The Importance of Sports in a Post-Modern World

Wednesday, June 9, AD 2010

In a few days the FIFA World Cup, which is one of -if not the- premier sporting events in the world, begins so I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the good of sports for those who don’t play them.

In modern sports, sometimes it’s hard to see this good. In sports today, we have college football conferences raiding each other in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar, destroying the wonderful regional nature of the game. We have Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time divas, two games away from yet another title. As Henry Karlson pointed out in a post a while ago, sports stars often find themselves in a position of privilege-both in terms of financial wealth and in terms of our excusal of their poor behavior (though I would attribute this in large part not solely to sports but also to the cult of celebrity we have today, which is another post for another day). We even had a stampede in anticipation of the World Cup.

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4 Responses to The Importance of Sports in a Post-Modern World

  • See today’s Wall Street Journal review by John Heilpern of “Soccer and Philsosphy” edited by Ted Richards.

    Most of it flew right over my head.

    Sports and Theology: When my kids were playing, I’d pray that no one was hurt; that everyone played well; and that our team won. Now, it’s a Hail Mary for every pitch Marion Rivera throws. It usually works.

  • I’m reminded of that scene in American History X when a white supremacist and a black guy bond over basketball talk. They say Sunday mornings are the most segregated time of the week but I’d say that Sunday afternoons at football stadiums are some of the most integrated places in America.

    Having said that, international sporting events have also been responsible for some hostility, sometimes violence.

  • The slogan for the World Cup in the past used to be (loosely translated) the world united around a ball. Well, it at least gets them physically together in the same place, if not necessarily united.

    I do agree though, sports do have some salutary effects on communities and individuals. Particularly team sports which impart sense of belonging, cooperation, and putting the team’s interests ahead of one’s own (apparently, Maradona has not picked up on that last one).

  • Thank you for the fantastic post. Together with the world cup coming round you’re starting to find far better posts on sports around the globe. Continue the good work please. The world wide web needs it.

Blind Girl Saw Invisible Powers That Permeated the Vatican and Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, April 20, AD 2010

At a time when so many are down on the Church, it’s interesting to see through the eyes of a young girl — a blind girl who had mystical vision.

Let’s back up and say this comes from a book by a medical doctor named Dr. John Lerma, who specializes at the Houston Medical Center Hospice in tending to patients as they near death.

Dr. Lerma has had tremendous experiences with these patients — documenting the many who see angels or deceased loved ones and have glimpses of the eternal as they approach the threshold.

But what we’d like to focus on today is a different kind of supernatural experience that occurred when a ten-year-old girl named Sarah who had been blind since birth as a result of atrophic optic nerves was taken to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This was an Easter Sunday nearly two decades ago.

“I marveled at the multitude of loving sounds that Bernini’s dramatic design was exuding,” recalled Sarah nineteen years later as she lay dying of cancer. “As I walked through the towering, ornate door of St. Peter’s Basilica, I was drawn by an alluring vibration toward the chapel to my right.

“What I was allowed to hear was beyond awe.

“The vibrations and frequencies, now a part of my entire being, were the remnant echoing sounds of sadness replaced by utter joy and exuberant love from the statue where Jesus was heard to be lying on His mother’s lap after being crucified. I knew I was now standing in front of Michelangelo’s most honored statue, the ‘Pieta.’ Feeling some unfamiliar loving force take hold of my hand, I took hold of my mother’s and followed with total faith. I told my mom not to worry and to trust me, as there was an angel leading us to our next spiritual experience.”

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8 Responses to Blind Girl Saw Invisible Powers That Permeated the Vatican and Pope John Paul II

Is John Paul II still great?

Monday, April 12, AD 2010

I’ve been asking myself that question as I’ve read the discussions about the sex abuse scandal and asked it again while I read Ross Douthat’s editorial at the NYT this morning. The most pertinent part is this:

But there’s another story to be told about John Paul II and his besieged successor. The last pope was a great man, but he was also a weak administrator, a poor delegator, and sometimes a dreadful judge of character.

The church’s dilatory response to the sex abuse scandals was a testament to these weaknesses. So was John Paul’s friendship with the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. The last pope loved him and defended him. But we know now that Father Maciel was a sexually voracious sociopath. And thanks to a recent exposé by The National Catholic Reporter’s Jason Berry, we know the secret of Maciel’s Vatican success: He was an extraordinary fund-raiser, and those funds often flowed to members of John Paul’s inner circle.

Only one churchman comes out of Berry’s story looking good: Joseph Ratzinger. Berry recounts how Ratzinger lectured to a group of Legionary priests, and was subsequently handed an envelope of money “for his charitable use.” The cardinal “was tough as nails in a very cordial way,” a witness said, and turned the money down.

This isn’t an isolated case. In the 1990s, it was Ratzinger who pushed for a full investigation of Hans Hermann Groer, the Vienna cardinal accused of pedophilia, only to have his efforts blocked in the Vatican. It was Ratzinger who persuaded John Paul, in 2001, to centralize the church’s haphazard system for handling sex abuse allegations in his office. It was Ratzinger who re-opened the long-dormant investigation into Maciel’s conduct in 2004, just days after John Paul II had honored the Legionaries in a Vatican ceremony. It was Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict, who banished Maciel to a monastery and ordered a comprehensive inquiry into his order.

So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up. This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last pope tended to avoid — the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in once-Christian Europe. And it extends to the caliber of the church’s bishops, where Benedict’s appointments are widely viewed as an improvement over the choices John Paul made. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the most forthright ecclesiastical responses to the abuse scandal have come from friends and protégés of the current pope.

Douthat is not alone here; most have pointed out (including Rod Dreher, who left the Church b/c of his disappointment w/ the abuse scandals) that Benedict has gone to great lengths to clean up the mess that his predecessor made. But does a “great” make that kind of mess?

Now I certainly think that JPII is a saint. I don’t think that’s in question. Interestingly enough, I have not gathered from the media’s coverage that they would disagree with that. In fact, I would say that he probably merits very serious consideration as a doctor of the Church for Fides et Ratio and “man and Woman He Created Them: a theology of the body” Heck, I even have a poster of him in my living room (which is useful for showing to Mormon missionaries when they ask if I’m religious).

But having the title of “the great” means something extra than sainthood, doesn’t it?

Of course, this is difficult b/c “the great” title has no requirements, no set guidelines. This can be a big deal, as often the rules determine the result (for example: the importance you attach to Superbowl wins affects whether you think Manning or Brady is superior. of course this question is irrelevant b/c Brees is better than both of them but I digress).

Adding further difficulty is determining how significant this scandal is. While I’m sure this has profoundly affected those who have suffered from child abuse, I’m not sure if this will be a big deal thirty, fifty, a hundred years down the road. Right now of course it seems huge but how many people will be aware of it in the coming generations?

For JPII to not be determined great, it would have to be that the sex abuse scandal made enough of a dent in his legacy. This is not a minor feat, as JPII deserves significant credit for stabilizing the Church following Vatican II (setting the stage for the current traditonalist revival), excellent contributions to theology (including Fides et Ratio and Theology of the Body), an excellent charismatic approach that changed the nature of the papacy, and-oh yeah-helping to peacefully bring down the Soviet Union.

I tend to think that in the end, he will be deemed great though for the moment I hesitate to use the term. In the end, I think this storm will pass and we’ll be left with the memories of a great man with great accomplishments. But I think it’s possible that in reflecting on the failures of JPII’s papacy that perhaps we’ll choose not to use the term, and that’s not a possibility many were entertaining 5 years ago when JPII came into eternal life.

I would really like to know how other people are approaching this problem. Please leave comments.

Of course, one has to think that if Benedict is doing better than JPII, and JPII is “the great”, ought perhaps Benedict be up for the term? Food for thought.

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27 Responses to Is John Paul II still great?

  • On one point I agree with Douthat is that JP2 overlooked liturgical abuse. Even to the point of participating in it himself “hoping” that his example would lead others to change, but alas we’ve seen how this has failed miserably.

    Thank goodness for Pope Benedict!

  • The failure to adequately address the sex abuse scandal was the great failing of the JPII papacy.

    Yet I came into the Church in 2004 – just after the height of the scandal in the U.S. in 2002. Not only was the Church’s poor handling of the crisis NOT an impediment to me, but I have my doubts that I would be here but for JPII. I had loved John Paul and considered him “the Great” for well over 20 years before I ever entered the Church.

    I think there can be no doubt to anyone who saw the entirety of JPII’s papacy and witnessed his compelling presence on the world stage – his contribution to the fall of Eastern European communism, alone, in my view, merits the sobriquet “the Great” – that such a title is apt.

  • Jay:

    You actually touch on a problem I have in evaluating this: when I really came into the faith (although I was a cradle Catholic) Benedict was pope, not JPII. So it’s hard for me to really evaluate his papacy like most others can.

  • I have to say that my love for JPII was the sort of love that one might feel for the “great man” like George Washington or Abe Lincoln. It’s not so much a personal attachment as it is an admiration for someone who is much larger than just himself. I think many people of different faiths and no faiths recognized that in JPII, and this is part of why I believe “the Great” is applicable.

    That said, the love I feel for Benedict is a much more personalized love, like one might have for a kindly old grandfather or a favorite uncle. He might not be a “great” man, but, more importantly, he is a “good” man. And that is why I am so angered by these unfair attacks upon his character.

  • “So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up.”

    +

    “[Pope Benedict] might not be a “great” man, but, more importantly, he is a “good” man. And that is why I am so angered by these unfair attacks upon his character.”

    =

    Exactly.

  • This is why it should take decades, if not centuries to determine canonization… you need the hindsight of history, the unfolding of events and calm nerves to soberly assess these matters…

  • Anthiny:

    true. Now, I’m ok w/ Mother Teresa & JPII getting accelerated b/c I think that it’s pretty obvious that their spirituality & their following are more than enough. But for most saints, waiting a while is a good thing and it’s done for the reasons you point out.

    That said, I still want to see Sheen canonized soon, preferably yesterday.

  • I think the problem is it is John Paul the II versus Benedict. It was not till Benedict read all those scope of the problem. At this stage John Paul the II was entering the last stages of his life. Thought the Pope had some judgment lapses after (again lets face it he was again in bad shape) it does appear he backed Ratzinger on taking control. So it is perhaps a tad unfair of making it just Ratzinger versu John Paul the II

    However what about PAUL THE VI. The exahustive John Jay report shows these incidents of abuse peaked in 79 and we start seeing a dramtic fall after 84

    In fact new cases that are not decades old have been old are rare. I think there just 6 reported credible(it could have happened) allegations last year.

    John Paul the II and his reforms and the Bishops he put in(they were not all bad) I think hasto be looked at here. It is apparent that a good bit of this occured even before JOhn Paul the II got on though by reading media reports one would miss that fact.

    So I would say the failure of this mostly applies to Bishops and others that were supervising the Seminaries and their Priest from a much earlier period.

    Not to absolve John Paul the II from bad adminstrative skills in this regard. Yet to be honest it appears this was born under a lot leadership before he came on board in Rome

  • I made a passing comment about a week ago on this site about how I didn’t like the designation “the Great” used for JP2. I’m grateful that someone took up the subject in an article.

    There is a tendency to overdramatize the times that a person lives in. (I suspect we do that more today, but saying that may be an example of overdramatizing things.) The Church has to be careful not to do that, because Her majesty and holiness are more apparent when viewed across history. I think the Church has to be sparing with its praise of our contemporaries.

    There have been seven people, if I remember correctly, that the Church has regularly labelled “the Great”. Among popes, Leo, Gregory, and Nicholas; the remainder are Doctors and/or Fathers of the Church. You could pack a church with stained glass and statues of great but not Great saints: Augustine, Benedict, Joan of Arc, and Ignatius of Loyola are among the Church’s “also-rans”.

    What did John Paul do that made him a “Great”? Was his theology head-and-shoulders better than Theresa of Avila and Francis of Asissi? Did he really influence history more than Athanasius? Pius V, now there was a man who influenced history, defended the liturgy, fought heresy, and honored the rosary. John Paul II may have defeated communism without firing a shot, but he also did it without saving a soul – where is the blossoming of Catholicism in eastern Europe, outside of Poland?

    That’s my argument without mentioning Father Maciel. The fact is that John Paul hasn’t even been canonized yet. It’s impious to list him as great among the saints, and imprudent to do so with any saint without decades of reflection.

  • To the thought of the title “The Great” – in which direction would the Church have gone without him? I believe God knows what he is doing. he put the right person in as Pope at the right time. I am glad he has his short-comings – he is human after all. I don’t then Cardinal Ratzinger minded his role in that all too much.

    So yes I believe “The Great” fits in relation to JPII.

  • That said, I still want to see Sheen canonized soon, preferably yesterday.

    I have a friend who studied Sheen extensively for his license thesis; fwiw, as he progressed in his studies, he became less convinced that Sheen should be canonized. It’s not that Sheen wasn’t an excellent catechist or person; just that he had some well known faults and lifestyle choices (vanity and a taste for the finer things in life) that aren’t typically associated with sainthood. I’m not trying to trash Bishop Sheen. I have great affection for G.K. Chesterton, but I’m not sure he is an ideal candidate for canonization either.

    As for Benedict and John Paul II, John Paul II was a great man and a saint from everything I’ve read. I think the same of Benedict. It must be said, however, that John Paul II had many failings as an administrator, most notably a tendency to trust that his suboordinates and people like Fr. Maciel were as virtuous as he was. In some cases that faith was rewarded (the elevation of Joseph Ratzinger comes to mind), but in other cases the results were disastrous. Pathological liars, it seems, can deceive even (and, one fears, especially) the saints.

  • Both popes are great and good men, and we are extraordinarly fortunate to have had them (and may Benedict have many more years).

    Yet they are men, and Ross Douthat is right that John Paul was, by some measures, a poor administrator. Even so….to be a Polish Catholic leader in the 20th Century was to be overwhelmed by evil, and to have been overwhelmed by the courage of hero-priests. I expect this was his bias in the relationship, for example, to the disgraced Father Marcel.

  • Marriage suffered under JPII as he supervised the new Canon Law which was changed to ignore the crime that adultery is. Under his watch annulments have been excouraged to the point of making marriage vows impossible to make that are binding under the scrutity of “inventive” canonists. Crimes against marriage by clergy and laity involved in the “annulment process” are rampant yet go unpunished, even when the documentation sits in the hands of the Catholic Church. He was well aware of abuses but did nothing to address them or to empower those whose marriage were laid to waste to seek justice.

    JPII is not and was not great. His case for canonization should be ended, permanently, and such a declaration should be made public. I was thrilled, as a man of Polish ancestry, when he was elected. But, as time progressed and Catholicism disintigrated I became more and more disenchanted with him.

    If Benedict does not address the abuses of marriage with accountability, he should be forgotten, as I hope JPII will be. It is that important.

    I await his growing into his job. He seems to be an improvement but only marginally so. He still talks a much better case than he acts, at least regarding marriage.

    I do not mean to say that either of these men are not
    “good” men. They just did/do not do enough to hold those men, especially among the clergy, who are not “good” men to account or to allow laity to defend themselves against these abusers. This should be especially true in nullity proceedings.

    What I experienced should cost many priests and some bishops laicization and perhaps worse. It remains disgusting that the current bishops accept and encourage adultery through their priests, even in the face of accusations from a person who defended their marriage and who is watching it. Benedict knows what is going on and leaves these men in their sees. By doing so, he IS part of the corruption regarding the destruction of marriage. He may not know the details of a specific case or accusation, but he knows such are made and he has made NO EFFORT to reach out to those of us who can name names. This is more than porr management. This is a choice he is making and one he is making very, very wrong.

  • Father Z weighs in !!!

    Is Benedict XVI a “better Pope” than John Paul II? A couple views and then Fr. Z really rants.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/04/is-benedict-xvi-a-better-pope-than-john-paul-ii-a-couple-views-and-then-fr-z-really-rants/

  • Jh:

    Thanks for the Fr. Z link. Fr. Z knows more about Vatican workings than Douthat does. I also agree with his diagnosis of that “update” on Dreher’s column ( I think there’s something personal; the guy’s columns are soaked with a desire to return to the Church).

  • I’ve corresponded with Dreher before via e-mail about some of this before. My take is that he is a good man who investigated the 2002 abuse cases to the point that he couldn’t look at the Church anymore without seeing the scandals; at that point he had to leave in orer to save his spiritual life. There are many victims of the abuse scandals – those abused and those scandalized – they all deserve our prayers.

  • Well, anyone who played as large a role in the fall of the Soviet Empire as John Paul II did is I think fully deserving of the title of Great.

    His constant stress of the Culture of Life as opposed to the Culuture of Death is a message truly made for our time.

    He helped restore the morale of Catholics worldwide that was badly shaken after the chaos that ensued after Vatican II.

    His globe trotting was completely necessary as he used the force of his own outsized personality to help rally the faithful.

    He put an end to much of the chaos in the Church.

    He used the papacy, which he found in a very weakened state, as a huge megaphone to preach Christ to the world.

    His papacy I think was easily the most consequential one of the last century, and to fully judge him and the impact of his papacy we will need two or three centuries distance. His mistakes, and he made them, I think will be dwarfed by the long term impact of his successes.

  • What Donald said….

  • At this point in history, people who admire him as a hero, even for religious reasons, are free to label him “the Great.” Me, I like Wayne Gretzky.

    I’m not sure what to make of turning the 21st century Chair of Peter into a popularity contest. The real issues at hand are the credibility of the pope and bishops, and what will be done to clarify the appearance that our two contestants cared more for their clergy than for victims of predators.

    And for those who pursue this comparison, what do you suppose our heroes would say to being compared man to man in this way?

  • I’d put him in the top three of the last century. Pius X did more to fight heresy, and has been canonized. Pius XII faced a more difficult situation. I can respect John Paul II’s writings, but he was practically the only non-heretic writing at the time, and that doesn’t speak well of the Church he oversaw.

    Things like the Soviet Union rise and fall all the time, if you look at history over the long haul. But the former Soviet Union hasn’t seen a rush back to the Faith. The Church has made gains in Africa, and suffered sizable losses in South America. I just don’t see this last pontificate as having been a period of gaining souls for God. That’s a fair thing to consider in rating a pope.

  • If Benedict does not address the abuses of marriage with accountability, he should be forgotten, as I hope JPII will be. It is that important.Karl Says:
    Monday, April 12, 2010 A.D. at 3:02 pm
    True Christian speaking. Ready to throw the first stone?

  • Pinky:

    I just don’t see this last pontificate as having been a period of gaining souls for God. That’s a fair thing to consider in rating a pope.

    I don’t know about that. To quote LOTR:

    “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
    “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

    To me, that last sentence is the best way to evaluate popes. JPII wasn’t the cause of the turmoil following Vatican II. He didn’t cause communism. He didn’t cause widespread materialism and secularism. But he did an amazing job fighting for souls against those forces, and preserving the church to fight in the future.

    As far as your specific claims, I disagree. Ratzinger was writing at the same time, as well as others. Just b/c many were heretics is not his fault. Again, did he do a good job combating them? W/ his writings and with the appointment of Ratzinger he did a pretty job.

    As for the Soviet Union 1) Most of the area was Orthodox, not Catholic. This makes it hard for the pope & Catholics to come into. 2) Religion was entirely wiped out. We shouldn’t underestimate the damage done by the communists. There’s a lot to rebuild (and as I said above, what was to be rebuilt was largely Orthodox).

    Perhaps the pope could have done better in hindsight, but considering the vast scope of the papacy and the tremendous gains he made in some areas I think he did very well. I don’t think many could have been handed the cup given to JPII and done better.

  • However what about PAUL THE VI. The exahustive John Jay report shows these incidents of abuse peaked in 79 and we start seeing a dramtic fall after 84

    There is a distinction between when an event occurred and when an event was reported to Church authorities. Here in New York, the statute of limitations which applies to the sexual molestation of youth was two decades ago extended to the 33d birthday of the accuser – i.e. a median of 19 years after the fact. That is exceptional in the penal law and there is a reason for that.

    One might point out that employees of the Holy See number in the low thousands. There are some 3,000 dioceses worldwide. It is not likely the manpower is there to attend to the personnel issues of each and every diocese, but don’t tell that to Rod Dreher or Ross Douthat.

    My take is that he is a good man who investigated the 2002 abuse cases to the point that he couldn’t look at the Church anymore without seeing the scandals;

    My take on it is that he is a highly emotional man who is quite incapable of suspending judgment about much of anything, has throughout the last 29 years undergone a series of affiliations and disaffiliations, and whose default mode is one of accusation. ‘Good man’, perhaps; ‘obnoxious clown’, very often. One can only hope his wife and children do not get banged up in the next of his serial midlife crises.

  • Please be accurate Piotr,

    The First and ever thrown was/is by the countless priests and bishops who continue to support the violations of tens of thousands of marriages every year by false nullities with the concurrent support for adultery and all the crimes that go along with it.

    If this truth being pointed out makes me “unchristian”, I am PROUD to wear that mantle. It is “unchristian” to hold your disgusting position.

    How dare you accuse me of throwing the first stone. You are a liar and much much worse. Where is your apology, sir?

  • Michael – Hey, you and I just disagreed, aired our sides, and ended it charitably! It really *can* happen on the internet!

  • Karl/Piotr

    No one throws stones in my threads.

    I agree with Piotr that karl is being very harsh on JPII, but I think it’s obvious that Karl has some personal experience with this that has hurt him. While I don’t want this threat to digress into a discussion on Church policy on annulments, I think we can all agree that there have been many abuses of it. As Karl points to Canon law as a source of the problem, I would ask Karl what changes in canon law he thinks would help curtail abuses in order to better guide the faithful.

    Pinky:

    Is that allowed? I may lose blogging privleges if I keep this up 😉

  • If people remember his as The Great, he ought to be called The Great. And Ratzinger was his teacher. JPII let himself be taught (however selectively :-). That does show greatness.

    He was however not as likable as The Cardinal and his cats and his writings on sacred art.

Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 16

Tuesday, April 6, AD 2010

In light of the fascinating discussion of personal and social sin kicked off most recently by Darwin here (make sure and read the comments) and followed up by Joe here, I thought it would be worth posting article 16 of John Paul the Great’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, entitled “Personal and Social Sin”. It’s obviously very pertinent, yet unless I missed it, no one has referenced it yet. The actual text is below the break. As the reader will note, one point relevant to the discussion here is that sin properly speaking is an act on the part of an individual person. Yet while social sin is such only in an analogous sense, JPII makes clear that it does describe something real. Now, on to the text.

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6 Responses to Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 16

  • Great stuff. I would add the pertinent section of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:

    117. The mystery of sin is composed of a twofold wound, which the sinner opens in his own side and in the relationship with his neighbour. That is why we can speak of personal and social sin. Every sin is personal under a certain aspect; under another, every sin is social, insofar as and because it also has social consequences. In its true sense, sin is always an act of the person, because it is the free act of an individual person and not properly speaking of a group or community. The character of social sin can unquestionably be ascribed to every sin, taking into account the fact that “by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s sin in some way affects others”[226]. It is not, however, legitimate or acceptable to understand social sin in a way that, more or less consciously, leads to a weakening or the virtual cancellation of the personal component by admitting only social guilt and responsibility. At the bottom of every situation of sin there is always the individual who sins.

    118. Certain sins, moreover, constitute by their very object a direct assault on one’s neighbour. Such sins in particular are known as social sins. Social sin is every sin committed against the justice due in relations between individuals, between the individual and the community, and also between the community and the individual. Social too is every sin against the rights of the human person, starting with the right to life, including that of life in the womb, and every sin against the physical integrity of the individual; every sin against the freedom of others, especially against the supreme freedom to believe in God and worship him; and every sin against the dignity and honour of one’s neighbour. Every sin against the common good and its demands, in the whole broad area of rights and duties of citizens, is also social sin. In the end, social sin is that sin that “refers to the relationships between the various human communities. These relationships are not always in accordance with the plan of God, who intends that there be justice in the world and freedom and peace between individuals, groups and peoples”[227].

    119. The consequences of sin perpetuate the structures of sin. These are rooted in personal sin and, therefore, are always connected to concrete acts of the individuals who commit them, consolidate them and make it difficult to remove them. It is thus that they grow stronger, spread and become sources of other sins, conditioning human conduct[228]. These are obstacles and conditioning that go well beyond the actions and brief life span of the individual and interfere also in the process of the development of peoples, the delay and slow pace of which must be judged in this light[229]. The actions and attitudes opposed to the will of God and the good of neighbour, as well as the structures arising from such behaviour, appear to fall into two categories today: “on the one hand, the all-consuming desire for profit, and on the other, the thirst for power, with the intention of imposing one’s will upon others. In order to characterize better each of these attitudes, one can add the expression: ‘at any price”'[230].

  • I agree that this is good stuff. I would only want to point to a couple problematic or confusing parts, toward the end.

    The real responsibility, then, lies with individuals.

    I’d say persons rather than individuals. In other words, there is no “system” or “situation” apart from human persons.

    A situation-or likewise an institution, a structure, society itself-is not in itself the subject of moral acts. Hence a situation cannot in itself be good or bad.

    The last sentence undermines everything he said about the “culture of death.” Is a “situation” in which abortion is considered birth control NOT “bad”?

    At the heart of every situation of sin are always to be found sinful people. So true is this that even when such a situation can be changed in its structural and institutional aspects by the force of law or-as unfortunately more often happens by the law of force, the change in fact proves to be incomplete, of short duration and ultimately vain and ineffective-not to say counterproductive if the people directly or indirectly responsible for that situation are not converted.

    Notice all he aid was that systemic change does not complete the job. He did not say that the way to change structures of sin or sinful “situations” is merely to “change hearts,” which is the nonsense we hear from politically conservative Catholics.

  • (A complaint about the title “JP the Great” would be off-topic, and I don’t want to ruin the potential thread, but I hope I get the chance to rail against that some time.)

  • Thank you for the authoritative reference. I suspect Darwin agrees with all of what Pope John Paul II writes here. Sin is a personal act with individual and social consequences.

  • Thanks, Chris. What John Paul II says here clarifies things for me a lot, especially in regards to the correct use of the terminology of “social sin”.

    It sounds like in my original post what I was attempting to address was not a dichotomy of “social sin” versus “personal sin”, but rather an offshoot of what John Paul II says in his fourth paragraph from the last in regards to those who assign virtually all blame to structures of sin and none to the person acting. Further, I’d say what I was attempting to address was a side-issue of this tendency to place huge emphasis on structures of sin over personal will, which is the tendency to ridicule the important of focusing on avoiding ones own sins and instead place primary moral weight on whether one is correctly alligned on combating structures of sin in the wider society. Essentially, dismissing most sins one is capable of committing oneself as unimportant and instead chosing to focus almost exclusively on whether ones advocacy is in the right place.

    I think if I re-wrote the post I would drop the term “social sin” entirely and focus on the primary point of how advocacy and aligning oneself with large just causes can not be a substitute for pursuing virtue in one’s own life.

  • Darwin,

    I think that approach would be best! Our enemy here is fatalism, determinism, and any other theory that deprives man of free will and moral culpability.

    For all of the ranting and raving some people do here about our “Calvinism” (in addition to our “Americanism”, “individualism”, “liberalism” and the like), I sure see a lot of Protestant-sounding opposition to the concept of personal sin.

Its Official, CDF to Investigate Medjugorje

Friday, March 5, AD 2010

Pope Benedict has appointed Cardinal Ruini to head a commission of inquiry under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to investigate the alleged apparitions in Medjugorje.

This has been a long time coming and should be comprehensive and decisive.

It has been said that the late Pope John Paul II wanted to believe in the Marian apparitions while Pope Benedict has withheld judgment with reservation. We know Pope Benedict has visited Medjugorje incognito in the past.

Medjugorje has been controversial from the very beginning and it will be interesting to see what the CDF has to say.

_._

Thank you Rome Reports for the video.

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69 Responses to Its Official, CDF to Investigate Medjugorje

  • I predict a Medj-revolt and schism in the near future…

  • Henry,

    From what I understand, Medjugorje has had a long history of disobedience to the local ordinary. Sadly one of my favorite orders, the Franciscans, have been in constant tension with the diocese since the area was no longer a missionary territory centuries before.

    I hope it doesn’t come to schism, assuming that if the CDF declares the apparitions as non-supernatural.

  • Yes, of course I pray it doesn’t go to schism either. But since I don’t believe Medjugorje, and believe earlier work against it is sufficient, I don’t think we will see anything new beyond further explanation for why it is false. And as you said, disobedience is big here — evidence of the bad fruit, and what will lead to further disobedience. Sadly.

    And I agree with another thing you said — Franciscans are a favorite of mine.

  • earlier work against it is sufficient

    The seers themselves, in the earliest days of the alleged Marian apparitions, have been their own worse enemy.

  • Official? This ‘news’ is just a rehash of the story that has been circulating for months. Yes, there is a commission already underway, but not to decide on the validity of the apparitions, only to rubber-stamp International shrine status for Medjugorje later this year. So don’t be fooled into thinking the Holy See is ready to decide one way or another on the claimed apparitions. It’s immediate focus is to protect and ring-fence the tree that is producing good fruit. Rome is in no hurry to reject or accept the claims of apparitions.

  • Pilgrim,

    There has been speculation but nothing official until now.

    Besides, how can the CDF rubber-stamp something that hasn’t had an official inquiry until now?

    God can make a straight line out of a crooked line.

    IMHO, in the beginning Medjugorje has had too many inconsistencies regarding the seers.

    It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this inquiry.

  • CDF is looking into it because of theological questions — what do you think the CDF does, Pilgrim? Others would deal with shrine status — but as Tito said, it can only get such a status if their is affirmation of the vision. There is not.

  • Tito

    To me, it is not just the inconsistency, but the spirit of rebellion which is telling. As St John of the Cross points out — if someone is unwilling to be silent and go through a proper investigation, you can dismiss it.

  • Henry,

    I agree.

    I’ve read some of Saint Theresa of Avila and have been meaning to get to Saint John of the Cross. Is there a book that you could recommend that is “easy” to read.

    I struggle to get through some of Saint Theresa’s writing, so I’m weary of reading something too heavy on theology while missing out on the mysticism of Saint John of the Cross.

    As far as obedience, I struggle with that and can understand when an individual struggles with that as well, but when it’s more than one individual I am of mind that something is being hidden that one doesn’t want to get out.

  • Tito,

    I recommend getting his collected writings. Start maybe with his letters in the back (where he discusses direction and spiritual discernment), then start with his Sayings of Light and Love.

    As for books on him — I think a good one is actually one which will surprise people: Christianity Looks East: Comparing The Spiritualities Of John Of The Cross And Buddhaghosa. Even though it is inter-religious in scope, I thought it did a good job giving a summary of the thought of St John of the Cross (and using it to contrast with a Buddhist thinker).

    A more difficult work is St Edith Stein’s Science of the Cross.

    Nonetheless, I think just reading from St John of the Cross directly is the best.

  • Henry said: “Others would deal with shrine status”

    Like who?

    Henry said: “ — but as Tito said, it can only get such a status if their is affirmation of the vision.”

    Not true. There are two issues here: Shrine status and the validity of the apparitions. Shrine status is not dependent on claims of apparitions. Check Canon Law. This commission will reach a conclusion on shrine status.

    Shrine status will not be an endorsement for the claims of apparitions.

  • “Shrine status is not dependent on claims of apparitions. Check Canon Law. ”

    That may be true, at least on paper, but can anyone name a single instance in which shrine status was granted to the site of an unapproved or disapproved apparition?

    I cannot for one minute imagine that shrine status would ever be granted to a site like Necedah, Bayside, Cold Spring, etc. even if it were legally possible to do so. The possibility that Medjugorje might be fraudulent — not simply “not proven supernatural” — seems to me to be strong enough to not take any chances when it comes to shrine status.

  • Elaine, it is not a case of taking chances but a matter of recognising and protecting the tree that produces fruit. That is why the Holy See is giving consideration to shrine status.

    In 2006 Rome commissioned the Bosnia Herzegovina bishops’ conference to give study and consideration to shrine status for Medjugorje. After two years it returned the commission back to the Holy See unable to come to any decision.

    So now Rome itself is undertaking the study and has had representatives in Medjugorje during the past year making reports on this matter.

    This commission will decide on shrine status appertaining to Medjugorje.

  • “It is not a case of taking chances but a matter of recognizing and protecting the tree that produces fruit.”

    Well, even unapproved apparitions have produced “good” fruit in the form of conversions, confessions, vocations, etc. God can bring good out of any situation. However, that doesn’t change the final status of the apparition or revelation.

    My original question remains: has there ever actually been an instance in which shrine status was granted to the site of an apparition that was NOT approved or found to be worthy of belief? I know it is legally possible, but what I want to know is whether it has actually happened.

    I believe there have been apparitions or other phenomena of uncertain authenticity (e.g. weeping or bleeding statues) at sites that were ALREADY shrines at the time the event occurred. But I have never heard of an instance in which shrine status was granted after the fact to a doubtful or inconclusive apparition site. If I’m wrong feel free to correct me.

  • Elaine, the Yugoslavia bishops’ conference stated in 1993:

    “We bishops, after a three-year-long commission study accept Medjugorje as a holy place, as a shrine. This means that we have nothing against it if someone venerates the Mother of God in a manner also in agreement with the teaching and belief of the Church…”

    This is shrine status at national level.

    However, with the breakup of Yugoslavia and its bishops’ conference there is a legitimate question as to the status of Medjugorje as a shrine. This is why in 2006 the Holy See commissioned the Bosnia Herzegovina bishops’ conference to give study and consider shrine status for Medjugorje at national level.

    The B&H bc failed to produce an outcome and handed back the commission to Rome. Now we have a new commission in Rome which will give consideration instead and this will be at International level. Had the B&H bc given or rejected shrine status then Rome would not be now giving consideration.

  • pilgrim,

    That is a blatant lie.

    They never stated in print or verbally anything such.

    There was “speculation”, but nothing else.

    Immediately thereafter the new bishop of the area covering Medjugorje declared them not supernatural.

  • Hi folks,

    I have been on the critical side, against authenticity of the phenomena of Medjugorje, but must point out that Rome Reports is an independent news source, that gets it’s news like the rest of us. The original source of the information is “Panorama”.

    Hence, Rome Reports is reporting what is in Italian media.

    It will be official when the Holy See, the BiH Bishop’s Conference, or Diocese of Mostar makes a formal announcement.

    Bishop Peric called to Rome
    On that note, you may be interested to learn that Croatian press is reporting that Bishop Peric has been called to Rome.

    Read more in my updated post on this issue.

    Ongoing Medjugorje commission discussion; Bishop Peric called to Rome

  • I should add, that Catholic Answers Live is going to be discussing Medjugorje on March 24th.

    See the calendar here (you’ll be able to listen to archived video for March 24, 2010 once it has aired).

    Here is a list of radio stations carrying it and you can listen live online.

  • Diane,

    Thanks for the information! 🙂

  • Tito said: “That is a blatant lie. They never stated in print or verbally anything such.”

    The declaration was made by Cardinal Franjo Kuharic and was published in Glas Koncila on August 15, 1993, the Catholic newspaper of Archdiocese of Zagreb.

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  • Pilgrim certainly cannot provide us a document or a letter with protocol number establishing Medjugorje as a shrine, and certainly cannot tell us the date on which the “shrine” was dedicated, and by whom.

  • Tominellay… Can you provide letters with protocol numbers for the shrines of Lourdes, Fatima and Knock?

  • Perhaps, if I looked, which I won’t. Those places aren’t part of this discussion.
    You claim Medjugorje was proclaimed a shrine by the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference, quoting Cdl. Kuharic in 1993, Glas Koncila. By 1993, that bishops’ conference was out of business. Kuharic of Croatia cannot create a shrine in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

  • Tominellay… the last bishops’ conference of Yugoslavia was held in 1993, the same year the declaration was made. The bishops’ conference of Bosnia & Herzegovinia was not established until 1995, two years after Cardinal Kuharic made his statement

  • Pilgrim,

    You have failed to provide any evidence of what you claim.

    I went to the pro-Medjugorje websites and they site exactly the opposite. It is mere speculation.

    Stop with your misleading information.

  • Tito, relax… wait and see.

  • Pilgrim,

    You claimed there is a statement and now you don’t.

    The smoke of Satan in all its decrepitude.

  • Slovenia and Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991, and Bosnia-Herzegovina seceded from Yugoslavia in 1992.

  • Tominellay… The Croatia bishops’ conference was formed in 1993 and the Bosnia & Herzegovina bishops’ conference was formed in 1995. Annexing as a nation is not the same as annexing as a bishops’ conference.

    Speaking about annexing, you may be interested in the following item which has surfaced this week in light of the Mostar bishop’s visit to Rome on Sunday.

    Reported by Croatia media sources is the news that the Vatican has already arrived at a solution that recognises the importance of Medjugorje to the Church and that the tree bearing good fruit in abundance is to be protected.

    Currently the bishop of the Mostar-Duvno diocese is in Rome and on the table for discussion is the annexing of his diocese which will see the parish of Medjugorje come under a new bishop. Apparently a decision was reached some time ago and an announcement is expected before the 30th anniversary of the apparitions on June 25.

    Next step shrine status?

  • Pilgrim,

    Again, no links no evidence.

  • Tito… be patient. If there is an “official” announcement before June 25, you will not have to wait too long, just a couple of months.

  • Pilgrim,

    You make many claims yet fail to provide evidence for it. You make bold statements yet fail to provide references or links. You know lying is a sin.

  • Pilgrim,

    You provide this quote:

    Reported by Croatia media sources is the news that the Vatican has already arrived at a solution that recognises the importance of Medjugorje to the Church and that the tree bearing good fruit in abundance is to be protected.

    Where is the link or the reference to a newspaper?

    You are lying through your teeth again.

  • Tito… Two accusations of lying and one of misleading… Perhaps it’s time you read the blog comments policy.

  • Pilgrim,

    I’m stating facts.

  • I beg to differ, Tito. You are not stating facts when you accuse me of lying through my teeth. Please read the comment policy on this blog and adhere to it.

  • Tito… I sincerely hope you give time to reading this. Thank you.

    We would like American Catholic be a place where Catholics from various perspectives (and anyone of good will) may constructively discuss the issues that unite and divide us. The subjects we cover produce strong feelings, and we want to make sure all disagreement is handled charitably. Please always assume the good intentions of the other person, especially when you disagree, and avoid personal attacks. All ISPs are recorded and disruptive commentators will be regretfully blocked.

    Comment Code of Conduct

    I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for everyone, especially toward those with whom I disagree—even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

    I will express my disagreements with others’ ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

    I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

  • Pilgrim,

    You are making wild claims that bishops have proclaimed Medjugorje a “shrine”, yet you fail to provide any reference or link.

    This is getting silly with your obstinate behavior.

  • Tito… The reference I made was to Cardinal Kuharic and I did provide a source for his quote.

  • Cardinal Kuharic seems to have recognized immediately his poor choice in the word “shrine”, for he adds, “That means we have nothing against it if…”

    Mr. Gallagher/bluecross/pilgrim, your kind of storytelling works on the Medjugorje fan web sites you frequent, but people who aren’t already “hooked” look more critically at evidence.

  • Tominellay, taking six words out of context from the statement and attempting to imply a different meaning is not, in my opinion, critically looking at evidence, as you put it; Here is the full paragraph:

    We bishops, after a three-year-long commission study accept Medjugorje as a holy place, as a shrine. This means that we have nothing against it if someone venerates the Mother of God in a manner also in agreement with the teaching and belief of the Church.”

    And the statement made by the cardinal is supported and expressed in this Canon 1234 §1:

    At shrines the means of salvation are to be supplied more abundantly to the faithful by the diligent proclamation of the word of God, the suitable promotion of liturgical life especially through the celebration of the Eucharist and of penance, and the cultivation of approved forms of popular piety.”

    Tominellay, as to your reference to storytelling please allow me to draw your attention also to this blog’s Code of Conduct, especially the paragraph that says: I will express my disagreements with others’ ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

    I accept and respect your choice to hold a different view on Medjugorje to myself, but I don’t have to accept the personal remarks. Hope you can understand and accept my objection with charity.

  • Pilgrim,

    I have not found any statement thereof.

    What I have found are on pro-Medjugorje websites paraphrasing what you are “claiming” as speculation and not fact.

  • Tito said: “I have not found any statement thereof.”

    What statement are you referring to, Tito? Is it the statement made by Cardinal Kuharic? If so, then I have already given the original source for this – Glas Koncila in Zagreb,

  • Pilgrim,

    I have not found any such statement online.

    Anywhere. Not on Google search nor Bing search.

    Therefore you made it up.

  • Tito… in an earlier post you say you had found references. Now you say you haven’t.

    Yet you state that the references you had found are paraphrasing. How can you say this when you say you have not found “any such statement”?

    Or… to say that the statements are paraphrased when you have found nothing to compare them with to illustrate that the statements are paraphrased?

    I have given you the statement and the source. Try making contact with Glas Koncila, the Catholic newspaper.

    Try and accept also that the internet is not the sole source for reference and that just because you can’t find what you are looking for doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

    And slow down on the false accusations. I did not “make it up” as you state.

    Finally, allow me to remind you once again about this blog’s code of conduct for posters, especially this point: “I will always extend the benefit of the doubt.”

  • Pilgrim,

    Reread what I said and come back to me.

  • Tito said, “Reread what I said and come back to me.”

    ???

  • Pilgrim,

    The conversation ends here.

    You are no longer allowed to post anything else unless it is supported by evidence.

    You have made this thread a mockery of this website.

  • Everyone,

    This thread is not closed.

    Only the conversation between Pilgrim and I.

  • Tito… does that mean I can converse with others?

  • Pilgrim,

    Yes, absolutely.

    I also want to that you are right about civility. I will treat you with Christian brotherly love the next time we engage in debate.

  • I think all the statements we quote should be taken in context, which is why I have pointed out that Cardinal Kuharic qualifies his use of the word “shrine”.
    The original Glas Koncila article, which I have seen, but which I can no longer locate, is only a sentence or two longer than the direct quotation. We aren’t informed what question was asked, or what other questions were asked; it is not stated that these were prepared remarks, or part of an announcement. If this were a prepared statement, there would likely be no qualifier. If the statement was an off-the-cuff answer to a question in an impromptu interview, it would seem not to be a statement on behalf of a conference of bishops. So, then, what is the context of this quote?

    Consider the phrase “after a three-year-long commission study”. When was that? I suspect he meant the 1987-1990 commission that resulted in the Zadar Declaration. That declaration did NOT include the word “shrine”. It follows, then, that Kuharic would correct himself for using the word “shrine” in this 1993 comment. If there was another commission between 1990 and 1993 that determined Medjugorje was a shrine, that fact has been completely secret. No, I think it’s reasonable to presume Kuharic meant the 1987-1990 commission, and there is no evidence that a national shrine was created or dedicated.

    It is also true that NO ONE ELSE has claimed that the Zadar Declaration gave Medjugorje the status of a shrine, and no one besides Kuharic in this statement of 1993 has made reference to Medjugorje being made a shrine or a national shrine as a result of the 1987-2000 commission (or any succeeding commission) study.
    Cardinal Kuharic simply misspoke, and corrected himself with the qualifying phrase “This means that we have nothing against it if…”

    There are the 1996 letters from the CDF’s Bertone to Bishops Taverdet and Aubry that concern the status of Medjugorje, with no mention of any “shrine” or “national shrine” status.

    There is a communique from Vatican spokesman Navarro-Valls from the same year, that concerns Medjugorje, with no mention of its status as a shrine.

    I think that Cardinal Kuharic erred in his choice of words that day in 1993.

    Here are some inconsistencies in pilgrim’s comments on this thread:

    a. (Mar 05 at 4:44) that there is a commission underway…only to rubber-stamp International shrine status for Medjugorje later this year. If this is an opinion, present it as opinion; if it’s a fact, substantiate.

    b. (Mar 06 at 3:55) that Rome commissioned the B-H bishops’ conference to give study and consideration to shrine status for Medjugorje. If this opinion or fact? And if Kuharic already had made M a shrine, what is there to consider?

    c.1. (Mar 06 at 5:53) that Cardinal Kuharic’s answer to a reporter’s question as quoted in Glas Koncila was in fact an act of a episcopal conference conferring “national shrine” status on Medjugorje. (No one else thinks so.) c.2. that the breakup of Yugoslavia now makes this “shrine’s” status questionable. So, Medjugorje is or is not a shrine? Opinion or verifiable fact?

    d. (Mar 09 at 12:39) “Reported by Croatian mediaources…” No link, no named source, no deal. If it’s not verifiable, it’s just a story.

  • Thank you, Tito. I appreciate your understanding.

  • Tominellay… The headline to this thread reads: “It’s official. CDF to investigate Medjugorje”

    Now we both know that no “official” announcement has been made, yet when comments are made on this story, no-one except myself has stated that this story is not an official announcement.

    But when I present an announcement re shrine status, I am accused of telling lies and stories and not having any evidence to support my posts.

    Perhaps you may wish to consider why you apply a different standard of criticism to my posts and not the original post to this thread?

    With regard to the claim of the original post, I could ask the same question you put to me, or perhaps you could ask it yourself: “If it’s a fact substantiate it.” Of course, you can’t do this until the Holy See actually does “officially” make an announcement.

    When you can do this, then perhaps I shall give consideration to your request to provide what you call “verifiable fact”.

  • pilgrim said: “…no-one except myself has stated that this story is not an official announcement.”

    I should have added… “with the exception of Diane.” Apologies for the oversight.

  • …correcting my comment above at Mar 11, 2:35 –

    par. 3: “1987-2000” s/b “1987-1990”
    paragraph 4: the year of Bertone-to-Taverdet letter was 1996; Bertone-to-Aubry letter was 1998

  • I just noticed that “pilgrim” made the same announcement in Feb. 2009. “Pilgrim said…

    Word is that it won’t be too long before Medjugorje is given International Shrine status by the Holy See.
    1:48 PM, February 27, 2009” !!!

  • The sad thing is that there are many people like Pilgrim who believe all of this. There needs to be some more pastoral outreach on the nature of apparitions, to help people realize their limitations and why we should not put our trust in those which have not been approved. Moreover, pastoral work needs to be done to help remind people the authority of the bishop over their diocese, especially in matters like apparitions.

  • Dear Henry, let me assure you that there is no sadness in my heart because of my belief in the so-called Medjugorje phenomenon – only joy. And you cannot deny me this because it is my own experience and not yours.

    For sure, you are entitled to your opinion and belief, but your sadness on my behalf is misplaced. You have no need to be sad because of my renewed faith. Why even the angels in heaven rejoice because of my ‘conversion’. Returning to God is not a sad thing but a reason to celebrate and praise God.

    As for ‘limitations’, who of us can determine the mystery of the God’s mercy?

  • In the last line of my previous post I should have written:

    “As for ‘limitations’, who of us can determine the mystery of the Father’s mercy?”

    My sorrow is for the sibling of the prodigal son who begrudged the mercy and generosity shown by his Father to his ‘lost’ brother – as witnessed in today’s Sunday gospel reading. But I can certainly relate to the youngest brother’s joy and cause for the Father to celebrate.

  • Pilgrim

    That you misrepresent the situation with the apparition itself indicates quite a bit of the spiritual rot within this apparition. That you are unable to tell the truth about it, and promote it far beyond what is allowed shows the rot of prelest. Get thee to a priest.

  • As I said, Henry, you are entitled to view and opinion, but it still doesn’t take away my joy and faith, renewed through the Medjugorje phenomenon and the grace I received there to change my life.

    In the words of Peter and James, I will continue to speak of all that I have seen and heard, despite any opposition to my witness. And as Paul said in today’s second reading: “We are all called to be ambassadors for Christ.”

    Not sure what you mean when you write, “Get thee to a priest”, or by your charge of “misrepresenting the situation with the apparition itself”.

  • Thank you Henry, I saw these news stories earlier today.

  • Well, it is just something we both agree on, so I thought it important to share in the solidarity we can have here!

The Vocation of a Soldier is Next in Dignity to the Priesthood

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

There are some whom denigrate soldiers and policemen and the plan God has for them in Salvation.  I disagree completely and there are many examples of saints and popes who have honored the soldier and policeman in defense of justice and peace.

I found this quote by Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen‘s Wartime Prayer Book:

“The great French Lacordaire once said the vocation of a soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood, not only because it commissioned him to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace, but also because it called him to the spirit and intention of sacrifice.”

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105 Responses to The Vocation of a Soldier is Next in Dignity to the Priesthood

  • I was given this book just before my 1st deployment to Iraq in 2003 (the initial surge). When I came back to the states I decided to finally get confirmed. The great bishop is and will always be an influence in my spirtuality.

  • Thank you for your great service to our country.

  • The Church fathers had a radically different view. I think it was St. Basil who advised soliders to abstain from communion for a fixed period of time.

    And even today, the Church supports the conscience protections in the military – just as no Catholic medical practioner should be forced to engage in immoral acts, no Catholic soldier should be forced to fight an unjust war – and the Iraq war was patently unjust. Where the the Catholic military consciences? Where those people calling loudly for conscience protections in other areas? Silent.

  • Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.”
    – Tertullian

    “If you enroll as one of God’s people, heaven is your country and God your lawgiver.”
    – St. Clement of Alexandria

    “Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.”
    – St. Cyprian

    “Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer.”
    – St. Athanasius

    “I am a soldier of Christ and it is not permissible for me to fight”
    – St. Martin of Tours

    “For certainly it is a greater work and much more marvelous to change the minds of opponents and to bring about a change of soul than to kill them…”
    – St. John Chrysostom

  • “Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

    5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but every one, as the apostle says, has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and tried as gold in the furnace, Wisdom 3:6 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

    6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.”

    Saint Augustine to Count Boniface (418AD) Boniface was governor of the diocese of Africa and a Roman general.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102189.htm

  • The soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood? Well, so much for all the holy monks and nuns.

  • Henry,

    I guess you know better than the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

  • MM

    Notice how they idolize the makers of death, and follow through with the errors they claim is had in liberation theology.

  • Tito

    Well, I guess you think he knew better than St Basil the Great? It is interesting to see how you go about this. What about Servant of God Dorothy Day? Seriously, Fulton Sheen did good work, but I am sure what I say about him being able to make mistakes is how you would respond to St Basil. But the fact remains, the Christian tradition doesn’t raise soldiers to this status — but they have consistently called those who are holy virgins to this level of sanctity. Take that as you will.

  • Henry,

    Leaving all that aside, the point of this post is to show soldiers that God has a place in salvation for them.

    To many times do well-meaning Catholics denigrate solider and police officers for their vocations. Without them we would have anarchy.

    The hate that comes from those that put down soldiers is unwarranted and not Christian.

    “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

    – Holy Gospel of Saint John 15:18

  • Plus, if you want to go further, Sheen is quoting someone else — though it seems in affirmation, it does leave him room for correcting it as well. It is not his statement — and indeed, it seems to be a rhetorical flourish that is being quoted, which also suggests something of the value of this quote. Again, it is interesting to see how you use might for the sake of salvation, when Scripture consistently suggests otherwise. That says much.

  • “Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.”

    Pope Benedict April 16, 2008

    http://wcbstv.com/papalvisit/pope.benedict.speech.2.701076.html

  • Tito

    If you wanted to say “they too can be saved” and “we can honor the good they have done,” I would have no problem. Indeed, I did a post on that theme several years back: http://vox-nova.com/2007/11/12/for-veterans-monday/

    To suggest “they are like priests” and “they are saving us” is I would say dangerous — very dangerous.

  • Donald’s typically selective, and equivocal, quotes to the contrary, Pope Benedict has been consistent that true freedom is in Christ, not war. Pope Benedict recognizes, of course, the temporal realm, but he would not equivocate this to priesthood and soteriology.

  • Henry,

    Bishop Sheen was quoting the Abbe Lacordaire. Remember Bishop Sheen said “next in dignity”, not the next best thing. Next in dignity in the context of spiritually sacrificing themselves for justice.

    I also agree with your quotes in context, nuns and monks are next in spirituality. There is room for many in God’s Kingdom.

  • Donald wasn’t contradicting Papa Bene. He was showing that soldiers have a place in God’s kingdom through their vocations.

  • for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory; but thy right hand, and thy arm, and the light of thy countenance; for thou didst delight in them. (Psalms 44:3)

    1 “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine; and who make a league, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2 who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my counsel, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! 3 Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation. 4 For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes, 5 every one comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.” 6 An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the viper and the flying serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of asses, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that cannot profit them. 7 For Egypt’s help is worthless and empty, therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.” (Isaiah 30:1 -7)

    1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD! 2 And yet he is wise and brings disaster, he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. 3 The Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. (Isaiah 31: 1-3)

  • Karlson, unlike you Pope Benedict understands that peace and freedom in this fallen world can often be had only through the lives of soldiers:

    “On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe. What had happened? A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable. The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil. And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

    We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us. If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.”
    http://www.logosjournal.com/issue_4.2/ratzinger.htm

    I realize this is all very galling for a Leftist ideologue like yourself, but facts are stubborn things.

  • “A few days after the liberation of Rome, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Commander of the Fifth Allied Army, paid his respects to the Pope: “I am afraid you have been disturbed by the noise of my tanks. I am sorry.” Pius XII smiled and replied: “General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make just as much noise as you like.””

    http://www.piusxiipope.info/papacy.htm

  • Henry,

    As much as I disagree with some of your perceptions and interpretations of Catholic teaching and its implementation, I see the fruitfulness of charitable dialogue and engagement on issues pertaining to the Church.

    Thank you for all your comments!

  • I argued in a paper that is currently under review for publication that the u.s. military is seen by many americans to be another type of priesthood. Tito, Donald, et al. make that view explicit when they place u.s. soldiers inside the hierarchy of the church. This combination of u.s. militarism and Catholicism is PRECISELY fascist.

  • At the root of this idolatry is a profound misunderstanding of the reality of Christian sacrifice. Tito, et al. substitute a secular, pagan, nationalistic understanding of sacrifice for the understanding we have of sacrifice as following the non-violent way of the cross.

  • Donald R. McClare-
    Now that is classy. Would that I could come up with a response like that on the fly!

  • I’m always amazed that people who denigrate the military are oblivious to the fact that they only possess that right because someone somewhere gave their life in order to preserve our freedom of speech.

  • Truth be told – I have said in the past and live by it – I would gladly die for a person’s freedom of speech.. Sad to me that they usually do not rescipicate that feeling…

  • Michael,

    I am quoting both Servant of God Fulton Sheen and Lacordaire. Where have I said that soldiers are an institutional vocation?

    As to the second approved comment, review what I typed above.

    Please argue the substance of the posting and stop denigrating the writers of this website and anyone else that doesn’t fit into your bizarre construct of Catholicism.

  • I’d say ‘next in dignity’ is taking it a bit far.

  • John – Good to hear. I like the distancing going on at this blog.

  • Soldiers and priests can be good, bad or mixed, usually mixed, depending upon the soldier or priest. What is clear however, is that Catholicism has recognized a role for both of them. There has been an attempt over the past few decades by some Catholics to contend that the profession of arms is dishonorable and contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. That is simply not true as even a cursory look at the history of the Church reveals.

  • “Donald R. McClarey
    Now that is classy. Would that I could come up with a response like that on the fly!”

    Thank you Foxfier! Coming from such an able combox warrior as yourself that is high praise!

  • John Henry,

    Take it up with the Abbe.

    I know he’s gone, just getting punchy this evening. It’s been a looong week.

  • What is clear however, is that Catholicism has recognized a role for both of them. There has been an attempt over the past few decades by some Catholics to contend that the profession of arms is dishonorable and contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. That is simply not true

    I agree, Donald. I think we can over-praise the military, and that doing so can have very real harms. At the same time, the denigration of soldiers that takes place in some quarters contradicts a great deal of the Christian Tradition.

    To be sure, I think there is an honorable place for pacificism also within that Christian tradition, but I don’t think either pacifists or soldiers have the right to excommunicate the other.

  • I don’t think Donald was excommunicating pacifists (at least not in this thread).

  • I don’t think Donald was excommunicating pacifists (at least not in this thread).

    Agreed.

  • Michael,

    It’s called constructive dialogue.

    Something of which you are incapable of.

  • After chaplains John Henry, my highest esteem goes to pacifists who have served as medics. This gentleman especially:

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/desmond_doss_pacifist_medal_of_honor_recipient_dies_at_87/

  • Soldiers, firefighters and policemen put their lives at risk every day for other people. This is part of their job description. Putting your life at risk for another person only a daily basis is a noble thing. I think this is probably what Sheen meant. At the root of his comment is a simple understanding of self-sacrifice; there is no deep evil; there is no understanding of the soldier as priest; there is no militarism; there is no paganism. And I hope every person’s life’s work is placed in the hierarchy of the Church. Everything ought to be for God.

  • Henry,

    As I recall, a week or two ago, you wrote a post arguing against moral rigorism in regards to “cooperation with evil” by pointing to the example of St. George, who was a Roman soldier in close service to Emperor Diocletian. Now you’re arguing, from the example of St. Basil that the Church Fathers held soldiering to be immoral. Which is it?

    Is it, perhaps, that St. Basil was adhering to ideas regarding the purity required for receiving the Eucharist which would seem beyond Jansenist to us today? After all, he also held, if memory serves, that married couples should not receive the Eucharist after performing the marital act, for a similar period. If you want to hold the one as normative, would you similarly hold the other?

  • “I was given this book just before my 1st deployment to Iraq in 2003 (the initial surge). When I came back to the states I decided to finally get confirmed. The great bishop is and will always be an influence in my spirtuality.”

    Robert thank you for your service. Most Americans greatly appreciate it and honor you for it.

  • I’d say ‘next in dignity’ is taking it a bit far.

    I would assume that the logic behind the quote is that just as the consecrated life required the denial of self for the world of the Church, so the vocation of soldiering involves the risk of one’s life on behalf of the lives of others.

    In this sense, I can see how the vocation taken in its essentials would be seen as next in dignity to the consecrated life — and at the same time I don’t think that would necessarily be a claim that soldiers as individuals possess superior moral virtue. Indeed, clearly, soldiering is a vocation with rather extreme moral risks built into it. That said, however, it is singular in the sense in which soldiering involves potential sacrifice on behalf of others — which is why being a soldier is so frequently used as a metaphor both in the Scriptures and in the writings of the saints.

    It is, I must admit, a bit confusing to me how pacifists (if they are really serious about pacifism and believe soldiering to be thoroughly evil, as Michael seems to claim to do) fill this rhetorical and literary gap. Looking at the canon of literature, mythology and history, it seems a rather sparse shelf once one has rejected everything that involves violence.

  • Listening to a German woman speak about her experience as a ten-year old at the end of WWII, she told me that her family could hear the American guns and hoped they would reach their house before the Russian soldiers. She, as well as others, are grateful to the American soldiers for defeating Nazi Germany.

    We all owe our service people gratitude for their protection.

  • Darwin-
    Might one say that Priests offer their lives, and Soldiers offer their deaths?

  • Henry is right. Economic justice is prohibited because we live in a fallen world, but military action is not. Why?

    Is there such a thing as a just war? I think so, but the bar is set really really high. There must always be a presumption against war. As John Paul called for in Centesimus Annus, we must all say “never again war” and move on to different ways of solving conflicts, and by treating underlying issues of justice that often cause war.

    Or, as Benedict put it, nothing good ever comes from war. War is the ultimate last resort, the ultimate sign of failure. It is a time for mourning, not rejoicing. The kind of military glorifiction on display here should be offensive to all followers of Jesus the Christ. It embodies a pagan ethic. Consider again the quotes from the Church fathers from my earlier comment – these men knew what it was like to stand up against the pagan mindset.

  • Actually Tony Pope Benedict in his D-Day quotation I cited above said that a very good thing, liberation, came for the people of Europe from the victories of the Western Allies in World War ii, including his native Germany.

  • The kind of military glorifiction on display here should be offensive to all followers of Jesus the Christ. It embodies a pagan ethic.

    What military glorification? The quote from Fulton Sheen? For real?

    Come now, you can’t let the fact that a blog you don’t like prints something make you respond irrationally.

  • Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?

    Cathy – I have a simliar story. A good friend of mine told me recently of the liberation of his village from the Soviets by Germans in World War 2. He was just a child at the time, but he remembers the German soldiers re-opening their churches (shut down by the communists). The men were more than happy to join the German army and fight for their liberators against the Russians and Allies, as was their Christian duty.

  • DC

    Re-read my comments. Take care to read them and the context. And take care to do what they told you to do. Then you will see your comment (and Donald’s) are completely offbase.

  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of freedom and a force for liberation. In recent years, this essential truth has become the object of reflection for theologians, with a new kind of attention which is itself full of promise.

    Liberation is first and foremost liberation from the radical slavery of sin. Its end and its goal is the freedom of the children of God, which is the gift of grace. As a logical consequence, it calls for freedom from many different kinds of slavery in the cultural, economic, social, and political spheres, all of which derive ultimately from sin, and so often prevent people from living in a manner befitting their dignity. To discern clearly what is fundamental to this issue and what is a by-product of it, is an indispensable condition for any theological reflection on liberation.

    Faced with the urgency of certain problems, some are tempted to emphasize, unilaterally, the liberation from servitude of an earthly and temporal kind. They do so in such a way that they seem to put liberation from sin in second place, and so fail to give it the primary importance it is due. Thus, their very presentation of the problems is confused and ambiguous. Others, in an effort to learn more precisely what are the causes of the slavery which they want to end, make use of different concepts without sufficient critical caution. It is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to purify these borrowed concepts of an ideological inspiration which is compatible with Christian faith and the ethical requirements which flow from it.

  • You want a quote. How about this quote from a Roman Centurion found in the third edition of the Missale Romanum:

    “Lord, I am not worthy
    that you should enter under my roof,
    but only say the word
    and my soul (my servant) shall be healed.”

    And unlike the woman taken in adultery, no follows on orders to soldier no more.

  • “Poison.”

    What does a hair band from the 80’s have to do with anything here?

  • “Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?”

    Yes. Because American’s invasion of Iraq did not fall under the criteria of a just war, the only Christian soldiers deserving praise (from Christians) for fighting in that war are any Iraqi Christians who were defending their homeland against the unjust invader. This is not to say that American Christian soldiers can be held subjectively culpable for participating in the war; only that their participation in what was in fact an unjust action should not be described as something it was not–i.e. virtuous, etc.

  • WJ-
    you do realize that there’s a case for Iraq being a just war, and that such a determination is for the nation’s leaders, not folks who want to drag comboxes off topic?

  • “I’d say ‘next in dignity is taking it a bit far.”

    Anyone intimately familiar with the sacrifices the men and women of a nation’s military make – not for glory, but for love of country and countrymen – should not find fault with the sentiment expressed in Archbishop Sheen’s book.

    “Greater love than this no man hath than to lay down his life for his friends.”

    My family has a close relative who just returned from Iraq and suffers terribly from PTSD. He left 4 years ago a vigorous young man, full of life. He returned a broken man … physically, mentally, and emotionally. No one intimately familiar with the physical, psychological, and emotional toll that war often (if not always) takes on those who fight it could EVER “glorify” war. There’s nothing glorious about it.

    But the soldiers themselves who fight those wars are due our honor and esteem, and I will place them very high among those worthy of such. It is no stretch to me, at all, to find the dignity of the vocation of those who sacrifice so much for so many … something for which there is no true recompense beyond recognizing and honoring said sacrifice … to be ranked among the highest of vocations.

  • At the risk of being despised by both sides of this lively debate, might I offer a philosophical point that appears overlooked? I hope the length of this comment does not deter all the fine minds on this stream.

    The question is this: What is the nature of a soldier?
    This seemingly simple question might appear simple to answer as well. But how this is answered reveals part of what appears to be, what MacIntyre once termed, a “conceptual incompensurability” between the two sides of the debate here.

    If we look to Archbishop Sheen, we could define soldier as one who is “commissioned by the spirit and intention of sacrifice to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace.”

    Now, this definition is, rightly, quite generic enabling its universal application. All of its elements (sacrifice, justice, field of battle, order and peace) are in no way simple and universally accepted elements, i.e., much of how these elements are understood will depend upon the cultural context that ‘thickens’ them. I’m not denying an ‘objectivity’ to them, but asserting that the objectivity is in excess of any one definition (which is why they are defined, thought, examined etc. over and over.)

    This generic and universal definition of ‘soldier’ is necessary to any ecclesial advocacy of its ‘vocational’ component. I think all would agree that were the Church to say “being a US soldier,” or “being a British soldier,” is next in dignity to the priesthood, something would clearly be amiss.

    But if this term soldier is generic and universal, then it is applicable in any number of ways. Didn’t Dorothy Day “defend justice and order” and was hers also not a “field of battle”? Doesn’t the nurse who sees her work as a Christian Calling also not “defend justice and order” on a “field of battle”? Doesn’t a teacher? A mother, father, grandparent?

    So, in this broad, universal sense of soldier, there ought to be nothing overtly offensive – for it describes every lay Christian in the Church Militant.

    If one is unhappy or unconvinced by this analogical use of ‘soldier’ and believes that these ecclesial voices (Sheen, JPII, John XXIII) clearly intends a military application of the term (where ‘military’ means an association with the the armed forces of modern nation states), then, it appears to me, one faces the unhappy consequence of finding a way to defend the post’s interpretation of its three citation without exposing an a priori allegiance to a particular nation state’s military that the citations did not – indeed could not – intend.

    In other words, it seems that when the nature of the term ‘soldier’ and its use in the post’s citations are taken into consideration, one can endorse the idea only when the term ‘soldier’ is taken analogously to include the likes of all Christians whose vocation is intrinsically to “Defend justice and order on the field of battle called by the intention of sacrifice.”

    Sure, this may also include members of the armed forces who do look at their role as somehow serving God. But here we would have to include all members of all military machines, including those we in the West find unjust.

    At the risk of violating the Godwin principle, and because it makes the point quite clearly, this would have to include even the Nazi soldier who, firmly buying into the propaganda, is willing to sacrifice his life for the defense of justice and order. Denying this claim would require one to invoke the particularities of the Nazi context that are not intrinsically included in the universal sense of soldier. But refusing these particulars is precisely what allows one to endorse the term. So one runs into an inconsistency.

    If this last point is not conceded, then any endorsement of the citations in this post betray a form of American Exceptionalism which, clearly, the citations do not intend. One may very well admit to being an American Exceptionalist, but one ought not suggest that Sheen, JPII, or John XXIII were also.
    Consequently, in this case, the interpretations of these citations would be in error, inferring upon the words of these fine upstanding members of the Church (Sheen, JPII, John XXIII) meaning that they did not intend.

    One might argue that John XXIII is clearly speaking about the soldier of a military, since he himself is referring to his own experience as such. But it seems that in this case, his experience, which does indeed invoke his own personal particular experience with a military, is the concrete ground upon which his universal, more generic, endorsement of ‘being a soldier’ is founded. In other words, it is not the particularities of his military experience he is praising, but the way that it enabled him to understand the deeper meaning in all sacrifice for the good, which also shines in the works of lay people in general. Otherwise, John XXIII would have declared his own military a key part the definition of soldiering.

    And here is the conceptual incommensurability I spoke of: the objection to the use of soldier in this post may be directed to a particular thickening of the term within a given context (e.g., the current US military actions) while those defending it seem to be defending the universal idea of self-sacrifice for justice and order. The debate will go on and on if this is the case because there is no conceptual common ground.

    So underneath this debate is still a more concrete debate about the consistency of national interest with Christian teaching, really. Soldiers do not exist in the universal, generic sense; unless Christians are all strict Platonists, universals are not real even though they have, what Aquinas called, a ‘fundamentum in re’, a foundation in reality.

    So to sing the praises of soldiering, one must have in mind a particular soldier, upon a particular field of battle. This, it seems, redirects the whole discussion to these particularities rather than to the universal, generic truisms of the good of self-sacrifice for justice and order.

    For it seems we can all agree that the Christian laity, all of us soldiers for the Church militant, merit just as much dignity as the clergy, though in a different manner.

  • “you do realize that there’s a case for Iraq being a just war, and that such a determination is for the nation’s leaders, not folks who want to drag comboxes off topic?”

    Hitler determined his war was just. In fact, everyone on every side of a war believes there war is just. So we just listen to the leaders? No, that is not what the Church teaches.

  • And lest we forget, not all of those who fight the wars have the opportunity to return with physical, psychological, and emotional scars. Many pay the ultimate sacrifice.

  • “Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?”

    Yes. Because American’s invasion of Iraq did not fall under the criteria of a just war, the only Christian soldiers deserving praise (from Christians) for fighting in that war are any Iraqi Christians who were defending their homeland against the unjust invader. This is not to say that American Christian soldiers can be held subjectively culpable for participating in the war; only that their participation in what was in fact an unjust action should not be described as something it was not–i.e. virtuous, etc.

    In other words, American soldiers battling on behalf of the Ba’ath Party / Tikriti clan meets the criteria for a just war.

  • Foxfier,

    Sadly, no. There is no plausible interpretation of Just War theory according to which the U.S. invasion of Iraq was just. I wish it wasn’t so. I supported the Iraq War on the basis of the facts as they were presented by “the nation’s leaders” at the outset of that war. Those facts have all been shown to be not facts at all, but distortions, half-truths, and lies. Indeed, *even if* one were to accept George Weigel’s cockamamie interpretation of JWT and how that theory applied to America in early 2003, that would *still* not be enough to warrant our calling the invasion just.

    By the way, our “nation’s leaders” don’t get to “determine” whether a war they begin is just or unjust, anymore than they get to determine whether a piece of legislation they enact is just or unjust.

    I’m sorry for dragging this off-topic. I was responding to Ryan Klassen’s question.

  • “In other words, American soldiers battling on behalf of the Ba’ath Party / Tikriti clan meets the criteria for a just war.”

    I think you must mean “Christian soldiers” in the sentence above.

  • Supposing that you do mean “Christian soldiers” in your response, I’d have to say that your formulation is unclear.

    “Battling on behalf of” is not precise enough of a descriptor, since one can easily imagine a Christian solider battling on behalf of Iraq during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, which was of course unjust.

    Also, whether and to what extent any particular solider *identifies* his defense of Iraq with the defense of the Ba’ath Party is an empirical question, one which is elided in your formulation.

  • WJ-
    you make a ‘determination’ when you make a decision. As per Catholic Answers, “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

    WMDs? Mass-murder? Secret nuke program? Nerve gassing the swamp Arabs? Bah, why would soldier willing to fight against THAT be worthy of any respect.

  • Foxfier:

    The confusion of CA is that the evaluation of whether or not to engage a war is indeed in the hands of the leaders of the nation; but that is not what determines whether or not a war is just.

    Here is a statement from someone who has actual ecclesial authority: http://www.catholicpeacefellowship.org/nextpage.asp?m=2123

  • Brendan,

    I don’t think you will find both sides disagree with you — yes, the word soldier can have many implications and meanings, and that is an issue which I didn’t raise and you are right to do so.

    Nonetheless, I do think many people arguing against my views have only argued against something which I didn’t say (or believe), which is why I recommended my Veteran’s Day post. The context of my reply is with the glorification of military might as for the sake of liberation – something which is very dangerous indeed to hold to, as the Church has pointed out time and time again.

  • If you want to make it all a matter of ecclesiastical authority, Henry, it bears pointing out that while Catholic Answers is not an ecclesiastical authority, the Bishop of the Romanian Catholic Diocese of Canton, OH likewise has no ecclesiastical authority over Roman Catholics, much less Roman Catholics at a national level.

  • Foxfier,

    I think you are confusing two distinct issues here. On the one hand, it is true that JWT gives political authorities the final responsibility for determining, in any given instance, whether a war they are about to embark *should* be embarked upon; on the other hand, in we are make any sense of what it means to “evaluate…conditions” and to make a “prudential judgment,” we have to allow for the possibility of *mis*evaluating this conditions and of making the *wrong* judgment. Otherwise whatever the political authorities decided was a just war *would be* a just war, and this is absurd.

  • Brendan,

    Very good point — though I think it’s fairly clear in the quotes that these are all refering to “soldier” in the military sense, it is clearly “soldier” as a universal, not the absolutizing of the cause of a single nation.

  • DC

    And while it is true he has no direct authority except over his flock, it is also clear that as a bishop, and a part of the Magisterium, he has far more authority than CA — CA when it gets beyond the realm of apologetics is sadly quite bad.

  • WJ,

    A question for you: You argue that because you think that just war teaching cannot possibly justify the Iraq War, that the only Christian soldiers fighting for a just cause in the war were any Iraqi Christian soldiers fighting for Hussein.

    However, is it not questionably whether fighting to protect the Baathist dictatorship is itself just even if one posits that the US did not at that time have a just cause to topple the regime.

    Further, it’s important to recall that not only did many in the US believe that Iraq possessed WMD, but many in Iraq did as well. There were a number of cases where groups of Iraqi soldiers surrended and immediately begged for chemical warfare protective gear, because they believed that their own army was about to launch a chemical attack on the Americans, and many of the units in the regular army hadn’t been given any protective gear to keep them safe from any chemical weapons used by their own side.

    The situation since 2003 is even more complicated, since one of the primary tactics of the insurgency has been to attack Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi government. American soldiers in the last seven years have primarily been asked to fight alongside the Iraqi military against tribal and foreign fighters seeking to destablize the Iraqi government. In such a situation, would fighting with the Americans not be the just course?

    And indeed, statements from the Vatican and USCCB since the initial invasion have essentially supported this — though many “peace advocates” still seem to favor the idea of immediate pull out, apparently because the number of Iraqis who suffer as a result do not matter so long as it is clear the the US “loses”.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    You make two good points here, let me address them in turn:

    1: However, is it not questionabl[e] whether fighting to protect the Baathist dictatorship is itself just even if one posits that the US did not at that time have a just cause to topple the regime[?]

    Granted that Iraq was an unjust regime, does this make it unjust for soldiers to defend that regime against an unjust attack? This is a tricky question. My sense of JWT (and I am open to correction here) is that the Justness or Unjustness of each regime, as it handles its own internal affairs, is insufficient by itself for determining, in any particular case, whether a defense action taken on behalf of that regime falls under a Just War properly understood. My sense is that the tradition is *very*, perhaps *too* conservative here, so that one could determine that, even *granted* that Iraq was an unjust regime, still, according to JWT, that regime has a right to protect itself against a foreign unjust action. I wonder whether your own sense of JWT fits with this, and if it does not, I’d like to hear an alternate view.

    Second, even granted that the Iraqi defense was a Just one, I agree with you that it is very likely that many of the soldiers fighting in its cause did so in an unjust way, insofar as their aim was the continued propping up of the “Baathist dictatorship” rather than a defense of their nation, or homeland, or families. But I think that this question is an empirical one: surely many Iraqis fighting against the US were motivated by duty to country, by a sense of wanting to protect their families, etc.; and many others had the “intention” of supporting the “Baathists.”

    I suppose my final, hesitant, answer would be that the U.S. invasion of Iraq at least allowed for the *possibility* of a just resistance to that invasion, without being sufficient for it.

    2: I agree that the years following the unjust invasion complicate things significantly, and that any decision in this area has to take into account what would befall the Iraqis if the U.S. were to leave as precipitously as we arrived. And I am much less sure of what the correct course here would be.

  • I think Darwin’s last paragraph gets to the heart of the pathologies of our political discourse.

  • Something tells me that Just War Theory in the hands of some has degenerated into a sterile intellectual exercise completely removed from the dilemmas that actual policy makers face.

  • Henry,
    You are correct, of course, that the question of whether a war is just cannot be collapsed into the question of who decides. That is, just because those who are responsible for making the decision do so does not render their decision correct. But I don’t think that there was any “confusion” on that point in CA. This is the nature of a prudential calculus. The consequence of this is that the Church normally cannot speak authoritatively as to the calculus’s outcome, which is why a Catholics may often differ as to their assessments and normally cannot be assumed to non-compliant with Church teaching even if they take a view that differs from that of their bishop or even the Holy Father (which does not mean that the views of Church leaders should not be very seriously considered, of course). All that said, the job of individuals to make such prudential calculuses cannot be used as an excuse for rationalization. Just because the Church may not be in a position to authoritatively object to one’s calculus, does not mean that one’s calculus is somehow protected from culpable moral error.

  • Art Deco,

    As I understand it, theorizing about just war is important just because “actual policy makers” are usually motivated by many different things, precious few of which concern justice. Is bioethics a “sterile intellectual exercise” that is completely removed from the “dilemmas” that actual scientists must face?

  • FWIW, I think the justness or unjustness of the current invasion of Iraq hinges on whether the one a decade earlier was just. A logical thought process would go like this: Iraq unjustly invaded Kuwait. Kuwait was just resist and ask for assistance for other nations. The US was just in taking up that cause. The US, Kuwait and a host of other nations succeeded in driving Iraq out of Kuwait and would have been justified in seeing it through until Saddam’s regine was toppled.

    They didn’t do it, they instead agreed to a conditional cease fire and withdrawl. Saddam Hussein violated those terms almost immediately. Everything from flying fighters in the no-fly zone, to locking on and/or firing at coalition aircraft to not allowing UN inspectors do their job. Most instances were dealt with directly and in a very measured manner even though they were cause enough to resume full hostilities. Note that Saddam also used the situation to severely persecute many of his own people.

    Barring any change in Saddam’s attitude and actions or an outright regime change a continuation of the hostilities were imminent. After 9/11 those in charge made the call that Saddam’s belligerence needed to come to end.

    I’m not 100% sure what to think because like the rest here I don’t have *all* the facts, but I reject the notion that no person of good will and informed conscience could come to the conclusion that the war was just.

  • In retrospect, I want to take back my too-strong claim that *only* Christian Iraqi soldiers could be described as behaving “virtuously,” or “with Christian honor,” etc. in the Iraq War. In making this claim I was trying to show that because the U.S. did not fulfill the “jus ad bellum” criteria of Just War, an American solider’s participation *in* that war was different from an Iraqi solider’s–since at least the Iraqi solider *might* be engaging in an activity that fulfills “jus ad bellum” criteria.

    What I oversimplified, and, unfortunately, may have misrepresented, was the principle of the moral equality of combatants, according to which a soldier is responsible only for his “jus in bello” behavior. The reasoning goes that because individual soldiers cannot be expected to have the knowledge or power to inform the political “ad bellum” decision, their moral status *in* war derives from their behavior within the war. This principle is not uncontroversial, but it is unsettled enough that I need to at least affirm the possibility that American soldiers *may* be praised for their conduct in the Iraq War, even granted that that war was unjust.

    I don’t have a settled opinion on the moral equality of combatants principle; good arguments can be found on both sides.

  • WJ,

    I would say no. But those practical dilemmas are what prudential judgments are formed from, not only from the moral principles. And that’s were scientists and physicians may come to different conclusions. Even more so it seems in deciding if a war meets just criteria.

  • This refers to WJ’s 10:54 am comment.

  • Phillip,

    I agree with you that practical dilemmas are where prudential judgments are made. I was only responding to Art Deco’s assertion that, because this is so, *therefore* thinking hard about the structure of moral action is a “sterile intellectual exercise.” Just the opposite, it is a *necessary*, if insufficient, to make clear to political actors and to scientists just what these moral principles are, and why they are important.

    Now I simply *must* get back to my real writing.
    Thanks for the conversation.

  • …lest I give my wife the grounds for a just military action…:)

  • This is not meant to be an insult, but it seems to me that most of you don’t have any idea of what you’re talking about. There’s ideal musings, and then there’s actual experience. God’s gave me an experience that very few will ever have: that of being a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment. The so called ‘tip’ of the spear.

    It is quite possible to have ‘served’ in the military, and never come close to experiencing what I did. It is even possible to have gone to war in Iraq, and never to have come close to experiencing what I did. For what I experienced was the raw spirit of modern violence, and in particular, the culture that such a spirit forms.

    Those who belong to the officer corps, or to non-combat units, or even to combat units of a lesser sort, these soldiers do not tend to experience the essential spirit of modern warfare. They get whiffs, but they do not breathe and eat the stuff.

    I want to tell it to you straight, apart from the doctrines, apart from the philosophies and the ideals: Modern warfare is demonic, and these demons savage the souls of those at the heart of it. It endangers a person’s soul to enter certain parts of the U.S. military – those units with the most responsibility for directly killing in close-quarters.

    Ideally, yes, perhaps saints with swords could kill enemies in a just-war via double-effect. Maybe it has even happened throughout history. But I tell you this – modern war, today, with its machines and dehumanization and propaganda and materialistic-totalitarianism . . . this type of war distorts the souls of those who really engage it. The demonic danger is real, and it is overwhelming. I do not blame the military, I do not blame the soldiers. I blame the fallen world, and I blame Satan.

    If we think the world is fallen enough to require war, we should be able to see that the world is too fallen to wage war without being destroyed by the demons such violence unleashes. God help the young men we place into such hell!

  • Thank you, again, for sharing your experiences Nate. The personal testimony of one person is not always the best basis for formulating public policy, but it certainly is more valuable than most of the abstract theorizing that takes place on these topics (including my own abstract theorizing).

  • Thank you, John. I agree – my experience is just one of many, and we should listen to them all. Most soldiers who have seen the real face of war (and I’m not sure I can include myself among them) do not want to talk about it. I’ve been agonizing over this all morning, honestly. I do not mean to offend anyone with a different opinion than mine, and if my words are strong, it’s a reflection of the intensity of what I went through, and my empathy for those who might have to endure the same thing.

    Catholics often scrutinize where they send their kids to school, what books their kids read, what friends their kids make, and so forth. But when it comes to the military – a government run institution – I find that we become blind believers. If a secular college is a dangerous place for a young Catholic, how much more a secular military?

    One small nugget: ‘cursing like a sailor’ isn’t just a phrase. F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true. The constant cursing is probably the ‘smallest’ thing I can think of, in terms of demonic influence, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

  • Nate,

    I appreciate your experiences and cannot relate to them. I don’t know if the modern battlefield involves more direct killing than the ancient. Can one begin to imagine the horrors of the Greek phalanx with the direct killing involved there. Siege warfare of the middle ages is also brought to mind. The Church was aware of these and still considered the place for a just war.
    Then there is the continued modern day demands on the police officer and the coarsening that can result from that. Yet police are still needed and their actions, when performed morally, are just.

  • One small nugget: ‘cursing like a sailor’ isn’t just a phrase. F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true. The constant cursing is probably the ’smallest’ thing I can think of, in terms of demonic influence, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    FWIW, that seems to be a fairly common thing among people our age (men in particular, but women as well) in situations where it’s not actively cracked down on. I’ve run into f**k-speak everywhere from archeology digs to forklift operators to sales teams — basically anywhere that “the management” doesn’t make it clear it’s not acceptable on business premises. We live in an uncivilized age. (Like just about all ages…)

    That said, I think you make an important practical point, which people would do very well to keep in mind at the same time they contemplate more abstract points. No matter how much the risk of self for others may bring an opportunity for saintliness and nobility to the calling, being a soldier is also going to mean seeing and being involved in horrible things, being far from home, being in fear, having at your hands the tools for intimidation and violence, and by turns being extremely bored — all things which provide ample opportunity for grave sin.

    While I think Sheens point has an essential validity, it’s clear that soldiering involves a host of temptations which young men far from home are often not good at resisting. While I continue to think that serving in the military is an honorable and necessary thing which Catholics should not universally shrink from (though clearly not everyon is not called to such a thing), one would be pretty foolish to think, “Oh, I better encourage my son to join the army. Clearly, he’ll never to be tempted to sin there.”

    And come to that, this is true (though in different ways) of other professions where personal sacrifice and helping others would seem to be central — as seen in alcoholism and other personal dysfunction rates for doctors, priests, policemen, etc.

  • I am generally quite sick of debates over issues that have absolutely no chance whatsoever of changing a mind or even getting one to bend a little. That’s why I haven’t said anything about this.

    I will say this: I oppose America’s foreign policy of the moment – and if the political sympathies and donations made by many of the actual troops themselves are any indication, so are the people who are being asked to die for it – but I also completely reject any attempt to denigrate American soldiers or patriotism in general as “fascist” or somehow immoral.

    So I am equally disgusted by two opposite viewpoints: 1) the view that to oppose the insane think-tank fantasies that have guided foreign policy is to somehow oppose the troops or be unpatriotic, and 2) the view that to support the troops in any capacity is somehow “fascist.”

  • My view of soldiers and public attitudes towards them was summed up by Mr. Kipling:

    TOMMY

    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

  • Rick Lugari – Great comment. That’s exactly the way I look at it.

  • “F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true.”

    Well that was certainly also true when I was in the Army back in the Seventies. It was also true of the English Army that fought against Joan of Arc. Their favorite expression was G-dd-mn. Some things remain true across the centuries when it comes to the military experience. I do not swear and I did not when I was in the Army. The swearing bothered me to some extent, although quite a few of my profane colleagues became good friends with me. In spite of their profanity many of them were good-hearted and men of honor. In regard to swearing in civilian life, that has radically increased since the Sixties, certainly when it comes to public swearing.

  • Don would probably know for sure, but I believe that back in the day the English Army was so enamored with “G-dd-mn that their French opponents routinely referred to English soldiers as the “G-dd-mns.”

  • Quite right Mike.

  • WJ & Mike Petrik,

    How about a nifty pic to go with your icon?

  • Mike,

    I remember reading that.

  • On the use of the F-bomb, remember: this about a decade old.
    (F* rap.)

    Men in their twenties also greet each other with “f*ker.”

  • I seem to recall reading that it was the Ausies who made f*ck military standard usage in the Great War. At which time its use are noun, adjective, adverb and verb all rolled into one was still comparatively new.

    Though my grandfather who began his 30-year career in the navy in 1945 (and past whose lips I never heard a single profanity pass) always insisted that when he was in the Navy profanity was not nearly as pervasive as in modern WW2 dramas like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers — the which are in turn far more clean-cut in their language than the Mamet and Tarantino-esque speech patterns of many ordinary civilians my age.

  • I recommend “No Victory, No Peace” by Angelo Codevilla.

  • “Lord, I am not worthy
    that you should enter under my roof,
    but only say the word
    and my soul (my servant) shall be healed.”

    And unlike the woman taken in adultery, no follows on orders to soldier no more.

    Argument from silence.

    Anyone intimately familiar with the sacrifices the men and women of a nation’s military make – not for glory, but for love of country and countrymen – should not find fault with the sentiment expressed in Archbishop Sheen’s book.

    You can’t be serious. You can say this about any person or group of people who is willing to kill and die for what they believe. You could say it about “the terrorists.” Sacrifice does not equal Christianity. Sorry.

    It is telling that all of you agree with Sheen’s comment about soldiers being just below priests. How about sisters? Oh yeah, it fits in with your sexism.

    Many pay the ultimate sacrifice.

    Last I checked, Calvary was the ultimate sacrifice. NOT U.S. SOLDIERS.

    2) the view that to support the troops in any capacity is somehow “fascist.”

    Caricature.

  • While I’ve worked jobs where people cursed – from janitors to cadets to high school students – I’ve never encountered the level of cursing that I found in the Ranger regiment. It’s a small thing, however. More startling is the open display of pornography, the constant boasting and announcements of masturbation (“I gotta go jack off – you got some porn?”), the songs of not only killing children and nuns, but of raping women, and so on and so forth. I should re-iterate that this is the experience of a private in an elite special operations unit, not the experience of a desk clerk in a non-combat unit. I would also add upon Donald’s comment that this didn’t make us bad. I’m only pointing out the cultural current and demonic activity, which I associate with the mission: killing other human beings like ourselves.

  • I think there are probably countless volumes of untold stories of heroism, sacrifice and compassion demonstrated by our American soldiers, stories that stay within the confines of family, only to be briefly revealed at the death of an old soldier. One such story was recently related to me — the story of an 18-year-old sergeant, serving in Italy during World War II, who was machine-gunned by a German soldier. The young American was able to shoot back and, while both were lying wounded on the ground, an American patrol happened upon them. The young American insisted that the German not be killed, so instead of firing a fatal shot into the German, the American troops took both wounded men to a hospital to convalesce. These untold stories demonstrate the character of our soldiers, character that has been instilled in our young men by their families, communities, country, and belief in Christ. So what if that utilitarian Anglo-Saxon word is used in excess — our soldiers are not attending tea parties and picking daisies.

  • It’s so sad how someone like Nate can so passionate share his experiences, here, at Vox Nova, on his own website, on the Catholic Peace Fellowship site, etc., yet what he is saying just does not sink in for some people. Instead, he gets “Oh but Nate, yours is just one person’s experience.” These people will praise a complete stranger on this blog who happens to mention his “service”, praising his heroism, etc., without knowing a damn thing about him. When Nate continually shares from his heart his very personal experience and his judgment about the nightmarish dimensions of the military, he is usually brushed off. Another flag waving post follows on the next day.

    Some of us listen, Nate, and refuse to remain on the level of abstraction that some of the bloggers here do. They have an image of the u.s. military in mind, not reality.

  • “Some of us listen, Nate…”

    Don’t confuse listening and agreement, Michael.

  • Thanks, Michael. And thanks to all who have patiently listened to me. Thanks be to God for those who have gone further, and agreed with me. Cuz’ I know it ain’t easy! 🙂

    Also, I really encourage everyone to read Michael’s paper once it becomes available. It’s an in-depth theological examination of what every new military recruit will be forced to face: an anti-Christ culture. Granted, anti-Christ cultures do abound in America. I think we should just remember that the military is (at the least) no exception.

Lent 2010; The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholic Orthodoxy

Monday, February 22, AD 2010

As we work our way through Lent 2009, we need to rejoice in the turning tide. Though there has been much negative news about the Catholic Church this past decade, much of the negative news had its roots in actions taken during the 1960s and 1970s. Yet, the seeds of the good news planted during the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI is just now seeing its shoots and blossoms become visible to the naked eye.

What are the shoots and blossoms?  They can be seen in increasing vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the strong orthodox nature of these new, young priests. A new crop of Catholic bishops is also boldly showing their orthodoxy, which often befuddles and mystifies the mainstream media and the secular culture in which we live. In addition to this, many in the laity have for years now been writing and blogging about the desperate need for Catholic orthodoxy in a world full of hurt and self absorption. Many ask how can the Church possibly grow when the Church’s active laity, especially the young along with those who serve her in ordained and professed ministries, are so different from the culture in which they live? It is that culture in which they live that causes them to see the wisdom in Christ’s words and the Church He started through the first pope, the Apostle Saint Peter.

There were fewer shoots and blossoms in the 1970s when the seriousness of the Catholicism was questioned after the Church seemed to be trying to be relative, whether it was related or not, thousands of priests and nuns left their vocations. However, starting in 1978 with the election of Pope John Paul II, the tide began to turn. All of the Polish pontiff’s hard work began to be seen in the shoots and blossoms of events like World Youth Day 1993, which was held in Denver. Later in his pontificate thanks to events like World Youth Day, vocations to the priesthood and religious life began to increase.

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5 Responses to Lent 2010; The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholic Orthodoxy

  • Amen Dave. The Tide is indeed turning as witnessed by the young men and women who attended the Right to Life in DC The way they handled thenmselves was remarable and edifying. The young orthodox priests are proclaiming the true tenets of the Church in their homiles and many so called “cafeteria catholic” are figgeting in the pews. RCIA teacher are getting back to what Catholism is and not just trying to bring anyone into the Church. More and more orthodox Bishops are taking a stance against those that try to justify their approach to public service aand their faith, as well as those in the academia who are trying to justify their relativism in their teaching and examples.

  • I think you rightly point out that the future of the American Church is being moved by the fact that only conservative young men are becoming priests.

    But I think a clarification needs to be made between orthodox and conservative, between heterodox and liberal, and between traditional and progressive. The meanings of these words seem to change from person to person.

  • Mr. Hartman,
    I see you are blind to the actual facts and are writing about a Catholic Church that is crumbling away. The lack of acknowledgment of wrongdoing at the very head of the Church has caused many to leave. Parishes are closing and there are fewer priests to run them. Catholic schools are closing due to declining enrollment. The vision begun by Pope John XXIII sadly were buried by Paul VI and Pope Benedict’s continued push to the right is continuing to push people further away.
    I think the Church I was raised in and have always been proud to be a member of, has turned it’s back on me and the many children who have been abused and shunned by the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Barbara, at first I thought your post was a tasteless April Fool’s joke. However, I see now that you are serious and I am very sorry that you are either this misinformed or this week. If you want the Church to become the same as the liberal Protestant churches who are in a statistical free fall then, shame on you. If you are week and run at the first sign of trouble, than I will continue to pray for you.

    My childhood parish had the distinction of having one of the highest number of molestors in my entir state, let alone diocese. I remember these molestors well, they were all liberals who wanted to change the Church and not defend it, some of the victims were people I knew.

    Even in the midst of this scandal, more and more young people, who are very orthodox in the Catholic faith, are becoming priests and nuns. In addition, the Church continues to see an increase in the number of converts (as evidenced by the last few years and this year in particular.)

    When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, he prayed that God would give him the courage not to run when the wolves come. I pray Barbara that you find a backbone and stand up for the Faith when it is under attack by people who solely want to destory the Church by making outrageous accusations against Pope Benedict, without a single shred of evidence to back it up. There are even writers from the liberal America magazine who have said the conduct displayed by the NY Times and others is outrageous. I prayerfully ask you to consider these points.

If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters)

Monday, January 25, AD 2010

There is a undercurrent in American society that somehow believes that if the mafia ran things, the country would be better off. There was one city (Newark, New Jersey) where the mafia once controlled much of the city. When their grip on power was done, the city was in tatters. The same could be said for liberals running religion.

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"I agree with the Church in principle, but …"

Friday, January 8, AD 2010

Last week I posted a reaction to House Speaker Pelosi’s interview in Newsweek (cross-posted to First Things‘ “First Thoughts”). Perusing the comments, I discovered that the author of No Hidden Magenta — a blog with the daunting task of “bridging the gap between ‘Red and Blue State’ groupthink” — has responded with fury and dismay:

At least one reason why neither the Pope nor the Archbishop have denied Pelosi Holy Communion–despite having ample opportunity to do so–is because prudential judgments about how best to reflect a moral principle in public policy involved technical considerations of practical reason that do not go to the heart of what it means to be a Roman Catholic; in other words, they are not about the central value at stake. If Speaker Pelosi believes that abortion is a positive good that should be promoted by the state (rather than as a privacy right for all women) that is one thing (and her recent actions with regard to Stupak suggest that she doesn’t think this), but there are any number of good reasons for supporting less-than-perfect public policy as she claims to be doing in trying to reduce the number of abortions while not supporting an abortion ban. …

Now, we can and should have debate about this question–and I think Pelosi is profoundly mistaken in her position on public policy–but let’s be clear: both the Pope and her Archbishop do not think such a position puts her status as a Roman Catholic or as a communicant in jeopardy. And those who think it does would do well to follow their example in distinguishing between ‘moral principle’ and ‘public policy.’

I’m relieved that the author believes Pelosi is “profoundly mistaken” in her position on public policy. I’m less convinced, however, that “the Pope and her Archbishop do not think such a position puts her status as a Roman Catholic or as a communicant in jeopardy”, and the author’s explanation for why they allegedly do not think so.

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6 Responses to "I agree with the Church in principle, but …"

  • How could anyone say she accepts Church teaching on the matter?

    Pelosi: “I would say that as an ardent practicing Catholic this is an issue that I have studied for a long time, and what I know is over the centuries the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition. And St. Augustine said three months. We don’t know. The point is it that it shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to chose.”

    Aside from her deficient understanding of Augustine and the Church(speaking as charitably as possible), she still negates her argument by the last line. “A women’s right to choose [killing her unborn child]” is not a Catholic concept and is clearly at odds with the Church (including Augustine and the other Doctors – not to mention that the Doctors aren’t the Magesterium either).

    Many bishops published corrections of Pelosi’s transparent theological hack job and there is nothing to indicate she was persuaded.

  • There may be several ways to exercise prudential judgment on how best to reflect the principle that abortion is evil in a specific public policy. But proposing and voting for legislation to keep it legal at all stages for any reason, refusing others to exercise their own conscience in opposing it, and getting it publicly funded ain’t one of them.

  • Public policy is crouched in the public good and unity. The good for the public could mean a need for euthanasia. We see these ideas put forth in the heathcare debate. Some illness are way too expensive at the end of life. So Ms Pelosi is saying she can separate ethical and moral discernment when it envolves public policy. What upsets me is that her ideas confuse her own beliefs in principle and she tell us we should follow her way.

  • W Posh,

    The public (common) good does not call for a moral evil. Euthanasia is such and is not consistent with the common good.

    Now it will in fact be that there will need to be limits on health care. Individuals will disagree with what should be covered for all and what some may pay for out of their own resources. These distinctions can be in concordance with the common good. But setting those limits is different that actively seeking to kill a person.

  • Pelosi, and others seem to be trying to justify themselves into Heaven. Isn’t this whole piece about relativism? 2 + 2 = 4, for ever and always – that’s a truth. God issued a COMMANDMENT, not a suggestion, which states (as near as we can tell) “thou shalt not murder” – that’s also a truth. No matter when you think life begins, if you plan and act to cause that life to cease, then you have committed a grave ( we used to use the more descriptive term “MORTAL”) sin. It doesn’t matter what your religion, it is STILL a Mortal Sin.

    Remember, God created us with free will. In the Garden, we exercised that free will, and turned our backs on God, chosing to follow the creator of lies. Why do we STILL follow those who justify their lies to us? At the end of our lives, and for all time, we will be in Heaven or Hell, Forever.

  • I agree with you marvin the only reason they changed the name to grave is people thought that mortal was to harsh… why is that so hard? dont like it? then don’t sin..

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

Tuesday, December 22, AD 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I don’t understand this, Zach:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On what basis do you say this?

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

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

  • Zach –

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

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

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Jimmy Carter, anti-Catholic Bigot

Saturday, December 12, AD 2009

I’ve never had much use for Jimmy Carter.  I view him as in the running with James Buchanan for the title of worst President of the United States, and he has always struck me as a mean and spiteful little man.  Now he adds the title of bigot to his list of dishonors.  In an address to the World Parliament of Religions (You know that has to give God a good laugh!)  the Solon of Plains is reported to have unloaded on both Southern Baptists and Catholics.

In opposition to the vast majority of authentic scholars and historians, Carter asserted: “It’s clear that during the early Christian era women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets.”  He added: “It wasn’t until the 4th century or the 3rd at the earliest that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant position within the religious hierarchy.”

Contrary to the theorizing of Carter, Pope John Paul II taught, “The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.”  He added: “the Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself.  For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church; 1577)

Carter singled out the Southern Baptist Convention and Roman Catholic Church, claiming that they “view that the Almighty considers women to be inferior to men.”  However, both Christian faiths hold to the Scriptural truth that God created men and women equal.

Carter suggests that only in permitting women to become priests and pastors could male religious leaders choose to interpret teachings to exalt rather than subjugate women.  “They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter, subjugation,” he said.

“Their continuing choice provides a foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world,” said Carter. Carter goes on to list horrific violations against women such as rape, genital mutilation, abortion of female embryos and spousal battery.

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37 Responses to Jimmy Carter, anti-Catholic Bigot

  • It is an embarassment to this country that this ignorant bigot ever sat in the oval office.

    As an American I don’t feel quite as embarrassed about that relatively unknown and empty suit[case] of a man having been elected president as those who lend him an ear should.

    And what’s up with this?

    Carter goes on to list horrific violations against women such as rape, genital mutilation, abortion of female embryos and spousal battery.

    I didn’t know the Catholic Church supported such things. But worse is the inclusion of “abortion of female embryos”. I know he wants to mask the reality of what abortion is, and he thinks using the incorrect term of embryo makes a point as much as he intends to conceal, but it’s not indicative of the clearest of thinking, not to mention the inconsistency of his sense of morality. Any abortion is a grave act of injustice for whatever “reason”, but why does Jimmeh only have qualms about the aborting “female embryos”?

  • Age sure isn’t making Mr. Peanut any wiser. Well, Carter doesn’t have much use for Jews either:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/09/jimmy_carter_the_jewhater_who.html

    Personally, I am honored to be part of a group loathed by such a foolish and bitter old man. Back in 1976, Americans fell for the John Boy Walton, “Shucks, Ahm jes’ a humble, sweater-wearin’ peanut farmer” hokeum. Who realized then what a vindictive and bigoted and confused character he was and is?

    Ironically, Carter decries Southern Baptists, while retaining the two of the less savory aspects of traditional southern fundamentalism – prejudice(especially anti-Catholic prejudice) and sanctimony. But since he backed Obama, he can kid himself that he’s an “enlightened” southerner.

  • So is this a sign that Carter is preparing to announce he is leaving the Southern Baptists for the 3rd time while doing no such thing?

    Jimmy C is past ready for a padded cell, how about 1 next to Algore so they can exchange delusions?

  • A man who never was of any significance. His bitterness has never ceased since he was considered to be one of our worse choices and just perhaps the one he endorsed will also be in that same ilk.

  • Jimmy Carter is misinformed, and is of an age where it is difficult to look beyond one’s comfortable, accustomed sources of information to locate truth.

    He’s increasingly like that cranky relative who goes on tirades at family gatherings, to which everybody listens, nodding vaguely, only to huddle up when he leaves the room and ask one another, wide-eyed, “Hey, what the heck are we gonna do about Uncle Jim? Is anybody checking up on him? Is he still taking his meds? Do we need to put him in a home? What?”

    A Little Information About Baptists

    By the way, Jimmy Carter is a Baptist and from the southern United States. But he is not a Southern Baptist (referring to the denominational convention) nor has he been one since 2000. (And prior to that, though his church had been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Carter was what Catholics might call a “loud dissenter” from the 1980’s onward.)

    The “New Baptist Covenant” group Carter helped start up along with Bill Clinton and Mercer University president Bill Underwood is in fact intended as a counterweight against the more conservative Southern Baptist Convention.

    To contrast them: The SBC defines social justice in terms of equal protection under law and strong advocacy of charitable assistance for the needy at the individual and church level (some local churches dedicate over half their operating budgets to charitable giving in the community, the nation, and overseas, and conservative Baptists tend to be among the most reliable tithers in the whole Christian sphere).

    Carter’s alternative group, the NBC, adds to this a rejection of traditional gender roles, including a belief in ordination of women for all clergy roles. Local churches which ordain active homosexuals or conduct gay commitment ceremonies can participate in the NBC. The SBC is too theologically and practically traditional to allow for this.

    So, oddly, while Catholics might think SBC Baptists sounded uncomfortably fundamentalist (and therefore liable to harbor those anti-Catholic myths of Mary-worship and salvation-by-works so common among American fundamentalists), they’d find rather more agreement with the SBC on matters of faith and practice than with the kinder-and-gentler-sounding NBC.

    Put another way: SBC are the EWTN Catholics of Baptists, and NBC are the Episcopals of Baptists.

    Finally, please keep in mind that Baptists are Congregationalists; each local congregation is independently governed, owns all its properties, and selects its own leaders. Local churches, if they opt to participate in a larger organization, decide which Conventions, Associations, and Fellowships they wish to participate in on the basis of being doctrinally simpatico. Their membership dues go into cooperative programs for needs ranging from organized support of overseas missionaries to printing of Sunday School lesson booklets.

    My point is that it’s not like the SBC could excommunicate Jimmy Carter or replace the leaders of his local church. Authority among Baptists is bottom-up.

  • Like RC, I think your headline here is bilious and inaccurate. Not every critic of the Catholic Church is anti-. As for the lack of quality of his presidency, I think he has a fair way to go to beat the previous occupant of the White House, who showed a grave lack of concern about terrorism, and after the homeland was supposedly prepared for calamity, revealed himself and his government to be as ill-prepared as ever.

    Mr Carter shows no depth of knowledge of Catholicism, but to refer to him as an “anti-Catholic bigot” seems to reveal more about the author than the target.

  • Todd, it comes as absolutely no surprise to me that you would rise in defense of both an anti-Catholic bigot and someone in the running for being the worst President to ever curse these United States. However, Carter can take comfort in this fact. The pro-abort you voted for last year for President may well save him from the title of worst President by the time he is done.

  • Donald, how charming to lock horns with you on a Sunday morning.

    It is part of the blindness of conservatives such as yourself that you misinterpret as “defense” a mere disagreement with the headline on this thread. I don’t think Mr Carter was the strongest of American presidents, but he certainly isn’t accurately identified as an “anti-Catholic bigot.”

    It isn’t, however, enough to agree than the man is wrong about Catholicism. In your eyes, one must also call names. Probably stick out one’s tongue and go “nyah, nyah, nyah” in the direction of Georgia, too.

    Your objection is noted, counsellor, and overruled.

  • Todd, I didn’t call names. I accurately described Carter, and you reflexively came to his defense, which is only to be expected.

  • A man who is blaming the Church’s position on female ordination for violence against women around the world, or even seeking to relate them in some way, is an anti-Catholic bigot as far as I am concerned.

  • Donald, what is to be expected is that I will tweak the errors and oversights on AC. As Joe profoundly demonstrates, this post is more about a cheerleading session, “Jimmy, bigot, rah, rah rah!” than any serious commentary on how non-Catholics mischaracterize Catholicism.

    Bishop Sheen had more the measure of situations like this than you.

  • I will offer that some of the above is de trop.

    I think Mr. Carter had a mixed record in office, bedeviled by his own misunderstandings of his social world, by the misunderstandings within the subculture that was the elite of the Democratic Party, and by the crooked and refractory character of the Democratic Congressional Caucus. For all his policy failures, his quality was above the median in the matrix in which he was operating.

    Still, you can see a good many of the man’s vices on display.

    1. He is one of the more abrasively sanctimonious characters to have abided in American public life; Anthony Lewis and Ramsey Clark are among the few who have him beat.

    2. He is at best ambivalent when confronted with the choice between the intuitions and arguments of historic protestant confessions and the kultursmog around him.

    3. His conception of the sources of collective behavior is gratuitous and bizarre. It does show who some of his favorite bogeys are. It is sort of surprising that he did not figure out a way to blame female genital mutilation on the Government of Israel, though. I figure that’s coming up.

  • Todd you know as little about Joe as you obviously do about Carter. Joe Hargrave is no man’s cheerleader.

  • Todd,

    I have lost all respect for you as a ‘Catholic’.

    I had no idea you voted for the most pro-abortionist president in the history of the United States of America.

    Pretty sad.

  • bigot: (n) a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own

    I think this describes Carter well

  • Todd writes Sunday, December 13, 2009 A.D. at 9:25 am
    “As for the lack of quality of his presidency, I think he has a fair way to go to beat the previous occupant of the White House…”.

    Is there in rhetoric [debating] a term for the use of pointless comparisons? That X was better [or worse] than Y tells us nothing much about X. It is the kind of thing used in high school debates.

  • I have lost all respect for you as a ‘Catholic’.

    Keeping in mind that equal respect is the abolition of respect, we might at least maintain a quantum in reserve. No need to send it all down the drain.

  • Is there in rhetoric [debating] a term for the use of pointless comparisons? That X was better [or worse] than Y tells us nothing much about X. It is the kind of thing used in high school debates.

    Too true. Also, trying to do a generic comparison between different chief executives is difficult because the contexts and challenges can be quite dissimilar, and call for different talents and virtues.

  • AD,

    I respect him as a human being and as a child of Christ.

    Does that count?

  • I would say so, but you shoudn’t pay too much attention to a hoodlum like me.

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  • Really? My short little post was a “profound” demonstration?

  • Art you are never a hoodlum. At worst sometimes a grouchy smart penguin. 🙂

  • Hey – it’s Jimmy Carter. Nothing more need be said

  • Carter was the first president I ever voted for… in an 8th grade mock election that is, though I can’t remember why exactly.

    The one good thing I think Carter did in his presidency was facilitate peace between Egypt and Israel at Camp David. I don’t give him total credit for it, because it was Anwar Sadat’s and Menachem Begin’s idea to begin with, but Carter did at least help their talks along when they bogged down. In some ways I think THAT was the main reason God permitted someone like Jimmy Carter, who was otherwise mediocre if not incompetent, to be elected.

    I also admire Carter for his commitment to Habitat for Humanity; the publicity he gave the organization helped put it on the map.

    Unfortunately, ever since he left office, he has been “coasting” on the reputation for negotiating skills and charitable commitment he seems to have gained from those two things (Camp David and Habitat). As a result he gets a pass on many of his more outrageous claims and statements such as this one.

    As bad as Carter was I still don’t know that I’d place him on the all-time worst list below James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, or Warren Harding. I suspect, however, that Obama may yet claim the title of worst president in my lifetime.

  • Carter was the first president I voted against Elaine in 1976 at age 19. I had little enthusiasm for Ford, but I suspected that Carter was going to be bad news for the nation. As to the Camp David Accords, that was a solid achievement, and Carter deserves his share of the credit.

  • It seems to me that an important issue is going very much unmentioned. When politicians with some level of influence over public thought begin to discuss matters that are of theological question (such as suggesting the need for the ordination of women), they are overstepping their bounds as politicians. As Catholics, we ought to be doing something to clarify how this is different than a question of social justice, because to those outside the Church this is obviously very misunderstood. It probably stems from an unfortunate cultural belief that equal dignity of men and women necessitates equal opportunities, roles, abilities and so forth to the point of a culture losing the notion of “man and woman He created them.”

    I think a worthwhile question in response to unfortunate public statements such as this must be: How can we as Catholics witness to the world that women are most respected according to their own unique vocation, and that the male nature of the priesthood is and will always be a theological matter?

  • If Carter was truly interested in decrying religious maltreatment of women, he ought to have mentioned honor killings. No one gets killed in upholding the all-male priesthood in Roman Catholicism.

    Oh, wait….that’s Islam. Never mind.

  • The best thing about Carter that I can recall is the SNL skit where he tried to fix Three Mile Island.

  • Michael Medved refers to Carter simply as “T.W.O.” meaning “The Worthless One”. The current occupant of the White House seems to be working toward a similiar title.

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  • I really love Jimmy Carter. He isn’t anti-Catholic he just has a different perspective. This article is what makes Catholics look bad.

  • I despise Carter but nonetheless agree with Bill on both counts. That said, Carter’s “perspective” is grounded in comfortable self-righteous ignorance.

  • Carter’s perspective is that the teaching of the Catholic Church that only males may be priests is misogynistic clap trap dreamed up by power hungry prelates. My perspective is that Carter is an anti-Catholic bigot as well as a fool.

  • Donald, I think we will have to agreeably disagree! Merry Christmas!

  • I’m with Donald.

    Mr. Carter is an anti-Catholic bigot.

  • “Donald, I think we will have to agreeably disagree! Merry Christmas!”

    Mike, any minor disagreements between us will always be agreeable! The Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years for you and your family!

Abortion, Capital Punishment and War, One of these things is not like the other

Friday, November 27, AD 2009

Ed Stoddard of Reuters’ religion blog Faithworld carries a roundup of the skirmish between Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, has claimed that Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin.

In conclusion, Stoddard asks:

This leads to a question about the consistency of views in the U.S. Catholic Church leadership. The Church opposes abortion and therefore liberal politicians who support abortion rights risk being refused communion. The Church supports a healthcare overhaul that would make the system more equitable. So does a conservative Catholic politician who opposes this reform risk being denied communion for ignoring the Catholic social teaching that justifies it?

How about support for capital punishment, which the Vatican says is unjustified in almost all possible cases, or for war? In the build-up to the Iraq war, Pope John Paul was so opposed to the plan that he sent a personal envoy to Washington to argue against it. Did bishops threaten any measures against Catholic politicians who energetically supported that war despite Vatican opposition?

The author’s questions reveal an elementary ignorance concerning the moral issues in question and their relationship to varying levels of Church teaching. While I am disappointed by his answer (Faithworld is generally one of the better and more educational “religion blogs” in the secular media), it is understandable — as even many Catholics find themselves confused on this matter.

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33 Responses to Abortion, Capital Punishment and War, One of these things is not like the other

  • Thanks for this excellent clarification, Chris.

    It’s going on my facebook 🙂

  • What about Justice Scalia who not only disagrees with the prudential judgment of our bishops on capital punishment but rejects Church teaching on the matter entirely?

    Also, as pro-choicers like to point out, there’s a difference between supporting abortion and supporting abortion rights. Can’t one accept Church teaching on abortion and still believe that criminalization is bad? Isn’t the legal status of abortion a matter of prudential judgment? I realize that this still doesn’t apply to Rep. Kennedy who not only supports keeping abortion legal but also supports promotion through subsidies.

    And can’t some prudential judgments concerning capital punishment or war be so obviously correct no reasonable person can oppose it without supporting the underlying evil? For example, suppose Obama stated that we’re waging war against Canada to raid their natural resources.

  • “Also, as pro-choicers like to point out, there’s a difference between supporting abortion and supporting abortion rights. Can’t one accept Church teaching on abortion and still believe that criminalization is bad? Isn’t the legal status of abortion a matter of prudential judgment?”

    The distinction between supporting abortion and supporting abortion “rights” is completely fallacious. That is akin to attempting to argue a distinction between being pro-slavery and supporting the “right” to own a slave. As to criminalization of abortion Catholics are required by the Catechism to support that:

    “2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:
    ‘The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.'(79)

    ‘The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.’ (80)”

  • I understand what Restrainedradical means — sometimes it seems reasonable to concede the legal matter (abortion is legal) and work on the practical one (getting people to stop aborting, or to not get pregnant). But that’s where prudence comes in. That approach has not worked, any more than (per D. McClarey’s example) attempts to get slave owners to give up their slaves worked when slavery was legal. Concentrating on the practical matters only ensures (barring a widespread change in social mores) they will continue as they are.

    All those practical things should be done, of course, because that’s all that most people CAN do. But it is a fallacy to think that because a thing has been declared legal, it is therefore right. Unjust laws can and should be repealed. People who make and influence legislation have a different obligation than the rest of us when it comes to action. We can and should work on the practical matters that are in our power, but we should also demand the legislative action that is within the LEGISLATORS’ power, and they have a moral obligation to do something about it. If a law is unjust, and a legislator does nothing about it, then is that legislator not guilty of perpetuating injustice and, in the case of abortion, murder?

    If we were talking about apartheid, wouldn’t we agree that the legislators had an obligation to end it, even if it were difficult and unpopular?

  • Ditto and amen to Gail’s, Donald’s and Christopher’s points above. Much like the ridiculous, one-sided “debate” b/w Chris Matthews and Bishop Tobin, the entire specious argument of “should women who procure an abortion be put in jail?” betrays a logical fallacy in thought. Nobody who makes that argument would ever make a similar one against women’s right to vote, legalized slavery, etc. And the ones who don’t recognize the difference b/w an intrisic evil like abortion and Just War or even the judicious use of the death penalty would also never make such an argument “defending” those who make the decisions to apply the death penalty or to prosecute a Just War.

    For the amateur philosophers out there, what kind of logical fallacy is the one that such wishy-washy “pro-lifers” use, namely the one we’ve all mentioned here on this thread? I’m no logician, but even I recognize that such thinking must be the result of some logical fallacy!

  • I’d like to clarify that Justice Scalia doesn’t reject Church teaching on the death penalty, he rejects the recent stand– counter to, in his phrasing, the “2,000-year-old tradition of the church approving capital punishment”— where various members of the leadership claim that the death penalty isn’t needed to protect society.

    This is solidly inside of prudential judgment, although it has (of course) been very poorly reported. Ton o’info here, including a response from Justice Scalia and a defense of the Justice by Cardinal Avery Dulles. (who does not agree with him)

  • I’d like to clarify that Justice Scalia doesn’t reject Church teaching on the death penalty, he rejects the recent stand– counter to, in his phrasing, the “2,000-year-old tradition of the church approving capital punishment”– where various members of the leadership claim that the death penalty isn’t needed to protect society.

    Exactly. As Cardinal Dulles himself emphasized the prudential nature of the disagreement:

    As to the Pope’s assertion that the death penalty should today be rare, I would reaffirm, against Justice Scalia, that this is to be understood as an exercise of the Pope’s prudential judgment. “Prudential” has a technical theological meaning with which Justice Scalia seems not to be familiar. It refers to the application of Catholic doctrine to changing concrete circumstances. Since the Christian revelation tells us nothing about the particulars of contemporary society, the Pope and the bishops have to rely on their personal judgment as qualified spiritual leaders in making practical applications. Their prudential judgment, while it is to be respected, is not a matter of binding Catholic doctrine. To differ from such a judgment, therefore, is not to dissent from Church teaching.

    It is of course possible to hold, with Justice Scalia, that the Pope is imprudent. Catholics are not obliged by their faith to hold that their pastors are always prudent. I personally agree with the Pope that the death penalty should be very rarely, if ever, applied in the United States today. In saying this I do not rely only on “steady improvements in the organization of the penal system,” the motive mentioned by the Pope. I would add that limitations and deficiencies in the penal system create a danger of miscarriages of justice. In our society, moreover, the death penalty is often seen as an instrument of popular vindictiveness and retaliation rather than of divine justice, since the transcendent order of justice is not generally recognized. The practice of capital punishment also reinforces that disrespect for human life which is all too prevalent in our society. For these and other reasons, I would be reluctant to approve of the death penalty except in cases of rare and prudential judgment assisted by the wisdom of the duly appointed pastors of the Church.

    And agreed with Scalia, that John Paul II’s intention was not to overturn traditional Catholic teaching on the death penalty:

    Like Justice Scalia, I doubt that the older tradition is reversible, but even if it were, I contend any ecclesiastical authority reversing it would have to propose the new doctrine with great emphasis and show why the older position is no longer tenable. In fact, however, the Pope says nothing against the traditional doctrine.

  • In my view, the greatest penalties ought to be reserved for the abortionist himself and whatever propagandists or pushers he might have at his disposal.

    I also don’t think a woman should be punished for abortion until an investigation into the father of her child’s status is conducted, due to the high number of coerced abortions.

    Hysterical liberals like Chris Matthews and NARAL promote the fantasy that every abortion is some kind of feminist triumph over patriarchy. The reality is that many abortions are coerced – the father has threatened the mother with violence, or with abandonment. Or her own parents have done the same.

    In the end, someone must be held responsible. But I don’t believe it should always be the woman who gets the abortion. And this we must make absolutely clear. Too many women who end up in the abortion clinic are themselves victims.

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  • Boo-Hoo for whomever is “responsible”, what we still have is A DEAD INNOCENT CHILD.

    With respect to the tradition of the Church on Capital punishment.

    There are serious fissures in the Catholic Church over traditions, that can be argued were “reversed” in Vatican II, so poo-poo on that Scalian argument, thus you have the discontinuity and continuity problems with many kinds of quasi-schismatic Catholics.

    Perhaps the Church needs a much more comprehensive revaluation than just what it is talking with the SSPX about. Perhaps Catholics in the United States need to see things in a BIGGER picture as well.

  • That is akin to attempting to argue a distinction between being pro-slavery and supporting the “right” to own a slave.

    Or being pro-war and supporting the right to wage war. There is a difference.

    As to criminalization of abortion Catholics are required by the Catechism to support that

    Thanks.

  • “Or being pro-war and supporting the right to wage war. There is a difference.”

    The analogy to war is telling restrainedradical. The Church acknowledges just war. The Church does not acknowledge a just abortion. It is also possible to support the right to wage war while being opposed to individual instances of war. Once someone is pro the “right” to have an abortion, the ability then to oppose instances of abortion goes out the window due to the support of a “right” to abortion.

  • Maybe a more fitting analogy would be “Or being pro-murder and supporting the right to murder. There is a difference.”

    Perhaps “Or being pro-rape and supporting the right to rape. There is a difference.”

  • This moral hierarchy you are discussing is imperceptible to most modern thinkers. One of the most unfortunate consequences of political liberalism and the democratic ethos is the overpowering influence of equality. Equality is the fundamental end of our moral thinking and our political life, even when it contradicts justice and charity.

  • Or being pro-obesity and supporting the right to be obese. Or being pro-smoking and supporting the right to smoke.

    A supporter of abortion rights wants abortion to be legal. A supporter of abortion wants to increase the number of abortions.

    Anyway, that’s the pro-choicer’s argument and it does make sense but I too use pro-abortion as shorthand for pro-abortion-rights just as I use pro-death-penalty to describe not only those who want to see more capital punishment but also those who think it should be allowed.

  • “A supporter of abortion rights wants abortion to be legal. A supporter of abortion wants to increase the number of abortions.”

    Not necessarily. Some pro-aborts do want to increase the number of abortions, usually for mercenary or ideological reasons. Others are merely content to have abortion remain legal. In both cases the key agreement is that neither would want any abortion to be prevented by the State, which is what makes them pro-aborts.

  • For this simile to work the thing substituted in has to be not just bad but immoral– war, the death penalty, being fat or being a smoker aren’t inherently immoral.

    Killing babies, committing murder or raping someone are inherently immoral.

  • Some war can potentially be inherently immoral – for example, Cheney’s 1% pre-emptive war doctrine. There may not be definitive pronouncement on it, but I would consider such a position to be very close to, if not actually, inherently immoral.

  • Pingback: Abortion, capital punishment and war — One of these things is not like the other. « the other side of silence
  • To clarify I am against abortion! But it seems to me the church in its teachings apriory sets a double standard in at least two ways:
    1) in cases of war and capital punishment the justification for respectful disagreement is in knowledge or presumed knowledge / interpretation of the facts
    In abortion this ” caveat” is denied since the beginning of human life if postulated without any further proof or facts proffered.
    could it be that the abortion is an individual decision and war and capital punishment is a system’s decision , made by the “king”
    according to your response …..“The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”…..
    Hitler had the responsibility for the common good at least de facto therefor according to your thoughts the Germans really had no further responsibility but to say: The Fuehrer knows best…. ( Well most followed the churches advice? lead ? and said Sieg! Heil!)
    May be this is the foundation to Hochhuth’s novel The Deputy
    I think the Catholic Church should move away from its over reliance on legal maneuvers and learned logical reasoning and return to its roots which seem to me to require to make firm moral stands and demand firm moral comittments, especially where life and death questions are involved, regardless of the costs to itself or its members. Anything short of this, degrades it into a mere club
    Revelations come to mind: But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you… .(Rev3:16)

  • With regards to the determination of moral criteria, the Catechism maintains “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

    to my knowledge throughout history there never was an unjust war in the eyes of those who started it and have been at the time “responsibility for the common good” as you call it.
    This makes the Just War Theory a practical sham , without any significance for the people. It also is insulting to our intelligence and smells of the discontinued practice of the “Index”

  • …You’re really not even trying to understand the arguments, are you?

    If you really are, please try to say what, exactly, you’re having trouble with– I’d be pleased to try to help you understand it.

  • I thought the argument is pretty clear.
    there seem to be two standards in taking a life. One is ( in the case of abortion) to be on the safe side and and postulate when life starts since it cannot start any earlier than with conception therefor that’s when its starts . We have no proof for it but rather err on the possibility that it might start there. Fair and good, i fully support this.
    In the other two cases – capital punishment, war a different standard is invoked. It seems to me this is clearly expressed in the phrase given earlier ( (paraphrased)….the Prosecuting attorney can respectfully disagree with the Church on individual case of capital punishment….
    In this case a life can be taken even if the judgment of the person involved turns out to be wrong.
    In case of war there are 2 points , to my humble opinion involved:
    1) again the parties involved respectfully agree to dis agree and this is morally justified … Well we are all humans and mistakes are made….
    since never in history the aggressor felt the war was not absolutely necessary the whole just war theory became a mute subject it est meaningless
    2) Your argument that the moral decision should be left to the proper authorities seems to me to patronize any believer who is not in power. this leads to my comments regarding Germany etc.
    what is important to the argument here however is the willingness to agree to respectfully disagree
    This in my opinion is a double standard and is probably based on political considerations as it can be demonstrated throughout much of history ( especially since Constantin)
    What I think the stand of the Church should and has to be is consistent. Since I think the stance of the church and beginning of life is the prudent decision the same principles should apply to the other two cases. Anything short of this smells of intellectual dishonesty.
    By the way, in arguing this case I don’t think the Catechism can be invoked since the argument is consistency in reasoning the cases and not what the cases actually say.
    I thank you for your interest in setting me straight.

  • Innocent life vs non-innocent life.

    There’s no justification for me walking into a mall and shooting someone; there is a justification for me shooting a guy who is trying to kill me.

    We have no proof for it but rather err on the possibility that it might start there.

    Scientifically speaking, conception is the start of life– an embryo is a unique organism from the mother, while an egg or sperm cell is not. We don’t know when that organism gets a soul— but then, we’re guessing that you or I have a soul, as well.

    since never in history the aggressor felt the war was not absolutely necessary the whole just war theory became a mute subject it est meaningless

    Highly improbable. Beyond that the just war theory doesn’t just say whoever starts it has to think it’s needful, even with my horrible history education I can think of wars that were started for advantage, not need. I seem to remember Bismarck was famous for them– he had a tactical goal, expansion/reuniting Germany, but that’s not absolute necessity.

    Your argument that the moral decision should be left to the proper authorities seems to me to patronize any believer who is not in power.

    1)”It’s patronizing” isn’t a refutation of an argument.
    2) Hitler did have a responsibility for the public good. He did not fulfill that responsibility, needless to say.

    In human interactions there will always be leaders and followers– that’s the only way there can be cooperation. If there are leaders, they have to be able to lead– especially in the case of large organizations, it’s not possible for everyone to have all the information and properly assimilate it, and get everything else done.

    Life is highly valuable. What, then, does your notion of consistency make of those lives who try to take lives?
    Should those who are innocent be slaughtered at will by those who are not, simply because we’re all valuable– or is killing, as a last resort of defense, acceptable?

    By the way, in arguing this case I don’t think the Catechism can be invoked since the argument is consistency in reasoning the cases and not what the cases actually say.

    I try not to quote the Catechism unless the topic is what the Church believes– even if what I end up saying is simply a rephrasing of what it says. If someone agrees, then there’s no argument– and if they don’t, why cite something they disagree with to try to change their mind?

  • You dodged the topic by starting your defense with innocent versus non innocent life this does not seem to me a serious attempt to set me straight. May be that is not your intent?
    patronizing is a remark that is used in my opinion to indicate that the argument lacks substance and is movind into areas of emotional domination not a good thing to do in an argument.
    The Hitler example does not focus on Hitler but on the obligation of the Germans as suggested by your argument.
    Actually the historic response by the Germans can by justified with your argument. And by extension the dire consequences

    Life is highly valuable. What, then, does your notion of consistency make of those lives who try to take lives?
    Should those who are innocent be slaughtered at will by those who are not, simply because we’re all valuable– or is killing, as a last resort of defense, acceptable?
    Again this is not the argument. The question is are we consistent in our moral judgement
    take the Iraq war; it was deemed and turned out to be an unjust war , however you claim a different mechanism for the individual , up to the pope himself, than for the decision of abortion or euthanasia. What i am arguing for is that the same methods and principles are applied. After that we can start to talk about innocent life versus not innocent life.
    This latter discussion might prove even thornier than the first, especially if one allows for biblical guidance.

    I try not to quote the Catechism unless the topic is what the Church believes– even if what I end up saying is simply a rephrasing of what it says. If someone agrees, then there’s no argument– and if they don’t, why cite something they disagree with to try to change their mind?
    It might be that I see inconsistencies in the catechism and I said I might not that I necessarily did.
    In that case it would be good to grapple with the passage instead quoting it as gospel which it is not.
    I guess I subscribe to the motto Schiller coined in his poem “Die Glocke” what you have inherited from your fathers earn it in order to own it.
    this – I suppose – means grapple intellectually with it in order to understand it. It does not have much value intellectual or moral if one just accepts it without an earnest attempt towards understanding to ones capabilities. I think this would be demeaning to the human dignity.
    I still hope you will take the time and effort in truly showing me the light, since despite of what I wrote I feel the topic is much deeper and important than we both touch upon this far.
    thank you in advance for your effort.

  • You dodged the topic by starting your defense with innocent versus non innocent life this does not seem to me a serious attempt to set me straight.

    You seem to be dodging the topic by not seeing a difference between killing without cause and killing in defense.

    That’s what just war and the death penalty boils down to– it’s a nation-sized case of self defense.

    If you support self defense by individuals, but not by leaders on behalf of those they have responsibilities towards– or, more so, if you support defense on behalf of one’s children, but not on behalf of one’s citizens– then the lack of consistency lies with you.

    Actually the historic response by the Germans can by justified with your argument.

    A bold claim; so justify it, using my arguments.

    In that case it would be good to grapple with the passage instead quoting it as gospel which it is not.

    You’re getting off topic, reindl. You stated that I should not “invoke” the CCC because you disagree with it, and I did not quote the CCC.

    ((On the side– you can make it easier to read what you’re replying to by using < brackets around I and /I to trigger italics.))

  • Thank you for the suggestion I will try to use it, but I do not quite understand your hints Do you mean:
    I will try this!

    We are arguing two different things
    I am NOT touching the subject Killing versus not Killing.
    the subject – as I see it – is the way killing is justified in principle.
    in abortion case it is easy to argue not to kill no problem!!
    In case of war there might be the justification to as you call it self defense etc. the problem arises to determine when it is Justified.
    You seem to say in this case it depends on all sorts of things completely beyond the capabilities of the lay person , because he or she is incompetent.
    (that is where the patronizing comes in by the way)
    if that is the case however it is the Church’s responsibility to educate and support the “flock of sheep” so they can make the right moral choice. If the church is incapable of doing so it should say so.
    That it is possible for lay persons to make the right choice can be seen in the case of Franz Jaegerstaetter who resisted serving Hitler and was beheaded for his pains. he did this against his bishops advice ( Bishop of Linz Austria)who used precisely the argument you are using and urged him to serve in Hitler’s army.
    I am certain you are aware that the Church has beatified F.Jaegerstaetter proving him justified or right and his bishop or your argument wrong.

    I also would like to remind you that you intended to explain things to me. I am only raising questions and from me perceived inconsistencies


    You misunderstood me, I did not mean to imply that you cannot use the ccc as you call it, what I meant was that you would have , or should argue the points from first principles. I apologize for the mis-understanding.

    I am still looking forward to your responses to my original arguments. The ” stuff” in between as far as I am concerned was an attempt on my part to clarify my side of the argument and to give you enough info to refute correct … it as you please and can.
    Let me point out that I am trying to argue a Moral/ethical point that could be perceived as being “to the right” of your position as I perceive it now (if it would be a political debate of course)
    As always thank you for your interest

  • I tried to quote a passage of yours but it did not work I am too ignorant in these and of course also other matters If you could give me some more detailed instructions I would appreciate it. Thank you.

  • Use I to start, and /i to end.

    In case of war there might be the justification to as you call it self defense etc. the problem arises to determine when it is Justified.

    If you agree that it is ever justified, then your complaint that allowing the death penalty is inconsistent, due to allowing killing, is invalid. It becomes a matter of you not agreeing where the line is drawn, rather than if the line should be drawn at all.

  • You are avoiding the argument. I like you to comment on the Jaegerstaetter example I gave , as it is pertinent to this discussion. The argument was not whether killing might be allowed or not the argument IS to determine within a morally consistent framework when killing is allowed and it expanded – the argument that is – to who is allowed or has to make these choices.
    Please use the Iraq example I gave the pope determined that the just war theorem indicate that the looming – at that time- war would be unjust. Yet after the war started there was no further comment that participating in a unjust war – according to the just war theorem – is tantamount to murder.
    It is at that point that moral inconsistencies arise
    because murder is murder if nothing else killing a conscious being adds torture to the act of murder which – if one has to /wants to categorize these things-. The torture part comes with the fear and realization that you have to die I presume , never had to do it myself-.
    I think the abortion/ war/ capital punishment/… debate goes much deeper since there are corollaries to all this. And it are these corollaries that , in a practical sense might be even less palatable to us as a society than the results of the Killing argument.
    In any event I think any relativism in arguing the case should be avoided otherwise anything goes and the result is strictly utilitarian devoid of any claim to
    morality. one has to be able to argue the case consistently and continuously starting with abortion if you like and ending with war if you like.
    I am sure you understand what I mean.
    You asked in the beginning whether I am serious. I think this is and has been the defining challenge for the Church in the last and undoubtedly this century.
    The Church seemed to have failed its test during WW1 and WW2 (as well as many other conflicts thereafter. (see Jaegerstaetter example consider it a case study)
    But this does not mean we cannot remedy our transgressions in the future.
    Splitting up the argument of killing or shall I say murder – which would be unjustified killing and which would equally apply to abortion and war – certain wars etc into separately compartments to my mind is a moral dodge and with it makes our whole stand immoral one acts morally or does not.
    A murderer does not always have to kill in order to create immense suffering. it enough if he does it only in one case and not the other.
    thanks for the info on writing . the following is just a test so please ignore it.
    i test test test /i

  • Your original argument was that by differentiating between murder and abortion on one hand, and war and capital punishment on the other, there is a “double standard” in place.

    You futher claimed that, due to war and capital punishment being decided by the “system” or a “king,” Hitler was somehow justified.

    If you cannot manage to hold to your own argument and feel the need to accuse those who do of dodging the topic, I have no further time for you.

  • Sorry you feel that way

    I do have to respond to your interpretation – insinuation that:

    You futher claimed that, due to war and capital punishment being decided by the “system” or a “king,” Hitler was somehow justified.

    I never claimed that . What i did say is:
    IF your interpretation that responsibility for moral decision is vested in those of proper authority THEN
    The Germans where justified to line up behind their Fuehrer I think quite a bit different from your interpretation
    Unfortunately as in many of these discussions it often turns out that folks are not really interested in finding out or letting others find out the “Truth” or their truth and try to explain it in logical and dispassionate ways.
    It seems they are more interested in formulas than arguments and convictions ( I don’t mean just adopted beliefs) they can be passionate enough to defend.
    It was not me who offered to set me straight remember.
    the task obvious became too difficult
    Thank you for your time

  • a bit different from your interpretation

    No, it isn’t. Your argument against there being a difference between war and abortion was exactly as I stated.

    Unfortunately as in many of these discussions it often turns out that folks are not really interested in finding out or letting others find out the “Truth” or their truth and try to explain it in logical and dispassionate ways.

    Exactly why I am not going to waste any further time, barring some sign of actual interest in information– as opposed to dancing from claim to claim, then accusing those responding to you of “avoiding the argument.”

    If you admit any instance where self defense, unto death, is admissible– then you commit the same “inconsistency” you accuse the Church of committing. You may draw the line in a different spot, but still admit the difference exists.

    It seems they are more interested in formulas than arguments and convictions ( I don’t mean just adopted beliefs) they can be passionate enough to defend.

    A logical argument is a formula.
    And there is no inherent exclusion of conviction in an adopted belief, let alone an exclusion of passion in adopted beliefs.

    It was not me who offered to set me straight remember.

    Amazingly, it was not I who offered to set you straight, either; I offered, if you were truly trying to understand, to attempt to aid you in understanding. The latter has happened, but the prior is in doubt.

The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism Because The Pope of Christian Unity (Pope Benedict XVI) Is Gathering the Scattered Flocks Left Behind by Those Who Thought They Knew Better Than The Church

Sunday, November 22, AD 2009

The Catholic Church has always had a bull’s-eye attached to it, and in truth many of us wouldn’t want it any other way, for when we are almost universally loved, as has happened a few times in the last 40 years we have become “of the world,” instead of suffering for the world.”  Lately, during the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI dark forces have gathered at the gates of truth attacking the Church for a variety of long held beliefs.  These beliefs can range from the theological to the social. However, following the US Election of 2008 a tidal wave seems to have inundated the Church from the mainstream media, the political realm and even the entertainment world. The Church’s 2,000 year old teachings and beliefs have been attacked in the United States and Western Europe from elected officials, the mainstream media and well known entertainment celebrities. Some of the faithful have become discouraged and questioned me as to how the thesis of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, could possibly be true in light of this news.

The truth of the matter is that against this troubling backdrop the Church continues to grow around the world, especially in African and Asia but even in North America, where much of the onslaught against the Church has emanated. Seminaries and Mother Houses often have no room for those pursuing a vocation and those young African and Asian men and women are often sent to the US or Europe to explore their vocation. Even in the US and pockets of Europe seminaries are experiencing a mini boom. One seminary rector told me that in the 40+ plus years of being affiliated with the Church, he has never seen a longer sustained period of top notch orthodox minded young men coming in and being ordained as he has seen in the last 10 years. Perhaps this is why the powers that be are so angry.

It seemed the US midterm Election of 2006 emboldened the cause of those militant liberals and secularists who have contempt for much of what orthodox minded Catholicism holds dear. Following the results of the Election of 2008, many pundits proclaimed the results as a sea change for America. Agnostics and atheists gleefully announced that a world where religion and especially conservative or orthodox minded Catholicism held sway was being replaced by a humanist brand of religion where age old teachings were replaced by the ideas of “enlightened” religious leaders, agnostic thinkers, and pop culture celebrities. It seemed this new brand of liberal thinker was less idealistic than their 1960s peers and displayed an anger and hostility that was a far cry from the utopian idealism displayed some 40 years ago. Yet, beneath the surface and below the radar screens of many news organizations, lies the hope of the Catholic faithful who hold on to the ideas  imparted by Christ, His Apostles, Popes, Bishops, Priests, Women Religious, Saints and holy laymen and laywomen throughout the centuries.

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6 Responses to The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism Because The Pope of Christian Unity (Pope Benedict XVI) Is Gathering the Scattered Flocks Left Behind by Those Who Thought They Knew Better Than The Church

  • I appreciate your message of hope.

    Your title is way, way too long!

  • The Church, the holy bishops and priests, the laiety, and the Holy Father certainly have Satan running scared!

  • I have been told by some evangelicals that there belief that eventually all orthodox christians will be under the care and protection of the Catholic Church. Even though there is disagreement among them. I tend to agree with there reasoning and from the signs we are seeing. I pray that the holy spirit comes to all those that need the help to come home.

  • As usual Dave, you tell like it is. Although some did not like Bishop Tobin’s public response to Patrick Kennedy, who found out quickly that his ilk will no longer be tolerated in his actions against the tenets of the Church, I belive more and more Bishops have come to the realization, that speaking out after conferring with these so called “catholics” has strenghtened the laity. Take care and God Bless.

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  • Splendid column as usual, Dave. No doubt the damage wrought by Luther will be repaired and unity restored, thanks to the secularists whose relentless assault have recently spurred the Christians to draw a line in the sand with the Manhattan Declaration to show that they will not render to Caesar what is God’s.

Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Salvete TAC readers!

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

reagan pope john paul ii

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

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

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

For the article click here.

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

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

For the Catholic Culture link click here.

For Diogenes, which is under Commentary, click here.

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

Following the 2009 Election Results which way is the tide turning toward truth or relativism?

Wednesday, November 4, AD 2009

Under the surface, and largely unbeknownst to the mainstream media, the tide has been turning to Catholicism for some time. The pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI along with events such as an increase in orthodox minded seminarians, young priests and young women religious, a return to devotions and a reform of the reform of liturgy have shown us that indeed the tide is turning. However, for some time now western culture has been moving in the opposite direction, where any, whim or opinion that holds that orthodox minded religious thought is antiquated and even harmful is held in high regard. How could this jibe with the turning tide within the Church? Who would win? Didn’t Jesus promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church after He gave Peter the keys (and the 265 subsequent popes) to lead it? The answer is the same answer that has always been, the Church eventually always wins and it will this time as well.

Following the Election of 2008 when liberalism was on the ascendancy, many in the mainstream media joyfully proclaimed a new era, where one could read between the lines and see that traditional views of society, family and religion were on their way out and big government was in. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the revolution, many Americans refused to go to the Bastille with pitchfork in hand. Americans view of revolution was almost always in line with George Washington’s view of limited government and not Maximilien Robespierre’s view of war against society, family and religion. Perhaps the Election of 2008 was a pox on both their big spending houses that was wrongly construed as a vote for Big Government.

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7 Responses to Following the 2009 Election Results which way is the tide turning toward truth or relativism?

  • Thank You Dave for constantly reminding us of our faith and our needed prayers and continued efforts to overcome those who pick and choose in the Church whether laity or heirarchy. These young priests and current seminarians are a godsend for the Church and we are fornunate to have one sheparding our parish by hs example, homilies, and teaching.

  • Bravo Dave. History is not a straight line progression to a progressive paradise no matter how many of our friends on the Left believe it to be.

  • I’m still going to thumb my nose at the elites.

  • Thanks again Dave! I wish you the best on your journey. God Bless you and your family…

    Robert from Michigan

  • Indeed the elections, as Catholic League’s Bill Donohue put it, made for a “big night for Catholic values.” The gay marriage proponents must be seething that our Tortoise of Truth passed by their Hare of Relativism in Maine like it did in my state of California last year!

  • I don’t know how much we can say the election results foreshadow a turning of the tide. The two new republican governors both ran campaigns that did not stress their stance on moral issues – they won by not splitting the social conservatives from the moderates. Let’s be honest, the people who vote solely on morals (at least until a race with two moral candidates comes along) are in the minority. I worry that the lesson the Republican party will learn from this election is to shy away from moral issues. Of course, if the Democrats learn the same lesson and stop shoving abortion down everyone’s throats, maybe we’ll actually see more social conservatives in both parties.

  • Thanks again, Dave!

Much to the Chagrin of the Powers that be, the Tide is Further Turning Toward Catholicism Thanks to Traditional Minded Anglicans

Tuesday, October 20, AD 2009

The dream of orthodox minded Catholics and Anglican liberals came true on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 as the Vatican announced that traditional minded Anglicans, clergy included, would be welcomed into the Catholic Church with their own Anglican style rite (though not exactly a rite of their own.) The promise Jesus made that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church is now once again being made manifest for those who chose to recognize it (Matthew 16:16-20.) What King Henry VIII started Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have salvaged. The English and their former empire (if they wish) can return home again.

Since many conservatives may now leave, religious liberals too have high hopes as the worldwide Anglican Communion can possibly fulfill their wish of unbridled liberalism. However, it is becoming plain to see that it is for all intents and purposes the liberal’s wish is now turning into a death wish.  The irony of reading statements by traditional Anglicans thanking God for Pope Benedict’s statement coupled by liberal Catholic posters in the dissident National Catholic Reporter asking to be saved from Rome spoke volumes. Even with fawning mainstream media coverage, every liberal Protestant denomination has seen their numbers plummet in recent years, some as much as 50%, while Catholicism, with all the negative banner headlines, continues to grow around the world.

The Archbishop of Canterbury seems a truly tragic figure cut from a Shakespearean play trying to hold together what a murderous king wrought. It couldn’t be done and so we may now see the implosion of the Anglican Communion, especially in the only region that had any vibrancy, Africa. The African and Asian continents have long been the hope of the One True Church. Fortunately, the embers of truth can also be seen in North & South American seminaries and even in Europe, where the Faith had seemed all but dead.

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50 Responses to Much to the Chagrin of the Powers that be, the Tide is Further Turning Toward Catholicism Thanks to Traditional Minded Anglicans

  • Dave,

    Perhaps the future King of England will be relieved of this meddlesome title and realize that crossing the Tiber is his country’s best hope.

    Too many quotes to pull from a great article.

    King Henry VIII created this mess so as to satisfy his lust.

    We can see the many problems in todays society as we see our nation succumb to sex on demand. Where sex becomes our identity and all vices turned to virtue.

  • “King Henry VIII created this mess so as to satisfy his lust.”

    Actually, it was more about his desire for a legitimate male heir than anything else — he could “satisfy his lust” with any of his numerous mistresses whenever he pleased, but only a properly married wife and queen could give him an heir, which Catherine of Aragon was not able to do. In other words, it was more about his “right” to have exactly the kind of child he wanted (male) by any means necessary … hmmm, sound familiar?

    What if Henry and Catherine had been able to accept her infertility as God’s will for them, and fully embraced their only daughter Mary, or another relative, as a potential heir; or allowed the succession to pass to another noble family, placing their trust in God to protect the nation, rather than violate the law of His Church? Maybe things would have been less stable in the short term, but a lot of grief would have been avoided in the long term.

  • Elaine,

    You are correct!

    And how eerily similar it is in todays dark climate of secularism.

  • And to think the church’s detractors blast it for being so medieval when the secularists themselves seem to be eating the bitter fruits of ol’ King Henry XVIII. Kudos to Dave for a splendid article … loved the “Tortoise of Truth vs. Hare of Relativism” comment!

  • I became Catholic in 1998 when I was 23 and I was horrified by what I saw taking place within the Church and also outside of Holy Mother Church in society and other churches.

    I could never explain my yearning for the traditional Mass and the traditional ways ~ except to say that I, a young 20-something, yearned for a GROWNUP approach to the Faith. Seriously! All of this Liberal crap is so immature and childish and even the young Catholics of ten years ago and today just can’t stomach it.

    Now I’m just… shocked to the core!! I thought that this “dying” of the Christian faith was a bad thing, that this meant that Christianity was going to flicker out and pretty much die and we Christians that were left over would be a rarity.

    Now I see exactly what is going on and it’s so awesome! This death of all of these Reformation protest-churches (protestant!) is opening the door wide for the regrowth of the Catholic Faith all over the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Where I live, you can see how much Christianity has totally died a death ~ and I used to think, “What an spiritually sterile place I’ve come to.” But now I see that… “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray ye the Lord of the Harvest sends workers into his harvest…”

    The situation is not so wretched and hopeless after all!!!!!

  • A great, and might I say predictable 😉 article Dave.

    And I have been meaning to buy your book for ages.

    MUST – BUY – DAVE’S – BOOK !!!!

    God bless.

  • From another era ” The shot heard around the world”. Dave, you have not lost your ability and rhetoric to bring insight and hope to those who love our Church and its tenets and traditions. Boy is the tide ever turing. Those Catholics who have espoused relativism and have tried to change the foundation of the Rock must be in total shock. God Bless and long live Benedict XVI.

  • “The last four decades have seen liberal Christianity reach out to every sort of relativistic idea, whim and group. The western intellgentsia praised these efforts even as liberal churches emptied of their adherents.”

    Christians trying to change in order to satisfy agnostics and atheists is foreordained to end in spiritual death.

  • Once again Dave puts everything together perfectly! I am passing this on to the young person whom I am sponsoring in RCIA.

    Thanks again, Dave and commentators!

  • I’ll be very curious to see how the African Anglicans respond to this… they tend to be more evangelical (“low church”) than the TAC, and hence (presumably) less-likely to swim the Tiber, despite their “merely Christian” orthodoxy.

  • Elaine,

    You’re not quite correct.

    Actually, it was more about his desire for a legitimate male heir than anything else — he could “satisfy his lust” with any of his numerous mistresses whenever he pleased, but only a properly married wife and queen could give him an heir, which Catherine of Aragon was not able to do. In other words, it was more about his “right” to have exactly the kind of child he wanted (male) by any means necessary … hmmm, sound familiar?

    It has been noted by many that Henry’s romps with his mistresses likely caused Catherine’s inability to have a male heir. She wasn’t infertile; they simply had absurd infant mortality. What is that a symptom of? Syphilis. A sexually transmitted disease. Indeed, Henry satisfying his lust probably was at the heart of the whole thing.

  • I think the responses of people in the US like Mims are indicative of the evangelical Anglican reaction; to paraphrase, “it’s nice they agree with us the liberal Anglicans are bad, but we’re not gonna start worshiping no pope or Mary.”

  • Not to mention, as we know today, a male heir (or lack thereof) comes from the genes of the father, not the mother. So it was Henry’s fault he could not get a male heir.

  • Andy — you’re correct in saying Catherine wasn’t “infertile” in the strict sense; she got pregnant plenty of times, but only had one child live to adulthood, while all the rest were miscarried, stillborn, or died shortly after birth. And it’s quite probable that syphilis or some other STD contracted from Henry’s “romps with his mistresses” had something to do with it.

    However, Henry and Catherine themselves had no way of knowing that, so as far as Henry’s actual intentions were concerned, it was his determination to have a legitimate male heir that was the heart of “the king’s great matter.”

    Also, remember that Henry and Catherine’s one surviving child grew up to be known as “Bloody Mary” because of her counter-persecution of Protestants during her brief reign. Well, that would likely never have happened if Henry hadn’t treated her like dirt and tried to force her and her mother to give up their Catholic faith, and Mary to admit she was a “bastard,” after his marriage to Anne Boleyn. She might have been a really good queen if only she’d been treated with some respect in her younger years.

  • Elaine, Catherine wasn’t infertile. She got pregnant 4 or 5 times. Henry’s proable syphilys caused sickly children.

  • Kung would tool around the narrow streets of the Germany university town of Tubingen in his Porsche leaving the poor bicycling Father Ratzinger in the dust. Some forty years later, the Tortoise of Truth had passed the Hare of Relativism.

    I laughed out loud at this–a vivid image!

  • The irony of reading statements by traditional Anglicans thanking God for Pope Benedict’s statement coupled by liberal Catholic posters in the dissident National Catholic Reporter asking to be saved from Rome spoke volumes.

    Why can’t we simply do some sort of “Parish-Swap”, where we trade liberal Catholics for Conservative-minded Anglo-Catholics?

    That way, we not only welcome the traditionally-minded folks into the fold, we also do away with all the rubbish that is liberal Catholicism!

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  • Great news, great article. We need these people who love Our Lady, love a dignified liturgy and love the Pope. They will teach our liberals and the rest of us much.

  • I hate to be the one to rain on this parade but…

    1000 conservatives join the Church: Front-page news.
    1000 liberals leave the Church: Just another Monday.

    If it’s numbers you want to talk about, Catholicism isn’t doing too well. Catholics are leaving the Church just as fast as Anglicans are leaving theirs. If it were its own religion, ex-Catholics would make up the 2nd largest religion in the US. In my experience, the most common response to “What religion are you?” is “I was raised Catholic but…”

    I don’t think this “to hell with liberals” attitude is productive. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out with both hands to the right and to the left.

  • Actually Restrained Radical it is the other way around, the mainstream media loves to stick to the Church with breaking news headlines whenever something bad happens in the Church. However, did you notice any breaking news when something good happens i.e. the provisions Pope Benedict made for orthodox minded Anglicans? It isn’t so much reaching out to the left or the right that is the Church’s mission; it is to preach the truth of the Gospel of Christ, no matter how popular or unpopular it may be at any given time.

  • “There’s nothing wrong with reaching out with both hands to right and to the left.”

    How about this — why don’t those conservative Anglicans just remain with their coreligionists who have embraced homosexuality, woman priests, etc.

    They should, instead, reach out with both hands to those on their left and simply accept them and their beliefs, however wrong.

    The same with us Roman Catholics.

    We should reach out with both hands to those on the left, those who advocate abortion, those who support homosexuality, those who promote woman priests; and simply accomodate them and their beliefs, however wrong.

    Did not Christ preach in Matthew 18:17 that those who dissent from the Church are to be treated, not like a heathen or a publican, but as somebody whose errant beliefs we should accomodate?

  • “However, did you notice any breaking news when something good happens i.e. the provisions Pope Benedict made for orthodox minded Anglicans?”

    Front page of the New York Times.

    e,
    No doctrinal changes were made to accommodate the conservative Anglicans. I’m not advocating any of the following but here are some examples of what’s possible on the orthodox left: women deacons who marry and baptize, openly gay celibate priests, married priests and bishops, a more democratic election of bishops, radical liturgical reform (rock bands, dancing, etc.), a higher bar for just war, maybe some wiggle room on contraception, pushing for liberal causes like weapon bans, torture bans, more lenient sentencing, selective conscientious objector status, gays in the military, environmental protection, universal health care, minimum wage, unionization, world courts, etc.

  • Yeah — I’ll look forward to having Mass celebrated where in it, heavy metal bands perform, various break dancing takes place, and the Communion served is actually an Oreo cookie, with Elton John serving as its chief celebrant.

    Nice liberal utopia you have going there.

    Personally, I’d rather have a Church with a few, but very faithful, people (as even then Cardinal Ratzinger had once envisioned) as opposed to one entertaining the numerous masses, the majority of which yield to heretical beliefs/practices.

  • Restrained Radical, studies have shown that articles in the mainstream media’s newspapers and in their respctive network and cable news channels are terribly skewed against the Church. I would ask you to visit the Newsbusters site of April 2008 and see how television and the print media covered Pope Benedict’s visit to New York City. Listening to Katie Couric (and many others) beforehand, one would have thought Americans would greet the Holy Father with demonstrations, not the genuine admiration that was shown by those in the Big Apple and rarely discussed by those news organizations.

    Even the Anglican story of this week was hardly given a mention in most newspapers, TV network or cable news channels, a very strange development when one considers the fact that some Protestant commentators called it one of the biggest developments in the religious world since the Reformation.

  • “Even the Anglican story of this week was hardly given a mention in most newspapers, TV network or cable news channels, a very strange development when one considers the fact that some Protestant commentators called it one of the biggest developments in the religious world since the Reformation.”

    Front page of the NY Times, WSJ, Washington Post, and LA Times. That’s as mainstream as you can get. If you didn’t read about it in the MSM, I suggest you find better news sources.

    Judging by the web traffic, the Anglican news wasn’t very popular with readers. No surprise there. The Average Joe doesn’t care.

  • Restrained Radical thank you for proving my point, the truth is the truth whether it is popular with the mainstream media or not and the Average Joe or not. The plummeting liberal denominations wanted to be liked so much they tried to appeal to everyone and to paraphrase GK Chesterton ended up appealing to one one. When the faithful of these dying groups come to realize where the truth has always existed (the Catholic Church) they can’t wait to swim the Tiber.

  • Again I can’t believe I’m agreeing with the lower case vowel again.

    Restrained Radical,

    I would prefer quality over quantity any day of the week. A smaller more faithful Church would only feed my soul and bring me ever closer to reaching Heaven.

  • Why is it that only conservatives can be faithful Catholics? How do women deacons diminish the quality of the soul food you want and decreases your chances of reaching heaven?

    The new apostolic constitution should teach us the opposite lesson. The one true faith can accommodate different paths. The NO doesn’t detract from the TLM. The Church can appeal to conservatives and liberals.

  • Restrained Radical. the point is we either follow the teachings of Christ and the Church he established or not. We can’t make up our own ideas to go along with the whims of society. Pope Benedict has spoken of the Dictatorship of Relativism where sadly too many in the religious world model the Church after soicety.

    It is important to note that Jesus and the Early Church were counter cultural which is why the Church slowly grew, instead of rapidly. We must recall that in the Early Church everything thing matter and practice (especially as it pertained to sexuality) was permissible in the secular world. The Church wouldn’t even permit divorce let alone the varying sexual practices and orgies that were commonplace in the ancient world. Actually, if the Church really wanted to grow it would have permitted all of those things, since they were commonplace. The Church did not, which is eventually after many decades and about three centuries, the secular world saw the wisdom in the Church’s teachings and beliefs.

  • The Early Church didn’t have an Anglican Use, received Communion in the hand, probably sitting down, had Mass in the vernacular, women deacons, married clergy, and bishops elected by the laity. One can be liberal and orthodox.

    The Church thrived through inculturation. Traditionalists (those who believe it should be the only way, not merely an option) arbitrarily pick some point prior to Vatican II and say “That’s were the Church must freeze.” Evangelical Protestantism thrives today despite the fact that its members are more socially conservative than Catholics, mostly because it is extremely liberal in style. Too liberal for my taste but the point is that one can be liberal and orthodox.

  • Restrained Radical, with all due respect the Early Church was about as far from the liberal model of thinking as one could imagine. Public confessions, shunning of anyone in the secular world who was living a promiscuous lifetsyle (which was just about everyone who wasn’t a believer.) In addition what the priest or bishops said was stricly adhered to, as early as 96 AD we have records of the Church in Corinth sending a letter to the Pope (Clement I believe) asking what to do to resolve a theological matter. Keep in mind the Holy Father had to live in hiding and St John the Evangelist wasn’t that far from Corinth on Patmos, we can see the weight they put in obediance and orthodoxy.

    Remember when occasion heresies emerged where, say for example, someone didn’t believe in the Eucharist, the faithful themselves would volunteer to organize armies to wipe them out. As late as the 1400s, St Joan of Arc wanted to organize an army to wipe out Jon Huss in Bohemia and she wasn’t alone. As you can see for many of the faithful no quarter was given to liberalism and personal interpretations of Scripture.

    As for modern Evangelicalism, as I predicted in my book, “The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism,” much of the mega church movement has already stalled and in some cases is in a free fall, some have turned to the Emergent Church movement and some have even become dissolutioned with that idea. Some big mega churches in Florida and other locations have folded up their tents and closed because of financial problems or because a charismatic pastor was replaced by someone less than charismatic. By 2020 mega churches of the world will, by and large, be a thing of the past. In times of trouble the faithful increasinly want to embrace the truth and to paraphrase Mark Shea, not “my own personal revelation of the moment.” The liberal self absorbed model is thankfully being replaced by the truth. The Dictatorship of Relativism is out and Pope Benedict XVI is in, Thanks be to God!

  • Tito:

    Again I can’t believe I’m agreeing with the lower case vowel again.

    You demonstrate remarkable reasoning here, Taco Man! I am deeply humbled. Although, it is not I that you are actually agreeing with here; it is more so our great vicar of Christ himself who’ve taught me much.

    Restrained Radical, I would prefer quality over quantity any day of the week. A smaller more faithful Church would only feed my soul and bring me ever closer to reaching Heaven.

    AMEN!

    It’s like that “Salt of the Earth” metaphor that then Cardinal Ratzinger had elaborated on in that same-titled book:

    He envisions a largely post-Christian world in which the church will be on the defensive, smaller in numbers, but, he hopes, more coherent and committed in its faith.

    Quality vs. Quantity: Personally, I believe Christ would rather have the few and the faithful as opposed to the many and the heretical.

  • e, I sometimes wonder if Benedict might be mistaken, and we instead see the emergence of a huger, committed Catholic Church.

  • Pinky,

    A Catholic Church blessed with a multitude of faithful Catholics would be a great blessing, I grant you that.

    Indeed, there is nothing more I would want than sharing the authentic Christian faith with those who genuinely adhere to it.

  • Restrained Rad, reading over this article and your comments, I think we’ve got a failure to communicate. I’ve seen four different things labelled “liberal Catholicism”:

    1) orthodox Catholicism which illuminates a person’s politics toward compassion for the poor and needy, which Americans call liberalism

    2) hope for the increased allowance of some of the newer (or very old) religious practices within the orthodox Catholic faith

    3) disobedience, or permissiveness toward disobedience

    4) doctrinal dissent, or permissiveness toward doctrinal dissent

    You mention things that could potentially fall under all four categories. I don’t think anyone here would dispute the holiness of concern for the well-being of the poor. Liturgical development and changes in specific rules of Church discipline are fine (although I’m personally shell-shocked, and I’d like to see things left alone for a while). Breaches in Church discipline for the sake of disobedience, well, that gets into motivation, and I’m glad I don’t have to decide what falls under category 2 or 3. The last category is full-on wrong.

    I think this article lumps categories 2 through 4 together.

  • As far as I’m concerned, the more “Catholics” that leave the Church, the better. They’ll leave room for the truly Catholic Catholics! We don’t need the Liberals and cultrual Catholics in our ranks, holding us back and trying to control our Church so that they can justify their sins and their lifestyle choices ~ or their sheer spiritual laziness that only brings them to Mass on Christmas and Easter.

    This is no rain on our parade ~ it is a cleansing of Holy Mother Church! And good riddence! Those empty spots left by lukewarms and Liberals mean we have more space for real Catholics!

  • Why can’t we simply do some sort of “Parish-Swap”, where we trade liberal Catholics for Conservative-minded Anglo-Catholics?

    That way, we not only welcome the traditionally-minded folks into the fold, we also do away with all the rubbish that is liberal Catholicism!

    There is much more to being Catholic, and much more to being Anglican, than taking sides in the culture wars.

    Your suggestion here shows that your real religion is culture war nonsense.

  • Precisely Michael. I find this “war” mentality very disconcerting. Do we really want people to “leave the Church?” Perhaps we should want them to continue in their process of conversion, as we are called to — not get out. One might gather that people who wish these things have no hope for these people — perhaps they do have it. It is surely hard to discern.

    But what I cannot gather is, how is sitting around in judgment of others’ Catholicism, or lack of it, to our spiritual betterment? Have we made it through that narrow gate, or are we confident we’re going to pass through it? For the way toward destruction is wide and spacious.

    Judgment comes to the hypocrites and sanctimonious just as it does to the unrighteous — and from my reading of the Gospels, more harshly. Sometimes I get the impression, because it is so incredibly hard to imagine otherwise, that the people who evince such, dare I say, a pharisaic tendency don’t offer anywhere near the number of prayers for ‘bad’ Catholics, for their conversion, and for their ultimate salvation at the mercy of God with all the sinners that has ever lived in the history of our species than the condemnations and persistent flammatory rants about these people and their spiritual and moral failings — no matter how objective they be. Does holiness not demand more of us?

    It is too easy to sit around and list the spiritual and moral failures of an individual, or a categorized group. It is another thing to reach out, to try to be the difference to these people. Sometimes this requires not be stridently and coldly objective. I did not convert because people were telling my that a “gay lifestyle” was going to lead me to Hell. I converted because there was a vibrantly orthodox priest that loved me as a person, who did not see me merely as a dissident Catholic. It is so reductionist to reduce a person merely their worldview or personal struggles, no matter how much those things define them. A person is made fundamentally in the image and likeness of God — there is our starting point and dare I say, our ending point.

    This has nothing to do with accomodating heterodox theological or moral views, or shifting away from orthopraxy. If I seem self-righteous, pray for me, the unbelievable sinner I am. To take one of the dissident issues very personally, I would rather be a sinner who made it through the narrow gate and a saint in heaven by the unfathomable mercy of God that struggling homosexuals can pray to (and are prayed for by), whose life may have changed theirs, before I ever sat in stridently objective judgment of “those people” who might as well leave the Church and let more orthodox people enter in a nice exchange.

    “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

  • You’ve made the mistake that these people are judging.

    They want to feed their souls.

    The modernists in the Catholic church, some not all, want a church that cannot exist.

    I completely agree about a church swap.

    The modernists do more harm by leading others astray. They’ve done more harm than good.

    Your comments are full of assumptions that are unwarranted.

  • Do they want to feed their souls? If I wasn’t aware of the fact (and maybe not an orthodox Catholic), I might not have guessed.

    Moreover, I do not understand how the fact that dissenting people wishing the impossible legitimizes “swapping” them for people who would wish to enter the Church. For afterward: would they return? Would we go after them? Or would we leave them to their “liberal” ways?

    I cannot see why we cannot simply invite those who wish the fullness of truth and be the Catholics we need to be to our brethren who are on the fringes of orthodoxy. Why do they need to leave? I’m not a huge fan of the “get out” mentality. I don’t think it’s reasonable.

    Even if modernists do harm to the Church from within, I don’t see how those desperately insistent on orthopraxis — as good and noble the intention is — but if it is done to the point of throwing virtue out the window, I’m not convinced that some, particularly the most extreme traditionalists, do not bear culpability as well.

  • Eric,

    You may be describing an obscure minority.

    I’m all for church swapping, but I believe it is more rhetoric than anything else.

    I’ve witnessed many, many priests, even today in the archdiocese that you and I share, continue blurring the lines between the teachings of the church so that anything is permissible.

    Believe me, just because Pope Benedict’s initiatives have sprung doesn’t mean that those that want to harm the church are gone, nor are they sincerely ignorant of the truth. I have had to bite my tongue often to post about these dissident priests in our archdiocese. I have decided to let Cardinal DiNardo do it quietly rather than make more of a scandal than it already is.

    Yes, extreme traditionalists do bear culpability. The way they judge others without getting to know the person. They way they lack charity and gossip about others behind their backs. Especially how snobby they can be. I have friends who are extreme traditionalists and I see how uncharitable their behavior can be. And I do call them out on it all of the time.

    As far as church swapping, it represents my sentiments of how disgusted I am at both priests and laypeople that continue to teach, proselytize, and live worldly lives and values openly and without a sense of wrong that gets my gander. Believe me there are more than 10 times those type of people than there are extreme traditionalists.

    Believe me, they will leave (not all, some or maybe many) under their own recognizance before we ask them to leave (which no one has asked them to, but have only suggested on websites such as ours). Once they learn more of what it means to be a Catholic than to be of the world.

  • Has Eric and Michael Iafrate ever even consulted Scripture itself and look towards why Jesus Himself said that those who dissent from Church teaching (Mt 18:17) are to be treated as a heathen or publican?

    How many heretics in the early church won the hearts of innocent Christians simply because they were welcomed and embraced by those in the Church herself, which seemed to legitimize them and their heretical beliefs?

    An example of this is to be found within the Arian heresy which insinuated itself through countless ranks of the flock simply because of this error.

    Such a case is to be found today where many countless Catholics have succumbed to the Protestant notion that there is no such thing as the ‘Real Presence’, as traditionally defined by the Church, and that the Eucharist is nothing more than merely a symbol.

    Those naive continue to fall into such heresy because of how Catholics like Eric and Michael Iafrate would rather ’embrace’ such Catholics instead of subscribing to the same treatment of them as Jesus Himself had prescribed.

    It is no wonder why heresies such as this continues to gain ground amongst the majority of Catholics today within the Church but errors such as ‘abortion is a right, not an act of murder’ is likewise adopted and embraced not only by those who truly believe in such a horrendous notion as this but also by the innocent who unwittingly accept such an error because errant Catholics like their CCD teachers tell them it is so.

  • Wow, I checked back and found quite the debate going on. All I can say is this in response to the statement, “The one true faith can accommodate different paths”: So long as they don’t bear the taint of dissent. It doesn’t take much to smell out a rat.

  • “So long as they don’t bear the taint of dissent. It doesn’t take much to smell out a rat.”

    The problem being that there are those Catholics who would gladly accomodate the rats, even if innocent members of the church itself suffers that black plague of heresy which would tragically claim the very lives of many of the Faithful.

  • e.,

    So e., when are you going to add a pic to your avatar?

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History and the End of Schism

Wednesday, September 16, AD 2009

Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill

Rumors and rumors of rumors of an imminent end to over a thousand years of the Great Schism between Catholics and Orthodox have exploded over these past few days.  If these rumors are correct then not since the Ecumenical Council of Ferrara-Florence have these great Church’s been so close to unity.

In A.D. 1054 Catholic prelate Humbert and Orthodox prelate Michael Cærularius excommunicated each other.  This marks the beginning of the Great Schism between the Catholic and Orthodox Church’s.

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18 Responses to History and the End of Schism

  • Good post, balancing the hope with realism. One slight correction: Mount Athos contains a solid bloc of hardcore anti-Catholics, perhaps (probably?) even the majority of the monks there. But there are those loyal to the Ecumenical Patriarch who are there, too.

  • This has already been all over the blogosphere in Orthodox circles as well as Catholic – Archbishop Pezzi is clearly expressing naive optimism here. Archbishop Hilarion is indeed visiting Rome, but Pezzi made his announcement before Hilarion even set foot in the eternal city. The other question is what did Pezzi actually say in Italian; perhaps it is a mistranslation.

  • Alan,

    I read Irenaeus posting and my impression was it was all over the Orthodox blogosphere, not necessarily the Catholic blogosphere. Just wanting to be exact.

    I agree that Archbishop Pezzi was overly optimistic, but my thinking is that he’s basing it on previous dialogue with the Orthodox, not a prediction of the Hilarion-Kasper talks.

    Dale,

    I only threw in the “Mount Athos crowd” to represent the many Orthodox that are against any form of ecumenism Patriarch-and-Pope-be-damned.

  • “Just wanting to be exact since you want to make a pointless point.”

    The blog to which I linked is a Catholic/Orthodox blog.
    The story was also on NLM just yesterday. The “pointless point” judgment seems kind of harsh – not sure where that is coming from?? Maybe it didn’t come across in my comment, but my point was that most seem to be taking this with a grain of salt, and rightfully so.

  • Alan,

    I edited that out before you were able to reread it.

    No harm done.

    Posting isn’t the same as talking in person.

    I don’t read the NLM as much as I used to in the past, so I missed that one.

  • Teófilo over at Vivificat also has a good post on the subject from Monday with some interesting points.

  • LOL…

    I didn’t want to bash Archbishop Pezzi, so I tried to be diplomatic concerning his enthusiasm, but I do agree with Teofilo’s assessment on the archbishops exuberance!

  • Thank you for the link to Vivificat!

    With all due respect to Archbishop Pezzi, the expectations he has ignited need to be dowsed with a cold, wet showert of realism.

    In Christ,
    -Theo

  • Assuming this somehow goes through, would that mean RCs could fulfill Mass obligations by going to an Orthodox parish (will they still be called RC and Orthodox)? What would the post-schism Church look like?

  • c matt,

    I believe you already can fulfill your obligation to go to Mass in an Orthodox parish ONLY IF it is impossible to fulfill that obligation in a Roman Catholic Church (or those in communion–Byzantine, Ukrainian Catholic… ect.) Though, you can not partake in Communion.

  • Daniel,
    I believe you already can fulfill your obligation to go to Mass in an Orthodox parish ONLY IF it is impossible to fulfill that obligation in a Roman Catholic Church (or those in communion–Byzantine, Ukrainian Catholic… ect.)

    That’s correct and would change if they were in full communion, you’d be free to assist for any reason and even switch rituals formally (with permission) as is the case with th Uniates now.

    Though, you can not partake in Communion.

    the Catholic Church permits you to receive as long as you defer to the celebrant. As I understand it Orthodox are quite restrictive and will not allow it unless perhaps prior arrangements are made.

  • Matt is more or less right here. The Catholic Church is more permissive than the Orthodox (any Orthodox is welcome to take our communion, but told to follow the rules of their jurisdiction), and we are told, in various circumstances (not all) that we can take Orthodox communion (though most Orthodox will not give it to Catholics, some will). Then there are some, like the Armenian Orthodox and Catholic, who freely share communion.

  • I like the fact that we are able to partake in some sacraments with the Orthodox under certain conditions.

    Though the Orthodox in America are more receptive to this, do you see this attitude changing for the better in traditional Orthodox lands?

    I am aware of the amount of distrust that many Greeks and Russians share towards Catholics, is this changing as well?

    Just questions because of all of the ecumenical efforts we’ve done since Vatican II, it is the Orthodox that I see real progress in reuniting with more than any other ecclesiastical group (the Orthodox being the only other real Church).

  • Mr. Edwards and friends,

    In your article/commentary you said the following, which needs correction:

    “Outside of malefactors such as the Mount Athos crowd and the Orthodox resentment of the sacking of Constantinople, anything is possible.”

    Webster’s dictionary defines malefactor as:

    “one who does ill toward another”.

    It is unfortunate that such ignorance or malice exists among those roman catholics who respect the Orthodox Church and desire to be united to it. For, the Holy Mountain of Athos is THE ark of true Christian Spiritual Life in the Church, a bastion of true Christian spiritual practice and defender of the Truth of Revelation for over 1000 years. Her life and Saints are the heart of the Orthodox Church in the 2nd millenium. To say that the holy fathers of Athos are intent on doing ill to others or even to the desire for true unity in Christ is an affront to all who love Truth and to all Orthodox Christians. They have been and are today lights to every sincere practitioner of Christian love and without them and their agreement no true union can take place.

    Your ignorance is one of the many obstacles standing in the way of real progress toward unity in Christ. I hope that you will correct your error and take time to learn more about the Garden of the All-Holy Mother of God (as Athos is known).

    Sincerely,

    Panagiotis Dimitriadis

  • Panagiotis Dimitriadis,

    It is unfortunate that such ignorance or malice exists among those roman catholics who respect the Orthodox Church and desire to be united to it

    We desire the return of ALL Christians to the One Holy Catholic Church. We pray that the Orthodox chuches return in their integrity as particular churches.

    Your pride is one of the many obstacles standing in the way of real progress toward unity in Christ.

  • Panagiotis Dimitriadis,

    I noticed you referred to Catholic with the small “c”, but the Orthodox with the large “O”.

    You need to remove the speck in your own eye before commenting.

    By the way, the ARK is the Virgin Mary carrying Jesus to birth and I referred to the Mount Athos crowd, ie, those like yourself that hold ill-will towards Catholicism in general and unity in particular.

  • Regarding the Unity of The Holy Spirit and the Filioque: If we believe in the UNITY of God, The Father, The Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is, seen and unseen AND one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of The Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten, not made, ONE IN BEING with The Father…THEN, in order to be a Trinity, The Holy Spirit, The Love Between The Father And The Son, must proceed from The Father AND The Son, to begin with.