Friday, August 24, 2018

Points to Ponder:

"A good smoker, like a good lover, always takes his time with a cigar." [Mark Twain]


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Ocasio-Cortez Mourns Restaurant Driven Out Of Business By Minimum Wage Law She Backs

She is a complete and utter cretin ignorant of the most basic tenets of economics and an embarrassment to sound rational thought!

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Mexican cardinal says abuse victims should think about skeletons in their own closet

Mexican cardinal should be flogged with 50 lashes in the public square!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Points to Ponder:

"A cigar ought not to be smoked solely with the mouth, but with the hand, the eyes, and with the spirit." [Zino Davidoff]


Points to Ponder:

"A cigar numbs sorrow and fills the solitary hours with a million gracious images." [George Sand]



Something is not constitutional or unconstitutional, biblical or unbiblical, orthodox or heretical, impeachable offense or non-impeachable, real news or fake news, etc., based on the personal whims of you people.

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Seahawks defense clearly shifting it’s focus from back to front

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Those who make the PA situation about politics or ideology or use it to try and score cheap apologetics points are themselves part of the problem.

This is a churchwide issue and ALL sectors have their offenders and enablers. Cleaning this up and placing safeguards in place to make future incidents much rarer (if not nonexistent) should be everyone's goal. That means slaying some sacred cows on ALL sides where applicable  and everyone facing the reality that some of their heralded "good guys" will be in the mix as well.

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On Pope Francis, the Catechism, and the Death Penalty:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

I made a point last year to revisit last October in a lengthy expository musing the subject of the death penalty for a couple of reasons. First of all, I had last done so more than a decade prior at that point and considering the long period of time this weblog was mothballed, it seemed appropriate to do so because it was again in the news. The second reason was the talk by Pope Francis of possibly revising the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) to take an even more stringent position than the one outlined in the original text of the CCC back in 1992.

Pope John Paul II made the aforementioned change in 1997 when he revised the CCC with the aid of then-Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Prefect Cardinal Ratzinger to take a position that presumably was also held by Cardinal Ratzinger when the latter became Pope Benedict XVI. That is where things stood for a good twenty plus years until just a few days ago over a couple of weeks ago. And it would not be an exaggeration to say that my position on the death penalty has evolved a lot from the time when I thought if anything we did not use it nearly enough: a position that I have not held for probably close to twenty years as of this writing. Certainly the archives of this weblog attest to a fairly consistent overall position of mine with regards to this subject much as with virtually all others that I can think of{1} and on the subject of the death penalty, if I was to condense my view of it to a single sentence it would read as follows:

The death penalty should be safe, legal, and rare.{2}

Obviously however one fit that under the rubric of the prior formulation in the CCC, that changed on August 2, 2018 when Pope Francis had his CDF Prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria present a new formulation to replace #2267 in the CCC on the issue of the death penalty. What brought about this writing was a discussion on a Facebook thread of a friend of mine where someone tried to compare what Pope Francis just did to the church's supposed "changed position" on slavery. Or to quote their precise words with the balance of this note comprising my response to them coupled with further points of consideration. To wit:

If the Catholic world and the integrity of doctrine didn’t implode over the evolution of teaching on slavery, then I don’t think it will over the death penalty.

The church's position on slavery is often misunderstood. The prohibition was on chattel slavery, not all forms of slavery indiscriminately. This is why the Holy Office in 1866 proclaimed the following:

"Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons. It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given. The purchaser should carefully examine whether the slave who is put up for sale has been justly or unjustly deprived of his liberty, and that the vendor should do nothing which might endanger the life, virtue, or Catholic faith of the slave." [Holy Office: Instruction (circa June 20, 1866)]

The condemnations of Vatican II of slavery do not contradict this at all but is nothing more than a reaffirmation of the papal condemnations of chattel slavery issued by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839, Pope Pius VII in 1815, Pope Benedict XIV in 1741, Pope Innocent XI in 1686, Pope Urban VIII in 1639, Pope Gregory XIV in 1591, Pope Paul III in 1537, and Pope Eugene IV in 1435. Vatican II did not proclaim any dogmas{3} or give any indication of condemning slavery except in passing so we cannot under general norms of theological interpretation take such a condemnation any further than was previously the case.

As far as capital punishment goes, there have been some developments sure but there has also been agenda driven attempts to force the issue in ways that are both historically untenable as well as theologically problematical and that does not even get beyond a couple of weak and unsupported claims made by Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae on the matter.{4} But Pope Francis has gone further and his CDF's arguments are even more forced and weak{5} than those from his predecessor because at least Pope John Paul II recognized the long-established principle of recourse to the death penalty even if he argued{6} for minimizing its use dramatically.

But the latest ploy is setting a very bad precedent and makes a mockery of the notion of development of doctrine. In fact, I predict that the same folks who have long argued for life imprisonment of the most serious of offenders (like serial killers) will next #MoveTheGoalposts to claim that life imprisonment is also "contrary to human dignity" and claim this too is because of "development of doctrine" on "human dignity."

To put it bluntly and I take no joy in saying this: I cannot remember ever being profoundly disappointed in Pope Francis before as I am right now. I suppose there is a first for everything.{7}

I do not see at this point what more I can say than what I concluded last year's note with so I will reiterate here in concluding the present posting:

I have some serious questions on whether or not Pope Francis or any of his recent predecessors has/had "taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of [this] question" (cf. Donum Veritatis 24) and with all due respect, until that is squarely faced and dealt with, their absolutist position on the matter is internally contradictory and I cannot pretend it is otherwise.

In accordance with magisterial teaching[...], I do not present my own "opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions" (cf. Donum Veritatis 27). Nor do I go about "giving untimely public expression to them" (cf. Donum Veritatis 27). I strive indeed to be both respectful as well as discreet when publicly saying anything about these matters at all -that is part of the reason why I waited a few weeks for this issue to move out of the headlines before posting this material.

I cannot speak for others but I can say that the tensions between my view and that of Pope Francis "do not spring from hostile and contrary feelings" (cf. Donum Veritatis 27) and I am conscious of a right "to make known to the Magisterial authorities the problems raised by the teaching in itself, in the arguments proposed to justify it, or even in the manner in which it is presented" (Donum Veritatis 30). As my prior writings on this matter spanning fifteen odd years should more than adequately demonstrate, I have sought on these as with all pertinent matters "serious study, undertaken with the desire to heed the Magisterium's teaching without hesitation" (Donum Veritatis 31). However, for reasons outlined above, on the issue of the practical stance of recent popes on the death penalty, "[my] difficulty remains because the arguments to the contrary seem more persuasive" (cf. Donum Veritatis 31).

I await such time as Pope Francis or anyone else in the church hierarchy, church theologians, church apologists, etc are willing to deal with the actual sociological and scientific realities on this subject and take them seriously. Until they do, their absolutist position is one which I cannot in conscience give my intellectual assent. I recognize however "the duty to remain open to a deeper examination of the question" (cf. Donum Veritatis 31) and ask of those who espouse the more absolutist position to likewise engage in an "intense and patient reflection on [their] part and a readiness, if need be, to revise [their] own opinions and examine the objections which [their] colleagues might offer [them]" (cf. Donum Veritatis 29). [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 27, 2017)]

Considering what happened the other day a few weeks back, the above material is particularly relevant now.


{1} The number of exceptions to this general rule is very small. I can however offhand think of one such example which I will post here as an exception to the rule:

On the Changing of One's Positions (circa January 31, 2018)

{2} To appropriate the phrase used by not a few pro-abortion advocates.

{3} Though truthfully, the way some folks treat the Second Vatican Council on some matters where it barely said anything at all, you would not know this.

{4} To put it quite bluntly.

{5} They are heavily conjecturally based and therein lies the rub. And before anyone takes issue with my claim, they would do well to consider what the Vatican itself has said about these sorts of interventions:

[I]n order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. It often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Instruction Donum Veritatis on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, Section 24 (circa May 24, 1990)]

The degree of conjecture on this matter is quite high and therefore of dubious objective validity. Furthermore:

When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question...

Even when collaboration takes place under the best conditions, the possibility cannot be excluded that tensions may arise between the theologian and the Magisterium. The meaning attributed to such tensions and the spirit with which they are faced are not matters of indifference. If tensions do not spring from hostile and contrary feelings, they can become a dynamic factor, a stimulus to both the Magisterium and theologians to fulfill their respective roles while practicing dialogue.

In the dialogue, a two-fold rule should prevail. When there is a question of the communion of faith, the principle of the "unity of truth" (unitas veritatis) applies. When it is a question of differences which do not jeopardize this communion, the "unity of charity" (unitas caritatis) should be safeguarded.

Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. Respect for the truth as well as for the People of God requires this discretion (cf. Rom 14:1-15; 1 Cor 8; 10: 23-33 ) . For the same reasons, the theologian will refrain from giving untimely public expression to them. [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Instruction Donum Veritatis on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, Sections 24-27 (circa May 24, 1990)]

{6} See footnote five.

{7} The material in this note with the exception of the seventh footnote was written and otherwise assembled in the days following the new of the change in the CCC and shortly before the post outlining my public resignation from WherePeterIs. It therefore did not take into account the news involving former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick or the just-released grand jury report from Pennsylvania outlining in lurid detail the pedophilia and systematic coverups that occurred in that dioceses over a seventy-odd year period. Suffice to say, I am even madder at Pope Francis and all church leaders who either engaged in or facilitated by their silence or downright systematical coverups right now than I was when the rest of this note was written.

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