Friday, August 30, 2002

A recently issued "motu proprio" (meaning that the pope has issued it on his own initiative) is the following document Misericordia Dei. It is subtitled "On Certain Aspects of the Celebration of Penance" and is issued in the form of an Apostolic letter. (A shorter form of utterance than an encyclical but of equivalent authority.) Here is a snippet from that Apostolic letter issued back on April 7, 2002:

In the present circumstances of the care of souls and responding to the concerned requests of many Brothers in the Episcopate, I consider it useful to recall some of the canonical laws in force regarding the celebration of this Sacrament and clarify certain aspects of them - in a spirit of communion with the responsibility proper to the entire Episcopate(9) with a view to a better administration of the Sacrament. It is a question of ensuring an ever more faithful, and thus more fruitful, celebration of the gift entrusted to the Church by the Lord Jesus after his Resurrection (cf. Jn 20:19-23). This seems especially necessary, given that in some places there has been a tendency to abandon individual confession and wrongly to resort to "general" or "communal" absolution. In this case general absolution is no longer seen as an extraordinary means to be used in wholly exceptional situations. On the basis of an arbitrary extension of the conditions required for grave necessity,(10) in practice there is a lessening of fidelity to the divine configuration of the Sacrament, and specifically regarding the need for individual confession, with consequent serious harm to the spiritual life of the faithful and to the holiness of the Church.

Thus, after consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and after hearing the views of venerable Brother Cardinals in charge of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and reaffirming Catholic doctrine on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation as summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,(11) conscious of my pastoral responsibility and fully aware of the need for this Sacrament and of its enduring efficacy, I decree the following: ...

You will have to read the Apostolic letter to know what is being promulgated as law by the Holy Father. After the decrees of the text the following legal formulary is used:

I decree that everything I have set down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio shall have full and lasting force and be observed from this day forth, notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary. All that I have decreed in this Letter is, by its nature, valid for the venerable Oriental Catholic Churches in conformity with the respective Canons of their own Code.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 7 April, the Second Sunday of Easter, the Feast of Divine Mercy, in the year of our Lord 2002, the twenty-fourth of my Pontificate. JOHN PAUL II

Basically, if any of the problems outlined in the Apostolic letter are happening at your church, print up the document and take it to the priests of your church. If they do not respond in a reasonable time to the decrees (say 60 days) go to the local ordinaries and charitably remind them of their responsibilities in this area. They are supreme in their dioceses this is true but this is a case where the pope has promulgated laws that bind the bishops under pain of sin. As tempting as it may be to act like a revolutionary, restrain yourselves. And after another 60 days if nothing has changed, email me and I will give you addresses to the dicasteries of the Holy See and to the Holy Father.

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There are several articles on the ICEL situation at Gerard Serafin's Catholic Blog for Lovers. As one who thinks that "liturgists" who toy with the liturgy should be subjected to certain penalties, I will only note here that it seems self-evident to me that - personal opinions aside - a translation is supposed to convey the meaning intended by the text NOT the opinions of what the text *should* say according to the mind of ivory towered so-called "intellectual liturgists". I do not like any attempts to remove references to the "invisible", the "soul", the "spirit", or any other excisions from the Missal that remove its trancendental character. (Not to mention obvious boneheaded mistranslations that smack of an agenda.) The only exception from a personal standpoint is going with "and also with you" as a more coherent response to "the Lord be with you". But consistency in my mind overrides my personal preferences as indeed they should with everyone. Translate the texts correctly ICEL. Or maybe my opinions of the deserved censure for liturgists are worthy of consideration. (Right now it is a toss-up between "drawing and quartering" or "keel-hauling"...)

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I am thinking of adding a link to GK Chesterton since I cannot be the only one who would be interested in promoting his cause for sainthood - and not *only* because he is credited with the statement "[t]he Catholic Church is like a thick steak, a glass of red wine, and a good cigar". Though admittedly how do you *not* love someone who is attributed with a wonderful statement like that??? :)

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Well baseball, you saved my loyalty...(as I listen to sports radio typing on my blog)

Moving onto theological subjects, I am thinking of discussing the concept of the "norms of theological interpretation" since I use that term a lot and do not want to come across as an elitist. I guess I am wondering if anyone except certain canonists would be interested in such a dissertation ;-)

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Thursday, August 29, 2002

A quote worth pondering from my good friend Dr. Art Sippo

"There is only one true religion, but there are many religions that teach isolated truths. You can emphasize the first clause in this last sentence and act like a bigot or you can emphasize the last clause and act like a liberal indifferentist, or you can admit the whole sentence and act like a CATHOLIC".


Briefly on the baseball strike from a fan to MLB: if you strike and it at all resembles the long drawn out 1994 affair, I am through with you. Shawna locuta est, etc. etc. etc.

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I must admit I am humbled by the very gracious greetings from several members of St. Blog's. Some of them have higher views of my capabilities than I do but I enjoy blogging whereas I did not always enjoy message board posting. I can basically be myself in this format which is practically impossible in a message board set-up.

Anyway, my friend John Betts aka "Irish Chico" has on his blog an excellent link to a commentary by the very good Protestant historian Ben Witherington III. It deals with the "left behind" series and is well worth a read. Here is the link:

What the Left Behind Series Left Out A biblical text taken out of its original context can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. By Ben Witherington III

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Your humble servant was reading some more material at The JunkYard Blog and found some interesting Zenit material about the Sudan posted. Mr. Preston (proprietor of the blog) referred to it in the following way:

A COUNTRY RUN BY THOSE PEACEFUL RELIGIONISTS is just about set to crucify or hang 88 people who've been convicted of an assortment of crimes relating to ethnic violence. Two of them are 14 years old.

Here is the link: LINK

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I have the album "Wish You Were Here" playing again. Side two of the album on tape or vinyl opened with "Have A Cigar" which gave the album a shot of rhythm and blues opening the second side. Due to the crackling intensity of David Gilmour's lead, I am amped up enough to take on another installment of the series "Responsum ad Catholicam Dubiosum". This could become a semi-regular feature on the "show" ;-) In honour of the group I am listening to now, let us christen this section slightly differently...

Another Brick in the Responsum ad Catholicam Dubiosum (Part II)

See the first part to follow the sequence in context...Before continuing this series, my persistent emailer - with their Jehovah's Witness-like zeal for propagating error :) - did what I knew they would do in responding to the first installment of this series: redefined certain terms and concepts in a manner to their own liking rather than "play by the rules" if you will. They were also not slow to propose a "solution" that is an egregious violation of the principle "the ends do not justify the means"... this is apparently supposed to be "Traditional". I would have a hearty laugh if this was not so sad.

If I put up here how this person claimed (in another email) that Church practice if it is consistent over time is infallible - you would see what I mean about confusing doctine and practices. (See the last entry to this blog.) Practices are not infallible or irreformable. And the only practices that are protected from error (because of their universal application coupled with their preservation of the essentials of the faith explicitly or by implication) this person wants to denigrate (of course).

Anyway, we have already established that the several part syllogism proposed by our emailer fell apart at the third step - where they made the assertion that they could "judge heresy". But let us presume for the sake of charity that their syllogism remained intact up to this point - even when it clearly did not.

4) A verbal admission of guilt is the gravest evidence of guilt.

Notice the very imprecise rationale here. "Verbal admission of guilt" can be made in many circumstances - some even by those under duress. By this "logic" if I tortured someone into confessing something, their words are the "gravest evidence of [their] guilt". Sorry, this dog does not hunt.

You see, heretics *never* admit that they are heretics. (Schismatics never admit that they are schismatics either.) This is the pattern of history. But then "to be deep in history is to cease to be a 'traditionalist'". So while no one would argue with point 4 here the fact is, it is as useless as Pascal's wager if not properly quantified. And this person did not quantify this point in their syllogism - a syllogism which I might add went off the tracks back at point 3.

5) Ergo, our judgment of someone charged with heresy ought to be based upon their verbal admission of guilt.

False on two counts (a) WE are to judge no one, that is the proper role of the ecclesiastical authority who has competence in this area (b) As verbal admissions of guilt can be coerced under duress, they cannot always be taken by themselves as authentic.

The train again derails my friends. For more tune in next time I decide to extend this series and answer another installment of this "syllogism".

To be continued today, tomorrow, or maybe next week (again depends on my mood)...

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I cannot believe some of the stuff floating around. Here is one email "theory" on the USCCB document (a non-magisterial document btw):

What the bishops deny is but an infallibly correct pious practice.

You read correctly gentle reader. Here is the reason why "kids do not try this at home" applies to theology when we deal with the "unlearned and unstable" (cf. 2 Pet 3:17).

The PRACTICE of preaching to the Jews in order to convert them to Catholicism has at all times and in all places (until just now that the apostates have taken over) been practiced by the Church.

I really wish people would READ documents before quoting them. The document says simply that we do not plan to convert Jews away from being Jews. It does not say that we do not evangelize. The degree of *ignorance* possessed by many people on the real history of Catholic-Jewish relations is glaringly apparent. This person does not ask themselves what the word "convert" means to the *Jew* now do they??? Of course not, they take a usage from Catholic parlance and presume that because it means A to a Catholic that to a Jew it means A also. That is the reason this entire situation is so misunderstood.

Ergo, the PRACTICE qualified a long time ago as being taught by the Church’s Ordinary Magisterium.

The ordinary magisterium is a many-threaded mosaic. I hope to write an essay on it before the year is out.

We are thus assured of its infallible status.

LOL this is the most absurd statement I have read all week!!! Where on EARTH did this person get their education on Catholic theology??? No practice is protected from error except those that directly touch on the central mysteries of the faith. Examples include the promulgation of a Missal to the universal church and the promulgation of norms of sacramental administration to the universal church. (This is also two areas that the person I am quoting gripes about constantly.) Canonization of saints and granting approbation to a religious order would also fall into this category as would promulgating a Breviary. This person probably thinks that Fatima and Lourdes are "infallible" too...

But PRACTICES are not revealed by God nor defined as doctrines by the Church. Only truths and morals are.

Infallibility deals with all matters pertaining to the central mysteries of the faith either directly or indirectly.

So the bishops, by denying an INFALLIBLY CORRECT PRACTICE of the Church, do not deny an INFALLIBLY CORRECT MORAL OR DOGMATIC TRUTH of the Faith. That is, they do not commit heresy.

Well they got the last part right (about there being no heresy involved). I would still flunk them from Dogmatic Theology 101 for making such egregious errors. To paraphrase Newman:

"To be deep in knowledge of dogmatic theology is to cease to be a 'traditionalist'".

"To be deep in history is to cease to be a 'traditionalist'".

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I just edited my "see I told you so" post from yesterday and added a huge picture of the Gipper and Old Glory. Scroll down for details. Meanwhile, I will kick back with a drink and listen to the opening bars of Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond"...

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Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Addendum to an earlier posted link:

I am referring to the article I linked to at 2:42 pm earlier today. It seems that my friend Lane Core, Jr. interpreted that article differently than I did. He has established on his blog the undeniable truth that the popes have acted decisively and with authority in the periods that the article stated that they did not "micromanage the Church". If the article was saying that they never acted with authority then Lane would have a slam dunk. I do not believe that is what the article was getting at though.

I believe the article was trying to make the point that the popes - while they have the authority to intervene in every level of the Church - seldom have. The examples that Lane noted were deposing patriarches. Such events were very rare historically. I realize the principle that "if they can depose patriarches why not bishops, priests, or deacons??? Heck why not even .......liturgists ;-)

The deposing of an occasional prelate is not the same thing as the pope casting down thunder from the Vatican at scores of priests and bishops - which is what a lot of people today want to see. JP II would be more in line with the normal papal procedure if he and his advisors picked two big fish from the American Church and skewered them as examples for everyone else. Say a couple of bishops...nay make that a couple of CARDINALS. Shall we take nominations for whom they should be???

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I have defended Walter Cardinal Kasper in some situations where he has been severely chastised over the past couple of years. This has not been an easy thing to do because he is very good at saying things that can have both an orthodox and a heterodox meaning. (Particularly in the Jewish-Catholic relations area where there are a lot of technical elements that are easily open to being misunderstood in a heretical sense if they are not properly quantified.)

Nevertheless, I have sought to demonstrate Traditional charity as the Saints and the Doctors in their spiritual instructionals exhort us to do. (I might add that most self-styled "traditionalists" would not recognize authentic charity if it came up and offered to buy them dinner.) But I have to confess my friends, I am starting to reassess my tendency to extend this courtesy towards some people - and Cardinal Kasper is one of them.

The following essay is from Dr. Phillip Blosser - the author of one of the best sections of the work "Not By Scripture Alone" (see my Amazon reviews for more details). It was published at the following link with permission from the New Oxford Review:

The Kasper-Ratzinger Debate and the State of the Church

Here is the section that stuck out at me like a sore thumb:

Kasper's article, beneath its complicated details, is animated by the desire to secure greater "pastoral flexibility" in areas of ecclesiastical discipline where a gap seems to be widening between the Church's official positions and the actual practices of many local churches. It is a fact that the Church's official positions tend to be implemented with increasing reluctance, if not simply ignored, in many local churches throughout the world, particularly in first-world countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the nations of Western Europe. Areas of disagreement and contention with the Vatican include, according to Kasper, "ethical issues, sacramental discipline and ecumenical practices" (p. 8). This likely translates into the Church's widely controverted and ignored prohibitions against contraception, homosexual acts, extramarital cohabitation, divorce, remarriage outside the Church -- and her ban prohibiting those involved in these things, or those whose affiliation is non-Catholic, from receiving Holy Communion. There is also the matter of contraception. It is widely known that there are bishops and priests who favor an open communion policy, and that there are few would turn away anyone approaching the altar, whatever his sexual practice, marital status, or church affiliation. Cardinal Martini of Milan has been reported as saying that the Church has no business getting involved in the personal morals of individual Catholics. As we shall see, Kasper seems inclined to agree with this perspective, and this similarity may be what led my priest to link Kasper with Martini in talking about possible future popes.

I am tired of making allowances for people who cannot come out and make their positions reasonably clear. Cardinal Kasper needs to make it *explicitly clear* what he means about differences in the areas of "ethical issues, sacramental discipline and ecumenical practices". What are *all* of the relevant alterations that he thinks are a good idea here??? Considering the kind of crap I have become used to hearing from professional bureaucrats, a frank admission would be very refreshing - even if in doing so His Eminence confirms the worst suspicions of those who have expressed severe criticisms of him recent years viz his orthodoxy.

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I could call this another "see I told you so" but I will restrain myself :) The following editorial on the priest situation with JP II strikes a number of targets well enough that I will let it speak for itself:

On Blaming the Pope

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Before I forget, I want to issue a thankyou to Dale Price for his nice comments on the blog. It is not often that the difficult balancing that I try to accomplish - and sometimes fail at - is recognized.

Dale also had some nice comments about my friend Stephen Hand of TCR. Stephen emailed me yesterday with "one small quibble" about my take on the situation so as I promised to issue a correction, I do so here on Rerum Novarum front page instead of back in Q7 next to the obituaries in small-point type ala the major media newspapers when they screw up. (If they acknowledge their screwups at all that is.) Anyway, the following is from Stephen's email which will explain the "quibble" if you will:

A hasty note about one simple correction, for the record:

Someone wrote recently about my allegedly once , "parrotting the worst of the Remnant crowd's drivel " (emphasis mine).

Actually I wrote very little direct criticism of the Pope in The Remnant, and never in an intentional schismatic direction, though I did confuse Vatican 2, and thus the Popes, in my mind with general (non -schismatic) modernist pollution (actually my understanding of modernism was naive and based on SSPX framing also), very wrongly, owing mostly to SSPX literature.

Most of my Remnant writing was along cultural lines, culture of death, art, eugenics, philosophy etc.

I was too lazy to read JPII and the documents of Vatican II directly and study them in depth and this was my fatal sin.

Mine too for a long time. I apologize here and now for the misrepresentation. The comment was written on the fly and (to be honest) I could not remember precisely what you wrote about in Remnant as I used to read other peoples versions of the periodical and did not receive a subscription myself. (Unlike periodicals like "The Roman Catholic", "Angeles Magazine", "Catholic" and "Verbum" where I have numerous copies of each from that period in my files..)

[Self-styled "traditionalists"] prefer Archbishop Williamson to all the others and work to prop him up.

Tiny quibble: it is Bishop Williamson. I know because my face was met by his hand at confirmation about fourteen years ago. I remember that some thought since I was one of the adults I should have been slapped harder. Others just thought I should have been slapped harder period ;-) I also had a few non -theological conversations with him when he would visit my old parish - which happened a few times particularly in my last year and a half there. Whatever else one says about him, he is an excellent orator that is for sure.

The difference between the substance and accidents of tradition is a tonic for the bewildered

Brilliantly stated. May those who have ears to hear hear and eyes to see see as that is the root of all their troubles right there - Protestant private judgment excepted of course.

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In a classic example of the stupidity of intellectuals, the UN is now whining about low birth rates in developed countries. Here are some of their "solutions" to the problem:

Dr. Chamie [UN statistics chief - ISM] and other experts warn of drastic changes that will be required to cope with the effects of underpopulation.

"The age of retirement will have to increase. The benefits to the elderly will probably decrease. Taxation for the workers will probably increase," said Chamie. Another expert, Dr. Paul Samuelson, spoke about mandating saving for retirement, "voluntarily or coercively, in our working years in order to be able, given our numbers, to pay for our longer years of retirement."

See the full story HERE

I have a better solution long-term: how about families with one child having at least another, families with two children having at least a third and possibly a fourth, etc.

Perhaps those people who have wanted larger families (say 4 or more kids) should not be looked at as so "weird" in light of the bed that has been made by those who had a "preference" for destructive debt instead of constructive debt. (And now because of selfish motives are in deep kim chee viz their retirement plans as a result.) Just a thought...

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I have Santana's album "Supernatural" in the CD player and am listening to his beautiful playing of the leads in a song called "Love of My Life" which is being sung by Dave Matthews. (My sister is a *huge* Dave Matthews fan.) Anyway, that is the atmosphere as I type this out for the blog.

I just read an essay from Jeff Culbreath that I found very interesting. Before I post the link I wanted to make a few comments on it. It is on liberalism and the Anglo-Catholic resistance to it in the nineteenth century. It shows a picture of the kind of chaos that was taking place in biblical studies at the time.

While knowledge in the fields of biblical study has increased dramatically since the nineteenth century, it is important to stress the sitz im leben here. I quote from my book "A Systematic Study of the Catholic Religion" written by Charles Coppens, SJ. which was Imprimateured in 1903. It was a classroom theology text and is a pretty well balanced work worthy of anyone's bookshelf - and not only because I can quote it liberally without worrying about existing copyright laws ;-) Anyway, here goes (all emphasis is mine):

No Catholic is at liberty to put novel interpretations upon the texts of Holy Scripture not in accord with the true Catholic sense. Hence the Council of Trent forbids all interpretations at variance with the unanimous consent of the Fathers, when these speak as witnesses to the Tradition of the Church. But when the Fathers give their judgment as mere critics, or men of science their authority is not at all decisive. Science has made great progress since their times, and criticism should keep step with it. Still we should not mistaken for science the many rash theories that usurp its name. Prof. H. L. Hastings, in his "Higher Criticism", states that since 1850 there have been published 747 theories, known to him, about the origin and authenticity of the Bible. Of those he counted some years ago 608 as then defunct; most of the other 139 are probably defunct by this time. Regarding the first chapter of Genesis, too, theories of interpretation are countless: the Fathers were not at all unanimous on the meaning of this chapter; and even if they had been, they were not handing down a doctrine of Tradition. In such cases we welcome all the light that geology and the kindred sciences may furnish (n.153). [Charles Coppens, SJ: excerpt from his work "A Systematic Study of the Catholic Religion" pgs. 47-48 (c. 1903)]

Some of my well-meaning friends are critical of the actions taken by the magisterium of the Catholic Church to grant a kind of "grudging acknowledgement" of Higher Criticism in this period. Pope Leo XIII of immortal memory outlined a charter for fruitful biblical study that is still for the most part relevant today. (Referring to the splendedly written Providentissimus Deus.) Granted the magisterium has loosed some of his tight regulations on Higher Criticism but I hope the context provided above dashes to the ground the facile notion that such regulations were not needed - and needed badly - when they were put into place. (I will save what I was about to say next in anticipation of a few objections from friends of mine who have misperceptions about the notion of Scriptural inerrancy as taught by Pope Leo.)

All of this to set the stage for Jeff's essay because without it the dilemma of the Anglo-Catholics cannot properly be understood: their struggle against those who would appear to be ripping to shreds the credibility of the Holy Scriptures. Anyway, without further ado, here is the link to Jeff's essay:

Liberalism and the Anglo-Catholic Resistance

Oh, one more word about Higher Criticism. While its usage has been given more leeway since Pope Leo's time, it is the opinion of this writer that Scripture is better interpreted primarily in accordance with the ancient "4 senses" used by the Fathers and Scholastics. This is not to diss Higher Criticism, which is better known and more stable a method than it was seventy-five to a hundred odd years ago. It is instead to recognize that whatever value it has it should *supplement* what preceded it that was tried and true. After all, quite often the Fathers DO know best...

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Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Well it is time for another "see I told you so" as it were...

Before your humble servant was involved in religious-social web boards, he was involved in sports and political-social web boards. In those days he was an Integrist who used the moniker "Just the Facts" - shortened shortly afterwards to JTF. (I believe I am the only person who ever brought up Thomas Aquinas and G K Chesterton on a sports message board but I digress.)

As a fan of the former president Ronald Reagan I possess copies of two books of quotations including "President Reagan's Quotations" and "Ronald Reagan: a man true to his word". (Along with what formed the "Magna Carta" if you will of both my political/philosophical formation and Reagan's: Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative".) I wish to reiterate something I made in board forums and political conversations over the years: the babbling about the "immorality" of increased defense spending "while others are going without food" is philosophically bankrupt.

Other than the fact that it is one of the *only* areas delegated to the Congress to make appropriations for (yes, read your Constitution and Bill of Rights people) there is the claim by those who would want us kissing the UN flag rather than Old Glory that "military strength does not deter our enemies". I quote from "President Reagan's Quotations" pg. 23 on the subject of "National Security/Defense Policy":

"The purpose of our military is simple and straightforward: We want to prevent war by deterring others from the aggression that caused war. If our efforts are successful we will have peace and never be forced into battle. There will never be the need to fire a single shot. That is the paradox of deterrence". [Radio Address to the Nation; Armed Forces Day May 21, 1983]

And again:

"[W]eakness on the part of those who cherish freedom inevitably brings a threat to that freedom".

I bring this up because of a recent revelation posted by my new friend (and lover of the leaf) Thomas Fitzpatrick on his blog. Here is the quote of which I speak:

During and before World War II, the Japanese military used biological weapons including anthrax, on the Chinese. They did not use these weapons on our troops, because they knew we had the capacity to build these same weapons, and reciprocate on a scale they could not cope with. The Germans, likewise did not use gas in World War II, because they knew we and the British would retaliate on a massive scale, probably against German cities. Deterrence worked.

Anyone out there who was critical of the strategy of Ronaldus Magnus, it is not too late to repent of your errors. And with an election coming up in mid-term you can rectify your past by giving President Bush two Republican led houses of Congress and for more than two years please. (No Republican President has had that kind of backing since Silent Cal in the 1920's and Hoover who rode in on Cal's coattails.)

Whine all you want about people without food liberals. Maybe you can *buy* some food for them??? Maybe you can *donate* some food to causes that tend to the needy??? If there was not a strong defense we would not HAVE a country today and you would likely be begging in the gutter too while some Josef Stalin was dictator-for-life around here. THEN who would give to the needy when *everyone* would be needy??? Think about it...or at least just *think.* (After all, every journey starts with a step.)

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I took the time to read a few times the editorial that sparked the yesterday's conflict. I had no problems at all with 98% of it - nay make that 99%. (That does not mean I agreed with 99% of it btw.) According to my friend Lane Core, Jr.

From some of [Mr. Dreher's] comments at In Between Naps, I see that he had a 900-word limit and only four hours in which to write. What very few real complaints may be made of it can probably be chalked up to those limitations. I only wish that I could have written so precisely, so well, with similar constraints.

I am familiar to some extent with word limits. My Amazon book reviews have all had word limits on them - sometimes I had to go back and edit half of what I said to fit the parameters. (I plan to write a few more for CD's soon and I doubt that protocol has changed with them.) I remember last November 25th sending out to my friend Pete Vere a 4500 word essay for the Wanderer which I had to make numerous revisions to in getting it down to that size. (Which anyone who has read my stuff knows, 4500 words is among my shortest writings.)

Pete upon reading it basically said "it is a good read but we need to be around 2000 words". Without prejudicing the final product, it is difficult to say something you want to say when there are word limitations involved. So Mr. Dreher's 900 word limit can be considered a noteable factor in anyone's problems with the final product.

The areas I find problematical were well summed up by Gerard Serafin at his Catholic Blog for Lovers. I will quote some of the extracts now:

One can criticize numerous pastoral decisions of this and any Pope. But to me, anyway, what Rod Dreher does is quite different. He actually places blame, in part, on the Holy Father for the sexual molestation of our children. This is outrageous to me and unconscionable. It is to miss the vital links in the Catholic indicates a failure to grasp the fulness of Catholic ecclesiology, in which Bishops are not "vicegerents of the Pope" or "local representatives of the Pope" but are the "vicars of Christ" and the successors to the apostles in their own local Church. (The Pope intervenes only on occasion and when absolutely necessary, for the most part, in the history of the Church).

Precisely Gerard. The bishops as successors are the supreme rulers of their dioceses and they do so in their own name with their own authority in communion with the pope. Throughout history the popes have never micromanaged the Church's affairs. And those who want to see this pope hurling anathemas and deposing clerics en masse, again the Church has never operated that way.

Popes generally make examples of a strategic few to instruct the many - this is what Pope St. Pius X did during the modernism crisis. This is what the popes have almost always done. Those who do not know their history very well - and who live for the moment - think that because the pope is Supreme Pontiff that he can and oughta clean house. They should read up on Pope Urban VI whose vigorous reform attempts of the fourteenth century were the impetus of the western schism. They should read up on the incompetent papal nuncios who in the midst of a similarly delicate situation barged into the Patriarch's church in Constantinople and brashly placed a bull of excommunication on the high altar.

A delicate situation that for at least three hundred and sixty odd years (692-1054) had been simmering - with a small flairup ala Photius between 850 and 880 - from that point became a breach in communion between east and west. Attempts to patch it up at Lyons II (1274), Ferrara-Florence (1439-1445), and the more genteel climate between east and west since the Second Vatican Council so far have failed. And formal separation started with a very *stupid* couple of clerics a thousand years ago.

Anyone who thinks we are not on the verge of that again is sadly naive - indeed Mr. Dreher alludes to this state of "practical schism" in his article. And as I presumed yesterday, Mr. Dreher's anguish over this situation is genuine - this is evident in his article which is on the whole very well written. The inferences that personal blame for the molestations is in part the pope's is all I would object to in that article and for some of the reasons noted above. But I do not want to belabour this point any longer lest somehow this humble blog plays the role of Cardinal Humbert in Constantinople in July of 1054. Or Pope Urban VI in 1379...

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Monday, August 26, 2002

Call for a "cease-fire" of sorts -Part IV:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

To continue on this subject, if it seems that this commentary has been more focused on Stephen than on Mark, I did that with the presupposition that Mark would rectify anything on his blog. (As will Dale on his.) Stephen is on sabbatical from actively maintaining his TCR site out of the need to tend to family issues at this time. (I will not divulge any details I know which pertain to this.) So while I weight this response in his direction, I do not want it construed as me "endorsing Stephen and Gerard over Mr. Dreher, Mark, and Dale" or vice versa. I sympathize with what I believe is Stephen and Gerard's primary concern here. But I also sympathize with what appears (based on second and third hand information) to be Mr. Dreher's anguish. These are not easy times my friends let no one tell you differently. That is all I will say on the "war" matter.

Strangely enough, one of the voices in this debate whom I find a substantial accord with is someone who emailed me for the first time today and who has commented on Mark's comment list - one G. Thomas Fitzpatrick. I would quote him here but this comment is already too long so see Mark's blog for that. All I will say about it is that while some heated discussion is necessary, the need to discernment is of utmost importance. And no one discerns correctly all the time so we need to remember St. Paul's admonition "let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall" (i Cor. x,12). Thomas Fitzpatrick, my fellow Catholic "lover of the leaf" seems to have figured out the fate of "peacemakers" well. Considering some of the email I have received over the years, I doubt any vitriol will fly my way that I cannot handle.

In summary, I ask my friends Stephen Hand and Mark Shea to please bury the hatchet somewhere except in each other. And Mr. Dreher, though I have not read your article yet I am not unaware of the modern Catholic idea that it is a-ok to be critical of the Holy Father over every little quibble. (Not that the peophilia situation is a mere bagatelle of course.) All I ask if your eyes happen to make it to this humble blog is to consider these observations and perhaps Stephen's sensitivity - along with others such as Gerard Serafin - on this issue can be better understood. (And of course seek a "cease-fire" also please.)

You were apparently critical of the Holy Father on a very touchy subject and in a very high-profile manner (as the WSJ is widely read particularly amongst people of a more conservative nature). It is my guess that if your criticisms were kept inhouse that Stephen would have not sought to (to parphrase H.L. Mencken) "spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats". I hope an amiable "cease-fire" can be made and maybe (just maybe) something said here can help in that area. One can only hope anyway...

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Call for a "cease-fire" of sorts -Part III:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

To continue this subject, one can call it "overcompensation" if you will or not, that is not the issue. What *is* the matrix of this issue is how problems in the Church are to be addressed by Catholics. We cannot worry about what non-Catholics do, only our own people. Mark believes that Mr. Dreher is sincere and agonizing over the situation in the Church with the bishops' handling of the priest pedophilia crisis. He sees Stephen as some kind of Inquisitor for the cause of uberorthodoxy. And Stephen sees Mark as supporting someone who (in his mind) has gone too far and conformed to the kind of untraditional criticism outlined by Fr. de Lubac above. (Dale by contrast thinks that Stephen went too far and Gerard thinks that about Mr. Dreher.) There is also perhaps a contrast in styles here.

Mark's style is very open, effervescent, and weird if you will (in a good way). I think the title of his blog says it all: Catholic and enjoying it. It is enjoyable to read his work as he is a refreshingly unconventional 'apologist'. Gerard is the quintessential mystic as I see it - a dose of which the overly western and legalistic mentality of most faithful Catholics are sorely in need of. Dale is a bit harder for me to decipher because I have not seen as much of him as I have the others. But he seems to be one that strives for balance much as I do - balance that as I have noted is *not* easy to maintain if it is ever attained.

Stephen's style of writing when confronting a person or issue is more along the lines of what I call "Newmanian rhetorical". (Anyone who has read Cardinal Newman when confronting a person or issue knows what I am talking about.) With rhetoric comes exaggerations of extremes and colourful metaphor to make a point - as Stephen did in comparing the pope's sufferings at the treatment of many Catholics (not just non-Catholics) to Our Lord during the Three O'Clock hour of His Passion. Agree or disagree with Stephen it is a powerful picture indeed. And without the proper rhetorical set-up it would not be as effective.

Underlying it all is, I believe, a bit of weariness on Stephen's part seeing the same kind of approach taken by Catholics day in and day out week after week, month after month, year after year. Maybe because he used to be in there with parrotting the worst of the Remnant crowd's drivel he is more sensitive to it now. Maybe he over-reacted to Mr. Dreher's article - I do not know because I have not yet read the latter. But even if he *did* overreact, he is human and to err is human. (The same by the way goes for Mr. Dreher, Mark Shea, and everyone else including yours truly.) To err is human people, to forgive is divine.

To be continued...

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Call for a "cease-fire" of sorts -Part II:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

To continue on this subject, Gerard is probably my favourite evangelist that I have never corresponded with. (At least I cannot ever recall corresponding with him. I have read and enjoyed his site for a few years now.) And Stephen's TCR site is also one of my favs because (like Gerard's) it is both solidly orthodox and has its own "niche" if you will. Stephen seems to give his assent to the following words from the late great theologian Fr. Henri de Lubac - quoted in part from a link at Gerard Serafin's Catholic Lover's Website:

"[T]he Church seen in her members is never completely faithful. Sin, which is to be found everywhere, does not spare the Church--neither sin nor all the other marks of human frailty. It is no less true, however, that is is still the Church which brings us the gospel of Christ and, still more important, more true today than ever before that the generalized criticism of the Church is linked to a movement that draws away from the gospels.

I would not be so concerned if this were something from outside the Church. But when each one takes as his mission to criticize everything, when each one sets out to rewrite dogma and morality according to his own wishes, the Church disintegrates. When the center of unity becomes the target of the most impassioned attacks, each one feeling that he has the right to criticize the successor of Peter before the whole world on any point whatsoever, the Church herself is therefore wounded. Those who take this liberty do not fully realize what they are doing. Regardless of what pretext they may invoke, however, they are turning their backs on the gospel of Christ, and they scandalize, in the fullest sense of the word, many of their brethren... [From a speech delivered in May of 1969]

Stephen - taking Fr. de Lubac's diagnosis seriously as does Gerard - is tired of seeing people who are critical of the Holy Father in the rather routine manner that has come to represent modern Catholic outlooks. This outlook is not Traditional. Indeed as the respect for the father and his authority have eroded in society, the pope as the Holy Father has likewise seen the same thing. It is one thing for a non-Catholic to act in this manner but Mr. Dreher is a Catholic is he not??? I presume so because Stephen probably would not have raised his pen to comment on the matter otherwise - knowing that secularist criticisms of the Holy Father will always be par for the course in a world that covers its eyes to the Gospel.

Notice what has happened as a result of this though. Mark Shea has come to his friend's defense (in principle if not in complete agreement) by stating that JP II "needs no enemies with friends like [Stephen] Hand" or something along those lines. Stephen retorts with a comment where Mark's insights on this matter (or any other matter) are called into question as to their relevancy. Others take sides one or another with my friend Dale Price taking Mark's side though he (by his own admission) "generally likes TCR's stuff". And Gerard clearly being of one mind with Stephen on this. And onward Christian soldiers...

Not that my opinion is any better or worse than the others but everyone has an opinion so here is mine:

I find it interesting that people act defensive when someone is critical of them after they have been critical of their superior - particularly in a public forum. Mr. Dreher could protest that he and the pope are not exactly drinking buddies so he had to use whatever mediums he could to make his viewpoint known. Okay, I can buy that to a point. I also will take on the witness of Mark Shea - which for the record I hold as reliable - that Mr. Dreher is sincere and wants the best for the Church. But recall what Fr. de Lubac's statement above is about: not a concern when such matters come from outside the Church but from within.

Since Mr. Dreher's article in the WSJ will receive very wide circulation, Stephen sees it (rightly or wrongly) as yet another round of the modern "criticize the pope at will" kind of Catholic. He reviles this kind of mentality probably because he once possessed it as did I. We both know it is untraditional. We both know that it is indicative of a deeper faith problem to some extent or another if it is a habitual pattern with a Catholic. (For the record I am *not* saying it is with Mr. Dreher for I do not know him at all.)

To be continued...

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Call for a "cease-fire" of sorts -Part I:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

There seems to be a bit of a war going on at the moment between my friend Stephen Hand and a friend of my friend Mark Shea's named Rod Dreher. (Mr. Dreher wrote an article for the WSJ which is the root and matrix if you will of this outbreak.) And in classic "lumberjack match rules" at that - all we need now is Pete Vere to act as the referee ;-) A few comments on the competitors and the situation is in order I believe. Though for reasons I will make apparent I will have to limit my observations to some extent.

I confess to not reading the WSJ as often anymore as I used to, hence I have not read the article in question. I have read Stephen Hand's commentary on it but will not link to it here because I have not read the piece he was commenting on. I have Stephen's story from TCR (and have read his mail comments), Mr. Dreher's story, which I have received partly third-hand (Stephen), partly from Mr. Dreher himself (at Mark Shea's blog), and of course comments from Mark himself. And I just accessed the blog's of Gerard Serafin (pro-Hand's position but much more genteel) and Dale Price. (Dale seems to be a Hand fan who in this case is pro-Dreher.)

There are too many blogs to link to to be able to maintain a coherent thread if I go that route. So I will not do that so as to better stay on topic and avoid drifting. I will in this endeavour comment a bit on a few of the players involved in this situation that I can speak from a base of reasonable certainty with regards to. Maybe that will help sketch in some of the lines for greater understanding all around.

I have gotten to "know" Stephen the past few years as we both separated outselves from the Integrists about the same time. (Though we came from there by different "routes" if you will.) I have also gotten to "know" Mark Shea in the same time period from the Catholic converts board (where we used to be Royals if you will) and I also got to know him a bit from buying his book "By What Authority" which I enjoyed and highly recommended in an Amazon review. (Plus Mark lives in Seattle as do I - though strangely we have not met yet in person.) Both Mark and Stephen are people I admire for their defenses of the Church and because I believe they are genuinely good people who mean well - even when they have the temerity to disagree with me at times ;-)

With regards to Rod Dreher, all I know is that he is a friend of Mark's and Stephen was critical of his WSJ article. A few others weighed in on Mark's blog in one of the comments section. I will take the opportunity of one of these comments to go into a bit of what I know about Stephen. But first a bit on some of the "commentators" at Mark's blog comments file.

I find it interesting that someone above who uses the term "neo-catholic" (a red flag for any true Traditionalist) thinks that Stephen allows no disagreements with him personally. (Or even that he is belligerent towards those who do not agree with "the Hand magisterium" as it were.) Though we are of a similar mind on a lot of issues, Stephen and I have had our differences of opinion - on matters where differences of opinion are permitted by the magisterium - and this has always been one of respectful disagreement.

Stephen has even posted some of my stuff on his website when I have *explicitly* taken TCR to task for certain positions taken and he never disparaged me, never questioned my orthodoxy or my fealty to the Holy Father. (Nor did he ever call me a "neo-Catholic" or some other term from the Integrist manual of degrading terminology.) Nor have I questioned him in these areas or implied that he was "not a real Catholic", etc. Dale Price I know from the Catholic converts board as one of those whose comments I will take the time to read. (He is in a select crowd in that way.) I will comment on Gerard in a moment but in brief: I quite like all the parties in this dispute that I "know" or are familiar with. I think I can discern what may be the dividing line here to some extent. I will start with Stephen and Gerard. See the next installment for that though.

To be continued...

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Boy, see what happens when you strive to accommodate certain people??? I have people telling me the blog is "too dark", or "the print is too small" or "I have a hard time reading the links" or the like. I sought to do a little in all of those areas primarily with font size. And think, this is simply one minor blog. It is mindblogging to think of what JPII must go through by comparison. But I digress...


Today my musical interest has been primarily the Baroque composers: guys like Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, and Tacobell (Pachebel). It is the "Age of Baroque" CD from my "300 years of Classical Music set". I may opt for some George Benson this evening - "Breezin" was one of my fathers favourites and while I think about him on a daily basis, I have had him on my mind more than normal as of late.

Before I forget, I wanted to say "hats off to Dale Price" for outlining a very interesting viewpoint with regards to the situation with pedophile priests and their incompetent and/or deceptive bishops:

"[W]hat we are seeing here is more explicable in classic Catholic terms: it is a clash between the cardinal virtues (justice, fortitude, prudence and temperance) and the theological ones (faith, hope and charity). Those of us in the first camp emphasize justice for the victims, prudence inasmuch as the scandal cripples the Church's Gospel mission, etc. Those in the second stress faith (sometimes going so far as to question that of the other side) in the ultimate triumph of the Church, the need for hope as expressed in renewed prayer, penance, and so forth.

The differing emphases to some extent result in the parties talking past each other. To those in the second camp, the members of the first sound harsh, abrupt and judgmental. To those in the first, people in the second sound pedantic and pietistic--"pray, pay and obey" reborn. Who's right?"

To read the rest of this entry you need to go to Dale Price's Blog and look for the entry "a clash of virtues".

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Sunday, August 25, 2002

Responsum ad Catholicam Dubiosum (Part I)

Though not the master of creative Latin interpretation that Mark Shea is, I nonetheless have been known to butcher a few phrases here and there on occasion... ;-)

As the first official magisterial exercise of the aforementioned "Welborn Protocol" on this blog, the following was a portion of an email received at my angelfire address from someone who shall remain nameless. In the interest of keeping this response from reading too long on the thread, I will respond to it in three or more parts spread out over the span of who knows how long. A well-balanced "blog" cannot allow for too much brooding on these issues after all. (That is what certain *other* blogs are for as I see it.)

You ask, “Where do you get that denial [of a dogma of faith - ISM] is 'by definition a linguistic act?'”

I get it from inference and symmetry.

Saint Thomas teaches that heresy is the penultimate sin: “Every sin consists formally in aversion from God, as stated above. Hence the more a sin severs man from God, the graver it is. Now man is more than ever separated from God by unbelief…. Therefore it is clear that the sin of unbelief is greater than any sin that occurs in the perversion of morals. [Summa Theologica SS Q. 10, A. 3]

At least they are quoting St. Thomas...

If St. Thomas is correct, and heresy is the gravest of moral sins, then our criterion for judging heresy ought to be equally as grave. This is the same principle at work in secular jurisprudence, where a traffic ticket will convict on the say-so of the officer but the charge of murder will not convict unless there’s forensic and/or eye witness testimony. The syllogism looks like this:

1) Means ought to be commensurate with ends.

Agreed. (Funny that this person demonstrates Integrist tendencies and outlooks consistently and they do not follow their own instruction here when such instruction is "inconvenient" for their POV.)

2) The judgment of heresy is the gravest end.


3) Ergo, the means whereby we judge heresy ought to be equally grave.

Here is the problem: heresy is judged by one earthly authority and them alone: the magisterium of the Church. No one else has *any* authority or competence to make such a judgment. This assertion is similar to the claim of the Protestant to judge the Catholic teachings they do not like by "what the Bible says". (And also similar to the Integrist claim to judge the Catholic teachings *they* do not like by "what the magisterium says".) In both cases they act with an authority they do not possess and judge the authority of the Church to whom they should be in submission to.

This syllogism has already run aground and made shipwreck of the faith. The author of the email is exhorted to reflect upon this undeniable *fact* before your humble servant resumes his critique. (For there are gold nuggets to be found scattered amongst the dross and I do not want them to go unnoticed.) As for the rest of the responsum, it is to be continued later today, sometime tomorrow, or later on in the week depending on my mood...

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I ask the readers of my blog to please offer their prayers for the following intentions:

1) The repose of the soul of my Uncle Jim - who died a year ago either 8/24 or 8/26 I cannot at the moment remember which as we had a lot of deaths between 3/00 and 5/02 (8 to be exact and 4 between 4/12/01 and 9/25/01).

2) This petition by my friend SAM from the Catholic Convert's Board

Thankyou in advance for your generosity.

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It has crested to the midnight hour now, and thus time for that nightcap and a double-carona accompaniment. Before signing off I want to note that in scanning Gerard Serafin's Catholic Blog for Lovers that he has a good reference on there to some of the writing of the great theologian Fr. Henri de Lubac. The subject is the Mystery of the Moon. A few passages to note:

" old tradition symbolically referred to the mystery of the Church as Mysterium Lunae. The Fathers, with incredible ingenuity, drew heavily on this symbol; here we shall remark only its general lines. Christ is the sun of justice, the only source of light. The Church (like the moon) at all times depends on this sun for her brilliance. It is possible, therefore, to speak with Didymus the Blind, of 'the lunar constitution of the Church'. As the moon shines in the night, so does the Church illumine the darkness of the age and of our ignorance, showing us the way to salvation.

For all that, her light, wholly borrowed, has only limited clarity, refulgentia subobscura, in St Bonaventure's phrase. She dispenses the symbols of a truth whose direct brilliance our eyes cannot yet bear. While the sun remains always in glory, the moon (that is, the Church) continually passes through phases, now waxing, now waning, in proportion to the measure of her growth and her inner fervor; for the vicissitudes of the human condition are always her lot.

Possibly my biggest regret in my studies is that I have not read nearly enough of Fr. de Lubac's writing. I hope to rectify that in the coming year. I note that Gerard referred to the excessive negativity of many Catholic blogs. I hope to avoid falling into that trap by presenting basically my view on issues religious, political, and otherwise. And in doing so provide what the ideologues of all persuasions do not want to tend to.

Those who seem to see the glass as half empty need to see the half that is full and vice versa. For we cannot see good if we do not want to first - as the frame of focus will reflect our outlooks as WE choose to habitually reinforce them. (We do not have to look for the bad as we will always see it to some extent.) If there is to be a realistic outlook on things the temperament must be one of balance - however difficult this at times presents itself to us.

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Your humble servant has sought to make Rerum Novarum more readable at the request of his readers. You see, I am not slow to admit that I am not very HTML adept and as what was accomplished took over an hour and a half to do. (I had to constantly save my HTML template to my notepad option in the spots I was saving for quick corrections if I messed up a colour scheme.) After an hour of listening to the blistering live Wattstax performance of the late King of the Blues (aka Albert King) I have shifted gears and have Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" album in now and a water bottle at my side. It is almost nightcap time...

It seems that I rather serendipitously made some "points" if you will with Lane Core Jr - a gentleman I first contacted when drafting my treatise back in 1999. (Lane was one of a litany of people who let me use material for that work.) First with putting up the log and linking to his blog. Second with the link to the "stupidity of intellectuals" article which this writer would be remiss in not crediting Greg Krehbiel for finding initially. Maybe a "trifecta" is possible here - as Lane has asked me a couple of times since last October or so about acquiring a certain very important but hard to find text. Lane my friend, if you check your email box you should find what you are looking for :)

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