Category Archives: liberation theology

Was Jesus “Bound By His Times”?

So, Jimmy Carter thinks that, if Jesus “were alive today,” He’d approve of gay marriage, abortion, women’s ordination, etc. . . .
One of the popular notions of “Christian” liberals is that “Jesus was bound by His times,” that if He had not been so bound, He’d have approved of all the things they want to do–things that, at the same time, they remind us were popular in most pagan cultures, anyway. So, 1) How was “Jesus” bound by His times for teaching people not to do things that pagans and in some cases even Jews allowed?
2) If they truly believe Jesus is God, how could He be bound by the times He chose to be born into,
3) if Jesus is God, and the Jews were God’s Chosen People who received His Law, how could the time and place Jesus was born into *not* be what He wanted them to be?

“Just believe in yourself”

“God just wants me to be happy,” says the contemporary Christian singer about her divorce and remarriage.

“Believe in yourself,” says the new age guru.

“The real Bruce Jenner,” say the headlines.

“Born that way,” says Lady Gaga.

Apparently, Jesus says “Affirm yourself, put down your cross, and follow your heart”?

Oh, no, wait.  That was, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.”

On Riots, Racism, and Standardized Testing: All you need is Love, and that means Christ

Our nation is in turmoil.  Everything distopian novelists and “crazy conspiracy theorists” have written about seems to be coming true.  Early in the Obama administration, for example, people said he’d create a national crisis to declare Martial Law and establish a dictatorship.  Well, the tensions are arising, and Obama  established aprogram under everyone’s noses to begin nationalizing local police forces.  Major cities keep erupting in race riots.  The Supreme Court is likely to overturn every state law on marriage and establish yet another fictious constitutional “Right.” Some people are being driven out of business for expressing thir Christian beliefs while other businesses are denying Christians their services.   Hillary Clinton says if (and when) she’s “elected” President, she wants to force all religions to accept abortion.

All of it just shows society’ need for Christ.   

Attempts to “fix” broken schools with more money and more legislative interference for 50-60 years have only made things worse.  All we have is a “race to nowhere” with high stakes standardized tests that demonstrate nothing about real learning, line the pockets of educational conglomerates, and cause students to burn out, or worse, from the stress.  When I was in elementary school, the teachers would say, discussing the differences between the US and Communist countries, taht Communists made students take tests that determined their entire lives.  When I was a young adult, a teacher friend went through a few years where a faculty member had a heart attack or stroke during standardized testing, because it was so stressful.  

We can’t fix something unless we know why it’s broken, and what’s broken is a lack of transcendent values.   
If the reason people riot is lack of advantage, or discrimination by police, what is served by looting or burning small businesses and charities?  One of the reasons the July 1832 revolt that Hugo immortalized failed was that most of “the people” were mad at the students for stealing their stuff.  But, at least they knew whom they were revolting against (a just, Catholic king who was popular for giving he people more rights than the “Republic” or Napoleon) and why (they believed that secular government could and should end poverty). I saw a meme pointing out how people riot over sports games, and implying that race riots at least have a point.  The way I see it, it’s equally meaningless: unbridled anger, expressed in random violence.  If revolution is ever effective or just–and the Church has always been wary of revolution, even in the case of the Cristeros–it needs to be focused on the right enemy.  

I often refer to Catechism 676, the passage that tells us to beware of any movement that claims to try and solve all the world’s problems through  secular means because that is the “spirit of Antichrist.”  This was the reason the Church condemned Freemasonry.  It’s what Pope Benedict XVI expounded on in _Caritas in Veritate_, saying taht charity must be from love and truth, both of which are personfied in Christ, and that since the Church is the arbiter of Christ’s teachings and the Natural Law, economic justice cannot be divorced from the Church.

Prayer, fasting and forgiveness are the only solutions to these crises.  The more we abandon Christ as a society, the worse thigns will get.  If as 1 Samuel warns us, we choose a “King” over God, the warnings Samuel gave to the Israelites will continue to be proven. 

Cindee-relly

Having discussed people’s criticisms of the recent “revisionist” trends in Disney movies, and how they are celebrating Branagh’s Cinderella for a fairly straight-up remake of the classic Disney animated version, I’d like to express my agreement with “catholic All Year” that _Cinderella_ is probably the best movie I’ve seen since _Les Miserables_.

When I was in graduate school, in my Shakespeare course, we had a unit on “Shakespeare in film,” and one of the things we did was compare the Olivier and Branagh versions of _Henry V_. The professor talked about Branagh’s use of cinematic allusions. She showed us Branagh’s version of Act I, scene 2 and said how it’s an homage to a scene in _Citizen Kane_. She asked us to see if we could catch any other references. I’d seen the film many times before, but I never thought of it till she asked. As soon as the black figure of Henry’s silhouette entered, his cape flowing around him, and he began stalking through the line of soldiers, with Patrick Doyle’s score dramatically thumping, I raised my hand. The professor paused the video, and I said, “Darth Vader!”
Thus, I was pleased to catch at least one self-reference, besides the presence of Derek Jacobi as the king and Doyle as the composer. Without giving away spoilers, it’s in the climax.

Then there are the fairy tale archetypes. Surprisingly, Branagh cuts out the Three tasks, a motif dating back to the Cupid and Psyche archetype from which most European princess fairy tales derive. However, he introduces the hunt for a stag, a common motif in many stories, using it as an opportunity for the characters to meet before the ball. They actually have a sincere conversation, and their love is based on something more than superficial attraction but rather shared values.

This Cinderella is not the animated version, flying to a man for escape–indeed, she’s happy to return to her life of slavery just to know she has a friend. She’s not Rapunzel, falling head over heels for the first man she meets. She’s more like the animated Aurora–indeed, it’s a very similar scene–having a brief but meaningful conversation.

Another element the folklorist in me liked was the part derived from “Beauty and the Beast”–Ella’s request to her father when he leaves on his last business trip.

As far as fitting with 21st century sensibilities while remaining fairly traditional (or, as I noted in my previous post, returning somewhat to what real fairy tales are like), the film does make Lady Tremaine a more sympathetic figure without going all-out _Maleficent_. There is a slight disjoint, though, in the final act. We see her pain watching her new husband ignore her, favoring his daughter over her and even agreeing with his daughter that her stepmother and stepsisters are “trying.” She tells Cinderella how she herself married for love, had her heart broken, and then married for money and lost that. She never really explains, though, why she’s quite so antagonistic to Ella. They say that a well-written and acted villain is the hero of his or her own story. This was supposedly the goal of _Maleficent_, and while it was nice that they kept her evil, one of the film’s few real flaws was *not* falling into “cookie cutter” mode. In general, the characters’ motivations are better developed.

The other element of the film that plays on post-_Shrek_ approaches is the repeated use of the adjective “charming.”
It was fun picking out the who’s-who of Disney movies, Branagh movies and/or movie musicals.

Perhaps the best part of all, though, is how the feminists are ticked off by the film. That alone was reason to pay to see it.
Some are criticizing how “unrealistically thin” her waist is, and how it’s obviously modified with CGI (I think the actual movie is a bit wider than some of the promotional images or trailers).
Cinderella Poster
But you know what else is unrealistic? Anthropomorphic mice and fairy godmothers. Depictions of women’s bodies are a matter for another discussion, but think about this: 

 

 Meanwhile, in the context of the film, I’d say her waist is fine; it’s the rest of her that doesn’t make sense. She’s doing an entire household of manual labor 16+ hours a day, sleeping either in the attic or on the floor in front of the fireplace. She’s fed table scraps and shares them with her mice friends (she is apparently a bit nutty, a trait shared by all our shut-in princesses). She *should* be completely emaciated.
Of course, to the “progressives,” it’s not just her appearance but her behavior they find revolting: she offers up her suffering. She follows her mother’ dying advice to “have courage and be kind.” Normally, I would be suspicious of “kindness” as the standard for virtue, but her understanding of kindness is far more like the virtue of caritas. She understands, like C. S. Lewis’s presentation of Psyche, the Christian values of humility and self-sacrifice. Those who love the philosophy of “no right, no wrong, no rules,” who agree with Satan’s “non serviam,” find Mary’s “fiat mihi” repulsive and oppressive. Christianity is seen as a tool of “oppression” by those who say, with Milton’s Beelzebub, “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.” Yet the lie, as Elsa realizes in _Frozen_, is that no one really reigns in Hell–one either becomes a slave, or imprisoned in frozen isolation.
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” “Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. . . . ” In the Orwellian society we live in, these teachings are condemned as “evil.” Whether either the writer-director or his character are aware, Cinderella epitomizes Christlike behavior, and this is why those who celebrate _Maleficent_ hate _Cinderella_, and vice versa.

If I were to suggest one thing to movie studios about remakes and adaptations, it would be to have Shakespearians write and/or direct them. The amazing thing about Shakespeare is how open to interpretation his characters are, and Shakespeare adaptations often tell very different stories from the same texts just by switching or deleting certain lines, and by how the characters are acted.

The man with no feet doesn’t need shoes

I still remember when I was about 8 or 9, and, reflecting on the other kids I knew with genetic disorders, I thought about the proverb, “I cried that I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” While perspective is important, and I’ve been on both sides of the metaphor, it’s also kind of a stupid saying. As I figured it, the man with no feet doesn’t *need* shoes. He’d appreciate that your feet hurt.

This is what hurts me about the “white privilege” issue. If my kids have a fight (and, as other recent posts, I keep seeing my children as a microcosm of society, which they are), and one of them comes up to me crying, I will sympathize with the one who’s crying. If they’re in the process of fighting, though, I’m going to deal with whomever threw the most recent verbal or physical swing. When a kid says, “You always side with [him/her], and you never hear my side of the story,” a) that doesn’t particularly make me amenable to the child’s side, and b) I find that it only makes the tantrum worse if I *try* to address that argument.

But that’s what we have in society: lots of people throwing tantrums and refusing to listen to reason, whether they’re Tea Partiers, Occupiers, ranchers in Nevada, African Americans, Latinos, Cops, or whomever. Everybody insists *their* pain is worse than the other guy’s, and few are willing to say, “Hey, aren’t we all in this together?” Worse, if you *say* that, everybody turns on you.

The best episode of _Buffy, the Vampire Slayer_, is “Earshot,” the one that was delayed because of Columbine–when I say it should have been on every channel in the wake of Columbine. Buffy gains temporary telepathic powers and is overwhelmed by hearing everyone’s deepest thoughts and fears, in the midst of which she hears, “Tomorrow, I kill you all”. She and her friends investigate the threat, and she finally finds a bullied student in the clocktower with a rifle. Though it turns out he’s going to kill himself, she says the following:

My life happens on occasion to suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it’s not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It’s not. It’s deafening.

Racism, Hatred and Bulverism

I read a cartoon twenty-some years ago: Two guys are sitting on a bench. One is reading a newspaper and says, “African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans; I’m glad to be a simple White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant.”
Guy #2 says: “You look more like a Jute to me.”
In the US, we group “Hispanics” or “Latinos” into one category, yet the term “Latin America” was coined by the French to counteract the Monroe Doctrine, arguing that American countries/colonies predominated by Romance-language, Catholic peoples. Even the predominantly Spanish-speaking cultures in “Latin America” see huge differences among themselves.
On the biology side, there are really only three “races,” a distinction the Bible suggests with the three sons of Noah. I read an article once about the biology of “race,” and how the similarity of Asian/Semitic peoples—modern anthropology having proven that Columbus wasn’t too far off in identifying Native Americans as “Indians”–is evinced by the existance of a relatively isolated tribe of cannibals in southern Africa who descend from Asians who migrated back into Africa about 10,000 years ago or so. Their language categories two kinds of animals–“food animals,” and “people”. They have no other categories of zoology or race/ethnicity. When they see people of Asian, North African or Native American descent, they recognize them as “people.” When they encounter darker-skinned Africans or Europeans, they categorize them as “food.”
One of the motivations behind “White Privilege” seems to be a desire to refuse to acknowledge that the so-called “WASPs” have brought suffering to lots of people they consider “Other”; not just darker sinned peoples. But to point this out is itself called “racist.” I keep seeing preemptive comments by angry African Americans about how the don’t want to hear about the suffering of the Jews, the Irish, the Italians or whomever, that “their” suffering is all that matters.
Suddenly, it’s “white privilege” because most “white” ethnic groups supposedly have more acceptance in mainstream American culture, or do not suffer the kind of persecution that “blacks” do. Nevertheless, as I noted in my previous post on this topic, this has not been the case in my own family’s experience. The upper class “whites” and the “minorities” of all socioeconomic levels tend to look down on us. Some people see freckles as a disease–there is a _Barbie_ book called _Freckles_ (1997), in which Barbie “helps” a little girl who’s embarrassed about having freckles by teaching her that, essentially, freckles are something to be ashamed of. People would be justly outraged by a book about how a darker skinned woman could be prettier if she made herself look more “white”, but if a “ginger” points out such kinds of bigotry and discrimination, that’s still somehow considered “racist” or a distraction.
We’re told that “white privilege” matters because of a “racist system” that is resulting in the violent deaths of thousands African Americans around the country a day, but pointing out that the minority of those are at the hands of officers, and the vast majority are at the hands of other African Americans, that’s dismissed as “racism.”
I’m told that if I check my car locks or clutch my wallet when somebody walks by, even though I do that when almost anybody walks by, I’m being a “racist,” if the person who walks by happens to be black.
I’m told that if I insist on overcoming racism by not being racist, that makes me a racist.
“Racism” is a perfect example of the logical fallacy C. S. Lewis calls “Bulverism,” a kind of ad hominem which he exemplifies by a scenario where a man says, “1+1=2,” and the woman says, “You just say that because you’re a man.” Person B doesn’t care whether the proposition is true or not, factual or not, but whether it fits the preconceived ideology, so some psychological or ideological presumption about Person A.
Bulverism is an offshoot of moral relativism. The most objective truth can be dismissed by saying the other person is delusional, or, in this case, “racist.” Emotion overrides logic. Logic itself becomes part of “white male patriarchal hegemony,” or whatever.
That is essentially the entire narrative of postmodernism.
And it doesn’t fix anything. It just perpetuates the cycle of hatred and violence, as the assassinations of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos this weekend demonstrates.
True racism involves hating people because of their skin color. It involves doing violence or oppressing people because of their skin color. What is the point of labelling a person’s every action, thought or word as “racist” just because of, well, the person’s race? How does that build community, understanding and love?

Could somebody please explain to me what this “White Privilege” is, and where I can get some?

1. I understand completely that darker-toned people are often discriminated against, in subtle ways. I was told directly once when a police officer pulled me over (rightly, I admitted, I had experienced a perfect storm of circumstances and realized that I was driving way too fast right when he turned his lights on) that he had to prove I was “not an illegal immigrant or an Arab.” He said if I showed up in court with my license, he’d drop the ticket to the first offense minimum, since I was cooperative, which I did and he did. So, yes, I understand that police are sometimes harsher to people of darker skin. *However*, the person immediately before me in Court, who got the same deal I did, was an African American woman.
Meanwhile, there were plenty of white people having to talk to the judge.

2. This article tells me that a Jewish woman never realized she had “white privilege” till some liberal sociology professor browbeat her into it, yet she doesnt explain what it is.

So,

3. I really don’t get it. How do I, as a lower-middle class, disabled, “white” man of predominantly Irish and Slovak (the name means “slave”) descent enjoy more “privilege” than my socioeconomic pers of other so-called “races”? In my experience, the “privileged” whites are more willing to accept the socioeconomic hardship of “minorities” long as they have acceptable political views), and, like “racism,” “privilege” is a term the liberal social engineers have invented to shout down anyone with the “wrong” opinions.”
If I point out the many incidents I’ve experienced where I’ve been clearly been discriminated against because I’m “white,” that just means I’m “racist” or “privileged.” I don’t get it.

I have nothing to lose, so I’ll say it:
I graduated from the South Carolina Honors College in 1997, when I was 20, a year after open heart surgery. I spent my first two years at USC Sumter. I got my Master’s from Valdosta State in 2003. Afterwards, I began applying for jobs in the USC system, particularly in 2006, when I had a few years of part time teaching experience and had been working as an admissions counselor. Then both my non-teaching dream jobs came up in a matter of months. First, two full time academic counseling jobs opened up at the Honors College. They were advertised as “entry level,” and I had more than the required credentials. I applied, did not even get an interview, and when the new bios were posted of the hirees, they were an African American male and a white female. One, IIRC, had a Master’s. At least one had no graduate degree. Neither had any teaching or academic administrative experience–both had worked in retail-type jobs. A few months later, a position opened up as director of advising at USC Sumter. I won over even the most skeptical committee member, a liberal psychology professor who never had me as a student but remembered me. I was all but told I had the job. Perhaps too eager because I had (and wanted) to move to take the job, I checked a couple times, to finally be told that HR at the main campus selected another candidate. When the job was filled and the person was added to the campus website a month or so later, it was the same woman who’d been hired over me at the Honors College.
We moved back to SC a few months later, anyway, and I continued to naively apply for jobs at USC. I applied for well over 40 positions in 2 years, trying to get a full time job, with nary an interview. The last time I bothered, I even threatened to sue them for discrimination against the disabled in my last cover later if I did not at least get an interview. Still nothing. Of course, I couldn’t afford a lawyer to carry through on the threat.

So, tell me, where is my “privilege”?

I’m not angry or bitter–at least not as much as I used to be–I am grateful for God’s providence in leading me where He wants me to be and where is best. If you want to tell me I have “privilege” as an American that I should be grateful for and try to help others with, I believe that, and I do. I know very well I’d be dead if i’d been born in just about any other country in the world, even those the liberals claim have “better” health care than we do.

However, it infuriates me to be told that I enjoy more advantages than my socioeconomic peers of other “races,” when so often the look down on me and my family for not having “nice enough” material possessions, and so often I’ve seen minorities receive advantages for which I was equally or more qualified.

The SSPX, like the Dwarves in _The Last Battle_, will refuse to be taken in

Haven’t written much lately, and have several posts saved as drafts, but wanted to post some thoughts on a report that talks are still continuing informally between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X’s superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay.

When he spoke in Columbia several years ago, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, said that, in his experience, the higher you go in any given “denomination,” you’re generally more likely to find people who are reasonable and open to dialogue. He told a story of giving an address to a Baptist seminary once on the Marian dogmas and how they reinforce authentic Christology. He said the ordained ministers and the theology professors all nodded in agreement. The students and other laity present got angrier and angrier as his talk progressed.
I’ve only ever met one SSPX family “IRL” that I can recall. It was at the Traditional Latin Mass the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP; the Order established by St. John Paul II for former SSPX members who were willing to return) used to offer monthly in Columbia–ironically, after Summorum Pontificum, they said they could no longer afford to drive from Atlanta every month unless the attendance increased. They offered to train one of the local priests. The only one who was willing was transferred, and no other pastor would volunteer to host or celebrate the Extraordinary Form.
Anyway, one of the only times I brought my whole family, there was this “nice” young family visiting their family for the holidays (I am not being politically correct; I forget which holiday it was). Our kids played with their kids while we talked after Mass.
They told us, “We only came here because there wasn’t an SSPX parish nearby. . . . ” They actually said they felt guilty for attending a “fake” Latin Mass and that, back home, they had both FSSP and SSPX but attended the latter. That, to me, summed up the problem and crushed any hope of formal reconciliation.
Bishop Fellay seems like a man of good will. He may get some of the other bishops and many of the priests to agree to reconciliation with Rome, but the priests and the laity already have the freedom to rejoin “full communion” (I’m choosing my words carefully) if they want. The priests can join the FSSP. The laity can just come to a local EF, but they won’t, because they fundamentally oppose the “New Church.” If Rome tomorrow said, “The suspension of SSPX is lifted, and they are in full communion and enjoy full canonical status as a [personal prelature or ordinariate],” there would still be Ross Perot’s “Giant Sucking Sound” of people defecting to Williamson’s group, the SSPV, etc.
Most people think the Mass is the issue, but it’s really a relatively small issue. The real problems the SSPX and other (for lack of a better term) “RadTrad” groups have stem from the documents: the vague wording, the teachings on religious liberty, _Nostra Aetate_ (which Pope Benedict XVI said was open to criticism for its naivete), etc. The fundamental issue of the “schism” (for lack of a better word), though not an official SSPX position, was the new rite of episcopal ordination. Bishop Fellay and other critics of the Second Vatican Council argued that the new rite has key points in which it diverts from the common traditions of all Catholic rites in history that render all post-Vatican II episcopal ordinations, in their view, invalid–including that of Josef Ratzinger. That is why Bishop Fellay ordained the group of four relatively young priests as bishops in 1988 against Vatican approval: to ensure in his view a valid line of Apostolic Succession, but ignoring that the ordinations would be canonically illicit and incurring excommunication on himself and the four young valid but illicit bishops.
When B16 succeeded St. John Paul II, the SSPX website got friendlier to Rome. It praised him and featured him prominently when he lifted the excommunications of the four bishops and opened discussion. It praised him even more when he issued Summorum Pontificum. Then suddenly it got very quiet. Rome made an offer. The SSPX refused. Controversial Bishop Richard Williamson was expelled but Fellay started sounding like Martin Luther.
The Benedict, for whom reconciliation with SSPX was a target of his papacy (how could the Church expect to heal centuries of other divisions without starting from the most recent?) gave his radio address saying it’s OK to criticize _Nostra Aetate_. He appointed Archbishop Gerhard Muller, often seen as something of a “liberal” to many of us because of his sympathy for liberation theology and his calls for St. JPII to retire, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Then, a few months later, after few headline-grabbing statements, Benedict resigned. His resignation of course created the situation of “two Popes,” a scenario which many traditionalists and many who were not previously “traditionalists” saw as potentially fulfilling warnings from various saints and visionaries.
There is so much pride and anger and hard-heartedness mixed up in all of this. I don’t doubt there are forces at work in the Vatican who squashed the talks and probably contributed to the Holy Father’s decision to resign, but there is so much hard-heartedness among the rank and file of the SSPX that, if Rome issued a statement tomorrow saying, “The faculties of all bishops and priests of the Society of St. Pius X are reinstated, and the Society will enjoy canonical status as an Ordinariate,” even then you’d hear Ross Perot’s “Giant Sucking Sound” of SSPX members starting yet another group, joining Williamson’s group, or joining the Society of St. Pius V.

St. Pius X and St. John Paul II, pray for unity of the Pilgrim Church on Earth.

Liberals say . . .

The Constitution means whatever they want except what it says.  Animals have rights, but people don’t. Babies aren’t babies unless you want them to be. Gender means whatever you want. Sex and marriage are about self-gratification and not procreation and child-bearing. Life is about pleasure and should be “terminated” if it isn’t pleasurable. Money can be created ex nihilo but the universe wasn’t. If you suggest it’s more important that kids learn in school about how their bodies actually work than about dinosaurs, evolution, and various forms of pleasure seeking, you’re “anti-science.” And they call us “wing-nuts”. . . .

Nuns on the Pill: Habitless Nuns who Support Obamacare

“Sister” Donna Quinn, head of some group called National Coalition of American Nuns, is outraged that Notre Dame and other institutions are starting to act Catholic:
“It isn’t ‘faith and freedom’ when reproductive autonomy isn’t extended by the Catholic Church to women”
What kind of demonic filth is this, coming from someone professed to perpetual continence?
What is “autonomy,” much less “reproductive autonomy”?
And the comments (from which mine, asking the questions, was apparently deleted) are so absolutely blasphemous (and devolve into the usual “Whether Jesus even existed” garbage you see on any secular liberal site) –suggesting that Jesus was the product of “In Vitro Fertilization,” etc.

St. Scholastica, pray for us.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.
St. Gianna Molla, pray for us.

St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the malice and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Divine Power, cast into Hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.

What exactly is the situation with the Vatican and “Liberation Theology”?

For the last few months, there has been some talk of an alleged “Approval” of so-called “Liberation Theology” by the Vatican, partly because of the publication of the Italian translation of a book co-written by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, currently Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, O.P.
In June, Archbishop Muller published an interview in _The Vatican Insider_ about Fr. Gutierrez, in which he says that the Liberation Theology “movement” is “one of the most important currents in 20th Century Catholic theology” (quoted here, in a blog post by Frank Weathers). Now, “important” doesn’t necessarily mean “good” or “true”: I don’t think anyone would doubt that liberation theology has had great influence. That said, Weathers also quotes a previous _Vatican Insider_ article in which Muller distinguishes between the “movement” and Fr. Gutierrez’s actual theology (the old “Thomas wasn’t necessarily a Thomist” principle). Nevertheless, to some, including Weathers, who associate “liberation theology” with the Church’s “preferential option for the poor,” this is seen as an outright endorsement. Arguably, it might be to some extent because Muller’s leanings were well known when Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
Meanwhile, Weathers and others have taken Pope Francis’s preeminent concern for the poor as a sign of endorsement of liberation theology, even though then-Cardinal Bergoglio was one of its most outspoken critics among the South American hierarchy, and in fact a member of the movement that was counter liberation theology. Indeed, while Pope Francis has spoken often of the poor, he has also condemned the treatment of Catholicism as a political ideology.
So, as the Italian translation of Muller and Gutierrez’s book comes out on Monday, _L’Osservatore Romano_ has published a glowing review of the book by Fr. Ugo Sartorio, and _The Vatican Insider_ is again reporting that “The Vatican and the Liberation Theology” have “made peace”.
However, Sandro Magister suggests that Pope Francis might have something else to say on the matter:

Right from the beginning [Sartorio’s review] takes aim at those who “have even come to the point of giving up for dead and buried liberation theology, the fruit of the season believed to have concluded definitively with the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the implosion of the Soviet empire connected to Marxist ideology.”

Oddly enough, Magister points out, that’s a paraphrase of what then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio said back in 2005, a year after the German translation was published:

“After the collapse of the totalitarian empire of ‘real socialism,’ these currents of thought were thrown into disarray. Incapable of either radical reformulation or new creativity, they survived by inertia, even if there are still some today who anachronistically would like to re-propose it.”

So the story is far from over.
Meanwhile, several of the articles I’ve read about the alleged approval have suggested the false dichotomy that the only reason to oppose liberation theology is a support for unbridled capitalism; others go to the opposite extreme of the same dichotomy and saying that any opposition to unbridled capitalism constitutes support for totalitarian socialism. There are other reasons to oppose a theology which attempts to reconcile Marxism with Catholicism, and has been used to support violent revolution, just as there are other ways to support the poor besides a socialist state. It would help if everyone turned to the Compendium of Social Doctrine promulgated by Bl. John Paul II.

Religion is more than just something to do on Sunday

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” –G.K. Chesterton


Football season is beginning. It always strikes me that people who are afraid to talk of “politics and religion” for fear of offending friends or relatives will get into absolute feuds over football. Meanwhile, they treat politics and religion the way they treat sports: a form of recreation; merely something to do on the weekends.
The other thing that football has in common with politics and religion is that people generally seem to choose their religious and political affiliations the way they pick their football teams: as a form of patriotism, or because of their families (either to show loyalty or spite their families), or because of their friends. Thus, just as they support the Steelers, or the Redskins, or the Browns, or the Panthers because of where they happen to live, people tend to simply accept (or reject) their family’s religion or political party without necessarily thinking of *why* they support it.
Thus, people will speak of “religion,” as a concept, in ways that can be quite baffling. On the one hand, you have people who insist that they’re Catholic, even though they reject the Church’s teachings from transubstantiation to the evil of contraception to the very Incarnation itself, because “it’s too hard to leave the Church,” like She is some kind of blood cult or something. They’re attached (rightly) to the nostalgia evoked by the liturgy (particularly the infamous Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter liturgies), and they attribute the devotion of other Catholics to a kind of extreme nostalgia (hence the “People who want the Traditional Latin Mass are just old people who don’t like change” argument).
On the other hand, you have people who say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” meaning that they’re not affiliated with a particular denomination or worship service. “Religion” has come to be defined according to the Masonic view as something subservient to “society” or “culture” (which is the main reason the 18th Century popes condemned the Masonic Lodges). The “church” or synagogue, temple or mosque is treated as something like a Lodge: a place to meet every week, have some fun, engage in organized charities, and host major life events like weddings and funerals. The Sacraments become similar “life events”–Baptism (or “Christening”) becomes a ceremony to recognize a birth, and so the same young parents who were offended at the notion in pre-Cana counseling that they should live as Catholics become offended at the notion they must promise to actually raise their children Catholic. They participate in First Communion and Confirmation (aka “graduation from CCD”) for the same reasons. It’s really very sad.
Thus, both the nominal Catholic and the “spiritual” non-Catholic are baffled by the notion that any religion should claim to be superior or to actually teach the Truth about Divine and Human Nature. Theology is seen as arbitrary and superstitious. Ironically, though, the claim that all religions are equal and that people should have “freedom of worship” means that “religion” should not be extended into “public life.” It’s just something to do for an hour a week, and not to actually effect one’s life beyond some base common denominator of being a “decent person” or a “good citizen.” Any religion that claims to do *more* that that is immediately suspect for violating the commonly accepted definition of “religion” that the Masons have taught us for nearly 300 years.
So the Left has fought for legalization of so-called “same sex marriage,” insisting they only want “equal rights,” and that no one should feel threatened by it. Christians warned that it would lead to persecution of those who didn’t want to participate. Others insisted and continue to insist that it was about “marriage equality” and that opponents were “homophobic.” Yet, now that the Supreme Court has essentially legalized it nationwide by throwing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the California Proposition 8, a court has ruled that Christian photographers cannot refuse to photograph gay weddings, a Christian bakery has closed due to “LGBT” threats and protests, a millionaire “gay” couple has sued a church in the UK for not performing their “wedding,” and Ugandan homosexuals have sued a Christian evangelist for “crimes against humanity.” Yet, like Nancy Pelosi’s infamous comment on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), “conservative” Catholic literary critic Joseph Bottum argues that we have to allow gay marriage to happen to see if it might do some good.
The LGBTQ lobby is powerful, as the UK case illustrates, precisely because it’s rich, but also because of “well meaning” Christians who think it’s about “fairness,” and others who don’t think that “religion” shouldn’t intrude on the “public sphere.” It’s the same reasoning behind the HHS contraception mandate: the alleged “right” to violate Natural Law supersedes the right of employers to chose not to engage in material cooperation. Indeed, the notion of “material cooperation” goes over most people’s heads or is used in the opposite of its intent.

What the [bleep] is he talking about?

Back in the 1990s, my parents and I were attending Mass at a church in a town we were visiting, and the priest gave what I described as 15 fantastic 2 minute homilies. When he finished, my Mom whispered, “What the [bleep] was he talking about?” and, due to the architecture of the building, it came out a bit louder than she’d intended, resulting in chuckles from people around us.
Well the latest controversy in the Catholic blogosphere concerns a “personal essay” that former First Things editor Joseph Bottum has published in Commonweal of all places, on the topic of “same sex marriage.”

As controversy has erupted, Bottum’s response on Facebook has been to say that his critics are misinterpreting his essay because his style is to hide a didactic essay inside a “self indulgence” personal essay. He claims that he develops the argument to go along with the culture only to reject it in the end, but I don’t see where he rejects it. Indeed, when a columnist in The New York Times headlined his response to the article as “A Conservative Catholic Now Backs Same-Sex Marriage,” both Bottum, on Facebook, and Commonweal, linked the NYT review approvingly, yet somehow when other conservatives reach the conclusion that Bottum is saying we should stop fighting same sex marriage, he says we’re wrong.

Bottum overtly makes the argument *for* homosexual marriage, assents to letting “gays” determine the terminology, attacks the Manhattan Declaration for linking same sex marriage with abortion and anti-Christian trends in society, laments the loss of a gay libertarian friend over said friend’s perception of the Church, and suggests that some good may come from redefinition of marriage. He also naively suggests that the negative consequences traditional marriage forces have been worried about may not actually happen, even though they’ve been happening in Canada for years and are happening already since the Supreme Court’s verdict, as “gay” couples are beginning to sue churches and even wedding photographers for refusing to participate in their “weddings”.

Bottum dismisses the fear of traditional marriage advocates, particularly Catholics, that the “gay marriage” movement is not just about letting gays get married but is actually about destroying Christianity. He claims we should presume the best of same sex activists’ intentions, even while admitting that his now former friend thinks that way:

Certainly it will not satisfy Jim Watson, my old friend from New York. How could he accept talk of the Catholic Church’s charity and evangelizing? He wants the church hurt, its tax exemptions and even property-holding rights stripped away until it not only accepts laws allowing same-sex marriage, not only encourages same-sex marriage, but actually performs same-sex marriage. Even that might not be enough; the institutional weight of the history of Catholic bigotry, he thinks, is probably too much for repentance and reformation to overcome. Best, really, if the Catholic Church is systematically outlawed. – See more at: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/things-we-share#sthash.xCNXUybC.dpuf

Bottum is right that, at this moment, we are on the “losing side” of history. He specifically rejects the notion, proposed by many, including the late Deacon Paul Weyrich and Pope Benedict, of focusing on forming small orthodox communities and setting ourselves apart from the secular world, the way Christians have done in various historical situations, such as ancient Rome (or parts of Asia, where Christians spent centuries living in hiding and passing on their faith in secret). He rightly says we’re losing the fight against homosexual marriage because we never fought against no fault divorce, but he specifically rejects the notion of fighting against *that*.
I’ve long said the Culture Wars were lost at the 1929 Lambeth Conference, when the Anglicans became the first Christian communion to accept artificial contraception. Bl. John Paul II makes clear in _Evangelium Vitae_ (13) that contraception is just as much a cause of the Culture of Death as abortion.
To that extent, I and most of his critics agree: in the short run, we’re going to lose this fight. However, that doesn’t mean we should give up.

What everyone agrees on is that nobody really understands what his point *is*. He tries to dismiss this as a question of his chosen style and genre, but even a personal essay would not justify the numerous sentence fragments and convoluted reasoning process.

“The Poor Will Always Be With You”

One point I have always made on the topic of “Social Justice,” particularly when arguing against liberals, is that Jesus Himself said, “The poor will always be with you” (Mark 14:7), a point echoed in Catechism 676, which says the spirit of Anti-Christ is found in any political movement which promises to solve humanity’s problems through secular means. Thus, while so many “Christians” on the political “Left” insist that Christ would want us to vote for people who want to “end poverty,” Jesus Himself says we will never end poverty, and the Church says that any promise of ending poverty is actually the spirit of Anti-Christ. Indeed, as the recent election has given particular heat to debates among Catholics about the economic applications of Catholic Social Teaching, Leo XIII, the very pope who originated modern Catholic “Social Justice” teaching explicitly condemned the approach of the “Left”.

Of course, as I often note, Dietrich von Hildebrand says it is wrong to try and force either capitalism or socialism into conformity with Catholicism because both economic systems are based upon wrong notions of the human person, and Bl. Fulton Sheen often taught very similar notions (he often liked to say that capitalists want Christ without the Cross, while Communists want the Cross without Christ).

The Compendium on Social Doctrine makes it perfectly clear that governments must provide a basic “safety net” for the poor, and that some sort of redistribution of wealth is appropriate–in particular the Compendium, pulling together the teachings of Leo XIII and subsequent Popes through to John Paul II, advocates redistribution of land, *precisely* because every person has a fundamental right to personal property (a policy which GK Chesterton named “distributism”).

Nevertheless, as I noted in my previous post, it is individual charity Christ cares about most, because charity is supposed to represent love. Voting for a politician who wants to tax some people to supposedly help others (while that politician and his cronies, and a bunch of bureaucrats in between, get most of the benefits and the poor still get the scraps) doesn’t satisfy the demands of love. Giving a few bucks to a foundation is helpful but still isn’t necessarily an act of Caritas. Giving a homeless person a peanut bar and a Powerade, with a kind word to boot, can be an act of infinitely greater merit than donating a fortune anonymously to a food bank (though both are necessary).

But what baffles me most about liberals’ insistence that Jesus wants us to end poverty is that Jesus *praises* poverty: Blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). He praises the poor widow who gives her last coin to the Temple.

Jesus wants us to SACRIFICE. I’m often told when I say this that it doesn’t apply to everyone, that it’s wrong to say that we are all called to follow the Counsel of Poverty, but nowhere does Jesus say that. He is constantly saying to give up everything for the kingdom. “If you wish to be perfect,* go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mt 19:21).

My objection to both capitalism and socialism is that they are both materialistic. The following passage from Flannery O’Connor’s _Habit of Being_, in a letter from 1959, circulated Facebook recently in the form of a scanned page:

The Church’s stand on birth control is the most absolutely spiritual of all her stands and with all of us being materialists at heart, there is little wonder that it causes unease. I wish various fathers would quit trying to defend it by saying that the world can support 40 billion. I will rejoice in the day when they say: This is right, whether we all rot on top of each other or not, dear children, as we certainly may. Either practice restraint or prepare for crowding…

When Catholics on both “sides” talk about economics, they always emphasize which economic philosophy will bring greater “prosperity” to individuals and to the nation as a whole (of course ignoring that there are more than two economic philosophies available), yet they never stop to consider the question of why people who are supposed to be focused on the next life are obsessing about prosperity in *this* life!

“But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. ” (Mt 6:20). “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” (Mk 10:29-30).

Yes, in this passage, Our Lord promises material reward in this present age, but His whole point is that we are to live on Providence. He promises that if we give up everything for the Kingdom, He will give us what we need in this life and eternal life in the next. So that verse can hardly be used to justify either a capitalist or socialist attitude. Jesus calls us to *sacrifice*, not to “save.”

“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. 30Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ” (Mt 10:29-31). “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 10:39).

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. 23For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds!m 25Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? 26If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? 27Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them.n 28If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 29As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. 30All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. (Luke 12:22-31)

Where, in these teachings, do people get the idea that God wants people to engage in accumulation of money, on the one hand, or that God wants us to obsess about taxing the rich to “end poverty,” on the other?

But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ 21Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.* (Luke 12:20-21).

No servant can serve two masters.* He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The Pharisees, who loved money,* heard all these things and sneered at him. (Luke 16:13-14).

When I hear a Unionist say, “We were mad that the bosses got a raise, so we went on strike,” I hear someone serving money. When I hear a capitalist say, “I earned my money, and I have a right to keep the money I earned,” I hear someone serving money. When I hear a liberal talk about taxation, I hear someone serving money.

Then there’s this key teaching:

Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” 16They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” 17So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him. (Mk 12:15-17)

Caesar makes money in his own image. God made *us* in His own image. That’s what Jesus means: WE belong to God. Money doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of Caesar’s imagination. We are real. If God can raise up descendants to Abraham from the stones (Luke 3:8), then Jesus can produce money from the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:27).

In vain is your earlier rising,
your going later to rest,
you who toil for the bread you eat,
when he pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber. (Psalm 127:2).

Stop looking to Wall Street for your salvation. Stop looking to Washington for your salvation. God does not want us to cure poverty, and He does not want us to be “prosperous.” Indeed, the Bible shows time and again that God does NOT want us to be prosperous, either individually or as a society, because whenever people are prosperous, they forget God (Genesis 11:1-9).

He wants us to love one another and provide each other with basic dignity and justice, but “prosperity” is a lie with the face of Caesar stamped on it. That’s why I reject both dominant political/economic philosophies of the world. That’s why I do not understand how the “Christian Left” can justify itself.

“I Thought Being A Christian was Just about Following the Teachings of Jesus”

The other day, my post “How a Member of the ‘Christian Left’ Thinks” got a link on the “Christian Left” Facebook page, saying what a hatemonger I am and whatnot. It was interesting reading the replies here and there, which basically confirmed the points I made in that post:
1) that the Christian Left generally doesn’t care about the unborn: some respondents even said proudly that they were “pro-choice”
2) that the Christian Left doesn’t care about marriage–again, one commentor said he thinks that the left has the Biblical High Ground on so-called “Marriage Equality.” How he gets that from “From the beginning, God intended them male and female” is beyond me, and somehow I think whatever his exegesis of that passage may be, it can’t possibly match up to that of Bl. John Paul II
3) Being a member of the “Christian Left” means defiance of the Holy Father (indeed, all respondents were Protestants who showed nothing but contempt for the Pope, the Magisterium and “dogma”).
There were no overtly “Catholic” responses. Only one really tried to challenge my premises about what it *means* to be a Christian, and she did a weak, Protestant, “That’s just your opinion” response to my assertions about history validating the Church, the ECFs, Ecumenical Councils, etc.

But what struck me as most symbolic of all responses was one sarcastic comment on Facebook: “And here I thought all it took to be a Christian was to follow the teachings of Jesus.”

Uhh, no, not at all.

Muslims follow the teachings of Jesus.
Many Jews even follow the teachings of Jesus.
In terms of what they mean by “the teachings of Jesus” (as they’ve eliminated all sexual morality, not killing people and following the Church from their criteria of “teachings of Jesus”), Communists follow the “teachings of Jesus.”

Ask Arius, Nestorius, Pelagius, etc., if “all you need to do is follow the teachings of Jesus”.

Indeed, every heresy accuses the Church of heresy *precisely* because prior to modernist relativism, all those who claimed to be “Christian” have recognized that it’s not necessary just to follow the teachings of Jesus–or, conversely, that it IS necessary to follow the teachings of Jesus, and they recognize that other people AREN’T following those teachings.

The salient debate is what constitutes the teachings of Jesus. And what is the purpose of following Jesus’ teachings unless we are concerned about Jesus the Person? Who is Jesus? What is Jesus? The Church established in its earliest centuries that one must accept the full Truth about Jesus to be saved, and the whole point of the Ecumenical Councils was to nail down the true doctrines concerning Jesus: that’s what “dogma” is.

So it’s really quite contradictory to say that one is opposed to “dogma” and to say “I thought being a Christian just means following the teachings of Jesus.”

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.

Why I am a conservative: The Fine Arts and the LCWR

There are two reasons I am a conservative.

The first reason is abortion.

The second reason might seem more trivial but is just as important and perhaps moreso: Beauty.

Both reasons tie to the fact that what I rejected were liberal or progressive Catholics.

For Russell Kirk, conservatism is primarily about what he, following T. S. Eliot, calls the “Permanent Things,” or what Mortimer Adler would call “The Great Ideas.” In 1986, Kirk added a chapter to his magnum opus _The Conservative Mind_, officially about T. S. Eliot but also dealing with Robert Frost, talking about how it is impossible to have a truly liberal poet (he notes Shelley as a possible exception) because poets are all about the Permanent Things. C. S. Lewis, in his inaugural address as chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge, _De Descriptione Temporum_, says that there are only three true historical periods. Today, we might call these the pre-Christian, Christian and post-Christian eras. Lewis argues that only 2 true changes ever occurred in history: the arrival of Christ, and the arrival of Modernity. He suggests that he sees Western Civilization as a continuum, with the Greeks at one end and Jane Austen at the other. While he thinks that the West has tapered off, he sees Jane Austen as the last solid example of a “Truly Western writer.”

Indeed, one of the reasons I went into English was to write a thesis on Lewis’s fascination with Jane Austen, though my thesis got redirected by my committee. We can further compare Lewis’s analysis of Western culture to G. K. Chesterton, who said that Western civilization is a back-and-forth of the Greco-Roman view (i.e., Renaissance, Neo-Classical) with the Judeo-Christian view (i.e., Medieval, Baroque, Romantic/Gothic). With the rise of artistic and intellectual modernism in the late 19th Century, something new happened. The Greeks and Romans saw the world as essentially divinely-given mathematical order. The Judeo-Christian view saw the world as a miserable place infused with divine beauty from which we reach out for God.

Modernism was the first widely accepted worldview, and the first artistic movement, based upon rejection of a notion of God. As one of the music critics in the old print _Crisis Magazine_ once put it, “Music died with Nietzsche’s God.”

One of the only times I had the opportunity to teach literature, as opposed to writing, was in the 2007-2008 academic year. I avoided being overt about revealing my political or religious views, but I *did* talk about these figures and guide my teaching of literature according to explaining the back and forth of those trends in culture. This led at least one of my students to raise her hand and ask if she was correct in guessing that I supported Mike Huckabee in that year’s primary (I did).

While I read most of Lewis’s work when I was 13 and 14, I didn’t read Kirk or Chesterton till college, though _The Conservative Mind_ was one of those books that, when I read it, I put it down and said, “THIS is what I believe”!

But I was conservative before I read any of them. I wasn’t conservative from my upbringing, other than the fact that my parents were staunchly pro-life. My parents started off as “Reagan Democrats.” My father was union activist in Pennsylvania, and I despise labor unions as institutions. I was born in Erie, PA, the hometown of “Sr.” Joan Chittister and PAX Christi USA. The bishop of Erie, when I was a child, was Michael Murphy, who infamously wanted to tear out seats in St. Peter’s Cathedral to make room for a stage for liturgical dance. His successor, Donald Trautman, is known for his courageous stance against pro-choice Catholic politicians . . . named Republican Tom Ridge.

Trautman is also known for spearheading liberalism in both liturgy and Scripture. He headed the committees that created the atrocious, and Vatican-Rejected, “revised Psalms” of the NAB. He has headed the USCCB’s liturgy committee numerous times, even beyond conventional term limits. Over a decade ago, he wrote a piece on liturgy in _America_ that elicited a response from some Vatican bishops, who wrote in the letters page of _America_ that Trautman’s article was essentially calling for a schism. Trautman single-handedly stonewalled implementation of the New Translation in the US, starting with his immediate reaction to, and rejection of, _Liturgiam Authenticam_ when it was issued and his insistence over the last 10 years that Americans are too dumb to know what words like “chalice” and “consubstantial” mean.

Somehow, in spite of that wide Catholic environment, in my early childhood I managed to pick up the beauty of Catholicism that Murphy and Trautman’s generations tried to strip away so meticulously, part in thanks to my parents’ guidance (though many others from similar backgrounds wouldn’t have gotten the same result). I was as bored at Mass as many children are, and clueless about what was going on or what the Readings or homilies said. I was awed by the stained glass windows, statues, the gothic architecture, the pipe organ, the choir, and the vestments and processions.

I read my Fr. Daniel Lord _Miniature Lives of the Saints_ I got for First Communion and was impressed by the piety of the saints. I read my “Children’s First Mass Books” I got for First Communion and was moved by the beauty of the prayers in it.

It was Beauty that called to me in the liturgy and in popular devotions before I understood anything.

I thought it was so cool that monks and nuns got to stand out by wearing their habits to show their love for Jesus.

Then we moved to the South, and while the South tends to be “conservative,” generally, and maybe southern Catholics are more actively pro-life, southern Catholics, especially the ones who are not transplants, tend to be rather liberal about their faith, because of the whole, “We have to avoid getting persecuted” mentality. When they’re conservative, they tend to be the racist kind of conservatives. So I spent the second half of my formative years surrounded by charismatics and progressives, and carrying the stigma that conservative=racist, and the only people who seemed to be externally following the Church’s teachings generally seemed to be stuck-up.

Yet, in spite of all that, I was drawn to Tradition.

I had plainclothes nuns and priests telling me that everything I found attractive about Catholicism was done away with by Vatican II.

While what drew me to the faith was its *difference* from the world, I was told that to be “relevant” and “attract the youth,” the Church had to embrace the world’s “pop culture,” that organs and traditional hymns had to be set aside for guitars and folksongs (nevermind that I had not yet really understood the great patrimony of traditional Catholic music; I was just working from congregational hymns). Stained glass windows (at least those depicting saints and biblical events) and statues had to be stripped away for colorful banners and potted plants. We’d have a big day for “Thanksgiving,” when Protestant Orange would be draped over the sacred altar and the vestments of the priest.

It made no sense to me that the religion of Aloysius Gonzaga, who walked on his own to daily Mass at age 3, or Stanislas Kostka who miraculously received Communion from an angel, was to be replaced by balloon Masses and “Glory and Praise for Kids,” that the faith which so many martyrs died for *PRECISELY* because they didn’t want to participate in the evils of their own cultures was now to be spread by embracing the evils of our contemporary culture.

John Paul II coined the term “Culture of Death” in _Evangelium Vitae_. Yes, the term has been used and abused since, and become a cliche, but if you actually read the encyclical, the context of the term might make even the most avid Ron Paul supporter blush (especially those who think the Pope is *in* on “the New World Order”), for His Holiness speaks of a vast worldwide conspiracy against Life and against the Catholic Church. If we’re going to speak of a “Culture of Death,” then we have to acknowledge that concept includes “culture,” that the Culture of Postmodernism is itself part-and-parcel of the Culture of Death. The culture of contraception, abortion, and euthanasia is also the culture of sex, drugs and Rock&Roll. If a worldwide conspiracy against the Catholic Church is trying to promote abortion, contraception, divorce and so many other evils, then one must also acknowledge that such a conspiracy is involved with the government pays for crucifixes in urine or feces on images of the Blessed Mother. If we’re fighting against these evils attacking human life and the family, then we must also attack the culture which encourages people to participate in immorality, so they feel the “need” for abortion, contraception and divorce as “protection” against their own immorality that the culture has taught them is inevitable.

Those same nuns were all about “helping the poor”–which is laudable, but not when it’s politically subordinated to abortion (a position refuted by Bl. John Paul II in _Evangelium Vitae_) or worse when it’s subordinated to spirituality. In that sense, it was not so much abortion that made me conservative as “Catholicism is about serving the poor, not all that prayer stuff. You shouldn’t be doing Eucharistic Adoration. The Eucharist is supposed to be about going out and serving the poor, not staying around and worshipping it. Marian devotion was done away with by Vatican II, and it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re supposed to be serving the poor.” And to a disabled kid, whose parents were basically teetering on poverty as it was, being told that the only “true” way to serve Christ was by helping the poor, came off as essentially telling me I was damned (if their worldview was true), and it seemed hypocritical of them to be so worried about poor people who *weren’t* Catholic but not about those in their own parish, to go out and do habitat for humanity but not be bothered to help a parishioner who was likely going to die before age 20.

So *that* is why I’m a conservative. Now, as an adult, I’ve seen the faults of many who call themselves conservative, but take solace in that most of them are more neocons, anyway, but the fundamental issues still remain.

Now, I knew my understanding of Catholicism was validated by JPII, sort of, and I knew it was validated by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (which is why I spent most of my life till 2005 waiting for him to be Pope, and literally hit the ceiling when he did), and by Cardinal Arinze, and Mother Angelica, and so many saints. I knew my view of Catholicism was validated by Kirk, and Chesterton, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, etc.

However, the struggle against the habitless nuns and their cronies has raged on. It is amazing how there are so many people out there who consider themselves devout and practicing Catholics, whose worldviews are so completely different, who totally embrace “Vatican II” (or rather the “Spirit of Vatican II,” since the Council itself never said or advocated most of what they claim it did), who think that Joan Chittister and Rembert Weakland (even in spite of the latter’s disgrace) embody the “true” faith, it can be quite disheartening. Look at _Commonweal_, _America_, _US Catholic_, _St. Anthony Messenger_, or _Maryknoll_. Look at the “we’re not liberal” Catholics at Vox Nova and “Catholics United for the Common Good.” Look at so many “Catholic” colleges and institutions, like Georgetown, which invited Kathleen Sebelius to be its commencement speaker, even in the current crisis. While many of these people are intentional agents of Communism and Freemasonry, many of them really *are* well-meaning, but totally brainwashed, and think they’re following the Church. And they insist that their “view of Catholicism” is at least a perfectly valid one, if not the only valid one, and the Pope and “the Bishops” (even though many of the bishops in the US agree with them) are “out of touch.”

So, with all that said, the second great gratification came seven years after the installation of Pope Benedict XVI, when the Vatican issued its “smackdown” of the Leadership Council of Women Religious a few weeks ago. Finally, the Vatican has confirmed that all those habitless nuns are way off-base, regarding their subordination of both moral issues and personal spirituality to social justice (which is a perfectly valid concern in its proper context). Finally, they’re being told to put their habits back on.

Straight from the Donkey’s Mouth: JPII opposed Liberation Theology

In promoting his new “Bible Commentary,” former president Jimmy Carter has called Blessed John Paul II a “Fundamentalist” and compared him to the late Ayatollah Khomeini.
Carter claims that, during their 1978 meeting, he attacked the Church for “perpetuating the subservience of women” and that they had an “angry exchange” over liberation theology.

It’s very common to hear from members of the Catholic Left that, since JPII and Cardinal Ratzinger where very specific in condemning “certain aspects” of the theology of liberation, that means the notion in general is OK and it’s just those “certain aspects” that aren’t (even though you’d also be hard pressed to find an advocate of “liberation theology” who doesn’t agree with at least some of those specific aspects).

So, here we have no less a liberal than Jimmy Carter saying that JPII wholeheartedly opposed “liberation theology.’

Catholicism versus Masonry–a Timeline

G. K. Chesterton said that the greatest heresy has always been Gnosticism, and that the Church’s battle has always been with Gnosticism in various forms. Gnosticism itself grew out of the Babylonian mystery cults, and the Gnostics would adapt their views to every culture and religion they encountered. There were Jewish Gnostics before Christianity even existed–the Kabbalists, and the Gnosticism latched on to Christianity very quickly–such that the New Testament is full of references to Gnosticism (though the term is not used directly in the New Testament).

The Gnostics believed in a dualistic world. They believed that Good and Evil were equal forces in the cosmos, that matter was evil and spirit was good, and the objective was to free one’s spirit from the chains of matter. They believed that most people were little more than animals and lived in ignorance, but a select few were capable of becoming enlightened and attaining the secret knowledge of the cosmos (Gnosis, from which “Gnosticism” comes). They believed that this secret knowledge included the ability to transcend matter in this lifetime and eachieve what we might today call magical powers. Gnostics read their beliefs into the Bible. “Christian” Gnostics argued that the God of the Old Testament, the creator of matter, was evil, and that actually Lucifer was the good God, and Jesus was the messenger of Lucifer. In another variant, they looked to the differences between the use of “Elohim” and “Yahweh” in the Old Testament and suggested this as evidence of two different Gods, one good and one evil.

Gnosticism has taken many forms throughout history. In the Middle Ages, workers of various kinds would join together into guilds, to divide up territories, share resources, share knowledge, etc. Somehow, in the 1600s or thereabouts, the builders’ guilds began expanding from merely sharing professional knowledge to actually aggrandizing their profession. They began celebrating the achievements of the ancient societies and seeking ways to recreate them. In the 1700s, in conjunction with the neo-Classical era in the arts, the Builders’ Guilds–the Masonic guilds–began celebrating the architectural achievements of Egypt, Greece and Rome and seeking to recreate them.

Somewhere along the line, they even began celebrating the Tower of Babel! If the pyramids were models to be admired, and the Bible condemns the Egyptians, then maybe there’s something wrong with the Bible. If the Tower of Babel was something to be admired, then maybe the God who condemned the Tower of Babel was actually bad!

So, somewhere along the line, the Masonic guilds began adopting the ancient Gnostic beliefs. They started to argue that the standard interpretations of the Bible were wrong, and that there was a actually a secret knowledge behind the Bible. The Egyptians had the authentic religion, of which Christianity was a counterfeit (after years of reading about them, I recently heard some of these views firsthand from a Mason).

Now, in 1700s Europe, it was becoming common to have people who were overtly atheists, or at least Deists (certainly, there had always been such people in practice, but it was now becoming acceptable to espouse such beliefs). There were various Protestant sects, as well as Catholics. So the Guilds, which used to be explicitly Catholic, began to embrace toleration of different religious beliefs.

OK, so all of this stuff kind of coalesced like most historical movements do, and there were several strains. No single movement developed, but a lot of similar movements developed that came to be known as Lodges or Masonic Lodges. Most of these movements had similar ideas. Some embraced Gnostic ideals. Some embraced a secular idea of people working together for the common good without reference to religion. All of them had a general view that the old modes of European society, particularly the Catholic Church, had to be thrown off. Even the term “Enlightenment” itself came out of these movements: they held that the era of Christendom had been the “Dark Ages,” and they were now seeking Enlightenment from reviving the ancient pagan cultures.

In the 1700s, Popes began writing encyclicals condemning the Lodges. There were several reasons they were condemned. First, the Lodges involved secret oaths, and Catholics who were members of Lodges were bound by oath not to confess sins they committed in conjunction with their Lodges. The Church was suspicious of how the Lodges wanted to keep the Church out of their business.

Secondly, the Lodges promoted civic charity that was not explicitly Christian, and the Popes said that Charity was only possible with a religious context. They argued that charity without Christ had no merit. Charity without Christ could only be done by coercion or by incentive of earthly reward.

Thirdly, the Lodges promoted cooperation between people of different faiths, or no faith at all. Tying in with point 2, the Popes condemned the Lodges for teaching that religious differences were irrelevant, all religions were equal, and religion was just a means to achieving civic virtue.

The Lodges gradually began to influence political movements, and they began to promote revolution against the old orders, both the monarchies and the Church.

In 1776, a group of Masons in America revolted against their king. Later, they would pass a Bill of Rights that enshrined in its first Amendment the notion, condemned by the Popes, that all religions were equal and government should be separate from religion.

In France, a bloody, violent revolution sprung up, inspired by the one in America. Churches would be destroyed. Priests and religious would be martyred. Relics and Sacramentals and works of great religious art would be burned. The Goddess Liberty would be held up as the new deity, in replacement of the Christian God. Catholic schools would be outlawed, and public funded schools that taught a secular education would be established.

In America, similarly public-funded schools would be established. While they would not be completely secular like the French schools, they would teach Protestantism, specifically. And while the Constitution guaranteed Freedom of Religion, the general presumption of the Founding Fathers was that that meant Protestantism. Jews and Catholics would be tolerated as long as they didn’t “rock the boat,” and Catholic Founder Charles Carroll, though himself not officially a member of the Masons, would espouse the very notion that the Popes were condemning. Carroll argued that religion, other than as a source of civic virtue, should be kept in the Church, and that Catholics could easily co-exist among Protestants in America if we kept our religion private. This would be echoed by John F. Kennedy nearly 200 years later, when he proclaimed on the campaign trail that he would not be beholden to the Pope. Then, in contemporary times, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would state that America was a country of freedom of worship, not freedom of religion, and religion should be kept to the home and the church and not expressed in the public sphere.

In 1830, the Blessed Virgin would appear to a Vincentian nun, St. Catherine Laboure, at the Church of Our Lady of Victories, in Rue de Bac, Paris, France. These apparitions would be famous for giving the world the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, later known as the Miraculous Medal. However, it would be less known that Our Lady at those apparitions condemned the revolutions that had been going on since the American Revolution, saying that the errors of America would spread around the world and nearly destroy the Church, that the cry of revolution and democracy would spread immorality among the people.

In 1846, the Virgin would appear again in France, to two shepherd children in a village called La Salette. Now, there would be issues with the alleged visionaries’ testimonies changing over time. Also, even if an alleged apparition is given approval, the Church almost never approves of messages that claim to predict the future. The prophecies of Fatima are a rare, if not unique, exception. However, the alleged prophecies of La Salette are pretty interesting. They include:

1. That starting in the 1860s, the demons would be allowed a special century to wreak havoc and try to destroy the Church.
2. That *after* that century (hence, starting in the 1960s), the fruits of their century of work would be scene, and there would be great evil in the world.
3. That as part of this, Satan would inspire people to invent many new technologies. La Salette predicted the telephone, television, airplane and other technologies that would make people think they had now become gods.
4. That starting in the 1960s, people would come about who claimed to be “resurrected dead,” and they would have accounts of dying and experiencing the afterlife, but their accounts would contradict Church teaching. She said these people would, in fact, be dead bodies inhabited by demons: an eerie prediction of the New Age “Near Death Experience” phenomenon.

In the meantime, the Masonic Lodges would spin off various political “parties,” all touting variations of the same themes of forcing secular charity, abolishing the ties of Church and state, etc. Some of these groups would call themselves Republicans, some Democrats, some Socialists, some Communists, but they’d all teach basically the same things.

When Charles Darwin published his book _Origin of the Species_, it gave Freemason Karl Marx a scientific back-up to the theory of history he had already developed based upon the Hegelian dialectic.

In America, Freemason Joseph Smith would claim a new revelation and start a new religion called the Latter Day Saints, or Mormonism, which would derive many of its beliefs from ancient ideas condemned by Christianity as heresy, including Gnosticism and Arianism.

As the Popes continued to issue documents condemning Freemasonry, membership in Lodges, and the rising communist/socialist ideal, Pope Pius IX would issue, in 1864, the “Syllabus of Errors,” a list of errors he had already previously condemned, most revolving around the Masons and the Communists.

Pius IX’s successor, Leo XIII, who would personally interview one of the La Salette visionaries, made similar condemnations of “modernism,” another name for the general set of Masonic ideals.

In the 1890s, Pope Leo XIII would condemn a set of notions which he collectively called “Americanism.” Since “Americanism” was a collection of notions, and he addressed it in several documents (most notably 1895’s _Longinqua Oceani_ and 1899’s _Testem Benevolentiae_), there would be some confusion about what Leo XIII meant by “Americanism.” Some people argued that Leo was misinterpreting what American Catholics thought. Others argued that he was condemning the idea of European countries adopting American ideals. However, he was actually doing all of the above. The set of notions Leo considered “Americanism” included:

1. Pluralism and the concept of “Assimilation”
2. Individualism
3. “Wall of Separation between Church and State.” Leo applauded the notion that people should have liberty to choose their own faith, but he condemned the notion that the state should be completely separate from the Church. He said that the Catholic Church should still receive preferential treatment from the State, and the State had to obey the Church’s teachings on matters of morality.
4. Minimizing Catholic doctrine, disparaging of religious life, and downplaying of spiritual direction. He condemned, back then, what we today call “Cafeteria Catholicism.”
5. Spreading of American ideals in Europe.

While Leo condemned some of these tendencies in American Catholicism, he also praised certain aspects of American achievement and praised what the Church was accomplishing at that point in America.

Leo would also have his own vision of a “wager” between God and the Devil, that the Devil asked for 100 years of free reign to try and destroy the Church. Leo wrote the prayer to St. Michael and ordered that it be said at all Masses.

Also in the 1890s, the Holy Office (formerly Inquisition; now Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith) would arrest a priest for membership in the Masons. That priest would claim that there were already numerous Masons infiltrating the Church hierarchy, and that eventually the Masons would arrange for there to be another Council, after which the Church would be unrecognizable.

In 1929, at its Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church would become the first Christian church to endorse contraception by married couples (noting that, contrary to popular misconception today, the first condoms were invented in 3000 BC, and ancient cultures used various forms of contraceptive devices, herbs, etc., that were collectively known as “witchcraft”).

In 1943, Anglican apologist C. S. Lewis would deliver a series of lectures collectively called _The Abolition of Man_, where he would talk about certain trends in culture and education that he found troubling, concluding with the notion that a vast movement was at work to undermine the traditional notion of the human person. He noted that birth control was at the heart of this movement and would totally undermine the notion of what it meant to be a human being. While he noted that, at the time, the Communists and Nazis seemed most intent to “abolish man,” as he put it, Lewis observed that the greatest threat would lie in the democratic Western nations.

Before his death in the late 1950s, Pope Pius XII would be known to mutter that the Vatican “stank of sulfur” and that he felt the presence of demons in the Vatican.

His successor, John XXIII, would call for a Council to finish the work begun at Vatican I from 1869-1870. He acknowledged that the Church, which had evolved organically for much of its history, had become kind of stagnant in battering the hatches against assaults from the Protestants, Masons and Communists in the recent centuries.

John XXIII called for a Council that would be unique in that its primary purpose would be pastoral, not doctrinal. It would mainly look at how to best address the issues of the modern world.

Once the Council began, however, many of the bishops began steering it in directions the Pope did not intend. Reportedly, on his death bed in 1963, John XXIII cried out, “Stop the Council!”

At some point during the Council itself, when language about birth control was being formulated that suggested governments had the right to practice population control, Cardinal Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office, protested that the language contradicted church teaching. Ottaviani would later issue a scathing condemnation of some of the Council’s apparent teachings known as his “Intervention.”

Meanwhile, Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, whom Pius XII had already labelled a “twentieth century doctor of the Church,” who had been an outspoken critic of the radical Right during World War II, became an outspoken critic of Vatican II (interestingly, a young Fr. Josef Ratzinger would become acquainted with von Hildebrand, who attended Ratzinger’s parish when visiting Germany). In 1973, the Vatican newspaper _L’Osservatore Romano_ would praise von Hildebrand’s _Trojan Horse in the City of God_ as the definitive interpretation of Vatican II and required reading for anyone concerned with the state of the Church. In _Satan at Work_, von Hildebrand would document evidence that the Communist Party USA and the KGB had sent communist agents to infiltrate Catholic seminaries throughout the US and Europe, and now as much as 10% of Catholic priests were Communists, with a greater number being Communist sympathizers.

During its last two years, Vatican II would be very much a battle between Pope Paul VI and the bishops. A vocal contingent of bishops would demand more sweeping “reforms” than what the Pope would allow, and the Pope would call for more orthodox language in some cases that the bishops refused to implement (for example, Paul VI wanted to declare Mary “Mother of The Church,” but the influential bishops at the Council wanted to de-emphasize Our Lady to appease the Protestants, so Paul went around their back and used the title in one of his personal documents).

Even before the Council, new forms of Church architecture would be implemented that were based upon modernist architectural ideals. While the Council called for certain liturgical reforms, immediately after the Council, radical liturgical innovations were implemented before the Church would even issue a new Missal. Everything from the adoption of folk and rock music to removal of altar rails and the creation of freestanding altars to communion on the hand and even the use of grape juice and cookies began to be implemented around the world. Many of these “reforms” were implemented without any explicit documentation from the Vatican, and then grandfathered in when the new Missal would be issued.

Meanwhile, Paul VI would encourage use of the traditional liturgy by those who wanted to retain it. Paul VI would emphasize that Vatican II was purely pastoral, reformulating Catholic teaching without issuing any new dogmas, that anything that came out of Vatican II that was not previously defined was not dogmatically binding. He said that the purpose of the Council was to address Modernism in a new form, to directly appeal to people of all faiths with the beauty of the Catholic Church.

Since “the Pill” was originally invented by Catholics trying to find a way to help women regulate their cycles for effective use of the “Rhythm Method,” many priests told Catholics it was OK to use “the Pill.” As Vatican II was going on, rumors began to spread that the Pope would endorse contraception, and many theologians, priests and bishops staked their reputation on that promise to laity.

The Pope would convene a panel to discuss the issue of birth control pills, and whether they were an acceptable form of NFP or whether they operated the same way condoms did. While some members of the panel emphatically supported the Church’s traditional teachings, the majority would apparently decide not only that the Pill was OK, but recommend that the Pope permit all artificial contraception. Instead, Paul VI issued _Humanae Vitae_, a reaffirmation of the Church’s teachings, condemning barrier methods and pills, but giving a new level of approval to the Natural Family Planning methods the Church had been considering since the early 1800s.

The issuance of HV would see a rebellion among bishops, priests, theologians and laity against the Pope. Meanwhile, in the general world, the Pill would be seen as inspiring a “sexual revolution.” In 1968, the kinds of periodic youth rebellions that had become commonplace in France for nearly 200 years would be seen around the world.

The new popular culture of “sex, drugs and rock & roll” would promote rebellion and promote the notion that it was perfectly common and acceptable for “teenagers” to rebel against authority.

A “New Age” movement would once again repackage the old views of the Gnostics, promoting “enlightenment,” “spirituality” rather than “religion,” the “power of positive thing,” the ability to manipulate things with ones mind if one became “enlightened,” etc. Noting that an upcoming shift in a 2,000 year astrological cycle would mean that the earth was moving out of the “Age of Pisces” (the fish, the symbol of Christianity), to the “Age of Aquarius,” the “Age of Aquarius” would be promoted as the literal “New Age,” the post-Christian era.

In the 1970s, Paul VI would say that the “Smoke of Satan” had reached the highest levels of the Church. Future Pope Karol Wojtyla would say the Church was involved in the greatest fight in her history. In the late 1960s, Joseph Ratzinger would predict that the Church was facing an era of great persecution, that the Church was going to lose most of her property and status, and that in the 21st Century, the Church would be made up of small groups of devout believers living as a persecuted minority. He would repeat these predictions 30 years later as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Later, as Pope, he would state that the Church was facing the greatest battle in her history.

Vatican II would basically say the same things that all the “anti-Modernist” popes had said, though with a tone of positivity towards individual choice and as an appeal to the people to embrace the Church, rather than a top-down instruction to bishops to condemn erroneous notions. Yet many would see the Council as endorsing the very views those earlier popes condemned, practicing would Ratzinger would later call a “hermeneutic of discontinuity.”

Some who embraced such a hermeneutic would rebel against the Council, seeing the alleged 19th Century masonic priest’s prediction as being fulfilled, and seeing the Gates of Hell as having prevailed against the hierarchy in Rome. Others would, conversely, praise the Church’s alleged embrace of “progress.”

John Paul II and Benedict XVI would later echo their predecessors by condemning the relativism that had become dominant in society, insisting that states had to listen to the Church on matters of morality and justice, and demanding that Catholics in democratic societies use their political rights to vote in the Church’s teachings, particularly on issues like contraception and abortion.

As various forms of Masonic governments failed time and again in other countries, new persecution would develop in America. Fulfilling C. S. Lewis’s prediction, the embrace of sexual license caused by contraception would be used to undermine Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church. Starting with forcing adoption agencies to let homosexual couples adopt, moving on to a recognition of same sex “marriage” that was unprecedented in history (carrying with it the implication that such “marriage” must be accepted by churches and anyone engaged in the “marriage industry”) and culminating in a law forcing Catholic institutions to pay for abortion and contraception, a new persecution of Catholicism would begin in the “land of the free.”

Yet many Catholics in America would embrace the entire Masonic assault on the Church, even while claiming to be devout Catholics. Ignoring all the Papal condemnations of liberty that is license rather than the freedom to choose the goo, the Papal condemnations of socialism and secular “charity,” the papal condemnations of religious pluralism that denies the primacy of the Catholic Church, the papal condemnations of “Americanism,” the condemnations of modernism by various saints and Marian apparitions, and the obvious incompatibility of liberal values with all the teachings of the Church for 2,000 years, somehow people would still insist that they were fulfilling Catholic teaching by supporting the “progressive” movements in society.

The Culture Wars are Real, and It’s Time to Draw a Line

A year or two before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Cardinal Woytyla gave a sermon in which he said that the Church is engaged in the greatest conflict in her history. Nearly 20 years later, in 1995’s _Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)_, Bl. JPII would speak of the war between a Culture of Death and a Culture of Life.

Yet, somehow, even today, there are Catholics who insist there’s no such thing as a “Culture War,” and that those of us who speak of a “Culture War” are Right Wing racists.

Now, in 2012, Benedict XVI has made a similar statement to the US Bishops in their ad limina visit, that our country with its proud heritage of religious freedom is facing an unprecedented attack on that very freedom, and that he’s greatly concerned with the things coming out of the Obama Administration.

Those bishops, in turn, down to the most liberal bishops like Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, have spoken out against Obama’s attempt to force Catholic doctors to provide contraception, Catholic insurers to pay for it, and Catholic employers to pay for it in their insurance plans. Initially, even some liberal Catholic publications stood with the bishops in defending freedom of conscience, but when Obama offered his ludicrous “compromise” (if contraception is a “free” option on insurance plans, then the Church wouldn’t technically be paying for it), now the usual suspects (most notably, _America_ Magazine) have called on the bishops to be more tolerant and compromise. One Obama Administration official even tried to say that the US Bishops have always opposed the “Health Care Reform” act commonly known as Obamacare, and that this is just a guise for their Republican activism! HAH! Timothy Cardinal Dolan of NYC has called them out on this boldfaced lie, noting how the USCCB actively supported health care reform *other* than its inclusion of abortion and contraception.

Indeed, this writer, for one, was sorely disappointed in how actively the US Bishops *did* promote Obama’s health care agenda. It seemed like it was another case of them just paying lip service to opposing abortion and contraception, and totally ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church condemns socialism.

Yet, “The Catholic bishops are just a bunch of Right Wing Activists” has become the talking point of the Left. The very fact that this whole thing is about crushing the Catholic Church is shown in the many comments from the Left that the Church’s position on contraception is unfair to women, that this is not about freedom of religion (“because your religion is wrong”), etc.

Again, the Obama Administration is using the support of liberal Catholics like the folks at _America_ and numerous liberal Catholic pundits around the country to argue that the bishops are “out of touch” with “rank and file” laity. Nancy Pelosi, who shows that she’s possessed by the fact that she wouldn’t even utter the name of Jesus when asked when Jesus became Flesh, says that she’ll “stand with my fellow Catholics in supporting the President in this bold step.”

8 years ago, Pat Buchanan said that the murder of Terri Schiavo ought to be the watershed moment in the culture wars, that there was no going back. Most certainly, nothing so clearly marked the lines of the Culture Wars than that event. Liberals and some “conservatives” were absolutely convinced that Michael Schiavo was a noble crusader for the “right to die.” Pro-lifers were convinced that the Schindlers were noble crusaders for the right to life. There was no middle ground. There could be no middle ground.

A great judicial injustice–that one single judge who had numerous behind the scenes issues with his legitimacy as a judge and his collusion with Michael Schiavo could keep ruling on the same case without appeal–was rectified by Terri’s Law, the federal law passed to allow a federal appeals court to hear the case. The federal courts refused, saying they had no jurisdiction–even though Congress had just used its Constitutional authority to *give* them jurisdiction. At first, the Republicans in the House suggested impeachment hearings for Contempt of Congress against the federal justices involved, but when the media and the Congressional Democrats expressed outrage, and the bugaboo of a “Constitutional Crisis” was raised, the Republicans backed down, and Terri was cruelly starved to death.

That should have been it, but nothing happened.

Now, eight years later, we have this clear case of the government trying to force the Catholic Church to not only endorse but pay for artificial birth control, and you would think that would stand as a similar line of demarcation.

The bishops are saying, again, that this is a war against the Church. Yet when the Senate voted last week on an Amendment to provide conscientious objection in Obamacare, the Senate voted it down, and 13 “Catholic” senators voted against the Church. Again, Nancy Pelosi and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, both “Catholics,” have stood firm with Obama. Why aren’t all of these people being excommunicated forthwith???

Now, we have the permutation of the Sandra Fluke Affair. This feminist activist testifies before Congress that she wants Congress to force Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, to pay for her birth control so she can fornicate at will, and Rush Limbaugh calls her a “slut” (which dictionary.com deampanfines as an “immoral or dissolute woman”), and the debate is over whether it was rude of Rush Limbaugh to call her that!!

Catholics are complaining that it was wrong to call her that, that her private activities are nobody’s business (then why did she testify about them before Congress?), etc.

It’s outrageous! When are we going to say enough is enough? I’m sick of being told that conservatives are divisive, that conservatives are hateful and vitriolic and venomous. I’m sick of being told that we should just look aside at the murder of 50 million babies. I’m sick of being told that rampant divorce and adultery and fornication are to be tolerated because “Jesus said not to judge.”

I’m sick of the people who act like Catholicism began with Vatican II, who balk at Tradition in every other respect, telling me that it’s traditional for Catholics to vote Democrat. I’m sick of being told “There are other issues besides abortion” when I cannot figure out *one* issue in which the Democrats are in accordance with Catholic teaching. I am sick of being told that I have to “CoExIsT” with people who want me dead. I’m sick of being told that I have to have “unity” with people who have a totally different worldview than I do. I’m sick of being told that I’m wrong to say there’s only one True Church, that no one has a monopoly on truth and all ideas should “CoExIsT,” but that the same people who say that will throw a hissy fit if you suggest that Biblical Creation or even Aristotelian Intelligent Design should be taught in conjunction with Darwinism.

I’m sick of liberal Catholics trying to claim that they are “good Catholics” when they vote for the Democrats, oppose Papal teaching, support artificial birth control, oppose the Reform of the Reform, oppose the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, oppose traditional devotions, oppose Latin, oppose any Catholic teaching that comes before 1960, and totally ignore Leo XIII’s condemnation of the Americanist Heresy. I’m sick to death of being told that I have to accept such people as my fellow Catholics, when they very clearly are heretics and are not in any way shape or form Catholic, other than the fact that they show up every now and then to receive Communion sacrilegiously.

This *IS* a Culture War, and the Church *IS* under attack, and it’s time we acknowledged it, and it’s time we started by identifying the traitors who are attacking the Church from within.