Hopeful Sign From Wichita

Great article from Fatima Perspectives about a stronghold of the faith in America’s heartland.

An excerpt.

Phil Lawler has written a couple of articles that deserve wider attention. The gist of the pieces is that by a remarkable “coincidence” no fewer than five seminarians ordained for the diocese of Wichita, Kansas (three of whom attended seminary there) have been made bishops of various American sees since 1998: Archbishop-elect Paul Coakley; Bishop James Conley; Bishop Ronald Gilmore, who retired, to be replaced by the fourth, Bishop John Brungardt; and, most recently, Bishop Shawn McKnight. Gilmore is a native of the diocese and the others are natives of nearby Midwestern dioceses.

Lawler notes that Wichita is a relatively small city of less than 1 million, “where Catholics form a distinct minority (a bit over 100,000), and the local diocese has only one bishop with no auxiliaries.” Thus retired Bishop Gilmore once asked jokingly: “Is there something in the soil, in the water, in the air?”

Clearly, something mysterious is at work here, and Lawler thinks he knows what it is: four of the five (Coakely, Conley, Gilmore and Brunghart) participated in, and were arrested during, the “Summer of Mercy” campaign conducted by Operation Recuse in Wichita in 1991. As Lawler describes the event:

“Hundreds of activists drove or flew to Kansas; thousands of local pro-lifers joined in the effort. Day after day, scores of pro-lifers blocked the entry to the abortion clinic run by the late George Tiller, risking arrest in an effort to save unborn babies from destruction. Over the course of an intensive 6-week campaign, before a stern federal injunction brought an end to the daily clinic blockades, more than 2,700 people were arrested — including all four of the future bishops! Then-Bishop Eugene Gerber said that he was ‘completely in solidarity’ with those risking arrest.”

Four of the five bishops (all but McKnight) were appointed by John Paul II or Benedict XVI (who appointed Conley). Those appointments are reflective of what the ultra-progressive ecclesial commentator Massimo Faggioli lamented as “thirty years of episcopal appointments under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, which recast the US episcopate in the image of the ‘cultural warrior’,” which these four certainly were back in 1991. These appointments have produced what Faggioli views as an unfortunate “climate” in America which has fostered opposition by Catholics he characterizes as “cyber-bullies” to the campaign by Francis to retreat from the culture war in favor of “social justice” issues that mesh rather well with the platform of the Democrat Party.

But what about the fifth bishop, Shawn McKnight, appointed by Pope Francis? Lawler notes that he was a seminarian back in 1991, and he suggests that McKnight may well have participated in the “Summer of Mercy.” This much, however, is certain: the little Diocese of Wichita is, by today’s standards, a veritable engine of vocations, producing not only five bishops but more ordinations per capita than any other diocese in the country, including ten ordinations just this week.

There can be only one explanation for this, in my view, and a priest quoted by Lawler provides it: “[S]eminarian candidates flock to dioceses that are good. Wichita has been one of these dioceses.” But let us say: relatively good in comparison with the widely decadent liberal wreck of the Catholic ecclesial establishment in America. Hence, for example, it is no surprise that the unlawfully suppressed traditional Latin Mass was reintroduced in that Diocese twenty-five years ago.

Retrieved December 8, 2017 from http://www.fatimaperspectives.com/oc/perspective1119.asp

Judas Rehabilitated?

Apparently suggested by the Holy Father in this story from Tradition in Action.

An excerpt.

On three different occasions, Francis has praised Judas publicly, suggesting that the apostle who betrayed Our Lord Jesus Christ is a misunderstood personality and “the end of his story” possibly is not Hell. We should not be surprised since on other occasions the same Pope, assuring us he is following in the tradition of John Paul II, proposes that Hell as a physical place does not exist as well.

The most recent attempt to rehabilitate Judas is in the book Padre Nostro, an interview Francis granted to Don Marco Posso. An excerpt published by Il Corriere della Sera on November 23, 2017, reveals Francis’ denial of the traditional Catholic teaching that Judas was condemned. Of the three persons involved in Christ’s Passion – St. Peter, the good thief and Judas – Pope Bergoglio affirms that “the case that moves me most is Judas’ shame.”

He goes through the story, presenting Judas as “a difficult character to understand”: first, he sincerely repents; second, the “righteous ones – the priests – reject him; third, since he “can’t find a way out of his situation,” he is overcome with a “guilt that suffocates him.” A sympathetic portrayal of the traitor Judas, who, according to the Pope, is himself betrayed by the lack of mercy of the “righteous ones,” the priests…

Then, he goes on to find a conjectural medieval “proof” for his theory that Judas could be saved: “Perhaps someone might think, ‘this pope is a heretic…’ But, no! They should go see a particular medieval capital of a column in the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalen in Vézelay, Burgundy [France] … On that capital, on one side there is Judas, hanged; but on the other is the Good Shepherd, who is carrying him on his shoulders and is carrying him away.”

Francis confesses that he loves that particular sculpture and his falsified interpretation so much that he has a photograph of it behind his desk at the Vatican to help him meditate on the great mercy of God. “There is a smile on the lips of the Good Shepherd, which I wouldn’t say is ironic, but a little bit complicit,” he explains.

For anyone with a middling knowledge of medieval art and theology, this interpretation is a blatant misrepresentation of History. First the column in the Vézelay Basilica that houses the relics of St. Mary Magdalene is obviously presenting Judas as the traitor and a symbol of horror and offering it for public disdain: His tongue hangs grotesquely out of his mouth and his eyes pop out madly as he hangs from the noose he fashioned for himself in despair.

This capital was carved between 1115 and 1120, Art History books tell us, and was intended, like similar depictions in other churches, to graphically bring to the minds of the faithful the terrible fate of the apostle who betrayed Christ, which was believed and preached to be the eternal fires of Hell. This is, in fact, where Dante – following traditional Catholic teaching – places Judas, in the deepest pit, or ninth circle, reserved for the greatest traitors.

The man carrying off the dead body could hardly be the “Good Shepherd,” or Jesus Christ, as Pope Bergoglio pretends. By the 11th century Christ was always portrayed in art and sculpture with a divine halo, a beard and invariably dressed in a long robe, the seamless garment Our Lady wove for Him.

This clean-shaven man with his short laborer tunic and without a halo is clearly carrying out the distasteful job of carting off the body of the suicidal Judas who, according to custom, received a shameful burial after dusk. Thus, the worker’s “ironic” expression that Francis prefers to interpret as Christ’s “complicity” with the crime of Judas has nothing to do with feelings of empathy; instead it simply express the repugnance of that worker in carrying such a disgusting burden.

Francis, so eager to rehabilitate Judas and imagine he could be saved, blatantly falsifies not only the symbolism of the column of Vézelay, but also medieval theology.

Retrieved December 7, 2017 from http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/P046_Judas.htm


Unpublished Condemnations of Communism from Vatican II

It is unfathomable today that Communism, which had been so completely condemned since the middle of the 19th Century by the Holy Fathers, was not even mentioned during Vatican II, though available Council histories do explain why (great lobbying by Russia).

This article from Crisis Magazine has links to the documents the Council wanted to include but were not allowed by the Vatican.

An excerpt.

In recent weeks there have been a number of articles regarding the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Bolshevik Revolution—that is, the birthday of a bloodbath. In fact, here at the centenary of communism, the number “100” is fitting, given that 100 million is a good stab at the number of people annihilated by the Marxist-Leninist monstrosity the Bolsheviks sought to spread worldwide. (Actually, 100 million is probably a conservative estimate. The true number is likely closer to 140 million.)

Ronald Reagan called communism a “disease.” Good description, although it’s hard to find even a twentieth century contagion that killed as many people as this ideological pathology. Reagan put it better when he described communism as “evil” and “a form of insanity.”

And yet, all along, from the very outset, no institution foresaw the scourge of atheistic communism like the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church’s scathing condemnation of communism preceded even The Communist Manifesto, the ridiculous piece of work Marx and Engels published in 1848 as the official programmatic statement of the communist movement. In 1846, Pope Pius IX released Qui pluribus, affirming that communism is “absolutely contrary to the natural law itself” and if adopted would “utterly destroy the rights, property, and possessions of all men, and even society itself.” In 1849, one year after the Manifesto was published, Pius IX issued the encyclical, Nostis Et Nobiscum, which referred to both socialism and communism as “wicked theories,” “perverted theories,” and “pernicious fictions.”

For the Church and its shepherds, this was just the start of a never-ending response to communism and its ugly step-sister, socialism. (In strict Marxist-Leninist theory, socialism is a transitionary step on the way to full communism. See, among others, Lenin’s awful screed, The State and Revolution.)

In 1878, Pope Leo XIII followed with Quod Apostolici muneris, defining communism as “the fatal plague which insinuates itself into the very marrow of human society only to bring about its ruin.” More such Church statements followed, in 1924, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, and on and on.

Among these, 1931 saw Pope Pius XI issue his seminal Quadragesimo Anno, which ought to be required reading in every parish religious education program. If you’re tired of hearing Sister Social Justice prattle on about the wonders of “democratic socialism,” hand her this document. Few passages in Quadragesimo Anno put it as bluntly as this one (section 120): “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”

To repeat: you can’t be a socialist and a good Catholic.

And then came, in 1937, the strongest statement of them all, Divini Redemptoris. There, the Church made clear that the notion of a “Christian Marxist” was an oxymoron. In Marx’s dialectical materialism “there is no room for the idea of God.” Communism was a “truly diabolical” instrument of the “sons of darkness.”

And so, I share this now not only for the purpose of reminding us—and we badly need reminding—that the Church was a pillar of strength in the battle against the deadliest ideology of the last 100 years, if not of all time, but because scholar Matthew Cullinan Hoffman has just done a great work: he has dug up and translated (from the original Latin) Vatican II’s unpublished condemnations of communism.

It’s not these documents were lost, but they’ve certainly been forgotten. Hoffman told me that the documents, in their Latin form, can be found in some large research libraries, squirreled away on old shelves. They are contained in heavy volumes that include all of the acts of the Council and its preparatory phases. In his translations, Hoffman lists the precise volume and page number of the acts that contain the document in question. “However,” adds Hoffman, “the documents have only been available to academics with a knowledge of Latin until now and the very existence of these condemnations has not been widely known—they are mentioned in certain histories of the preparatory phase of Vatican II, but they have never been translated into any vernacular language that we know of.”

What Hoffman has published (courtesy of LifeSiteNews) is extraordinary. The documents are lengthy and worth reading in their entirety, and so rich that there’s too much to try to summarize here. What follows is a general summary of highlights that doesn’t do justice to the full text.

Retrieved December 2, 2017 from http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/vatican-iis-unpublished-condemnations-communism


Papal Consistency

It is the foundation upon which the Catholic doctrinal tradition is built and is captured admirably—especially in the final two paragraphs of the excerpt which I have bolded—in this article from First Things.

An excerpt.

Given that the evils against which he fought—totalitarian repression, unrestrained capitalism, sexual immorality, moral heresy, aggressive secularism, racist nationalism, and so on—still cause us such grief, it is striking that Pope Pius XI is little celebrated today. He is remembered for his denunciation of the Nazis, and for the Feast of Christ the King, which Catholics marked on Sunday. But something about him puts people off—perhaps his regal manner. When instituting Sunday’s feast, he taught that every individual, every society, is “under the dominion of Christ,” and that Christ’s Kingship must be recognized “both in private and in public life.” He believed, moreover, that human authority would be more respected if it reflected divine authority; and so, when passing on the teaching of Christ, he spoke and acted with a commanding, almost imperious, confidence.

Some of this was a matter of personal character. Even when he was plain Mgr. Achille Ratti, a respected paleographer and librarian, he did not flinch from a challenge: He and three companions became the first mountaineers to climb Monte Rosa (the second highest of the Alps) from the Italian side. Later, as nuncio to Poland, he asked permission from Rome to stay in Warsaw as the Red Army advanced. (Against all odds, the city held out.)

He carried the same bullheadedness into the papacy. In 1929, Bishop Liénart of Lille publicly donated to a fund in support of striking Catholic workers. There was outrage, and a few reactionaries protested to Rome: This bishop was some kind of Marxist! Pius responded by making Liénart a cardinal.

In 1937, the aging Pontiff issued Mit brennender Sorge, the most significant act of his continuous opposition to Nazism. It was not only the text—a long and ferociously undiplomatic rebuke—which stunned Hitler (for three days, reportedly, the Führer was so upset that he cancelled all appointments). It was also the cleverness with which the encyclical was smuggled into Germany, reprinted in hundreds of thousands of copies, and then read out at packed Palm Sunday Masses. According to the historian Henri Daniel-Rops, Pius made sure to publish a few days beforehand a separate encyclical, Divini Redemptoris, which denounced communism as a “pernicious enemy.” The result was that the Nazi press came out and said that perhaps Pius was a wise man after all, just days before Hitler would be condemned from the pulpit.

Pius’s character is not beyond criticism—he was given, says Eamon Duffy, to “towering rages which left his entourage weak and trembling.” But it was not only his personality which makes him such a definitive example, for good or ill, of the regal style of papacy. It was not as himself that he spoke so thunderously, but as a pope who wished to teach nothing that contradicted his predecessors. G. K. Chesterton seems to have had an intuition of this: On his visit to Rome in 1929, he received the papal blessing and suddenly understood why popes and kings used the plural “we.” (Until then, it had seemed a “senseless custom.”) For when Pius blessed the group, Chesterton realized “that it was indeed ‘We’; We, Peter and Gregory and Hildebrand and all the dynasty that does not die.”

Chesterton’s insight—that in Pius you could almost hear St. Peter and Pope Gregory the Great and so on—is crucial to understanding both Pius and the papacy itself. Pius’s words had such force because he tried to speak as a “We”: He bound himself to what had already been believed by Catholics throughout history and had been reaffirmed by his predecessors. He did not wish to deviate from that tradition by a millimeter.

Retrieved November 28, 2017 from https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/11/in-defense-of-regal-popes

Communism/Socialism, Same Enemy of the Church

Most people this that with the fall of the Soviet Union, communism was largely done with, but this superb archive 1991 article from Claremont Magazine explains why that is not so at all.

An excerpt.

We are today at a great cross road of human history. The break-up of the Soviet empire, and the repudiation of Marxist-Leninist communism by all those societies that—in one way or another—had become addicted or subjected to it—is an event of such stunning magnitude, that it is difficult even to begin to comprehend it. It is an event that for many years all civilized human beings have wished for and prayed for. Until very recently, it was not something I expected to happen in my own lifetime, and I doubted that it would happen within the lifetime of anyone now living. Until a very short time ago, some of the most intelligent students of politics believed that world communism would prove triumphant. Nor does the failure of their prognostications mean that they were wrong in their analyses. The soundness of the soundest predictions must allow for the intervention of human freedom, whether it appear under the guise either of wisdom or of folly. Who—in June or July of 1940—could have predicted that Hitler would lose the war? Who—that is to say—except the madman Churchill?

Communism was not doomed to fail by reason of its own internal contradictions.  If communism was doomed to fail for any reason, it was because it placed its faith in the falsehood that internal contradictions were the driving force of human history. Marx inherited from Hegel the belief that the logic of the human mind was not, as classical rationalism had held, intrinsic to the mind itself, but that it was a by-product of events driven by passions over which the mind itself had no control. Marx himself was a bastard child of the Enlightenment. He believed as fervently as George Washington that the American Revolution was a progressive event in human history. He was an enthusiastic partisan of the Union cause in the American Civil War, and hailed the Emancipation Proclamation as warmly as any abolitionist. Yet he did not think that the goals of human freedom, as Jefferson or Lincoln understood them, could be identified with human freedom itself. The removal of class or caste barriers to human equality were good things; but the ultimate barrier to that equality, he believed, was private property.

What was wrong with private property—according to Marx—is well symbolized by James Madison’s assertion, in the tenth Federalist, that the “first object of government,” is the “protection of the different and unequal faculties of acquiring property.” By the principles of the American Revolution, even the most perfect equality in the protection of rights will lead to an inequality of results, because the faculties protected are unequal by nature. No regime that is according to nature can—or will attempt to—remove the inequalities that arise from the inequalities of human intelligence or human virtue. A guarantee of equality of rights is precisely what will lead to an inequality of possessions and, more importantly, to an inequality in the pleasures that derive from such possessions. Such inequality was unacceptable to Marx.

According to Marx, the rich derive pleasure less from the possessions themselves, than from the envy generated by their ownership. A man married to (or otherwise possessed of) a beautiful woman derives pleasure less from her beauty, than from the envy his ownership of her generates in others. A rich man possessed of great works of art does not experience them differently when exhibited in his living room than in a museum. It is the envy generated in others, by the exclusive character of his rights, that provides his peculiar pleasure. It is the domination of others, and the pleasures arising from that domination, that drives the oppression of the many by the few in all pre-communist societies. Marx’s idea of communism owes much to the medieval idea of heaven: the pleasures of the blessed consist primarily in watching the tortures of the damned! And the tortures of the damned consist primarily in being excluded from heaven! In the classless society that Marx foresaw, as the final stage of human history, there would be neither families nor private property of any kind: everything desirable would be held in common. No one could take pride in his “own.”

According to Marx, the greatest part of the production in a capitalist society is devoted to what Thorsten Veblen would call “conspicuous consumption,” meaning thereby the false utility of status symbols in a society dominated by the competitive spirit of capitalism. If, for example, one takes away from the production of clothing all the labor devoted to enhancing the vanity of the wearer, then only a very small fraction of the labor now required to produce it would be needed. (To understand communist consumerism, think of a billion Chinese whose wardrobe consists only of Mao’s pajamas.) If one removes from all production everything that can be put down, directly or indirectly, to human envy and vanity, then human society requires very little wealth. A community society would be a very poor society—by capitalistic standards—but it would not know it was poor. It would however be very rich in terms of human satisfaction, defined as the absence of any unsatisfied desire. It would not know it was poor, because human beings would not be characterized by any of the desires arising from envy or vanity. Envy and vanity—the passions that set human beings apart from each other and against each other (the causes of war and of economic competition are one and the same)—are themselves, Marx held, by-products of the institution of private property. Abolish this cause of what it is that makes human beings care more for themselves individually than for humanity altogether—and bourgeois man will be replaced by socialist man. The transformation in the human condition sought—and promised—by communism, is essentially a transformation in human nature.

When Khrushchev in 1959 said “We will bury you,” meaning that communism would out-produce capitalism in consumer goods, he asserted what was then still plausible. Yet his assertion already betrayed an abandonment of Marxism’s pristine ideals, at the heart of which was the ideal of socialist man, in whose soul altruism had replaced egotism. The justification of the unlimited brutality of Leninist and Stalinist tyranny was the creation of a new kind of human being, a quantum jump in the evolutionary process to a higher species. According to this neo-Darwinian mind set, stamping out counterrevolutionary—or, more precisely, counter-evolutionary—forces in the environment was entirely consistent with process by which nature had always generated the higher forms of life out of the lower forms. The unlimited brutality of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the interest of the ultimate emancipation of human life was no more immoral than the stamping out of the small pox virus. It was precisely when this justification of tyranny began to be unbelievable, that communism began to fail. It was when the ruling classes—the nomenklatura—of communism themselves began to look upon this notion of a transformed humanity as absurd, that communism lost its nerve. The Soviet regime, in an amazing display of energy, zeal, and competence had—in a single generation—surpassed the West both in nuclear striking power and in all the major categories of conventional military force. Yet, on the very threshold of what might well have been its final victory, it suddenly lost the will to risk its power (or its life) in behalf of a cause in which it no longer believed. Without that will, the instruments of its power were evanescent.

Like the French aristocracy on the eve of the revolution, all it had left to cling to were its privileges. Meanwhile among the peoples of the U.S.S.R. the old Adam—that is to say, the unchanging nature of man—reasserted itself: in the demand for consumer goods in this world and—evil of evils—in the demand for salvation in the next. Confronting reality, the Bolshevik Party discovered that to deprive human beings of private property does not turn them into keen-minded altruists: it turns them only into disgruntled egotists. Gorbachev himself was typical of what the nomenklatura had become: while still proclaiming himself a Leninist, he showed no familiarity whatever with Leninist doctrine. However, he complained bitterly that, unlike Jesus Christ, he could not multiply the loaves and fishes wherewith to feed the multitude.

I have reviewed this stale Marxist theory because I believe it really illuminates recent events in a way that has not been done in political literature concerning those events. But I have done so also because I see the same theory, detached from its roots, but nonetheless alive, playing an increasingly virulent role in the political life of the West. It is a standard joke that the only remaining true believers in Marxism are tenured professors in American universities. But it is not classical Marxism which is influential: dialectical materialism has long since been discredited, along with any idea of reason in history. Nietzsche long ago took care of that. But the revolutionary goal of a classless society of altruists has survived. It has survived, detached from any rational analysis, such as Marx claimed for himself. For what else is the movement for “consciousness raising,” but a re-named version of the demand for “socialist man”? What is the conflict between the property rights of individuals and global environmentalism but another chapter in the conflict between bourgeois man and socialist man?

“Diversity” is demanded by those who will tolerate no deviation from the “politically correct.” And what is “political correctness” but another name for “the party line”. It is Leninism/Stalinism without Lenin or Stalin. “Racism” is the generic term for any kind of “false (formerly bourgeois) consciousness,” that is to say, for any opinions not considered politically correct. It has nothing to do with what once was called race prejudice—an unreasonable depreciation of other human beings because of their race, color, or ethnic origin. The charge of “racism” is made by the very people demanding racial quotas, race norming, and segregated racial and ethnic centers. To point out the contradiction in these demands—or indeed of any demands made by the politically correct—is to bring on the accusations of “logism,” which means the use of reason, a vice held characteristic of “Eurocentrism”. The contempt for “Eurocentrism” as an endemic vice corresponds closely to Marx’s contempt for the false consciousness engendered in the ruling classes of all societies founded upon private property. “Racism” itself is then nothing but the endemic quality of human consciousness, prior to the transformation of human egotism into human altruism. “Political correctness” is nothing less than the blind and willful insistence upon the fulfillment of the goals of revolutionary Marxism/Leninism, without any reference to that failed enterprise itself, or to any rational political analysis. Indeed, the new political correctness differs from its predecessor only in its insistence that no reason needs to be given as to why it is correct. It is a synthesis of the goals of Marxism with the philosophical (or anti-philosophical) horizon of nihilism.

The defeat of communism in the USSR and its satellite empires by no means assures its defeat in the world. Indeed, the release of the West from its conflict with the East emancipates utopian communism at home from the suspicion of it affinity with an external enemy. The struggle for the preservation of western civilization has entered a new—and perhaps far more deadly and dangerous—phase.

Retrieved November 21, 2017 from http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/political-philosophy-and-political-reality/

Development of Doctrine, A Primer

As the Church roils with issues of the development of doctrine around capital punishment and other issues, this article from First Things is informative.

An excerpt.

I wish to draw attention to four obvious ideas about what is called “development of doctrine,” which, despite their obviousness, are very often overlooked.

he first is that development of doctrine is not itself a doctrine, but a theory, and that there are several such theories. The theory falls within the vast realm of free judgment. A person may be a good Catholic while rejecting the development of doctrine—indeed, many good Catholics did just that when John Henry Newman published his famous essay on the topic in 1845. At my own university, John Clifford Fenton, who was dean of the School of Theology, editor of the American Ecclesiastical Review, and later prelate and protonotary apostolic, denied development until his death in 1969. A person may also hold that what people mean by “development” is mere conceptual consequence, and that Newman overstates the case.

I should think that Newman, who believed that all philosophy going forward had to be carried out in the first person, and who wrote on development in order to solve a problem for himself, would be horrified to see his thesis used as if it were a canon of the faith.

Here is the second obvious point: Theories of development are meant to establish identity of doctrine, not difference. The thesis of Newman’s book is that the early Church believed the same thing as Catholics in his day, and that thesis, to his mind, justified his conversion.

If a simple and pious person is offered the binary choice, “Has doctrine stayed the same, or has it changed?,” the safest, best, and truest answer is that it has stayed the same. Newman, when he put his argument into deductive form in Latin, for theologians in Rome after his conversion, stated that, objectively, doctrine is given all at once in the revelation of Christ and never changes. Our subjective reception of the doctrine may change, but it must never do so in a way that makes the objective content appear to have changed.

If you actually read the treatise Communitorium by St. Vincent of Lerins—often cited as the origin of the theory of development—you’ll see that his main preoccupation is to show that the faith never changes. Pope John Paul II’s motto for the turn of the millennium was “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

Pius IX defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception about ten years after Newman’s book. Was that definition a development of doctrine? Did anyone think it so? Perhaps. And yet, notably, the Holy Father used these words in describing its status: “This doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine. For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them.”

The theory of development of doctrine is therefore not prospective, as the new things that a scribe in the Kingdom of God brings out of his storehouse are, as it were, incidental to his intention, which must be not to change or add anything. C. S. Lewis said that only an insane person would attempt to say something new in morality, and that, in general, attempting to be creative was a sure method of saying something banal and false. But, he said, if you attempt to be intensely accurate now, in saying exactly the same old truth, it will be found that you’ve said something new.

A case in point is the Theology of the Body of John Paul II, who simply wanted to explain Genesis again. He succeeded at that, but, as he was a phenomenologist, and a mystic, and “Wujek” (“Uncle”) to his circle of married friends, he made that very old thing very new.

This brings us to the third point: Since the claim of “development” is meant to establish sameness of belief, not difference, it establishes communion and charity.
I have seen the desk at Littlemore on which Newman wrote Development. It is a big, dark board on a pivot, like an architect’s desk. Newman would set it at a slant when he wrote. As he was finishing his book, and Bl. Fr. Dominic Barberi arrived to receive him into the Church, the board was turned flat, to become the altar for Newman’s first Mass as a Catholic—a vivid representation of how, by his theory, he attained communion.

It would be absurd, then—and a sure proof that the idea of development was being abused—if Christian A held that his view was a development of the view of Christian B, yet Christian A held Christian B in contempt—maybe scolding him for being “bloodthirsty and confused,” or taunting him that he should go to bed with a cold compress to become a better Catholic. After all, his view is a development of his brother’s. So they believe the same thing, right?

Retrieved November 17, 2017 from https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/11/four-ideas-about-development


Environmentalism is the New Marxism

That is an understanding that has been around quite a while, and it is examined in this article from American Greatness.

An excerpt.

Should you ever doubt the importance of the “narrative” to the modern Left, all you need to do is look around you. It’s the in the air we breathe, and the water in which we swim, attached to the products we buy and behind just about every news story we read or see. At every turn, we are admonished, hectored, harangued to get with the cultural-Marxist program.

On a plane recently, the attendants handed out complimentary dark chocolates. The brand? Something called Endangered Species Chocolate, a company that bills its products as “the first ever chocolate bars made in America from Fairtrade certified West African cocoa beans that can be fully traced from farm to chocolate bar. ESC has committed that only fully traceable cocoa beans sustainably grown and harvested under Fairtrade standards will be used to make their chocolate.”

In case, like me, you had no idea fluffy chocolate bunnies were an endangered species, or that a guilty nibble at a Hershey bar could lay waste to vast stretches of the veldt, the company offers this helpful explanation:

The cocoa used by ESC is grown by West African farmers who follow rigorous standards for protection of workers’ rights and the environment. When a customer purchases ESC’s Fairtrade certified bars, West African farmers earn a fair price and an additional Fairtrade social premium to invest in business and community projects such as improving education and healthcare, protecting their environment and improving their economic well-being.

Who could be against that? Westerners from Dickens’ Mrs. Jellyby on have sought to improve the plight of sub-Saharan Africans, but this statement of virtue-signaling posits that West African farmers are currently not getting a fair price for their cocoa beans; in our mind’s eye, we picture some nasty Belgian—call him Mr. Kurtz—terrorizing the natives from his Congolese redoubt.

Similarly, on a recent trip to the health-food store I bought a bag of moringa, a currently voguish “superfood” of powdered plant protein. Yum. It’s made by Kuli Kuli (which, like Endangered Species Chocolate, sports a nurturing “green” logo). Here’s what the packaging has to say:

“Once eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans, moringa leaves have been used in traditional medicine for many centuries… our moringa is sustainably sourced from women’s cooperatives in West Africa, where we work to improve nutrition and livelihoods. Nourishing you, nourishing the world.”

If it was good enough for Sophocles and Marcus Aurelius, it’s good enough for me. But that bit about the women’s cooperatives is a masterstroke—hey, West Africa is just like Park Slope in Brooklyn, only sunnier! You can practically see the West African women, relaxing after a hard day harvesting moringa leaves, sipping a sustainable latte and reading the New York Times, and perhaps helping to save the planet themselves with a delicious bite of Endangered Species Chocolate.

It’s all just advertising, of course, and thus harmless enough. It also goes to reinforcing the narrative: that selfish man is the cause of species endangerment, that primitive societies are superior to developed ones (but then who would buy the locally sourced cocoa beans and moringa leaves?), and that traditional medicine—which is to say, no medicine at all—is somehow superior to what those pill-pushing quacks foist on you before they climb in their BMWs and head out to the links for a round or two of golf. Were that true, the ancient Greeks and Romans might all have lived into their 80s, instead of dying in their 20s and 30s, as unsustainable folks tended to do back then.

Retrieved November 16, 2017 from https://amgreatness.com/2017/11/16/the-suicidal-narrative-of-the-modern-environmental-left/

Russian Orthodox Church & the KGB

This excellent article from the Catholic Herald notes the history and it is not pretty.

An excerpt.

The spiritual significance of the October Revolution – which actually took place in November 1917 according to our calendar – has largely been viewed by Catholics through the lens of that year’s apparitions at Fatima. Fatima, in turn, read through the life of St John Paul II, has led to a Catholic view that the challenge of 20th-century communism was a time of great persecution but also great heroism, leading to the ultimate triumph of Christian humanism.

The view from Russia itself would be rather different. Consider that, for John Paul II, the aftermath of the Great War meant the return of Poland to independence, and a rebirth of Polish freedom, subsequently to be tested. For his fellow Slav, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the end of World War I meant the end of Russian freedom. Both of course are true. In last week’s issue, Jonathan Luxmoore gave some of the highlights of the Catholic heroism in which Poles played a prominent part. However, the Fatima/John Paul lens does shift attention away from one of the principal religious dramas of our time – the October Revolution’s execution of Orthodoxy.

The persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church – the largest by far of the patriarchates in the Orthodox Church – was brutal and total. The figures are staggering. More than 100,000 Russian Orthodox priests were killed, some by crucifixion on their own churches. A Church that had over 300 bishops in 1917 was reduced to a mere handful by World War II. So fierce was the totalitarian atheism of Lenin and Stalin that the possibility of an underground “church of the catacombs” was practically foreclosed. A regime prepared to kill millions of its own for ideological purposes left no ground upon which resisters could stand, or under which they could hide.

The Russian Orthodox Church was effectively liquidated, and was on the verge of being eliminated. Then, in one of history’s great surprises, a reprieve came with Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Stalin, deciding to marshal all national energies against the Nazi threat, reconstituted the Russian Orthodox Church, but now as a branch of the communist state. Russian Orthodoxy would live, but only as a corrupted government bureau.

Thus in 1946, the state-run Patriarchate of Moscow acceded to the suppression and looting of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, making Ukrainian Catholics the largest illegal Christian community on earth. It was a historic betrayal of a loyal Christian community by its ostensible fellow Christians.

The illegal synod (sobor) of 1946 was a sign of things to come. Anyone who aspired to leadership in the Russian Orthodox Church – especially clergy who were to study abroad – had to be part of the KGB, the secret police. At the very least, several generations of Russian Orthodox leadership were forced to be passive collaborators with the regime. The Russian Orthodox Church, with its millennium-long tradition, was destroyed and replaced.

Even a quarter of a century after the dissolution of the communist party and the Soviet Union itself, the restoration of Russian Orthodoxy remains a generational challenge. A leadership generation has yet to emerge that is free from historic entanglement with the KGB. The alliance of the current Patriarchate of Moscow with the regime of Vladimir Putin – evident above all in Putin’s aggression in Ukraine – is a clear sign that the Stalinist reconstitution of the Church has yet to be overcome. Even today, the Patriarchate of Moscow cannot renounce its participation in the 1946 sobor of suppression in Ukraine.

Retrieved November 13, 2017 from http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/11/11/how-communism-corrupted-the-russian-soul/

Socialism Becoming Popular with US Youth

Communism/Socialism has always had an allure to the young with its absoluteness and idealistic promises of equality of all, and this article from Yahoo News reports its growing popularity among youth in America.

An excerpt.

Washington (AFP) – While working as an electrician Lee Carter received a literal shock, through one hand and across the chest, that jolted him into politics and turned him on to what was a dirty word in America for nearly a century: socialism.

His struggle to obtain compensation for the workplace injury inspired him to run for office, and this week Carter ousted a top Republican incumbent to nab a spot in Virginia’s House of Delegates, becoming one of over a dozen unabashed socialists newly elected to US state and municipal seats one year after Donald Trump took the White House.

The 31-year-old former Marine is part of a growing cadre of Americans, particularly millennials, pledging their allegiance to the Democratic Socialists of America, the nation’s fastest growing leftist group that was originally founded in 1982 as a foothold for Marxists.

Riding the wave of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders’s spirited White House bid against primary rival Hillary Clinton, the organization is helping propel socialism out of the shadows.

In the years prior to the Sanders campaign, the DSA’s number of card-carrying members hovered around 6,500 — and has nearly quintupled since 2016’s presidential race to more than 30,000.

Its median age has dropped from about 60 to 35, according to organizers, some of whom have playfully referred to the surge among youth as a “socialist baby boom.”

Dismayed by Trump’s rise to power Jacquelyn Smith in January joined the DSA, which has chapters in nearly every US state. And at just 22 years old, she managed Carter’s victorious campaign.

Organizing as a DSA member means “I am challenging the root of the problem and not the symptoms,” she told AFP, speaking at a recent convention of the organization’s local Washington branch.

“I focus a lot less on challenging Trump and a lot more on challenging why he got there in the first place,” she said, citing forces including economic inequality and white supremacist movements.

Today Smith said millennials — a generation that grew up during the 2008 financial crisis — are eager for socialism, to “embrace the ideology and really fight with it publicly.”

Under her management DSA members spent months canvassing for Carter in Virginia’s 50th district, about an hour’s drive west of the nation’s capital, knocking on more than 9,000 doors in the final four days.

Those grassroots efforts helped propel Carter, who ran as a socialist on the Democratic party ticket, to an upset nine-point victory against one of Virginia’s most powerful state Republicans.

– ‘Alarming reputation’ fading –

Despite their current momentum far-left groups like the DSA remain on the fringes of American politics, working within a two-party system that leaves little space for outsiders.

Retrieved November 11, 2017 from https://www.yahoo.com/news/once-taboo-socialism-finds-comrades-among-us-millennials-051949477.html