Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Was John Paul II Part Of The Problem?

Damien Thompson has raised this question due to Cardinal Schonborn's latest revelations on the abuse scandal. Per Cardinal Schonborn, there was at least one incident where then-Cardinal Ratzinger had pushed for a full-bore investigation of a particular predator, only to be rebuffed in his efforts.

Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, in defence of the pope, told ORF Austrian television on Sunday that Benedict wanted a full probe when former Vienna Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer was removed in 1995 for alleged sexual abuse of a boy.

But other Curia officials persuaded the then Pope John Paul that the media had exaggerated the case and an inquiry would only create more bad publicity.

“[Ratzinger] told me, ‘the other side won’,” Schoenborn said.

Thompson is quick to say that Pope Benedict probably made some screw-ups along the way in dealing with these things, but he adds that the current Holy Father's legacy will be as the guy who started the clean-up. This makes me wonder what sort of affect this will all have on John Paul II's memory. He admitted himself in Memory and Identity that he wasn't the best administrator and could have been a lot more stringent in cracking down on problems. I think it's fair to say that he was in the early part of his pontificate, but his leadership style took a pretty heavy change in the mid 80s or so. I wonder how much of this might be attributable to his change in direction. And why the change anyway?

This is not meant as a bashing of JPII. It's more to do with speculating on what the world's memory will be of one of the longest reigning pontiffs ever. I'm not really sure, but I think it's fair to say that things are going to get worse for him as more of these stories are circulated.

The Latest Opinion On Pope Benedict Comes From . . .

Ali Agca. The same guy who tried to assassinate JPII back in 1981 is now getting publicity for his thoughts on Pope Benedict's job performance.

Mehmet Ali Agca, who emerged from prison in January nearly 29 years after wounding Pope John Paul II in Rome, has declared himself a messenger from God.
Agca told journalists in Istanbul on Monday that "I want the pope to resign not arrested," as he waved a Turkish newspaper reporting calls for the arrest of the pope. The press conference marked his first public comments since his release.

Well, thank goodness we got his take on the matter. After all, who better to sound off on this issue than crazy man with a history of attempting to murder a pope? I wonder if the reporters who got this scoop are proud of themselves. Do they even realize that it's stuff like this that makes the smear campaign so transparent?

Not that anyone cares, I guess. My feeling is that the current stories are just going to reinforce the pre-existing opinions of who Pope Benedict is.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fr. Ted Hesburgh and Nancy Pelosi

Apparently, Fr. Hesburgh took a call from Nancy Pelosi, asking him to help secure a vote for the Health Care Reform act, which the bishops have deemed to be pro-abortion and without sufficient conscience protection to be supported. Hesburgh then made a phone call to secure the vote.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Dilemma Of Papal Power

Have you ever noticed the complete hypocrisy of the secular world in its attitude regarding how the Pope should conduct himself?

When the Successor of Peter attempts to exercise his teaching office, he is scorned. What business is it of his what a married couple does in their bedroom? Why does he think he can tell a woman what to do with her body? Where does he get off proclaiming the Truth behind the Eucharistic sacrifice or the need for confession?

When he acts as a pastor, he is reviled. How dare he excommunicate Bishop Milingo? How can a genius like Hans Kung have his teaching faculties revoked?

What you see in these stories is the craving of the world for a weak pope, who sits in his room at the Vatican and does nothing that is implicated by holding the Chair of Peter. The masses want the Pope to stay out of everyone else's business and leave people to their sins and heresies.

Until, of course, they don't want him to. Then, the Pope is supposed to be right on top of every single decision made by every single bishop in the entire world. If he isn't right up in their grills every second of the day, then he's everything from an incompetent to a criminal.

I'd argue that just about every crisis in Church history has resulted from popes acting more like the image of the world than as the Vicar of Christ. When popes engage in the practical abdication of their authority, bad things happen every single time. Typically, they wind up hated anyway, with Blessed John XXIII being the only exception I can think of and only then because his history has been given a complete 1984-ish makeover into something antithetical to who he really was.

The Pope might as well just accept the Haterade the world has to offer, and act according to the best interest of the Mystical Body of Christ. For example, does anybody doubt that if Pope John Paul II had formally degraded +Weakland that he would have been blasted as a homophobe?

There is no compromise to be made with the world. We've tried that. The latest attacks on the Pope prove it. The Pope needs to act like a Servant of the Servants of God and not flinch. No matter what he does, the worldly will find fault. That being the case, best to proceed without worrying too much what they think.

Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, "Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, "I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength." And therefore the wise men of the one city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God "glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise,"--that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride,--"they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, "and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever." But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, "that God may be all in all."

St. Augustine, City of God.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beware of the appetite for scandal

Scandals are coming again. The New York Times is attempting to connect the dots from sex abuse of minors to the pope, and in doing so, every motive is questioned, every decision which could have a good-faith explanation is explained in the worst possible light. Like the cynics, they see all as tainted, none as pure.

Beware this attitude, for it is satanic. Remember how Satan was described in Job? He is an accuser, looking for some flaw in the apparent virtue of Job. St. John calls him the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). We all fall short of the demands of the Gospel, but we should never rejoice to find that others have fallen short.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Hope Everyone Has Taken Note

Basically, we've learned that ostensibly pro-life legislators will choose allegiance to their party over the interests of the unborn, just as long as they have the fig leaf of a completely worthless and legally unenforceable piece of paper autographed by the President to hide behind.

It was good to see Rep. Cao change his vote to a "no," though.

In the meanwhile, ask yourselves this. If the health care reform bill really didn't contain items allowing for increased access to abortion (circumventing the provisions of the Hyde Amendment, eg), why was the language initially requested so controversial and feared by so many? So many, in fact, that some were willing to torpedo the whole health care push if said language was included.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Still waiting for an apology

Given the recent presidential subversion of the CHA as a way to get supposedly pro-life Democrats to support Obama's health care plan, thereby setting up an alternate magisterium of liberal nuns, I ask Fr. Jenkins: where is the dialogue? Where is the common ground? Is this what Notre Dame gave Barack Obama an honorary degree for?

You were duped, Father Jenkins, and you let yourself be duped. Either that or you are a willing cooperator in the destruction of the Church in America. It isn't too late to do penance.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Invoking the name of the Guardian of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother in the name of passing a piece of legislation that could only have been spawned from hell itself:

The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ's Church, the saints, and sacred things.

Catechism of the Catholic Church #2148

On a side note, we see further illustration that Pelosi's stupidity seems to have no boundaries, given that she clearly prepped this remark, yet didn't bother to find out that it isn't even the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker (which is in May).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Also Re: Claims Of The Pope's Lax Treatment Of Abusers

I thought this was a good article from Zenit.

Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna is the "promoter of justice" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He is effectively the prosecutor of the tribunal of the former Holy Office, whose job it is to investigate what are known as delicta graviora; i.e., the crimes which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious of all: crimes against the Eucharist and against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance, and crimes against the sixth Commandment ("thou shall not commit impure acts") committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen. These crimes, in a motu proprio of 2001, Sacramentum sanctitatis tutela, come under the competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In effect, it is the "promoter of justice" who deals with, among other things, the terrible question of priests accused of paedophilia, which are periodically highlighted in the mass media. Msgr. Scicluna, an affable and polite Maltese, has the reputation of scrupulously carrying out the tasks entrusted to him without deferring to anyone.

On the Pope's personal treatment of the subject:

Q: Nonetheless, that document is periodically cited to accuse the current Pontiff of having been -- when he was prefect of the former Holy Office -- objectively responsible for a Holy See policy of covering up the facts...

Monsignor Scicluna: That accusation is false and calumnious. On this subject I would like to highlight a number of facts. Between 1975 and 1985 I do not believe that any cases of paedophilia committed by priests were brought to the attention of our Congregation. Moreover, following the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, there was a period of uncertainty as to which of the delicta graviora were reserved to the competency of this dicastery. Only with the 2001 motu proprio did the crime of paedophilia again become our exclusive remit. From that moment Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases, sine acceptione personarum. Therefore, to accuse the current Pontiff of a cover-up is, I repeat, false and calumnious.

The rest of the interview gives a good account on how abuse cases are handled at the highest levels. Lots of stuff in there that I didn't know. Check it out.

Responding To The Pope's Critics

Fr. Z does a far better job than I could.

Read the whole article, but note especially the last bit.

A few days ago a priest who once worked in the Washington DC nuntiature made the unfounded claim that Pope Benedict certainly was involved with the decisions about this abusive priest. That priest, Fr. Doyle, also said that Pope Benedict is a "micro-manager".

In turn, that same errant claim was picked up by Christopher Hitchens for a truly vile hit piece on Slate.

Fr. Doyle therefore did terrible damage to the Holy Father’s reputation.

First, anyone who knows anything about Joseph Ratzinger personally, knows that he is not a micro-manager. Quite the opposite is true. He is the supreme delegator. Furthermore, and this bears repeating, the role of the Vicar General in German dioceses includes most personnel decisions. There will be times when the chapter and ordinary are involved, but mostly the VG handles these matter. This would be particularly the case with then-Archbiship Ratzinger of Munich, who is not a micro-manager, but rather tends to delegate administrative decisions.

This is an excellent point. Doesn't anybody remember the days leading up to and immediately following the conclave? You couldn't get away from the talk about how Cardinal Ratzinger was a scholar and theologian, an ivory tower guy, who couldn't possibly work out as the sort of pastor and administrator that the Church REALLY needed as Pope. This sort of commentary was rampant. Now, all of a sudden, the Pope is a micro-manager who isn't the sort not to be involved.

As is typical, consistency is not the strong suit of the papal critics.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In Patrick's Own Words

For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught;and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father,indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.

You Can't Handle The Truth: St. Patrick Was A Baptist!

That's right all you Catholic folk. Dr. LK Landis said so. It must be true.

For centuries Roman Catholicism has laid claim to the supposition that Patrick of Ireland was a Roman priest. However, over 100 hundred years ago W. A. Jarrel, much respected author and church historian, put into print what had been known by Baptists since the very beginning, that Patrick was not a Catholic priest, but rather a Baptist missionary. It is because of this much neglected fact that we put into print this material so that this present generation may know the truth and great heritage of this early Baptist missionary to Ireland. So zealous were these historians of the 1800's and so spirited was their conviction to this that one wrote, "Rome's most audacious theft was when she seized bodily the Apostle Peter and made him the putative head and founder of her system; but next to that brazen act stands her effrontery when she 'annexed' the great missionary preacher of Ireland and enrolled him among her saints" (A Short History of the Baptists [1907], Henry C. Vedder, pg. 71-72).

Whither the evidence you might ask? Well, just read the article. There are multiple references to the Baptist Encyclopedia, so again, we know it must be true. Oh, and St. Patrick never mentioned purgatory in any of his writings (all 3 of them that we still have). The argument from silence. How convincing.

It's articles like this one, and their actual acceptance by some, that make me question the modern human capacity for rational thought.

St. Patrick, pray for us.

Friday, March 12, 2010


If somebody doesn't think of marriage as a sacrament, why would they call it "HOLY matrimony"?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Jewish Historian Confirms That Pius XII Wasn't Hitler's Pope

There's a big freaking shocker. Per CNA:

In comments to the newspaper, “Le Point,” Jewish historian Saul Friedländer defended Pius XII against accusations that he was “Hitler's Pope.” Friedländer recalled that Pope Pacelli's aversion to Nazism was made known by his collaboration in the writing of Pius XI's encyclical, “Mit brennender Sorge.”

Friedländer previously taught contemporary history at the University Institute of Higher International Studies in Geneva and also worked at universities in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. He is the author of such books as, “Hitler and the United States,” “Pius XII and the Third Reich,” and “Reflections on the Future of Israel.”

In the interview with Le Point, which was covered by L’Osservatore Romano (LOR), the Jewish historian referred to the silent work of Pius XII.

While some say he did little to protest the deportation of Jews and the Holocaust, written records and witnesses tell another story. They testify to his actions in defense of the Jews. Accounts of his intervention to save 4,000 Jews from a ghetto in Rome and place them in convents and Catholic schools refute claims of his passiveness.

Will we ever get a Dateline or 20/20 or Primetime Live discussing this issue, especially now that the mountain of evidence in Pope Pius's favor is reaching stratospheric levels?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cardinal Levada On Ecumenism

Whispers in the Loggia just reproduced a Salt and Light text of some interesting comments from Cardinal Levada in a talk he gave about the new Anglican initiative. I'm not sure what I think about them just yet.

Union with the Catholic Church is the goal of ecumenism—one could put, “we phrase it that way”.

That sounds awesome.

Yet the very process of working towards union works a change in churches and ecclesial communities that engage one another in dialogue, in actual instances of entering into communion do indeed transform the Catholic Church by way of enrichment.

This is not so awesome. He qualifies it quickly, but this is the kind of vague statement that folks latch onto and abuse. There's a reason why Cardinal Ottaviani's motto when he was with the Holy Office was Semper Idem (Always the Same). Talking about the Church changing is dangerous.

Let me add right away that when I say enrichment I am referring not to any addition of essential elements of sanctification and truth to the Catholic Church. Christ has endowed her with all the essential elements. I am referring to the addition of modes of expression of these essential elements, modes which enhance everyone’s appreciation of the inexhaustible treasures bestowed on the Church by her divine founder.

This ecclesiological view is something else that's bothered me. It makes the Body of Christ sound like something that isn't really whole unto itself. It's more like something that comes to exist once you have all these certain pieces in one place at the same time. Granted, this is a better phrasing that what you normally hear, as His Eminence shows that the Church is endowed with these elements, rather than saying She "consists" of them, which doesn't make any sense, but is still popular terminology for some.

The new reality of visible unity among Christians should not thought of as the coming together of disparate elements that previously had not existed in any one community. The Second Vatican Council clearly teaches that all the elements of sanctification and truth which Christ bestowed on the Church are found in the Catholic Church.

This makes more sense to me, even though the "visible" adjective for "unity" is weird. We really didn't have any unity with these Anglicans before, visible or otherwise. Maybe he's appealing to "imperfect communion" type stuff. I'm not sure.

The great thing is that this refutes the post-conciliar idea that unity came about through convergence rather than return to the Church. We've talked about this before and it sort of fits with the Hegel post below. People were saying that unity would come about when all the different denominations sort of mashed together in some bizarre Teilhardian merger, instead of just having the separated folks return to the One Fold.

The point is that unity already exists. The Church is One. It cannot be otherwise.

What is new then is not the acquisition of something essential which had hitherto been absent. Instead, what is new is that perennial truths and elements of holiness already found in the Catholic Church are given new focus, or a different stress by the way they are lived by various groups of the faithful who are called by Christ to come together in perfect communion with one another, enjoying the bonds of creed, code, cult and charity, in diverse ways that blend harmoniously.

This is good, too. I can vouch for this type of effect in seeing Catholics who know only the Pauline Mass go to Eastern liturgies. Their eyes get opened to a whole world they didn't even know was there. Rightly or wrongly, there is stuff that gets forgotten and/or de-emphasized. It happens. The infusion of faithful from traditions who haven't let this happen can be good. I just don't think it should be called a "transforming" of the Church.

Skipping down a bit:

There is always an element of mystery in our knowledge of God and God’s work. Therefore, we fully expect that, while we may accurately know what can be truthfully said, the full knowledge of what that means is enhanced by the contemplation of many groups of people on the same mystery.

Sort of, I think. As long as they are contemplating within framework of the Magisterium's Truth.

This contemplation is not just an academic exercise. It is also a necessarily an exercise of worship. That is why the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium, closely associates elements of truth with elements of sanctification. Worship enables one to penetrate divine truth with the clarity of lovers, who have gotten to know their beloved, through his love of them. And worship thus impels believers to study, just as their sturdy strengthens their love of the God whose goodness they have come to learn.

As long as it is true worship, as in, the Mass. Given that those separated from the Church are hindered by their lack of Truth (or else they wouldn't be separated), what is the validity of the worship in question? As we'll see when we talk about Lumen Gentium, it's pretty clear that these "elements of sanctification" do not operate as such outside the Church. They merely "impel to Catholic unity."

Rather, visible union with the Catholic Church can be compared to an orchestral ensemble. Some instruments can play all the notes, like a piano. There is no note that a piano has that a violin or a harp or a flute or a tuba does not have. But when all these instruments play the notes that the piano has, the notes are enriched and enhanced. The result is symphonic, full communion. One can perhaps say that the ecumenical movement wishes to move from cacophony to symphony, with all playing the same notes of doctrinal clarity, the same euphonic chords of sanctifying activity, observing the rhythm of Christian conduct in charity, and filling the world with the beautiful and inviting sound of the Word of God. While the other instruments may tune themselves according to the piano, when playing in concert there is no mistaking them for the piano. It is God’s will that those to whom the Word of God is addressed, the world, that is, should hear one pleasing melody made splendid by the contributions of many different instruments.

In other words, everybody has to agree with the piano. He should have mentioned that Pope Benedict is a piano player. I wonder if +Levada is a Tolkien fan. If you haven't read The Silmarillion, the symphony description above is close to JRR's myth of the Fall of Satan. In a nutshell, Tolkien portrayed God as singing the universe into creation with the angels, the highest of which, Melkor (later Morgoth), decided he wanted to sing his own song, not the harmonies of God. Bad things happen, and the rest is history.

The Catholic Church approaches ecumenical dialogue convincedm as the Second Vatican Council’s degree of ecumenism states, that, and I quote here: “Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God.”

One of the most ignored statements in all of Vatican II.

Just as there is one Saviour, so there is one universal sacrament of Salvation, the Church. The Eastern Churches that are united to Rome are enjoined to preserve their distinct institutions, liturgical rites, ecclesiastical traditions and way of Christian life. By so doing, the Second Vatican Council teaches they do not harm the Church’s unity, but rather, make it manifest.

I'm sure Cardinal Kaspar loved that first bit. And this next part as well:

Nevertheless, a strict comparison between the Anglicans and the Eastern Church and Catholic Churches would not be correct, I hasten to add. The Eastern Churches, like the Ukrainian Catholic Church so numerous in Canada, are in the fullest sense of the term “Churches” since they have valid apostolic succession and thus valid Eucharist. They are therefore called Churches “sui juris” because they have their own legal structures of governance, all while maintaining bonds of hierarchical communion with the Bishop of Rome. The term Church is applied differently to the Anglican Communion for reasons rehearsed over a century ago by Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicae curae.

It is remarkable how the Church leaders who have been spear-heading this whole movement have, in many ways, thrown much of ecumenical caution to the wind. The constant drumbeat in affirming the nullity of Anglican orders has been astounding to me, though maybe it shouldn't have been. After so many years of treading lightly around our differences with these other religions, I'm just amazed at how the Holy Father and Cardinal Levada have basically come out with a gas can and blowtorch for anything that has even suggested there is a legitimate Anglican priesthood. I haven't even seen reference to the possibility of valid orders from the Old Catholic lines of Anglican ordination.

Anyways, I'm probably nitpicking on my concerns above. Good stuff overall.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Anglican Conversions

According to their web site, the Anglican Church in America is looking to accept the Pope's invitation.

We, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America of the Traditional Anglican Communion have met in Orlando, Florida, together with our Primate and the Reverend Christopher Phillips of the "Anglican Use" Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, Texas) and others.

At this meeting, the decision was made formally to request the implementation of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States of America by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

So this is good news. According to The American Catholic, this would mean 99 parishes and cathedrals coming over.

This whole movement has definitely inspired me. I had been debating on my next trip to Texas as to whether I would try to attend a Syro-Malabar liturgy or an Anglican Use. With all that's been going on, I think I'll be opting for the latter now, just to check it out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

In Honor Of The Oscars

And because we could all use some friendly black optimistic advice, I present the funniest thing I've seen in a long time and a film that dwarfs the accomplishments of most Oscar winners:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Today's Gospel And The Oscars

During the course of today's readings, I couldn't help but be struck by this particular quote from Jesus:

At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them --do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

Luke 13:1-5

This passage hearkened me back to one of the few Oscar exceptions, a great movie that won, rather than the over-indulgent crap that passes for quality among Hollywood elitists. I'm talking about Unforgiven.

Listening to Jesus in the Gospel today, you realize that Clint Eastwood had it right. We all have it coming.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

We're All Hegelians Now(?)

Can someone tell me when GWF Hegel took over the world?

Let me preface this by saying that no sane person should ever even consider reading German philosophy. It's all incoherent, non-sensical crap except for Nietzsche, who is a decent writer and an honest atheist. Anyways, the entire mass of the rest couldn't write their way out of a pre-K class. There is a reason why you see so many "interpretations" of these guys (yes, even Nietzsche), without anyone really knowing what they were talking about. It's because all they did was string together really long sentences, using only the vaguest of words, and wait for people to tell them how smart they were. It's the philosophical equivalent of the Emperor having no clothes.

Back to Hegel. This guy is most famous for what usually gets called the dialectic triad. That's the idea that things progress or are corrected (it takes various forms in the popular mind) by the introduction of a concept (called the thesis), which is then confronted by its contradiction (the antithesis) , said confrontation then resulting in their resolution (the synthesis). Before any philosophy folks have kittens, I know this isn't really what Hegel said, but it's this vulgarized revision that most folks are familiar with, so just roll with it.

Anyways, what I'm driving at with this post is that there seems to be a dominant modern view that the way you reach progress, or even Truth, on a point is by following the Hegelian process above.

Think about the recent debate here in America regarding health care legislation. Droves of people don't seem to care at all what is actually in the law being discussed, just as long as it is "bipartisan," with the implication that a bipartisan law means one that will be good. As long as both sides of the aisle (the thesis and antithesis) manage to have input, we'll all be ok, since the synthesis will be a move in the proper direction.

Right off-hand, I can't think of any guiding principle more bankrupt of reason than this one. What ever happened to people just being plain wrong? How do you get to a correct synthesis if both the thesis and antithesis are bass-ackwards? Yet people just march down the road of non-thinkingness, without even considering the possibility that the input of multiple morons simply leads to more varied forms of stupidity.

It's the same type of stuff that you hear with the ecumenical movement and all these other Jenkinsian pushes for "dialogue." Such postures completely ignore the Church's role as teacher, instead bringing both sides of the discussion into some sort of equivalent position. Then, with enough dialogue, the thesis of Catholicism and the antithesis of whatever false sect is involved will come to a new Truth of synthesis wherein we call all hold hands and buy the world a Coke. The problem is that, if the thesis is already the Truth (as is the case with Catholicism), the entire dialectic process can only lead to corruption.

By the way, Dietrich von Hildebrand (an exception to the aforementioned rule re: German philosophers) talks about this a bit in his book Trojan Horse in the City of God, in case you want to read a pro's take on the whole thing.

Like I said, this isn't really Hegel's fault. His work stinks for a whole host of other reasons. I think it's more of folks' willingness to shelve critical thinking (or just basic reason in this case) in favor of faith that a particular process will do all the real work for them.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy 200th Birthday To Pope Leo XIII!

Today we celebrate the birth of Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci. This remarkable guy ascended the Throne of St. Peter as His Holiness Pope Leo XIII just shy of his 68th birthday. He would go on to serve as Vicar of Christ for 25 years. Next time you think about wanting to retire, remember Pope Leo having to tough it out in the most important job in the world until he was 93.

I've mentioned my fondness for Pope Leo many times. By all accounts, he was an outstanding man with regards to intellect and morality. He's also got a lot of good papal trivia. I'm pretty sure he's the only camerlengo ever elected to the papacy. He's also the first pope that we have film and audio recordings for:

Pretty neat, if you ask me.

However, my main affection for Pope Leo comes from the fact that I consider him, out of all the Successors of Peter, to be the best teacher. He wrote something like 85 encyclicals on subjects that are of absolutely critical importance to us today. Marian devotion? He did 11 (I think) encyclicals on the Rosary. Church/state relations? Immortale Dei is the main papal reference in the Catechism on the topic. Social justice? The entire modern concept is rooted in Rerum Novarum.

He confronted the problems of modern secularism by writing letters to leaders and nations all over the world, including America. Ecumenical issues were dealt with, even when doing so meant reality checks for the opposition, as was the case when he declared Anglican orders invalid. Before St. Pius X was fighting modernism, Pope Leo was already standing in the breach, though he admittedly was condemning the heresy one doctrine at a time rather than treating it as a cohesive object.

Freemasonry, communism, materialism, liberalism, the list goes on. Pope Leo dealt with them all and did so with a clarity and calmness in his writing that is well-nigh supernatural in character.

It's amazing stuff to read, which is why I'm presenting my top 5 Pope Leo XIII writings for our folks here.

Counting them down:


Deals with pretty much all the historical critical nonsense that would strip the Scriptures of their inerrancy. Also gives a great lesson on how to read and study Scripture.

But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred. For the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond, because (as they wrongly think) in a question of the truth or falsehood of a passage, we should consider not so much what God has said as the reason and purpose which He had in mind in saying it-this system cannot be tolerated. For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true.


You will not understand Catholic social justice without reading this, nor will you be able to grasp just how much the modern heterodox have pushed to distort it.

But although all citizens, without exception, can and ought to contribute to that common good in which individuals share so advantageously to themselves, yet it should not be supposed that all can contribute in the like way and to the same extent. No matter what changes may occur in forms of government, there will ever be differences and inequalities of condition in the State. Society cannot exist or be conceived of without them. Some there must be who devote themselves to the work of the commonwealth, who make the laws or administer justice, or whose advice and authority govern the nation in times of peace, and defend it in war. Such men clearly occupy the foremost place in the State, and should be held in highest estimation, for their work concerns most nearly and effectively the general interests of the community. Those who labor at a trade or calling do not promote the general welfare in such measure as this, but they benefit the nation, if less directly, in a most important manner. We have insisted, it is true, that, since the end of society is to make men better, the chief good that society can possess is virtue.


This might seem an odd inclusion to some folks. I put it here because there are a lot of Catholics who really pay no attention to the 3rd Person of the Trinity. This is both annoying and dangerous, especially these days when the fastest growing contra-Catholic movements tend to be charismatic groups with very wacky ideas about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Father also goes into the doctrine of appropriation, the rejection of which is at the root of a lot of Trinitarian heresies.

The Church is accustomed most fittingly to attribute to the Father those works of the Divinity in which power excels, to the Son those in which wisdom excels, and those in which love excels to the Holy Ghost. Not that all perfections and external operations are not common to the Divine Persons; for "the operations of the Trinity are indivisible, even as the essence of the Trinity is indivisible"; because as the three Divine Persons "are inseparable, so do they act inseparably." But by a certain comparison, and a kind of affinity between the operations and the properties of the Persons, these operations are attributed or, as it is said, "appropriated" to One Person rather than to the others. "Just as we make use of the traces of similarity or likeness which we find in creatures for the manifestation of the Divine Persons, so do we use Their essential attributes; and this manifestation of the Persons by Their essential attributes is called appropriation".


This is probably the best papal teaching on ecclesiology the Church has ever seen. It exposes the irrationality of heretical ecumenism quite well and gives easy to follow, logical arguments why the whole idea of religious relativism is stupid.

From this it follows that those who arbitrarily conjure up and picture to themselves a hidden and invisible Church are in grievous and pernicious error: as also are those who regard the Church as a human institution which claims a certain obedience in discipline and external duties, but which is without the perennial communication of the gifts of divine grace, and without all that which testifies by constant and undoubted signs to the existence of that life which is drawn from God. It is assuredly as impossible that the Church of Jesus Christ can be the one or the other, as that man should be a body alone or a soul alone. The connection and union of both elements is as absolutely necessary to the true Church as the intimate union of the soul and body is to human nature. The Church is not something dead: it is the body of Christ endowed with supernatural life.

AND #1

Quite simply the greatest work of political philosophy in the last 400 years or so. It really is that good.

For, once ascribe to human reason the only authority to decide what is true and what is good, and the real distinction between good and evil is destroyed; honor and dishonor differ not in their nature, but in the opinion and judgment of each one; pleasure is the measure of what is lawful; and, given a code of morality which can have little or no power to restrain or quiet the unruly propensities of man, a way is naturally opened to universal corruption. With reference also to public affairs: authority is severed from the true and natural principle whence it derives all its efficacy for the common good; and the law determining what it is right to do and avoid doing is at the mercy of a majority. Now, this is simply a road leading straight to tyranny. The empire of God over man and civil society once repudiated, it follows that religion, as a public institution, can have no claim to exist, and that everything that belongs to religion will be treated with complete indifference. Furthermore, with ambitious designs on sovereignty, tumult and sedition will be common amongst the people; and when duty and conscience cease to appeal to them, there will be nothing to hold them back but force, which of itself alone is powerless to keep their covetousness in check.

I round this out with simple observations and questions. Consider the above. Look up stuff on Pope Leo for yourself. Consider it carefully. Then note that he isn't called "Servant of God" Pope Leo XIII. That's right. Apparently, there is no cause for the canonization of this great man.

Compare him to Paul VI, who has an active cause. Even John Paul I has a an active cause.

What is wrong with this picture?

Monday, March 1, 2010

God Is Good

Got in a pretty bad wreck on Friday. Hydro-plane, full-spin across multiple lanes of interstate, smashing into concrete barrier stuff.

Everybody is ok. Other than a new tire, the truck was intact enough to make another 10 hours of driving.

God is good.