Thursday, February 28, 2013

We have some beautiful ropes with which you can hang yourself

The world is the enemy of Christianity. Always has been, always will be. For that reason, it's always mordantly amusing when the secular media publishes opinion pieces and news stories (but I repeat myself) urging advice on how the Church must change to survive in the modern world. "We despise you as a medieval, backward, regressive, reactionary, right-wing, sexist, homophobic institution that is a blot on the escutcheon of humanity... but we have a few ideas on how you can survive in our brave new world." In a way it's a back handed compliment. Nobody asks why the Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, or Anglicans didn't speak up or do more during World War II. Nobody focuses this much attention on goings on within the Eastern Orthodox churches. When it comes to the universally accepted symbol and spokesman for Christianity, the Catholic Church is still number one.

We could file this one under "To the corrupt, everything else appears corrupt:"

The Vatican denies that Ganswein working for both the old Pope and the new Pope will cause any conflict of interest. But there's a more scandalous question as well, as put forward by Andrew Sullivan, perhaps the best-known Catholic blogger in America, today:
Sullivan, a Catholic blogger? lolzzozolozzolzzozolzozololz. I clearly remember a joke that made the rounds during the last conclave eight years ago: "When white smoke emerges from the Sistine Chapel's chimney, we'll know we have a pope. When white smoke emerges from Andrew Sullivan's ears, we'll know the new pope is Catholic." And he didn't disappoint me. If you thought Sullivan had a histrionic meltdown during the first presidential debate last year, he was apoplectic when Benedict was elected. Not surprisingly, Sullivan pronounces Benedict's papacy a failure.

He pledged to re-convert Europe with a newly authoritarian papacy, a rigid doctrinal discipline, and a purer, older form of Catholicism. He did not just fail; his papacy has been a rolling disaster for the Church in the West.
He lost Ireland, for Pete’s sake, if you’ll pardon the expression. His version of Catholicism entered the public square and has been overwhelmingly refuted, rejected, and spurned by not just those outside the Western church but by so many within it. And in his inability to rise to the occasion of unthinkable evil in the child-rape conspiracy – to clean house by removing every cardinal and every bishop and every priest implicated in any way with it – he has presided over the global destruction of the church’s moral authority. By his refusal to face the fact of huge hypocrisy in the church over homosexuality – indeed to double down on the stigmatization of gay people, reversing previous gradual movement toward acceptance – he has consigned the church to what might well become an institutional tragedy.
If the Holy Father's "version" of Catholicism was rejected by those within the Church then that says much more about them than it does about Benedict. I share Sullivan's disappointment that Benedict was not more forceful and did not clean house, but I suspect we have different ideas of what it is Benedict should have cleaned up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

U Trad bro?

People who pay attention to the divisions within the Catholic Church sometimes make a distinction between conservatives and Traditionalists. Within the Traditionalist camp one can make distinctions between Trads who are in full communion with Rome and "rad Trads" who are not. We're all frequently accused of being mad Trads (I would submit that Trads, especially those over the age of fifty, have good reason to be mad.) But what is it that makes a Catholic a Trad as opposed to a conservative? What makes a Trad rad?

A simplistic definition would be a Catholic who attends the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. I strongly prefer the TLM but I attend the Novus Ordo for daily Mass. Converts who come from a Protestant background are often confused by this emphasis on the liturgy. Isn't it enough that our Blessed Lord is truly present? Shouldn't we be grateful to receive him whether it's at a puppet Mass or a Solemn High Mass on Easter Sunday? I think a lot of the conflict between Trads and conservatives has less to do with orthodoxy than orthopraxy (ex opere operato and ex opere operantis.)

Conservatives put great emphasis on believing as the Church has always believed. Trads do as well and something more: they worry a lot about worshipping as the Church has always worshipped. The biggest difference between the two is their attitude toward change. Conservative Catholics have a tendency to praise everything the pope does to the skies, even if, objectively, it's not a good idea or he's wrong on the facts. They generally attribute the liturgical and disciplinary chaos of the last fifty years to progressive churchmen who hijacked the Second Vatican Council. The changes that followed the council in the sacraments, in theology, philosophy, spirituality, and culture are all acceptable to them so long as they fit within Pope Benedict XVI's hermeneutic of continuity. They are open to change and willing to embrace any change if it is proposed by legitimate authority.

No Catholic with a lick of sense will deny that changes have taken place throughout the Church's 2000 year history. But if you read the popes, saints, Fathers, doctors, and confessors of the early Church up through the 1960's, they make Bl. John Paul II read like a radical progressive. They were intensely suspicious of any proposed changes. They saw themselves first and foremost as preservers. They saw their vocation as one of zealously guarding every iota of dogma, doctrine, and praxis. They believed that even a minor change, if not carefully managed, would wreak havoc on the Church and the lives of the faithful.

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: the law of prayer is the law of belief. The faith is not just a checklist of dogmas to which we mentally assent. What we pray is what we believe. What we believe is what we live. The Traditionalist is someone who wants to believe what his fathers believed and worship as his fathers worshipped, and pass it on wholly intact to his own children. He sees Tradition as a collection of Godly wisdom and holy practices, and views with suspicion all attempts at "updating" or "revising" it for the sake of the modern man Vatican II spoke so much about.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Summa Contra Chick Lit: Medieval Game

I think a lot of generous Catholic young people put themselves through a lot of unnecessary torture when it comes to discerning their vocation. If your eternal salvation hinges on choosing the right state in life, then God isn't going to make it that hard for you. Obviously it's important to discern God's will for your life but how precise can that discernment really be? What is it that you're really trying to discern?

My own reading of history and Tradition has led to some conclusions that conflict with some modern opinions. St. Thomas Aquinas had a lot to say about discerning whether one had a vocation to the religious life and the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. For example:

Article 1. Whether those who are not practiced in keeping the commandments should enter religion?

I answer that, As shown above (Question 188, Article 1), the religious state is a spiritual schooling for the attainment of the perfection of charity. This is accomplished through the removal of the obstacles to perfect charity by religious observances; and these obstacles are those things which attach man's affections to earthly things. Now the attachment of man's affections to earthly things is not only an obstacle to the perfection of charity, but sometimes leads to the loss of charity, when through turning inordinately to temporal goods man turns away from the immutable good by sinning mortally. Hence it is evident that the observances of the religious state, while removing the obstacles to perfect charity, remove also the occasions of sin: for instance, it is clear that fasting, watching, obedience, and the like withdraw man from sinsof gluttony and lust and all other manner of sins.
Consequently it is right that not only those who are practiced in the observance of the commandments should enter religion in order to attain to yet greater perfection, but also those who are not practiced, in order the more easily to avoid sin and attain to perfection. 
Religious life is a means to the end of attaining Christian perfection. If anything, the dissolute need to enter religion even more than those who are already saintly. St. Thomas doesn't think much of the modern practice of telling young people to constantly agonize and consult an endless parade of friends, family, priests, religious, vocations directors. On the question of whether one ought to deliberate long and consult many:
It is stated (Matthew 4:20) that upon our Lord's calling them, Peter and Andrew "immediately leaving their nets, followed Him." Here Chrysostom says (Hom. xiv in Matth.): "Such obedience as this does Christ require of us, that we delay not even for a moment."
If you've ever thought for a fraction of a second that you might be called to the religious life, then you are supposed to drop everything immediately and go. Of course our personal disposition is not the only thing required here. The religious order or house will have to judge if you are physically and mentally capable of the rigors of religious life. Holy Orders is different in that candidates are supposed to show holiness and uprightness of life before ordination, (although that has broken down in practice) but religious life is the school for attaining the perfection of charity. Men and women are free to answer God's call or turn away. The Church is free to accept or turn them away. There is never a shortage of men and women whom God calls to serve Him as priests or religious. There can be dire shortages of men and women who say yes, or of the kind of men and women that bishops and religious superiors like.

St. Thomas also had much to say about marriage but there is something conspicuous by its absence. Marriage is a sacrament, and the only things necessary for a valid sacrament are form, matter, and right intention. Whether the bride and groom love each other or not has nothing to do with the validity of the sacrament. He says nothing about the modern notion that God has one person that he has intended for us to marry from all eternity. When they write about marriage at all, most of the Church's saints and theologians have said that the most important act of discernment we make is whether to marry at all, not to whom we should get married. In the Middle Ages and onward, there was great emphasis on discerning whether you were called to marriage or chaste celibacy, not on "figuring out whom God wants you to marry."

Of course there was much literature written about how to pick a spouse, but it was written from the viewpoint that picking your wife or husband was a matter of human prudence like picking a house or a car. Once the marriage was consummated, love could arise from their shared lives together but it was never considered necessary before the marriage even began. If anything, men and women who married purely on the basis of infatuation were considered sentimental fools.

Marriage has always been understood as a sacrament but in the last forty years it's been especially emphasized as a vocation. I think many Catholics are overanxious to slap the label "vocation" or "divine calling" on everything now . If I had a nickel for every Catholic young adult who has said that they think God is calling them to the single life, I could buy myself a fancy steak dinner. God has a will for what career I pursue, for example, but I don't think of my job as a vocation on the same level as Holy Orders or religion.

The Church has no special charism for teaching young men how to make young women desperate to have their babies. So once you have discerned that you are called to marriage, how do you find a good Catholic spouse? Use prudence and common sense. Is she a practicing Catholic? Is she hot? Can she cook? How does she handle stress? Is she financially responsible? Is she of good moral character? Would she make a good mother? Does she want to be a mother? Traditionally men chose their wives on evaluations like these, not on passionate love or an intense desire to do God's will. Love was an ideal to strive for, but ultimately secondary and even nonessential. It was hoped real love would arise from building a life together, not be the building block you needed to get started.

Don't worry about whom God wants you to marry. You'll never know for sure, and even if you think you know, you'll second guess yourself the moment trouble comes along. You shouldn't marry to make yourself happy but to make the other person happy.

The more things change in the Windswept House...

Outstanding essay:

Nevertheless, mutatis mutandis, I very much think that the basic set of sixteenth century developments discussed above can be a highly effective teaching tool for coming to terms with our own era of unending crisis, sorrow, and rage. Let us imagine a believing Catholic---namely a person just slightly older than myself---passing through the fifty-one years since the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. That person, who was eighteen in 1962, would now be in his late sixties and hopefully still active in defense of the Church. He will have experienced one disappointment after another as he watched the Body of Christ engaged in her auto-destruction. He will have heard the endless lamentations---well outlined by Dr. Brian McCall in a recent article in The Remnant---regarding the “will” of the “real” Council as opposed to its horrible post-conciliar “distortion”. He will have watched that supposed distortion confirmed, year after endless year, by the droit de cité given new assaults on the Faith, as well as on Catholic moral principles, liturgy, and devotion---a droit de cité regularly granted by clergy and laity who had first railed against such further radicalization in the name of “the true Council”. His sense of betrayal, rage, and, yes, admittedly, also his desire for vengeance against those disfiguring the Bride of Christ will have grown apace. [Emphasis mine]
Every Catholic knows the stereotype of the "angry Traditionalist." I've been called that myself on more than a few occasions. I'm not offended by the label but more confused. Of course I'm angry. I'm angry that so much of our religious patrimony was junked almost overnight by a band of revolutionaries who, however subjectively well intentioned they may have been, destroyed nearly two thousand years worth of accumulated moral, spiritual, and cultural capital. When I read about the outrages, heresies, sacrileges, rebellions, and betrayals of countless bishops, priests, and religious during the 1970's and 1980's, my blood boils. I only became Catholic in 2005. I can't even conceive how demoralizing and depressing it must have been for my brothers and sisters in Christ who lived through all forty years of darkness. Yes sir, I'm angry. If all of that doesn't make you angry, then what does? If my anger be sinful, then I can only ask God to forgive me and to forgive those men who have disfigured the Body of Christ, often those same men who had sworn to cherish and protect her.

Yes, I am fully aware that my fellow Traditionalists have all too justly pointed to a role both theological and pastoral, first as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and then as Pope Benedict XVI, that does not seem to fit the happy picture that I am painting. Yes, there has also been so much more that I wanted him to do that he could not seem to bring himself to carry to fruition. But would that I had that one blessed achievement of giving the lie to the decades of lies of the enemies of the Traditional Liturgy! Would that I had that one honor to lead me before the judgment seat of the eternal throne of God! [Summorum Pontificum] alone proved to me that the Revolution in the Church was being thwarted, that Peter was beginning to awaken from his dogmatic and pastoral slumbers, and that the false pastors knew it.
St. Catherine [of Genoa] told Catholic reformers that they were looking for succor in the wrong place. New “programs” and “laws” were not what were primarily needed. What was needed, above all else, was to make a complete internal break with what were supposedly essential and practical in the eyes of a world suffering from a profound spiritual illness and dedicated to treating wallowing in the consequences of Original Sin as the only solid framework of political, social, and economic life. It was only by a deep “bath” in Christ, along with a full grasp of his corrective and transforming message to God’s good world gone astray, that all of the proper legal and administrative measures for putting the Church on course and converting the rest of the globe could have any meaning whatsoever. That bath would dissolve many of the complexities of the Gordian Knot of proper “pastoral change” unnecessarily troubling the lives of men looking for realism in the wrong place. Once again, as Veuillot succinctly put it: “The right tactic for us is to be visibly and always what we are, nothing more, nothing less. We defend a citadel which cannot be taken except when the garrison itself brings in the enemy. Combating with our own arms, we only receive minor wounds. All borrowed armor troubles us and often chokes us.”  
...But justifiable rage against the auto-destruction of the Church and the civilization she protects must now thunder from the See of Peter. Moreover, all of us, making the same internal break with the impractical “practical wisdom” of the world around us, must join with a “thundering pope” in transmitting his message of Faith, Reason, grace, and hope to our families, jobs, and countries. If such a pope and such an assistance do not appear, the unjustifiable rage of the enemies of the Faith, both within and without, all of them smelling blood in this moment of renewed sorrow and confusion, will move relentlessly forward in their labor of destruction of souls and society. Pray for us, St. Catherine, pray. Come Holy Ghost, come.
 For the record, I don't believe in the prophecy of Malachi. I did hear an interesting interpretation of "Petrus Romanus" though. I can't remember who said it, but his theory is that the next pope won't necessarily have the baptismal or regnal name of Peter but he will vigorously reassert Petrine authority. The pope is the Vicar of Christ and the successor to St. Peter. The Church Fathers often wrote that when the pope spoke, it was Peter speaking. If the next pope is the sort that Professor Rao is praying for - whom we should all pray for for that matter - then once again we may hear a Roman Pontiff hurling anathemas from on high. God grant that it be so.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Freaking ouch

That's cold, even for me.

China has upset its young female population by labelling those who fail to marry by the time they are 30 as ‘left over woman’.
The Communist government ordered its feminist All-China Women’s Federation to use the derogatory term in several stinging articles about the growing number of educated, professional, urban and single females aged 27-30 who have ‘failed’ to find a husband and are now  deemed ‘undesirable’.
‘Pretty girls do not need a lot of education to marry into a rich and powerful family. But girls with an average or ugly appearance will find it difficult,’ reads one article titled ‘Leftover Women Do Not Deserve Our Sympathy’.
The derogatory name has been picked up by the state media and stuck, causing an outcry among millions of ambitious young and educated females who claim they have been thrown on the scrap heap - and who bemoan the low quality of suitors.
Given the gender imbalance in China - 118 boys for every 100 girls - how is it possible for there to be any "left over women?" The time and the place may change, but hypergamy is eternal. I don't think feminists will find the Chinese government particularly vulnerable to shaming tactics. A girl's SMV usually peaks in her early twenties and it's all downhill from there until she hits the wall. A man's SMV generally trends upward with age. Ladies, if you're serious about landing a husband then do not spend the prime of your youth and fertility riding the carousel and pursuing nebulous "career goals."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sometimes pious platitudes aren't enough

Is this story accurate? Too soon to tell. Pope Benedict XVI said he was resigning due to ill health and I take him at his word. Is the story surprising? Not at all. Anyone who has spent any time working with or for the Catholic Church would say the same thing. The lavender mafia exists, it is very powerful, they look out for their own, and you cross them at your peril. I trust in Jesus but when the filth gets this bad, it's difficult to avoid a sense of impending doom. When God sends us wicked, evil men to be our shepherds, it's a sign that He's angry with us. Whose fault is it that so many of these so-called men of God are assholes, cowards, bullies, and perverts? It's our fault. It's my fault.

Pope Benedict, God bless his heart, tried to do something about this early in his pontificate by reaffirming and republishing the Church's ban on homosexuals being admitted to seminary or religious orders. Unfortunately, it was too little too late. Seminary rectors, many of whom are themselves gay, are not going to enforce this decree. One has to be willfully blind to not know that rampant homosexuality has been a problem in Catholic seminaries for decades (see Fr. Donald Cozzens's The Changing Face of the Priesthood or Michael Rose's Goodbye, Good Men.) Many good Catholics believe that homosexuals are perfectly capable of being good priests so long as they are chaste. Chaste celibacy is required of both straight and gay seminarians, so why not allow homosexual men to study for the priesthood? This attitude sounds reasonable enough but it is nonetheless deeply problematic.

Men who are sexually attracted to other men simply should not be ordained, ever, period, case closed. The Catechism makes a distinction between a homosexual inclination, which is not necessarily sinful, and homosexual acts, which are still counted among the sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance. Hate the sin, love the sinner in other words. Here's the thing though: the inclination is not intrinsically sinful but the Catechism nevertheless calls it "objectively disordered" (CCC 2358) whether it is ever acted upon or not. One may be afflicted with it unwillingly but that does not change its disordered character. The 2005 document says that those afflicted with homosexual tendencies have not reached "affective maturity" and are incapable of relating correctly to men and women. That doubtless sounds excessively harsh to modern ears but it's pretty much what the Church has always taught. Common sense should be enough to confirm this: think of a young homosexual man put in an environment with many other young homosexual men, some of whom may be actively living that lifestyle, and told that he must not act on his impulses. Humans being what they are, he's probably going to fall at one point or another. That's when the mafia welcomes him into their circle. They know what he's going through and they offer their emotional support. So he goes on to get ordained. He knows what the mafia does but he's not going to say anything because they know where all of the bodies are buried. And so it goes.

Benedict has tried to do something about it. He tried to dislodge what the late Fr. Malachi Martin called "the superforce." Only time will tell how well he succeeded or not. In the mean time, the filth and corruption within the Church is becoming too great to sweep under the rug anymore. If nobodies like me know about this stuff, there's no way in hell the bishops don't know. But they either cannot or will not do anything about it. Be warned gentlemen. If you will not repent, confess, and do penance, you will be chastised. If you do not take steps to restore the house of God, then God himself will take action. And if God himself takes action, it's going to be much, much more painful for all of us.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hello, I'm Beefy and I'm an oppressor

Reality keeps laughing at my feeble efforts to write a dystopian sci-fi novel. Catholics often get knocked for instilling such a strong sense of guilt in people. Man knows, even if it's only on a subconscious level, that he is fundamentally broken in some way. Liberalism tells some men that their sense of guilt is not founded on anything they did or failed to do, and other men that the guilt of their fathers lies upon them and their children. If my guilt or sense of shame is not my fault, then, quite reasonably, I will want to know whose fault it is. As a  white heterosexual Christian male, I have not only my own sins to worry about but all the sins of my co-ethnics going back to Original Sin! (Not that they believe in Original Sin.)

My late grandmother, God rest her soul, always urged me to get a government job when I was growing up. She was thinking in terms of a secure gig with salary and benefits. There's something to be said for those but I'll be damned if I'm going to sit still at presentations like that and timidly laugh like a bullied beta male. I'll continue clickety clacking away right here in the vain hope that some paid gigs come from my blog writing. It's happened to me before, way back at the dawn of time before Livejournal became the fiefdom of the Cossacks.

h.t. Vox and Roissy.

Ask not for whom the Kobayashi Maru hails, it's hailing thee

Men - American men in particular - hate being told that something can't be done. We refuse to believe in the no-win scenario. There's always something that can be done. There's always a solution to the problem and our job is to figure out the solution and implement it post haste. Don't tell me it can't be done. Don't just stand there, do something!

The Kobayashi Maru is the name given to a "no win" scenario that all Starfleet cadets have to endure in the Star Trek universe. The idea is that the academy faculty want to see how a cadet deals with the prospect of his own death. Captain Kirk famously cheated by reprogramming the simulation before his test day so that he was able to cheat death so to speak. In universe, he was commended for his original thinking. Cheating is such an ugly word. I prefer to think of it as enhancing my luck.

In the real world, some problems have no solution that is morally acceptable. If my buddies and I are stranded on a lifeboat at sea, one solution to the immediate problem of food and water is to kill the fattest guy and eat him, and drink some sea water. If there is no solution then there is no problem. There is only something that we have to live with. Christianity does not promise to solve all of our problems but it does promise to make us transcend them. Faith in God has not solved all of my problems but it has taught me to laugh at them.

Rod Dreher has been writing for a while now on the hopelessness of the conservative cause. He said the political battles have been lost because conservatives and Christians long ago lost the cultural battle. On an emotional level I don't like hearing such talk but it's hard to argue against his reasoning. The battle against same-sex "marriage" was lost before it even began in the land of no-fault divorce. The pro-life cause is not any closer to overturning Roe v. Wade than it was thirty years ago, but every election cycle we are still subjected to the challenge of "Vote Republican or the babies get it."

We've lost because we put too much emphasis on the political. We believe politics is the art of finding solutions to problems. It is far more important to block bad solutions. A man begins to mature when he realizes that politics cannot solve our greatest problems, and that political solutions are frequently worse than the problems.

It's taken as axiomatic that if you're going to say the solutions are all wrong, then you have to propose solutions of your own. I don't think that follows at all, and I have none to offer anyway. At least, I have no solutions to offer that will satisfy our desire to do something, anything. I accept that all of the revolutions of the twentieth century happened, but I will never accept them. I will do business with liberalism as necessary but I will never grant its legitimacy. Remember the banner quote at the top of this page: Live not by Lies. Follow Christ and call out the bullshit when you sees it. The ultimate battle is already over and the good guys won.

On a somewhat related note, in your charity, pray for Lawrence Auster. It's hard to overstate the influence he's had on the formation of my politics, and the world will be the poorer for it when he goes on to his eternal reward.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Windswept House revisited

This is pretty close to my own feelings. I think many well meaning Catholics twist themselves into pretzels to not only praise every prudential decision of the pope, but to argue that every prudential decision the pope makes is the best possible decision that could be made by anyone. This means they have to grapple with John Paul II's final years and reconcile them with Benedict's abdication. If any pope would have been justified in abdicating for reasons of health, it would have been JPII. But he stayed on until the end, suffering immensely with each passing year, and we all praised him for it. Rumor has it Benedict is in ill health and he has chosen to abdicate, and we are all praising him for it.

But as the author put it, it is what it is. Maybe John Paul II was wrong not to abdicate, maybe he was right. Maybe Benedict is wrong now, or maybe he's right. It's too soon to tell. I stand by what I said last week: when he goes on to his eternal reward, I think he deserves to be remembered as "Benedict the Great" solely for writing Summorum Pontificum. Do I wish Benedict had been more of a Hammer of the Heretics? Sure. But I always knew that wasn't his style. It's ironic that such a shy, retiring, scholarly type ever gained a reputation as the "Panzerkardinal" or as God's Rottweiler. He wanted to retire as early as the 1980's, but stayed on at the request of John Paul II. I think the official narrative of the abdication is half right when they speak of his humility in stepping aside. It's just plain silly to say that you should resign if someone can do the job better than you. I know you think that you're a unique snowflake, but there is always someone who can do your job better than you. If Benedict truly believes he is no longer capable of shouldering the burden of the Petrine Office due to advanced age and ill health, well I'll trust his judgment.

It's saddening to me, to say nothing of how painful it must be for him, that the Society of St. Pius X has not yet been reconciled. Benedict was a man of Vatican II. Rarely for a high ranking prelate, he has the candor to admit that the post-conciliar period has been a catastrophe for the Church. The mission of his papacy was the restoration of Catholic identity and worship. I wish that he had added some normative force to his prescriptions, such as revoking the Communion in the hand indult, but it is what it is. I wouldn't say he's completely succeeded at de-Protestantizing the Church but he took those first steps which were unthinkable only ten years ago. For that, I will be forever grateful to him.

In what does awesomeness subsist

One of the most significant documents to emerge from the Second Vatican Council was the Church's dogmatic constitution about herself, Lumen Gentium. It's worth reading in its entirety but I'm going to focus on one word in one paragraph that pretty much killed Catholic missionary efforts for forty years. In paragraph 8 we read:

This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, (12*) which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd,(74) and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority,(75) which He erected for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth".(76) This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.
Now as Catholics we take it on faith that the Church is incapable of teaching error or heresy. It is metaphysically impossible. It cannot happen, ever, because we have a divine guarantee that it cannot happen. That guarantee doesn't apply to the particular language the Church may use in expressing herself, and unfortunately the documents of Vatican II are ambiguous enough in enough key areas that the Church is still rife with internal chaos.

Lumen Gentium says that the Church of Christ subsists in the Roman Catholic Church. Well what the heck does that mean: that the Church of Christ and the RCC are one and the same? It was only a few years earlier that Pope Pius XII reaffirmed that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Catholic Church were identical, outside of which there is no salvation. Does LG backtrack from that teaching? The Progs and Trads both think so, the former thinking it's great, the latter a catastrophe. To me it sounds like a somewhat ambiguous reaffirmation of the perennial teaching that the fullness of the Christian faith is found in the Roman Catholic Church alone. Satanists possess an element of truth insofar as they believe Satan and God exist.

I'm going to jump ahead and say the Church resolved the ambiguity early this century. In the document Dominus Iesus, it reaffirmed that yes, Jesus Christ is the one and only means of salvation, and no, Protestants are not real Churches in that they do not have valid sacraments. At the time this made a few people upset. To say that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church is to imply that it is bigger than the Catholic Church. It implies that being baptized and confirmed as a Catholic is not necessary for salvation. And if it's not necessary to be Catholic to be saved, then what's the point of missionary work? It makes people mad! If I say you have to come in to the Catholic Church, then that implies my Church is superior to yours (and it is.)

This is why I generally find the "good council got hijacked" explanation for the post-conciliar chaos to be unsatisfactory. Yes, heretics like Hans Kung and Edward Schillebeeckx hijacked the council in one sense, but how did they do it? Heretical theologians couldn't hijack earlier councils even if they had tried, because all previous councils issued bold, declarative, unambiguous canons and anathemas. To some extent, it's true that every ecumenical council was followed by a period of chaos, but whatever conflict arose was between orthodox Catholics and heretics. All of the fighting about the meaning of the Second Vatican Council is between Catholics in good standing.

The fullness of awesomeness subsists in me. That is not to say that shreds of awesomeness can't be found in other persons, but when it comes to awesomeness, I am number one. Is it different to say that awesomeness and I are one and the same? With the former statement, I imply that it is acceptable for others to be content with whatever small degree of awesomeness they may hold. With the second, it implies that you must be my friend to share in my awesomeness, or else you have no awesomeness at all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Doubling down on error results in more error

Good comment:

Actually I think the basis of [the disagreement between the manosphere and the orthosphere] is that social conservatives and, to an even greater degree, traditionalists are interested in systemic solutions rather than personal/pragmatic ones. Take chivalry, for example. Social conservatives and traditionalists are generally extremely pro-chivalry, because they see it as a part of a social order they would like to restore/resurrect. The more pragmatic guys in the manosphere, whether “Gamers” or not, view chivalry as mostly self-defeating on the personal level, and so are skeptical of it. Socons and trads may realize that their preferred social order is not returning soon, but they don’t want any *more* steps taken away from it, such as men abandoning chivalry wholesale. This leaves men in a very bad spot in the meantime — acting according to the rules of a social order which no longer exists, and in the context of one which actively punishes men who engage in this behavior in many cases — the socons and trads answer is generally “suck it up, man up, men must lead us out of this, etc.”, where the manosphere typically sees this as futile and instead adapts practical approaches that deal with the current system that is in place, whether they think it is a good one or not.
To me, that is where the hate comes from — socons and trads hate it when more steps are taken away from their preferred order, even if these are pragmatic in light of the current existing order, and manospherians hate it when socons and trads insist on men opening themselves up for extreme risks simply for the ideological hope for a cultural restoration that seems a long way off rather than, you know, actually helping guys live with the system we’ve got currently.
Chivalry began as a code of conduct between male combatants. It evolved into a religious phenomenon and ended badly according to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The amorous character of the new literature had contributed not a little to deflect chivalry from its original ideal. Under the influence of the romances love now became the mainspring of chivalry. As a consequence there arose a new type of chevalier, vowed to the service of some noble lady, who could even be another man's wife. This idol of his heart was to be worshipped at a distance. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the obligations imposed upon the knightly lover, these extravagant fancies often led to lamentable results.
 As the medievals might have put it, Brethren before Wenches. Chivalry devolved into the Renaissance equivalent of Chick Lit. Filtered through modern feminism, it takes on an even stranger character: women can be hard charging, ball breaking careerists but men are still expected to treat them like delicate, sheltered princesses. Women might play at joining elite combat units, and men are still expected to guarantee their safety at the risk of their own lives. Men are expected to fulfill their traditional roles to some extent, while it's shameful to argue that women should fulfill theirs.

The only rational response to this is to be more selective on whom we bestow our manly largesse in manners and resources. One concrete example of this is I will not ever buy a drink for a woman I don't already know. Think about it gentlemen. She might see you as a disgusting creep but she won't turn down a free drink. I would very much like it if society were more traditional with both big and small "T's." But that world is gone and it's not coming back within my lifetime. Adjust your personal life accordingly.

He'll save the children, but not the British children

NSFW. Heavy breathing has never sounded so cool:

I'm an incurable George Washington fanboy. Last year some intrepid soul made a good argument for which president would win in a mass knife fight to the death. The stipulation is that every president is in his physical and metal prime (FDR is still in his wheelchair.) If you know your American history, it shouldn't be a surprise who's the last one standing atop a pile of torn suit jackets, ruined neckties, bloody powdered wigs, and ripped knee breeches: Old Hickory himself, the terror from Tennessee, the scourge of PC ninnies everywhere, Andrew Jackson. He was without the question the most hardcore, stone cold, bad ass killer to ever occupy the White House. So the only thing left to argue is who else will be in the top three. In the original article, he gave the nod to Lincoln. I think Washington is a better fit. Physically, he and Lincoln were a close match, both giants for their day at 6'2", 200 and 6'4", 180 respectively. Washington had been in combat while the only blood Lincoln ever shed for his country was to the mosquitoes, as he himself liked to joke. There's no guarantee, but I think Washington would have that killer edge and make it into the top three.

Washington vs. Theodore Roosevelt? Tough call. I still say Washington but it would be a near run thing. Roosevelt was shot in the chest and still delivered the speech he was scheduled to give before he got medical attention. Jackson beat his would-be assassin with a cane. The most Washington had to worry about was the Conway Cabal.

President's Day Observed wouldn't be complete without a special shoutout to William Henry Harrison, the president who probably did the least damage to the Republic. Other than that, the study of the presidency is a study in the long, slow decline of a form of government that began with high hopes predicated upon fallible men. Even Thomas Jefferson became newly flexible in the face of the Louisiana Purchase. It was unconstitutional as hell, but you can't argue with success.

The Church is not your daddy's shotgun Private Cowboy

A discussion over at Zippy's blog helped me clarify a few things in my mind. I think the source of much frustration with the Church is that we expect her to do things which fall outside of her charism. The Church's mission is to show people the way to heaven and to sanctify us through the sacraments. When we ask her to do things outside of her charism, like say formulating a national healthcare policy, then bishops and even the pope himself don't necessarily know any more about the details than the average thirty something Joe Blow in the pews. This is not to say the Church has nothing to say about public policy. When the State attempts to enforce laws which violate the Natural Law, then all Christians have a positive, gravely binding obligation to oppose those laws. In contrast, the Church has never definitively taught (and never will) what is the best way to organize the State, e.g. whether democracy or monarchy is superior. Right reason should be enough to show that monarchy is better.

Last week for Valentine's Day, my date and I attended a Veritas talk on Marriage and Conjugal Love. During the Q & A session, one girl asked Father if he had any advice on how young people can find good Catholic spouses. It's an excellent question, one that all young Catholics should ponder if they have discerned that the priesthood or religious life is not for them. But the Church has nothing specific to say about how young men can make young women desparate to have their babies, as Zippy put it.

Given that the Church does not have a charism for turning omega males into players mightier than Roissy, Krauser, and Roosh combined (nor should it as extramarital sex is a mortal sin), any advice Father gives is simply the advice of Father. The Church in the United States breathes the air of both positivism and feminism, and so it's not surprising that 1) Catholics often look to the Church for answers she is not equipped to answer and 2) when the meat hits the metal, parish or religious priests might give advice that is counter-productive at best.

I myself have often expressed my dissatisfaction with modern preaching in particular. It's not the priest's job to man the barricades; if it ever came to that, we'd be in even deeper trouble than we are now. But it is the priest's job to not preach error, at a minimum. His mission is to preach God's word and how it contrasts with worldly thinking. It's up to Christian laymen to fight the good fight. The Church is not Charles Martel. It's our job to be Charles Martel, and St. Louis IX, and St. Thomas More, and Blessed Karl I.

The Church will show you the way to heaven, guaranteed by he who is Truth itself. There's no sense in getting angry at Holy Mother Church because you can't study chemistry at your local parish.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Should lesbian priests be allowed to marry each other?

If you're not reading Jim Kalb, you should be:

Marriage is worth arguing about because it’s important. The reason it’s important is that it’s a natural institution that fits basic human needs. It’s an enduring physical, personal, and social union of man and woman that by the identity and natural functioning of the parties is ordered toward the creation and sustenance of new life. Nothing can replace it in that role, so by the constitution of human life it has a status and authority that precede and limit that of the state.
If a relationship between two men can constitute a marriage, then none of that’s true any more. Marriage becomes a self-defined arrangement of self-help and mutual support. But if that’s what it is, why should anyone other than the parties have anything to say about it? Under such circumstances, the claim that social recognition of marriage is a basic right would no longer make sense. What would the recognition consist in, and how could the recognition of something so nebulous become a basic right? Hence the view that the state should get out of the marriage business, which is the natural outcome of the view of marriage that makes gay marriage seem possible. The dispute over abortion gave us the view that the state has no business defining human life, and the dispute over marriage has given us the same with regard to marriage. As always, liberal progress means that the state becomes unable or unwilling to recognize the most basic human realities.
...As to women priests, the obvious reason women can’t be priests is that the priest’s most important function is sacramental. He serves as a symbolic figure in the ritual drama whereby God becomes concretely present among us. But male and female just don’t work the same way symbolically and dramatically. Putting on a production of Julia Caesar or switching the roles of Mr. and Mrs. MacBeth might result in an interesting variation on Shakespeare, but the plays would be quite different. In the case of the mass, though, a different play means a different religion, and that’s just what has happened among those groups that have accepted female priests.
Ah, who am I kidding? Go read the rest of it. He reminded me of a point Steve Sailer has made: the modern mind has enormous difficulty grasping the concepts of "on average" or "tends to." Some lay men are better Catholics than some priests, but that does not mean we can or ought to dissolve the distinction between the lay and clerical states. Some women are physically capable of serving in combat but most are not and even fewer actually want to. Distinctions and discrimination are essential to human life. Why not embrace essences and act accordingly?

I get to feel like Van Helsing today

Is there any holiday on the calendar that causes more cynicism than St. Valentine's Day? Single people who don't want to be single feel like they're getting their noses rubbed in their involuntary celibacy. Many couples think it's the invention of Hallmark as a way to sell more merchandise in the lull between New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day, and they're not far off the mark. Ironically, the only people who still commemorate the Christian martyr St. Valentine are Traditionalist Catholics and maybe the Eastern Orthodox. Valentinus was removed from the general Roman calendar when the new Mass debuted in the 1970's.

What was the historical St. Valentine like? We don't know for sure. One popular hagiography describes him as a priest of the third century who was imprisoned for performing Christian weddings under the emperor Claudius II. Claudius ended up liking Valentinus personally, right up until the priest tried to convert him. Another hagiography describes Valentinus as a bishop of Terni. He was brought before a judge who was carrying out Claudius's persecution of the Christians. Valentinus tried to speak to him about Jesus Christ but the judge had another idea. The judge had his blind daughter brought out and told his prisoner that if Jesus restored her sight, he would believe. Valentinus cured her blindness, and the judge and his family were converted. It goes on like the first account until Valentinus is brought before the emperor, who doesn't take a shine to this hardcore alpha male of a pastor.

Gentlemen, if you are single, today is your day. Can't you smell the desperation in the air? Just sign onto Facebook or pay attention to the giggly gossip in your workplace. Ask out the first girl who is complaining about what a joke today is. If she says no or demurs, immediately move on to the next one. Take her out. Order a bottle of fine wine. Tell her a little about the historical St. Valentine. And when you've got her wrapped around your finger with her hanging on your every word, she'll look at you with those bedroom eyes and ask, "So what happened with Valentine and the emperor?"

And you will respond with aplomb, "Ya, he was a great saint and awesome evangelist. Then they beat him with clubs, stoned him, and cut off his head. More wine?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Advice to an RCIA candidate

You're bright, you're faithful, you're high on convert's zeal, you're ready to ride forth and do battle against the heretics and apostates who have utterly ruined Christ's Church. I understand the feeling. I was once there myself. And Lord knows it's a target rich environment these days. But let me tell you something: don't.

Concerning himself intensely with his neighbor’s condition allows the Christian to dissimulate to himself his doubts about the divinity of Christ and the existence of God.
Charity can be the most subtle form of apostasy.
That comes from the pen of Don Colacho, who was The Most Interesting Man in the World during his lifetime. Sounds shocking doesn't it? Aren't Christians supposed to love their neighbor and all that?

Yes, but not at the neglect of our own souls. Priests often fail us in what they do and fail to do. Lay people who teach adult education courses mean well, and once in a while you'll be lucky by finding a great one, but they are largley products of the post-conciliar chaos. So what should you do after the baptismal water behind your ears gets dried off?

Pray the rosary. You get a plenary indulgence for reciting it in a church, along with the other conditions. You probably didn't learn about indulgences in RCIA except maybe as the reason why Luther began his revolt. They're not bad things, really. Second, read Scripture. I'd recommend against the New American Bible translation. It's the one they use for Mass but it's bad. What do I mean by bad? Compare Isaiah 9:5-6 in the NAB and the King James. The translation I use for personal reading is the venerable Douay-Rheims, Elizabethan language without the Protestant editing. The Revised Standard Version is a good choice if you prefer the modern idiom.

Go to confession at least once a month. You will always have something to confess. Trust me. Go to Mass as often as you're able but don't always feel obligated to receive Communion. Two precepts of the Church are to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, and to receive Communion at least once a year. Think about that for a second.

If you're looking for other spiritual reading, look for anything by anyone with "Saint" in front of their name. The saints aren't as difficult as some people make them out to be. They knew what they were about, and I've yet to find one who was a bad writer. Other friends might recommend works by authors who are still breathing. I'm not saying to dismiss them out of hand, but think over them carefully as you read.

Keep a copy of the Roman Catechism for reference. Learn the calendar of the Church and try to form your life around it instead of the other way around. Catholics, I think, often put too great an emphasis on the parish community. It's important to be sure, but Catholic parishes are a mixed bag these days to put it charitably. If you look too closely you might not like what you see and you'll start parish hopping.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why do I feel like I'm living through "Windswept House?"

Pope Benedict announced that he will resign the papacy effective Feb. 28. A few thoughts:

1. Before he was elected to the papacy and after, Benedict was quite open about his belief that a pontiff could, and in some circumstances should, resign from the Petrine office. I'm still surprised by this because,

2. It brings the papacy "down to earth" so to speak. Much as I hate to admit it, Sullivan and Hans Kung have a point. It's too soon to tell of course, but I fear the long term consequences of this move will be to reinforce the notion that serving as pope is a job, not a vocation. This is a problem because,

3. The pope and the pope alone is the Vicar of Christ on earth. He alone can be said to be speaking for God when he exercises the fullness of his teaching and governing power. For that reason, George Weigel said that this is not so much a resignation as an abdication. A resignation implies a handing off to someone else, but the pope has no one to whom he can hand off the office. Which means,

4. Related to point number two, this means there will be pressure on all future popes to resign when they do anything the least bit controversial. Heathen rags like the New York Times have been doing this for years of course. But now forces within the Church will try to convince all future popes to resign when they attempt to enforce much needed strengthening of faith, morals, and discipline.

5. Of course this is just idle speculation by some dude on the internet. Even if the next pontiff tries to roll back everything Pope Benedict XVI tried to accomplish, that does not change Christ's promises to his people and his Church.

6. When he ultimately goes on to his eternal reward, I think the current pontiff deserves to be remembered as "Benedict the Great" solely for his writing the Emancipation Proclamation for the Traditional Latin Mass. Many of our bishops are still holding out with liturgical Jim Crow, so here's hoping Raymond Cardinal Burke is elected as Pope Pius XIII (that'll be the day, but hope springs eternal.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Churchianity and its discontents

Dalrock and other writers in the Christian blogosphere have described the new version of our religion known as Churchianity. If you've darkened the door step of a church within the last fifty years you've probably encountered it in all of its syrupy sweetness. It's the church of Buddy Jesus, of duckies and puppies and babies where we don't talk about things like grace, sin, redemption, the cross, or other unpleasant topics. God is the great Cosmic Nice Guy in the sky who never, ever gets angry or offended and regards all of our faults with an indulgent Ronald Regan-like chuckle. "There you go again." Father Dwight Longenecker reminds us that all arguments are ultimately theological arguments. The theology which grounds Churchianity (what we Catholics would call Modernism) is universalism:

Everyone points out that the prelates didn’t want to lose money. They didn’t want to lose face. They didn’t want to lose their jobs. They didn’t want to scandalize the faithful, they wanted to help and rehabilitate the guilty priests, but what no one seems to be picking up is that all of this is symptomatic of a deeper and more disturbing trend within the church, and this is the tendency to be soft on sin–first on ourselves and then on others. Modernist Catholics are so big on forgiveness–by which they mean letting the person off the hook–and so short on proper judgement.
In the rosy technicolor world of the modernist Catholic church everything has a kind of Disneyland artificiality about it. Everybody is supposed to go around smiling and clapping like some horrendous puppets singing It’s a Small World After All. It’s all about comfort and ease and being nice to everyone because everyone really is a nice person deep down after all aren’t they?
Sin? Now we talk about, “Let’s think for a few moments about those times when we may have done some things that we are rather ashamed of.” or “I know all of us have sometimes done less than our best. Let’s think about those times and resolve to do better.” This is what I call AmChurch Catholicism: a softly carpeted, slightly carbonated religion that is sweet and bubbly and cheap. Then when somebody does something bad we all scurry to cover it up because bad things aren’t supposed to happen at Sunnyside!
Like a smiling Disney security guard dressed in a Peter Pan outfit, the smiling security thugs step in and whisk away the offender to be “rehabilitated” to”receive treatment” and most of all to be out of sight so the smiling comfort machine of modern American catholicism can continue along it’s merry way.
Sweetly sentimental naive do-gooders - that is what Churchianity produces. Is it any wonder attendance has been steadily declining for decades? American Catholicism has always been preoccupied with "making it" in this country. The apogee of our power and influence was the election of John F. Kennedy who promised that his Catholicism would not influence his decisions in office (and we know now it didn't much influence his private conduct either.) But if all it means to be a Christian is to volunteer at the soup kitchen once in a while, why do I need to go to church at all? If Jesus is my buddy and doesn't much care what I do so long as I'm a nice guy, then surely he'll understand if I stay home to watch football on Sunday instead of going to Mass. Confess my sins to a priest? What for? God understands, he knows I'm sorry.

AmChurch Catholicism is still the norm in most of California. I know going to Mass shouldn't feel like a painful penance to be endured and gotten over with as quickly as possible, but nonetheless those feelings force themselves upon me every Sunday. I like to hope that it will shave a few years off of my stay in Purgatory. But as Fr. Longenecker points out, Modernism has deeper and more sinister consequences than whatever discomfort it may inflict on the average Mass goer.

Modernism deadens us to the idea of sin. The bastardized version of mercy on display in Churchianity means excusing the worst criminals, denying the existence of evil, and ultimately destroys our need for God. Churchianity makes me sick to my stomach because it has unnecessarily led so many souls astray.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This is gold Jerry, gold

Okay, the ongoing feud between Vox Day and John Scalzi has gone from an amusing diversion to high-freaking-larious. I have not read any of Scalzi's novels, but his blogging persona fits Vox's description of the gamma male to a tee: the white knighting, the knocking down of the easiest targets, the unwillingness to openly confront his opponent, and the repeated attempts at shaming. I hope that one day I too can be referred to solely as an acronym designed to elicit the two minute hate from rabbit people. I too will pledge the sum of ONE DOLLAR for Scalzi to get the full colored gamma rabbit tattooed on his body.

Seriously though, the more you loudly proclaim that you don't care about something, the more you actually do care. If you didn't care, you wouldn't have said anyting in the first place. It's difficult to admit that you're wrong or that your opponent has a point; I don't claim to always do it when I should. But sometimes your worst enemies see you more clearly than your friends do. Learn what you can from them because they're looking for your weaknesses.

Monday, February 4, 2013

You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means

Priest: Here's why bishops cover up abuse

...First, I think we have to always remember that priests are in the business of forgiving sins. It’s a constant in pastoral life, whether in the confessional or not, that people tell you things they’ve done wrong, and reveal their dark sides to you. You learn to suppress your judgement, and always to offer hope and the possibility of a new beginning. If, as a priest, a layman came to me as a sex offender of the most horrible kind, I would swallow my disgust, and try to find some way to help him move forward. It’s part of the job description.
...The second factor that’s important is that priests generally don’t grasp the seriousness of the offense, and the damage it does. We see this in Cardinal Mahony, but it’s not just him. I wish I knew why this was so. It seems to me common sense that assaulting children sexually or otherwise damages them.
...The attitude lingers, largely, because even now most clerics haven’t heard a victim’s story. I was revolted by these things from the first moment I heard of them, but it wasn’t until I dealt with a victim that my reaction became visceral. Abp. Myers probably hasn’t had a real conversation with a victim, or a victim’s parent, and so the damage done is still abstract. 
...The third factor is where clericalism comes in. There’s a tendency among priests to hypostasize the priesthood. Being a priest is thought to bestow a certain dignity and grace on a person, and that grace objectively must be safeguarded. The world is objectively better off with more priests than less. So, even if a man is totally corrupt, the idea is that he’s still a priest, and that must be held onto at all costs. I’ve found this attitude myself when I’ve wondered if I can stay part of an organization that, in some areas, has become irredeemably lost. “We have to find a way to preserve your priesthood” was said to me by my superior.
 It could be argued that the entire sorry history of the sex abuse scandals is rooted in a malformed understanding of mercy. Imagine this: a priest, a trusted member of the community, sexually violates an innocent child. The child's family reports the incident to the cops and to the bishop. The bishop cooperates with the cops and tells the molester priest he's on his own. It's a local scandal and appears only in the local news.

Now let's remember what actually happened: priests sexually abused innocent children. The bishop eventually finds out about it. The priest is sent to do a week's worth of penance in psychiatric counseling. The priest and his psychiatric evaluators swear up and down that he's fit for duty, and then he is reassigned to another unsuspecting parish. He commits the same evil again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I'm generally not a fan of over-the-wire psychoanalysis but I'm going to break my own rule here as I have met and interacted with many priests and bishops. For even the most whacked out, far left heretical priests and bishops, the institution comes first. In their own twisted way, they love the Church even as they undermine her doctrine and discipline. The average priest and bishop loves Holy Mother Church and it pains them deeply on an emotional and spiritual level when she comes under attack, even if the attacks are fully justified.

The institution comes first. If a scandal can be swept under the rug, it will be so swept. This is not to say that the Church can and ought to air all of her dirty laundry in public. But some crimes cannot be kept under wraps. Sometimes you have to choose between a major scandal today or a catastrophic scandal tomorrow. And our shepherds will almost always choose the latter, hoping against hope that the catastrophic scandal will never come to light. They feel bad for the victims of course - I'm certain Cardinal Mahony felt and feels bad for all of the children abused by priests under his rule - but in the long run they think it's better that one person should suffer now than hundreds or thousands being scandalized.

As the priest correspondent said, priests are in the business of forgiving sins. No one is irredeemable so long as they draw breath. Here's where many priests and bishops got tripped up: sins may be forgiven but the temporal consequences remain. A serial killer may be truly repentant and do his time, possibly give up his own life on the executioner's block, and we may be certain that God will forgive him. The families of his victims may forgive him in time. But that forgiveness does not undo his crimes. It will not bring back those he killed.

Forgiveness may include forgiving the temporal consequences, but not necessarily so. True repentance requires a willingness to endure the temporal consequences of one's sins. If you are guilty of theft, you have to return your stolen goods. If you are guilty of adultery, you have to break up with your mistress. Our Blessed Lord told the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more," not "Go and hook up with that chick's husband again."

The priesthood is a fraternity, and in a real sense priests are a band of brothers. What many of them failed to learn in seminary is that the fraternity of the priesthood is supposed to protect the Eucharist, not bad priests. The Church does a lot of good social work, but all of it is meaningless if it does not flow from a love of our Lord in the Eucharist. The Church exists to confect the sacraments and to sanctify people. Priests would do well to remember the latter. Non-Catholics are not entirely off base when they caricature the Church as a "sacrament factory" where nobody cares about the moral and spiritual life so long as the institution keeps humming. I've attended several parishes that fit that stereotype to a tee. Gentlemen, the institution does matter. I'm not saying it doesn't. But if you put the institution before doing the right thing, then you won't have much of an institution left to defend.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


For nearly 2000 years the Catholic Church survived and thrived without the word "dialogue" appearing in any of its teaching documents enough times to require taking one's shoes off to count. Today dialogue has become an unofficial dogma. Even the triune Godhead is understood in terms of dialogue now. Nowhere is the necessity of dialogue more emphasized than in our relations with material here... eh, our separated brethren. Ecumenism is essentially dialogue with Protestants. We hash out our differences, we work together where we can such as pro-life political activism, and we generally make nice, especially around Christmas.

That's all well and good, but what is the goal of the ecumenical movement? What is the purpose of all this talk? That depends on whom you ask. It was understood during the Counter-Reformation up until Vatican II that dialogue with Protestants was a means to the end of them returning to the Catholic fold. Walter Cardinal Kasper, whom Bl. John Paul II appointed to head his commission on Christian Unity, said the ecclesiology of return was outdated. Kasper represented a considerable number of churchmen for whom dialogue became an end in itself. The purpose was for us to mutually enrich each other, to learn about our respective communions, and to deepen our relationship with each other as we continued to grow in our relationship to Christ.

That strikes me as sentimental gobbledygook. I have more respect for the foul tempered fundamentalist who rages against the Catholic Church as the whore of Babylon than I do the mush minded ecumenist. The fundamentalist understands something the ecumenist does not: Catholicism and fundamentalism are incompatible. C.S. Lewis proposed a trilemma about our Blessed Lord: Jesus Christ was who he said he was, or he was a liar, or a lunatic. Christians who take the faith seriously have to grapple with a dilemma about the Catholic Church: either it is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ himself, or it is a man-made Brontosaurian impostor Church. Either it comes from God or it comes from Satan. Either it contains within it the fullness of truth, beauty, and goodness, or it is all together false and evil.

If the priest is not really consecrating that bread into becoming the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ himself, then Catholics are violating the First Commandment by adoring a piece of bread. If the pope is not really the successor of St. Peter then here we have a man who falsely claim the power to bind in matters of faith and morals. The fundamentalist knows all of this. He believes Catholicism is false and is honest enough to realize that Catholics should not be treated as friends but as a cult such as Scientology or Mormonism.

I believe Catholicism is true. I believe it's the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ himself and that Protestants must return to the faith of their fathers. There are certain points of the faith in which Catholicism and Protestantism coincide such as the necessity of baptism, but on the points we differ the Protestants are all together wrong and the Catholics are all together right. The purpose of dialogue is to discuss our differences with a view toward settling them one way or the other.