The Decline in Vocations: Celibacy Isn’t the Issue

Tuesday, October 4, AD 2011

In a recent interview, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, said that celibacy is not the cause of the lack of priestly vocations.

The Cardinal cites some statistics to support his assertion:

  • More than 40% of marriages fail, while only 2% of priests fail in celibacy.  The crisis in the sacrament of marriage as one and indissoluble is obviously greater magnitude than is the decline in the number of vocations to the priesthood.
  • The decline in the number of births in recent decades inevitably has led to fewer young men and, thus, of priestly vocations.
  • Protestant denominations which do not require their clergy to be celibate are in a state of deep crisis regarding vocations to the ministry.

In Cardinal Piacenza’s estimation, the issue from which these problems stem is much larger in scope:

[The issue is] the contemporary inability to make definitive choices, in the dramatic reduction of human freedom that has become so fragile as not to pursue the good, not even when it is recognized and intuited as a possibility for one’s own existence.

Discourse concerning mandatory celibacy, the Cardinal believes, must not begin with the assumption that freedom is the absence of ties and permanent commitments.  Instead, this discourse must begin with the assumption that freedom consists in the definitive gift of self to the other and to God.  Every human being, in freedom, must understand and welcome one’s vocation and must work every day more and more to become what God created that person to be.

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8 Responses to The Decline in Vocations: Celibacy Isn’t the Issue

  • That first point of his is brilliant!

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  • Celibacy isn’t the “cause” of the lack of priestly vocations just like lack of US intervention didn’t cause the Rwandan genocide. But lifting the requirement would undoubtedly increase vocations.

    There’s a selection bias in the first stat. Only those who are firmly committed to keeping their vows even consider becoming priests. People marry on a whim in Vegas. The crisis in marriage is real and so is the crisis in the lack of priestly vocations (and religious for that matter). The 2% failure rate doesn’t count the 50% non-participation rate (made that number up but you get the point).

    The decline in the birth rate should also lead to similar declines in all occupations but few have seen such a dramatic decline. It’s worse than the decline of the auto-workers.

    Some Protestant denominations are seeing a decline but that’s due in large part to canibalization. Evangelical denominations are seeing a boom. And even still, it’s not as dramatic a decline as in the Catholic Church.

  • In a society that focusses so much on the “self” – Self development, self fulfilment, self promotion – there is little left for focus on the “other” – those whom we love and are supposed to sacrifice ourselves for.
    The sense of self-sacrifice within our western society is very much subordinated to the self-satisfaction; we have become very much a narcissistic society. Within the vocation of marriage, the offering by both parties to each-other in self giving, one to the other spouse, is the same type of self-sacrifice that aspirants to the priesthood and consecrated life have for themselves in service to God, The priesthood is not a career path for self-fulfilment – it is a calling of service to Christ in ministering to His Church.

    The other problem in the shortage of vocations is not celibacy, but a lack of faith amongst the Faithful of today. Further, how often do you hear a mother or a father encouraging their son to consider a priestly vocation; or a daughter to the religious lfe?

  • Only those who are firmly committed to keeping their vows even consider becoming priests. People marry on a whim in Vegas. The crisis in marriage is real and so is the crisis in the lack of priestly vocations (and religious for that matter).

    I think what you’re saying here, RR, though perhaps not intended is that the celibacy requirement is a n effective qualifier for those who are committed – otherwise the failure rate of priestly commitments will likely mirror that of marriage commitments.

    Don the Kiwi notes a lack of faith and a lack of encouragement and to that I agree. However, I would pinpoint the reasons behind those to a general secularization of the Church over the generation. In regions (even in specific dioceses) where the Church draws sharper distinction from the secular world you have a lively faith and greater vocations. The celibacy requirement in the Roman Rite transcends all regions, yet some countries (or dioceses) have full seminaries and others are empty.

  • RL, relaxing the celibacy requirement or any onerous requirement will result in the admission of less dedicated priests. But the success rate would also be pushed up by the fact that having sex would no longer be considered a failure. So there’s no way of knowing which rate failure rates would move.

    The Church doesn’t vary enough from region to region to adequately account for the variability in seminary enrollment. The difference is primarily cultural. It’s no coincidence that seminaries are packed in developing former third-world colonies and empty in developed Western cultures.

  • It’s not a matter of whether having sex is a failure or not, RR. People have sex in marriages, yet based on stats it doesn’t seem that necessarily makes for lasting commitments, else we wouldn’t be discussing this point.

    Yes, culture is a large factor, and I took that into account when I was writing. Still, the Church in say Nigeria is far removed from US secular culture. Within the US we have dioceses that thrive and others that whither. We have some that were essentially dead and are now doing well. There seems to be a correlation between how those dioceses have been administered as far as their Catholic identity, commitment to traditional Catholic teachings and devotions, and what not vs. secular world. It stands to reason when you think about it. If there is nothing apparently sacred or “special” about the Church, why should anyone feel the desire to commit themselves?

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SATURDAY EXTRA EDITION

Saturday, May 14, AD 2011

The following is courtesy of ThePulp.it:

The Speaker and the Scholars – Carson Holloway, Catholic Vote

Torture Didn’t Lead Us to Bin Laden – Matthew J. Franck, First Things

The Meatless Mark of Identity Restored – Rich Leonardi, Ten Reasons

Subsidiarity, Funding, and the Arts – Jordan J. Ballor, Acton Institute

Bp. Conley on Transcendence in the Liturgy & the New Translation – Fr. Z

Addressing the Church’s Attrition Problem – Margaret Cabaniss, Crisis Mag

Playing the Bully Card – Anthony S. Layne, Outside the Asylum

Movie Fails to Capture Anti-Catholic Brutality of Spanish Civil War – CNA

A Real Person Can Truly Love – Anthony Buono, 6 Stone Jars

On The Power of Personal Witness in the Priestly Proclamation – Msgr. Pope

Comedy Movie Night – Frank Weathers, Why I Am Catholic

The US/Pakistan Tightrope – George Friedman, MercatorNet

_._

If you liked this roundup of the best posts from around the Catholic blogosphere, visit ThePulp.it for daily updates twice a day.

For ThePulp.it click here.

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From Harvard To Her Religious Calling

Sunday, July 25, AD 2010

Mary Anne Marks graduated from Harvard University at the top of her class.  You may have heard of her, she is the one that gave the salutatory address all in Latin.

She received a standing ovation.

In addition to graduating with a Classics and English double major with honors, she will be entering the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

You may remember these nuns from their appearance on the Oprah Show earlier this year in February and how they dazzled the audience as well as Oprah Winfrey herself with their simple devotion and love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The following video is Mary Anne Marks being interviewed by Net New York‘s Outstanding Anchor Francesca Maximé on the Currents program.

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5 Responses to From Harvard To Her Religious Calling

How Did Your Family React When You Told Them That You Wanted To Be a Priest?

Saturday, June 12, AD 2010

I enjoyed the response of one priest in which he told his parents it just became clear to him at the moment.  His parents responded by saying that’s how they felt about each other when they first met (and decided to get married)!

For the Rome Reports website click here.

For the Rome Reports YouTube Channel click here.

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Booming Traditional Religious Orders!

Friday, May 21, AD 2010

What has been an open secret is now backed by empirical evidence:

The most successful institutes in terms of attracting and retaining new members at this time are those that follow a more traditional style of religious life in which members live together in community and participate in daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office, and engage in devotional practices together. They also wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium. All of these characteristics are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today.*

As I have been reading through the website of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) I came across this nugget of information [Emphases Mine]:

Myth #4:  Women entering religious life want to wear habits.Fact:  Both men and women seem to be drawn to habited communities. About two thirds of the newer members say they belong to a religious institute that wears a habit. Among those that responded affirmatively, a little more than half indicate that the habit is required in all or most circumstances.

Interestingly, almost half of the men who belong to an institute that does not wear a habit say they would wear it if it were an option [and those that don’t wear habits are obviously being disobedient and committing a mortal sin], compared to nearly a quarter of the women respondents.

Ann Carey of The Catholic World Report wrote that the study found several “best practices”:

  1. Involving membership and leadership in concerted vocation promotion efforts.
  2. Having a full-time vocation director.
  3. Using new media like the Internet.
  4. Offering discernment or “come-and-see” opportunities for potential members.
  5. Exposing young people to the idea of religious life from grade school through young adulthood.

What stuck out and confirmed what I’ve always thought in attracting people to religious vocations, as well as bringing in converts to the Catholic faith is:

“the example of members and the characteristics of the institute…have the most influence on the decision to enter a particular institute.”

Sister Elsa Garcia Practicing a Pagan Ritual

When you see a habitless nun walking around in her pants or muumuu’s you wonder what the attraction is when you could lead the same life without living in poverty.

As Saint John said in his epistle:

Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever. (1 Jn 2:15-17)

The rest of this posting will be an excerpt of Ann Carey‘s article on The Catholic World Report where she sights some examples of booming traditional religious orders:

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8 Responses to Booming Traditional Religious Orders!

  • God is clearly blessing these traditional orders with growing numbers of vocations, and His grace is abundant in the rebounding orthodoxy of the Gen Xers like me and even among many Millennials of this latest generation.

    From the perspective of a man discerning his vocation to Holy Orders as a religious priest (God willing!), I can vouch personally for the holiness, orthodoxy and zeal for souls of both the CA Norbertines and the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. I visited the OMVs at their beautiful shrine and seminary in Back Bay, Boston and met some amazing men: priests, seminarians, and novices. I would have been thrilled to join the Norbertines, but they have an upper age limit for men who enter of 28, and I surpassed that a few years back! 🙁 Nevertheless, God’s grace and the wisdom of a wonderful spiritual director (himself a religious priest/friar for many years) and a great vocations director have all led me to pursue a vocation as a postulant with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception later this year, also known as the “Divine Mercy Priests” for their ministry of spreading devotion to the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the messages Our Lord communicated to St. Faustina Kowalska. They are also a very orthodox and faithful order of young men whose vocations are booming (I attended a discernment weekend there wherein 4 of the 8 of us visiting applied for admission as postulants to the order–50% of us!)

    God is faithful if we remain faithful to Him!

  • You definitely have my prayers Kevin!

    Ora pro nobis!

  • The Father responds to those who are Faithful, Humble and Obedient – as His Son was.

  • I’m blessed to live near an order of very holy and orthodox priests, The Fathers of Mercy. They are going to ordain one priest and two deacons next Saturday.

  • You are blessed, Ellen. The Fathers of Mercy are a great order. Fr Louis hails from my old parish in Detroit and said Mass there every time he was in town. Very reverent and awesome sermons – his presence was always a great treat for the parish.

  • When these orders embrace the traditional Mass instead of the fabricated Mass (i.e., the Novus Ordo, even in Latin), then we’ll know that they’re serious about tradition.

    “What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it – as in a manufacturing process – with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.”

    -Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Preface to the French edition of Klaus Gamber’s The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background

  • My friend is with the Nashville Dominicans, and see loves it! 🙂 I am entering formation with the Salesians come end of August and in four years, I could be in the habit! It is exciting. Traditional orders are finding more members, there has to be a reason as you have proved.

  • Ash,

    You and your friend have my prayers!

The Vocation of a Soldier is Next in Dignity to the Priesthood

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

There are some whom denigrate soldiers and policemen and the plan God has for them in Salvation.  I disagree completely and there are many examples of saints and popes who have honored the soldier and policeman in defense of justice and peace.

I found this quote by Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen‘s Wartime Prayer Book:

“The great French Lacordaire once said the vocation of a soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood, not only because it commissioned him to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace, but also because it called him to the spirit and intention of sacrifice.”

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105 Responses to The Vocation of a Soldier is Next in Dignity to the Priesthood

  • I was given this book just before my 1st deployment to Iraq in 2003 (the initial surge). When I came back to the states I decided to finally get confirmed. The great bishop is and will always be an influence in my spirtuality.

  • Thank you for your great service to our country.

  • The Church fathers had a radically different view. I think it was St. Basil who advised soliders to abstain from communion for a fixed period of time.

    And even today, the Church supports the conscience protections in the military – just as no Catholic medical practioner should be forced to engage in immoral acts, no Catholic soldier should be forced to fight an unjust war – and the Iraq war was patently unjust. Where the the Catholic military consciences? Where those people calling loudly for conscience protections in other areas? Silent.

  • Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.”
    – Tertullian

    “If you enroll as one of God’s people, heaven is your country and God your lawgiver.”
    – St. Clement of Alexandria

    “Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.”
    – St. Cyprian

    “Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer.”
    – St. Athanasius

    “I am a soldier of Christ and it is not permissible for me to fight”
    – St. Martin of Tours

    “For certainly it is a greater work and much more marvelous to change the minds of opponents and to bring about a change of soul than to kill them…”
    – St. John Chrysostom

  • “Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

    5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but every one, as the apostle says, has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and tried as gold in the furnace, Wisdom 3:6 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

    6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.”

    Saint Augustine to Count Boniface (418AD) Boniface was governor of the diocese of Africa and a Roman general.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102189.htm

  • The soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood? Well, so much for all the holy monks and nuns.

  • Henry,

    I guess you know better than the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

  • MM

    Notice how they idolize the makers of death, and follow through with the errors they claim is had in liberation theology.

  • Tito

    Well, I guess you think he knew better than St Basil the Great? It is interesting to see how you go about this. What about Servant of God Dorothy Day? Seriously, Fulton Sheen did good work, but I am sure what I say about him being able to make mistakes is how you would respond to St Basil. But the fact remains, the Christian tradition doesn’t raise soldiers to this status — but they have consistently called those who are holy virgins to this level of sanctity. Take that as you will.

  • Henry,

    Leaving all that aside, the point of this post is to show soldiers that God has a place in salvation for them.

    To many times do well-meaning Catholics denigrate solider and police officers for their vocations. Without them we would have anarchy.

    The hate that comes from those that put down soldiers is unwarranted and not Christian.

    “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

    – Holy Gospel of Saint John 15:18

  • Plus, if you want to go further, Sheen is quoting someone else — though it seems in affirmation, it does leave him room for correcting it as well. It is not his statement — and indeed, it seems to be a rhetorical flourish that is being quoted, which also suggests something of the value of this quote. Again, it is interesting to see how you use might for the sake of salvation, when Scripture consistently suggests otherwise. That says much.

  • “Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.”

    Pope Benedict April 16, 2008

    http://wcbstv.com/papalvisit/pope.benedict.speech.2.701076.html

  • Tito

    If you wanted to say “they too can be saved” and “we can honor the good they have done,” I would have no problem. Indeed, I did a post on that theme several years back: http://vox-nova.com/2007/11/12/for-veterans-monday/

    To suggest “they are like priests” and “they are saving us” is I would say dangerous — very dangerous.

  • Donald’s typically selective, and equivocal, quotes to the contrary, Pope Benedict has been consistent that true freedom is in Christ, not war. Pope Benedict recognizes, of course, the temporal realm, but he would not equivocate this to priesthood and soteriology.

  • Henry,

    Bishop Sheen was quoting the Abbe Lacordaire. Remember Bishop Sheen said “next in dignity”, not the next best thing. Next in dignity in the context of spiritually sacrificing themselves for justice.

    I also agree with your quotes in context, nuns and monks are next in spirituality. There is room for many in God’s Kingdom.

  • Donald wasn’t contradicting Papa Bene. He was showing that soldiers have a place in God’s kingdom through their vocations.

  • for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory; but thy right hand, and thy arm, and the light of thy countenance; for thou didst delight in them. (Psalms 44:3)

    1 “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine; and who make a league, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2 who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my counsel, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! 3 Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation. 4 For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes, 5 every one comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.” 6 An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the viper and the flying serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of asses, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that cannot profit them. 7 For Egypt’s help is worthless and empty, therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.” (Isaiah 30:1 -7)

    1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD! 2 And yet he is wise and brings disaster, he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. 3 The Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. (Isaiah 31: 1-3)

  • Karlson, unlike you Pope Benedict understands that peace and freedom in this fallen world can often be had only through the lives of soldiers:

    “On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe. What had happened? A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable. The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil. And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

    We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us. If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.”
    http://www.logosjournal.com/issue_4.2/ratzinger.htm

    I realize this is all very galling for a Leftist ideologue like yourself, but facts are stubborn things.

  • “A few days after the liberation of Rome, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Commander of the Fifth Allied Army, paid his respects to the Pope: “I am afraid you have been disturbed by the noise of my tanks. I am sorry.” Pius XII smiled and replied: “General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make just as much noise as you like.””

    http://www.piusxiipope.info/papacy.htm

  • Henry,

    As much as I disagree with some of your perceptions and interpretations of Catholic teaching and its implementation, I see the fruitfulness of charitable dialogue and engagement on issues pertaining to the Church.

    Thank you for all your comments!

  • I argued in a paper that is currently under review for publication that the u.s. military is seen by many americans to be another type of priesthood. Tito, Donald, et al. make that view explicit when they place u.s. soldiers inside the hierarchy of the church. This combination of u.s. militarism and Catholicism is PRECISELY fascist.

  • At the root of this idolatry is a profound misunderstanding of the reality of Christian sacrifice. Tito, et al. substitute a secular, pagan, nationalistic understanding of sacrifice for the understanding we have of sacrifice as following the non-violent way of the cross.

  • Donald R. McClare-
    Now that is classy. Would that I could come up with a response like that on the fly!

  • I’m always amazed that people who denigrate the military are oblivious to the fact that they only possess that right because someone somewhere gave their life in order to preserve our freedom of speech.

  • Truth be told – I have said in the past and live by it – I would gladly die for a person’s freedom of speech.. Sad to me that they usually do not rescipicate that feeling…

  • Michael,

    I am quoting both Servant of God Fulton Sheen and Lacordaire. Where have I said that soldiers are an institutional vocation?

    As to the second approved comment, review what I typed above.

    Please argue the substance of the posting and stop denigrating the writers of this website and anyone else that doesn’t fit into your bizarre construct of Catholicism.

  • I’d say ‘next in dignity’ is taking it a bit far.

  • John – Good to hear. I like the distancing going on at this blog.

  • Soldiers and priests can be good, bad or mixed, usually mixed, depending upon the soldier or priest. What is clear however, is that Catholicism has recognized a role for both of them. There has been an attempt over the past few decades by some Catholics to contend that the profession of arms is dishonorable and contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. That is simply not true as even a cursory look at the history of the Church reveals.

  • “Donald R. McClarey
    Now that is classy. Would that I could come up with a response like that on the fly!”

    Thank you Foxfier! Coming from such an able combox warrior as yourself that is high praise!

  • John Henry,

    Take it up with the Abbe.

    I know he’s gone, just getting punchy this evening. It’s been a looong week.

  • What is clear however, is that Catholicism has recognized a role for both of them. There has been an attempt over the past few decades by some Catholics to contend that the profession of arms is dishonorable and contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. That is simply not true

    I agree, Donald. I think we can over-praise the military, and that doing so can have very real harms. At the same time, the denigration of soldiers that takes place in some quarters contradicts a great deal of the Christian Tradition.

    To be sure, I think there is an honorable place for pacificism also within that Christian tradition, but I don’t think either pacifists or soldiers have the right to excommunicate the other.

  • I don’t think Donald was excommunicating pacifists (at least not in this thread).

  • I don’t think Donald was excommunicating pacifists (at least not in this thread).

    Agreed.

  • Michael,

    It’s called constructive dialogue.

    Something of which you are incapable of.

  • After chaplains John Henry, my highest esteem goes to pacifists who have served as medics. This gentleman especially:

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/desmond_doss_pacifist_medal_of_honor_recipient_dies_at_87/

  • Soldiers, firefighters and policemen put their lives at risk every day for other people. This is part of their job description. Putting your life at risk for another person only a daily basis is a noble thing. I think this is probably what Sheen meant. At the root of his comment is a simple understanding of self-sacrifice; there is no deep evil; there is no understanding of the soldier as priest; there is no militarism; there is no paganism. And I hope every person’s life’s work is placed in the hierarchy of the Church. Everything ought to be for God.

  • Henry,

    As I recall, a week or two ago, you wrote a post arguing against moral rigorism in regards to “cooperation with evil” by pointing to the example of St. George, who was a Roman soldier in close service to Emperor Diocletian. Now you’re arguing, from the example of St. Basil that the Church Fathers held soldiering to be immoral. Which is it?

    Is it, perhaps, that St. Basil was adhering to ideas regarding the purity required for receiving the Eucharist which would seem beyond Jansenist to us today? After all, he also held, if memory serves, that married couples should not receive the Eucharist after performing the marital act, for a similar period. If you want to hold the one as normative, would you similarly hold the other?

  • “I was given this book just before my 1st deployment to Iraq in 2003 (the initial surge). When I came back to the states I decided to finally get confirmed. The great bishop is and will always be an influence in my spirtuality.”

    Robert thank you for your service. Most Americans greatly appreciate it and honor you for it.

  • I’d say ‘next in dignity’ is taking it a bit far.

    I would assume that the logic behind the quote is that just as the consecrated life required the denial of self for the world of the Church, so the vocation of soldiering involves the risk of one’s life on behalf of the lives of others.

    In this sense, I can see how the vocation taken in its essentials would be seen as next in dignity to the consecrated life — and at the same time I don’t think that would necessarily be a claim that soldiers as individuals possess superior moral virtue. Indeed, clearly, soldiering is a vocation with rather extreme moral risks built into it. That said, however, it is singular in the sense in which soldiering involves potential sacrifice on behalf of others — which is why being a soldier is so frequently used as a metaphor both in the Scriptures and in the writings of the saints.

    It is, I must admit, a bit confusing to me how pacifists (if they are really serious about pacifism and believe soldiering to be thoroughly evil, as Michael seems to claim to do) fill this rhetorical and literary gap. Looking at the canon of literature, mythology and history, it seems a rather sparse shelf once one has rejected everything that involves violence.

  • Listening to a German woman speak about her experience as a ten-year old at the end of WWII, she told me that her family could hear the American guns and hoped they would reach their house before the Russian soldiers. She, as well as others, are grateful to the American soldiers for defeating Nazi Germany.

    We all owe our service people gratitude for their protection.

  • Darwin-
    Might one say that Priests offer their lives, and Soldiers offer their deaths?

  • Henry is right. Economic justice is prohibited because we live in a fallen world, but military action is not. Why?

    Is there such a thing as a just war? I think so, but the bar is set really really high. There must always be a presumption against war. As John Paul called for in Centesimus Annus, we must all say “never again war” and move on to different ways of solving conflicts, and by treating underlying issues of justice that often cause war.

    Or, as Benedict put it, nothing good ever comes from war. War is the ultimate last resort, the ultimate sign of failure. It is a time for mourning, not rejoicing. The kind of military glorifiction on display here should be offensive to all followers of Jesus the Christ. It embodies a pagan ethic. Consider again the quotes from the Church fathers from my earlier comment – these men knew what it was like to stand up against the pagan mindset.

  • Actually Tony Pope Benedict in his D-Day quotation I cited above said that a very good thing, liberation, came for the people of Europe from the victories of the Western Allies in World War ii, including his native Germany.

  • The kind of military glorifiction on display here should be offensive to all followers of Jesus the Christ. It embodies a pagan ethic.

    What military glorification? The quote from Fulton Sheen? For real?

    Come now, you can’t let the fact that a blog you don’t like prints something make you respond irrationally.

  • Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?

    Cathy – I have a simliar story. A good friend of mine told me recently of the liberation of his village from the Soviets by Germans in World War 2. He was just a child at the time, but he remembers the German soldiers re-opening their churches (shut down by the communists). The men were more than happy to join the German army and fight for their liberators against the Russians and Allies, as was their Christian duty.

  • DC

    Re-read my comments. Take care to read them and the context. And take care to do what they told you to do. Then you will see your comment (and Donald’s) are completely offbase.

  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of freedom and a force for liberation. In recent years, this essential truth has become the object of reflection for theologians, with a new kind of attention which is itself full of promise.

    Liberation is first and foremost liberation from the radical slavery of sin. Its end and its goal is the freedom of the children of God, which is the gift of grace. As a logical consequence, it calls for freedom from many different kinds of slavery in the cultural, economic, social, and political spheres, all of which derive ultimately from sin, and so often prevent people from living in a manner befitting their dignity. To discern clearly what is fundamental to this issue and what is a by-product of it, is an indispensable condition for any theological reflection on liberation.

    Faced with the urgency of certain problems, some are tempted to emphasize, unilaterally, the liberation from servitude of an earthly and temporal kind. They do so in such a way that they seem to put liberation from sin in second place, and so fail to give it the primary importance it is due. Thus, their very presentation of the problems is confused and ambiguous. Others, in an effort to learn more precisely what are the causes of the slavery which they want to end, make use of different concepts without sufficient critical caution. It is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to purify these borrowed concepts of an ideological inspiration which is compatible with Christian faith and the ethical requirements which flow from it.

  • You want a quote. How about this quote from a Roman Centurion found in the third edition of the Missale Romanum:

    “Lord, I am not worthy
    that you should enter under my roof,
    but only say the word
    and my soul (my servant) shall be healed.”

    And unlike the woman taken in adultery, no follows on orders to soldier no more.

  • “Poison.”

    What does a hair band from the 80’s have to do with anything here?

  • “Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?”

    Yes. Because American’s invasion of Iraq did not fall under the criteria of a just war, the only Christian soldiers deserving praise (from Christians) for fighting in that war are any Iraqi Christians who were defending their homeland against the unjust invader. This is not to say that American Christian soldiers can be held subjectively culpable for participating in the war; only that their participation in what was in fact an unjust action should not be described as something it was not–i.e. virtuous, etc.

  • WJ-
    you do realize that there’s a case for Iraq being a just war, and that such a determination is for the nation’s leaders, not folks who want to drag comboxes off topic?

  • “I’d say ‘next in dignity is taking it a bit far.”

    Anyone intimately familiar with the sacrifices the men and women of a nation’s military make – not for glory, but for love of country and countrymen – should not find fault with the sentiment expressed in Archbishop Sheen’s book.

    “Greater love than this no man hath than to lay down his life for his friends.”

    My family has a close relative who just returned from Iraq and suffers terribly from PTSD. He left 4 years ago a vigorous young man, full of life. He returned a broken man … physically, mentally, and emotionally. No one intimately familiar with the physical, psychological, and emotional toll that war often (if not always) takes on those who fight it could EVER “glorify” war. There’s nothing glorious about it.

    But the soldiers themselves who fight those wars are due our honor and esteem, and I will place them very high among those worthy of such. It is no stretch to me, at all, to find the dignity of the vocation of those who sacrifice so much for so many … something for which there is no true recompense beyond recognizing and honoring said sacrifice … to be ranked among the highest of vocations.

  • At the risk of being despised by both sides of this lively debate, might I offer a philosophical point that appears overlooked? I hope the length of this comment does not deter all the fine minds on this stream.

    The question is this: What is the nature of a soldier?
    This seemingly simple question might appear simple to answer as well. But how this is answered reveals part of what appears to be, what MacIntyre once termed, a “conceptual incompensurability” between the two sides of the debate here.

    If we look to Archbishop Sheen, we could define soldier as one who is “commissioned by the spirit and intention of sacrifice to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace.”

    Now, this definition is, rightly, quite generic enabling its universal application. All of its elements (sacrifice, justice, field of battle, order and peace) are in no way simple and universally accepted elements, i.e., much of how these elements are understood will depend upon the cultural context that ‘thickens’ them. I’m not denying an ‘objectivity’ to them, but asserting that the objectivity is in excess of any one definition (which is why they are defined, thought, examined etc. over and over.)

    This generic and universal definition of ‘soldier’ is necessary to any ecclesial advocacy of its ‘vocational’ component. I think all would agree that were the Church to say “being a US soldier,” or “being a British soldier,” is next in dignity to the priesthood, something would clearly be amiss.

    But if this term soldier is generic and universal, then it is applicable in any number of ways. Didn’t Dorothy Day “defend justice and order” and was hers also not a “field of battle”? Doesn’t the nurse who sees her work as a Christian Calling also not “defend justice and order” on a “field of battle”? Doesn’t a teacher? A mother, father, grandparent?

    So, in this broad, universal sense of soldier, there ought to be nothing overtly offensive – for it describes every lay Christian in the Church Militant.

    If one is unhappy or unconvinced by this analogical use of ‘soldier’ and believes that these ecclesial voices (Sheen, JPII, John XXIII) clearly intends a military application of the term (where ‘military’ means an association with the the armed forces of modern nation states), then, it appears to me, one faces the unhappy consequence of finding a way to defend the post’s interpretation of its three citation without exposing an a priori allegiance to a particular nation state’s military that the citations did not – indeed could not – intend.

    In other words, it seems that when the nature of the term ‘soldier’ and its use in the post’s citations are taken into consideration, one can endorse the idea only when the term ‘soldier’ is taken analogously to include the likes of all Christians whose vocation is intrinsically to “Defend justice and order on the field of battle called by the intention of sacrifice.”

    Sure, this may also include members of the armed forces who do look at their role as somehow serving God. But here we would have to include all members of all military machines, including those we in the West find unjust.

    At the risk of violating the Godwin principle, and because it makes the point quite clearly, this would have to include even the Nazi soldier who, firmly buying into the propaganda, is willing to sacrifice his life for the defense of justice and order. Denying this claim would require one to invoke the particularities of the Nazi context that are not intrinsically included in the universal sense of soldier. But refusing these particulars is precisely what allows one to endorse the term. So one runs into an inconsistency.

    If this last point is not conceded, then any endorsement of the citations in this post betray a form of American Exceptionalism which, clearly, the citations do not intend. One may very well admit to being an American Exceptionalist, but one ought not suggest that Sheen, JPII, or John XXIII were also.
    Consequently, in this case, the interpretations of these citations would be in error, inferring upon the words of these fine upstanding members of the Church (Sheen, JPII, John XXIII) meaning that they did not intend.

    One might argue that John XXIII is clearly speaking about the soldier of a military, since he himself is referring to his own experience as such. But it seems that in this case, his experience, which does indeed invoke his own personal particular experience with a military, is the concrete ground upon which his universal, more generic, endorsement of ‘being a soldier’ is founded. In other words, it is not the particularities of his military experience he is praising, but the way that it enabled him to understand the deeper meaning in all sacrifice for the good, which also shines in the works of lay people in general. Otherwise, John XXIII would have declared his own military a key part the definition of soldiering.

    And here is the conceptual incommensurability I spoke of: the objection to the use of soldier in this post may be directed to a particular thickening of the term within a given context (e.g., the current US military actions) while those defending it seem to be defending the universal idea of self-sacrifice for justice and order. The debate will go on and on if this is the case because there is no conceptual common ground.

    So underneath this debate is still a more concrete debate about the consistency of national interest with Christian teaching, really. Soldiers do not exist in the universal, generic sense; unless Christians are all strict Platonists, universals are not real even though they have, what Aquinas called, a ‘fundamentum in re’, a foundation in reality.

    So to sing the praises of soldiering, one must have in mind a particular soldier, upon a particular field of battle. This, it seems, redirects the whole discussion to these particularities rather than to the universal, generic truisms of the good of self-sacrifice for justice and order.

    For it seems we can all agree that the Christian laity, all of us soldiers for the Church militant, merit just as much dignity as the clergy, though in a different manner.

  • “you do realize that there’s a case for Iraq being a just war, and that such a determination is for the nation’s leaders, not folks who want to drag comboxes off topic?”

    Hitler determined his war was just. In fact, everyone on every side of a war believes there war is just. So we just listen to the leaders? No, that is not what the Church teaches.

  • And lest we forget, not all of those who fight the wars have the opportunity to return with physical, psychological, and emotional scars. Many pay the ultimate sacrifice.

  • “Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?”

    Yes. Because American’s invasion of Iraq did not fall under the criteria of a just war, the only Christian soldiers deserving praise (from Christians) for fighting in that war are any Iraqi Christians who were defending their homeland against the unjust invader. This is not to say that American Christian soldiers can be held subjectively culpable for participating in the war; only that their participation in what was in fact an unjust action should not be described as something it was not–i.e. virtuous, etc.

    In other words, American soldiers battling on behalf of the Ba’ath Party / Tikriti clan meets the criteria for a just war.

  • Foxfier,

    Sadly, no. There is no plausible interpretation of Just War theory according to which the U.S. invasion of Iraq was just. I wish it wasn’t so. I supported the Iraq War on the basis of the facts as they were presented by “the nation’s leaders” at the outset of that war. Those facts have all been shown to be not facts at all, but distortions, half-truths, and lies. Indeed, *even if* one were to accept George Weigel’s cockamamie interpretation of JWT and how that theory applied to America in early 2003, that would *still* not be enough to warrant our calling the invasion just.

    By the way, our “nation’s leaders” don’t get to “determine” whether a war they begin is just or unjust, anymore than they get to determine whether a piece of legislation they enact is just or unjust.

    I’m sorry for dragging this off-topic. I was responding to Ryan Klassen’s question.

  • “In other words, American soldiers battling on behalf of the Ba’ath Party / Tikriti clan meets the criteria for a just war.”

    I think you must mean “Christian soldiers” in the sentence above.

  • Supposing that you do mean “Christian soldiers” in your response, I’d have to say that your formulation is unclear.

    “Battling on behalf of” is not precise enough of a descriptor, since one can easily imagine a Christian solider battling on behalf of Iraq during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, which was of course unjust.

    Also, whether and to what extent any particular solider *identifies* his defense of Iraq with the defense of the Ba’ath Party is an empirical question, one which is elided in your formulation.

  • WJ-
    you make a ‘determination’ when you make a decision. As per Catholic Answers, “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

    WMDs? Mass-murder? Secret nuke program? Nerve gassing the swamp Arabs? Bah, why would soldier willing to fight against THAT be worthy of any respect.

  • Foxfier:

    The confusion of CA is that the evaluation of whether or not to engage a war is indeed in the hands of the leaders of the nation; but that is not what determines whether or not a war is just.

    Here is a statement from someone who has actual ecclesial authority: http://www.catholicpeacefellowship.org/nextpage.asp?m=2123

  • Brendan,

    I don’t think you will find both sides disagree with you — yes, the word soldier can have many implications and meanings, and that is an issue which I didn’t raise and you are right to do so.

    Nonetheless, I do think many people arguing against my views have only argued against something which I didn’t say (or believe), which is why I recommended my Veteran’s Day post. The context of my reply is with the glorification of military might as for the sake of liberation – something which is very dangerous indeed to hold to, as the Church has pointed out time and time again.

  • If you want to make it all a matter of ecclesiastical authority, Henry, it bears pointing out that while Catholic Answers is not an ecclesiastical authority, the Bishop of the Romanian Catholic Diocese of Canton, OH likewise has no ecclesiastical authority over Roman Catholics, much less Roman Catholics at a national level.

  • Foxfier,

    I think you are confusing two distinct issues here. On the one hand, it is true that JWT gives political authorities the final responsibility for determining, in any given instance, whether a war they are about to embark *should* be embarked upon; on the other hand, in we are make any sense of what it means to “evaluate…conditions” and to make a “prudential judgment,” we have to allow for the possibility of *mis*evaluating this conditions and of making the *wrong* judgment. Otherwise whatever the political authorities decided was a just war *would be* a just war, and this is absurd.

  • Brendan,

    Very good point — though I think it’s fairly clear in the quotes that these are all refering to “soldier” in the military sense, it is clearly “soldier” as a universal, not the absolutizing of the cause of a single nation.

  • DC

    And while it is true he has no direct authority except over his flock, it is also clear that as a bishop, and a part of the Magisterium, he has far more authority than CA — CA when it gets beyond the realm of apologetics is sadly quite bad.

  • WJ,

    A question for you: You argue that because you think that just war teaching cannot possibly justify the Iraq War, that the only Christian soldiers fighting for a just cause in the war were any Iraqi Christian soldiers fighting for Hussein.

    However, is it not questionably whether fighting to protect the Baathist dictatorship is itself just even if one posits that the US did not at that time have a just cause to topple the regime.

    Further, it’s important to recall that not only did many in the US believe that Iraq possessed WMD, but many in Iraq did as well. There were a number of cases where groups of Iraqi soldiers surrended and immediately begged for chemical warfare protective gear, because they believed that their own army was about to launch a chemical attack on the Americans, and many of the units in the regular army hadn’t been given any protective gear to keep them safe from any chemical weapons used by their own side.

    The situation since 2003 is even more complicated, since one of the primary tactics of the insurgency has been to attack Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi government. American soldiers in the last seven years have primarily been asked to fight alongside the Iraqi military against tribal and foreign fighters seeking to destablize the Iraqi government. In such a situation, would fighting with the Americans not be the just course?

    And indeed, statements from the Vatican and USCCB since the initial invasion have essentially supported this — though many “peace advocates” still seem to favor the idea of immediate pull out, apparently because the number of Iraqis who suffer as a result do not matter so long as it is clear the the US “loses”.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    You make two good points here, let me address them in turn:

    1: However, is it not questionabl[e] whether fighting to protect the Baathist dictatorship is itself just even if one posits that the US did not at that time have a just cause to topple the regime[?]

    Granted that Iraq was an unjust regime, does this make it unjust for soldiers to defend that regime against an unjust attack? This is a tricky question. My sense of JWT (and I am open to correction here) is that the Justness or Unjustness of each regime, as it handles its own internal affairs, is insufficient by itself for determining, in any particular case, whether a defense action taken on behalf of that regime falls under a Just War properly understood. My sense is that the tradition is *very*, perhaps *too* conservative here, so that one could determine that, even *granted* that Iraq was an unjust regime, still, according to JWT, that regime has a right to protect itself against a foreign unjust action. I wonder whether your own sense of JWT fits with this, and if it does not, I’d like to hear an alternate view.

    Second, even granted that the Iraqi defense was a Just one, I agree with you that it is very likely that many of the soldiers fighting in its cause did so in an unjust way, insofar as their aim was the continued propping up of the “Baathist dictatorship” rather than a defense of their nation, or homeland, or families. But I think that this question is an empirical one: surely many Iraqis fighting against the US were motivated by duty to country, by a sense of wanting to protect their families, etc.; and many others had the “intention” of supporting the “Baathists.”

    I suppose my final, hesitant, answer would be that the U.S. invasion of Iraq at least allowed for the *possibility* of a just resistance to that invasion, without being sufficient for it.

    2: I agree that the years following the unjust invasion complicate things significantly, and that any decision in this area has to take into account what would befall the Iraqis if the U.S. were to leave as precipitously as we arrived. And I am much less sure of what the correct course here would be.

  • I think Darwin’s last paragraph gets to the heart of the pathologies of our political discourse.

  • Something tells me that Just War Theory in the hands of some has degenerated into a sterile intellectual exercise completely removed from the dilemmas that actual policy makers face.

  • Henry,
    You are correct, of course, that the question of whether a war is just cannot be collapsed into the question of who decides. That is, just because those who are responsible for making the decision do so does not render their decision correct. But I don’t think that there was any “confusion” on that point in CA. This is the nature of a prudential calculus. The consequence of this is that the Church normally cannot speak authoritatively as to the calculus’s outcome, which is why a Catholics may often differ as to their assessments and normally cannot be assumed to non-compliant with Church teaching even if they take a view that differs from that of their bishop or even the Holy Father (which does not mean that the views of Church leaders should not be very seriously considered, of course). All that said, the job of individuals to make such prudential calculuses cannot be used as an excuse for rationalization. Just because the Church may not be in a position to authoritatively object to one’s calculus, does not mean that one’s calculus is somehow protected from culpable moral error.

  • Art Deco,

    As I understand it, theorizing about just war is important just because “actual policy makers” are usually motivated by many different things, precious few of which concern justice. Is bioethics a “sterile intellectual exercise” that is completely removed from the “dilemmas” that actual scientists must face?

  • FWIW, I think the justness or unjustness of the current invasion of Iraq hinges on whether the one a decade earlier was just. A logical thought process would go like this: Iraq unjustly invaded Kuwait. Kuwait was just resist and ask for assistance for other nations. The US was just in taking up that cause. The US, Kuwait and a host of other nations succeeded in driving Iraq out of Kuwait and would have been justified in seeing it through until Saddam’s regine was toppled.

    They didn’t do it, they instead agreed to a conditional cease fire and withdrawl. Saddam Hussein violated those terms almost immediately. Everything from flying fighters in the no-fly zone, to locking on and/or firing at coalition aircraft to not allowing UN inspectors do their job. Most instances were dealt with directly and in a very measured manner even though they were cause enough to resume full hostilities. Note that Saddam also used the situation to severely persecute many of his own people.

    Barring any change in Saddam’s attitude and actions or an outright regime change a continuation of the hostilities were imminent. After 9/11 those in charge made the call that Saddam’s belligerence needed to come to end.

    I’m not 100% sure what to think because like the rest here I don’t have *all* the facts, but I reject the notion that no person of good will and informed conscience could come to the conclusion that the war was just.

  • In retrospect, I want to take back my too-strong claim that *only* Christian Iraqi soldiers could be described as behaving “virtuously,” or “with Christian honor,” etc. in the Iraq War. In making this claim I was trying to show that because the U.S. did not fulfill the “jus ad bellum” criteria of Just War, an American solider’s participation *in* that war was different from an Iraqi solider’s–since at least the Iraqi solider *might* be engaging in an activity that fulfills “jus ad bellum” criteria.

    What I oversimplified, and, unfortunately, may have misrepresented, was the principle of the moral equality of combatants, according to which a soldier is responsible only for his “jus in bello” behavior. The reasoning goes that because individual soldiers cannot be expected to have the knowledge or power to inform the political “ad bellum” decision, their moral status *in* war derives from their behavior within the war. This principle is not uncontroversial, but it is unsettled enough that I need to at least affirm the possibility that American soldiers *may* be praised for their conduct in the Iraq War, even granted that that war was unjust.

    I don’t have a settled opinion on the moral equality of combatants principle; good arguments can be found on both sides.

  • WJ,

    I would say no. But those practical dilemmas are what prudential judgments are formed from, not only from the moral principles. And that’s were scientists and physicians may come to different conclusions. Even more so it seems in deciding if a war meets just criteria.

  • This refers to WJ’s 10:54 am comment.

  • Phillip,

    I agree with you that practical dilemmas are where prudential judgments are made. I was only responding to Art Deco’s assertion that, because this is so, *therefore* thinking hard about the structure of moral action is a “sterile intellectual exercise.” Just the opposite, it is a *necessary*, if insufficient, to make clear to political actors and to scientists just what these moral principles are, and why they are important.

    Now I simply *must* get back to my real writing.
    Thanks for the conversation.

  • …lest I give my wife the grounds for a just military action…:)

  • This is not meant to be an insult, but it seems to me that most of you don’t have any idea of what you’re talking about. There’s ideal musings, and then there’s actual experience. God’s gave me an experience that very few will ever have: that of being a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment. The so called ‘tip’ of the spear.

    It is quite possible to have ‘served’ in the military, and never come close to experiencing what I did. It is even possible to have gone to war in Iraq, and never to have come close to experiencing what I did. For what I experienced was the raw spirit of modern violence, and in particular, the culture that such a spirit forms.

    Those who belong to the officer corps, or to non-combat units, or even to combat units of a lesser sort, these soldiers do not tend to experience the essential spirit of modern warfare. They get whiffs, but they do not breathe and eat the stuff.

    I want to tell it to you straight, apart from the doctrines, apart from the philosophies and the ideals: Modern warfare is demonic, and these demons savage the souls of those at the heart of it. It endangers a person’s soul to enter certain parts of the U.S. military – those units with the most responsibility for directly killing in close-quarters.

    Ideally, yes, perhaps saints with swords could kill enemies in a just-war via double-effect. Maybe it has even happened throughout history. But I tell you this – modern war, today, with its machines and dehumanization and propaganda and materialistic-totalitarianism . . . this type of war distorts the souls of those who really engage it. The demonic danger is real, and it is overwhelming. I do not blame the military, I do not blame the soldiers. I blame the fallen world, and I blame Satan.

    If we think the world is fallen enough to require war, we should be able to see that the world is too fallen to wage war without being destroyed by the demons such violence unleashes. God help the young men we place into such hell!

  • Thank you, again, for sharing your experiences Nate. The personal testimony of one person is not always the best basis for formulating public policy, but it certainly is more valuable than most of the abstract theorizing that takes place on these topics (including my own abstract theorizing).

  • Thank you, John. I agree – my experience is just one of many, and we should listen to them all. Most soldiers who have seen the real face of war (and I’m not sure I can include myself among them) do not want to talk about it. I’ve been agonizing over this all morning, honestly. I do not mean to offend anyone with a different opinion than mine, and if my words are strong, it’s a reflection of the intensity of what I went through, and my empathy for those who might have to endure the same thing.

    Catholics often scrutinize where they send their kids to school, what books their kids read, what friends their kids make, and so forth. But when it comes to the military – a government run institution – I find that we become blind believers. If a secular college is a dangerous place for a young Catholic, how much more a secular military?

    One small nugget: ‘cursing like a sailor’ isn’t just a phrase. F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true. The constant cursing is probably the ‘smallest’ thing I can think of, in terms of demonic influence, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

  • Nate,

    I appreciate your experiences and cannot relate to them. I don’t know if the modern battlefield involves more direct killing than the ancient. Can one begin to imagine the horrors of the Greek phalanx with the direct killing involved there. Siege warfare of the middle ages is also brought to mind. The Church was aware of these and still considered the place for a just war.
    Then there is the continued modern day demands on the police officer and the coarsening that can result from that. Yet police are still needed and their actions, when performed morally, are just.

  • One small nugget: ‘cursing like a sailor’ isn’t just a phrase. F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true. The constant cursing is probably the ’smallest’ thing I can think of, in terms of demonic influence, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    FWIW, that seems to be a fairly common thing among people our age (men in particular, but women as well) in situations where it’s not actively cracked down on. I’ve run into f**k-speak everywhere from archeology digs to forklift operators to sales teams — basically anywhere that “the management” doesn’t make it clear it’s not acceptable on business premises. We live in an uncivilized age. (Like just about all ages…)

    That said, I think you make an important practical point, which people would do very well to keep in mind at the same time they contemplate more abstract points. No matter how much the risk of self for others may bring an opportunity for saintliness and nobility to the calling, being a soldier is also going to mean seeing and being involved in horrible things, being far from home, being in fear, having at your hands the tools for intimidation and violence, and by turns being extremely bored — all things which provide ample opportunity for grave sin.

    While I think Sheens point has an essential validity, it’s clear that soldiering involves a host of temptations which young men far from home are often not good at resisting. While I continue to think that serving in the military is an honorable and necessary thing which Catholics should not universally shrink from (though clearly not everyon is not called to such a thing), one would be pretty foolish to think, “Oh, I better encourage my son to join the army. Clearly, he’ll never to be tempted to sin there.”

    And come to that, this is true (though in different ways) of other professions where personal sacrifice and helping others would seem to be central — as seen in alcoholism and other personal dysfunction rates for doctors, priests, policemen, etc.

  • I am generally quite sick of debates over issues that have absolutely no chance whatsoever of changing a mind or even getting one to bend a little. That’s why I haven’t said anything about this.

    I will say this: I oppose America’s foreign policy of the moment – and if the political sympathies and donations made by many of the actual troops themselves are any indication, so are the people who are being asked to die for it – but I also completely reject any attempt to denigrate American soldiers or patriotism in general as “fascist” or somehow immoral.

    So I am equally disgusted by two opposite viewpoints: 1) the view that to oppose the insane think-tank fantasies that have guided foreign policy is to somehow oppose the troops or be unpatriotic, and 2) the view that to support the troops in any capacity is somehow “fascist.”

  • My view of soldiers and public attitudes towards them was summed up by Mr. Kipling:

    TOMMY

    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

  • Rick Lugari – Great comment. That’s exactly the way I look at it.

  • “F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true.”

    Well that was certainly also true when I was in the Army back in the Seventies. It was also true of the English Army that fought against Joan of Arc. Their favorite expression was G-dd-mn. Some things remain true across the centuries when it comes to the military experience. I do not swear and I did not when I was in the Army. The swearing bothered me to some extent, although quite a few of my profane colleagues became good friends with me. In spite of their profanity many of them were good-hearted and men of honor. In regard to swearing in civilian life, that has radically increased since the Sixties, certainly when it comes to public swearing.

  • Don would probably know for sure, but I believe that back in the day the English Army was so enamored with “G-dd-mn that their French opponents routinely referred to English soldiers as the “G-dd-mns.”

  • Quite right Mike.

  • WJ & Mike Petrik,

    How about a nifty pic to go with your icon?

  • Mike,

    I remember reading that.

  • On the use of the F-bomb, remember: this about a decade old.
    (F* rap.)

    Men in their twenties also greet each other with “f*ker.”

  • I seem to recall reading that it was the Ausies who made f*ck military standard usage in the Great War. At which time its use are noun, adjective, adverb and verb all rolled into one was still comparatively new.

    Though my grandfather who began his 30-year career in the navy in 1945 (and past whose lips I never heard a single profanity pass) always insisted that when he was in the Navy profanity was not nearly as pervasive as in modern WW2 dramas like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers — the which are in turn far more clean-cut in their language than the Mamet and Tarantino-esque speech patterns of many ordinary civilians my age.

  • I recommend “No Victory, No Peace” by Angelo Codevilla.

  • “Lord, I am not worthy
    that you should enter under my roof,
    but only say the word
    and my soul (my servant) shall be healed.”

    And unlike the woman taken in adultery, no follows on orders to soldier no more.

    Argument from silence.

    Anyone intimately familiar with the sacrifices the men and women of a nation’s military make – not for glory, but for love of country and countrymen – should not find fault with the sentiment expressed in Archbishop Sheen’s book.

    You can’t be serious. You can say this about any person or group of people who is willing to kill and die for what they believe. You could say it about “the terrorists.” Sacrifice does not equal Christianity. Sorry.

    It is telling that all of you agree with Sheen’s comment about soldiers being just below priests. How about sisters? Oh yeah, it fits in with your sexism.

    Many pay the ultimate sacrifice.

    Last I checked, Calvary was the ultimate sacrifice. NOT U.S. SOLDIERS.

    2) the view that to support the troops in any capacity is somehow “fascist.”

    Caricature.

  • While I’ve worked jobs where people cursed – from janitors to cadets to high school students – I’ve never encountered the level of cursing that I found in the Ranger regiment. It’s a small thing, however. More startling is the open display of pornography, the constant boasting and announcements of masturbation (“I gotta go jack off – you got some porn?”), the songs of not only killing children and nuns, but of raping women, and so on and so forth. I should re-iterate that this is the experience of a private in an elite special operations unit, not the experience of a desk clerk in a non-combat unit. I would also add upon Donald’s comment that this didn’t make us bad. I’m only pointing out the cultural current and demonic activity, which I associate with the mission: killing other human beings like ourselves.

  • I think there are probably countless volumes of untold stories of heroism, sacrifice and compassion demonstrated by our American soldiers, stories that stay within the confines of family, only to be briefly revealed at the death of an old soldier. One such story was recently related to me — the story of an 18-year-old sergeant, serving in Italy during World War II, who was machine-gunned by a German soldier. The young American was able to shoot back and, while both were lying wounded on the ground, an American patrol happened upon them. The young American insisted that the German not be killed, so instead of firing a fatal shot into the German, the American troops took both wounded men to a hospital to convalesce. These untold stories demonstrate the character of our soldiers, character that has been instilled in our young men by their families, communities, country, and belief in Christ. So what if that utilitarian Anglo-Saxon word is used in excess — our soldiers are not attending tea parties and picking daisies.

  • It’s so sad how someone like Nate can so passionate share his experiences, here, at Vox Nova, on his own website, on the Catholic Peace Fellowship site, etc., yet what he is saying just does not sink in for some people. Instead, he gets “Oh but Nate, yours is just one person’s experience.” These people will praise a complete stranger on this blog who happens to mention his “service”, praising his heroism, etc., without knowing a damn thing about him. When Nate continually shares from his heart his very personal experience and his judgment about the nightmarish dimensions of the military, he is usually brushed off. Another flag waving post follows on the next day.

    Some of us listen, Nate, and refuse to remain on the level of abstraction that some of the bloggers here do. They have an image of the u.s. military in mind, not reality.

  • “Some of us listen, Nate…”

    Don’t confuse listening and agreement, Michael.

  • Thanks, Michael. And thanks to all who have patiently listened to me. Thanks be to God for those who have gone further, and agreed with me. Cuz’ I know it ain’t easy! 🙂

    Also, I really encourage everyone to read Michael’s paper once it becomes available. It’s an in-depth theological examination of what every new military recruit will be forced to face: an anti-Christ culture. Granted, anti-Christ cultures do abound in America. I think we should just remember that the military is (at the least) no exception.

Dominican Nuns Taught Oprah to Pray the Rosary

Friday, February 26, AD 2010

Following up on the post of the orthodox, devout, and faithful Dominican nuns making an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show comes a sweet story of how they presented Oprah with a rosary and taught her the prayers for this sacramental:

Oprah Winfrey was surprised after her recent show featuring the Dominican Sisters of Mary when the sisters in the studio said they had a present for her. “No one ever gives me a present,” the television star said. Then, as Sr. Teresa Benedicta related in a talk before a packed gathering at The Bean of Ave Maria Tuesday night, “the sisters gave Oprah a rosary, and taught her how to pray it. She seemed really interested.”

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is one of the fastest-growing orders of women religious in the United States. Founded 12 years ago, it now has 98 women and has run out of space at its mother house in Michigan, Sr. Teresa Benedicta said.

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Lent 2010; The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholic Orthodoxy

Monday, February 22, AD 2010

As we work our way through Lent 2009, we need to rejoice in the turning tide. Though there has been much negative news about the Catholic Church this past decade, much of the negative news had its roots in actions taken during the 1960s and 1970s. Yet, the seeds of the good news planted during the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI is just now seeing its shoots and blossoms become visible to the naked eye.

What are the shoots and blossoms?  They can be seen in increasing vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the strong orthodox nature of these new, young priests. A new crop of Catholic bishops is also boldly showing their orthodoxy, which often befuddles and mystifies the mainstream media and the secular culture in which we live. In addition to this, many in the laity have for years now been writing and blogging about the desperate need for Catholic orthodoxy in a world full of hurt and self absorption. Many ask how can the Church possibly grow when the Church’s active laity, especially the young along with those who serve her in ordained and professed ministries, are so different from the culture in which they live? It is that culture in which they live that causes them to see the wisdom in Christ’s words and the Church He started through the first pope, the Apostle Saint Peter.

There were fewer shoots and blossoms in the 1970s when the seriousness of the Catholicism was questioned after the Church seemed to be trying to be relative, whether it was related or not, thousands of priests and nuns left their vocations. However, starting in 1978 with the election of Pope John Paul II, the tide began to turn. All of the Polish pontiff’s hard work began to be seen in the shoots and blossoms of events like World Youth Day 1993, which was held in Denver. Later in his pontificate thanks to events like World Youth Day, vocations to the priesthood and religious life began to increase.

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5 Responses to Lent 2010; The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholic Orthodoxy

  • Amen Dave. The Tide is indeed turning as witnessed by the young men and women who attended the Right to Life in DC The way they handled thenmselves was remarable and edifying. The young orthodox priests are proclaiming the true tenets of the Church in their homiles and many so called “cafeteria catholic” are figgeting in the pews. RCIA teacher are getting back to what Catholism is and not just trying to bring anyone into the Church. More and more orthodox Bishops are taking a stance against those that try to justify their approach to public service aand their faith, as well as those in the academia who are trying to justify their relativism in their teaching and examples.

  • I think you rightly point out that the future of the American Church is being moved by the fact that only conservative young men are becoming priests.

    But I think a clarification needs to be made between orthodox and conservative, between heterodox and liberal, and between traditional and progressive. The meanings of these words seem to change from person to person.

  • Mr. Hartman,
    I see you are blind to the actual facts and are writing about a Catholic Church that is crumbling away. The lack of acknowledgment of wrongdoing at the very head of the Church has caused many to leave. Parishes are closing and there are fewer priests to run them. Catholic schools are closing due to declining enrollment. The vision begun by Pope John XXIII sadly were buried by Paul VI and Pope Benedict’s continued push to the right is continuing to push people further away.
    I think the Church I was raised in and have always been proud to be a member of, has turned it’s back on me and the many children who have been abused and shunned by the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Barbara, at first I thought your post was a tasteless April Fool’s joke. However, I see now that you are serious and I am very sorry that you are either this misinformed or this week. If you want the Church to become the same as the liberal Protestant churches who are in a statistical free fall then, shame on you. If you are week and run at the first sign of trouble, than I will continue to pray for you.

    My childhood parish had the distinction of having one of the highest number of molestors in my entir state, let alone diocese. I remember these molestors well, they were all liberals who wanted to change the Church and not defend it, some of the victims were people I knew.

    Even in the midst of this scandal, more and more young people, who are very orthodox in the Catholic faith, are becoming priests and nuns. In addition, the Church continues to see an increase in the number of converts (as evidenced by the last few years and this year in particular.)

    When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, he prayed that God would give him the courage not to run when the wolves come. I pray Barbara that you find a backbone and stand up for the Faith when it is under attack by people who solely want to destory the Church by making outrageous accusations against Pope Benedict, without a single shred of evidence to back it up. There are even writers from the liberal America magazine who have said the conduct displayed by the NY Times and others is outrageous. I prayerfully ask you to consider these points.

Follow Me, Top Baseball Prospect Leaves For Higher League

Sunday, January 24, AD 2010

Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men. (cf. Holy Gospel of Saint Mark 1:17)

Grant Desme, a highly touted baseball prospect for the Oakland Athletics organization, decided that he could not fight his calling anymore and answered God by retiring from baseball and to begin seminary training immediately.

A terrific article by Jane Lee of MLB.com.

My emphases and comments:

“Last year before the season started, I really had a strong feeling of a calling and a real strong desire to follow it,” the 23-year-old said. “I just fought it.”

“As the year went on,” he said, “God blessed me. I had a better year than I could have imagined, but that reconfirmed my desire because I wasn’t at peace with where I was at. I love the game, but I aspire to higher things.

“I thought, I’m doing well in baseball, but I really had to get down to the bottom of things — what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. And I felt that while baseball is a good thing and I love playing, I thought it was selfish of me to be doing that when I really felt that God was calling me more [Sounds like the Church has gained a mature and strong man for God!], which took me awhile in my life to really trust and open up to it and aim full steam toward Him .”

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Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-30-2009

Thursday, July 30, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Newspapers outlets and news agencies are reporting that Pope Benedict XVI has signed off on the laicization of Father Tomislav Vlasic.  Tomislav Vlasic is one of the leading priests alleging that apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been appearing continuously to six Croat seers since June 24, 1981 in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje.  These apparitions are continuing to this day and has been visited by an estimated 30 million pilgrims.  An estimated 40,000 messages have been conveyed to the seers by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Officially the Vatican has not decided on the matter of these alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Vatican has recently taken over the case of reviewing these allegations from the local Bosnian diocese.

There are skeptics and proponents debating the facts and implications of the latest scandal over Medjugorjie.  But what is clear is that Medjugorgie has lost more of its tarnish these last few years.

I won’t argue with the genuine conversions and sincerity of many believers that have occurred at Medjugorie.  Though I have a couple doubts concerning these apparitions which I will write to in a separate posting for a later date.

2. Quote of the Day:

“We do know that at the end of time, when the great conflict between the forces of good and evil takes place, Satan will appear without the Cross, as the Great Philanthropist and Social Reformer to become the final temptation of mankind.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Life of Christ, p. 10)

Kind of sucks the wind out of your sails doesn’t it if you believe in the redistribution of wealth and all.

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12 Responses to Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-30-2009

  • “I already love this man!”

    Oh great, Tito Taco has gone all bender on us; what’s next? Same-sex marriage?

  • e.,

    That’s Double-T to you.

  • Sorry, mate; I go for Double D’s! *wink*

  • My “Too Much Information” meter just exploded…

  • I’ve long believed the sheer duration of the Medjugorje apparitions was reason enough to suspect something fishy. Most genuine/approved Marian apparitions happen only once, or a few times, and span a few months at most, like Lourdes and Fatima. Genuine seers may have apparitions occasionally over the course of their lives (like Fatima seer Sister Lucy did) but not “on command” or on a regular basis, and if they do, they don’t publicize them. I could never believe the Virgin Mary was THAT much of a chatterbox that she would talk to these kids (who, of course, aren’t kids anymore) every single day for (as of now) more than 28 years.

    I know lots of people argue that Medjugorje produced all kinds of “good fruit” in the form of conversions, healings, etc.; but the same argument can be made about a lot of other non-approved apparitions, and about organizations such as the Legionaires of Christ and Regnum Christi which are now proven to have been founded on fraud. The “good fruits” are, perhaps, just God bringing good out of a bad situation.

    However, why does article linked above mention Ivan Dragevic’s marriage to a “former beauty queen” — not that there’s anything wrong with that, eh guys?

  • Elaine,

    Good point on that marriage.

    Yeah, nothing is wrong with that, but in a future posting I will touch on this, but briefly say it here.

    The Blessed Virgin Mary asked him to enter the priesthood and he decided not to.

    How many of us struggle for direction from God and here is Ivan telling the Holy Mother “no”.

    That was the back breaker for me.

  • “The Blessed Virgin Mary asked him to enter the priesthood and he decided not to… here is Ivan telling the Holy Mother ‘no’.”

    Ah, but what if the Holy Mother didn’t really speak to him in the first place? Church authorities have ruled more than once that there is no evidence to prove that she did.

    Of course that makes Ivan’s situation even worse, because it means either 1) that he has been duped or deceived into thinking the apparitions are genuine when they are not, or 2) he knows the apparitions are fake and willingly participated in fraud by pretending they were.

  • The Vatican approved apparitions the children didn’t even hesitate to join the convents. Yet Ivan, and a couple others, chose to live a more materialistic lifestyle.

    That is what disturbs me.

    They have broken many of the guidelines that are normally followed to be approved.

    Hence my skepticism on the matter.

  • I see what you mean, in that genuine visionaries normally don’t try to make a living off their visions or messages, and often hesitate to tell anyone about them at first, because they can’t believe Jesus or Mary would choose to speak directly to someone as unworthy as them.

    Although there were no such people as “jet setters” in Bernadette’s time or in the era of the Fatima visions, I can’t picture any of them becoming jet setters and running all over the world, speaking to conferences and giving interviews and such. However, while the majority of genuine visionaries do enter religious life, is it really a “rule” that they HAVE to or else the vision wasn’t genuine?

  • Elaine,

    It’s not a rule, but it certainly lends credibility.

    If Ivan chose to live simply then it would certainly have not put any doubts in my mind, but since he lives like a rock star, it begs the question.

  • Pingback: Res et Explicatio for AD 8-7-2009 « The American Catholic

Dolan: Man-Woman Tradition Is In Our DNA

Sunday, April 26, AD 2009

His Grace Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York spoke eloquently in a recent interview which touched on hot topics such as ‘gay’ marriage and a married priesthood by Dan Mangan of the New York Post.  The following is the entire article followed by the video interview [emphasis and comments mine]:

Archbishop Timothy Dolan yesterday said advocates of gay marriage “are asking for trouble,” arguing that traditional, one-man/one-woman marriage is rooted in people’s moral DNA [His Emminence is not parsing his words here, amen for that.].

There’s an in-built code of right and wrong that’s embedded in the human DNA,” Dolan told The Post in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview, a week after becoming the New York Archdiocese’s new leader.

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4 Responses to Dolan: Man-Woman Tradition Is In Our DNA

  • “your emminence”

    I’m only quibbling on a minor point here, but technically, in the Roman Rite, he would not be referred to as eminence until he is made cardinal. For now, he would be excellency. I apologize for going off-topic (feel free to delete this).

  • “An in-built code of right and wrong that’s embedded in the human DNA” is about the best modern definition of “natural law” that I’ve heard yet.

  • Alan,

    You are absolutely correct.

    I was just going to post on how to address religious and I got ahead of myself.

    I pray that His Excellency does receive the red hat, but more importantly that he does the will of God.

    No quibbling at all and no need to apologize.

    ;~)

    Tito

  • I regularly attended the Archbishop’s Mass at the Cathedral of St. John in Milwaukee, so I (and my fellow Milwaukee Catholics) felt sadness when he left. Our loss is truly New York’s gain, and I can guarantee that the Big Apple’s new Archbishop (who does not have a shy bone in his body) will deliver orthodox Catholicism to his new flock with humor, wit and grace. I will also wager that many Manhattanites will not want to hear it – but, hey, New Yorkers are supposed to be tough cookies, right?

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-20-2009

Friday, March 20, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

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

1.  Seems like priests and their habits have been ruminating around the blogosphere as of late.  Now Fr. Z has followed up this with insight concerning those for and against this trend.

For the link click here.

2.  Speaking of religious, after enduring the many innovations following the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, vocations have rebounded:

“Nearly 70 percent of Catholic religious communities have seen a jump in vocation inquiries in the past year”

The vast majority of those entering the religious life are tradition-minded adults under the age of 40.

For the link click here.

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Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

Thursday, March 12, AD 2009

cardinal-egan

Outgoing Archbishop of New York Cardinal Egan demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.  In comments made to a radio program in Albany two days ago Cardinal Egan [may have] insinuated that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.  Cardinal Egan openly admitted it was his “greatest” failure in bringing in more seminarians.

[I am using the Cardinal’s own words in describing the issue of raising the number of vocations]

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23 Responses to Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

  • Pingback: Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-12-2009 « The American Catholic
  • As a NY Catholic I have my own opinions on Cardinal Egan, but in all fairness if you actually listen to the interview, he DID NOT “that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.”

    First, he was asked about diminishing vocations across the nation (concurrent with the general decline of religion) and he noted that, while the visit of Benedict XVI did indeed provoke a rise within the diocese, overall the number is down.

    Secondly, he was asked about the matter of priestly celibacy and he stated that it was a perfectly legitimate discussion (it is) — since there are other rites which permit married priests he did not think an ‘across the board’ determination in one direction or the other was desirable. This is a perfectly legitimate point.

    He did NOT, however, tie his second opinion with the first, and I think you go too far in accusing him of such.

    (However, I’m more sympathetic to your basic point about catechesis and doctrinal orthodoxy).

  • Christopher,

    That is why I used the word ‘insinuated’ in reference to connecting the lack of vocations to the discipline of celibacy in the priesthood.

    I sensed an escape valve that Cardinal Egan was trying to paint as a possible cause to his lack of success in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

  • “Insinuated” implies intent. My point is that I don’t think intent can be substantiated by listening to the interview.

    One question followed the other from the interviewer and Egan responded to both in succession. But in addressing the second question, he did not refer back to the first.

  • The definition of “insinuated” is to suggest indirectly by allusion, hints, or innuendo.

    Why would Cardinal Egan bring up his inability to raise the number of vocations after the question of celibacy came up. So clearly the lack of vocations was on his mind when answering the celibacy question.

    Hence why I used the word “insinuated”.

  • Probably it would have been better to use “may have intended” or “may have insinuated” instead of just “insinuated”.

    You have a point.

  • Tito,

    If I were you (and I am not), I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. I see your concerns, but think you may have made a mistake here and read into his words.

    As Pope Benedict said yesterday, the Church is in too much danger of devouring itself within, in its hypercritical mode.

  • Mark,

    Thanks for the advice.

    It stands because he represents what many bishops around the country do and that is nothing when it comes to enforcing Catholic teaching.

  • Egan? Please consider if you are being a tad bit harsh here. Again, I understand your alarm over the “vocations-crisis” and your desire for good shepherds to tend to the flock. But matters may be a bit more complex than you are leading on here.

    Remember, this is a brother in Christ who sacrificed his life in service to the Church, and is generally seen as pretty solid.

  • Mark,

    I understand where you are coming from.

    I was careful to criticize is lack of success in raising the number of vocations, not the man himself. He does a very difficult and time consuming job that most men would fold deep into this process.

    He is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.

  • Tito,

    OK.

    We’ll just agee to disagree about the post.

  • The best we heard about him was- he balanced the books. And brought New York’s Hispanic community into full prominence within the diocese. Nice. My own problem with His Nibs was in the weeks following 9/11. When he spent quality time at the Vatican, no doubt enjoyin those lovely trattorias with his old buddies. While Rudy Giuliani- who His Nibs accurately called out for the multiple matrimonies- was hustling to two to three Funeral Masses daily for police officers and firefighters killed at WTC. In all fairness, most of the old skool sees have trouble bringing in young men to the seminaries. I quote the most faithful Father Shane Tharp in Oklahoma, schooled at our own St. Charles Seminary. That the local lads turned up noses as in ew you hayseed hick residing in our mansion. Sharp from Father Tharp- yeah and without guys like me your little mansion would be bulldozed and the property sold to build a shopping complex. Or something like that. In any event we pray new Archbishop Dolan makes the molding of Melchizideks a higher priority than outgoing His Nibs.

    (Oh, the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM- largely sponsored by NY Diocese- is pretty spiffy.)

  • I like many of the successes of Cardinal Egan, the Catholic Channel being one of my favorites!

  • I agree with Mark. It is certain that many of the Bishops may not enforce Catholic teaching as well as they could; we certainly don’t know the extent in which they try — all we see is end results and we look back in retrospect with criticism.

    I’m not sure of the criticism offered here is constructive.

    Why does Bishop Bruskewitz have an (over) abundance of priests in his little diocese? Probably because he actively leads by example and enforces Catholic teaching. I know many good bishops who are as orthodox as they come, where they fail is in their utter disregard to bring in line dissident priests, parishes, and laymen. Bishop Bruskewitz is the only bishop in the United States that still doesn’t allow female altar servers, has most of the tabernacles behind the altar (where they belong), keeps his priests in line in following the correct rubrics of the liturgy, crushes dissident when they rear their ugly head, and has strict guidelines for teaching catechesis. Are there armies of mini-skirted extraordinary ministers giving Communion during Mass anywhere in his diocese? I doubt it, rare if any.

    St. Paul himself wrote to several churches admonishing theological and ecclesial error. But the existence of errors doesn’t necessarily insinuate that Paul was not demanding orthodoxy to the Tradition or that there were no people of good faith in the communities trying to maintain that Tradition. I think it’s too simple to criticize someone and to the level of comparison to another Bishop as if the only factor influencing the difference in the two dioceses are the Bishops. I’m sure there’s a myriad of other factors and perhaps a lot of bad in the diocese that seemingly has less problems because we’re so far removed from the problems, cannot possibly know the ins and outs of every aspect of each parish in a diocese.

    This seems like a gloss over the principle of subsidiarity. It’s like saying the whole of economic prosperity during the Clinton years was solely the result of good leadership on behalf of President Clinton. Perhaps, God has graced the diocese with well-catechized, faithful priests who promote orthodoxy not just in their preaching, but by living good lives and many of the problems don’t reach the Bishop as one would think. I’d suppose from your reasoning that the Bishop is almost Superman, going everywhere in the diocese quelling the slightest problems. I know that’s hyperbolic, but that’s how, from my view, your wording presents itself.

    If Cardinal Egan would have even bothered to visit many of his parishes would he have put his foot down on these many abuses? Would he have disciplined priests who wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday and allow women to lead the homilies? Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.

    This comes across almost as an ad hominem attack. It is not so much the point that the Bishop should exert more effort in living out his vocation — and we all can heed that message — but it is the wording and the tone of it that seems very judgmental and presumptuous, as if this little bit would yield the almost perfect diocese described previously.

    In good charity, I’ve found lately that rather than expounding blatant criticism of someone else’s failures and shortcoming, not that they should never be expressed in good and charitable ways, but I took the opportunity to render some of my judgment on myself and observe my shortcomings and how they influence the Church and those outside of it and whether or not they are shown the light of the Gospel as preached by the Church through me. Now there is a clear role of a Shepherd, but I think in emotional frustration — especially given the widespread theological dissent in the Church right now — can easily lead us to blame much of the Church’s problems on a particular person, especially a Bishop. Not that I’m saying he does not have a pivotal role and a responsibility to promote and teach the faith; but I think your case here does not present itself well.

  • ‘Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.’

    Why the gratuitous homosexual slur?

  • “I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. ”

    I absolutely agree. And the above comments are pertinent. Personally speaking, if this is the tone that American Catholic is going to take w/ regard to bishops, I will reconsider following this blog.

  • Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

  • demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

    I think this is unfair to Cardinal Egan, as are the comparisons with other bishops. New York is a uniquely challenging diocese, and the population of Catholics in the Northeast as a whole has been shrinking. While there may be valid criticisms of the Cardinal, I think they should be offered in a gentler tone, and without the assumption that everything is his fault. Cardinal Egan comes in for a lot of criticism; but he was in a difficult diocese, and we should applaud him for being willing to serve as the bishop of New York even if we disagree with some of his decisions. There are Cardinals who are far more deserving of criticism than Cardinal Egan who, from all appearances, is a faithful bishop who was doing his best.

  • “Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.”

    I found this post to be more of a spewing rant than an honest and thorough critique. But you are a blogger here, so it’s your prerogative what you choose to post. Peace be with you!

  • Eric,

    Very eloquently put.

    Part of my post, or rant as Alan put it, was to explain the difference between an orthodox bishop who leads by example and an orthodox bishop who leads as well as takes action.

    Yes, I am personally frustrated by the rampant disregard to liturgy and catechesis. That is why I saw in Cardinal Egan’s comments an excellent example of someone choosing a straw man, priestly celibacy, as part of the problem to a lack of vocations, rather than the obvious solution so well exhibited by Bishop Bruskewitz of Nebraska.

    All,

    Again, where are the St. Ambrose’s of this country?

    I admit that I was a bit over the top on my criticism and I’ll rectify the situation on this particular column because hey, I don’t want Alan to be bored during his lunch break while boycotting AC ;~) .

    Thank you all for the constructive criticism.

  • It is Lent, after all – but my contribution to all of this will be to buy you a beer.

  • [Egan] is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.

    [and]

    Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

    Seeing as you have sought to amend the content of the post, I would amend the title as well, which repeats the charge. IMHO.

  • For this New Yorker who was originally happy to see Cardinal Egan come to here:

    Come on tax day!

The Radical Love Of Dominicans

Thursday, February 5, AD 2009

Here is a beautiful video about a young nun, Sister Lauren Franko, who is in the discerning process on whether to pursue the religious life or not.  Another perspective is offered of what it takes to be a nun by Sister Maria of the Cross.  Both of these nuns are part of the Dominican Sisters of Summit, New Jersey.  It is a very well made Photo Essay by Time.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2051558&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Radical Love“, posted with vodpod

(Biretta Tip: Patrick Archbold of Creative Minority Report and Toni Greaves)

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