Capital Punishment Cannot be Reversed by Church, Part II

The final part of the excellent article from Catholic World Report.

An excerpt.

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a two-part article on Catholicism and the death penalty. Part 1 was titled “Why the Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment” and was posted on July 17th.

As we showed in Part 1 of this  essay, for two millennia the Catholic Church has taught that the death penalty can be a legitimate punishment for heinous crimes, not merely to protect the public from the immediate danger posed by the offender but also to secure retributive justice and to deter serious crime.   This was the uniform teaching of scripture and the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and it was reaffirmed by popes and also codified in the universal catechism of the Church promulgated by Pope St. Pius V in the sixteenth century, as well as in numerous local catechisms.

Consider the standard language of the Baltimore Catechism, which was used throughout Catholic parishes in the United States for educating children in the faith for much of the twentieth century:

  1. 1276. Under what circumstances may human life be lawfully taken?
  2. Human life may be lawfully taken: 1. In self-defense, when we are unjustly attacked and have no other means of saving our own lives;  2. In a just war, when the safety or rights of the nation require it;  3. By the lawful execution of a criminal, fairly tried and found guilty of a crime punishable by death when the preservation of law and order and the good of the community require such execution. 1

Thus, killing another human being in self-defense, during a just war, or through the lawful execution of a criminal does not violate the Fifth Commandment’s rule “Thou shall not kill” (which many modern editions of the Bible translate as “Thou shall not murder”). The permissibility of these three types of lawful killing (unlike the deliberate killing of the innocent, which is always prohibited) depends on contingent circumstances.  As long as (in the words of Pope Innocent III) “the punishment is carried out not in hatred but with good judgment, not inconsiderately but after mature deliberation,” the death penalty may be imposed if it genuinely serves the common good.

Generally, the Church has left these and similar prudential judgments to public officials.  For example, the current Catechism of the Catholic Church expressly affirms that when it comes to judging whether a decision to go to war is morally justified, “the evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have the responsibility for the common good.”  The institutional Church respects the authority and responsibility of public officials, guided by the sound moral principles it preserves and promulgates, to make these judgments.  Similarly, to the best of our knowledge, the Church has fully respected the authority of lawmakers to write statutes on self-defense that detail the conditions under which individuals may use force, including deadly force, to protect themselves and others.

Unfortunately, in recent years churchmen have not been equally respectful of the authority and duty of public officials to exercise their prudential judgments in applying Catholic teaching when it comes to the death penalty, despite the fact that churchmen bring to the debate over capital punishment no particular expertise derived from their religious training and pastoral experience.  Given the Church’s longstanding and irreformable teaching that death may in principle be a legitimate punishment for grievous crimes, the key issue for Catholics is the empirical and practical question of whether the death penalty more effectively promotes public safety and the common good than do lesser punishments.  We maintain that it does and thus devote about half of our forthcoming book, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of the Death Penalty, to making this case.

The current Catechism of the Catholic Church  affirms that “[l]egitimate public authority has the right and the duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense” and that “[p]unishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense.” 2 Thus, punishment is fundamentally retributive, inflicting on the offender a penalty commensurate with the gravity of his crime, though it may serve other purposes as well, such as incapacitating the offender, deterring others, and promoting the offender’s rehabilitation.

The significance of this point cannot be overstated.  Secular critics of capital punishment often reject the very idea of retribution—the principle that an offender simply deserves a punishment proportionate to the gravity of his offense—but no Catholic can possibly do so. For unless an offender deserves a certain punishment—whether that be a fine, imprisonment, or whatever—and deserves a punishment of that specific degree of severity, then it would be unjust to inflict the punishment on him.  Hence all the other ends of punishment—deterrence, rehabilitation, protection of society, and so on—presuppose the retributive aim of giving the offender what he deserves. This is why the Catechism promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II reaffirms the traditional Catholic teaching that retribution is the “primary aim” of punishment.

The Latin Mass

A wonderful article about it, which is so so superior to the New Mass, from Remnant Newspaper.

An excerpt.

INTRODUCTION

There were 54 Rites of Mass composed by the apostles according to the language and custom of the countries they evangelized. In this essay all comments are centered on the Roman Rite.

Why select the Roman Rite to comment on, if it is just one among many? Is it because it is said in Latin? No, in fact, the original language that it was written in was Syro-Chaldaic, composed by St. Peter in Antioch. It was the language used by the people of Judea at the time of Christ. It is divine providence that chose Latin, soon to be ‘non-vernacular’, as the language of the Church. This ‘dead language’ for the Church was to be a sign of Her unity in ‘Her Liturgy’ and to protect the meaning of ‘Her dogmas’ (for the meanings of words in any vernacular language tend to change over time – in a dead language the meanings of words never change).

The importance of the Latin Roman Rite is that it is the Rite of some 95 percent of all Catholics. It is the Latin Roman Rite that St. Paul spread throughout his missionary expeditions.

It is the Latin Roman Rite St. Francis Xavier spread Throughout Asia. It is the Latin Roman Rite the Conquistadors spread throughout South America with Our Lady of Guadalupe’s help. It is the Latin Roman Rite that was first said on the shores of America at that location, which is now called St. Augustine in Florida, long before the Pilgrims landed. Obviously, Our Blessed Lord got in the Liturgical boat of St. Peter; it is the Latin Roman Rite God chose to evangelize world-wide!

Before proceeding, permit me to define the words Tradition and Custom which are used frequently in this document:

Webster defines Tradition: “The handing down of beliefs or customs; an instituted pattern of action (as a religious practice).”

Webster defines Custom: “Long established practice considered as unwritten law. Usage or practice common to many.”

Also Cannon Law 27 (new version) explains that custom is the best interpreter of laws.

So when we look at liturgical law according to canonical tradition, in order to understand the law correctly, it must be understood according to the tradition that has established the liturgical custom. As the ancient Father, St. John Chrysostom says: “Is it tradition? Ask no more.”

TRADITION OF THE FIRST MASS

The comments in this section are based on the book: “How Christ Said the First Mass” by Father James L Meagher, D.D. Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of Divinity. He was President of the Christian Press Association Publishing Company in New York which published the book in 1906. The book (440 pages – complete with references and a detailed index) is currently available from Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.

The author goes into great detail to show how the Roman Rite of Mass, in particular, is patterned after the Liturgy of the traditional Jewish Passover Feast. Nearly every detail of the Mass has its counterpart in the Passover Liturgy. From the procession, prayers at the foot of the altar (the same psalms quoted), the Confiteor, and even the Canon are strikingly similar. He points out that God himself gave detailed instructions to Moses and Aaron how the Passover feast was to be conducted.

God also detailed the Liturgical garments in a “striking minuteness, he laid down material, color, shape and ornament of vestments worn in public worship, and forbade them at any other time”. The Church today uses the same type liturgical vestments made of linen, and the same liturgical colors, red, white, green and violet. The Church only added the color black to express sorrow. To illustrate the Divine concern about vestments he points out that they are mentioned 167 times in the Old Testament, and 59 times in the New Testament.

St. Mary Magdalene

Today is the feast day of the greatest of transformed criminal saints, and here is part of what I wrote about her in my book, Women in the Church, St. Catherine of Siena, Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, & Criminal Reformation

An excerpt.

St. Mary Magdalene 

One of the cornerstones of the argument that only men can be priests comes from the documentation of the facts on the ground during Christ’s ministry on earth, where the Church has consistently maintained that the leader of the apostles was Peter and it was upon him that the Church was built by Christ and because only men were chosen as apostles, only men can be ordained as priests.

Yet, Brock (2003) makes a good case that Mary Magdalene was the first apostle:

“Apostolic authority, without question, was a key issue in the early Christian churches. It insured that the one carrying the gospel message was a bona fide messenger. The criteria by which various early Christian authors attributed apostolic authority to certain followers of Jesus and not to others in early Christian documents provide insights into the politics of various factions of the early church. For example, Mary Magdalene was so esteemed among some early Christians that they bestowed on her the honorific title, “apostle to the apostles,” and yet for others she holds no apostolic status at all and is instead known as a reformed prostitute, a concept for which there is no biblical basis.”

What did it take to be an apostle and were women included in that group? Hippolytus, an early Christian bishop and martyr of Rome (ca. 170-ca. 236), wrote:

“Lest the female apostles doubt the angels, Christ himself came to them so that the women would be apostles of Christ and by their obedience rectify the sin of the ancient Eve….Christ showed himself to the (male) apostles and said to them…“It is I who appeared to these women and I who wanted to send them to you as apostles.” (pp. 1-2)

If this is true, and I believe it is, because I cannot see how God approves the unequal status of women which the world has proclaimed since time immemorial.

And though it is generally agreed that the conflating of the three Marys is what led to the tradition that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, theologians today separate them, as noted by Hinsdale (2011):

“Today all three major branches of Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy) do distinguish between Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and the sinner/penitent woman in Luke 7: 36-50.” (p. 80)

I still believe the tradition of the Magdalene as a prostitute, as it resonates with me and more fully resonates with the scriptures as now canonized; and even the long attempt to separate her from prostitution seems an attempt to take away the power of penance in flowering the power of apostleship or Church leadership and the model of penance Christ conferred upon Magdalene seems unearned if she was merely a sinner, as all are, rather than a great sinner, a criminal sinner, a predatory sinner, a whore.

Many women theologians want her to have not been a prostitute as they see that as disempowering her, but Magdalene, having been a prostitute, or more accurately, according to Anne Catherine Emmerich (2005), a grand courtesan whose lovers were men of power and privilege who deeply captured by her exotic appearance and erotic potency; possessed dual powers from her sinful life which gave her, in her penitential life, apostolic authority:

“When the patrimony was divided, the castle of Magdalum fell by lot to Magdalen. It was a very beautiful building. Magdalen had often gone there with her family when she was a very young child, and she had always entertained a special preference for it. She was only about eleven years old when, with a large household of servants, men and maids, she retired thither and set up a splendid establishment for herself.

“Magdalum was a fortified place, consisting of several castles, public buildings and large squares of groves and gardens. It was eight hours east of Nazareth, about three from Capharnaum, one and a half from Bethsaida toward the south, and about a mile from the Lake of Genesareth. It was built on a slope of the mountain and extended down into the valley which stretches off toward the lake and around its shores. One of those castles belonged to Herod. He possessed a still larger one in the fertile region of Genesareth. Some of his soldiers were stationed in Magdalum, and they contributed there share to the general demoralization. The officers were on intimate terms with Magdalen. There were, besides the troops, about two hundred people in Magdalum, chiefly officials, master builders, and servants.

“The castle of Magdalum was the highest and most magnificent of all; from its roof one could see across the Sea of Galilee to the opposite shore. Five roads led to Magdalum, and on every one at one half-hours distance from the well-fortified place, stood a tower built over an arch. It was like a watchtower whence could be seen far into the distance. These towers had no connection with one another; they rose out of a country covered with gardens, fields, and meadows. Magdalen had men servants and maids, fields and herds, but a very disorderly household; all went to rack and ruin.” (pp. 3-4)

Mary Magdalene was the magnificently penitential woman who was the apostle to the apostles, called so by Christ, so clearly endorsed by his appearing to her first after his resurrection and by commissioning her to go tell the apostles that he had arisen; assuming the status of first among the apostles.

However, as Kienzle (1998) notes, quoting the Dominican Moneta of Cremona writing about the heretical Waldensians who allowed women preachers, this may not necessarily be a qualifier:

“Christ sent Mary Magdalene to preach when he said in John 20:17: ‘Go to my brethren and say to them: I am ascending to our Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’” Moneta explains that the interpretation that Jesus sent her to preach should be ascribed to the distorted understanding of a heretic, because the Gospel author says only that she announced to the disciples, not that she preached. The Dominican author asks, “Now, whenever a woman is sent to announce something good to a church, should it be said that she preaches to that church?” His answer of course is “Non.” (pp. 105-106)

Lukenbill, David H. (pp.29-33)

 

Capital Punishment Cannot be Reversed by Church

An outstanding analysis from Catholic World Report, on a subject—and a shared conclusion—I wrote a book about.

An excerpt.

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a two-part article on Catholicism and the death penalty. Part 2 will be posted later this week.

Pope St. John Paul II was well-known for his vigorous opposition to capital punishment. Yet in 2004, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — the pope’s own chief doctrinal officer, later to become Pope Benedict XVI — stated unambiguously that:

[I]f a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment… he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities… to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible… to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about… applying the death penalty… (emphasis added)

How could it be “legitimate” for a Catholic to be “at odds with” the pope on such a matter? The answer is that the pope’s opposition to capital punishment was not a matter of binding doctrine, but merely an opinion which a Catholic must respectfully consider but not necessarily agree with. Cardinal Ratzinger could not possibly have said what he did otherwise. If it were mortally sinful for a Catholic to disagree with the pope about capital punishment, then he could not “present himself to receive Holy Communion.” If it were even venially sinful to disagree, then there could not be “a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics.”

The fact is that it is the irreformable teaching of the Church that capital punishment can in principle be legitimate, not merely to ensure the physical safety of others when an offender poses an immediate danger (a case where even John Paul II was willing to allow for the death penalty), but even for purposes such as securing retributive justice and deterring serious crime. What is open to debate is merely whether recourse to the death penalty is in practice the best option given particular historical and cultural circumstances. That is a “prudential” matter about which popes have no special expertise.

We defend these claims in detail and at length in our book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of the Death Penalty, forthcoming from Ignatius Press. What follows is a brief summary of some key points.

Sacred Scripture

The Church holds that scripture is infallible, particularly when it teaches on matters of faith and morals. The First Vatican Council teaches that scripture must always be interpreted in the sense in which the Church has traditionally understood it, and in particular that it can never be interpreted in a sense contrary to the unanimous understanding of the Fathers of the Church.

Both the Old and New Testaments teach that capital punishment can be legitimate, and the Church has always interpreted them this way. For example, Genesis 9:6 famously states: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” The Church has always understood this as a sanction of the death penalty. Even Christian Brugger, a prominent Catholic opponent of capital punishment, admits that attempts to reinterpret this passage are dubious and that the passage is a “problem” for views like his own.i

St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans teaches that the state “does not bear the sword in vain [but] is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer” (13:4). The Church has always understood this too as a warrant for capital punishment, and by Brugger’s own admission, there was a “consensus” among the Fathers and medieval Doctors of the Church that the passage was to be understood in this way.ii But in that case, attempts to reinterpret the passage cannot possibly be reconciled with a Catholic understanding of scripture.

Not only Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13:4 but also passages like Numbers 35:33, Deuteronomy 19: 11-13, Luke 23:41, and Acts 25:11 all clearly regard capital punishment as legitimate when carried out simply for the purpose of securing retributive justice. The lex talionis (“law of retaliation”) of Exodus 21 and Leviticus 24 is also obviously a matter of exacting retribution for its own sake. Deuteronomy 19:19-21 talks of execution as a way of striking “fear” in potential offenders, and deterrence is clearly in view in Romans 13:4. Hence scripture clearly teaches that capital punishment can in principle be legitimate for the sake of deterrence.

The Fathers and Doctors of the Church

The Church has always regarded the Fathers as having an extremely high degree of authority when they are agreed on some matter of faith or morals. Now, some of the Fathers preferred mercy to the use of capital punishment. However, every one of the Fathers who commented on the subject nevertheless also allowed that capital punishment can in principle be legitimate. For example, in his Homilies on Leviticus, Origen teaches that “death which is inflicted as the penalty of sin is a purification of the sin itself.” Clement of Alexandria says that “when one falls into any incurable evil… it will be for his good if he is put to death.” In his commentary On the Sermon on the Mount, Augustine writes that “great and holy men… punished some sins with death… [by which] the living were struck with a salutary fear.” Jerome taught that “he who slays cruel men is not cruel.”

It is sometimes claimed that Tertullian and Lactantius were exceptions to the patristic consensus on capital punishment as legitimate at least in principle, but even Brugger admits that this is not in fact the case.iii And again, the Fathers also uniformly regarded scripture as allowing capital punishment, and the Church teaches that the Fathers must be followed where they agree on the interpretation of scripture.

 

Mary Magdalene, Feast Day July 22

An excellent article about the elevation of her day from Memorial to Feast, in the National Catholic Register.

An excerpt.

The most important woman in human history was Mary, the Mother of God. No mere mortal has ever been so richly honored as she who bore God in her own flesh and truly named him her son.

Who was the second-most-important woman? It’s more debatable, but a strong case could be made for St. Mary Magdalene. This July 22, for the first time, Catholics will celebrate her feast.

By formally elevating her memorial to a feast, Pope Francis has given Mary Magdalene a canonical rank equivalent to that of the apostles. He has many times mentioned his wish that Catholics might reflect more deeply on the role of women in the Church. Now, with this change to the Roman calendar, he has taken a concrete step towards that goal.

For such an important person, it’s amazing how little we really know. She must have come from Magdala, a village in Galilee. That means she grew up along those same sandy shores where the apostles were called to be fishers of men.

From there, speculation begins. The Gospels are full of Marys, but we aren’t sure which was she. Was Mary Magdalene the woman caught in adultery, rescued by Jesus with his demand that a sinless person cast the first stone? Was she the sister of Martha, who sat by Christ’s feet to hear his teachings? Did she anoint him before his death, weeping and wiping his feet with her hair?

We do know this: St. Mary Magdalene came to Christ’s tomb on the third day, found it empty and ran to tell the apostles. Then, as she wept by the tomb, the Risen Christ came to her and addressed her by name (John 20). She was the first to see him alive. She was the first ever to share the Good News with the world.

It’s beautiful to reflect on the parallels: Both at his birth and at his rebirth, Jesus’ first intimate moments were shared with a woman named Mary.

In art and in literature, Mary Magdalene is often used to illustrate the miraculous, transcendent power of grace. She is the sinner redeemed and the weeping woman whose sorrow is transformed into joy. She reminds us of the darkness of near-dawn and the blinding light of redemption. She is a symbol of hope.

 

Proactive Policing Halted. Results

And the results are devastating, as this article in City Journal, examining the situation in Chicago, reports.

An excerpt.

Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every two and a half hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities. Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West Sides into the downtown business district; Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies.

The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.) 

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel warned in October 2015 that officers were going “fetal,” as shootings in the city skyrocketed. But 2016 has brought an even sharper reduction in proactive enforcement. Devastating failures in Chicago’s leadership after a horrific police shooting and an ill-considered pact between the American Civil Liberties Union and the police are driving that reduction. Residents of Chicago’s high-crime areas are paying the price.

Felicia Moore, a wiry middle-aged woman with tattoos on her face and the ravaged frame of a former drug addict, is standing inside a Polish sausage joint on Chicago’s South Side at 10 PM. Asked about crime, she responds: “I’ve been in Chicago all my life. It’s never been this bad. Mothers and grandchildren are scared to come out on their porch; if you see more than five or six niggas walking together, you gotta run.” The violence claimed her only son last year, she says, just as he was being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. Moore is engaging in some revisionist history: her son, Jeremiah Moore, was, in fact, killed with a shot to his head—but in 2013, a little over a year after he was released from prison for shooting a mother at a bus stop; the Atlantic Hawks don’t enter into it.

Felicia Moore’s assessment of the present crime situation in Chicago, however, is more reality-based. Through the end of May, shooting incidents in Chicago were up 53 percent over the same period in 2015, which had already seen a significant increase over 2014. Compared with the first five months of 2014, shooting incidents in 2016 were up 86 percent. Certain police districts saw larger spikes. The Harrison District on the West Side, encompassing West Humboldt Park, for example, had a 191 percent increase in homicides through the end of May. Shootings in May citywide averaged nearly 13 a day, a worrisome portent for summer.

A man who calls himself City Streets is standing in a ragtag group of drinkers and hustlers outside a liquor and convenience store on the South Side. They pass around beer, cigarettes, and cash and ask strangers for money. A young woman shoves her boy along, oblivious to the late hour. “It’s terrible out here. Someone gets shot every day,” City Streets tells me. “It ain’t no place to hang,” he adds, ignoring his own advice.

Social breakdown lies behind Chicago’s historically high levels of violence. Fatherlessness in the city’s black community is at a cataclysmic level—close to 80 percent of children are born to single mothers in high-crime areas. Illegitimacy is catching up fast among Hispanics, as well. Gangs have stepped in where fathers are absent. A 2012 gang audit documented 59 active street gangs with 625 factions, some controlling a single block. Schools in gang territories go on high alert at dismissal time to fend off violence. Endemic crime has prevented the commercial development and gentrification that are revitalizing so many parts of Chicago closer to downtown; block after block on the South Side features a wan liquor store or check-cashing outlet, surrounded by empty lots and the occasional skeleton of a once-magnificent beaux-arts apartment complex or bank. Nonfunctioning streetlights, their fuse boxes vandalized, signal the reign of a local gang faction.

But disorder, bad before, seems to be worsening. The night after my conversations with Felicia Moore and City Streets, dozens of teens burst into the intersection of Cicero and Madison on the West Side, stopping traffic and ignoring the loud approach of a fire truck. They hold their cell phones high, the new sign of urban empowerment. Earlier that day, a fight involving at least 60 teens took over a nearby intersection, provoking a retaliatory shooting two days later at a local fried-chicken restaurant. On May 14, a 13-year-old girl stabbed a 15-year-old girl to death in a South Side housing complex; the murderer’s mother had given her the knife. In the summer of 2015, wolf packs of teens marauded down Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, robbing stores and pedestrians. The phenomenon started even earlier this year. A couple strolling on Lake Shore Drive downtown on Memorial Day weekend were chased by more than a half-dozen young men, at least one armed with a gun. The two tried to escape across the highway, the teens in hot pursuit. A pickup truck hit the couple, killing the female. A police officer flashed his emergency lights at the teens, and they fled. “If it wasn’t for the police being there at the time, I don’t know where I might be now,” the surviving man told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Six feet under?”

Public-order infractions, otherwise known as “Broken Windows” offenses, abound. Stand just a few minutes on a South or West Side thoroughfare, and someone will stride by hawking bootleg CDs or videos and loose cigarettes. Oliver, a 34-year-old with a Bloods tattoo and alcohol on his breath, has just been frisked by the police in a West Side White Castle parking lot around 9:30 PM. “The police are assholes,” he says. “I know my rights; I’m selling CDs, so I know I’m doing something wrong, but they weren’t visible in my bag.” Oliver then sells two loosies to a passerby, laboriously counting out change from a five-dollar bill.

Crisis of the Church

This is a very powerful, must read, post from Rorate Caeli.

An excerpt.

Numerous are the readers who write me, troubled, some very shaken in their beliefs, others in a state of anguish nearing the loss of faith, begging me to speak up on this or that ecclesiastical insanity. For many years, I offered my naked face so that the enemies of the Faith could strike it; until a certain day on which its supposed guardians started to strike it as well (and with such ferocity!). Presently, I am going through a dark night of the soul of uncertain outcome; due to which, apologizing immensely, I cannot handle the requests of my anguished readers, but rather add myself to their own tribulation. However, I will remind them of a passage of the Scriptures that, in dark moments, one should have present, so that hope shall not die. And these lines shall be the last that I will dedicate to this heartbreaking matter.

In one of the visions of Revelation is mentioned to us the Great Whore, who “fornicates with the kings of the earth” and “makes drunk they who inhabit the earth with the wine of her whoredom.” This Great Whore is the religion that is adulterated, falsified, prostituted, delivered unto the powers of this world; and she is the antithesis of that other woman who appears in Revelation, the delivering Woman clothed with the sun, and crowned with stars, who has to flee to the wilderness, persecuted by the Beast. If the Great Whore represents the religion kneeling before the “kings of the earth”, the delivering Woman represents the faithful and martyr religion. These two sides of religion, which are perfectly distinguishable for God, are not always so for men, who frequently confuse one with the other (sometimes out of candor, sometimes out of deceit). And they will only be fully distinguishable on the harvest day, when wheat and tares are separated.

In the meantime, in order to identify this prostituted religion, we have to guide ourselves with the signs that Christ gave us: it is the religion that became salt without savor, it is the religion that keeps silent so that the stones cry out, it is the religion that allows for the “abomination of desolation”, adulterating, hiding, and even persecuting the truth. “They will put you out of the synagogues,” Christ prophesied, in a last warning to the sailors, “whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God.” Evidently, he was not speaking of the persecution decreed by the kings of the earth, but to a much more terrifying persecution — a great mystery of iniquity — driven by the Great Whore.

How does the Great Whore fornicate with the kings of the earth? By surrendering to their laws, by compromising with their ideological dictatorship, by keeping silent about their aberrations, by coveting their riches and honors, by clinging to the privileges and sparkles with which they bribed her, in order to have her at their feet: in sum, by placing the powers of this world in the place that belongs to God. And how does she intoxicate the peoples with the wine of her whoredom? By adulterating the Gospel, reducing is to a despicable mush of do-goodism, by muddying the millenary doctrine of the Church, by courting the enemies of the Faith, by disguising as mercy the submission to error, by spreading confusion among the simple people, by condemning to anguish and bewilderment the faithful, whom she even points as enemies before the stupefied masses, who will then be able to massacre them more easily. In the end, these faithful will be very few; but, on the other hand, they will be very visible, provoking the hatred of the prostituted religion, that will persecute them all the way to the wilderness: “And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake. But he that shall endure unto the end, he shall be saved.”

Sexual Abuse in Church, Is Pope Disengaged?

According to this stunning article in Remnant Newspaper, yes, tragically, very much so.

An excerpt.

From all corners of the universal Church, hundreds of clergy abuse survivors gathered recently at the16th Annual SNAP Conference held in Chicago describing their gut-wrenching childhoods of sexual molestation by clerics. A haunting aura dominated the conference: Pope Francis’ unwillingness to tr uly reform the Church and protect children by punishing predators and their protectors.

Is this the Pope of Mercy?

Has Francis’ self-styled theology of mercy blinded him to the need for justice for the Church’s violent betrayal of children? Has mercy replaced justice in the lexicon of papal rules necessary to protect children? Is clergy sex abuse too bothersome and unfashionable for the popular globalist media star fixated on global warming and income redistribution? Or, is he simply the mercy impostor, unwilling to address the crisis, similar to his years in Argentina?

Victim survivors at the conference describe Pope Francis as disengaged and indifferent on this issue. His stance toward the clergy sex abuse crisis is littered with frivolous half measures and empty words to address this endemic global scourge. More than one speaker described him as, “This is a Pope of Smoke and Mirrors.”

Francis’ mercy minions may be shocked, but in the opinion of abuse survivors, the Francis “peripheries” don’t include the victims of clerical sexual predators. Several speakers denounced the Pontiff’s shallowness and insincerity toward the crisis. “Francis is the Master of Change, without change,” observed one speaker. While another anointed the Pope as, “Francis, the Master of Fee l Good.”

According to those who matter, the victims, Pope Francis and his hypnotic mercy mantra cannot obviate his utter failure for meaningful systemic clergy sex abuse reform in the Catholic Church.

The sexual abuse of children reverberates for generations as a monstrous atrocity against humanity which cries out for justice, not mercy. When the perpetrators are clergy, the punishment demands temporal and eternal retribution. Jesus’ seemingly unmerciful sentence and harsh words capture the eternal justice demanded of those that soul murder children:

If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6

Christ’s powerful words paint a brutal image: Mercy abandons the man on the shore, as the predator is cast into the depths of the ocean weighed down by an immense millstone, ensuring death by drowning. Yet, Pope Francis responds to the clergy abuse crisis with his typical sentimentality, “God weeps.”

Don’t cry for me Argentina works for Eva Peron. The God of the Bible rages.

A clergy sex abuse victim is forever changed. Losing innocence, faith, and childhood, strikes a terrible blow to body and soul, which never fully heals. Their pain remains palpably raw, robbed of so much, when so young. Silenced by their shame, imprisoned in their suffering, struggling to survive, these victims are the walking wounded of clergy sex abuse. Yet, despite their incalculable pain, grace often emerges, bringing clarity of vision, a restored voice, and a sharpened instinct which detects hypocrisy and sanctimony.

Listening to the excruciating accounts of clerical sex abuse and subsequent hierarchal coverups, bravely recounted at the conference, reminds me of the poignant words of the great French novelist, George Bernanos, who on his death bed recalled fidelity to the little boy he once had been:

“What does my life matter? I just want it to be faithful, to the end, to the child I used to be. Yes, what honour I have, and my bit of courage, I inherit from the little creature, so mysterious to me now.”

Despite the ruins of a stolen and destroyed childhood, the survivors at the SNAP conference swore loyalty to their wounded child with the wisdom and fury of an avenging angel. These casualties from the Church graveyard of hierarchal negligence are woefully damaged, but determined to rid the Church of its perverted priests, predatory cover up practices, and pretentious bureaucratic “fixes.”

While the world is hypnotized by Francis’ mercy mania and genteel gestures, the victims of clergy sex abuse gathered at the conference remain highly skeptical of the Pope’s commitment to root out predators among its clerical ranks.“Pope Francis, stop your empty headlines” received resounding applause from the audience of victims who hailed from the U.S. England, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Latin America and Armenia to name a few. All who spoke urged abuse victims to report abuse and call the police, not the prelates. Abuse survivors closely watch Pope Francis for signs of authentic commitment and genuine reform. Instead, his face appears on the covers of Time and Vanity Fair, and he meets endlessly with Hollywood celebrities and world elites. It’s becoming obvious that Francis provides scant time and fleeting attention to the plight of clerical abuse of minors. These walking wounded believe that Francis is slow walking child protection reforms and, shockingly, surrounds himself with prelates who conceal predator priests. At the Vatican, there’s no climate for child protection when global warming dominates Francis’ beloved world stage, as he effusively and strenuously advocates for eco-protection using his apostolic exhortations and vast Vatican resources. The dangers of air conditioning and carbon dioxide receive more attention than the danger of predatory priests. During his first three years as Pontiff, Francis sacked a clergy abuse victim from his new papal child protection commission because the member dared to criticize the Vatican’s appointment of a Chilean bishop who covered up a serial predatory priest.

California a Leader in Prison Releases and Crime Increases

A fact anyone familiar with criminal justice from a real world perspective has been warning about for years, as this post from the Crime & Consequences blog reports.

An excerpt.

The previous post noted the increase in homicide in California in 2015 over 2014.  The increase extends to every category of crime tracked except burglary, according the annual Crime in California report, also released today by the Bureau of Criminal Information and Analysis.  Annual changes in rates of reported crime per 100,000 population are:

Homicide        +9.7%

Robbery          +8.5%

Agg. Assault  +8.1%

Burglary           -2.6%

Auto theft      +12.5%

Theft              +10.7%

The number for rape is also up sharply, but the extent to which that is an increase in crime versus a broadened definition of which sexual assaults are counted in the category is uncertain. None of this should surprise anyone who has been paying attention.  After Realignment, we had numbers in the next few years that fluctuated but overall were considerably worse than the national numbers.  See this post.  Auto theft in particular spiked after Realignment made it a never-prison offense.  See here and here.  After Proposition 47, anecdotal information from law enforcement has been steadily rolling in.  Now we see confirmation in statewide numbers.

War on Cops

Nothing has been more destructive to public safety than the war on cops, which Heather Mac Donald writes about and talks about in this interview with Encounter Books.

An excerpt

In the nearly two years following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, charges of racism in law enforcement have galvanized our media and cultural discourse. At the same time, violence—and black on black crime in particular—has soared in American cities. We recently asked Heather Mac Donald, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to City Journal, to discuss these issues and her new book, The War on Cops.

Are cops racist?

I wrote The War on Cops to rebut that dangerous lie: that policing, and indeed the entire criminal justice system, are racist. That lie threatens the record-breaking national crime drop of the last two decades by discouraging cops from doing their jobs. The attack on the criminal justice system distracts attention from the real law enforcement problem in urban America: elevated rates of black-on-black crime.

You argue that proactive policing has been the greatest public policy success story of the last quarter century. How have controversial policing tactics such as “stop, question, and frisk” and “broken windows” policing contributed to massive drops in crime?

“Stop, question, and frisk” and “broken windows” policing avert serious crime before it happens. In the case of “stop, question, and frisk,” officers are asked to use their knowledge of local crime conditions to intervene in suspicious situations before someone has been victimized. If a neighborhood has experienced a series of car thefts, for example, and an officer sees someone walking along a row of parked cars trying their door handles, the officer may stop that person to find out what he is doing. Criminals have acknowledged that the chance of being stopped deters them from carrying guns on their person.

“Broken windows” policing targets public disorder that signals that informal social controls in an area have broken down. Accosting someone who is drinking whiskey outside a bodega at 3 pm may stop a stabbing at 10 pm that night, after the drinker is drunk. Pedestrian stops and broken windows enforcement were a major part of the 1990s policing revolution that brought safety to millions of urban residents.

In The War on Cops, you give voice to the residents of high-crime neighborhoods who support proactive policing. How have data-driven, accountable police departments actually saved and improved the lives of minorities in America?

The greatest beneficiaries of proactive policing and the resulting crime drop have been minorities. In New York City alone, over 10,000 minority males are alive today who would have been dead had crime rates remained at their early 1990s levels. The reduction of crime in inner-city neighborhoods has allowed their law-abiding residents the basic freedoms that residents of safer neighborhoods take for granted: being able to sleep in your bed rather than your bathtub without fear of getting shot, for example. The drop in crime encouraged businesses to set up shop in previously drug-infested areas, providing residents with greater consumer options and more job opportunities. Public safety is the precondition for urban regeneration; as long as crime rates remain high, economic activity in an area will be suppressed.

You introduced the idea of the “Ferguson effect” into the public discourse. Can you briefly explain what this is and how it threatens the safety of citizens?

The “Ferguson effect” refers to the twin phenomena of officers backing off of proactive policing under the relentless charge that they are racist, and the resulting emboldening of criminals. Since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014, the Black Lives Matter movement has controlled the public discourse about law enforcement and the media have parroted the movement’s claim that police officers regularly gun down unarmed black males with impunity. Officers in urban areas now worry about becoming the latest racist cop of the week on CNN if their justified use of force against a resisting suspect is distorted by an incomplete cell phone video. As a result, officers are doing less proactive policing and crime is shooting through the roof in urban neighborhoods. In 2015, homicides in the largest 50 cities rose nearly 17%, the largest one-year rise in murder in over two decades. Homicides in Baltimore reached their highest per capita rate in the city’s history last year.

The rate of murdered police officers is over 200% higher than it was at this time last year. Is this an anomaly or has there been a significant increase in hostility towards law enforcement?

There has been a huge increase in hostility towards law enforcement in urban areas; suspects are violently resisting arrest, bystanders routinely jeer when cops get out of patrol cars. The BLM claim that cops are racist murderers has led to the assassination and attempted assassination of police officers. Any increase in attacks on law enforcement bears watching because such violence threatens the very existence of law and order.

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