Saturday, March 29, 2003

War Musings:

Is the major media in this country guilty of sedition??? Before you say yes or no, please consider the following:

16 May, 1918 The U.S. Sedition Act

United States, Statutes at Large, Washington, D.C., 1918, Vol. XL, pp 553 ff. A portion of the amendment to Section 3 of the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917.SECTION 3.

Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall willfully make or convey false reports, or false statements, . . . or incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct . . . the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, or . . . shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States . . . or shall willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall willfully . . . urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production . . . or advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both....

I now ask again: Is the major media in this country guilty of sedition??? When major news networks give away coordinates of where our military is stationed, relays information such as "the troops in my company are down to one meal a day because supplies are tight", or relates information such as "the troops have had to cannibalize their equipment for parts because there are problems with out supply lines", does anyone want to claim that this is not aiding and abetting the enemy??? Other examples could be listed but these are adequate to make the case I believe. If such reports continue I believe the government will need to cut off not only Al Jazeera's news broadcast but also the American media. (Or at the very least limit the access of the media and give everyone the same story to report.) I am sick and tired of reporters who would sell the security of our troops for a "news scoop". How this is not a form of the world's oldest profession is a mystery to me.

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Friday, March 28, 2003

The JunkYard BLOG after unfortunately falling last week has regained its footing. (See my side margin for details.) On the idiocy of the media apparatii, Bryan Preston sums up their inconsistencies well in the following link. Just a sample as you will need to click on the link for more:

So on the one hand, we invaded too fast. On the other hand, it's taking too long to win. Slow down, you're not winning fast enough. They're like kids on the long drive to Grandma's house, only worse--slow down Dadday, we're going to get a speeding ticket, are we there yet? Why aren't we there yet? How does one reason with people who can sit there under fresnel lights in front of big teevee cameras and utter both criticisms with a straight, even serious, face? With their brows furrowed just to make themselves look concerned. How does one confront such cognitive dissonance emanating from the most august organs of the fifth estate?

With facts... Click here for more

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Thursday, March 27, 2003

"Common Sense Ain't So Common Anymore" Dept.

While it is very pleasing to read of American Catholic colleges which follow the pope's Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae it is unfortunat to think that these are still very much in the minority - though their numbers are increasing. Here are a few Catholic colleges which recently reflected upon the benefits of Ex Corde Ecclesiae. May their tribe be fruitful and multiply...

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Wednesday, March 26, 2003

"Tales from The Dyspeptic One" Dept.
(Plus a Rerum Novarum apology)

Tony Blair.

People used to say he was the British answer to Bill Clinton (now there's one helluva question!).

*I* used to say that.

Well, I suppose you could say he's like Clinton, only with principles he will not sacrifice at any cost. Which is to say, not like Bill Clinton at all.

It appears that Tony Blair - whose wife is Catholic and whose children are being raised as Catholics - may be considering conversion to Catholicism. That is certainly a feather in his cap if it is true. The way he mows over those in Parliment who are opposed to the war effort is another.

In any event, go read his speech to the House of Commons today. LINK

Prime Minister Blair, I retract my assertions over many years that you were without principle. Whatever disagreements we have - and we have many - I at least know that you have a backbone now and a solid one.

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"Restoring a Landmark" Dept.

Frequently do we Catholics who consider ourselves traditionally minded bemoan the modern day architectural Iconoclasm that has taken place in many churches. There is no shortage of churches which under the banner of "renovation" actually are involved in a wreckovation. I do not have to detail these sad processes for you who are aware of what I speak. (Beautiful architecture being stripped down to the most drab and uninspiringly "utilitarian" modes.) I would presume therefore that if there was a restoration project that was actually *restoring* a Church and not wrecking it that those who rail (and rightfully so) against the modern Iconoclasts would be happy to donate to the cause. Well, there is such a cause my friends.

Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle where I attend mass is on a capital raising campaign to cover the $1.6 million that was not picked up by the insurance. (In the project to restore the church after it was seriously damaged in the 2001 earthquake we had out here in Seattle.) Think of it this way my friends: this is an active way for you to contribute to an actual restoration.

You can see a mini-tour of the church HERE. There are a few more devotional stations than the ones listed here. (I saw one to St. Albert the Great next to the one to St. Thomas Aquinas for example during Stations of the Cross almost two weeks ago.) Please direct any questions about the campaign to fund the restoration of Blessed Sacrament Church to Campaign Manager Christopher Murray, at (206) 548-0417. You can reach him by email at cmurray @ Please give what you can for this cause - particularly those to whom lamenting about "wreckovations" is a pet hobby.

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"Blue Monday Hangover" Dept.

Since the news is courtesy of The Mighty Barrister it seems that a blues title is appropriate.

The Anniversary of Iwo Jima

First a picture and then some comments and finally, a memorial speech by a contemporary of these men. Since I am a day late on this, I will be a bit more lavish than normal. The men of Iwo Jima certainly deserve no less and in light of the present war remembering them can recall to the modern mind a concept that it tries to run from or appease at any cost: the concept of sacrifice.

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John xv,13).

Frankly modern so-called "patriotic Americans" who are whining about this war taking longer than 4 days can shut the hell up or I will really lose it.

On an island of eight square miles there were over six thousand eight hundred US battle deaths and over twenty-thousand Japanese battle deaths. (Overall casualties for the US were around twenty-five thousand.)

I am not endorsing high casualty rates; however, the sobering facts of that battle are worth recalling briefly as it was among the lynchpins of the South Pacific island hopping campaign. We may well see in this Iraq war a couple thousand US deaths. Considering the size of the country we are facing and the total number of opposing forces, such a scenario is not unlikely. It is not pleasant but the fact is, when you are opposing this kind of aggression it is sadly par for the course. And even with all of our technology, it is still very much a possibility here.

This is the grimmest, and surely the holiest, task we have faced since D-day. Here before us lie the bodies of comrades and friends. Men who until yesterday or last week laughed with us, joked with us, trained with us. Men who were on the same ships with us, and went over the side with us as we prepared to hit the beaches of this island. Men who fought with us and feared with us. Somewhere in this plot of ground there may lie the man who could have discovered the cure for cancer. Under one of these Christian crosses, or beneath a Jewish Star of David, there may rest now a man who was destined to be a great prophet to find the way, perhaps, for all to live in plenty, with poverty and hardship for none. Now they lie silently in this sacred soil, and we gather to consecrate this earth to their, memory.

It is not easy to do so. Some of us have buried our closest friends here. We saw these men killed before our very eyes. Any one of us might have died in their places; Indeed, some of us are alive and breathing at this very moment only because the men who lie here beneath us had the courage and the strength to give their lives, for ours. To speak in memory of such men as these is not easy. Of them too it can be said with utter truth: The world will little note nor long remember what we say here. It can never forget what they did here.

No, our power of speech can add nothing more to what these men and the other dead of our Division have already done. All that we can even hope to do is follow their example. To show the same selfless courage in peace that they did in war. To swear that by the grace of God and the stubborn strength and power of human will, their sons and ours shall never suffer these pains again. These men have done their job well. They have paid the ghastly price for freedom. If that freedom be once again lost, as it was after the last war, the unforgivable blame will be ours, not theirs. So it is we the living who are to be dedicated and consecrated.

We dedicate ourselves, first, to live together in peace the way we fought and are buried in this war. Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores.

Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich and poor together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many men from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination, no prejudices, no hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest Democracy.

Any man among us the living who fails to understand that will thereby betray those who lie here dead. Whoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and of the bloody sacrifice it commemorates an empty, hollow mockery.

To this, then, as our solemn, sacred duty, do we the living now dedicate ourselves: to the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of white men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the Democracy for which all of them here have paid the price.

To one thing more do we consecrate ourselves in memory of those who sleep beneath these white crosses and stars. We shall not foolishly suppose, as did the last generation of Americas fighting men, that victory on the battlefield will automatically guarantee the triumph of Democracy at home..This war, with all its frightful heartache and suffering, is but the beginning of our generations struggle for Democracy. When the last battle has been won, there will be those at home, as there were the last time, who will want us to turn our backs in selfish isolation on the rest of organized humanity, and thus to sabotage the very peace for which we fight. We promise you who lie here: We will not do that! We will join hands with Britain, China, Russia, in peace, even as we have in war, to build the kind of peace for which you died.

When the last shot has been fired, there will still be those whose eyes are turned backward, not forward, who will be satisfied with those wide extremes of poverty and wealth in which the seeds of another war can breed. We promise you, our departed comrades: This too we will not permit. This war has been fought by the common man; its fruits of peace must be enjoyed by the common man. We promise, by all that is sacred and holy, that your sons, the sons of miners and millers, the sons of farmers and workers, will inherit from your death the right to a living that is decent and secure.

When the final cross has been placed in the last cemetery, once again there will be those to whom profit is more important than peace, who will insist with the voice of sweet reasonableness and appeasement that it is better to trade with the enemies of mankind than, by crushing them, to lose their profit. To you who sleep here silently, we give you our promise: We will not listen! We will not forget that some of you were burnt with oil that came from American wells, that many of you were killed by shells fashioned from American steel; we promise that when once again men seek profit at your expense, we shall remember how you looked when we placed you reverently, lovingly, in the ground.

Thus do we memorialize those who, having ceased living with us, now live within us. Thus do we consecrate ourselves, the living, to carry on the struggle they began. Too much blood has gone into this soil for us to let it lie barren. Too much pain and heartache have fertilized the earth on which we stand. We here solemnly swear: This shall not be in vain!

Out of this, from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn, this will come we promise the birth of a new freedom from the sons of men everywhere. AMEN. [Lieutenant Roland B. Gittelsohn (A Jewish Chaplain from New York City who was at Iwo Jima) Uncommon Valor copyright 1946 by the Infantry Journal]

May their souls and all the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

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"None Dare Call it a Volokh Conspiracy" Dept.
(A Rerum Novarum Quadruple Slam)

Much as Rerum Novarum referred to the poem Danny Deever about six months ago (I am too lazy to find the post this morning mea culpa), Eugene Volokh refers to it today in a climate where indeed it is very relevent. If only we treated our modern Danny Deevers in the same manner this war would be running even smoother. But I digress...

More from Eugene Volokh - this time on information that will appeal to anyone who loves statistics:

THIS IS SO COOL: You can now search through census data for censuses from 1790 to 1960. Want to know the population in 1790? Or maybe the number of slaveholding families? Or maybe the number of slaveholding families who are themselves black? Or of Jews? By state? And by county? Or maybe literacy rates (self-reported, of course) in various states in 1900? Or the number of people born in China, or in Russia? Want to see the states sorted by the percentage of the 1900 population that was foreign-born males? Just go to...Go here for more information.

Those Lidless Eye types who are salivating like Pavlov's hounds at the thought of more statistics to misappropriate for devious means should be advised: I doubt these are the sorts that will be of much interest to you. But as long as you remember Mark Twain's dictum about the three kinds of lies (lies, damn lies, and statistics) then feel free to dig in. For those such as your humble servant of Rerum Novarum who simply likes to have as many resources at their fingertips as possible, you now have census data to play with.

Eugene Volokh a third time. This time he executes a version of what I call the "refutation by substitution" argument. Here is just a sample:

Apparently there are some industry insiders who will testify that alcohol manufacturers were actually aware that some of their products end up in the hands of drunk drivers and others who criminally abuse alcohol, contributing to the 10-15,000 deaths of innocent bystanders caused by alcohol each year in the U.S. Go here for more...

Finally, Philippe de Croy has a very interesting entry about the New York Times actually spinning (gasp!!!) a news story. For more information on why the NYT should change their motto from "all the news that's fit to print" to "all the news that we can make to fit our agenda", see the following:

NYT SPIN WATCH. Today's New York Times has an article titled "Opinions Begin to Shift as Public Weighs War Costs." It's a report of a new poll the newspaper has run. Given the headline, what would you expect such an article to say?.. For information on what it actually was about, go here.

And they wonder why their circulation has been going down for years...a hint:

Of a recent poll that was taken, 62% felt that it was making opinion polls actual news stories; however the remaining views were of a different hue. For while 14% felt that making opinion polls actual news stories was a marked improvement over the days when news stories were generally reported without commentary attached. (The horror.) Meanwhile, 11% attributed it to right wing talk radio, 7% to a need for greater graphic sexual content needed in news stories. And finally, 4% polled blamed Ronald Reagan personally while the remaining 3% were undecided. This current Rerum Novarum polled one rather tired Irish/Ukrainian American and the results are accurate to reflect the national trends to within plus or minus 3 percentage points ;-)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

March Update of Rerum Novarum:

Lots of adjustments more than any fullscale updating but I did add a few things to this edition. (Not nearly as many as I planned to but this is adequate for now.)

Deleted Items Listed By Category:

On 'Traditionalism' (Properly So-Called)

On the "Traditional" Leonine Prayers

My reason: too much stuff to add and something had to go. Many of the links which were in a series format could be consolidated but this one was a stand alone. Ergo, it was deleted from the main page but is still in the archives. For those looking for a magisterial parallel, basically I have done to it what the Church did to the Feast of St. Philomena.

Blogs Reclassified

As Bill Cork told me how to put my archives on a separate page, it cleared up a lot of room for additional links. I decided to add links to five very good but currently defunct blogs under their own heading. To that section I reclassified Kevin Miller's De Virtutibus BLOG and Fr. Rob Johansen's Thrown Back BLOG and added old blogs from Emily Stimpson (Fool's Folly), Jeff Miller (Atheist to a Theist), and also revoked the excommunication on Pete Vere's Canon Law BLOG and put his mothballed blog there as well. Jeff and Emily's blogs being inactive is pretty well known now (as is Pete's Canon Law weblog) but the others perhaps not so; therefore I will touch on them briefly here.

In the case of Professor Miller, he has moved on to the Heart, Mind, and Strength BLOG which is where Mark Shea is spending his Lent thus far as well. It goes to show that the maxim of "What Greg wants...Greg gets..." is still very much applicable.{1} I already link to HMS so it seemed to be superfluous in the current space constraints to keep the weblog up so it had to be dropped. But at the same time it was too good to cancel completely so I reclassified it. This gave me an excuse to re-add Atheist to a Theist and a very good excuse to add Fool's Folly which Emily stopped updating about the time Rerum Novarum began operation in August of 2002.

As for Fr. Rob, his local ordinary ordered him to no longer blog. And though the content of his weblog alone would qualify for such a category, his obedience despite the difficulties and (arguably) unjust nature of this make this addition a cinch. But in the currently limited weblog spacing it has to be reclassified. However, should his ordinary allow him to start posting again, we will readd this link without hesitation to the active status. The same goes for the others in that category as well.

Those are the deletions or readjustments from this update.

Added items listed by category

Rerum Novarum Archives

Thanks to Bill Cork, I was able to take thirty odd weeks of archive links off the front page and put them in a link of their own. Huge space saver so thanks Bill for the assistance on that.

Weblog Retrospectives{2}

Rerum Novarum Six Month Anniversary Retrospective

Self-explanatory methinks...

Political Miscellany

Taking The JunkYard BLOG To Task on the Iraq War and the Vatican

Normally I would not add such a new link to an update but we are at war and these points needed to be made prevalent in my opinion.

General Theological Subjects

Ash Wednesday Homily

Fr. Reginald's very stirring Ash Wednesday Homily. I wanted to add Fr. John's homily from this year but they still have not archived it at my church's site. So Fr. Reginald's from last year will work in a pinch. Normally I would not add homilies to the perminant links section but for Lent this seems appropriate. As we have such fabulous Dominican preachers at my church, I may make this a "revolving homily" feature so stay tuned for details.

Some Envoy Encore Discussions

Included in the threads is stuff from Pete Vere, David Smith, myself, and others who are on that thread. Breier Sheetz's stuff is one of those who is worthy of note also from that thread series.

Web Apologetics/Evangelization Tidbits

A cornucopia of links to stuff where I take on both self-styled "traditionalists" and also self-styled "progressives".

Reform of the Tridentine Missal (Parts I and II)

This is a consolidation of the two parts of this series into one link in essence.

Approved Weblogs Added

The Association of Students at Catholic Colleges' Ever Ancient, Ever New BLOG

Heck, they are trying to play a role in actively cleaning up the mess that is Catholic higher education and they put out a good weblog too. Therefore, a little publicity would not hurt methinks.

Eastern Catholic Corner Links:

I reordered the magisterial texts in that section from oldest to newest chronologically and added Pope Pius XI's Encyclical Letter on Promoting Oriental Studies (Rerum Orientalium) to the mix.

Other Approved* Sites or Links of Interest

Catholic Community Forum

Another site with a discussion board was added to this section. To the magisterial texts in this classification, I added Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World Evangelii Nuntiandi. This very important and often overlooked magisterial text is the charter document of the New Evangelization and the one from which Pope John Paul has built his own magisterial teaching on this subject from. What Rerum Novarum was to Catholic social teaching and Casti Connubi was to Christian marriage (and Dignitatis Humanae to the subject of civil religious liberty), Evangelii Nuntiandi has been to the Church's refined understanding of evangelization.

Wherefore, as these links and their classifications meet with my approval, as Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner of Rerum Novarum I declare them to be stable, intact, and valid and to be promulgated in perpetuity all things to the contrary notwithstanding.


{1} Sung to the tune of "What God Wants" ;-)

{2} This is a new category.

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Sunday, March 23, 2003

Republican - You believe that the free market will
take care of most things, but that the
government should be there with moderate
taxation to provide for national defense and
enforcing morality. Your historical role model
is Ronald Reagan.

Quiz is via And Then?

Stereotype is right. The quiz was a bit too dichotomizing it seemed to me. Though I usually vote for Republicans, I am not affiliated with any political party. If the Republicans were more of the Reagan mould I would probably still stand with them. But until they stop trying to be "Reagan Lite", I am afraid I cannot in conscience do that.

The problem is, I am in some ways more like Barry Goldwater probably. He was a conservationist also. Not that Reagan was against conservation but he was not supporting of it in the same manner as Goldwater did. Actually, some symbiosis of Reagan, Goldwater, St. Augustine, and Ronnie Van Zant would come closer to the real deal. Oh well, no test is perfect I suppose...

Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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Points to Ponder:

On fasting

Do you fast?
Give me proof of it by your works.

If you see someone who is poor, take pity on that person.
If you see a friend being honored, do not be envious.
Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eyes, and the feet, and the hands and all the member of our bodies.

Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.
Let the ears by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.

For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers and sisters? [St. John Chrysostom as quoted by Karen Marie Knapp's From the Anchor Hold BLOG]


Bush Administration vs. Hollywood Left
(Credentials that is...)

Courtesy of our fellow lover of the leaf Verus Ratio is this revealing comparison of the antiwar Hollyweird crowd and the Bush Administration viz educational credentials. And as Verus Ratio noted, this is actually diminishing of the Bush Administration's overall credentials since John Ashcroft is not even mentioned. Nonetheless it is a HUGE mismatch. To quote the late Gorilla Monsoon "stick the fork in them, they are done"...

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Taking JunkYard BLOG to Task:
(On the Iraq War and the Vatican)

It is unfortunate but very necessary in my view to point to the problems that arise when someone does not appear to take into account all facets of a situation. Bryan Preston does not usually fall into this trap but when it comes to Israel he is inclined in this direction. I would normally ignore this except for the disappointing follow-up that Mr. Preston made to this subject recently. Here is the sequence followed with my comments to each section.


The Vatican has issued a warning of sorts to countries that will shortly disarm Saddam Hussein: You'll have to answer to God for it.

The Vatican Secretary of State (a diplomatic post) apparently said that "[t]hose who decide that all peaceful means that international law makes available are exhausted assume a grave responsibility before God, their conscience and history". The same article stated that this was "the Vatican's first official reaction to Washington's ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to go into exile within 48 hours or face war".

The implication is quite clear: The Catholic Church believes the coming war to be an immoral one, and is invoking God's name to scare us.

I prefer to look at it as the Vatican calling to mind the often overlooked element of conscience in this endeavour. It is very easy to forget in the rush of patriotism that with war comes death. And though I hear many conservatives taking the position that we have the "right" to disarm Hussein because he is a "national security risk" (and of course "free the Iraqi people"), I do not hear the same people taking the position that we can disarm abortionists who kill babies every day and justifying this as protection of "national morality". The Vatican's position is at least a consistent one in this regard.

Meanwhile, a Romanian Catholic bishop in Ohio is threatening excommunication for anyone who supports the war, and for troops fighting in it.

The bishop in question did not specify excommunication. It is true that he related the gravity of supporting the war to supporting someone who sought to procure an abortion. However, only the latter under the Church's codes of canon law would qualify as an excommunicable offense.{1}

Catholic teaching does not hold that every objectively grave act is automatically a "sin unto death" (1 John v,16-17). And as for the bishop's judgment on this matter, to my knowledge he is acting as a lone ranger here. The bishop in question here based his judgment on what we refer to as "just war criteria."{2} This criteria is to some extent a moveable feast and there is a dispute over whether just war criteria applies in the Iraq war or not.{3} The bishop happens to think it does not, I respectfully disagree with him. As this is a matter of prudential judgment and does not fall under the umbrella of the local ordinary/eparchy divinely vested competence, Catholics are allowed to respectfully disagree on this issue.

If in this speech the bishop is implying a censure of excommunication - which I am not sure it is, (i) it would only apply to a dioceses that the bishop has authority in - as an Eparchy it would apply only to those under the eparchy (ii) it will end up being overturned by higher authority. As an Eastern rite Catholic Eparchy, that bishop's Metropolitan would probably be the one to overturn it. If not then it will happen by the Metropolitan'a Patriarch or the eastern equivalent. And if it gets to the Curia, it would be overturned by either Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re of the Congregation of Bishops or Cardinal Ratzinger of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

And let's not forget the hands raised in triumph with Arafat some months back, and the Church's non-response to Palestinian terrorists who laid seige to the Church of the Nativity last year.

This reminds me of those who claim that Pope Pius XII should have been spouting off against Hitler early in the WWII. The same people who "conveniently" forget that when the Dutch bishops conference issued a harsh denunciation of Hitler that dictator redoubled his efforts on the Netherlands imprisoning and killing more Christians and Jews as a result.

This coming from a church that refuses to this day to hold child-molesting and pederast priests responsible for abusing those in their care and trust.

With all due respect Mr. Preston, this is a rather facile reason. If we wanted to posit numbers, there is significantly more abuse of minors by Protestant ministers than there is by Catholic priests. But I would never bring this up as an argument against Protestanism because - like Catholicism - those that act in this way do so against the teaching of their respective traditions.

The Vatican is not only the religious center of Catholicism but is also a sovereign state. Therefore the pope is not only Supreme Pontiff according to the Catholic faith but is also the head of a sovereign nation. Thus there is an administrative and diplomatic element in this equation not merely the faith issue.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls is the Vatican's equivalent to General Colin Powell rank-wise. This position has no bearing on the subject of the Catholic faith whatsoever. If the words were uttered by Cardinal Ratzinger or Archbishop Tarcicio Bertone (Prefect and Undersecretary respectively of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) there would be more weight to it. However, without a document issued by them that takes a decided position one way or the other, it falls into the realm of free speculation by Catholics. The same principle applies to utterances of the pope. A simple statement of the pope is not a matter of Catholic doctrine. I explain this in detail HERE.

I am not sure what you are referring to when you state that the Vatican "refuses to hold pedophile priests responsible". There are a lot of priests who are accused of this who are innocent. But that aspect never gets reported. The mere accusation of pedophilia or other forms of impropriety is a form of tarring and feathering. It is akin to the epithet of "racist" or "antisemite": whether the assertion is true or not the accused is perminently damaged.

Further still, there is the element of church hierarchy that is not being taken into account here. Whatever you may have heard, the fact is the popes historically have never acted as micromanagers. Instead the principle of subsidiarity - often lauded by conservatives - is actually an age-old part of Vatican protocol. There is also the element that the Church recognizes as Catholic teaching - and always has - the authority of the Bishop as being a matter of divine institution. Bishops have by their ordination the supreme authority in their dioceses. This does not mean that the pope or the Curia in his name cannot intervene of course but the constitution of the Church requires a certain protocol to be followed.

I do not expect you to understand this if you have not studied these issues. But it would seem to me that an understanding of these issues to some degree is necessary if you are going to make a rash judgment here. And on the war subject as well as the Church of the Nativity subject, you are doing just that. In the case of the latter you are appearing to let your pro-Israel bias have uncritical free reign. With regards to the pedophilia issue, I must admit to being unsure of what you are implying here.

If you are referring to the Vatican's rejection of the Dallas norms for handling priests who are accused of offenses, there is very good reason for those norms being struck down.{4} The norms which were approved are significantly better.

Whatever reason you have for not being a Catholic, I would hope that they would be solid reasons and not these kinds of flimsy ones. I am reminded of atheists I have dialogued with who have claimed that they could never accept Christianity because of certain black marks that speckle the historical record. I presume that you would reject that as valid criteria just as much as you would if someone said "I cannot be a Christian because a relative of mine was conned out of a significant amount of their savings by a tele-evangelist" or some similar statement.

I mentioned almost seven months ago that I was considering posting some song lyrics which were written during the Gulf War and to some degree bear reflection in this era of high tech warfare. I will post them here for reflection and ask that we not forget that it is real easy to be gung-ho about war when we are not in direct danger of its effects: when we have (as the song title refers to) "the bravery of being out of range":

You have a natural tendency to squeeze off a shot
You're good fun at parties, you wear the right masks
You're old but you still like a laugh in the locker room
You can't abide change, you're at home on the range
You open the suitcase behind the old workings
To show off the magnum, you deafen the canyon
A comfort a friend only upstaged in the end
By the Uzi machine gun
Does the recoil remind you, remind you of sex
Old man what the hell you gonna kill next
Old timer who you gonna kill next

I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Saw a US Marine in a pile of debris
I swam in your pools and lay under your palm trees
I looked in the eyes of the Indian who lay on the Federal Building steps
And through the range finder over the hill
I saw the frontline boys popping their pills
Sick of the mess they find on their desert stage
And the bravery of being out of range
Yeah the question is vexed
Old man what the hell you gonna kill next
Old timer who you gonna kill next

Hey bartender over here, two more shots and two more beers
Sir turn up the TV sound, the war has started on the ground
Just love those laser-guided bombs, they're really great for righting wrongs
You hit the target and win the game from bars three thousand miles away
Three thousand miles away
We play the game with the bravery of being out of range
We zap and maim with the bravery of being out of range
We strafe the train with the bravery of being out of range
We gain terrain with the bravery of being out of range

We play the game with the bravery of being out of range

I believe it is sophistic to lump together all those who for some reason or another were opposed to the war before the first shots were fired.{5} There is also an important element that seems to be overlooked here: the pope is an international influence. I noticed that Mr. Preston referred to his Southern Baptist church not taking a position but with all due respect there is no comparison here. The pope is the one personage that single-handedly refutes the notion that this can be spun as a "Christians vs. Muslims" war. That seems to be an aspect to this that those who would be critical of the Vatican "conveniently" overlook and in the climate of the Middle East it is a very significant one.

The notion many non-Catholics have of the pope being either a mircromanager or the Catholic faithful having to assent to every syllable that he or his dicasteries utter is blatantly false. I explained this in a link further up on this post and also do so HERE. And to show that on this issue Catholics are not monolithic, Lane Core gives a somewhat different view which can be read here. And I have Catholic friends - both theology professors and licensed canonists along with other Christians who could not in conscience support this war before it started. (And at the same time none of whom would in a thousand years side with the Marxist bums who were holding their rallys.) It is unfortunate that as good as Mr. Preston is at making these kinds of distinctions on a whole host of issues that on this particular element of the war subject he has thus far has been unable to.


{1} The Eastern Churches have their own Code of Canon Law but I doubt on this issue it would differ from the Code for the Latin rite.

{2} To verify my assertion, check out this link for details.

{3} And further still, if Just war theory in light of the current capabilities of terrorists is not in need of some fine-tuning to account for pre-emption in some cases.

{4} Canonically they were very weakly formed and did not recognize the rights of the accused adequately in accordance with Church law.

{5} And who now that it has started want to see it end as quickly as possible.

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