MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS

Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

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One Response to MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS

7 Responses to Stealing From The Poor

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

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

    Nice post. Thanks.

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

  • Really good article.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 9, AD 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Lebron who?

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

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

    ~ Robert Earl Keen

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

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

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

  • LeBron who indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Dave,

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

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

    Painful? Really? It caused you pain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Dave,

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

    You say of the bread & circuses argument:

    “it just doesn’t make sense”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It is vital that you and others understand this.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Dave,

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

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

    Who said it meant that? Certainly not I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Dave,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But this is all off the main point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inventing Jesus

Thursday, June 3, AD 2010

Ross Douthat has a good post on his NY Times blog responding to Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker piece on the search for “the historical Jesus”.

James Tabor, a professor of religious studies, in his 2006 book “The Jesus Dynasty,” takes surprisingly seriously the old Jewish idea that Jesus was known as the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Pantera—as well attested a tradition as any [emphasis mine — RD], occurring in Jewish texts of the second century, in which a Jesus ben Pantera makes several appearances, and the name is merely descriptive, not derogatory.

The whole problem with two centuries worth of historical Jesus scholarship is summed up in those seven words: “As well attested a tradition as any.” Because obviously if you don’t mind a little supernaturalism with your history, a story about Jesus being a Roman soldier’s bastard that dates from the second century — and late in the second century, at that — is dramatically less “well attested” than the well-known tradition (perhaps you’ve heard of it) that Jesus was born of a virgin married to Joseph the carpenter, which dates from the 70s or 80s A.D. at the latest, when the Gospels of Luke and Matthew were composed. Bracket the question of miracles, and there’s really no comparison: Giving the Roman soldier story equal weight with the accounts in Matthew and Luke is like saying that a tale about Abraham Lincoln that first surfaced in the 1970s has just as much credibility as a story that dates to the 1890s (and is associated with eyewitnesses to Lincoln’s life).

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5 Responses to Inventing Jesus

  • I’m not holding my breath for the “New Yorker” hit piece on the historical Muhammed.

  • Good quote and good subject — it’s easily one of my favorites (which I think might be obvious).

  • People invent their own gods, so why not invent some history while they’re at it? 🙂

  • This of course all comes from the anti-Christian writer Celsus. Go to the link below to read all about it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiberius_Iulius_Abdes_Pantera

    This recycling of a hostile Jewish slur against Jesus, was of course something unknown at the time of Jesus because it was invented after the fact as Christianity converted many Jewish congregations, and ill-will became the norm between the two faiths.

    The Gospels relate many slurs against Jesus, including the charge that he was possessed by demons, so our earliest source materials do mention what adversaries were saying, without a hint of this being mentioned. Tacitus, a pagan Roman senator who mentions Jesus in his writings circa 118 AD, says nothing of this.

  • Here is another “as well attested a tradition as any” (related by Cassius Dion through Edward Gibbon) that academics ought to take seriously: Simon Bar Kokba.

    “During Roman times the Jews were exceptionally intractable. They were unable to endure contact with others not of their race. They reacted with extreme vigor and obsession with ‘purity.’ They feared death less than the profanity of idolatry. They violently revolted when forced to pay taxes to idolaters.

    “The possibly mythic Zionist arch-hero Barchachebas –’Simon Bar Kokba’ – led an infamous messianic revolt against Rome during Emperor Hadrian’s reign – circa 135 AD. Humanity was shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties they committed in Egypt, Cyrene, and Cyprus where they dwelt in treacherous “friendship” with the unsuspecting natives. They committed furious massacres: Cyrene – 220,000 dead; Cyprus – 240,000 dead, Egypt – uncounted dead. Mutilations and atrocities were recorded.” See Dion Cassius and Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

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

Wednesday, May 12, AD 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets get beyond these stereotypes done by liberals to Christians.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    […]

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

    Scalia explains further:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Three comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jay,

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

    Thanks for fleshing out what I said in one sentence.

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

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

    Also appreciated your first comment as well…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Centinel, you wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Darwin,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    😉

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

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

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

  • Donald,

    I liked his Chestertonian quote:

    “Some worth doing, is worth doing terribly.”

    Or something to that effect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Wow. Such deep arguments!

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

  • Restrained Radical,

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • It’s a straw man.

    Bork had the most difficult.

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

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

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

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

  • Nathan Zimmermann,

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

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

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

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

  • Mr. Edwards,

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

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

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

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

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

Time For Vatican III? No!

Monday, April 5, AD 2010

Father Edward L. Beck, a Passionist Priest, and a contributor to ABC, wrote a column for ABC in which he calls for Vatican III.  I think the article is worth a fisking.

April 2, 2010 —Surely this was originally intended for April 1?

As Christians begin their celebration of the Easter season, the Catholic  church seems stuck in Good Friday. No Father, the Catholic Church is always “stuck” in Easter. Just when some would like to turn  their attention to the profound mysteries of their faith, they are  instead mystified by yet another round of horrendous sex abuse storiesmaking headlines. Yeah, totally by accident, and too bad Father doesn’t spend time mentioning how spurious this piece of tripe by the New York Times was.

Most Catholics in the United States were convinced that the issue of  sexual abuse by priests had been adequately dealt with after the last go round more than eight years ago.   I do not think this is the case.  Most Catholics in this country are still fuming about predator priests and the bishops who protected them. Many are also outraged by the ambulance chasing attorneys and the suspicion that some of the victims are merely cashing in on flimsy evidence.  There is still a lot of outrage about this whole mess. In many ways, it has been. U.S. bishops adopted strict policies of zero-tolerance after the abuse scandal exploded in 2002. Bishops are now required to comply with state laws for reporting abuse and to cooperate fully with authorities.   For the most  part the stories once again generating news in the United States concern old cases and the previous negligence of bishops to deal effectively and  justly with the crisis. New to the controversy has been the suggestion by some that the Pope himself bears responsibility for lapses. Actually such accusations have been flying around for years.  They have gotten nowhere because they lack substance.

The recent reports indicate this is not — and never has been — a distinctly American church problem.  I doubt if many Catholics in this country thought that it was. The European Catholic Church is now  experiencing what the U.S. Catholic Church did nearly a decade ago. Once reports from Pope Benedict’s native Germany emerged that boys had been abused in a church-run school there, hundreds more from other European countries came forward admitting that they too had been victims of abuse decades ago. We have not heard the last of these stories. Africa and  Latin America have yet to weigh in, but they will. Reports from those parts of the world will eventually emerge to increase the dismay of those who expected more diligence and, indeed, holiness, from religious institutions.

What is readily observable from the avalanche of reports is that the sexual abuse of minors is a systemic, worldwide problem. But it is not exclusively a Catholic or ecclesial one. True. It cuts across all faiths, institutions and family systems. Presently, however, it is the Catholic church in the spotlight, so it must take the lead in dealing with this issue in a transparent, effective and ultimately transformative way. Though its halo has been dimmed by past negligence, if only the scandal of the criminal protection afforded by bishops to predator priests had been limited to mere negligence the church can still be a beacon of light to lead the way if it now proceeds with haste and unwavering conviction. We might start by ordaining only those who believe what the Church teaches when it comes to sexual morality.  We must also understand that a fair number of the people who attack the Church on this issue are motivated much more by raw hatred of the Church than concern for the victims.  The evil from our ranks must be excised, but let us not assume we will receive plaudits from the World for doing so.

So then, what is the best way for the church to move forward? Dramatic failure requires a dramatic solution. Nothing gets the attention of the church and, perhaps the world, like a Vatican Council. Here we get to the purpose behind this article. The last one, of course, ended more than 45 years ago in 1965. While some would maintain that we have yet to fully execute the decrees of that Council, the world and the church have changed dramatically in the interim.  When has the World not been changing?  As to Vatican II, all the turmoil in the Church since that Council should cause us to hesitate before calling the next one. The current crisis in the church can serve as the impetus for once again calling together the worldwide church community in pursuit of modernization, reform and spiritual integration for a new time and world.  Always be alarmed when anyone proposes a radical step for the sake of vague terms like modernization, reform and spiritual integration.

What issues might this Council address?  The death of the Faith in Europe?  Rampant immorality?  The failure of the Novus Ordo Mass to inspire many Catholics? Many to be sure, but chief among  them could be the current crisis confronting the priesthood.  Homosexuality?  Lack of fidelity to their vows?  A desire for a life of ease? Certainly the issue of sexual abuse and the devastating toll it has taken in the church might be examined and addressed definitively, once and for all. In addition, while pedophilia and the sexual abuse of minors and priestly celibacy are not organically related, the abuse crisis has once again raised the issue of the necessity and relevancy of mandatory celibacy for diocesan priests.  How long has celibacy been bugging you Father?  Wasn’t that particular requirement spelled out clearly enough for you when you were ordained? The majority of Catholics and priests want an open discussion about this issue, but up to this point, that has not been permitted.  Rubbish.  This ” issue” isn’t even on the radarscope for most priests and laity.

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7 Responses to Time For Vatican III? No!

  • I may be wrong, but the issue of celibracy was not the culprit in my opinion..The standards for those entering the priesthood were too lax and many of those whose sexual norms were suspect were allowed into the priesthood who wanted to escape the stigma of those norms in society and a heavy price has been paid. Many of young men who aspired to enter whose views were orthodox in nature were by passed. The changes in the current young men now entering and their formation has seen a stricter approach to this issue and it is paying off. The current Pope has been stricter in ridding the Church of this scourge than any previous Pope inclding his predessor in my opinin.

  • Only reason for Vat III: REPEAL Vat II.

    Here is my crazed solution to the judas priest problem (no pun intended). Reinstitute the Inquisition. No stake, though (boo!). Blatant, relapsed abuser gets life sentence: chained to a wall in a dungeon on bread and water. Minor abuser (released with penance) is branded so all know what he is – end recividism.

  • “a defeated celibate clergy who must sometimes then minister side by side with married priests who have more
    rights and privileges than the celibate ones do”

    I guess its not enough of a right or a privilege to be a priest in Christ’s Church.

  • Thank you for highlighting “Church seems stuck on Good Friday” This is an argument I have heard for 40-50 years. Why is mystery such a stumbling block? Easter Mass Father made a comment about Christ descending into hell and one reason he did this is because he could relate to us. I thought Father has been reading secular publications, most likely he lost his point and grabbed just what made sense.

  • I think it is rather a time for mass repentance in the Church and a return to the Catholic Faith by clergy and laity alike.

    Amen.

    Father Beck will die soon and so will most of the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd. We’ll be left over with malcontents and disobedient Catholics strumming their guitars and arguing with themselves in dark corners of the Internet.

  • Vatican III? I’d be thrilled if the documents of Vatican II were actually
    read and finally implemented! They plainly state that Latin is to have
    primacy of place in the celebration of the Roman rite, that gregorian
    chant is the greatest artistic treasure the Church possesses, etc., etc. .

    I’m in my 40’s, and I’ve yet to see a Novus Ordo Mass at the parish level
    that actually incorporates all of what the documents of Vatican II envisioned.

    Perhaps we can have another Council in a century or two, after we’ve
    cleaned up the wreckage inflicted on the Church by ‘professionals’
    riffing on the documents rather than reading and respecting them.

  • Some nutty suggestions here undercut the seriousness of the discussion.

The Many Scandals of the USCCB

Saturday, February 6, AD 2010

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is a recent invention that grew out of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.  Some Catholics confuse the USCCB as a teaching authority and mistaken it for a parallel magisterium.

Nowhere in Sacred Scripture and Tradition do we have an instance for this man made invention.  We have one teaching authority and that is the Magisterium.

So why have the USCCB?  Well, to support the various ministries of bishops.  And of course you need the laity to support the many functions that the USCCB does.

Which brings us to our current scandal.  Like anything else the USCCB is susceptible to error.  Which in this case is that many bishops and the majority of the laity that work inside the USCCB are partial or are openly members of the Democratic Party that has various liberal platforms  which cooperatives in evil such as abortion and the legalization of homosexual license.

The issue is that this creates a conflict of interest.  When a member, in this instance a high executive such as John Carr, in the USCCB also holds a board membership with a group that supports abortion, confusion and scandal is created.

And this isn’t just one isolated case.  There is the Catholic Campaign for Human Development that provides funds to anti-marriage and pro-abortion organizations.  The bishops response is to arrogantly deny any scandal whatsoever.

This of course creates more scandal.

At this moment the bishops have refused to deal with infestation that the USCCB has, hoping that the scandal and uproar will quietly subside just as the controversy over Harry Forbes glowing movie reviews of anti-Catholic movies.

Well, enough is enough.  The chickens have come home to roost.

More and more Catholics will continue to shine the light on the decrepit state of the USCCB until the someone does something to resolve the matter.

Ora pro nobis!

Where is our Cardinal Spellman!

To help and keep the USCCB honest, please visit and support Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, the American Life League and Reform CCHD Now Coalition.

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11 Responses to The Many Scandals of the USCCB

  • I’m reluctant to derive conclusions re the USCCB. Most of the accusations invite questions concerning the level of cooperation with evil that are not easy to address wtih confidence. It is possible for Catholics to support and fund good works through morally imperfect organizations. A can fund the good works of B without necessarily supporting the evil works of B. The devil is in the details. The problem I have is that over many years of observing the USCCB I have come away with the disturbing impression that while it may check the boxes necessary to appear to avoid a material cooperation with evil, its staff and infrastructure are actually pretty indifferent to abortion and certain other issues and subordinate any ambivilence they might have on these matters to their embrace of liberal policy preferences.

  • “It is possible for Catholics to support and fund good works through morally imperfect organizations.”

    The way things look these days, I think I’d rather just do them on my own.

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  • Tito, if you haven’t already read the canon law regarding the episcopal conferences, here it is:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P1L.HTM

    It would also be helpful to read Pope Paul VI’s motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae, starting with paragraph 41:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-proprio_19660806_ecclesiae-sanctae_en.html

    Tito, it’s my opinion that you ought to consult with your spiritual director before continuing this ongoing series on the USCCB. If you are wrong in your assertions, then this is slander, and a grave sin. And everything that I have read leads me to believe that you are indeed wrong. May God lead us to the truth in charity.

    God bless,
    Nate

  • My God, Mr. Voris essentially called the USCCB a Satanic entity, even while using Pope Paul VI to prove his point. Apparently he’s unaware that it was Pope Paul VI who ordered the Church to form the episcopal conferences following Vatican II.

    Pope John Paul II wrote an Apostolic letter on the Episcopal Conferences, and made it clear that the Bishops’ Conferences had the duty to teach:

    “The joint exercise of the episcopal ministry also involves the teaching office. The Code of Canon Law establishes the fundamental norm in this regard: “Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the Bishops in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in Conferences of Bishops or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own Bishops with a sense of religious respect (religioso animi obsequio)”.”

    Mr. Voris is right in a certain respect, in that the Conferences do not have authority per se. Yet the USCCB does have authority insofar as it is an instrument of the Apostolic Successors!

    Mr. Voris trots out all kinds of issues that the USCCB supposedly teaches against – abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. Is he speaking of the same USCCB? No document of the Bishops has ever supported these things.

    I said it before, when the first attacks came – this isn’t just about a few funding issues. This is about a deeply ingrained hatred for the teachings of our Bishops, especially on issues related to money, power, and violence.

  • Nate

    I tried to tell Tito that he needs to look into the charges instead of just repeating them; this is pure gossip-mongering.

  • Nate and Henry,

    I take your opinions and charges very seriously.

    I was careful to point out the conflicts of interest in this post.

    For Nate, I believe what you are saying and accusing me of is very sensationalistic itself.

    I’d like to know where were you when the pedophilia scandal broke out?

    Did you attack the abused children for coming out against priests and bishops?

    Again, the USCCB is not a teaching authority.

    You say This is about a deeply ingrained hatred for the teachings of our Bishops, especially on issues related to money, power, and violence

    If you bothered to read my post I did not accuse ANY bishop. I accused John Carr, Harry Forbes, and the USCCB as an entity.

    It’s interesting that you mention “power”.

    You seem to defend the USCCB much more vigorously than anything else here at TAC.

    Maybe you have made the USCCB your idol since it funds so many left-wing organizations that promotes anti-Catholic teachings.

    Maybe you need to take the log out of your eye before you make wild and inaccurate accusations.

    The links you provided do not vest ANY authority whatsoever in these bishops conferences.

    Moreover they give a detailed outline on how to hold meetings.

    Meetings!

    Not issue dogma, decide on discipline, nor invent any new teachings.

    Your opinion in the end is absolutely and unequivocally incorrect.

  • Tito, you might be right, and I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before, and I’ll be wrong again. I defend the USCCB because I see it as an indirect attack on the authority of our bishops.

    The USCCB is not per se an authority. Yet when the bishops speak together, through the USCCB, they do not lose their authority as bishops. I believe that it is incorrect to claim that the bishops lose their authority when they speak together. Moreover, the Church documents I linked to (and quoted) say that the Episcopal Conferences have authority when they teach on faith or morals. I’ll quote JPII again, with my own emphasis at the end:

    ““The joint exercise of the episcopal ministry also involves the teaching office. The Code of Canon Law establishes the fundamental norm in this regard: “Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the Bishops in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in Conferences of Bishops or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own Bishops with a sense of religious respect (religioso animi obsequio)”.”

    If this is sensationalistic, then it is not due to me, but to the heart and mind of our late Pope. The Episcopal Conferences derive their authority from the Bishops who teach through it. This is Canon Law, and I’ve quoted and linked to it. Mr. Voris disagrees, but his S.T.B. doesn’t make him right. If anything, he makes him more culpable for spreading misinformation.

  • Nate,

    It isn’t sensationalistic.

    I appreciate your comments and you make some valid points.

    This would be a good idea for another (new) posting some time in the future.

    Thanks for engaging in this debate, your comments are truly valued by me and many of the readers of this site.

  • Thank you for the gracious response, Tito! We’re both Catholic, and we both want to defend the faith. God grant that we can figure out a way to do that together. Peace, Nate.

  • We’re both Catholic indeed, the least we can do is be an example of charitable dialogue, even if we disagree!

    😀

Is Bishop Howard Hubbard Cooperating In Evil

Friday, February 5, AD 2010

Formal cooperation in another’s evil act (that is, undertaking to help expressly another to perform an act known to be evil) is itself evil. Davis, Moral and Pastoral Theology (1938), I: 341-342. There are no exceptions to this rule; no supervening circumstances can ever render formal cooperation in evil good.

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21 Responses to Is Bishop Howard Hubbard Cooperating In Evil

  • I really don’t think Peters’ argument is sufficient to conclude that there has been formal cooperation. I’ve addressed this further on my blog.

  • On the other hand, I agree with Dr. peters ananlysis.

  • Here I think you’re correct — this is a foolish and disgraceful thing for a diocese to get itself involved in.

  • Hubbard is big with the homosexual agenda and with recruiting homosexuals for the priesthood.

  • The secular church has been enjoying political power and we should be very wary of the social programs that have been initiated by this bishop. Many of our local politicians got their political careers launched through Catholic charities and some of them with openly homosexual agendas. Remember the Henchmen that were sent out to the critics of howard hubbard, Jessie Jackson, and Al Sharpton all in the name of the Lord. I remember how Catholic charities paid Mary Jo White millions to defend Howard Hubbard. She was in charge of overseeing over 800 N.Y.S. lawyers. These social programs were placed here by Catholic Charities. All on taxpayers money. Oh and by the way, when the government gives up money, any talk of religion is forbidden. Shame on Catholic Charities and the government that supports it.

  • I can take any implied threat as what is to come and you know how easy it is to turn perfectly normal children into drug addicts. All I am saying is that there are ways to get children on drugs and howard knows this. He also knows that without God we are helpless. I take the distribution of needles as an implied threat that will be carried out. prepare for a generation of children on hard drugs. anything for his agenda. Hey Howard why be a coward show us the nightmare you have already imposed on your critics and drop the phoney show. You aint no govenor and you aint no rock star but I know how jealous you are of your betters. Wanna have a public talk with me? Ill make the people hear by the power of God. signed rose above the agony in albany.

  • For all you critics opposed to needle exchange, how do you expect heretics to support themselves if they close his beloved hope house and all the stupid programs he started by stealing money from the true church? How can he continue when he depends on mental health and other government funds because he has sifted all the good will he can out of all of your communities. He works for the government now. No need for any true faith. He can not allow your children to know the truth and the only flock he has consist of homosexual drug users and he wants to allow this for your chidren. Separation of church and state is his biggest fear. He is not interested in the advancement of normal children. The Pope should be arrested for not defrocking Howard J. Hubbard. Respond!!!!! I should sue this man and many catholic families should do the same. he is a shepard but not a good one but he has placed many in positions of political power and I want to be there for his meeting with the Lord.

  • I read Paul’s argument. The gist of it seems to be that material cooperation is avoided by the acceptance of an old needle in exchange for the new one, the theory being that one could prudentially conclude that such an exchange reduces a health risk while otherwise not increasing the risk that the evil of drug abuse would occur. Next he will tell us that it is morally acceptable to pay for a hospital abortion as long as one can prudentially conclude that the mother would otherwise have a more dangerous so-called back alley abortion, since a health risk is averted presumably without increasing the risk of the evil of abortion.

  • Mike Petrik: “I read Paul’s argument. The gist of it seems to be that material cooperation is avoided by the acceptance of an old needle in exchange for the new one, the theory being that one could prudentially conclude that such an exchange reduces a health risk while otherwise not increasing the risk that the evil of drug abuse would occur.

    Right. The prudential discernment lies in deciding whether or not the drug-taker is encouraged in drug-taking by the exchange of needles. It might be so, but not necessarily so (and Edward Peters’ argument relied on the flawed assumption that it necessarily furthered drug-taking.)

    Mike Petrik: “Next he will tell us that it is morally acceptable to pay for a hospital abortion as long as one can prudentially conclude that the mother would otherwise have a more dangerous so-called back alley abortion, since a health risk is averted presumably without increasing the risk of the evil of abortion.

    I won’t tell you that, because it’s plainly wrong. One cannot directly participate in an abortion (which is what choosing to pay for it is) for any reason whatsoever. Abortion is an intrinsic evil (something known with certainty to be evil), whereas the physical exchange of needles isn’t.

  • Paul, I’m afraid I disagree with your application of the analogy. The abortion is the analog to the drug abuse. The provision of the needle is the analog to the provision of money, neither one of which is an intrinsic evil. In each case the provider must reasonably assume that the recipient will use what he has been given to commit an evil act. Also in each case one can assume that the evil act would be committed anyway, which is what invites the donor’s rationalization that he causes no harm. In neither case does that last assumption and its attendant rationalization rescue the provider from his material cooperation problem.

  • Mike Petrik: “The provision of the needle…

    No. In a needle exchange there is no provision of a needle (in the usual sense of the word “provision”). The drug addict already has a needle, ready to be used. What’s being provided is a removal of dirt and potential infection. (The moral situation would be equivalent if what was provided was a service to clean the addicts’ own needles.)

    Mike Petrik: “The provision of the needle is the analog to the provision of money, neither one of which is an intrinsic evil.

    If the money is intended to enable the abortion to take place, then that means there is a direct share in the evil of the abortion — so it’s something known to be wrong, regardless of any reasons for the abortion.

    The same is not true for the cleaning of a needle.

    In one case:
    – someone is paying for an abortion, SO THAT the abortion can take place.

    In the other case:
    – someone is cleaning a needle, SO THAT the addict won’t become ill from it.

    The intentions are dramatically different. In the first case, there is a direct share in an intrinsic evil. In the second, there is the intention to help the addict.

    (The prudential decision is then whether providing the needle encourages the addict to keep taking drugs. It might be so, but not necessarily so.)

  • Paul, volunteering to clean the needle of a drug abuser so that it may be used to abuse drugs more safely is no different than volunteering to clean the surgical instruments of an abortion provider so that they may be used to perform an abortion more safely. Either way, a cooperation with evil problem is present.
    This problem may or may not be formal cooperation depending on the intention of the cooperator, but it certainly is material cooperation. Your better argument is that while it is material cooperation, it is mediate rather than immediate and is furthermore contingent, in which case it can be morally justified with sufficient reason. I encourage you to explore that because the reasoning in your blog is deficient.

  • Paul,
    Furthermore, I do not think Catholic moral teaching reduces “sufficient reason” to an ordinary prudential calculus.

  • In the case of needle exchange there are three distinct ways in which material cooperation with evil might take be taking place:

    (1) In the exchange of the physical needle itself.
    (2) In the absence of dirt and infection in the exchanged needle.
    (3) In increasing the likelihood that the drug addict uses the clean needle, rather than his own.

    I reject (1) as a material cooperation because — provided the exchanged needle is equivalent — there is not the slightest change in the physical properties of the needle itself.

    I reject (2) because the absence of dirt and infection — in itself — does nothing to accomplish the act of drug-taking, which can take place entirely independently of the cleanliness or otherwise. The cleanliness of the needle is, in itself, irrelevant to the accomplishment of drug-taking. (And thus, because it is irrelevant, it cannot comprise a material cooperation).

    In relation to (3), there are three ways in which the likelihood of drug-taking is changed. Either (a) it makes no difference at all (e.g. because the addict is hopelessly addicted). Or (b) it makes the drug-taking less likely to occur (e.g. because the drug-addict is so impressed with the care taken over him that he reevaluates his life). Or (c) the drug addict becomes more likely to take the drug (e.g. because there is one less dangerous obstacle in the way).

    Distinguishing between (a), (b), and (c) is necessarily a matter of prudence, and opinions might differ.

    So, I see no material cooperation in (1) or (2), and no necessary material cooperation in (3).

  • Paul, the cooperation need not increase the likelyhood of the evil act to still be cooperation, just as in my abortion example which you ignore and which your reasoning would permit. The cooperation is the provision of the needle, and that is true even if one recasts the provision as simply the cleaning of the needle. The fact that properties don’t change is not relevant to material cooperation just as is the fact that the abortionist’s instruments properties don’t change. As I said, your better argument is that the material cooperation is mediate and contingent and therefore can be morally justified, but to say that there is no material cooperation simply misunderstands the concept. The following is from Fr. Hardon, but there are many more meaty explanations available. http://www.catholicreference.net/index.cfm?id=34788

  • Mike Petrik: “The cooperation is the provision of the needle, and that is true even if one recasts the provision as simply the cleaning of the needle. The fact that properties don’t change is not relevant to material cooperation…

    You assert this, but with insufficient argument for me to understand why you say that. For material cooperation to occur, the cooperation has to be actually specified.

    If I have a dollar bill, and you have a dollar bill, and we exchange these dollar bills, what will you be able to buy after the exchange that you could not buy before? Nothing whatsoever. The exchange does nothing to help you accomplish any act, and so (by itself) it cannot possibly be an act of cooperation. Now it might be that the exchange somehow alters your thinking — and if I can anticipate that, then on that basis there might well be some kind of cooperation.

    As far as I can tell, you disagree with something about the argument in the preceding paragraph. But I don’t know what.

  • Will you please explain to me what any of this has to do with church business or don’t any of you know?

  • This is inside Church politics so to speak.

    Are you familiar with Canon Law?

  • I am aware of theology and I woulld like to know why you think you can ignor it. Jesus instructed us completely on these matters. he said a thing or two about luring little ones into sinful behavior and giving out condoms to unmarried children and needles to drug adicts could well lure them into sinful lifesyles that could cause them to live horrilble lives. But they should not despair because Jesus will come after the ones that are teaching them that its O.K. today. Hey when do you think the church will be able to openly disuss race in this country? I seem to remember lots of children sent out by drug dealing nasty pimps. Could this have been a form of racism or do ya think those nasty drug dealing pimps were loving those children? Again what is your argument? Should we just go along with this abuse of power and let these agendas continue to slaughter the spirits and bodies of children? Save lives without honor? The church is supposed to be a sanctuary and we will get that back for the the sake of all Gods children. I think this Bishop needs to get out of the political business and get back to the job he was suppose to do, such as the true teaching of the one true faith. Its ok for children to hold these nasty homos and drug dealers accoutable for the crimes. And its ok for parents to say homosexuals have no business near children. Do you know that children have a right not to agree with the homosexual agenda? Why should it be force upon them in schools.

  • Hey guys, long time lurker here so thought I would finally post. I’m a little shy because I’m a girl and it seems there are mostly guys here but I wanted to know why it seems you guys don’t have lives. Are the guys with very high post counts really better posters than the ones with less?

  • hey Lisa, some people are seeking everlasting life. I children are expected to keep up the perverted lifestyles of the people making obsene moral judgments then the children are going to need to be self medicating and hubbard is right. Need to get a decent life for the sake of the children.

The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism Because Nonsensical Believers & Non Believers Are Unwittingly Showing Many the Way

Wednesday, January 20, AD 2010

Throughout the last few years and specifically the last decade or so, the voluminous number of kooky quotes and statements coming from religious believers (heterodox Catholics included) and non believers alike is mind boggling. It can’t but help push the reasonable minded into the Catholic Church. Most casual observers are familiar with the number of high profile converts and reverts to the Catholic Church in the last 25 years or so. They range from theological luminaries like Dr Scott Hahn and Dr Francis Beckwith to political figures like Deal Hudson, Laura Ingraham and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Many like them have come to the Church after years of study and reason, but many also have come to the Church after years of seeing their particular religious denomination become unrecognizable.

The latest world calamity has given us two examples of sheer kookery coming from a religious leader and a secular voice. After the horrific earthquake that left the western world’s most impoverished nation in tatters, the Reverend Pat Robertson chimed in with a quote that was not only tragically insensitive but historically inaccurate. The onetime presidential candidate (who actually came in second in the 1988 GOP Iowa Caucus) and a leading voice of the Evangelical world blamed the earthquake on Voodoo, a cult that sadly far too many people practice in Haiti.  Robertson voiced his opinion on his popular 700 Club television program. Robertson repeated the fundamentalist canard that in the early 1800s the leaders of a slave revolt fighting against French colonial forces forged a pact with the Satan to thrown off the chains of their oppressors.

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12 Responses to The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism Because Nonsensical Believers & Non Believers Are Unwittingly Showing Many the Way

  • Since when is pro-abortion Brown “the truth”?

  • Who said he was? I never mentioned his name in the article. However, when the people of Massachusetts (the only state who voted for George McGovern) can see the craziness of the left, you can rest assured that they are not alone.

  • “As evidenced by the stunning results in the Massachusetts special election seat vacated following the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, even in the most liberal of locales the public will eventually clamor for the truth.”

    You didn’t have to say his name to mention him — you most certainly mentioned him through that statement. Do not confuse “naming names” as the only way to mention someone. And from all you wrote here, “a pro-choicer” is now the right and the truth.

  • “You didn’t have to say his name to mention him — you most certainly mentioned him through that statement. Do not confuse “naming names” as the only way to mention someone. And from all you wrote here, “a pro-choicer” is now the right and the truth.”

    Hmm, I didn’t get that from this statement. In any case, one doesn’t have to be impeccable to demonstrate the principle that the mind of the people is changing. Brown is obviously not perfect, but I don’t think Dave is talking about his politics or theology so much as the change that his election represents.

  • The change the election represents I don’t think is exactly as Republicans are making it out to be; while some of it might be on Obama, and other aspects of it might be on health care, another aspect people have to remember is Coakley assumed the seat was hers and didn’t campaign properly. That, I think, is the lesson all sides might want to remember: don’t assume you are a sure-win and do nothing because of it. Nothing, however, to do with “truth.” Nothing in the results shows truth wins — since abortion does.

  • I agree with Henry.

    Brown did make the centerpiece of his campaign as a referendum on ObamaCare, though other factors such as Coakley’s poor campaigning certainly played a factor into it.

  • “I agree with Henry.”

    Tito, that’s the first sign of the apocalypse!

  • The truth that believing Catholics shouldn’t be barred from working in emergency rooms certainly won.

    Brown is quite problematic (and it’s not like I sent him money), but at least we are spared the spectacle of another Massachusetts Catholic baying for abortion in DC.

    I’ll take my silver linings where I can find them.

  • Dale

    So, what silver linings do you find for Obama? Can you find some?

  • I questioned authority relentlessly. Holy Mother Church had all the answers.
    Some retreat to the Church, others flee or are driven, some even backtrack, and many seem to crawl, but, always, the door is wide open.
    Inquisitive mind + Road To Damascus (TM) moment = conversion/re-conversion. Sweet.

  • Despite the badly-concealed sneer with which you pose your question, Henry, sure. Haitian relief, support for a limited range of renewable energy sources, uniting (briefly) the country after the Fort Hood terrorist massacre, helping a limited range of distressed homeowners and credit card and equal pay protection come quickly to mind.

    But, as you know, he’s been a pro-abortion stalwart–deceptively so–when it comes to the protection of human life and issues of conscience.

    Thus, my great relief that a putative sister in the Church–one who expressly finds the Catholic faith disqualifying from life-saving work–will not be able to work on a national stage to implement her bigotry, nor be able to lend her support to the most problematic parts of the President’s agenda.

    Your mileage evidently varies.

Are You Listening Madame Speaker?

Friday, January 15, AD 2010

Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco addressed on January 13, 2010 a free will defense of abortion by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House:

In a recent interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”

Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond. For this reason I believe it is important for me as Archbishop of San Francisco to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches about free will, conscience, and moral choice.

Catholic teaching on free will recognizes that God has given men and women the capacity to choose good or evil in their lives. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that the human person, endowed with freedom, is “an outstanding manifestation of the divine image.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 17) As the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, makes so beautifully clear, God did not want humanity to be mere automatons, but to have the dignity of freedom, even recognizing that with that freedom comes the cost of many evil choices.

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5 Responses to Are You Listening Madame Speaker?

  • So what next? Nice statement and all, but what hapens, in the highly probable event that this goes in one Pelosi’s ear and out the other (there being nothing in between to catch it)? What will he do when she comes back with some form of I politely disagree but must follow my own reason and conscience which tells me campaign fund– I mean, a women’s right to choose, is an inviolable right necessary for her dignity?

  • To answer the question posed by the title of this post: No.

  • What a great statement by the bishop! And thanks for posting it in its entirety, Donald.

  • Thank you Pinky!

  • Even though Speaker Pelosi may not take the archbishops instruction, this is a positive sign that many bishops in America are finally defending life in a public manner in the correct circumstances.

    Especially from this archbishop who is breaking the stereotype of a “personally orthodox” but “episcopally lax” mold a la Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC.

The Debate is about Authority

Tuesday, December 1, AD 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 Responses to The Debate is about Authority

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

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

Why I Don't Believe in a Young Earth

Monday, November 23, AD 2009

Some time ago, someone asked me:

Suppose–just for the sake of argument–you were convinced that an honest reading of the Tradition of the Church required you to believe that the initial chapters of Genesis were historical. Would you be able to do it, or do you think that Darwinism is so irrefutable that you would have to abandon or radically redetermine your faith?

I think this is the question that worries a lot of Catholics without a strong scientific background as they watch the evolution/creationist/ID debate on Catholic blogs. Here are these otherwise solid Christians taking common cause with the likes of the Richard Dawkins against their brother Christians. What gives? Are these folks really Christian? Do they care more about science than about faith? Do they only accept Catholicism so long as it agrees with science?

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24 Responses to Why I Don't Believe in a Young Earth

  • IMO it’s quite easy for Catholics to reconcile science and the Bible. My trust and understanding of the Bible relies entirely on the Church. My faith in the Bible comes from Christ and His Church. I accept Genesis as sacred scripture because it’s part of the deposit of Scripture that served God Incarnate, but mostly because the Church Christ established and gave authority to said this is Scripture. If we’re going to accept the Church’s authority on that, it’s equally as important to understand it as the Church understands it.

  • I studed geology and ended up a young-Earther myself. The geologcal evidence for a young earth was too great to ignore. But this hasn’t threatened or altared my Faith. I don’t see science and religion as opposed to each other or as each other’s bed fellows because science is a ***tool*** that is used to understand Creation. It’s one of **many** tools that we use to understand Creation and the meaning of life etc. People keep elevating science far above what it is meant to be and that’s when the trouble starts.

  • Ooops, hit submit to fast. I was going to end with:

    It’s like trying to elevate the tech pub (Science) to the same level of importance and greatness as the actual helicopter (Creation)… (I was a helicopter mechanic in the Navy.)

  • St. Augustine wrestled with this same question when he was a Manichean. The Manicheans taught all sorts of doctrines that are quite familiar in New Age thought today and could easily be revived as a whole, and astrology was a big one. Despite what people mistakenly think today, back then astronomers had pretty good methods of observing and recording the heavens. St. Augustine was no dummy, and he noticed that astrology did not account for either how people’s lives worked out or how the heavenly bodies actually behaved. For a while he hoped that when he finally got to talk to the really smart Manicheans, they would be able to explain why this was so. But when he discovered that they couldn’t, he had to give up the Manicheans because he saw quite rightly that one simply could not be expected to believe what was obviously not true.

    It has always been a great comfort to me that one of the smartest men who ever lived stood up for that obvious principle long, long ago, and became one of the greatest Catholics of all time. He would not expect anyone to remain a Catholic if it required people to believe things about the physical world that are obviously not true. I think that he knew a lot more about how to read and understand the Bible than I do and he did not consider Genesis to be a treatise in natural history. People who do simply do not understand how to read the Bible. They are doing the best they can to reconcile faith and reason, and because they can’t do so with their mistaken way of reading the Bible but they intuitively realize that faith must inform reason, they choose to disregard what reason would otherwise show. The solution is of course to get a better handle on Scripture and reason.

  • Your post kind of put God in a small box.

    After all, isn’t anything possible with God?

  • In all truth it doesn’t matter if the earth is 10,000 years old or 4.5 billion. What difference does it make if the universe is 1.5 million years old or 15 billion? God stated, “I AM WHO AM”. He is now! Not yesterday and not tomorrow. RIGHT NOW! So we can conclude that time is a construct for our benefit and if called to Judgment right now do you think Christ is going to ask you how old you think the earth is?

    Our faith in Christ does not require a scientific understanding. Most Christians throughour history were ignorant and illiterate. Clearly salvation does no hinge on knowledge of the world or the universe. Know Christ – that’s it.

    Now He also made us curious and I beleive this to be true even before the Fall. It is what we are curious about that needs to be corrected, not the curiousity itself. He also gave us dominion over Creation, which we know includes all we can see no matter how many billions of light years afar it is.

    I find it difficult to square the evidence (I am not a scientist) with a 10,000 year old earth. That doesn’t mean we won’t find evidence to the contrary and either way it will not change the most pivotal point in all of histroy, Our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross.

    I don’t think God would deceive us into thinking the universe is 15 billion years old as some kind of trick. I also don’t think it matters to Him if it is 1.5 million years old or 150 trillion. He is very patient – we are not.

    I alos think that in order for our temporal reality to unfold and be reasonably perceptible by our limited minds it has to be 15 bil years old because our Sun and our location in the Milky Way would not be logically possible in a shorter period of time. Creation itself is a miracle; however, it unfolds in a natural and rational manner for us to understand which is totlaly necessary for us to even notice miracles.

    If God placed us right here in this vast universe suddenly, without context we would have to accept that as a miracle and miracles would then be facts and not mysteries. If miracles are not mysteries then they are not special and if not special then the Incarnation is nothing more spectacular than a lepton.

    Where’s the adventure in that?

  • Tito,

    To say that the earth is 6,000 years old is to make God a liar. Not a good idea.

  • BA,

    I wasn’t saying or agreeing with the young earth theory, more with some of the scientific propositions that were offered.

    God is capable of creating the speed of light at approximately 186,282 miles per second, instantaneously.

  • Good post, Darwin. If you get a chance, check out the blog of David Heddle. He’s a physicist–and a Reformed Christian who takes the same tack. One of his themes is that if the Earth is indeed 10K years old, God is attempting to deceive us through His act of Creation. Which, lest we forget, is a form of revelation itself.

    I think the distinction between the miraculous and the idea the universe is 10000 years old is this:

    (1) the first inverts/suspends/makes an exception for the natural law/order, (2) the second suggests there is no such thing as natural law or a natural order. Or certainly no way to discern the latter.

  • Good post, Darwin. If you get a chance, check out the blog of David Heddle. He’s a physicist–and a Reformed Christian who takes the same tack. One of his themes is that if the Earth is indeed 10K years old, God is attempting to deceive us through His act of Creation. Which, lest we forget, is a form of revelation in and of itself.

    I think the distinction between the miraculous and the idea the universe is 10000 years old is this:

    (1) the first inverts/suspends/makes an exception for the natural law/order, (2) the second suggests there is no such thing as natural law or a natural order. Or certainly no way to discern the latter.

  • Sorry about the double post!

  • Dale,

    No problem.

    I need to read most things twice in order to ingest the information, reminds me of my college days.

  • Tito,

    It is possible that God created the world five minutes ago, complete with fake memories of the past and fake evidence indicating that the world was much older. He could do that, but the question is why He would do so, and whether believing this is consistent with what we know about His nature.

    Similarly, God could have created the world 6,000 years ago, but planted evidence to make it look like the world was much older. He could do that, but it’s hard to see why He would do that, nor is it clear that His doing so would be consistent with what we know about His nature.

  • Tito,

    Perhaps this will help clarify a bit: I certainly don’t mean to say that God _could not have_ created the world ten thousand years ago. God, in his infinite power, could create the world in any way that he chose. Though of course, God being eternal, I think there’s merit to the Augustinian idea that God exists in a single, eternal present. And so from a God’s-eye view, this moment is one with the incarnation, and is one with Adam and Eve’s fall, and is one with both the instant of creation and the end of the world. The stretch of billions of years which to us looks like the long and gradual development of the universe is in God’s mind an instant of ever-flowering creation — and it’s only our view, trapped within the temporal timeline of creation, that makes it look like “God sat around for a few billion years before single celled life even developed”, as some complain.

    So my point is not that God could not have created the world another way than he did, or indeed tha we are definitely right in our current understanding of the physical history of the world (in that I’m sure there are a lot of things we don’t know or are wrong about) but rather that I have a lot of trouble with the idea of that all the indications that the world is ancient (from seeing objects millions of light years away, to geological strata, to continental drift, to radioactive decay, to the apparent history of the other planets, to fossils, to DNA, etc.) are misleading or explained by processes totally different from what we see acting in the world today (and in some cases, incompatible with the physical laws on the universe as we currently observe them.)

    I certainly don’t think our current understanding of the universe is perfect, but I do think that as rational creatures we’re called to use our reason as best we can — and so I don’t think it would be in keeping with our calling as rational creatures made in the image of God to refuse to use our powers of reason and our senses to understand creation as best we can (and accept the conclusions of that study) just as it Augusine’s day it was his calling to understand the world through the best philosophical and scientific insights of his day, and Aquinas in his.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for that articulate response.

    I don’t have much to offer to this intriguing debate which I have been enjoying reading (and learning a lot).

    But where I stand is that I do believe we are descended from Adam and Eve. Hence why I find it difficult to digest that we are descended from monkeys if we are made in His image. Not rhetorically or symbolically, but literally. We are made in His image.

    Not there isn’t anything wrong with eating bananas and hanging out on tree limbs, but we are special and are God’s most special creation.

    That’s my lens that I use.

    Sometimes a simple understanding can lead to the Truth.

  • Coffee Catholic writes Monday, November 23, 2009
    “I studied geology and ended up a young-Earther myself. The geological evidence for a young earth was too great to ignore”.

    In a nutshell. It is a question of scientific evidence. The Bible has nothing to do with the matter except for the non-scientific question of creation.

    Let geologists present the facts and we can go from there. The meaning of “day” and the order of creation do not affect the geological facts.

  • Darwin’s point was the same point as Pope Benedict in his Regensburg lecture — God has given us reason, which, though limited, is not to be dismissed for something sub-rational. God’s qualities, as revealed through revelation, indicate a God who does not contradict himself; reason of course is used to determine this — but if we say “don’t limit God,” then I guess we can all end up in the nominalist-voluntarist dream of God who is not limited, even by his own self-limitations.

  • Henry beat me to it… I thought of Regensburg as well.

    Tito, we are made in the image of God because we have an intellect, free will, and are made for relationship; God could’ve taken a pre-existing creature an infused these things (parts of a rational soul) at any time.

  • Interesting post, Darwin – and also interesting commenting.

    Chris, your point concerning the fact that the “image of God” is a good one. Are we to understand that being made in the “image of God” is describing a picture of a human? It seems clear to me that the human form as an image cannot be what is referenced in what we read in the Bible. What of people who are born with missing limbs or other deformities? To the outside observer, some of these people may not even appear human, yet we would not say that they lack the “image of God” we describe. Moreover, our bodies can be changed virtually at will by accident or design, yet I would argue that the image God placed in us is left unchanged, for God Himself is the only one with that power.

    For these reasons I have always equated our creation in the “image of God” to be the fact that we are given a soul that is indeed in the image of God.

  • No more they do.

    I guess I’m a bit confused as to what you mean by that in this context, though.

    As a Catholic who thinks that evolution is basically correct in regards to the history of life on Earth, I would say that at some point in history (when I would not presume to say) God infused our ancestors with immortal and rational souls, making them truly “human” in the sense that we mean the term (something which I would say is not reliant on a biological form, but rather on our nature). Not until that infusion of souls into what were, before that, bipedal and rather clever primates, did we become truly persons, truly made in the image of God, etc.

    At whatever point that divine spark entered humanity, we were permanently and irreparably set apart from the rest of the animal world, because we were no longer strictly animal, but rather both animal and rational, both animal and divine.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for the explanation.

    I’m going to hang out in my neighbors tree house and eat some banana’s now.

  • “Gorillas don’t have souls.”

    Where in the world do you get this kind of nonsense from? By the fact that they are animals, they have souls — indeed they have a specific kind of soul which transcends the souls of plants (according to classical definitions). Catholic teaching has always said this.

  • Animals do not have rational souls. They have a vegetative and a sensitive soul that perish when they do. A good summary of Catholic teaching on this subject is linked below.

    http://en.allexperts.com/q/Catholics-955/soul-2.htm

Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 2)

Monday, June 15, AD 2009

Here I continue with the slow build-up of an authentic Catholic worldview on the true nature of the Political Community- as outlined by the authoritative Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Chapter 8). This second paragraph contains more of the Old Testament outlook on Kingship, with the earthly kings of Israel finding their deepest fulfillment in Christ the King. But there is more to be said about the political community and responsibilities of citizen(s) and ruler(s). We will see the development in the social doctrine as we go forward through the Compendium’s teachings. We cannot point to one specific epoch in the history of the Church and the Chosen People, and make final assertions about things- we must look closely at how the current doctrines of the Church have developed, so we can see the consistent core principles. Here goes with paragraph 378:

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