Cardinal Kasper Debates John the Baptist

Saturday, August 29, AD 2015


John the Baptist:  For Herod himself had sent and apprehended John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her.

Cardinal Kasper:  Often pastors want to control human life. It’s clericalism.  They don’t trust people and therefore don’t respect the conscience of people.

John the Baptist:  For John said to Herod: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’ s wife.

Cardinal Kasper:  Of course, we have to give guidelines from the Gospel and remind people of the commandments of the Lord, but then we should trust that the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts and in the conscience of our people.

 John the Baptist:  But Herod the tetrarch, when he was reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done;  he added this also above all, and shut up John in prison.

Cardinal Kasper:  Therefore divorced and remarried people should find a good priest confessor who accompanies them for some time and if this second, civil marriage, is solid then the path of new orientation can end with a confession and absolution.  Absolution means admission to Holy Communion.  

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16 Responses to Cardinal Kasper Debates John the Baptist

  • There ain’t a dance out there by any girl that would make me promise half of anything let alone a kingdom.
    Herod must have been stoned and the Bible leaves us to discern it after many years. He was on his fifth goblet of Jack Daniels.
    On a more serious note, the Old Testament repeatedly promise long years of life for righteousness to old testament man as in:

    ” My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” Proverbs 3:1-2

    They were also promised no miscarriages in the Sinai Covenant. We are not so promised but are promised a cross. John the Baptist and others under the old law were exceptions and forerunners of the new promise…the cross in matters physical. Moses had full strength of body til he was 120 years old. I doubt any Christian ever had that.

  • ps
    Great contrapunctal contrast. John the Baptist was so non dialogic….so 29 AD….so locust and wild honey.

  • Brilliant. Thanks be to God.

  • I wonder if John the Baptist was being judgmental, the anathema of today’s culture?
    What will Cardinal Kasper say when he finds himself standing beside King Herod in the next life?

  • +Kasper is clearly after money. I think everyone is aware of how the Church is funded in Germany and how big the Church bureaucracy is in Germany and how Germans are rapidly deserting the Church.

    +Marx and +Kasper’s scheme is to take Martin Luther’s approach. Hey, Lutherans and Catholics signed the Joint Declaration, and Lutherans remarry after divorce (this permitted by an ecclesiastical community founded by someone who invented Sola Scriptura and then ignored it when it came to divorce), so why not Catholics? +Kasper and +Marx likely remind the Vatican of how much of their funds come from Germany. So, the FFI gets slapped around, the likes of +Cupich get named to archdioceses and the Roman Pontiff badmouths free market economies – the same economies that enable Catholics of those countries to fund the Vatican (while downplaying the violence committed against Catholics by Muslims).

    Is it any wonder people leave the Church for evangelical pep rallies or for sleeping in on Sundays?

  • I told my 18 yrs of 9th grade CCD students, “you will never be able to say that no one ever taught the truths of the faith.” 1, 2, 5,6,7,8,9 commandments taught in depth, with a fun but serious view of the why’s. Which picked up the other 3 quite well. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

  • “Penguins Fan … Kasper is clearly after money…”

    Yep, 30 pieces of silver to be exact.

  • “bill bannon ….There ain’t a dance out there by any girl that would make me promise half of anything let alone a kingdom.”

    But, you ain’t never seen my grandma do the minuet?

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  • Is Kasper’s end-game merely divorce? I don’t think so.

    It strikes me that, if he can get the Church to declare Christ’s own words subject to interpretation, how much more so Paul’s?

    I suggest to you that the real target isn’t any particular rule but the concept of interpretation of scripture itself. He wants to say “ALL of scripture is subject to the evolution of social norms and must be interpreted in light of Man’s collective wisdom.” How else can one set aside the specific prohibitions against homosexual conduct that have been with the Church since her founding?

    No, I don’t think this is about divorce, it is about something far more important.

  • If Herod was indeed a king, he would have the sovereignty and knowledge of himself to rule instead of cowtowing to political correctness. And as far as his wife of sorts, Herod would have saved St. John for the sake of his sovereign personhood, and not have the man murdered because Herodious did not agree with John’s opinion. Neither one of them, herod and herodius, had any sense of Justice or Sovereignty. Some king, I might add, rotted to death in his tent.

  • Again:James 1: 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
    “to keep oneself unstained from the world” This is the crux of the environmental issues and the save the whales agenda. The only saving of creation that counts in the eyes of God are the orphans and widows. Sitting at Mass Sunday was St. James addressing Pope Francis’ visit to America, admonishing us all “to keep oneself unstained from the world” Relinquish Gaia, the whales, the fracking, the redistribution of wealth already addressed as that issue of religion and our relationship with God: “to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction.”

  • An oath to commit evil is not a valid oath. Oaths are promises to God.

  • David Spaulding,
    Precisely. Kasper wants to destroy the Faith, and he’s been pushing this stuff since the 60s, long before the Kirchensteuer was an issue. It’s comforting for many Catholics to think that this is merely about money for the German bishops, but that doesn’t explain why so many of Kasper’s allies come from countries where they have no such monetary incentives. The true explanation is more frightening: like many heretics in history, these men loath the Church and wish to see her destroyed.

The Chicago Way

Monday, December 1, AD 2014



The new Archbishop of Chicago has a long history of hostility to the pro-life movement.  Brian Williams at One Peter Five notes that he seems much happier with pro-abort politicians:


In a homily this past June, Monsignor Henry Kriegel (pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church in the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania) referenced an evening spent dining with the well connected Catholic blogger Rocco Palma of Whispers in the Loggia. Regarding the impending episcopal appointment in Chicago, Msgr. Kriegel said at the time:

“…(Palma) told us who’s going to be the next archbishop of Chicago; a position which will be filled in September. And if he’s correct, it’s going to be the beginning of a whole new style of episcopal leadership in the American Catholic Church, away from these bombastic, confrontational, counter-cultural bishops to bishops who are much more conciliatory and overflowing, as Francis says, with mercy.

On Sunday’s edition of Face the Nation, recently installed Archbishop Blasé Cupich demonstrated that Chicago is indeed being introduced to a new style of episcopal leadership. This was nowhere more evident than the archbishop’s response to host Norah O’Donnell’s question regarding pro-abortion politicians and the reception of Communion:

O’DONNELL: So, when you say we cannot politicize the communion rail, you would give communion to politicians, for instance, who support abortion rights.

CUPICH: I would not use the Eucharist or as they call it the communion rail as the place to have those discussions or way in which people would be either excluded from the life of the church. The Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion. It’s also a time of forgiveness of sins. So my hope would be that that grace would be instrumental in bringing people to the truth.

In other words, those who persist in mortal sin and public scandal through their continued political support of abortion should still receive the Eucharist. This very topic has been thoroughly addressed by canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters when discussing the specific case of U.S. Congresswoman and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

“Canon 915, as I and others have explained many times, is not about impositions on individual conscience, it’s about public consequences for public behavior. It’s about taking people at their word and acknowledging the character of their actions. It’s about not pretending that people don’t really mean what they repeatedly say and what they repeatedly do.


“As a canon lawyer, my view is that Nancy Pelosi deserves to be deprived of holy Communion as the just consequence of her public actions; as her fellow Catholic, my view is that Nancy Pelosi deservesto be deprived of holy Communion to bring home to her and to the wider faith community the gravity of her conduct and the need to avoid such conduct altogether or, that failing, at least to repent of it. Quickly.”

Go here to read the rest.  Here is the comment of Cupich on his recent meeting with Obama:

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16 Responses to The Chicago Way

  • Archbishop Cupich is simply wrong that the Eucharist is an ” opportunity for grace “. It is an opportunity for an
    increase of sanctifying grace which sanctifying grace is presumed beforehand and is a requirement preceding the Eucharist and obtained if need be by Confession. To make a long story short, Paul in II Cor.5 said to ” expel the wicked man from your midst” in the case of the incestuous man. The early Church excommunicated for bad physical behaviour. The modern Church does not… except latae sententiae for abortion physical participants. Mental participants like pols e.g. Cuomo get off scot free. At some point the Church switched to excommunicating in ecclesiastical court not for moral theology errors ( Curran was only dechaired from teaching) and physical manifest sins….but….for heresies of de fide dogma in written form mainly. You can march in a pro choice parade without repercussions ( the Biden family) but are excommunicated if you write error about the Trinity….but few are so theological as to do the latter.

  • +Cupich’s words are the same in substance to +Wuerl. +Wuerl approved of giving Communion to abortionist John FARC Kerry, whose wife inherited her late husband John Heinz’ property around Pittsburgh. BTW, Teresa Kerry’s sons are as crazy as she is and are nothing like their father. +Wuerl said he would not use Communion as a “weapon”. This means +Wuerl will not confront abortionists.

    I reiterate Dale Price’s admonishment. If you like your bishop, pray for him. You may get clobbered by the Wuerlwind and get stuck with a +Cupich wannabe yourself. I fear for the good priests at St. John Cantius in Chicago.

    The most recent issue of Catholic Extension, which is based in Chicago, extols +Cupich. It made me nauseous.

  • St Paul to Pukich – er Cupich:
    27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 1st Corinthians 11
    PS, does Pukich care any for the unborn Mexican immigrant babies who will be murdered under the policies and programs of Barack Hussein Obama?

  • Well, as someone commented a few weeks ago, Cardinal George can take comfort that his immediate successor, anyway, is unlikely to end his life in jail.

  • The Immaculate Conception is Mary’s perfect innocence from the very first moment of her existence. Due process of law is a constitutional guarantee to every person from the very first moment of his existence.
    If +Cupich refuses to believe that Mary’s soul was immaculately conceived from the very first moment of her existence, then +Cupich is a heretic. If +Cupich refuses to accept that every person is entitled to constitutional due process of law, that children may not be put to death for the crimes and sins of their parents, then +Cupich is a traitor, a tyrant and a murderer.

  • I’m convinced the humble Argentinian is punishment
    from God for the many Catholics who have rejected the
    teachings of the Church and for the many Catholics who
    have taken the Eucharist unworthily.

    It is obvious Cupich and the great modernizer have lost
    their Catholic faith for popular pagan ideals.

  • Luke 17:14 – 17
    The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.
    The law and the prophets lasted until John; but from then on the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone who enters does so with violence. It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest part of a letter of the law to become invalid. …”
    Proverbs Ch. 14:
    in v. 27 – The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that a man may avoid the snares of death.

    This all is a reminder of the ‘stiff-necked people’ .

  • The Southern Baptist Convention (the largest Protestant denomination in the country) in the 1980s and 1990s were in the middle of the same type of war that the Catholic Church is in now. Those who believe that scripture is inspired by God won the battle, however, it was barely won and there was a schism in their denomination where those who did not believe traditional Christian articles of faith s.a. Christ being virgin born, man being a sinner, man being given forgiveness/eternal life through Christs’ death, burial, and resurrection. Heck, they had atheists teaching in their seminaries as well, and missionaries who were teaching that Jesus did not rise from the dead! However, over several years, the battle was waged and prayed and fought–the liberals had to leave. The liberals tried to take away all of the assets of the SBC through the judicial system after attempting to gain control of the SBC through political means and losing. The atheist crowd finally had to separate and form their own separate denomination.

    My point is: keep praying and working.

  • When two or three are praying to end abortion, AB Cupich may not be there, but Jesus is. Guy McClung, San Antonio

  • Not a rhetorical question,
    Can you name one Catholic pro-abortion politician who renounced his wicked past and said it was from frequent, illicit reception of Holy Communion?

  • +Cupich: “The Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion. It’s also a time of forgiveness of sins.” Hard to square with 1 Cor 11:27-29 (“Whosoever eats and drinks unworthily drinks a judgment on himself..”) nor Ratzinger’s comments that “it is never licit to cooperate in moral evil.” Cupich does not allow himself to be engaged in open debate (as neither do most of his left-leaning robed ones) because his “thinking” would be shredded.

    Cupich does himself one better in his double-talk in his 11/30/14 interview with Nora O’Donnell on Face the Nation. The topic this time is Obama’s unconstitutional edict on immigration. This is precious:
    O’DONNELL: I noticed that you said the work of comprehensive immigration reform is not important because it is on my agenda, but because it is on God’s. What does that mean, God wants immigration reform?

    CUPICH: Well, it means that the aspirations that people have for better life for their children in which they are reaching out in hope as many people who have come to this country have. Those aspirations were placed in their heart by God. We have to attend to that. This is not just something that they’re wanting on their own, but God has always called us to a better life. Has always called us to experiencing how we can provide for our families in a better way. And I think that being a grandson of immigrants I feel that very deeply.

    Cupich avoids the fact that tens of thousands of legal immigrants already in the long process of admission under democratically-enacted laws have been treated with contempt by the Obama amnesty edict. Moreover, he, like Pope Francis, openly advocates the [questionable] end over the means — but that is OK, because the desires of THESE 5 million (ready 25-50 million when we are done with this) illegals are motivated by God. The desires of the rest of us to oppose this injustice, advisedly, are not. Even he seems to recognize the weakness of his claim, having to wrap himself in the banner of “being the grandchild of a [legal] immigrant.” Precious.

  • Later in the interview, +Cupich oh-so-clearly defines his stance on Catholic traditional marriage vs. gay marriage:

    O’DONNELL: “Same-sex marriage is now legal in 35 states with more battles in the courts in the coming months. What should the church say about same-sex marriage? Does it need to change at all?”

    CUPICH:” Well, I think in Washington State where I was bishop for the last four years there was a referendum on this very issue and I spoke very clearly about this. I said first of all that we cannot use this moment of public debate to say anything or do anything that would provoke violence against gay and lesbian people. We have to make sure that we’re not part of that and we would condemn that. At the same time it’s not just about gay marriage. It’s about whether or not we’re going to have statutes in our states that uphold and protect people who take the risk of bringing children into the world. People who as mothers and fathers coming together in their love, continue the human race.”

    O’DONNELL: “Pardon me, do you think gay parents can good parents?”

    CUPICH:” I think there are people not only who are gay but many single people are good parents. And I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the real issue is, should we have — should we continue to have legislation that supports, protects and upholds those people who take the risk of actually bringing children into the world and preserving the human race.”

    O’DONNELL:” I understand the church’s teaching, but just to be clear, so you do think there should be legislation to protect the parents who are bringing children in to the world and caring for them that are in same-sex relationships?”

    CUPICH: “Well, but no. I’m saying that the people who bring children in to the world are a man and a woman in their own love that bring children in the world.

    I do know that there are gay couples, there are others — grandparents, single people who adopt children, who maybe even have children not from the act of love, but to care for children in that way.

    And yes, I think that there has to be way in which we do support them. But I do think there is something unique about a man and woman coming together and bringing children in to the world, preserving the human race and providing that example as a mother and father, a male and female within a family that also deserves the state’s support and also protection.”
    O’Donnell had him on the ropes (“Do you think that gay parents can be good parents?” He mushed his way out of it by saying that marriage of a man and a woman is “unique”—but he doesnt dare define that uniqueness, of course. So, +Cupich’s position on marriage is perfectly clear to me, of course.

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  • Steve Phoenix – concerning “samesex marriage” -, I guess someone has to buy a copy of City of God for this Bishop. He appears not to fully grasp the underpinning of the long-held Church teachings on the use of the sex act.

  • “Blasé ” !! Yes

PopeWatch: Surprise

Wednesday, October 23, AD 2013



PopeWatch would suggest that a good rule to follow in regard to the pontificate is that the tea leaves may not be as easy to read as one would expect.  For example, it has been widely thought that Pope Francis is interested in allowing divorced and remarried Catholics whose prior marriage has not been annulled by the Church to receive Communion.  Based upon an article appearing today, that may not be the case.  Father Z gives us the details:


In tomorrow’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano there is a long essay (4000+ words) by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbp. Müller, on the hotly-debate issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.  (I haven’t checked it against the Italian yet.)

I mentioned that I had been hearing rumblings about a piece in L’O for a little while.  This seems to be it.

Müller opposes the various solutions that have been presented for the divorced and remarried.   This is not to say that the Prefect believes it impossible for the Church ultimately to find a solution to the dilemma.  Rejecting some proposed solutions is different from rejecting any possible solution.  (Please, those of you in Columbia Heights, don’t freak out when you read that and dash about like Chicken Little.  Theologians make distinctions.  Rejection of proposed solutions could be part of a process.)

At the core of Müller’s piece there seems to be a dismantling of all the arguments that depend mostly on “mercy” without the concomitant dimension of justice, the Lord’s own teaching, etc.

This is going to be spun by the left as the Bad Guy’s attempt to stop Francis.

Müller won’t be presented as the voice of reason.  No, he will be the Bad Guy.

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14 Responses to PopeWatch: Surprise

  • Guess I am not that impressed. It is not enough to simply restate that divorce and remarriage (sans declaration of nullity) is wrong/sinful, and then compounding the issue by taking Communion. There needs to be action–those who are promoting/allowing the taking of Communion by the divorced/remarried need to be shipped off to a monastery somewhere, under vows of silence so they may study the issue from the point of view of the Church, etc.

    Failure to enforce this will only result in what is currently happening with the contraception/sterilization/abortion issue–yes, we’ve had a couple of Encyclicals. We have study groups about them. We have various groups dedicated to teaching NFP, praying in front of abortion clinics and doing sidewalk counseling, post-abortion healing, etc. We also have Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, and the majority of Catholics who have no moral qualms about the use of contraception and sterilization, including those working in the medical field. Many young Catholics are supportive of gay/lesbian “marriage.”

    I’m actually quite sympathetic to the divorced/remarried. Truth be told, this is the one teaching of Christ that I’d like explained away, abandoned, dumped in the trash. Alas, it is a little difficult to do so since the words of Christ were crystal clear.

  • I may be missing something here, but this is my take on this new document. My guess is that this part of the document described by Sandro Magister will prove to be the exception that swallows the rule (there’s that ugly word “rule” again):

    “But Müller also recognizes that in a context like that of the present “invalid” marriages are very numerous.

    “Exactly as Pope Francis had noted, again on the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, when he recalled that his predecessor in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Quarracino, used to say: “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.”

    “But if null marriages are so great in number, how will the diocesan tribunals be able to examine all of them, juridically ascertaining their invalidity?

    “Müller does not pose this question explicitly in his document. However, he cites a 1998 article by Joseph Ratzinger republished in “L’Osservatore Romano” of November 30, 2011, in which the predecessor of Pope Francis explored the pros and cons of a hypothetical solution: the possible recourse to a decision in conscience to receive communion on the part of a divorced and remarried Catholic, in the event that the lack of recognition of the nullity of his previous marriage (on account of a sentence maintained to be erroneous or because of the difficulty of proving its nullity in the tribunal procedure) should contrast with his well-founded conviction that the marriage is objectively null.

    “It can be presumed that the synod of bishops of October 2014 – to which Pope Francis has entrusted the question – will examine precisely this “Ratzinger hypothesis” in order to innovate in this matter, albeit with the reaffirmation of the absolute indissolubility of marriage.”

    In short, the Church will reaffirm the absolute indissolubility of marriage, but will further liberalize the availability of declarations of nullity, as well as the so-called “inner forum” thing that Magister refers to as the “Ratzinger hypothesis”.

    And I’m not convinced that, at least in the short term, this isn’t the correct solution. We know we have at least a generation of poorly catechized Catholics who have gotten married for all sorts of reasons without a proper grounding in the Church’s teachings on marriage. Cardinal Quarracino was probably correct in his assessment that “… half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” Perhaps, in the short term, the Church should be more, for lack of a better word, liberal in its assumptions about how many marriages are in fact sacramentally invalid.

    However, the Church’s position going forward should be this:

    “Okay, going forward, now you’re on notice. To get married in the Church, you’re going to have to go through INTENSIVE catechetical training on the indisolubility of marriage. Converts are going to have to go through that same training as part of RCIA, and once they’re in the Church have their marriages convalidated in a Catholic marriage rite. After that, then we REALLY mean business that those marriages are FOREVER. No declarations of nullity will be granted except in the cases of obvious invalidity.”

  • It is a good essay. I’d be happier if it were linked on the Vatican website, or issued as an actual CDF Note of some kind. As a Vatican guy once said, “it’s not Denziger.”

    I’m inclined to agree with Jay, and say that the necessary medicine of mercy has to be coupled with a reinforcement of the indissoluble understanding. Marriage isn’t simply “One Man, One Woman.” It’s “One Man, One Woman, Forever.”

    Another area for fruitful examination involves cases of abandonment, and the Church needs to mandate a free annulment process.

  • What Dale said (especially the part about agreeing with me 😉 ). And I definitely agree on mandating a free annulment process. Some dioceses already do this – I know the Diocese of Richmond, for example, has a free process.

  • “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” –

    But, wasn’t that pretty much true at the time of Christ? Weren’t marriages pretty much arranged by the parents whether or not the couple (especially the girl/woman) in question really wanted it that way. And would they have had any knowledge “that it is forever”? If they had, would anyone have asked Christ about divorce/remarriage, which appears to have been pretty rampant at that time as well?

  • The annulment process is free in the Archdiocese of Detroit, too.

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  • So just what does all this stuff about “In sickness and in health, richer or poorer .. till death us do part etc” mean ? Or was that also changed after V II ? I remember being quite terrified by the undoubted permanence of the vows when we uttered those words but it gave us such confidence and trust.

    Are Marriage Vows made to be broken ? If so they are not vows, not promises, just empty phrases.

    Marriage is for life, a very short thinking session will lead you to that conclusion, so stop looking for chinks in the Church’s armour with all this muttering about annulment. Talk about the cost of the annulment process is a distraction. If the marriage fails irrevocably, that is it. You are apart and you sleep alone. Chastity reigns for the unmarried and the separated. Equally. Plus, if you are separated, there is always the chance of a reconciliation, a truly wonderful solution.

    OTH, proper, thorough preparation before entering marriage, with emphasis on zero contraception and the thrill and beauty and privilege of children is many years overdue. For a start, it should be explained from the pulpit and shown why it is such an aid to Heaven. It’s a fair guess that this particular sin is leading more people out of the Church than any other.

  • I want to affirm the “rule of thumb” offered by Donald at the very beginning of this article. I have stated in other posts that Pope Francis is very hard to categorize if one uses the oft used ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ ideologies-even if liberals in the media or even within the Church attempt to claim him. I am convinced of his rooted ness in the Gospel (which is the full teaching of the Catholic Church). I am also convinced that those Catholics who desire TLM have nothing to fear. This will be continued (point of fact, the Italians Bishops asked him to pull back on TLM and he refused)

    We are in a major paradigm shift in the history of the Church. The last shift took place when we moved from the Medieval Era to the Modern Era. That shift, resisted at first within the Church-the resulting in the breaking away of the Reformation (actually a reaction to the shift) and certain elements of the Humanist-Scientific forces (who were pushing forward at a rapid pace) eventually gave us the Tridentine Church. Today, however we are moving from the Modern to Post Modern era. Romano Guardini wrote of t his shift in his small but deep The End of the Modern World in 1950. I was at first stunned to see that the ‘end’ was perceived then and not in the more familiar 60’s. Vatican II, like the Council of Trent for its era, sought to enable the Church to continue in Her identity and mission for this new era.

    Each of the popes since VaticanII have attempted to serve and lead the Church further into this era. Blessed John Paul II needed to bring the initial years of ‘experimentation’ with an ethos of almost anything goes, to an end. He also needed to begin adjusting the Church to the new world wide politics emerging at the end of the Cold War. His gifts both pastoral and theological were extraordinary. Pope Benedict brought his theological gifts, especially on the Wor of God, to bear making the Revelation of God as first, foundational and central to the Church. Now Pope Francis seems to want to bring his own gifts to the mission of the Church both in evangelization and the pastoral aspect of the Church. His approach is more radical-rooted in the Catholic Tradition than many suspect.

    As we move further into this new historical context, we are going to witness older and seemingly more traditional approaches (I am not speaking here of TLM) lose their power to assist the Church in her mission. These traditional approaches are not the same as Tradition. Many are approaches that were considered to be novel and even radical at the beginning of the age of Trent.

    The whole pastoral work of the Church is going through a seemingly drastic evaluation, assessment and adjustments in order to further the mission of the Church-not change in Teachings but change in our response to our post modern world

  • “As we move further into this new historical context, we are going to witness older and seemingly more traditional approaches (I am not speaking here of TLM) lose their power to assist the Church in her mission. … Many are approaches that were considered to be novel and even radical at the beginning of the age of Trent.” – Botolph
    I wish I could approve of this optimism of Botolph, but a reading of a newly published pivotal book, The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten History, by Robert De Mattei, shows starkly that Vat2 definitively and deliberately broke with Catholic tradition. The debates and subsequent “anti-schematas” that became the 1st two Constitutions, On the LIturgy (Sacro.Concilium) and Dei Verbum, specifically were formulated as a break with the past, which is why there are all the trap doors in each of them. Augustin Bea, by emphasizing bibilicism alone, intended to completely supplant the long history of Church interpretative meaning and higher authority. With regard to SC (Liturgy), Cardinal Dopfner, Lienart and Leger specifically advocated “a modern liturgy that has meaning for modern man” (an actual quote) and abandonment of the traditional Catholic liturgy entirely. Dopfner actually had the temerity to assert that “the Roman Breviary … is not suitable for priests today, but were for a past time when priests had nothing to do but fill up their day with prayers.” —which was why Breviary of S Pius V, S Pius X, and S Charles Borromeo was thrown on the ash heap. In December 1962, John XXIII inscrutably placed Dopfner, Lienart and Suenens effectively in charge of the commission for guiding all the further documents of V2, with the predictable effect and outcome: a break with the past.

    So, whether it is with regard to any church disciplinary practice (divorce and re-marriage, priestly celibacy, even traditional marriage, and sacraments), Botolph, respectfully, is mistaken. This break represented by the time-bombs of Vatican II as others have called it, this break will continue to whirl madly out of control. One must go back and correct the damage. Read De Mattei’s book: it is an incontrovertible collection of fact.

  • For the sake of brevity as well as clarity, I am going to set aside discussion on the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which Steve Phoenix in referring to the radical traditionnalis Robert De Mattei declares broke with the received Tradition (as distinct from traditions) of the Church. I will simply state that the Catholic Church does not accept this hermeneutic of disruption-even in the much discussed area of the Sacred Liturgy.

    More specifically I want to direct our attention to the radical critique of thevDogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Notice the actual title of the document. It is considered and named to be Dogmatic. This means that as authoritative as the Constitution on the Liturgy and the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World are, the Constitutions on.Divine Revelation and.on the Church have been elevated further as Dogmatic

    For a second, let us look at this radical critique. It says that this dogmatic constitution on Divine Revellation has contradicted dogmatic teaching of the Church in her Sacred Tradition handed down by the College of Bishops in union with the Succesmsor Peter,, the Pope.. An Ecumenical Council is an extraordinary act of this College of Bishops in union with the pope, and authoritatively promulgated by the success mor of Peter at the time. Trent, Vatican I and Vaticam II all are Exumenical Counsils of the Church ( the latest examples of such precious gifts)

    The question remains can an Ecumenical Council in reality, substantially (rather than simply perceived or misunderstood) break with and/or contradict the received Tradition of the Church ? The answer is a resounding “NO”! If it could happen that means that Christ’s promise of the Spirit Paraclete and that gates of hell shall not prevail against thevChurch busily on Peter are empty. Does anyone really want to say that?

    Protestantism believes that the Spirit andonded the ‘institutional Church’ with the end of the New Testament era, or with the Constantinian era, Orthodoxy believes the last authoritative Council was Nicaeav II in 784 and it holds to the Tradition of the Church up until 1054 zealously. The Old Catholics would not accept Vatican I and broke away stating VaticanI was not guided bt the Spirit. Are we sadly seeing another breek in the Church caused bt those who see Vatican II as a radical break? The is that both the so called Progressives in. The Church and radical Traditionalists hold to this same hermeneutic of discontinuity pulling at the Church from the two extreme spectrums found in today’s Church

  • I guess persons like Botolph have a programmed function key for the word “radical” and perhaps also “radical traditionalist”: it permits them to negate facts more easily. But, Botolph, it would be best for you to read the monumental fact-gathering of Roberto de Mattei with an open-mind first—or at least just read it, you clearly havent—and you would learn something.

    You would learn that discontinuity is inherent in Vat2’s documents, such as in Sacro.Conc. (On the Liturgy), when the voting members by imposing a new liturgy contradicted both the Council of Constantinople and the Council of Trent, as well as the Code of Canon Law (1918 version, no. 1257), all 3 of which state only the Holy Father can change the Mass of the Catholic church—not even a dogmatic constitution. This is what is meant by a break in continuity. It would be good for you to know that the diaries of Congar, Schillebeeckx, and Rahner, and others, which are now available to us, show there was a deliberate and concerted effort to undermine the Holy See and the Magisterium and tradition, and to replace them all with a purely “biblical” and modern basis of “church”. It would be good for you to know the mind-sets of cardinals like Dopfner, who felt the Roman Breviary should be “discarded” (a quote), disregarded the destruction of Catholic unity that a shared prayer, just as the pre-1962 Mass, provided to the Catholic Church. When Max Thurian, a Protestant observer, asked if now he could “say” the Novus Ordo Mass, one of the periti emphatically affirmed, “Yes,”, a protestant minister can celebrate the same service. That was their goal, a rejection of the Mass of Trent and the ages, for a “modern liturgy for modern man”, according to Julius Dopfner.

    Nor would it be safe to take refuge in the validity of ecumenical councils — just for example, the 2nd Council of Ephesus, and an “ecumenical” council in its day, obviously we now call the “Robber Council” since it affirmed Monophysitism as “catholic” doctrine, in its time. We now know that councils have to be judged by history and St Vincent of Lerins’ rule, “what the Catholic Church has always taught in all places at all times.”

    Or, Botolph, I would be careful: because the argument of people like Kung and Rahner and Congar and their ilk was essentially that “ecumenical councils invalidate the need for a papacy completely.” That is part of the problem we are dealing with — the crippling non-intervention of John XXIII and Paul VI, even when they themselves observed the process of “auto-destruction” (Paul Vi’s own words).

    Finally, if you compare what deMattei’s research corroborates with Romano Amerio’s similar work (Amerio was reputedly the highest non-ordained Catholic peritus present @ Vat2), you see them both document a brazenly deliberate effort to break with the past.

  • Steve,

    It is indeed interesting that you state that my response is “programmed”. You have taken only those who see things with and after Vatican II as a discontinuity, as a disruption. Who is the programmed? You mention the Robber Council as an ecumenical council (at least for a time). At no time was that synod recognized by the pope this is the authority needed for a synod to be considered ecumenical and Catholic

    Where is the Catholic Church today? It is where the people gather with and under the authority of the bishops in full communion with the Pope, the Successor of Saint Peter

  • Botolph is in fact programmed in his auto-replies (and may have a programmed function key for the following: “radical traditionalist”, 2x’s; “radical critique,” 2x’s; use of “radical” 5x’s in about 200 words) because he demonizes information sources that trouble him (such as Roberto deMattei’s exhaustive history on Vat2, which he clearly has not bothered to read) and thinks he effectively dismisses them.

    To others who may want to know the truth, namely that Vat2 is discontinuous with Catholic tradition, let us just look at the argument that “dogma” was defined @ Vat2 (something Botolph believes). Yet Paul VI affirmed the opposite, “Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral.” (Paul VI, General Audience, August 6, 1975)

    Benedict XVI affirmed the same: :”The truth is that this particular Council (Vat2) defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council.” (Address to the Chilean Episcopal Conference, according to Il Sabato, 1988) JP2 repeated this same position (Angelus address, Oct. 27, 1985):
    “Pope John conceived this council as an eminently pastoral event,” i.e. not dogmatic.

    Let’s just look at Sacro. Conc (On the Liturgy): no where was the Traditional Latin Mass abolished in the text of SC—yet it was forbidden by Vat2! Even by its own document, SC contradicts Vatican II: the liturgy is to remain normatively Latin (no. 36), Gregorian chant is the proper musical form (no. 116), and the pipe organ is the normative liturgical instrument (no. 120). Is that the way the liturgy is celebrated in your parish each Sunday? If so, they must be “radical traditionalists?”

    The theological “experts” who advised the bishops and cardinals —Congar, Rahner, Kung, Chenu, others—quickly formed their own clandestine operations with deliberate efforts, well-documented now in their own personal diaries, to break with “ultramontanism” and in fact to contest the authority of the pope and place all authority in “a council of bishops” (see deMattei, The 2nd Vatican Council, an Unwritten Story).

    Card. Suenens exulted that Vat2 had become “1789 in the Church”, a new French Revolution and specifically a break with the past. Even then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented in 1988: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as part of the entire living tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest. (1988 address, Chilean Episcopal Conference).

    Yves Congar, one of the Vat2 periti, remarked with quiet satisfaction that “The Church has had, peacefully, its October revolution.” Schillebeeckx admitted, “We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.” Congar also affirmed that Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty is contrary to the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, saying: “It cannot be denied that the affirmation of religious liberty by Vatican II says materially something other than what the Syllabus if 1864 said…”

    Just look at the deliberate change (apparently by Weakland and Bugnini: see Weakland’s memoirs, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church”) of the words of institution of the Eucharist, “This is the cup of My blood…which will be shed for you and for all.” Again, Ratzinger had to change this back to its original wording (“for the many”) after nearly five decades of error in the Novus Ordo Mass. Why? Because Hans Urs Von Baltasar had influenced the conciliar members with his concept of universal salvation.

    So it is not my “radical” imagination, since even emeritus Pope Benedict agrees with me, that there was in fact a rupture with the past having occurred at Vat2 and there was a deliberate break with the continuous teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church.

PopeWatch: Frieburg

Thursday, October 10, AD 2013





And so it begins.  The diocese of Frieburg, Germany is first off the mark in implementing what I suspect will be called the “Franciscan Reforms” (whether such “reforms” are approved of by the Pope or not):

The Vatican warned bishops on Tuesday not to reform faster than Pope Francis, after a German diocese said that some divorced and remarried Catholics would now be allowed to receive communion and other sacraments.

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13 Responses to PopeWatch: Frieburg

  • “The archdiocese of Freiburg in Germany issued a guidebook on Monday for priests ministering to remarried Catholics that spelled out a way for them to express remorse for their failed first marriage and receive communion and other sacraments.”

    It is called an annulment or the vow to live as brother and sister. The problem with divorce is the broken vow. Now, to accept a liar’s vow is problematic. “Til death do us part” was changed into “til the death of the marriage do us part” which is not part of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. If Pope Francis accepts this secular excuse for adultery, the Pope will have excommunicated all of the faithful. I do not put any money in the collection unless the priest tells me something true about God. Thanks be to God, the newer priests are orthodox and faithful and I have beautiful priests.

  • I can just see that image of the lightning bolt that struck St. Peter’s … shining a flickering light on the pale faces of Mr and Mrs Luther.
    the Reformation seems to be advancing

  • This Is about distortion, fabrication, and omission.

    It is not reform.

    This is another denial of 2,000 years of Church teaching handed down to us from the Apostles who were personally baptized/instructed, in accordance with Christ’s promise, by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

    Mattew 19:3-9; Mark 10:1-12: The man unites with his wife and the two become one. What God has joined let no man put asunder. Christ states, “I tell you” that any man who divorces his wife for any reason other than infidelity/unchastity commits adultery if he marries some other woman.

    Or, it is, “That was then. This is now.” The modernist heresy: that objective truth teachings of the Church are not etrenal but may be altered to satisfy the whims succeeding ages/generations/social media.

    Because Evangelists Matthew and Mark were “suggesting” when they quoted Jesus regarding divorce/remarriage constituting adultery.

    “Maybe the greatest threat to the church is not heresy, not dissent, not secularism, not even moral relativism, but this sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms.” – Timothy Dolan

    Oh, what the . . . “The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” Ancient St. John Chrysostom

  • I suspect that the prohibition against divorce/remarriage/no-communion will be, in fact, upheld by the Church authorities, but on a practical level, totally ignored by pretty much everyone except a few die-hards. Rather like the whole contraception affair. The catechism and a few pro-lifers says its wrong, but pretty much everyone does it anyway, most catholic physicians prescribe it, NFP classes hard to find, and the bishop don’t want to deal with it.

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  • We’ll have to see how it goes, and it’ll be a while before anything is known. These synods prepare a report, but then the report has to be revised and issued by Rome. the 2012 synod’s document still hasn’t come out, so one assumes it’ll be a good long time before we see anything out of this one.

    Obviously, there’s really no wiggle room for the Church to change practice here. If someone has remarried outside the Church, he’s living in adultery and unless he seeks absolution and intends not to continue to commit adultery, he can’t receive the sacraments.

    Of course, as with so many other moral issues, a lot of rank and file Catholics ignore this and simply receive anyway, and many priests tacitly approve of such arrangements. I had an aunt who’s priest advised her to go get married in a Protestant ceremony rather than waiting for an in process annulment. That was twenty years ago, and nothing has changed since that I can see though some of the younger priests are more willing to actually teach what the Church teaches. That’s the big generation effect that we’re still only seeing the beginning of. In the modern world, there’s no reason for men who don’t believe what the Church teaches to become priests. So while the priests being ordained now are smaller in number, they seem to be in the main very solid compared to those we were getting in the post V2 period.

  • it is a sin to re marry but Jesus never did say that people were not allowed to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist…at least as far as I know….

  • This Pope will be the end of any truth in the Catholic Church. What IS the faithful to do now ? I’ve prayed and prayed but something in my spirit is fearful of this Pontiff.

  • “Even if analogous pastoral solutions have been proposed by a few Fathers of the Church and in some measure were practiced, nevertheless these never attained the consensus of the Fathers and in no way came to constitute the common doctrine of the Church nor to determine her discipline.”

    Especially in the East. This led to the rather curious wording used by the Council of Trent, “If any one says, that the Church has erred, in that she has taught, and does teach, in accordance with the evangelical and apostolical doctrine, that the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on account of the adultery of one of the married parties… let him be anathema.” (Sess XXIV c 7) In this way, they avoided anathematizing those Greek Fathers who had taught that marriage could be dissolved for adultery (and on other grounds, too), but who had not condemned the Latins for holding to the contrary opinion.

  • If this situation in Germany were something new, the responsibility could be placed at the feet of Pope Francis. However, while this particular German diocese has recently made this ‘pastoral decision’ (and already challenged by Francis’ Vatican to do nothing before the Extraordinary Synod), this is not a new problem for the Church nor caused by Pope Francis. It began in German dioceses in the 1990’s during the ministry of Blessed John Paul. It was this earlier ‘crisis’ that then Cardinal Ratzinger was addressing as head of the Congregation of the Faith.

    It arose once again in Austria during the ministry of Pope Benedict, led by the former Vicar General of Vienna.

    Marriage and family are fundamental theological givens. It has been researched and discovered that the way of cultures to non belief is by way of the breakdown of marriage and the family. The breakdown of marriage and family has long been happening and is not a recent phenomenon.

    The decision to make marriage and family (with the various pastoral questions arising from this-such as the real pastoral care of the divorced and remarried) I believe first arose within the conclave. This explains his mentioning of the issue in the plane interview after World Youth Day. Certainly it must have been discussed at the recent sessions of the Council of Cardinals (the G 8)

    What I find as very hopeful is that the upcoming synod is an Extraordinary Synod. The last Extraordinary Synod in 1985, under the headship of Blessed John Paul and the guidance of the then Cardinal Ratzinger, gave us the core issue of Vatican II: ” the Church as communion is the sacrament of salvation of the world” . It also gave a ” canonical” form to the 16 documents of the Council, with the four ( on Divine Revelation, on the Liturgy, on the Mystery of the Church, and on the Church in the modern world) as the four key texts that both ground and interpret the rest of the documents. Finally, the Extraordinary Synod called for the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is this Extraordinary Synod as well as the teachings of John Paul and Benedict that will really prevent the Church from the confusion and chaos of the 60’s and 70’s people rightly fear.

    Now a new Extraordinary Synod has been called on the subject of marriage and family. Have we not been attempting to remain faithful to Our Lord in the face of the sexual revolution, of vast social and cultural forces shaking both marriage and family life? This Extraordinary Synod will wrestle with these profound realities and give us, as did its predecessor, a firm foundation and sense of mission and direction.

  • Yeah, I think people need to beware of suddenly attributing every example of deviation within some parish or diocese to Pope Francis. We had exactly these same problems under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and we even saw people selectively quoting those popes to support what they were doing (as well as saying they were waiting for the ever-anticipated “liberal pope” to fix everything.)

    So the behavior on the ground is very much in continuity with what came before. Yes, some of these dissident Catholics are going to announce they’re fans of Francis, but they’re simply doing that as gloss to defend what they were already going.

    It’ll take a while to see if Francis’s style is causing drift in the levels of catechesis and obedience in the Church, but I certainly wouldn’t count on it at this point. Francis does a few things that make liberals happy, but I haven’t seen anything to suggest that he’s not himself quite sound. And we have a lot of things in place now (such as the new catechism) which serve as bulwarks against the kind of confusion that reigned during the 70s when people were running around claiming that everything had changed and there was little with which to rebut them.

  • I think it’s far more likely that Pope Francis is reacting to this — and in pretty quick fashion, for Rome — than that it has anything at all to do with Pope Francis.

    The danger is that, as in this post, people will look at these “reforms” and think they come from the pope and are okay.

  • “Everyone with opportunity to observe it knows that the Fuehrer can only with great difficulty order from above everything he intends to carry out sooner or later … it is the duty of every single person to attempt, in the spirit of the Fuehrer, to work towards him. Anyone making mistakes will come to notice it soon enough. But the one who works correctly towards the Fuehrer along his lines and towards his aims will in future as previously have the finest reward of one day suddenly attaining the legal confirmation of his work.”

    Werner Willikens, State Secretary in the Prussian Agriculture Ministry, 21 February 1934. Quoted in Ian Kershaw “Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris” (1998) p.529.

Catholic Advocacy of Torture: A Teaching Moment for the Catholic Bishops?

Thursday, February 11, AD 2010

Writing at Vox Nova, the author known as “Morning’s Minion” has published a post calling for consistency in the application of canon 915 — the denial of Holy Communion to those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin” — in this particular case, the public advocacy of abortion and torture. The post was occasioned by the recent appearance of Mark Thiessien on Raymond Arroyo’s “The World Over”, in which the duo lobbied vigorously in defense of waterboarding:

I think the analogy is clear. Arroyo and Thiessen are both Catholic public figures, and Arroyo in particular is a TV personality on a Catholic TV channel, making the scandal all the more grave. They are clearly “obstinately persevering” in support for an intrinsically evil act. Worse, they actually try to justify it on Catholic grounds. Thiessen has made it his life’s work to claim that some forms of torture are virtuous. Arroyo, again and again, invites defenders of torture onto his show, and instead of confronting them with clear Church teaching, voices his agreement. As [Archbishop Raymond] Burke says, this is “public conduct” that is gravely sinful. I would go further and argue that it is even more scandalous than support for legalized abortion. Most public supporters of abortion do not go on television extolling the great virtues of abortion for women and society. Their argument is more with how it should be treated under the law. But the Arroyo-Thiessen-Sirico cabal are (i) claiming to the faithful Catholics while (ii) making public pronouncements on the positive value of torture.

Catholic debate over torture (and/or what the Bush administration has termed “extreme interrogation”) has been going strong for several years now. It’s online manifestation initiated — to my recollection — with the publication of Mark Shea’s article in Crisis, “Toying with Evil: May a Catholic Advocate Torture?” and subsequent discussion at Amy Welborn’s, in March 2005. From time to time I’ve personally blogged on the various vollies and controversies between various camps as the debate has asserted itself, time and again, over half a decade (has it really been that long?)

That EWTN (“Eternal Word Television Network”) has hosted two explicit defenses of waterboarding — most recently by Thiessien, as well as Fr. Joseph Sirico of the Acton Institute, not to mention Q&A from Judy Brown of the American Life League questioning whether torture should be considered “intrinsically evil” — does not surprise me in the least. As I noted recently, there has been open dispute as to whether waterboarding constitutes torture from many prominent Catholics, including editor Deal Hudson, Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin, and Fr. Brian Harrison (in the pages of This Rock — the flagship publication of Catholic Answers, the largest largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the United States). [Note: Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a newcomer to the debate, has likewise made it known in the comments of this post where he stands on the matter].

Little wonder that a Pew Forum survey examining “the religious dimensions of the torture debate” found many white Roman Catholics, along with most frequent churchgoers, affirming that the use of torture against terrorists is “sometimes” or “often” justifiable.

With respect to abortion, readers may recall a number of opportune moments during the 2008 presidential elections when Catholic bishops were obliged to speak out, publicly, forcefully and collectively, in correction of blatantly false presentations of Catholic teaching on abortion by Nancy Pelosi and (then) Senator Joseph Biden.

There have been numerous missed “teaching moments” for our bishops and the Catholic Church on the matter of torture.

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294 Responses to Catholic Advocacy of Torture: A Teaching Moment for the Catholic Bishops?

  • I’ve been participating in the comments over on that thread, even though I strongly disagree w/ most of the commentary that appears on Vox Nova. In this case, Morning’s Minion is right, and I’ve told him as much. However, I’m not sure if he means what he says in terms of supporting the denial of communion to all who publicly dissent from key Catholic teachings on intrinsic evils, so perhaps I’m seen there as simply calling his bluff.

    I’m a tremendous supporter of EWTN, Mother Angelica, and the apostolates of the Franciscan friars, the Sisters, etc. there in Birmingham, and as such, it saddens me deeply to see Raymond Arroyo and some of his guests making excuses for torture. I’ve heard Thiessen on several different conservative radio and TV programs, and I know he’s hawking his new book, so I put zero confidence in his interpretation of Catholic teaching on the matter of torture. However, Fr. Sirico and Arroyo need to be far less cavalier about the torture issue in their presentation of it, even if they genuinely have doubts about whether waterboarding constitutes torture, which I believe they do. They need to recognize and state publicly that this is not an area where Catholic moral theology has stated in black-and-white terms that waterboarding is NOT torture, because it simply hasn’t been considered with such specificity yet.

    Christopher, I agree wholeheartedly with you that the Holy Father and others within the Magisterium must weigh in on this issue with clarity and efficiency (much like others have said on that Vox Nova thread), and it will put the matter to rest for a large majority of Catholics. As for MM’s suggestion that priests invoke current Canon law to withhold communion from dissenters on this issue, I support it, as long as it is also used in ALL areas where influential public Catholics dissent from clear Catholic teaching.

  • I have to wonder how the Battle of Tours in 732 or the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, both of which were fought against Islamic fascists, were ever won with this kind of attitude in the Church.

  • Denying communion to those who support the use of torture in certain circumstances would mean denying it to most of the popes who lived between circa 750 AD to 1871 AD. It is not politic perhaps to bring this up, but the attitude of the Church to the use of torture by lawful authority, either Church or State, did a 180 in the last century from previous praxis and teaching of the Church for a millennium.

  • Doesn’t anybody realize that there is a difference between the dismemberment and torturous murder of an innocent unborn baby, and the interrogation of a fanatical Jihaddist determined to maime and murder?

    There is no equivalency between the infanticide of the innocent unborn and the interrogation of the guilty Islamic fascist. None. Zero.

    But liberals just don’t get that.

  • I know MM is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, but I suspect his post is more about calling the bluff of denial-of-Communion Catholics. It will be interesting if he gets the moral consistency he’s seeking. If not, it’s a loss for the hard line bishops.

  • Paul

    It has nothing to do with “liberal” or “conservative.” It has to do with the fact that the Church has been guided to see torture as an intrinsic evil and a “non-negotiable.” And the killing and torture of innocents, which happens in war, is as evil as the killing and torture of innocents in the womb. Which is something many people like you forget — innocents destroyed are innocents destroyed.

  • Thank you, Henry. I’m as conservative as anyone and I’m disgusted that “conservativism” is being co-opted by the armchair Jack Bauers of the world. Since when is torture something the “good guys” do?

    Since when did “love thy neighbor” change to “except if they MIGHT have some useful information.. in that case, waterboard the shit out of them!”

    This is just more ammunition for the pro-choice Catholic excuse makers on the left.

  • I am not sure at all that we are at a point in the debate that it would lawful or right to deny communion to people that support waterboarding.

    Though people like to say it’s settled in fact there are some huge questions left and more questions on what torture is and what it is not. I am afraid a vote of the internet population is not going to do it. By design and as a general manner those Canon that punish are to be read narrowly.

    A denial of communion is a severe sanction and in a important debate that is in it infancy seems to be for the purpose of shutting up debate.

    TO the above parties that are mentioned I am pretty confident that they will heed the decree of their local Bishop on this matter unlike sadly many pro-abortion poltiticians

  • “There have been numerous missed “teaching moments” for our bishops and the Catholic Church on the matter of torture.”

    This could be perhaps that there are issues as to torture and enchanced interrogation that has not been dealt with and perhaps the Church recognizes has to be debated

  • Paul,

    Perhaps you were confused by the fact that both Christians and Muslims were involved, but Tours and Lepanto were battles, not interrogations. No one has attempted to argue that battles, when necessary, cannot be fought. And I think one would have to be rather deceived to claim that Tours and Lepanto were unnecessary.

  • On the topic in question: it seems fairly clear to me that MM is not actually calling for people to defend waterboarding to be denied communion, he’s calling for pro-abortion Catholics _not_ to be denied communion. For some time now he’s been accusing pro-lifers of seeking to politicize the Eucharist by supporting the denial of communion to pro-abortion politicians. It’s an argument from absurdity combined with some tu toque.

    In this regard, it seems to me that the argument lacks some crucial context. When bishops have, in rare circumstances, denied abortion to notorious abortion supporters, it has been after long years of the Church clearly denying that one may, as a Catholic, support legal abortion. It has also been after the individual politician is warned by the bishop that he/she must change his views lest he be denied communion. The denial of communion is, at that point, a response to repeated and stubborn refusal to accept correction.

    So in this case, an obvious first step (assuming that the Church does in fact consider the positions being taken by these people to be totally unacceptable) would be for some bishops to step forward, make it clear that these positions are morally unacceptable, and advise people that they must cease making these arguments lest they find themselves divided from the Church.

    As Chris says, this is clearly a potential teaching moment. I don’t myself agree with the arguments that folks like Thiessien are making — though I’m not ready to say with confidence that it’s impossible for Catholics to make such arguments in good conscience. (After all, there are arguments which I disagree with, such as that a majority Catholic state should not allow the open practice of dissenting religions, which Catholics are indeed allowed to make. Not all conclusions on important matters are handed to us on a silver platter in Catholicism, despite some of the accusations of our separated brethren.)

    What MM does not seem fully cognizant of, unless I’m much misreading his intention with his post, is that there is a difference in Church discipline on these two issues in that the Church has already made it clear that it considers dissent on the question of legal abortion to be something which, in notorious cases, can and should be disciplined through denial of communion. He may not like that, but there it is. It is not yet, however, clear whether the topic of waterboarding is something over which the Church considers it appropriate to ban people from communion for dissent. Certainly, the bishops could decide to make not advocating this a matter of obedience, as a few Southern bishops made complying with their orders to desegregate Catholic schools a matter of obedience, but this has not actually happened up until this point, and so I’m not clear how one gets to demand that they do so as a matter of consistency unless one imagines that one is in a better position to set Church teaching and discipline than the bishops themselves.

  • “he’s calling for pro-abortion Catholics _not_ to be denied communion.”

    No he is not.

  • Really? He’s certainly accused pro-lifers of using communion as a cudgel and those bishops who have denied communion to pro-abortion politicians as being political hacks.

    Wouldn’t that seem to imply that he doesn’t think people should be denied communion for supporting legal abortion?

    (My apologies, though, I appear to have mistakenly thought a comment was made by Henry that was my by someone else. I’ll make the correction.)

  • As far as I can see, we already have perfectly consistent application of Canon 915. It is virtually never applied.

    The bishops have consistently condemned both torture and abortion, and have done precious little against Catholic public figures who advocate either.

    There is, of course, the little matter that torture is illegal and abortion is a right, and the attendant fact that 1.5 million abortions are performed in the U.S. each year, while comparatively very few (if any) prisoners are tortured (depending on your definition of what exactly constitutes torture, a question which MM settled long ago, but which much of the rest of the country is still debating).

    The simple fact remains that, over at VN, not only torture but SUVs, poverty, and _every other issue_ trumps abortion when it comes time to take action, with the result that no positive action can ever be taken. And that’s why life is too short to read Vox Nova.

  • DC

    You are confusing so many issues, which is the problem. For example, the desire to say “anyone who voted for Obama is pro-abortion and therefore should be denied communion” is wrong, and yet that is the kind of cudgel many who call themselves pro-life have tried to use. There is a big difference between denying communion to people who really are pro-abortion than denying people who cooperate with the American political system and vote for someone despite their abortion stand. But he is also pointing out that the canon law being used can be applied to all kinds of moral outrages, and yet the same people are not interested in applying it universally. That is not the same as your claim.

  • How about this question. Is any use of force licit in interrogation?

  • Henry,

    I think you may be equivocating. One may directly kill an innocent in war. But this may also be an example of double effect where one can anticipate that innocents may be killed while justly stopping an aggressor. Thus the first would be immoral but the second would be licit given proportionate reasons. Abortion never is licit.

  • “How about this question. Is any use of force licit in interrogation?”

    Those are questions that must be asked as well as other components of enhanced interrogation.

    That is one reason why I think there is not a lot of basis in denying communion to people where the issues are in such flux. There is going to have be a serious moral debate on many issues.

    When does discomfort become torture? I have seen torture defined as to the extreme of burning hot coals to the other extreme that 24 hours of sleep deprivation could be torture

  • Right or wrong, I don’t expect the defense of torture to be widely held as cause for the denial of communion because, as Darwin and Christopher note, there hasn’t been a clear history of bishops loudly proclaiming that Catholics cannot in good conscience support torture. The current torture debate is fairly new. Perhaps a few decades down the road, when and if we have a long train of teaching moments to reference, we’ll see the canon law in question applied to advocates of torture. Nevertheless, Morning’s Minion has a valid point about its inconsistent application, even if his point has as of now heavier theoretical weight than practical weight.

  • When does discomfort become torture?

    I wouldn’t distinguish discomfort from torture by reference to the degree of pain, which doesn’t get us very far, but by the intended effect of the pain/discomfort. Torture is the use of physical or mental pain to coerce the will to the point where the will itself is undermined and rendered powerless. This use of pain is different than the use of pain to motivate the will or persuade a prisoner to will what the interrogators want him to will.

  • “For example, the desire to say “anyone who voted for Obama is pro-abortion and therefore should be denied communion” is wrong, and yet that is the kind of cudgel many who call themselves pro-life have tried to use.”

    I think that is a rather extreme postione and I ma not sure at all that many people who wish the Bishops to tough up on abortion for example would advocate that. I should be noted that when Kmiec was denied communion by one Priest there was quite a reaction from many Catholic pro-lifers on many fronts that said that was wrong.

    “But he is also pointing out that the canon law being used can be applied to all kinds of moral outrages, and yet the same people are not interested in applying it universally. That is not the same as your claim.”

    While this is a fine debating tactic but I am not sure it gets it very far. Painting a nightmare picture of the Canon Law Provison in dispute as running possibily amuck is quite different in wanting the Law to applied correctly.

  • “How about this question. Is any use of force licit in interrogation?”

    My own view is absolutely not. Any physical coercion of a prisoner beyond what is necessary to restrain, confine, or move said prisoner should be off limits. Interrogation should involve asking questions, not exerting physical pressure.

    I mean, that seems like the sort of basic and obvious definition of torture (at least obvious to me): you can’t coerce answers from a prisoner by physically violating that person’s bodily integrity.

    Now, I am less certain about what psychological means may be brought to bear in getting answers from a prisoner. To the extent there is going to be any debate over appropriate interrogation techniques, in my view it should fall into the realm of which psychological techniques are appropriate. As a baseline, though, I think that any physical coercion is morally problematic.

  • Karlson,

    You have advocated ignoring the abortion funding in the healthcare bill and have gone into full pro-life assualt since the bill now appears to be dead. Your protestations about pro-torture Catholics, regardless of their merits, are self serving.

    The real problem with the Vox Nova folks (MM, HK, MI) is that they have continued to ignore the pro-abortion zealotry that killed the healthcare bill. They are now lashing out in all directions. This pro-torture bashing is little more than fuming (regardless of the merits).

  • In my answer above, I don’t mean to imply that torture is only physical and not psychological. Clearly, as Kyle points out, there is also psychological torture that can cause mental pain and anquish.

  • Kyle,

    One question I have with that is there does not seem to be an absolute freedom of will to do whatever it wants. There are limits the state can place upon the will.

    That then leads back to my first question.

  • “One question I have with that is there does not seem to be an absolute freedom of will to do whatever it wants. There are limits the state can place upon the will.

    That then leads back to my first question.”

    There is also a question of the difference between BREAKING THE WILL and Reforming the Will which I suppose are two differnt things

  • Pingback: Catholic Advocacy of Torture: A Teaching Moment for the Catholic Bishops? » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog
  • One other thing should be noted here. A lot of people are not just engaging this with a poltical viewpoint which seems to a subtone of many of these debates as we are looking into motives

    For many of us there is a obligation to have a coherent view on this issue that takes in all scripture all Church tradition and all Church teaching. Not just what has been said in the last 100 years.

    It all has to fit together and it is a important task as we engage other Christians from other other faith communities and non Christians.

    The Church and scripture have never endorsed abortion. Scripture, tradition, and Church teaching is not so clear cut on all the aspects of the torture. enhanced interrogation debate where one could say it is so OBVIOUS.

    That has been one of the frustrating things about this debate is much of it is seen through a purely political lens.

    Why that might be great as we compare the various faults of the Bush and Obama administrations it is not very helpful when a Non Catholic confronts me with verses from Sirach or other teachings.

    It must fit all together some how.

  • Jay read my mind!

  • If it were up to MM, cap-and-trade opponents would incur latae sententiae excommunication.

    I agree that this is a teaching moment but I don’t think the bishops know what to teach.

    Bishop: Torture is evil.
    Congregant: What’s torture?
    Bishop: Sticking a baton up the ass would be torture.
    Congregant: Obviously but what about waterboarding?
    Bishop: [crickets chirp]

    Personally, I’d rule out all physical and psychological harm, beyond what is necessary to restrain, for a purpose extrinsic to the individual.

  • I suspect the bishops will say that waterboarding is torture. They will of course need to have a strong, reasoned response to do so.

  • I agree that anything causing psychological harm should be ruled out. But, in my view, there is more room for debating what causes psychological “harm” than there is when we’re talking about physical coercion.

    Here’s what I mean by psychological means of extracting information are less clear cut:

    * Is good-cop/bad-cop torture?
    * Is lying – for example, telling Prisoner B that Prisoner A has spilled the beans and fingered Prisoner B as the mastermind when Prisoner A has done nothing of the sort – torture? (Such a tactic may be morally problematic apart from the question of torture.)
    * What about other mind games that play on the emotions of the person being interrogated but that arguably don’t cause psychological harm?

    It could be that, in context, any or all of those may constitute torture. But that’s the point. In contrast to physical coercion, which, in my opinion, is ALWAYS torture, the examples above may or may not be torture depending on the circumstances.

  • Phillip,

    The state can legitimately limit what one is able to will, but it may not licitly rob him of his core capacity to will. It may imprison a man, thereby preventing him from acting as free people do, but it may not render a man a mere puppet incapable of making moral decisions. The man tortured into action is a man made less than a man, a man rendered incapable of free choices, and therefore incapable of virtue. The sin of torture has much to do with pain, of course, but it has, in my opinion, more to do with what it does to the core personal selfhood of the one tortured. Torture uses pain to make a person act precisely not as a person, but as an instrument of the torturer.

  • I suspect imprisoning does rob him of his will but not of his conscience. He may continue to believe what he wants but cannot act (will) it. For example an imprisoned murderer may continue to wish to kill another but cannot act on his conscience which tells him its okay.


  • I think the way I’m using the word “will” is somewhat close to how you’re using the word “conscience.” I’m using “will” in reference to the power of the person to make free, moral decisions. An imprisoned man still has that power, even if he cannot exercise it toward the ends he wishes. He may not be able to will what he wants, but he can still will. The coerced person, however, can neither will what he wants to really will at all. He acts involuntarily.

  • It seems the state does have the right to stop some consciences from acting as they will. From Dignitatis Humanae:

    “7. The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. In the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. Men are to deal with their fellows in justice and civility.

    Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality.

    These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary.”

    It seems there can be restraint on conscience at some level.

  • Equivalency bewteen abortion and torture?

    I don’t think there is necessarily an equivalence, nor that anyone is making such an equivalence. Both are evil, and intrinsically so. I do agree abortion is more evil in many respects, but that really doesn’t seem to be the point. Rape and adultery are both evil, and a strong argument can be made that rape is worse. That doesn’t lessen the evil of adultery one iota.

  • Phillip,

    I read the passage you cite as saying the state can curtail freedom in the sense that it can prevent or prohibit a person from willing certain actions, but I don’t see that it anywhere says the state may render a person fundamentally incapable of willing or attack the power to will. The limits allowed to be placed by the state are limits on what can be willed, not on the power to will itself. I don’t see how the Church could ever advocate limits on the latter, for it would be advocating putting people into conditions that violate their core personhood by making them incapable not only of evil, but of real goodness as well.

  • True, but what can the state do if some, in good conscience continue to act against the common good.

  • Again, limits on not so much as willed, but one in conscience can be held. We already acknowledge we can stop the will from acting.

  • Philip

    Double-effect does not take place the way you think it does. There are many more rules to war than “it’s war” to justify double effect. And even then the evil is the same, the issue is not the evil, but the guilt.

    And this goes into Colin’s claim.

    Colin: many people have shown you that the claims are outright wrong about abortion in the health care bill. But let’s say more abortions will happen because people are given better health care. That IS double effect going on right there. Increase of health care is itself a good, and to intend that without intending more abortion, but having more abortion happen as a result, is exactly double effect.

  • I’m not sure I understand the last question.

  • Henry,

    Perhaps. This is the way I understand it. Let’s say there is a tank that is a threat. There is also a civilian nearby. One can drop a bomb on the tank, anticipating that the civilian will be killed by the blast. What is directly intended is the destruction of a threat. What is not directly intended is the killing of a civilian. Nor does the destruction of the tank come as a result of the killing of the civilian Not direct killing so not morally illicit. That’s my understanding of double effect in war.

    This to contrast with dropping a bomb on civilians because they’re the damn enemy. Direct killing of innocents and thus immoral. In the same category as abortion.

  • Kyle,

    Perhaps because I have worded poorly. It seems to me (and I could be incorrect) that what one reasons is a good is distinct from what one wills to do. It seems to be that the state may do a great many things to stop the will from acting. It seems the state may even drop a bomb on a tank that is unjustly invading one’s land. This with the implicit reality that one will kill the occupants of the tank who are willing it to invade. This in contrast to the assertion that the state may never force the conscience of a person.

    It seems the state can do a great many things to limit the will. The question is can the state do anything to limit the conscience and if so to what degree.

  • A number of responses to the post and comments:

    (1) I actuallly agree that the Pelosi comparison was apt – in each case, a person self-identifying as a faithful Catholic, attempted to defend a position which simply cannot be defended.

    (2) Despite Christopher’s assertion to the contrary, there is no real debate about whether waterboarding constitutes torture. I would note that the arguments of the defenders – Hudson, Akin, Harrison – have little to do with specific techniques and more to do with consequentialist arguments about circumstances under which it might be licit. As for the technique itself, until Bush-Cheney, there was no doubt that this was torture, especially when done by the Khmer Rouge and the imperial Japanese. That tells me that the real defense is an exercise in pure consequentialism – it’s OK when America does it to “keep itself safe from terrorists”.

    (3) For Paul Primavera – “fascism” is a 20th century term that cannot be applied to the 8th or the 16th century. Even worse, “islamic fascism” is an offensive term much loved by American neocons who use it as pretext for war and torture.

    (4) Yes, the Church sinned in the past by supporting torture, largely because they embraced Roman law, and torture was part of the Roman law. But the catechism itself says very explicitly that this was wrong, and that torture (just like slavery) can never be defended.

    (5) I disagree with Darwin’s canonical distinction between abortion and torture. The issue pertains to those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.” There is a lot of consensus that publicly saying something opposed to Church teaching in scandalous manner could be grounds for denying communion. This would encompass defending something that is both extremely grave and intrinsically evil. Both torture and abortion would qualify – after all, they are both listed as among the grave sins in Gaudium Et Spes, and they both evil regardless of circumstance.

    (6) Following up on the last point, let me state for the record that I do not agree with Burke’s take on canon 915. And I am not saying this as an arrogant amateur – I’ve consulted some canonists I know who assure me that Burke’s interpretation is a distinct minority opinion. That makes sense to me. I think somebody who publicly states he is a faithful Catholic and says that abortion is a great social good, or that more women should be encouraged to abort might fall foul of this canon. Likewise, somebody who claims that torturing a prisoner is a great thing to do (Thiessen) might be implicated.

    (7) Prohibitions on receiving the Eucharist are as old as the Church. But I would have you call that some of the oldest debate centers on whether soldiers who participate in war should be permitted to partake – see St. Basil. Not that I am defending this today, but we need to be aware of the history. I’m not particularly interested in targeting individuals at the communion rails – I’m just dismayed by the silence of the episcopacy on this issue.

  • Thank you for the dialogue, particularly Kyle. I am off to the mountains for the weekend. Hope to come back to continued genteel conversation.

  • Henry,

    Is Pelosi wrong then when she reassures her abortion constituents that abortion funding IS part of the bill? Or is she lying to them?

    Your application of double effect is incorrect. Abortion funding does NOT have to be part of the bill. You are advocating the bill despite the funding of such. That isn’t double effect. That is material cooperation.

  • Colin

    I believe she is lying — and I am no fan of Pelosi. She is a liar, and misrepresents things constantly for her own political gain. Or do you think she is telling the truth when she talks about Catholic understandings of abortion?

    And as has been shown on Vox Nova — there is no such funding in the bill itself.

    BTW, do you know double effect IS about cooperation? That is a part of the whole point. That one can promote something which is good despite unintended consequences from one’s support, even if the consequences are foreknown.

  • Colin

    And this goes along with Cardinal Dulles who has even said similarly — you can support a good (X) despite abortion (of course within specific guidelines — but that’s been discussed on VN).

  • Henry,

    Which is more likely:

    1. Pelosi is trying to smuggle in unpopular abortion funding (76% against last I checked) using an obtuse accounting scheme (Casey admendment). Upholding her commitment to abortion.

    2. Pelosi is lying to her constituents and betraying the “right to choose” push healthcare through.

    My money is one the first, esp since she didn’t support Stupak and the Dem leadership has been trying to get hiim to roll on the issue (rather than the other way around).

    Also, you application of double effect only applies if there is NO ALTERNATIVE. Abortion funding is not a necessary result of health care reform. Stupak proved that. If other Democrats would uphold life we might have a bill signed already.

  • Apologies to the author. I didn’t mean to sidetrack this thread.

  • Colin, I’d love to see the evidence. Though many have compared the Nelson Amendment to the Capps accounting trick, as far as I can tell, there’s a very important difference. The Nelson Amendment requires enrollees to write two checks. That virtually ensures that nobody will choose to pay for abortion coverage. This is why pro-choice groups opposed it. But, I’d love to see evidence to the contrary (from a source other than Pelosi’s mouth).

  • The one thing that remains missing in this discussion of theoreticals is a usable definition of “torture”. The good old, “I know it when I see it” that applied to pornography is not workable here.

    Why, would you ask?

    Well, thanks for asking!

    The problem from which most of this discussion suffers is actually two-fold: a lack of practical experience in even *imagining* the situational ethics (bad term, I know, but give me a minute) of a particular instance, combined with that very “I-know-it-when-I-see-it” mentality I dismissed above.

    Some things are easy to define as torture: cutting off fingers/toes; pushing bamboo shards under fingernails; cutting; testicular electrification; castration; murder of a comrade with a threat of one’s own murder; confinement to a space smaller than one’s own frame; burning; acid in the eyes; other disfiguring injuries inflicted for the purpose of coercion. All definitely torture; all specifically outside the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of Land Warfare.

    But…is loud music? ( I would argue that it would depend on the genre.) Is sleep deprivation within reasonable limits? Is environmental manipulation? Withholding food (this one is a probable yes)? threatening? Intimating that someone has ratted the prisoner out? Not correcting a misimpression on the part of a prisoner that something bad has happened to a comrade, or is about to happen to them?

    Then…what about dripping water across the face of a person in a controlled manner, with medical assistance present, in order to evoke a visceral panic reaction on the part of the subject that is so unpleasant as to encourage the subject to avoid its repetition?

    I don’t know the answer.

    But I will say this: Unless you have had to manage the use of deadly force in some way, your ability to make a valid judgment may be impaired. Not that you’re a bad person, or you lack intelligence, or anything negative; you just may not have a frame of reference that allows you to validly evaluate the morality of a particular situation. Killing is objectively evil; murder is intrinsically evil..BUT: Some people just need killin’, as people in the South might say. And as unpleasant as it is to hear, it is unequivocally true. And it is up to the moral actor, IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT, to make the best judgment he or she can based on his or her training and experience, and then to pull the trigger (or not). And that moral actor must bear the consequences of that decision before God.

    So I guess I’m saying: If you haven’t had to think about killing another human being, you may not have enough information to really validly evaluate the morality of things that go on in war (past a certain point, and with obvious exceptions, like My Lai).

  • Why is this such a tedious and ultimately meaningless argument? Because only 3 people were waterboarded. This is an issue that is being ginned up mostly by folks who hate Republicans and want desperately to change the debate from abortion.

  • Austin Ruse,

    The argument is neither tedious nor meaningless and it pertains to more than just three individuals who were water-boarded. We have witnessed the systematization and legalization of coercive interrogation techniques, including torture, into official government policy. That fact alone should concern us. Perhaps even more disheartening, this policy has found justification among Catholics and others that bases its use on a materialistic and morally relativistic gospel of salvific violence. I’ve seen even otherwise pro-life Catholics argue that we must keep ourselves safe by any means necessary and that the end of keeping us safe justifies any means. To be sure, we’re not simply witnessing a debate among Catholics about what techniques qualify as torture. We’re seeing Catholics who typically decry moral relativism embrace morally relativistic arguments in the name of national security. That’s a problem.

  • Except of course Kyle that the use of what is currently described as torture was routinely used by virtually all Western governments until the day before yesterday in historical terms. In the US the third degree was quite common in police work until the Sixties. The papal states had official torturers until the papal states were abolished in 1870. In a society which tolerates the destruction of human life to the tune of tens of millions a year in regard to abortion, I am curious about this new found sensitivity to torture in both the Church and Western countries at large. One may be against physical torture on prudential grounds as I am, and yet wonder if it is truly immoral for a cop for example to pummel a kidnapper in order to get a child back safe to her parents. A whole host of prudential reasons can be mustered as to why the cop should not do this, but I truly find it hard to understand why such an action would be immoral. Substitute a parent for the cop, and I think it would be immoral for the parent not to attempt to coerce the will of the kidnapper in order to rescue a son or daughter.

  • Why is this such a tedious and ultimately meaningless argument? Because only 3 people were waterboarded.

    I quote from the above post:

    “Little wonder that a Pew Forum survey examining ‘the religious dimensions of the torture debate’ found many white Roman Catholics, along with most frequent churchgoers, affirming that the use of torture against terrorists is ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ justifiable.”

    This is an issue that is being ginned up mostly by folks who hate Republicans and want desperately to change the debate from abortion.

    What a contemptible claim!

  • Three men waterboarded vs 50 million murders of unborn children. This is a waste of time and i reiterate, an attempt by a small group who want to divert attention from a truly horrific situation. These guys also want us to believe that its ok to vote for someone like Obama, who opposes waterboarding 3 guys but supports the killing of unborn children, rather than one of those despicable conservatives who may favor waterboarding but opposes the deliberate killing of millions of unborn children. This is not a serious debate.

  • There you go again, Austin. While you may have some success tarring me as one of those “folks who hate Republicans”, you most certainly cannot say the same for most of the commentors above who oppose torture. What I see is disgust with the conduct of evil by our political masters, no matter which secular ideology most appeals.

    You’ll get no argument that abortion is graver than torture. But you must also admit that the moral proximity, the formal cooperation in evil, of political leaders to each act of torture is much closer than the moral proximity of these same leaders to each incidence of abortion. Doesn’t that concern you?

    And what kind of argument are you making anyway? Rape is probably not as bad as murder. Does this mean we should turn a blind eye to rape? Is rape tedious?

    You would be more convincing if you argued that you supported your precious Republicans in spite of, not because of, or indifference to, their embrace of torturing people for consequentialist reasons.

    And this goes far beyond waterboarding, by the way. You take the Bush-Cheney techniques minus waterboarding and you have a very close approximiation to the approved techniques of the gestapo. But the gestapo didn’t really torture, did they? Or did they? Maybe they did, if you bring intent and circumstance into it. Oh wait, you can’t do that with intrinsically evil acts…

  • Colin,

    You have been at this game for too long. It’s time to end it. Look at the Vox Nova threads on healthcare reform. Even better, read the bill.

    Here’s the deal. This reform does not support or push forward the abortion agenda. The reform relates to the expansion of private insurance. Many private insurance companies pay for abortion. Should they? Not if I had my way, but I don’t remember a pro-life organization making a priority of this one.

    The issue then, is now to minimize taxpayer funds from going to these private insurance companies that cover abortion. Stupak was ironclad – did the pro-life movement support the House bill with Stupak? No, they instead supported a pro-abortion pro-torture Senate candidate who opposed both the House and Senate bills.

    And yes, Stupak is better than Nelson, but not that much better. After all, Nelson would allow states to forbid abortion coverage, give people the option of an abortion-free plan, and shine attention on abortion coverage by separating payments (if you can’t see the value in forcing such attention, just ask the RNC). The pro-choicers hate it for a reason. Is it ideal? No. But it is the first ever federal attempt to address abortion coverage by private insurance companies. And I think people would most definitely start choosing plans without abortion, which will force insurance companies to drop coverage.

    I’ll leave you with an insightful point made by a commentor on Vox Nova. When Republicans implemented the Medicare Advantage program, involving direct subsidies from taxpayers to insurance companies, was abortion an issue? No, it was not. And yet, what is the difference? And don’t respond by saying Medicare does not cover abortion – the money is going to insurance companies that do fund abortion, and this money is fungible. And since the reform bill proposes to save money by eliminating Medicare Advantage, shouldn’t you be lauding them for distancing taxpayer funds from abortion?

    Oh, and by the way, the more recent Republican ideas on healthcare are not exactly unborn-friendly either. Granting tax credits makes it cheaper for people to purchase private plans with abortion. And allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines without appropriate minimum standards would gut the Nelson provision allowing states to ban abortion coverage.

    What do I conclude? I conclude that many of those who scream about healthcare and abortion do not support this healthcare reform in the first place. They use the unborn on their behalf, but it is really their liberal principles that are offended. They object to forcing people to purchase health insurance, and especially to forcing the healthy to subsidize the sick, either directly through community rating, or indirectly through budgetary subsidies. This was really why they opposed reform, not abortion. Let’s end this charade here and now.

  • Three men waterboarded vs 50 million murders of unborn children.

    No. Evil is not opposed to evil. All evil comes from the same source, and all evil will be sent back to that source, carrying along whoever clings to any part of it.

    Formal cooperation with evil is one way of clinging to evil, and there’s reason to believe that tens of millions of Catholics in the United States formally cooperate with the grave evil of torture.

  • As Tom has aptly pointed out (I think, anyway) this is a both/and scenario. We must oppose both torture and abortion per Church teaching on each. This is hardly a mutually exclusive predicament.

    That being said, in a discussion on abortion and torture in the US, abortion is demonstrably the greater historical scandal. The blood on our hands from millions of children lost since Roe v Wade is in no small part the result of an enabling, ideologically-driven, morally pernicious, left-wing brand of Catholicism.

    No amount of moral calculus can be used to justify torture as if abortion is so heinous that everything the political-right does pales in comparison. Yet given the track record of the left it is understandable that such claims of the moral high ground are more about advancing the political football than about embracing Church teaching on this particular matter.

  • Nice to see, once again, Austin reveals his true colors. Push for Republicans and use abortion as a diversion.

  • If torture was actually an issue, then yes, we should oppose it. But to use it as a wedge to keep people from voting for the pro-life party, it is no more than Democratic trickery. The proposition is that there is some kind of equivalence between the murder of 50 million children and three men being waterboarded and therefore one may in good conscience vote for party that supports baby-killing (and by the way, the Party of Death also knew about waterboarding and did nothing).

  • “The pro-life party” — what party is this?

  • That would be the party that had this in its platform in 2008:

    “Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

    Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.

    We have made progress. The Supreme Court has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to extend health-care coverage to children before birth. And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has become law; this law ensures that infants who are born alive during an abortion receive all treatment and care that is provided to all newborn infants and are not neglected and left to die. We must protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement. We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

    Respect for life requires efforts to include persons with disabilities in education, employment, the justice system, and civic participation. In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the AbilityOne program, the main avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services at the best possible value.”

    The pro-death party had this in its platform in 2008:

    “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.”

  • So, the Constitution of the Soviet Union made Stalin good? The platform didn’t deal with the whole issue of life, and ignores the Gospel of Life. To be pro-life, as the Church speaks, is more than to be against abortion. And Austin shows what happens when people think that is all it is about — even being against abortion doesn’t have to be (Brown) as long as one is GOP! The shell game doesn’t work. The fact of the matter is that the actual policies of the Republicans have been anti-life, and have promoted the culture of death. The fact of the matter is that when people think “torture doesn’t matter” they have accepted the culture of death (if it doesn’t matter, than abortion, as torture, doesn’t matter). But it does matter. And any attempt to ignore it when it is an issue is an attempt to hide real anti-life policies.

    And here is a note for the sophists:

    Just because book X might be the most expensive book ever does not mean books A-W, when combined with Y and Z are less valuable than X.

  • Karlson your never ending efforts to run interference for Obama and the party of abortion lend support to the argument that Mr. Ruse is making. This is on par with your ludicrous attempt last weekend to argue that Nixon was more pro-abortion than the patron saint of Vox Nova Obama. Stop beclowning yourself in your attempt to be a useful tool for people who are completely pro-abortion.

  • Karlson your never ending efforts to run interference for Obama and the party of abortion lend support to the argument that Mr. Ruse is making.

    Yes, and it’s deucedly annoying, because the argument that Mr. Ruse is making is a “30% less evil than the other leading brand” whitewash of the Republican Party.

    As long as Catholics treat moral issues as though they were fundamentally political issues — as Austin does by claiming, in the teeth of the empirical evidence, that torture is not an issue — politicians will treat moral issues as Catholic vote-bait, and souls will be lost.

  • One very big difference between the issue of banning Communion to pro-abortion politicians vs. banning Communion to “pro-torture” politicians is simply the fact that what constitutes torture may not be as clearly defined as what constitutes abortion.

    It’s pretty obvious what constitutes abortion (although, granted, some people have tried to redefine “conception” in a way that excludes certain forms of abortafacient contraception). And some practices are obviously torture (branding, whipping, racking, mutilation, sexual abuse, threatening to kill, rape or torture a loved one in one’s prescence. And I would, personally, include waterboarding in this definition). However, the danger is that certain persons of more liberal persuasion may attempt to expand the definition of torture to include just about anything that causes distress or places pressure on the person being interrogated. Next thing you know, they will be claiming that parents who spank their young children are guilty of child abuse… oh wait… but I digress.

    I do think the issue of whether the government should ever officially endorse certain “enhanced interrogation” practices as a matter of policy is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed. It does have the potential for greater abuses. Remember, hard cases make bad law.

    However, in this particular case, it seems obvious to me that liberal Catholics who support pro-abortion politicians are just looking for a “gotcha” to use against those who advocate denial of Communion to such politicians.

  • The Democrat party favors the deliberate killing of unborn children up to 50 million at this point. The Democrat Party has funded abortions overseas and is now attempting to coerce foreign countries to kill their own children. Besides working to protect the unborn child from abortion in this coutnry and around the world, the Republican party has supported billions of dollars in federal and local spending to alleviate poverty, hunger, disease in this country and around the world. The Republicans embrace the whole social justice agenda.

  • Austin,

    If you want others to take the issue of abortion seriously, it helps not to belittle the significance of the issues they believe are important. You make opponents when you should be making allies.

    Moreover, your depiction of the reasons behind the opposition to torture doesn’t correspond to reality. Sure, you can find people opposed to torture who don’t think abortion is a big deal, but you can also find conservative Republicans who oppose both torture and abortion and are loudly outraged about both.

  • Donald

    When will you stop lying about what the other person is doing? I am not pro-Obama. I didn’t vote for him. I said I could not support him in post after post. I’ve criticized him and continue to do so. But the problem is the criticism has to be valid ones. The fact that the issue over health care reform was not abortion but “socialism” shows the concern is not about life but sophistry and political rhetoric. The fact that I agree with the Church that health care reform is necessary allows me to see beyond the “socialism” card. But that it was “socialism” and not abortion which was the issue is obvious to anyone who can see the Republicans rejecting legislation which would have had greater limits on abortion funding than ever before — because of “socialism.” So defense of capitalism is more important to the “party of Life” than life. Sick. And this ruse is up. People see through it.

  • Karlson I didn’t say you voted for Obama, unlike Matt Talbot, the Catholic Anarchist, MZ, and various other denizens of Vox Nova. What I do say is that you ceaselessly attempt to minimize the importance of the struggle against abortion in order to provide cover for the pro-abortion Democrat Party and to attack the Republican party, and you do so in a completely transparent manner.

  • Donald,

    I would credit the influence of philosophical personalism on the development of Catholic moral thought for why the Church today opposes torture and coercion that destroys the will. For example, Catholic moral thought now includes the principle that the human person is an end in himself and shouldn’t be used as a mere means, a formula that originated with Kant and was developed by Catholic moral philosophers such as Pope John Paul II. This principle alone would prohibit torture and will-undermining coercion, for these actions reduce the person to a mere instrument.

  • Kyle,

    I never did that. In fact, I claim the GOP is more social justice in orientation than the Dems because the GOP takes on the whole social justice agenda including protecting the unborn child from abortion. I also understand the Church teaches that abortion is the primary issue today. Not that the issues of poverty, hunger and disease and not important but that abortion is the preeminent human rights issue of our time. If you get that (abortion) wrong, as Bernardine himself said, then you undermine the whole social justice agenda.

  • Kyle, the Catholic Church is both a divine and a human institution as we both know. As it proceeds through history it is both the guardian of the eternal truths of Christ and is buffeted by the intellectual currents popular at different points in history. Looking at the Church over 2000 years there have been many accretions on the Faith that at one time were confused with the gospels and have fallen away as time passes. One subject I have always found fascinating is how one discerns what is a mere accretion from a development of doctrine a la Cardinal Newman. In regard to the subject of torture was the prior praxis and teaching of the Church that torture was licit when used by lawful authority a mere accretion due to Roman law, etc, or is the accretion in modern times due to the personalism you mention and other secular developments? This is the aspect of the never ending debate in Saint Blog’s on torture that I find personally interesting, and one that is rarely addressed.

  • Austin,

    In the comments above, you call concern about torture a waste of time, an unserious debate, and not really an issue. I’d call that belittling.

  • Yes, it is a waste of time because it has only happened three times if you define waterboarding as torture. It is not an issue. It is a distraction by partisans who want to score points on the GOP.

    Kyle, you work on a vicious website that attacks anyone who disagrees with the VN party line. You cannot lecture me about working toward common ground. VN is not in the least concerned with common ground or reaching out or anything like it.

  • Having said that, Kyle, i want to say this. You are one of the more fair contributors to that vicious awful site. You have always given me a fair shake.

  • Donald,

    At least in regards to personalism, we can ask the simple question: Is it true? Can we show with arguments of reason that a person should not be used as a mere means? If we can, then we have a firm basis on which to reject torture, regardless of whether or not the Church has made any official declarations.

  • Like most philosophical doctrines Kyle I think the answer to that question would include such phrases as “it depends”, “true here, not true there”, “now how would we interpret it in this situation”, etc. In regard to torture, I think perhaps even a more important cause of the shift in the teaching and praxis of the Church was that the popes ceased to be secular rulers of anything other than a postage stamp realm.

  • Donald,

    I’ll grant that examining the veracity of personalism as a whole isn’t such a simple endeavor. However, the personalist principle about the human person being an end in himself is a pretty absolute principle. It’s either true in all cases or not true at all. If we can licitly use a person as a mere means even in one circumstance, then the whole principle falls apart. Therefore, I think we can assess the truth of that principle and, following that assessment, either have or not have grounds on which to reject torture in all cases.

  • 8:17: The Democrat party…. The Democrat Party … the Republican party …. The Republicans….

    8:33: … the GOP … the Dems … the GOP….

    8:48: It is a distraction by partisans who want to score points on the GOP.

    Who’s the partisan wanting to score points?

  • Tom,

    The purpose of this distraction is to give aid and comfort to the party of death.

  • And by the way, the party of death supported waterboarding until it became politically expedient not to.

  • …it is better to bring it out in the open, to flush them out as it were….

  • The “party of death” is bipartisan.

    Whoever can’t see that has blinded himself.

  • Kyle, let us say that you are a platoon commander in the Army. You are guarding a group of refugees. A bridge must be held against an advancing enemy force in order for the refugees and the remainder of the platoon to escape. You assign a squad to hold the bridge and to delay the enemy long enough so that the refugees and the rest of the platoon can get to safety. You look into the eyes of the squad members. They realize you have just sentenced them to death in order to save others. Under the doctrine of personalism as you understand it, is it morally licit for you to give this order?

  • VN is not in the least concerned with common ground or reaching out or anything like it.

    It depends on the contributor. I think most people tend to define ‘common ground’, at least implicitly, as ‘moving away from your misconceived ideas about public life and adopting or accommodating mine.’ Witness Obama’s transparently silly calls for bipartisan solutions (so long as ‘bipartisan’ means 90% of what he wants and 10% of what the other party wants). This doesn’t mean that anyone is necessarily arguing in bad faith; just that people come to political discussions from very different places, so it actually is hard to find agreement on how to put into practice shared larger commitments to the common good.

    I don’t think we have a good reason to trust either party to oppose torture when they’re in power. Pelosi was fine with waterboarding until she had the opportunity to use it as a cudgel. I wouldn’t say that torture is a ‘distraction,’ though. It’s important to oppose it clearly and consistently, particularly from the point of view of a commitment to pro-life activity.

  • Donald,

    Yes, as long as the squad isn’t being reduced to a mere means. Clearly they are being used as a means – a means to halt the enemy force and save the refugees – but the question is whether they are being used as a mere means. I would say they are not, as they are freely cooperating in that order. They understand their service may mean following such orders. And, of course, were they to follow the order, we would rightly recognize their actions as self-sacrifice. The fact that we would see their sacrifice as more than involuntarily following orders, but as a heroic act on their parts, shows us that, while they are following orders, they do so as whole persons. They are not mere instruments of the commander’s will.

  • From your response Kyle I perhaps make the rash assumption that you have never been in the Army. The men in the squad could have any number of motivations and reactions but at that moment none of that matters. They have been ordered to hold that bridge whether they think it is a great order or a grave imposition on their personal freedom. At that moment they do not have a choice under military discipline not to obey. This is the type of gut wrenching decision that military leaders often have to make and with soldiers not at all eager, understandably, to give up their lives.

  • “At that moment they do not have a choice under military discipline not to obey.” Unless they are Hitler’s soldiers, then they are told they have a conscience and should have known not to obey.

  • Karlson, I will make the non-rash assumption that you know as much about the military as a pig knows about penance. Soldiers in the US military have an obligation under the Uniform Code of Military Justice not to to obey unlawful orders such as one to massacre prisoners for example. That does not allow them to refuse obedience to a lawful order because the lawful order might very well get them killed.

  • Donald is correct as to his assessment of the realities surrounding his hypothetical.

    Also, I’ll just go ahead and weigh in on a few things.

    First, while waterboarding may have been confined to just a small handful of individuals, it happened a lot more than 3 times. The individuals in question were by all accounts repeatedly waterboarded.

    Second, the weight of Church teaching pretty plainly falls in favor of the position that torture is intrinsically evil. I have not found the arguments to the contrary made by various Catholic thinkers to be especially persuasive.

    Third, just because two things (i.e., torture and abortion) can both be intrinsically immoral does not mean they carry the same moral gravity.

    Fourth, while I accept Church teaching on torture, I admit I don’t fully understand it. While admittedly the hypothetical ticking bomb scenario may be implausible (I’m not sure), it does crystalize one’s thinking on the matter. For the record, if I thought the most efficacious way to save innocent lives was by torturing a person who I knew to a moral certainty was culpable in arranging their deaths and had information that could avoid those deaths I’d torture him — you bet. If God’s Church teaches otherwise I’ll take the consequences. I don’t believe God will damn me for such actions, and if a few centuries in Purgatory are the cost, so be it.

  • Donald,

    My response wasn’t meant to explore the specific motivations and reactions of soldiers in that situation, as these would undoubtedly vary from soldier to soldier. Instead, I aimed in my response to illustrate a general situation of cooperation with that gut-wrenching order that doesn’t reduce the soldiers to mere instruments of their commander. Now, I could also imagine situations in which a commander uses those under his command as mere means to an end. In any case, my answer to your question remains the same. The personalist principle does not necessarily prohibit such orders.

  • Donald

    When Hitler ordered his military to do things, it was “lawful.” Therefore, they had to obey? I thought the rule was that one is not to obey a positive law when it broke natural law, right? I guess that changes in the military. Of course, only for the victors.

    It used to be as you said, that all one did was “obey.” But then they were not considered guilty for obeying bad orders, only those who made the orders could be tried for war crimes.

    Things changed. Our understanding of morality became more sophisticated. We grew to understand the role of the conscience and its place in a person’s free will. We grew to understand the role of the person in decision making, and the place of subjective and objective guilt in the equation. Thus, the earlier “just obey” kind of response is no longer acceptable. It is rejected by the Church. It is rejected by the international community (hence war crimes trials like after WWII which said that obeying orders was not a good enough defense).

    Of course, while we have grown to appreciate this more in recent times, it really is not new. The first few centuries of the Church saw this as well. Soldiers who were Christian were given the lawful order to offer various sacrifices. They disobeyed. They were killed. Would you say they were in the wrong? Oh, I know. They didn’t have US laws. But they did have Roman ones, and they broke it.

    Of course I know the US situation. I also know that the rules as you proclaim, as if by saying that’s the rules that ends all discussion, are the rules the Church has spoken out against several times. It continues to speak out against them. It wants the soldiers not to be abused for disobeying orders which they view are immoral, whether or not the order is legal.

    Yes, I know the US wants to have its cake and eat it too. It will constantly say “obeying orders is not good enough an excuse” when dealing with the enemy. But I also know as you said they tell their soldiers that they don’t have such an option. “It’s only illegal orders you don’t have to obey.” Of course, what does that mean when the law is immoral? Again, when the positive law is immoral, it is no law.

    Thus, as with the Church I will say the soldier’s conscience is important and is not limited to “is it legal or not.” You can say otherwise and side with the nation-state as you want.

  • Henry,
    You are missing the point. In Donald’s hypothetical the order to defend the bridge would not be a violation of natural law. I’m confident that if the order was instead to target innocents Donald would agree that the order could and should be disobeyed as unlawful even if lawful under positive law.

  • Mike

    It is possible a soldier could think the order is to block aid to innocents, and so oppose it. There are many reasons why the orders could be made. Donald said it doesn’t matter, they have to obey. The point is — the orders to matter, the reason why they are asked to do it, still does not matter. The soldier still has a conscience. His own words said that “lawful orders” must be obeyed without question. The issue is that “lawful orders” can be immoral orders. And if a soldier has a good reason to believe it is, they must follow their conscience. Even things which appear innocent could end up not.

  • “The point is — the orders to matter, the reason why they are asked to do it, still does not matter.”

    Should read — “The point is, the orders do matter, and the reason why they are asked to do it still matters.”

  • Henry, I agree that one’s conscience is always paramount, and that a soldier does have a moral obligation to disobey an immoral order that is lawful under positive law. And I bet Don agrees with that as well, and he would likely add that the UCMJ makes a positive law versus natural law incongruity pretty unlikely, but to the extent it occurs I’m pretty certain he’d agree that natural law trumps. But Don’s hypo pretty clearly postulates an order that is lawful under both natural law and positive law, especially from the point of view of the soldiers receiving the order. His hypo was intended to test Kyle’s earlier proposition that related to the point of view of the one giving the order, which is not germane to the point you are trying to make.

  • Karlson, this obtuse act of yours is tiresome. The soldiers had absolutely no right under military regulations to disobey the order given to them in my scenario even though they would probably all suspect that the order would cost them their lives. That is the military. Orders are obeyed even though the death of the ones carrying out the orders may be the result.

  • Tom,

    I do not make a claim for common ground or bipartisanship. I also tend to disdain calls for dialogue since the left usually does not mean it. To them it usually means the left speaking to the further left, or the left hassling the bishop. Dialogue is one of the hypocrisies of the left.

    What I am is a little weary of the rather vicious holier-than-thou crowd trying to make folks guilty for voting for Bush and the GOP which is the subtext of any “debate” about torture, something the US does not do. It is a ruse, if you will, not a very clever ruse but a ruse nonetheless.

    By the way, the downstairs sitting room at the Papal Nunciature in Washington DC has ten pictures of George Bush — even now — and not a single one of that moral paragon Obama. Go figure that, Bush haters.

  • Oh, and i did not say waterboarding happened only 3 times. It happened to only three people.

  • You are correct, Austin. I apologize if it looked like I was misquoting you.

  • Thanks for that, Mike.

  • Three men waterboarded vs 50 million murders of unborn children. This is a waste of time and I reiterate, an attempt by a small group who want to divert attention from a truly horrific situation.

    If you really believe that, I have a simple solution.

    (You might want to browse my archives a bit before accusing me of being an Obama supporter, by the way, or of being soft on abortion. And since my infamous nickname for the blog Vox Nova is “Debate Club at Auschwitz” — my reasons are also in the archive, and I continue to stand by them — you might want to do the stoppy-ready-thinky thing a bit before jumping to any conclusions).

  • “The purpose of this distraction is to give aid and comfort to the party of death.”

    Ok, Austin — you’ve repeated this point ad nauseum, to the point where I’d suspect you were attempting to engage in distraction yourself.

    1) liberals may have any number of motivations for pressing the torture issue — I concur, that for many, it’s a convenient distraction from abortion and/or other policies of the Obama administration. That said, many conservative (and pro-life) voices are raised in response to the techniques employed by the Bush (and present) administrations.

    So, let’s bracket and forget about the ongoing AC+VN feud as best we can, and address the subject of this post.

    2) I would say that, while waterboarding is probably the most prominent example of what has been termed ‘extreme interrogation’, the subject of ‘torture’ is not confined to such, nor are incidents of detainee abuse confined to those which occurred at Abu Ghraib. Incidents continue to occur in both Iraq and Afghanistan See for example Command’s Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan – “comprehensive accounting of the U.S. government’s handling of the nearly 100 cases of detainees who have died in U.S. custody since 2002.”

    Practices which we might think of as fairly innocuous when presented on paper — sleep deprivation, raising/lowering the temperature, “stress positions”, and other techniques of “softening up” detainees for interrogation — have contributed to such deaths. Not all of these incidents can be dismissed as violations of the system in place, either — rather, the impression I get is that the system currently in place cultivates, and encourages, the abuse.

  • I would take any report prepared by Human Rights First with a boulder of salt based upon its funding by George Soros and its hard Left orientation. Its founder Michael Posner now serves as head of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and Human Rights First is tightly wired in with the Obama administration.

    Anyone involved in the murder of a detainee should be prosecuted. However, an axe-grinding report from an axe-grinding group leaves me unimpressed.

  • Anyone involved in the murder of a detainee should be prosecuted.

    I think one consistent point that keeps arising is that prosecutions are few and far between.

    However, an axe-grinding report from an axe-grinding group leaves me unimpressed.

    Much like you and I would likely take offense if a liberal pre-emptively dismissed an investigative report because it came from a conservative think tank, the best course of action would be to read it, then embark on a factual analysis and rebuttal.

  • If they had any real evidence Chris they could petition for prosecutions themselves by bringing the evidence they have compiled to the attention of the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice.

    I have been involved in hundreds of felony cases as a defense attorney, and two cases as a special prosecutor, over the years. People shooting their mouths off about alleged crimes is one thing; actually proving the guilt of a defendant in court is another. I have seen plenty of cases that looked good for the prosecution fall apart when actual evidence had to be presented and witnesses were subject to cross-examination. I would think the Obama administration would be eager to prosecute these cases if they think they can prove them in court. Perhaps Mr. Posner can discuss this with his boss.

  • I would also suggest that when a detainee dies in custody a convening authority should conduct an immediate investigation to see if courtmartial proceedings should be initiated. If civilians are involved, then a DOJ criminal investigation should be immediately implemented.

  • I would also suggest that when a detainee dies in custody a convening authority should conduct an immediate investigation to see if courtmartial proceedings should be initiated. If civilians are involved, then a DOJ criminal investigation should be immediately implemented.

    Well, yes. I think it goes without saying that would be the wish of the authors of the report as well. Unfortunately, if their analysis is correct, that’s not happening — in fact, what the report alleges:

    Commanders have failed to report deaths of detainees in the custody of their command, reported the deaths only after a period of days and sometimes weeks, or actively interfered in efforts to pursue investigations;

    • Investigators have failed to interview key witnesses, collect useable evidence, or maintain evidence that could be used for any subsequent prosecution;

    • Record keeping has been inadequate, further undermining chances for effective investigation or appropriate prosecution;

    • Overlapping criminal and administrative investigations have compromised chances for accountability;

    • Overbroad classification of information and other investigation restrictions have left CIA and Special Forces essentially immune from accountability;

    • Agencies have failed to disclose critical information, including the cause or circumstance of death, in close to half the cases examined;

    • Effective punishment has been too little and too late.

  • Criminal investigations are often incompently done Chris? Well that is certainly no news to me after my involvement with the end product of criminal investigations over the past 28 years. That actually is fairly par for the course in my experience. Conducting investigations in foreign nations, usually involving some witnesses who cannot speak English, is challenging and compounds the difficulty. That is why investigative teams that specialize in this area should be developed.

  • … That is why investigative teams that specialize in this area should be developed.

    I’m heartened by the news that you and the authors of said report share the same concerns. =)

  • Not quite the same concerns Chris. I want the guilty punished but I also want an adequate record so that politically motivated advocacy groups can’t make hay out of such deaths years after the fact. Perhaps also if we have good investigators maybe we would have them develop the sense not to prosecute troops for minor infractions. Case in point, the three Navy Seals who are being courtmartialed because one of them allegedly immediately after the capture of a terrorist gave him a fat lip. Maybe I’ll burn in Hell for saying this, but I think the Navy is over-reacting a wee bit. 🙂

  • Zippy?

    I don’t even know who you are so you have me confused with someone else who accused you of something.

    About torture, i don’t know any Catholic who supports torture.

  • About torture, i don’t know any Catholic who supports torture.

    I do. You, for example. Oh, your support hides behind euphemism and denial (the whole “waterboarding isn’t torture” canard); but as a substantive matter you defend actual acts of torture perpetrated by and admitted to by the Bush administration. Your euphemisms aren’t any more valid than “blob of tissue” euphemisms used by pro-aborts.

    Did you read the post I linked to? Given that you mean what you say — that you see this as a low priority issue which is a distraction from the far more important issue of legal abortion — I proposed a solution that would allow the issue to be defused, so we can get back to the higher priority.

  • Like I said, I don’t know anybody who supports torture. I don’t know of anyone in the Bush administration who has said they tortured. And even if waterboarding were torture, it happened to three guys. This is a meaningless argument when compared to the other things we are facing.

  • Like I said, I don’t know anybody who supports torture.

    And like I said, I do: you (among many others).

    This is a meaningless argument when compared to the other things we are facing.

    And again, if you really believe that I have a suggested solution.

  • Like I said, I don’t know anybody who supports torture.

    According to the Pew Research Center’s survey, which Christopher linked to in the post and which I referred to twice in response to your own comments, 71% of Americans, 73% of weekly churchgoers, and 78% of white non-Hispanic American Catholics think that torture can be justified.

    If you don’t know this, then you probably shouldn’t be making categorical statements about whether torture is an issue.

  • Tom

    Of course, there is another issue, confusing quantity with quality. We can see the error of this argument by bringing up another intrinsic evil, one which is done far more than abortion in a year. Lying. Lying is rooted to the fall of humanity (the deception of Satan), lying leads to the death of multitudes, and lying of course, is done far more often than abortion in a year. So does that now make abortion no longer significant? Not at all. But if one follows the logic Austin is trying to give us, one would have to say abortion needs to move over until we stop lying.

  • Well, of course, there are Catholics who support abortion, contraception, torture, etc. Lots of fake Catholics around. In fact, I personally know Catholics who support abortion and contraception. I have met Frances Kissling! But, except in the abstract (polls etc), I do not know any Catholic who supports torture. And if torture was a widespread problem I suspect there would be a reason to get all het up about it. As it is, it is a distraction of Dems to get drive a wedge through the pro-life movements.

  • But, except in the abstract (polls etc), I do not know any Catholic who supports torture. And if torture was a widespread problem I suspect there would be a reason to get all het up about it. As it is, it is a distraction of Dems to get drive a wedge through the pro-life movements.

    I am embarrassed for you.

  • Doing anything to a person against his/her will (with the exceptions of saving his/her life, and their having broken a law punishable by jail) is not in line with the Gospels and therefore is a sin. Torture. Seriously? Torture? It is wrong. Time to move on…

  • Tom K,

    I suspect you are not embarrassed for me. Likely you are annoyed, angry, crossing your little arms and stomping your little foot on the floor. Who cares? Now, lets get back to the conversation.

  • I suspect you are not embarrassed for me.

    And I suspect that you live in a bubble, and Tom really is genuinely embarrassed for you.

  • Gosh, no. I don’t live in a bubble. I live in a house in Arlington, VA and drive to work every day in Washington DC and work in public policy.

    The frustration of you fellas is noted by me, by all. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.

  • … and drive to work every day in Washington DC and work in public policy.

    I guess that explains the bubble. Have a nice day!

  • Austin:

    Your “no Catholic I know supports torture,” in the face of evidence that 78% of white Catholics support torture, is so glaringly irrelevant, and glaringly improbable (in fact, I am morally certain it is false), that it really admits of no response other than silence.

    Your repeated insistence that it’s all a Democratic plot is uncomfortable in the way Captain Queeg’s muttering about strawberries.

    And it’s made all the worse because your inability to actually engage the issue you’ve been commenting on all weekend reflects on you professionally, in a way it wouldn’t for those of us who don’t work in public policy.

    So yes, I am genuinely embarrassed for you.

  • Why would not knowing any Catholics who support torture be embarrassing? I wish I could say the same.

    P.S. Welcome back to blogging, Zippy.

  • Looks like Tom has answered my question before I even asked it. Impressive.

  • If the charge against torture is “a distraction of the Dems,” why are there so many non-Dems leading the charge?

  • I guess, Tomkay and Zippy (!), that these are supposed to be conversation ending bon mot of the kind that passes for wit or something on blogs but I must confess, fellers, I am just not moved.

    The only Catholics who i know support torture are those in the abstract from this poll. I have not read the poll. I hvae not read the poll question. And, honestly, polling is notoriously unreliable in determining questions like this.

    I come back to my previous point, even if waterboarding was torture, lets say that it is, it does not amount to a hill of beans given that it happened to three terrorists, especially when compared to 50 million abortions. While this “conversation” has been going on there have been thousands more abortiohs and not a single waterboarding. This is a waste of time and a distraction being used by those who hate Republicans and are carrying water for the party of death.

  • Austin,

    Do you watch EWTN?

  • I don’t, no.

  • The reason I ask is they recently had Marc Thiessen on to promote his pro-waterboarding book. That suggests, to me at least, that the problem is bigger than you are making out.

  • I guess, Tomkay and Zippy (!), that these are supposed to be conversation ending bon mot of the kind that passes for wit or something on blogs but I must confess, fellers, I am just not moved.

    Zippy can answer for himself, if he chooses. If I were attempting to be witty at your expense, it would come out as sarcasm.

    Even so, I suspect my attempts at sarcasm would do less damage to a conversation than your remaining in voluntary ignorance while dogmatically and repeatedly asserting claims that are empirically false.

  • Did Thiessen say he supported torture on Raymond’s show? I know Marc. He is a faithful Catholic. He brought a Catholic priest into the White House every week for prayer and bible study. He said he supported torture?

  • Tomkay,

    What am I claiming that is empirically false?

  • Did Thiessen say he supported torture on Raymond’s show?

    No. He said he supported waterboarding, which is torture.

  • Ahhh….but he disagrees that it is torture, right?

  • Let me ask anyone this.

    Torture is intrinsically evil. Right?
    Waterboarding is torture. Also right?
    Then waterboarding is intrinsically evil. Right?

  • Ahhh….but he disagrees that it is torture, right?

    That’s what he says, anyway. So what?

  • Let me also add that I’m a Republican. I voted for Bush (three times, actually), and I plan on voting for whoever the Republican nominee is in the next election. This isn’t about hating Republicans or wanting people to vote for Obama. It’s about organizations and people that I admire and respect hitching their wagon to something noxious and evil.

  • “So what” is that there is no debate over torture but a debate over what is torture. Personally, i do not believe that loud music, extemes of heat and cold, etc are torture. Waterboarding? I am not sure. I knwo i will be mocked for this. Even so, i do not care. I am not so sure and my conscience is clear.

    To my question. Torture=intrinsic evil, waterboarding=torture, waterboarding=intrinsic evil. True or false?

  • Austin,

    Okay, so you think waterboarding might be torture, and might not be. So, from your perspective, Thiessen might be supporting torture. So you can’t really say that you don’t know anyone who supports torture, just that you aren’t sure whether you do or not.

  • OK. i know someone who may or may not support torture. Answer my question. Is waterboarding intrinsically evil.

  • Waterboarding is one of many U.S. used torture techniques to which we non-Democrat Catholics are opposed, so our concern with the practice and policy of torture extends beyond a concern with the technique of waterboarding. Furthermore, we are troubled by the poor moral reasoning and misrepresentation of moral principles such as double effect by Catholics like Marc Thiessen and Raymond Arroyo. The problem we see isn’t just that Catholics disagree on what techniques qualify as torture; the problem is deeper than that. What troubles us more than disagreement over techniques is that Catholics claiming the mantle of orthodoxy have embraced moral relativism in the name of national security. These Catholics may continue to oppose abortion, but their moral thinking, the very moral thinking they use to argue against abortion, has been perverted. If these Catholics are not think right morally, then their moral positions on paramount issues (such as abortion) are at grave risk of collapse.

  • To my question. Torture=intrinsic evil, waterboarding=torture, waterboarding=intrinsic evil. True or false?

    Depends on what you want to include as waterboarding. If you want to count the simulated waterboarding that goes on at the SERE, then not all waterboarding is torture. If you want to restrict the term to actual waterboarding, then I would say waterboarding does equal torture.

  • Is waterboarding intrinsically evil?,/em>

    As a technique used to coerce the will, yes.

  • I don’t see how they are being moral relativists. They do not believe that waterboarding or loud music or sleep deprivation are intrinsically evil. How is this moral relativism?

    Is waterboarding intrinsically evil?

  • So, waterboarding is not intrinsically evil?

  • So, waterboarding is not intrinsically evil?

    If the term is restricted to actual waterboarding, then it is intrinsically evil. If the term is used in a broader sense so it includes simulated waterboarding (e.g. what goes on at the SERE), then it is not.

  • Whatever else Marc Thiessen may be, he is now the self-appointed Francis Kissling of torture.

  • Btw, I would hope, Austin, that you would concede that ” loud music, extemes of heat and cold, etc.” could be torture, you just don’t thing they would constitute torture in all cases. If so, then we are agreed, and the question becomes whether the actual use of loud music, hot and cold, etc. were torture.

  • In SERE training they only simulate waterboarding? Are you sure?

  • Loud music etc as used by the US military or intelligence officials would not be torture, that is correct. If someone is put in a deepfreeze and allowed to die, yes that woudl be torture. Waht we are talking about here is what the US military does.

  • In SERE training they only simulate waterboarding? Are you sure?

    Sure. The whole program is designed to teach solders how to respond if they are tortured by the enemy.

  • In what way is this waterboarding different than waterboarding of enemy combatants? Be specific.

  • In SERE training they only simulate waterboarding?

    Yes, a prisoner is different from a trainee. Treating “waterboarding” as a physical act alone is like treating sex as a physical act alone, making no distinction between a wife and a hooker. This is moral theology 101.

    Mind you, I’m not fully convinced that waterboarding in SERE training is definitely morally licit. But that it is fundamentally different from waterboarding a prisoner is obvious to everyone who doesn’t desperately want it not to be obvious. The trainee knows that it is a finite training exercise done by people with his own best interests in mind. He has an out, he knows it won’t go on forever if he doesn’t betray his principles, etc.

    So yes, they are manifestly, obviously, radically different things, even though those fundamental and clear differences don’t mean that SERE training is morally licit.

  • So, waterboarding is not intrinsically evil. This is what I suspected since i know at least one person, a woman, who was waterboarded and she does not believe she was tortured by her own government.

    Abortion is a little different than this. Procured abortion is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil.

  • Gents,

    I am stepping out to take my little family to see the Mr. Fox movie. i will check in in a few hours…

    Best to all,

  • Perhaps an analogy would make my point clear. Suppose the SERE training includes a unit on how to respond to interrogation, and as a part of this training solders are locked in a room and a guy comes in and starts asking them questions. The question then arises: are these solders being interrogated? I can see people taking both sides of this question. Someone might say that this isn’t really interrogation but only a simulation, while someone else might claim that it doesn’t matter whether the interrogator was really trying to get information out of the solder or not, it still counts as interrogation. What you can’t do, however, is say that what happens to the solder wasn’t interrogation, therefore what goes on in police departments isn’t interrogation. To make that argument you have to equivocated on the meaning of the word “interrogation.”

    Similarly, you seem to want to argue that because waterboarding in the broad sense (which includes simulated waterboarding like at the SERE) isn’t torture, therefore waterboarding in the narrow sense (which does not include simulated waterboarding) isn’t torture either. But that’s a faulty inference, as it requires one to equivocate on the term “waterboarding.”

  • Procured abortion is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil.

    But just what is produred abortion, anyway? Salpingectomy, anyone? With a little salpingosomy on the side?

    Really, Austin, you have years of Internet discussions to catch up on before you can even begin to discuss this intelligently.

  • SERE trainees are really waterboarded. They are strapped down, cloth over their faces, adn water poured over their mouths and noses. This is wateboarding that is done to enemy combatants. It is not simulated. It is real. But, its not torture.

    Now let me go to the movies!

  • Procured abortion is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evi.

    Yes, and adultery is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil. And torture is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil. And [insert all manner of different things] …


    Look, we all get it that the Thiessen argument hinges on the notion that strapping a prisoner to a board and repeatedly making him feel all the sensations of drowning until he coughs up information is “not torture”. What many of us don’t get is why anyone would think that that is a sane, let alone plausible, argument.

  • Abortion is a little different than this. Procured abortion is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil.

    If one wanted, one could play the same sort of game with abortion that you wish to play with torture. For example, spontaneous abortions aren’t intrinsically evil. Are spontaneous abortions abortions? Says so right on the label. Therefore, abortion isn’t intrinsically evil.

    I don’t say this is a good argument. In fact it is a very bad one. But it is the same sort of argument as the one people make with regard to torture and the SERE.

  • We can do it another way, and see how his view leads to the acceptance of abortion, BA.

    Since killing is allowed in various situations, killing itself can be said not to be an intrinsic evil. Abortion is killing. Therefore abortion is not intrinsically evil. That is the kind of argument he is making. He is jumping around in categories like that when pressed to deal with the issue.

    And we could change it into an issue of just war, and two people just having different points of view as to what a war is and when it is just. Thus, some women who abort their babies think the babies are an invader into their body. They believe they have a right to protect themselves from the foreign invader, one who poses a health risk to them and might kill them if not taken out. This leads them to think it is a just war to remove the invader they didn’t welcome into their body, and to do so in a preemptive strike before it can harm her and her body.

    In saying this, I am not saying I think such women are right. In fact, I think they are wrong. Just as I think many people who are flippant on the issue of just war and think because people can have differing opinions it means any opinion is fine.

    Austin has, in many places, already pointed out how war is not an intrinsic evil, and so one can’t use that to morally judge someone if they engage a war you don’t think is just. He says the mere fact we can have a disagreement means one can just treat is as an insignificant issue. This is exactly the same view the woman who aborts her child in a “defensive posture” thinks with her abortion. She is the one who has the authority to determine her own body and what takes place in it, no one else. She has the moral right to defend herself the same way a president has in determining when to proclaim war in defense of the state. So following this kind of reasoning, the woman can even say “yes, abortion is an intrinsic evil, but killing an invader isn’t. I’m not having an abortion, I am destroying an invader. The two acts are similar, but because I proclaim my body as a body at war, it changes everything” Of course, again, she would be wrong. But this is the kind of argument being seen here in regards to torture. Sophistry.

    Torture is an intrinsic evil. The Catholic Church has defined torture. The use of waterboarding for interrogation falls under the mantle of torture. That is intrinsically evil. But other ways of such torture being done is also intrinsically evil. Even if, in other circumstances, the actions done outside of the torture might be similar and not torture.

    This sophistry has been mentioned to him before, and I’ve told him he needed to respond to it. He never did. He avoided it. I expect he knew his equivocation and sophistry was revealed, and it is why he ignored it and tried to deal with other things, hoping ignoring it would lead to people forgetting he had been called. But he had been called, and he folded.

  • Austin

    You forget many details. The soldiers have a way out to have it stopped. The prisoners do not know if the person do it will stop. The soldiers know they are being trained to do something and there will be limits. The prisoner does not. The soldier knows it is with his will. The prisoner knows it is against his will.

    Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

  • The relativism, Austin, is found in the justifications for torture and coercion built on the premise that the government should keep us safe by any means necessary or that whatever the government does to keep us safe is rendered good. Such justifications treat the realm of national security as a place in which the moral law doesn’t apply or in which the ends of safety and security establish moral legitimacy. If there are realms in which the moral law does not apply, then there is no absolute moral law that applies in all times, places, and circumstances, and morality, then, is relative.

  • The intent of waterboarding as a training exercise isn’t to coerce and undermine the will of the one waterboarded, but to train him to withstand such coercion. It doesn’t reduce the trainee to a mere puppet of the one who waterboards. As Zippy points out, this difference from waterboarding as a coercive and torturous interrogation technique doesn’t necessarily mean that it is morally licit, but it is clearly a different act, morally speaking. We can therefore say that the interrogation technique of waterboarding is intrinsically evil without necessarily signifying that waterboarding as a training exercise is also intrinsically evil.

  • First, Henry, don’t waste your breath. After getting so abused by you at Vox Nausea, i wont even read your posts let alone respond to them.

    Kyle, Thiessen et al dont make the argument that it is alright to torture to make us safe. He/they say waterboarding and other enhanced techniques are not torture.
    Blackadder, spontaneous abortions are not acts of man. Procured abortions are. Waterboarding is.

  • Austin

    Yes, I didn’t bow before you; you deemed it an abuse I didn’t just fawn over the fact a “professional pro-lifer” was on Vox Nova telling me I was a coward and not a man.

  • Now let me ask you this, gents. If the US military in its training pulled out the fingernails of its soldiers or hooked their testicles up to car batteries, would this be torture, even if its training?

  • When I was a child we used to do Chinese Water Torture on each other. One of would lay down and the other would drop a single drop of water on the other’s forehead repeatedly. It was voluntary, harmless, and not terribly uncomfortable. But it didn’t really take very long before you got up because somehow that little drop of water did begin to make you rather uncomfortable. It didn’t take much imagination even then to realize that if someone who was hostile to you, manhandled you and tied you down to the floor and started a water drip over you for hours or even days that it would no doubt be torturous. Waterboarding is far more uncomfortable and dangerous than the above example, but the similarity still exists about the nature of voluntarily submitting to it for whatever motive vs. having it forced on you.

  • “When Bush, an evangelical Methodist, left the stage, one of the event’s organizers, Austin Ruse, referred to him as ‘the second Catholic president.'”

    We now know what Ruse thinks of Catholicism. It’s just a tool for GOP politics.

  • Thiessen et al dont make the argument that it is alright to torture to make us safe. He/they say waterboarding and other enhanced techniques are not torture.

    Thiessen says waterboarding and other enhanced techniques are not torture because they make us safe. He’s a consequentialist.

    I don’t think anyone is looking to condemn him as a wicked man who knowingly advocates wicked means. He simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about, beginning with what it means for something to be “wrong” morally (and the less said about the hash he makes out of the principle of double effect, the better).

  • Tomkay,
    Marc does not say what you say he says. He says waterboarding is acceptable becuase it is NOT torture.

  • Anybody want to take up my car batteries to the testicles question?

  • The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government — whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community — has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

    After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”

    Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

    Even John McCain, whom Austin fawned over looking for good relations with a guy he thought would be president, after fawning over Bush, said the same:

    “There should be little doubt from American history that we consider that as torture otherwise we wouldn’t have tried and convicted Japanese for doing that same thing to Americans,” McCain said during a news conference.

  • RL,

    I would be very concerned if children were actually playing waterboard.

  • Austin

    You ignore the definition of torture. If you look to the definition, you will get an answer. People have already answered it by dealing with what is necessary for torture. They have also said, even if something is not torture, it doesn’t make the non-torture actions right.

  • Tomkay

    You punk.

    Marc does not say what you say he says. He says waterboarding is acceptable becuase it is NOT torture.

    And he says it’s not torture because it keeps us safe.

  • No, Tomkay, he says it is not torture. He also says it keeps us safe but he says its morally licit in and of itself.

  • Thiessen may not be among those Catholics who say we should defend ourselves by “any means necessary,” but such Catholics are not few in number. Among Thiessen’s specific moral errors is his fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of double effect and his use of his erroneous idea of it to justify coercion. Even if he were correct about the morality of coercive techniques – he isn’t – he is still, with the help of EWTN, propagating poor moral reasoning and a false presentation of Christian moral principles.

  • Kyle,

    Having a “misunderstanding” about double effect is hardly a “moral error.” Is it?

  • In what way is this waterboarding different than waterboarding of enemy combatants? Be specific.

    From the Department of Justice ’Certain Techniques’ memo of May 10, 2005 at page 41, footnote 51:

    The difference was in the manner in which the detainee’s breathing was obstructed. At the SERE school and in the DoJ opinion, the subject’s airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency interrogator…applies large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee’s mouth and nose. One of the psychologists/interrogators acknowledged that the Agency’s use of the technique is different from the used in SERE training because it is ‘for real’ and is more poignant and convincing.

    [The CIA’s Office of Medical Services] contends that the expertise of the SERE psychologists/interrogators on the waterboard was probably misrepresented at the time, as the SERE waterboard experience is so different from the subsequent Agency usage as to make it almost irrelevant.

  • It is an error of moral thinking that leads to an error in moral judgment. Furthermore, Thiessen’s faulty use of double effect can be used to justify a number of grave evils, a consequence I wrote about at Vox Nova. Its danger spreads beyond the torture debate.

  • Where did that memo come from?

    About it. The memo says that waterboarding is not torture. It does say that someone at CIA said SERE waterboarding was different than interrogation waterboarding. The memo quotes someone saying the differences were so vast as to be completely different but then goes on to say the differences were chiefly in the amount of water used and that the later was more “poignant”.

    It is an interesting memo and i wonder where it came from. But it does not really change the underlying assertion that we waterboarded our own troops, leaving open the question of whether we torture our own troops.

  • The other thing that strikes me about this memo is how very careful was the Bush administration on this and other questions related to the War on Terror. They wanted to get things exactly right. A friend of mine who was high up in CIA and DOD, and a faithful Catholic and a Democrat to boot, said there will be books written about the intense and precise moral calculations the Bush administration undertook on all aspects of the Iraq war and the War on Terror.

  • Precise moral calculations — just wrong calculations. From the get go, the war was unjust. And the war was waged unjustly. And continues to this day to bring America into shame with all kinds of evil being employed for that war. What you call moral calculations others call “excuses.”

  • …there will be books written about the intense and precise moral calculations the Bush administration undertook on all aspects of the Iraq war and the War on Terror.

    And there will be no shortage of faithful Catholics to write forewords to all of them, explaining why the Pope, though a dear old fellow, just doesn’t quite understand how morality works during wartime.

  • Tomkay,

    I am certain there will be faithful Catholics who will write these books. The truth of how the administration came to its conclusions and prosecuted the war are far more interesting than mere cartoons. One of the bottom lines is that these were profoundly morally serious people.

  • Two days (and nearing 200 comments) later and we’re still going strong!

    Morning Minion replies:

    Despite Christopher’s assertion to the contrary, there is no real debate about whether waterboarding constitutes torture.

    Like it or not, I do think there is a ‘debate’. Various Catholic apologists and pundits believe waterboarding may very well not be torture, and not intrinsically evil. Austin Ruse in the comments marshals the same tactics and arguments employed by others over the course of nearly half a decade of Catholics exchanges on this topic.

    – waterboarding as visited by SERE upon our own troops, or upon the Al Qaeda prisoners during interrogation, was, well, qualitatively different from the ‘waterboarding’ used by the Japanese and the Gestapo during World War II; by French during the Algerian war; by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s, or, for that matter, by U.S. troops during the Vietnam war and a Texas sheriff upon a prisoner in 1983 (the latter two cases resulting in a court martial and dishonerable discharge from the Army, and a 10 year prison sentence, respectively).

    – waterboarding was used with a different motive in mind than that which is condemned, say, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (“Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.”) The United States, to quote the protest of one Catholic apologist, was done “to extract vital information from, say, a captured and self-confessed Al Qaeda operative whose secret plans may be the required key for saving hundreds or even thousands of innocent lives from his next projected terrorist attack.” Consequently, the Catechism‘s “failure to condemn torture for obtaining “information” look like a deliberate decision on the part of church authorities, rather than a mere oversight or coincidence.”

    – waterboarding is defensible under “Just War” criteria — This position is taken by several Catholic pundits (Deal Hudson, Fr. Robert Sirico and most recently Mark Thiessen on EWTN). Last year, a prominent advisor in the Reagan administration and popular evangelical Christian Gary Bauer employed the ‘just war’ criteria in defense of waterboarding as well.

    I’m not necessarily stating the above arguments are persuasive and hold water — but they are used just the same.

    Perhaps in much the same manner as a good number of ‘pro-choice Catholics’ have received a public response and authoritative correction by the Catholic bishops (locally and/or collectively), these kind of instances constitute opportune “teaching moments” where our Bishops might render the same service and clarity to the issue of torture.

  • For those who just can’t get enough of torture threads, and I confess to a certain “car crash” sort of joy in reading them, here is a good one I stumbled upon from last year by Ed Fesser at What’s Wrong With the World.

    My congratulations to my friend and colleague Christopher in posting on this topic. As always, he is one of the most fair minded bloggers on Saint Blog’s on this and all other issues.

  • Perhaps in much the same manner as a good number of ‘pro-choice Catholics’ have received a public response and authoritative correction by the Catholic bishops (locally and/or collectively), these kind of instances constitute opportune “teaching moments” where our Bishops might render the same service and clarity to the issue of torture.

    You may be asking too much. For example, I’m not aware of the bishops ever speaking out at the level of granularity to say “suction aspiration of alive fetus is abortion, and abortion is intrinsically immoral, therefore suction aspiration of a live fetus is intrinsically immoral”. Expecting a similiar syllogism: “waterboarding a prisoner is torture, torture is intrinsically immoral, therefore waterboarding a prisoner is intrinsically immoral” — is I think unrealistic, and would be, as far as I know, unprecedented.

    The only people who would claim not to know that suction aspiration of a live fetus is abortion – and there have been people who have made the “blob of tissue” gambit many times, indeed there is at least one regular commenter at Vox Nova who still makes that gambit — are people who don’t want it to be the case that abortion is intrinsically immoral.

    Same with waterboarding prisoners. If the Bishops spoke on that level of granularity, these people would find ways to poke holes in the more-granular description — despite, as Mark Shea has tirelessly pointed out, the additional positive command to treat prisoners humanely, and six years worth of other reasons which have been given again, and again, and again.

    I mean, people who think the Bishops haven’t spoken are just flat wrong.

  • You may be asking too much.

    Zippy — I was hoping for something along the same lines of when over two dozen bishops analyzed and corrected the very specific, ‘granular’ arguments of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden on abortion in 2008, when they claimed on ‘Meet The Press’ to embrace ‘the Catholic position’ on the matter.

    The case of Mark Thiessen on EWTN, in my mind, constitutes just such an opportune case.

  • Much as I would like to see Marc Thiessen censured directly in public by his bishop, he just isn’t as important as the Speaker of the House and the Vice President, so I doubt we’ll see it. Though I hope I’m wrong.

    Who is Thiessen’s bishop? Loverde in Arlington?

  • And finally, it happened to only three guys and yet it has taken up so much time and commentboxes (oh the humanity).

    I would say there are too many people with too little to do with their Ph.D.s or who should be spending blogging time on their dissertations.

  • “It happened to only three guys,” and therefore it’s not important. Seriously, the issue of quantity in an issue of morality indicates Austin’s lack of moral integrity. Which is why my point on lying is straight on the point — and why he will not deal with it or many other challenges offered to his position.

    Secondly, has it only happened to three guys? Doubtful. Don’t confuse “we admit to it happening to three guys” (which of course was denied originally and so Austin could have said, for a time, happened to no one) to “that’s all there is.” And do not believe it is merely the CIA who engages such practice.

  • Austin:

    Just so you know, I’m a forty-something self-made multimillionaire and a staunch pro-lifer. I donate not insignificant amounts of money every year to Catholic causes. And you’ve accommplished something that that joke Vox Nova could never have accomplished: you’ve put C-FAM on the list of charities which will never get a red cent from me unless there are some serious public sackcloth and ashes from you on this issue.

    I mean, what are you thinking? Whatever private opinions you might have, dying in a ditch defending torture – torture! – is, as the kids say, nucking futs.

    But thanks for the advice on how to spend my time.

  • I’m seriously tempted to the belief that the “Austin Ruse” in these threads is a sock puppet who set out with the purpose of “proving” Vox Nova right. Hopefully someone who knows the real Austin Ruse can alert him to the sock puppet and have his organizations publicly repudiate this amazing little thread.

  • Zippy needs a hug….

  • Zippy,

    We have 15,000 individual small check donors and don’t have to rely upon the whims of self important “self-made millionaires.” In fact, i do my best to stay away from self important “self made millionaires.” I have found their money is very expensive.

  • Christopher:

    For what it’s worth, a while ago (a year? two years?), I sent an email to my Archbishop Wuerl’s press secretary asking whether he might have something to say about torture (his own email is not public, and I didn’t take the trouble to send him a letter (though I might yet)). She replied to the effect that, unless and until he had something in particular to add, he would let the Bishop’s Committee on International Justice and Peace take the lead, and she included a link to the “Torture is a Moral Issue” study guide. This, along with the various statements made by the chairman of the IJ&P committee, clearly consider waterboarding to be torture.

    When this was pointed out on Coalition for Clarity, an anonymous commenter said the (former) chairman was a known leftist, and he, the commenter, wouldn’t believe it until Archbishop Chaput weighed in.

    Abp. Chaput, as you may know, does have a public email. When I emailed him, explained the circumstances, and asked if he had any comment to make, he replied that people outside his diocese shouldn’t look to him, but should ask their own bishops for guidance on this (which is consistent with my own understanding of the office of bishop).

    From my perspective, then, I would say I have been given sufficient guidance from my own bishop. Moreover, while I by no means have my finger on the pulse of the American bench of bishops, I don’t expect them to say anything further about torture any time soon, barring something a lot more significant than anything Marc Thiessen could say to Raymond Arroyo.

  • Glad to see this was genteel. I think waterboarding has been dropped from all but Navy training. This because the argument was that troops were being taught to resist a given technique. However, most military branches discovered that no one was able to resist waterboarding even in the allegedly mild SERE form.

    The Navy still likes it. Who said Marines were tough?

  • “Who said Marines were tough?”

    As an ex-Army guy, I can attest that all Marines I encountered in service were quite eloquent as to how tough they were.

  • My research director, a woman (White House Fellow, Commander in the Navy-retired, former professor of strategic planning at the Naval War College, volunteer in India with Mother Theresa), was waterboarded for SERE training and has concluded waterboarding is not torture. FWIW.

    Donald, thanks for the humor…

  • Only three guys were subjected to coercion/torture? Last I checked, we knew of at least 100 people who had died as a result of our government’s use of coercion/torture.

  • What is your source of that claim, Kyle?

  • Only 3 guys were waterboarded.

  • FWIW

    “I went through X in training, therefore anything like X used repeatedly in a open-ended fashion on prisoners to break their will and get them to cough up information is not torture” has to go down as one of the dumbest arguments ever. And given the dumb arguments one sees every day, that is saying something.

  • As mentioned, waterboarding isn’t the only interrogation technique used by our government to which we are opposed on moral grounds.

  • Art Deco,

    Glenn Greenwald has reported, with documentation, on the numbers I reference.

  • My brother had pepper spray sprayed in his eyes as a police trainee. Does that mean that repeatedly spraying pepper spray into the eyes of prisoners until their wills break and they sing like canaries is “not torture”?

  • Kyle,

    This is an easy one. If interrogators went beyond the law into torture, that should be condemned and even prosecuted.

  • I know many folks have suggested that the definition of torture is an unimportant inquiry, and I disagree. But I do agree with Zippy that the waterboarding conducted by US authorities under the Bush Administration constituted torture under any reasonable definition. While these acts were apparently quite limited and perhaps even understandable, they were nonetheless immoral. As I’ve suggested before, there may be some hypothetical situation where torture is morally defensible (if so, Catholic teaching would seem to need further development), but in my view such a hypothetical would need at minimum to involve (i) specific imminant harm (urgent action is necessary), (ii) harm that is directed toward innocents (i.e., civilians rather than combatants), (iii) harm that is more serious than that caused by the torture, (iv) belief to a moral certainty that the subject is both complicit in the harm to be avoided and has the requisite knowledge to stop it, and (v) a good faith belief that no other options are as likely to be effective. By all accounts some of these criteria were not satisfied. While I do not view deliberately harming the guilty to save innocent lives to be morally equivalent to killing the innocent in order to preserve quality of life, the fact remains that what the Bush Administration did was objectively evil, and Catholics should admit it.
    I realize that Zippy will almost certainly assert that my hypothetical is malignant in that it ignores Catholic teaching, and he may be right. I’m not a student of moral theology, and will accept Church teaching even if I don’t fully understand it. That said, I’m pretty sure that if confronted with a real world circumstance with an innocent life at stake, I would beat the living hell out of pyschopath if necessary to secure the information necessary to save the innocent. I fully admit that this does not make it right.

  • Kyle,

    I would even say it is possible to torture using waterboarding and if someone did so, they should be called to account. It sounds as if, from the Washingotn Post story you site to, that the use of “large amounts of water” was beyond guidelines and the law. It sounds like from that story that the proscribed form of waterboarding was similar to what was described in SERE training.

  • What if the law (including legal memos by the OLC) governing interrogation policy gave legal legitimacy to immoral and historically illegal interrogation techniques?

  • “Gave legitimacy” is too vague. They either supported illegal methods or they did not.

  • Austin is once again falling for the error that what is legal is what is moral. But this once again undermines his position on abortion (if he really holds to it as he claims). For all the abortionist has to say is “my method is legal.”

  • And finally, it happened to only three guys and yet it has taken up so much time and commentboxes (oh the humanity).

    I would say there are too many people with too little to do with their Ph.D.s or who should be spending blogging time on their dissertations.

    You seem to be spending quite a lot of time on it yourself. I guess you have nothing better to do?

  • Austin,

    In the more than half a decade of discussion we’ve had on this subject, one of many, many proposals was that a distinction between torture and punishment is that torture is, as far as the victim knows, open ended: it may go on forever, as far as he knows, until he breaks down and betrays his friends. Even the death penalty does not have that characteristic: the suffering implied in the death penalty is necessarily limited.

    And as it happens, that characteristic is a clear distinction – one of many – between SERE simulated waterboarding and actual waterboarding.

    Just FYI. But as I mentioned upthread, you have more than half a decade of discussion to catch up on, and you do yourself and your organization as disservice by wading in as a torture-apologist newbie like this.

  • Acutally I think “simulated waterboarding” is a euphamism. As pointed out above, all services save the Navy stopped it in training as no one could be trained to resist it even as applied in training. Waterboarding is just plain painful even in training.

  • Blackadder

    It is sad to me that he thinks even one is acceptable, let alone three, let alone how many really have been abused which we do not know. The problem is that this matters because by rejecting the stand on torture, as he does, and treating it as unimportant, he provides the means by which all other intrinsic evils, including abortion, can be “justified” (put in quotes because they cannot be). And that is what I’ve shown through a few examples, how his reasoning can be used by the abortionist in one way or another -from the “just war” theory of the woman being invaded by the child, to the “legally justified” theory he just provided now.

  • Blackadder,

    We have been snowed in. Plus, i can multi-task.


    That these things have been discussed before, for six years?!, doesn’t mean that they have been settled. Quite clearly they have not been settled.

    I join in this debate because i am disgusted by how this debate is being used by GOP haters and pro-life haters to drive a wedge in the pro-life movements. I entered in here with that point and i remain on that point.

    The waterboarding of three men does not amount to a hill of beans when compared to the death of 50 million unborn children. yet this is the proposition of the GOP/pro-life haters. They want folks to think it is OK to vote for the party of death because Bush waterboarded three guys.

    Would that all of this good energy been spent for six years (six years!) on the question of baby killing and in recent months how Obama is the most pro-death president we hvae ever had. I wish this energy was spent on something real.

  • We have been snowed in. Plus, i can multi-task.

    And you think these qualities are somehow unique to yourself?

  • It is why i am on here right now and not two weeks ago and likley not next week…but who knows…

    Meow? Woof!

  • I join in this debate because i am disgusted by how this debate is being used by GOP haters and pro-life haters to drive a wedge in the pro-life movements. I entered in here with that point and i remain on that point.

    Well, first, the folks you’ve been arguing with in this thread aren’t GOP haters or pro-life haters. As I mentioned before I am a Republican and am very pro-life.

    Second, aside from a few stray comments you haven’t spent your time arguing that the discussion over waterboarding is a distraction. Instead you’ve spent hours defending waterboarding.

  • I doesn’t mean that they have been settled.

    Of course not, any more than one could claim that the abortion debate is “settled”. That is, there will always be dissenting Catholics who prostitute their faith to their political ideology, so no moral issue with political implications ever becomes “settled”.

    But you just have no idea how clueless your posts sound: how completely, naively unaware of the most basic arguments operating in the domain. Marc Thiessen is just as bad in his book, worse if anything, as I posted on recently, just on a particular passage from his book.

    And seriously, people like you really can make this go away — by getting on the right side of the moral issue.

    I agree that torture is a wedge driving apart the pro-life movement: a wedge created and driven in by the Bush adminstration, and exploited by the likes of MM (he is medium-bright but hackishly unprincipled, wielding principle as if it were a partisan weapon; Karlson, on the other hand, seems as sincere as the day is long, but the combination of faux-intellectual airs with his modest intelligence is cringeworthy. Kyle I have nothing but good things to say about, despite our occasional disagreements. Not that anyone asked).

  • Zippy,

    Now that’s the way to convince me! I am a naive prostitute dissenter and i am never going to get any of your money! After six years, this is your argument?
    More than 50% of American Catholics actually support torture and these are your arguments to convince them? Typical self made millionaire. Agree with me or I will not give you my money and i will call you names. Nicely done.

    We do agree about the Vox Nausea crowd though, Zippy, and I like that.

  • Waht i think is driving the GOP/Pro-life haters at Dotcommonweal, America and Vox Nausea is precisely that, a hatred of all things conservative. What drives this debate among this crowd is something else. i do not doubt that you all are sincere in your concern but i dont get is how three guys getting waterboarded is worth all this time and effort and ink adn giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the unborn. I suspect there is an aspect of boredom. We have been fighting the prolife fight for many many years. I have been doing it full time for 13 years. Boredom and frustration leads folks to new fights or new aspects of old fights. I think the personhood fight is an aspect of boredom and frustration. I do not know, but i suspect similar boredom adn frustration is driving this torture debate among good people.

  • i do not doubt that you all are sincere in your concern but i dont get is how three guys getting waterboarded is worth all this time and effort and ink adn giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the unborn.


    You seem to have missed or ignored my previous comment:

    I would say that, while waterboarding is probably the most prominent example of what has been termed ‘extreme interrogation’, the subject of ‘torture’ is not confined to such, nor are incidents of detainee abuse confined to those which occurred at Abu Ghraib. Incidents continue to occur in both Iraq and Afghanistan See for example Command’s Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan – “comprehensive accounting of the U.S. government’s handling of the nearly 100 cases of detainees who have died in U.S. custody since 2002.” [See also Glenn Greenwald’s post, as Kyle pointed out].

    Practices which we might think of as fairly innocuous when presented on paper — sleep deprivation, raising/lowering the temperature, “stress positions”, and other techniques of “softening up” detainees for interrogation — have contributed to such deaths. Not all of these incidents can be dismissed as violations of the system in place, either — rather, the impression I get is that the system currently in place cultivates, and encourages, the abuse.

    Your “I don’t know if it’s intrinsically evil but even if it was, we only did it to three people — so it doesn’t matter” schtick is getting old.

  • I think the report above refers not to the CIA program that was approved by the Bush administration where waterboarding occured. I think it refers to command problems that encouraged rogue actions by military personel that resulted in abusive actions.

  • If these charges are true, who defends the deliberate killing of detainees? Or torturing them to death? Who has done that? As far as i can tell, no one. So, that is not really part of the debate. The only thing that is open for debate is whether the approved methods of enhanced interrogation are torture. As far as i can tell, only three men have been waterboarded. This debate is about that, three men who were waterboarded. My schtick is my schtick and i am schticking to it.

  • Reading the report also, it seems a number of individuals reached back to what they learned in SERE training even though it was not approved for these detainees.

  • Waht i think is driving the GOP/Pro-life haters at Dotcommonweal, America and Vox Nausea is precisely that, a hatred of all things conservative. What drives this debate among this crowd is something else. i do not doubt that you all are sincere in your concern but i dont get is how three guys getting waterboarded is worth all this time and effort and ink adn giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the unborn.

    If you think that the issue is a distraction then why spend so much time defending waterboarding? Why does the head of the American Life League feel the need to weigh in on the torture issue? Why does EWTN feel the need to have guests on to offer pro-waterboarding arguments? If you think the whole issue is a big distraction, then it seems to me those are the people you should be upset with.

  • We feel the need because the torture debate is giving aid and comfort to the party of death.

  • We feel the need because the torture debate is giving aid and comfort to the party of death.

    If you think the debate aids the party of death, why participate in the debate? Is this really such a hard point to grasp?

    The odd thing about these comments is that they’ve largely come after Bush left office. Waterboarding is no longer practiced by the U.S. government, and Bush isn’t on the ballot, so if there was ever a time to argue that the issue was moot and a distraction, it would be now. Yet instead of continuing to remain silent as they did when it was actually a live issue, for some reason a lot of Catholic groups have decided that now is the time to start actively defending the Bush era practices. It makes no sense.

  • Actually, i should say, i cannot comment for Ewtn or for Judy Brown. as for myself, i have commented for the reasons previously stated.

  • I think it is like mine, a reaction against folks, like you, who insist upon giving aid and comfort to the party of death by continuing to harp on a nonissue but one that divides prolifers.

  • I think it is like mine, a reaction against folks, like you, who insist upon giving aid and comfort to the party of death by continuing to harp on a nonissue but one that divides prolifers.

    As long as you continue to think that, you are going to perpetuate and aggravate the division. I’ve never seen someone hand Vox Nova – Vox-freaking Nova! – such a heaping helping of credibility on a silver platter.

  • Zippy,

    YOu are in league with Vox freakin Nausea in continuing this stupid argument. While this argument has been going on today there have been exactly zero waterboardings and roughly 2000 abortions.

  • Kyle, he makes reference to the reports of the organization Human Rights First. Human Rights First offers a total of 141 individuals who have died while in captivity. Since their total includes 38 individuals who were killed when a stray mortar hit a detention facility, I do not think they are inclined to lowball their figures. Human Rights First contends that a minimum of eight individuals have died ‘as a result of torture’, not the minimum of 100 individuals claimed by this dubious fellow Greenwald.

  • Reading Christopher’s link, it seems those things reported involved actual beatings and severe physical injuries as such. A number involved were disciplined though perhaps not to the degree that they should have been. But again these abuses seem different from what was approved in CIA interrogation. Not that it makes the CIA methods licit. Just that comparing the two seems faulty.

  • YOu are in league with Vox freakin Nausea in continuing this stupid argument.

    I see. If someone argues with you they are aiding the forces of death, but if you argue with them that’s fine and dandy.

    Frankly, if anyone in this thread is damaging the pro-life cause it would be you, both by claiming defense of waterboarding as a pro-life issue and by the juvenile manner with which you have conducted yourself.

  • The ‘we should be talking about something other than this’ line of argument is one of the least effective rhetorical ploys I’ve come across. Whether it’s the classic lament that “if we spent half as much time helping the poor as we do talking about abortion, the world would be a much better place,” or Mr. Ruse’s odd suggestion above that we should not talk about torture because it harms pro-life efforts, ‘be quiet about that, it’s not my pet issue’ is hardly an effective response.

    Torture and abortion are both abuses of the human person; Catholics should uphold the dignity of the human person on both issues. It is true that some people instrumentalize shared moral commitments for partisan purposes, such that torture is opposed not so much for its own sake but as a club to attack conservative Catholics, or abortion is condemned primarily as a means to attack liberal Catholics. Nevertheless, it is ridiculous to suggest that torture isn’t worth discussing at all simply because it’s not as bad as abortion, much less that to do so harms pro-life efforts; are we to be silent on every other matter of public policy save abortion?

  • John Henry — precisely. Good thoughts.

  • John Henry:

    There are troubles large and small in this world and someone is obligated to take responsiblity for each and every one.

    That having been said, you have the ambiguities involved in the question of how detainees are properly treated, you have a good deal of chaff obscuring your view (see the recent controversy over Scott Horton’s article in Harper’s) and questions about the credibility of various parties, and you have the scale of the problem to the extent it is a problem. On the other hand, you have the quantum of verbiage devoted and the vehemence of of the discussions, which have included the most atrocious personal attacks on various parties. It leads one to believe that whatever it appears people are discussing, they are truly discussing something else.

  • It leads one to believe that whatever it appears people are discussing, they are truly discussing something else.

    Well, yes. If we were confident that the three people waterboarded would be the last people ever waterboarded, and we were leaving it behind, then harping on it would indeed be counterproductive.

    What I see myself doing is ensuring that it ends there. And that it doesn’t open the door to other evils — will pro-life advocates be considered dangerous to the country?

    It is bigger than the three people; it’s about what kind of country we want to be; what kind of people we are. Are we the type of people who abandon are principles at the first threat?

  • Blackadder,

    Your post is beneath you. I dont mind if people argue with me. My point is that the torture debate is being used those who care more about it than the lives of unborn children. They use the torture debate as a subtext to convince people that it is better to vote for the non-torturers (the Dems) even though the Dems favor baby killing than for them to vote for the pro-life party, which is the GOP. Based on a recent post at Zippy in which he attempts to destroy my organization and several families who rely on my group for their livelihood, I am convinced that even on this side of the debate, torture trumps the babies and that those who disagree must be destoyed.

    I am sorry if i have been immature. I am not aware of having been, but in the comboxes, it is a strange place adn folks say things they do not mean and it is hard to convey true feelings and intentions here. Have I been sarcastic? I dont think anymore than anyone else. Anyway, if i have offended you, i apologize.

    Let me make several points i have made at Zippy’s hate site.

    1) I speak here as an individual and not as the president of C-FAM. C-FAM does not take a position on torture except insofar as we are faithful Catholics loyal to the Holy Father and the Magisterium in all things proper to them.

    2) I assert the debate over torture is being used by some, not all, to harm the pro-life movement.

    3) I assert the debate over torture is about very little since it involved only 3 people who were waterboarded.

    4) I have further questioned, not asserted, that waterboarding may not be torture. In fact, on this blog I demonstrated very convincingly that waterboarding is not intrinsically evil since the US does a form of it to our own troops as a part of training.

    4) I asserted that waterboarding could be torture under certain circumstances.

    5) I positively said i reject all forms of torture including waterboarding that is used as torture.

    If anyone needs me to be any clearer than this, let me konw.

  • But there is talking past one another. There have been 100 deaths of detainees. This of an estimated 80,000 detainees since 2001. Of these 32 were ruled homicide. Of these many (though not all) were court martialed or dealt with otherwise. The deaths reported suffered injuries which were not approved methods.

    But this gets presented as a sign of rampant torture.

  • And I’ve met thousands of women in my life that I’m not married to.

    And if I slept with one, it would be presented as a sign that I’m an adulterer.

  • Phillip,

    I contend there is not real debate over these things. If they happened, that is, if people were killed because of interrogation, this is a violation of human rights and should be punished. I dont knwo that even Marc Thiessen says its ok to kill someone during interrogation.

  • Let me rephrase that. The 32 homicides are against the moral order and should be punished. There is no evidence presented that these were approved of nor that they were the result of officially sanctioned interrogation techniques. Whether those techniques are torture are what some question. But the report linked doesn’t prove there is rampant, govt. sponsered torture.

    Just as JohnMcG having sex with someone not his wife doesn’t prove that the govt. is sanctioning adultery.

  • Well this torture thread is going the way most torture threads I’ve seen on Catholic sites. Endless posts by a few people and no one being convinced to alter their position one iota. I think perhaps the sterility of the debate is at base caused by the fact that some Catholics view torture in the same category as abortion and some do not. I am in the do not category. I am against physical torture as I’ve repeated ad nauseum in this endless futile debate over the past five years. However, I do not view torture as intrinsically evil, although it may well be evil depending on the circumstances, and I view it as a minor social ill at present compared to the mass slaughter of legalized abortion. Therefore, I simply can’t get worked up about it. Ban it, allow it under certain circumstances, allow it only under extreme cirumstances, it matters little to me one way or another. Obviously it excites some people greatly, but I am not in that category. There! My remarks should spark at least another 50 comments, but I will not be among them. The torture threads make amusing reading if one is interested in observing posturing, hair-splitting, avoidance of the argument your interlocutor is making, etc. I think they are rarely good for anything else productive.

  • I guess i am not follwing you Phillip. If detainees have died in custody and it is shown that it happened as a result of interrogation, then culpability must be assessed and the guilty should be punished. Again, i dont know anyone who would disagree with that.

  • Maybe this will help make my point. Some bishops have been pedophiliacs. Therefore the Church approves of pedophilia.

  • Some soldiers have tortured, therefore the govt. has approved of torture.

  • Of course that is not true. Has someone said its true?

  • Austin,

    I’m going to try and explain this one more time, as simply as possible. If you think the torture debate is a distraction, then DON’T GET INVOLVED IN THE DEBATE. You think that the issue doesn’t justify voting for Democrats over the GOP? Great. So do I. Making that argument doesn’t require you to defend waterboarding or other practices on the merits. When you start to do that, you have to expect that people who are opposed to waterboarding are going to respond. To accuse them of not really being pro-life when they do so it utterly hypocritical. What do you expect, for people who consider waterboarding a violation of human dignity to just sit silently while Judy Brown or Marc Thiessen or you or whoever make whatever pro-waterboarding statements? You clearly aren’t willing to abide by that standard, and it’s ridiculous for you to expect others to do so.

  • Since it is their interest and their duty to see that relations be normal between the members of a given group – a family, a school, a firm, a community, a social class, a city, a state – their constant temptation is to impose by the use of force such normal relations as bear the appearance of Peace. The ambiguous character of the social life which follows is torture and corruption for human spirits. A life of pretence is the atmosphere resulting sometimes from an inglorious victory, at other times from an irrational despotism, from a coercive repression, or from a balance of permanently opposing forces which are usually on the increase as they wait for a violent outburst which by devastation of every sort shows how false was the Peace imposed only by superiority of power and force.

  • Did the bishops hire lawyers to investigate whether there was wiggle room in Canon law to allow sex with minors?

    Have prominent Catholics responded to recent news events by saying that the Church’s rejection of pedophilia is making the Church less safe? Are retired bishops criticizing current bishops for this?

    Has there been a best-selling book making the case for pedophilia that was uncritically promoted in Catholic media?

  • John,

    You know I am not saying that. I’m merely saying that using the above cited report to state that what was reported was govt. policy is false.

  • …and that becomes a starting point to not be talking past each other.

  • Blackadder,

    Idont know if anyonehere works for a prolife group. I do. As someone who does this work, I am telling you this prolonged debate about how the GOP are torturers gives aid and comfort to those who want to kill babies. I have come into this debate to warn you that this could result in yet more proabortion people being elected to Congress and anohter term for Obama. This is why i have entered into this discussion. i regret digressing from my main point into an exploration of waterboarding, though i think we all benefited from some of the points raised there.

    Lstly, i am not aware of saying anyone is not prolife based on being against waterboarding. If i did, i retract it.

  • Amen Donald!!

  • Austin

    We get it. “Elect the GOP!” That’s your point. GOP this. GOP that. GOP. GOP. GOP. That’s your concern. Everything is for the sake of the GOP, and you are willing to undermine morality for the sake of the GOP. Moral questions and issues are insignificant to you. People dying are insignificant to you. GOP winning is all that counts. And this seems to explain why you confuse the GOP with the Catholic Church; how else can Bush be called a Catholic by you?! If you reject the moral absolutes, and say morality doesn’t matter, then you are indeed following consequential relativism for the sake of the party. And people see it here. Rock on, Austin. Rock on. (How did you like working for that pro-abortion Rolling Stone magazine, btw?)

  • Look Austin, it really doesn’t matter that there are people who use the Bush policy regarding waterboarding to justify support of pro-aborts and other policies that go against pro-life policies. They are objectively correct to condemn torture and want our country to not participate in it. It’s okay to agree with them even if you disagree with the gravity or importance relative to abortion and other life issues.

    Frankly, if it’s not the torture issue there will be something else they will use to justify supporting the a pro-abort candidate. Why fall into that trap? Why excuse a grave injustice just because your political opponents do? Why not use your support of conventionally pro-life candidates to lead him/her to a more thorough and consistant pro-life position? Don’t be the mirror image of those whom you’re finding fault with.

  • I will just reiterate to everyone here. I will not respond to anything Henry Karlson says. He has a totally free shot to say anything at all. I will not respond to him.

  • Idont know if anyonehere works for a prolife group.

    Several of the commenters here either currently work for a pro-life group or have in the past, including myself.

    As someone who does this work, I am telling you this prolonged debate about how the GOP are torturers gives aid and comfort to those who want to kill babies. I have come into this debate to warn you that this could result in yet more proabortion people being elected to Congress and anohter term for Obama.

    You said earlier that you know Marc Thiessen. Have you ever made similar warnings to him? Because I guarantee you that by writing his book Thiessen has prolonged the torture debate several orders of magnitude more than anyone on this thread. In fact, if Thiessen gone on EWTN to argue in favor of waterboarding this thread wouldn’t even exist.

  • I’m sure Austin is smart enough to know, by stating what he just said, he did respond to me. But of course, the problem for him is he acts like a typical bully. When the taunts don’t work, he has nothing left. But I will warn people: if you don’t want him pestering you at home, tell him now before he thinks you are fair game too.

  • Your real identity will remain private…

  • … in which he attempts to destroy my organization and several families who rely on my group for their livelihood,

    Austin, I’ll make you a friendly offer right now. I disagree with your characterization of my post — all I did was link to information you posted publicly on the Internet, and recommend that people read it, so that they will be fully informed. But I’ll happily remove the post if you’ll back off, go have a coffee or beer or whatever favorite adult you prefer, and seriously reconsider what you are doing. I think pro-life leaders like yourself have a huge potential to do great harm or great good in how you approach this particular problem. I think you maybe jumped in with both feet when you ought to have been more careful, and that you were probably goaded into a lot of this by the Leftists and liars at Vox Nova. (I can’t judge the discussions over there because I don’t read them any more).

    But any way, if you’ll just commit to go re-think the issue, pray on it, and discuss it with your Bishop before speaking publicly on it again, I’ll be more than happy to take the post down.

    You know what — to Hell with it. As a gesture of good faith, I’ll go take it down now anyway. But please, please do what I asked. You really want to be on the side of the angels on this one, or the stink of Hell is going to infect the other things you do. And that would be a terrific shame, for all of us.

  • Here is my offer, Zippy. Lets get together…

  • And, i want you to know that is darn nice of you, Zippy. I appreciate it. I take it as an act of very good faith.

  • “Leftists and liars…” hah!

  • Love it, Zippy. Just went there and it is down. You are a man.

  • Here is my offer, Zippy. Lets get together…

    Expect an email.

  • I recall becoming best friends with guys i had fistfights with on the playground…

  • I submit that to call the Democratic Party “the party of death” and the Republican Party “the pro-life party” causes far graver injury to the cause of life than to insist that the Bush Administration approved of torture.

    Can the pro-life movement really succeed only if people stop telling the truth? Are professional anti-abortionists really insisting that voters be kept ignorant lest they not vote Republican?

  • Rick Lugari @ 5:07 PM – “Why excuse a grave injustice just because your political opponents do? Why not use your support of conventionally pro-life candidates to lead him/her to a more thorough and consistant pro-life position?” – Thank you.

    Donald McClarey / Philip — I freely concede and acknowledge that the ‘100 detainee deaths under U.S. custody’ merit close scrutiny, and likewise believe one should be skeptical of cases in which, for example, every one of those cases are attributed to torture and interrogation. At the same time I don’t think they can be dismissed wholesale, either, as some here are inclined to do. Here are some other attempts to break down the list in question:

    Deaths of Detainees in the Custody of US Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan From 2002 to 2005 (12/05/06) [free signup to access required]

    Medical Investigations of Homicides of Prisoners of War in Iraq and Afghanistan (07/05/05) [free signup to access required]

    And Philip — just to clarify where I stand:

    I understand that not everything that occurred happened with the authoritative sanction from the top. (I stand corrected if I gave that impression). I don’t necessarily buy into the liberal “torture narrative” either (the proposition that the Bush administration deliberately conspired to commit torture and demanded the legal sanction to do so. I find it more plausible that many of these officials did not want to commit torture, and — when approached for help on this matter by those conducting the actual interrogations — were thus motivated to ascertain those techniques which they deemed were “within the lines”.

    I’m not necessarily convinced they succeeded in doing so, but I believe they had honorable motives and did so in good faith.

    But — reading over the vast body of accounts and memos related to “enhanced interrogation” and detainee abuse, my sense is that even the lesser of the ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques — “environmental manipulation”; “sleep deprivation/adjustment”; “stress positions”; “20-hour interrogations”, “controlled fear” — that were signed off and formally approved of, were a contributing factor. Moreover, that our present methods of implementing this incarceration and interrogation is grossly dysfunctional. (See “No Blood, No Foul”: Soldiers’ Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq. On paper it sounds as if such ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques were tightly regulated so as to prohibit any abuse; that such abuse would be easily recognized and quickly addressed — enough that our former President could say with a straight face and perhaps believe it himself: “we don’t torture.”
    When in reality, at least according to one soldier’s testimony:

    … And within a couple hours a team of two JAG officers, JAG lawyers, came and gave us a couple hours slide show on why this is necessary, why this is legal, they’re enemy combatants, they’re not POWs, and so we can do all this stuff to them and so forth. Yeah, they came the very same day. . . .Oh, it was very fast. We [laughing] it was like they were ready. I mean they had this two hour slide show all prepared, and they came in and gave it to us and they stopped interrogations for it. It was a PowerPoint. It was on a computer laptop. . . .

    Some of the slides were about the laws of war, the Geneva Convention, but it was kind of a starting-off point for them to kind of spout off, you know: why we don’t have to follow these Geneva Convention articles and so forth. Like, you know, inhumane and degrading treatment, well, this specifically relates to POWs, so we don’t have to do this. So basically, we can do inhumane and degrading treatment.

    And then they went on to the actual treatment itself, what we were doing, what we’d signed off on and those types of things: cold water and nudity, strobe lights, loud music-that’s not inhumane because they’re able to rebound from it. And they claim no lasting mental effects or physical marks or anything, or permanent damage of any kind, so it’s not inhumane. And then there was also [discussion about] degrading [treatment]. Like what’s more degrading than being thrown completely naked in the middle of a mud pile, with everybody looking at you and spraying water on you. . . .

    So while much of this is morally questionable, I agree with Philip that we have to rightly distinguish between those techniques which were “lawfully sanctioned” and signed off on by the Bush administration at the time (which may, nonetheless be gravely immoral and tantamount to torture); and other immoral abuses which occurred as a result of on-the-spot decisions by the parties themselves, not formally approved from the top.

    Donald / Austin

    Overall, it is disconcerting to me — as a self-identified ‘Catholic-conservative’ blogger since 2002 — that the predominant sources I have to turn to for investigations and reporting on this subject are leading liberal periodicals (New Yorker, New York Times, Mother Jones) or organizations (ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First). I’m well aware of the liberal bias that is present, and am mindful to read with a critical eye. I very much resent the fact that it’s chiefly liberals who are raising a storm over this — and that some seem to shrug it off with the “we only waterboarded 3 guys years ago, so what does it ultimately matter? it’s only a distraction and will ultimately prevent us from electing another Republican” attitude.

    This kind of behavior puts pro-lifers in a sorry light and simply gives ready ammunition to Vox Nova‘s stereotype of the hypocritical conservative.

    * * *

    Austin Ruse asserts: “If detainees have died in custody and it is shown that it happened as a result of interrogation, then culpability must be assessed and the guilty should be punished.”

    Well, yes. I think it can be said that everyone desires thus. But it is one thing to assert this, and another to read over the reporting on these incidents and to find just how rarely justice is actually achieved.

    Here are some resources that may help evaluate “enhanced interrogation” — again, with the disclaimer that these are typically understood to be ‘liberal’ sources. We have to read critically, but we can’t wantonly dismiss for that reason either.

    Documents Released Under FOIA relating to the treatment of prisoners in detention centers overseas. (A project of the ACLU).

    ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody International Committee of the Red Cross, Regional Delegation for United States and Canada, February 14, 2007

    The Torture Archive is an ongoing project of the National Security Archive, is assembling at a single location documents from wide-ranging sources on United States government policy toward rendition, detainees, interrogation, and torture. (In light of the criticisms of liberal bias that accompanies various portrayals of the cases, it may help here to refer to the primary documents).

    Torturing Democracy – A project of the National Security Archive.

    The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Meyer. Yes, it’s by a journalist for The New Yorker; but it is to date one of the best researched accounts of how we got to where we are today.

    Lastly, I would be less concerned about the fact that all of his happened “years ago”, and we shouldn’t have to worry about it (much less talk about it), if a Catholic author like Mark Thiessen wasn’t making the television talk-show circuit (both secular and religious), peddling his book lamenting the fact that waterboarding is now prohibited and the Obama administration had done away with the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program — and Catholics were still engaged in open debate on this topic as they have been for half a decade, both sides echoing by-now-familiar arguments.

    Indeed, the comments on this post validate my desire for some authoritative interjection on the part of the Bishops. (Not that I expect it will happen anytime soon).

    Thanks for your participation and commentary on this thread.

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

Friday, January 8, AD 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • W Posh,

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Pelosi to Bishops on Abortion: I practically mourn this difference of opinion

Wednesday, December 30, AD 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was interviewed in a recent edition of Newsweek, in which she had the opportunity to set the bishops straight on the participation of Catholics in public life.

I think you have had some brushes with [church] hierarchy.

I have some concerns about the church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose. I have some concerns about the church’s position on gay rights. I am a practicing Catholic, although they’re probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.

Is it difficult for you to reconcile your faith with the role you have in public life?

You know, I had five children in six years. The day I brought my fifth baby home, that week my daughter turned 6. So I appreciate and value all that they want to talk about in terms of family and the rest. When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock. When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that’s a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf applies the necessary fisking and muses: “I cannot fathom why she hasn’t been told she must not receive Holy Communion. How much more public scandal does she have to give before the bishops of the places where she resides take concrete action?”

My thoughts exactly. Note that she has already received an admonishment from the Holy See and an invitation to “converse” from San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer.

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11 Responses to Nancy Pelosi to Bishops on Abortion: I practically mourn this difference of opinion

  • Can a person rise to a political position so powerful that Bishops are unable to preform as they should in fear of retaliation? Not just the House Speaker but all so called Catholic politicians. Even after much discussion by the Bishops with these persons, nothing is done other than rarely. . If so, are they not therefore condoning the acts of this person by omission of action, and putting politics ahead of their beliefs.

  • The Lying Worthless Political Hack before breakfast is a bit hard on the digestion. Seeing the look on her face after she is no longer Speaker of the House is all the inducement I need for all of my political activities and donations in the coming year.

  • “When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock.”

    At least she admits that much; which means that she would, logically, also have to admit that he would be within his bounds of “pastoral duty” to bar her from Communion. However this is not likely to happen since Abp. Niederauer seems not to be known for possessing an episcopal spine.

    Pelosi points out that she had five children in 6 years and “appreciates all that they (bishops) want to talk about in terms of family.” Does she bring this up in order to establish some kind of “pro-life” street cred — “Hey, I had lots of kids so I was really pro-life when it counted” — or as a subtle dig at the Church — “I kept myself barefoot and pregnant all those years because the Church demanded it and now look what they are doing to me.”

  • “I practically mourn”? What the heck is that? She does or she doesn’t. It means she doesn’t. What a wretched woman who has shipwrecked her faith.

  • St. Paul in 1st Timothy 1:19-20 shows our Bishops how to deal with this; why won’t they simply just do it?

    “Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”

  • TDJ Says: “I practically mourn”? What the heck is that?

    It means she mourns… right up to the point where the campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood and the gay brigades come in. Then the sack cloth and ashes turn into singing and dancing. Put another way…

    “I voted against abortion before I voted for it”

  • I echo the comment on Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s post. It is creepy that a woman who has five children is so adamant in supporting abortion.

  • Mrs. Pelosi is quite correct to say that she has free will. It has been the Church’s position since the beginning. It has been only the Church which has defended the free will of women, which is part of their dignity.

    Mrs. Pelosi fails, however, to acknowledge that women may also choose badly. They may talk themselves into hell.

  • Spot on, Gabriel. Pelosi is rated 100% by NARAL. She also voted against the partial birth abortion ban act. How dare Pelosi be a catalyst for the heinous sacrifice of infants when her Savior hung from a scaffold for her sake! She is trampling on the blood of Jesus. I would think she would tremble mightily when she hears the sound of the trumpet. Along with Ben Nelson.

    On a slightly different note, I was glancing through Good Housekeeping Magazine today and happened upon an eye-appealing ad reflecting a pretty American girl named Nina, from Chicago, aged 22, who wasn’t sure which job offer to accept. Contrasted was Wanjiru, 22, from Nairobi, who isn’t sure she can handle her fifth pregnancy. The ad states, “If you lived in a place like Kenya, chances are you’d have little say about when and how many children you’ll have. For these women and girls, life isn’t about choices.” This ad immediately gave me the willies, especially in this particular magazine. Unfamiliar with EngenderHealth, I did a little checking and found out that it was awarded the United Nations Population Award for its contribution to reproductive health care in resource-poor third world countries. I also discovered that EngenderHealth group was formerly the Steirlization League for Human Betterment. The pro-choice movement under the Obama administration has become very audacious in its ad campaigns. “Pro Choice” is simply a fashionable catch-all for eugenics, but since the Nazi regime, it’s uncool to use that terminology. Ironically, our secular world, oblivious to sin, but intent upon Utopia, is creating the very antithesis of a perfect society. They plot evil and they will perish in it. To create a perfect society, we must strive to emulate the sanctity of the Holy Family, and Our Lady, the most perfect of all mothers, is the premier example of every virtue. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi’s five children will pray for her salvation.

  • Oh, I get it. So for the BotoxBiddy it’s “MY will be done.” Not, “THY will be done.”
    Mmmmm ka-ay.

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Adios Heretics, Hello Orthodoxy!

Wednesday, December 2, AD 2009

With the recent scandals rocking the Catholic Church here in America as in President Obama receiving an honorary degree at the University of Notre Shame to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claiming that abortion is an open-ended issue in the Church, we have seen a reemergence of ecclesial leadership on behalf of our shepherds.  Many bishops have awoken to the fact that being “pastoral[1]” has been a remarkable failure in resolving the deviancy emanating from Catholics and Catholic institutions.

The upsurge of young adults rediscovering their faith to the excellent parenting of Catholic families in raising fine orthodox Christian children, we have seen what is only the beginning of a Catholic renaissance here in America.  And let us not forgot the ever faithful cradle Catholics among us that have contributed in keeping the faith in the tumult arising from the Second Vatican Council to today.

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6 Responses to Adios Heretics, Hello Orthodoxy!

  • Gates are not an offensive construct, they are purely defensive.

    It seems to me that Hell’s defenses are weak and rather than sit back and hold off Satan’s attack we should be taking the offensive. Christ has assured us that if we attack Hell’s gates, they cannot prevail against us.

    How do we attack Hell? We must seek virtue.

    Thanks for posting this. Will our orthodoxy increase the attacks against us individually in spiritual warfare? I don’t know about you, but the current situation, both in the Church and the secualr world; think more and more Tridentine Masses and mantillas as well as Tea Party Protests, is pusing more and more of us to conservatism and orthodoxy. Will that cause a step up in demonic attacks – it sure feels that way.

    Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio. . .

  • I wouldn’t have said “Goodbye, Liberals” as the title to Michael Voris piece, but “Goodbye, Heretics” which is more accurate in my opinion.

  • It sure is inspiring to see young people be proud of their faith. When my 16 year old daughter came back from an A.C.T.S. retreat, she inspired me to be closer to Jesus and proud to be Catholic. I was supposed to teach her and she ended up teaching me.

  • protestantism=institutionalized dissent….it also bleeds into Holy Mother Church members as well unfortunately.

  • Diane,

    I agree on some levels. It’ll be a generation or so until most (unfortunately not all) dissidents and heretics leave or are purged form Holy Mother Church.

    Ora pro nobis!

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

Friday, November 27, AD 2009

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

In conclusion, Stoddard asks:

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

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

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

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

  • Thanks for this excellent clarification, Chris.

    It’s going on my facebook 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Innocent life vs non-innocent life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Use I to start, and /i to end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Sorry you feel that way

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

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

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

  • a bit different from your interpretation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick Kennedy Barred From Communion

Sunday, November 22, AD 2009

Patrick Kennedy, a son of Ted Kennedy and a Democrat Congressman from Rhode Island, has been engaging in a very public conflict with the Bishop of Providence Thomas J. Tobin.  Prior posts on this combative dialogue are here and here.  Kennedy has now revealed that he is barred from receiving communion. The Bishop has responded by releasing this letter:

I am disappointed and really surprised that Congressman Patrick Kennedy has chosen to reopen the public discussion about his practice of the faith and his reception of Holy Communion. This comes almost two weeks after the Congressman indicated to local media that he would no longer comment publicly on his faith or his relationship with the Catholic Church. The Congressman’s public comments require me to reply.

On February 21, 2007, I wrote to Congressman Kennedy stating: “In light of the Church’s clear teaching, and your consistent actions, therefore, I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.” My request came in light of the new statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that said, “If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definite teachings on moral issues, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.” (Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper, December, 2006)

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11 Responses to Patrick Kennedy Barred From Communion

  • Thanks for posting this, Donald… Kennedy’s actions are deeply “unfortunate,” to put it mildly… Bp. Tobin kept this private, Kennedy said he wasn’t going to discuss this publicly anymore, and then he does this.

    Kudos to Bp. Tobin for his strength and courage in this.

  • If only the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could still use enhanced corrective measures to rehabilitate wayward Catholics.

    Thank God for Bishops that take the pastoral care of their flock seriously. Politics be damned. This idiot needs his soul saved and he chooses to attack his bishop. Sad really.

  • Hooray for Bp. Tobin!

  • Just for clarification, I believe Patrick is actually the late Swimmer’s son, not his nephew.

  • Thank you Jay! I have made the correction.

  • I remember the last public exchange between these two – it may have been reprinted on this site. Bishop Tobin came off testy. It’s good that we have the context now. It’s also very good to know that bishops are addressing wayward politicians behind the scenes.

  • May I ask, where does that leave the “Good Practicing Catholic, Nancy Pelosi?”

    Christ reminded us of only 20 rules that should assist us in the attainment of heaven The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Great Rules! Wish I had the money to post them on billboards across the country. No comment necessary,

  • I think it leaves her in need of a good bishop?

  • Why did the Church have a huge Catholic funeral for Ted ? Smell the coffee, please ! By the way, Mission Church in Roxbury, MA is a Redemptorist parish ! At the venerable shrine, there was pomp and splendour for Senator Kennedy. The order’s founder, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, would go ballistic if he knew that his spiritual sons condone such a ceremony. St. Alphonsus preached vehemently against mortal sin and made no apologies to no one. Why wasn’t Senator Kennedy told that he couldn’t receive Holy Communion ?

  • An excellent and brave move by Bishop Thomas.

  • Pingback: Patrick Kennedy Will Not Run For Re-election « The American Catholic

Archbishop Burke's appointment to the Congregation of Bishops

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

200px-Archbishop_Raymond_Leo_BurkeArchbishop Raymond Burke has long been held with disdain (or outright revulsion) by liberal Catholics for his penchant to speak bluntly on various issues — from his cautioning the Democrats that they risk becoming “the party of Death” for their grievous stance on bioethical issues), to his disapproval of Obama’s appointment of Kathleen Sebelius to Secretary of Health and Human Services to his weighing in on the matter of reception of communion by publicly disobedient Catholics (see The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin Periodica de Re Canonica vol. 96 (2007)). His appointment by Pope Benedict XVI to the office of Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura was interpreted both as sign of the Pope’s favor (by conservatives) as well as perhaps a “punishment of sorts” by liberals, who hoped that his outspokenness on American political affairs would be muted by geographical distance.

Guess again. From National Catholic Reporter‘s “man in Rome” John Allen Jr. comes the news that, with his Oct. 17 appointment to the powerful Congregation for Bishops, Burke’s influence is set to grow:

When a diocese becomes vacant, it’s the job of the papal nuncio, or ambassador, in that country to solicit input on the needs of that diocese and to work with the local bishops and bishops’ conference to identify potential nominees. The nuncio prepares a terna, or list of three names, which is submitted to the Congregation for Bishops, along with extensive documentation on the candidates.


Members of the congregation are expected to carefully review all the documentation before meetings, and each is expected to offer an opinion about the candidates and the order in which they should be presented to the pope. Ultimately, it’s up to the pope to decide who’s named to any given diocese, but in most cases popes simply sign off on the recommendations made by the congregation.

To be sure, Burke’s nomination doesn’t mean he can single-handedly control who becomes a bishop, whether in the United States or anywhere else. … on the other hand, Burke’s influence may grow with time.

He’s by far the youngest of the current crop of Americans on the congregation (the next youngest, Levada, is 73, and Rigali is 74). Since appointments are for five-year terms and may be renewed until a prelate reaches the age of 80, Burke could be involved in bishops’ appointments for the next two decades. At some point he may well become the senior American in the process, with a correspondingly greater impact.

As Allen concludes: ” If anyone suspected that the decision to bring Burke to Rome last year was a way of muzzling him, or limiting his influence in the United States, it certainly doesn’t seem to be playing out that way.”

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2 Responses to Archbishop Burke's appointment to the Congregation of Bishops

  • Yeah, pretty funny the way ideology or personal hang-ups drives thought. Given that most of what made Absp. Burke a talked about bishop was his interpretation and enforcement of canon law. To most it would seem that his being made Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is a huge vote of approval. After all, in the secular world we don’t look to the worst lawyer in the land to make a Chief Justice, do we? Well, let me rephrase that – other than pro-abort Democrats, we don’t look for the worst lawyer…

    On the other hand, you have a the situation with Cardinal Law. It’s hard for me to see his move to Rome as a vote of confidence or appreciation, yet there are those who consider a reward.

  • This is a major victory for orthodoxy! With Archbishop Burke as the head of the Congregation for Bishops, it should add another hurdle to poor appointments that are submitted by papal nuncios.

    Question: Does this means that His Excellency is no longer the Prefect for the Vatican ‘Supreme Court’?