Saturday, March 22, 2003

"Minor Mea Culpa" Dept.
(Also known as "mea minima culpa")

With the regular season of baseball starting up within a matter of a week or so, I should point out I suppose that in my October tribute to former Mariners skipper Lou Piniella that I made the declaration that the Mariners needed to get Dusty Baker. I was not aware at the time of Baker's IRS problems and the guy the Mariners did end up signing - former Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Bob Melvin - is so far doing very well.

I note this here because I was wrong to insist so stridently on getting Dusty Baker as Melvin appears to be a very good fit for the Mariners team and is a lot cheaper to boot. Normally when sports teams are cheap they are fodder for ridicule but in this instance they were right and your humble servant was in error.

As far as weblog updates go, it does not appear that I will get to it tonight so at the earliest it will be tomorrow evening - and probably late evening - that it is tended to.

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Dr. Art Sippo responds to the irrational CAItanic captain Robert Sungenis.

To complement Art's piece your humble servant of Rerum Novarum decided to weigh in at The Lidless Eye Inquisition and highlight some of the flaws in the CAItanic slaw. (Particularly "Vichy Bob" and his crew's profound misunderstanding of Ecclesiology.) Click on the link above for more details.

I may blog tomorrow and hopefully will update this weblog over the weekend. I apologize but the war has had me preoccupied - along with doing more spiritual reading than I normally do. I hope to finish Dark Night of the Soul tonight: a work I have read sections of over the years but never read the whole work start to finish. My frequent statements about self-styled "trads" being spiritually immature is being reinforced in this study. However, though they stand heavily indicted by this saint's work, everyone I can think of to is to some degree implicated as well. It is rather shocking to read the parts that directly apply to me personally...a subject that leads me to contemplate possibly doing a series on the Dark Night after Lent on this weblog.

Oh, one more thing lest I forget. I plan to be involved in the St. Blog's Baseball League.

It has been a few years since I have done this sort of thing - actually 1999 was the last year. Since that time, my interest in the national pasttime due to personal and family tragedies in 2000-2002 waxed and waned a lot. Hopefully this helps rekindle my passion for the game and I encourage anyone reading this to sign up over the weekend if you are a baseball fan. The league has six teams thus far and 8-12 would be great the more the better. (My team in this league is the Cardinals.) You have to register before Sunday though because the commish of the league will be holding the autodraft Monday. Thus you have to register and rank your players before then.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Please pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Michael Forrest's brother Ken and also for his family in their hour of grieving. (Ken passed away yesterday.)

Eternal rest grant unto his soul oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. May his soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

You Are Romans
You are Romans.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

This is rather surprising since I would have figured to have been either 1 Corinthians or the Psalms.


A Possible "New Ultramontanism" as Outlined by Blog From the Core:
(Plus some musings from your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Lane Core Jr. explains HERE a kind of creeping Ultramontanism that he detects from some of the Catholics who are trying to justify a very rigid interpretation of the pope's current stand on the war as binding or near binding on the conscience. I have gone over my rationale on this subject as you know HERE, however it seems that one of the terms I refer to needs to be unpacked a little. In responding to the webmaster at Minute Particulars, Lane blogs the following:

Mark's mistake is in lumping all prudential judgements into one big heap and making hasty generalizations from them about what kind of respect or deference is due to the pope's or bishops' opinions about certain kinds of prudential judgements.

It did appear to me that the link Lane refers to (from Minute Particulars) blurred the distinction a bit.{1} If Mark was simply saying that one should never take joy or comfort in being opposed to the pope in an area where there is free inquiry of opinion then I can concur with that sentiment. I frankly do not like being on the opposite side of the pope on this issue. I doubt Lane does either.

Now, there are prudential judgements that certainly belong to the pope and bishops: the appointment of bishops and pastors; disciplines concerning the administration of the sacraments; clerical celibacy; and many, many others. These prudential judgements concern the governance of the Church, and they belong by right to the Church's pastors. Those who are not the Church's pastors may disagree with these kinds of prudential judgements; they may very well convey to the Church's pastors their disagreements; but they ought to do so with circumspection and respect, because the pope and bishops are the ones on whom these prudential judgements devolve by right.

And though Lane did not mention it, I know he intended to infer that such prudential judgments as noted above - however one may have problems with them - are nonetheless to be obeyed.

Now, there are other prudential judgements in which the pastors of the Church do not have any competence, and should not have any say. The popes and bishops of the Church may declare, for instance, that a married man with children has a moral obligation to support his family, and that culpable failure to do so is a grave sin. Surely, nobody would dispute their authority to do so. But the pope and bishops have no right — indeed, it is no business of theirs — to tell a man what school he should attend to educate himself properly for a career; or what career he ought to get educated for, to support a family properly; or what particular job he ought to take to fulfill that responsibility. The pastors of the Church simply have no competence in this area of prudential judgement, and attempting or purporting to have such competence would be an attempt to usurp an authority that simply does not belong to them.


Now, it is the teaching of the Catholic Church that the competence to decide whether warfare in given circumstances actually conforms to the Church's teaching concerning just war belongs to public, civil authorities. Not to popes; not to bishops; not to priests; not to theologians. This is the teaching of the Church. It is not my opinion; it is not anybody's opinion: it is Church teaching that the right to determine whether a given military action would be just warfare belongs to public, civil authorities. It is they — not the Church's pastors — who have the necessary charisms: the inclination, the instincts, the vocation, the education, the experience, and the insights that are all necessary to fulfill their duties as civil, public authorities. Or, if not they, then nobody. And that is precisely why Church teaching devolves to them the prudential judgements regarding the application of just-war tradition.

I agree with this to a point. It is also Catholic teaching that all nations should recognize the Catholic Church as the one Church founded by Our Lord and as the True Religion. These are matters of the divine law which are irrevocable. However, there is also the fact that there are no Catholic nations anymore in the proper sense of that term. So the Church as she has spent the past hundred years or so in a world of non-Catholic nations has had to operate a little differently than would be ideal. (Please do not misunderstand this as an endorsement of monarchial government.)

Because the governments are not Catholic, they tend to not take into account Catholic just war criteria in making their decisions on these matters. (President Bush though actually appears to try and do this and even more so than President Reagan who - though I am not sure he did this nonetheless appears to have been influenced on many issues by his meetings with the pope.)

Popes and bishops who would attempt or purport to bind the consciences of Catholics in this regard, or even claim to have some special insight or authority that must somehow be respected in this regard, would be attempting to usurp an authority that properly and by right belongs to somebody else — in this case, to public, civil authorities — no less than the pope or bishop who would try to tell a man what job to take is attempting to usurp that man's proper and rightful decision-making authority. And it is they, if anybody, who would be "dissenting" from Church teaching if they did so.

It seems to me that this is an inescapable conclusion if one will do more than give lip service to the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding just war.

The only thing I do not see covered here is the authority of the keys to regulate certain applications of the divine law. The reason I referred in my piece to the pope "making a condemnation of this war a part of his magisterium" is because by doing so, he would be regulating the application of the divine laws regarding the just war in this case. This is for example how his teaching on the death penalty is congruent with Tradition. Pardon me for a moment while I digress.

The pope in his magisterium has set forth the traditional teaching on bloodless restitution whenever possible as the protocol to follow in this day and age. He has stated that the death penalty should be used "rarely if at all" but at the same time has not issued a strict interpretation of this teaching that is binding. Therefore, as long as we adhere to the principle teaching that the death penalty should be used very judiciously and only when no other means of protecting society is feasible, we are as far as I can tell obedient to the manifest mind of the Holy Father on this subject.

Self-defense would be one legitimate use and the Holy Father recognizes this. I can think of a few other examples of people who could be executed even under that criteria. One such example is treason. Another is dealing with serial murderers and those who have actually had people on the outside of prison killed based on orders issued from prison. (And with some gangs this has happened.)

Those two would easily qualify since (i) a serial murderer is someone who cannot be left to the whim of parole boards and (ii) the purpose of imprisonment of a criminal is to protect society. If therefore someone is from their jail cell ordering execution of others to gang subordinates, then they have to be executed to protect society. And of course treason is a crime which is worthy of the death penalty. I doubt the pope would disagree with any of these exceptions to the norm for the reasons I specified.

I am also of the belief that those who sell hard drugs to children should be executed as well - since they can direct such operations from jail at times and I do not trust our justice system to keep such people under wraps. That would be the only addition I would add to the three I noted prior to it and I do not see how the pope's criteria of "unless society cannot otherwise be protected" does not fail to apply here as well.

Considering that I used to be a "kill them all and let God sort them out" kind of guy, the pope's teaching has forced me to rethink my position on this subject. And this is an example of regulating the application of the divine law as the latter literally intepreted calls for death on a whole host of subjects. (See Deuteronomy.)

Ironically enough, I believe the pope's position on this war will actually facilitate the war effort. It (i) removes the potential accusation that it is a crusade of the west or of Christians vs. Muslims (ii) it will I believe show that the UN is an impotent entity if we end up going without them (iii) it is causing the US and others to try every last ditch effort at diplomacy - which removes the "there were other options" excuse. If there were no other viable options, then Saddam's refusal to disarm his WMD's puts us in a position of justifying the attack on the basis of self-defense. (Particularly since the pope has already recognized our right to self-defense against the Al Queda.)

Though I sought to note conclusively in my stated position as detailed in early February that any attack by us would not be a new war but the legitimate resumption of the old Gulf War (as the terms of the ceasefire as spelled out by the UN have never been followed by Iraq), it does not appear to me that President Bush is for the most part approaching this from the angle that I suggested.

In my opinion it is easier to demonstrate the just nature of this war from that angle - along with of course actually showing the footage of Saddam gassing his own people - but for some reason (I wonder why???) the media does not want to show that footage. Apparently Michael Savage in showing the footage on his debut MSNBC show is the only media personality with any cajones in this regard.

However, at the same time, if the pope concluded that this war - for whatever reason - was truly and irrevocably unjust, he has the power of the keys to regulate the application of the divine law. To do this though, he could not merely come out in speeches against it. He would have to formally authenticate this judgment by making it a part of his magisterium in a recognizable manner. Should he do that, then I believe as Catholics we would owe exterior and interior assent to it. Until he does that, what you have noted about prudential judgments applies.

That is my view of it anyway. I also believe that there will not be a magisterial document issued to bind Catholics against this war because (i) such a document would take time to prepare (ii) if there are any documents already prepared for this, the drafts would literally have to be revised every week to take into account various variables that keep coming out about Iraq's non-compliance (iii) I cannot think of any pope in the past hundred years or so who has actively supported any war - yet none of them sought to bind the consciences of Catholics against a war. Instead, they sought through diplomacy and other means to influence the formation of consciences against war{2} and then worked for peaceful resolutions after a war had already started.

Thus while JP II appears to be personally opposed to this war, barring him making it a part of his magisterium, we are not bound to his judgment on the matter. And for those who in good conscience side with the pope on the matter, that is fine as I see it so long as they are in our corner when the war begins. And it will begin - barring extraordinary and unforseen diplomatic progress - within a few days in about thirty three hours from when this post is published.


{1} See Lane's entry for details on this.

{2} Among St. Pius X's dying words were reserved the following for certain WWI partisans who had asked for his blessing of their war effort: "I bless peace, not war."

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Monday, March 17, 2003

I plan to post a response to my friend Lane Core Jr. about the war from our private correspondence. I hope to do so tonight before bedtime but if not it will be one of my first blog entries tomorrow. Right now I have errands to run but after the Presidents speech, my friends our path is now clear war-wise. And since war is now inevitable (barring Hussein's going into exile in the next 48 hours) we are no longer in the realm of speculation. May the Lord protect our soldiers and also all innocent people in Iraq...

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