Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hitler was a Rothschild

Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1818) founded modern international banking in the 18th century. He put each of his five sons in charge of a bank in one of the five major financial capitals of Europe at the time: Frankfurt, Vienna, Naples, London and Paris. From that time until today, the Rothschild companies have always remained privately held corporations, with ownership distributed among the members of the fmaily, so the true assets of the Rothschild family as a whole have always remained a mystery:

Paul Johnson writes “[T]he Rothschilds are elusive. There is no book about them that is both revealing and accurate. Libraries of nonsense have been written about them… A woman who planned to write a book entitled Lies about the Rothschilds abandoned it, saying: ‘It was relatively easy to spot the lies, but it proved impossible to find out the truth'”. He writes that, unlike the court Jews of earlier centuries, who had financed and managed European noble houses, but often lost their wealth through violence or expropriation, the new kind of international bank created by the Rothschilds was impervious to local attacks. Their assets were held in financial instruments, circulating through the world as stocks, bonds and debts. Changes made by the Rothschilds allowed them to insulate their property from local violence: “Henceforth their real wealth was beyond the reach of the mob, almost beyond the reach of greedy monarchs.”[11] Johnson argued that their fortune was generated to the greatest extent by Nathan Mayer Rothschild in London; however more recent research by Niall Ferguson, indicates that greater and equal profits also were realised by the other Rothschild dynasties, including James Mayer de Rothschild in Paris, Carl von Rothschild and Amschel Mayer in Frankfurt.[12] (http:/

Because of the Bible’s condemnation of interest among God’s people but permission of interest charged to gentiles, a strange policy developed in Europe historically that Christians were not permitted to swindle each other, but they were permitted to swindle Jews, and vice versa. This is most popularly illustrated in Shakespeare’s _The Merchant of Venice_. This is why, historically, Jews have been associated with banking and money-lending. It has facilitated anti-Semitism and mutual hatred among Jews and Christians. And European Jews have historically used their wealth, as Shakespeare illustrates and as the above-quoted articles mention, to influence politics.

Mayer Rothschild successfully established branches of his family in every major European nation. Several wings of the Rothschild dynasty were either promoted to nobility or married into nobility.

Back in 2011, conspiracy reporter Alex Jones (not to be confused with the African American Pentecostal minister who converted to Catholicism) reported on research proving that the Rothschilds essentially control the world economy.

The Four Horsemen of Banking (Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo) own the Four Horsemen of Oil (Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP Amoco and Chevron Texaco); in tandem with Deutsche Bank, BNP, Barclays and other European old money behemoths. But their monopoly over the global economy does not end at the edge of the oil patch.

According to company 10K filings to the SEC, the Four Horsemen of Banking are among the top ten stock holders of virtually every Fortune 500 corporation.[1]

So who then are the stockholders in these money center banks?

This information is guarded much more closely. My queries to bank regulatory agencies regarding stock ownership in the top 25 US bank holding companies were given Freedom of Information Act status, before being denied on “national security” grounds. This is rather ironic, since many of the bank’s stockholders reside in Europe.

Jones goes onto explain how much of the ownership of these banks is held by an organization called US Trust Corp, and he proceeds to explain the eight families who, along with Saudi oil dynasties, control ownership of the world’s major banks: “They are the Goldman Sachs, Rockefellers, Lehmans and Kuhn Loebs of New York; the Rothschilds of Paris and London; the Warburgs of Hamburg; the Lazards of Paris; and the Israel Moses Seifs of Rome.”
Further, he goes on to explain how all these “eight families” are really just one family, because as each of these other banking dynasties grew up in the 19th and 20th Centuries, they eventually married into the Rothschilds.

Jones explains all of this in the article I just linked and quoted, and of course like most “conspiracy theories,” he has tons of evidence and academic citations–unlike your average “mainstream media” story which expects you to believe what it says based upon the reporter’s word alone.

Once the ball gets rolling, one can see how the Rothschilds have pulled the strings of most of the last 200 years.

So yesterday I learned something very interesting through a Facebook meme that apparently started on Jesse Ventura’s page. My wife said, “It’s true because it’s in a picture,” right? I said, “No, it’s true because they have the genealogy.”

Oddly enough, for a family that has backed the worldwide Population Control movement, the Rothschilds’ family motto is Psalm 127:5 (“Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with these arrows”).

Mayer Rothschild had five sons: Nathan (London), Amschel (Frankfurt), Salomen (Vienna), Carl (Naples), and James (Paris).

The following graphic shows the official genealogy of Mayer and his son Nathan:

There are more complicated versions of the family tree out there, but this is sufficient for what we are talking about.

Note Nathan’s firstborn son, Lionel (1808-1879).

Lionel had a housekeeper named Matild Schueckelgruber.

Matild Schueckelgruber had an illegitimate son, who was believed to be fathered by Lionel Rothschild. When her son, Alois Schueckelgruber (1837-1903) married Clara Poltzl, he had his name legally changed to protect his family because of his illegitimacy: he adopted his mother-in-law’s maiden name, Hitler.

Alois and Clara Hitler had three children: Gustav, Adolf and Paula.

It is often noted that Hitler was part-Jewish, but no one ever mentions that his Jewish ancestry was Rothschild!

The meme on Facebook shows the faces of Hitler and the Rothschilds, illustrating some of the family resemblance.

It’s tempting to think that Hitler was himself a plant by the Rothschilds and funded by them, but it’s not necessary to leap to such conspiracy theories. It’s far more likely that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was inspired by his hatred for the family that had denied his father’s birthright: note from the graphic that Alois Schueckelgruber/Hitler was three years older than his half-brother Nathanial Rothschild (1808-1879).

But far more important is how these facts are expunged from history. Like so many fictional masterminds from Moriarty to “Dale the Whale” on _Monk_, as the Wikipedia article I quoted above notes, the Rothschilds have made great efforts to cover up their mere existence, much less the extent of their assets, from the history books, and any attempt to chronicle their history has been muddled with lies and rumors and contradictory stories.

This little tidbit just illustrates the point: regardless of whether they were pulling Hitler’s strings or World War II was a family squabble, either way you cut it, the Rothschilds don’t want people to know that Hitler was their relative, the first cousin once removed of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild (1931-?), rumored to be the true richest man in the world, with a net worth estimated at somewhere between $1.5 Trillion and $500 trillion.

In 2008, for example, Evelyn de Rothschild and some partners bought Lehman Brothers for $10 billion.

While liberals are fond of complaining about Halliburton and the Koch family, the real power behind the government is the Rothschilds. Back in 2008, I was dining at a friend’s house, and he had been reading up on “conspiracy theories,” and he told me that Warren Buffet and Bill Gates were just “boot lickers” compared to the real wealth in the world, which is covered up in private companies. I had heard similar claims before from disparate people. Again: people dismiss “conspiracy theories,” but it’s funny how the “conspiracy” theory books, websites and Internet videos always come with plenty of documentation and evidence, but the mainstream “news” and “history” always just expect the reader or viewer to take the author’s word for it.

You may think you’re voting for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney this November, but you’re not. You’re voting for which one of Evelyn de Rothschild’s puppets you’d rather be entertained by for four years. As another friend of mine put it, the only difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is whether, when the government turns the military on the people, it starts with the pro-life activists or the labor unions.

So, “conservatives,” while you celebrate the speech of Clint Eastwood, the “surprise speaker” at the Republican Convention who is an outspoken opponent of Life, who paid for several abortions of his own children and recently produced and starred in a pro-euthanasia, anti-disability movie, go and pat yourselves on the back for what good you’re doing by supporting Tweedle-dee.


Fr. Groeschel, Mickey Mouse, and Me

Back in 1986, my parents took me to Disney World. It was one of the first times I used a wheelchair. Now, the whole experience was cool, and I thought the characters were “cool,” but I didn’t feel the thrill many children feel about “meeting” the characters since I knew they weren’t “real”. Take Santa Claus: I had a Chestertonian hope that somewhere there was a “real” Santa Claus apart from St. Nicholas in Heaven–I still do–but I always knew the guy at the Mall wasn’t him.

So, too, did I feel about the characters at Disney, and even if I didn’t already think that way, the family friends we were staying with had local friends whom we visited, and their adult daughter was a professional “Mickey Mouse” and talked to us about what it was like.

Plus, I’ve always had a certain phobia, which has gotten worse as I’ve aged, of clowns and of people in costumes.

So, while I thought it was cool, I purposely focused on the “B-listers.” If I had any desire to see any “A-list” characters, it was Snow White and Cinderella. Thus, the throngs of people around the various Mickey Mouses we passed didn’t bother me: I was happy enough “meeting” Chip n Dale, Pluto and Goofy.

Thus it happened that, late in the afternoon, we came to an area where dozens of kids were crowding around a “Mickey,” while Minnie stood alone nearby. I felt sorry for the person in the Minnie Mouse costume, standing there all alone while his or her colleague was being so adulated. So I told my parents I wanted to meet Minnie. They pushed me towards her in my wheelchair. She made some kind of sign and walked away. I was aghast. “She’s walking *away* from me?” I almost cried.

Then she cut through the crowd of kids, tapped “Mickey” on the shoulder, and pointed to me. They both came over and gave me a hug and took several pictures:

(That’s not Minnie Mouse–that’s my Mom)

Now, I suppose you could say that the definition of magnanimity is when you meet someone “important,” and they treat you like it’s an honor to meet *you*, not an honor for yout o meet them.

Even before the Fr. Corapi controversy of last year, I was starting to feel a bit disillusioned with the phenomenon of “Celebrity Priests”: partly because of the Fr. Euteneuer scandal, and partly because of just a general sense of coming to realize that things were a lot more complicated than mere “orthodoxy” or “conservatism.”

For example, in 2008, we attended a “spiritual conference” by Fr. “Bing” Arellano-an experience we both needed, and it had some positive fruits. However, most of the content of the conference struck me as more political and paranoid than spiritually nourishing: it was all about conspiracy theories, organic food, etc. And Fr. Bing paraded around like a celebrity, surrounded by his entourage, only appearing briefly among the “raffle” and then speaking to only a select few people when he did.

During the Corapi Wars last year, I saw similar descriptions of how Fr. Corapi acted. I also saw lots of people talking about how he seemed to prefer surrounding himself with female “groupies”–and people said the same of Fr. Euteneuer.

I’m pretty sure it was a year later, in 2009, that Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, so recently excoriated by the MSM and the blogosphere, came to give a parish mission at St. John Neumann in Columbia, SC, and we attended a few of the sessions.

I came on the first evening, and he had a book signing. I forget if I had any of the kids with me, but my wife stayed at home. My wife’s brother in law used to live in New Jersey and new Fr. Groeschel from his activity in the Cardinal Cooke Guild. He frequently claimed to be very close friends with Fr. Benedict, so I was supposed to say “Hi” for him.

As a speaker, Fr. Groeschel has an authenticity to him. In his life, he’s lived out the Gospel as fully as any canonized saint. He’s a Ph.D. in psychology and a licensed therapist and has served on several university faculties. He has long worked in formal spiritual direction and in psychological counseling. He he has worked in counseling a lot of seminarians and priests, particularly those accused of misconduct. He has also counselled laity, and has a ministry for post-abortive women. He and his order sponsor a group of crisis pregnancy centers and shelters for women in crisis pregnancies. He says the times he’s been arrested for abortion protesting were some of the most spiritually fulfilling in his life. He is known for an attitude towards ecumenism that offends the sensibilities of many traditionalists, but while he has often gone to speak in Protestant and Jewish institutions, he does so by speaking unabashedly about Christ, the Gospel and the Catholic faith. At the conference in Columbia, for example, he talked of one time he spoke at a Baptist event and told them about why Mary is the Mother of God/Theotokos and why one cannot be a Christian and deny that.

Now, this would have been about 5 years after Fr. Groeschel was hit by a car in 2004 and nearly died (some reports say that he was legally dead for a while but revived). He was very frail, and he had some attendants who helped him walk.

While he did have those attendants, it did not come off as the “entourage” I had witnessed a year before with Fr. Bing or read about with Fr. Corapi and other “celebrity priests,” nor did Fr. Groeschel seem to have any concern for surrounding himself with “groupies,” and the whole thing did not cast off that air of “He’s too important for you.” While these “celebrity priest” events can often come off as a bit too commercial, the emphasis was placed upon the proceeds helping the crisis pregnancy centers the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal sponsor.

So Fr. Benedict spent some time hearing confessions, but there were local priests available as well, and I opted for the local priest. Then he gave a talk. After the talk, he signed autographs and the nice folks from the local Catholic book store handled sales of his books. Fr. Groeschel signed my book, and I named-dropped my wife’s brother in law. He gave me the kind of “that’s nice” response one expects in such a situation. I wasn’t able to get an up close picture, but I snapped a few pictures of him with my phone’s camera from a distance. Sadly, they’re all a bit blurry.

The next day, I came for noon Mass. I brought all four of my children with me, and I was in my motorized wheelchair, as the night before. One of the families from our homeschool group was there, and their children were all older, so my eldest sat with them. I took the other three–at the time aged 1 and a half through 5–into the cry room.

When it came time for Communion, I placed one toddler on each knee and my then-5-year-old on the arm of the chair, as I often did when I had them all out someplace.

I went to Communion carrying all three kids in my chair, and received Communion from Fr. Benedict.

After Mass, Father was greeting people outside church, and, of course, there was a long line.

Instead of getting in line to greet Father, I went over to collect Allie, and I got to talking with the couple whom she sat with. I knew the wife fairly well, but I had never met her husband before. So we stood there and talked for about 10 minutes.

The door from the vestibule opened, and Fr. Groeschel came back in, and made a B-line for me! He came specifically back into church to meet *me*.

He walked up to me and said, “I just want to tell you: you’re my hero! Being in that wheelchair, and having all those kids, and bringing them to Mass! And then when I saw the way you carried them all up to Communion in your chair! Keep up the good work! That’s what it’s all about! You’re an inspiration to me!”

When people like Malcolm Muggeridge and Susan Conroy write about their encounters with Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, they emphasize how her sanctity was not even so much in what she did as the general attitude she exuded: her humility in the truest sense of the word. That’s what I experienced with Fr. Groeschel. I don’t know if he’ll ever be formally canonized, but he certainly deserves it, if anyone does. I’ve already responded to the attacks on his perhaps poorly-worded commentary, spoken as a therapist who has counselled many involved in priest sex abuse (both victims and abusers), but I just wanted to share my thoughts on Fr. Groeschel the man.

It has become popular to categorized certain priests as “good and holy,” and therefore exempt from criticism of any sort. The Blogger at “Diary of a Wimpy Catholic” has used this occasion to criticize the application of these terms to any living priest. In general, I’d agree with him. While Fr. Frank Pavone was exonerated, I could see that the actual allegations against him might have been true (especially as they pertained to questions of financial management that were not immoral but potentially illegal). As much as I admired Fr. Corapi and found his talks inspiring, I always felt uncomfortable with certain of his teachings and certain aspects of his demeanor. Fr. Euteneuer’s case came as a shock, but when I read more about it after the fact, it all made sense.

But the Fr. Groeschel controversy is merely about an expression of one professional opinion, an opinion that I happen to agree with based upon my own study of these cases, an opinion that Bill Donohue agrees with given his study of these cases, even if no one else does. But just as Papal infallibility doesn’t mean Papal Sanctity, personal sanctity doesn’t mean personal infallibility, and one can recognize the holiness of a person without agreeing 100% with every idea that person expresses.

I’d sooner believe anything of anybody than believe any allegation of impropriety against Fr. Benedict, and those who are using this occasion to calumniate him and just make up scurrilous accusations should be ashamed of themselves.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel makes a big mistake . . .

by stating an intelligent statement and a statement of basic Christian compassion in a published article.

The other day, the National Catholic Register published an interview with Fr. Groeschel about the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Unfortunately, due to public backlash, the Register has pulled the article and replaced it with statements from the Register itself, the CFRs and Fr. Groeschel himself, apologizing for the article. The party line is that Groeschel’s comments were the result of senility. I’m sad to hear that.

The original article contained two key points that have garnered attention (amidst a lot of other stuff about his ministry and his Order that have nothing to do with clerical sex abuse).
1) In a statement that has been taken out of context, he noted that the teenagers in these cases are often the “seducers.” Noting that the teenagers in these situations are often psychologically vulnerable themselves, and the priests are often on the verge of breakdowns, the two meet up in a situation of mutual vulnerability and get involved in a relationship that starts out innocent but goes where it shouldn’t. That’s all he said, and I don’t see why that requires clarification or rebuttal, as the Register claims.

The sickos at the Huffington Post–who approve of this behavior if it happens at a gay nightclub–tried to tie this to the Register’s former ownership by the Legion of Christ (the Register is now owned by EWTN). The mainstream media, who normally wouldn’t be bothered to count as news the many wonderful things Fr. Groeschel has done in his life, are in a feeding frenzy–probably to distract from all the minorities speaking at the Republican Convention–and demanding for Fr. Groeschel to be punished.

Yet it baffles me what is wrong with what he said. The vast majority of teen pregnancies involve a teenaged girl with a man over 20. Almost every teen pregnancy is statutory rape, yet Planned Parenthood gets away with ignoring it. Hang around any group of teenaged girls, and you’ll hear talk of their older boyfriends. Hang around any public school, and you’ll see male teachers ogling female students, touching female students inappropriately *in public*, flirting with female students and having long private “counseling sessions” with female students. Yet somehow people insist this is a problem restricted to Catholic priests and resulting from clerical celibacy.

If news hits about a teenaged boy having an affair with an older woman, people say, “Eww” and privately say “Way to go”. Lifetime movies and TV dramas and sitcoms romanticize it. Same with heterosexual relationships between teenaged girls and adult men. In most cultures, 13 or 14, certainly 15, is old enough to marry. Indeed, Canon Law permits marriage within the Church as early as 16. The argument in our culture is that teenagers aren’t “mature enough” to marry, yet these days we have 30-somethings acting like what used to be considered teenagers. And certainly our society now approves of teenagers having sex with each other.

And then we have the Obama administration, with poster feminazi Sandra Fluke, arguing that colleges should be forced to provide birth control for their students, which includes 17 year olds and younger (I was 16 when I started college). We know Obama has talked about providing contraceptives to elementary school students.

It just burns me up that liberals, who endorse just about every form of sexual perversion there is, just jump the bandwagon for any potential “scandal” involving Catholic priests and do everything they can to tear down the Catholic Church–in this case attacking and 80 year old friar who deserves canonization merely for stating the facts he has observed in his professional work dealing with these cases.

When this “Scandal” supposedly broke in 2002, Michael Novak pointed out how the “victim” in one of the cases was 17 years old. Novak observed that he was in the Navy at age 17, and if any man, priest or not, had laid a hand on him at that age, he’d have thrashed him.

And some of the victims in the more prominent cases–such as the cases of Archbishop Weakland and the late Cardinal Bernardin–insisted the relationships were consentual at some level, and they only came back and claimed anything different when the prelate in question spurned them.

In 1998, the news broke (overshadowing JPII’s visit to Cuba) that the president of the United States had had an affair with an intern young enough to be his daughter. The Left, as they did with all Bill Clinton’s affairs, blamed it on Monica Lewinsky.

Yet now Fr. Groeschel is in trouble for “blaming the victim.” Then there’s part two:

2) Fr. Groeschel refers to Jerry Sandusky as “that poor man” and asks why no one turned him in years ago: with the answer that even a lot of parents and victims. The fact that people are outraged by this comment shows what’s wrong with our culture. Jesus said we will be forgiven in proportion to our capacity to forgive. A few years ago, people started attacking theology of the body speaker Christopher West for making a similar statement about Hugh Hefner, even though he was clearly expression compassion for someone who he acknowledged as a sinner but recognized how easily any of us can fall into Hefner’s sins.

This should be a no-brainer. As Leon Bloy famously said, popularized by Jacques Maritain, “There is only one tragedy: not to be a saint.” Jesus told the parable of the unforgiving steward who begged his king to forgive his debt rather than sell him and his family into slavery–a debt that was worth millions of dollars in modern equivalancy–and the king forgave him completely–but then the steward turned around and demanded money from someone who owed him a few hundred dollars, and when he took that man to the authorities, they recognized the accuser as the man the king had just forgiven–and put him in prison “till he paid the last penny.”

The condition of Christian forgiveness is our ability to forgive others.

A trademark of Fr. Groeschel’s ministry has always been his ability to show compassion for sinners–something he often gets criticized for by traditionalists and ultra-conservative Catholics. That’s all he’s doing in regard to Sandusky, and he was trying to answer the rhetorical questions of why no one turned him in: simple answer was that most people didn’t think what he was doing was wrong or illegal. That isn’t a statement of *his* beliefs; it’s a statement of his beliefs about what other people think.

And it just outrages me to see the people who are attacking Fr. Groeschel when they look the other way about Bill Clinton and so much else. It outrages me that a man who could very well be deserving of canonization is being treated this way over comments that were just too nuanced for our sound-bite culture: I’m especially annoyed at how the Register has distanced itself from his comments. What’s next? EWTN cancels _Sunday Night Live_?

And then to see the perverse comments from people calumniating Fr. Groeschel and saying he probably has abused people himself. They know nothing about him! From having had the honor of maing him a few years ago, especially compared to certain other “celebrity priests,” Fr. Groeschel is one of the LAST people in the world I would suspect of doing anything, and I know he makes a point of avoiding the appearance or opportunity of scandal as best as possible for someone whose primary work is psychological and spiritual counseling.
He gets criticized for going into Jewish synagogues and Protestant “churches,” but he goes into them and tells them about the Catholic faith. When he came to Columbia 3 or 4 years ago, for example, he talked about speaking before an audience of Baptists and explaining that Mary is the Mother of God.

It seems from a perusal that all sides are hanging him out to dry. I have only seen one piece defending Fr. Groeschel’s comments, and that’s from the Catholic League. Otherwise, everyone’s saying his comments were inexcusable. I don’t get it.

I don’t get why we have a culture where a 15 year old male is a) given condoms by his teachers, b) exposed to all sorts of sexual temptation on TV, c) encouraged by all parties–often including his parents–to have at it with others his own age–yet suddenly that 15 year old is a “child” if he happens to be molested by a priest. I don’t get how a 15 year old goes to a gay bar and hooks up with a gay man, and that’s “Man-boy love” and heralded by the “Huffington Post” types, but it’s suddenly an unconscionable evil if the other gay party is a Catholic priest.

I’m not saying any of that is right–I find it all equally wrong. But the singling out of Catholic priests is hypocritical, and the attacks on a priest

Who’s your Pope?

Tracy: “So what’s your religion, Liz Lemon?”
Liz: “I pretty much do whatever Oprah tells me.” –_30 Rock_

“His heart was moved to pity for them, for they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” –Mt 9:36

The Catholic Church is often attacked over the concept of Papal infallibility, yet one of the ironies is that people long for “infallibility.” There is a reason the Bible is constantly comparing people to sheep: sheep are, as a priest once pointed out in a homily I heard, stupid. This is a controversial point, I know, but most people really are stupid. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”: our great excuse at personal and final judgement day will be, as the Catholic Church teaches, stupidity (Catechism 1793).

So we seek out people to guide us, like Israel begging Samuel for a king (1 Sam 8). Yet, just as when Samuel warned Israel that a King would become a tyrant (and all the kings of Israel fulfilled that warning, so too do the little kings we create for ourselves inevitably fail, because all are human.

In a previous post, I explained the limits and extents of Papal infallibility. Infallibility is, in one sense, a very limited concept, though it includes a general sense of obedience to the Pope. A traditional notion of anti-Catholicism holds that the Pope somehow micromanages the Church. The “Kennedy Doctrine” is heretical because, as Vatican II documents, Bl. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI all teach, the State *must* listen to the Church. However, in one sense, Kennedy was right in trying to dispel a common notion that Catholics all get secret personal marching orders from the Pope.

Papal infallibility only plays a big part in my life because religion plays a big part in my life. As I noted in the earlier post linked above, a Pope’s personal opinions are just that: opinions, and even his prudential judgements about matters of great import, and whether the Church’s teachings are properly being applied, are just that, prudential judgements. A Catholic owes a certain deference to the Holy Father, but Catholics are free to make up our minds on such matters, provided that we give them due study.

The principle of subsidiarity that the Church teaches in politics and economics applies in the Church as well. The Pope oversees 2 billion Catholics and does quite a lot but relatively little. A few thousand people work at the Vatican to oversee those 2 billion Catholics, and the proportion of Vatican employees to worldwide Catholics is far less a percentage than the staffs of most secular corporate or government headquarters.

Then there’s the local bishop, who oversees hundreds or thousands or even millions of parishioners. Again, the bishop’s authority is relatively minimal and mostly managerial. Most practicing Catholics only see their bishops on rare occasions, such as Confirmation or Ordination masses, or special events. I was a parishioner in my diocese’s cathedral as a kid, and I remember even *there* that the bishop making an appearance was a special event.

Then comes the local pastor, who *ought* to be involved intimately in each of his parishioners’ lives, but in practice this rarely happens. So the Church in general, in terms of Her human agents, doesn’t play that big a role in the average person’s life. I care about my pastor’s views on theology, morals, liturgy, church discipline and even politics. I don’t care about my pastor’s views on music (except liturgy or moral issues), sports, movies (except moral issues), etc.

The Pope doesn’t tell me what to watch on TV, though he may give advice on what to consider from a moral aspect when choosing a TV show.

However, people in general look for “infallible authorities” to give them simple answers. They balk at the notion of an established and official hierarchy, but they create one for themselves by seeking out little gurus, the way the fictional Liz Lemon “worships” Oprah.

Look at the way certain Protestant televangelists rake in the dough and the adulation, and people hang on their every word. Look at the range of issues where people would seek advice from James Dobson. Look at the followers of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura or Martha Stewart, the modern-day Sophists.

then add to that the polarization of society, and people’s basic need to separate everything in to “good” versus “evil.” So once a particular “guru” has been established as a “good guy,” then everything that person says *must* be good, and if anyone criticizes that person, watch out.

So the followers of Fr. Corapi, myself still one of them when his troubles started, reacted in his defense when he announced that he’d been suspended. Anyone who raised a sign of caution that there might be validity to the allegations–especially since he based his entire ministry on his allegedly sordid past–were attacked as agents of Satan.

Look at what happened when some people raised questions about the ethicality of Lila Rose’s “undercover” operations at Planned Parenthood.

Even questioning one aspect of a “good guy’s” behavior is offensive to the “follower” because the “good guy” is bestowed a kind of personal infallibility that goes far beyond the scope of the infallibility of the Pope–and often the person doesn’t have any real claim to such authority.

I raise this issue because, back in 2004, Catholic Answers, which is a wonderful apologetics organization, issued a “Catholic Voter Guide” was basically geared towards saying it’s wrong to vote for the Democrats. Interestingly, the content of the Guide itself favors voting for a third party candidate, but it has been manipulated to support the Republicans.

This “Voter Guide” was issued right around the same time as the leak of the “private letter” that then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger sent to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, clarifying the prioritization of “life issues” in voting, and in various reports, the content of the Catholic Answers “Voter Guide” got conflated with the Ratzinger letter.

The Catholic Answers Voter Guide introduces a concept of “Five Non-Negotiables”: abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, cloning and gay “marriage.”

Now, it’s true that these are “non-negotiable” in Catholic teaching. This refers to the fact that the economic documents always emphasize the freedom of Catholics to determine how to apply them, and it refers to how in matters such as war and the death penalty, the Church discourages them and gives strict guidelines for their application but still gives the State the right to use them when necessary.

The whole point of the Catholic Answers Voter Guide is this:

Candidates who endorse or promote any of the five non-negotiables should be considered to have disqualified themselves from holding public office, and you should not vote for them. You should make your choice from among the remaining candidates.Candidates who endorse or promote any of the five non-negotiables should be considered to have disqualified themselves from holding public office, and you should not vote for them. You should make your choice from among the remaining candidates.

Do not reward with your vote candidates who are right on lesser issues but who are wrong on key moral issues. One candidate may have a record of voting exactly as you wish, aside from voting also in favor of, say, euthanasia. Such a candidate should not get your vote. Candidates need to learn that being wrong on even one of the non-negotiable issues is enough to exclude them from consideration.

Eliminate from consideration candidates who are wrong on any of the non-negotiable issues. No matter how right they may be on other issues, they should be considered disqualified if they are wrong on even one of the non-negotiables.Eliminate from consideration candidates who are wrong on any of the non-negotiable issues. No matter how right they may be on other issues, they should be considered disqualified if they are wrong on even one of the non-negotiables.

These posts would seem to advocate voting for a third party candidate because the voter is encouraged to eliminate anyone wrong on one of these “five non-negotiables”. This is affirmed by the teaching of John Paul II, who said it was more important to vote for the candidate that’s morally correct than to worry about who would win. See “John Paul II on Incrementalism”.

The Voters Guide, on its own merits, is a helpful document. However, there are several problems that have arisen from it because of tribalism and party politics:

1) Because Catholic Answers has a reputation for “orthodoxy,” they are “good guys” in the above calculation, so they are, according to the reasoning, beyond reproach, and on the other hand, anything Catholic Answers issues gets elevated to Magisterial teaching. So even though this is a voter guide issued by a lay apologetics group, many Catholics speak of the “Five Non-Negotiables” as if the concept was an ex cathedra papal statement.
2) There are more than five non-negotiables in Catholic teaching, and the Catholic Answers staff were misrepresenting papal teaching to suit their own accomodation to American politics. This is my big beef with the document. The Voter’s Guide is used to argue why ESCR, abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and cloning are always evil, but the Church also says many other things are always evil: contraception, in vitro fertilization, etc.
3) it has become confused and conflated in the public mind, which isn’t the fault of Catholic Answers. A woman once insisted to me that there are only “five intrinsic evils,” and she listed CA’s “five non-negotiables.” I quoted the passage in the Catechism (2297) which defines intrinsic evil, itself quoting Vatican II:

“Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator”

Now, the lady in question told me that I wasn’t a Catholic for thinking that the Catechism, _Veritatis Splendor_ and _Gaudium et Spes_ superseded Catholic Answers and “defriended” me on Facebook. Surprisingly, she didn’t block me, and we run into each other periodically on other groups and pages.

But her confusion and tribalism represents a typical problem. In 2008, things were complicated by the war and ESCR. The “Catholic Left” argued that torture should be a “non-negotiable” since the above passage lists it as equally evil to abortion. That would be fine if Bush had been running for re-election, but the fact was that most of the Republicans running in 2008, and the third party right wing candidates, all opposed waterboarding: IIIR, only Giuliani (who’s also pro-abortion) and Thompson specifically supported it: Dr. Paul, Mike Huckabee, Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr (pro-abortion) and especially John McCain all opposed “enhanced interrogation” for one reason or another, and so torture should have been a non-issue. Ironically, all the Catholics who voted for Obama because of “enhanced interrogation,” illegal detainment and other intrinsic evils of the Bush Administration, along with the questionable justification of the war in Iraq, elected a president who has been far worse for these evils and who has gotten us into several very clearly unjust military actions, such as Libya.

Meanwhile, Catholic conservatives continue to blindly vote Republican the way Catholic liberals have blindly voted Democrat. Even though the CA Voter Guide itself encourages voting third party if possible, Catholics have used the CA Voter guide to justify milquetoast Republicans over Democrats because “abortion is a non-negotiable!”

Well, the problem is that John McCain supported ESCR, and suddenly ESCR became a “negotiable” — NRLC even dropped it as a priority issue (and let’s not forget that Bush authorized it so long as the babies were already dead). Now, we have Mitt Romney, who passively legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts, passed a healthcare mandate law in Massachusetts (and convinced Obama to go with a mandate over total socialization), ignored a Catholic protest in MA to his own contraception mandate, gave money to Planned Parenthood, made money off two abortion-related companies (one that produced abortion pills and another that handled “disposal” of aborted fetuses), and was outspokenly pro-abortion and for changing the GOP platform.

We are supposed to believe that social liberal Mitt Romney has undergone a total change in his views since being governor of Massachusetts. We’re supposed to believe he’s pro-life, even though he’s skipped every pro-life event this year, including events that all his opponents in the primary attended. We’re expected to believe he’s opposed to a health care law he helped write.

We’re supposed to believe that he’s pro-life and pro-family because of his stay-at-home wife (in whose name the Planned Parenthood donations were made) and his 5 kids–one of whom is having his own children through “surrogate motherhood”–even though the Romneys had their kids in the 1970s, and their kids were grown before their father did his worst anti-life and anti-family actions. The fact that the Romneys were already Mormons with a big family when they supported PP and contraception mandates, etc., before they opposed them, they makes them far worse.

And for some reason people are buying this garbage and getting mad at those of us who don’t. They insist Romney’s going to be better than Obama and change things, but he’s not. He’s going to say “Ha, Ha!”

I remember the arguments of Catholics–from died in the wool liberals to people like Doug Kmiec–who argued that if Obama knew a lot of pro-lifers voted for him, maybe he’d change his mind. Yeah, right. How did that work out for *them*?

Now we have Catholics arguing on the Right that if they vote for Romney, and he knows they voted for him because he claims to be pro-life and claims to be pro-marriage,

I argue with the “Catholic Left,” and they say that abortion is a settled issue, and it’s futile to keep fighting it, and it’s never going to be illegal, so it isn’t worth considering it as an issue.

Then I argue with Catholic conservatives about issues like contraception, and they say that contraception is a settled issue, and it’s futile to keep fighting it, and it’s never going to be illegal, so it isn’t worth considering.

The odds are I’m going to be dead before the election. My concern is primarily with peoples’ individual souls–including the candidates’–and not with what actually happens in the election. It’s better to vote third party, and know that you vote for someone who represents your conscience, than to vote for a major candidate by compromising your beliefs. It’s fine to vote for a “lesser of two evils” if you really think that’s necessary, but don’t try justifying the evil.

C. S. Lewis warned about “Christianity AND”. The Vatican censured the Action Francaise because its leaders referred to the Church as a tool to achieving the monarchist cause, rather than the opposite.

Shape your politics to your religion, not your religion to your politics.

More importantly, remember that human beings are flawed. The fact that you happen to like a lot of the things a particular writer or organization puts out doesn’t make that writer or organization infallible. You don’t have to 100% agree with someone. Decisions like whom to vote for are incredibly complicated, and any attempt to simplify the decision is going to be problematic.

And stop assigning absolute infallibility to people just because you generally agree with them. Let God be God.

Infallibility and You

I am formulating a post related in part to apologetics of papal infallibility, but got side tracked on a long explanation of infallibility per se. I’m posting that explanation here so that if and when I post the other argument, I can simply refer back to it.

Infallibility is a very strict thing, though the term “infallibility” technically applies to three different things.

In its most proper sense, “Infallibility” simply means that a pope cannot make a mistake in matters of faith and morals. It does NOT mean that a pope can’t make a mistake in terms of his personal faith or morals. Protestants point to the immorality of the Borgia Popes; radical traditionalist Catholics point to the questionable ecumenical behaviors of John Paul II. Both claim that the alleged sins of the Popes negated their office. Yes, my radtrad readers will no doubt object, as they often do in online debates, that the alleged acts of John Paul II (kissing the Koran, alleged participation in pagan rituals, etc.) constitute apostasy or defection from the faith or de facto heresy. However, I don’t see how kissing a Koran as a sign of politeness could be an act of apostasy but murdering people and keeping mistresses isn’t.

In any case, infallibility has nothing to do with the Pope’s actions, and it has nothing to do with his every day comments. Benedict XVI has even made a point of distinguishing things he writes as “Benedict XVI” from things he writes as “Josef Ratzinger”, to distinguish his personal opinions from his papal teachings. I think he does this, in part, because of the way people have exalted all the writings of Karol Woytyla to merit the authority of the pope.

Infallibility means that the Pope can’t make an error in matters of faith and morals, but his personal opinions are just that. If the pope expresses an opinion on sports or a *particular* political issue (i.e., whether a particular war was “just” or not), that isn’t “covered” by infallibility. That’s called prudential judgement. A Pope *is* infallible when he states the principles a Catholic should follow in making political decisions.

Another aspect of infallibility pertains to what Dietrich von Hildebrand calls “incomplete truth.” Sometimes, a particular aspect of Catholic teaching might be emphasized to deal with a particular issue, such as when social justice was emphasized to fight the horrible working conditions of the Industrial Revolution era, or how abortion is emphasized today. This is also shown in the history of the ecumenical councils: one council would define a truth to denounce one heresy, but then another heresy would arise at the opposite extreme, claiming the previous council as its validation (i.e., Vatican I’s definition of papal infallibility is one of the major legs of those who reject Vatican II; after the notion that Jesus was two persons consubstantial in one body was denounced, those who denied there was any difference between Jesus’ human and divine natures came to the forefront, and the Church said, “No, He is two natures in one Person”, and so on0.

So a particular papal document may emphasize the obligation of the state to listen to the Church on matters of Natural Law, denouncing “freedom of religion,” but then another pope comes along later and promotes “freedom of religion”: an apparent contradiction, but both are attacking the same problem from both ends. The Communists call for “freedom *from* religion”, and that is what Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII spent so much time denouncing–usually in documents condemning socialist governments in particular countries. On the other hand, Leo XIII preceded John Paul II in praising the kind of liberty promoted in the United States: again condemning the notion that the government should be totally free from the Church but praising the notion of not coercing people to adopt a religion. Then Vatican II comes a long and promotes “freedom of religion,” as a way of fighting the efforts of Communism, Islam and Western Secularism to crush such freedom altogether.

This is the same thing that happens with the Bible: when passages in the Bible seem to “contradict” each other, it’s almost always because a different audience, issue and historical context are involved. So in one passage, for example, St. Paul says it’s OK to eat meat sacrificed to idols, but in another passage he advises against it if it’s going to cause scandal.

So even on matters of faith and morals, the Popes must be understood in their historical contexts, and the audiences they were addressing.

The second sense of “infallibility” is what’s called “assent of religion.” This speaks to the Pope’s authority in matters of Church discipline, such as clerical celibacy or fish on Fridays. It also speaks to the matters of personal opinion mentioned above: even though a Pope’s personal opinion is not infallible, Catholics are obliged to follow the Evangelical Counsel of Obedience, so great care and caution should be taken before questioning a Pope’s judgement.

The third meaning of “infallibility” is when the Pope speaks “ex cathedra,” “from the Chair.” The Hebrew religion had the same principle. The New Testament, particularly Acts, makes reference to it in various places where the High Priest’s words are given a special authority, and the High Priest is shown as being sometimes inspired by the Holy Spirit in spite of his opposition to the early Christians.

The power of the Pope to speak ex cathedra means that he can define a matter of faith or morals as dogmatic and binding on all Christians without the need for a Council. This “power” has only been exercised a maximum of four times by Popes since Vatican I, and two of those are disputed: Blessed Pius IX’s definition of the Immaculate Conception; Venerable Pius XII’s definition of the Assumption; Bl. JPII’s definition of life beginning at conception; and Bl JPII’s definition that women cannot be ordained.

The last one has been debated mainly because an early Church Council already defined that dogmatically, and the Pope was just reiterating what they said, but he was using the formulations that Vatican I & II require for an ex cathedra statement. It is also unclear whether he was calling for a dogmatic definition or a matter of “assent of religion”; in any case, Avery Dulles’s elevation to Cardinal is often accredited to his defense that the Apostolic Letter _On the Ordination of Women_ was infallibile. However, even if the encyclical was not “ex cathedra,” it was certainly “infallible,” precisely because it was restating something a Council defined.

Similarly, there is debate about _Humanae Vitae_ because Paul VI came close to officially making it ex cathedra, and there are two arguments given why he didn’t. The so-called “Catholic Left” tries to insist that Vatican I & II said something they didn’t say: ex cathedra is precisely the power of the Pope to speak unilaterally. However, liberal Catholics try to insist that it’s only permitted if the Pope conducts a sort of “long distance Council.” So liberals try to say that Paul VI consulted all the bishops, and since the theological commission set up to investigate the “Pill” had found in favor of it, and since most of the bishops were in favor of it, liberals argue that Paul VI wasn’t able to speak ex cathedra. On the other hand, conservatives argue that the same principle as _Ordinatio Sacerdotalis_: contraception in all forms (herbal contraceptives having been used in all cultures throughout history) has been clearly condemned by the Church throughout history. Natural Family Planning, usually referred to as “selective abstinence” in Church documents, had been officially approved already in Pius XI’s _Casti Connubii_, so that wasn’t new, but he broadened its permission. The only thing novel in Humanae Vitae was the definition of marriage has having both a unitive and procreative purpose, where the prevailing Thomistic view had limited it to procreative (there’s that “incomplete truth” thing again).

One of the issues with both Catholic “Left” and “Right” is an inability to see the big picture of the Church: there are tons of documents produced by hundreds of Popes and dozens of Councils over the centuries, most of them buried in archives at the Vatican and other places, and most of them written in Latin and never published. Most of us don’t have any idea what the historical teachings of the Church are, so questioning the judgement of a Pope and saying it contradicts Church teaching (on the one hand) or that the Pope’s teaching is not dogmatically binding (on the other) is to claim that you’ve read *all* that, plus all the Doctors, early Church Fathers, etc., whose writings help make up the Magisterium. It’s a complex matter.

What the heck did this Todd Akin dude actually say, and was he “right” in what he *intended* to say?

I haven’t been following the Todd Akin thing, but I find the diverse reactions interesting. Apparently, there are key three points that made his comments controversial:
1) he said, correctly, that rape as a motive for abortion is rare, but it came off to some people like he said pregnancy from rape is rare (or maybe he did, and he confused his own statistic).
2) he suggested “legitimate” rape, which created the firestorm–everyone took it as suggesting there’s such a thing as “legitimate” rape, but he meant “truly a rape”. Now, this has implications about such issues as spousal rape, date rape, etc., but I *think* he was referring to how abortionists are notorious for falsely reporting the reasons behind abortion. However, he should’ve been clearer in explaining that part of his position, which is the problem with our sound-biting, tweeting, shout-back-and-forth media/political culture.
3) he claimed that a woman’s body has ways of preventing an unwanted pregnancy, which truly is stupid and ignorant. Phrased a slightly different way, he again made a potentially valid point: the odds of any given sexual act resulting in pregnancy are extremely high. First, it has to occur within 5 days before ovulation or 24 hours after. Next, there are internal mechanisms that a woman’s body uses to filter out sperm: pH, her own immune system, etc.

On the other hand, it is also well documented than an ovulating woman puts out pheromones and other indicators that make her more desirable to men, just like an animal in heat (“more, but not less,” as C. S. Lewis puts it). So on the other hand, it is likely that’s a factor in rapists targeting victims–certainly “date rape” cases–so that would indicate a greater likelihood of pregnancy.

In any case, pregnancy that results from rape accounts for less than 1% of all abortions, and that shouldn’t even be the focus: the focus should be on the fact that the child doesn’t deserve to die for the sperm donor’s sin, a fact attested to by this woman’s powerful testimony (who is deeply offended by Akin’s comments).

I don’t know whether Akin was intending to say that a rape exception for outlawing abortion is a relatively minor exception or that it should not be an exception, but one thing that’s very clear is he phrased his arguments quite poorly.

However, the other thing that’s abundantly clear is that his idiotic comments are in turn being taken out of context by the Left to claim he said something he never said. The majority of the brouhaha has been over his poorly chosen phrase, “legitimate rape.”

From the context, as I noted, it’s clear that by “legitimate”, he meant “actually a rape.” Now, that again is a very problematic statement. However, to hear the liberals talk about it, Akin said that some rapes are “OK”, and that is NOT what he said at all.

So his comments were idiotic but well-intentioned, and they’ve set back the cause of protecting the biological children of rapists for being executed for their fathers’ crimes, but he never said anything like what the feminazis are claiming he said, and that is a grave injustice.

At first, I assumed the few pro-Akin bits I’ve glanced at over the past few days had been shallow attempts at partisan “my side can do no wrong”-ing, but now that I’ve read what he actually said, it’s very clear that this is another case of the left and the media finding some idiotic statement by a Republican and then twisting it completely so they can claim that all conservatives secretly think that way.

Meanwhile, Newsbusters is pointing out that the “mainstream media” have given 4 X the coverage to Akin’s comments that they gave to Joseph Biden’s offensive comments last week: comments that in attempting to castigate all Republicans as racists just showed Biden for the racist he is. Let’s not forget that Biden’s the guy who, in early 2008, said Barack Obama is special because articulate black men are, according to Biden, so rare. Which is kind of funny, coming from an inarticulate Irish-American.

Pharisee #1, Pharisee #2 and the Tax Collector

10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous–or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

This parable, often called “The Pharisee and the Publican [or “Tax Collector”], is one of those things often cited, along with the infamous “Judge Not, lest ye be judged” to stifle any condemnation of objective moral evil.

To properly understand this parable, however, we must also think about what it meant to be a Pharisee and what it meant to be a tax collector.

In Roman-occupied Palestine, the tax collectors were looked upon by their Jewish brethren as collaborators. They were unclean because they cooperated with the Roman authorities. They also economically cheated their brethren. When we talk about Jesus associating with “tax collectors and prostitutes”, that really applies to two different categories of people.

As C. S. Lewis points out somewhere, prostitution is not a generally glamourous profession. Few people think, “I wanna grow and be a prostitute.” It’s a profession that someone enters out of desperation. Though sadly many who enter that profession get so buried in sin that they not only lose hope but the desire for salvation, still many who are trapped in that lifestyle want a way *out*. Prostitute-type sinners are looking for a Savior, and Jesus offers that hope.

Tax collector-type sinners are on the opposite end. They’ve got it made: they have everything the world could offer. Roman tax collectors made their living off of graft. The Romans expected them to pay the required tax, but the tax collectors themselves would often abuse the tax code and overtax people to make a tidy profit–as Zaccheaus admitted to doing when he promised to give back everything he took unjustly, plus interest.

When the Pharisees condemned Jesus for “dining with tax collectors and sinners,” however, the Gospel only recounts two occasions of Jesus dining with a tax collector. One is the home of Levi/Matthew, after he abandoned tax collecting and literally dropped everything to follow Jesus. The other is Zacchaeus, who literally goes out of his way to see Jesus, then welcomes Our Lord into his home, and then promises to give away first everything he took unjustly, plus interest, and next 1/2 of everything that is rightfully his. Only after Zacchaeus promises to do that does Jesus say “truly salvation has come to this house” (Lk 19:9; a warning to the “salvation by faith alone” crowd).

So it is not really fair to say Jesus dined with “tax collectors”–the only two recorded cases were tax collectors *who had already repented*. And the same with prostitutes and adulteresses. Whether the various sinful women mentioned in the Gospels (the woman who anoints Jesus at the Pharisee’s house, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, or Mary of Magdala) are the same or different, the essence of all these women’s stories is Jesus’ words to the woman whom He saved from stoning: “Go and sin no more.” (Jn 8:11).

Every case of the Pharisees condemning Jesus for associating with “sinners” pertains to someone who’s already repented. Indeed, the key passage where they condemn Him for doing so is at dinner at Matthew’s house (Mt 9:11)–yet the Pharisees are *right there*. They’re at the dinner party, too! When they come nad say “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery” (Jn 8:4), they condemn themselves for voyeurism, which is why reading is often paired in the Liturgy with the story of Susannah in Daniel, where a couple of peeping-Tom priests get mad when the woman they’re lusting after rejects their advances, so they accuse her of adultery (Daniel 13).

Nowhere does Jesus encourage His followers to regularly hang out with *unrepentant* sinners. Quite the contrary:

14 Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
. . .
34t “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 35For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’

37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up his cross* and follow after me is not worthy of me. 39* v Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:14, 34-39)

And, immediately after the teaching about removing the beam from one’s own eye (Mt 7:5), Our Lord says, ““Do not give what is holy to dogs,* or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Mt 7:6).

On the other hand, what are the Pharisees? Well, we know the Pharisees were self-righteous, but we forget in what their self-righteousness entailed. The Pharisees were very concerned primarily about cultural “righteousness” and about appearances, and not even necessarily about “moral righteousness.”

The Sadducees were Biblical and legal literalists. The classic Sunday school pneumonic tool that they were “sad, you see, because they didn’t believe in the Resurrection” is an oversimplification which side-steps the fact that they were the “fundamentalists” of first-century Judaism. Sadducees held that the only Scriptures were the five books of the Torah. They did not believe that the Prophets and Writings belonged in the Scriptures, and especially not the Writings that were originally written in Greek (the Deuterocanon). So any theological concepts that were introduced outside the confines of the Torah, such as the “resurrection” or the existence of angels, were rejected by the Sadducees. In cases like the ‘messengers of God’ mentioned in Genesis, a Sadducee would interpret those passages as referring to human prophets, and not to angels.

The Pharisees, by contrast, not only accepted the Prophets and Writings as part of Scripture, but they believed the law was open to interpretation based upon tradition. Our Lord to that extent agreed with their school of thought, and some scholars argue that if we are to place Jesus in any school of Judaism of His day, he’s clearly a Pharisee–He uses Pharisaical methods of Scriptural exegesis and hermeneutics.

The problem with the Pharisees, though, is their primary concern was “separating the sheep from the goats,” and emphasizing the cultural separateness of the Jews from the Gentiles. They “strained the gnat and swallowed the camel” (Mt 23:24) because they emphasized the aspects of the Law that were of lesser important but more superficial. It’s easier to sit down and say, “Let’s try some camel burgers for dinner” than it is to sit down and eat soup for dinner and find a gnat floating in one’s soup. That’s just gross.

So the Pharisees would condemn acts of external impurity (such as healing on the Sabbath) while ignoring acts of genuine immorality (such as staring at naked women in the hopes of catching them committing adultery). They would condemn collaboration with the Romans by the tax collectors while essentially collaborating themselves (again, they were at the dinner party, too).

Jesus’ most explicit condemnations of the Pharisees in Mark 7 still don’t make sense out of the historical context, but for example, when He says, “Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’* (meaning, dedicated to God),” (Mk 7:11), this refers to a legal fiction that they would create. It does not refer to giving money to the “Church” or to authentically failing to care for one’s parents because of a religious obligation–after all, the same Jesus also said “let the dead bury their dead” (Lk 9:60) and on numerous occasions called His followers to abandon their families.

What made the Pharisee’s version of “Qorban” immoral was it was a religous kind of tax evasion or asset hiding.

A prominent football coach with quite a “nest egg” legally signs everything over to his wife, claiming it’s so she won’t have to pay estate taxes when he dies. Just a couple months later, he is announced as a plaintiff in a major lawsuit, and shortly after that, it’s publicly announced he has cancer. So his critics question whether he was really providing for his wife or trying to protect his assets against the lawsuit. Whichever of the three possible motives, or all of them, it may have been, it’s a common practice to transfer assets in some some seemingly innocent way to avoid any one of those three eventualities when one knows they’re on the way.

Another example is how companies avoid various tax codes by the corporate structures they use. So some critics of “Obamacare” have noted how companies that want to avoid the penalties for “Obamacare” just have to divide themselves up into smaller “dummy corporations”, each having the maximum employees to skirt ACA’s requirements.

That’s essentially what the Pharisee’s version of “Qorban” was. The Law allowed for assets to be transferred to the Temple. Qorban was a way of legally transferring assets to the temple so they could still be used by the individual but not officially “in his name,” so he wouldn’t have to use them to care for his other obligations. I also once heard that the Pharisees would try to avoid “breaking the sabbath” by packing “just enough food” so it didn’t count as work, then stopping every so often that it wasn’t “work” to rest and have a snack so they could claim they weren’t “traveling on the sabbath”. So let’s say they said the maximum distance you could travel on the Sabbath was 10 miles. A Pharisee would walk for 10 miles, then take a break and eat a cracker and say it was a “meal.” But if he saw you walking 11 miles, he’d accuse you of breaking the Sabbath.

In Christian arguments, “Pharisee” is kind of like “Nazi” in political arguments: it gets thrown around so much as to lose its meaning, and if we’re going to accurately apply it, we need to know what it means. For the Pharisees used complicated legalisms and theological arguments to justify their own behavior while condemning others for superficial offenses (“not by appearances shall he judge,” says the Prophet, Isaiah 11:3).

It is one thing to speak of those who think they are righteous when they are not. It is one thing to speak of those who sin and admit it and don’t repent. It is a third thing to speak of those who sin and repent. However, where the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican gets misapplied, and where the charge of Pharisaism is often misapplied, is in situations within the Church where we argue with one another about moral or theological teachings.

The better passage about internecine arguments among Catholics is the “letters to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor” in Revelation 2 & 3. I believe I’ve blogged about this passage before. Like all aspects of the Book of the Apocalypse, these seven “letters” are much debated. A popular theory is that they’re about “eras of Church history” or something. But I think it’s simpler than that. In those letters, we can see the divisions that exist in the Church today and have probably always existed: the “conservatives” who are upright in God’s law but sometimes forget compassion; the “liberals” who are good about compassion but associate too much with unrepentant sinners and allow corruption to infiltrate the Church; the “charismatics”; those who get it right; the martyrs; etc.

Isaiah says “woe to those who call evil good” (5:20). This is the stock-in-trade of the so-called “Catholic Left” today. It’s one thing to show compassion to sinners, but true charity requires calling someone to repentance and welcoming them. How many of us have been to confession only to have the priest say, of an intrinsic evil, “That’s not a sin” or “That’s not a sin anymore”? I know someone who spent many years away from the Church, and then, upon regaining his faith, went to his local pastor and asked what to do, especially given some of the moral complications of his marriage and such. The priest said, “Well, the Church doesn’t believe in sin anymore, so you can just come back.”

Fr. Corapi may have fallen into trouble with his own fame getting to his head, but he still had some worthwhile stories, such as the priest at a conference who spoke of how hell and the Devil are obsolete (of course, the CDF issued a document in the 70s denouncing this popular “spirit of Vatican II” teaching). A lady asked the priest, “Father, do you *really* not believe in Hell?” “Of course not.” “Well, you will when you get there!”

When someone is calling evil good, and using theological sophistication to undermine a clear-cut teaching of the Church (such as the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception), it is not “name calling,” nor is it “Pharisaism,” to point out that such a person is on the fast track to Hell. Rather, the person who uses theological sophistries to justify evil is the one engaging in Pharisaism.

It is not uncharitable to point out that someone is speaking for the Devil, not for God. It is, rather, a supreme act of charity.

What it means to be in a Secular Order, and why Diocesan Priests need to understand us better.

“How One Community Brought Renewal to Religious Life”

This is a fantastic article about Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, and his order, and how they truly embodied the call of Vatican II.

Of note is a concept Fr. Groeschel mentions called “pluriformity,” a concept that arose in the 1960s of Orders adapting to the cultures they’re in, much as the Jesuits have always done. Pluriformity in particular involves adapting the notion of “poverty.”

The notion of “poverty” in the US is much debated, but the government defines poverty, based upon a standard created in the 1920s or thereabouts, as 3X the average cost of food per person. The original notion was that food and housing should be 2/3 of a household’s income, and there should be another third available for other expenses. Of course, this standard did not include our modern utilities, such as electricity aAnd plumbing, or modern costs for cars, etc. If you look what’s required to function in the US and not get Social Services at your door, the cost is really like 4X the cost of food, minimally (and housing, as a percentage of people’s income, has increased drastically).

Anyway, “pluriformity” is the argument used when monks and nuns buy business suits at JC Penney or someplace. Good forms of “pluriformity” include monasteries that have adopted air conditioning, or cases like Fr. Stan Fortuna’s “rap ministry” (referred to in the above article). Ironically, many orders that are dying off for too much “pluriformity” have turned to one of the Medieval practices which led to the rise of Third Orders: retired laity paying rent to come and live in monasteries and motherhouses.

Now, the fruits of “pluriformity” are being seen in the current “crackdown” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) on the Leadership Council for Women Religious (LCWR), but I bring all this up to highlight the irony of “pluriformity” when compared to the lives of many laity.

St. John of the Cross had a brother who lived in great poverty and had a large family. He had a close relationship with his brother and considered his brother one of the most saintly people he knew nad one of his trusted spiritual advisors.

My wife has often wished for an Order that would be founded specifically to help disabled and impoverished laity with our daily living. We were surprised to learn that this was the original reason Bl. Teresa of Calcutta founded her missionaries of charity: to go into homes and help poor and disabled families with their housekeeping, child care, etc., but when she saw the desperate need in Calcutta, the nature of their mission changed.

Again, the Missionaries of Charity show the true nature of “pluriformity.”

It is impossible to fully serve the poor unless one embraces poverty. Religious in America do some wonderful work–we received some fantastic help from nuns at Catholic Charities over the years–but they basically act as social workers. Mother Teresa’s nuns weren’t afraid to “get their hands dirty,” as it were, because they lived in such severe poverty.

Meanwhile, if the principle of pluriformity is applied equally, many laity live in greater poverty than many religious. My own family’s circumstances are partly due to my disability, but they’re also due to the choices my wife and I have made to try and serve God the best we can. And it dawned on me on August 1 that, between the “Chick Fil A controversy” and the HHS contraception mandate, if I had been able to get a job as a FT college professor, and if I hadn’t had to quit working due to my health, my career would have been practically over at this point, anyway. Knowing that college students around the country are protesting the presence CFA on campus, and knowing that I’d have probably been fired for standing up for CFA or against contraception or against “gay marriage,” and knowing that my obvious Christianity has been a hindrance throughout my career (it’s obvious on my resume given most of my extracurricular activities and my published articles), I realize I’m quite blessed that I’m already safely on disability.

I have several friends who are also Secular Carmelites, who also live happily in relative poverty. Some are divorced women. Some have never been married. They’re disabled or older. Again, they have made greater sacrifices in their lives than a lot of priests and religious, and they have a deep spiritual life.

I was talking to a friend at my daughter’s first communion party, and he said, “John, you’re kind of living like all the vocations except the priesthood in one: you’re married, but you’re kind of like a hermit because you spend most of your time at home, and you’re also a missionary on the internet, and you’re a secular Carmelite.”

That’s a good assessment of what it means to live the life of a Consecrated Secular to its fullest. People really don’t understand what a consecrated Secular is: sometimes we get talked about as if we’re just “playing at” religious life. We’re not a “fan club” or social club. We’re not “mini monks” or “mini nuns.” We’re living a distinct vocation in the church, trying to implement the specific spiritualities of our Orders in accord with our state in life, and trying to maximize the spirituality of our states.

Many seculars end up living in celibacy, either because of divorce or because they opt not to remarry after being widowed. Some choose to become consecrated hermits. In some ways, we’re just doing what all laity ought to do but elevating it, but that’s the point.

It’s just frustrating that people, especially clergy, don’t really understand what a Secular Order is or what it means, and think we’re “putting on airs” or something, especially when our brethren in the “First” (priests/monks/friars) and “Second” (nuns) Orders, as well as the Congregation for Religious and Consecrated Life, say otherwise.

We are obligated to say the Office, just like religious brothers and sisters and diocesan priests–this in particular is a common misunderstanding on the part of diocesan priests, who think we’re being scrupulous when we confess to violating our Rules. We are obligated to wear some kind of Scapular in our daily lives (and I can physically feel the difference when I fail to wear mine). We are obligated to practice certain other prayers and activities, which vary from Order to Order. These obligations are the same as our Religious brethren, but we get treated as if we’re just playing at it or something. It can be very frustrating. I see it often. On several occasions, I’ve seen Q&A priests answer questions from members of Secular Orders regarding the Office, and they dismiss the questions with “you’re not obligated to say it, so it’s not liturgical prayer for you.” YES WE ARE, AND YES IT IS.

“If I use this version [i.e., Magnificat Magazine or Universalis] is it OK?” “Yes, because you’re not obligated.”
“Can I use [the pre-Vatican II breviary or an Eastern Catholic version]?” “Yes, because you’re not obligated.”
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I am a secular Carmelite, and I have not been saying the Office [or mental prayer or whatever] like I should.” “You’re being scrupulous.”

I’ve even encountered religious priests who don’t understand what a Secular is, and it’s very challenging when it comes to confession or spiritual direction.

Being part of a Secular Order is Consecrated Life, and a Secular member of an Order is as much a member of that Order as any Brother or Sister. Indeed, once we’ve made our final promises, we are canonically bound and obligated to the Order as much as a religious, and the only way to leave an order after permanent promises is by the same canonical process by which a religious would “leave” the convent or monastery. We fall under the same fundamental rules as religious and diocesan clergy. We fall under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Religious. Secular members often participate in the higher governing bodies of various Orders.

Among Carmelites, efforts have been made to fully integrate the OCDS into the OCD, to show that we are not a “separate group” from them–so we now all follow the same “Rule of Life” but with different statutes, where we used to have a separate “Rule of Life.” In the Franciscans, an equal and opposite move since Vatican II has been to emphasize the autonomy of the Secular Franciscans, that they do not exist as subservient to the Friars.

When special events are held for those in consecrated life–for example, bishops sometimes have special masses exclusively for consecrated life–members of secular Orders are invited to attend, and they wear their ceremonial scapulars. In some orders, Seculars still wear the full habit for special occasions, and as I understand it, a secular may receive permission from the local bishop to wear a habit, and some of my friends who are consecrated hermits do.

Everything most people *think* they need to know about Catholic sexual morality

they learned from watching “Monty Python”.

So let me get this straight

1. An anti-abortion activist shoots an abortionist, and it’s instant news, dominating every headline and every TV station. Immediately, it’s “all pro-lifers are terrorists.”

A gay “rights” activist shoots a security guard at the Family Research Council, which is constantly vilified as a “hate group” by the Left, and it gets barely a mention in the news.

2. If a “pro-lifer” commits an act of violence, pro-lifers are quick to denounce the violence, and the Left, again, is quick to say that the “rhetoric” of all pro-lifers is responsible. If a liberal is shot by another liberal, as in the case of Rep. Giffords, even *that* is blamed on conservatives


A pro-gay rights activist commits an act of violence against the Family Research Council, and pro-lifers are quick to say that we should NOT blame all gay rights activists for this one act of violence. Meanwhile, the Left is saying FRC deserved it because it’s a “hate group.” (Whose rhetoric is inciting people to violence?)

3. An anti-abortionist shoots somebody, or a soldier shoots somebody, and Obama’s all over the place denouncing it. A gay activist shoots somebody, and you don’t hear a peep from the president–hours later, after much pressure, a white house spokeshuman issues a half-hearted and vague condemnation.

Thankfully, no one died in the FRC shooting, but what gives? Do people really not see the double standard and the hypocrisy of the Left and the Mainstream Media?

If only more Bishops were Pro-Life, or “How Islam Gave Us Nancy Pelosi”

We all know that there was a concerted effort by many bishops, priests and theologians in the 1960s to tell everyone the Pope would soon permit birth control (even though Bl. John XXIII condemns it in _Mater et Magistra_). What is lesser known is that some bishops actually *squelched* efforts by *Democratic* Catholic politicians to fight contraception. I once read how Chicago’s legendary mayor Daley organized a movement against legalization of contraceptives–till the archbishop of Chicago told him to stop because supposedly the Church was going to permit contraception. Then there’s how “Fr.” Drinan told the Kennedys to adopt a pro-choice position (I always forget if this infamous meeting took place during JFK or RFK’s campaign, but it’s well-documented).

Fr. Bing Arellano can be a bit of a “nut,” but when I went to a conference he gave in Atlanta a few years ago, before the stuff about the USCCB and the Canadian Bishops’ funding of pro-abortion organizations became a public issue, he claimed evidence that back in the 1980s, the US Bishops were giving millions to pro-abortion groups (turned out they were doing so more recently than that).

It was of course another Archbishop of Chicago, Joseph Bernardin, who gave us the “seamless” garment notion that blurs the prioritzation of “respect life” issues, even to the point of putting racism and health care on par with abortion or the death penalty. Regardless of whether people agree that the “death penalty” is a “pro-life” issue (and Bl. John Paul II, the late John Cardinal O’Connor, and even Fr. Frank Pavone all say it is), I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s a difference between directly killing someone and something like “racism” or health care–unless, of course, you’re the kind of person to believe the “Mitt Romney killed my wife” ad.

Ever since I finally read (or perhaps reread, as I think I read it in high school) Etienne Gilson’s classic _Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages_, I’ve wanted to write a piece called “How Islam Gave Us Nancy Pelosi.” When Greek wisdom was re-introduced to the west after centuries of “Dark Ages”–which were really a time of great Christian enlightenment, where the Greek “wisdom” was just considered irrelevant to the spiritual journey–it came via Muslim translations and commentaries, of Greek to Arabic and back to Latin, or even of Greek to Latin to Arabic and back to Latin . So there was some translation error, and since these translations were done as commentaries by Avicenna and Averroes (Latinizations of their names), their commentaries colored the texts.

Aristotle was, at the time, end and all and be-all of what we now call “science,” and Aristotle’s “science” contradicted Scripture–for example, Aristotle said the universe is eternal (a question about which scientists still debate). How did you reconcile Aristotle with “Creationism”?

Averroes attempted to answer this question first, in turn borrowing from Avicenna and the Jewish philosopher Maimonides before him. “Eastern” and “Western” thought is separated primarily by the question of paradox versus the law of identity. Aristotle, building on Socrates and Plato, established the principle of identity and the principle of non-contradiction: a thing is what it is. Something cannot be BOTH A AND B. It cannot be BOTH A AND -A. Two objects cannot co-exist in the same space. This principle (which I once tried to illustrate using symbolic logic on an Aristotle exam, prompting the professor to write “Uncle!” in the margin) underlies all Western thought, but is alien to many non-Western cultures.

Islam is an eastern religion, and relies on many things that Westerners would consider paradoxes. For example, the Bible is to be honored as the Word of God, but recognized as also corrupt. Jews and Christians are “People of the Book,” but there’s the ambiguity about whether we are “Infidels” or not. Meanwhile, Plato had taught his famous notion of the “noble lie,” that “mythology” is a “noble lie” taught to the people because they cannot understand philosophy. Plato said that myths and philosophy teach the same concepts, but mythology allegorizes them to be palatable to the public’s level of intelligence.

To a certain extent, Catholic philosophy even adopts that notion–as even Augustine and some of the other early Fathers recognized a level of allegory and symbolism in Genesis.

However, Averroes took it to a new level and said, basically with Plato, that the Bible and Aristotelian science didn’t *have* to be reconciled. A person could believe *both*. He took Plato’s argument that the Bible is just a symbolic expression of the truth’s of philosophy, and that religion is subservient to philosophy, just a menas of expressing philosophy to the people, but he departed from Plato in that Plato’s philosopher kings are supposed to acknowledge that *to themselves*. Averroes held that people had to believe *both* the “noble lie” of the Bible *and* the philosophy of Aristotle, but in the fashion of Eastern logic, he argued that these truths could be confined to different spheres of life.

So it was Averroes who gave us the concept of the “secular world,” that we can hold one set of beliefs in our religious lives but an entirely different set in our “secular” lives. This idea set in in the Universities in France. The work of Scotus, Aquinas and Bonaventure was a reaction against this trend in philosophy.

However, as Gilson explains, Aquinas and his fellow Scholastics in some ways failed. Averroeism remained entrenched in Catholic universities for centuries. So while we may rightly condemn Masonry, Modernism, etc., for the problems in the Church, they also date back 800 years.

When America arose, it gave Averroeism within the Church a new impetus: it became known as “Kennedy Doctrine,” though in turn it can be found in the writings of John and Charles Carroll, as well: religion is a private business, to be kept private and at church, and civic virtue is another matter. The “heresy of Americanism,” condemned by Leo XIII, kind of covers a lot of things, but one of the things it covers is the relegation of religion to a private sector in return for a secular virtue in public.

I don’t know if Gilson ever explained in another work how this entrenchment operated from the 11th to the 18th century, but it’s clear how it manifested itself in America. Then came the infiltration of the Church, and the Masonic and Communist infiltrators used the existing foundation of Averroeist philosophy to teach priests and bishops to hold the same view.

And it was these priests and bishops who went around in the 1960s and told Catholics both that it was OK to use contraception and that not only should they not fight efforts to legalize contraception, they should *support* those efforts.

What Economic System Does Catholicism Promote?

Short answer: None.

The ongoing debate among Catholics in America, highlighted by the two Catholic candidates for Vice President, is whether Catholics should support “capitalism” or “socialism.” There is a long-held misconception among many Catholics that the Church supports “socialism”, and proponents of this view cite Leo XIII’s groundbreaking encyclical, Rerum Novarum. However, Leo XIII explicitly condemns socialism, a direct condemnation repeated over and over by the Popes.
From Rerum Novarum, Paragraph 15:

Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property. This being established, we proceed to show where the remedy sought for must be found

Indeed, paragraph 676 of _The Catechism of the Catholic Church_ identifies the Antichrist with any ideology which proposes to solve all humanity’s problems, and the context of the document quoted therein is an explicit statement that Communism is the AntiChrist.

The fact that Rerum Novarum elevates the dignity of the worker, and promotes labor unions, seemed to many to promote “socialism,” just as Bl. John XXIII’s declaration in _Mater et Magistra_ that the right to property is limited also seemed to many on the poltical Left and Right to be an endorsement of socialism.
Often, in political dialogue, several concepts get lumped together as “capitalism” and several others as “socialism,” when there are really several separate approaches:

Let me propose, as I suggested metaphorically the other day, that we use the following categories
1) Capitalism: an economy driven by stock ownership, by the notion that money necessarily reproduces itself
2) Free Market: the notion of letting people compete freely in the economic market
3) Liberalism or “Social Justice”: Taxing the upper portion of the population to support the lower portion, since experience has proven that the upper portion are not going to do it voluntarily.
4) Socialism: The government owning some or all aspects of the economy and providing those services for “free.”

Now, Distributism is the Church’s “third way.” The primary considerations of distributism are:

1) The fundamental right to property
2) The *limitation* of the fundamental right to property (Mater et Magistra), in that property reaches a point where it damages the individual (“Blessed are the Poor in Spiirt” and all that).
3) The “common good” or “solidarity”–the need of people to work together.
4) Subsidiarity–the principle that society exists for the protection of the family, and power should be as localized as possible to avoid the corruption that entails with higher power.
5) The inherent dignity of work.
6) The right of workers to own their own labors.

The major social justice encyclicals are Leo XIII’s _Rerum Novarum_, Pius XI’s _Quadragesimo Anno_, John XXIII’s _Mater et Magistra_, Paul VI’s _Populorum Progresso_, Bl John Paul II’s _Laborem Exercens_, JPII’s _ Sollicitudo Rei Socialis_, JPII’s Centesimus Annus, and Benedict XVI’s _Caritas in Veritatae_.

These encyclicals cover a *lot* of topics, so the Church released a _Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine_.

Anyone interested in these issues ought to at least read the Compendium.

Because of the nuanced way the Popes address these issues, and because of the insistence of society on “polarizing” all issues, people understandably get confused. Plus, there is the question of how times have changed: often because what the Popes called for early on has been implemented, and there are now new problems (that’s why so many of the encyclicals are written precisely to commemorate anniversaries of their predecessors).

One example of this is “employee stock plans.” As a way of promoting the dignity of work and the rights of workers to own their labor, one of the Popes (I think it was Pius XI) proposed the notion of corporations sharing their stocks with employees. Stock sharing plans were originally condemned by many on the “Right” as a “socialist” notion, yet today they’ve become an ordinary part of business. Back in the late 1990s, Francis Cardinal George famously gave an address to a conference sponsored by _Commonweal_ where he said that liberal Catholicism is essentially obsolete: not that it’s bad, but it’s served its purpose. Both within the Church and in terms of the Church’s action in the world, what was considered “liberal Catholicism” 100 years ago has both done its job and sufficiently filtered through the Church at most levels, and to continue insisting on “liberalization” of the Church is to go beyond what was originally intended.

And while it seems so because of the television networks and the internet, “Polarization” is nothing new: I often use the example of St. John Bosco. The Socialists hated Don Bosco because he was teaching his boys religoin and pacifism. The Aristocrats hated Don Bosco because they thought he was in league with the Socialists by giving the poor food and shelter and education (this also shows why “liberal Catholicism” or “Catholic liberalism” was necessary at the time: even in Catholic countries, Catholic Aristocrats did not recognize their obligation to support the poor).

So, the Church gives us various principles to apply and consider. However, She gives great freedom in *how* we consider them. The Social Justice Encyclicals all emphasize that so long as Catholics are seriously trying to apply these principles, we have to apply then in context of our societies. This is important, because we may often disagree with how our Catholic brethren apply these teachings, but if they’re citing the principles, we have to presume their goodwill in trying to follow the Church’s teachings.

This is why some people speak of “non-negotiables”. Abortion, for example, is black-and-white. The Church says abortion is wrong in every and all circumstances, and governments are obligated to make it illegal. However, there are other areas like “social teaching” or Just War Theory where the Church gives principles and leaves it up to governments to apply them. So it’s important to recognize what the Church says in these matters. However, many Catholics try to argue that since issues like economics and war have room for interpretation, teachings on issues like abortion should also have room for interpretation.

Now, part of “room for interpretation” is the recognition of the particular issues facing particular countries, as well as the existing political and economic structures of those countries. Sometimes, the Vatican will address a problem with concern about what’s going on one place and it gets misapplied to other countries. For example, Pius XII and Leo XIII gave various documents and speeches where they condemned Socialism/Communism, and they were clearly addressing countries where Socialis or Communist revolutions were happening. In condemning secular regimes which sought to sever Church and State and free the State from the Church, they condemned “religious liberty.” Some have taken this as a condemnation of the “religious liberty” practiced in the US, but both those Popes also praised the kind of liberty promoted in the US (so long as the government recognizes it must listen to the Church on matters of Natural Law).

Well, the Church assigned national episcopal councils with the task of determining how best to apply Catholic Social Teachings in their countries. That’s why the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will occasionally issue a document like _Faithful Citizenship_ from a few years ago.

In the US, however, we have a problem that our episocopal conference is tied to a vast bureaucracy. The major pre-Vatican II Catholic organizations, such as the Legion of Decency (which used to practically control Hollywood but is now the milquetoast USCCB “Film Office”), into one bureaucracy in DC called the “United States Catholic Conference,” and the bishops were, collectively, the “board of directors” of that organization. Then there was the “National Conference of Catholic Bishops,” which met annually to decide on the application of Church teachings and liturgical norms to America. Since the NCCB was technically the Board of Directors of the USCCB, they finally merged into the USCCB, so now the lay employees of what used to be USCC (some of whom aren’t even Catholic) can issue documents that now seem to have the authority of “The Bishops.”

So just as the public and the media do not understand the difference between some priest at the Vatican issuing a statement, the Vatican newspaper writing an article, a Vatican Congregation issuing a document or the Pope issuing a document, so too any statement that comes from “The USCCB” is treated as having the authority of an entire vote by the Bishops. And even if the Bishops collectively vote on something, it still has little technical authority because each bishop is sovereign in his diocese, and any individual bishop has the right to opt out of a USCCB “decision.”

So something comes up like the “USCCB condemns the Ryan Budget,” and that becomes “common knowledge,” even if the USCCB never technically said it. In terms of the Paul Ryan debate, I have not researched deeply enough to know where the alleged “USCCB condemnation” comes from but it is clear that Ryan considers Catholic Social Teaching in his thought, and Ryan himself has made the argument that the “common good” cannot be served by a bankrupted government.

Throughout the world, socialist governments are going bankrupt. The states with the worst economic crises right now in the US–California, PA, etc.–are the most socialist. The “democratic socialist” governments of Europe are collapsing just as the Leninist governments did 20 years ago. Yet, somehow, people keep insisting socialism works, that socialism is the answer to the world’s economic problems, etc.

Meanwhile, though the Church has critiqued certain aspects of capitalism, none of the Popes have condemned capitalism. Rather, because capitalism promotes the right to property, the Popes have said time and again that capitalism is the best context for building a society more based upon CST. Refer back to the example of stock sharing plans.

Subsidiarity says that ownership should be de-centralized. The late conservative philosopher Russell Kirk argued that capitalism and socialism are “two sides of the same coin” because both promote centralization. Neither laissez-faire capitalism nor socialism is in accord with the principle of subsidiarity because one gives the majority of power to the rich, and the other gives the majority of power to the government. Distributism is about distributing the power to produce wealth evenly among the people.

Solidarity is about the common good, but the common good is not served by socialism any more than laissez-faire capitalism. However, as conservative Christians often argue, in a society that promotes economic freedom, individuals have the freedom to use their money for good (though, again, a baseline safety net is necessary because history has shown individuals will not do that). That is what “social justice” means–moderating the injustices of society using the government.

We cannot have a truly “free market” without some level of government regulation. A market dominated by monopolies is no more free than a market dominated by the government.

The Popes promote a notion of “living wage,” which has filtered through society but become corrupted as many such notions tend to be. So people hear “living wage” and think “socialism,” but living wage means paying each employee what he or she is worth given human dignity. It is a principle that goes back to at least Aristotle. In Catholic teaching, “living wage” also refers to considering a person’s family size and obligations so that each individual has enough money to support those he or she needs to. This is not the same as a “minimum wage,” which insists on a baseline pay for all workers, at the same rate. The problem witha “minimum wage” is it encourages inflation. “Living wage” both recognizes the true value of all individuals while avoiding the notion of overpaying someone.

The CST encyclicals are also consistent in noting the limitation of wealth. No individual should have too much wealth or economic power. We can debate about how much is too much or how to regulate it, but the Popes give multiple explanations of why it is wrong for any individual to have too much wealth, yet many Americans, including by a Protestant and Masonic worldview rather than a Catholic one, would insist that this is “unChristian.” People have a blind eye to Luke 12 and Matthew 5, and the numerous other places where Jesus condemns wealth as such (camel and the eye of a needle and all that).

However, whatever the Church’s critique of capitalism, none of the proposals in the CST encyclicals amount to or endorse Socialism: socialism takes away the dignity of the worker. Ask any government employee if he or she has ownership in his or her work, and you’ll have your answer on that one.

Distributism is about giving each family just enough means to produce a living, and then letting them be free to do so. It’s about limiting the capacity of any one agent in society to make too much money–Chesterton proposes this be done by guilds or unions: i.e., a particular profession’s guild determines the just wage for that profession and apportions the zones for each member to work without competing with others). We are so addicted to the drug of “progress,” however, that we don’t want to accept an economic system that promotes subsistence rather than “prosperity.”

We’re so worried about “debt,” an artificial construct based upon “funny money,” espeically in our modern age, that we refuse to accept the notion of letting people start from scratch. Once again, however, forgiveness of debt is a recurrent theme in both the Old and New Testaments and in papal teaching: in the Old Testament, God *requires* forgiveness of all debt every 7 years, and Scott Hahn argues that the fact Israel ignored this Commandment was a major reason for the Babylonian Exile (which lasted for as many years as the Sabbath years the Israelites failed to obey).

Chesterton famously said that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting but found difficult and not tried. The same is true of Distributism and Catholic Social Teaching: if we *really* followed what Jesus teaches in the Gospel–and CST is really nothing more than an expansion of Matthew 5 and Luke 12 to modern issues–it would be difficult. It would require breaking down our entire way of looking at economics and society, and reforming from the ground up. This is why many Catholics argue capitalism and a libertarian approach, for now, is best, because of the “accepted” models, it’s the only way to work our way up from the bottom. At least those systems, as the Popes have acknowledged, respect the fundamental right to property, which socialism does not.

So I never get the notion, common among Catholics, that the Church’s preference is for socialism, and the alliance with Capitalism is just an alliance of convenience.

Economic Theories Explained, via Fishing

Liberal: Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day
Capitalist: Teach a man to fish, then charge him for the use of your lake and someone else’s fishing pole, or hire him to fish for Fishing Incorporated and make enough money to buy himself a quarter of a fish when all is said and done.
Socialist: Teach a man to fish, then tell him he can fish for “free” at The People’s Lake, using the People’s Fishing Pole, and that he has to give back 50% of anything he makes to “the People.”
Distributist: Teach a Man to fish, then give him rod and a piece of land by the lake and designate an area of the lake that his exclusive area to fish, and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.

How I’m Unique: My Parents’ Book is Back!

Back in 1984, my parents wrote a lovely little children’s book on living with Marfan syndrome called _How John Was Unique_. I’ve encountered several Marfs over the years who said this book has meant a lot to them. One lady on FB who’s a few years younger than I am said that she’s literally given out hundreds of copies to people.

A few years ago, I noticed it was out of print and no longer available from the NMF catalogue. I asked them about digitizing it, and never heard back. I just did a Google search, and found it is now available from the NMF in PDF format:

How John Was Unique in PDF

If somebody else builds it for you, will they come?

Obama’s now-infamous “You didn’t build that” speech may have been trying to express a valid point-that most people acknowledge anyway–that all our successes come from the people who helped us along the way, but it does so in a *negative* way. Yes, there are sadly people on the “Right” who insist, “This is *my* money, this is *my* business. I earned/built it, and it’s mine, mine mine,” and sadly given the polarized nature of our political dialogue, many people *say* that but don’t really mean it the way it sounds. However, Obama’s speech speaks to the difference between the Radical Left and, well, just about everyone else.

I’ve heard many of the “bosses” on _Undercover Boss_ say how they recognize the people who’ve helped them along the way, so they want to reach out to their lower level employees as benefactors or mentors–that’s great, and that’s what the occupant of the White House was theoretically getting at. However, his approach was to say you deserve taxation, not “you should voluntarily reach out to those who are trying and need a hand up.” Rather than positively building on the notion of showing gratitude to those who have helped us in life, he focused on being negative towards those who are successful, treating their success as a random aggregate of factors that put them where they are.

This is the expression of the attitude of the kinds of people who support Obama: liberals with an entitlement mindset who insist their own situations, whatever they are, were the “luck of the draw” compared to other people. It is a depressed, and depressing, way to look at life. Liberals insist conservatives are too negative because we speak out against sinful behavior. Liberals, however, are too negative in that they speak out against any kind of success.

Look at the liberal attitude towards education: back in the days of segregation, “White schools” supposedly did much better than “black schools” or “hispanic schools,” and since the white schools were better funded, and since rich kids generally do better than poor kids, the liberals started to insist that money was necessary for a good education. So they started throwing money at schools with no real understanding of what they were doing. Then neoconservatives came along and said, “We’re throwing all this money at schools, but nothing’s changed. We’ve had integration, and minorities are still performing badly. So it must be the *teachers*.” Both sides, when it comes to education, take Obama’s attitude of looking for someone to blame, of attributing lack of success to circumstances. No one seems to be aware that success in education is always correlated to parents. Affluent parents tend to be more educated themselves and more likely to encourage their children’s education, plus they’re able to pay for better resources *at home.* In “Lilies that Fester,” C. S. Lewis warns that one danger of mass education is a true education happens at home, not at school, and the poor cannot afford their own books and private tutors, etc., so mass education just turns into mass brainwashing, and that’s exactly what we’ve gotten today. States have adopted bi-partisan “Standards of Learning” that list, in great detail, what topics students are “supposed to know”: this war but not that war, this president but not that president, this novel but not that one. . . . It amounts to a very obvious attempt at biasing the students’ knowledge to what the legislators insist they should know–in order to better serve the legislators and their corporate sponsors. A true education is about learning how to think and how to read, and then being exposed to a variety of information and books so one can form one’s own mind.

I don’t think there’s a single Valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, or other award winner who thinks, “I got here by myself.” We all recognize the role our parents, our elder siblings, our teachers, our friends, and our other mentors played, as well as the authors whose books we read. But there is still an element of personal motivation involved there, such that two people from exactly the same background can end up quite differently. The other day, I watched the movie _Eagle Eye_, where Shia Labeouf portrays identical twin brothers (one of whom is dead at the time of the film). One brother, the dead one, was an A-student who ended up in the USAF and as one of the top young people in US military intelligence. The other brother, Labeouf’s character, had the capacity to go to Stanford, with a little help from his father’s money and connections, but was always a poor student who needed his older brother’s help. He was never motivated to “succeed” like his brother was, and had been working odd jobs and bumming around the country for years. That wasn’t the point of the movie, but it does illustrate what I’m talking about here.

Modern liberalism originated with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who held that an individual’s morality and worldly success were products of environment. That view has been the basis of liberal thought for centuries since, but as various ventures have tried to reform society to eliminate sin and eliminate poverty, they have all failed. One answer that modern progressives have come up with to explain the failure of their agendas regarding sin is that maybe certain things are not sinful. This is the agenda behind the “born that way” rhetoric of the homosexualist movement.

However again, when it comes to “success”, liberals/progressives continue to insist that circumstances are the primary reasons for success or failure. They refuse to state it in a positive way by encouraging those who succeed to become benefactors and mentors to those who don’t succeed precisely because they don’t see the success as coming *from* the person. To the mind of a liberal, there is no difference between Mitt Romney (whose net worth is estimated at $250 million) and a Mega Millions jackpot winner. Can a Mega Millions Jackpot winner give a speech saying, “This is how I won the lottery: you can do it, too?” No. And in their mind, the success of someone like Mitt Romney or John Boehner, both of whom were born into poverty and made it big, must be the result of some nefarious scheme or some cruel fortune.

A conservative, and even an “old school liberal,” says that people like Romney and Boehner have something to be proud of. That Boehner is one of 10 siblings and made it big while his other 9 siblings live middle class lifestyles at best should not be seen as the “luck of the die,” but rather as a testimony to his personal commitment.

Similarly, those who find success in a middle class lifestyle should have similar pride. I was just watching an episode of _Everybody Loves Raymond_ the other day where Ray is having a “mid life crisis,” and he tries to put together a “bucket list,” but all he can come up with are foods he never tried, and diseases he doesn’t want to get. Debra tries to explain to him that he’s content. My wife always talks about how much she admires her father for how he turned down opportunities for career advancement for his family. I know my own father did the same. Both our mothers did the same thing by turning down their own paths for career success to be stay-at-home mothers, and we admire them, as well.

To a liberal, a stay at home mother is someone to be pitied because she is “saddled” with the burden of a family by her religion, by the institution of marriage, by not having free government paid-for birth control, etc. A father who doesn’t “advance” in his career is to be pitied for the circumstances of his kids “holding him back” or because someone else got the job.

Those who get promotions are not to be admired because it’s entirely random and arbitrary–which is why liberals support affirmative action. Grades in school are random and arbitrary–so students are taught not to respect teachers whom they think are entirely ‘on the take”; successful students aren’t “hard workers” but “teachers’ pets”.

This is the attitude that leads people to vote for Obama and “Occupy Wall Street.” Again, those people would say they think conservatism is a miserable philosophy because we condemn the sins that they use as opiates, but we look at their philosophy and say, “How can anyone live with such a negative attitude about success?” When we find success in our achievements–whether as stay at home parents, small business owners, middle class workers or wealthy executives–we don’t need to resort to the opiates of sin to self-medicate our ennui. That’s why it’s ultimately happier to be a conservative.

TNT’s _Dallas_: Review Coming; Season Finale Speculation Here

I’ve been working on a rather long review of a worthy revival of one of the greatest TV series of all time–which will be posted in several parts, related to what made the original series great, my reactions to the new series, and why I think it’s of great cultural import.

Most of it’s drafted, but I have some to go, and before the season finale airs, though, I wanted to get some predictions/speculation posted in case I’m right.

My original intention was to have these predictions build out of my review of the series thus far, so a bit of a recap. My biggest beef with this series is that it plays fast & loose with continuity.

Here’s the deal, in short.

Since the very first episode of the original series, one of the recurring storylines of the Ewing Saga is how Southfork Ranch, besides being fictionally the biggest working ranch in the state of Texas, also sits on perhaps the biggest oil deposits in the country (for some reason, on the new series, they’re acting like this is news). This was such an important plot point in the original series, yet never fulfilled, and the relationships of then-young cousins John Ross and Christopher were so full of foreshadowing that the story called for some kind of continuation.

So, of course, that’s the focus of the new series. In the pilot episode, John Ross Ewing III follows in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and once again secretly drills on Southfork. His uncle Bobby (who was given the deed by his mother in the last season of the original series, but in this series has it by trust from her will) is incensed. Bobby, by the way, has cancer. The infamous JR is in a sanitarium and has been for some time (the vaguery of which I will discuss elsewhere). Learning John Ross’s plans to get the family back in the oil business, JR experiences a miraculous recovery. Meanwhile, Christopher marries “Rebecca Sutter,” a girl who not only looks a great deal like his possibly dead or just missing adoptive mother Pam, but also has the same name as Pam & Cliff Barnes’ mother and the middle name of Cliff’s daughter, Pamela Rebecca. When the promotional stills first came out last year, people said, “Who’s that girl who looks so much like Pam? Is she some kind of Barnes?” And the producers INSISTED, “She’s not a Barnes. This is Ewing v. Ewing. No Barneses.”

Yet shortly before the series “premiered” (though fans are calling it Season 15 and not even referring to it as a new series), TNT posted a video explaining the basics for those who didn’t know the original show, and a good deal of it focused on the Barnes/Ewing Feud.

Now, in the producers’ defense, when they wrote the script, they weren’t sure about the extent of the involvement of the original cast members, or their health. Ken “Cliff Barnes” Kercheval and Larry Hagman have both had quite a lot of health problems since the series ended–in some of his guest appearances in the late 90s on shows like _Diagnosis Murder_, Kercheval was in a wheelchair.

So Kercheval signed on to make 3 guest appearances. His first two were little more than cameos, though they hinted at something more.

When Christopher introduced Cliff to his wife Rebecca, she and Cliff cast each other the kind of look that actors use when the characters are supposed to be indicating it’s not the first time they’ve met.

The show hasn’t gotten much into explaining what’s happened between 1991 and 2012, but Cliff is now a multi-billionaire who’s based out of Las Vegas. JR spent a few episodes in Vegas, trying to find out what Cliff is up to (in real life, Hagman was going through cancer treatment).

John Ross was conspiring with a woman originally introduced as “Marta del Sol,” whom JR learned by the end of episode 2 was not the “real” Marta del Sol (Carlos del Sol having been a Mexican billionaire JR had business dealings with in the past but hadn’t seen since his daughter was a child). Her “real name” was Veronica Martinez or something, and John Ross met her in Las Vegas.

Marta/Veronica, who is now dead, put John Ross in contact with some “Venezuelans” who financially backed his scheme to buy Southfork from Bobby through a fake land conservation trust. The main representative of these “Venezuelans” is Vincente, a really nasty dude who is Venezuelan but has been in the US several years, doing shade business deals of various sorts. In other words, it’s not certain Vincente actually represents some kind of Venezuelan organization, as he claims.

So we have these people John Ross is mixed up with, who all claim to be something they’re not, and they all have ties to Las Vegas, and we know they’re working for someone.

Then on the other hand, there’s “Rebecca Sutter.”

It is definitely clear that Rebecca is supposed to be “somebody.” There’s a subplot that Bobby Ewing’s “new” wife Ann apparently had a child at some point, and the way it’s being handled suggests she gave the child up for adoption. So one choice is that Rebecca is Ann’s daughter.

Rebecca has a “brother” named Tommy–Carter McKay, the Ewings’ main adversary from the latter seasons of the original series, had a son named Tommy. So I wondered if they might throw one out of left field and make them McKays.

However, as time has gone on, several things have already been revealed about the mysterious Rebecca: a) her “brother” Tommy was responsible for breaking up Christopher and his first fiancee; b) when she “accidentally” met him in China, it was arranged; c) while she then claimed it was Tommy’s idea, we learned in last week’s episode that the whole scheme was *her* idea, and she has a lockbox at the bank full of cards and cash indicating a dual life; d) Tommy is not her brother, and it’s not even clear their relationship predated this long term scam of the Ewings.

Rebecca was the name of Pam & Cliff’s mother.
Cliff had a daughter, Pamela Rebecca Cooper–who was a key figure in 1996’s _JR Returns_, but the 1996 & 1998 TV movies are being ignored.
Cliff seems to know Rebecca
Rebecca engineered this whole plan to infiltrate the Ewing family.

Oh, and last week’s episode saw Tommy meeting secretly with this mysterious guy named Frank who serves as Cliff’s representative and all around henchman.

So what will probably be revealed in tonight’s season finale is that Cliff Barnes has been behind both “Rebecca and Tommy,” and the “Venezuelans,” as a means of getting at both Ewing cousins and their incipient businesses, as well as Southfork. If he’s behind the “Venezuelans,” that means that he has a lien on Southfork, and they might pull the biggest surprise of them all and have the Ewings lose Southfork altogether when Cliff calls his lien.

Conversely, if Kercheval (who, while not a “regular” till the third or fourth season, is the only actor besides Hagman to have appeared in all 14 seasons) is not in it for the long haul, JR mentioned some super-high stakes poker game Cliff runs, and my back-up prediction is that JR will play a multimillion dollar poker match with Barnes, and if he doesn’t wipe him out, he’ll at least win back the rights to the “original” Ewing Oil.

Allie’s been published!