Ecumenism! Ecumenism!

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

[Updates at the bottom of this posting]

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

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

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

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

Continue reading...

62 Responses to Ecumenism! Ecumenism!

  • Tito,

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

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

  • Mark,

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

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

  • Tito Taco,

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

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

  • Are you guys still talking about JDDJ?

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

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

  • Tito,

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

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

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

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

  • Mark,

    Excellent point.

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

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

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

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

  • Henry K.,

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

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

  • Mark D.,

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

  • Henry K.,

    Now, now.

    There’s no need for that.

    There is room for disagreement and amicable debate.

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

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

  • “This is Satanic pride at its height.”

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

  • There are many different kinds of dialogues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Henry K.,

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

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

    You should know better.

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

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

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

    Is McClarey the only Catholic on this site?

    Very comforting to see one Catholic still genuinely so!

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Yes, and condemned Lutheranism root and branch!

  • Henry K.,

    make things up

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

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

    Read Ut Unum Sint.

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

  • Tito

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

  • Henry K.,

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

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

  • Hk,

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

  • Henry K.,

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

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

  • Tito

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

  • Henry K,

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

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

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

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

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

  • Henry Karlson,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • bearing,

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

  • Bearing,

    Thank you for that explanation.

    I think that’s nice and dandy.

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

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

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

    But I see what you mean about fruitful dialogue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Anthony,

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

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

    But from Moscow the optimism has been muted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bearing,

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

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/23/ecumenism-ecumenism/#comment-17297

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

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

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

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

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

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/09/the-petrine-ministry-and-christian-ecumenism/#more-10266

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

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

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

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

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

  • Elaine

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

  • I do not want to stop ecumenism at all.

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

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

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

  • Henry,

    Author: Henry Karlson
    Comment:
    Elaine

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

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

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

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

  • Henry Karlson,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • I do not want to stop ecumenism at all.

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

  • Michael I.,

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

  • Tito,

    I commend you for attempts in matters ecumenical.

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

    (Iafrate)

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-22-2009

Wednesday, April 22, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. The HOT rumor of the day is that “Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, is in Washington today (Tuesday) for an unannounced meeting at the White House.”

Is he personally visiting with President Obama to offer his sincere apologies for rescinding the invitation to speak at the commencement?  Rescind the honorary law degree?  Ask for a job after he gets fired?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Phil Lawler of Catholic World News received a report from a reliable source of Fr. Jenkin’s unannounced visit to the White House and they cannot confirm this report yet.

In other news, this past Monday Fr. Jenkins expressed his profound pride in honoring the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history.

2. Have you seen Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s updated and revised blog?  It is awesome!

3. Even though the 2012 U.S. presidential elections are three years away we can dream and speculate who we would like to run for office between either a Democratic or Republican candidate (or even a legitimate third party candidate).  One name that has become quite intriguing to me is the former U.S. Representative from Georgia, Newt Gingrich.  His mea culpa of his previous marriages, his incredible intellect, speaking skills, and his recent conversion to our beautiful Catholic faith makes him my favorite for now.

Continue reading...

77 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-22-2009

  • Newt Gingrich has a hundred ideas a day, at least three of which are sound! Bright guy but he would be a disaster as a candidate. Too many skeletons, too many bitter ex-wives and a tendency not to be trusted within the party. I could imagine him as a possible veep, but I don’t think he will ever be elected to the top job.

    In regard to Hitler, rumors constantly swirled during the War that he planned to imprison Pius and set up a puppet papacy. Wiser heads in the Third Reich realized this would be a disaster for them, and Hitler in his saner moments agreed, but the risk was real enough at the time. Hitler often spoke of “settling accounts” with the Church after the war, and I could easily imagine him in a moment of high anger deciding not to wait.

  • That is frightening to hear about “settling accounts”. If Hitler had won the war it may have well been one of the darkest periods for the Church since the French Revolution.

  • Because of your excellent points on Mr. Gingrich I still have inadequate information to be completely convinced of his candidacy.

    I’m still distraught over Senator Brownback’s support of Governor Sebelius so I don’t have anyone as of now that I really like.

    I hear from insiders of the Baton Rouge political scene that Governor Jindal so far has ‘mixed reviews’ on his performance, so I’m hesitant to jump on that bandwagon.

    And Governor Palin’s appointment of a pro-choice judge to the Alaska State Supreme Court has made my stomach turn.

  • To answer the question headline of one of the related posts:

    “Should Pope Pius XII Become a Saint?”

    Yes!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_Hitler%27s_Pope

  • As Donald said Gingrich is an ideas guy, but he is saddled with too much baggage. This is the land of second chances, but the presidency isn’t a second chance job.

    Tito,

    I’d recommend you do some more research before you let your stomach turn. This non-issue was debunked a while back. Alaska Supreme Court Justices, unlike the US Supreme Court, are not chosen by the executive branch. In Alaska the state Judiciary Council submits nominees to the governor who has to pick one of the nominated individuals. A previous governor fought this requirement and lost. Unless the Alaska state constitution is modified the process will remain as is.

  • In regard to Hitler here are some of his diatribes against the Church contained in his “Table Talk” compiled following the war from notes taken at the time he spoke:

    ‘The war will be over one day. I shall then consider that my life’s final task will be to solve the religious problem. Only then Will the life of the German native be guaranteed once and for all.”

    “The evil that’s gnawing our vitals is our priests, of both creeds. I can’t at present give them the answer they’ve been asking for, but it will cost them nothing to wait. It’s all written down in my big book. The time will come when I’ll settle my account with them, and I’ll go straight to the point.”

    “I don’t know which should be considered the more dangerous: the minister of religion who play-acts at patriotism, or the man who openly opposes the State. The fact remains that it’s their maneuvers that have led me to my decision. They’ve only got to keep at it, they’ll hear from me, all right. I shan’t let myself be hampered by juridical scruples. Only necessity has legal force. In less than ten years from now, things will have quite another look, I can promise them.”

    “We shan’t be able to go on evading the religious problem much longer. If anyone thinks it’s really essential to build the life of human society on a foundation of lies, well, in my estimation, such a society is not worth preserving. If’ on the other hand, one believes that truth is the indispensable foundation, then conscience bids one intervene in the name of truth, and exterminate the lie.”

    “Once the war is over we will put a swift end to the Concordat. It will give me the greatest personal pleasure to point out to the Church all those occasions on which it has broken the terms of it. One need only recall the close cooperation between the Church and the murderers of Heydrich. Catholic priests not only allowed them to hide in a church on the outskirts of Prague, but even allowed them to entrench themselves in the sanctuary of the altar.”

    “The fact that I remain silent in public over Church affairs is not in the least misunderstood by the sly foxes of the Catholic Church, and I am quite sure that a man like the Bishop von Galen knows full well that after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing. And, if he does not succeed in getting himself transferred in the meanwhile to the Collegium Germanium in Rome, he may rest assured that in the balancing of our accounts, no “T” will remain uncrossed, no “I” undotted!”

  • LargeBill,

    Thanks for that bit of information. I was unaware of how Alaska politics works.

    Henry Karlson,

    No personal attacks and insults will be tolerated anymore. You are given your first warning before being placed on moderation.

  • Tito:

    I’m no insider but I do live in Baton Rouge. For my view, Jindal still has a lot of respect for his handling of Gustav as well as telling Obama to keep some of the money and being one of the first to do so.

    However, Louisiana does face a budget deficit (our problem is the oil revenues have gone down, just like Alaska) and there have been cuts, which rarely make one popular. Not to mention he did a pretty poor job in the response to Obama.

  • Michael,

    I do not doubt what you are saying is true. I like Mr. Jindal very much and I have heard many, many good things about him. I am just being cautious in my praise since he is a neophyte.

    I don’t want to get excited about someone with so little experience, especially after watching President Obama create one disaster after another in his “on the job training”.

  • Henry Karlson,

    You are hereby placed on indefinite moderation until you have a change of heart.

    [ed.-in fairness to Henry, I have edited out my accurate adjectives]

  • “Even though the 2012 U.S. presidential elections…”

    2012?

    Isn’t the world supposed to end in 2012?

  • “Henry Karlson…May God help you in your struggles [ed.].”

    Is this the very same Henry Karlson who authored a series on ‘lies’ at the blog Vox Nova?

    [ed.-sorry e., in fairness to Henry, I edited out my accurate adjectives]

  • Phillip et al,

    We’ve received numerous complaints from many of our good readers of the ‘distractions’ that people like Karlson have become to constructive debates and engagement in dialogue.

    The final straw came when we were being accused of tolerating insults and hate speech at the expense of good Catholics and dialogue.

    I have seen across the Catholic blogosphere these same culprits use their political agenda to cloud their Catholic sense of being because of their hate towards orthodoxy in general and Pope Benedict specifically.

    Many, many well meaning Catholics have been patient and charitable in tolerating these malcontents in their comboxes and we here at American Catholic have decided to draw a line in the sand against such hate speech.

    Henry Karlson exemplifies the liberal extremists who disguise themselves as Catholics to push President Obama’s agenda of abortion on demand. [conservative extremists can be just as awful. There is a distinction between liberals and liberal extremists. I count many friends with center-left leanings as good friends and model Catholics that I myself strive to be to follow in their footsteps.]

    The TIDE IS TURNING against them and they know it. Hundreds of seminarians are more orthodox than their predecessors. Orthodox parishes are thriving while the Spirit of Vatican II churches are shrinking in number.

    They know their days are numbered and they are frantically attacking anyone and anything that is bringing the Church closer to Christ.

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

  • e.,

    Yes. That’s if you follow Mayan paganism.

    In reality what it really means is ‘time will reset itself’. Like when you jump forward in Spring or turn back the clock in the Fall.

    Many people take it to mean something more sinister.

    But we as Catholics do not know the time nor the place of His return.

  • Tito,

    Thanks for the info!

    On the other matter, I’m fairly disappointed at Karlson’s behaviour. I never knew he could sink so low.

  • Now I’m just curious. What did he say?

  • When the world ends is unknown, though if the Saints draft well enough to win the Superbowl this year, it will most certainly end in Feb. 2010. 😉

    Tito:

    This is true, though Jindal does have more experience than Obama (House of Reps for I think 3 years).

    Donald:

    Thanks for the Hitler quotes; they are very chilling and important to keep in mind.

    Joe:

    I just finished that book. It was very convincing that Pius has been unfairly marginalized and should in fact be canonized. I hope that when he is sainted, the calumny against him will subside and he will be honored as a “righteous Gentile.”

  • Perhaps: “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.”

    Or even just, “Ni!”

  • Darwin,

    Now those are fighting words.

    Tito,

    Okay, just saying ouch.

  • Michael D.,

    I have a soft spot for people like Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, and Bobby Jindal. I love hearing and reading about conversion stories. These stories fill me with inspiration and joy while simultaneously they motivate me to turn closer to God.

    Though they have many flaws I am reminded of Jesus’ mission that he came for these sinners so they may have eternal life. This particular passage is very soothing and I reflect on it right before the consecration during Mass.

    Just awe-inspiring!

  • I know I’ll regret this, but part of me just cannot let this [ed.-your lies will not be tolerated] pass. I would advise Tito Edwards to get a better handle on the term “liberal” [ed.-I said liberal extremist] before he throws it around (hint: it’s not what Limbaugh and Hannity say it is). For the record, Henry Karlson is one of the most conservative people [ed.-I view Catholicism as to whether one adheres to the teachings or as one who does not] I have ever met. He had a deep love of the traditional faith [ed.-in the many insults that Henry has given me through the years, not once has he ever mentioned his love of Catholicism, Jesus, or the Church], and he has described himself as a monarchist. He does not fit in well with the American political debate, because both sides in that partisan divide are heavily influenced by liberalism (and that includes your hero, Mr. Gingrich [ed.-I said I favor him. Much different than hero. Another lie from a Vox Nova contributor, par for the course]).

    Liberalism as manifested in politics neatly always boils down to the individual over the community, the focus on individual rights over the common good, the satisfaction of individual wants and needs. The US constitution is a deeply liberal document (I’m being descriptive, not pejorative). A second dimension of liberalism is a utopian approach to society, and both sides of the US debate share this zeal, especially when it comes to the role of the US and its institutions.

    On the left, liberalism manifests itself by insisting on the right to satisfy one and all sexual needs, by the right to marry whoever one wishes, by placing one’s rights above those of the unborn, by belief in a that all the ils of society that can be guided by good government.

    On the right, liberalism manifests itself as belief in the virtues of individuals maximizing utility in the free market, as an emphasis on keeping government off one’s back, on the right to own guns without restriction, on the right to consume as much material goods as one wishes regardless of its effect on the planet, and as a belief in the ability of the United States to impose democracy on the world through the barrel of a gun or the door of a torture chamber.

    You need to understand these points. You need to understand that your politics are as liberal as a partisan Democrat, and have the exact same fault lines. But the problem is not really your politics– you are entitled (as are we all) to support who you think will do the least harm in the public square. Your problem is that your political error translates into how you see Catholicism, for you are quick to denounce any who do not share your politics (not your theology) [ed.-I am a Catholic first, political last] as somehow heterodox. Not that I want to get into a [ed.-typical liberal extremist always using vile language to prove a point. Such language will not be tolerated on AC] context, but I would safely bet that the average Vox Nova contributor agrees with the Church far more on the issues than the average contributor over here [ed.-an opinion emanating from a false Catholic such as yourself from Vox Nova, nice]. Your heterodoxy is against Republican party orthodoxy (liberalism of the right), not the faith. You really need to see the sharp difference between your politics and your faith– the former is deeply flawed, while the latter embodies the truth.

  • Henry Karlson exemplifies the liberal extremists who disguise themselves as Catholics to push President Obama’s agenda of abortion on demand.

    I do not think Henry is a liberal extremist, much less someone who is Catholic as a ‘disguise…to push President Obama’s agenda of abortion on demand.’ [ed.-inappropriate comments that do not deal with the posting will be deleted.]

  • Henry Karlson exemplifies the liberal extremists who disguise themselves as Catholics to push President Obama’s agenda of abortion on demand.

    Tito, Lord knows I have my disagreements with Henry, but I would beg to differ with your characterization of him in this manner.

  • A second dimension of liberalism is a utopian approach to society, and both sides of the US debate share this zeal, especially when it comes to the role of the US and its institutions.

    I have never encountered someone so intelligent who is nonetheless so completely ignorant of basic political theory. The idea that classical liberalism is in any way utopian is so wide of the mark that one wonders if you have even read an elementary book on political philosophy. The utopian strain is clearly prevalent in totalitarian systems, all of which are antithetical to classical liberalism and modern American conservatism.

    On the right, liberalism manifests itself as belief in the virtues of individuals maximizing utility in the free market, as an emphasis on keeping government off one’s back, on the right to own guns without restriction, on the right to consume as much material goods as one wishes regardless of its effect on the planet, and as a belief in the ability of the United States to impose democracy on the world through the barrel of a gun or the door of a torture chamber.

    Does this even resemble the actual beliefs of, well, anyone? Liberal or conservative. Also, while it is possible that a fetish for free market economics could have a utopian overtone, it’s sort of difficult to square that particular circle.

    Your problem is that your political error translates into how you see Catholicism, for you are quick to denounce any who do not share your politics (not your theology) as somehow heterodox.

    Unlike say, yourself? BTW, isn’t it curious that you boys at Vox Nova are all so cozy with one Gerald Naus now that he’s not a practicing Catholic but is a practicing leftist. I think your sudden coziness towards that particular individual reveals all too much your own blatant partisanship.

  • Paul:

    There is most certainly a utopian thread within classical liberalism. Locke and Rousseau view their states of nature as utopian (or close enough in Locke’s case). Now to be sure, it is much stronger in communism and fascism, but that is because building off the liberal tradition they came to the notion that science and the right amount of government will lead to an improve of society.

    Indeed, liberalism holds that man is always rational and tends to deny the notion that man is fallen and therefore doomed to imperfection. This failure to emphasize the fallen nature of man made it prone to the utopian direction that its descendants have taken it.

    Furthermore, while I agree that sometimes Naus is treated too sympathetically at VN, it’s not as if the “boys” at Vn (poor Katerina and RCM) never disagree. think it’s true that we have a tendency to downplay the faults of those who disagree with us less-whether they are our friends or usual allies. For more on that, see the McCain love-fest before November in conservative circles.

    Minion:

    I would point out that before Iraq, the other side was just as willing to promote democracy with guns and judging by Obama’s foreign policy that hasn’t changed a whole lot (see Israel, in a situation I know you sympathize with).

  • Labels are problematic over the Internet, for many reasons: as wannabe writers, we like to call attention to ourselves, we “say” things we wouldn’t normally “say” in a different medium, labeling is cheap and easy and we all tend to be lazy, ect.

    That said, I enjoy TAC and hope that our blogs will continue to comment mutually. We should also all leave labeling behind as much as possible – like name-calling, which is also too easy to do – and engage points and substance with counter points and substance.

  • Contrary to popular belief, ‘labels’ aren’t in themselves an injustice; indeed, many times they are a ‘must’.

    It is by such means that we call evil ‘evil’ and good ‘good’.

    The injustice comes in when certain individuals come to call evil ‘good’ and good ‘evil’ or would leave the rather impressionable public believing thus.

  • There is most certainly a utopian thread within classical liberalism. Locke and Rousseau

    I would reject the classification of Rossueau as a classical liberal. If he can labeled thusly, then the term has no meaning. And I have no brief for Locke, but I’m not quite comfortable branding him a utopian. Yes, his state of nature musings were idealistic, but at the same time he acknowledges the imperfections of such a state – after all, what else can justify the social contract other than the very imperfections of such a state?

    Indeed, liberalism holds that man is always rational and tends to deny the notion that man is fallen and therefore doomed to imperfection.

    What then of pretty much all of the Founding Fathers – men like Adams, Madison and Hamilton, in particular – who had a pretty good understanding of the fallen nature of mankind (If men were angels . . .) Unless you deem them to be outside of the classical liberal tradition, then it’s hard to justify that claim.

    That being said, there certainly is a utopian strain in some current of liberal thought, exemplified in the American sense by Thomas Jefferson. That I would not deny, and I’d enjoy the opportunity of hashing this argument out further one day, but perhaps we’ll save that for another day.

    . think it’s true that we have a tendency to downplay the faults of those who disagree with us less-whether they are our friends or usual allies.

    The Closed Cafeteria

  • I have to agree with Paul – ‘utopian’ is a poor choice of word to describe classical liberalism.

    If the state of nature is a utopia, why the need for government? Locke’s state of nature is no where near as chaotic and violent as Hobbes’, but to say it is utopian, I think, is a stretch. Government still comes along to fix the problems of the state of nature, which are ultimately the results of flaws in people and their ‘private judgment’. Perhaps this isn’t an explicit recognition of a fallen nature, but it still seems far from a utopian conception.

    Rousseau on the other hand is not really a liberal; he is more a classical republican following in the tradition of Machiavelli. Republicanism and liberalism might have some overlap, and I think they are co-parents of 19th century socialism, but they’re distinct enough that no one should confuse them.

    Finally, I think MM just mis-spoke; modern liberalism insofar as it has socialist parentage does have a Utopian streak. We do have to make the distinction between modern and classical liberalism.

  • John Henry,

    I do not think Henry is a liberal extremist, much less someone who is Catholic as a ‘disguise…to push President Obama’s agenda of abortion on demand.’ That is a very serious and uncharitable accusation, and, in my opinion, calumnious, particularly since Henry made it quite clear he could not vote for Obama. If a commenter left such an accusation on one of my threads, I would delete it.

    His whole point is to disrupt the discussion on the content of my post.

    Henry K. has failed over and over to show any prudence, charity, or any semblance of practicing his Catholicism. If you have witnessed this then he is an even worse person than I thought. Purposely showing one face while in another instance leading sheep to the slaughter.

    Anymore comments that doesn’t pertain to the original posting will be deleted from here on out.

  • Sorry, got cut off:

    The Closed Cafeteria Gerald was almost literally hounded by the Vox Novaites on a daily basis. Now that Gerald has done a 180, they are eminently more accepting of him. So they’re basically showing by their actions that it is more tolerable to be a heterodox, politically left quasi-Catholic than an orthodox, politically conservative Catholic.

    For more on that, see the McCain love-fest before November in conservative circles.

    Umm, if by “love fest” you mean the “hold your nose and vote for him because he’s better than Obama” thread that ran through such circles, then maybe you have a point.

  • Paul,

    My reasons for placing Henry Karlson on indefinite moderation. His goal as well as his cohorts are to do the same to unwitting Catholics here at AC.

  • We do have to make the distinction between modern and classical liberalism.

    Exactly. And even then I think we have to make distinctions within the world of classical liberalism itself.

  • Tony in regard to your definition of liberal, Tito is correct in regard to modern American usage. In the 19th century sense of the term I am a political liberal. In today’s usage in this country I am a conservative. However, in neither usage am I a statist or a socialist. In terms of economics and the role of the state in the economy that is the true dividing line between most of the contributors of American Catholic and most of the contributors of Vox Nova. The exceptions to this dividing line are not insignificant. For example, Blackadder as a libertarian makes me look Leftist on economic matters, and Joe, who is a contributor to both blogs, is a Distributist I believe. (Please correct me if I am mistaken Joe.) However I think in general the role of the state in society is the general line of division between the Left and the Right in contemporary America.

  • Well its like Robert Bork said, liberalism was a good idea when it was tempered with other ideas and forces that prevented its less desirable tendencies from running amok.

    But then, so was conservatism.

    Now we simply have shrillness.

  • I am a Distributist 🙂

    But more importantly, I just try to follow Catholic social teaching as best I can, regardless of where that puts me on the secular political map.

  • Paul,

    I think you are missing the connections. Liberalism and socialism are intimately related. The Church always tended to condemn both in the same breath – and here I think we can draw a very interesting parallel between Pius IX’s authoritarian hatred of liberalism and its socialist step-sister, and Leo XIII’s condemnation of both from an economic perspective.

    My point remains: both sides of the debate in the United States are deeply grounded in the liberal tradition. There are very few true conservative voices. It’s always been a pet peeve of mine that people use these terms inappropriately. And no, you can’t just lump a bunch of unconnected and often contradictory beliefs together– free market liberalism, huge spending on military, small spending on everything else, nationalism, traditionalist sexual norms, opposition to abortion — and ascribe any consistent political philosophy to it, let alone “conservative”.

  • “I am a Distributist.

    In other words, “Communist”.

  • I think you are missing the connections.

    Yes, MM, please lecture me about the genesis of political thought in America, and the various influences on it. This is just a topic way beyond my pay grade.

  • e., Joe is not a Communist. Joe and I do not see eye to eye on economics, but there is nothing of the Bolshevik about him.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    It’s just I don’t see how distributism, if actually implemented, would not ultimately end up being, in the end, “Communism”.

  • E,

    Seeing as how I don’t believe in a command economy, nationalization of the means of production, or violent class warfare, I’d have to be one strange communist.

    That, or you don’t know what the h**l you’re talking about, once again.

  • “It’s just I don’t see how distributism, if actually implemented, would not ultimately end up being, in the end, “Communism”.”

    How do you define communism?

  • e, I have my doubts how Distributism would work in the real world. However, as Joe has pointed out he disavows the characteristic elements of most Communist movements and I take him at his word.

  • Herr Hargrave,

    Yes, I do not find it (i.e., distributism) exceptionally inviting for the very fact that it will merely result in the same sort of tyrannical coercion by the State not unlike that infamously found in your so dearly beloved Marxist system.

  • John Henry & Christopher Blosser,

    Reflecting on my comments I see my error.

    Henry Karlson exemplifies the liberal extremists who disguise themselves as Catholics to push President Obama’s agenda of abortion on demand.

    Henry isn’t pushing for abortion on demand. I assume he isn’t for that matter.

    What I dislike are his distraction techniques of taking the discussion away from the intent of the post to something frivolous as to what the definition of “is” is (as an example).

    I’m sure he’s quite a decent human being, though he makes it hard for me to see that part of him.

  • Distributism does work in the real world. There are thousands of successful workers, consumers, housing and credit co-ops all over the world. I just think it needs to be spread further.

    It’s the ‘free market’ that no one can seem to agree upon – does it exist, is it an ideal, has it existed? What we’ve only ever had is either command economies, or varying degrees of state-capitalism.

    E,

    I’m not going to let you continue slandering me. Your comments are entirely without foundation, I have never advocated anything close to ‘tyrannical coercion’, I have made it clear more than once that Distributism is a voluntary system.

    If there is some thing I have said that makes you think otherwise, quote it, and we will discuss it.

    If you can’t do that, I’m going to start throwing out the garbage – by that I mean, your posts.

  • What’s interesting about several of the comments above is that Tito went overboard in attacking Henry, and then was immediately criticized himself by several other bloggers here.

    What a sharp contrast from the conduct at Vox Nova, where Michael I. gets away with all kinds of slanderous comments and no one disagrees; where Gerald openly dissents from the Magisterium but no one disagrees (far from it: Henry pretends to believe — but he couldn’t possibly be that dumb — that Gerald’s comments are all faithful to the Church’s teachings); where commenters like Digby and Mark D. and Kurt say even more outrageous things and are never called to account.

  • Joe,

    I must’ve gotten you confused with some petty tyrant who actually wanted to impose this incredibly idealistic Chester-belloc vision on the whole world regardless of what anybody else had to say about it and would compel entire societies and even nations to do so on the simple basis that he knew what was best for them on a grander scale.

  • e,

    That would involve an awful lot of confusion. Joe shows no signs of being a petty tyrant. Still, if we’ve cleared up any confusion, one hopes we can move on.

  • e., not sure how you made that confusion, given Joe’s regular m.o. of proposing, not imposing.

  • I don’t particularly buy Newt’s “conversion”. Lets give it some time to see how it plays out.

    To be blunt I see no one in the field right now that is particularly appealing. I was a Paul supporter, and I don’t see any true “Old Right” guys coming into replace his voice in the Republican field. Its possible Mark Sanford, Bobby Jindal or Gary Johnson might run, but a lot depends on the policy direction they advocate.

    I would be more optimistic about Republican chances today if they would renounce Bush foreign policies and return to being the party on non-intervention and diplomacy, as opposed to a party of blind militarism.

  • I would gladly and happily vote for Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska if he were to run for President.

  • 1). I agree with MM about the confusions of political labels. The Australians have it correct: the U.S. center-right / libertarian infused economics and Wilsonian adventure-ism that passes for center-right (it’s not; Robert Taft was) should have it’s home in the Liberal Party.

    2). The American Conservative magazine / Pat Buchanan / Steve Sailer / Oakeshott – Scruton ect. is much more in line with what it means to be of the Right. This died more or less in the 70s as liberals upset with Lyndon Johnson’s statist projects – who never left their idealisms behind – came to dominate the political Right (the borderline ant-Semitic stuff from the “paleos” is based in truth – there were and are a lot of very sharp and active Jews who abandoned the Left.

    3). That said, ALL of our discourse and political activity is inescapably under the umbrella of Enlightenment liberalism. There is no other way – it was an earthquake.

  • Whoops – minor typos above. That’s annoying.

    And let it be on record that I have written “I agree with MM”.

    Ha!

    I strongly recommend getting ahold of some Oakeshott and Roger Scruton. The basic idea is that to be of the Right is a temperment, a sentiment against all totality and ideology, against all utopia, and for local community and family as the basic foundations of society. Any harm to these (including industrial capitalism and the “elevation” of markets over society) are to be opposed.

  • e.,
    Yes, I do not find it (i.e., distributism) exceptionally inviting for the very fact that it will merely result in the same sort of tyrannical coercion by the State not unlike that infamously found in your so dearly beloved Marxist system.

    I think the difference is that distributism is more of a free association model, rather than a state coercive model which would make it socialist. While Joe disavows the label socialist, he hasn’t found a state intervention he doesn’t like so, if his political views defined distributism, it would be very close to socialism, but I think that view is flawed.

    Anthony,

    I don’t particularly buy Newt’s “conversion”. Lets give it some time to see how it plays out.

    I see. Do we speak of everyone’s conversion the same way, or just Newt? Do you think he did it for political reasons??? Oh, yes, there’s a strong precedence for conservative Catholics as successful national candidates.

  • Hey Tito,

    I will end this discussion right now about liberalism…

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/libsin.htm

  • Bret, the Publisher’s Preface states, By definition, Liberalism is the mistaken notion that “One religion is as good as another.”

    I don’t think that’s how liberalism is being used in the context of this combox.

  • Matt,

    “While Joe disavows the label socialist, he hasn’t found a state intervention he doesn’t like”

    This is another slander. On what do you basis this ridiculous claim? You first brought it up when I merely said I agreed with Obama’s ideas on clean energy and health care. Those are two ‘interventions’.

    Distributism has to do with property ownership. It doesn’t exclude government leadership on issues that affect the entire country. I evaluate each proposed ‘intervention’ on its individual merits.

    I am opposed, for instance, to gun control and a state monopoly on education. I am opposed to attempts to interfere with home schooling. I am opposed to big businesses forcing their way into small communities where they are not welcome. I am opposed to religious communities being forced to tolerate pornography and gay pride parades. These are only a few examples.

    In short I believe communities should be given a much wider range of freedom to determine their own standards, provided they don’t violate actual Constitutional rights of individuals and not made up ones (like the ‘right to privacy’ conjured up by the Blackmum court, or the ‘right to obscenity’ that is falsely derived from the first amendment). And I believe Distributism is the best economic base for a strong community, because it centers economic and political power at the local level and grants more people the opportunity to directly control their own lives, their own political and social environments.

    So I would call myself, in addition to being a Distributist, a communitarian. As for socialism, I stand with the Church: socialists have made some just demands. Yet it isn’t necessary to actually be a socialist to make those demands, and in becoming so, one professes agreement also with many other unjust demands.

    On the other hand, people such as yourself like to tar and feather people whose ideas sound unappealing to you with a negative label that some people will feel bound to reject without ever actually exploring the content of what is being proposed. It’s a cheap, dirty tactic, it smothers rational discourse and it feeds into the stupidity and hysteria of the mob.

  • I mean, Matt, you don’t even know me. I’ve only been here for a few weeks. And yet you have the bloody nerve to say I’ve ‘never met a government intervention’ I didn’t like, as if you’ve known me my whole life?

    Shame on you!

  • Matt,

    Your comments about Joe was unnecessary and in my view, entirely untrue. I personally find the majority of your comments to be condemning and not personable, or charitable in diction. Perhaps, it isn’t intentional. But, if you could, for the sake of civil dialogue, be more charitable toward others and consider your comments before posting, I’m sure everyone would be more appreciative. Thank you.

  • I don’t know a whole lot about Distributism, but from what I do know, it hardly seems communist. It’s more in line with the “conservative” ideals of individuals being self-sufficient instead of depending on someone else to provide them with a paycheck (be that the government or some mega-corporation). In other words, “give them a hand up, not a handout.”

    It’s also more in line with the very Catholic concept of subsidarity — doing things at the lowest level of societal organization that can handle it, e.g. the individual, family, parish, neighborhood, or community.

    I really wish more political conservatives would pick up on the idea of subsidarity. Instead of just constantly hammering on the notion that ALL government and taxes are bad, promote the idea of keeping government and taxation as localized (and as accountable) as possible instead of handing everything off to the state or the feds.

    As for GOP prospects for 2012, well, nobody’s perfect and conservatives had better stop expecting a “perfect” candidate. Beggars can’t be choosers and we’re pretty much beggars right now. Bear in mind, though, than inexperience is a problem that tends to get better with time. The longer Jindal, Palin, et al. stay in office the more experienced they become.

  • S.B.,

    Thank you for pointing the difference.

    Though I disagree that my comments went overboard, I do recognize the charitable correction from my fellow writers and combox buddies and understand to withdraw such comments since others deem them offensive.

    I want AC to be a forum of constructive and if possible positive dialogue on even the most contentious issues.

    Please do not hesitate to email any of us or post a comment in the combox if any one of us have crossed the line.

    Regardless of where anyone stands as a Catholic, we should all treat each other as brothers in Christ. I want AC to be welcome to those that care about helping the poor and the homeless as well as protecting life in all stages of life.

    We are all Catholics first, Americans of whatever political persuasion second.

    Sugar goes much farther than vinegar as they say.

  • I tried posting this on Fr. Longnecker’s website but couldn’t get signed into Word Press to do so, so I’ll summarize it here.

    Basically, Fr. argues that priestly celibacy was easier for men to live with years ago because many good Catholic men saw the life of a priest as being much easier and more secure than that of a married man who would have to support a wife and lots of kids (because they weren’t practicing birth control) and carefully save up to pay for everything the family needed (because it wasn’t as easy to borrow money then). Today, he says, marriage looks like a much better life because women work outside the home, most couples only have two kids, and they can own two cars, a house in the suburbs, and pay for everything on their credit cards.

    All that is true but I wanted to add some further observations.

    In those days (early Baby Boom era) just about any able-bodied man who was able to read and write (and even some who couldn’t) could usually find a manufacturing job at pretty good wages, and count on it to be there until he retired, at which point he could expect at least a small pension to live on. In many communities in the Midwest and Northeast such jobs were readily available, and men didn’t have to move out of town or very far away to find them. (I used to live in one such town in northern Illinois that had a large clock factory, which closed in the early 1980s, throwing the local economy into a tailspin that lasted well into the next decade.)

    Plus he could expect to have dinner on the table every night, and count on his wife to handle nearly all the details of child-rearing. A high school diploma was generally all that was needed to get a decent job; there was no need to go into debt for years or decades to get a college or professional degree. He could also continue to live near his parents, brothers, sisters, etc. and his children would grow up in close contact with them.

    Today any man who expects to be the sole support of a large family would pretty much have to obtain a college degree in a highly paid professional or technical field (incurring lots of debt in the process, unless he did a stint in the military first to get GI Bill benefits) and then, perhaps, move to a part of the country where his skills are needed (e.g. Silicon Valley), away from his family of origin (no siblings, grandparents, aunts or uncles around to help babysit the kids).

    And even after all that, he would have no confidence that his job would not disappear after the next boom-bust cycle, nor can he count on any kind of retirement security. Plus, he has to be prepared to pay his children’s way through college if they are to have any kind of decent living. And, since his wife works they have to worry more about finding decent child care and supervising their kids’ after school activities.

    So when you add it all up, I’m not so sure that marriage is an “easier” choice today.

  • Paul,

    Yes, I know your Ph.D topic was on early American political philosopy, and I am most assuredly not getting into that debate with you! However, you miss the big picture, the sense that what calls itself American conservatism is deeply deeply liberal. It is the same way that many constitutional legal experts (many of them brilliant) are mired so deeply in legal positivism that they miss the bigger natural law picture.

  • ou miss the big picture, the sense that what calls itself American conservatism is deeply deeply liberal.

    Actually, no, I haven’t denied that American conservatism is the stepchild in some ways of classical liberalism. In fact, I cherish the fact that conservatives are greater expositors of true liberalism than the people that we call liberal today – so, we actually agree to a point on this issue. My point of departure is your classification of classical liberalism as a utopian political ideology.

  • …the sense that what calls itself American conservatism is deeply deeply liberal.

    Umm, I think everyone gets that. However, we also understand there are contexts in which terms are used (as someone above pointed out). MM, you continually use the terms left and right. We give you enough credit to assume that you’re railing against the right, it’s not because you think they’re sympathetic to French monarchy or sitting on the right side of the National Constituent Assembly. Wouldn’t you think I looked either ignorant or like a condescending ass if I complained every time someone used the terms left and right outside of the context of the French Revolution?

  • Sorry for using a little hyperbole to illustrate why e. is confused about distributism, frankly I think a lot of people are a little hypersensitive.

    To be totally direct without any ‘license’. I have not ON THIS BLOG seen a discussion with Joe in which he did not defend government intervention into the economy which could be considered a socialist policy. If I have missed one, then please post it and I will stand corrected.

    My point is that distributism is not communism or socialism because it is not controlled by the state. The confusion comes because of what I stated above, we hear that distributism is good in the same breath as endorsement of government control of the economy and it’s easy to conclude that distributism is that… it is not.

    Joe: why not make some more posts on distributism as endorsed by champions like Chesterton and Belloc? This might alleviate the confusion, and further your cause.

  • Well, you have not see me on this blog argue once against government intervention policies, so I suppose there isn’t capitalist policy, I do like?

    I’m sure you see the point. Simply because I haven’t done so, doesn’t mean I despise every stripe of capitalism. Same case here. Though, I’d suggest two things: Either read up personally on distributism, ask Joe what he thinks of ‘this’ or ‘that’ idea you encounter. Or, surely, as Joe might, ask him to post on distributism (as you have done) and maybe he can clarify some things for you.

    Thanks Matt.

  • Eric,
    Well, you have not see me on this blog argue once against government intervention policies, so I suppose there isn’t capitalist policy, I do like?

    nor did I suggest this about Joe.

    I’m sure you see the point. Simply because I haven’t done so, doesn’t mean I despise every stripe of capitalism.

    Nor did I suggest this about Joe.

    I’m sure you see MY point, if the biggest defender of distributism is seen as a big defender of government intervention in economy, that some readers may get the mistaken notion that distributism is like socialism. I’m suggesting that that this conflation be disavowed.

    Same case here. Though, I’d suggest two things: Either read up personally on distributism, ask Joe what he thinks of ‘this’ or ‘that’ idea you encounter. Or, surely, as Joe might, ask him to post on distributism (as you have done) and maybe he can clarify some things for you.

    I have read about distributism thank you very much, I am well aware of it and that it is a morally good economic system and that it is not socialist or communist in it’s nature. I am not a huge proponent of it on a wide scale because I don’t really see how it could be implemented without massive personal conversions, I’d be delighted to hear and discuss more about how it could be done in the current milieu, I’ve suggested this before on this blog and again today.

  • “I see. Do we speak of everyone’s conversion the same way, or just Newt? Do you think he did it for political reasons??? Oh, yes, there’s a strong precedence for conservative Catholics as successful national candidates.”

    Matt,

    I certainly do not profess an ability to peer into any man’s soul. However, its worth noting Tony Blair made the leap and it hasn’t amounted to much. There were rumblings of a W. Bush conversion.

    My concern is mainly with Newt’s own rocky track record in Congress and as Speaker of the House. He comes from a brand of Republicanism that loves the State. He seems to try and waffle between constitutional convictions and political trendiness. In short, I don’t really know what to think of him.

    If I had to guess, he would have appealing rhetoric during a presidential run and then promptly keep this fat American Empire on its destructive trajectory once in office.

    How does it relate to his conversion? It doesn’t, and thats precisely the problem. I would expect a lot from a constitutionally conservative, Catholic president and I don’t think Newt’s really up to the burden.

  • Anthony,

    I certainly do not profess an ability to peer into any man’s soul. However, its worth noting Tony Blair made the leap and it hasn’t amounted to much.

    That’s a fair point, but there’s a big difference between Blair and Newt. So far as government policy is concerned, there is little that Newt is obliged to reform in order to be consistent with the Catholic faith, while perhaps in some case it ought to.

    There were rumblings of a W. Bush conversion.

    I’ve heard this too, and I would say the same as I did about Newt.

    My concern is mainly with Newt’s own rocky track record in Congress and as Speaker of the House. He comes from a brand of Republicanism that loves the State. He seems to try and waffle between constitutional convictions and political trendiness. In short, I don’t really know what to think of him.

    I would suggest his conversion to Catholicism should not change your healthy skepticism.

    If I had to guess, he would have appealing rhetoric during a presidential run

    I really doubt it would be all that popular of a move, especially among the evangelical base of the GOP. While they might be comfortable with a Catholic, it seems less likely they would really want one who was a recent defector from their own denomination.

    and then promptly keep this fat American Empire on its destructive trajectory once in office.

    How does it relate to his conversion? It doesn’t, and thats precisely the problem. I would expect a lot from a constitutionally conservative, Catholic president and I don’t think Newt’s really up to the burden.

    You’re right on this. I guess my main point is we need to carefully separate his faith conversion from any political expectations.

  • Joe & Matt:

    Yeah, right.

    This highly noble system of distributism of which you speak could never ultimately end up being an even distribution of property by force of law.

    Far be it for me to consider Chesterton’s ideas in this regard romantic (let alone, extremist) when, in fact, they are achievable and, what’s more, without any such coercion by the State.

  • GK Chesterton:“That economic condition in which there is a class of capitalists, roughly recognizable and relatively small, in whose possession so much of the capital is concentrated as to necessitate a very large majority of the citizens serving those capitalists for a wage.”

    I’m not sure that what Chesterton describes is accurate to the current situation here in the US. Small business ownership and stock ownership directly or via mutual funds held in 401k’s and pensions is incredibly broad here. While there is much wealth concentrated in a relatively small group, there is massive opportunity for independence here, far more so than any place.

    Derived from: http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/smallbus.html

    20% of US workers own their own business, or are employed at a firm with less than 5 workers.

    45% of US workers own their own business, or are at a firm with less than 100 workers.

    42% of US workers are employed at firms with more than 500 workers

    Keep in mind that many of those in the latter category are completely free and capable of becoming small business owners but find the safety of corporate life preferable however many of them do, including me.

    It would be interesting merge this with a study of stock ownership by those employed, as it would further move the “concentration” down.

    I don’t think there’s any of the more conservative poster’s here that would argue that more small business and more broadly distributed ownership of enterprise would be a good thing. We are the ones advocating for measures which have shown or can reasonably be demonstrated to aid people in building their own business or becoming owners of shares.

    To me, the change to broader ownership can only be done through coaxing, and leadership, not through coercion. Frankly much of it can be accomplished from the ground up, and I think you’ll find that within the conservative movement it largely has…Go Joe the Plumber!

    It’s actually my theory that preferential treatment by government is part of the reason that ownership concentrates in large corporations as much as it does. The complexity of government regulation makes economies of scale more significant than they ought to. Last summer’s law requiring testing of virtually every product intended for children is in the process of destroying virtually every small manufacturer in that market.

  • Matt,

    What government interventions or what have you have been proposed, that I agree with?

    I can only recall TWO things that I’ve said I agree with, when did the rest of this happen?

    Do you think I’m lying when I pointed out in an earlier post, right here on this thread, all of the government interventions I don’t agree with?

    You don’t seem to understand that the issue of Distributism is separate from the issue of government regulation. If we had an economy based on workers cooperatives, if the majority of firms were structured in just the way I think they ought to be, even then I would STILL be for government regulation and oversight. Why?

    First of all, because I’m a Catholic and I believe, as Pope Pius XI wrote, that the economy must be ordered and guided by an effective principle – an ethical principle, the common good. The economy exists to serve man and not the other way around. Government regulation of the economy is completely and wholly endorsed by CST and does not negate the principles of Distributism.

    Meanwhile economic liberalism – the idea that the economy should not be regulated, that each individual has unlimited economic freedom, that their cumulative efforts over time will generate the best economic result – has been unambiguously, clearly, condemned.

    The key as always is finding a balance – between economic anarchy and command economies. The most powerful economies the world has ever seen have existed because of extensive private-public collaboration. This ‘free market’ doesn’t even exist, it never has existed. We know that because its most ardent defenders, whenever markets are blamed for any problem, immediately step forward and declare, ‘that’s not the free market’. Ok, so where is it? What does it do? Nowhere and nothing.

    For me the choices are not ‘free market’ versus distributism, but rather economic oligarchy in a state-capitalist framework, or economic democracy in a distributist framework. The ‘free market’ isn’t an option, a totally deregulated economy isn’t an option and most of us do not proceed on the naive assumption that it is.

  • Pingback: Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-29-2009 « The American Catholic

3 Responses to AD CAELI REGINAM