Encyclicals For Our Time: DIVINI REDEMPTORIS

Sunday, February 8, AD 2015



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





Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

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

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

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


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5 Responses to Encyclicals For Our Time: DIVINI REDEMPTORIS

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

    You are aware! Thank God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cardinal O’Connell and the Conclave of 1922

Sunday, March 10, AD 2013



William Cardinal O’Connell was a man to be reckoned with.  His nickname in the archdiocese of Boston that he ruled for 36 years was “Number One”.   Born in 1859 to Irish immigrants, the youngest of eleven children, his father, a textile worker in Lowell, Massachusetts, died when William was four.   A gifted student, he earned gold medals in philosophy, chemistry and physics at Boston College.  Studying for the priesthood at the North American Pontifical College he was ordained in 1884.  After serving as pastor in parishes in Medford and Boston, he was made rector of the North American Pontifical College in 1895.

He was made Bishop of Portland Maine in 1901.  In 1905 he received the assignment of papal envoy to Japan.  In 1906 he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Boston, raising some eyebrows from the perception that he had actively campaigned for the job.  In 1907 he became the second Archbishop of Boston and in 1911 was made a Cardinal, the first Archbishop of Boston to receive that distinction.

He made strenuous efforts to get to the Conclave of 1914 and 1922, although arriving late on each occasion.  In 1922 he became the first Cardinal to fly, traveling by air from Boston to New York after having an ocean liner held for his boarding.  When he arrived late he made representations to the newly elected Pius XI that more time needed to be given between the death of a pope and the conclave to give time for cardinals outside of Europe to get to Rome.  The Pope agreed and the time was lengthened.  Cardinal O’Connell participated in the Conclave in 1939.

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Divini Redemptoris

Tuesday, May 1, AD 2012

“Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this is happening.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat; ‘Men have forgotten God; That’s why all this happened.'”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Today is the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, instituted by Pope Pius XII on May 1, 1955  as an alternative to the Communist May Day marches.  Today is also the Victims of Communism Day.  Hattip to Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy who began the campaign to make this day a day to remember the some one hundred million men, women and children murdered by Communist regimes and movements.

On this day we honor the victims of applied Marxism, but we also honor  Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Lech Walesa, Cardinal Mindszenty, Harry Truman, the American fighting man and his gallant allies, and all those other men and women, many known only to God, who led the ultimately successful fight against this abominable tyranny.

This is a good day to reread Divini Redemptoris, the encyclical, issued on the feast day of Saint Joseph in 1937, in which Pope Pius XI set forth that Communism and Christianity were completely antithetical.

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4 Responses to Divini Redemptoris

  • Since The Universal Declaration on Human Rights of the United Nations was accepted in 1948, it has supplanted America’s founding principles, causing the Sovereign Person of God, the Holy Name of God and the mention of God to be removed from the public square and the American people. It has caused the abortion of our constitutional posterity, the innocent human life in the womb, the human being who is the standard of Justice. It has brought about the experimentation on embryonic stem cells, IVF, and transhumanism, all without informed consent, the standard of civilization. The U.N. Declaration refuses to recognize and acknowledge the person procreated in the womb as a human being, respect due to the human person in existence from conception. Read more at http://www.rosaryvictory.com

  • “Divini Redemptoris” – It’s been 75 years and counting … now claiming educated and programmed young, yet living. There is a difference today: people are not rebelling against God, they don’t even know Him.

    ” 78. Those who act otherwise, and at the same time fondly pretend to attain their objective with purely political or economic means, are in the grip of a dangerous error. When religion is banished from the school, from education and from public life, when the representatives of Christianity and its sacred rites are held up to ridicule, are we not really fostering the materialism which is the fertile soil of Communism.? Neither force, however well organized it be, nor earthly ideals however lofty or noble, can control a movement whose roots lie in the excessive esteem for the goods of this world. ”

    Widely heard voices pointing out every which way, the infernal:

    ” For there are some who, while exteriorly faithful to the practice of their religion, yet in the field of labor and industry, in the professions, trade and business, permit a deplorable cleavage in their conscience, and live a life too little in conformity with the clear principles of justice and Christian charity. Such lives are a scandal to the weak, and to the malicious a pretext to discredit the Church. ”

    St. Joseph had dreams. Divine revelations guided this man’s life. His ‘faithful performance of everyday duties’ is something for which to be ever thankful.
    There is Word of eternal life.

    ” 81. To hasten the advent of that “peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ”[48] so ardently desired by all, We place the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph, her mighty Protector. He belongs to the working-class, and he bore the burdens of poverty for himself and the Holy Family, whose tender and vigilant head he was. To him was entrusted the Divine Child when Herod loosed his assassins against Him. In a life of faithful performance of everyday duties, he left an example for all those who must gain their bread by the toil of their hands. ”


  • “75. It must likewise be the special care of the State to create those material conditions of life without which an orderly society cannot exist. The State must take every measure necessary to supply employment, particularly for the heads of families and for the young. To achieve this end demanded by the pressing needs of the common welfare, the wealthy classes must be induced to assume those burdens without which human society cannot be saved nor they themselves remain secure. However, measures taken by the State with this end in view ought to be of such a nature that they will really affect those who actually possess <b<more than their share of capital resources, and who continue to accumulate them to the grievous detriment of others.”

    Hence, confusion. Sounds like Police State redistributionism.

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Divini Redemtoris

Sunday, May 1, AD 2011

“Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this is happening.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat; ‘Men have forgotten God; That’s why all this happened.'”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Today is the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, instituted by Pope Pius XII on May 1, 1955  as an alternative to the Communist May Day marches.  Today is also the beatification of John Paul II.  (I will have much more on Blessed John Paul II tomorrow.)  Today is also the Victims of Communism Day.  Hattip to Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy who began the campaign to make this day a day to remember the some one hundred million men, women and children murdered by Communist regimes and movements.

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9 Responses to Divini Redemtoris

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  • I had completely forgotten about Commie Holy Day until I took a walk earlier this afternoon and noticed some people with SEIU and AFSME jackets and T-shirts on and “Recall Scott Walker” buttons heading down to the Milwaukee lakefront. There was a stage set up but the size of the crowd was really pitiful. In fairness, I was down there at 3 p.m. and so I might have missed the main festivities. Still, I got the idea from the cars parked along Lincoln Memorial Drive – most of them festooned with numerous leftist bumper stickers – that these were the hard-core believers. Not an impressive turn-out at all.

    Then I started to wonder: when did it become acceptable for AMERICAN union members to celebrate May Day? I grew up in a blue collar, unionized neighborhood and certainly none of the union folks I knew as a child – staunch patriots, church-going Catholics and strong anti-Communists (many of them had relatives behind the Iron Curtain, like my family did) – would have dreamt of celebrating May 1. Maybe that was acceptable behavior among the far-left unionists of Western Europe, but certainly not in the States.

    Obviously, at some point after Nov. 1989, that attitude changed. I wonder if it is because unionists are now so much further left than they were 40 years ago that they are unfazed by the association of May 1 with Communism or if many of them are just ignorant. To many Americans, the Cold War is now ancient history.

  • To many Americans, the Cold War is now ancient history.

    Let me add to my own post: most of the union folks I saw headed toward May Day celebrations were at least my age if not older. Therefore, they are certainly of an age to recall the Cold War. So I’m leaning toward my first thesis – that union true believers have moved so far left that they are no longer embarrassed to be associated with Communism.

    I’m surprised I didn’t see any Che T-shirts.

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  • Since we already have a Labor Day in September, I’m all for having a Victims of Communism Day on May 1. I’d forgotten the association until Raymond Arroyo brought it up during the beatification ceremony. But once he said it, all the associations came back. How could I forget? Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago was an eye-opening, absorbing work.

  • Yes, we should promote the Victims of Communism Day. Many have never known or forgotten what Communism is. I say is because it is still quite alive in many faculty lounges, union halls and even a few clerics’ hearts.

    We must work to see that Communism is scorned as National Socialism is.

  • I tip my hat to you. Great! Yesterday the Bishop read a letter before the end of Mass with the usual “the machinery of of Capitalism is oiled with the blood of the workers” tripe. The prayer intentions were full of “may politicians see the folly of free markets”, “may the rich nations see their errors and stop the exploitation of the 3rd world”, etc. Nice to see this for a change.

  • Today is the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, instituted by Pope Pius XII on May 1, 1955 as an alternative to the Communist May Day marches.

    Just for the record, May Day as a labor holiday originated not with the Communist Third International, but the social-democratic Second International. Both the Catholic Church and the Commies followed the social-democratic lead and used the same date to honor labor. While the USA and Canada observe Labor Day in September, most of the rest of the world does so on May 1st, enacted as a public holiday by Christian Democratic and Social Democratic governments across the globe.

    However, I am all for including a commemoration of the victims of Communism as part of the holiday.

  • It’s happening right here, right now in our own country.

The Lion of Munster

Sunday, March 6, AD 2011

Neither praise nor threats will distance me from God.

Blessed Clemens von Galen

The Nazis hated and feared Clemens August Graf von Galen in life and no doubt they still hate and fear him, at least those now enjoying the amenities of some of the less fashionable pits of Hell.  Going into Lent, I am strongly encouraged by the story of Blessed von Galen.  I guess one could come up with a worse situation than being a Roman Catholic bishop in Nazi Germany in 1941, and confronting a merciless anti-Christian dictatorship that was diametrically opposed to the Truth of Christ, but that would certainly do for enough of a challenge for one lifetime for anyone.  (Hitler privately denounced Christianity as a Jewish superstition and looked forward after the War to “settling accounts”, as he put it, with Christianity in general and Roman Catholicism in particular.)

Priests who spoke out against the Third Reich were being rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps.  What was a bishop to do in the face of such massive evil?  Well, for the Bishop of Munster, Clemens von Galen, there could be only one answer.

A German Count, von Galen was from one of the oldest aristocratic families in Westphalia.  Always a German patriot, the political views of von Galen would have made my own conservatism seem a pale shade of pink in comparison.  Prior to becoming a bishop, he was sometimes criticized for a haughty attitude and being unbending.  He was chosen Bishop of Munster in 1933 only after other candidates, no doubt recognizing what a dangerous position it would be with the Nazis now in power, had turned it down.  I am certain  it did not hurt that he was an old friend of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.

Von Galen immediately demonstrated that he had not agreed to become Bishop of Munster in order to avoid danger.  He successfully led a fight against the Nazi attempt to take over Catholic schools, citing article 21 of the Concordat between the Vatican and Nazi Germany.  He then began a campaign, often using humor and ridicule, against the Aryan racial doctrines proposed by Alfred Rosenberg, chief Nazi race theorist, and a man even some high level Nazis thought was little better than a crank.  Von Galen argued that Christianity totally rejected racial differences as determining how groups should be treated, and that all men and women were children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ.  The Bishop spoke out against Nazi attacks on the “Jewish Old Testament” stating that Holy Writ was Holy Writ and that the Bible could not be altered to suit current prejudices.

In early 1937 he was summoned by Pope Pius XI to confer with him on an encyclical in German, highly unusual for an encyclical not to be written in Latin as the primary language, that the Pope was in the process of drafting.  The encyclical was the blistering Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Heart) that the Pope ordered be read out in every parish in Germany on Palm Sunday 1937.  A head long assault on almost every aspect of National Socialism, it may be read here.

The language in the encyclical was blunt, direct and no doubt benefited from von Galen’s input and his experience from the battles he was waging with the Nazis.

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13 Responses to The Lion of Munster

  • Thank you.

    Lion of Munster, pray for us timid mice.

  • Don’t you just love to read the Gospels and the inspiring lives of those who truly love the word of God and live by its message for humanity?

    These divinely ordained chapters captured God’s plan of redemption and allow us a deep insight into the spiritual life of “the people of god” and their interaction with the creator as Jesus moved among them gathering His “disciples” and establishing His “church” on earth.
    The painful history along with jubilant triumphs and hopeful anticipations of the people of the Old Testament are combined, enriched, and bought forth into the life and light of Jesus Christ in these revealing gospel narratives. These, along with the other books of the New Testament, literally gave us the building blocks for the foundation of our Christian faith. For his people the Creator’s true and loving nature along with our path to him is now clarified and openly revealed when with and by the Holy Spirit His “Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. We believe and accept Jesus as The truth, The light, and The way for man’s salvation and eternal life with our triune God.

  • ion of Munster, pray for us timid mice.

    I’ll say. Last week, at a department meeting, a co-worker (who falls into the bitter and hateful ex-Catholic category) made the ridiculous claim that there were ATM’s in Catholic churches and Catholics are required to withdraw and dump a certain amount into the collection plate. My other co-workers are mainly (non-practicing) Protestants and said “Oh, really? I didn’t know that.” I restrained myself from jumping up and shouting “That’s an idiotic lie!” I said, trying to sound as mild as possible, that I had been to many Catholic churches and had never, ever seen an ATM in one. She took great offense. “Are you saying I’m a liar?” “I am saying I have never seen what you say you have seen. Please let me know where you have seen an ATM in a Catholic church so I can notify the Archbishop. I’m positive he will be appalled by such a thing.”

    She started out by being huffy to me afterward , but I killed with kindness. The thing is, this stupid little incident bothers me greatly. It’s a burr under my saddle. And I think, good Lord, if this silly little confrontation bothers me so much, how would I fare in situations like Blessed von Galen or the martyrs faced. I fear that I am not very brave.

  • I am glad you spoke up against the lying bigot, Donna. Too many Catholics would have just sat there silently, and the laity, no less than the clergy, have a duty to defend the Church from calumnies.

    As for courage under persecution Donna, no one can truly predict how they would react. I think I would be afraid also, but I also think I would be ablaze with anger and contempt against the persecutors, and sooner or later I think that would cause me to speak out, hang the consequences.

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  • I truly admire Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen. A true hero.

  • We need to remember that courage is not fearlessness; courage is doing what we ought despite being possessed by fear. It is perfectly normal to be afraid in confrontational situations – thank God for that. If we were simply absent fear, can you imagine what chaos we’d inflict on others.

    Sadly, the socialist impulse is rising, perhaps now more than ever, slowly, gradually, almost imperceptibly, which makes it more dangerous. We all need to pray for courage, for when socialism rises the Church is attacked.

    I look forward to these posts through Lent. Thank you.

    On into the desert. . .

  • What a man to glorify God! Thanks for this blog, and thanks to the National Catholic Register for pointing it out to me.

    God, please raise up more leaders for the world in the mold of this great LION of Munster. Lion of Judah, please hear us!

  • Thank you for your comment Liseux. Men and women like Blessed von Galen are torches God in His mercy send to us to light our way in a frequently dark world.

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Burleigh Defends the Pope

Friday, September 17, AD 2010

My second favorite living historian, Michael Burleigh, who has written stunningly original works on subjects as diverse as Nazi Germany, religion and politics in the last two centuries,  terrorism, and morality and World War II,  has taken up the cudgels against the despicable attitude of many Brits of the chattering classes regarding the visit of the Pope to the Island next to Ireland.

Under normal circumstances, one might say “welcome” rather than “receive”. But the multiple sexual scandals that have afflicted parts of the Catholic Church have created a window of opportunity for sundry chasers of limelight – including human rights militants, crusading gays, Islamist fanatics, and celebrity God-botherers – to band together to “arrest” the Pope under laws so obscure that few knew they existed. Because child abuse is involved, rather than the more widespread phenomenon of homosexual predation on young men, these manifestations will receive much media attention, especially from the BBC, to the guaranteed perplexity of a less involved general public in a nominally Protestant country. It will require some effort of mind to tune out this noise to hear what the Pope will be saying.

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3 Responses to Burleigh Defends the Pope

7 Responses to Stealing From The Poor

  • Poverty comes in many forms. Some of us are in dire “poverty” yet are given even less by many who should know better, thus causing immense suffering.

    There is not sufficient reflection on this reality. As such, it is an occasion of grace for those afflicted………but a yolk upon those who chose to ignore how their actions, in word and deed, injure another, already almost unable to bear their cross.

    Nice post. Thanks.

  • Does the Church teach that you will be judged by your personal charitable/corporal works; that is what YOU DO with YOUR money and your time/talents?

  • Really good article.

  • “However, the investment of superfluous income in secureing favorable opportunities for employment […] is to be considered […] an act of real liberality, particularly appropriate to the needs of our time.”

    In other words, one way (though certainly not the only way) that rich people can help the poor is by starting up businesses that provide jobs for them! Score at least one for the economic conservatives 🙂

    “It will be necessary above all to abandon a mentality in which the poor – as individuals and as people – are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.”

    Very true; however, that raises the question of whether the growth of high-tax nanny-state liberalism hasn’t done a lot to contribute to the perception of the poor as “irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.”

  • Elaine, I agree about the rich starting up a business, but we have to admit that there are many other rich who start up business ventures with not a care for those being employed thereby. I am thinking, especially, of all the CEOs and vice presidents of corporations who think nothing of taking a 1Million or 3M salary, while at the same time causing the company to need to downsize to maximize profits. Truly, a real board of directors should say to such money-grubbing CEO wannabes: “You say that your requested 3M salary is the ‘going rate’ for truly qualified executives. We say that no executive who would ask for such a salary could possibly be morally qualified for the job. We’ll look elsewhere.”

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  • The mega corporations and the excessively compensated executives cannot exist without the incestuous relationship of Big Government and Big Business. Mutual funds are a trick to get people to fund corporations without having any voting rights. The wealth of all is controlled by a very few. This is a problem that must be dealt with or everyone will become a slave, begging the government/corporations for a handout and charity (caritas, love) is not something that corporations or governments can engage in.

    As for our excess wealth, this is a relative area for us to discern. What may constitute excessive wealth in sub-Saharan Africa is not the case in the USA. We have tax obligations that they do not, we have transportation costs that they do not, we have many costs that they do not have and what we have in excess has to be looked at from that perspective. Additionally, money is not wealth. Having a few dollars in money market, CD, etc. is not wealth, it is merely a temporary store of currency that is losing value faster than it can be earned or profited from. a 10,000 sq. ft. home with only two children, that could be excessive – but, a 10,000 sq.ft. home with a dozen children, maybe not.

    This article is excellent because it summarizes Church teaching and, at least to me, it seems to stress the necessity of a free market, restrained government, strong Church and men who desire to lead a life of virtue. Sadly, our culture of duo-opolies intentionally clouds our thinking about such matters. Big Government vs. Big Business, Democrats vs. Republicans, Capitalism vs. Socialism, Thesis vs. Antithesis – all are two paths to the same perdition. We need to break free of this dualistic thinking, making us think we have choices. There is really only one choice: God or man. Hard as it is sometimes, especially with vestiges of ideology trapping my thinking, your’s too I suspect, we need to be more Catholic – we are so far short of the mark following years and years of minimalism.

    It is time for Maximum Catholicity and this article appears to summarize exactly that sentiment. Thanks for the reminder. Can you do it again tomorrow? 🙂

0 Responses to Why Aren't There More Worker Co-Ops?

  • The principles of neoclassical economics are a flashpoint in some Catholic circles, where the mainstream economist is derided for his “science” and unwavering belief that economic phenomena are defined by something akin to scientific laws. But what are we to make of this:

    An increasing percentage of Mondragon employees, for example, do not have an ownership stake in the company, but work for it much as they would for an ordinary business. But while this may be a solution for a particular co-operative business, it is not really a solution for the co-operative business model so much as a gradual abandonment of it.

    The Catholic criticism of mainstream economics is fair enough — get the anthropology in the correct order before positing homo economicus, we’re told. I sympathize, but if there’s an incentive against expansion because of share dilution even at Mondragon, how do we square this apparent inevitability with the insistence that politcal economy and economic institutions are not deterministic?

    (This is a bit off topic and might make a good topic for a separate post.)

  • I don’t know that it’s necessarily that far off-topic. My issue with most discussions of economic “justice” is that they inevitably drift over toward equality of outcome at the expense of equality of opportunity. That is precisely the issue, it seems to me, with Mondragon and other worker co-ops.

    SOmeone has to set a relative value for the stuff being co-op’d. Whoever does that will be required to make value judgments as to the relative worth if various inputs to the system, and then to relate those values to outcomes. If we’re all OK with me being paid less than Blackadder because I only input potatoes while he inputs truffles (does anyone not-French really eat those things?), then we’re good. But when Blackadder becomes richer than me because his inputs are more valuable than mine, many Catholic sociologists will cry foul and seek to level the playing field. THAT’S when we get into trouble.

    Concentration of wealth, or resources, or whatever, into the hands of less than the entire society is inevitable, unless we desire to take everyone to the lowest comoon denominator. And remember: when everyone is at a subsistence level…the poor will STILL be with us, except that none of us will be able to afford largesse to aid them!

  • “If employers and employees find, for the reasons given above, that worker co-ops are less preferable than other forms in many circumstances, there is nothing wrong with that.”

    I really hope the assumption here isn’t that anyone ever said there WAS something wrong with it.

  • Deacon Chip,

    ” But when Blackadder becomes richer than me because his inputs are more valuable than mine, many Catholic sociologists will cry foul and seek to level the playing field. THAT’S when we get into trouble.”

    I agree. And Catholic social teaching is clear – men have a right to make a profit from their labor, to enrich themselves. They also have a MORAL obligation to use their wealth charitably (which is NOT the same as saying that the state should force them to; unfortunately we live in a world in which people can ONLY imagine obligations coming from the state, since they no longer believe in God).

    “Concentration of wealth, or resources, or whatever, into the hands of less than the entire society is inevitable, unless we desire to take everyone to the lowest comoon denominator.”

    I completely agree. But “less than the entire society” is very broad. It could mean almost everyone, or it could mean almost no one. What Catholic social teaching makes clear is this: in so far as POSSIBLE (the exact words of Pius XI and a paraphrase of JP II), we should look for ways to make more people full participants in the economic process – through degrees of ownership and control of the means of production.

    This doesn’t mean “do it, even if it will ruin the company or the economy.” It means, “examine each situation to discover how far this general principle can be applied, if it all.” And even BA is forced to admit that in some sectors of the economy it DOES work.

    In any case, we also have to remember that the aim of CST is to prevent or mitigate class warfare. The Church has always recognized a polarizing tendency in what we call “capitalism” and has suggested Distributism as ONE way of addressing it.

    The other ways – labor unions, and state assistance, have mutated into corrupt bureaucratic enterprises. In fact I would argue that it is because of a false hope that men in all classes put in these institutions that the real solution, Distributism, was never really tried on a mass scale.

    Now that the bankruptcy of organized labor and welfare-statism is evident, I believe the already empirically demonstrated upward trend in employee ownership (which I pointed out in this post:


    will continue. Though some people make a career out of denying it, the dog-eat-dog individualism of the unfettered market does not and will not serve as the foundation of a stable or a just or a moral society. We are social beings, we are meant to live, to work, and to worship as a community (without negating our individual dignity or rights, of course).

    As a final thought, even Ronald Reagan supported employee ownership.

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  • Though some people make a career out of denying it, the dog-eat-dog individualism of the unfettered market does not and will not serve as the foundation of a stable or a just or a moral society.,-Joe Hargrave

    Dogs don’t eat dogs – despite the claims of those who make a career asserting it. However the 20th century experience with unfettered collectivism demonstrates that socialists do eat other socialists.

    I am pleased to see Blackadder’s article explaining that worker co-ops are rare not because they are wilfully suppressed by Secret Masters of Political Economy (SMOPEs) but because they are naturally selected against by people’s own individual choices. I am amused by advocates of distributism who use mass-produced computers and a ubiquitous Internet to stump for distributism without regard to the fact that such tools subsist in an economy where large capital formations are commonplace. As Blackadder put it, “worker co-ops tend to be disproportionately concentrated in labor intensive, capital light industries.” These haven’t been the commanding heights of a Western economy since the Industrial Revolution, maybe not even since the days medieval Benedictine monks built water wheels, windmills, and forges adjacent to their monasteries.

  • Micha,

    The extent to which you go to misrepresent arguments is well known, and unworthy of a response. I’ll pray for you.

Blessed Bernard Lichtenberg and Courage

Sunday, February 14, AD 2010

“Our wholehearted paternal sympathy goes out to those who must pay so dearly for their loyalty to Christ and the Church; but directly the highest interests are at stake, with the alternative of spiritual loss, there is but one alternative left, that of heroism.” Pius XI from Mit Brennender Sorge

We Americans tend to be an outspoken lot.  We give voice to our opinions freely and many of us enjoy raucous debate, as can be seen on most American blog sites, including this one.  We are fortunate to live in a free society where there is no penalty for expressing ourselves.  But what if we didn’t live in a free society?  What if we lived in a vicious dictatorship where dissent is a one way trip to a concentration camp and then to an unmarked grave?  How many of us would then have the courage to speak out, especially if almost everyone else were keeping their heads down and not saying anything?  For many people throughout history this has not been a game of what if.

Born in Ohlau in the province of Silesia in Germany on December 3, 1875, Bernard Lichtenberg studied theology at the seminary in Innsbruck, Austria and was ordained a priest in 1899.  He served as a  priest in Berlin, becoming the parish priest of the Sacred Heart parish in the Berlin suburb of Charlottenburg in 1913.  Ever an energetic priest, he laid the foundations for five parishes and a monastery in Berlin.  Somehow he also found the time to be active in the Catholic Centre Party, and was for a time a member of the Berlin regional parliament after World War I.  He also carried out missionary and charitable works among the poor of Berlin.

He was made a canon of the Cathedral Chapter by the first Bishop of the newly created diocese of Berlin, Christian Schreiber, in 1931.  In 1932 he became pastor of Saint Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin.  He also attracted the ire of the Nazis by his support of the pacifist Peace League of German Catholics, and was denounced by Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels in the Nazi paper Der Angriff.

After the Nazis came to power in 1933, Father Lichtenberg attempted unsuccessfully to convince Cardinal Bertram, the president of the German Bishop’s conference, to protest against the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.  In 1935 he protested to Herman Goering against the treatment of the Jews.  Goering denied everything and demanded that Lichtenberg be taken into “protective custody” for spreading lies about the German state.

In 1937 Father Lichtenberg helped to distribute clandestinely throughout Germany copies of the blistering condemnation of the Nazis by Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge.  After Kristallnacht, a Nazi led pogrom throughout Germany against the Jews, he said from the pulpit of Saint Hedwig’s:  ‘we know what happened yesterday. We do not know what tomorrow holds. However, we have experienced what happened today. Outside, the synagogue burns. That is also a house of God.’ From that time forward, Father Lichtenberg prayed publicly during evening prayers, in the heart of Nazi Germany, for the Jews and Christians of Jewish descent.

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5 Responses to Blessed Bernard Lichtenberg and Courage


Sunday, November 22, AD 2009

Pius XI


Venerable Brethren, Greeting and the Apostolic Benediction.

In the first Encyclical Letter which We addressed at the beginning of Our Pontificate to the Bishops of the universal Church, We referred to the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was laboring. And We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power. In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the restoration of the Empire of Our Lord. We were led in the meantime to indulge the hope of a brighter future at the sight of a more widespread and keener interest evinced in Christ and his Church, the one Source of Salvation, a sign that men who had formerly spurned the rule of our Redeemer and had exiled themselves from his kingdom were preparing, and even hastening, to return to the duty of obedience.

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Subsidiarity at Work

Monday, September 7, AD 2009

dilbert subsidiarity

Everyone here at the American Catholic hoped that you all have had a happy Labor Day weekend.

The principle of Subsidiarity states that government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently.

Pope Leo XIII developed the principle in his AD 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum.  The principle was further developed by Pope Pius XI in his AD 1931 encyclial Quadragesimo Anno.


To learn more about Subsidiarity click here.

To read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum click here.

To read Pope Pius XI‘s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno click here.

For more Dilbert funnies click here.

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6 Responses to Subsidiarity at Work

  • I think the author of the first link oversimplifies the application of the principle — which is prudential in the first place — and makes something appear to be “obvious”.

    I’m actually very skeptical of the whole project of the Acton institute.

    If someone were a Catholic and told me they were a committed “liberal feminist Democrat” — I would inquire about their definitions of “liberal” and “feminist” before proceeding to make a judgment. If they were using authentically Catholic definitions for these relative terms, I’d have nothing else to say.

    If someone were a Catholic and told me they were an ardent laissez-faire free market capitalist, I’d ask as well what do those terms imply because while the philosophy is not in and of itself evil and it is certainly far from perfect — I would be interested as to how the Catholic reconciled their faith entirely with a philosophy largely born of the Enlightenment if there is no difference between the Catholic free market capitalist and other free market capitalists — it’d seem the philosophy transformed the Catholic not the other way around.

    While I think the Acton Institute does make extraordinary points at times, I find other things quite dubious. This is one of those points.

    I will go further into it, if time permits it later.

  • Eric,

    Thank you for the input.

    I don’t know much about subsidiarity so these postings are part of my path towards a deeper understanding of the principle.

  • I hope to learn more as well and look forward to your next post, Eric.

    The Welfare State is not one I want to live in, but I also would not want to have been an African American in Alabama waiting for my local community to let me in the front of the city bus.

    My own experience has been mixed, where sometimes the fed. government has gotten in the way of people taking on the socially responsible and moral challenges of the day, but more often the fed. govt. has had to come in when local authorities and communities for that matter have failed. And it is every so often a wonderful thing to feel a national sense of community when the federal government does something that we as a people want it to do: preserve Gettysburg and Yellowstone, develop the Apollo Program, help hurricane victims and give veterans health care benefits that are not dependent upon just local resources because they didn’t fight for their town, they fought for their country.

    Fr. Bosnich’s article makes some good points, but it also makes some surprising overstatements in my opinion:

    “The Bishops have not learned the key lessons of the 1980s: the success of free market economics and the failure of collectivism. The top-down, centralized planning of the Soviet system could not succeed because it contradicted the subsidiarity principle.”

    Yes, the Soviet system did not succeed, it was dehumanizing and it was cruel, but not because it was “collective” it failed because it was authoritarian and draconian and oppressed freedom of speech, thought, travel and of course the democratizing influence of market forces and personal wealth creation. But it is hard to claim that things like national reforms of health care are equivalent to the Soviet Union.

    Fr. Bosnich also wrote, “Consolidation is the weapon of tyranny, but the friend of liberty is particularism.” True, but the consolidation of money into 5 big banks and the consolidation of information into 5 big media companies and the consolidation of health care into a couple of insurance companies for each state and the consolidation of … well you get it. These all breed economic tyranny and yet these are the direct result of the laissez faire economic policies that I assume he would encourage. This begins to smack of Ayn Rand’s objectivism in which helping others or voting to help others leads directly to living for others and this destroys society.

    In another paragraph Fr. Bosnich say “Baum defines subsidiarity as “de-centralization” and socialization as “centralization”. In other words, in this view, Catholicism teaches the principle of de-centralization and the principle of centralization simultaneously!” I haven’t read Baum or anyone else that he quotes, except for de Tocqueville, so I don’t know. But it also seems apparent to me that Catholicism does teach individualism and collectivism simultaneously. I don’t see that as bad, I see it as realistic, natural and moral. The monastic tradition is the very embodiment of wrapping the two together in the most purposeful way possible. The Catholic Church is a rather singular example of a centralized hierarchy and I have to say with some sadness that the federalist and staunchly individualist tendencies of the Founding Fathers came more from the ancient Saxon, Iroquois and Protestant tradition (and Deism) than from Catholic tradition.

    It was during the Progressive Era in American history that began the last resurgence of the type of voluntary associations that de Tocqueville and the author would have praised. The Progressive Era was a time of strengthening communities, hundreds of clubs and the strengthening of labor unions and women’s suffrage. These traditions, some might say collectivistic tendencies, formed a particularly strong sense of rights and responsibilities.

    I think Fr. Bosnich gets caught up in the idea of statism and ignores even bigger issues – the we do not live in the 19th century anymore; that globalization is redefining what “local” and “national” really mean; that kids growing up today are thinking of themselves not as Idahoans or Atlantans, but as Americans or even world citizens; that we are not merely economic beings who only need protection from government price controls for aspirin; that humans are also ecologically tied to every other life form on Earth and that this bond has a spiritual nature as well.

    The principle of subsidiarity has at its heart the age-old conflicts of the individual vs. the group and rights vs. responsibility. Each is a balancing act and societies (especially American society) tend to teeter toter between each extreme rather than stay long at an equilibrium. As someone who most closely admires Jefferson and being from a relatively rural state, I certainly believe in that self reliance is a virtue and the least government being the best government. However I also believe that globalization and urbanization (not liberalism) have overwhelmingly placed most people in a position of compromised dependency – lots of people in big cities working service jobs and changing homes several times in their lives. We can pretend that smaller, simpler organizations will be able to take care of most of our needs, and in someways the internet and new urbanism is trying to do just that, but when large corporations drive the economy and when environmental degradation starts to cross borders and affect oceans, not just nearby valleys, then it is necessary for larger levels of governments to take a more active role and sometimes that role will be morally necessary, in my opinion.

  • Oh I forgot to add to Fr. Bosnich’s view on the lesson of the 1980’s … Another lesson of the 1980’s is that top-down economics (trickle down, deregulated industries) also encourage unrestrained mergers, economic bubbles and the decoupling of Wall Street capital from Main street workers which lead to an economy that eventually collapsed in 2008. Maybe each local Elks Club in the country could have a bake sale and replace everyone’s 401k.

  • MacGregor,

    Have you received the email I sent you?

  • From your first post, you make some very good points, Macgregor, although I think you may be erring slightly in your 6th paragraph by conflating two separate issues in the Soviet Union, politics and economics.

    In no way do I disagree with your analysis of the draconian, authoritarian aspects of Soviet political rule, but that is not what Fr. Bosnich was referring to, if I’m reading him correctly, in describing purely the economic aspects of collectivism, i.e., the top-down government control of every aspect of the economy. In and of itself such a system can never work because it is the antithesis of subsidiarity and there is no way for the bureaucrats running central planning to respond quickly to changes in supply and demand at the local levels, so they end up simply imposing a “one size fits all” solution on a vast economy, leading to massive inefficiency, shortages, etc.

    It happens to be true that in many real-life governments the two systems often go hand in hand, political authoritarian regimes and collectivist, state-controlled economies (e.g., Cuba, Venezuela under Chavez, North Korea, etc.), but I think it’s important to be clear that collectivist economies, even in the absence of political authoritarianism, cannot function efficiently.

    Sorry for the minor quibble, but I think it’s (political vs. economic government control) a vital distinction to make in relation to the Catholic notion of subsidiarity, or at least my very limited understanding of the concept! 😉

Saint John Vianney Play To Debut In Houston

Monday, August 3, AD 2009

Saint John Vianney is being staged as a one-man production titled “VIANNEY” and will be debuting in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on August 4, 2009 AD.  This is in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of this patron saint of parish priests.  The play will continue in other dioceses across America.

Leonardo Defilippis plays the role of Saint John Vianney as he performs at various churches across the archdiocese.  Mr. Defilippis’s one-man stage production opens amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, a time which mirrors the secularization, materialism and anti-religious sentiment of today. Against this dramatic backdrop, a simple ignorant peasant priest enters the backwater town of Ars, a place where no one cares much about their faith, or sees the Church as particularly relevant. They don’t expect much out of John Vianney.

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8 Responses to Saint John Vianney Play To Debut In Houston

  • Pingback: Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-30-2009 « The American Catholic
  • Saint John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, was the epitome of humility. When priests in his diocese, jealous of his acclaim, sent a circular letter around asking the bishop to replace him because of his lack of learning, it was accidentally sent to him. He unhesitatingly signed it and sent it on. The priest who originated the letter came and begged his forgiveness. Saint John told him that there was no need to apologize and that he knew that he was an ignorant man and that he should be replaced.

  • We’ll be seeing this when he comes to St. Theresa’s in Sugar Land next Sunday evening. Looking forward to it…

  • I’m planning on watching this also, maybe down by your parts Alan?!

  • Donald R. McClarey Says Monday, August 3, 2009 A.D. at 12:14 pm
    “Saint John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, was the epitome of humility. When priests in his diocese, jealous of his acclaim, sent a circular letter around asking the bishop to replace him because of his lack of learning, it was accidentally sent to him. He unhesitatingly signed it and sent it on. The priest who originated the letter came and begged his forgiveness. Saint John told him that there was no need to apologize and that he knew that he was an ignorant man and that he should be replaced”.

    Never, ever, fight a saint!

    It will be curious to hear who his sermons are presented. Towards the end of his life, they were reputed to be unintelligible. But his parishioners were quite happy. They had heard it all before and knew what he was saying.

  • “To the end of his life the poor Curé could never understand the reason for his own fame. And to begin with, many of his colleagues couldn’t understand it either. An abbé Borjon wrote to him: “Monsieur le Curé, a man with as little theology as yourself ought never to enter a confessional.” The Curé of Ars replied:

    “My very dear and respected colleague, how right I am to love you. You alone really know me. As you are good and charitable enough to deign to take an interest in my poor soul, help me to obtain the favour for which I have been asking for so long, so that I may be moved from a post I am unworthy to fill because of my ignorance and retire into obscurity to atone for my wretched life.”

    This long and awkward sentence was written without irony, but with humility, and its recipient was touched. Fortunately, M. Vianney had his bishop behind him. One day when a priest said to Msgr. Devie: “The Curé of Ars is looked upon as being rather uneducated”, the Bishop answered: “I don’t know whether he is educated or not, but what I do know is the Holy Spirit makes a point of enlightening him.”

  • “Never, ever, fight a saint!”

    You should tell that to Morning Minion who takes almost every opportunity to condemn St. Thomas More as a minion of Satan — and Iafrate had the gall to call Tito Taco “anti-Catholic”; if anything, Morning Minion is the epitome of anti-Catholicism as well as common sense!

  • Note: The latter remark concerning MM’s being the epitome of “common sense” was meant in rhetorical irony; I mean, if magistrates who apply the death penalty to those who commit capital offenses and, therefore, deserve it, are to be condemned by God as evil men; then may God send all judges who rightfully apply the death penalty to criminals who commit capital offenses to Hell, extending all the way back to those in the Old Testament who themselves followed the prescriptions of Mosaic Law that also applied such penalty to criminals who committed capital offense!

Ecumenism! Ecumenism!

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

[Updates at the bottom of this posting]

Ecumenism today is in a sorry state.  Most Protestant denominations have splintered off to the point that dialogue has become pointless.  Only the Orthodox offer any hope of reunion with us, but that is a distant land where we are struggling to navigate towards.

In the meantime too many well-intentioned Catholics yell Ecumenism! Ecumenism!” yet they know not what they say nor do.  Heck, they can’t even explain it themselves.

For example I’ve stopped attending Taizé services because the only people that attend them are other Catholics.  If it was intended to bring our separated brothers in Christ together then I failed to see a single one of them attend in the three years that I have been going.

Ecumenism, whatever that means anymore, is a dead cat.  It’s going nowhere because it has no idea what it is.  Hence the forty years of fruitless labor has produced nothing to celebrate.

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62 Responses to Ecumenism! Ecumenism!

  • Tito,

    Are you familiar with the significant advancements in the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue– on the question of salvation through faith and/or works?

  • Ecumenism is far longer than forty years; but you know, I can imagine Tito in the 4th century decry the decision at Nicea because, “Those darn Arians are still staying, and it looks like nothing will stop them.”

  • Mark,

    Yes, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod have agreed to some of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) but not all. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has agreed to almost all of the JDDJ.

    The World Lutheran Federation (WLF) has agreed on some aspects, but in the end, if the WLF agrees to all of the JDDJ, it is then up to individual regional and national Lutheran conferences to agree, and then it drops down to the local church level where they be disagreements. So it is a fractured lot to say the least.

  • Tito Taco,

    Are you familiar with the notion that today’s ecumenical catholicism is just as groovy and authentic as Nicaea’s or even Sir/St. Thomas More’s?

    Too bad that it just ain’t (not to mention, anachronistic and remarkably compromised). Seriously.

  • Are you guys still talking about JDDJ?

    Don’t you guys know that even the Lutherans themselves scoff at it (as should Catholics, too)?

    I mean, seriously; it really is as empty and meaningless as ecumenism itself, as even the average Lutheran rightly concludes.

  • Tito,

    Surely in your individual life you do not take an “all or nothing” approach to conflict and disagreement?!!

  • “Those darn Arians are still staying, and it looks like nothing will stop them.”

    I doubt that Tito would have said that since the Council anathematized the Arians.

    “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten (??????????), not made, being of one substance (?????????, consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (?? ???? ??? ??? ??), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.”
    As Saint Athanasius could attest the Arians remained a deadly danger for the Catholic Church after the Council, but the ruling of the Council clearly indicated that there would be no “ecumenical” relations between the Catholic Church and those who followed the teachings of Arius.

  • Mark,

    Excellent point.

    But after forty years, what have we shown for it?

    As for me, my time is limited, so dropping Taize was a prudent move on my part. Though it may prove fruitful for others, I just don’t have the charism for that particular path.

  • Vatican II proclaimed ecumenism; but here we have Tito repudiating it. But this brings us back to the 4th century; the confusion then was far greater than anything today; what was or was not authoritative and an ecumenical council had not been established, and there were rival councils coming up all the time. Tito would have been able to say how Nicea “added words from heretics” like “homoousios,” and that, forty years after, solved nothing, so it was a failure and Nicene faith was dead.

  • Tito’s posts (and those defending him) prove he hasn’t follow the Church and ignores it when it suits his purpose; this is again demonstration of someone who is full of themselves, so full, they can’t listen to others, and thinks the Church should be in his image. This is Satanic pride at its height.

  • Henry K.,

    Can you find for me a clear and concise definition or road map of how to pursue ecumenism?

    Even Pope John Paul II conceded that Ecumenism was a Protestant invention that was difficult to define in Ut Unum Sint.

  • Mark D.,

    while it is well and good that some organizations of which may or may not be relevant to Lutheran’s and their congregations are compromising on theological points (possible that we may be as well…despite Pius XII cautions), there’s no evidence that progress on them rejecting their founder and embracing the One True Church is actually being made. None. In fact, like other mainstream protestant denominations, in practice they are farther from Catholicism than they EVER have been.

  • Henry K.,

    Now, now.

    There’s no need for that.

    There is room for disagreement and amicable debate.

    I think ecumenism can be productive, if it is clearly defined with goals placed.

    Not when it’s dressed in flowery and ambiguous language where you can read into it a Gilgamesh story or a Chupacabra attack.

  • “This is Satanic pride at its height.”

    Rubbish. What it means is that Tito is merely stating the obvious: ecumenicalism since Vatican II is a radical departure from prior Church practice, and that from a Catholic perspective the good that the change has produced is rather difficult to discern. Having married a Protestant, who converted a few years after our marriage, a father who was Protestant until the day he died, and most of my relatives being Protestant, I am all for good relations among Christians of all stripes, but attempting to water down the differences is not the way to go about it.

  • There are many different kinds of dialogues:

    a) The dialogue of life, where people strive to live in an open and neighbourly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations.

    b) The dialogue of action, in which Christians and others collaborate for the integral development and liberation of people.

    c) The dialogue of theological exchange, where specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other’s spiritual values.

    d) The dialogue of religious experiencee, where persons, rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual riches, for instance with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith and ways of searching for God or the Absolute.

    In this way, there are many different kinds of ecumenical activities. Working with Protestants to stop abortion, for example, is ecumenism. Working with Protestants to feed the poor is ecumenism. There is plenty of such activity going on and in the increase; it’s not dead, but alive, and that should be well noted.

    But when discussing the road map for dialogue about doctrine, the issue is not “one,” but multi-faceted. It is for this reason that dialogues tend to be bi-lateral, where the needs, requirements, expectations differ. But working together, praying together (if we can), listening to each other, learning how the other things instead of telling them (and getting it wrong) is a start. The fact that you don’t want to do that, but always make things up, intra-Catholic, shows the problem.

    Now John Paul II did not concede that Ecumenism was a Protestant invention; you read a text out of context for your ideological pretext. If you want to find a new story about ecumenism, look to the history of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s call for Christian Unity.

  • Henry K.,

    You are being intellectually dishonest; as if the way ecumenical had been applied previously is in every sense the same as it is employed today.

    That’s like saying the same scholastic terms Spinoza himself used were in the very same sense that the scholastics themselves meant.

    You should know better.

  • “Rubbish. What it means is that Tito is merely stating the obvious: ecumenicalism since Vatican II is a radical departure from prior Church practice, and that from a Catholic perspective the good that the change has produced is rather difficult to discern”

    All those who find themselves more Catholic than the Pope throughout history have always made this charge, from Novatius to Donatus to the Greeks (filioque) to the Husites, to the Lutherans, et. al. I would recommend reading some of the ecclesial documents of Nicholas of Cusa if you want to see how far and proper this line of reasoning is thrashed by Catholic tradition itself.

  • “Rubbish. What it means is that Tito is merely stating the obvious: ecumenicalism since Vatican II is a radical departure from prior Church practice, and that from a Catholic perspective the good that the change has produced is rather difficult to discern. Having married a Protestant, who converted a few years after our marriage, a father who was Protestant until the day he died, and most of my relatives being Protestant, I am all for good relations among Christians of all stripes, but attempting to water down the differences is not the way to go about it.”

    Is McClarey the only Catholic on this site?

    Very comforting to see one Catholic still genuinely so!

  • Here, I will help people; here’s a start:

    Perhaps you will say: today’s Church does not walk in the rite of communion as in former times, when most holy men affirmed both by word and deed that the sacrament under both species, by the force of Christ’s precept, was necessary. Could the Church have been in error at that time? Certainly not! If not, how is what was then universally affirmed not true today, since this Church is the same as that one? Certainly it should not disturb you that the rite of sacrifices – and even of the sacraments – is found to be different at different times, while the truth stands fast. The Scriptures are both adapted to the times and understood in various ways, so that they are set forth at one time according to the current universal rite, but when that rite changes, opinions about it change again. Christ, to whom the Father handed over the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms, ruling by means of a wondrous order of angels and men, dispenses mysteries according to the changing of the times; and He supplies what fits particular times by hidden inspiration or evident demonstration. This is the view of the doctors [of the Church]: Ambrose in his twelfth letter to Irenaeus, and Augustine [in his letter] to Deogratias, in the second question on the alteration of sacrifices.

    […] Hence, even if today there is an interpretation by the Church of the same Gospel commanding differing from that of former times, nevertheless, the understanding now currently in use for the rule of the Church was inspired as befitting the times and should be accepted as the way of salvation.

    –Nicholas of Cusa, “To the Bohemians: On the Use of Communion,” pgs. 2 – 85 in Nihcolas of Cusa: Writings on Church and Reform. Trans. Thomas M. Izbicki (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), 21- 23.

  • The Church prior to Vatican II was never shy about casting out heretics. Those who think otherwise are merely deluding themselves.

  • The Church before Vatican II called the Lutherans to Trent!

  • Yes, and condemned Lutheranism root and branch!

  • Henry K.,

    make things up

    I don’t understand what you mean by that. Especially after I produced documents such as Mortalium Animos, or is it in your nature to ignore everything up until Vatican II?

    And Pope John Paul II did concede that Ecumenism was a Protestant invention.

    Read Ut Unum Sint.

  • But it called them for dialogue. As the Church always does.

  • Tito

    Actually, JPII said ecumenism goes back to Christ and the call “that they may be one.”

  • Henry K.,

    Cite me an ex cathedra statement that we should make up stuff to get along with Protestants?

    I doubt you will find one, that’s assuming that your sources are not gnostic.

  • Hk,

    it called them to receive instruction on the Truth in charity.

  • Henry K.,

    I can’t find the word ‘ecumenism’ in the Holy Bible.

    But if you would have read my posting citing Pope Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos 5, His Holiness addressed that very same verse stating that it is a merely expressed a desire and prayer, not fulfillment of unity.

  • Tito

    There you go — you dissent from the church! And your argument is “if it isn’t ex cathedra, hell no!” Sorry, that’s not how Catholicism works. But you have now proven the cafeteria qualities I’ve pointed to many times — and your quotes, out of context, such as your quote from Cardinal Kasper, have been answered before, but you keep rehashing it like a Protestant with one verse of Scripture. Sad. But thank you. You have proven my point.

  • Henry K,

    For a person who wrote a series on lying, you are demonstrating yourself a liar on this very thread.

    I would’ve thought you to be a better man than this!

    For a student of church history, you either seem to have known very little, understood very little of it, or purposely misrepresent the facts in order to prop your argument against Taco.

  • “I can’t find the word ‘ecumenism’ in the Holy Bible.”

    I can’t find “homoousios” in the Bible. See, I called him on it. Thank you. Goodbye.

  • Henry Karlson,

    If you continue with your calumnies without evidence you will be placed on moderation.

    Typical liberal, when they can’t debate the points they devolve into name-calling.

  • The Fathers of Trent called them only for submission. Melanchthon and others who thought the Catholic Church would alter the Faith to suit them were only fooling themselves. The Protestants had no right to vote and they realized this was a waste of their time from their standpoint. I believe it is also clear that in any case the invitation was given to the Protestants only due to strong pressure from Emperor Charles V.

  • For what it’s worth, Thomas Aquinas emphasized that Jews should not be persecuted for practicing Jewish traditions because the presence of those traditions helped Christians in there own understanding.

    Mind you, he also thought unrepentant heretics should be burned at the stake, but I think you can see in Thomas’s opinion towards the Jews the roots of ecumenism. So let’s be careful about relegating ecumenism to the past forty years (Not saying tito is, but in general that seems to be a temptation in some of the comments here)

  • The Jews were a special case and Pope after Pope extended protection to them. As to Christian heretics however, one can scan the history of the Church with a microscope prior to 1965 and find precious little that would bear any relationship to what we now call ecumenicalism.

  • Henry K. left in a puff when he realized people were reading through his dishonesty.

    I’ve done what I am capable of with Taize. The same can’t be said for others who question my motives.

    I still pray for unity, but I question the tactics and the fruits of these tactics that have done nothing if harm the foundation of the Church by causing confusion in language and action.

  • Fruitful dialogue is when the two parties carefully explain themselves to each other, defining terms, clarifying distinctions, and so on, so that they can each come to an accurate understanding of what the other believes and the rational basis upon which those beliefs rest.

    Fruitful dialogue pares away areas where misunderstanding of terms, superficial differences in behavior or in practice, etc. makes the two believe they have differences where they really are not.

    Fruitful dialogue identifies real differences. It pinpoints the areas where the two really do have to say, “Ah, I see. That’s something you assert which I deny.” Or: “Hey, my belief on that issue, though I phrase it in different words, is not really so very different from yours.”

    Because to clearly identify the exact points of difference is to understand how far apart you are. And when two bodies have clearly delineated the exact points of difference — which they do through fruitful dialogue — it is a help to individuals who may be wondering if they belong not there, but here. It is a challenge to individuals within those two bodies to decide which of the two is more true.

    That is why dialogue can be fruitful, even if it does not seek to “convert,” but only to teach and to learn. To teach the truth as we know it, to learn exactly where the other does not align with that truth.

  • bearing,

    there is a place for dialogue as you state, but it is not going to result in unity on a broad scale as is dreamed by the “ecumenism” movements of the last 40 years.

  • Bearing,

    Thank you for that explanation.

    I think that’s nice and dandy.

    I just wish I can see unity organically come from it, which is difficult to see when the Lutherans themselves (as examples) continue to splinter each year. Not to mention the Anglicans, ie, Traditional Anglican Communion.

    In the end, let’s assume positive results, as an example, the World Lutheran Federation finally wants to unite with us.

    It’ll be a few aging scholars and hopefully their kids that will be left of the ‘WFL’.

    But I see what you mean about fruitful dialogue.

  • Fruitful dialogue does not and, indeed, cannot entail blatant compromise!

    Indeed, if anything, this is not fruitful dialogue but a pitiful engagement in the modernist enterprise of nihilistic emancipation from both Tradition and Our Lord Himself, which inevitably makes us not Catholics but rather sorry Modernists in the most fiendish of disguise; that is, nothing more than heretics in the making!

  • I’m sorry, what’s the point exactly of talking about dialogue and ecumenism when one side is constantly shifting its beliefs according to the latest moral trends?

    Heck, is there really ecumenism when one-half of the conversation exists on a razor’s edge of even being called “Christian”?

    The Church should always have an arm outstretched to all peoples, and with communities that share fundamental similarities with us— perhaps we can do more.

    I agree with Tito’s placement in hope with the Orthodox over that of Protestants. Catholic and Orthodox have at least had better luck in preserving their fundamental positions and identities. Protestantism seems to keep fracturing at a rate of change matching the latest best-selling self-help books!

  • Anthony,

    I believe the crucial test is how will Partriarch Kirill deal with his hostile curia (towards Rome) in dealing with us.

    As Henry Karlson & JohnH stated on another thread, there has been rumblings of detente.

    But from Moscow the optimism has been muted.

    Thankfully though they appointed Hilarion as the External Relations head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Which was Kirill’s previous post, so we may be seeing some movement during Kirill’s patriarchate and Benedict’s pontificate.

  • Fruitful dialogue cannot result in unity on a broad scale unless the differences between the two bodies are either (a) merely superficial differences regarding essential truths, e.g., apparent differences that come from the use of different terminology for the same thing, or (b) differences that both sides can agree are inessential.

    In the case of (a), the two bodies can work together to craft new ways of phrasing the essential truths, phrasing upon which both can agree.

    In the case of (b), the two bodies can make clear to their members that it is acceptable to hold different beliefs in the inessential areas, and thus people in different “camps” can yet exist in the same body.

    Fruitful dialogue is necessary even to determine whether the apparent differences between two groups fall into categories (a) or (b).

    Anyone who’s ever had a hearty, in-depth, lengthy discussion with someone of a different faith, and came away with both of you knowing more about the other person and why they believe what they believe, even if neither of you is at all any more interested in conversion from one to the other, knows what fruitful dialogue can mean. It’s not useless, and it does not necessarily entail compromise. It entails listening, learning the other’s reasoning behind their beliefs, learning “what exactly do you mean when you say…?” and getting the chance to explain yourself in kind. It’s reciprocal apologetics, is what it is.

    Oh, and by the way, having had plenty such dialogue with my good friend who is a member of LCMS — any time you are talking about ecumenism it is completely worthless to speak only of “Lutherans.” There are several different groups and they have had different ecumenical contact with Catholics, with some groups repudiating the actions of other groups.

  • p.s. I think there’s great hope with a large bloc of conservative Anglicans. Their church body may not join with ours, but there may be a mass defection, and we should be ready to talk to these people and listen to their stories.

  • Bearing,

    In one of my earlier comments I touched on the difficulties of dialoguing with “Lutherans”.


  • Yeah, I saw it and I also noticed that many commenters after your comment were still talking about “Lutherans.” Wanted to reinforce the point.

    I suspect, actually, that individual dialogue — the “reciprocal apologetics” I spoke of in an earlier comment — is much more powerful than institutional dialogue. Here a soul meets a soul, in some human bond of amity or collegiality, and sincere interest in each other as human beings sparks a meeting of minds. In the end, it’s not “institutions” we hope to win over to conversion, but individuals.

  • Whether ecumenism has “failed” depends on how you define it. If you mean it only in the strict theological sense — getting the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies to agree on doctrinal matters like justification by faith or the primacy of the pope — then Tito is right; it’s made very little if any progress. I would agree that prospects for doctrinal ecumenism and ultimate reunion are far better with regard to the Orthodox churches — who still have a valid priesthood, apostolic succession, and valid sacraments from a Catholic point of view.

    However, if “ecumenism” means Catholics and other Christians being able to get along better at the personal and social level, and being able to work together on efforts such as promoting the culture of life and traditional marriage, then I’d say it’s succeeded way better than many people could have imagined 50 or 60 years ago. The days when “mixed marriages” could only be performed in the rectory, when Catholics were discouraged from visiting the YMCA or giving to the Salvation Army, when Catholics were forbidden to attend Protestant services or Protestant church functions unless there was a grave reason to do so — those days are long gone.

  • I addressed this before and I think there are a lot of attitudes in regard to ecumenism that was discussed in one way or another.


    I’m not saying this movement does not have any faults or failures. But to say no to it altogether is something entirely different.

    “Thus, it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of “appendix” which is added to the Church’s traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does…”(Ut Unum Sint)

    Pope John Paul II connected ecumenism with evangelization and to divorce the two is inherently problematic.

    But if we’re going to just say they’re heretics and let that be the end of it, is that really the Christian thing to do?

    If there is something wrong, join in the debate, but don’t end it.

  • Elaine

    Right, it is a part of the nature of the Church, and any evangelical activity will either be inter-religious or ecumenical in nature (St Paul, for example, engaged inter-religious dialogue at Mars Hill). People confuse the activity with syncretism or giving up one’s beliefs; I’ve pointed out this is a strawman. And as I pointed out, there are four kinds of dialogues – the types dealing with life and work are quite important, and as you have said, they have gone a long way.

  • I do not want to stop ecumenism at all.

    I just want to reassess what works and what doesn’t.

    There are valid points from all across the spectrum here from Eric to Henry, most of which is right on in my opinion.

    I want a more clear and concise road map to follow, which the Vatican is known for.

  • Henry,

    Author: Henry Karlson

    Right, it is a part of the nature of the Church, and any evangelical activity will either be inter-religious or ecumenical in nature (St Paul, for example, engaged inter-religious dialogue at Mars Hill). People confuse the activity with syncretism or giving up one’s beliefs; I’ve pointed out this is a strawman. And as I pointed out, there are four kinds of dialogues – the types dealing with life and work are quite important, and as you have said, they have gone a long way.

    No, it’s not a strawman, since the current implementations of “ecumenism” and “inter-religious dialogue” are actively engaged in abandoning our faith. True ecumenism IS evangelism, sharing our faith with others, not taking on other’s false religious practices.

  • “No, it’s not a strawman, since the current implementations of ‘ecumenism’ and ‘inter-religious dialogue’ are actively engaged in abandoning our faith.”

    It is indeed a stramwan; this claim is made by those who don’t engage the dialogue, have not studied the dialogue, and want an excuse to reject it. However, they offer no evidence of this; show it from the official work of the Church. You can’t.

  • Henry Karlson,

    It was bad enough that you continued to engage in the remarkably deplorable pursuit of false equivalence; but to go to the extent of employing such condescending tone so as to ridicule so as to imply your interlocutor, Elaine, here as nothing more than a simpleton who’s not even “engage[d] the dialogue, have not studied the dialogue, want an excuse to reject it” is nothing more than a viscious ad hominem.

    You’ve written a series on “Lying”, which ironically you have demonstrated yourself expert on not only in theory but, rather magnificently, in practice too.

    You should do well to commit yourself to a study of flagrant fallacies, such as the blatant petitio principii you continue to employ in your above comments — as if merely relying on “dialogue” automatically renders your arguments wholly won.

  • “It was bad enough that you continued to engage in the remarkably deplorable pursuit of false equivalence; but to go to the extent of employing such condescending tone so as to ridicule so as to imply your interlocutor, Elaine, here as nothing more than a simpleton who’s not even “engage[d] the dialogue, have not studied the dialogue, want an excuse to reject it” is nothing more than a viscious ad hominem.”

    I will let people read above and see I said nothing of the sort to Elaine. More importantly, it is quite clear that e. does not know what an ad hominem is — because, of course, it is not an ad hominem to say “you don’t know because you have not studied it” to someone who has not!

    The fact of the matter is, the ones making the charge against ecumenism have to prove their position. That hasn’t been done. Instead, if they read the materials, they would see how silly this charge actually is. But, you know, I think it is because of another kind of ecumenism, they make this charge: for it is the same kind of claptrap one hears from fundies about ecumenism.

  • It pains God that the very body which is to be the sacrament of the unity that he intends for all humankind is so rife with internal division. Any and all efforts that are made even to just increase charity amongst us and our separated brethren are to be commended.

    Love and truth , not power, are the only effective means for a future reunification under Peter.

  • As if by chance, I have begun rereading Christopher Dawson’s THE DIVIDING OF CHRISTENDOM. Its underlying theme is ecumenism, or perhaps rather say, horror and sadness at the division of Christendom.

    Interestingly he indicates that, while it is a religious problem, it is not a theological problem. Rather it is a social and cultural problem.

  • “Typical liberal, when they can’t debate the points they devolve into name-calling.”

    You really should stop using the term “liberal” as a catchall phrase to encompass all those who disagree with you. For the record, of all the people I know, Henry is the one least tainted by Enlightment-era liberalism. Ask him about tsar martyr Nicholas II! He’s also too humble to say this, but inter-religious dialogue is actually his academic field. In other words, we all should listen to what he has to say.

  • It occurred to me today at Mass as we sang a hymn written by Isaac Watt, that that is possibly a good way to nourish ecumenism: swipe the good hymns from the Protestants and send the bad modern catholic jesuit hymns to the Episcopalians.

  • I do not want to stop ecumenism at all.

    Why not? Ecumenism isn’t in the Holy Bible, is it?

  • Michael I.,

    I’ve done my part, my charisms are in others areas. If you want to forward ecumenism you should read Thomas A Kempis’ the “Imitation of Christ”, begin behaving and acting as a Christian in order to bring unity to the Body of Christ, instead of running away to a foreign country and insulting people who truly love the Lord.

  • Tito,

    I commend you for attempts in matters ecumenical.

  • “I, on the other hand, condemn you in matters Romero, you anti-Catholic punk you!”