason that Vatican II is indeed a Council of the Church].

    This ‘synodal form’ of the Church can and apparently will be renewed within the whole Church. I do not see (in fact I believe this will be avoided at all cost) Bishops Conferences transformed into this synodal form taking on “national” identities [ as we see with the Orthodox] to the detriment of Catholic ecclesial communion. However, if a doctrinal matter comes up, for example some theologian at a Catholic college or university is obviously dissenting from Catholic teaching, it would be dealt with first in the local Church [say the Archbishop of Washington has to deal with a dissenting theologian at Catholic University]. This is the principle of subsidiarity at work in the Church [the one I hear everyone screaming about in terms of the economy]. Then it would be taken to the American Bishops ‘Conference’ who have a commission for matters of doctrine. If that did not work, then and only then, it would go to Rome, the Church which presides in charity, as Saint Ignatius of Antioch described it, founded upon Peter and Paul and led by the Bishop of Rome, the pope. In fact, this is nothing more than Matthew 18’s description of how to deal with an errant ‘brother’.

    In issues of ‘discipline’, for example, the recent difficulties with the LCWR (nuns group), the Bishops’ Conference should have had the ‘power’ to constructively deal with the issue years ago. The Bishops Conference is closer to the difficulty, knows the American culture, can dialogue easier with the nuns. However, because of the present structure, the bishops were all but powerless to really enter that dialogue. They had no other choice but send the issue to Rome, which of course takes time, etc. Rome has to investigate, try to understand women’s religious life in the American context (both the pros and cons) and what happened? They sent it back to America with an American bishop in charge of the ‘dialogue’.

    These ‘changes’ are actually part of the ancient patrimony of the Church. They do not contradict the identity or makeup of the Catholic Church. However, the purpose of the changes is to further ‘the mission of the Church which is evangelization’. And where does evangelization take place?

  • I often remind myself that contrary to popular belief, our church’s structure is quite flat …. flatter than most every business. In essence each of us are 2 steps away from the Pope — with my pastor and my bishop before us. Now in reality, we all know the many operational entities paving the way to make this work (or not).

  • Pingback: Pope Francis to Create Commission on Sex Abuse of Minors - Big Pulpit
  • Enghish version of Evangelii gaudium is not correct:

    It says: “episcopal conferences (…), including genuine doctrinal authority,”

    Spanish version: “incluyendo también ALGUNA auténtica autoridad doctrinal.”

    Correct English version should say: ” including SOME genuine doctrinal authority,”

    (Fench and Italian versions corresponds correctly to the Spanish one)

    In God.

PopeWatch: Hans Kung

Tuesday, December 3, AD 2013



PopeWatch recalls an episode of the Hogan’s Heroes sitcom from the sixties.  Colonel Hogan is attempting to disarm a bomb.  He has to cut one of two wires, and if he cuts the wrong wire the bomb will go off.  He asks Colonel Klink which wire he would cut, and after Klink chooses a wire he cuts the other one and disarms the bomb.  Klink asks Hogan why he asked his advice if he wasn’t going to follow it.  Hogan responds that he wasn’t sure he would pick the right wire but he was confident that Klink would pick the wrong one.

PopeWatch views Hans Kung as filling the Klink role when it comes to the Catholic Church.  One can be certain that his views in regard to the Church will be wrong.  PopeWatch thus read with interest a column written by Kung which appeared in The Tablet:

Church reform is forging ahead. In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis not only intensifies his criticism of capitalism and the fact that money rules the world, but speaks out clearly in favour of church reform “at all levels”. He specifically advocates structural reforms – namely, decentralisation towards local dioceses and communities, reform of the papal office, upgrading the laity and against excessive clericalism, in favour of a more effective presence of women in the Church, above all in the decision-making bodies. And he comes out equally clearly in favour of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, especially with Judaism and Islam.

All this will meet with wide approval far beyond the Catholic Church. His undifferentiated rejection of abortion and women’s ordination will, however, probably provoke criticism. This is where the dogmatic limits of this Pope become apparent. Or is he perhaps under pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its Prefect, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller?   

In a long guest contribution in Osservatore Romano (23 October 2013), Müller demonstrated his ultra-conservative stance by corroborating the exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments who, unless they live together as brother and sister (!), are ostensibly in a state of mortal sin on account of the sexual character of their relationship.

As Bishop of Regensburg, Müller, as a clerical hardliner who provoked numerous conflicts with parish priests and theologians, lay bodies and the Central Committee of German Catholics, was as controversial and unpopular as his brother bishop at Limburg. That Müller, as a loyal supporter and publisher of his collected works, was nevertheless appointed CDF Prefect by Papa Ratzinger, surprised people less than the fact that Pope Francis confirmed him in office quite so soon.

And worried observers are already asking whether Pope Emeritus Ratzinger is in fact operating as a kind of “shadow Pope” behind the scenes through Archbishop Müller and Georg Gänswein, [Benedict’s] secretary and Prefect of the Papal Household, whom he also promoted to archbishop. One remembers how in 1993 Ratzinger as cardinal whistled back the then-bishops of Freiburg (Oskar Saier), Rottenburg-Stuttgart (Walter Kasper) and Mainz (Karl Lehmann) when they suggested a pragmatic solution for the problem of remarried divorcees. It is revealing that the present debate 20 years later was again triggered by the Archbishop of Freiburg, namely Robert Zollitsch, the president of the German bishops’ conference. It was Zollitsch who ventured a fresh attempt to re-think pastoral practice as far as remarried divorcees are concerned. And Pope Francis?

Continue reading...

11 Responses to PopeWatch: Hans Kung

  • It’s creepy to see someone so preoccupied with his own hobby horse that he can’t analyze the situation around him. Kung thinks that the Pope is good, and since good means agreeing with Kung on divorce, if this good pope isn’t doing what Kung would do, there must be forces inside the Vatican preventing him. It’s so tidy. Kung also seems to think that Jesus is good, and where Jesus didn’t agree with Kung on divorce, He must have been issuing a recommendation rather than a command. The history of the Church, from the earliest days to the time after the Council, is intepreted as a black-hats-and-white-hats narrative about welcoming the divorced.

    Kung can’t even see that the way to untie his mental knots is exactly what the Church has consistently taught on the subject. The Church doesn’t separate from anyone due to their divorce and remarriage; the people have separated themselves from the Church. If there is no real second marriage, and sex outside of marriage is sinful, then living as brother and sister is perfectly ( ), not (!). The Church welcomes back the repentant with Jesus’s words, you are forgiven, go and sin no more.

  • Good Answer Pinky.

  • I actually ended that mid-rant because I got a call. I could complain about Kung for hours.

  • Pingback: ACLU Files a Lawsuit Against the U.S. Bishops - BigPulpit.com
  • I say that it is up to God to judge me whether or not I can receive Holy Communion even though I have divorced and re married…if it is a sin to receive Holy Communion even though I have gone to confession and admit my sin of divorce then that should be up to God to decide….True I have not remarried in the Catholic Church as I was re married in a town hall…my former husband has also remarried….before this whole thing with not receiving communion started I was receiving because I was told that my sin was forgiven…I guess I should not have got married so young as my first marriage only lasted 8 months and that was back in the early 1990’s….

  • JAC you are loved by our good Lord Who knows your heart intimately. He is the One Who gives you your desire to receive Him. Before we receive Him we all reconcile with Him from our various hindrances. Your hindrance is not the divorce. If I understand your note correctly, the hindrance is in your remarriage while still sacramentally married. Your short 8 month marriage may very well be one that did not bind you sacramentally and that would have to be judged by the Church in your particular diocese, If that were the case it would be recognied as nul (annulled) and you would be free to address also in Reconciliation any other hindrances you may be be aware of, after talking with a good confessor.

  • I’d have to agree with Anzlyne. I’m the child of my dad’s second marriage. His first one was a bad idea; he rushed into it young and his wife didn’t have a good understanding of what marriage meant. Before he got married again, his diocese reviewed the first marriage and granted an annulment. I guess you could say that he was only married once, although there were two civil marriages.

    Back to my earlier comment, I find myself Kunging when I read the economic portion of the recent text. I’m approaching it as a judge rather than a student. That’s wrong. I have to fight the instinct. It’d be cool if humility is something you had to do once, but it’s something that’s necessary all the time, especially when it doesn’t feel like a good fit.

  • JAC the Church explicitly teaches that in order to be forgiven of your sin through Confession, you must first repent of it and have a firm purpose of amendemnt, that is you must firmly intend to NOT commit the same sin again. If you confessed to having had sexual relations with a man during the lifetime of your first validly and sacramentally wedded husband, i.e. committing adultery, your confession was INVALID if you intended to have sexual relations with him again.

  • As a Catholic revert (raised Catholic, wandered and finally recently have come home), I’ve encountered Kung and his theology many times over the years. Bottom line — it was my reading and analyzing of his work “On Being A Christian” that led me to and got me in school to become a Lutheran pastor. ‘Nuff said.

  • Kung holds to the possiblity of universalism. For that reason I decided not to read him. He recently came out saying euthanasia is OK. I found that very disturbing. I wonder how someone so advanced in theology could miss the Christian take on life.

  • Tonight on EWTN I heard Joseph Peace say “Intelligence is not a guarantor of goodness” while discussing Bilbo’s journey. It made me think of your observation Jon. It seems that education even to the point reaching “higher levels of theology” may not have the good fruits it might have had if it were gained in a disinterested study/search for God, instead of a study set forth to satisfy self.

110 Responses to We Shouldn’t Turn to the Church for Economic Analysis

  • I do not see that the Holy Father’s remarks go beyond the settled teaching of the Church, as contained in Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical, Populorum Progressio.

    “Founded to build the kingdom of heaven on earth rather than to acquire temporal power, the Church openly avows that the two powers—Church and State—are distinct from one another; that each is supreme in its own sphere of competency. (Cf. Leo XIII, Encyc. letter Immortale Dei 🙂 But since the Church does dwell among men, she has the duty “of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. (Gaudium et Spes)”

    He goes on to say that “Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: ‘You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.’ (De Nabute, c. 12, n. 53) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional. No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, ‘as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.’ When ‘private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,’ it is for the public authorities ‘to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.’ (Letter to the 52nd Social Week at Brest, in L’homme et la révolution urbaine, Lyon: Chronique sociale (1965), 8-9)

    This teaching is clearly moral, not economic, and refers to the respective obligations of individuals and those in authority. When he says, “It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity,” he is, as the Shepherd of Souls, prescribing a duty. It is a pity the bishops do not remind Catholic politicians of this duty more often.

  • I would no more go to the Church for economic analysis than I would look to an economist for an explanation of the role of grace in salvation. When the Pope reminds us all to not forget the poor or to not make money an idol he has the force of his office behind him. The following goes well beyond it:

    “In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and I the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

    This of course is a fairly tendentious translation of what the Pope originally wrote:

    From Joe’s translation at Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam:

    “54. In this context, some defend “spillover” theories which suppose that all economic growth, for which a free market is [most] favorable, by itself brings about greater equity and social inclusion in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve confidence in the generosity of those [people] who wield economic power and in the sacralized mechanisms of that ruling economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

    54 is rendered more acceptable to me by this new translation but still the Pope goes too far beyond his office.

    First, it is clear from this document that the Pope and basic economic knowledge are not on the friendliest of terms, to put it charitably. 204 is a doozy along those lines:

    “204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.”

    The Pope seems to have no understanding that the types of mandates he proposes are, to use his term, “poison” for any economic growth. The Pope confuses the functioning of markets with the use of the fruits of the market, not an uncommon mistake by socialists or those who embrace socialist superstitions and try to make economies function according to government fiat.

    Second, the Pope seems to have a very optimistic view of the ability of the State to fairly redress inequities in the marketplace. Perhaps the Pope has a “sacralized” view of those who wield the power of the State? If so, that would not be an unusual view for an Argentinian to hold in spite of the overwhelming evidence that State involvement in the Argentinian economy has produced disaster after disaster.

    However, debates about economic systems and the proper role of government intervention in the economy are areas where wise Popes have usually tread lightly because they recognized that they had no special charism to render judgments in those areas. Pope Francis, judging from Evangelii Gaudium, might not be aware that his personal opinions in these areas must be, and will be, subject to the normal give and take, even from faithful Catholics, of argument that results whenever any one proffers an opinion about the economy and the role of the State in it. When the Pope seeks to give prescriptions for the proper functioning of the economy and of the State in it he is departing from the realm of religion and entering the realm of policy and that is always a subject for debate and not mere obedience.

  • Seems as if he’s been gulled by the liberal lie that the free market (where on Earth is that operative?) causes homelessness, hunger, nakedness, poverty.

    They cannot name one major economy wherein, for the past 100+ years, the state/regime/organized brigandage hasn’t massively, and to great harm, imposed central planning, command/control-economy, excessive taxes, inflation, leviathan bureaucratic/regulatory behemoths.

    This morning, all I can think about “economics” is, “I wish I had gotten in Bitcoin at $100!” Wiping away a tear . . .

  • I am no theologian by any imaginable stretch, so I will not deign to speak on the other 199+ pages of the encyclical. But, what I see in the Pope’s touch on economics is something that would make the lefties howl if it’s read a certain way, which in this Pope’s case is pretty easy.
    First, when he seems to attack free-market economics, I think it’s because we see him criticizing current economic conditions here and in Western Europe. Thus, we jump to the conclusion that he’s criticizing free-market capitalism; Holy Cow is he a Communist? No, not at all. That conclusion is incorrect, but not because of what he says. It is our other premise which renders the syllogism incorrect; we don’t have a free-market system in this country. It’s farther in that direction than a lot of the world, but it is not free-market. The Left thinks we do, and from their statist standpoint it looks like we do, but we don’t. At its heart, it is a quasi-fascist oligarchy. The currency is controlled by a central credit monopoly, and its distribution is more comparable to a command economy than an open, free marketplace where any medium of exchange that fits the value of traders’ needs would suffice.
    Special regulations, anti-competitive structures, stifling tort laws, an impenetrable (and now offensive) tax code and a host of other often contradictory and oppressive regulatory layers have turned what could be a blazing fire of innovation and productivity into a smoldering heap of wet leaves. Very little trickles down anymore; in a truly free-market economy, the trickle would be upwards and outwards to begin with.
    In any nation where poverty is obviously present, it is for political reasons. If people cannot find relief from poverty it is because they either cannot leave, or are paid to stay. From the extreme examples of Ethiopia and North Korea to the more subtle American welfare state, almost all poverty is created and sustained by governments, and done so for political reasons. Victim classes and red-herring martyrs play well in lapdog media cultures; this perpetuates the fiefdoms inherent in partisan politics. North Koreans and Cubans are kept poor by American Imperialist exploitation, right? Welfare rolls are kept high by white racist attitudes and lack of opportunity, as everybody knows. In fact, anybody with half a working brain knows those are derisibly false, but they play well to the sheeple who then keep the powers in place.
    What does not help is that contemporary big business strategy has turned from long-term stability to a “make the next quarterly P&L sheet rock!” mentality. “Work Smarter, Not Harder” is anathema to the prospect of shared profits being divided by free choice among those who can choose to simply work hard to get ahead. “Too Big To Fail” should never be an imaginable condition. What happened to the 50-year retirement party? Sure, greater mobility and expanded capacity play a part, but folks will stay where they are happy if given half a chance. When layoffs and rolling cutbacks come and go like squalls in an Indiana spring, though, that stability is simply gone. “Golden parachute” is a concept that would make Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie stand up in their graves.
    Consider this phrase in the encyclical, then: “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and [in] the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.” It makes a lot more sense when one considers who it is that wields economic power these days. Is it the street-level proprietor, or even the small business owner? No. It is the government and its pinstripe pals who have betrayed the trust of the people to safeguard our economic capabilities and have begun to work for themselves at the expense of the rest of us.
    MM’s idea that the Church should not “endorse capitalism” is backwards. In its purest form, one cannot “embrace” capitalism any more than one can endorse breathing or waking up every day. Free-market economics is a natural state, and it works best when those involved in its everyday activities embrace the teachings of the Church. MM says “The Church teaches on how we ought to treat each other as people, not what actions will result in the greatest efficiency, the greatest growth, or the greatest profit.” What he seems to miss is that those two are in fact one and the same. Gobry nails it.
    I believe that His Holiness sees a lot more than he lets on, and if he’s not intentionally setting up the left-handed saps for a big fall, he’s certainly letting the “enough rope” theory do its part.

  • I think the problem with this passage is that one phrase was mistranslated from the Spanish (the proper translation would not be ‘inevitably’ but ‘in itself’ or ‘for itself’) and that the translator made use of a term from partisan opinion journalism (‘trickle-down economics’) which maps poorly to actual discourse on economic topics.

    Economic activity occurs within a context where moral choices take place, so the Pope certainly has something to say about that. Agriculture and commerce and industry are a dimension of human life and the Pope certainly has something to say about the relationship of that dimension to the other dimensions.

    Let us posit that the Pope said that markets are not omnicompetent – that the society as a whole has tasks not met through markets. That would be an unexceptional statement. The thing is, la gauche maintains in its head this caricature of the starboard which has all of us thinking like the hero in an Ayn Rand novel. Of course, hardly anyone thinks that way. That implicit caricature, along with the use of buzz terms like ‘trickle-down economics’ leads one to the conclusion that the Pope himself or his secretariat is addled by a mentality one associates with crude opinion journalists. That is disconcerting.

  • Pingback: Four Factors That Fuel the Crisis in Marriage - BigPulpit.com
  • The issue of ‘translation’ is an extremely important one. However, since others and I myself have spent some time on this aspect of the subject I would prefer to address some further concerns.

    Taking the whole “Social Teaching” of the Magisterium of the popes from the time of Leo XIII to Pope Benedict [I am leaving Pope Francis and Evangelii Gaudium to the side here for a moment] there can be no doubt that the Catholic Church does not believe in “Statism”, the complete monopoly of all aspects of society and culture by the State. This arose first in response to Communism, but the Fascists and National Socialists were ultimately no different. This can be seen especially in the Church’s teaching on the principle of subsidiarity, first put forward by Pope Pius IX in Quadragessimo Anno in 1931.

    There is another important point that needs to be made here, which in my reading, has become very clear. There is a certain ‘reading’ of the Social Teachings of the Church much in the same manner as some read Vatican II. To be specific, some read the publication of Populorum Progressio (and here I am not criticizing or taking a swipe at what Michael Patgerson-Seymour gives us in the above post) as a completely new start to the Social Teaching of the Church. In other words, even with the Social Teachings of the Church there is a ‘hermeneutic of rupture’ and a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’. If isolated from the rest or taken as the primary social encyclical, Populorum Progressio could and has been read in rather ‘progressive’, even ‘socialist’ terms. This is the reason Pope Benedict emphasized Populorum Progressio within the larger corpus of social teaching in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate. I have found the book, “Papal Economics: the Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate” by Macej Zieba O.P. to be extremely helpful on this subject.

    Where does this lead us? Within the Catholic theological world, and in some aspects of the Curia, there is this ‘reading’ of Populorum Progressio in an isolated way, but more specifically, in a way that makes it the key to interpreting all Social Teaching documents etc of the Church. This simply is not an accurate picture of or interpretation of Catholic Social Teaching.

    While the Church has turned away from “Statism” it is still in an active, ongoing and dynamic ‘dialogue’ with “Democratic Capitalism” and “the free market”. In this ‘dialogue’ are we, as Church, not supposed to bring our Gospel and faith to the table? Because we have turned our back on Statism does that mean we ‘must’ accept all aspects of “Democratic Capitalism” and its free market without question or critique? Certainly Blessed John Paul’s social encyclicals ‘critiqued’ Democratic Capitalism and the free market, without in any way condemning it. John Paul saw the Social Teaching of the Church as offering ‘foundational moral principles’ by which one could address, critique and dialogue with social issues and problems of the day. Pope Benedict in his single social encyclical nuanced this a bit by stating that Catholic social teaching is the proclamation of gospel charity within social settings (including economic ones)

    Pope Francis’ relatively brief pointed comments on economic issues are simply that. They are not full blown elaborated social teachings [although it will be interesting to see if and when he does indeed write a social encyclical and what and how he addresses ‘economic issues’] I see them as brief ‘prophetic statements’ meant to both probe and lift up our consciousness concerning how all of us in a global society are ‘dealing with’ ‘the market’.

    He speaks of the Golden Calf: a vivid and prophetic image, meant to ‘get the attention’. The question here is not whether I/we like what he is saying (although all of us think our own ideas are extremely important-including this writer :-)) The question is whether that image of the Golden Calf applies, is accurate, is true? I am not reading individual hearts or minds here, but we have just come out of one long weekend-one that used to be a wonderful relaxing one spent with family and friends as we gave thanks and spent quality time with each other. What did we witness? Some stores even open on Thanksgiving Day itself, taking employees away from their families (are they that different from slaves in these situations?) While in times not that long ago, this was the Christmas buying season because it was all about ‘giving’, that is now banished from all descriptions. Now it is ‘Buy, Buy Buy” For what reason? Well the supposed ‘sales’ but down deep, ‘the Gross National Product” “and the people bowed and prayed…….”

    Pope Francis placed all his comments within a call to give economic issues etc a moral underpinning and responsibility. He condemned, rightly, an ‘economics of exclusion’ and a ‘throw away culture’ (here he is not simply speaking of the waste of material things, but of vast amounts of food when people are starving, but even more importantly, people who are thrown away because they no longer ‘contribute’ economically by work or consuming because of economic status, age, health or other disabilities) The question for all of us is this: in order for us, and/or society ‘to have’ does it by logic necessitate ‘have nots’? Certainly some would answer ‘yes’ to that question. Some, perhaps most do not want to really think about this aspect of things. However, if any society in order ‘to have’ necessitates ‘have nots’, this is not simply not optimal, it is not acceptable, and not moral. It may or may not make good economic sense (however in the long haul it does not-morality is like that-it actually is trying to get us to the best result: happiness) but it is in no way acceptable or moral. All are called to participate in societal life, just as all are called to participate in Divine Life in and through Christ Jesus. No one can be excluded by this call.

    This critique of an economics of exclusion does not countenance a ‘permanent welfare state’ either. The best thing we can do for those excluded by society is to enable them to ‘get off the welfare rolls’ of society, to help them regain their sense of dignity and personal self worth, no longer ‘dependent children’ on the all-knowing welfare bureaucracy and the ruling elites who use all those in these situations to continue their power. Helping to get these people back to work, with jobs that are meaningful and thus creative and life-giving, is the outcome of the critique of the economics of exclusion.

    One final point (I know I have gone long here). Pope Francis calls not for a ‘socialist utopia’ or one Ayn Rand would love. Instead, in the issue of economics he makes a prophetic statement, really a prophetic call, calling for a world in which “Money serves, not rules”. For a people who claim “Jesus Christ is Lord”, that can not be that radical. Right?

  • The Church does not do economic analysis, but she can judge economic systems and offer principles for guidance. That is what the Holy Father did. It seems that a few are making more of these few sentences than they should.

  • Bravo Dawin! A well positioned piece. What I think we all can agree with is the continued quest and attempt to inject ethical behavior into the workplace. Yes, this is a personal trait that can be embraced or ignored … still, I stand behind the position that even when ignored and greed or immorality takes root … the market will correct itself far more efficiently than if governed. That is the freedom and trust issue that most find hard to accept.

  • Pingback: TUESDAY AFTERNOON EDITION | God & Caesar
  • I’ve made the joke before that Catholics are to economics as Evangelicals are to evolution. The older I get, the less funny and more wry observation it seems… 😉

    But what the financial crisis has laid bare is that the most conventional version of free market economics was actually dead wrong.

    This is as annoying as hearing about how “Hoover was a do-nothing president.” (aka, it’s exactly wrong) You may as well lay the blame for Mussolini at Catholicism’s feet since hey, Rome is in Italy. Heck, one flaw about the quote is that what is “conventional wisdom” is still very much in debate. If you’re talking about conventional, Keynesian interventionism, yeah I agree that was dead wrong, but that’s not much of “free market” either.

    It would have been a pastoral, doctrinal, and theological disaster if the Church had, over the past twenty years, blindly subscribed to what I’ll now refer to as the Washington Consensus. What in 2006 looked like the invisible hand of the market leading the financialization of the economy turned out to be a disastrous instance of crony-capitalist central planning. And when the Pope denounced it, I was among those condescendingly explaining to him that he didn’t get it. What it turns out is that economists actually know very, very little, and that a lot of what we thought we knew turned out to be wrong. Given this hard-to-swallow fact, the prophetic voice of the Church that reminds us of what must be the ends of economic activity is very salutary.

    Again, depends on who you ask or talk to. Austrian-thought economists certainly came out looking a lot better than others. This is rather annoying.

    Because the Church is not on earth to conduct economic analysis and more than it is on earth to decide whether the sun is at the center of the solar system or the manner of the origin of species. Its job is not to figure out what sort of economic system will result in the highest growth or the greatest equality or any other such thing.

    Amen to that. It has no more right in those areas than say… crop production and trying to figure out what systems and fields will produce the highest yields.

    As such, the best response to Church teaching on economic interactions may not be “the state should require that everyone behave the way the Church says they should”, since that may well not have the intended consequence.

    Amen again! Though you should probably be careful which catholics you tell that too. 😉 Some think the state should very well require everyone behave the way the church wants. (looking at you T.Seber)

    If so, that would not be an unusual view for an Argentinian to hold in spite of the overwhelming evidence that State involvement in the Argentinian economy has produced disaster after disaster.

    Just because the evidence is there that the state involvement has ruined Argentinia, doesn’t mean that state involvement isn’t popular. If I can quote Radio Derb a moment:

    Sixty years ago there was a man in Argentina named Juan Perón, who made himself terrifically popular by promising everything to everyone: low taxes for businessmen, high wages for workers, political plums for the military, price supports for farmers, government jobs for intellectuals, state-subsidized health care for everyone … the whole nine yards. It worked! — for about five years. Then the bills came due, and Argentina’s been bumping along the bottom ever since, the economic wreckage occasionally stirred by a coup or revolution.

    Although I can’t find it now, I remember hearing once that Juan Peron remains very popular in Argentina (can anyone confirm/deny?). And why not? Remember that post on here awhile back about how “cargo cultish” American society has become? It’s just like that. Juan Peron’s ideas were good, so their failure was clearly the fault of… something else. It couldn’t have been because the ideas were flawed because they seemed good to the people.

    I am curious as to the Pope’s opinion on Argentina’s past. Anyone know?

    Because we have turned our back on Statism does that mean we ‘must’ accept all aspects of “Democratic Capitalism” and its free market without question or critique? Certainly Blessed John Paul’s social encyclicals ‘critiqued’ Democratic Capitalism and the free market, without in any way condemning it.

    The older I get the more it seems that every effort to find a “third way” between communism and capitalism are like efforts to find a “third way” between being a virgin and being pregnant. “Oh this time, we’ll just be a little less pregnant.” I’d have to consult some of my books but wasn’t communism once proposed as a “third way” of something. Then we got socialism (like, the mid point between communism and capitalism) now we’re talking distributionism (the mid point between socialism etc). I’m sure I’ll get to see yet ANOTHER “third way” before I die.

    Look, the free market is nothing more than the aggregate of individual actors (aka people). To think that you can somehow affect the group without bothering with every member of said group is to place everything backwards. If you want a more “just” free market (however that is defined) then the answer is simple: you must have more just people. To critique democratic capitalism for man’s sin nature is rather like critiquing Catholicism for the priest abuse. Heck to do so is to buy into the implicit assumptions of Marx, that we should remove free will and human agency from people.

    But then I’ll admit I’m still trying to cleanse myself of Marxist garbage. (a big help was realizing how steeped I was in it thanks to Sarah Hoyt here: http://accordingtohoyt.com/2013/10/16/fifty-shades-of-marx/)

    (note that all quotes in this comment are quotes quotes, not scare or sarcasm)

  • I’m a business manager. I suppose I’m one of those who, at least in my narrow field, wield economic power.

    What I’ve learned as a business manager is that you hire someone for the skills they have and you don’t expect them to do a job that they’ve never been trained to do.

    We have an elected 3rd world Pope. We did not elect an intellectual giant as in B16, nor did we get lucky in electing and grooming a blessed-fighter in JP II.

    We got a simple man, of simple and direct faith.

    He may think he can “pontificate” (I can hear my kids guffawing at that one now) on any subject he chooses, but let’s face facts: He spent most of his life in Argentina, doing daily tasks of a Bishop and not studying Western economics. He is, for lack of a better term, ill-suited to weigh-in on economics.

    The idea that the Holy Spirit would fill his mouth with amazing insights and words on the complexity of economics is a nice thought, but unrealistic.

    He ought to be told that he doesn’t know everything, and he ought to be reminded that what he doesn’t know, he doesn’t know, is the most dangerous of subjects to exhortate anyone about.

    If he limits his words and actions to the areas he knows well — we should all be very glad of the Pope we have.

    However, if he continues to wander aimlessly into woods where he knows not what ferocious beasts await him — we should not be shocked or stunned when he encounters a beast he has never met and tries to shoo-it away with a fly-swatter.

    God Bless the Pope — but more importantly, Holy Spirit fill his mind with the wisdom to know precisely what he does not know about!

  • Economic decisions, choices, actions have a moral component: they can be good or bad. It is important for us to weigh the morality of our economic decisions personally and as a society. Moral theology is not separate from any compartment of our lives; can not be separated from our politics nor from our economic life. We are called to be just and prudent in all of our ways of making a living, using our wealth or property. We can not make moral decisions blindly. The Church is our moral guide helping inform our personal political social (and of course economic) actions. Would I say the Church should not inform my politics?

  • “Would I say the Church should not inform my politics?”

    I should hope not, although I think the Church would have little to say as to most political issues, leaving that up to the wisdom of individual Catholics. I think a similar policy should be followed in economics. Making moral judgments is no excuse for people within the Church pretending to an expertise they manifestly do not possess. Christ’s comment when He was asked to command that a brother give a share of an estate to a sibling is instructive: “But he said to him: Man, who hath appointed me judge or divider over you?”

  • “I am curious as to the Pope’s opinion on Argentina’s past. Anyone know?”

    The Pope has been described as a conservative Peronist, but no facts have been brought forth in the articles I have read to support this characterization.

  • What is hard for some to understand is that the church has never accepted the notion that economics is a science. It is always treated in the social documents as a human institution. Unlike scientific laws about physics, it is not viewed as “the way things are,” such that it requires a special expertise to understand. Instead, it is viewed as the “way we made it.” The church judges economic systems like it judges political systems or cultural practices, asking “Does it conform to the Church’s understanding of the human person and, if not, what principles can guide its change?” That is basically, even if not artfully, what the Pope did.

    Understandably, to some economists this approach is absurd as the church declaring that a particular scientific theory is true or false. But, seen from the perspective of the church, it is not only not absurd, but required.

  • Good points but also: “the wisdom of individual Catholics’ — ruh roh- ! 🙂
    We need guidance. Not that it should be ex cathedra, and these ill advised (IMO) statements by the pope seem to betray a predilection and a parochialism that may be related to his home roots.
    Nonetheless there should be Catholic moral theologians studying macro economics theoretically and in history to help us all know more about how to make our choices… Economics is not a field of study that should be ignored by the Church.
    The pope is learning fast and I hope he will have the humility to recognize his need for a broad spectrum of advisors and that there will be clarifications coming that will help. The Church should not back away from such an important subject, which affects all kinds of human behaviors. Economic stress could be at he bottom of lots and lots of sinful behavior.
    As I understand your quote from Jesus, He is letting them know he is not a temporal lawyer or judge or king, as many Jews were looking for the Messiah to be, but it doesn’t mean He was saying that Christians should not be involved in civil affairs. He goes on to say immediately after that to be on guard against all kinds of greed. (Luke 12 :13 – 15)
    The covenant of love would require moral choices, using our intellects and wills to love, to will the good of others. It does not require the DIRECT involvement of the Church, but the INDIRECT effect of her teachings.

  • It is always treated in the social documents as a human institution. Unlike scientific laws about physics, it is not viewed as “the way things are,” such that it requires a special expertise to understand. Instead, it is viewed as the “way we made it.” The church judges economic systems like it judges political systems or cultural practices, asking “Does it conform to the Church’s understanding of the human person and, if not, what principles can guide its change?”

    Perhaps, but the scarcity we find ourselves in which gives rise to economics come from God’s words Himself:
    “Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
    It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
    By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
    until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
    for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

    I also recommend: http://www.scifiwright.com/2012/06/economists-and-antieconomists-2/

  • On the contrary, Catholic economists have been some of the best and most original, and historically have been suppressed. See, e.g., Frederick Soddy.


    Also available as a PDF online for free.

    The role of Catholic economists is absolutely vital, now more than ever, and is needed to counter the eviscerating criminality of the international central monetary system and its banks — outright criminality and intentional fraud run rampant. We need to get a few good Catholics in there to reform the system so that money systems are not only fair and sane, but meet a baseline of legality. Nevermind the morality, just to enforce some legality would be a public good, and Pope Francis is absolutely right to draw attention to it.

  • Reading Francis’s exhortation with care (and in the light of some of the translation issues which have come up) I think it’s fairly clear that Francis is not denying the efficacy of markets as functioning economic mechanisms, but rather condemning those who imagine that because markets allow for greater growth, and growth tends to help society as a whole, that by supporting markets we have now fulfilled the whole of our obligations to our fellow men. Far from it, the fact that on average people do better in a given situation does not mean that some people are not still doing very badly, and that we have a duty to help those people in every way we can.

    Just once, I’d like to hear a priest, any priest make a similiar exhortation about supporting the social-welfare state.

    Is it really charity if Peter supports taxing Paul to pay for Philemon’s EBT card, medicaid, sec. 8 housing voucher, etc.?

  • If you want a more “just” free market (however that is defined) then the answer is simple: you must have more just people. To critique democratic capitalism for man’s sinful nature is … to buy into the implicit assumptions of Marx, that we should remove free will and human agency from people.

    Yes! Or to put it more precisely, some people should remove free will and human agency from other people.
    Free will is necessary for our moral agency. It is necessary to defend it as to defend hope.
    The conversation about free markets runs in parallel to our understanding of free will, and the conversation about free speech.

  • Tasmin wrote, “Yes! Or to put it more precisely, some people should remove free will and human agency from other people.”
    Indeed, but the law is the expression of the general will. As Rousseau points out, “In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; [ce qui ne signifie autre chose sinon qu’on le forcera d’être libre] for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.” [Rousseau, Social Contract I, 7]

  • But the ‘law’ whether of economics or ‘the law of the land’ as an expression of the will of the people, must have some correlation with Eternal Law as it can be known ‘self-evidently’ in natural law, or given and guaranteed by Divine Law.

    We live in an era where law is interpreted in a positivist [note: not ‘positive’] way, completely cut off from the deeper moral law. Even the ancient Greeks (in their plays) and Romans in the best examples at the time of the Republic understood this. Antigone, faced with the order of the king to leave her brother’s body without burial and exposed for shame and ridicule knew she had to follow the deeper moral law to bury her brother! And these were pagans!

  • Let me go to the issue of Pope Francis’ theological training, and why, as I’ve noted above, that some of his statements are so seriously flawed that even L’Osservatore Romano criticized his Oct 1 comments with Scalfari (the atheist Italian journalist) and that the Va. website took down a number of his flawed statements (such as “the conscience is autonomous”)about Oct 2nd. Having a great deal of experience with ivory-tower professor-type Jesuits at a few Jesuit U’s, I have ample basis to see the Bergoglio papal leadership foundering on his pre-concepts—preconcepts that they (Jesuits) often toss around to each other self-congratulatingly, untested and rarified ideas that are jarringly discordant with the reality of the world. Now, the pro-Martini/Bologna school/Natl Cath Reporter-types will assail any criticism as personally “contemptuous” (not so: contempt (def) = regarding someone as inferior, base—I do not regard Bergoglio/PF this way), but I do assail his continuously flawed and un-self-critical language—which I have learned to expect from someone, who, like Bergoglio, didnt teach in a high-level theological faculty for years, where his ideas were fire-tested by smart and challenging faculty and students—such as JP2 did and BXVI did. I have pointed out again and again that he never finished his Ph.D at Frankfurt—it is well documented in German-language news sources, such as Tauber Zeitung and others. This shows to me a man who, yes he is Pope, but like Montini, he has serious deficiencies in his training that he brings to the office. The Church will therefore be affected by these deficiencies. Grace builds on nature: if the nature is flawed, the medium of grace may be correspondingly limited. Not always: there is of course a Cure d’Ars, or a Solanus Casey or Joseph of Cupertino, the latter whom couldnt pass any of his theology exams (he was reputed to have a zero on every one, poverello!). But we are in for a rough ride, and as even Lumen Gentium notes (n. 25), the Pope must teach what the CC has always taught and held. There is no other course. As for economic analysis and several other areas, I will look other than EG for guidance.

  • “that some of his statements are so seriously flawed that even L’Osservatore Romano criticized his Oct 1 comments with Scalfari (the atheist Italian journalist) and that the Va. website took down a number of his flawed statements . . .”

    Or maybe they took them down because he did not really say them?

  • Right: CTD “maybe they took them down because he did not really say them”: Now, this is what we are reduced to regarding papal statements by Pope Francis: to the actual point of claiming he didnt say what he said, which is what poor Fr Federico Lombardi had to try to floart. The last several months, usually the interpreters of Francis have been using the “What-the-Pope-REALLY-meant-was…” lead-in). (Rather like “I never said, ‘If you like your healthplan, you can keep it.'”) Let’s just face it: PF makes some really poorly based statements (look at EG for a smorgasbord of them) and it is live action now: he is the spokesman for the Catholic Faith. He brings his notable prejudices (he has said how Card. Martini was his model) to the game: and it is not pretty. He is also all over the place, as Darwin C notes, from how a homily should be said (I hope no one uses his verbosity and lack of focus as an example) to how free-markets should be [I guess] even more regulated, and beating up on the straw man of laissez-faire Gordon Gecko-types. What about the World Bank, Holy Father, who has caused so much pain to so many developing countries, and even to your own country of Argentina, with their grossly punitive monetary actions? What about the WTO, which is little more than a band of brigands, routinely penalizing the US and rewarding rogue nations? The silence is deafening.

  • But in the case of the statements allegedly to Scalfari, there were no notes or recording and it was, by Scalfari’s own admission, his paraphrasing of the Pope’s statements draw from recollection. This is one case where the evidence indicates that it is not what he said.

    I personally have no problem with attributing to the Pope statements he actually said, including Evangellii Gaudium.

  • Right. Scalfari did not say, from all the original statements I have read of his, that he did not take notes, or that he was “paraphrasing” from recollection: only that he hadnt recorded the conversation.

    Fr. Lombardi has had to do damage control on what PF reliably said:

    ‘Pressed by reporters on the reliability of the direct quotations, Lombardi said during an Oct. 2 briefing that the text accurately captured the “sense” of what the pope had said, and that if Francis felt his thought had been “gravely misrepresented,” he would have said so.’ (NCR Oct 5, 2013).

    Let’s face it: in EG, in his own words, PF makes a remarkably uncharitable swipe at the traditionals, calling them “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagians”:”those who ultimately trust only in their won powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past (n. 94.) (gee, sounds like a lot of “Spirit-of-V2” hide-bound progressives to me..) He calls others in the Church “querulous and disillusioned pessimists”(n. 85) and defeatists, even while he says “the Christian ideal will alwyas be a summons to overcome suspicion, habitual mistrust, ..” The statements in the La Repubblica interview are not far from the un-self-critical statements he puts in black-and-white in EG Aand now we have to quibble over the “translation”? Oh, face it, this is PF himself.