Drug Injections Normalized

Following the needle exchange program, this newest effort by those who see criminal behavior, including drug use, as a result of social forces; we now have the supervised needle injection effort where drug users can get their drugs injected with sterile equipment, at government cost.

Normalizing criminal behavior normalizes criminals, the furthest point away from criminal reformation a society can assume.

This tragic effort is reported by an article from Governing.

An excerpt.

In 2015, Mike Pence was in a tight spot. As the governor of Indiana, he was staring down a public health crisis when hundreds of people were contracting HIV by using dirty needles to inject opioids. Pence knew he needed to do something quick to quell the outbreak but was fundamentally opposed to the solution that health experts were suggesting: a needle exchange program where drug addicts can trade in their used, dirty syringes for new, sterile ones.

Some worry that such programs encourage illegal drug use. But research generally shows that needle exchanges reduce the likelihood that diseases like HIV will spread. So Pence relented to the health experts, and the outbreak was quickly contained.

Pence’s dilemma was high-profile but not unique. Many state and local lawmakers have faced moral quandaries as the country struggles with historic numbers of opioid abuse and overdoses. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed reservations about needle exchanges, yet their presence is growing in areas hardest-hit by the epidemic.

But if many politicians are reluctant to embrace needle exchanges, then they’ll likely have a hard time with the latest frontier in the fight against opioid abuse: supervised injection facilities.

At these facilities, medical professionals provide addicts with sterile injection equipment so they can safely use illegal drugs they obtained from outside. They can also wait out the high and get information about and referrals to treatment.

There’s only one supervised injection facility in North America. It’s in Vancouver, Canada, and has been credited with preventing nearly 5,000 overdoses since it opened in 2003. Now two U.S. cities may open clinics of their own.

“It just shows how desperate we’ve gotten with this epidemic that this is something we’re looking into,” says Jay Butler, president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

Just across the Canadian border, Seattle and King County officials gave the green light for what will be the nation’s first supervised injection facilities.

“This isn’t about enabling drug use,” says Jeff Duchin, health officer of public health for the Seattle and King County Department of Health. “These are sick people, and they’re in danger of dying alone and outside. We want people to be able to be kept alive until they’re ready for treatment.”

Seattle is in the midst of securing funding and finding two sites, which is why there’s no date for when the facilities will open. They need to be somewhere with easy access for the most vulnerable populations and large enough to offer wraparound services like HIV testing and treatment.

San Francisco is also exploring the option. London Breed, president of the city’s Board of Supervisors, plans to introduce legislation that would create a task force to study the implications of a supervised injection facility.

“I can’t say safe injection is the answer. It may not be,” she said in a statement. “But I know we can’t be quiet anymore. We can’t hope the trouble away. We have to research.”

Anti-Semitism & the Catholic Church, Part II

As this post from the Magister Blog reports, Anti-Semitism wafts through the Church still.

An excerpt.

Catholic and Papal Anti-Judaism. Rabbi Laras Sounds the Alarm

“Israel, people of a jealous God. Consistencies and ambiguities of an elitist religion.” Already from this conference title wafts an air that is by no means friendly for Jews and Judaism.

But if one goes to read the original text of presentation, there is even worse to be found: “thinking of oneself as a people belonging in an elitist way to a unique divinity has determined a sense of the superiority of one’s own religion.” Which leads to “intolerance,” “fundamentalism,” “absolutism” not only toward other peoples but also in self-destruction, because “one has to wonder to what extent the divine jealousy may or may not incinerate the chosen’s freedom of choice.”

And yet these were the initial title and presentation of a conference that the Italian Biblical Association has scheduled from September 11-16 in Venice.

The statutes of the ABI are approved by the Italian episcopal conference, and its members include about 800 professors and scholars of the Sacred Scriptures, Catholic and not. Among the speakers at the conference in September is the leading biblicist at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Belgian Jesuit Jean-Louis Ska, a specialist in the Pentateuch, which in Hebrew is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. No invitation to speak, however, has been extended to any Jewish scholar.

But the rabbis could not remain silent. And they have made themselves heard with a letter to the ABI signed by one of their most authoritative representatives, Giuseppe Laras, the news of which was first covered by Giulio Meotti in “Il Foglio” on March 10.

An extensive extract from the letter is reproduced further below. But first a couple of notifications are in order.

When Rabbi Laras writes of a “Marcionism” that is now emerging with ever greater insistence, he is referring to the school of thought that from the second-century Greek theologian Marcion until our day contrasts the jealous, legalistic, warlike God of the Old Testament with the good, merciful, peaceful God of the New Testament, and therefore, as a result, the Jewish followers of the former with the Christian followers of the latter.

Not only that. Laras – still remembered for his dialogues with Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini – makes reference to Pope Francis as one who perpetuates this contrast.

And in effect it is not the first time that authoritative representatives of Italian Judaism – like the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni – have criticized Francis for the distorted use of the term “pharisee” or of the comparison with Moses to cast discredit on his adversaries.

This is what Francis did, for example, in the concluding address of the synod of bishops, when he lashed out against “the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases.” Not caring that he was contradicting himself, because one innovation that the pope wanted to introduce into the practice of the Church was the restoration of divorce, allowed by none other than Moses and instead prohibited by Jesus.

But now it’s Rabbi Laras’s turn.


Dear friends,

[. . .] I have read, together with my esteemed fellow rabbis and with Prof. David Meghnagi, cultural commissioner of the UCEI [Union of Italian Jewish Communities], the event guide for the ABI [Italian Biblical Association] conference scheduled for September 2017.

I am, and this is a euphemism, very indignant and embittered! [. . .]

Of course – independently of everything, including possible future apologies, rethinkings, and retractions – what emerges conspicuously are a few disquieting facts, which many of us have felt in the air for quite some time and about which there should be profound introspection on the Catholic side:

  1. an undercurrent – with the text a bit more manifest now – of resentment, intolerance, and annoyance on the Christian side toward Judaism;
  2. a substantial distrust of the Bible and a subsequent minimization of the Jewish biblical roots of Christianity;
  3. a more or less latent “Marcionism” now presented in pseudo-scientific form, which today focuses insistently on ethics and politics;
  4. the embracing of Islam, which is all the stronger as the Christian side is more critical toward Judaism, now including even the Bible and biblical theology;
  5. the resumption of the old polarization between the morality and theology of the Hebrew Bible and of pharisaism, and Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospels.

I know very well that the official documents of the Catholic Church are thought to have reached points of no return. What a shame that they should be contradicted on a daily basis by the homilies of the pontiff, who employs precisely the old, inveterate structure and its expressions, dissolving the contents of the aforementioned documents.

Anti-Semitism & the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church, so responsible for historic Anti-Semitism, is the one global institution best able to educate why Anti-Semitism is Anti-Christian, as Judaism and Christianity are unbreakably joined through Moses, Christ and history.

One recent horrible example of the reality Jews still live under in Israel is written about in this moving, powerful column from Caroline Glick.

An excerpt.

Jordan is the country to Israel’s east with which Israel has had a formal peace for 23 years.

And its people hate Israel, and Jews, even more than the Iranians do.

Every once in a while, the Jordanian people are given a chance to express how they really feel about Israel. It’s ugly.

Twenty years ago, on March 13, 1997, 7th and 8th grade girls from the AMIT Fuerst junior high school for girls in Beit Shemesh packed box lunches and boarded a school bus that was to take them to the Jordan Valley for a class trip. The high point of the day was the scheduled visit to the so-called “Island of Peace.”

The area, adjacent to the Naharayim electricity station, encompasses lands Israel ceded to Jordan in the 1994 peace treaty and Jordan leased back to Israel for continued cultivation by the Jewish farmers from Ashdot Yaakov who had bought the lands and farmed them for decades.

Israel’s formal transfer of sovereignty – and Jordan’s recognition of Jewish land rights to the area – were emblematic of the notion that the peace treaty was more than a piece of paper. Here, officials boasted, at the Island of Peace, we saw on-the-ground proof that Jordan and Israel were now peaceful neighbors.

Just as Americans in California can spend a night at the bars in Tijuana and then sleep it off in their beds in San Diego, so, the thinking went, after three years of formal peace, Israeli schoolgirls could eat their box lunches in Jordan, at the Island of Peace, and be home in time for dinner in Beit Shemesh.

Shortly after they alighted their buses, that illusion came to a brutal end.

The children were massacred.

A Jordanian policeman named of Ahmad Daqamseh, who was supposed to be protecting them, instead opened fire with his automatic rifle.

He murdered seven girls and wounded six more.

On Jordanian territory, the guests of the kingdom, the girls had no one to protect them. Daqamseh would have kept on killing and wounding, but his weapon jammed.

In the days that followed, Israel saw two faces of Jordan and with them, the true nature of the peace it had achieved.

On the one hand, in an extraordinary act of kindness and humility, King Hussein came to Israel and paid condolence calls at the homes of all seven girls. He bowed before their parents and asked for forgiveness.

On the other hand, Hussein’s subjects celebrated Daqamseh as a hero.

The Jordanian court system went out of its way not to treat him like a murderer. Instead of receiving the death penalty for his crime – as he would have received if his victims hadn’t been Jewish girls – the judges insisted he was crazy and sentenced him instead to life in prison. Under Jordanian law his sentence translated into 20 years in jail. In other words, Daqamseh received less than three years in jail for every little girl he murdered and no time for the six he wounded.

Not satisfied with his sentence, the Jordanian public repeatedly demanded his early release. The public’s adulation of Daqamseh was so widespread and deep-seated that in 2014, the majority of Jordan’s parliament members voted for his immediate release.

Three years earlier, in 2011, Jordan’s then-justice minister Hussein Majali extolled Daqamseh as a hero and called for his release.

Last week, sentence completed, Daqamseh was released. And within moments of his return, in the dead of night to his village, crowds of supporters emerged from their homes and celebrated their hero.

Peter & Tyrants

Last century, Peter spoke out powerfully against tyrants, as noted in this superb article from Catholic World Report, would it be so today we pray.

An excerpt.

Eighty years ago this week, Pope Pius XI issued two encyclicals condemning two of the most brutal regimes in history: Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union.  Pius released Mit Brennender Sorge (“On the Church and the German Reich”) on March 14, 1937 (which was smuggled into Germany and read from pulpits on March 21, Palm Sunday), and Divini Redemptoris (“On Atheistic Communism”) on March 19, 1937 (the Feast of St. Joseph).  They were issued when Hitler’s war machine and Stalin’s reign of terror were in full gear.  (Six years earlier, he issued an encyclical condemning Italian fascism).  Pius exemplified heroic courage by speaking truth to power in an age of dictatorships.

In Mit Brennender Sorge, Pius directly confronted the neo-pagan and racist ideology of the Nazis.  He wrote that only “superficial minds” lock God “within the narrow limits of a single race.”  Christians “deny their faith in the real Christ” if they deny that the Old Testament is “exclusively the word of God” and a “substantial part of his revelation.”  The Torah shows that creation was not merely the product of an impersonal force such as necessity or chance.  Each and every human being is created by the free act of a loving God, and endowed with a spirit capable of reflection and free choice.  The Jewish scriptures show the unfolding of God’s promise of salvation to the chosen people, which is fulfilled in Christ for all.  In 1938, Pius reaffirmed that “spiritually, we are Semites.”

Benedict XVI lived through this same period in Germany, and later wrote that the “decisive no to all racism” is the teaching of Genesis that every person, without exception, is formed with God’s spirit, in God’s image, and from the one earth.  Since everyone is fashioned from the same earth, “there is only one humanity in the many human beings” and “not different kinds of ‘blood and soil,’ to use a Nazi slogan.”

This Biblical teaching also undermines Nazi tyranny.  Each person’s immortal soul will outlive any world-historical power.  God’s creation and redemption of every individual is the highest gift of personal dignity that cannot be bestowed by a regime.  Christ “has loved me and given himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20), not for an exclusive collective like a race or empire.  The ultimate bulwark against totalitarianism is the promise of a personal resurrection, which infinitely surpasses any hope for an ideal society on earth.

Pius warned that the Nazis aimed for a “war of extermination,” including a brutal campaign against the Church.  Because of the Church’s repeated admonitions against Nazi ideology over several years, Pius concluded that no honest person “will be able to lay the blame on the Church and on her Head” for the devastation wrought by Hitler’s regime.

In Divine Redemptoris, Pius diagnosed similar violations of human dignity in Stalin’s empire.  Since communism holds that humanity is determined solely by matter and an inevitable class conflict in history, there is “no room for the idea of God” and “neither survival of the soul after death nor any hope in a future life.”  The Soviets disdained Christian hope in heaven because it eclipsed the communist version of a perfectly just society in history.

The Catholic social tradition holds that the inner life of the individual is the origin of authentic social development, not collective entities such as a class, State, or a blind historical process.  In Centessimus Annus, St. John Paul taught that the “the first and most important task” for building a society “is accomplished within man’s heart.”  The primary shaper of the heart is not a society’s political or economic system.  It is the culture, which is where the Church makes its “specific and decisive contribution.”  The Church’s vital concern for the vocation of individual souls is the foundation of social development.

There is a certain individualism in Catholic social thought.  In Populorum Progressio, Paul VI taught that while the larger community can assist in personal fulfillment, it is ultimately the individual’s duty to be “the chief architect” of one’s success, self-fulfillment, and salvation.  These goals are not forged by one’s ego.  They are inspired by each person’s desire for self-fulfillment in the deepest sense.  As Benedict XVI said in his homily prior to his election to the papacy:

All people desire to leave a lasting mark. But what endures? Money does not. Even buildings do not, nor books. After a certain time, longer or shorter, all these things disappear. The only thing that lasts forever is the human soul, the human person created by God for eternity. … The fruit that endures is therefore all that we have sown in human souls …

In Caritatis in Veritate, Benedict taught that serving the material needs of others is “part and parcel” of evangelization, because Christ “is concerned with the whole person.” Actively serving both the material and spiritual needs of our neighbors is indispensable to the faith, which is otherwise “dead” (Jas 2:16).  There is no dualism of body and soul.  Providing for a person’s basic needs also touches their soul.  Work that is done well, from one’s initiative and charity, in free collaboration with others, provides both a material and spiritual service.  One’s good work, no matter how mundane, sows goodness in human souls and fruit that endures.  This has long been a teaching of the Jewish and Christian traditions.  The USCCB’s commentary on Revelation 14:13 provides that “according to Jewish thought, people’s actions followed them as witnesses before the court of God.”  Those actions include one’s work for economic development.

Ban the Box

The major problem with this effort is that it removes the ability of employers to protect their customers from potential depredations of former criminals who may or may not have rehabilitated.

Other problems are noted in this article from the Sacramento Bee.

An excerpt.

After joining a gang as a teenager, Wayne McMahon spent 25 years in and out of California prisons. Hearing that his nephew was headed down the same road finally gave McMahon, at the age of 45, the motivation three years ago to start changing his life.

“You get to a certain age where you see that Mom and Dad were right most of the time,” he said.

Step by step, McMahon is transitioning back into society – leaving his gang, attending rehab and paying restitution for his crimes – but steady work has eluded him.

Despite looking for months, McMahon said he can only get side jobs taking care of people’s yards, maybe once or twice a week. He said employers never seem to get beyond his criminal record, which includes arrests for drugs, burglary and an attempted murder that he says was revenge against a man who raped his sister.

“Once they see you’ve been convicted of a felony, they say, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’ ” McMahon said. “You don’t get the opportunity to explain to them.”

California could soon make his search easier by eliminating the felony conviction box from job applications altogether.

Building on a 2013 law that prohibited public employers from asking about criminal history on the initial application, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, has introduced a bill this session to expand the policy to private companies. Assembly Bill 1008 forbids inquiring about an applicant’s conviction record until they have received a conditional offer.

“This removes some of these arbitrary qualifiers,” McCarty said. “It does give people a chance to get their foot in the door.”

The idea has taken off across the country in recent years: 25 states and more than 150 cities and counties now have “ban the box” laws in place, according to the National Employment Law Project. In nine states and 15 cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, the policy applies to private employers.

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama endorsed the policy, instructing federal agencies to remove questions about prior convictions from applications and urging companies to pledge to do the same.

But some remain skeptical of the approach. Several recent studies concluded that banning the box actually hurts many of those it is intended to help by increasing bias against black and Latino job applicants that employers may assume are more likely to have a criminal history.

“The problem of ‘ban the box’ is it doesn’t do anything to address employers’ concerns about hiring people with criminal records,” said Jennifer Doleac, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. “Hiding the information from them during the application process will put some of them in the position of simply trying to guess.”

Church Helping Criminals

A major reason I developed the criminal reformation ministry of Lampstand is because the modern American Church—Catholic & Protestant—has had difficulty reforming criminals, as noted by James Hitchcock, quoting “a former Presbyterian minister, now working with drug addicts”:

“Contemporary churchmanship is awash in a kind of permissiveness which results in watered-down distortion of what true religion has been through the centuries. Religion has to do with subduing the ego, the voluntary taking up of a self-denial and service to a Higher Power….

“I believe organized religion frequently doesn’t get anywhere with addicts because it’s not honest enough. It’s caught up in niceness and gentleness and timidity and it isn’t tough enough.” (pp. 40-41) James Hitchcock (1979) Catholicism & Modernity: Confrontation or Capitulation? The Seabury Press, New York.

Many Crimes Not Being Reported

The dangerous conclusion is from this story by Pew Research, and there is an excellent analysis at the Crime and Consequences Blog.

An excerpt.

Only about half of the violent crimes and a third of the property crimes that occur in the United States each year are reported to police. And most of the crimes that are reported don’t result in the arrest, charging and prosecution of a suspect, according to government statistics.

In 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, 47% of the violent crimes and 35% of the property crimes tracked by the Bureau of Justice Statistics were reported to police. Those figures come from an annual BJS survey of 90,000 households, which asks Americans ages 12 and older whether they were victims of a crime in the past six months and, if so, whether they reported that crime to law enforcement or not.

Even when violent and property crimes are reported to police, they’re often not solved – at least based on a measure known as the clearance rate. That’s the share of cases each year that are closed, or “cleared,” through the arrest, charging and referral of a suspect for prosecution. In 2015, 46% of the violent crimes and 19% of the property crimes reported to police in the U.S. were cleared, according to FBI data.

Reporting and clearance rates for violent and property crimes have held relatively steady over the past two decades, even as overall crime rates in both categories have declined sharply. Between 1995 and 2015, the share of violent crimes reported to police each year ranged from 40% to 51%; for property crimes, the share ranged from 32% to 40%. During the same period, the share of violent crimes cleared by police ranged from 44% to 50%; for property crimes, annual clearance rates ranged from 16% to 20%.

There are several caveats to keep in mind when considering statistics like these. Like all surveys, the BJS survey has a margin of error, which means that the share of violent and property crimes reported to police might be higher or lower than estimated. The FBI clearance rate data, for their part, rely on information voluntarily reported by local law enforcement agencies around the country, and not all departments participate.

The FBI’s clearance rates also don’t account for the fact that crimes reported in one year might be cleared in a future year. In addition, they count some cases that weren’t closed through arrest, but through “exceptional means,” such as when a suspect dies or a victim declines to cooperate with a prosecution.

The two agencies also don’t track all of the same crimes, even though there is substantial overlap. The BJS survey excludes the crime of murder, for example, while the FBI includes it. And BJS counts some crimes – including attempted robberies and simple assaults – that are excluded by the FBI.

Still, looking at the data collected by the two agencies provides a big-picture view of the kinds of crimes that are likeliest to be reported to police and the kinds that are likeliest to be solved. And it shows that there is significant variation in the reporting and solving of crimes, depending on the specific kind of offense.


Delusion in the Vatican?

An excellent article from that most excellent of sources, the Remnant Newspaper.

An excerpt.

As his pontificate nears its fourth anniversary, Pope Francis ever more clearly reveals a megalomaniacal conviction that the Church and her teaching are his to remake as he sees fit. Praising his own rather absurdly denominated “Apostolic” Exhortation opening the door to Holy Communion for public adulterers, Francis told the Jesuit general congregation gathered in Rome last October that Amoris Laetitia represents nothing less than a radical change in the Church’s view of “the whole moral sphere,” which at the time he was a seminarian “was restricted to ‘you can,’ ‘you cannot,’ ‘up to here, yes, but not there.’ It was a morality very foreign to discernment.”

By “morality very foreign to discernment,” Francis means the moral teaching of the Church for 2,000 years before his unexpected arrival in Rome, including his time as a seminarian. By “discernment” he means the utter novelty in moral theology he himself introduced in Chapter VIII of AL: a form of situation ethics he has thus far applied only to sexual activity outside of marriage. He dares to attribute his situational sexual ethic to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, who, according to him, “affirm that general principle holds for all but—they say it explicitly—as one moves to the particular, the question becomes diversified and many nuances arise without changing the principle.”

Like so much of what Pope Bergoglio says, this is false and misleading. In the Summa Theologiae (I-II, Q. 94, Art. 4), Saint Thomas observes that while “the natural law, as to general principles, is the same for all, both as to rectitude and as to knowledge” when it comes “to certain matters of detail… in some few cases it may fail, both as to rectitude… and as to knowledge, since in some the reason is perverted by passion, or evil habit, or an evil disposition of nature; thus formerly, theft, although it is expressly contrary to the natural law, was not considered wrong among the Germans, as Julius Caesar relates.

What Saint Thomas describes as a failure of reason that produces immoral outcomes arising from passion, evil habit or disposition in “some few cases,” Francis elevates to a new standard of moral accountability in matters sexual. While the ancient Germans thought theft was morally permissible, Francis would now have us believe that the Sixth Commandment has a “diversified” application according to the circumstances of the adultery.

Like a river overflowing its banks and causing devastation to the surrounding countryside, the overflowing Bergoglian megalomania threatens to undermine not only the infallible teaching of the Church on the intrinsic evil of adulterous sexual relations but also her infallible condemnation of the intrinsic evil of contraception. During the same meeting with his fellow Jesuit subversives, Bergoglio declared that Father Bernard Häring, the suit-and-tie Modernist “theologian” who infamously dissented from Humanae Vitae, “was the first to start looking for a new way to help moral theology to flourish again.”

That is, with his novelty of “discernment,” Francis sees himself as the savior of Catholic moral theology regarding sexuality. For him, “discernment is the key element: the capacity for discernment.” Otherwise, “we run the risk of getting used to ‘white or black,’ to that which is legal.” Thus we have a Pope for whom there is no clear black or white, right or wrong, when it comes to sexual behavior yet nothing but black and white, right and wrong, when it comes to such contingent and eminently debatable matters as national immigration policy or “climate change.”

Moreover, Francis insists that the entire Church be made conformable to his new standard of sexual morality, beginning with all priests in formation: “One thing is clear: today, in a certain number of seminaries, a rigidity that is far from a discernment of situations has been introduced. And that is dangerous, because it can lead us to a conception of morality that has a casuistic sense.” And what is this “rigidity that is far from a discernment of situations”? Nothing other than the constant moral teaching of the Church as opposed to Bergoglian “discernment.” Indeed, it is the very same teaching Bergoglio himself encountered when he was a seminarian. But what the Church has always taught is not to be allowed in Bergoglian seminaries, where “discernment” is now to be the master word governing moral theology. For as Francis declared only days ago: “This is the time of discernment in the church and the world.” Francis sees his arrival in Rome as an event that marks the dawning of a new moral age.

This megalomaniacal conviction that he can “make all things new (Rev. 21:5)” is hardly confined to the sphere of sexual morality, however. Recall the Bergoglian “dream” enunciated the manifesto Evangelii Gaudium: “I dream of… a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”

Note the megalomaniacal opposition between Francis’ dream and the Church’s self-preservation. It now appears that not even the infallible teaching against women’s ordination is safe from the “dream.” Francis seemed to uphold that teaching during one of his airborne press conferences: “For the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last clear word was given by Saint John Paul II, and this holds.” Evidently, however, “the last clear word” is not to be understood as simply “the last word.” Looming into view only days ago was a trial balloon the size of a zeppelin concerning women priests. In an article in La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit magazine vetted by the Holy See and edited by Bergoglio’s “mouthpiece,” Antonio Spadaro, S.J., deputy editor Giancarlo Pani, another Modernist Jesuit, openly challenges the clearly infallible declaration by John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the Church “has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” As Pani declares:

In the judgment of ‘La Civiltà Cattolica,’ therefore, not only should the infallibility and definitiveness of John Paul II’s “no” to women priests be brought into doubt, but more important than this “no” are the developments that the presence of woman in the family and society has undergone in the 21st century…. One cannot always resort to the past, as if only in the past are there indications of the Spirit. Today as well the Spirit is guiding the Church and suggesting the courageous assumption of new perspectives.

It is surely Francis who has launched the zeppelin. As Pani concludes, Francis “is the first not to limit himself to what is already known, but wants to delve into a complex and relevant field, so that it may be the Spirit who guides the Church.” Leaving no doubt of his approval of Pani’s attack on a dogma regarding the sacred priesthood, days later Francis addressed the staff of La Civiltà Cattolica, ostentatiously praising them in public “for having faithfully accompanied all the fundamental passages of my pontificate.” During the same gathering, Francis shared with his fellow Jesuits more of the Modernist nonsense that characterizes, incredibly enough, what is increasingly revealed to be a radically anti-Catholic pontificate:

“Remain in the open sea! A Catholic must not have fear of the open sea, nor should she or he seek the shelter of safe ports….”

“Above all, as Jesuits you must avoid clinging to the certainties and securities. The Lord calls you to go out on mission, to go to the deep and not to go on pension to protect certainties.

“Only restlessness will give peace to the heart of a Jesuit…”

“If you wish to inhabit bridges and frontiers, you have to have a restless mind and heart”

“Be writers and journalists of an ‘incomplete’ thinking, that is open, and not closed or rigid. Your faith opens your thinking. Be guided by the prophetic spirit of the Gospel to have an original vision, that is alive, dynamic, not obvious[!]”

“Rigid thinking is not divine because Jesus assumed our flesh which is not rigid, except at the moment of death.           

What can one say about a theologically dilettantish Pope who publicly belittles “obvious” theology, seriously calls for “incomplete thinking,” likens uncompromising orthodoxy to the rigor mortis of a corpse, and feels no compunction about subverting the Church’s infallible teaching on faith and morals? How are we to confront this ever-worsening mockery of a papacy?

That we have a duty to speak our mind in opposition to this destructive pontificate cannot be doubted, and more and more Catholics are doing so publicly and even harshly. And at this point one is tempted to think that sheer mockery is the only effective form of opposition to a Pope who has ignored all respectful entreaties, even from cardinals. Perhaps mocking the mockery is all that is left to us. Hence we have seen in recent days derisive posters of Francis plastered all over Rome and a parody of L’Osservatore Romano emailed to cardinals, bishops and Vatican personnel, wherein Francis finally responds to the dubia of the four cardinals by answering “Yes and No” to each question.

Another Bogus Article

The extent to which liberals will go to defend Dorothy Day–who I was a big supporter of until I read The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-1980): A Critical Analysis by Carol Byrne–from her real life as a supporter of Communism and dictators are amazing, as this story in America Magazine reveals.

The comments, including one from Carol Byrne, are somewhat balanced in response.

An excerpt from the story.

By conservative estimate I have read 20 books about Dorothy Day, one of my heroes. Almost 30 years ago, while working as a Jesuit novice at the Nativity Mission Center, a school for poor boys on the Lower East Side of New York, I picked up The Long Loneliness, her justly famous autobiography. The book was forced on me (albeit in a nice way) by another novice after he discovered that I had no idea who Dorothy Day was.

A few chapters in, I realized that much of the story took place just a few blocks from where I was living, at the nearby Catholic Worker house. I mentioned that to a Jesuit in my community who laughed. “Didn’t you know that? You’re living in her world!”

Since then I have plowed through numerous biographies and, recently, through her judiciously edited letters and diaries, edited by her friend Robert Ellsberg, himself the author of several books on the saints. Those two hefty volumes brought me closer to her than ever. Her daily jottings exposed the enormous day-to-day challenges of running the Catholic Worker movement. And for the first time I got a glimpse of Dorothy Day the parent and grandparent.

Dorothy’s letters and journals reveal her involvement in, and concern for, the life of her daughter Tamar, and Tamar’s children. That filled in some important blank spots for me, since most biographies of the great woman focus on the Worker, not the daughter. Another revelation was Dorothy’s selfless care for her former lover, Forster (Tamar’s father), and his wife, Nanette, as she lay dying from cancer. To me, her nursing her former lover’s wife was nothing short of heroic.

But now a new book, Dorothy Day: The World Will be Saved by Beauty, by Kate Hennessey, her granddaughter, has upended my conception of the woman that Pope Francis singled out as a “great American” during his visit to the United States in 2014. The beautifully written book, which offers new insights into her life with Forster and her work with the Worker, is also a searingly honest look at Dorothy Day the mother. And it shows her as very much an imperfect parent, particularly when Tamar was a child.

In some early chapters “imperfect” may be the most charitable word you could use. “Indifferent” might be more accurate. With the Catholic Worker consuming Dorothy’s time, she sometimes forgot about her child. “She would let me stay up late while she was talking,” Tamar told Hennessey, “and I’d be forgotten while playing in the bath.” Another word to describe her mothering skills, with a small child and even with her adult daughter, would be—and it is ironic to use this word in connection with Dorothy Day—“poor.” At one point, when Tamar was struggling to eke out a living with her husband on a dirt-poor farm in West Virginia, Dorothy wrote a letter castigating her daughter for her situation, which deeply wounded Tamar for years.

The Benedict Option

This very attractive way of life is working for some, as this story from Catholic World Report shows.

An excerpt.

When Josh and Laura Martin, both converts to the faith, moved their growing family of six from the city of Dallas, Texas to the hills of Oklahoma, they didn’t necessarily know that they were participating in the “Benedict Option.”

“We initially just wanted to get out of the city and raise our family in a more protected, slower-paced environment,” Josh told CNA.

“With all the families out here searching for the same thing, we gravitated towards it and made the leap.”

They moved to be close to the Benedictine Abbey at Clear Creek, Oklahoma, where dozens of other families from around the country have congregated over the course of the past 15 years or so.

Dubious of the direction in which the morals of modern society seem to be heading, they came in search of a slower pace and a more liturgical life with a community of other like-minded Catholics. Many villagers attend daily morning Mass with the monks before 7 a.m., and the traditional Latin Mass on Sundays. The monastery serves as the center of the community, the monks as a real-life example of religious life to the youngsters.

Journalist Rod Dreher is credited with dubbing this phenomenon “The Benedict Option,” a term inspired by the last paragraph of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s book, After Virtue, in which he wrote about waiting “for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.” This new Benedict would help construct “local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages.”

Just as Benedict was looking to escape the crumbling and increasingly anti-Christian culture of Rome, families like the Martins are looking to the hills of Oklahoma to escape today’s secular society, where Christian values are seen as increasingly foreign or even hostile to the status quo. They are disturbed by trends such as the legalization of gay marriage, the increasing popularity of gender ideology, or the shrinking of religious freedom.

In his new book, The Benedict Option, Dreher calls the new societal trends and values “The Flood,” and argues that Christians can no longer fight the flood—they must figure out a way to ride it out and preserve their faith for generations to come.

“…American Christians are going to have to come to terms with the brute fact that we live in a culture, one in which our beliefs make increasingly little sense. We speak a language that the world more and more either cannot hear or finds offensive to its ears,” he writes.

“The idea is that serious Christian conservatives could no longer live business-as-usual lives in America, that we have to develop creative, communal solutions to help us hold on to our faith and our values in a world growing ever more hostile to them.”

Communities like the one surrounding Clear Creek Abbey seem to be the most obvious examples of the Benedict Option, their lifestyles most resembling the villages that grew up around the Benedictine monasteries in Europe centuries ago. However, Dreher does expand the definition to include other forms of Christian communities, like those that form around classical schools, such as St. Jerome’s school in Hyattsville, Maryland. The phenomenon is also occurring not just among Catholics, but among Protestant and Orthodox Christians as well.

Mike Lawless, his wife Kathy, and their children first learned about the community surrounding Clear Creek when they were living in San Diego. They were part of a homeschool group, and lived on the edge of town, as far away from the city hustle and bustle as possible.

But when a friend told them about the families moving near Clear Creek Abbey, the whole family of six (going on seven) loved the idea of the novelty and adventure of moving to the hills of Oklahoma, so they packed up and made the leap.

“What we were looking for was a healthier culture,” Mike told CNA. He wanted to raise his children in an environment that wasn’t heavily influenced by the prevailing secular culture.

When Josh and Laura Martin moved in 2007, they were expecting their fifth child. They too were looking for a better place to raise their family.

It was rough going at first. The land by Clear Creek Abbey is not great for farming. Josh tried to make the leap from management positions to manual labor, but it ultimately didn’t work.

“I just fell flat on my face, burned up all my money, learned a lot of good valuable lessons I wouldn’t trade for anything,” Josh said. “After 4-5 years we realized that you have to do something that you know how to do.”

He’s now in a management position for a medical device company in the area, and things have been a lot better. Similarly, Mike Lawless tried to make living off the land a priority. But after his attempts at farming and cattle were heading in a “direction that wasn’t positive,” he had to scale back his agricultural projects and return to the work he knew, which was mechanical engineering.

“That romantic vision was shattered there pretty quick when we moved,” Mike said.

Most families in the area do not subsist off the land alone, but there are few options for work in town. The Institute for Excellence in Writing, directed by Clear Creek villager Andrew Pudewa, employs some people in the area. Others, like Mike, do much of their work remotely. Still others make the hour commute to and from Tulsa for work.

Despite the sacrifices, the geographic retreat is an important aspect of the Benedict Option for many of its adherents.

“Being in a rural area, where you’re not maybe as distracted by the noise and goings on of the city, there’s a little bit more quiet, and that silence gives you the opportunity to appreciate (the liturgical season) more,” Laura Martin told CNA.

“There’s fewer distractions, and that is helpful I think in focusing on trying to regain some of the culture that we’ve lost or the connections that we’ve missed in our busy lives, so that element has been really helpful for us to grow in our faith.”