Just War Theory

This great article from Crisis Magazine rebuts the recent article claiming just war theory has run its course and should be dropped by making the proper case that just war theory is still valid within Catholic teaching for a very good reason; it is true.

An excerpt.

In an essay that appeared recently on National Catholic Reporter online, Professor Terrence Rynne of Marquette University offered five reasons that support abandoning Catholic Just War Theory and toward what he calls a positive vision of peace:

◾Modern wars have made the just war theory obsolete;

◾The rise of a Christology “from below”;

◾A clearer understanding of how the New Testament relates to contemporary problems;

◾A renewed appreciation of the way the early church practiced Jesus’ teachings on peace;

◾The compelling, thrilling saga of nonviolent action over the 60 years since Gandhi.

In this essay I’m going to address what I consider to be the most important of these reasons—the changing character of war—to see if it really does demand abandoning a millennium-and-a-half old tradition of Just War in favor of a half-century old tradition of non-violence.

Professor Rynne’s argument is that war has evolved in ways that render two of the key traditional criteria of just war—discrimination and proportionality—“null and void.” Whereas during the First World War, he asserts, civilian deaths were a mere 10 percent of total fatalities, “in modern wars, such as the internal conflict in Syria or the U.S. invasion of Iraq, civilian deaths … range from 80 percent to 90 percent of all war casualties.” He concludes from this that, “by the very criteria of the just war theory, in our era there is no such thing as a justified war.” Modern wars have made just war theory obsolete.

What are we to make of this claim? Well, to begin with, one might ask why, of all the wars that have been fought since Ambrose and Augustine first articulated the basics of Catholic Just War Theory, the baseline for asserting that today’s wars are inherently disproportional and indiscriminate should be the First World War. Why not the Thirty years War (some German states suffered civilian fatalities approaching 40 percent of the total population)? Why not the Hundred Years War (under 200,000 battlefield fatalities out of a total of about 3,000,000 total war-related deaths)? As even a cursory review of wars fought between the years 500 and 2000 indicate, the First World War was a statistical outlier in terms of the proportion of civilian to military fatalities. When judged against most of the wars fought over the past millennium-and-a-half, today’s wars are not particularly indiscriminate or disproportional. Indeed, depending on who is fighting them they may be decidedly less so than ever before.

Perhaps more important, however, is the logically prior question raised by Professor Rynne’s argument: how, precisely, are proportionality and discrimination defined within the CJW tradition? I say logically prior because unless and until we come to a correct understanding of what those two criteria entail (and do not entail) we will have insufficient grounds upon which to assess the empirical claim that contemporary warfare has mutated to the point where it is inherently disproportionate and indiscriminate and, therefore, universally unjust. Let’s take the principle of proportionality first. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this principle requires that “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated” (CCC 2309). With respect to jus ad bellum, this principle requires that the good expected when taking up arms be greater than the damage anticipated as a result of doing so. With respect to jus in bello, it means that the violence employed to achieve a just cause must not be excessive or needlessly harmful. The principle of discrimination, on the other hand, stipulates that “non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely” and that “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation” (CCC 2314).

It is important to note, however, that while these principles are intended to limit the use of force, they are not intended to eliminate it. Proportionality is about limiting both the recourse to war and the degree of force actually employed in war. It is not about eliminating recourse to war altogether. Discrimination is about limiting non-combatant casualties. It is not about reducing non-combatant casualties to zero. The underlying logic at play here is the need to strike a balance between military necessity on the one hand and moral obligation on the other. Catholic just war theory recognizes this and provides us with a tool to strike that balance: the law of double effect. This law holds that an act—including an act of war—is just if it meets the following three conditions:

◾the act itself must not be intrinsically evil;

◾the evil effect must not be a desired end but an undesired side-effect of the act; and,

◾the good effect of the act must exceed the evil effect.

Sexual Abuse Report, Bad

The new report from the USCCB shows a dismal state of affairs, as reported by the Boston Globe

An excerpt.

The Catholic church paid $153 million in the United States last year to settle lawsuits, and fielded hundreds of new accusations, as fallout continued from the clergy sex abuse scandal exposed in the early 2000s, a new report from church leaders says.

The annual report from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which covers July 2014 to June 2015, said 384 victims came forward with allegations the church deemed credible.

The figure, while somewhat higher than the 330 allegations deemed credible in the prior year, generally fit into a trend in which the number of such allegations has declined in recent years.

“One instance of abuse is one too many,” Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the conference’s Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, wrote in the report.

“May our Lord continue to heal all who have been victimized by this crime and may our efforts toward healing, reconciliation, and peace be blessed,” he added.

Between 1950 and June 2015, more than 17,600 people made clergy abuse allegations that US Catholic officials have deemed credible.

Activists have questioned if the church’s count of clergy sex abuse victims is lower than the actual total.

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was sharply critical of the bishops’ annual reports, calling them “flawed” and “deceptive.”

“Bishops’ policies, procedures, protocols, and panels sound good. But they are meaningless because there’s no independent monitoring or enforcement,” Clohessy wrote in an e-mail. “It’s as if bishops design the game, hire the umpires, and declare themselves winners.”

Married Priests

This is a beautiful story from the National Catholic Register of the formation and life of a married priest and his wife, both in communion with Rome.

An excerpt.

FRONT ROYAL, Va. — Linda Carnazzo knew that when she was dating her future husband that he might have another vocation as well: to serve as a priest in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

Which meant she had to discern seriously another vocation: whether she could take up the maternal vocation of the priest’s wife.

“He brought up the idea and asked me to take it into account,” Carnazzo said of her husband, Sabatino, who was a member of one of the Eastern Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

She told the Register that they met at Christendom College, a Catholic liberal arts school based in Front Royal, where they currently reside, and were dating when Sabatino’s pastor, Father Joseph Francavilla, asked him to consider a vocation to the priesthood after marriage. The priest informed Sabatino that the Eastern Churches, including the Melkite Catholic Church, have an ancient tradition of ordaining both married men and celibates and did not view the callings to priesthood and matrimony as “mutually exclusive.”

So Linda ultimately said, “Yes,” and, after 10 years of marriage, with five children between the ages of 1 and 9, she finally gave her “Yes” again: to the ordination of her husband, now-Father Sabatino Carnazzo and the director of the Virginia-based Institute of Catholic Culture. On May 1, Bishop Nicholas Samra of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton ordained him at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean, Va., giving him the name “Hezekias,” where the Catholic congregation welcomed their new priest with shouts of “Axios!” (“He is worthy!”).

Linda, who homeschools the children, said the family has been preparing itself for this new chapter of their lives: The boys have learned how to serve the Divine Liturgy, and their daughter has been practicing the chanting.

But the new priest’s wife explained that just as with discerning the call to marriage, she also seriously discerned whether God was calling her to life as a clergy wife. Coming from a Latin Church background, she learned about the Melkite Church’s Eastern Catholic traditions while dating Sabatino and came to know Father Ephrem Handal and his wife, Judy, at Holy Transfiguration. Learning about their life and service to the parish was “eye-opening” for her.

“For me, I chose to say, ‘Yes’ to the whole package, which included this idea that my husband would be called to be a priest, and, therefore, I would be called to be the priest’s wife,” she said.

The vocation of the priest’s wife comes from the fact that the Catholic Church has both married and celibate clergy traditions among its 24 sister Churches that are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. In the Eastern Churches and in the Latin Church, only celibates can be ordained bishops, and priests can never marry after ordination.

Most of the Eastern Catholic Churches — with the exception of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches — follow an ancient tradition of ordaining both married men and celibate men to the priesthood. In this tradition, ordained celibates live together in the monastery, while ordained married men, with their wives and families, serve a parish.

The Latin Church follows its own ancient tradition of ordaining only celibate men as priests, who can then live together in community with other celibates, as either diocesan priests (as exemplified by St. Augustine of Hippo and his diocesan clergy) or as professed religious or monastics.

Senator Tom Cotton on Criminal Justice

An excellent speech given May 19 to the Hudson Institute and posted to his website, a speech espousing principles which our organization is completely aligned with.

An excerpt.

This past Sunday, thousands of law-enforcement officers, their families, and other supporters gathered at the Capitol to observe Peace Officers Memorial Day.

Every speech given, every tribute paid, and every prayer offered was a poignant reminder: public safety and order in our country often come at a high cost.

Law and order in our communities doesn’t arise spontaneously; men are not angels, after all. Police officers put the badge on every morning, not knowing for sure if they’ll come home at night to take it off. Dedicated prosecutors toil long hours in our courts. Corrections officers and other professionals do the thankless work of administering punishment and, hopefully, providing a path for redemption. And neighborhood-watch groups and civic organizations take it upon themselves to raise standards of conduct in their communities.

During this police week, I also want to take a moment to also remember Deputy Sheriff Sonny Smith, one of Arkansas’s own. Deputy Smith was an 11-year veteran of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, and he also proudly served in our nation’s Navy. He was killed in the line of duty last year while responding to a burglary.

Deputy Smith’s story is a sad reminder that preserving the peace takes vigilance. It takes hard work. And it takes sacrifice-sometimes, the ultimate sacrifice.

This may seem obvious to those who dedicate their lives to keeping our streets safe. But it’s no longer so clear to some in these times of historically low crime.

We’re currently reaping the benefits of one of the great public-policy achievements in modern times: a dramatic, generation-long drop in crime. Violent crime is at a 40-year low. Property crime is at a 50-year low. Even more remarkably, this drop in crime followed a decade-long spike in crime arising out of the drug epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s. That epidemic turned streets into literal battlefields, teenagers into foot soldiers, and too many citizens into casualties of the drug wars.

It may seem like a distant nightmare now, but make no mistake: 30 years ago, our cities were slowly dying.

Maureen Dowd, then a young metro reporter, described the ravages of the drug trade through the eyes of children living amidst it. She quoted a 10-year-old girl who called her neighborhood “the murdering area.” Other children chimed in as well: “Two days ago on the corner they stabbed a man,” said one. Another young boy confided in Dowd: “[T]he…raping, kicking, fighting. To death it scares me.”

At the peak of New York’s crisis, the city had 2,245 murders in one year-that’s over six murders every single day. In Los Angeles, a city half the size of New York, there were 1,094 murders. Nor was the crisis limited to the biggest cities. I have several family members living in Little Rock. At one point, Little Rock had the highest per capita murder rate in America, as memorialized in Gang War: Bangin’ in Little Rock, an HBO documentary.

This was the context, I would add, in which Hillary Clinton warned about so-called “super predators” while championing her husband’s crime bill, which is now much maligned by pro-leniency activists.

Many people in those days doubted whether our society could turn itself around. Maybe Central Park would forever be a no-go zone for law-abiding citizens. Maybe women would never be able to ride the subway alone again. Maybe drug gangs would always outgun the police.

These fears were understandable, but they were also wrong. We turned our society around and we made our streets safe again. But this didn’t just happen by accident; it happened because of policy changes like broken-windows policing techniques, mandatory-minimum sentences for violent criminals, 3-strikes laws, and other reforms. These sweeping changes to criminal-justice policy were championed by scholars like Jim Wilson, elected leaders like Rudy Giuliani, and tough police like Bill Bratton. These policies helped to take back our streets.

Too many people, it would seem, have forgotten these hard-learned lessons. They take our historically low crime rates for granted, acting as if safe neighborhoods are the natural state of man. They often speak and act as if criminals are victims, too.

This disturbing amnesia also comes with a policy agenda as ambitious as it is wrongheaded. Some members of Congress would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers and other violent felons, while giving liberal judges more discretion in sentencing again. Others want to prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal history in job-application forms; some states have already done so. Just last month, one governor restored voting rights to more than 200,000 felons, regardless of the offense committed or evidence of rehabilitation. And, of course, a nationwide movement is afoot to stigmatize law enforcement and the proven policing strategies of the last 25 years.

These policies are not merely wrong. They are dangerous. They threaten a return to the worst days of the 1990s, when law-abiding citizens lived in fear of their lives. Indeed, we may be living through the leading edge of a new crime wave. Over the last two years, murders across 56 of our largest cities are up 17 percent. The numbers are even more shocking in some cities. In Chicago, murders jumped 70 percent in the first quarter of this year alone. In Las Vegas, 81 percent. In Long Beach, 125 percent.

As a result, more and more Americans are worrying about the impact criminals are having on their communities. Last year, a Gallup poll showed that 53 percent of Americans say they personally worry “a great deal” about crime and violence, a 14-percent jump from 2014. That’s the highest figure Gallup has recorded in 15 years.

The ill-considered policies of criminal-leniency advocates and the resulting increases in crime reflect a badly misguided mindset. Criminals are not victims. Criminals are criminals. Victims are victims.


Capital Punishment Vote in California

A very important upcoming vote reported by the Crime & Consequences Blog.

An excerpt.

In 2012, the friends of murderers came within four percent of repealing California’s death penalty by popular vote, something that has not been done in any state in the United States. Opposition to the death penalty (like other soft-on-crime efforts) is mostly an elitist cause, pushed by affluent people who can go home to their leafy neighborhoods while the bloody consequences of their feel-good “humanitarianism” fall on people of more modest means. Thus, repeal bills have gotten through legislatures even when the people of the state are opposed to repeal. We saw this in Connecticut, where repeal went through even as polls showed the people opposed by 2-1.

In California, the death penalty was enacted by initiative and can’t be repealed by the Legislature. However, the Legislature has failed to do the maintenance necessary to make the death penalty effective, and until now the forces of justice have not been able to raise the very large amounts of money needed to get a fix-it initiative on the ballot.

I can easily see why a lot of people who support the death penalty in principle voted for repeal in 2012. The present system is not working. If I genuinely believed it was not fixable, I might vote for repeal myself.

The well-funded friends of murderers have enough signatures to put repeal on the ballot again this year. But this year is different. Through a herculean fund-raising effort led by the district attorneys, there will also be a competing initiative to actually fix the system, making the reforms that our derelict Legislature has killed instead of passing so many times.

“Mend it, don’t end it” was our slogan in opposition to repeal last time. A good many people asked, “Yeah, but when are you going to mend it.” Finally, we have a good answer. This time, the people of California have a direct choice between the two. The status quo is toast.

I have no doubt the people will choose to mend it and not end it if they are fully and honestly informed of the choice before them. The main concern now is the overwhelming funding advantage the opponents have. They can and will spend big bucks to put misleading advertisements on the air, and our side will have only a shoestring grass-roots campaign. This campaign may be a test of the extent to which money can buy an election.

SSPX’s Reconciliation Close?

It certainly appears so, as this article from the National Catholic Register indicates and if so, it is wonderful news, as the evangelical vigor and doctrinal consistency of SSPX coming back into the Catholic Church would be reinvigorating.

An excerpt.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Register, the leader of the traditionalist priestly society details how Pope Francis has opened the door to the SSPX’s full integration with the Church.

MENZINGEN, Switzerland — Reconciliation between the Society of St. Pius X and Rome looks to be imminent, as a key obstacle — opposition to certain aspects of the Second Vatican Council — may no longer be a cause for continued separation from the Church.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX, told the Register May 13 that he is “persuaded, at least in part, by a different approach,” in which, he believes, Pope Francis is placing less weight on the Council and more emphasis on “saving souls and finding a way to do it.”

That message was reinforced this week when Pope Francis himself hinted reconciliation could be close, telling the French Catholic daily La Croix May 16 that the SSPX are “Catholics on the way to full communion” and that “good dialogue and good work are taking place.”

According to Bishop Fellay, the Vatican is telling the society, through nuanced words, that it is now possible to question the Council’s teachings on religious liberty, ecumenism and liturgical reform “and remain Catholic.”

“That means, also, the criteria they would impose on us, to have us prove to them that we are Catholic, will no longer be these points,” he said. “That, to us, would be very important.”

In 1970, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a French Holy Ghost Father, founded the international society to form and support priests in spreading the Catholic faith throughout the world.

But its opposition to some teachings of the Second Vatican Council regarding ecumenism, freedom of religion and aspects of liturgical reform came to a head in 1988, when Archbishop Lefebvre ordained four bishops in 1988 against the express wish of Pope St. John Paul II. All five incurred automatic excommunication, and the society has been in a canonically irregular situation ever since.

Archbishop Lefebvre died in 1991, and the Vatican and SSPX have been earnestly working towards reconciliation since 2000.

Benedict XVI sought to improve relations, first in 2007, by confirming that priests may celebrate the Mass in Latin according to the 1962 Roman Missal (officially called the extraordinary form of the liturgy) and stressing that it had never been abrogated, and then lifting the excommunications on four surviving SSPX bishops in 2009.

He also opened formal reconciliation talks with the SSPX in 2011, but those subsequently faltered because the Vatican, apparently in contrast to Benedict’s own wishes, raised the stakes on the central issue: that the society accept the validity of all of the Council’s teachings, including the texts on religious freedom and human rights that the SSPX rejects as theological “errors.”

The latest groundbreaking and surprising concession on this issue has, therefore, brought the SSPX to the brink of regularization that, sources say, could happen in a matter of weeks or months.

Pope Francis received Bishop Fellay for the first time in a private audience last month, signaling a clear intent on the Holy Father’s part that he wishes the society to be regularized. “Bishop Fellay is a man with whom one can dialogue,” he told La Croix.

The Pope also announced that SSPX confessions would be valid and licit during and after the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Until then, Rome considered them as invalid because they lacked necessary jurisdiction.

The SSPX is now understood to have the Vatican’s draft of an agreement to sign to formalize regularization, but wants to make sure it has secure guarantees. “The ball is in their court,” a Vatican source told the Register May 12. “We want them to go ahead with it.”

Reading the Bible

I couldn’t agree more with this article by George Weigel that daily reading of the bible is crucial for Catholics who hope to change the culture.

My reading has been more enjoyable since I discovered the Knox Version of the Bible, a favorite of one of my favorite theologians, Venerable Fulton John Sheen.

A really great review of the Knox Bible is from the Anchoress.

An excerpt from the article by George Weigel.

If Catholics in the United States are going to be healers of our wounded culture, we’re going to have to learn to see the world through lenses ground by biblical faith. That form of depth perception only comes from an immersion in the Bible itself. So spending ten or fifteen minutes a day with the word of God is a must for the evangelical Catholic of the twenty-first century.

Biblical preaching that breaks open the text so that we can see the world, and ourselves, aright is another 21st-century Catholic imperative.

There is far too little biblically-based catechetical preaching—at which the Fathers of the Church in the first millennium excelled—today. The Church still learns from their ancient homilies in the Liturgy of the Hours, but the kind of expository preaching the Fathers did is rarely heard at either Sunday or weekday Masses. It must be, though, if the Church’s people are to be equipped to convert and heal contemporary culture. For the first step in that healing process is to penetrate the fog, to see ourselves for who we are, and to understand our situation for what it is.

How might biblical preaching help us do that?

Take the recent Solemnity of the Ascension as an example. The essential truth of the Ascension is that it marked the moment in salvation history at which humanity—glorified humanity, to be sure, but humanity nonetheless—was incorporated into the thrice-holy God. The God of the Bible is God-with-us, Emmanuel. But, with the Ascension and Christ’s glorification “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3), humanity is “with God.” If the Incarnation, Christ’s coming in the flesh, teaches us that God is not distant from us, and if the Passion teaches us that God is “with us” even in suffering and death, then the Ascension teaches us that one like us is now “with God,” and indeed in God. Which means that humanity is capable of being sanctified, even divinized.

Eastern Christian theology calls this theosis, “divinization,” and it’s a hard concept for many western Christians to grasp. Yet here is what St. Basil the Great, one of the Cappadocian Fathers of the Church, teaches about the sending of the Holy Spirit, promised in Acts 1:8 at the Ascension: “Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations—we become God.” What can that possibly mean?

It means that, through the gift of salvation, we are being sanctified: we are being drawn into the very life of God, who is the source of all holiness. And it means that our final destiny is not oblivion, but communion within the light and love of the Trinity. Why? Because the glorified Christ, present in his transfigured humanity to the first disciples in the Upper Room, on the Emmaus Road, and by the Sea of Galilee, has gone before us and is now “within” the Godhead, where he wishes his own to be, too.


Development of Doctrine

Excellent article from Catholic New World.

An excerpt.

In the fifth century, St. Vincent of Lèrins posed a question: “Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ?” Today we could translate the question as: How can one preserve and transmit the precious deposit of the faith over time? In what sense can one speak of “the development of doctrine”?

Can there be a progress of religion in the Church of Christ?

Vincent of Lèrins answered as follows:

“Certainly there is to be development and on the largest scale. Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another. The understanding, knowledge and wisdom of one and all, of individuals as well as of the whole Church, ought then to make great and vigorous progress with the passing of the ages and the centuries, but only along its own line of development, that is, with the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import.”

To explain his thought, St. Vincent of Lèrins uses an image unique to biology: The religion of souls should follow the law of development of bodies. Though bodies develop and unfold their component parts with the passing of the years, they always remain what they were. There is a great difference between the flower of childhood and the maturity of age, but those who become old are the very same people who were once young. Though the condition and appearance of one and the same individual may change, it is one and the same nature, one and the same person. Whatever develops at a later age was already present in seminal form; there is nothing new in old age that was not already latent in childhood. There is no doubt, then, that the legitimate and correct rule of development, the established and wonderful order of growth, is this: in older people the fullness of years always brings to completion those members and forms that the wisdom of the Creator fashioned beforehand in their earlier years.“In the same way,” Vincent of Lèrins concludes, “the doctrine of the Christian religion should properly follow these laws of development, that is, by becoming firmer over the years, more ample in the course of time, more exalted as it advances in age.” [1]

In Fr. Antonio Spadaro’s interview with Pope Francis for La Civiltà Cattolica, the Pope acknowledged that he often meditates on this passage and noted:

“St. Vincent of Lèrins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the depositum fidei [deposit of faith], which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and, so too is human consciousness deepened. In this regard we could think of the time when slavery was considered acceptable, or the death penalty was applied without question. So, too, this is how we grow in the understanding of the truth. Exegetes and theologians help the Church to mature in her own judgment. The other sciences and their development also help the Church in its growth in understanding. There are secondary ecclesiastical rules and precepts that at one time were effective, but now they have lost their value and meaning. The view that the Church’s teaching is a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.[2]

Beginning from the historic nature of the Church

Vatican II’s Dei Verbum (DV) highlighted the historic nature of the Church. It recognized that in the understanding of the tradition growth occurs when it is handed down according to the way in which the faithful contemplate the mysteries of the faith and treasure it in their hearts, advancing towards the fullness of divine truth:

“This Tradition which comes from the Apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which had been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by the believers, who treasure these things in their heart (cfr Lk 2: 19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her (DV 8).”

This conciliar statement illustrates the augmentative dynamism of the doctrine of the Church in the intellectual understanding of the Tradition, explaining how the historic process of the comprehension of the truth is the result of the action of the various individuals participating in the life of the Church, given that doctrine is built in an historic process of the creative intelligence of the people of God in tradition/transmission (paradosis). It is important here to note the importance given by the Council to the spiritual experience of the faithful. There is a clear indication that doctrine, in its dynamism, is intimately connected with the living history of the Church: in proclamation and in the keeping of the faith just as in spiritual deepening and in theological elaboration.

Vatican II’s Gaudium et spes (GS) has furthermore taught that “the Church guards the heritage of God’s word and draws from it moral and religious principles without always having at hand the solution to particular problems. As such she desires to add the light of revealed truth to mankind’s store of experience so that the path which humanity has taken in recent times will not be a dark one” (GS 33). Revelation is given in history, hence the doctrinal dynamism in the Church. The declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which dates to 1973, has emphasized the “historic condition that has an impact on the expression of Revelation,” wherever it is found, that is, in the Scripture, in the Creed, in dogma and then in the teaching of the magisterium. This means that a reformulation of how the faith is expressed, and in fact of the truth of the doctrine is appropriate, by clarifying it and giving it new expressive form, so that it may be effective in a pastoral context (cfr n. 5).

In this regard, John XXIII’s speech opening the Second Vatican Council  remains foundational:

“What instead is necessary today is that the whole of Christian doctrine, with no part of it lost, be received in our times by all with a new fervor, in serenity and peace, in that traditional and precise conceptuality and expression which is especially displayed in the acts of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I. As all sincere promoters of Christian, Catholic, and apostolic faith strongly desire, what is needed is that this doctrine be more fully and more profoundly known and that minds be more fully imbued and formed by it. What is needed is that this certain and unchangeable doctrine, to which loyal submission is due, be investigated and presented in the way demanded by our times. For the deposit of faith, the truths contained in our venerable doctrine, are one thing; the fashion in which they are expressed, but with the same meaning and the same judgement, is another thing. This way of speaking will require a great deal of work and, it may be, much patience: types of presentation must be introduced which are more in accord with a teaching authority which is primarily pastoral in character[3].”

Therefore, when it comes to the deepening and the restatement of doctrine, we must take into account the vital link between the doctrine and the proclamation (kerygma) at the heart of the gospel. Pope Francis, in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium (EG), uses this principle both for the dogmas of the faith and for the moral doctrine of the Church:

“All revealed truths derive from the same divine source and are to be believed with the same faith, yet some of them are more important for giving direct expression to the heart of the Gospel. In this basic core, what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead. In this sense, the Second Vatican Council explained, “in Catholic doctrine there exists an order or a ‘hierarchy’ of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith.” This holds true as much for the dogmas of faith as for the whole corpus of the Church’s teaching, including her moral teaching (EG 36)[4].”

There the Pope refers to an important principle affirmed by the Council: a “hierarchy of truths,” according to which expressions of faith or of doctrine vary in relationship to that which is fundamental (cfr Unitatis redintegratio, n. 11)[5]. This principle refers to the “rule of faith” or “rule of truth,” formulated in the second half of the second century in reference to pastoral practice, or rather to the concrete life of the Church, consisting of no fixed formulas on essentials for the Christian faith. This rule intended to set forth a fundamental hierarchy of the contents of the faith, expressing in fact the dynamism experienced by the Church.

In a speech delivered in Florence, on the occasion of the Fifth National Convention of the Italian Church, the Pope clearly traced his pastoral perspective regarding doctrine:

“Christian doctrine is not a closed system, incapable of raising questions, doubts, inquiries, but is living, is able to unsettle, is able to enliven. It has a face that is supple, a body that moves and develops, flesh that is tender: Christian doctrine is called Jesus Christ.”[6]

Criminal World Grows

According to a new Congressional Budget Office Report.

An excerpt.

In 2014, 16 percent of men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 34 were jobless or incarcerated, up from 11 percent in 1980. Those numbers and related longer-term trends have significant economic and budgetary implications.

In 2014, there were 38 million men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 34; about 5 million of those young men were jobless, and 1 million were incarcerated. Those numbers and some related longer-term trends have significant economic and budgetary implications. Young men who are jobless or incarcerated can be expected to have lower lifetime earnings and less stable family lives, on average, than their counterparts who are employed or in school. In the short term, their lower earnings will reduce tax revenues and increase spending on income support programs, and the incarceration of those in federal prison imposes costs on the federal government. Farther in the future, they will probably earn less than they would have if they had gained more work experience or education when young, resulting in a smaller economy and lower tax revenues.

The share of young men who are jobless or incarcerated has been rising. In 1980, 11 percent of young men were jobless or incarcerated; in 2014, 16 percent were (see figure below). Specifically, 10 percent of young men were jobless in 1980, and 1 percent were incarcerated; those shares rose to 13 percent and 3 percent in 2014.

Trends in Joblessness and Incarceration

Rates of joblessness and incarceration differ among young men with different levels of education. In every year between 1980 and 2014, young men with less education were likelier than those with more to be jobless or incarcerated. For example, in 2014, about 1 in 5 young men with only a high school education was jobless or incarcerated; among young men with a bachelor’s degree or more, the share was 1 in 13. That difference was larger in 2014 than in 1980 because the rate of joblessness and incarceration for young men with only a high school education rose considerably over that period, growing much closer to the rate for those without a high school education. (The incarceration rate grew more slowly for young men with a high school education than for young men without one, but the rate of joblessness grew much more quickly for the first group than for the second.)

Rates of joblessness and incarceration also differ among racial and ethnic groups. Throughout the period from 1980 to 2014, young black men were more likely than other young men to be jobless or incarcerated. In 2014, they were roughly twice as likely to be jobless or incarcerated as young Hispanic men or young white men were. The differences in incarceration were particularly stark: Roughly 8 percent of young black men were incarcerated in 2014, whereas about 1 percent of young white men and 3 percent of young Hispanic men were. The racial and ethnic differences in rates of joblessness and incarceration grew over the period—primarily because of a large increase in the incarceration of young black men, though reduced rates of military employment among black men also played a role.

And throughout the period, among young men lacking a high school education, those who were black were particularly likely to be without a job or incarcerated. More than half of young black men without a high school education were either jobless or incarcerated in almost every year between 1993 and 2014. By contrast, among young white men without a high school education, the share who were jobless or incarcerated peaked in 2009, after the recent recession, at about one-third, and fell slightly after that. The share of young Hispanic men without a high school education who were jobless or incarcerated also peaked in 2009, at about one-quarter, though it was still close to that level in 2014. The differences were largely because of differences in incarceration: In 2014, for example, young black men without a high school education were four times as likely to be incarcerated as their white or Hispanic counterparts.

Why Joblessness and Incarceration Increased Among Young Men

Changes of at least three kinds contributed to the increase in joblessness and incarceration among young men between 1980 and 2014: economic changes, including the recent recession and slow recovery; policy changes at the federal, state, and local levels; and changes in the skills of young men with less education.

Economic Changes

Several economic factors contributed to the increase in the share of young men who are jobless. Among them were longer-run trends in the economy, such as increases in the employment of women and the movement of some jobs to other countries. The especially large increase in joblessness among less educated young men may be partly attributable to changes in technology that have reduced demand for the labor of those young men. Some research suggests that a subset of that group—less educated young men who are native born—may have seen increased joblessness because of an influx of young immigrant men with little education and high rates of employment, but the evidence is mixed.

In addition to those long-run factors, the recent recession and slow recovery have also increased joblessness (though not incarceration) among young men. The unemployment rate of young men increased from 3.1 percent in 2006 to 7.9 percent in 2009, and the rate rose still more for young men without a high school education.

Pentecost Sunday

Today is the birthday of the beginning of the Catholic Church under the New Covenant, remembered with a homily from the Holy Father, from Vatican Radio.

Here it is.

(Vatican Radio) Here is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for Pentecost Sunday 2016:

Pope Francis

Homily during Mass for Pentecost Sunday

“I will not leave you orphans” (Jn 14:18).

The central purpose of Jesus’ mission, which culminated in the gift of the Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship, which enables us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8:14-15). Here we see our relationship renewed: the paternity of God is re-established in us thanks to the redemptive work of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is given to us by the Father and leads us back to the Father. The entire work of salvation is one of “re-generation”, in which the fatherhood of God, through the gift of the Son and the Holy Spirit, frees us from the condition of being orphans into which we had fallen. In our own day also, we see various signs of our being orphans: in the interior loneliness which we feel even when we are surrounded by people, a loneliness which can become an existential sadness; in the attempt to be free of God, even if accompanied by a desire for his presence; in the all-too-common spiritual illiteracy which renders us incapable of prayer; in the difficulty in grasping the truth and reality of eternal life as that fullness of communion which begins on earth and reaches full flower after death; in the effort to see others as “brothers” and “sisters”, since we are children of the same Father; and other such signs.

Being children of God runs contrary to all this and is our primordial vocation. We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA. But this filial relationship was ruined and required the sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son in order to be restored. From the immense gift of love which is Jesus’ death on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon humanity like a vast torrent of grace. Those who by faith are immersed into this mystery of regeneration are reborn to the fullness of filial life.

“I will not leave you orphans”. Today, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus’ words remind us also of the maternal presence of Mary in the Upper Room. The Mother of Jesus is with the community of disciples gathered in prayer: she is the living remembrance of the Son and the living invocation of the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Church. We entrust to her intercession, in a particular way, all Christians, families and communities that at this moment are most in need of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Defender and Comforter, the Spirit of truth, freedom and peace.

The Spirit, as Saint Paul says, unites us to Christ: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9). Strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity. By means of our universal Brother – Jesus – we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything! We can see each other as brothers and sisters whose differences can only increase our joy and wonder at sharing in this unique fatherhood and brotherhood.


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