What The Week Long LeBron James Ego Charade Can Tell Us About The State Of the World, As Well As The Catholic Church

Friday, July 9, AD 2010

UPDATE  Check Back On Monday To See What Time The Scheduled Appearance On The Al Kresta Show Will Take Place. Al Kresta Is Heard On EWTN Radio ( Over 100 Affiliate Stations) Check Your Local Listings Or Click Here To Listen Live

The LeBron James saga was particularly painful for those of us who live in Ohio and are Cavaliers fans. However a cursory glance at some of the national columnist’s reaction, to the week-long ego charade broadcasted by ESPN, gives me hope that many others have seen through this smoke screen as well. (Check these columns here here and  here.) What we witnessed Thursday night and the excuses made for it, along with sucking up by some of the national powers that be, gives us some insight on a world full of instant gratification and the desire to party on in South Beach, rather than roll up their sleeves in places like Cleveland. Talk about a metaphor for the Catholic Church.

For years now many faithful orthodox minded Catholics have painfully watched friends and loved ones leave the Catholic Church for either the local hoopty do mega church (Mother Angelica’s words,) or for no church at all, claiming they needed to feel better. They didn’t like a Church who couldn’t get with the times, had too many sinners in the pulpit, or talked to much about sin and not enough about heaven. Perhaps the LeBron James fiasco has given us the perfect recipe for what we should do; give it right back to them.

I grew in a small town (or city depending upon your classification) full of hard working class folks (and farmers who came into town from the outlying areas) where flowery words were few and far between and one would be easily called out for his actions. Now we all know the Church has had some difficult times in the last few years. However, this is because we wanted to be liked, instead of doing it God’s way, whether that was politically correct or not.

Today we have a new crop of orthodox-minded young seminarians, priests and women religious who are pious, but not above calling people out concerning their phony excuses for not taking their Faith more serious by not practicing it, or leaving it all together. In my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I outline the increase in vocations, especially in dioceses which are more openly orthodox in their approach. The Father McBrien’s and Kung’s of the world are being replaced by younger versions of Father Corapi and Father Pacwa. Though these two priests have different approaches, they are not above calling out the phony reality show world we often seem to celebrate in our culture and religion.

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20 Responses to What The Week Long LeBron James Ego Charade Can Tell Us About The State Of the World, As Well As The Catholic Church

  • LeBron will be lucky to get any contracts to endorse anything outside of Miami. The last athlete to fall this hard was OJ Simpson. No good comes from stabbing people in the back.

  • Strange the comments were about Lebron and not the comparing of the event to so called ‘catholics” in the pew, who have forgotten or have been swayed by the glitter of change and culture. They have forgot or never understood, our Lord did not give us rules that were elective in nature, but tenets that were set for all eternity regardless of occurences or changes in our world and scripture that fully explain what occurs when we forget that fact.

  • I read the letter to the Cavs fans by the owner guaranteeing that the team will win a title before LeBron does. If that happens, he’ll be left feeling like the Prodigal Son, ashamed of himself for letting greed and glitter get the best of him.

  • Lebron who?

    re: getting people back on the road to eternal life. The Pelosi-Obama-Reid regime may be a blessing in disguise. Tens of millions of unintended consequences of their misrule and the devastations of the economy and our way of life may bring people to realize that this glitzy world is a chimera and their true home is Holy Mother Church and in Heaven after repenting, confessing, doing penance, amending their lives and through good works glorifying Almighty God, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit.

  • Goodbye Clevland.
    Turn down the rock and roll
    Turn out the light.
    Goodbye Clevland.
    Goodbye, Good luck and goodnight.

    ~ Robert Earl Keen

  • Sorry, I have not been following the Lebron thing, and don’t follow basketball in general. But I don’t see much of a comparison between Lebron and the state of the Catholic Church.

    Lebron left because apparently he believes the Cleveland team is not good enough to win a championship. He decided that winning one was important to him , so he left for team that he thinks could get him there (an he could get them there). Has Lebron played for several teams for short periods of time? Has he hopped around a lot (I don’t know)?
    I can’t blame him – how many of us would leave their current job for one they felt was better (either better pay or better conditions, or maybe both?)? More importantly, how many of our employers would keep us around if we started sucking at our job? How long would the Cavs have kept Lebron if he suddenly started to suck (and how many fans would be clamouring for him to be cut)? Loyalty is a two way street my friend, and Big Sports, like any other big business treats it one way only.

    In the end, Lebron’s situation is an employee/employer one, not anything having to do with loyalty to one’s faith (employer/ee loyatly died decades ago). Just completely different situations.

  • LeBron who indeed.

    What an appalling waste of time, energy, effort, talent, and other human resources, speculating about the fate of a ball tosser.

    Enjoy it on your own time, have a beer, cheer when your team scores, boo when the other guys do, fine. To get this involved in a sports game and a sports figure is… I can’t use the word I’d like to use, but it begins with f, ends with ing, and is followed by ridiculous.

    Our Church is in crisis, and our government is out of control. Our southern border is menaced by marauders, Europe is being overrun by Islam, and the US is on the verge of another Great Depression.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19205.htm

    “If the world is unwilling to continue to accumulate dollars, the US will not be able to finance its trade deficit or its budget deficit. As both are seriously out of balance, the implication is for yet more decline in the dollar’s exchange value and a sharp rise in prices.”

    Worry about that. Not where some ball player decides to continue putting the ball in the net.

  • A couple of points. Yes, the whole LeBron fiasco is pretty ridiculous, which is what the article was attempting to point out. However, we don’t live in the world of our choosing, we have to deal with the cards we are dealt. Perhaps, this is why St Paul used sports anologies. If he didn’t, he would have been just another egg headed itinerant preacher in the 1st Century Roman Empire. Geeks by their very nature don’t attract crowds, perhaps this is why St Paul among many others through the centuries, including our present Magesterium have brought in sports anologies. Our own beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI used the World Cup in his remarks to highlight the need for teamwork in the realm of Faith.

    This blog is revelant because it addresses many current issues, I believe Tito and myself have thrwon in sports anaolgies simply because sports is a mainstay of our society, and yes we enjoy it.

    The second point: As for why LeBron James. He is a Akron St Vincent-St Mary’s grad, a historic Catholic high school in northeast Ohio. He has donated money to the school and helped to promote. In addition, he received one of his NBA most Valuable Player Awards at his high school, something that I believe has never happened.

    The point I was making about his shameless treachery of self promotion is very pertinent in our world where faith takes a back seat to me first promotion. Sadly, it seems LeBron has taken that road, a road he promised he would never take. As much I detest all of this pop culture nonsense, to ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist would simply be sticking our heads in the ground. We are not called to be Essenes but to live in the world, just not be of the world.

  • Dave,

    You certainly make some valid points. But this goes too far:

    “The LeBron James saga was particularly painful for those of us who live in Ohio and are Cavaliers fans.”

    Painful? Really? It caused you pain?

    St. Paul may have used sports analogies (where was this exactly?), but he never endorsed the gladiator games at the Colosseum. I’m not saying you endorsed the modern equivalent, but when I look at the madness that overcomes sports crowds – especially in a time of political, economic and social crisis – I don’t see a bunch of regular people enjoying sports.

    I see the bread and circuses of Rome, with which the people were distracted while civilization collapsed. A pacifier, a placater, a sedative – followed by irrational emotional outbursts and torrents of rage, all directed at some ridiculous non-event instead of at the people who are imposing a new tyranny upon us.

    I agree fully with the need to relate to people and their interests. I’m no ivory tower intellectual, I detest alienating and obtuse language, esoteric jargon, etc. But at a certain point, people do need to be slapped in the face with the truth, and they need to be told bluntly that every second of real and genuine PASSION they waste on a sports figure subtracts from the struggle they could be mounting against the growing threat to our liberties and security as citizens.

  • Joe, a very interesting post. I shall do my best to answer questions. With regard as to do I really feel pain regarding LeBron James leaving the Cavs. Yes, I do. Now pain comes in many stages for example; I have been stung on my left hand by a bee and that was painful but rather scant compared to the pain experienced when I broke that hand some years later. I hope you get my drift. I recently felt a sad pain when a fellow Catholic told told me that his business partner, also a practicing Catholic, took liberties with the business and the money causing great scandal and hardship. I felt pain for the injured and the knowledge that some non believers would get a kick out of the matter. To say that one can only feel pain when something major happens to them or some great tragedy in the Church, nation or world sounds rather cold and Dr Spock like to me.

    As for the whole Roman bread and circuses analogy first floated by the American Left in the early half of the last century and floated again by the likes of Libertarian Alex Jones, it just doesn’t make sense. The Roman population was by and large illiterate and caught up in violence and warfare. Are your really saying that modern sports fans want to see others torn apart in their local stadiums?

    The interesting assertion made is that intelllectuals in Europe are not sports minded and therefore Americans are rather ignorant. As a matter of fact TV ratings for soccer’s World Cup dwarf that of the US Super Bowl American TV ratings. Henry Kissinger has often commented that European intellectuals, espeically in Germany and England often treat World Cup defeats as some sort of national period of mourning and or deep period of introspection abou their place in the world.

    We must remember because of social engineering, sports is one of the few places where honest to goodness competition can take place, which is perhaps why Europe with all of their Social Democratic-Statist governemnts likes sports so much.

    I can’t help but think of the Saturday Nighr Live skit (of all things circa December 2000) when the presidential outcome was still up in the air. The skit consisted of a spook of the future if each of the candidates, GW Bush or Al Gore were elected. The future showed a relentlessly sighing (remember those odious debate sighs) Al Gore bemoaning the poor performance of Americans on his interactive quiz results. He would leture the public for hours on end concerning Western Civics, Economnics and the Environment and still not everyone was up to his standards.

    Joe, do you really think the problems in the Church and the world of politics would be solved if everyone was as smart as you think they should be? Perhaps this why Jesus said the poor will always be among us when Judas and some of Apostles threw a hissy fit at the pentitent woman use of the expensive perfumes on Jesus. Perhaps it was the Jesus’ way of saying; don’t think your way can fix every problem. Even if everyone watched TV news, read a plethora of newspapers and websites; the problems would remain. Perhaps this is why the late WIlliam F Buckley said he would rather be goverened by the first 1,000 names in the Boston Phone book, than by the Harvard Faculty.

    Whether it is Faith or Governance, it isn’t all about knowledge, it is courage and perserverance and lots of prayer that are needed for success. For example, General McClellan graduated 2nd in his class from West Point, while General Grant graduated in the bottom half of his class. However, as Shelby Foote noted; General Grant had 4:00 in the Morning Courage and General McClellan had none during the Civil War.

    The Church is going through a tough time now, but it has been far, far worse. After the Reformation, many Northern European cities had few if any priests to administer the sacraments. Check out the life of St Francis DeSales; when he arrived in Geneva as bishop he was treated to rotten fruit being thrown at him and few if any little old ladies in the pews. When he died, half of Geneva had come back to the Church. I am sure had he convened a strategy session of the best and brightest; they would have said your talents would best be served in a more receptive location. Well, just some of my thoughts on what you wrote.

  • Since we’re engaged in a spiritual battle for souls, it’s only fitting that sports analogies be used. The recent firing of the Catholic professor at the University of Illinois is one example of the intelligentsia putting down the “small people” for wanting to take the path that is hard and narrow but leads to life in Christ rather than the path that is wide and easy but leads to destruction–or in the case of the French soccer players who don’t do hard work, a trip back home in coach class.

  • Dave,

    On your personal pain: different strokes, I suppose. But you didn’t quantify it originally. A “small” amount of pain is fine. The utter grief that some appear to be going through is, in my view, a disproportionate response.

    You say of the bread & circuses argument:

    “it just doesn’t make sense”

    Well, it does make sense, and you don’t seem to be arguing against the “sense” of it as much as you are its mere existence.

    ” The Roman population was by and large illiterate and caught up in violence and warfare.”

    Our population isn’t illiterate by Roman standards, but it is less educated by the standards of the developed world. And there is plenty of apathy to go around, even if people have basic reading skills.

    As for violence, have you paid no notice of our sex and violence saturated entertainment “culture”? It’s everywhere, it’s a constant feed of increasingly horrific stimuli.

    “Are your really saying that modern sports fans want to see others torn apart in their local stadiums?”

    The rioting that takes place on occasion suggests that at least some are. So is the immense popularity of professional wrestling, “ultimate fighting championship”, and other increasingly bloody “sports” contests.

    In any case, the main argument is that people are distracted. I don’t have to prove that they are violent, or potentially violent, in order to show that they are investing time and resources in sports that would better be invested in politics.

    Frankly I think the American founders would be horrified at the cult of sports in this nation. Entertainment, or what the founders in their classical republican worldview called luxury, was considered to be the enemy of moral AND civic virtue. The extent to which the people indulge in games and vices is the extent to which they diminish as the sort of responsible citizens that a free republic needs to exist.

    As for Europe: I couldn’t care less. I’m not hung up on Europe, I don’t idolize Europe. I don’t see the relevance.

    Please don’t compare me to Al Gore. I don’t want to bore people with lectures. But as student of Aristotle’s “middle way”, I recognize that there is another extreme we want to avoid, which is hyping people with meaningless distractions.

    We have to appeal to both the passions and the intellect. In fact I’m much more about appealing to passions right now than I am intellect, because many issues are over-intellectualized. But I want to direct that passion AWAY from sports and entertainment, and TOWARDS politics. Politics can be as passionate and competitive as any game or any concert – and it is precisely because of this truth that these other distractions are dangled before the people.

    So I think you misunderstand my aim, especially when you ask,

    “Joe, do you really think the problems in the Church and the world of politics would be solved if everyone was as smart as you think they should be?”

    It is NOT about intelligence, so no, I absolutely do not think that. What I think is that people, regardless of their intellectual abilities, should care more about politics than they do sports or the media-created popular culture. One does not need intellect to participate in politics, any more than they do religion.

    ” Even if everyone watched TV news, read a plethora of newspapers and websites; the problems would remain.”

    I submit that they would be less severe with a politically active populace, and this was the unanimous opinion of the founders of this republic. This is what self-governance means. This is what liberty requires. Slavery and oppression are the defaults of this fallen world; freedom is rare and must be actively fought for and maintained.

    “Perhaps this is why the late WIlliam F Buckley said he would rather be goverened by the first 1,000 names in the Boston Phone book, than by the Harvard Faculty.”

    I think he said it because the elites at Harvard, moreso now than even in his day, are self-hating, self-destructive, and isolated from the people. I agree with his sentiment entirely – but in order to govern, those 1,000 names would have to put down the beer and the remote.

    It is precisely because I DON’T want an elite to run our lives that I DO want the people to stop focusing on nonsense and become better citizens. Don’t you see that? You can’t just say that sovereignty lies with the people, and expect it to stay that way without their involvement. If the people don’t exercise their power, others – the elites – will do it for them. Nature abhors a vacuum. If the people create one through the abrogation of self-government, then the masters will step right back into their comfortable position.

    It is vital that you and others understand this.

  • Joe, I think you are completely missing the point here. No one that I have heard is saying that people shouldn’t take their civic responsibility seriously. Believe me, I have spent 20 years in Catholic education, not to mention the five years I have been doing writing and speaking (all of which at little pay) to answer a call that I believe God has for all of us to be involved with Church and State. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the problems will be solved if we all get involved.

    It seems you don’t understand what I am saying about sports and entertaintment. First of all professional wrestling is not sports, it is entertainment which is why the World Wrestling Federation had to change their name from that to World Wrestling Entertainment. The reason people like sports is that our culture is so involved in social engineering that it has taken away our God given talents and the right to compete with them.

    The pop culture silliness such as who Paris Hilton is dating has nothing to do with competition. She hasn’t done anything with whatever talents God have her; she has merely been born to enabling parents who let her do whatever she wants. There is a big difference between that and the field of athletic competition.

    The three men most attacked by the intelligentsia for their lack of supposed intellect were President Truman, President Reagan and President GW Bush. Do you really think the nation would have been better served with the likes of Governor Dewey, Vice President Mondale and Vice President Gore?

    I am for civic participation, I have spent my life doing it and teaching the necessity of it. However, I am under no illusion that by simply doing it, we will live in a better world. According to your line of thinking the state of Vermont and the US citiies of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam would be the greatest places to live, because they have one of the highest civic participation rates in the world.

  • Dave,

    I wasn’t aware that there was only one point – I tried to address all of your points.

    “However, that doesn’t mean that all of the problems will be solved if we all get involved.”

    Who said it meant that? Certainly not I.

    And it just doesn’t matter. See, I think you’re missing the point with things like that. It doesn’t matter whether or not all problems will be solved, such a guarantee is not and never should be the requisite of political participation – the bottom line is that no problems at all will even be addressed by an inactive citizenry. That’s certainly what the elite wants.

    You say I don’t understand your argument about sports. I submit to you that I do understand it, and disagree with it.

    “There is a big difference between that and the field of athletic competition.”

    Insofar as both serve as a distraction from issues that matter, there is no difference. Other differences may exist, but they are not relevant to me.

    “Do you really think the nation would have been better served with the likes of Governor Dewey, Vice President Mondale and Vice President Gore?”

    Why are you asking me this? I invite you to read my previous post for the answer to this question. Carefully, perhaps, this time.

    “ccording to your line of thinking the state of Vermont and the US citiies of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam would be the greatest places to live, because they have one of the highest civic participation rates in the world.”

    I’m not sure what “civic participation rate” is, or measures – you can break that down for me if you like.

  • Joe, this could go on and on. However, I think we can agree that our western culture is too pop culture oriented and more people should attend Mass, know what the Catholic Faith is all about, and become more participatory in our civic responsibilities. However, to say that sports and entertainment holds too much sway on our society is bordering on nanny statism and eggheaded pontification. I am sure you wouldn’t suggest the following. However, it could lead to some actually thinking that if Broadway, Hollywood, Major League Baseball, the World Cup and the National Football League and college football took the rest of the year off, and everyone went to town hall meetings to resolve the various problems plaguing our country and world, the world would be a better place.

    Sadly, some people don’t care about their souls, or the state of the world or country, try as we might and pray as we might, they all won’t change. I have tried to illustrate this in my previous posts, using examples from all over the world. I will throw in a couple more. In the last five years or so, my writings have taken me to see and hear many great things happening in the Church. As you can probbaly figure out from the title of my book, “The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism,” I am an optimist. However, I am a realist as well. Some people just don’t care and some people who claim they care, just want to control others.

    For example, you asked about what I meant by participation rates in reference to my statement that the state of Vermont and the cities of Cambridge, Massachuseets, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam have high participation rates. What I meant was voting participation and membership in civic clubs, neighborhoood groups, school organizations etc.

    These whacky far left locations would hardly be my cup of tea. Their foil of civic responsibility is really a foil for state control and the opportunity to attack religion, i.e. the Catholic Church at every turn.

    Some people chose to be ingorant and or commit various sins ad nauseam. The late Bishop Sheen spoke of a man he met in Paris (I believe it was the 1920s.) This man, (who was British) played piano in the lobby of the hotel that then Father Sheen was staying. They chit-chatted during one of his breaks and the British piano player agreed to have dinner with Father Sheen. The piano player seemed to boost to the future famous bishop that women couldn’t keep their hands off him, some had even left their husbands. The piano player went on to say that after a few months he gets bored with each woman and then moves on to another. Obviously Bishop Sheen was shocked so he met with the man for the next few days. When the time seemed right, he took him to Sacre Coeur to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. The man stayed all night and thanked Father Sheen for his insights, prayers and time. The piano player said he was a changed man. A few days later they agreed to meet again for dinner. When they did, the piano player came with another woman on his arm. It has happened again the man explained. Father Sheen pulled him aside to see what was really happening and the man explained the sinful life was far more enjoyable, even if it could result in a horrible end for his soul. What I am trying to say is that not everyone does what they should.

    Jesus was faced with two similar situations. The first occurred when the penitent woman poured perfume over him and Judas and some of the other Apostles protested saying it could have been sold and helped many poor people. Jesus answered; “The poor you will always have among you.” It was his way of remdinding the Apostles that though we should help everyone we can, it still doesn’t mean that it will be solved the way we think it should be. One more example involves the parable about the rich man asking to go back from (hell or purgatory) and tell those other rich relatives and friends of his to change their ways lest they end up in the same horrible predicament that he was encountering. Jesus told him that they wouldn’t listen to the prophets, why would they listen to him. Joe, I think we can agree that we should all be more involved in Church & State affairs. However, trying to tell people that sports and entertainment should be severely curtailed when so many of our saints and Holy Fathers were involved with both sounds a bit over the top.

  • Dave,

    You’re simply wrong. I don’t know if it is a logical or a rhetorical issue. Only you do.

    “However, to say that sports and entertainment holds too much sway on our society is bordering on nanny statism and eggheaded pontification.”

    It really is no such thing at all. Stating what I believe to be a mere fact in no way necessitates a nanny-state, and it is hardly an observation limited to the ivory tower.

    I could just as well say that ignoring the sway that these forces hold over society is to engage in bad citizenship and willful ignorance – but I don’t.

    To fail to participate is NOT an intellectual failure – IT IS A MORAL FAILURE. All but the mentally handicapped are culpable for their moral choices, regardless of their intellect.

    So you’re really barking up the wrong tree with this constant accusation of eggheadery. If intellect is the requisite for voting, then we have no business with a democracy or even a republic – we need Plato’s philosopher king. But it isn’t. It is virtue, not intellect, that is the primary requisite for voting. It is a free choice made by individuals, and not innate abilities, that is responsible for this decision.

    Now, if you don’t get my clearly stated point this time, what else can I conclude other than that you’re making excuses for people’s civic sloth?

    ” if Broadway, Hollywood, Major League Baseball, the World Cup and the National Football League and college football took the rest of the year off, and everyone went to town hall meetings to resolve the various problems plaguing our country and world, the world would be a better place.”

    Language is key. I absolutely believe it would be a “better” place – I don’t think it would become a perfect place, a utopia with no problems. It might be a little bit better, it might be a whole lot better – participation isn’t the only thing that makes a society bad or good. But I’d submit that while it is not sufficient for a good society, it is necessary.

    If it WOULDN’T make society a better place, then it is nothing but a baby’s pacifier granted by the elites to their stupid pets, serving no actual good and right purpose. It would have no rational justification, even if it can be said that voting is, or is the result of, a natural right.

    Is there a rational justification for universal suffrage, or is it just a societal ornament? If there is a rational justification for it, then we can only conclude that a widespread failure to use that right is irrational.

    “I am an optimist. However, I am a realist as well. Some people just don’t care and some people who claim they care, just want to control others.”

    But this is all off the main point.

    Here’s my question to you – is it your view that invoking the drama of LeBron James will politically galvanize folks who otherwise wouldn’t pay attention to anything? They’ll make the transition from sports to politics this way?

    If that happens, and it works, I’ll eat my shoes with ketchup. In all seriousness, I’d be interested to know if that works, or if it ever has. If it has, I say, go with what works.

    ” What I meant was voting participation and membership in civic clubs, neighborhoood groups, school organizations etc.”

    Those are all good things in themselves. It is unfortunate that secular leftists would seem, if your claim is accurate, to have a leg up in that department, since the vision of the founders was for this to be a universal phenomenon.

    I also have no problem with Vermont. I like their gun laws more than I dislike Bernie Sanders. And I say, ultimately, that power belongs to those who take it. Within our political system, Christians have the means to become just as involved, and have their values just as represented. It is simply irrational for them to cede the arena to hostile forces.

    “What I am trying to say is that not everyone does what they should.”

    For goodness sakes, you say that as if it is novel. Who the heck argued otherwise?

    But does this fact somehow absolve us of a responsibility to proclaim the truth, to proclaim what ought to be done? Again, I am with Aristotle. There are two extremes – there is pie-in-the-sky idealism on the one hand, that says anything is possible and people are capable of anything. Then there is fatalism – the view that things are what they are and cannot be changed.

    The rational, position is genuine realism – understanding what can be changed, and what cannot be changed. Understanding what can be influenced, and what cannot. Understanding what your power is, and what the limit of that power is.

    Your view, to me, is closer to fatalism than realism. The Church proclaims that civic participation is a moral obligation. It doesn’t matter if “people don’t do what they should” – people shouldn’t have abortions either, but the Church will never cease to proclaim that it is wrong, and that they should choose life.

    So I will continue to proclaim, along with the Church, and in the spirit of the American founders, the importance of civic virtue and I will continue to denounce those influences that weaken and corrupt it.

    “Joe, I think we can agree that we should all be more involved in Church & State affairs. However, trying to tell people that sports and entertainment should be severely curtailed when so many of our saints and Holy Fathers were involved with both sounds a bit over the top.”

    This is your problem – I said no such thing. When did I say “severely curtailed”? This was a false inference, or, poor choice of words. A fallacy or a gaffe.

    I do not propose to infringe upon ANYONE’s right to be a lazy idiot. But I certainly do propose that we use our first amendment rights to remind people of their moral and civic obligations, and to denounce the garbage that obstructs them.

    Do you understand that it is possible to oppose a thing without violating another person’s right to that thing? If so, then we have no quarrel, sir.

  • Over on another blog I found a list of humorous Twitter responses to the LeBron James announcement…. among them was the following:

    “I wanted to announce my Second Coming at 9 p.m. tonite, but it looks like you all had other plans — Jesus Christ.”

  • LeBron James had every right to leave Cleveland. You talk about his “week-long ego charade” but that entire week LeBron said very little to the media. LeBron made no appearances on ESPN or any other network until his special. You’re blaming LeBron for the fact that everyone on TV was talking about him non-stop. Further more you failed to mention the fact that LeBron’s marketing firm agreed to only do the special if the sponsorship dollars would go to The Boys and Girls Club.

    The reason so many people have left the church isn’t because they want some razzle-dazzle experience when they go to church. No, it’s because of the fact that for the last sixty plus years a small portion of priests and clergy members have been raping and sexually exploiting children around the world. Every clergy member who ever abused a child and every church official who covered it up and didn’t report these people to the authorities should be thrown in jail. So before you start criticizing completely innocent and upstanding athletes clean up your church first.

  • Chris Russo, then how do you account for the fact that many fans are quick to forgive and forget the sins of the Kobe Bryants and Tiger Woods of the world rather than ditch them? I don’t see that happening for the priests who betray their flock, so that says a lot about the effect of pop culture’s alluring but false promises of fame and riches on society, especially those who build their homes on shifting sand rather than rocks. Perhaps LeBron may be like the Prodigal Son and find that his ego got the best of him.

    Thankfully there are many other priests to do us Catholics proud, including superstars like Archbishop Raymond Burke, who certainly wouldn’t pull a LeBron act despite the Creative Minority Report humorously imagining such a possibility: http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/search?q=LeBron

  • ESPN’s ombudsman vindicates Dave, blasting the network for its LeBron coverage: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/post/ESPN-ombudsman-blasts-network-for-LeBron-coverag?urn=top-257681

SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

Wednesday, May 12, AD 2010

I read a comment[1] a few weeks ago on GetReligion.org attempting to explain why John Paul Stevens was the last Protestant in the U.S. Supreme Court which simply said that Catholics and Jews have a tradition of being immersed in law (Canon Law and Halakha respectively for Catholics and Jews as an example).

This struck me as interesting because at first glance it kind of makes sense.

Of course there is much more to why the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, 6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and an Episcopalian, is as it is.[2]

But I thought it was an interesting enough topic to dive into.

Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe chimes in with her two cents worth [emphases mine]:

Evangelical Protestants have been slow to embrace, or to feel welcomed by, the elite law schools like Harvard and Yale that have become a veritable requirement for Supreme Court nominees. One reason for this, some scholars say, is because of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism.

As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again, pushing the liberal theory that Christians are stupid (at least Evangelical Protestants).

Lets get beyond these stereotypes done by liberals to Christians.

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47 Responses to SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

  • The legalistic traditions would be the most obvious theory but I suspect that it’s too abstract to have this disparate an impact. Besides, sola scriptura is much closer to the originalism of the four conservative Catholic justices. The living Magisterium is more analogous to the living constitution that they reject.

    The anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism makes sense. Part of it may also be that Catholics make more reliable conservative judges and are therefore more appealing Republican appointees but I bet Catholics are overrepresented in the general lawyer population as well.

    Maybe religion is actually hiding an ethnic cultural difference. The legal field was one of the few fields that was relatively tolerant of Jews which is at least partially why they are overrepresented. Maybe anti-Catholic or anti-immigrant sentiment drove the Irish, Italians, and now the Hispanics into law.

    Maybe religion is hiding a regional difference. Five of the justices are from New York, two from California, and one from New Jersey. New York and California are the two biggest lawyer markets. They also happen to have the largest Catholic and Jewish populations. I can’t speak for California, but every ambitious New Yorker wants to be either a lawyer or a banker (another field where Jews, and maybe Catholics, dominate).

    Maybe Catholics and Jews can’t be lumped together. Maybe Jews are overrepresented for historic reasons and Catholics for religious reasons.

    Protestants do have their colleges, seminaries, and Bible study groups, similar to those of Catholics.

    But their emphasis is very different. I’ve heard one Protestant accuse Catholics of being too mechanical in their religious studies.

    Ironic that people got all hot and bothered when the fourth and fifth nominees for the SCOTUS were Catholic’s thus over-representing Catholics in the Judicial branch. But somehow the secularists are excited that the current nominee, Elena Kagan, a Jew, would make SCOTUS 1/3 Jewish.

    They were hot and bothered because Roberts and Alito were conservative Catholics. They had no problem with Sotomayor.

  • Let’s get beyond liberals. Liberals only have insults and lies; and fabricated/imagined crises meant to “grease the skids” for their destructive policy “solutions.”

    If we don’t stop Obama and his horde of liberal idiots (I repeat myself) in congress, and soon the Judiciary, they will cause a degree of economic devastation from which the private sector may never recover.

    Then, they will have succeeeded in making us all serfs, which was their (the two or three that aren’t gays/lesbians/puppy-lovers/morons) plan all along.

  • I take issue with the notion that the conservative justices’ approach is similar to “sola scriptura” and that the “living Constitution” approach is analogous to the living Magisterium.

    Instead, I would say the two approaches to the Constitution are rather more like the difference between how a traditionalist Catholic and a Voice-of-the-Faithful Catholic view the Magisterium.

    Conservative jurisprudence does not reject development in the law; conservative jurisprudence recognizes that the world today is different from the world 200 years ago and that matters will arise that were completely outside the imagination of the Framers. However, conservative jurisprudence also recognizes that developments in the law (1) are better suited to be addressed by legislative bodies rather than courts, and (2) to the extent the courts must develop constitutional doctrine to meet modern challenges, the development must be (a) an organic extension of the rights and values traditionally held by society and (b) be bound to the text of the Constitution as originally enacted and intended by the Framers.

    Justice Scalia famously discussed this view in the Michael H. case, in which a putative father (from an extra-marital affair) sought to use the Court’s “substantive due process” jurisprudence (see, e.g., Griswold and Roe) to overturn a state’s codification of Mansfield’s Rule, which protects the children of a marriage from outside claims of paternity. Scalia, in his majority opinion, attempted to limit the extension of “substantive due process” to those instances where society had traditionally protected such rights:

    1. The § 621 presumption does not infringe upon the due process rights of a man wishing to establish his paternity of a child born to the wife of another man.

    […]

    (b) There is no merit to Michael’s substantive due process claim that he has a constitutionally protected “liberty” interest in the parental relationship he has established with Victoria, and that protection of Gerald’s and Carole’s marital union is an insufficient state interest to support termination of that relationship. Michael has failed to meet his burden of proving that his claimed “liberty” interest is one so deeply imbedded within society’s traditions as to be a fundamental right. Not only has he failed to demonstrate that the interest he seeks to vindicate has traditionally been accorded protection by society, but the common law presumption of legitimacy, and even modern statutory and decisional law, demonstrate that society has historically protected, and continues to protect, the marital family against the sort of claim Michael asserts.

    Scalia explains further:

    In an attempt to limit and guide interpretation of the Clause, we have insisted not merely that the interest denominated as a “liberty” be “fundamental” (a concept that, in isolation, is hard to objectify), but also that it be an interest traditionally protected by our society. [Footnote 2] As we have put it, the Due Process Clause affords only those protections “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.” Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U. S. 97, 291 U. S. 105 (1934) (Cardozo, J.). Our cases reflect “continual insistence upon respect for the teachings of history [and] solid recognition of the basic values that underlie our society. . . .” Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479, 381 U. S. 501 (1965) (Harlan, J., concurring in judgment).

    This insistence that the asserted liberty interest be rooted in history and tradition is evident, as elsewhere, in our cases according constitutional protection to certain parental rights. Michael reads the landmark case of Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U. S. 645 (1972), and the subsequent cases of Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U. S. 246 (1978), Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U. S. 380 (1979), and Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U. S. 248 (1983), as establishing that a liberty interest is created by biological fatherhood plus an established parental relationship — factors that exist in the present case as well. We think that distorts the rationale of those cases. As we view them, they rest not upon such isolated factors but upon the historic respect — indeed, sanctity would not be too strong a term — traditionally accorded to the relationships that develop within the unitary family. [Footnote 3] See Stanley, supra, at 405 U. S. 651; Quilloin, supra, at 434 U. S. 254-255; Caban, supra, at 441 U. S. 389; Lehr, supra, at 463 U. S. 261. In Stanley, for example, we forbade the destruction of such a family when, upon the death of the mother, the State had sought to remove children from the custody of a father who had lived with and supported them and their mother for 18 years. As Justice Powell stated for the plurality in Moore v. East Cleveland, supra, at 431 U. S. 503:

    “Our decisions establish that the Constitution protects the sanctity of the family precisely because the institution of the family is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

    Thus, the legal issue in the present case reduces to whether the relationship between persons in the situation of Michael and Victoria has been treated as a protected family unit under the historic practices of our society, or whether, on any other basis, it has been accorded special protection. We think it impossible to find that it has. In fact, quite to the contrary, our traditions have protected the marital family (Gerald, Carole, and the child they acknowledge to be theirs) against the sort of claim Michael asserts. [Footnote 4]…

    That’s hardly a “sola scriptura” approach to jurisprudence and, in fact, I would argue that Scalia was relying upon his own Catholic understanding of the Magisterium in formulating that approach.

  • Thanks, Jay, for beating me to it. I owe you.

  • Ditto what Mike said. I’ve written that comment before (although probably not as well).

  • Three comments:

    First, I would not dismiss the existence of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelical Protestantism as mere liberal rhetoric. Certainly there is some of that, but the anti-intellectualism in evangelical Protestantism is well documented, especially by scholars such as Mark Noll, who is himself an evangelical Protestant. It is a part of evangelical Protestantism that many adherents are putting aside, but its historical existence could be a factor.

    Second, we can’t ignore social trends. Mainline Protestantism has been declining in numbers and influence for some time. The lack of mainline Protestants that “percolate up” to the upper echelons of the law is a consequence of that. At the same time, Catholic numbers and influence increased during the same decades. Also, Catholics and Jews during the last century emphasized education, assimilation, and becoming part of the “establishment.” That too, had implications. I would expect the same to happen with evangelical Protestants in the decades to come.

    Third, both Jewish and Catholic teaching has not emphasized, as much as mainline Protestants, a radical separation of church/state and politics/religion. Mainline Protestants, some have argued, emphasized it so much that they made religion irrelevant in the public square.

  • It’s not a perfect fit but there are elements of originalism that more closely resemble sola scriptura. Sola scripturists would also agree that the world is different today. Jay, I don’t think anything you said is inconsistent with sola scriptura.

    It’s funny you mention Michael H. I was just rereading my notes on the case a few days ago. None of the justices objected to Scalia’s view to traditional rights. Brennan’s dissent also looks to traditional rights. But a majority didn’t join Scalia’s footnote 6 for a very different reason. I, along with most the justices, think he’s wrong in his application, if not his approach. Contrary to his assertion that broader classes are more susceptible to conflicting interpretations, Scalia’s approach allows judges to pick conflicting specific classes. Scalia puts Michael H. in the class of “cheating fathers.” One can also place him in the class of “biological fathers.”

  • No, Scalia does not place Michael H. in the class of “cheating fathers”; he places him in the class of those who society and the law don’t want breaking up intact families by challenging the paternity of the children within those families. He’s unwilling to create out of whole cloth a “fundamental right” to do something that society has not traditionally seen fit to give sanction.

    And while one may also place Michael H. in the class of “biological fathers”, that says absolutely nothing regarding the “fundamentalness” of his “right” to have Mansfield’s Rule struck down as unconstitutional. And that’s what’s at stake. The liberal would throw out a centuries old common law rule over some imagined “fundamental right” to claim the child of an intact marriage as one’s own. That’s not akin to a “development of doctrine” – that’s changing the rules to suit one’s own personal view of how the law SHOULD be and fits more in line with how the VOTF crowd view the Magisterium.

  • Furthermore, the reason the “sola scriptura” analogy is inapt is because it an ahistorical reading of how originalists have actually behaved on the Court.

    Protestants whose approach to religion is based on “sola scriptura” reject authority and tradition as having any sway over how they apply their Faith to their lives. They reject developments in doctrine (even while unconsciously accepting such developments as the Trinity and the compilation of the Bible itself). The “sola scriptura” mindset – especially when it is of the fundamentalist variety – is a back-to-the-basics approach with only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as a guide.

    The originalist, in contrast, doesn’t reject authority or tradition or developments in the law that have occurred in the intervening years since the founding. The originalist doesn’t seek to “refound” the American republic as it existed in 1787. In fact, the originalist approach to jurisprudence is actually quite limited in scope by comparison to the Protestant Reformation and the approach of the “sola scriptura” practitioner.

  • Jay,

    Protestants whose approach to religion is based on “sola scriptura” reject authority and tradition as having any sway over how they apply their Faith to their lives. They reject developments in doctrine (even while unconsciously accepting such developments as the Trinity and the compilation of the Bible itself). The “sola scriptura” mindset – especially when it is of the fundamentalist variety – is a back-to-the-basics approach with only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as a guide.

    Thanks for fleshing out what I said in one sentence.

    I’m no law expert nor a lawyer, but I too could see that sola scriptura was an impediment towards doctrinal development for Protestants.

    And with that, originalsim and sola scriptura have no similarities with the respect to doctrinal development.

    Also appreciated your first comment as well…

  • Finally, let’s be honest about why those Catholics opposed to Constitutional originalism try to stigmatize it with the taint of “sola scriptura”: they know that most Catholics, especially conservative ones, take a dim view of “sola scriptura” in the context of theology, so they use the analogy to paint Catholic constitutional originalists as unthinking (in relying on the same intellectually inferior practice as protestant fundamentalists) and/or hypocritical (in doing to the Constitution what they criticize the protestants for doing to Christianity).

    The problem, as I’ve noted above, is that the analogy is inapt. But it is inapt not only because it fails to describe what originalists actually believe and how they actually behave, but because it is a comparison of two completely different institutions established for two completely different reasons and under two completely different sets of circumstances.

  • Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

  • Jay, I see that you are anticipating in advance the charge of being trapped in a Calvinist (and very Protestant) dualism by virtue of defending originalism. But you cannot escape; in order for the intellectually cramped Calvinist-Catholic dualistic system to work, any disagreement must be described as an outgrowth of individualism/Calvinism/liberalism.

  • Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

    I am not sure how true that is. I have friends and co-workers who are evangelicals that went to Harvard Law, and the Christian (not Catholic) law student group at my school (t-10 or so) was fairly sizable and active. But, of course, these anecdotes don’t really add up to data. You could be right about the general trend.

  • I’d consider myself a Catholic originalist. Sola scriptura (or some weak version of it) can be an perfectly defensible way to interpret the Constitution but not Scripture.

    Originalists reject any develop of new doctrines not grounded in the law as understood at the time of its enactment. They accept tradition only up to the point of enactment. They do not accept the idea that later traditions that could not reasonably be anticipated, can add to the law. On the other hand, Catholics accept that later traditions can add to existing “law” in ways that could not reasonably have been anticipated.

    Even the process of development differs. Originalists reject abstract unifying doctrines and prefer to judge new situations as fitting or not fitting into specific laws or enumerated rights. Catholics, I would argue, work in the opposite direction. Starting with abstract unifying doctrines (e.g., dignity of man), then judging whether the situation falls within an exception (e.g., double effect).

    As for the Michael H. sidetrack, Jay, you demonstrate exactly why Scalia’s methodology is wanting (I’d like to note that this is a different argument than the one over originalism). I described Scalia’s classification of Michael H. as a “cheating father.” You described it as “someone trying to break up a stable family.” Which one are we supposed to use? You also dismissed the implications of classifying Michael H. as simply a “biological father.” Traditionally, biological fathers have rights over their biological children. An appeal to tradition doesn’t work here because both sides can, and did, argue it. If Scalia’s methodology is correct, it’s incomplete, at the very least.

  • Centinel, you wrote:

    Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

    That goes beyond generalization, friend. Generalization, philosophically, means abstracting a feature true of each instance of a class, e.g., “Houses have roofs.” Generalization, popularly speaking, means abstracting a feature true of most or even many instances of a class, e.g., “The students at Catholic University are Catholics.”

    What you’ve managed to do is pluck out of a bag of prejudices and biases a dazzling example of complete ignorance EXCEPT of perhaps one or two cases that you know, and a few more that you know of.

    I am close friends with a woman who, as an Evangelical, went to Yale Law School because it was “the highest-ranking school that would take” her, to use your words. Not too shabby. Granted, it’s not the University of Barbados, but I suppose Yale Law will do for her sort. She’s a Catholic now, though. Did you know that there are numerous law schools at Catholic universities bursting at the seams with… all sorts of people?

    Do you think it possible that Catholics might be serious about their faith and go to a law school conducive to it?

    Do you think it possible that an Evangelical might be serious about his faith and yet go to an ungodly school bearing in mind that it is not the law school’s job to nurture his faith, and that he will continue to seek spiritual nourishment through the means he always has – prayer, reading the scriptures, attending a good church?

    C’mon. Your “observation” was entire facile.

  • “Traditionally, biological fathers have rights over their biological children.”

    Not biological fathers who aren’t married to the child’s mother. That’s a very recent development.

  • And I’m sure you’ll say that my last comment illustrates your point about classifications.

    But there will always be classifications when talking about defining rights under the Consitition. The key is to find the classification that does the least amount of damage to the constitutional order, and this is done by limiting the interference of the judiciary into the democratic process by defining the “fundamental right” narrowly enough as not to remove a broad category of activities from democratic oversight (not to mention creating out of whole cloth “rights” that have no basis in the text of the Constitution).

    Scalia’s appeal to tradition is to look at the behavior that society has traditionally valued and protected and determine whether the particular case before the Court meets – with specificity – the activity society has sought to protect.

    The liberal will look at “tradition” and try to broadly define the activity that is “fundamental” to ordered liberty so as to include as much activity as possible and remove it from the democratic process. Thus, Brennan et al looked at Michael H. as a “biological father”, and relying on some very recent precedent (and ignoring other recent precedent – i.e. that “biological fathers” have very few if any rights when abortion and birth control are at issue), tried to make the argument that he had a “fundamental right” to interfere in the inner workings and relationships of an intact family unit.

    What’s “traditional” about that? Nothing. Maintaining Mansfield’s Rule was based on tradition – the tradition of protecting the family, as society has sought to do for generations. The Court’s “fundamental rights” jurisprudence – of very recent vintage – regarding a biological father’s “reproductive rights”, not so much.

  • While not remotely an expert on law, the sociological/historical aspect interests me in regards to biological fathers’ right. It seems to me that the accurate characterization would be that in Western Culture, a biological father can assert paternity rights over illegitimate offspring by effectively “legitimizing” or recognizing them. This, however, assumes that the illegitimate offspring are otherwise simply “fatherless” and unacknowledged.

    The rights of the pater familias as a husband typically include having paternal rights over all children he chooses to acknowledge. So if his wife bears a child which is not, in fact, his, he can effectively make the child his by acknowledging the child as his regardless of actual paternity.

    The idea that a biological father could assert paternity rights over a child he fathered on a married women over the objections of her husband (who is willing to raise the child as his own) would be distinctly un-traditional.

  • Darwin,

    You’re right. It IS distinctly un-traditional. And for over 200 years, under Lord Mansfield’s Rule, such claims cannot be heard.

    Okay, I realize I’ve dominated this thread, so just one last thing on the classifications in Michael H. and how they relate to “tradition”:

    As Restrained Radical notes, both Scalia and Brennan appealed to “tradition” in reaching opposite conclusions in the case. However, a closer examination of the arguments and what respective “tradition” was being sought to be preserved by the opposing Justices, will reveal that one of the Justices was ACTUALLY concerned with remaining faithful to and preserving an established tradition, while the other Justice’s feigned appeal to “tradition” was a complete load of BS from one of the most successful bu11$h**tters who ever sat on the Supreme Court.

    Let’s start off with the fact that the rights of “biological fathers” – the “tradition” to which Justice Brennan appealed – are, as I noted above, a recent development in the law, and there is no long-standing “tradition” of “biological fathers” having legal rights over their offspring outside the context of the marital relationship. Even the parental rights of divorcing parents have always been based on the fact that the parents were married in the first place.

    So, let’s dispense with Brennan’s nonsensical claim that he was appealing to “tradition” and cut right to the chase. Were one to follow his constitutional jurisprudence to its logical conclusion, here’s Bill Brennan’s take on the “rights” of biological fathers:

    * A “biological father” has absolutely NO LEGAL RIGHTS to protect the life of his child should the mother choose to abort the child; HOWEVER …

    * A “biological father” has a “fundamental constitutional right” to interfere in an intact marital family relationship by asserting paternity over a child born inside that marriage should the mother choose to raise the child with her husband.

    * A “biological father” has a “fundamental constitutional right” that overrides an over-200-year-old common law rule – a common law rule known to and explicitly accepted by the drafters of the Constitution – meant to protect marriages from outside attack and children from bastardization.

    That’s Bill Brennan’s definition of “tradition”.

    On the other hand, under Justice Scalia’s approach, here is the state of the law:

    * an over-200-year-old common law rule that was on the books at the time of this Nation’s founding is preserved;

    * the sanctity of the marital family unit is preserved from outside interference by claims from a stanger to that marriage that he is, in fact, the father of a child born to that marriage;

    * the original intent and meaning of the text of the Constitution is preserved from the violence done to the constitutional order whenever a newly created “fundamental right” is used to strike down as “unconstitutional” a law that was fully known to and explicitly acctepted by those who drafted the Constitution.

    Now, which one of those approaches is TRULY concerned with tradition?

  • Personally, I always thought the tradition of offering sympathy to orphans should have helped the Menendez brothers

    😉

  • Jay, your putative domination of this thread has enriched it, and is greatly appreciated at least by me.

  • Agreed, I’ve enjoyed your explanation on this stuff, Jay.

  • I spend the day in Bankruptcy Court and Jay leaves me nothing to say in regard to Constitutional interpretation. Rats! Ah well, I will merely say ditto to what Jay wrote and what Scalia says below:

  • Donald,

    I liked his Chestertonian quote:

    “Some worth doing, is worth doing terribly.”

    Or something to that effect.

  • I should’ve stated this early but I don’t necessarily disagree with the outcome of Michael H. And I do think originalism is the proper method of analysis (while I still maintain this is closer to sola scriptura). I only take issue with Scalia’s method of abstraction outlined in footnote 6. He defines classes that need not be defined in that way.

    Jay & Darwin, it all depends on how you’re defining the tradition and the specific case. The children of a married woman have traditionally been presumed to be the biological children of the husband. Is Lord Mansfield’s Rule designed to protect the husband or the biological father? In the absence of DNA testing, it would seem that it protects the biological father (usually the husband) from spurious paternity claims. Therefore, it appears tradition protects the rights of the biological father. Modern technology has eliminated the need for blunt evidentiary rules.

    Again, I’m not saying that’s right. Only that the very existence of what I think is an alternative reasonable interpretation, undercuts Scalia’s approach.

  • Don, that was a great vid. It would be interesting to see a liberal originalist on the court. Lawrence Lessig, a liberal and a broad originalist, says Kagan thinks as he does. I doubt it but if true, not only would Kagan be the most influential justice, it would also alter the course of American jurisprudence. I’ve believed that the best kind of judicial nominee would be a liberal pro-lifer. Perhaps even more important than overturning Roe is changing the way liberals view abortion.

  • “Is Lord Mansfield’s Rule designed to protect the husband or the biological father? In the absence of DNA testing, it would seem that it protects the biological father (usually the husband) from spurious paternity claims. Therefore, it appears tradition protects the rights of the biological father. Modern technology has eliminated the need for blunt evidentiary rules.”

    I suppose it provides an alternative interpretation to Scalia’s, but it is one that I believe to be ahistorical.

    The historical record will bear out that Lord Mansfield was primarily concerned with the children of marriages not being made bastards, which is a matter wholly unconcerned with determining actual biological paternity. In fact, it was an objective that was often in direct conflict with determining such.

    Preserving intact marital family units from such challenges was not for the purpose of ensuring that the husband’s factual biological paternity was protected from spurious outside claims, but rather to ensure that children were not delegitimized. For that reason, the law created an irrebuttable presumption that the children of a married woman were the legitimate children of her husband.

  • I suppose, from a sociological point of view, a lot has to do with how you interpret the purpose of established cultural norms. It seems to me that the purpose would clearly be that a pater familias be able to determine who he wants to call his children. If he want to acknowledge children he had by a woman other than his wife, he can. If he want to refuse to acknowledge those children, he can. And when his wife bears children he can either acknowledge them, or repudiate his wife and deny them.

    All this sounds rather negative and “patriarchal”, but it also has the effect of making the direct and extended family strong against outside assaults. Good or bad, though, I think it’s hard to deny that it’s “traditional”.

  • “I doubt it but if true, not only would Kagan be the most influential justice, it would also alter the course of American jurisprudence. I’ve believed that the best kind of judicial nominee would be a liberal pro-lifer.”

    I doubt restrainedradical that Kagan will be anything but an orthodox political liberal on the bench. However, the fact that she has no judicial experience on the bench should give her backers pause. Felix Frankfurter, the great advocate of judicial restraint, was a fairly conventional political liberal before he was appointed to the Supreme Court by FDR without judicial experience. Things can look quite differently after one dons the black robe, especially with a life time appointment, and Kagan, perhaps, could end up surprising everyone.

  • I would be astonished if Kagan does not prove to be “anything but an orthodox political liberal” cleverly legislating from the bench whey “necessary.” But I’m prepared to be astonished, and certainly hope that I am.

    In any event. I hope the confirmation process is a smooth one. I’m all for hardball politics, but Kagan is qualified and that should be the end of it. The Dems viciously changed the rules with Bork, and I believe that the temperament within the Senate has never been the same. I’d like to see the Republicans avoid scoring political and polemical points and just plain do the right thing.

  • I agree Mike that the Kagan nomination is not the one for the Republicans to put up a fight on, but one of the main reasons why the Democrats routinely engage in scorched earth tactics in regard to Republican judicial nominees is because the Republicans routinely fail to do the same to Democrat nominees.

  • Fair enough, Don, but it is worth remembering that both Roberts and Alito got through without the Dems resorting to scorched earth practices, which is not to say that they behaved perfectly. I’d rather try to ratchet the practices back to how they are supposed to work. I acknowledge that it is a judgment call as to whether exhibiting good behavior or returning bad behavior is the most effective way to do that.

  • In regard to Alito Mike the Democrats tried but failed to filibuster his nomination. The final vote for his confirmation was 58-42 which is astounding if one of the chief criteria is supposed to be judicial comptence.

    Obama of course voted against confirmation for both Roberts and Alito, two of the best qualified jurists ever nominated to the Supreme Court.

  • Forgot that, Don, thanks. I’d still support Kagan’s nomination, but would also score points by emphasizing the contrast between her treatment and that of Alito, and get lots of digs against Obama for voting against Alito and Roberts.

  • Roberts was confirmed 78–22. He got far more Democratic votes than Sotomayor got Republican votes. Alito had the misfortune of being second. Kagan has the same problem.

  • Wow. Such deep arguments!

    Still, I think a lot of folks are overthinking this situation. A president seeking a pro-life perspective on the high court appoints a Catholic. Another president seeking some pro-life cover also appoints a Catholic. Presidents who seek a reliably pro-abortion leftist or wish to appease leftist elements of their party often appoint a Jew.

  • Restrained Radical,

    There’s no comparison, democrats are far more emotional and vindictive when it comes to voting against well-qualified judges that happen to seem conservative.

    Case in point, Robert Bork who lost the nomination 42-58.

  • The Bork confirmation process was unprecedented. It broke with longstanding Senate tradition, and frankly the Senate has not been the same since. The Dems broke the rules and lied shamelesslessly while doing it. Mutual rancor, payback, and distrust have been the order of the day since.

    While not unopinionated, I am not given to immoderate commentary. In fact I sign my real name as a matter of self-discipline. But let there be no misunderstanding or doubt: Joe Biden made his bones in the Bork hearings and behaved like a consummate dirtbag. I expected such dishonest behavior from the cowardly Senator from Massachusetts, but this was when Biden showed his true character colors.

    Finally, let’s be clear. When the Left decides to play hard ball, you can ususally count on the subtext being their sacrament of abortion. It started with Bork and Palin has been the most recent manifestation.

  • Bork and Thomas are outliners. People like Bork with long controversial paper trails don’t get nominated anymore. And Thomas had to deal with Anita Hill. I don’t think either party has a monopoly on outrage. As I noted before, Roberts had an easier confirmation than Sotomayor who in turn will have had an easier confirmation than Kagan. I predict Kagan’s confirmation to be similar to Alito’s. Four Democrats voted for Alito. I predict 2 or 3 Republicans will vote for Kagan (Snowe, Collins, and maybe Brown).

  • It’s a straw man.

    Bork had the most difficult.

    You can continue to apologize for your democratic party, but facts are facts.

  • While, I do not disagree with the overall thesis expressed herein. I find the characterization of Reform and Hasidic Judaism to be off the mark. I contend that the divisions within Judaism that they represent a division with Judaism but that these division were the result not of dogmatic differences.

    Rather I view the divisions within Judaism as being similar to the differences that exist between religious orders with Catholicism.

    In the sense that each religious order agrees on the truth of the dogma espoused by universal church, their missions differ,and as a result there may exist minor differences within their devotions and practice.

  • Nathan Zimmermann,

    I would like to default to your position because I know very little about Judaism.

    But when I see “conservative” and “reform” Jews advocate for the death of the unborn in absolute violation of the Ten Commandments and then I see “orthodox” Jews express identical views with Catholics and stand up for the unborn, then your analogy does not seem to fit that of Catholic religious orders.

    Catholic religious orders differ in mission, but adhere completely to the teachings of the Church.

    I don’t believe your analogy falls into that category with all due respect.

  • Mr. Edwards,

    I based my analogy upon my experiences and interactions with the aforementioned communities within my native city where even the conservative and reform Jews tend to be more conservative and pro-life.

  • If the Republicans wish to Bork a nominee Solicitor General Kagan’s nomination may be the best opportunity. If President Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland, the ability of the Republicans to Bork the nominee would have proved less tenable because, Judge Garland’ nomination was openly advocated by Senator Hatch.

    As addendum to my two previous posts, and to throw a fox into a hen-house. While there is no doubt of the universal church on the subject of abortion and euthanasia, eugenics and Darwinism.

    It should be noted that there existed a split with the church on the subject of eugenics and Darwinism during the 1920s and 1930’s as is evident in the writings of Rev. Hermann Muckermann, the elder brother of Rev. Friederich Muckermann SJ.

  • Nathan:
    There has never been a split regarding either Darwinism or eugenics in Church teaching properly understood The fact that some Catholic priests and theologians have favored abortion rights, for instance (which of course is still the case) does not in any way impair the fact that the Magisterium has remained consistent, even as it develops.
    I have countless Jewish friends. Sadly I know none who consider themselves of the Reform stripe who favor laws forbidding abortions, even though I know many who claim they themselves would not abort a child.

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.

The Coming Open Rebellion Against God

Tuesday, February 9, AD 2010

The title of this article almost sounds surreal. At first one could be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of low budget End Times movie seen on some local cable access channel. However, the information contained within this article is real, fortunately, as believers and specifically those of us who are Catholic we know that Jesus promised that His Church would not fall despite the attempts of those working for the evil one. God is the truth and God is love, but the mere fact that He is both has caused many rebellions against him literally from day one. Sadly, those who often claim to be the smartest act the most childish, by at first claiming God doesn’t exist and then claiming if He does exist, He doesn’t make sense at least to them. This article will look at this behavior from the world’s earliest moments, but will mainly focus on what has happened in the last few years, right up until this very moment.

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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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Some 500 Years Ago Like An Abduction In the Night, The Virgin Mary Was Taken From Many Christians

Wednesday, December 9, AD 2009

For many Christians today, the thought that the leaders of the Protestant Reformation believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary or her bodily Assumption into heaven would seem ludicrous, even more bewildering would be the devotions many of the Reformation’s leaders had for the Blessed Mother. Believe or not it, they did. In this month of December when Catholics celebrate three feast day’s commemorating the Mother of our Lord, perhaps it is time to remind our separated brethren of the truths their founder’s believed.

Sometime ago when I was writing my book, The Tide is Turning Toward  Catholicism,  I showed a friend of mine, who is an Evangelical, a homily about the Virgin Mary delivered in the 1500s. I asked him who gave that homily, “probably some pope,” he exclaimed. No, I said it was Martin Luther. He replied, “Dave I trust in almost everything you say, but I am going to have to call you out on this one. I mean isn’t that what the Reformation was all about, ending superstitions like those about Mary?” His mouth dropped when I showed him the passages. I am sure many of today’s Evangelicals, especially of the Calvinist lineage, would have the same reaction.

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84 Responses to Some 500 Years Ago Like An Abduction In the Night, The Virgin Mary Was Taken From Many Christians

  • “The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
    And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
    And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
    And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
    And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,”

  • Mr. Hartline,

    Can you provide us with some specific examples of Reformation leaders revering the Blessed Virgin Mary?

  • Aegis, go to the link below in regard to Martin Luther and Mary.

    http://www.davidmacd.com/catholic/martin_luther_on_mary.htm

  • Aegis, I have supplied two links to my article. I hope it helps. Take care!

  • Even more amazing, Christians of that age needed no papal declaration for these aspects of the Blessed Mother.

    As for the vehemence against Rome, yes, it is true that leaders and people chose to distance themselves from Roman practices. It’s not so different today: many Catholic conservatives are deeply distrustful of anything that looks like Protestantism or Anglicanism or even Eastern Orthodoxy. Indeed, being called a Protestant is, in some places, a worse epithet than being called a devil. In a way, it’s amazing some Catholics have stilled adhered to the Lord’s Prayer.

  • “Indeed, being called a Protestant is, in some places, a worse epithet than being called a devil. In a way, it’s amazing some Catholics have stilled adhered to the Lord’s Prayer.”

    Todd, where do you find the energy to construct so many straw men?

  • Todd, an absolutely fascinating post. At first I thought one of the fundamentalists who sometimes peppered my site with derogatory comments had returned. Ironically, you said more about self loathing Catholics in one paragraph than others might take several pages to say. Your site seems to emphasise Ecumenism over all things. Yet, for some unknown reason you take a pot shot at one of the bedrock teachings of your own Church, the Chair of Peter. In that Ecumenical spirit which you mention on your site, I will refer to Dr Charles Stanley’s comment; “what else don’t you believe?”

  • The main take-home point of the Reformation is that there is no longer any source of “infallibility” outside of Scripture. Neither Roman tradition nor the views of the Reformers could be held as infallible. Luther was wrong on many points, Calvin too.

    Modern day Protestants have inherited the concept of sola scriptura more than they’ve remained faithful to the beliefs of the Reformers. Scripture does not demand the veneration of Mary. There is no evidence that the early church as a whole held to the immaculate conception and assumption. These were made dogma fairly recently: immaculate conception (1854); assumption (1950).

  • Todd, are you channeling the founding Protestants in making up stuff?

  • Dennis, the Assumption was celebrated and widely believed in the Early Church long before the Canon of the Bible was finalized by the Church Councils and Pope Damasus in 382 AD.

  • It appears one can present many references to Mary, Mother of Our Lord, and her veneration, yet it continues to amaze me of those who try to diminish her role throughout the Bible and the tenent of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.

  • Thanks again, Dave, for placing before us bits of history that have been forgotten or deliberately obscured. The purported Reformation was a cultural and historical disaster, with evil men culling out a rump faith without devotions, the saints, the Blessed Mother, or Christmas. What an inadequate legacy to leave to the good, loving sincere Protestants of today who have never been told the truths.

  • Jesus loved his mother and so should we.

  • Dennis –

    You are overlooking the evidence of Marian devotion inherent in the Bible.

    Who is it that told us that the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary as Kecharitomene (full of grace)? Luke. Luke was not one of the original 12 disciples – so from whom did Luke learn that Mary was full of grace? Luke is the author of Acts, and we learn in Acts that he was a student of Paul’s, and traveled with Paul. So, it was Paul who taught Luke this teaching. Now, Paul was not one of the original 12 disciples either. So from whom did Paul learn this? Well, we learn in certain later readings of the New Testament that Paul was taught by the early disciples and by Christ himself.

    It is only logical that when we become baptized, and through baptism become members of Christ’s body, we inherit the parents of Christ. Who were Christ’s parents? Mary and God. Therefore, through baptism, our own parents are Mary and God. This is why we call everyone brother and sister – we are all part of one body and all sharing the same parents.

    For proof of this, Paul goes on in Galatians 4:31 to tell us that we are (through baptism) “children not of the slave woman but of the free born woman. Here he is referencing the slave woman as a woman born into sin, whereas the free born woman is one who was not born in submission to sin and later freed, but one who was free from birth which would only be possible if she were cleansed of original sin prior to her birth.

  • I’m not defending Todd here, but I personally am upset when I see many parishes being “protestantized” in architecture and practice.

  • This brings to mind something I believe Mother Teresa said: I wan’t to love Mary like Jesus does and to love Jesus like Mary does…

    How much more of a connection between two people can you get? It is only with a blind eye that people will neglect that true love….

  • I’ll have to dissent from Dennis’ point: without dogmatic declaration, Eastern Christians have venerated Mary through the Immaculate Conception and the Dormition (Assumption) for centuries–to this day.

    I’m also a doubter on the original line of thinking here. Doctrines or venerations of the Virgin were not foremost in the minds of people of the Reformation period. As is true today, Mary was used as a tool on both sides, either a badge of orthodoxy or a point of differentiation.

    The Reformation is far more complex than just an expression against the veneration of Mary or any of the other saints.

    It was in fact the excesses of the Chair of Peter that put Europe to the tipping point. Not only did Martin Luther continue to venerate Mary to his death, but he continued to see himself as a loyal Christian. Human pride, being what it is, hardened the hearts of people on both sides. The Blessed Mother, like many of those living in the 16th and 17th century, were just innocent bystanders in tussles over greed, scandal, tribalism, privilege, power, and whatnot. A unified Christianity may well have been able to bring all of Asia to Christ in the 1600’s, had it not been for the wasted energies fighting Christian wars.

    There’s a lot to lament in the Reformation, but let’s acknowledge a dollop of blame falls to Rome. Far from beinga pot shot, that’s simple acknowledgement of fault.

  • As much as I thought Todd’s earlier comment was unfairly cartoonish, I have to say I think his last post was spot on. Plenty of blame to go around for the Reformation.

  • Someone mentioned that Jesus loved Mary and so should we. Does Jesus love her more than the next guy? Second, i never met Mary, so how can i love her. Jesus loved his disciples, should i adore them.? Mary is just another personality in the bible. The bible is about Jesus, from fron to back. Some weird religion has made Mary a central figure, even a queen in heaven. That was done to keep peoples eyes off Jesus. Now lets see…HUMMMMM..whos job is it to keep us from Jesus? Could it be….SATAN? The devils pet religion is doing a bang up job.

  • “The devils pet religion is doing a bang up job.”

    I applaud you Wayne. It is almost refreshing to see that ignorant, unashamed anti-Catholic bigotry is still alive and well.

  • Wayne, in addition to the documents written and collected by members of the Catholic Church and known as the New Testament, you might wish to consider the comments of these men who lived a few centuries after Christ regarding Mary. I assume their names will be unfamiliar to you, but a little time using google and you will learn all about them.

    Irenaeus

    “The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God” (Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]).

    Hippolytus

    “[T]o all generations they [the prophets] have pictured forth the grandest subjects for contemplation and for action. Thus, too, they preached of the advent of God in the flesh to the world, his advent by the spotless and God-bearing (theotokos) Mary in the way of birth and growth, and the manner of his life and conversation with men, and his manifestation by baptism, and the new birth that was to be to all men, and the regeneration by the laver [of baptism]” (Discourse on the End of the World 1 [A.D. 217]).

    Gregory the Wonderworker

    “For Luke, in the inspired Gospel narratives, delivers a testimony not to Joseph only, but also to Mary, the Mother of God, and gives this account with reference to the very family and house of David” (Four Homilies 1 [A.D. 262]).

    “It is our duty to present to God, like sacrifices, all the festivals and hymnal celebrations; and first of all, [the feast of] the Annunciation to the holy Mother of God, to wit, the salutation made to her by the angel, ‘Hail, full of grace!’” (ibid., 2).

    Peter of Alexandria

    “They came to the church of the most blessed Mother of God, and ever-virgin Mary, which, as we began to say, he had constructed in the western quarter, in a suburb, for a cemetery of the martyrs” (The Genuine Acts of Peter of Alexandria [A.D. 305]).

    “We acknowledge the resurrection of the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the firstling; he bore a body not in appearance but in truth derived from Mary the Mother of God” (Letter to All Non-Egyptian Bishops 12 [A.D. 324]).

    Methodius

    “While the old man [Simeon] was thus exultant, and rejoicing with exceeding great and holy joy, that which had before been spoken of in a figure by the prophet Isaiah, the holy Mother of God now manifestly fulfilled” (Oration on Simeon and Anna 7 [A.D. 305]).

    “Hail to you forever, you virgin Mother of God, our unceasing joy, for unto you do I again return. . . . Hail, you fount of the Son’s love for man. . . . Wherefore, we pray you, the most excellent among women, who boast in the confidence of your maternal honors, that you would unceasingly keep us in remembrance. O holy Mother of God, remember us, I say, who make our boast in you, and who in august hymns celebrate your memory, which will ever live, and never fade away” (ibid., 14).

    Cyril of Jerusalem

    “The Father bears witness from heaven to his Son. The Holy Spirit bears witness, coming down bodily in the form of a dove. The archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing the good tidings to Mary. The Virgin Mother of God bears witness” (Catechetical Lectures 10:19 [A.D. 350]).

    Ephraim the Syrian

    “Though still a virgin she carried a child in her womb, and the handmaid and work of his wisdom became the Mother of God” (Songs of Praise 1:20 [A.D. 351]).

    Athanasius

    “The Word begotten of the Father from on high, inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly, and eternally, is he that is born in time here below of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God” (The Incarnation of the Word of God 8 [A.D. 365]).

    Epiphanius of Salamis

    “Being perfect at the side of the Father and incarnate among us, not in appearance but in truth, he [the Son] reshaped man to perfection in himself from Mary the Mother of God through the Holy Spirit” (The Man Well-Anchored 75 [A.D. 374]).

    Ambrose of Milan

    “The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?” (The Virgins 2:2[7] [A.D. 377]).

    Gregory of Nazianz

    “If anyone does not agree that holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead” (Letter to Cledonius the Priest 101 [A.D. 382]).

    Jerome

    “As to how a virgin became the Mother of God, he [Rufinus] has full knowledge; as to how he himself was born, he knows nothing” (Against Rufinus 2:10 [A.D. 401]).

    “Do not marvel at the novelty of the thing, if a Virgin gives birth to God” (Commentaries on Isaiah 3:7:15 [A.D. 409]).

    Theodore of Mopsuestia

    “When, therefore, they ask, ‘Is Mary mother of man or Mother of God?’ we answer, ‘Both!’ The one by the very nature of what was done and the other by relation” (The Incarnation 15 [A.D. 405]).

    Cyril of Alexandria

    “I have been amazed that some are utterly in doubt as to whether or not the holy Virgin is able to be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how should the holy Virgin who bore him not be the Mother of God?” (Letter to the Monks of Egypt 1 [A.D. 427]).

    “This expression, however, ‘the Word was made flesh’ [John 1:14], can mean nothing else but that he partook of flesh and blood like to us; he made our body his own, and came forth man from a woman, not casting off his existence as God, or his generation of God the Father, but even in taking to himself flesh remaining what he was. This the declaration of the correct faith proclaims everywhere. This was the sentiment of the holy Fathers; therefore they ventured to call the holy Virgin ‘the Mother of God,’ not as if the nature of the Word or his divinity had its beginning from the holy Virgin, but because of her was born that holy body with a rational soul, to which the Word, being personally united, is said to be born according to the flesh” (First Letter to Nestorius [A.D. 430]).

    “And since the holy Virgin corporeally brought forth God made one with flesh according to nature, for this reason we also call her Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh” (Third Letter to Nestorius [A.D. 430]).

    “If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the holy Virgin is the Mother of God, inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [John 1:14]: let him be anathema” (ibid.).

    John Cassian

    “Now, you heretic, you say (whoever you are who deny that God was born of the Virgin), that Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, cannot be called the Mother of God, but the Mother only of Christ and not of God—for no one, you say, gives birth to one older than herself. And concerning this utterly stupid argument . . . let us prove by divine testimonies both that Christ is God and that Mary is the Mother of God” (On the Incarnation of Christ Against Nestorius 2:2 [A.D. 429]).

    “You cannot then help admitting that the grace comes from God. It is God, then, who has given it. But it has been given by our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is God. But if he is God, as he certainly is, then she who bore God is the Mother of God” (ibid., 2:5).

    Council of Ephesus

    “We confess, then, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his Godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the Virgin according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in Godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her” (Formula of Union [A.D. 431]).

    Vincent of Lerins

    “Nestorius, whose disease is of an opposite kind, while pretending that he holds two distinct substances in Christ, brings in of a sudden two persons, and with unheard-of wickedness would have two sons of God, two Christs,—one, God, the other, man; one, begotten of his Father, the other, born of his mother. For which reason he maintains that Saint Mary ought to be called, not the Mother of God, but the Mother of Christ” (The Notebooks 12[35] [A.D. 434]).

  • Newman overs the topic pretty well in his reply to Pusey’s EIRENICON, republished as NEWMAN ON THE MOTHER OF GOD.

  • The Bible is about Jesus from cover to cover?

    Dude, what “bible” have you been reading?!?!

    The true Bible is about God’s relationship to creation, man in particular, and His revelation of this relationship to man. It is about BOTH God and MAN. Part of that revelation includes revelation about the mother of the Second Person of the Trinity.

    Your “bible” sounds a little abridged.

  • Wayne, tell me you didn’t just quote the Church Lady. Unironically. Please….

    Oh. You *did.*

    Well, that’s…refreshing.

  • “Seperated brethren”…you mean like my Protestant friends who said that they don’t want to talk to me anymore since I got baptised into the Church?

  • It’s sad that so many Protestants like Wayne don’t do a little study of the early church since I think virtually all Protestant denominations recognize up through the Council of Ephesus. I’ve often gotten the impression that many modern Protestants seem to take the Bible and Creeds as things that came down from Heaven fully formed. If they would study the first four centuries and learn what a difficult time was had in sorting out the Canon from the rest of the writings and the making of the Creeds it would be most helpful, I believe.

  • C-Matt doesnt seem to think the scriptures arent all about Christ. He must be a good catholic. Jesus said” search the scriptures, it is they that testify of me”. Dnald R love to quote men, catholic men, and then expect me to believe it as gospel. He takes it as gospel. The bible warns us that in the last times some will teach the doctrines of men as if they were gospel. The carnal man does not understand the things of the spirit, thats why they love the writings of men, because them they understand.Catholic men also wrote that there is no salvation outside the catholic church.Hogwash on top of hogwash.It dont surprise me that people still fall for this kind of stoneage cult religion. But, as my grandma used to say…it takes all kinds

  • “Dnald R love to quote men, catholic men, and then expect me to believe it as gospel. He takes it as gospel.”

    Sola Scriptura in all its primitive glory! Wayne, the New Testament was written by men, Catholic men. The Catholic Church determined what books to include as part of the New Testament, and what books to exclude. How did the “devil’s pet religion” as you so charmingly designate the Catholic Church, have the ability, and, more importantly, the authority to do this?

  • Wayne correct me if I’m wrong, but did the Holy Bible drop down from Heaven written in American English?

    As far as I know the first book of the New Testament was written around 60 A.D. and the last book written probably around 100-110 A.D. What happened during the time of Christ’s Resurrection in 33 A.D. up until 110 A.D.? Did Christians have the Holy Bible during that time?

    Not to mention the fact that the Holy Bible wasn’t even the “Holy Bible” until the 16th century.

    Please explain to me where I am wrong, etc.

  • Hi Tito, befor the new test was all written down, it was word of mouth. But what does that have to do with anything? You must be a catholic, trying to justify a murderous corrupt organization for no other reason than you belong to it.

  • Everyone,

    I don’t want to be guilty of anti-Roman Catholocism. I am a Lutheran, but I have no hostility towards Catholics. I have a few questions, though:

    1. Where in the Bible is the Bodily Assumption of the Virgin taught?

    2. Where in the Bible does it say that we should pray to the Virgin Mary?

    I don’t want to sound judgemental, but it seems to me that any doctrine that directs a person to someone other than God for salvation or justification is blasphemous. (I am not, however, a member of the Catholic Church and do not want to be guilty of misrepresenting her doctrine. Do I have the essential point right: that Roman Catholocism teaches that Mary can be prayed to, asked for help, etc.)?

    Love in Christ,

    Aidan

  • Wayne,

    It (the New Testament) wasn’t word of mouth. Why do you think the books in the Bible were called “letters” and “epistles”?

    It seems you are corrupting facts of history.

    If you did your own independent investigation you would be surprised at what you found.

  • I would like to add that discussion is perfectly acceptable as long as it is done in civility. To all Protestants who are here to “bash” – in other words, defame – individual practitioners of the Catholic religion, you do not do any justice to God, who commands us in 1 Peter to give an answer to all who ask “in meekness and in fear”, NOT in hatred and bigotry. I submit that – as all of us worship the one true God, the Blessed Trinity – we should all treat each other as brothers and sisters and Christ.

  • Adian, if you call pointing out fallacies in a religion as bashing, then close your eyes. Or pointing out fallacies in anything. You wouldnt have likes Jesus much either. He really socked it to them at times. Catholics give jesus lip service but their heart is far from him. The catholic church has taught its faithfull to look elsewhere for grace. i dont blame the individual catholic person. Hail Mary full of grace. She was at one time. But she awaits resurection like most everyone else.But, some folks are suckered into worshiping her. That why the catholic church discourages reading the bible. Cause of all their unscriptural teaching

  • I note Wayne that you have not answered my question, but since you are an ignorant bigot I didn’t expect one, at least one that was intelligent.

  • “1. Where in the Bible is the Bodily Assumption of the Virgin taught?

    2. Where in the Bible does it say that we should pray to the Virgin Mary?”

    As to one Aidan, nowhere. It is an early tradition and belief of the Catholic Church. Catholics do not rely on Sola Scriptura. The Church created the New Testament and not the other way around.

    As to two Aidan, Catholics do not pray to Mary. We ask her to pray for us and to intercede for us with God. The Hail Mary prayer ends “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

  • I’ve always wondered why Protestants are so quick to denigrate Mary, to insist that she is no different from anybody else. She was chosen to be the mother of Jesus! And she accepted God’s will. That’s why we venerate her!

    As Donald says, we do not pray to her or consider her equal to God. If the Catholic view of Mary seems improper to Protestants, from the Catholic standpoint, the Protestant view of the mother of Jesus seems very disrepectful.

  • As a small child, I think I found Mary especially comforting. The thought of “God watching me” sometimes alarmed me (especially when I had been naughty). The thought of a kind, smiling lady praying for me in Heaven made me feel much better.

  • Where inside the Bible does it say “Bible”?

  • Wayne,

    You haven’t answered nor rebutted any of the questions we posed to you? Why is that?

  • Hi Donald and Tito, i had to go somewhere and just got back. Donald, very few, and i mean very few catholics stick their necks out and say that catholics wrote the new testament.I always thought it was written by people who knew jesus. yes, Paul knew Jesus. Now, in a mad atenpt to make the catholic church holy, you say the catholics wrote it.God used the early fathers of the church to put togeather a bible for us. He uses whom he will. Most people know that the catholic church didnt write the new test.cause it wasnt around.Well since then, the catholic church has shown the world what its about. It took up romes past time of killing christians. Directed from the Holy Office. HAHAHAHA. The catholic church uses holy names for its murderous offices. It even calls this pompus blasphemer Holy Father. And people are buying that.Lets see, what was that name Donald called me? ah yes, ignorant bigot. Well, at least i dont kiss the feet of idols and the rings of child molesters, and you wont catch me bowing down to a statue. but thanks anyway

  • Wayne, still no answer, at least not an intelligent one. You are obviously completely ignorant of early Church history. The Catholic Church is the Church founded by Christ. The New Testament is a product of the Catholic Church just as much as the current catechism is. The historical record is crystal clear. You can deny it all you wish but you are railing against stubborn historical facts. As for the rest of your hate filled screed, it merely testifies again that you are simply an ignorant bigot who knows nothing about the Catholic Church. We Catholics have a term for your chief affliction: invincible ignorance. Until you let go of your bitter hate and your stunning ignorance, you will be far from Christ indeed.

  • Wayne, it must be difficult to write posts by the faint light of a burning cross. I admire your talent in that regard.

  • Waiter! I’d like to send my troll back. He’s not very good.

  • Aidan, thanks for your polite & kinds tone… it’s much appreciated. I’d like to try to respond to a couple of your questions and comments.

    You asked about Mary’s assumption and about praying to her, and about finding both in Sacred Scripture. Most Catholic scholars today — including Pope Benedict — would say that while you cannot find every Catholic doctrine stated *explicitly* in Scripture, you can find all of them at least *implicitly*. Because Scripture is the Word of God, we will never completely exhaust our understanding of it and the way in which it all fits together… we’ve been spending 2000 years already mediating on the truths found therein, progressively growing in our understanding of the truths given definitely by Christ and His Apostles. That’s a general comment.

    You asked about praying to Mary; it’s crucial to understand that the prayers which Catholics direct to Mary are of a completely different kind than those we direct to God… adoration and worship are due to God alone, not to any creature, and so in no way are prayers to Mary those of adoration or worship. Rather, they are prayers seeking her intercession, and as such they are completely biblical: St. Paul directs us to pray for one another and to ask for one another’s prayers, and that’s what we do with Mary: we are asking her to pray for us. Just as it is right and good that I ask for the prayers of other Christian with me here on earth, so too is it right and good for me to ask prayers of those who are already with Jesus in heaven… as Jesus Himself said, God is the God of the living, not of the dead: those who have died in Christ are truly alive in Him now.

    Thoughts?

  • I second Dale’s last comment, btw.

  • Only a person with their head in the sand can think Christ started the catholic church. But Christ did tell us how to spot phonies. He said..” by their fruits shall ye know them” What are the fruits of the catholic church? Pogroms agaisnt Jews, the inquisition, the crusades(most cruel and barbarous), homosexual pedophiles by the truckloads,lesbian nuns wholesale, selling get out of hell tickets(only an ignorant catholic would buy), an army of subversives(jesuits), coverups of crimes by priests. These are just some of the fruits of the wonderfull catholic church. My girlfriend was born catholic and went K thru 12 in catholic school. She says that if anyone says catholics dont worship Mary is a damnned LIAR. Her words exactly. She got out of that snakepit called the catholic church, by the way.

  • Oh sorry, i forgot money laundering and drug running

  • Aidan!
    Thanks for the questions…quick answer…i hope this helps
    Bodily Assumption of Mary: nowhere does it state it explicitly…however we can infer.
    Elijah was assumed into heaven…why not the Mother of God?
    Also, Rev 12 “A great sign was seen in the heavens, a Woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet”
    Seems convincing to me. God bless bro!

  • In addition: Mary was the only person whom an Angel praised during a visit. Usually, in the presence of an Angel, men fall to their knees in fright thinking the Angel is God. however, the Angel praised Mary!
    How beautiful and true and fitting!

  • Can we please ignore Wayne and just pray for him? I know it hurts…but let’s ask for the grace to forgive him.

  • “Can we please ignore Wayne and just pray for him?”

    Good idea, Patrick. As is the idea to pray for the grace to forgive.

  • Dear Adian, Mary was not the mother of god. Mary was the mother of a man. Catholics love to say that the woman in revelations was Mary. they were taught that by their appologetics dept. Keep reading. It says she fled to the wilderness to hide. The catholic Mary is queen of heaven, not some chick hiding from the devil in the wilderness.Keep reading. The woman is he bride of christ. We, the saved, are the bride of christ.The 12 stars are the 12 tribes of Israel.Catholic theology is so shabby, only the blind believe it. Jesus said, “if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”

  • Pray for me to do what? For me to become catholic? Rite. I cant wait to get on my knees in front of a statue.

  • Chris,

    With regard to this:

    “you cannot find every Catholic doctrine stated *explicitly* in Scripture, you can find all of them at least *implicitly*.”

    I was listening to a Protestant minister on the radio not long ago talk about how the Trinity itself is an implicit doctrine.

    If they can accept that one, I don’t see why ones relating to Mary would be so difficult.

  • Hey Joe, you mean that the catholic church can twist scripture to fit any unbiblical idea they come up with.That protetant preacher you mentioned is more than likely unsaved, as is the case with 99.9% of protestant preachers.The trinity is all over the bible.And no, im not going to do any quotes. You catholic BIG THINKERS can find them for yourself.

  • Agreed, Joe: the implicit nature of something as basic as the Trinity is evident from divergent readings of the NT as found among JWs and Mormons.

    To be fair to Protestants, though, some of our doctrines are *more* implicit than others… the Assumption, for instance, isn’t *as* evident as praying to Mary (although Patrick quickly sketched some of those indications above).

    In any case, it’s definitely not a matter of us holding to beliefs which are completely extra-biblical, let alone contrary to Scripture.

  • I would like to note for anyone “silently” reading this comment thread that the best place to find out what the Catholic Church teaches is in her authoritative teaching documents. The next best place is Catholics who are well-versed in those teaching documents. I wouldn’t recommend placing *too* much value in the practices of those in primary or secondary Catholic schools as indicators of Catholic teaching.

  • “Pograms against Jews”

    On the contrary, the Popes have treated the Jews more fairly than any other government in history (comparatively speaking).

    “The Inquisition”

    All govenrments have arbitrary laws, in those days it was Christianity.
    These days, we have seemingly arbitrary laws that can land you in jail or worse.
    It’s just a matter of government not bearing the sword in vain.

    “The Crusades”

    If it weren’t for the Crusades, first of all, you wouldn’t have Christianity or the Bible other than maybe a modified version in Arabic.
    Plus, the first one had to be done to help halt the progress of the Turks (and to protect the Byzantine Rite).
    The Fourth was an embarassment and had none of the righteousness of the First.
    In the case of the Fourth, I would agree.

    “Homosexual pedophiles”

    This is a greatly trumped up charge.
    It is a propblem, but it isn’t even close to every priest, as your language (and attitude) implies.

    “Lesbian nuns”

    There are lesbian Protestants too.
    Some probably more devout than you.
    ‘Sorry.

    “Get out of hell tickets”

    Indulgences is too complicated to describe, so against the propaganda and caricature treament they have gotten in Protestant “reformation” history books, it can do nothing.
    Bigotry is a flood against the humble trickle or reason.

    “Jesuits”

    The worst Jesuit who ever lived is a better, more respectable man than the most virtuous Protestant martyr.
    Just sayin’…

    “Cover ups”

    Paul said keep litigations against fellow Christians within the Church.

    I’m sorry, I’ve just wasted both of our time writing this reply…

  • Charlie,

    A very good starting point in debunking and countering the baseless charges against the Catholic faith.

  • The worst Jesuit who ever lived is a better, more respectable man than the most virtuous Protestant martyr.

    Well, let’s not get too carried away…

  • “Pray for me to do what? For me to become catholic? Rite.”

    I’d say “learn how to spell,” but let’s not presume to seek the miraculous right away.

    On a related point, it’s time for the poisonous troll to get the hook. The angry Catholic-hating lesbian last week got banned a lot faster. We’ve long since passed the point of diminishing returns with this hateful subliterate. Boot him.

  • THE OTHER DAY I AM TALKING TO A ADVENTISTS PASTOR NATIVE OF HONDURAS AND HE TELLS ME IF I CAN PLEASE INTERPRET REV 13 I SAD TO HIM A TALKS IN A WAY ABOUT A WOMEN WHO PRETENDS TO BE MARRY AND HE SAD NO IT IS MARRY I SAD THE DESCRIPTION THAT IT GIVES IS MARRY BUT YOURE SUPOSE TO DEFENDER AND TAKE HER AWAY FROM THE RESTS OF THE CHAPTER HE DID NOT AGREE WITH ME I WANTED TO HIT HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH MY BIBLE BECAUSE HE ACUSE OF MISTERPRETATING BIBLE AND HE TOLD ME I WAS GOING TO BURN IN HELL FOR TAKING AWAY THINGS FROM THE BIBLE SO I SAD SO YOU AINT GOING TO BURN EVEN DO YOURE STANDING BEFORE GOD CALLING HIS MOTHER A HORE .HE SAD NO BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY WHO MARRY IS IN THE BIBLE I SAD BUT IF YOU WERE STANDING AT THE DOOR OF THE HOUSE OF JESUS YOU WOULD TELL HIM THAT HE SAD YES.

  • “The worst Jesuit…”

    Well let’s not get too carried away…

    Yes, you’re right, but it is a total nincompoop, a historical charlatan, an ignoramus, a liar, and a bogoted fool who knows about Jesuit history like the missions to India, the ferocious persecution in Japan, and the way their charitable work with Native Americans was cut off because of some paranoid hater threatening the Pope to abolish their Order; not to mention the wonderful kinds of men who were part of it (St. Francis Xavier, St. Ignatius Loyola): and yet condemns the Jesuits.
    Now they have truly been Christians, if anyone has.

  • If you’re referring to Wayne, Charlie, you’ll find me in broad agreement… he’s merely regurgitating the worst anti-Catholic propaganda out there.

    I’d propose that time spent attacking the Catholic Church is better spent in prayer, becoming more familiar with the Jesus whom Catholics supposedly don’t know.

  • Oh, sorry, Chris 🙂
    Should have been more clear.

  • Everyone,

    Thank you for your answers to my questions. I apologize for mis-representing the Hail Mary prayer. Chris, you asked for my thoughts. I do believe in Sola Scriptura, so I do not accept tradition as equal with Scripture. But, by the same token, I do not believe that faith in the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven is a doctrine that will damn a person, so I don’t like to dispute it too much. 🙂 As for praying to Mary, I do confess that it seems a dangerous doctrine. If one believes it as you do, then it causes no harm. But there are many who would twist it in their hearts and believe that they are praying to Mary for salvation. Many midevil doctors of theology fell into this error. I still disagree with both doctrines, but I thank you for illuminating them for me, and I still believe that Catholocism is a Christian religion.

    Wayne, it is true that Mary was not the mother of the Holy Trinity. But she WAS, in a very real sense, the mother of God the Son in His incarnation on earth. This (if I am not mistaken) is the Catholic teaching; not that she was the mother of God in heaven, but His mother on earth.

    I would like to point out, though, that while the Trinity IS implicitly spelled out in the New Testament, Scriptural support for it is far more concrete than, say, the intercession of the saints or the Assumption of Mary. But again, I believe that so long as a person throws themself at the feet of God the Holy Trinity and pleads His mercy rather than their works for salvation, that person is saved regardless of what other doctrines he may hold. The danger that Protestants see in these doctrines is: 1. We believe Sola Scriptura, and this does not allow them, and 2. Some unstable people might take them too far and worship Mary or the saints. But, while I must be clear in voicing my disagreement of these teachings, I must also say that I do not doubt the personal salvation of any who believe them, nor will I disagree in any manner but one of kindness and love.

    Wayne, you seem to be under the illusion that Protestantism is a united Church. It is not. Even on such elementary matters as Baptism, Communion, and the Election Protestants are divided. Does it follow, then, that only those people who accept EVERY doctrine of the Bible are saved? True, those who do not have all of biblical doctrine are missing out, so to speak, and God might, on Judgement Day, have something to say about it, but that is not for us to decide. And it is not for us to point to an individual and say, “You are not a Christian”. We do not know peoples’ hearts. We do not know if they truly believe or do not believe. There are Christians in every denomination of visible Christendom, and even in some denominations that are overtly anti-christian (i.e. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the LDS Church). You have every right to voice your disagreement, but please do so in a loving and respectful way. If you are not speaking the truth in love to either bring people to Christ or strengthen peoples’ faith in Him, then you are violating His very specific commands. Do not be like the Pharisees and think yourself preferred by God over someone else because you hold a specific doctrine or repudiate a certain teaching.

    I pray that God blesses everyone on this forum.

    Love in Christ,

    Aidan

  • P.S. Interpretations as to whom the woman of Revelation is differ. Some believe her to be Mary, some the Church, some the twelve tribes of Israel. I personally do not take a stance. I agree with Wayne, however, in saying that the saved are the bride of Christ.

  • Aidan I hope you will continue to visit and participate in the comboxes. You are just the type of questioner we like to have visit us.

  • Everyone,

    I know I’ve written a lot already, but a further reading of the forum prompted more comments.

    Wayne, you say that I would not have liked Jesus very much. Please do not insinuate that I have not devoted my heart and soul to my Lord and Savior. I have. I love Him with all of my being. But I am not Him. You are not Him. We must speak the truth, and we must do it directly, but we are not sinless and so cannot do all of the things that Christ did. And besides, am I not being clear as to my position? I have voiced my disagreement with the doctrines of Mary and others in Roman Catholocism. But I have done it (I hope and pray) with gentleness and respect and love (if I have not, please correct me that I might repent and ask the forgiveness of those on the forum). And look at what has happened. Though we disagree and though we have not met each other, the Catholic members of this forum and I have formed bonds of respect and honor towards each other. That is what we are supposed to do with all people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ. That is what Paul had in mind when he pled for unity in the church. Doctrinal unity, certainly, but above all unity of love and purpose. I remind you of St. John’s admonition in his first epistle that those who hate a brother or sister are not Christ’s. I am in no position to judge you, I simply ask that you pray about it.

    Donna, you say that you always thought of God as angry and Mary as smiling upon you. I confess that this view is precisely the kind of thing that Protestants fear regarding doctrines of Mary. For God is a loving God and is perfectly willing at all times to hear us, save us, protect us, dry out tears, pick us up when we fall, not because of our righteousness, but because of His love. So long as we repent and believe, He will wipe our guilt an d shame away. “Cast your cares upon the LORD, and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). I know that you know that already, and I do not wish to sound condescending or rude, but I felt like the Lord was tugging at me to affirm His love for you and all here.

    Another question: I was under the impression that the idea of the Roman bishop being the universal bishop was not formulated until the sixth or seventh century. Didn’t Jerome say that the title of ecumenical bishop was offered the Pope, but that he refused? Wasn’t Pope Gregory the first to exercise the authority of universal bishop? Curious as to your thoughts. My knowledge of the early Church Fathers is by no means absolute.

    Love in Christ,

    Aidan Clevinger

  • Thank you Mr. McClarey. I appreciate that more than you know.

  • Aidan: Well, that comment I made about Mary was certainly not meant to illustrate any profound theological insight. It was my recollection of how I viewed Mary when I was a child. I think many Catholics develop that emotional attachment to Mary, which is why it hurts on a gut level to see her treated with a lack of respect.

    I know that God is love. But the concept of God, a being that sees and knows all, can be overwhelming, particularly for a small child. Mary is there to affirm and reassure us that God is love and mercy, that He will forgive us. Not that Mary will forgive us – we know only God forgives sins. Asking her to pray for me was a great comfort as a child. But I did not believe, nor was I ever taught that she was a “goddess” or equal to God.

    I’m afraid I don’t have the theological sophistication of most of the posters here so I’m fumbling a bit while their reasoning is much clearer. But it’s a good thing to be asked why, exactly, do you believe as you do. So thanks, Aidan, as you have given me food for thought.

  • Aidan, first of all thank you for engaging us in such a wonderful, faith filled dialogue. I hope you continue to read and comment. As for your question on the rise of popes and papal authority. The Early Church had always recognized the authority of the Successor of Saint Peter. As early as 96 AD, the Church in Corinth wrote to Pope Clement on a theological controversy that had broken out in their city.

    This is particularly telling since they could have easily written to Saint John who was nearby. However, they wrote to Rome. Obviously being a pope was dangerous business, since once the Roman authorities found out who it was, they did their best to kill them. Almost all of the popes of the first two centuries died martyrs. There was a saying in the Early Church, I believe St Augustine used it as well when referring to controversies. He and others would simply say, “Rome has spoken,” which meant the matter was settled. Obviously, this didn’t completely stop heretics like Arius, but they knew they would incur the wrath of the faithful for their open rebellion.

    I realize this may not be taught in many Protestant seminaries or universities (liberal Catholic ones too.) However, rest assured Pope Gregory was not the first to exert his authority.

  • Everyone,

    Thanks again for your answers to all my questions. I can never promise complete agreement, but I can at least gain a greater understanding of the Catholic religion.

    Mr. Hartline, you reference St. Clement’s letter to the Corinthians, and say that they could have written to John. Wasn’t John the pastor of Ephesus? And at the time of the writing of 1 Clement, wasn’t he imprisoned/exiled on Patmos? I could most certainly be wrong about that, but I had always thought that at the time of Clement’s letter to the Corinthians John had been banished from Rome.

    I do not wish to seem as if I don’t trust your word, but I like to research things myself as well as hear informed people. Could you provide source documents in which the Roman bishop exercised ecumenical authority before Pope Gregory?

    Lastly, what is the biblical groundwork for the teaching of the Pope? I know Matthew 16:18-19, but beyond that I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with the arguments for papal supremacy.

    Thanks again for everyone’s answers. God bless you all!

    Love in Christ,

    Aidan

  • Aidan,

    Here’s a good start.

    The Jews have always had the tradition of a final authority on matters of faith (in this instance, Judaism).

    This is called the “Seat of Moses”. Which is a Jewish saying for explaining that the word is final on this particular matter.

    Some examples from the Holy Bible are from the Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 23:1-3…

    1 Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.

    “So practice and observe what they tell you.” Here Jesus is telling his followers to listen to the authority of Judaism and “practice and observe”.

    As you should know that the Holy Spirit guides the Church (or in your instance, how you interpret the Bible). Hence the Holy Spirit guides the “Seat of Peter”, which is the successor of the “Seat of Moses”.

    This is a continuation of the authority, or ex cathedra, from the seat, of Peter.

    We see this in the Old Testament in Numbers 7:89…

    89 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.

    Again in Leviticus ex cathedra is invoked in 16:2…

    2 and the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

    This final authority was promulgated by God Himself telling Moses in Exodus 25:17-22…

    17 Then you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

    Notice the description being used by God?

    The seat is built upon the Ark, which contains the Word of God, ie, the Ten Commandments.

    “I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”

    Speak with you. Him, God, The Holy Spirit speaks through men of authority, ex cathedra, ie, the Seat of Peter, ie, the Pope.

    Right smack in the Holy Bible.

    Note: Ex Cathedra is roughly translated “from the seat” or “from the chair” of Moses/Peter.

    The term “mercy seat” means chair or seat, it’s a vulgar German translation.

    Hope this helps.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Its only if you believe that the pope has authority. Or that the Holy Spirit guides the catholic church.

  • Thats only if you believe that authority is with the supposed seat of Peter. Mormons say they have the authority. So what do we do now? I say Jesus is the only authority

  • Wayne,

    Read the Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 16:19…

    19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    Or do you not believe what the Holy Bible says?

  • Tito,

    Thank you for the time and care that you took to answer. I offer my comments here:

    Tito, your research is very detailed and opened me up to Scriptural truths I was not formerly aware of. But the Bible does not ascribe this seat to St. Peter. Other than Christ’s reference to the Pharisees possessing the seat of Moses, I believe the only other reference to the Ark of the Covenant is in Revelation, where it is in Heaven with God.

    Isn’t this same authority given to Peter (I understand that the Greek word for “you” is singular in Matthew 16:19) later given to all the Apostles (John 20:21-23) and to all believers (Matthew 18:19-20)? Why, if Peter was the ecumenical bishop, did Paul not seek ordination from him (Galatians 1:16-17) and oppose him when he erred (Galatians 2:11-21)? And why did he say that that “all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas [Peter]”) (1 Corinthians 3:21-22).

    On Matthew 16:18-19; isn’t Christ elsewhere called the “rock”, and doesn’t Ephesians 2:20 say that the Church is build upon Christ and the apostles and prophets? According to this interpretation, the “rock” that Christ shall build His Church on is Peter’s confession of faith, not Peter himself.

    I have the quotation from Jerome: “If the question is concerning authority, the world is greater than the city. Wherever there has been a bishop, whether at Rome, or Eugubium, or Constantinople, or Rhegium, or Alexandria, he is of the same dignity and priesthood”

    Furthermore: “Gregory, writing to the patriarch at Alexandria, forbids that he be called universal bishop. And in the Records he says that in the Council of Chalcedon the primacy was offered to the
    bishop of Rome, but was not accepted.” (Quoted from Philip Melancthon’s Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope”)

    I again thank all here for their respect and attention to my questions, and I pray that God would be glorified through our discussions.

    Love in Christ,

    Aidan

  • Aidan,

    On Matthew 16:18-19; isn’t Christ elsewhere called the “rock”, and doesn’t Ephesians 2:20 say that the Church is build upon Christ and the apostles and prophets? According to this interpretation, the “rock” that Christ shall build His Church on is Peter’s confession of faith, not Peter himself.

    That is the crux of the issue between Catholics and Protestants.

    Protestants believe Jesus was referring to Peter’s faith, while Catholics know that it was referencing Peter and the Church.

    The problem arises in the old Greek. Which is a translation of Aramaic. In Aramaic it is clear that Jesus was speaking of Peter and the Church. But in old Greek it is a bit confusing because of the use of the word Kephas. Which can mean either a small rock or a large rock.

    In this case, in reading of the context of the passage, it is clear that, just as in Aramaic, that Jesus is referring to the Church. Not Peter’s faith.

    Only in English (maybe German and Dutch) do you see that Peter and Rock are distinct. But in any Latin language it is the same word, Peter for Petra and Rock for Petra. Spanish, Peter for Pedro and Rock for Piedra. See the similarities?

    As far as your other questions I will get back to you tomorrow on them.

    Ironically, I have Bible Study to lead tonight (I couldn’t find someone else to do it) so have a good evening!

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Aidan,

    One last thing before I go and return tomorrow…

    With the destruction of Jerusalem, which included the Temple, the seat of Moses was superseded by the Seat of Peter.

    Read the Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 16:19…

    19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    This is clearly a direct command from Jesus, the Son of God, telling Peter that he has given him authority to ‘bind’ and ‘loose’, meaning that it will be ‘bound’ and ‘loosed’ in Heaven as well. At minimum this reads as implicit authority, if not explicit authority (to remove debate on nuance).

    It only goes to Reason that Jesus was establishing a visible Church on earth with final authority.

    I’ll address the rest of your concerns and questions tomorrow, if our readers and/or my colleagues don’t get to it first!

    In Christ,

    Tito

  • Aidan, again it is a pleasure to have this congenial discussion with you. I for one hope it continues. I believe you wondered about my assertion concerning the letter to Pope Clement from Corinth. I believe St John had not yet been exiled, he still lived in Ephesus and Corinth is most certainly closer to Ephesus than Rome. However, the church in Corinth wanted a final answer and they knew that even though St John was an Apostle, he was still outranked by the hand picked Successor to Saint Peter in this case Pope Clement. Keep in mind that (Acts 1:20-26)the succession of Apostles was determined (May Another take his office) which is taken from the 69th Psalm. I believe the original version of the King James Bible even had the verse from Acts translated as “May another take his bishopric.”

    As far as the rock translation goes, it was never questioned until the time of the Reformation. Some Evangelicals had said that Jesus couldn’t be referring to Peter because in Hebrew rock is feminine. However, Jesus spoke Aramaic to his Apostles, not Hebrew or Greek. Judas was probably the only one who understood Hebrew or Greek.

    I say the following as charitably as I know how Aidan. However, it is difficult for many of us to understand how someone (like the Reformation leaders) can come 1,517 years (and often longer) after the fact and claim they know the true translation. It would as if in 3293 AD someone would come forth to say the American Revolution was not as we had been taught. Recently, I heard an Evangelical Preacher on the radio saying Catholics were getting all excited because an angel who appeared to Mary. The preacher said “So what angels have appeared to a lot of people.” True angels have appeared to a lot of people but never with the verse “Hail Full of Grace,” (the Greek “kecharitomene”) which is an extraordinary greeting never found in any other place in the Bible. Usally angels cause people to tremble, in this case it was angel who was being reverant.

    One more thing, as much as Martin Luther disagreed with the Church or some matters on others like the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary, his dissent was minor if at all. As a matter of fact I believe he said that if anyone didn’t believe in the Eucharist they weren’t Christian and a Crusade should be taken up against them. I do believe he was very ruthless to the point of torture or death to anyone he caught from the “Protestant” side who did not believe in the Eucharist, which I believe is why Munzer started his uprising against Luther and the civil authorities who supported him. Again, Aidan thank you for this wonderful dialogue. Please continue to post. God Bless!

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The Debate is about Authority

Tuesday, December 1, AD 2009

Witnessing the continued implosion of the Anglicans and the ELCA over matters of Christian morality, I am intrigued by the way present circumstances have inspired renewed consideration of tradition, authority and obedience.

As I wrote a few months ago (“On the troubles within the ELCA” American Catholic September 7, 2009): “What is interesting, at least from this Catholic perspective, is the extent to which the critics of recent decisions recognize the seeds of their present troubles woven into the very fabric of their tradition.”

In a recent post to First Things‘ “On the Square”, Rusty Reno described the crisis of those experiencing “the agony of mainline Protestantism” thus:

One either recommits oneself to the troubled world of mainline Protestantism with articulate criticisms, but also with a spirit of sacrifice, as he so powerfully evokes. Or one stumbles forward-who can see in advance by what uncertain steps?-and abandons oneself, not to “orthodoxy” or “true doctrine” or “good theology,” but to the tender care of Mother Church.

As Joe Carter (First Things) noted, as with the Anglicans, so a faction of Lutherans have chosen a third route — forming a new Lutheran church body separate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Meanwhile, it appears that the homosexuality debate is fanning faculty and student protests at Calvin College — the furor instigated by a memo reminding faculty that they were bound to the confessional documents of the Christian Reformed Church:

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  • It has always been about authority. Seems the Protestant seeds planted 500 years ago are starting to mature and will eventually choke itself off. Not that there won’t be Protestant denominations with us unitl the end of time. They may even become the most numerous. But eventually they will not resemble anything like Christianity. Heck, some are already unrecognizable as Christian.

  • Unitarians come to mind. Latter Day Saints. Just two off the top of my head that barely resemble Christianity at all.

John Adams and the Church of Rome

Thursday, October 15, AD 2009

John Adams, second President of these United States, was a man of very firm convictions.   Once he decided to support a cause, most notably American independence, nothing on this Earth could convince him to change his mind.  In regard to religion he was raised a Congregationalist.  Although described as a Unitarian, I find the evidence ambiguous in his writings and I suspect he remained at heart a fairly conventional Protestant.  As such he was unsympathetic to the Catholic faith by heredity, creed and conviction.  However, he did attend Mass on occasion, and his writings about these visits show attraction mixed with repulsion.

On October 9, 1774 Adams and George Washington attended a Catholic chapel in Philadelphia during the First Continental Congress.  He reported his thoughts about the visit to his wife and constant correspondent Abigail:

“This afternoon, led by Curiosity and good Company I strolled away to Mother Church, or rather Grandmother Church, I mean the Romish Chapel. Heard a good, short, moral Essay upon the Duty of Parents to their Children, founded in justice and Charity, to take care of their Interests temporal and spiritual.

This afternoon’s entertainment was to me most awful (Adams here means awe-inspiring and not the more colloquial use of the term common in our time.) and affecting. The poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood, their Pater Nosters and Ave Marias. Their holy water– their crossing themselves perpetually– their bowing to the name of Jesus wherever they hear it– their bowings, and kneelings, and genuflections before the altar. The dress of the priest was rich with lace– his pulpit was velvet and gold. The altar piece was very rich– little images and crucifixes about– wax candles lighted up. But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds.

The music consisting of an organ, and a Choir of singers, went all the afternoon, excepting sermon Time, and the Assembly chanted– most sweetly and exquisitely.

Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.”

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18 Responses to John Adams and the Church of Rome

  • Good stuff. I’ve heard similar sentiments from traditional conservative Protestants. Pomp has its fans. I’d love to see a return of the high and low Mass distinction. The high being a High TLM and the low being a Novus Novus Ordo (guitars, drums, and hand holding).

  • That is a very sound proposal restrained radical.

  • Note to restrainedradical: NO need not be guitars, drums and hand holding. To the contrary, in my experience, that isn’t that case at all. The Holy Father celebrated the NO when visiting the U.S. – was that as irreverent as you suggest?

  • In his description of the aesthetics of the Mass, are we sure Adams is reacting positively? If he is a man of New England prejudices, such things, even if “affecting” and able to “charm and bewitch” are negative. With a low opinion of humanity, the fact that it amazes him that Luther could succeed in leading people away from Catholicism isn’t necessarily praise for the Church – after all, the people were bewitched!

    Additional information on Adams and Catholicism can be found here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1990710/posts
    and here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/04/was-john-adams-an-anticatholic.html.

    In both those cases, Steven Waldman sees in Adams’s letter about the Philadelphia Mass nothing but criticism. I confess to being unsure on the topic; I originally read it that way, but my understanding of the word “awful” was based on the current conventional usage.

    One comment that I thought Don might be sympathetic too, if it were applied to the post Vatican II current of thought in the order, is Adams’s assessment of the Jesuits: “This Society has been a greater Calamity to Mankind than the French Revolution or Napoleans Despotism or Ideology. It has obstructed the Progress of Reformation and the Improvements of the human Mind in Society much longer and more fatally.”

  • Adams was a cross-grained personality Zach. He normally phrased a compliment within a criticism. Something he disliked like the Catholic Church received the full brunt of this habit. As to his comment about the Jesuits, it reminds me that Jesuits were banned from Massachusetts under penalty of death in 1647. Ah for the halcyon days when enemies of the Church were the ones ladling harsh criticism upon the Jesuits.

  • “I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.”

    Two words: Marty Haugen

    Of course it took a few centuries 🙂

  • Good stuff.

    In my opinion the NO (or Ordinary Form) can be celebrated reverently.

    But in my opinion because of the many NO Masses I have attended in my short life, I have never, ever seen a NO Mass done well or correctly. Until I came to the Anglican Use of the Latin Rite Mass and fell in love with this beautiful Liturgy.

  • Donald:

    This is the first time I’ve ever encountered such a relatively reverent portrayal of a vehemently anti-Catholic like Adams — and, quite ironically, from such a devout and respectable Catholic as yourself.

    While I myself may respect the man for his significance in our American history, other than that, I regard him with as much personal respect as I would a Cromwell or a Cranmer.

  • There’s a striking contrast in just a few of Adams’ paragraphs. First this:

    Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant.

    I doubt Adams considered himself simple and ignorant, but it sounds like he’s been charmed and bewitched a bit despite himself. Are only the simple and ignorant drawn to beauty?

    Before that, there’s this:

    But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds.

    He’s clearly disgusted by the crucifix. Not beautiful at all, in his eyes. I hear echoes of his horror in my Protestant New England mother’s thoughts about some of the more graphic imagery used by the Church.

    The beautiful and the grotesque together: Drawn to one and repulsed by the other, Adams doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of it…

    Nor does this guy:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/14/relics-saint-therese

    Many are drawn, but the teaching is hard, and they walk away.

  • “Adams doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of it.”

    True and tragic.

    “This is the first time I’ve ever encountered such a relatively reverent portrayal of a vehemently anti-Catholic like Adams — and, quite ironically, from such a devout and respectable Catholic as yourself.”

    Truth to tell e. I feel sorry for Mr. Adams. He grew up in an intensely anti-Catholic environment. Unfortunately for him no Road to Damascus experience occurred to him. However, his comments indicate to me that, in spite of himself, he felt on some level an attraction to the Church. He reminds me of the rich young man who walked away from Jesus after the young man learned the cost of discipleship. To embrace the Faith for Adams would have meant turning his back on everything that mattered to him: his Protestant faith, his heritage, his family and his education. I can be sympathetic for someone like Mr. Adams who lacks the light that guides us, especially when the antipathy he felt towards the Church, as far as I know, never tainted his actions as a public official. Adams always stood foursquare for freedom of religion, and in this country that is all Catholics have ever asked.

  • Donald:

    Well, I am appreciative at least of how your entry provides us a somewhat refreshingly different perspective from which to view Adams’ anti-Catholicism, however distasteful I find the man to be personally. Objectively speaking, the man is a great historical figure; yet, on a more intimate note, there remains much to be desired upon closer inspection, particularly regarding one fierce prejudice of his which he could not help but be explicit.

  • I agree with Donald. Adams was a man of his times and place and Massachusetts in the 18th century was clearly not Catholic-friendly. I believe it was only a generation before Adams that religious freedom was actually enacted in Massachusetts, except for those of the “Popish” faith.

    It would be hard to describe Adams as a Unitarian, since the Unitarians were not established as a denomination until about 50 years after Adams death.

    I recently read a book about the role of Sundays in both Britain and New England, including the time of Adams. Strict sabbatarians pretty much ruled in New England in those days. Their expectation was that you attended church services on Sunday essentially all day, which featured a sermon by the preacher that would be at least an hour in length. Very dour, you didn’t dare nod off, no smiling allowed on Sunday at any time or anywhere. The “competition” so to speak for how Sunday should be lived was “the Continent,” where the Church of Rome essentially said “go to church for an hour or so and then relax.” There was great resistence to such a slack observance of the sabbath, but, over time, the Catholic approach prevailed. I suspect that some of Adams’ reaction is based on his experience and assumption of how Sunday “should” be observed.

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  • Trust me, John Adams was not at all attracted to Roman Catholicism. On the contrary he was repulsed, if fascinated, by its lack of attention to the First Commandment, and its prosaic and pedestrian, if spare, use of English.

    If Cathilocs are truly interested, they must study the Pilgrims, the Puritans and those who spent blood and treasure to come here to establish a new country and a new covenant in order precisely to avoid the synergy of Church and State that was extant in their native countries of Europe.

  • Actually Irish Catholics who emigrated to this country had more than enough of state enforced Protestantism, so we Catholics have little to learn from the Pilgrims and Puritans on that score. Incidentally, the Puritans had nothing against an established Church as long as they ran it, as the period of their rule in Massachusetts amply indicates. As for Mr. Adams, his diary entries and letters speak for themselves.

  • It is strange to me that you people can’t see what he was saying when he says “I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell”.

    He wonders, is amazed, that Luther was ABLE to.

    He contemplates the pomp and stage work, the “glamour” of the artifice, notes the ignorant simple peoples not even comprehending the language the chants are in, and is amazed that Luther was able to break the spells hold. Part of the amazement was obviously at Luthers toolset, bland un-glossy reason to combat the pomp, and yet, successful !. Hence his wonder.

    When he says “Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant”, he means to damn the churches use of pomp and trickery as propaganda to fool the gullible.

  • Thank you for your strenuous efforts in pointing out the obvious Apteryx. Perhaps you could also explain why he kept coming back time and again. The disdain is there, but also wonder at the beauty of it all. Unlike many people, internet atheists for example, Adams was able to contemplate that he might be wrong:

    “yet, perhaps, I was rash and unreasonable, and that it is as much virtue and wisdom in them to adore, as in me to detest and despise.”

Thanks to the Young, the Tide is Still Turning Toward Catholicism

Thursday, October 8, AD 2009

All too often I hear the familiar refrain; “how can the tide be turning if the world seems to be increasingly at odds with the Church?”  The skeptics of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism refer to many newsworthy stories in their query of my thesis. They point to elected officials and government czars seemingly supportive of ideas that not only challenge the core of Catholic beliefs, but conventional societal beliefs about the family as well. The skeptics of my thesis point to the latest Hollywood Cause Célèbre which involves rallying around a man (famed Film Director Roman Polanski) who has admitted to raping a child of 13 when he was 45 years old. They also point to the outright mockery of the Catholic Church at the hands of the entertainment industry by those who believe the tide is turning in their direction. In addition, the skeptics of my thesis also point to stories that barely get any media attention such as an abortion clinic who prominently displayed a crucifix in their window with Jesus replaced on the cross by a chicken. Another sign in the window of the same abortion clinic read “no job too big or too small.” How could the tide be turning if this is what we see and don’t see on television news, the morning paper or on the internet they asked? Thankfully, there are many reasons that tide is turning, and we need to look no further than the young to understand why.

Keep in mind that while the tide is turning for the Church, it is turning in the wrong direction for for the world. The Church is the only one who can save the world and it is something which has already been done many times in history, which is why the enemies of the Church are so upset. If the enemies of religion would be as kind to us as they are toward the liberal mainline Protestant churches, one would have cause to be worried. However unlike the mainline Protestant churches, the Catholic Church’s numbers are not in a free fall and vocation numbers are on the increase.

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12 Responses to Thanks to the Young, the Tide is Still Turning Toward Catholicism

  • What a splendid hope-filled article. Thank you.

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  • Kudos on a masterpiece that Polanski can only wish to achieve. As Christ didn’t find the going to be anything but tough even though one would think his power would have made it otherwise, neither can we expect anything different. But we should look at how far Christianity has gone despite the setbacks along the way. And we know the tide will keep turning in our favor It has to if the promised victory at the end of the Bible is to be realized.

  • Amen Dave. As Bishop Chaput told those in Rome, in an editorial in an Italian magazine article, to those churchman who seemed to favor our President’s early rhetoric and his speech at ND, Free will today is valued more highly than life. Good to read your comments again and yes, the tide is truly turning. Take care and God Bless.

  • Regarding the Diocese of Rochester, last Monday the Catholic Courier (DOR’s diocesan newspaper) published a story publicly admitting what had been common knowledge locally: In a mere 8 years (i.e., from 2000 to 2008) the diocese had lost over 25% of its weekend Mass attendees.

    While diocesan leadership has blamed our decline in Mass attendance on what it terms a demographic shift (i.e., northern Catholics moving to the sun belt states), the bottom line is that DOR is losing Mass attendees 9 times faster than Catholics are leaving New York State.

    See http://www.catholiccourier.com/tmp1.cfm?nid=78&articleid=109508&cfid=4092824&cftoken=68817627

  • “and often residing in the rural parts of their dioceses”

    This is also true for our few seminarians in the Diocese of Rochester. Not one of the six was raised within the city of Rochester or its surrounding suburbs in Monroe County. Two are from Livonia, two from Elmira, one from Ontario county, and another has been residing here only a brief time since entering college. Perhaps this is a good thing, as our more liberal priests and lay Pastoral Administrators (laypeople or nuns who have full control over one or more parishes) are located within Monroe County.

    ~Dr. K

  • Dr. K. It was good to see that Elmira was listed in my old parish I left years ago ( and I do mean years ago ) Our current Bishop came from that city and there are still many othodox young people there. I remember Bishop Sheen when he did his best to create the right environment for all of us in the Diocese.

  • I believe it is a mistake to write of “Catholicism”, as though it is but another ISM. The Church and the sacraments are but the means to get us into heaven. As the Church teaches, you may go to Mass every day of your life and still fail.

    As the council fathers of Vatican II attempted to indicate, every person in the world is a potential Catholic. Being human is being almost a Catholic.

    Was it not one of the weaknesses of the Church in pre Vatican II days that it had – that its members had – too certain a sense of salvation? That it did not pay attention to Satan who roams the world seeking whom he many devour?

    The sudden rise of divorce, of contraception, of abortion demonstrated how weak were the defenses of Catholics against these temptations. And how too sure of themselves were our bishops, who even today do not “like” to bring up these subjects.

    These failed shepherds will have much to explain when called to give their accounts.

  • I hope my children or perhaps my grandchildren live to see that you are correct.

  • Dave,

    A fine start to your contribution on the American Catholic website.

    I do see these changes, but as Father Zuhlsdorf says, brick by brick.

    Lets be the change agents at each of our own parishes as we assist our churches to return reverence and orthodoxy with charity back!

  • Gabriel Austin asked, “Was it not one of the weaknesses of the Church in pre Vatican II days that it had – that its members had – too certain a sense of salvation?”

    As one who was raised in the pre-Vatican II days, including 16 years of Catholic education ending with a college diploma in 1965, I would have to answer in the negative.

    In my little corner of the world (upstate New York) we were all well aware of what mortal sin was, as well as its consequences.

    Our catechesis may have been overly legalistic at times, but it was not short on authentic Church teaching.

    That is just the opposite from what I see today in that same little corner of the world.

  • Mike writes Sunday, October 11, 2009 A.D. at 9:30 am
    “Gabriel Austin asked, “Was it not one of the weaknesses of the Church in pre Vatican II days that it had – that its members had – too certain a sense of salvation?”

    “As one who was raised in the pre-Vatican II days, including 16 years of Catholic education ending with a college diploma in 1965, I would have to answer in the negative.
    “In my little corner of the world (upstate New York) we were all well aware of what mortal sin was, as well as its consequences.
    “Our catechesis may have been overly legalistic at times, but it was not short on authentic Church teaching”.

    We were intellectually – superficially – aware of the catechism. But how deep did it sink?
    Perhaps you do not recall the [non] reception of Humanae Vitae. Encouraged by “theologians” bishops simply ignored it. It was too unpopular.

    The ferocity of Judy Brown’s work is due to her having been told by her parish priest that it was OK to use the pill. When she discovered that he lied, she became and remains furious.

    Bishop Shannon had the honesty to resign, without publicity, when he decided he could not accept Humanae Vitae.

    “That is just the opposite from what I see today in that same little corner of the world”.

    My point precisely. From overly “legalistic” to every man his own bishop, which is to say seeking excuses to do what we want to do, rather than what we ought to do.

    I harp on this because I see a misunderstanding of the work of the Church. It is not to create an institution; that institution exists and is protected. It is rather the tiresome business of getting each of us into heaven which is our future and not being overly concerned with the future on earth.

On the troubles within the ELCA

Monday, September 7, AD 2009

I attended a Lutheran (ELCA) college, where I majored in theology and philosophy. Much of my junior and senior year, however, were spent engaged in study of Catholic teaching (thanks to the fortunate discovery of Dorothy Day and Cardinal Ratzinger), culminating in my conversion.

In much the same manner as my familial background leads me, even as a convert, to take an interest in Mennonite affairs, I try to stay abreast of Lutheran matters and Lutheran-Catholic relations.

News of late has made for rather grim reading.

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12 Responses to On the troubles within the ELCA

  • Wonderfully put, Chris. Thank you for this.

  • I really feel for many Lutherans of the ELCA. I’ve met and known a few that would almost be indistinguishable from Catholics, yet seem embedded with their respective churches within the ELCA.

    It will be interesting to see the fall-out of this.

    You may be able to answer this for me, but isn’t the Missouri Synod the more orthodox of all the branches of Lutheranism in the United States?

  • I guess that would depend on who you asked! I’d give the distinction of being the most ‘orthodox’ Lutheran denomination to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church (WELS). I’m sure someone from the LCMS would have a different opinion.

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  • I was born and raised in the LCMS, and converted to the Catholic Church 6 yrs ago for all the reasons you talk about in your post. The LCMS has no more intrinsic resources to resist these issues than any other branch of Lutheranism, and will eventually succumb. As you point out, all this is a result of the very nature of protestantism.
    “The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age”–G. K. Chesterton

  • Speaking of Lutherans, as someone posted on Free Republic:

    The formation of the ELCA is what nudged Fr. Richard John Neuhaus into the Catholic Church. At the time, he said that the merger was not based on theological principle or belief, but was merely a material merger for material reasons—like a merger of Wal-Mart and K-Mart.

    Neuhaus said he had always viewed the Lutheran “Church” as the Lutheran “Movement” within the universal Church. After the formation of the ELCA, he could not maintain that view—of Lutheranism as a principle-based movement within the Church.

    While the characterization of “communion” or, better, “movement” can be useful, I find it more productive to use the phrase “separated religious order” for such ecclesial structures.

  • Sad. I hope Lutherans come to peace and prayerfully consider full communion.

  • Daniel – I see we share a similar concern. Welcome, and thank you for commenting. (Thank you everybody else as well).

    Carl Braaten is among those who emphasize the ‘catholicity’ of the Reformation (see The Catholicity of the Reformation) and what we have in common. My former teachers were of the same mind; one of them, Bishop Michael McDaniel (RIP) founded the ongoing Aquinas-Luther conference. He was also a good friend of Fr. Neuhaus. His memoirs — “ELCA Journeys: Personal Reflections on the Last Forty Years” — is a chronicle of the organization’s decline. I expect if McDaniel were alive today he’d have a few choice words for what was happening. 😉

    As Carl Braaten also observed in 2005, the ELCA has experienced something of a ‘brain drain’ with the sheer number of distinguished Lutheran scholars moving either to Eastern Orthodoxy or the Catholic Church. His anguished ‘open letter’ to Bishop Mark Hanson on the current state of the ELCA in 2005 is heart-breaking:

    … All of these colleagues have given candid explanations of their decisions to their families, colleagues, and friends. While the individuals involved have provided a variety of reasons, there is one thread that runs throughout the stories they tell. It is not merely the pull of Orthodoxy or Catholicism that enchants them, but also the push from the ELCA, as they witness with alarm the drift of their church into the morass of what some have called Liberal Protestantism. They are convinced that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has become just another liberal protestant denomination. Hence, they have decided that they can no longer be a part of that. Especially, they say, they are not willing to raise their children in a church that they believe has lost its moorings in the great tradition of evangelical (small e) and catholic (small c) orthodoxy (small o), which was at the heart of Luther’s reformatory teaching and the Lutheran Confessional Writings. They are saying that the Roman Catholic Church is now more hospitable to confessional Lutheran teaching than the church in which they were baptized and confirmed. Can this possibly be true?

    As Bratten acknowledges, a number of theologians have answered that question in the affirmative.

  • This is truly one of those issues of where the theological and institutional rubber meets the road. As a lifelong Catholic, I have always seen the wisdom of not merely relying on one’s own interpretation of the Bible as the sole compass for moral decisions. As the author says, “it finally comes down to who who has the authority to interpret and apply them in changing times.”

    However there is also the other side of the coin. The opposite of relativism is absolutism. Truth is not always best served by only one end of the spectrum. The opposite of libertarianism is authoritarianism. Authority is not always best served if it is concentrated at either extreme. We may revel in the elegance found in the authority of the Magisterium, but that authority, I believe, has been corrupted at times in history. Lutherans lost the good, but they also lost some of the bad (paying indulgences) and I don’t think the Magisterium was very helpful to Galileo or moral when killing heretics, so we need to be honest. As much as it pains me to say this, I think our constitution might not have been nearly as revolutionary or democratic if it had been more influenced by the Magisterium of the day.

    I may be wrong about this, but modern capitalism and limited government comes more from Protestant than Catholic traditions.

    That said I see the limitations of the solas, moral relativism and I look forward to learning more from the links that Christopher supplied, thank you!

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Religion in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2009

According to a recent study, the percentage of Americans who profess no religion has been increasing over the last 20 years:

The Catholic population of the United States has shifted away from the Northeast and towards the Southwest, while secularity continues to grow in strength in all regions of the country, according to a new study by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College. “The decline of Catholicism in the Northeast is nothing short of stunning,” said Barry Kosmin, a principal investigator for the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). “Thanks to immigration and natural increase among Latinos, California now has a higher proportion of Catholics than New England.”

In broad terms, ARIS 2008 found a consolidation and strengthening of shifts signaled in the 2001 survey. The percentage of Americans claiming no religion, which jumped from 8.2 in 1990 to 14.2 in 2001, has now increased to 15 percent. Given the estimated growth of the American adult population since the last census from 207 million to 228 million, that reflects an additional 4.7 million “Nones.” Northern New England has now taken over from the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country, with Vermont, at 34 percent “Nones,” leading all other states by a full 9 points.

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  • In regards to question 2), I think the immigration does in indeed mask a similar hemorrhaging of members from the Catholic Church. While I think there’s a solid core of faithful Catholics, I think it is much smaller than the numbers suggest. I think in the near future, we’ll see an even greater loss of membership as the realities of the Church teaching and governmental policy butt heads.

  • Ryan, I agree with you that we are very likely to see the Catholic faith tested in America by the exact mechanism you suggest. I pray that God will change people’s hearts and that all Catholics will open themselves to the truth. I fear that large percentages of Catholics will formally depart the Church in the next 20 years. It is hard to say how big the faithful core is or will be in the end. I think the core is stronger in Faith than given credit for, but in numbers? I find reasons for hope, but certainly seems likely that we could lose up to 90% of the self- identified Catholics.

  • Point #4 deserves further scrutiny. In period when political/economic elites avoids all things religious, will be not only greater estrangement from the faithful but legislation like that swatted down in Connecticut. Could extend to our nation’s largest fudge factory. Note all the DC insiders who frequent Sunday morning chat shows. Not likely they will slip away to their house of worship. Thus the estrangement showing up in broad scale following the Porkapalooza Bill. Might be presenting the ultimate dilemma- God or Gummint as Ultimate Source of All That Is True And Good.

  • That unbelief is plateauing while membership in most churches is fallen suggests to me that part of what we’re seeing is a failure of established churches to reach people with anything compelling. There can be a laziness and self absorbtion to people who are “religious but don’t belong to a church right now” but I think a fair amount of it is also that far too often one can go to a church for years (sadly this would seem to be as true of many Catholic parishes as of protestant churches) without getting much to hold you in the way of real teaching, and explanation of what life means other than “community” or compelling liturgy. And so people often drift away into their own home-grown, wishy washy religious belief combined with non-practice.

    I suspect it would take a significant cultural shift to break this paradigm, because while at the same time people drift away from churches because they’re not compelling, there’s also a strong cultural prejudice against evangelizing and judging — which precludes most of the compelling things that could be said.

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