Four Decades

Friday, May 5, AD 2017



Father Peter Stravinskas has an interesting post at The Catholic World Report looking back at his four decades as a priest:

I will always be grateful to my then-non-practicing Catholic parents for committing me and my education to St. Rose of Lima School in Newark, where I received the Catholic Faith (which I subsequently shared with my parents) and my priestly vocation. Upon returning from the first day of kindergarten, I proudly informed my mother that I wanted to be a priest (actually, I said “a monsignor”!), from which desire I never wavered, thanks to supportive parents, loving and competent Sisters, and zealous priests. Interestingly, in fifth grade, Sister Regina Rose “prophesied” to my mother: “I can tell you three things about Peter’s future – he will be a priest, a teacher and a writer” – not bad for having more than sixty other kids in the class! It was also Sister Regina who had us keep a scrapbook of clippings on “the council” which was then in its preparatory stages because, she said, this would be a momentous occasion in the life of the Church and in our own personal lives. Again, a prophetess.
The Council closed during my sophomore year of high school. As a sign of the incipient confusion, we had four different religion textbook series in four years. The unraveling manifested itself powerfully at the end of my senior year as two nuns married two of the priests, and two other nuns “flew the coop,” both of them over the age of 65, who explained to me that they were leaving because “this isn’t what I signed up for.” Needless to say, this was not very affirming for a boy about to embark on his own priestly vocation, which I did three weeks after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI – another watershed event. The non-enforcement of that encyclical unleashed an unprecedented cycle of dissent and disobedience.
The college seminary experience was not too bad; indeed, the academic formation was stellar, while the overall environment in the Church was harrowing, especially as defections from the priesthood reached epidemic proportions; I often say it is surprising that the suction didn’t take the rest of us with them.


The theology years were a nightmare at every level: outright heresy taught as Gospel truth; rife liturgical abuses on a daily basis; persecution of “retrograde” seminarians – with Yours Truly being told that he was “unsuited for ministry in the post-conciliar Church” and forced to find a benevolent bishop three months before diaconate. My seven years of supposed priestly formation were, bar none, the most unhappy years of my life, characterized by intense polarization and draconian imposition of aberrant viewpoints by those in authority. It must be noted that there were, to be sure, some good and faithful priests on the seminary faculty, but they were a distinct minority and largely reduced to window dressing. In short, my generation of priests had been robbed of our Catholic and priestly patrimony by a generation of angry rebels.
At any rate, by nothing short of a miracle of God’s grace, I was ordained a priest on May 27, 1977. The forty years since have been both fruitful and challenging. I have served in a variety of capacities (often wearing three and four hats at the same time): teacher and administrator in elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and seminaries for all four decades; pastor in three parishes for a total of thirteen years; author, editor and publisher; vocation director; secretary to a bishop; public relations officer; fund-raiser; host and guest of radio and television shows.

My first year as a priest coincided with Paul VI’s last year as Pope. Undoubtedly, he was a good man but constitutionally incapable of governance; it is one of the strongest evidences for the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church that Pope Paul issued Humanae Vitae, given his intense desire to avoid conflict at all costs. Ironically, that personality trait ensured constant conflict and unrelenting anxiety for us who, like him, believed and wished to teach the Catholic Faith as it had always been understood. Those who had seized control of the ecclesiastical apparatus dismissed our concerns and held us in contempt, assuring us that a new day had dawned in the Church and that we had better get on board with the program, lest we be left behind – or worse. Furthermore, we had no authoritative sources of support for our “traditional” orientation: the Council documents had been reinterpreted according to what Joseph Ratzinger would later dub a “hermeneutic of rupture”; the Code of Canon Law was being revised; there was no catechism, except for that of the Council of Trent which, we were instructed, was hopelessly out of date.

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3 Responses to Four Decades

  • I’m about 10 years younger. That strange sense of walking through a desert, thinking “something used to grow here”. I’m a perennial optipessimist about the Church – I know that things have been unfathomably better and worse than they are now, and even now they’ve got the same spread depending on where you are. But I don’t sense the same spirit during this pontificate as that of the 1970’s. It’s more like a mild aftershock compared to an earthquake.

  • Good bye good men by Michael Rose and what Fr. Peter recalls from his “theology years,” seems to parallel.

    If the church was ever infiltrated, it’s beach head was the Vatican and it’s troopers have not been disbanded.
    We know who wins.
    Keep the faith Fr. Peter.
    We will too.

  • “The non-enforcement of that encyclical unleashed an unprecedented cycle of dissent and disobedience.”
    Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968,” as George Weigal calls it, when the Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

    In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In the Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

    The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

Sing a Lost Song

Wednesday, September 16, AD 2015

I like to return to the subject of bad music in the Church periodically.  I think it is a symptom of the post Vatican II “identity crisis” of the human portion of the Church.  We no longer know who we are, what we should do or where we are going, and our music reflects this lost, aimless attitude by endlessly playing the most banal music in the history of the Church, as if to make certain that we receive no hint of inspiration to lead us out of our spiritual morass.

What is the Catholic hymn you hate the most?  (I know, I know there are so many choices!)  For me it is hands down Sing a New Song by ex-Jesuit Dan Schutte, a founding member of the Saint Louis Jesuits, the group responsible for writing more truly wretched music than any other organization in the history of Man.  A miserable piece of doggerel that has been played to death at Masses since it fell from Schutte’s pen in 1972.  Ah the seventies!  One more crime for that kidney stone of a decade!

Why is Catholic music at Mass so bad when we have such a magnificent musical heritage?


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28 Responses to Sing a Lost Song

  • Although our diocese does love the works of Schutte et al, at least the parishes I’ve been to prefer pianos and pipe organs. I can only recall two times my family has had to endure “the band.”
    I did once try to have my children (boys) listen to a Gregorian chant CD published by a popular homeschool business. It went over very, very badly, as it was, well, not exactly Chanticleer:

  • Ack! Premature post. I love Chanticleer. I don’t like the Song of the Body of Christ.

  • “Hosea” by Gregory Norbet. How on earth the Benedictine composer managed to distill that cringe-filled bit of passive relationship yearning from a book of prophecy where God compares Israel to a faithless whore is one of the great mysteries of our time.

  • Why is Catholic music at Mass so bad when we have such a magnificent musical heritage?

    Because that tripe is what your parish priest wants to hear, as do the aspirant divas, guitar hobbyists, hand holders, and music directors. The Diocese of Rochester commissioned a survey a number of years back on musical preferences. The results were as follows: 24% wanted just traditional music; 18% wanted modern music all the time: 29% wanted a mix; 29% did not care or did not like music. The usual proportion in parishes in the Diocese of Syracuse is 85% post 1965, 15% other (and the other presented no better than the tripe). The only variation I’ve seen is that if there’s a second Mass, one might be without music.

  • My most hated hymns are any and all that refer to the “people of God” in a context that implies how lucky God is to have them as His flock.
    Inverse worship sets my passions ablaze.

  • “Cry of the Poor” gives me headaches and nausea. “Bread of Life to Eat” destroys countless brain cells. “Gather Us In” makes me want to scatter.
    The Traditional Latin Mass avoids these tunes that belong in the Barack Hussein Obama National Landfill. The Missa Sancta (I think that’s what it is) of the Gloria and the Kyrie are awe-inspiring. Bad music does not belong in any Catholic Church.

  • All Are Welcome was entrance hymn Sunday mass this week. ?toxic to me.

    Plus the Council is reworking parish mission statement – “we are a welcoming parish”. Whether we are Faithful or not is not discussed
    TheSunday evening mass to be one that teens/ young adults will come to, with music that they like ….

  • It is quite literally true that, when I see Bob Hurd’s or Dan Schutte’s name beside a hymn, I close the hymnal and focus on the cross. Similarly, when I see that “God,” “He,” “His,” or “Brothers” or any other person or persons in a song have been replaced by an intentionally “innoffensive substitute,” I don’t sing it.

  • and then they clap for themselves…in the House of God. Nothing less than a barn raising. The cow and the sheep had more respect and reverence.

  • There is one about leaving your boat at the seashore or something. It comes across as a nauseating whine. But like you say, there are so many bad ones regularly featured, it is difficult to single one out as the worst.

  • Although I think it is a toss-up between bad hymns, and truly modernist butchering of regular prayers like the Gloria or Our Father set to pop or elevator music. I especially hate it when they do that repeat lyric thing like kindergarteners singing row your boat.

  • Beth Nielson Chapman has a CD named Hymns. It contains a lot of songs that have been relegated to the dustbin since Vatican II. This was my review on Amazon:

    Joni Mitchell sang “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” That is what occurred to me when I listened to this disc. Sometime after Vatican II these classic melodies were shelved in favor of music that was considered more… accessible. The beauty of these hymns is timeless and sung by the bell-like voice of Beth Nielsen Chapman evokes a time when the Catholic Church and its rituals held a sense of mystery and awe.

    Additionally, Chapman contributes a new song of her own, “Hymn to Mary” that is so beautiful and reverent that one might conclude she was born a few centuries too late.

    Here is Tantum Ergo

  • “Gentle as Silence” is pretty cringe-worthy.

    Fortunately, many of our young priests coming through for our diocese are more conservative. They are actually being taught the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in their last years at the seminary to balance the Novus Ordo. That is a turn up for the books in our barbarian culture out in the fringes of civilisation, where back in the 70’s the NZ bishops decided, “Well we are so far away from Romeswe can pretty much do what we want” – and they did.
    Many abuses itroduced by our bishops then, are slowly being removed/reversed.

    Roll on “The Warning”.

  • I hate the elevator music as much as I do the insipid effeminate homilies.

  • Paul we do not have effeminate ones- we have pep rallies! “In the Name of the Fsther and the Son and the Holy Spitit…” Amen.. Well that was weak… Amen.
    “I can’t HEAR you! .. AMEN!

  • First, there is no EF in this diocese. Once, a few years ago the FSSP paid a visit fifty miles north serving to alleviate a forty year dry spell. There was standing room only. Truly holy and fulfilling. I remembered school days (Latin study) and my grandparents’ church before the wreckovations began.
    Daily masses offer the opportunity to say the prayers; but, on Sundays, with the repetitiously phrased arrangements, a wrench gets thrown, as happens with, among others, “One bread, one body”.

  • Now All We Praise Our God – especially when the tempo is plodding. Actually any hymn that sounds Protestant. The old Negro Spirituals are excepted. When even an English boys choir can’t make a hymn sound good, then it really is bad.
    Most of us attend the early Mass because it is the “silent” Mass. Only the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin are occasionally sung and we do a good job of it.

  • Why is Catholic music at Mass so bad when we have such a magnificent musical heritage?

    Perhaps because so little of the “magnificent musical heritage” is used at Mass because so little of it is arranged for piano, guitar, bass guitar, cello, oboe, tambourine, and drum set.

  • Call me a heretic or a CINO but I actually like many of the hymns that traditionalists constantly deride as bad (though I can see where some of them have a Broadway show tune quality). Nor do I see anything wrong with hymns that “sound Protestant” as long as they don’t contain lyrics that are impossible to harmonize with Catholic teaching (and I can’t think of any that do.) That said, I draw the line at “Ashes” due to its blatantly Pelagian theology — we do not “create OURSELVES anew” — and at “City of God” for similar reasons and because I associate it with far-leftist Catholic gatherings.

  • I, not God, am the bread of life. Sing a new song, since all the old ones were wrong. Here we are, all togehter as we sing our – not God’s-song; and join we now as friends to worship each other, whom we can now watch across the arena churches. Kumbayah. Our lives are flowing like a river, but not towared Heaven. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

  • “On Eagles’ Wings” and “Here I Am Lord.” “City of God.”

  • All the above plus “Amazing Grace”. It isn’t Catholic.

  • 3 All Are Welcome, Sing to The Mountains, Rain Down, City of God.

  • Are you ALL in my parish??

  • A rare afternoon today with a dear friend….who expressed the same concerns about the music and also the “attitude ” at church, a lack of basic reverence, tradiion being dropped. A Missouri Synod member who wonders if that is what people want – they don t just go down the street to any available rockin church.

  • Ditto Patricia’s selections. I would add Table of Plenty and Give Thanks to the Lord (Also by Dan Schutte I believe?) . Ugh……

  • Wow. Fr. Resen … Hear I Am Lord is on your bad list? Hard to image that.
    I’ll take a slightly different angle on this subject and evaluate music during mass which includes a choir and that during masses which do not. I for one love to sing, but don’t read music well. I find it hard to carry many of the traditional hymns when the choir is not present. The deeper spiritual text are very welcome …. like to have a more balanced approach.

  • Thank you Patricia of reminding me of “Rain Down.” That is an awful song. When I first heard it, I turned to my wife and said “Sounds like a bar song.” I can just imagine an inebriated crowd swaying back and forth with mugs lifted singing this.

Rebels and Conformists

Monday, March 2, AD 2015




Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, brings us this story that highlights one of the problems that the Church has these days with precious snowflakes who think they are heroic rebels:



Northwestern University student Kathleen Ferraro was RAISED CATHOLIC!! and thinks that it’s extremely important for all of you people to understand that fact:

My name is Kathleen and I am a little Catholic schoolgirl. I wore a sweater vest and knee-highs and a skirt that could be no more than two inches above my knees. Rogue nuns wandered the halls of my high school. We “left room for Jesus” at school dances, all of which were supervised by a resident priest. I come from a devoutly Roman Catholic family from a primarily Catholic community largely dominated by Catholic institutions, schools, values and beliefs.

Yet young Katie doesn’t consider herself Catholic any more.

And yet against all odds, I don’t fit into Catholicism. My Catholic upbringing and education seemed the perfect formula for a perfect Catholic. Nonetheless, I’ve developed values and beliefs that significantly diverge from this foundation.

Gee.  Wonder what those might be.

Whenever I think about this question, I always resort to my list-making ways, crafting an inventory of the reasons that Catholicism has not worked for me. Old-fashioned values and traditions, hesitation towards accepting the LGBTQ community and inherent political undertones of church leadership leave me feeling conflicted and uneasy. I will never understand why dressing up in a modest J.Crew dress and sitting in the first pew at church trumps participating in a climate march, or why accepting doctrine on faith alone beats independent thinking, questioning and customizing one’s religious life. For me, religion has been more a culture of privilege than of prayer, a competition of piety rather than a humble quest of personal growth and spiritual connection. These are all examples from my experience with religion that motivate me to reject Catholicism, but as I think about it, are these also reasons that Catholicism rejects me?

No, because that’s just stupid.

I believe it is. Speaking only for the Catholic institutions I come from, I do not fit the prototype of what a Catholic is supposed to be–the by the book churchgoer who accepts Catholicism because that is what is true.

Ya think?!!

I am pro-choice, don’t go to church on Sundays, don’t put stock in the Bible or doctrine, challenge traditional ideas of religion and spirituality and care infinitely more about trying to be a kind, humble person than actively worshipping.

In other words, an Episcopalian.

On one hand, this rejection validates my personal beliefs and their deliberate divergence from Catholicism. On the other hand, this rejection leaves me unfulfilled. I find myself an outsider, subject to the Catholic exclusivity that ostracizes other divergent thinkers and doers: the very exclusivity that prompts me to reject Catholicism in the first place. Its a perplexing paradox – my beliefs exclude me and define me as an independent. And because my beliefs disqualify me from active participation, I am consequently excluded from a community that I want to engage with, though not necessarily be a part of. I would say “its not you, its me,” but I think “its not me, its you” is equally appropriate.

Told you.

I’m not saying that my beliefs are right,

You are so.

but I am saying that I want to be heard, not just listened to.

Every Anglican in the world knows that means that we keep yammering until the Roman Catholic Church realizes that it’s wrong and I’m right.

For me, this conversation is not about stylizing religion to suit the tastes of young adults;


it’s about aligning all voices with the process of organized religion and earnestly engaging in different conceptualizations of faith.

Whatever that means.  Katie?  I’d like to tell you a little bit about my mom.

Over and over again, I’m amazed at what a visionary my mother was.  Mom was also RAISED CATHOLIC!! but had some sort of major conflict with the Catholic Church in the 40′s, the nature of which she never disclosed to any of us.

I suspect what it might have been but I don’t know for certain so I’m not going to speculate.  But to those of you whose parents are still with you, a word of warning; you find out quite a bit after they shuffle off this mortal coil.

Mom was always a little bit of a rebel.  She was born and raised in New York City and when she was in college at Adelphi, she vocally stood up for the Jews.  She’d married in the late 30′s, early 40′s, somewhere in there, and had a daughter shortly after that.  Her husband was killed during the war and after it, she was a single mom with a little girl to raise and she didn’t have any money coming in.

So Mom found herself a job.  In Montana.  She left New York City and never again entertained the idea of ever going back.

Anyway, Mom’s got this problem with the Roman Catholic Church.  Know what she did about it, Katie?

She left the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopalians.  My mom loved the Episcopal Church until the end of her life.  And as far as I know, she was the only one in her family who ever did anything like that.  Her brother, my Uncle Howard, remained Catholic until the end of his life.

Kid?  The Catholic Church is almost 2,000 years old; you’re not.  Your idea that the Catholic Church needs to conform itself to the bumper stickers beliefs of the Young PeopleTM is too absurd for any intelligent person to even begin to entertain.  So emulate my mother, grow a freaking spine and drop into one of Chicagoland’s many fine Episcopal parishes next Sunday.  You’ll be glad you did.

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28 Responses to Rebels and Conformists

  • Stated briefely, “I’m twenty-two years old and I know everything!”

  • Go where you can hear the gospel…proclaimed in it’s purity…

    …and where the sacraments are administered in accordance with that pure gospel.

    Good luck being able to find that.

  • “I find myself an outsider, subject to the Catholic exclusivity that ostracizes other divergent thinkers and doers:”
    I believe the faith teaches that heaven is an exclusive place, also.

    “Let’s hope and pray that she doesn’t continue with her self-absorption, and her unwillingness to serve (disguised as self-anointed intellegence and wisdom) that she may not spend eternity as a wilful “outsider”
    Lord help the minions of lapsed “Catholics” that are as confused as she.

  • “the State was essential in taking measures against the Church to largely eliminate her influence from society.”

    But we just now have heard from our “on high” communications director who supports the take over of the internet (in violation of subsidiarity) that it is the culture of death and perverted morality “government” that will insure our freedom of religion.
    That line ought to be on SNL.

  • Reminds me of an article I read once about a girl of similar age who grew up pro life then she read an article in the NYTimes and now she’s pro choice. It makes me wonder about her education. Did she engage in the arguments for the cause? Did she learn to have real sympathy for pro choicer and yet still have the courage to say why they are wrong? Probably not. She just didn’t think about it that much. Sounds like this girl’s “Catholicism” was largely about uniforms and school dance rules. I don’t know if I’d lay the blame at her parents or school, but somewhere she wasn’t taught our didn’t listen to the deeper truths of her faith. She’s not able to make a coherent rejection of her childhood faith. I feel bad for her.

  • Note what’s missing: she never once mentions Jesus, except in the silly little anecdote about the school dances. The questions of whether she believes in Him, and whether the Church was founded by Him, and any thought of Grace or Redemption are completely incidental to the all-important issue of whether or not she feels ‘excluded.’

  • I was exactly that dumb at that age, too. I’m glad there was no Huffington Post back then to record it. And the fact that it was published in HuffPo should tell you everything about conformity: would a similar article about a fallen-away Methodist get the same national platform? There are millions of people leaving mainline Protestantism for Evangelicalism, because they want something stricter and more biblical – do they get articles in HuffPo?

    I did see something more depressing last week, an article in the Daily Beast written by a gay former Jesuit. Google “gay Jesuit daily beast” and, hey, you get what you deserve. The thing about the article was that it reflected the same depth of Catholic understanding as this 22-year-old undergrad. That was mortifying. Gay Jesuits don’t surprise me. I know too well how human beings act when they’re tempted. But the ignorance of what the Church teaches, that shocked me. There’s a way you can go through Catholicism and come out in disagreement with the Church, but for you to take the positions that this former priest was taking, you’d have to have never gone through the process of learning and growing in the Faith at all.

  • “I find myself an outsider, subject to the Catholic exclusivity that ostracizes other divergent thinkers and doers:”

    The notion she’s an outsider at Northwestern for an exposition like the one under review is worth one chuckle.

    She’s not able to make a coherent rejection of her childhood faith. I feel bad for her.
    As Ava Gardner put it, “Deep down, I’m pretty superficial”. Or, Allan Bloom on the sort of students he’d met at the University of Chicago ca. 1987, “In a word, ‘nice’, which is to say that nothing that’s happened to them has particularly hardened them”.

    The results from investing 20 years in childrearing can be a wretched surprise at times (as both my mother and two or three of my great-grandparents might have told you). However, you look at this woman’s LinkedIn profile, and what you see is familiar. There’s the signal and the noise. I’d lay a low four figure wager that the parents are fairly well-to-do professional-managerial types and the signal was to assure your ‘future’. The rest dissolved into static.

  • When she faces her trial’s and disappointment’s she will be the one cursing her creator. That will be the extent of her “quest for spiritual connection.” How sweet.

  • And I have to give credit where credit is due:

    This is the kind of article I was just saying wouldn’t be published. Good for them. The Daily Beast is a weird mess of a site, and I hate to admit that it’s on my once-a-day list, but I’m glad for this.

  • This young woman is an idiot. Perhaps it is not entirely her fault, as we don’t know all of the details of her upbringing. Nevertheless, she is an idiot, as she is an adult and is capable of discovering the truth, but would rather follow the crowd of idiotic young adults who get their news from Twitter, Jon Stewart, etc.

    I was naive at that age. I didn’t know a lot about my faith but I never abandoned it. Even in the 1980s I knew the media was filled with libtard brain dead slugs- as it is now – and they did not sway me.

    Piss-poor Catholic catechesis has driven away countless baptized Catholics. Other Catholics get a bug up their posteriors and blame the entire church for a bad priest, nun, etc. I have several relatives that fit into both of these examples.

  • Penguins Fan: “Nevertheless, she is an idiot, as she is an adult and is capable of discovering the truth, but would rather follow the crowd of idiotic young adults who get their news from Twitter, Jon Stewart, etc.”
    From my own experience, I find that Jon Stewart and especially family members who ridicule, intimidate and consciously demean a religious perspective of life and demand that one abandons real love for God in order to become acceptable and in the “incrowd” inculcate a terror of being ostracized by them, like they are somebody to be feared, but they are cowards like the devil.
    A person must make a GIANT embrace for one’s own freedom and conscious search for truth in the one’s self and the Catholic Church to reverse the fear instilled in the quiet of one’s heart to be who one must be, to pursue one’s Happiness and find one’s destiny; to answer one’s vocation to be(…or not to be.)
    The Holy Spirit of God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity responds to our plea for TRUTH and guidance. Nothing is lost except our own happiness if refuse to pray for grace.
    One day, the woman will write a book with much joy and comedy about her spiritual search and conquest of the truth as truth is.

  • Mary De Voe corrects her omission: “Nothing is lost except our own happiness if one refuses to pray for grace. – See more at:

  • “I find myself an outsider, subject to the Catholic exclusivity that ostracizes other divergent thinkers and doers:”
    People are free to leave the church and when people leave the church, the church is always open to them as they have made a free will choice to reject eternal truth. If a persons holds the Church responsible for people’s leaving, than, it means that these people intended to impose their errors on the church. Heresy does not fulfill our vocation, destiny or happiness.

  • My flippant reply to flippant pro-choicers:

    I’m pro-choice myself: Either choose to not have sex outside of marriage, or choose to live with the consequences.

  • “customizing one’s religious life” says it all. ALL.

  • I tend to pity folks like Miss. Ferrarro more than I blame them– I suspect she
    has no idea what the Catholic Church teaches or what it is she’s rejecting when
    she turns up her nose at her patrimony.
    During my undergrad years I volunteered to teach CCD at my college parish–
    a very affluent, jaded, au courant parish run by an order of priests that
    has since become notorious for its dissidence. Think lots of National Catholic
    in the vestibule. I was aghast at the absolute bone ignorance of
    even the basics of Catholicism that these kids had– and these were kids whose
    parents had sent them to the parish’s elementary school, and were currently
    enrolled in the city’s “Catholic” high school. These were good kids, but they
    were utterly ignorant of the concept of the Real Presence, had never been taught
    about the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and had no idea who Jesus was.
    At one point, I asked the class to raise their hands if they thought Jesus was
    a man, but not God. Half raised their hands. God, but not a man? That got
    most of the rest of the class. Both God and man? One kid raised his hand, out
    of a class of two dozen kids whose parents cared enough to send them to
    CCD. And these were kids who had been in the tender care of the parochial
    school system for close to 12 years.
    I suspect that Miss Ferrarro is rejecting something she’s never actually been
    introduced to. And shame on us all for not passing on the Faith to kids like
    her. We’ve failed her.

  • The American Catholic Educational system turned out girls and guys like her in droves in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It is only now changing. However, the biggest mystery to her piece is how she could reject something she knows nothing about. As stated above, “I’d lay a low four figure wager” that she couldn’t begin to discuss the scriptural basis for the real presence. That’s the “signal” most Catholic schools used to miss. Instead, kids like her just got the “noise”.

  • “Mary De Voe:” “…I find that Jon Stewart and especially family members who ridicule, intimidate and consciously demean a religious perspective of life and demand that one abandons real love for God in order to become acceptable and in the “incrowd” inculcate a terror of being ostracized by them, like they are somebody to be feared…”

    I would remind all that this evil only works, as the diabolical well knows, because that “terror” is but “pride” the foundation of most sin.
    Humble people, who know and live by God’s truth, are able to resist this–will they like me if I do/don’t–weapon. Catechesis and Sacramental Grace is the cure.

  • I believe the catholic school girl shtick appeals to her. She believes she was raised catholic, no doubt. If she was really raised catholic she would not have left. She is seeking fulfillment and just may find it in the revolutionary group working against the church.

  • I wonder about her (home-schooling.)
    Whay I mean is did her parents believe that buying her a dress and enrolling her in Catholic school was sufficient enough? My guess is yes. They participated as if dropping one off to soccer practice.

    If the parents are not engaged and living their lives in sanctifying grace then the development of any true spiritual life for her would be undermined. I’m not suggesting that this is the complete cause of her ignorance but that it certainly didn’t help her come to her conclusions.

    The most influential church is home.

  • ….say What..not whay…typo 🙁

  • RicK, Don Lord and Philip, my friend: Miss Ferraro sticks to the school girl shtick because it most brings her to the reality that she is a minor child spiritually. As a minor child who ought to have been given the Faith, she was disconnected by others, who, in their pride, laziness, ignorance and all the rest of the capital sins abandoned her soul to the Prince of Darkness. That darkness is terrifying. Looking around and seeing others just as terrified, three generations since Vatican II, lost souls, only confirms one’s terror. Lucifer, the great angel of light possesses the soul, leaving that person bereft of any Faith, Hope and therefore, not exercising their charity in handing on the Faith, the gift of life and love, the fourth generation of lost souls.

  • Bob Tanaka, You beat me to the punch. While extolling climate marches over attending Mass, the poor dear never mentioned praising and worshipping God or the saving graces of the sacraments. A brief synopsis of her attitude might be, “Me, My & I”.

  • . I was aghast at the absolute bone ignorance of
    even the basics of Catholicism that these kids had– and these were kids whose
    parents had sent them to the parish’s elementary school, and were currently
    enrolled in the city’s “Catholic” high school.

    And the horrible thing is, the folks who are responsible for teaching them might think they were teaching them.
    My mom was horrified when she found out that I’d never heard of the catechism before I was an adult– she assumed that we were actually being taught stuff at our CCD and similar classes, including youth group.
    And even that isn’t because she was willfully abandoning her responsibility to teach us– she was told all of her training was wrong because of Vatican II. She was teaching CCD to high school students, and told them sex outside of marriage was wrong in the hearing of the priest. Who then publicly chewed her out as hateful and ignorant, because it was fine if you “really loved” the other person. (She naturally quit teaching, because he’d know, and she’d hate to lead kids astray.)
    I’ve since found out there were shockingly horribly taught folks before that– ever have a theological argument with someone’s grandmother, and the agnostic is defending Catholic teaching from the lady who goes every week?– but without stuff like Jimmy Akin’s blog, I would probably not be Catholic, and would be as miserable as some of the other “raised Catholic” folks I know.
    It’s sad.

  • Foxfier.

    Your dear mom. Trying to do the right thing and hearing the great lie; “Vatican II states it differently.” The pigs who knowingly spread lies to promote their agenda’s will have to pay for their offenses. They may receive Gods mercy however they may have a very very very long wait in Purgatory prior to entrance into His Kingdom.

    Vatican II was certainly highjacked and misinterpreted to foster division and corrode the teachings of the Holy Church. To liberalize as a means to create freedom to sin without consequences.

    God bless your mom and others that ran into similar atrocities.

  • Do you think that catechesis worse now? I know it’s not ideal now, but I worry that we idealize the past. In the modern era of literacy and mass communication, the ignorance is less justifiable, sure. But there have always been places with no priests, or untrained and/or heretical priests. How deep was the understanding of the faith? My suspicion is that the peaks were higher and the valleys were lower – which calls to mind Rev 3:16: “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

Time to Stand

Wednesday, February 4, AD 2015

Clown Mass at Salzburg Cathedral


There is an ongoing attempt around Saint Blogs to get critics of Pope Francis to shut up.  Frank Walker  of Pewsitter will have none of it:

Catholic World Report has an unfortunate piece which tries to make Faithful sensible Catholics feel guilty for honest direct criticism of bishops. Right out of the box we’re all disgruntled, full of pride and ‘cheap chatter.’ Oh, and if we knew anything of Church teaching, we’d be very careful with our ‘murmuring.’

While disgruntled criticisms of Catholic bishops are nothing new, there seems to be an increase of late, especially since the start of Pope Francis’s pontificate. There is clearly no denying that there are problems within the Church, but Catholic moral teaching makes it clear that murmuring against our bishops shouldn’t be taken lightly. Cheap chatter, intellectual pride, and unchecked emotions can often make it difficult to discern who is in the right and make such murmurs justifiable.

Don’t be sold. If you love your Church, you put the blame where it belongs. Try running a destructive problem in your parish upstairs and see how far you get. There’s no democracy in the Church, and to the Pope’s delight, no free market.

Next CWR’s Carrie Gress tells us how we’re putting cracks in the windshield of the bishops’ authority, how we’re just like Protestants, and how we need to be charitable, merciful, not gossip or vent – in short, sheepish before our shepherds.  She aims for her conservative targets with an appeal to ‘subsidiarity’ meaning, “Don’t get over your head.”

Subsidiarity is the Church’s fundamental tenet that assigns responsibility for an issue or problem to the lowest appropriate authority; likewise, it restrains higher authorities from usurping the tasks of the lower. Embracing such decentralization liberates all of us back-seat drivers to let go and let the driver do his job. So too with our faith. If it is your job to voice criticisms of a bishop because you are in close proximity to him as an employee or trusted friend, then yes, using fraternal correction, you may have an obligation to do so. But for the rest of us, not so much, unless you are like St. Catherine of Siena, tasked with the project because of your personal sanctity (and not just in your own mind).

That one about – when you’re a great saint you’ll have to right to open your mouth – is tired. What should we do, all assume we’re not saints and sit down? Can’t we at least aspire a bit?

If in fact our bishops weren’t actively working against the Church and for its enemies, if most of them showed any substantial evidence of being Catholic, or if they didn’t generally have long records of collapse in their dioceses, then possibly this quietism might be in order.

The Catholic model works because it’s a living thing. It just needs to be permitted by those in charge. Inasmuch as it’s blocked by the hierarchy, then we must do our parts.

Our bishops are not politicians. They have been ordained to shepherd us. Are some corrupt? Yes. Are there some who are weak? Yes. Are there some who are sinners? Yes (we all are). But perhaps if we offered them more space to do their job and increased prayer to support them, they might do the right thing. And even if they don’t, at least we know we have.

“More space to do their job.” Which one did she interview for that line?

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14 Responses to Time to Stand

  • Pope Francis said that priests should be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”

    Well, sometimes the sheep smell and sometimes the shepherds smell.

  • “Subsidiarity is the Church’s fundamental tenet that assigns responsibility for an issue or problem to the lowest appropriate authority; likewise, it restrains higher authorities from usurping the tasks of the lower.”
    How does this comport with the Holy Father enjoying, “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334), as he reminded us at the conclusion of the Synod? How can an “immediate and… ordinary power” usurp the tasks of the lower?
    Does oe detect a hint of Gallicanism here?

  • “sit odor vitae tuae delectamentum Ecclesiae Christi ( May the fragrance of your life be the delight of Christ’s Church)”.

    Popewatch has been fair and balanced.

    Please keep praying for Pope Francis.
    May he be less a politician and more a true shepard.

  • Sorry to be such a dunce but where does Catholic moral teaching “make it clear” about murmuring about bishops? I guess that Catholic moral teaching would address the fidelity of bishop and clear teaching of Church.

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  • Just what I was about to ask, Anzlyne– it does seem a bit light on support, rather than their interpretations, no?
    I’m rather curious who they think decides that someone is sufficiently called to be able to say “this is not right.”

  • My pedestrian view of the behavior of a few of our prelates is that they have engaged in the clericalism of modernity. When they choose to promote the ideological and the political under the vestments of “pastoralism” they have also chosen to be challenged on the subjects of their less than prudential judgments. Unfortunately too, they have chosen to undermine their own authentic pastoral responsibility. I don’t think censorship of an informed laity serves the Church. Saint Pope Pius X, pray for us.

  • Here is a citation from from a column recently posted by Father Hunwicke at his website:
    “The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might disclose new teaching, but that, by His assistance, they might devoutly guard, and faithfully set forth, the Revelation handed down through the Apostles, the Deposit of Faith.”
    From the Decree of the First Vatican Council, on Papal Infallibility.

  • Honest criticism of the current Roman Pontiff – or any of his predecessors – is not a bad thing.

    The Roman Pontiff is from an area that is a political and economic mess and has almost always been so. The Roman Pontiff knew little of the Church outside of his diocese and has appeared to learn little about things outside of his comfort zone.

    Criticism of St. JPII came mostly from the left. The traditionalist wing will always be somewhat sore at him for excommunicating Lefevbre, allowing altar girls, and his lack of focusing on the liturgy, but they are fewer than the Left. The Pope Emeritus was not going to bend to the Left (Kasper, Maradiaga, etc.)

    The current Roman Pontiff deserves the honest criticism he receives. Bloggers who don’t like it can stick it in their ears.

  • …where does Catholic moral teaching “make it clear” about murmuring about bishops?

    In the Gospels we are told that the sheep will not follow a stranger. That’s “Catholic moral teaching” but those trying to shush the faithful probably didn’t mean that.

  • ahaha- good point Micha! I got a funny picture of a bunch of sheep milling around muttering to each other and reluctantly following– most of them anyway. A remnant tightened their jaws and stayed put.

  • Goodness, there certainly are a lot of “Crusadaphobes” out there.

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Ignorance, Pure Ignorance

Thursday, March 13, AD 2014

Vatican II


Pastern: The knee of a horse. (This is wrong. When  Dr. Samuel Johnson was once asked how he came to make such a mistake, Boswell tells us he replied, “Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”)

One of the major problems over the past half century in the Church is almost complete ignorance about what was actually written at Vatican II.  Father Z gives us a grand example:

Someone sent me a PDF of a flyer from the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida promoting a series of talks on Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Hopefully the talks will be great.

The flyer, however, isn’t so great.   There are a series of statements which perpetuate goofy notions that have been circulated for a long time.  Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments:


  • Did you know that before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy we did not always have Old and New Testament readings at Mass? (Chapter 2, #51) [This is a false statement.  There are Old Testament readings in Extraordinary Form. Furthermore, every Mass includes texts from the Psalms.  The Antiphon are mostly Old Testament.]
  • Did you know that reception of the Eucharist under both kinds for the people came into practice after the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? Before the document, people did not receive the Eucharist at every Mass and did not receive the blood of Christ at all. (Chapter 2, #55) [This is a misleading statement.  Frequent Communion was strongly promoted by St. Pope Pius X.  However, people still understood before the depredations that took place in the wake of and name of the Council that if you are not in the state of grace, you shouldn’t go to Communion.  Furthermore, this statement makes it seem that if people are not receiving the Precious Blood, they are somehow being deprived of receiving the Eucharist.]
  • Did you know that before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Mass was only offered in Latin – not in the multiple languages allowed today? (Chapter 1, #36) [This is a manipulative statement that also hides the truth of what the Council commanded.  First, it is not entirely desirable that multiple languages be used, because the multiplication of languages has fractured our unity, both across borders and across centuries.  The illicit elimination of Latin also slammed the doors of our treasury of Sacred Music.  Moreover, the Fathers of the Council commanded that Latin be retained!  They allowed for some limited use of the vernacular on occasions.]
  • Did you know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy reestablished the adult catechumenate? The RCIA process was developed to bring adults (and children age 7 and above) into the Church. (Chapter 3, #64) [This statement is much ado about nothing.  Adult converts and children above 7 were constantly being brought into the Church before the Council, and not in a one-sized mainstreams all method. Additionally, I can’t tell you how many people I have spoken to who wished they had had the opportunity of private instruction rather than the silly RCIA stuff they had to endure.]
  • Did you know that prior to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, people were not expected to actively participate in Mass by responding, praying, or singing – people were there just to “hear” the Mass? (Chapter 2, #48) [This is a falsehood.  Of course people were expected to participate actively at Mass, but actively in its most authentic sense of interiorly receptive activity. Furthermore, Popes throughout the 20th century urged people to make responses during Mass and clarified which parts they could participate in also with outward, vocal participation.]
  • Did you know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy calls for conscious and active participation in Mass and affairs of the Church by all the faithful by reason of our baptism? It set in motion the ability for lay people, including women, who were previously not even allowed in the sanctuary, to be lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, [No!] altar servers, [altar girls were promoted contrary to the law] and hold leadership positions. (Chapter 2, #14) [This is incorrect. Before the Council began, during the Pontificate of Pius XII there was an important document on Sacred Music which promoted congregational singing and gave a clear, strong definition of “active participation”. Also, lay people cannot be “Eucharistic Ministers”.  They can be ministers of “Holy Communion”.  Only the ordained are truly Eucharistic Ministers.]

These statements are misleading. They reflect an attitude of, “Before the Council, bad. After the Council, good.” It is not uncommon among people of a certain age to find a view that the Church really began with Vatican II.  They want you simply to accept their premises (e.g., women being allowed into the sanctuary is a good thing).

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6 Responses to Ignorance, Pure Ignorance

  • I am just old enough to remember the days before Christus Dominus in 1953, when communicants were required to fast from midnight. Christus Dominus introduced a three-hour fast from solids and a one hour fast from beverages (other than water).

    At that time, intending communicants usually attended an early mass, of which there was at least one and, often, several. Communion was not normally distributed at masses after 10 o’clock.. The missa cantata or high mass was normally at 11 o’clock. However, the change was introduced by Christus Dominus, not Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    I recall the great reverence that the good sisters inculcated for the Eucharist. They taught us that that there is no difference between Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and Jesus Christ in heaven, except that here He is veiled, and there He is not. Accordingly, they insisted that there must be no other difference between the purity of those who receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and that of the blessed, than what exists between faith and the open vision of God. Many daily mass-goers only received weekly, or even monthly, after a period of several days’ preparation, self-examination and sacramental confession.

  • Donald,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The hermeneutic of continuity calls all that propaganda about “pre-Vatican II Church bad/ post-Vatican II Church good” as rubbish. Just as it calls all that propaganda about “pre-Vatican II Church good/ post-Vatican II Church bad” as equally being rubbish

  • MP-S. I didn’t receive Holy Communion for the first time until 1956 But I remember fasting overnight as a young person ?

  • This does not surprise me about the Diocese of St. Petersburg. This flyer sounds like it came from the parish where my mother attends Mass.

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  • I didn’t know this!

    So in the old days, they had one form of communion, no awkward mass translations, no “contemporary” music, no “Catholic calisthenics” and half mumbled responses (half of which are the wrong translation out of habit), no “EM”s and no RCIA?

    Can we go back, please?

PopeWatch: Vatican II-A Half Century Later

Friday, December 20, AD 2013




Pope Francis has indicated that he wishes to complete the work of Vatican II.  This is an opportune moment to look at Vatican II which 50 years ago was close to its half way point.


As a practical matter, PopeWatch believes the Church as an earthly institution  has been in decline by most measurements, mass attendance, ordinations, numbers of nuns, sisters and brothers,  since 1965.    The decline is undeniable, but is it fair to blame Vatican II?  Would the Church have experienced the same turbulence, or even worse, without Vatican II?  PopeWatch doubts it.  The Church had thriven in the hostile environment of the first half of the Twentieth Century, when malevolent atheist ideologies, such as Nazism and Communism, had launched unceasing assaults on the Church.   Odd that the Church could so well weather this storm and then encounter such difficulties in the relatively calm seas of the latter Twentieth Century.  Plus, the collapse came on so rapidly after the Council that it is hard to resist the temptation to believe that there has to be some link.  It also didn’t help that Paul VI was a very good man, but also a very weak pope.

Of course much, although not all, of the difficulties of Vatican II are caused by misinterpretations of what the Council did and what the Council actually stated.  The “spirit of Vatican II” is often responsible for idiocies within the contemporary Church that most of the participants in Vatican II never, in their wildest nightmares, intended.  This misinterpretation of the Council started even while it was in progress:

PopeWatch would direct your attention to Time January 4, 1963 in the issue where Pope John XXIII was declared Man of the Year:

“By launching a reform whose goal is to make the Catholic Church sine macula et ruga (without spot or wrinkle), John set out to adapt his church’s whole life and stance to the revolutionary changes in science, economics, morals and politics that have swept the modern world: to make it, in short, more Catholic and less Roman.”

This statement PopeWatch finds truly hilarious from the Time article, in light of the experience of the last 50 years:  “The great majority of Protestant and Catholic clergymen and theologians—as well as many non-Christians—agree that Christianity is much stronger today than it was when World War II ended. Their reason is not the postwar “religious revival” (which many of them distrust as superficial) or the numerical strength of Christianity. It is that the Christian Church has finally recognized and faced the problems that have cut off much of its communication with the modern world. Says Notre Dame’s President Theodore Hesburgh: “We better understand the job that is before us. The challenge is to make religion relevant to relevant to real life.”’

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34 Responses to PopeWatch: Vatican II-A Half Century Later

  • What has the Church, if anything, gained by Vatican II that was lacking in the Church prior to Vatican II? What, if anything, is the Church post Vatican II lacking that the Church prior to Vatican II possessed?

    I think Dom Bettinelli offered that the financial arrangements of parishes in effect prior to 1966 (parishes as personal benefices) were invitations to corruption. There was also prior to 1983 or thereabouts a pretty thorough refusal to report sexual misconduct by clergy, a consequence of a hypertrophy or corruption of deference to authority. I have also heard the complaint that Friday sacrifices prior to 1966 were often spurious (though this problem was not remedied by the change in discipline). The seminary system of the time seems to have left many young priests rather embittered. You can see that in Andrew Greeley’s memoirs, though he never does offer an explanation for his change in attitude toward the Church. Between the lines, you can see it happened when he was in major seminary, but his discussion of major seminary was very spare. We can surmise that American seminaries were turning out larger and larger cohorts of troublesome homosexuals from about 1925 to about 1970 and turning out such people in appreciable numbers for the succeeding 15 or 20 years. If any discrete policy repaired that, it was the visitation ordered by JP ii in 1981, not the Council.

    By and large, it was a scarcely mitigated institutional disaster. If you complete the work of Vatican II, religious observance among nominal Catholics in this country will be as vigorous as that among nominal Lutherans in Sweden.

  • Vatican II has the same place in the mindset of a certain strata of Catholic clerics that Woodstock has for baby boomers.

    And both have gotten really, really tedious.

  • To suggest the Church in the first half of the 20th century was not riven with discord is false in fact.

    Consider the remarks of Maurice Blondel in 1904, “With every day that passes, the conflict between tendencies that set Catholic against Catholic in every order–social, political, philosophical–is revealed as sharper and more general. One could almost say that there are now two quite incompatible “Catholic mentalities,” particularly in France. And that is manifestly abnormal, since there cannot be two Catholicisms.” Again, in 1907, we find him writing, “[U]nprecedented perhaps in depth and extent–for it is at the same time scientific, metaphysical, moral, social and political–[the crisis] is not a “dissolution” [for the spirit of faith does not die], nor even an “evolution” [for the spirit of faith does not change], it is a purification of the religious sense, and an integration of Catholic truth.”

    Consider the obstacles put in the way by Church authorities to the greatest theologians of the 20th century, Henri Bremond (1865-1933) Joseph Maréchal SJ (1878-1944) Marie-Dominique Chenu O.P (1895-1990), Cardinal Henri de Lubac SJ (1896-1991) Cardinal Yves Congar O.P, (1904-1995), Cardinal Jean Daniélou SJ (1905-1974) Louis Bouyer, (1913-2004) Oratorian. I am old enough remember when their works circulated in mimeographed sheets.

    I remember when we lived under the pall of what Blondel called, “the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.”

    The tragedy is, not that VII created divisions, but that it failed to heal them.

  • “To suggest the Church in the first half of the 20th century was not riven with discord is false in fact.”

    Too bad I wasn’t making that argument MPS. The argument that I am making is that the Church confronted a very stormy first half of the twentieth century and came out stronger than she went in. Compare and contrast with the history of the Church in the second half of the last century.

  • I remember when we lived under the pall of what Blondel called, “the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.”

    Whatever merit that description has (and there is some) dissolves in its wildly-imbalanced exaggeration, turning it into a vicious caricature. Yes, that is the history written by the victors after the council, who pretended nothing good came from the “establishment” in the years before it, and who consigned the defeated to the dustbin. Goodbye, “Sacred Monster;” to the fires with manualism!

    What the era needs is the perspective of those who are not vested in certain feuding narratives and can assess the participants and the results with objectivity.

  • Dale Price

    The quotation was written 50 years before the Council

    Let me add Blondel’s assessment of the aspirations of the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy

    ““A Catholicism without Christianity, submissiveness without thought, an authority without love, a Church that would rejoice at the insulting tributes paid to the virtuosity of her interpretative and repressive system… To accept all from God except God, all from Christ except His Spirit, to preserve in Catholicism only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes—is not all this, under the pretext perhaps of thinking only about religion, really a matter of pursuing only politics?”

    Such a parody of the Faith is still alive and well and, I believe the Holy Father recognises it.

  • Donald M McClarey

    In the second half of the 20th century, the most original and prominent thinkers seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague, Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac to name a few.

    It was , in some respects, a golden age

  • “It was , in some respects, a golden age”

    Only if Golden Ages are made of Fools’ Gold MPS. By their fruits ye shall know them and French Catholicism is on life support compared to where it was in the first half of the last century.

  • Most of us are familiar with the slur that Catholic conservatives in France were crypto-Nazi’s (“the aspirations of the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy..”–Michael PS), a lie of Blondels which dovetails nicely with the KGB’s eventually successful effort to paint Pius XII as a Nazi-collaborator. So, Catholic conservatives in France (and presumably everywhere else) were deniers of God, Christ, and “soothingly” self-congratulatory aristocrats. Really? Obviously Michael PS agrees with that view point and isnt troubled by its straw-man-esque fabulousness.

  • The quotation was written 50 years before the Council

    OK, my bad. But it’s utterly indistinguishable from the triumphalist “goodbye to all that” mentality that arose in its wake, the manichean penchant for making the preconciliar Church into something irredemably evil, stifling and autocratic, and portraying those who opposed it as the Sons of Light. It grates, and quickly.

    the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy
    ““A Catholicism without Christianity, submissiveness without thought, an authority without love, a Church that would rejoice at the insulting tributes paid to the virtuosity of her interpretative and repressive system… To accept all from God except God, all from Christ except His Spirit, to preserve in Catholicism only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes—is not all this, under the pretext perhaps of thinking only about religion, really a matter of pursuing only politics?”

    Such a parody of the Faith is still alive and well and, I believe the Holy Father recognises it

    I also have no doubt there are a few such left. The mistake is in assuming they only exist on the right. After all, the field is bereft of states hospitable for integralism. There is no Vichy to join. Not even Franco’s Spain. But there are plenty who prostitute themselves to the secular liberal states of the West, acting as a Patriotic Association married to progressive statism.

    However, I am afraid you are correct, and Pope Francis is, in fact, bent on refighting the last war, or the last couple of them, and rooting out enemies and problems that have almost entirely faded into the past, and is not particularly interested in the new forms Catholic collaborationism takes.

  • I certainly understand the argument/narrative: that since Vatican II ‘everything seems to have gone downhill’, but I am wondering if that is like blaming the sacrament of confirmation for the lack of active participation of so many Catholics after they received confirmation. Their perception is: no more religious education, no more church attendance, I am now an ‘adult Catholic” Isn’t there something similar going on among many many Catholics? Yes, indeed there are all sorts of perceptions running around out there-so many that I believe Vatican II has hardly been ‘heard’ never mind ‘received’ [implemented]

    Real study of the actual texts of the Second Vatican Council are only beginning now-after fifty years! Up until this point we had a great deal of various members of elites declaring what the Council said, maybe quoting one sentence out of context etc and then running with it: aka: ‘the spirit of Vatican II” crowd. In the meantime these inaccuracies and misleading statements and judgments took on a life of their getting into the craw of many local clergy, religious and people in the pew. However, is this Vatican II? No.

    History will look back at th ministries of JPII and Benedict as the time in which they fought, and they had to fight for the correct interpetation of VII. We summarize it with the facile phrase, “Hermeneutic of continuity and renewal” but it is filled with meaning. The course correction began with the publication of the New Code of Canon Law in 1983 and the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 and was finalized with the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its companion: Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine.

    Now some who are not familiar with history will say but we never had to do this with other Councils-the fact is in one way or another we in fact did have to do so. The Second Ecumenical Council [Constantinople I, in 381 had to augment and complete the Nicaean Council of 325. All hell broke loose after the Council of Ephesus in 431 and had to be complemented (completed) by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. I could give many more examples. If nothing else, Vatican II was needed to close Vatican I [it was never closed in 1870 because revolutionary forces had invaded Rome in the unification of Italy], of course I would give far more to it than that

    While I know what I am about to say might shock some and get others upset, I believe Vatican II unmasked both a declining actual faith in the Church (believing is not the same as conforming-Pope Paul was alarmed by 1967 about the crisis of faith and called for a Year of Faith [Vatican II could not even begin to disrupt things that fast. 1967 was before Humanae Vitae (1968) and the 1970 Roman Missal. I also believe that it was perhaps 10 years or so too early. What we now know as the vast cultural revolution (including the sexual revolution) was not yet cresting. If it had crested, I believe some of what was presented within the Council would have been a bit more nuanced and less optimistic about the way things were going in the world. It is important to remember that a great deal of what we are dealing with right now is actually the cultural revolution wreckage.

    Finally, in America (USA) I believe we cannot underestimate the election of President Kennedy (no matter one’s poltical stripes or ideology). With his election Catholics had finally fully become Americans. With that accomplished what was next-what did it mean to be Catholic except where we happen to go to church on Sunday? [I believe of course it means much more but I am speaking of the common Catholic] With the demise of ‘conformist form Catholicism’ Sunday Mass went out the window.

    George Weigel, certainly no radical nor ‘spirit of VII type” has well documented the gradual end of the Tridentine era of the Church. The ‘way” in which She spoke etc within the Tridentine era was no longer working, what She was speaking: the eternal truths of the Catholic faith are enduring. In order for those truths to be communicated etc She needed to find a new way of speaking. That was Vatican II. The fact that people like even Fr Hesburgh thought she needed to be ‘more relevant’ simply is a shallow interpretation-whether said in agreement or those disagreeing but thinking that was the MO of the Church

    As an aside I am in the midst of studying both Trent and VII and finding how the second builds on the first and complements it. I actually now believe that Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II form a group of Councils (there are others) that work closely with each other, complement one another and need to be kept in balance. I know that goes against the perceptions of many but the facts are there, nonetheless

  • I think Christianity is stronger now because it’s undergone something like a disestablishment. In the first two decades or so following the war, Christianity was a civic religion. Such a watered-down version was sufficient to tie the coutnry together. It lacked zeal and relevancy to people’s lives, however, as was pointed out by the professor at Notre Dame. Now it is a question of commitment. One would no longer find the American religion, but rather an authentic call to salvation and all that that entails.

  • Rubbish Jon. How anyone in their right mind could view Christianity now as stronger than from 1945-1965 is a mystery to me. Your citation of Hesburgh is a hoot. He was a leader within the Church of those who sought to make Catholic universities into carbon copies of their secular counterparts. He helped found People for the American Way, Norman Lear’s anti-conservative group. He called pro-lifers “mindless zealots”. Rather than making religion more relevant in people’s lives, Hesburgh helped make certain that a radical secularization occurred within the Catholic Church in America that weakened her in the face of the enemies of Christ.

  • Well, I don’t know much about Notre Dame. I only know it has some top professors and academic authors, but that doesn’t say anything about its commitments to Christian morality. Anyway, I was making a point that’s sort of basic knowledge in many circles: that civic Christianity of the fifties and sixties has been gradually replaced by a mroe authentic faith (Billy Graham is the one exception to this either/or approach I know of). I think there’s enough truth to it to go on repeating it. Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller–this brand of practical and shallow Christianity is not terribly popular anymore. People tend to choose between robust Christianity or none at all these days. You might say the non-committed have been weeded out. That’s worthwhile to the existentially concerned.
    Perhaps from the perspective of Roman Catholicism the church has in some instances undergone serious changes for the worst. You may be comparing pre and post-Vatican II situations.
    What I get from the ardent adherents of post-vatican–those who read much more change into it than was planned–is that they welcome it as a liberating breath of fresh air. They want to make room for some changes that conflict with Christian morality, which is deeply disturbing, for sure. By the same token, the space created for alternative expressions of worship and styles of outreach is I think rather welcome.

  • George Weigel, certainly no radical nor ‘spirit of VII type” has well documented the gradual end of the Tridentine era of the Church. The ‘way” in which She spoke etc within the Tridentine era was no longer working, what She was speaking: the eternal truths of the Catholic faith are enduring. In order for those truths to be communicated etc She needed to find a new way of speaking. That was Vatican II.

    I had a conversation in 2001 with a sister of the Congregation of St. Joseph. She told me that 60 women had entered the novitiate in her order 1961 and 1962. She said that about 30 had entered since 1970. She said the median age in her order was as we were speaking 70. The new way of speaking worked out real well for everyone dependent on their services.

  • What doesn’t kill you makes stronger. Not right away, and the numbers are down. The secular culture is seductive, appealing, but I think time is on our side. B16 said something to the effect that the Church might have to be smaller for a while. The Catholics I know are studying the Faith very seriously, even learning to be apologists. I think in the end Vatican 2 makes stronger; smaller but stronger and able to grow again. Yes I think it has knocked us back a bit, but all will be well and all will be well.

  • People tend to choose between robust Christianity or none at all these days. You might say the non-committed have been weeded out. That’s worthwhile to the existentially concerned.

    Have you seen some of the social statistics re the contemporary population of Catholics? Somehow, I think when two-thirds of those who shuffle in for Mass cannot be bothered to enter the confessional even once a year, I think the non-committed have yet to be weeded out.

  • the most original and prominent thinkers seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague, Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac to name a few.

    These original and prominent sages failed to persuade about 60% of those attending Mass weekly ca 1960 to continue to do so.

    While we are at it, does Marty Haugen qualify as original and prominent?

  • “What doesn’t kill you makes stronger.”

    Like most of Nietzsche’s musings, that was nuts. Most things that severely damage you but do not kill you often inflict permanent debilitating injuries. I hope that Vatican II is not a permanent debilitating injury for Mother Church.

  • I’ve always seen it this way: bad things can either make or break you. We can grow stronger with God’s help or we can allow those situations to paralyze us. We can allow them to ruin us, in fact. Everyone reacts differentlyt to crises. Of course Neitzchean thought is absurd. He was not too stable because he snapped near the end of his life. So no wonder his philosophy is crazy.

  • Botolph

    To continue your theme of one council explaining the last, perhaps the most striking instance is the 5th ecumenical council’s clarification of Chalcedon

    In the 8th canon, those are anathematized who say “one Nature incarnate of God the Word,” [Μία φυσις του θεου λογου σεσαρκωμενε] unless they “accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected.” Now, Mia Phusis was the very watchword of the Monophysites, as the name suggests, but the Council recognises that some used it in an orthodox sense, the sense of St Athanasius and St Cyril of Alexandria.

    In the same way, we can see Lumen Gentium complementing Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I

  • Nietzsche!! That guy!! I didn’t know he said that. Oh well even a blind sow may find an acorn once in a awhile!

  • Would the Church have experienced the same turbulence, or even worse, without Vatican II? PopeWatch doubts it. –
    I believe that PoweWatch has this one wrong, but I thank Botolph and a few others for saving me my words, they said much of it. Long before Vatican II the root system for the weeds that were to explosively sprout in the 1960’s were firmly in place. Much of it, if not most, pushed by a wealthy class that wanted easy divorce, contraception, sexual license and condescending intellectual perfidy that was resisted by the “common” classes. A review of how Hollywood promoted painless divorce is but one example. Please forgive me the following analogy, but as others have hit the more intellectual arguments, I will present a more vulgar understanding that struck me with sad humor and truth.
    Think of the wholesome 1940’s Bing Crosby IMAGE – the family man, everyman’s singer, simple, moral, conservative, religious, someone you could take home to mom and pop so on. By the 1960’s we were on to Sinatra and the Rat Pack image – amoral womanizers, hip,cool, foul spoken, dangerous, lewd, bullies, substance abusers, hedonists….you get the picture – oh, and Sinatra (and Martin) was a well known as Catholic. The point here is our culture had been transformed and we Catholics were now fully a part of it. We no longer stood apart and the Catholic ghetto with its values was going, going…gone. Enter Vatican II into a crop strewn with healthy weeds. Back then I am not sure if we asked, how to pluck them out or how to outgrow them, but we may be doing so now.
    Continuing with my vulgar analogy, anyone who thinks we, families and faith, are better off with the predominant Sinatra image over the Crosby one is denying reality. The average 1940 family may not have fully understood it, but they knew what wholesome was and wanted it. So, too, with the average Catholic. They weren’t forced to go to mass, my parents generation loved their Catholic faith as wholesome and good. They knew basic Catholic teaching and believed it. Vat II came into a world that increasingly did not care about wholesome, good or true. We are in a world where most Catholics do not know their faith. Now that some do, like at this site, know it very well and sincerely, that is a wonderful produce, but we’ve lost most of the crop.
    God does give his faithful what they need, and I’m thinking that despite the abuses in promulgating Vat II, it is what the Church needs to eventually overcome the weeds. In which case we would be much worse off without Vatican II.
    (And this is not meant to stir up a Crosby/Sinatra debate. LOL)

  • Think of the wholesome 1940′s Bing Crosby IMAGE – the family man, everyman’s singer, simple, moral, conservative, religious, someone you could take home to mom and pop so on. By the 1960′s we were on to Sinatra and the Rat Pack image – amoral womanizers, hip,cool, foul spoken, dangerous, lewd, bullies, substance abusers, hedonists….you get the picture – oh, and Sinatra (and Martin) was a well known as Catholic.

    James Cagney played gangsters. The midpoint of his career was around about 1940. He was also Catholic.

  • Yes, Cagey is a favorite. But perhaps you miss the point. There were lots of people who played creeps and various other villains on celluloid, but their villainy was not admired – just their ability to portray it. Cagney’s personal image, btw, was of a “square, good guy” and liked by the regular chums. Whether or not he was, Crosby was admired for the wholesome image I described regardless of his acting and singing talent. Sinatra and gang were admired for the negative bad boy images, regardless of their singing and acting talent. It became hip to be a morally bad boy. America had been moving in this direction for some time, where we glorified the naughty things, and now we don’t believe anything is naughty. No need to be nice for Santa anymore. Vat II did not bring this about.

  • Art Deco

    You rightly point out the issue of the radical decline of women religious since 1960 however you have overlooked several important issues which prevent you from arriving at the right diagnosis.

    You are correct that there were far more vocations to the active women’s religious orders in 1960. I differentiate the active ones from the cloistured ones. I believe that there has been little change in their numbers. However, in 1960 our schools were filled with women religious from orders who had education of girls, boys and both boys and girls as their mission. Our hospitals too had many women religious {although nowhere near the totality that our schools did) women who dedicated their lives to nursing and health care.

    Several things happened however in the early sixties. Women, freed from the more mundane aspects of homemaking [with washing machines, gas and electric stove/ovens, vacuum cleaners, even dishwashers] less tedious and time consuming. Some had worked while the men were away during the war. With more time on their hands they had more time to think, imagine and yes yearn for ‘other’ ways of living. Doors were opening up, slowly at first, for the ongoing presence of women in the workplace. More and more women were going to school post HS. Wile earlier womens’ movements had gained them the right to vote etc. now they were yearning to be come more and more part of the mainstream [and in many cases failing to recognize how important their own work at home was esp with the formation of children]. The women’s liberation movement was born-with its strengths and weaknesses. In short, women has other options than marriage, being single and in the Catholic world, the religious life. Womens’ options and vocations were ‘liberated’.

    In America, Sargent Shriver in Pres Kennedy’s administration had formed a totally new movement based on really a religious concept: service. The Peace Corps was born. It caught the imagination of a young generation just growing into maturity (and those right behind them still in secondary school), Instead of their idealism, in the case of Catholics, leading them into religious and priestly vocations, their idealism was secularized and led them into the Peace Corps and then countless other variations of the same movement. In short, they didn’t need the Church in order to serve.

    Now turning to the Second Vatican Council itself, the Council called for the renewal of all vocations. First and foremost, every baptized person is called to holiness of life. While this was not a new idea-it had always been present in some form or another, especially with St Francis De Sales Introduction to the Devout Life, but no other Council of the Church ever enshrined it, canonized it. All are called to be holy, not just the consecrated religious and the ordained. Dare I use this term? Holiness was ‘liberated’; it was no longer for a relatively few. However if this be the case, what is the role of consecrated religious life?

    Further, the Council gave far more weight and time, so to speak, to the vocation of the laity. Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist became fundamental to the Church’s self-understanding, which shifted the Church away from seeing those in religious life and holy orders as the Church, with the laity in the pews not really part of the Church [Besides the media technology, a blog such as this would most likely not have existed in 1960: the laity were not fully part of the Church in the older view of things]. With the Sacraments of Inititation as the key, what happens to the consecrated religious? [Part of the desire of women religious to be ordained is to actually find their place in the Church-misguided as this is]

    Now, the Council also promulgated a declaration on the consecrated religious. It called for each religious order to go back to its founder’s original intentions and charism. It called for, a certain modernization of habits [not their total rejection and absence] [Think that one religious order of women did in fact have head gear like Sally Field’s ‘Flying Nun’–the wings could go, but not the veil]. It was like an explosion. I wonder how many actually read the VII document. Suddenly the history of religious orders were being rewritten: one teaching order rediscovered that their original calling was to treat ‘street women’–that is one massive jump. With this explosion, the veils all but completely disappeared-for most women religious. If consecrated women religious are no longer living in community, no longer in specifically religious missions-how many became social workers, lawyers etc? if they looked and acted just like Catholic lay women {earrings and all] then what does it mean to be consecrated women religious?

    Now it is easy to point to VII. However, nothing really changed for the cloistered orders. And those active women religious orders that maintained a certain discipline, identity, common purpose and common life, are not doing poorly in vocations. Its those orders that completely lost their identity that are literally dying [BTW the history of the Church teaches that most religious charisms die out in time, unless they adapt and or change their mission; i.e. The Trinitarian men’s order were formed to ransom Christians sold into slavery to Moslem sultans etc. I could quip that they might need to return to this, but in fact they continue on with a changed mission]

    I understand seeing things today are very different than things were in say 1950 or 1960. It is true. There is no doubt about it. However the cause is not Vatican II. [FYI I do believe there are weaknesses in VII so I am not saying VII is 100% all the way]

  • JImmy Cagney really is one of my favorites…and his movies had a moral to the story. I take your point about the changing culture and I agree.
    The changes in our culture are hard to resist. Even for parents and parishes who are doing their best to protect and pass on the Faith, that omnipresent cultural pressure makes it difficult.
    I think John XX!!! was right to call the Council then because there was kind of a crisis of culture that was foaming up mid century. And you know the other side has noted that a good crisis should not be let go to waste. Just as the Church made an effort, the spiritual warfare increased.
    Perhaps we learned some lessons we didn’t expect, but we do know Who is the Victor.

  • Botolph

    Another change for women was that many orders even if not exclusively missionary, served foreign missions.

    Now, in the 1960s, the rôle of these orders was questioned; many felt that they had identified themselves too closely with the « mission civilisatrice » of the colonial powers. This was a caricature, of course, but caricature works by isolating and exaggerating real features of the subject.

    In any event, their former work in Algeria, Lebanon, Syria and West and Central Africa became impossible in the post-colonial period.

    PS The “wings” were part of the habit of the Sisters of Charity, established by St Vincent de Paul.. Ironically, it is simply a stylised version of the head-dress of the 17th century French peasant woman’s hat, designed to make them look unlike nuns, whom the Council of Trent had bound to strict enclosure.

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  • i am not convinced that the modern world (since VII) that we experience today developed its anti-christian, relativistic gestalt because of VII.

    john XXII’s vision certainly was motivated by his assessment of the current (at his time) state of the Church and how it was relating to the changes in society.

    VII occurred at a time when, for example in the usa, society was transforming from an agrarian based enviroment where large numbers of people lived on farms or in small communities into a society whose foundations were to be found in the megalopolises that currently confront our evangelization efforts. creating vibrant faith communities in the megalopolises remains, in my opinion, the greatest evangelical challenge going forward.

    of course, that was not the ONLY trend that influenced john’s vision. there were others that he, being a child of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, would have experienced far more acutely than we who were born in the middle of the twentieth century.

    a historian friend of mine, a RC priest, once told me that it took the Church 100 years after every major council to fully reap the benefits of the council. he added that not unlike a pendulum, the council would push the church in one direction vigorously for approximately fifty years and then gradually the Church would start to reap the full benefits of the council as the pendulum reversed its course.

    i would question anyone who believes that the human gestalt, the human experience and the human thought processes that were predominant in 1963 are the same as today.

    the human mind cannot comprehend what is beyond its structure. this structure is not easily definable, but it certainly is influenced by the environment in which it is developed. thus education, as well as current events, can assist a human being in developing one’s ability to comprehend reality.

    in general, our bishops and theologians, because of their education, training, spirituality and intelligence are best prepared to understand what we face as a world going forward.

    at VII, there were bishops and theologians some of whom did not possess the comprehension to fully engage john’s vision. at the same time, there were others who did comprehend what john was seeing and where john was pointing. the numbers are not important, but in the end, there was a consensus that VII was creating a foundation for the Church to interact with the new gestalt that was forming.

    it is a useful exercise, for some maybe most people, to contemplate the fruits of VII so long as they recognize that those fruits are still ripening and will continue to ripen for years to come.

  • It is true that while the worldview has grown increasingly secular, the lines are more clearly drawn in the sand. Those who are truly committed to Christianity are more likely to stand out at a time like this. The ones who merely acquaiesed to civil religion are no longer that visible. Whose side you are on is much more likely to be apparent now.

  • Vatican II was and is a good thing and the right thing at the right time. Vatican II formulated the faith in terms that are accessible to the post-WWII world and reality.

    We must resist the urge to fault the Church with our own -though very real- frustrations.

    If I could give one thing to a random passer-by that I thought might change their minds about the Church or Catholicism, it would probably be a document from Vatican II.

    Vatican II is a powerful resource for Catholics and Catholicism – for defending the faith and for sharing it. If you look at Vatican II as a resource for our times you will find it to be abundantly fruitful. There is a good reason why so many bishops and priests point to Vatican II as a guiding light for these present times. In many respects Vatican II saw ahead or seemed to see ahead and provide for us what we would need, as we expect from a work of the Holy Ghost the ever loving, faithful and abundantly good God.

    God has not and did not abandon us. But as ever, we are free to access Him and make use of His gifts or to refuse Him or them and try it on our home. The latter option has a mixed history; the first God has never failed to reward with spiritual gifts in abundance.

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  • Why is there so much corruption and moral dissolution with members of the Church? Why has Vat II been used to issue in years of confusion and revolt? Where else would Satan go to corrupt and deceive other than to the Good and Faithful?
    I am never surprised about individuals failings of our Church members – in an ironic way it assures me of the Truth Satan wants to point us away from. That is why I agree with Tim and others above.

James Cardinal McIntyre and the Conclave of 1963

Wednesday, March 13, AD 2013




James Cardinal McIntyre was very unhappy with Vatican II and spoke about it, one of the few Cardinals who did.  However, McIntyre was a man who never minded swimming against the stream.  Born on June 25, 1886 in New York City,  his father a member of the mounted police and his mother an immigrant from Ireland.  His father was rendered an invalid after a fall from a horse in Central Park, and his mother supported the family as a dressmaker.  When she died in 1896 his father and James went to live with a relative.  To support himself and his father, James became a runner on the New York Stock Exchange.  He was offered a junior partnership in 1914, but declined to pursue his dream of becoming a priest.  He was ordained in 1921 and served as associate pastor at Saint Gabriel’s on the lower East Side until he was made Assistant Chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York in 1923, rising to Chancellor in 1934.  In 1939 he formed the Columbiettes, the woman’s auxilary of the Knights of Columbus.  In 1940 he was named Coadjutor Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York.  In 1946 he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of New York, and in 1948 second Archbishop of Los Angeles.

Ever a fighter, McIntyre led the successful campaign to overturn a California state law which taxed Catholic schools.  He was made a Cardinal in 1953 by Pius XII.  Under his leadership the Archdiocese went through a period of immense growth, McIntyre showing exceptional foresight in purchasing land cheap as the sites of future churches and schools.  Endlessly hardworking, he made sure the Archdiocese ran efficiently and effectively.

McIntyre was Orthdox in his religion and hard right in his politics, which put him at odds with most other of the high clergy in the Church of his day.  He sent his priests to classes conducted by the John Birch Society about the threat of Communist infiltration.  He railed against moral laxity in the film industry, normally a sacred cow in California.

He never let politics stand in the way of friendships.  He was a friend of Dorothy Day although their political views were light years apart.  Go here to read what Day wrote about the Archbishop.

Vatican II met with his disfavor.  In a speech to the Council Fathers on October 23, 1962 he uttered words which proved prophetic in regard to proposed changes in the liturgy:  “The schema on the Liturgy proposes confusion and complication. If it is adopted, it would be an immediate scandal for our people. The continuity of the Mass must be kept.”

He voted in the Conclave of 1963.  He was no happier with Vatican II after the Conclave than before.  When the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters went crazy following Vatican II, a process described in excruciating detail here, McIntyre told them that they had to follow Vatican II guidelines for religious.  They refused to do so, the Vatican backed McIntyre up, and almost all of the IHM sisters left the Church.  Until he retired in 1970 McIntyre continually butted heads with radical priests and nuns.  He was totally opposed to the zeitgeist of the time, and clearly could not have cared less.  After his retirement he served as parish priest at Saint Basil’s in Los Angeles, and would say the Tridentine Mass on the side altars.  He died at 93 in 1979.

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2 Responses to James Cardinal McIntyre and the Conclave of 1963

  • Having grown up in LA, I have memories of Cardinal McIntyre. I know he delayed implementation of the New Mass until the last possible minute. Thus I received my First Communion in the Tridentine Rite. The last class to do so.

    I also remember some of the rebellion after Vatican II. One priest spoke publically from the pulpit against McIntyre’s resistance to the “spirit” of the times.

    The very next week, the priest was publically apologizing to McIntyre in the Cathedral.

    Such were the days.

  • John Cuthbert Ford and Germain Grisez deserve an enormous amount of credit for making sure Paul VI had the best possible orthodox case before pulling the trigger on HV.

    I can strongly recommend Ford’s “Contemporary Moral Theology” books (co-authored with Gerald Kelly). Alas, it was projected to be a long series, but only two books were ever produced (the second, Marriage Questions, being published in 1963). The avalanche hit after that.

    But they are excellent and interesting books, and give the lie to the broad-brush attacks leveled against “manualism.”

Cardinal Mooney and the Conclave of 1958

Tuesday, March 12, AD 2013



Edward Cardinal Mooney added a bit of tragic drama to the Conclave of 1958.  Born in 1882 in Mount Savage, Maryland, the seventh child in his family,  he moved with them to Youngstown, Ohio at the age of 5.  His father was a tube mill worker and died in the early 1890’s.  His mother opened a small baking shop to support the family, and George and his brothers and sisters delivered the goods to customers.  He began his studies for the priesthood at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and concluded them at the North American pontifical college.  Ordained in 1909, he taught dogmatic theology at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland until 1916.  He was the founding principal of the Cathedral Latin School in Cleveland from 1916-1922.

Made the spiritual director of the North American Pontifical College in Rome in 1923, he received the unique assignment of being the Apostolic Delegate to India and made a Titular Archbishop.  In India he helped found 15 missions and three parishes.  In 1931 he was made Apostolic Delegate to Japan.  In 1933 he was made fourth Bishop of Rochester with the personal title of Archbishop.  In 1937 he was named the first Archbishop of Detroit, receiving a Cardinal’s cap from Pope Pius XII in 1946.

Like most Catholic clergy of his generation, he was very pro-labor unions which stood him in good stead in the heavily unionized Detroit.  He immediately clashed heads with Father Charles Coughlin, the fiery controversial radio priest who operated from Royal Oak, Michigan.  The clashes continued until Father Coughlin agreed to end his radio program in 1942.

During World War II he was a strong supporter of the war effort viewing Nazi Germany as a mortal adversary of Christianity.

At the Conclave of 1958 he had a massive heart attack in Rome and died at age 70 just three hours before the Conclave began.  The more deranged sedevacantists claim that Mooney was murdered to help deny Cardinal Siri the papal throne, which is pure, unadulterated one hundred percent bunk.

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6 Responses to Cardinal Mooney and the Conclave of 1958

  • I wondered why there is a Catholic high school named for Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, as Youngstown is a rather new diocese (formed, I believe, in the 1940s by Pope Pius XII during WWII, from the Cleveland diocese – and obviously does not have a cardinal as its bishop)

    Now I know. Thank you.

  • “The more deranged sedevacantists claim that Mooney was murdered to help deny Cardinal Siri the papal throne, which is pure, unadulterated one hundred percent bunk.”

    Let’s see, one faction of deranged “traditionalists” says that Cdl Siri was actually elected Pope Gregory XVII in 1958 and was persuaded to renounce. Which faction are we to believe? An illustration of how off the rails these groups can be.

    As far as the name Gregory XVII is concerned, I do hope the next pope takes that name…not that I am biased or anything.

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  • From 1944, Archbishop Roncalli, as he then was, served as nuncio in France, where he is still remembered with gratitude and affection for his work of reconciliation, both within the Church and between the Church and the wider society, in the aftermath of Vichy.

    The spiritual mission of the Church had been gravely hampered, during the previous 70 years by the open hostility of most Catholics to the Republic, which neatly matched the anti-clericalism of the bouffeurs de curé. Leo XIII had exhorted Catholic to “rally to the Republic,” explaining that a distinction must be drawn between the form of government, which ought to be accepted, and its laws which ought to be improved, only to be accused by the Catholic press of “kissing the feet of their executioners.” In 1940, alas, too many Catholics rallied, not to the Republic, but to Vichy.

    When he was appointed a Cardinal in 1953, he received the red biretta at the hands of the French President, Vincent Auriol, signalling a new relationship between the Church and the Republic.

  • Curious fact about the 1958 conclave. White smoke did come prematurely from the chimney prompting Vatican Radio to announce that “we have a pope” when, apparently we did not. Siri was the frontrunner, so to speak, among the papabile. I never heard anyone knowledgeable claim that he took the name Gregory or that he ever accepted the election if, indeed, he had received the quorum. Fact is he never spoke about a “non-acceptance”, nor could he have if such were the case. You can be fairly sure, however, that some cardinal would have leaked that info, if it were true. The white smoke is certainly strange. Hard to believe it was not deliberate. Then, shortly after, the smoke turned black. Vatican Radio had to take a culpa.

  • From this convert who once called Ytown home (and still loves the gritty city) … and who was beaten down mercifully by Mooney’s football team for 3 years, I appreciate the post. I’m often seen the pontificate of JXXIII as a solid sign that the Holy Spirit can take the votes of cardinals and turn them into gold.

The Schoenstatt Movement Nearly 100 Years Old

Saturday, December 15, AD 2012

I must admit a certain reticence to writing this article because I don’t think in one article I can truly do the Schoenstatt Movement justice, but the movement’s nearly 100 year old story and that of its founder Father Josef Kentenich really needs to be told. In 1914 a young German priest Father Kentenich started a movement that was so unique it took nearly 50 years before many would understand the groundbreaking effects it could have on the Church. This future saint would not only survive the suspicions of some on the theological left and right, but he would also survive Dachau. He died in 1968, the same year as another misunderstood priest, Saint Padre Pio.

When writing my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn,  even I was stunned about the new movements that keep cropping up within the Church, even as so many have written off the Church. Indeed this is the History of the Church, when one thinks she is coming under attack by the dark side, she only grows stronger in faith due to her burgeoning movements.

However, Father Kentenich left behind an amazing outlook which every believer should emulate and a perseverance that few could imagine. In a modern world full of individuals making millions of dollars on self help, pep talks and new age “spiritual guidance,” Father Kentenich reminded everyone that Jesus is our true Spiritual Guide and His Blessed Mother the model for us all to follow.

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7 Responses to The Schoenstatt Movement Nearly 100 Years Old

  • I do not share your optimism about the Catholic Church, but I am not saying it to look for a retort. However, feel free to make one if you so desire, although I will not reply to it.

    That being said, the following is not true:

    “However, the father doesn’t really show his until the baby is placed in his arms for the first time and his paternal instincts of protection and education immediately come to the surface,”

    I loved our children and understood my place and obligations long before each of them were born and in fact, from the moment I learned of their conception was praying for them, my wife and myself. The priest was very naive, to give him the benefit of the doubt. It was not a fitting quote and I wish you would disavow it. It sounds quaint but really is harmful and demeaning to fathers. I am sure it was not intended that way. It was a naive statement of his belief in that regard.

    I delivered our first child because the OBGYN had the perception to see my devotion and my capabilites.
    Years later, that child returned that little delivery favor and, literally, saved MY life, when she was about 12 or 13. No one placed her in my arms, I held her from the moment her precious head presented itself to my waiting hands. I am grateful to Dr. Hainje for having allowed me to deliver our first daughter. The older she gets, now a mother, herself, she and her siblings are growing aware that, one day, my life will be in their hands. That daughter knows well, she will, then, hold me as I once held her. There is not a doubt in my mind that her hands will lovingly care for me, saying goodbye, as mine did welcoming her.

    For that, I do not have sufficient words to thank God.

  • Karl, I will continue to write about the Church as being our last best hope. It is not my opinion or hope. If Jesus said it, I believe it. In my writings I have delved into the good happening in the Church, as well as the continuing attacks we are under and have always been under. It is what it is. We will be the last man standing so to speak. It doesn’t mean we will not go through a tremendous trial, but the faithful will come to us, because Jesus said it would happen. He also spoke about the everlasting consequences for those who think they don’t need God.

    Perhaps you misunderstood the words of Father Kentenich, I certainly hope so for he has been one of the smartest men to come our way in a long, long time. He was not saying that men don’t spend lots of time praying and thinking about their unborn children. He was simply making the case that for us it is different than it is for the woman. God made us different for a reason, which is substantiated scientifically, medically and theologically. I would hope you would reflect on this and see the true meaning in what he was saying.

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  • The paragraph beginning with “Following World War I” needs some editing. The first two sentences contradict each other.

  • My sister is a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary and I, myself, am a Third Order Carmelite. I had not realized our two religious directions were so linked, and I appreciate your article. Mys sister, Ann, (Sister M. Anna Astell) who is a Shoenstatt sister of Mary has always had a devotion to the Little Flower and I believe she is working on a book about Teresa of Avila. My sister teaches at Notre Dame in Indiana high level theology courses although her background is in Midieval literature. She is an example of Father Kentenich’s spirituality, being very simple and childlike despite a very brilliant career and writing a number of books, one on the Eucharist which I especially liked is titled “Eating Beauty” (I designed tje cover for that book). Schoenstatt spirituality is very down to earth and family oriented and while I was called to the Carmelites, I do feel a kinship with their movement and its great devotion to our Blessed Mother. The rosary movement has been a source of love and spiritual kinship for many.

  • Thanks for your kind words Mary, so glad to read of your personal testimony regarding your sister who is a Schoenstatt Sister. Father Kentenich was such an amazing man. Greg the Obscure, sorry to contradict your editorial advice, but no they don’t.

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Narcissism in Music (or, “How Gregorian Chant can Save the World”)

Friday, May 6, AD 2011

Last week National Public Radio ran a story called “Narcissism on Rise in Pop Music Lyrics.” It opened up with,

On this very day in 1985, the number one song on the Billboard Top 100 was…”We Are the World” (“We are the world. We are the children.”)  Fast-forward to 2007 when Timbaland’s “Give It to Me” featuring Nelly Furtado topped the charts: “…love my a$$ and my abs in the video for ‘Promiscuous.’ My style is ridiculous.”

So more than two decades ago, we were holding hands and swaying to a song of unity, and these days, we’re bouncing to pop stars singing about how fabulous they are.  Psychologist Nathan DeWall has had the pleasure of listening to it all for research, and he found that lyrics in pop music from 1980 to 2007 reflect increasing narcissism in society. And DeWall is an associate psychology professor at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. DeWall proceeded to explain:

I was listening to a song that, really, one of my favorite bands, Weezer, had on one of their albums recently, and it’s called “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” and I kept wondering, who would actually say that out loud?  “I am the greatest man that ever lived. I was born to give and give and give.”

The ironic thing is it’s a song about how I’m the greatest person in the world, but it’s to the tune of “‘Tis A Gift To Be Simple,” which is a song about humility. And so what I wanted to do, instead of relying on self-report measures of personality like narcissism, I wanted to actually go into our culture, our cultural products, which are tangible artifacts of our cultural environment. And so, for that, I thought maybe song lyrics would be a very good jumping-off spot.

What we found over time is that there’s an increasing focus on me and my instead of we and our and us. So, for example, instead of talking about love being between we and us and us finding new things together, it’s mostly about how, you know, for example, Justin Timberlake in 2006 said, “I’m bringing sexy back. Yeah. Them other boys don’t know how to act. Yeah.”

There is no doubt that DeWall is correct.  Pop music is becoming more narcissistic.  The broader, age old question is: Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?  The answer is probably some of both.  Our culture is increasingly narcissistic.  In the spirit of the NPR article, which was about music, I wish to propose a possible antidote for narcissism: the liturgy, specifically liturgical music.

Unfortunately, we must first distinguish between music that might be heard in any given liturgy and liturgical music, properly speaking.  While the Catholic Church has been plagued with bad versions of the four-hymn sandwich for decades, the fact remains that Holy Mother Church has given us a liturgical hymnbook: The Graduale Romanum,  In this book, one will find the ancient Gregorian chants.  But what many will be surprised to find is that the Church has given us specific chants for every Sunday of the year in the places that we currently sing “hymns.”  For any given Mass, there are prescribed chants for the Introit (think here of the “Opening Hymn” you are used to hearing), the Gradual (“Responsorial Psalm”), the Offertorio (“Offertory”), and the Communio (“Communion Song”).  Most of these date back more than a thousand years.  Of course, in the Graduale Romanum, one will find the chant written in Latin.  However, vernacular versions of these exist.  What is key is that the liturgical rubrics, while they permit hymns, call for a preference given to these chants.  Vatican II itself held that the Gregorian chant tradition should enjoy a “pride of place” in our liturgies.

Why do I see this as an antidote for narcissism?  The surest way to deal with this problem is to give people the sense that they are not the center of reality, nor are they the source.  The Cartesian turn to the subject has flipped classical metaphysics on its head so that people come to view reality as what is in their own minds rather than what their minds encounter on the outside.  The liturgy is a reality that is given to us, not one that is created by us.  In fact, it is in the liturgy itself that we find our own fulfillment.  When we go to Mass, we participate in reality itself, something that is much bigger than us.  If we see the Liturgy as something that we fit into rather than something that fits into our lives, we can come to understand that we are not the center of reality: God is.

The problem is, as has been observed on several observations over the past decade, there is an increasing narcissism even within the liturgy itself: both priests and people come to think that the liturgy is something that can be created and recreated with the fickle winds of changing culture.  In fact, the lack of narcissistic language in the new translation of the Roman Missal has been pointed out in comparison with the current, defective translation.  Currently, there are several places in the texts that seem to order God to do certain things and to give a primacy to the people over the divine.  The new translation, being more faithful to the Latin, has sought to correct many of these errors.  What remains to be fixed is the same problem in the hymns that are often chosen for Sunday worship.  Many of the modern hymns focus on man rather than God (think here of “Gather Us In,” or the ever-elusive “Sing a New Church Into Being”).  Quite simply, these hymns are self-centered rather than God-centered.

Contrast this with the use of the Graduale Romanum.  These chants have been given to us by the Church, each carefully constructed around sacred texts in order to serve as a sort of lectio divina for the readings of the day.  Indeed, when Gregorian chant is properly performed, it seems as if it is not of this world.  Part of that is due to the inherent structure of the music, for chant lacks a strict meter (though it has an internal rhythm of its own).  Unlike a hymn, which marches forward towards a climactic conclusion, chant allows the listener to rest in contemplation, a mirror of the eternity which we, God willing, will experience someday.  But another part is due to the words, which become primary (unlike modern pop music, where the words are often a later add-on to an already existing rhythm/chord structure).

Perhaps the most important point, however, is the fact that the music of the Mass inevitably (forgive the pun) sets the tone of the entire celebration.  It stands to reason, then, if we employ a music that is provided for us by the Church (not to mention encouraged by the rubrics), then the people will better understand that the liturgy itself is given and not created.  If they come to understand the liturgy, which is the objective center of reality, in this manner, then they will come to see that they are not the center of reality.  Thus, my rapid fire, probably incomplete, but hopefully coherent, argument that an antidote for the rise in narcissism is Gregorian Chant.  Save the liturgy, save the world.

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5 Responses to Narcissism in Music (or, “How Gregorian Chant can Save the World”)

A Dead Horse and All That…

Friday, September 24, AD 2010

I shouldn’t have, but I did.

Today I read Fr. Richard McBrien’s article on Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the new head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. As the prefect for this congregation Cardinal Ouellet will play a crucial role in the appointment of the Church’s bishops in the years to come.

In his article McBrien makes the following observation:

When commenting on the greatest crisis to confront the Catholic Church since the Reformation of the 16th century, Ouellet seemed to blame the scandal of sexual abuse in the priesthood on the weakening of moral standards in society — a common explanation given by those who are reluctant to address the internal problems of the church, including obligatory clerical celibacy, the role of women, and the declining quality of pastoral leadership.

While there might be some who see the clergy sex scandal as the greatest crisis for the Church since the Reformation, I am certainly not one of them. But what I found completely absurd — again, I should’ve avoided the article to begin with, because it was to be expected — was McBrien’s reference to the role of women in this context. How, exactly, would priestesses have prevented the abuse of children by clergy?

Father McBrien: your vision of the Church and of the Second Vatican Council is both erroneous and dying. Only a tiny fraction of young Catholics in general and those seeking degrees in theology in particular accept that erroneous reading.

Might I propose that you get with the times?

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19 Responses to A Dead Horse and All That…

  • I think the rationale is that women in decisionmaking positions within the Church would not have cooperated with the cover ups. Possible but there’s no way to prove it one way or the other.

  • But even that doesn’t make sense after a few moments of reflection, RR… what in womanhood makes participating in coverups such as this less likely?

    And if I understand Fr. McBrien correctly, the scandal is the abuse itself, as well as the coverup, and having priestesses wouldn’t have prevented the former.

  • You can never be sure that the horse is dead until a veterinarian confirms it, so please kick it a few more times just to be sure.

    The French Revolution, communism, modernism, WWII, half the stuff the Jesuits have done over the years…the history of the Church is one of nonstop crises. I wouldn’t want to have to rate them, but I bet that the rise of evangelicalism in Latin America has put more souls at risk than the current pedophilia scandal.

  • I think the rationale is that women in decisionmaking positions within the Church would not have cooperated with the cover ups.

    The Church did not make its personnel files public or turn them over to law enforcement. It settled law suits rather than going to trial. In most cases this may have had something to do with:

    1. The confidentiality of personnel files is the default among American employers;

    2. Attorneys in civil practice very seldom take cases to trial because trials are crap shoots;

    3. Priests hear a great deal of dirt in the confessional and are not in the habit of reporting dirt to law enforcement;

    4. The accusations against priests were generally made 10, 15, 25 years after the fact and it is very difficult to reach satisfying conclusions about their veracity.

    I would not wish to deny the horror stories you hear of episcopal non-feasance (the cases of Maurice Grammond or of Cdl. Madeiros’ handling of John Geoghan comes to mind), but in most cases honest bishops faced impossible dilemmas in attempting to evaluate accusations.

    Women are less likely to commit predatory crimes than men. The notion that the mundane integrity of the female population exceeds that of the male population is characteristic of someone who does not know many women or who is engaged in status-seeking behaviors in a certain sort of milieu.

  • “…..than the current pedophile scandal.”

    Repeat a lie often enough, it will become the “truth”.
    The clerical sex abuse scandal was homosexual – not pedophilic. Very few cases were actaully pedophilia.Its just not PC to call it as it is unless we upset the gay movement, who have gained acceptance within the wider secular society, and are trying to infiltrate the church to a small degree.

    Michael Rose makes a good exposee in his book, “Good bye, Good Men.”

    Many women (some ex nuns) who had inveigled their way into positions of desisionmaking on entrants to clerical studies turned away “manly” men, in favour of “soft” men, in whose ranks were many SSA men. So feminist women were , to some extent, part of the cause of the problem.

    However, I consider that it is a cleansing of the priesthood, which will be the stronger and more humble, orthodox and obedient because of it.

  • “I think the rationale is that women in decisionmaking positions within the Church would not have cooperated with the cover ups. Possible but there’s no way to prove it one way or the other.”

    The abuse situation in public schools is far worse, and there are plenty of women in decisionmaking positions in those institutions.

  • Chris, motherly instinct. Unless, you don’t believe such a thing exists. Also, the cover ups sometimes led to more abuse.

    Don, were the victims not mostly minors? You make it sound like it was consensual.

    Brian, I’m not aware of a widespread sex abuse cover up in public schools. Do you have a link? For now, let’s put aside the fact that you’re comparing public school teachers to men of God.

  • RR,

    Your questions weren’t posed to me, but I’ll reply to a couple anyway. 🙂

    I believe in a motherly instinct as well as a fatherly instinct. Unfortunately in this fallen world and in particularly this fallen culture those things have been disordered in many. Based on first hand interactions as well as observing events in the news and discussing matters of family law I would say that women are no more immune to losing the parental instinct than men – perhaps they’ve fallen even further. Never mind that a woman who doesn’t feel called to the vocation of motherhood may very well not have that motherly instinct in the first place.

    The victims were mostly minors. However that doesn’t necessarily constitute pedophilia. This was clearly a case of pederasty and pointing that out in no one implies it was consensual.

  • RR.

    Agree with what RL has to say. Pedophilia applies to pre-pubescent children – the vast majority of those offended against were from around 9 or 10 into early to mid teens. The abusers were in a position generally to groom and then seduce the victims, but that dos not imply consensual involvement.

  • RL, but that’s not what Don was pointing out. He broadened the actions to mere “homosexual” acts and places it in the same category as consensual gay sex. I’d also remind people that this “It’s not pedophila. It’s pederasty!” line of defense is counter-productive especially when put in the tone that Don put it. It’s like the people defending the Ground Zero mosque on the basis that it’s not technically a mosque. They’d be missing the point, not addressing the actual issue, and looking petty in the process.

  • “Never let a ‘good’ crisis go to waste . . . ”

    Sorry for the cliches (you started it: dead horse): a stopped clock is correct twice a day. O’B doesn’t meet that standard.

  • RR,

    From what Don wrote I don’t get that he’s trying to broaden the actions to mere homosexuality, nor do I get the impression that he considers any homosexual act as “mere”. To the contrary I think he is trying to narrow it down in order to correctly identify the problem.

    I realize the term pedophilia sounds worse to most people and might be a preferable term due to that, but I assure you the damage done to these kids is every bit as bad at age 12 or 14 as it would be if they were 6. Still, if we want learn from this scandal and proactively address and correct it going forward we would do well to identify the true nature of it. This was in part what the John Jay study was about (and it was that report which substantiates what Don said about it primarily being a pederasty problem).

  • I believe McBrien’s concept of how things should be are erroneous but I do not believe they are dying.

    They are wholly present and merely adapting to rear their heads in other disguises. To think otherwise is too stupid to address.

  • Karl, they may be present among the uninformed, but for those who *want* to learn more about their faith, dissident notions aren’t nearly as popular as they were 30 years ago.

  • My guts say otherwise, having lived through all of this since 1954. I would bet against your position and hope to lose, as bizarre as that sounds. I think, I would take the pot.

  • As for the notion that putting women in charge would have prevented the sex abuse scandals or the cover ups… well, not too long ago Fr. Z’s blog had links to stories saying that the LCWR (the “liberal” nuns’ group) had been stonewalling attempts to investigate allegations of sexual abuse of children by nuns of the member orders:

    The reason I post this link is not to argue whether or not nuns of whatever ideological/liturgical stripe are better or worse or “as bad” as priests when it comes to abuse, but simply to point out that cover-up and denial is not strictly a male thing.

  • You are correct. You shouldn’t have bothered reading Fr. McBrien’s article, and quoting from it. It is another episcopal scandal that his column is printed in so many diocesan bulletin. The man never did learn to think, but only to orate.

  • Elaine, that is an excellent observation, as it shows that not only is the
    sexual abuse of children not the exclusive preserve of men, but also that
    men do not hold the patent on covering up that abuse.

    The sexual abuse of children that takes place in our public school system
    dwarfs the Church’s problem with such abuse, not merely in number but
    in offenses per capita. The school system’s habit of transferring offending
    employees is also well-documented. These offenses are committed and
    covered up by both men and women, married and unmarried. It is simply
    laughable to blame the Church’s sex abuse scandal merely on the fact
    that it was caused by celibate males.

  • Oh, and Fr. McBrien is such a tiresome hack.

    Can anyone imagine a respectable institution holding a symposium
    on his collected works? In a generation, will anyone in his field
    remember his ‘contributions’?

The United States Youngest Cardinal

Thursday, August 26, AD 2010

A Profile of Daniel DiNardo

by Jeff Ziegler

On June 17, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo expressed “grave concern over the FDA’s current process for approving the drug Ulipristal (with the proposed trade name of Ella) for use as an ‘emergency contraceptive.’ Ulipristal is a close analogue to the abortion drug RU-486, with the same biological effect — that is, it can disrupt an established pregnancy weeks after conception has taken place.”

Cardinal DiNardo expressed these concerns as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the latest in a line of responsibilities he has assumed in recent years. As recently as 1997, he was simply “Father Dan,” a 48-year-old Pittsburgh parish priest, before he was appointed coadjutor bishop of a small Iowa diocese. At the age of 54, he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Galveston-Houston, and at 58, Pope Benedict created him a cardinal — the first cardinal from a diocese in the South, and the youngest American cardinal since Cardinal Roger Mahony received his red hat in 1991.

Following the consistory of 2007, Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal DiNardo a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (2008) and the Pontifical Council for Culture (2009). In the fall of 2009, he assumed the leadership of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life efforts. He will take part in any conclave that occurs before his eightieth birthday in 2029 and appears destined to be one of the leading American ecclesial figures of the next two decades.

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9 Responses to The United States Youngest Cardinal

  • Cardinal DiNardo has been very supportive of the local Anglican Use parish.

    It would be nice if he was also a little more supportive of the Tridentine Rite as well. I don’t get the sense that he is particularly against it, but I also don’t get the impression he is promoting it either. We still only have the one Tridentine Mass per week in downtown Houston. I am unaware of any others in the diocese. Makes it difficult to cram all one million Houston-Galveston Catholics in the Cathedral.

    However, not being an insider to chancery goings on, it may be the resistance is at the parish level, and he does not think it is worth the political capital to push for it.

    On the whole, he seems to be doing a decent job.

  • My guess is that he’s so busy he can only utilize his time on certain things, hoping and praying the best for what he is unable to address such as making the Latin Mass more available.

    But I also agree with your assessment that there are some or many priests that refuse to celebrate the EF of the Latin Rite Mass.

  • Ugh. Must we call it the “EF”?

  • I prefer calling it the “Gregorian Rite Mass” myself, though not that many people may recognize it to mean the Extraordinary Form (EF) of the Latin Rite Mass.

    Traditional Latin Mass may be more accurate, but I hear people calling the OF Mass the “Latin Mass” when celebrated in the Latin language, which adds more confusion.

  • Gregorian Rite Mass? A new Rite was not created. Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite is most accurate.

    As a former Houstonian, I wish Cardinal DiNardo the very best. He has a large, multi-cultural, unruly flock to shepherd, much the same as Pope Benedict has.

  • Certainly on the Cathedral, I think he did a fine job. We could have gotten an ugly monstrosity like they have in El Lay, but instead got a pretty nice one – it actually looks like a church rather than some government or multi-purpose building.

  • Living in Houston, I can say the good cardinal was strangly silent about the Pro-choice advocacy of Barack Hussein Obama in the last presidental election.

  • “Certainly on the Cathedral, I think he did a fine job. ”

    Actually, the co-cathedral is more retired Archbishop Fiorenza’s accomplishment than it is DiNardo’s.

  • Strike my last comment, that was uncharitable of me.

War Crimes

Tuesday, August 10, AD 2010

As the New York Times remembers Hiroshima, Richard Fernandez asks us to name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. (“Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.”)

Meanwhile, Donald Sensing (Sense of Events) thinks it’s past time for Western churches to stop treating Japan as victim every Aug. 6 and 9:

I refuse on principle to pollute God’s ears with prayers dedicated only to Hiroshima Day and the dead of those cities while ignoring the tens of millions of Japanese-murdered souls who cry for remembrance, but do not get it, certainly not from the World Council of Churches and its allies who have no loathing but for their own civilization. If the prayers of the WCC’s service are to be offered, let them be uttered on Aug. 14, the day Japan announced its surrender, or on Sept. 2, the day the surrender instruments were signed aboard USS  Missouri. Let our churches no longer be accessories to Japan’s blood-soaked silence but instead be voices for the  millions of murdered victims of its bloodlust, imperialist militarism.

(HT: Bill Cork).

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97 Responses to War Crimes

  • Excellent post Christopher. Apparently Pius XII wasn’t as certain initially in his condemnation of the bombings as those members of Catholic blogdom in this country who engage in the self-flagellation ritual of spitting on the grave of Harry Truman in the annual August bomb follies. When the chief diplomat of the US mentioned an editorial of L Osservatore Romano that criticized the US for the bombings Pius responded that the editorial had not been authorized by him. I truly pray that those swift to condemn Truman never have to deal with making a decision that would kill hundreds of thousands, or likely kill millions if they do not make the decision. The cry of “consequentialism” is of course useful on Catholic blogs, and fairly useless when dealing with grim realities that constantly arise in war.

  • Sitting in Truman’s seat I may well have made the same decision. But I would not have tried to defend it before my Creator. The intrinsically evil nature of the act is not altered by either its good intentions or beneficial consequences. Some sins are simply more forgivable than others. While I’m willing to defend Truman I am unwilling to defend his decision, even though I certainly sympathize with his predicament. As wrong as his decision was, Truman is a far more morally sympathetic character than most of his vain and self-righteous critics.

  • Thanks for this post, Christopher. The last two paragraphs–yours and Michael’s–pretty well sum up where I am now.

    My sons and I visited the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force last month, and one of the exhibits is the original “Bockscar,” the B-29 which dropped “Fat Man” on Nagasaki. I posed my sons by a Spad XIII (the same model as flown by Eddie Rickenbacker) and by an F-86 Sabre (Korea). I refused to do the same with Bockscar. I explained to my oldest (I was trying to keep my youngest from touching every. single. aircraft. in the museum) what it was, and also said that it killed thousands of innocent people, and was dropped by a Catholic cathedral. If nothing else, I think he’ll remember that and understand the horrid complexity of war, even when the war itself is necessary.

  • It’s true that the Japanese army committed atrocities during WWII with a greater death toll than Hiroshima, but when was the last time you read an article trying to justify the Rape of Nanking?

  • I’m not sure what VDH’s point was about the Tokyo raids. Because we had done much worse, Hiroshima is not bad?

    The correct moral decision is clear enough. The fact it would be difficult to follow through on it is no real surprise. Doing the right thing is rarely easy.

    I have no desire to villify Truman for dropping the bomb; but I don’t consider him a hero either.

  • The firebombings of earlier in the war both in Europe and Japan were clearly nothing more than acts of terror deliberately calculated to demoralize civilians… and Dresden was a particularly horrific example of this barbarism (cf.,

    “Bomber” Harris, the Brit commander behind Dresden and similar attacks, also memorialized in Britain by a statue in his honor, famously said he did “not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier.”
    “the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive…should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.”

    “It should be emphasized that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.”

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only extensions of this immoral military doctrine. The Brits, who during Germany’s V-2 campaign suffered a small fraction of the casualities they themselves would inflict on a supine German civilian population, should have known better.

    Truman should also have known better.

  • I am not able to argue against any of the comments posted by Tom so I will not attempt it. To give the military the benefit of the doubt for their actions, many soldiers had to act on the notion “kill or be killed” – which is totally different than our plush civilian lives.

    Many soldiers did not know who they could trust and saw death because of it. Leaders tried to keep their soldiers alive. Many were battle weary from long months of fighting in extreme conditions. We take the emotinally scars of these individuals for granted.

    This was war. We were attacked. Japan would not surrender and contiuned torturing people. Truman was obligated to defend this country and our allies and wanted to bring the troups home. I am not sure that we now are qualified to make a judgement statement such as “Truman should also have known better”.

    The dropping of these bombs was a tragic event. With the determination of Imperial Japan, what would have stopped them? Should we consider additional bombing raids that would have killed more people any less evil? Would sending our soldiers into certain-death situations be less evil since many were physically and emotionally drained? Are we supposed to consider self-defense and defense of others as evil?!

  • I am not able to argue against any of the comments posted by Tom so I will not attempt it. To give the military the benefit of the doubt for their actions, many soldiers had to act on the notion “kill or be killed” – which is totally different than our plush civilian lives.

    Many soldiers did not know who they could trust and saw death because of it. Leaders tried to keep their soldiers alive. Many were battle weary from long months of fighting in extreme conditions. We take the emotional scars of these individuals for granted.

    This was war. We were attacked. Japan would not surrender and contiuned torturing people. Truman was obligated to defend this country and our allies and wanted to bring the troups home. I am not sure that we now are qualified to make a judgement statement such as “Truman should also have known better”.

    The dropping of these bombs was a tragic event. With the determination of Imperial Japan, what would have stopped them? Should we consider additional bombing raids that would have killed more people any less evil? Would sending our soldiers into certain-death situations be less evil since many were physically and emotionally drained? Are we supposed to consider self-defense and defense of others as evil?!

  • My opinion: liberal, left-wing catholics resurrect this uncharitable (“He who is without sin . . . , etc.) opinion each August in order (I think) to salve their consummate consciences for voting for abortion: because America Hiroshima is evil, don’t you know? But, it’s not evil to vote for abortion.


  • T. Shaw,

    Most, if not all of us who frequent here are adamantly opposed to abortion and I have never voted for anyone who supports the killing of the unborn (whether the candidate has a D or R after his name).

    This is not Vox Nova.

    But evil is evil, and wrong is wrong. I agree with the others that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were evils, as well as Dresden, etc. It should be no surprise that even generally good people can do evil things.

  • Of course, our national flirtation with war-crime-as-policy began with Lincoln, who unleashed Sherman on the civilian population of the South:

    Quoth Sherman,
    “The Government of the United States has in North Alabama any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war – to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything . . . . war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact…. We will . . . take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper.”

    Not rebellious southern civilians alone were subject to this policy, but the Indians too:

    “It is one of those irreconcilable conflicts that will end only in one way, one or the other must be exterminated . . . . We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to the extermination, men, women and children” … “The more Indians we can kill this year, the less will have to be killed next year… They all have to be killed or be maintained as a species of paupers.”

    There’s no ambiguity about it: deliberate targeting of non-combatants and their homes and property is flat out immoral. I hope The American Catholic continues to rank the noun above the adjective.

  • Of course, our national flirtation with war-crime-as-policy began with Lincoln, who unleashed Sherman on the civilian population of the South

    Er, no.

    That hypothesis would be news to the Iroquois, who referred to George Washington as the “burner of towns” for his dispatch of John Sullivan to root out the pro-British tribes in 1779. Sullivan performed his mission with gusto, obliterating at least 40 Iroquois villages.

    Washington was actually rather disappointed with the results, truth be told.

  • There seems to be a great deal of confusion in the use of the word “moral”. The Church quite clearly teaches that morality is a personal attribute. A nation, an institution, a group cannot sin. It has no soul, no free will.

    [Likewise, the Church did not commit the sexual. They were acts of individuals. And again the Church did not cover up the acts. Those were decisions by individual bishops].

    The question then becomes “whose was the sin?” Who should be put on trial?

    There is a great deal of the disingenuous in those who point to others as the sinners. It is just a tad too easy at a distance of 60 years. And there is a touch of discerning the mote in the eye of others.

    Should not those who so quick to condemn the bombings, to condemn the war, be willing to give up all the benefits they enjoy as a result of the war?

    It seems to me that we Americans did what amounts to acts of contrition by rebuilding Germany and Japan after the war, and ridding those countries of the brutal regimes which oppressed them.

  • I think that several of the comments here misunderstand the upshot of the original post. Is it possible to hold both that

    (1) the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other bombings of non-combatants, both in WWII and after, is an intrinsically evil act


    (2) the agents responsible for committing those acts were in all liklihood not possessed of a desire to commit an intrinsically evil act, but by a desire to do the best thing possible in a very bad set of circumstances.

    Sometimes holier-than-thou-types seem not to understand that holding (2) does not remove the force of (1) but, if anything, testifies even more strongly to how pervasive sin is in the world: sometimes what seems to be the very best thing to an already compromised ethical agent (and who is not already compromised) is intrinsically evil.

    I take it that there exists an analogy between Truman and his desicion and the sister in charge of medical ethics at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, who ordered the D&E on the woman who appeared to be dying from priaclampsia [sic?].

  • Of course then we would have the burning of Chambersburg by the Confederates after the citizenry were unable to come up with the monetary ransom requested by the boys in gray.

    Then there is also the fact that the Confederate States decreed death for all former slaves in the Union Army and the officers who led them.

    “3. That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.

    4. That the like orders be executed in all cases with respect to all commissioned officers of the United States when found serving in company with armed slaves in insurrection against the authorities of the different States of this Confederacy.”

    Neo-Confederate apologists for the Confederacy have a lot to explain when they want to take Lincoln to task for “total war”.

  • One element I would like to raise in this thread is the alternatives to what Truman did. The opponents of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also oppose the fire bombing of Japanese cities which was the only way to destroy from the air the spread out Japanese industries. Presumably they would also have opposed an air tight blockade of the Home Islands, probably going on for years, in order to starve Japan into surrender. Of course while this was still going on Japan would have still controlled a large part of Asia and continued to kill, on average, some 300,000 civilians each and every month. An invasion of the Home Islands would have led to a mammoth death toll of civilians. During the battle of Manila in March of 45 MacArthur restricted the use of artillery and air power in order to attempt to spare civilian casualties. Some 100,000 civilians died anyway, some deliberately slain by the Japanese, but most simply dying as a result of being caught in the cross fire of two armies battling in an urban area.

    So, critics of Truman, you are in his shoes. What do you do? (I do hope that no one brings up the truly fatuous idea of inviting the Japanese military to observe a test of the bomb. The Japanese didn’t surrender after Hiroshima. A test of a bomb would have had no impact upon the Japanese government.)

  • I understand that the bombing of Dresden was immoral. It was (as far as I know) a civilian, not a military, target. But does that distinction apply to Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The Japanese civilians were doing machine work in their houses; the families were trained for combat. Granted, they weren’t uniformed, and who knows if they would have resisted or surrendered, but I don’t see how they can be classified as non-military.

  • Oh – let me add, “unless I’m wrong”. I’m no ethicist or historian.

  • Hindsight may be 20/20, but war crimes are forever.

  • Don, if I were Truman, I would not have insisted on unconditional surrender.

  • Actually Pinky Dresden was rather heavily involved in the German war effort. A good revisionist look at that bombing is linked to below:

    In regard to what an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands would have entailed the most recent study is linked below.

    “Giangreco, a longtime former editor for Military Review, synthesizes years of research in a definitive analysis of America’s motives for using atomic bombs against Japan in 1945. The nuclear bombing of Japan, he concludes, was undertaken in the context of Operation Downfall: a series of invasions of the Japanese islands American planners estimated would initially cause anywhere from a quarter-million to a million U.S. casualties, plus millions of Japanese. Giangreco presents the contexts of America’s growing war weariness and declining manpower resources. Above all, he demonstrates the Japanese militarists’ continuing belief that they could defeat the U.S. Japan had almost 13,000 planes available for suicide attacks, and plans for the defense of Kyushu, the U.S.’s initial invasion site, were elaborate and sophisticated, deploying over 900,000 men. Japanese and American documents presented here offer a chillingly clear-eyed picture of a battle of attrition so daunting that Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall considered using atomic and chemical weapons to support the operation. Faced with this conundrum, in Giangreco’s excellent examination, President Truman took what seemed the least worst option.”

  • “Don, if I were Truman, I would not have insisted on unconditional surrender.”

    What terms would you have offered Japan restrainedradical? Here are the terms Truman offered.

    Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender
    Issued, at Potsdam, July 26, 1945

    “1.We-the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

    2.The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

    3.The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

    4.The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

    5.Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

    6.There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

    7.Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

    8.The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

    9.The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

    10.We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

    11.Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.

    12.The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

    13.We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.”

  • So, critics of Truman, you are in his shoes. What do you do?

    If I were Truman my priority would have been to end the war quickly so as to prevent Soviet entry into the war (the fact that the Allies actually encouraged Soviet entry is one of the more boneheaded moves in all of diplomatic history). If ending the war quickly meant accepting something less than unconditional surrender (say, by letting the Japanese keep their Emperor), then it would have been cheap at the price.

    If you were going to use the atom bomb, I don’t see why you couldn’t have dropped it on a strictly military target (such as the troops at Kyushu). That would have achieved the same effect as Hiroshima without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children.

  • Arguing from counterfactuals is rather unhelpful in this instance. Our knowledge of what *may* have happened, given a different decision, is so slight as to provide no reason for acting. This is, by the way, why moral absolutes are important for Catholic theology. One does not have to provide an (impossible) answer to McClarey’s question–it is all just speculation at this point, anyhow–in order to determine that Truman’s act was wrong.

  • “If you were going to use the atom bomb, I don’t see why you couldn’t have dropped it on a strictly military target (such as the troops at Kyushu).”

    The Japanese located their military units in urban areas in the Home Islands.

    For example:
    “At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of considerable military significance. It contained the headquarters of the Fifth Division and Field Marshal Hata’s 2nd General Army Headquarters, which commanded the defence of all of southern Japan.”

    In regard to the Emperor, prior to Hiroshima, Japanese advocates of a negotiate piece assumed that such a peace would have to entail, at a minimum, no occupation of Japan, no dis-arming of Japan and Japan keeping some of its overseas conquests. Japanese militarists laughed at such peace advocates and assumed that Japan could stop an American invasion and cause the US, sick of war and high casualties, to withdraw from most of Asia and the Pacific. A negotiated peace is a fantasy.

  • “One does not have to provide an (impossible) answer to McClarey’s question–it is all just speculation at this point, anyhow–in order to determine that Truman’s act was wrong.”

    Wrong. Catholic moral theology has never simply thrown up its hands in regard to the real world. If Truman hadn’t dropped the bombs there would have been consequences, almost certainly terrible consequences. Condemning Truman without owning up to those consequences and accepting them, is to pretend that we live in a pacifist dream world rather than a world where the leaders of nations sometimes have to make decisions that will end up killing lots of people no matter what they do or not do. Condemning is easy, thinking through the consequences of acting or not acting is much harder and less pleasant, but must be done if moral theology is to be something more than a bat to swing in Catholic comboxes.

  • The Japanese located their military units in urban areas in the Home Islands.

    To suggest that the bomb couldn’t have been dropped on a military target in Japan without resulting in 95% civilian casualties is just silly. Dropping the bomb on the assembled forces at Kyushu would have had the same effect as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but without the massive civilian loss of life.

    In regard to the Emperor, prior to Hiroshima, Japanese advocates of a negotiate piece assumed that such a peace would have to entail, at a minimum, no occupation of Japan, no dis-arming of Japan and Japan keeping some of its overseas conquests.

    I would say these were the maximum expected demands, not the minimum. However, even if the above were what it would take to end the war without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children, I think Truman should have accepted them.

  • “I would say these were the maximum expected demands, not the minimum. However, even if the above were what it would take to end the war without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children, I think Truman should have accepted them.”

    Which of our Asian allies would you have advised to “suck it up” BA and continue to live under the Rising Sun? How do you think the American people would have reacted to the idea that the nation that brought them Pearl Harbor was going to retain some foreign conquests, not be occupied, not be disarmed and probably be ready for another go at the US in twenty years. Your suggestion might fit some fantasy world. It certainly could not have been implemented by any US President in 1945.

  • Oh, and BA, Hiroshima had 43,000 troops in it when the bomb was dropped.

  • Donald,

    You’re right, I’m sure America never would have stood for China or Korea living under oppression.

    Actually the Chinese wanted to make peace with Japan at the beginning of 1945, but didn’t out of deference to America. The idea that Truman bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki because he was concerned about the plight of the Chinese is the real fantasy.

    And as far as I can tell you have no answer as to why the bomb couldn’t be dropped on the troops at Kyushu.

  • Oh, and BA, Hiroshima had 43,000 troops in it when the bomb was dropped.

    And how many were there in Nagasaki?

  • Good way of completely avoiding the question of which of our Asian allies you would have thrown to the wolves BA. The idea that such a thing would have been entertained by the US government is a tribute to the absurdity that usually surrounds the August Follies. In regard to China making a separate peace with Japan, unless you can cite chapter and verse, I will also assume that this is a fantasy of yours. The Japanese army had actually gone on the offensive in 44 and 45 in China and controlled a huge amount of China.

    There was zero prospect that Japan was going to willingly withdraw from China absent surrender by Japan. As a matter of fact, several overseas commanders after Japan surrendered contemplated carrying on a war.

    As to your odd assumption that there were large military units in Kyushu out in the open waiting to be bombed, the military units of Japan were subject to conventional bombing like everything else in Japan. They were dispersed, with most of them located in urban centers, as was the case in Hiroshima.

  • And how many were there in Nagasaki?

    I don’t know how many strictly military folks there were, but I know the Japanese lady at Sasebo’s indoc mentioned that it was their primary Navy shipyards. (Sasebo became the largest afterwards.)

  • Presumably they would also have opposed an air tight blockade of the Home Islands, probably going on for years, in order to starve Japan into surrender.

    One thing about the blockade – it takes a lot longer (as you admit, years) and it can be reveresed, as well as regulated to allow certain subsistence amounts in (and refugees out, if you are so inclined), and the repeated opportunity to surrender, change minds, etc. With the bomb, it’s all over in an instant, and there is no going back.

  • Mitsubishi shipyards, if anyone wants to research.

  • I don’t know that a blockade would have taken years. Like Britain, Japan was and remains a net food importer, and our submarine force was annihilating their merchant marine at will. I don’t think their navy would have been able to escort sufficient convoys to keep them going for very long.

    Then again, famine and the attendant diseases can’t be flipped off like a light switch, either. I can easily see the civilian death toll from a blockade leaping into the high hundred thousands, if not more than a million, in relatively short order, even given a surrender.

    And as to subsistence blockades–well, that certainly hasn’t hurt the Kim tyrants in North Korea. That ratchets down the likelihood of surrender, I think, and ups the likelihood of continuous conventional bombardment.

  • The famine would have hit in the Spring of 1946. MacArthur only avoided the famine historically with huge shipments of food that he insisted be sent to Japan from the US. Needless to say, sending food to Japan was not popular. MacArthur in response to opposition said that he was responsible for keeping the Japanese alive and that he would resign rather than allow mass starvation on his watch. It was Mac’s finest moment in my opinion.

    I have my doubts that even mass starvation would have caused the Japanese to capitulate, absent intervention by Hirohito, something he was unwilling to do until after Nagasaki.

  • FWIW, there was a similar discussion here on a few days ago.

    Most opinions were that “The Bomb” was the right decision under the circumstances, for all the reasons above mentioned.

    This will be debated for many years to come, by those who will moralize and condemn those who had this truly terrible decision to make, in the dispassionate comfort of their safe armchairs.

    Does the end justify the means? No.
    Was this means justified? If the END was to prevent the continued destruction of human life, and in bringing the war to an abrupt end, prevent the killing of many more millions than “The Bomb” would kill, then yes, the MEANS was justified.

  • The only non-negotiable I would insisted on would have been withdrawal from occupied lands. Some disarmament would probably have been necessary too. I may also have insisted on a reparations fund.

  • Intrinsically immorlal means can never be justified by good ends/consequences. Truman was wrong. But he was still a good man trying hard to do the right thing. This is not all that different from the Sister Margaret McBride, who when confronted with the choice of directly taking a life (via a direct abortion) versus allowing that same life and that of another (the mother) to die did what most sensible and well-intentioned people would do — choose to have one person to survive rather than none. Very understandable. But still very wrong.

  • After Nagasaki, Japan agreed to all terms except removal of the emperor. It was rejected and conventional bombing continued, killing thousands more.

  • Your understanding of those events is faulty restrainedradical. Here is actually what was said on August 12 by the Allies:

    “From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate the surrender terms. …The ultimate form of government of Japan shall, in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration, be established by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people”

    The Allies heard nothing from Japan on August 13, and ordered a resumption of bombing for August 14, previously halted by Truman, the date when Hirohito, finally, eight days after Hiroshima and five days after Nagasaki, addressed Japan and ordered the capitulation:

    “Despite the best that has been done by everyone—the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people—the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

    Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

    Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

    The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.”

    American bombing was halted after Hirohito’s address. Japanese units on the Asian mainland continued fighting for several days after Hirohito’s address.

  • Donald,

    You are misunderstanding my point–which is also the point of Catholic moral theology. To say that one need not provide answers to any of your multitudinous counterfactuals in order to determine that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was evil is just to say that the intentional killing of civilians is *intrinsically* evil. To say this, however, is not to say what you appear to think it says, that I–and the Church–are throwing up our hands with respect to “the real world.” Quite the contrary, the structure of reality, as revealed by Christ and his Church, is precisely what is being respected in the confident determination that some acts are so destructive of the imago dei that they can never, under any circumstances, be permitted–come what may. The intentional killing of innocents has always been regarded as such an act, and for good reason.

    From the perspective of Christian moral theology, it would have been better for Truman–and for any who were cooperators in this act–that the Japanese were militarily victorious than that he should have committed such an act. That is the hard truth.

    Now, you may disagree with the Christ and the Church’s teaching here–many do, Christians and non-Christians alike–but let us not be deceived by a sophistry which attempts to lessen the gravity of this evil act by appeal to a set of conjectures which remain just that, conjectures. From the perspective of Catholic moral theology, it is you, and not I, who are ignoring the “real world.”

  • Don, it’s not incumbent on one who is pointing out the immorality of intentional targeting of civilians to solve the problem of “what other course was there?”

    But the “other course” here would have been to continue the conventional war and perhaps pursuing something other than unconditional surrender.

    Oh, and with regard to the confederates, Bobby Lee in his forays north expressly forbade the type of tactics Sherman expressly adopted.

    Chambersburg should not have been burned, but by 1864 the Confederates were responding to Yankee war crimes, specifically in this case, Hunter’s devestation of civilian targets in the Shenandoah.

    Such is the logic of “total war”– it tends to suck in those who would otherwise not want to practice it.

  • One other thing: from the perspective of the civitas dei, which is the perspective that all Christians are exhorted to conform themselves to, it matters very little who wins what wars, what kinds of polity we are subject to here below, etc. For the Church, there are good things and bad things that accompany *any* political regime, and it is a dangerous, and finally idolatrous, mistake to believe that the defense of any particular civitas terrena–whether it be America in the 20th century, Rome in the 5th, or some future city–is worth the commission of an intrinsically evil act, which destroys one’s participation in the civitas dei.

    None of this entails pacifism. But it does entail our willingness to call a spade a spade.

  • From the perspective of Christian moral theology, it would have been better for Truman–and for any who were cooperators in this act–that the Japanese were militarily victorious than that he should have committed such an act. That is the hard truth.

    I’m not clear that “it would have been better” scenarios along these lines are all that useful. Frankly, from a perspective of Christian moral theology, it would be better if one no had earthly responsibilities for anyone else. Paul, after all, enjoins people not to even marry (and thus take on the responsibilities of a spouse) and for spouses to be celibate (and thus not take on the responsibilities of children) because earthly responsibilies tend to turn us away from true eternal priorities. And yet, we as Catholics also recognize that it is necessary that we as a human community have marriage, have children, have rulers and law, etc. Greater earthly responsibilities invariably distract people from their eternal destinations — something which I think Dante well summarizes the thinking of the Christian tradition on in Purgatorio. And yet, there is also a sense in which it is necessary that a portion of society make the sacrifice of focusing on earthly responsibility. Why?

    One other thing: from the perspective of the civitas dei, which is the perspective that all Christians are exhorted to conform themselves to, it matters very little who wins what wars, what kinds of polity we are subject to here below, etc.

    It seems to me that this misses an obvious issue, which is that the environment in which people find themselves often affects their ability to live in accordance with the the civitas dei. Look at conflicts such as the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War in which one side was actively invested in stamping out the Church and perverting the order of society. To be sure, such situations offer the opportunity for martyrdom, but for most they offer the opportunity for apostacy, collaboration and corruption. I’m reminded similarly of some of the pieces I’ve read about the archives which are now open in Germany of East German secret police files, where people were constantly encouraged to inform on each other and rewarded for betraying of friends and family. Surely such an environment is destructive to many souls.

    Without question each society presents its own temptations and corruptions, and if anything I lean heavily in the direction of Christians seeking the path to God in their own societies as they exist rather than embracing a revolutionary ethic of overturning the social order in order to make society “more holy”. And armed struggle has a tendency to corrupt all sides. But I can’t see that complete indifference is the right response either.

  • Darwin,

    I mean “would have been better” in the strict sense that it is always better not to commit an intrinsically evil act than to commit one. I do not mean to say, nor is it true that, marriage, law-making, etc. fall under the same category. I am assuming here a post-lapsarian condition.

    As for your second comment: fair enough. I am more Pascalian in my outlook than most, and I am well aware that certain regimes produce certain evils that are on first blush more destructive than the evils of other regimes. (I am not so certain, however, that collaboration, apostasy, etc. are not equally prevalent in the West. There are more lapsed Catholics in American than any other denomination, they say.) But would you at least acknowledge that if my position leads to a skeptical indifferentism, it is nonetheless within the bounds of orthodoxy, and in fact corresponds nearly exactly with Augustine’s own view, whereas the danger in becoming too tied up with the “justness” of a particular regime on earth leads rather quickly to unorthodoxy and idolatry: one excuses intrinsic evils committed by that regime in order to ensure its own continued existence, rather than admitting that such an act has been committed?

    I fear that I discern something of this in McClarey’s hand-waving about the behavior of the Allies–and America in particular–in WWII.

  • Like Darwin, I can’t go so far as to say that it matters little who wins wars… Certainly there are just wars, and WWII was one example. It’s the old Thomistic distinction between jus ad bellum, whether a war is just in the first place, and jus in bello, whether a war is conducted in accordance with moral principles.

    Collateral damage is inevitable in modern warfare, but where the Allies went wrong was in aping the evil done by the Axis powers, i.e., deliberately targeting civilians and non-military targets for the purpose of “demoralizing” the populace.

  • (I am being especially procrastinatory today.)


    First, I agree that yours is a perfectly viable interpretation of where the Allies went wrong in WWII. I agree with it, in fact, and, as I said, nothing in my own position commits one to pacifism.

    But I still think that it is *also* true that, at least according to Augustine and several other thinkers in the Augustinian tradition, it *still* makes little difference what regime a Christian lives under, for the reason that *every* regime is dominated by the libido dominandi, and so, from the perspective of the civitas dei, they are all equal.

    Thomas, and the Thomistic tradition more generally, has a less skeptical view. One that, I hasten to add, is perfectly legitimate. It seems to me that the Church, within the bounds of orthodoxy, allows for a range of opinion on this matter.

    I am not so much bothered by any disagreement here as I am by the hesitancy to call a spade a spade.

  • Don (Kiwi)

    You seem to contradict yourself. First, you say that the ends cannot justify the means, and then you do precisely that – you state the end of ending the war justified the means of dropping the bomb. Am I missing something?

  • “The intentional killing of innocents has always been regarded as such an act, and for good reason.”

    Actually it depends on how you define intentional. Papal armies in the Middle Ages routinely besieged cities, a normal military operation of the time. The cities would be caused to surrender usually through blockades that produced starvation, and, inevitably, disease would usually explode in the cities. If any pope ever breathed a word against sieges as a method of warfare, I am unaware of it. This is quite a bit more of a complicated area than it seems at first glance.

  • That papal armies acted or did not act in certain ways with or without the permission of popes is immaterial. Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?

  • c matt.

    Re-reading my comment, I appear to do as you say. However, in the context of what was occuring – a war costing huge casualties on both sides, a stark choice became presented. Do we continue as we are, and lose many millions of lives, or do we introduce a new stratagem, and save arguably millions of lives which would otherwise be lost? ( the other choice was, as Wj said earlier, to lie down and be conquered, which to me , would be unacceptable)
    I guess the choice was therefore, a lesser of two evils. No doubt it can be debated whether or not a less evil choice is the correct moral choice in view of the principle, that the end does not justify the means.
    Quite a connundrum, isn’t it?

  • All ends are achieved by a means.

    But the end does not (necessarily) justify the means.

    Some means are justifiable, others are not.

  • Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?

    I think you mean “are you denying that…has ALWAYS been regarded as an intrinsically evil act,” or “are you CLAIMING…has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act.”

    Perhaps a better tact might be to find out when it was first enumerated as an intrinsic evil?

    I think the situation is significantly more complicated than folks are willing to consider– even with folks that I KNOW are honestly trying to just figure it out, there’s incredible simplification.

    Does it matter that there was warning given so the population had a chance to leave?
    Does it matter that military operations were moved into civilian areas, even into family dwellings?
    Does it matter that “aiming” with bombs in that day was more an art than a science?
    Do prior tactics of the Americans matter?
    Do prior tactics of the Allies matter?
    Does our responsibility to defend the innocent that WEREN’T in those cities matter?
    What effect does the (possible) Japanese military stopping civilians from evacuating have on the morality of it?
    How much information did they have about what was going on at ground level, and how much could they reasonably be expected to have?

    (stuff like this is probably why a lot of folks think morality should be restricted to philosophy, not the real world– it’s just not as simple IRL, even if it is still black and white)

    I know full well I don’t have nearly enough information to make an informed, binding judgement on these actions that happened before my parents were born. Luckily, I don’t have to; it’s useful to try to figure out, in case a similar case comes along, but it’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not cut and dried.

  • “That papal armies acted or did not act in certain ways with or without the permission of popes is immaterial. Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?”

    I think the praxis of the Church is always of importance, especially when that praxis went on for centuries. I am denying that the Church has condemned all military operations which, by their very nature, were bound to take quite a few innocent lives.

    Let’s think this through. Hiroshima is bombed from the air, either fire bombed or nuked. Bad, intrinsically immoral. Hiroshima is taken by the US in a ground assault in the spring of 46 which, in a house to house fight against the Japanese Army, kills most of the civilian population, who are caught in the cross fire. Morally acceptable. I assume the difference is one of intention, but I find that argument weak. A military man would have to be brain dead not to realize that large scale combat in an urban area is going to kill huge numbers of civilians. If mass casualties are foreseeable in a ground assault, how does that materially differ from mass casualties caused by an air assault? The current Church stance may be an argument for pacifism, but I do not think it adequately addresses that other measures taken in military operations, presumably morally licit, may kill just as many civilians, if not more, than the measures condemned.

    I might also note that in the spiritual realm popes have been quite willing to take actions which have had adverse impacts on innocent parties. A good example would be the Interdict which prevented the dispensing of the sacraments in nations or regions. Imagine a pope saying that a dying innocent could not have the comfort of the Last Rites. However, it was done, and not infrequently, for reasons that the popes employing it deemed good and sufficient. The last use of the Interdict, in a fairly mild form, was by Saint Pius X in the early years of the last century. The idea that innocents have an all-embracing immunity is one that is popular in the Church today, but it is rather a novel one.

  • Now you are just obfuscating. For who would not agree with your following assertion? (I certainly don’t disagree with it.)

    “I am denying that the Church has condemned all military operations which, by their very nature, were bound to take quite a few innocent lives.”

    We don’t need to go through the motions of explaining how the doctrine of double effect applies in ius in bello scenarios on this blog. I’ll just take it for granted that most people reading here have a working knowledge about how unintentional though foreseen civilian casualties, for example, are a different kind of thing than INTENTIONALLY DECIMATING A CIVILIAN TARGET.

    Most ALL military operations involve the unfortunate killing of innocents, and if the Church is to have a doctrine of just war at all, which she most assuredly does, then it is basic to such a doctrine to differentiate foreseen but unintended evils from evils intentionally committed. So while, for example, the intentional slaughter of women and children has always been rightly condemned by the Church–which is not to say that she has not at times engaged in this practice against her better lights (thereby proving true what she has to say about sin)–the unfortunate killing of innocents as a result of some other strategy which does not *directly* target them is a more difficult scenario to parse. There is an entire casuitical literature on this and related topics. We all know all the moves here.

    What you are now doing, in fact, is redescribing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as if this weren’t the intentional killing of civilians. But, on any plausible account of intentional acts (i.e. Thomas, Anscombe, Suarez, etc.), the bombing most clearly *was* an intentionally, and not merely foreseen, attack on noncombatants. Which is, as I said before, intrinsically evil.

    Either you do not understand or you do not agree with the distinction between foreseen and intended consequences–a distinction which is basic to Catholic moral theology. Which is it?

  • By the way, there is one other theological assumption in your response that I take issue with.

    1. The fact that the Church in the past–yea, even for centuries in the past–did or did not intentionally target or unjustly allow a disproportionate number of civilians to be killed in any of her wars is immaterial to the issue at hand. Why? That the Church acted one way or another in the past has, apart from her explicit teachings on doctrine and morals, no bearing on the normative status of that action. For centuries the Church abused the theology of indulgences; from this it does not follow that we, in the present, are supposed to be okay with the selling of indulgences on the grounds that the Church did it in the past. You are conflating two very different kinds of “tradition” and how they have normative bearing in Catholic theology.

    Of course, if you deny the distinction between an intended and a foreseen end, then you are a consequentialist. But if you are a consequentialist, then you have a problem with the decalogue. Do you have a problem with the decalogue?

  • I apologize for the somewhat heated and exasperated tone. If I had known that you denied the difference between an intended and foreseen end, I would have found your defense of the bombings much more intelligible–though not, I am afraid to say, any less repugnant.

  • “Either you do not understand or you do not agree with the distinction between foreseen and intended consequences–a distinction which is basic to Catholic moral theology.”

    My problem WJ is that what is considered as unforeseen in war in regard to civilian casualties is predictable as night follows day. Two corps battling each other in an urban area will produce large amounts of civilian deaths. A siege of a city will produce a large amount of civilian deaths. Foreseeability in this area seems like a very frail reed on which to make categorical distinctions. Because of the technology of the day, bombing an urban center in World War II was going to produce quite a few civilian casualties no matter what was done. My point is that if it is intrinsically evil to ever intentionally engage in the targeting of civilian populations in war, why is it not intrinsically evil to engage in actions in war which, completely predictably, will lead to civilian deaths? Hiding behind foreseeability in this area strikes me as exalting form over substance.

  • No sweat WJ. This is an area which people get passionate about. I certainly am in that category.

  • Donald, I think this response of yours points the way toward a difficult and important issue in the theology of Just War. At least we are now down to brass tacks, as it were. I am enjoying this quite a bit. You write:

    “My point is that if it is intrinsically evil to ever intentionally engage in the targeting of civilian populations in war, why is it not intrinsically evil to engage in actions in war which, completely predictably, will lead to civilian deaths?”

    The short answer to this is that the intentional targeting of a civilian is murder, and murder is always wrong. Why is it wrong? Well, even Augustine, who was not, I have to admit, terribly worried about civilian casualties, views murder as the sort of action which destroys the imago dei in the soul of the person committing it. (Indeed, murder is like any violation of the decalogue in this respect.) So the intentional targeting of a civilian is wrong not *only* because of what happens to the civilian (as you point out, the civilian may well be killed unintentionally via another strategy) but also what happens to you.

    In the second case, the military commander is intending to engage a lawful combatant, and he foresees that as a result of his action some number of civilians will die. This is not *intrinsically* evil, first, because there are some circumstances in which it is permitted; in a less tautological sense, it is not *intrinscially* evil because the ACTION in question is not murder, but some other action describable in a different way, and so the commander in question is not deprived of grace.

    Of course, it way well be the case, at least according to Just War Theory, that at some point the unintended yet foreseen civilian casualties issuing from some or other military strategy outweigh the good that is to be rationally expected to result from that strategy, and in this case the unintended yet foreseen killing of civilians is evil, though not intrinsically so. Some of Pope Benedict XVI’s skepticism as to whether any modern war can be “licit” (cf. interview with Zenit in March of 03 I believe) derives his beliefs that most contemporary wars cannot but fail to be just in their in bello execution. This is an important and complex issue, and it is not one about which I am certain.

    But can I ask a clarifying question? Do you deny the difference between an intentional and a foreseen end per se, or only the validity of this difference as it applies to actions in war?

  • As a follow up: I am not a pacifist, but it has always seemed to me that one of the strongest arguments for pacifism from a strictly theological point of view has to do with the *near impossibility* of ensuring that even the most just war from a ius ad bellum perspective will be able to be fought successfully and justly in bello. Many of your examples seem to support this view. I guess one can go one of two ways here. One can view the near impossibility of ius in bello conduct to constitute a strong argument for a practical, if not principled, pacifism, or one can argue that the Church’s understanding of ius in bello conduct has to be changed or expanded or loosened in some way.

  • “Do you deny the difference between an intentional and a foreseen end per se, or only the validity of this difference as it applies to actions in war?”

    Depends entirely on how likely a foreseeable end is. An artillery barrage is made of a grove of trees. Tragically some lumberjacks are killed. Clearly different from intentionally targeting the lumberjacks.

    A division of enemy troops are in a city filled with civilians and intermingled with the civilians. The artillery unit is told to attack the enemy and civilian deaths results. I don’t view that much differently from intentionally targeting the civilians, since their deaths are entirely predictable. Of course the artillery men didn’t want to kill the civilians, they were merely in the way of accomplishing the goal of winning the war. This area is tricky and filled with moral land mines. Whenever double effect is trotted out, I listen very carefully, but am rarely convinced by it.

  • If you hold that “of course the artillery men didn’t want to kill the civilians,” then you hold that they didn’t intentionally kill them. It seems to me that this is entirely different than the artillery unit intentionally targeting the civilians. Does it not seem so to you?

    I wonder what you make of double effect as it applies to abortion. Do you see the moral difference, that is, between surgically removing a mother’s fallopian tubes, knowing that the child inside them will die as a result of this procedure necessary for saving the mother’s life, and flooding the fallopian tubes with chemicals intended to kill the child? (There are any number of other scenarios, which all share the same structure.)

    The reason I ask is that in both cases the death of the child is entirely foreseeable.
    and directly killing

  • “It seems to me that this is entirely different than the artillery unit intentionally targeting the civilians. Does it not seem so to you?”

    Only if intention governs all. In that case why do the airmen of the Enola Gay not get a pass since they most definitely were not intending to kill civilians but rather to convince Japan to surrender? How does this differ materially from the artillery men intending to win a battle in a city, not intending to kill civilians, but knowing that civilians will be killed in large numbers by their bombardment?

    Frankly in the abortion case where the child cannot survive I see no problem with the desperate necessity of removing the fallopian tubes in order to preserve the mother’s life since the child simply cannot survive in any case. I pray for the day when technology will eliminate this sad quandry.

  • The answer to the first question is that you can’t separate intention from the object of the act. You can’t for example, burn your neighbor’s house to the ground and then say that your “intention” in doing so was to stop him from playing loud music. No, pretty clearly you intended to burn his house down with the further end in mind of ceasing his loud music. But this further end in mind does not mean that in burning his house down you acted unintentionally. So with Truman. The intention was clearly to kill large amounts of Japanese civilians with the further end of bringing the war to a speedy halt. This further end–bringing the war to a speedy halt–does not evacuate the intentional structure of the prior act. If you don’t mind a recommendation here, I suggest you read Anscombe’s classic work “Intention.” She demonstrates all this quite persuasively.

    Indeed, in the latter case, the whole point is that the removal of the fallopian tubes is a *different* act than the direct killing of the child. Which is why it is licit.

  • The intention was clearly to kill large amounts of Japanese civilians with the further end of bringing the war to a speedy halt.

    I have to disagree on the “clearly” part of that — you do NOT warn people to leave and give them time if you are trying to kill large numbers of them.

  • “The answer to the first question is that you can’t separate intention from the object of the act.”

    Ah but that is where foreseeability rears its ugly head. The artillery men bombarding the city filled with enemy troops know that large numbers of civilians will be killed. As a matter of fact Hiroshima had 43,000 Japanese troops in it. Once again, I do not think this is simple at all.

  • What is often ignored by Catholics who spill ink on this issue ignore is 1) The pertinnent Catholic moral principles involved and 2) The actual circumstances within Truman made his decision.

    With respect to the use of atomic weapons, Catholic moral theologian Father Heribert Jone defined them this way:

    The fourth condition required for positing an action that has an evil effect that there be a sufficient reason, i.e., a proportionate resulting good, to permit the evil effect. The morality of using either the atomic or hydrogen bomb as a weapon of war is therefore, not a question of principle, which remains unchangeable, but a question of fact, and the fact questioned is whether there can be a military objective so vital to an enemy, the destruction of which would be a sufficient reason to permit the death of a vast number of civilians who at most contribute only remotely and indirectly to the war effort. We think this proportion can exist 1) because today’s concept of “total war” has greatly restricted the meaning of the term “non-combatant”; 2) because in modern warfare the conscription of industry, as well as manpower, greatly extends the effort on the home front; and 3) because it is difficult to set limits to the defense action of a people whose physical and even spiritual existence is threatened by a godless tyranny. Therefore, while use of atomic weapons must be greatly restricted to the destruction of military objectives, nevertheless, it may be justified without doing violence to the principle of a twofold effect. (Moral Theology #219 pp. 143-44 1961 Edition)

    Unfortunately, all of the of Catholic moral theologians and writers who condemn the bombings demonstrate no knowledge of the circumstances involved. The most horrendous and despicable example, in my view, is the recent piece written by well-known Catholic author and senior apologist at Catholic Answers Jimmy Akin.

    The objections these people raise is that the atomic bomb drops cannot be justified because they targeted innocent civilians. To be sure, there is no moral justification for deliberately killing innocent people regardless of how noble your end purpose is. The ends do not justify the means. You cannot do evil so that good can become of it. True enough.

    However, this was not the case with atomic bombings. In WWII Japan, the meaning of the term non-combatant was not only “greatly restricted” it was completely obliterated. William Manchester, in his biography of General Douglass Mac Arthur states:

    Hirohito’s generals, grimly preparing for the invasion, had not abandoned hope of saving their homeland. Although a few strategic islands had been lost, they told each other, most of their conquests, including the Chinese heartland, were firmly in their hands, and the bulk of their army was undefeated. Even now they could scarcely believe that any foe would have the audacity to attempt landings in Japan itself. Allied troops, they boasted, would face the fiercest resistance in history. Over ten thousand kamikaze planes were readied for “Ketsu-Go,” Operation Decision. Behind the beaches, enormous connecting underground caves had been stocked with caches of food and thousands of tons of ammunition. Manning the nation’s ground defenses were 2,350,000 regular soldiers, 250,000 garrison troops, and 32,000,000 civilian militiamen, a total of 34,600,000, more than the combined armies of the United States, Great Britain, and Nazi Germany. All males aged fifteen to sixty, and all females ages seventeen to forty-five, had been conscripted. Their weapons included ancient bronze cannon, muzzle loaded muskets, bamboo spears, and bows and arrows. Even little children had been trained to strap explosives around their waists, roll under tank treads, and blow themselves up. They were called “Sherman’s carpets.” This was the enemy the Pentagon had learned to fear and hate,a country of fanatics dedicated to hara-kiri, determined to slay as many invaders as possible as they went down fighting. [William Manchester: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 510-511)]

    The mass conscription of “all males ages fifteen and all females ages seventeen to forty-five” is practically the entire adult population. With this, the entire country of Japan became a large military base and no longer a civilian, but a military asset, and therefore, a legitimate military target.

    This idea that the bomb drops were a deliberate attack on innocents is flat out false.

    Furthermore, given the alternatives, either an invasion or blockade would have killed more Japanese, not to mention caused more than a million Amreican casualties in the case of an invasion, the most merciful thing Truman could have done was to drop the bombs. He most certainly could have justifiede it before his creator.

  • Donald,

    I have to get to bed–not a night person–so I’ll conclude by reiterating a distinction which you seem to deny (why? I can’t understand). There is a difference between the object of an intentional action and the foreseeable consequences that follow from that action. If I burn my neighbor’s house down, there will be smoke. I foresee that the act of burning my neighbor’s house down will necessarily produce smoke, and yet the production of smoke is not my intent in burning his house down. My intent is simply: to burn his house down.


    I don’t understand you. Is your claim that there were NO innocent Japanese (as you argue in the first half of your longish post) or that there were in any case LESS (innocent) Japanese killed as a result of the bomb than through other means? If the first, then I don’t see why you mention the second; if the second, then everything I’ve already written here applies to that argument. (I don’t think you’ll get many people agreeing to your first claim, though.)

  • Greg.

    Very interesting, and confirms my thoughts and understanding of the situation.

  • Wj.

    If I burn my neighbour’s house down, there will be smoke………”

    INO, applying this thinking is obfuscation of conscience.
    You know that you wish to burn down his house and you know fires create smoke. You therefore cannot claim that the creation of smoke is non-culpable, while the burnng of the house is.

  • Just because an action is or may be the lesser of two evils (dropping the atom bomb vs. all out ground invasion of Japan) doesn’t make it good or justified, or a precedent to follow in the future. The lesser of two evils is still an evil. However, this being a fallen world, sometimes a lesser evil is the best we can do. Unfortunately, what often happens is that instead of simply making the least bad choice possible and asking God’s forgiveness for any sin involved, we try to paint that choice as being entirely good.

  • WJ:

    I did not say there were no innocent Japanese. What I said was that the line between combatant and non-combatant had been erased due to the mass civilian conscription and therefore we were not TARGETING innocents.

  • “If I burn my neighbor’s house down, there will be smoke. I foresee that the act of burning my neighbor’s house down will necessarily produce smoke, and yet the production of smoke is not my intent in burning his house down. My intent is simply: to burn his house down.”

    Your example WJ illustrates precisely where the diffculty in this area lies. Intention either always determines the morality of an action or it does not. I think neither at Hiroshima nor my artillery against a city example is the goal to kill civilians, rather the killing of civilians is a necessary part of the action being undertaken to reach another goal, winning a battle or a war. The difference you would raise between them is that the bomb was directed against civilians while the artillery men only kill civilians accidently. This distinction is of cold comfort morally I think when the deaths of the civilians from the use of the artillery are completely predictable and foreseeable. If the goal is allowed to make the action moral in the case of the artillery barrage, I am uncertain why the same logic is not applicable in the case of Hiroshima.

  • Going to have to agree with Greg M. that the notion of “civilian” took a rather major beating in this situation– probably why the Gen. Conv. spent so much time hammering out who is a civie and who isn’t.

    Is someone standing by the soldier and reloading a valid target?
    Are you not allowed to fire at a foxhole that’s trying to gun you down, because you can see they’ve got a red cross worker trying to patch them up?
    Can you destroy a yard full of military ships under construction or repair?
    Can you bomb the not-formally-military staffed bomb factory?
    If it’s required for someone to be a formal military to be a military target, how do you deal with informal attacks? (getting a bit to close to modern issues, so I’ll stop there)

  • Well, despite the best efforts of bombing apologists, we’re left at the end of the day with the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated, not because of their military value (which was slight and certainly less than many other potential targets), not because the civilians there were a threat (regimes like Japan’s always threaten that their civilians will rise up against any invader… they don’t), but because our bombing policy was, as I stated before, identical to “Bomber” Harris’ vision of demoralizing CIVILIAN populations.

    Thus, all this talk of Hiroshima’s bombing being justified either because of its military use or the ridiculous notion that the little old ladies and kids were armed threats to our forces, is bunk.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were wiped out in order to terrorize the populace and thus break the will of the military to resist.

    That END was produced immediately by the MEANS of purposeful destruction of innocent lives, NOT as a by-product or collateral result of legitimate bombing. Why can’t folks here acknowledge simply what everyone, especially Truman, knew at the time– the bombings were done to terrify the Japs so completely at our ability to incinerate civilian centers that their military would capitulate?

  • I think the evidence supports Tom’s contention. And I think the application of Catholic teaching yields a rather clear cut answer. That said, his moral error notwithstanding, Truman is still a far mor sympathetic character than many of his self-righteous critics.

    A man might deliberately kill his comrade in arms if that comrade is dying and in agony. Such an act is murder and intrinsically evil. Yet, I would hardly make it my business to scold him. All sins are forgivable of course — but some certainly more than others. Truman’s act was not heroic; it was wrong; but it was certainly understandable and forgivable.

  • Tom, you’re entitled to your own view, but not your own facts, and what you’re claiming as “facts” are far from proven.

    Feel free to call me whatever you like– heaven knows I can’t stop you– but your OPINIONS of what was true are far from persuasive, and should not be stated as if they are objective reality.

    (On a side note, I’m so sick of being one of the folks who has to say “hold up a sec, we don’t actually KNOW X, or Y, and Z is totally wrong.” Even when I agree with a conclusion, or don’t disagree, it’s a bad idea to let incorrect claims stand.)

  • Foxfier:
    It is completely appropriate to bomb a bomb factory, even knowing that some civilians will likely be killed. That is because a bomb factory is a military target. An entire city is not.

  • Mike-
    Military bases are sometimes cities. (Zip code, hospital/power/stores/water, own police force, civilian families, schools, etc.)

    Military bases, since they are military bases, are military targets.

    Thus, it’s clear that entire cities CAN be a military target.

  • Fair enough I suppose, but are you seriously suggesting that H or N were military bases? If so, then no need for further discussion since we occupy different universes.

  • Mike-
    Not going to fight this, because– like I said way up above– I don’t think we have enough information to do a decent job of it.

    My rough limit is basic damage control on the BS I _know_ I’m going to have to deal with in the next five years, in the form of “X who is (or was) a Catholic said Y, so it must be true, defend it.” Generally in the middle of family reunions or parties with geek friends.

    If you can’t make your argument off of facts, why on earth are you trying to state it as fact? Just throw in an “I” here or there, maybe in conjunction with “think” or “reason” or “believe,” refer to sources for your claims and bada bing: no conflict.

    Shoot, you could even say “I don’t see how it could be justified to bomb an entire city, because cities are not military targets” and it’s no longer something I, or some poor idiot like me, will have to defend. It’s your educated belief from the facts as you know them and your understanding of Catholic teachings. (Anybody talking Catholic theology with a half-dozen highly intelligent folks who have little to no use for organized religion, let alone the Church, needs to have their head examined. No offense to the real Catholic apologists among us.)

  • Foxfier,

    It’s not exactly as if there is no considered stance on this issue by the overwhelmingly vast majority of bishops, theologians, popes, etc. over the past fifty years. The only people who pretend as though this is somehow a difficult question for the Church to address are a handful of American Catholics.

    It is much better to do as Donald does: reject the reasoning of the Church forthrightly. It is no good pretending as though there is an epistemic difficulty here where there is not one.

  • Yay, appeal to authority, and total missing of the point.

    Have fun, I’m out.

  • “reject the reasoning of the Church forthrightly.”

    Questioning is not rejection, especially in an area such as this where we are not dealing with revealed truth, but rather the application of hair splitting logic.

  • (Same way I duck out when folks start bringing out “but all these guys say that the death penalty isn’t needed anymore! So I win!”)

  • Mike.

    Check the anecdotal historical evidence of who were in occupancy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the military operations and indusctrial complexes attached to those cities.

    One could arguably conclude they were military bases.

  • I’m out after this one as well.

    Don, I didn’t mean to be inflammatory. I take it that you do reject the distinction between foreeseable consequences and intended ends *in certain instances*; but perhaps you only question their analytic efficacy. Fair enough. I think your position commits you to consequentialism (or at least some kind of proportionalism, a la McBrien, et. al.), which I don’t think you want to be committed to, but that’s a different topic. It is an important conversation to have, though.

    Foxfier, I wasn’t so much “appealing to authority” as showing that what you take to be a difficult, perplexing, epistemically vague scenario appears only to be so for a subset of American Catholics and not for the universal Church as a whole. This is an empirical claim.

  • Don the Kiwi,
    Sorry about the oddly abbreviated post above. I am well aware that both H and N contained both military operations and industrial complexes attached to the war effort. Same for Chicago and Detroit. And targeting those operations and complexes would have been morally licit, even if done quite imperfectly. But that is not what happened, and the evidence is quite clear that Truman knew exactly what he was doing. As I said earlier, I don’t really blame him — even if I can safely conclude from my comfortable perch that he were morally wrong. But I refuse to reason backwards either. Just because I’m sympathetic, actually very sympathetic, to the consequences, does not mean that the means were morally acceptable. They weren’t. Pretty much all of us do bad things for good reasons, and that does not make us bad people — just sinners.

  • Fortunately we don’t have to speculate on why Truman chose Hiroshima and Nagasaki and whether it was because the cities were military targets.

    His own press release states that the Potsdam ultimatum was issued to Japan (calling for their unconditional surrender) “to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction.” NOT the Japanese military, NOT the Japanese industrial ability, but the Japanese people themselves.

    Besides, the US had already joined in the British practice of terror bombing by helping in the destruction of Dresden and by firebombing Tokyo, a practice which indiscriminately killed thousands of civilians.

    As Doolittle’s raid early in the war demonstrated, it was entirely possible to target industry and military targets without wiping out entire cities.

    We simply adopted the Brit practice of firebombing, and ultimtely, nuclear bombing, to demoralize the civilian populaces of our enemies, not to advance a military objective.

  • Actually Tom Truman referred to the “military base of Hiroshima” when he announced the Hiroshima bombing. You can say that was incorrect, but that is how Truman looked at it.

    The firebombing of the cities of Japan wasn’t undertaken for terror purposes, but because that was the only way to take out the Japanese industries that tended to be located within residential areas. Precision bombing of Japanese industries was attempted until around March of 45 and had proven completely ineffective.

  • The Doolittle raid was a propaganda operation in 42. 15 of the 16 B-25s were lost, along with 80 airmen. The damage to Japan was completely negligible. From a morale standpoint in the US it was a success. From a military standpoint it was a disaster.

    The technology of the day made precision bombing usually a wistful dream rather than a reality.

    “In practice, the Norden (bombsight) never managed to produce accuracies remotely like those of which it was theoretically capable. The Royal Air Force were the first to use the B-17 in combat, and reported extremely poor results, eventually converting their aircraft to other duties. USAAF anti-shipping operations in the Far East were likewise generally unsuccessful, and although there were numerous claims of sinkings, the only confirmed successful action was during the Battle of the Philippines when B-17s damaged two Japanese transports, the cruiser Naka, and the destroyer Murasame, and sank one minesweeper. However these successes were the exception to the rule; actions during the Battle of Coral Sea or Battle of Midway, for instance, were entirely unsuccessful. The USAAF eventually replaced all of their anti-shipping B-17s with other aircraft, and came to use the skip bombing technique in direct low-level attacks.

    In Europe the Norden likewise demonstrated a poor real-world accuracy. Bombing was computed by assessing the proportion of hits falling within 1,000 feet (300 m) and 2,000 feet (600 m) circles about an MPI (mean point of impact). To achieve a perfect strike, a bomber group would have to unload all its bombs within the 1,000 ft circle. By the spring of 1943 some impressive results were being recorded. Over Bremen-Vegesack on 19 March, for instance, the 303d Bombardment Group dropped 76 per cent of its load within the 1,000 ft ring. Under perfect conditions only 50 percent of American bombs fell within a quarter of a mile of the target, and American flyers estimated that as many as 90 percent of bombs could miss their targets.[5][6][7] Nevertheless, many veteran B-17 and B-24 bombardiers swore by the Norden.”

  • There is an ongoing myth that the British were primarily interested in terror bombing for the heck of it since they could not bloody the Germans in any other way. This is the received wisdom after Vonnegut and Irving. But it makes very little sense for the British to lose all those highly trained men of the Bomber Command (55,000 killed) and spend all that money to build a large strategic force merely to terrorise the Germans. The bombers were the British contribution to the continental war, as they lacked the ability to insert their forces into the field in a decisive ways. A much fairer assessment is provided in this book .

  • Harry S Truman was a 33° Freemason, an enemy of the Catholic Faith, which may be why Nagasaki, the center of Japanese Catholicism, was targetted. (More Catholics were killed on August 9th, 1945 than in four centuries of brutal persecution.)

    General Tomoyuki Yamashita was executed for the atrocities committed in the Battle of Manila (the “one case [in which] the event took place on American soil” mentioned in the post), despite the fact that said atrocities were committed by troops who had disobeyed his order to withdraw from the city to avoid civilian casualties.

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? 🙂

A Second Look at Weapons of Mass Destruction

Wednesday, May 19, AD 2010

Last year I posted a column title, Weapons of Mass Destruction.  In it I lampooned many of the abuses that arose out of the Second Vatican Council.

I revisit that post only to shed some light on how the abuses came about referencing Church documents, councils, and prelates.

Holy Communion in the Hand is allowed only as an indult, ie, a concession.  In May 29, 1969 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a document allowing for, but not to displace the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

The correct reception of Holy Communion has always been and still is on the tongue.

Unfortunately this has become the norm which has resulted in the desacrelization of the Eucharist.

Ad Populum, or facing the congregation during Mass was recently allowed in Pope Paul VI’s Missale Romanum in 1969 (fully released in 1970).  Meaning it was not mandatory to face the congregation in all parts of the Mass, but only in certain instances.

Altar Girls, were allowed to serve in Mass by the Congregation for Divine Worship in a letter by Cardinal Ortas on March 15, 1994.

Basically there was a “reinterpretation” of Canon 230 that allowed a loophole for female altar servers.

So each national conference can decide to allow this, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to.  Meaning that each diocese can decide for itself whether or not to allow female altar servers.

It is important to note that the Bishop is in line with apostolic succession and has the final say for liturgical practices in the diocese concerning female altar servers.

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23 Responses to A Second Look at Weapons of Mass Destruction

  • “The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant.” – GIRM 160

    You have a source for the idea that altar rails are required?

  • Can you prove there is no God?

  • The existence of a altar rail mandate is a matter of faith?

  • I agree with most everything here, but there is one statement that isn’t completely true.

    “The correct reception of Holy Communion has always been and still is on the tongue.”

    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, writing his Catechetical Lectures back in the middle of the 4th century, clearly explains that Holy Communion was to be received on the palm. See paragraph 21 of Catechetical Lecture 23:

  • “The correct reception of Holy Communion has always been and still is on the tongue.”

    Cyril was obviously a heretic, as was that poseur Leonardo for painting the Eucharist as a meal. Good to know that Moses got it wrong in Exodus for neglecting to mention that the roast lamb also had to be fed on the tongue. The things you learn on AC!

  • Maybe in the 4th century, Christians were holy enough to take communion into their hands.

    Today, it done for the sole reason of egalitarianism, to wipe out hierarchy and distinctions between man and man, and man and God.

    Today, more than in other periods, we ought to kneel and take it on the tongue, as a sign of submission and reverence. That’s my opinion. I don’t want to stand up to God in some defiant gesture, and get handed a communion wafer by some smug eucharistic minister. I don’t want a “community meal”, I want a sacrament.

    “It must be further noted that the relevant legislation “strongly urges and exhorts” us all to receive Communion in the traditional manner, which is officially described as “more reverent.””

    Officially! Take that relativists.

  • Personally I’d like to see everyone follow the same tack as St. Paul did in Romans, with regard to a non-doctrinal issue like eating meat that had possibly been leftover from pagan sacrifices (which Paul made clear was NOT a sin): if you personally think it’s OK, fine, but avoid doing it in front of people who think it’s wrong and will be scandalized by it; if you personally think it’s wrong, try not to pass judgment on the people whom you see doing it.

    Wouldn’t it be great if people who are accustomed to communion in the hand out of habit (like me) started recieving on the tongue simply to show greater respect, while those who already receive on the tongue didn’t assume that those who don’t are being “smug” or “defiant” in their attitude.

    Again, as much as we may dislike communion in the hand/standing up — as of right now, it is still an option permitted by Church law in the U.S. and elsewhere, and one does NOT commit a sin by doing it.

  • After all, aren’t we all our own Pope! Rules, Rules, that is so, so, Catholic!

  • I understand this particular American Catholic to be in the Patriarchate of Rome, not Jerusalem, as also those of us who are participating in the discussion. At any rate, since you think the Jerusalem rite manner of reception of the Eucharist applies in the Roman rite also, do be sure to touch the sacred species to your eyes before consuming it – but don’t lose even the smallest particle! – and then intinct your eyes, ears and nose with the Precious Blood as well as your lips.

    Or do we get to pick and choose among St. Cyril’s instructions also?

  • Ouch.
    I find the lack of charity in these responses (at least in tone) to actually be rather painful.

    I think that it would be a great thing for the laity to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. I only wanted to point out that it hasn’t apparently been done that way throughout the entire Church for all of history, as was stated.

    It seems that the operating assumption here is that all of the laity is educated about the differences between the two methods of receiving and is largely receiving on the palm out of spite toward tradition.

    I was born in the 80’s, and never ran across anybody receiving the host on the tongue until the past few years when I moved and had to change parishes. I didn’t even know that it was an option before that time.

    My experience with people receiving on the tongue here has been a handful of people who make quite a show out of it and make sure that others see them being oh-so-pious, and treat others in a “Holier than Thou” fashion about not receiving in the same way. Talk about a turn-off. I didn’t want to be seen as one of those people.

    This is also the feeling I get from some of these comments above.

    Obviously the laity in general needs to be informed about the different methods of reception, but if their only education comes from a “Hey heretic, be like me or you aren’t holy” approach, why would they have any inclination to move away from what is now the status-quo in many places?

    The people need to be better informed, but it needs to be out of love and charity.

    Honestly, the mean-spiritedness of some of these responses leaves me with no will to participate in discussions here again.

  • Rhen,
    I agree that these conversations are all too often more “chippy” than the need to be. I think one thing that rankles traditionalists (like me) is the way so many liturgical changes were forced in through the back door. Accomodations were made in order to normalize abuses; idiosyncratic preferences give rise to innovations that are encouraged as though licit; and legitimate options intended as accomodations become normalized via agenda driven deceit. It does make folks angry. Examples include the treatment of Latin in the Mass, the use of altar girls, and the disappearance of communion rails and even statues.

  • I can’t help but reflect on the title ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’. Does reception of the Eucharist on the palm instead of on the tongue DESTROY the Mass? I serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and have seen many people come forward with their tongue extended and muttering ‘Amen’ with little visible reverence. I have also seen people come forward to receive the Eucharist in their hand with a respectful bow and a deliberate “Amen”.

    I also know several young women who are altar servers and they sometimes serve with more reverence and precision than the young men. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston recognizes altar servers who have served for 5+ years. I know several young women who received this honor and they are great examples for other young girls.

    I agree that adherence to liturgical standards as set by the Vatican and by our local Bishop is crucial. Above all the rules, the utmost importance lies in the full, active, conscious participation in the liturgy.

  • Rhen,

    It’s ironic that you lambaste those that find reception of the Eucharist on the tongue as holier than thou.

    When these changes were forced upon the laity it was the rebellious that scandalized the faithful.

    Now you come around and yell “wolf” when you are “scandalized” by those that receive it reverently.

    Contemporary Catholic,

    What you described is relativism.

    Since the introduction of female altar servers the amount of vocations, on average, that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has produced is “0”.

    I’m sure those “commendable” female altar servers have done a good job of discouraging male youth from finding role models to pursue the vocation of the priesthood.

  • I think I was rather unclear.

    I am not against reception on the tongue. I generally find it quite reverent.
    I am against those who put themselves on a pedestal by putting on a show every time they go to communion, and put others down directly for not acting in the same way. I recognize that there are abuses like this in many other things, not just reception on the tongue at Communion, and that it is only a portion of people, not everybody who receives Communion on the tongue. Unfortunately I’ve had far too much experience with people like this, and have become a little jaded on the topic.

    I am highly in favor of a deeper reverence at Communion. I have a strong preference for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass because of this, but unfortunately the closest one to me is more than a 2 hour drive.

    I think we could take great steps toward deepening the reverence at Communion without one of the greatest travesties that popped up after Vatican II – the music. It’s tough to feel the deep prayerful-ness of the moment of communion with some folk-y rattling through the church.
    Almost all of the songs written since the second Vatican council illustrate the Eucharist as a meal, which has also served to cheapen it, at least in my experience.

  • Rhen,

    You understand that we have “free will”.

    These people who are ‘holier-than-thou’ may or may not be behaving this way, but they do recognize it is Jesus that they are receiving.

    Mother Teresa was none to happy seeing Jesus being desecrated and trampled upon because pieces of Him would fall from the hand to the floor.

    But to your point, they are not being charitable for behaving as ‘holier-than-thou’.

    It does harm the Church that there aren’t better examples of Christians, but you have Free Will.

    And if you choose to allow this to discourage you it is your choice, not theirs.

  • Rhen,

    You can read whatever motives you like into my post or anyone else’s post. If making up motives for people is how you deal with arguments, that’s your issue to work out.

    Taking communion kneeling and on the tongue is still considered the proper and most reverent form by the Church herself. I suppose Pope Benedict and the rest of the Roman curia are likewise only motivated by some base desire to out-pious all of their liberal critics by making that clear.

    The headline says it all: “Pope prefers Communion on the tongue, Msgr. Marini says”

    If it’s good enough for Benedict, it ought to be good enough for me and you.

    At any rate, this whole issue of “making a show” by taking communion one way or another is precisely the sort of thing that results when the Church is divided and politicized by subversive radicals who don’t think that the liturgy is “incluuuuusive” enough, that it isn’t sufficiently relativistic and egalitarian. So you let everyone do their own thing, and in some places people who believe in reverence and piety will continue to kneel and take it on the tongue and be singled out by such forward-thinking visionaries as “holier than thou.”

    I thank God and Pope Benedict that I can attend a TLM, where we have altar rails and EVERYONE kneels because EVERYONE has to show God the proper respect. That’s how it ought to be. And I won’t apologize for it. I don’t care if people think I am being “holier than thou” – the aim of our Christian life is to BECOME HOLY.

    If you don’t feel you have ANY holiness, then even a little in the simple people who want to show the proper reverence to God will look like a great deal, I suppose. And if you feel that way, its a problem YOU have. False humility is a heck of a lot worse in my view then false piety. At least the latter could inspire a person with genuinely pious feelings to stand up (or kneel, as the case may be) at the appropriate time. False humility just conceals a deep aversion to all things truly holy, sometimes even a hatred of them.

  • Tito, in response to
    “Since the introduction of female altar servers the amount of vocations, on average, that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has produced is “0?.

    I’m sure those “commendable” female altar servers have done a good job of discouraging male youth from finding role models to pursue the vocation of the priesthood.”

    Have you visited lately? There are 2 men to be ordained to the priesthood in July. Last year we ordained 5. Last weekend there were (I believe) 5 ordained to the transitional diaconate. What do you mean by 0?

  • If the moderator could remove me from this post or relieve me from receiving e-mails about comments, I would appreciate it.

    I either misstated my point or have been misinterpreted.

    I just wanted to point out St. Cyril’s writing, and it was taken that I hate reception on the tongue, which I do not. I essentially agree with everything in this post.

    Not a relativist, not a progressive in any way, and I LOVE our Pope. I hold very fast to the traditions of the Church, but I don’t want to be quick to cut down those who aren’t. It’s a process.
    I have a problem with show-boaters, similar to what was discussed on Patrick Madrid’s EWTN’s Open Line show last week. It’s a personal beef that has bugged me a lot over time; I apologize.

    I also apologize if I was abrasive in any way. I hope that dialogue and teaching (ESPECIALLY between fellow Catholics) can find a more reverent tone. I would hope to be politely corrected on anything I had wrong. I’ve just come to my faith, and I’m learning. Cutting down and labeling me is not instructive,and it isn’t helping me to look objectively at anything that is being said.

    Please remove me from this post, and if possible my comments. They weren’t written as well as they should have been.

  • “Cutting down and labeling me is not instructive”

    As you did to me, or should I say, to “us”, when you said,

    “I find the lack of charity in these responses (at least in tone) to actually be rather painful.”

    And proceeded to compare those comments to the mutterings of self-righteous, holier-than-thou people?

    It is a lack of charity to not state the truth, plainly and clearly, for all to hear.

  • Though let me be more clear than I was: what I said in my last post, after “at any rate” wasn’t really addressed to YOU, Rhen, specifically… I suppose I should have made that clear.

    I switch from addressing an individual to a whole range of arguments without making it clear sometimes. For that I apologize.

  • Contemporary Catholic,

    I wanted to affirm what you wrote.

    The average I am quoting was during Archbishop Fiorenza’s term.

    Cardinal DiNardo has done yeoman’s work in improving those numbers and they will continue to grow!


    We appreciate your comments and please return to reading and commenting as you have.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


    P.S. Now the comments are closed.

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.


    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.

Iota Unum

Tuesday, February 23, AD 2010

Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

Iota Unum, written by the late Romano Amerio who passed away in 1997, is a magisterial study of change in the Catholic Church in the last century.  Amerio took his title from Christ’s statement in Matthew 5:18 that begins this post.  Amerio began the work in 1935 and published it in 1985.  Born on June 22, 1905 in Lugano, Switzerland, Amerio was a Roman Catholic theologian as well as a philologist and philosopher.  He served as a peritus (theological expert) at Vatican II and was an advisor to Cardinal Guiseppe Siri.

Intensely critical of most of the changes implemented after Vactican II, Amerio essentially became a non-person in Vatican circles after the publication of Iota Unum.  A review prepared for L’osservatore Romano, for example, in 1985 was not published.  The pontificate of Pope Benedict ushered in a change of view as to Iota Unum.  A good overview of Iota Unum and its reception, written by Father Richard Whinder, is here.  Sandro Magister has a fine article here on Iota Unum.  Here is an earlier article from 2007 by Sandro Magister when the silence about Iota Unum at the Vatican was broken.  (Hattip to Father Z.  I was unaware of the book Iota Unum until I read this post by him.)

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2 Responses to Iota Unum