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Let me tell you something about humans, nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people . . . as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers . . . put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time . . . and those same intelligent, friendly, wonderful people will become as nasty, and as violent, as the most bloodthirsty Klingon.
-- Quark, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, "Siege of AR-558"
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The Great Mother of God Mary Most Holy, Joseph her most chaste spouse, Dismas, Peter, Paul, Simon de Montfort, John of God, Thomas the Apostle, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, Thomas Beckett, Veronica, Boniface, Maria Goretti, Luigi Quatrocchi, Alphonsus Ligouri, Theresa of Avila, Therese of the Child Jesus, Pius X, Pius V, and all the rest of them;
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Mark Shea, I. Shawn McElhinney, Gary Hoge, and E.L. Core (of course, the blanket and slavish endorsement as to these persons is valid only to the extent they're not disagreeing with me);
People Who, If Not Yet Saints, Are Definitely Being Persecuted for His Sake:
Any Christian whose orthodox theological or disciplinary views are impugned by a television network, National Public Radio, the New York Times, America or the National Catholic Reporter;
and, lastly, things which are . . .
Ontologically Incapable of Sainthood, but Still Endorsed
The P-47 Thunderbolt, the F8 Crusader, the A-10 Warthog and its 30mm gatling gun, Hecker & Koch rifles, NCAA Division III football, Countess Mara ties (with logo), MacBarren's Pipe Tobacco (especially Virginian No. 1), Samuel Gawith Pipe Tobaccos (especially Best Brown Flake), Peterson pipes, Hoyo de Monterrey cigars, Krohn Vintage Port, and my dog Auggie.
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Friday, April 30, 2004
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose
Via Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It we read of this interview which, upon reflection, seems to justify this blog's title. We use the term "abortion Holocaust" because millions of people are being killed for two reasons -- (1) they're inconveniently in the way, and (2) nobody recognizes them as human beings. Nobody, that is, except the Catholic Church and those who accept her teachings on the dignity of all that "inconvenient" life. Commitment to Church teaching, however, varies from place to place and person to person. So, do we have the bravery to continue the parallel when warranted? Herewith a continuation which, although it takes some liberties with Church leaders' statements in the late 1930s, suggests that with respect to some bishops the more things change, the more they stay the same. No, Cardinal McCarrick isn't avidly pro-Democratic as Cardinal Innitzer was pro-Nazi. But the thinking is eerily similar -- an unwillingness to risk the Church's position just to fight an "unwinnable" battle contra mundum, a coy piety which shrinks from secular challenges, an eagerness to put a pin in that "one little evil" in exchange for so much good . . . . The article's in black. My comments are in blue.
ROME (CNS) -- When church leaders speak out about
Instead, they are encouraging Catholics to study
Life issues like
But the church is not a single-issue institution, he said.
"He made it clear that where he stands is what the document said. The document goes so far, and no further," Cardinal
The Vatican document titled, Mit Brennender Sorge said that
"I think the canons (church law) sort of remind us that we have to tell our people that if they are not in communion with the church, they should not go and receive Communion. But that doesn't say to us that we should deny them Communion when they come," he said. "In present circumstances it is necessary to emphasise that the duty of the Church is the cure of souls— through worship, the sacraments, and preaching. She must remain aloof from all else," Innitzer said.
"I would be very uncomfortable to have a confrontation at the altar, because it implies that I know precisely what's in a man's heart or in a woman's heart, and I'm not always sure," he said. "In present circumstances it is necessary to emphasise that the duty of the Church is the cure of souls— through worship, the sacraments, and preaching. She must remain aloof from all else," Innitzer said.
In that situation, the church should find "some way of saying to our people that this is not an ideal situation," he said. "In present circumstances it is necessary to emphasise that the duty of the Church is the cure of souls— through worship, the sacraments, and preaching. She must remain aloof from all else," Innitzer said.
But that does not mean singling out political candidates, he said. "In present circumstances it is necessary to emphasise that the duty of the Church is the cure of souls— through worship, the sacraments, and preaching. She must remain aloof from all else," Innitzer said.
"To the best of my knowledge, no one is talking about anyone in particular. And certainly in
The cardinal said the Vatican has shown interest in the task force, which expects to complete its work after -- well, well after, the
"I think it's important that we be on the same wavelength, and I think we are," he said of his Vatican meetings.
He said any differences that arise among bishop members of the task force on some of the thorny issues involved will prove a healthy thing in the end.
"We may not reach a consensus on everything. But I think we will reach a consensus on some practices," he said. He said it was not yet certain whether the task force would draft guidelines or simply suggest "best practices." "In present circumstances it is necessary to emphasise that the duty of the Church is the cure of souls— through worship, the sacraments, and preaching. She must remain aloof from all else," Innitzer said.
"It certainly will do deep consultation among the bishops of our country, among the different episcopal conferences all over the world, and certainly here at the Holy See," he said.
"And having done that we'll be talking to theologians and pastoral people and to each other, trying to come up with something which will be helpful to the church, to our Catholic people and to people in political life," he said. "In present circumstances it is necessary to emphasise that the duty of the Church is the cure of souls— through worship, the sacraments, and preaching. She must remain aloof from all else," Innitzer said.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 16:43 Hours [+]
Shabby Grammar, Shredded Syntax, and Sorry Spelling Exposed!!
You can read about The Dossier's misdeeds at Nihil Obstat. This is more serious than one might, at first, suppose:
"Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political . . . causes . . . an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts."-- "Politics and the English Language."
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 12:44 Hours [+]
Monday, April 26, 2004
Welcome to Catholic Un-Answers, an apologetics and theology resource for your questions about the Catholic faith. It's time for our "Q&Un-A" program, where our staff of catechists and theologians un-answer your questions about Catholicism. Today's question is from Jim Noble. Jim's noticed that abortion-supporter John Kerry, while Catholic, is given communion at every Mass, and asks:
I am denied communion with my Catholic wife and Catholic children EVERY SUNDAY because I follow the request in the front of the missalette not to receive.That's a great question, Jim! Let's hear from our staff! First up is Fr. Chris Coyne of the Archdiocese of Boston, Fr. Coyne?
The Archdiocese of Boston ``does not hold to the practice of publicly refusing Communion to anyone,'' said archdiocese spokesman Rev. Christopher Coyne. He said it was up to the individual to decide whether to receive Communion.Thanks, Fr! Next is Bishop Sean O'Malley of Boston:
"What the Vatican came out with restated church teaching, and wasn't anything new," Adkison said. "The responsibility is on the individual to examine himself as a Catholic."And we also have a noted Catholic layman, Ted Kennedy, with some thoughts on whether the author of the Missalette is worth listening to:
"He's a prominent figure in the Vatican circle, but he's not speaking for the pope," said Kennedy, whose brother John was the only Catholic to be elected US president. "That's a major difference."Last up, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington! What response do you have to Jim's question?
"I would find it hard to use the Eucharist as a sanction," he said gently. "You don't know what's in anyone's heart when they come before you. It's important that everyone know what our principles are, but you'd have to be very sure someone had a malicious intent [before denying him communion.]" . . . "It's between the person and God,'' he said. . . . "What they do,'' he demurred, "is really their business and not mine.''So, Jim, there you are -- it's up to you, the individual. Just examine yourself and decide whether you should receive communion. After all, withholding participation in the Eucharist should never be a "sanction" of your conscientious decisions to disagree with Church teaching. We don't know what's in your heart, and we're not sure your intent to receive would be malicious. What you do, is really your business and not ours -- so long as you realize that it's a consequence of the sad divisions in Christianity that we cannot extend to a general invitation to receive Communion. Reception of the Eucharist by Christians not fully united with us would imply a oneness which does not yet exist, and for which we must all pray.
Thanks for calling, Jim!
Actually, Jim, I sympathize with your complaint -- especially if you're a baptized Christian who agrees with Church teaching on abortion. My wife spent years submitting to the "scandal" of being refused communion because she was a Methodist, even though her pro-life record is much, much better than John Kerry's. One day, after being admitted to the Church, she went to Mass at our former parish, where it was known she was a Methodist. When the line for communion had brought her to the priest, he didn't give her the Host. Instead, he demanded to know if she was a Catholic. I didn't mind, really, although my wife was peeved. The priest is the guardian of the sacraments. It's just a pity to see the rules enforced as to people who wholeheartedly support the Church's struggle against abortion, and tossed out the window as to Presidential candidates who openly repudiate the authority of Christ and His Church to speak about the sanctity of human life. As I've said before, the Catholic Church isn't made up of Catholics. It's made up of about a billion people who are trying to be Catholic with varying degrees of success. Sometimes they're dumb. Sometimes they're cynical and cowardly. And sometimes they do the right thing. It's the same in every area of human life -- marriage isn't made up of couples who are (ultimately speaking) married, it's made up of couples who want to spend their lives trying, with varying degrees of success, to actually "be" married.
In reality, the only reason to be (or try to be) Catholic is what you will receive from the Church. Paying too much attention to what the Church gives everyone else can be a stumbling block. "Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the Kingdom of God." Continue to follow our Lord, and you will find Him fully in the Eucharist, even if others can't discern the treasure and judgment in the Host. It truly is a consequence of the sad divisions in Christianity that we cannot extend to a general invitation to receive Communion. Reception of the Eucharist by Christians not fully united with us would imply a oneness which does not yet exist, and for which we must all pray. It's sad, because we can't share the Eucharist with you, even though you may agree more with the Church about abortion than our own. It should be prayed about because, with respect to attitudes, the Catholic Church needs more Jim Nobles and fewer John Kerrys.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 12:06 Hours [+]
Yes it is.
Via The Curt Jester we learn about the future of school vouchers and faith-based initiatives.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 00:23 Hours [+]
One Thought About "Curmudgeonly" Andy Rooney
Andy Rooney couldn't tell the difference between a hero and a sandwich.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 00:19 Hours [+]
By the way, in case you were wondering . . .
If you're the person this blog may interest, then you may sometimes pray for people you don't really know. You may also sometimes pray for anonymous people, people in a whole class, like "poor sinners," or "those being tempted."
You may wonder whether those prayers ever work.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 00:11 Hours [+]
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Just for the record:
Listening to John Kerry defend, "not abortion, but freedom" recently has put me in mind of a few other principles everyone -- without exception -- defends:
(1) I'm not in favor of owning slaves. But we should all realize that people have the right to invest their hard-earned money as they see fit, without government interference.
(2) I'm not in favor of killing Jews. But I think we can all agree that we have a right to ensure that their country is prosperous, a fit place for people to live, and safe from its enemies.
(3) I'm not in favor of sexually exploiting children. But I think it must be admitted that children shouldn't be sexually repressed and taught that sex is a bad or shameful thing; children ought to be open with their sexuality to responsible adults.
(4) I'm not in favor of theft. But everyone agrees that there should be a right to seek redress for economic exploitation and oppression.
(5) I believe that it's always possible to justify a crime with a Great Principle which is somehow implicated by the crime; one simply claims the connection to prove that the crime is a vindication of the Great Principle.
(6) The difference between good and evil isn't in reference to Great Principles. It's in understanding what those principles really mean, and following them where they lead.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 17:31 Hours [+]
Friday, April 23, 2004
The Unbelievably Dumb World of Oliver Stone
Via Fr. Jim Tucker's magnificent Dappled Things blog, we read this interview of Oliver Stone by Ann Louise Burdoch of Slate. The O-Man is apparently just done filming Looking for Fidel, a hagiography of the man who juggles full-time job as inspirational icon for the Democratic Party with a part-time job as bloodthirstdy dictator of Cuba. From the intro, we learn that Looking for Fidel is actually a do-over -- Stoney-boy's first version contained so many instances of bootlicking and up-sucking that HBO's viewer focus groups confused it with a documentary by the American Dental Association. So HBO sent him back to Cuba for a "harder" look at Fidel. Unfortunately, as the interview shows, the only thing "harder" about the second film is the suction applied to Fidel's toe-cap. Kudos to Ms. Burdoch, who manages to maintain a professional tone while performing the journalistic equivalent of discussing Hegel with a not-very-bright drunk. Fr. Jim succinctly sums it up: "If you had any doubt about whether Stone was a clueless nut, read this interview." Though I never doubted it, herewith the stream of consciousness by which I came to a wholehearted agreement with Fr. Jim. My stream of consciousness is in blue, everyone else's in black.
ALB: Do you know that the Cubans are refusing visas to virtually all reporters and not allowing them back in the country?
OS: You know, the advantage I have is to be a filmmaker. That means I'm not a journalist and I don't have to give a damn about what Castro does to them. I only have to give a damn about George Bush stifling free speech with the Patriot Act. [Castro] seemed to love my movies. And isn't that delightfully odd? Wall Street - Amerika's economic immorality. Platoon -- Amerika's mindless and bloodthirsty immorality. Born on the 4th of July -- Amerika's ethical immorality. Salvador -- Amerika's immoral involvement in South Amerika. JFK -- Amerika's immoral political and legal systems. Nixon -- Amerika's immoral political and legal systems. People vs. Larry Flynt -- Amerika's immorality about everything. Yeah, Fidel sure has a varied taste in films. Apparently he liked my presence, and he trusted that I wouldn't edit him in a way that would be negative from the outset. Because I'll lick the boots of anyone who is anti-Amerikan. And I'm not a damn journalist. But I did tell him, the second trip, when I realized that Hollywood's "Free Tibet" crowd might see a glimmer of a parallel and become peeved at my bootlicking that I would try to be tougher, not disrespectfully so."Excuse me, mein Fuhrer, but some are suggesting that it's unwise to limit the intake of concentration-camp inmates to 600 rather than 725 calories per day. Do you have any thoughts on that?" As you see, several times [in the film] he does get upset. For example, when I asked him if he thought Nixon was the Antichrist, he became very agitated at my use of Christian imagery. He said it was too "soft" for a true revolutionary. I didn't have the heart to disagree with the old dear.
ALB: I gather you rejected the idea of demonizing him.
OS: Of course. Ja, naturlich! My role here was not in any way connected with truth. as a journalist. It really was as a bootlicking director and filmmaker. In my job, I challenge actors to vent Leftist fantasies. I provoke them into performances like Kevin Costner's in JFK -- which is really hard. I mean, how do you "provoke" a yawn?
ALB: Let me ask you about the part [in the film] where Castro's in front of eight prisoners charged with attempting to hijack a plane [to Miami]. He says to them, "I want you all to speak frankly and freely." What do you make of that whole scene, where you have these prisoners who happened to be wearing perfectly starched, nice blue shirts?
OS: Let me give you the background. He obviously set it up overnight and, as a bootlicking film-maker, I was happy to oblige. It was in that spirit that he said, "Ask whatever you want. I'm sitting here. I want to hear it too. I want to hear what they're thinking." He let me run the tribunal, so to speak.Hee hee, giggle giggle! Oh, it was so exciting! I always dreamed of running the revolutionary tribunal that would execute Republicans, and [sigh] it was wonderful! I don't know why people think Walter Duranty and Jane Fonda were ghoulish dilettants "slumming" in anti-Amerikan venues for the cheap thrill of participating in charades like this one. It's a totally unwarranted criticism!!
ALB: Sputter . . . sputter . . . But Cuba's leader for life is sitting in front of these guys who are facing life in prison, and you're asking them, "Are you well treated in prison?" Did you think they could honestly answer that question?
OS: If they were being horribly mistreated, that's just not my problem. I'm a filmmaker and a director, not some damn journalist who's too weak-kneed to do what needs to be done! Kopf Rollen! er . . . ahhhem then I don't know that they could be worse mistreated [afterward].and besides, it was just little old me, no one who could actually do anything about it! Gimme a break! I'm a filmmaker!
ALB: So in other words, you think they thought this was their best shot to air grievances? Rather than that if they did speak candidly, there'd be hell to pay when they got back to prison? Are you really that stupid?
OS: I must say, you're really picturing a Stalinist state. Castro's not a Stalinist. Haven't you heard? Stalin's bad. Even Susan Sontag says so! Nobody's said that about Castro except some Republicans, which means Castro's good. Don't you, like, read or anything? It doesn't feel that way. It's feelings that count. For example, go to a country where there's elections and the rule of law like Amerika, and you feel imprisoned because they won't let you run an execution tribunal for counterrevolutionary activities such as heterosexual marriage. Now that's proof of Stalinism. But if you go to Cuba, get wined and dined by the country's elite, feted and pampered all the way, and they let you run an execution tribunal, then by crackie you feel fresh, invigorated, and that's not Stalinism by any stretch of the imagination. I went to Yale, where they teach you these things. You can always find horrible prisons if you go to any country in Central America.Like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which are brutal regimes created by an evil Amerika. How we can possibly lend our countenance to such horrible denials of human rights just proves that the Democrats have to win every election!
ALB: Did you go to the prisons in Cuba? Or are you just a blathering hypocrite?
OS: No, I didn't. And, like, just shut up about that, OK?
ALB: So you don't know if they're any different than, say, the prisons in Honduras then? And you really are just a blathering hypocrite?
OS: I think that those prisoners are being honest.And, like I said, just shut up, OK?
ALB: Rolling eyes . . What about when you ask them what they think is a fair sentence for their crimes, and one of them starts to talk about how he'd like to have 30 years in prison?
OS: I was shocked at that. Too shocked to wonder why someone would think 30 years in a Cuban prison is better than, say, being paroled to live among the general population. But Bush would have shot these people, is what Castro said.And he's right! Bush is a terrible, evil man! He props up regimes with horrible prisons! And there's no way he'd let me run the tribunals on Guantanamo! I asked, you know, and they didn't even reply! … I don't know what the parole system is.and I don't care. Dammit, Jim, I'm a bootlicker, not a journalist!
ALB: With pained expression There is none unless Fidel Castro decides to give you clemency. . . . They seemed very willing to bring up sound bites that Castro is partial to—that they wanted to leave Cuba only for economic reasons, not political ones, etc.Maybe you were just too stupid to understand English the first time. Let me ask you again: Do you think Castro was playing you for PR?
OS: You're going to the theory that they were trying to get good time in front of the camera to get lighter sentences.When we all know that people interrogated by the DGI -- especially when I'm running the tribunal -- tell only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!
ALB: No, you ignorant ass, I'm going even further than that. I'm suggesting that they had no choice but to appear there, and that in some ways it was a bit of a mini-show-trial, sort of "Look how well we treat our prisoners." Get it? Do I need to use anatomically-correct dolls or something?
OS: It does have that aura, absolutely. and I don't care. Dammit, Jim, I'm a bootlicker, not a journalist! But I do maintain that if it were a Stalinist state snort! giggle! smirk! … they certainly do a great job of concealing it. Whereas Stalinist states conceal nothing! That's why Walter Duranty's reporting deserves a Pulitzer -- he just related what he saw, and what he saw was the truth!
ALB: To me, one of the most and only interesting exchanges in the film is when you ask, "Why did you decide to shoot these three hijackers on the eighth day?" And he bristles and says, "I didn't shoot anyone, personally." You respond, "Well, OK, the state shot these three guys on the eighth day." He then says, "Of course, I take my share of responsibility."
OS: He was a huge part of the state, and now, as he points out, he has less power. so he's not really, like, guilty of shooting anyone. He's a figurehead, a puppet, and one of the greatest dictators ever! He's like Cincinnatus, really, a common man forced into greatness by the times and . . . Did I mention his boots taste like cinnamon? … There is a functioning congress. The Cuban body politic has one, just like our bodies have a functioning appendix. It has a purpose or it wouldn't be there. They teach you these things at Yale, you know.
ALB: Do you really have such vast ignorance that you think that anything happens in Cuba without his approval?
OS: I don't know. I certainly didn't to anything in Cuba without his approval. One time he made me wait 30 minutes to pee. It was excruciating!
ALB: You don't know?
OS: I've heard that the reform elements tried to move in like they always try to do, those evil snakes-in-the-grass! after the Soviet Union's [collapse] … in '92 and '93, imagine the heartlessness of that! Taking shameless political advantage at a time of worldwide grief! Oh the humanity! and Castro took the hard line on that.But I was busy producing Zebrahead, so I couldn't help him by running any tribunals. I was really bummed out about that. Did I mention his boot-heels show more wear on the left left side than the right? It's wonderful how everything about the man shows his politics!
ALB: That's right. Good for you, Ollie! Here's a pice of bacon! Nice Ollie! As far as I know, Comandante has the first footage of Fidel with his son Fidelito and grandson, aside from formal receptions, etc. How did they respond to each other?
OS: It reminded me of Uday and Qusay, really, the warmth and closeness . . . it was inspiring! I think Fidel said something to the effect that, at the end, he could have been a better father if he hadn't been a mass-murdering megalomaniac. But all fathers have shortcomings. In a way, Fidel reminded me of Carl Fox, Bud's father in Wall Street -- gruff, but down-to-earth and full of hard-won widsom.
ALB: Now, when you were talking to the prisoners who tried to hijack a plane, one told you he was a fisherman, and you said, "Why then didn't you take a boat?" Why did you ask that?
OS: Because I'm amazingly stupid. And I was so high!!! It's just dumb luck that I didn't ask "why didn't you take the bus?" Well, it seemed to me that if they were familiar with boats, it seemed to be the best way.Da da dee da da duh Da da dee da da duh . . . .
ALB: Did you know that in Cuba there are virtually no boats? The boats that are used for fishermen are tightly controlled. One of the more surreal aspects of Cuba, being the largest island in the Caribbean, is that there are no visible boats.
OS: I see. No, I didn't know that. I'm an Amerikan liberal, and so I don't know jack, really. Except that sometimes Castro's socks fall down and, if you're looking up you can see his leg hair. It's beautiful! Very shiny and soft.
ALB: How did you end up in a hospital with him getting an EKG?
OS: I went with him to see a functioning hospital which is a very rare treat in Cuba. Most people never get to see one. I felt sooo privileged! So there's more proof Cuba's not Stalinist. in the heart of the city. Spontaneously, he took his shirt off, I almost died! and said, "Well, I need one. Give me one." I mean, even Castro can't get to a functioning hospital every day and, hell, why shouldn't he get medical care that's half as good as a recipient of our own pitiful, immoral welfare system! The [EKG results] looked good. which was a great relief to me. I though he actually might need medical attention, but it turns out he was just needlessly consuming medical resources that could have been used on a person of lesser importance.
ALB: In other words, he's saying to you, "All these rumors about me dying and my poor health, let me dispel them once and for all"?
OS: Huh? No, he didn't say that.
ALB: Speaking very slowly . . . . But . . . pause . . . by doing . . . pause . . . . this, in essence, . . . pause . . . . . he's . . . pause . . . saying . . . pause . . . that?
OS: Oh! I get it! Like, a, like . . . message . . . but, like, symbolized! Cool! In essence. But I had not heard these rumors about him dying. I won't hear them. Ever. They're too terrible. In the first documentary he showed us his exercise regime in the office, pacing back and forth. He walks three miles in his office. That makes it really hard to lick his boots. I found that I had to go on all fours and move really, really fast.
ALB: Did it strike you as interesting that at one point in the scene with the prisoners, Castro turned to the prisoners' defense lawyers, who just happened to be there, and he says, "I urge you to do your best to reduce the sentences"?
OS: I love that. I thought that was hilarious. Because, like, Castro runs that country, even though he doesn't personally shoot people. I remembered how unamusing Amerikan "justice" with its racist, trumped-up charges, denial of due-process, and general moral corruption is. That made me angry. If only we could have a really funny judicial system like Cuba's! Those guys just popped up. Like martinets, which is what they were, but funny somehow, more like a Fran-and-Ollie puppet show. I thought about our own deadpan Amerikan "justice" which denies adequate funding to public-defender offices, and cried for our country.
ALB: Let me draw this. Here . . . this circle is Cuba. That's Cuba, right there, that circle. Now this doohickey is a "show-trial," as in not really a trial, it just looks like one . . . No, NO! Oliver, don't eat the paper, put it down, DOWN! Good. Now, look at the picture, and tell me, Is there a show-trial element here?
OS: Yeah. I thought that was funny, I did — the prosecutor and Fidel admonishing them, to make sure they worked hard. It was so cute! There was that paternalism. I mean "father knows best," as opposed to totalitarianism. I mean, Bush is totalitarian. He doesn't give you that warm feeling Castro does when you lick his boots. And isn't that what we really want -- a warm feeling about being bootlickers? It's all I want. All any Leftist wants. It's paternalism, that's what I meant. It's a Latin thing.and ohh . . . . sooo . . . soooo . . . fuerte! Not like our wimpy Amerikan way of doing things.
ALB: So after 60 hours with Castro, you don't have the slightest idea about anything having to do with him, Cuba, or the world, right? what do you make of this man?
OS: I'm totally awed by his ability to survive and maintain a strong moral presence … almost as awed as I am by my ability to say that without being hit by lightning.
and we ignore him now at our peril if we start another war with Cuba. It'll be like all the other military disasters I predicted . . . the long, bloody war in Grenada . . . . the years we spent taking Panama City . . . the hundred-thousand US casualties on the way to Baghdad . . . all those men, Bishop, Noriega, Saddam -- they all had that same ability to survive and strong moral presence. You can't beat that. THE PEOPLE! UNITED! WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! They teach you things like that at Yale, you know. It's why the State Department is always so wise.
ALB: You say we ignore him at our peril. Given the fact that JFK tried to assassinate him, then tried to invade Cuba to get rid of him, then tried to assasinate him again, and given the fact that the US constantly embargoes Cuba, and given the fact that Castro features in every single speech given by every single presidential candidate to get within 1,000 miles of Miami It seems to me that we're obsessed with him.
OS: No, I think the focus is wrong. It's a bad shot, needs a re-take. Fast, tight close-up of his boooots. . . . . Fidel He told me to call him that! [Sigh] All his Cuban children call him that, "Fidel" -- they say it so naturally, like, "Fidel never personally shoots anyone," or "Fidel visited a functioning hospital today, I wish my child who has leukemia could go to one." It's very touching. is not the revolution, believe me. Fidel is popular, whatever the whole country says when the power goes out and the bugs stop working his enemies say. It's Zapata, remember that movie? They made us watch it at Yale, back in ‘52. It was the text for our graduate seminar on American foreign policy. He said, "A strong people don't need a strong leader."Then he said, "STELLLAAAAAAAA . . . " and I thought about how meaningless the Amerikan dream is. We really got stoned that night.
ALB: So you really are dumb enough to think that if he went off the scene the revolution would continue?
OS: If Mr. Bush and I call him that, "Mr. Bush," to show the world I have nothing in common with him while at the same time maintaining my awesome, bootlicking dignity and his people have the illusion which, at present, is gained only from Castro's propaganda about an immanent Yanqui invasion that can only be stopped by rallying to Fidel and not wasting time trying to get your child with leukemia to a functioning hospital, propaganda that I personally swallow like chocolate milk that they're going to walk into an Iraq-type situation, and people are going to throw up their arms and welcome us, [they are] dead wrong. These people are committed. Like Panama's glorious National Guard! Like the Cuban troops who wet their pants at the first Semper Fi! they heard on Grenada. Like Saddam's Fedayeen! Like all the oppressed fremen who take up arms against the Amerikan Satan! It's like Dune, remember that movie? He said, "Long live the fighters!" Castro has become a spiritual leaderthe god-surrogate dejour for empty, nihilistic types who are attracted by the instant synergism of marketing, fashionable rebellion, and power He will always be a Mao to those people. It's like The Godfather, remember that movie? He said, "You can act like a Mao!"
ALB: Did you ask him about his relationship with Juanita in Miami? That's to jog your synapse, Ollie -- there's lots of Juanitas, but think, think hard -- Castro + Juanita + Miami equals . . . . .
OS: God, I don't remember. There were so many women.so friendly . . . and all they wanted was food. Imagine that! In Amerika, we have all these hangups, all these laws, but in Cuba it's different, more spiritual somehow . . . .
ALB: Sigh . . . Juanita is his sister.you stupid moron!
OS: Huh? Juanita's his sister? ... Huh? He seemed to be a very straight-shooter, very kind of shy with women.There, does that get me off the hook?
ALB: I've called him the movie star dictator. Did you get that sense about him? Poor man . . . well he can't flub this one, it's a softball . . . .
OS: Totally. I think it would be a mistake to see him as a Ceausescu. Because, you know, he's not French and doesn't like the ocean. It's like Flipper, remember that movie? He said, "Flipper, flipper, faster than lightning!" I would compare him more to Reagan and Clinton. …You think I'm partisan? Take that!!!! I can use "Reagan" and "Clinton" in the same sentence, because both of them were totalitarians -- Regan because he didn't support abortion, Clinton because he didn't make sure every woman had one! They were both tall and had great shoulders, and so does Fidel.But Clinton's shoes were, well, sort of dry and sour. They didn't have that sultry, tropical boquet you get when you lick Fidel's boots. Don't ask me about Reagan, he wouldn't let me.
ALB: For the second film, because being a moron means never having to say you're wrong you received permission to see the dissidents Osvaldo Paya, Vladimiro Roca, and Elizardo Sanchez. They spoke critically of the government. Which means they were dissidents, as in Castro not happy about them, and I hope you're not as embarassed as I am with the fact that I have to explain your own damn movie to you. Obviously, that couldn't have happened unless permission for them to see you was granted, right? What do you make of Castro allowing that to happen?
OS: I don't think he was happy with it. But he had no choice! He had to order the Cuban Congress to order him to let me do it! I don't think he wants to be in the same film with Uh . . . ummm . . . . who's that guy you named? . . . . papaya, peyote . . . oh, yeah! I got it! Paya. In his mind they are faux dissidents.It's like, Being John Malkovich, remember that movie? He said, uh, like anyhow it was in his mind, get it?
ALB: He actually calls them faux dissidents? He called them the so-called dissidents? And, Ollie, would you mind not twirling your hair? It's distracting.
OS: Yeah, so-called, right. sure, whatever, you think I took notes or something? I was in Soviet Russia to lick Yuri Andropov's boots for a script in 1983, and I interviewed 20 dissidents in 12 cities. I really got an idea of dissidents that was much rougher than here. These people in Cuba were nothing compared to what I saw in Russia. I mean, you expect dissidents to be nasty, disgusting people. Evil people, like Sakharov, Walesa, Vaclav Havel . . . crappy people like that, but these Soviet faux dissidents were boy scouts compared to the scum in Fidel's jails!
ALB: Did you ever use your single synapse think to bring up why he doesn't hold a presidential election?
OS: I did. I got all the words in order and everything! He said something to the effect, "We have elections."That was the word on the list my producer gave me -- "Elections?" -- so when he said it I put a big black checkmark next to it just like I was told [Smiles brightly].
ALB: Local representative elections. But what about a presidential election?
OS: Huh? Shut up! We didn't talk about it, especially in view of the fact that our own 2000 elections were a little bit discredited.So, like, I was both patriotic for not giving Castro a shot at us and righteous for letting him slide because Al Gore didn't win. Gee, am I a paragon of justice or what!
ALB: In the first root canal film, Comandante, he asked you, "Is it so bad to be a dictator?" Did you redline your synapse think you should have responded to that question?
OS: I don't think that was the place to do it. To start with, he's got armed guards -- he doesn't personally shoot anyone, you know. And there's only that one functioning hospital, and also my tongue was stuck to his upper sole and that made it hard to talk. … You know, dictator or tyrant, those words are used very easily. Especially if you practice them in front of a mirror, over and over again. Not like the Pledge of Allegiance, or the lyrics to God Bless America -- those are impossible pronounce! In the Greek political system, democracy didn't work out that well. And that should be a lesson to red Amerika! There were what they called benevolent dictators back in those days. Yeah, that's it . . . like, um, Pericles Benevolent Dictator, and then there was Alexander Benevolent Dictator, and the other "B.D.s" like Socrates . . . . Gyros . . . Onasis . . . .
ALB: And you think he might be in that category?
OS: Well, not benevolent to everybody, no. But on the other hand, he doesn't personally shoot anyone, and that's benevolent, in a way.
ALB: Can't it be said in fact that you're a drooling idiot who's easily manipulated by image-savvy totalitarians? Castro is quite cynical—the master debater, master lawyer?
OS: Well, nobody's perfect. That's a fact, Jack!
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 17:04 Hours [+]
I've Been Interviewed
I've been interviewed by JD Mays, proprietor of the Army of One blog. Click the link and check out my pontifications!
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 13:11 Hours [+]
Saturday, April 17, 2004
The former Lover of Christian Art, whose wonderful blog was discontinued awhile back, has returned to St. Blog's. Posting as "Not a Liturgist," he edifies with his new blog, Liturgiam Authenticam. Go visit!
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 11:45 Hours [+]
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Shea in Michigan
Courtesy of Fr. Rob's Thrown Back we learn the happy news that Mark Shea, published author, public speaker, and mainainer of the Catholic and Enjoying It! blog (voted darn near Best of Everything in the 2003 St. Blog's Awards), will be coming to St. Joseph's Catholic Church in St. Joseph, Michigan and to St. Bernard Catholic Church in Benton Harbor, Michigan, on May 3-4, 2004. Rumor has it that Mark will also be speaking, sometime in May, at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Coldwater Michigan.
I had the good fortune to invite Mark to address a local college Catholic students' group back in 2002. I invited him out of the blue, more or less, having met him on the great Catholic Converts' Message Board (Old Calendar). He stayed at my house, ate with the students, and gave a really great talk about being Catholic. Then he flew back to Washington, leaving us all wondering when we might ever see such a knowledgeable, genteel, witty, pleasant, and impassioned defender of the faith again.
If anyone within a 50-mile radius of these churches has, or can make, the time to attend one of Mark's speeches, I highly recommend it. If you can, bring one or two lukewarm Catholics, or just persons interested in Catholicism, with you. But go yourself in any event and, if you don't have them buy all his books. I have them, and they not only repay reading, they repay re-reading as well. Half of Mark's speciality as an apologist is, well, himself -- he exposes you to some truly Catholic ways of thinking about the things we already know. One always learns something new and interesting from hearing Mark talk. So go, please, and force these churches to set up PA systems in the parking lot to handle the overflow.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 15:10 Hours [+]
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
The Problem with a Stream of Consciousness Is . . .
It never really stops flowing. So, courtesy of Domenico Bettinelli's Bettnett Blog, we read this slithery editorial by one Melinda Henneberger of the inaptly-named Newsweek. For those unfamiliar with the publication, it reads as though some fairly-bright Yale juniors have selected and re-written various stories (they take out the really big words) culled from People, The New York Times, and Longevity. Think of it as Vanity Fair for the company-picnic crowd and you've grasped its ethos pretty well. Ms. Hennebgerger's article is in black, while my thoughts are in blue.
April 12 - I was waiting outside Senator Ted Kennedy's office not long ago, having second thoughts about his offer of a ride home listening to one side of a conversation on a subject on which one side is all anyone ever seems to hear. Uh, wait a minute, let me diagram that sentence . . . uh huh . . . there's the subject, article . . . modifier . . . Oh! I know, isn't it irritating! I get so tired of hearing nothing but pro-choice propaganda from MTV and the Big Three networks. Can't NPR do at least one story even mentioning that some people doubt whether abortion is a constitutional right, let alone a moral choice? It's almost as if there's a gag-rule against even discussing the immorality of abortion or the unconstitutionality of Roe v. Wade. Huh? Why the pained look, Melinda?
Yes, Ma'am, he is Catholic,'' the young man answering the senator's phone that day told the caller wearily., his nose growing another three inches in the process.
"The senators are not doctors, Ma'am, with the exception of Bill Frist...who, for some odd reason, thinks unborn children are human beings, but that's just because he didn't graduate from Harvard University's Mengele Center for Medical Ethics. . . And I think one of them is a veterinarian . . .and isn't that funny, since the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis tells us that in treating Johne's disease one must consider:
prenatal . . . transmission of the agent. In this instance, the agent passes from the infected cow to the calf before birth and the calf is born infected. Infected cows that are showing clinical signs of Johne's disease . . . transmit the agent to the unborn calf 20 to 40% of the time. . . If these cows do not transmit the agent to their calf in utero, it is probable they will infect their calf . . . soon after birth.See, this is how it works. We can tolerate the idea of "unborn calves," but not "unborn babies." Unlike "unborn calves," which are "calves before birth," that which grows inside a mother's womb is to be known publicly as "FETUS." It's a Latin term which translates, roughly, as "something which is or isn't recognized as human depending on whether you're Catholic like Ted Kennedy or Catholic like a Catholic."...I'm sorry you feel that way, Ma'am...Not sorry enough, sonny, so long as you and your Gruppenfuhrer still have a future in public service.The Pope has met him on several occasions like Popes have been doing since day one, when Leo I met Attila outside Rome's gates and he considers him Catholic.''Sure, adjectivally -- just like we could consider a cross we have to bear as "part of Catholicism." Yes, the aide sighed as he hung up, he gets those calls all the time. "If only we could get Ted made a Bishop," he continued, looking wistfully into space, "we could just brush off these hysterical dipsticks with a form letter. The way it is now, we have to talk to the %#$@$@s like they mattered!"
Stupid Catholics have also been dialing the Washington archdiocese aggressively trying, in an act of unmitigated violence, to shut down the telephone system of the Archdiocese, but staffers there tell me they have plans to install call-forwarding and shunt every damn call to Mark Shea's telephone dialing the Washington archdiocese to weigh in on whether another pro-choice Catholic, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and, don't forget -- the next president of the United States, annointed by a veritable Samuel in the person of Reverend Gregory Groover of the Charles Street AME Church John Kerry, could, should or would take communion on Easter. (In the end, he did, in Boston, without incident.) "Without incident"? I love how the menacing implications get trotted out on cue, as though pro-life Christians are violent animals, ready to rend and maim anyone who disagrees with them. We shoot abortion doctors, and so naturally one might think Kerry would have been lynched in Boston. Why would such a private matter even be open to public debate?If it's all so private, Melinda, how do you know Kerry made a mockery of the Eucharist last Sunday? You only call it "private" because you think people have every right to break rules, spit on traditions, and perjure their principles so long as they're hip to the Culture of Death. No? OK, prove me wrong -- Go write an editorial about how a Klansman's desire to exterminate mud people is a "private matter" between him and God which should be immune from ecclesiastical comment.
Because, previously on "How Catholic Is He...'' You do realize your humor's playing on the trivializing effect of television, don't you? You are aware that your column is featured on MSNBC, aren't you? Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis That's Darth Burke to you, Melinda, and smile when you say it. began the discussion back in February when he announced ahead of the Missouri presidential primary that he, for one, would refuse Kerry the Eucharist since his public stands on abortion and gay unions contradict church teaching. Sorry, Melinda, but it's not "all about John Kerry." Then-Bishop Burke of Wisconsin started it much earlier when he said the same thing to Julie Lassa, Cheerleader of Death and member of the Wisconsin State Senate, before John Kerry even crawled out from under Howard Dean's shadow. You can read about it here. Anyhow, does this mean we can call Rev. Groover's Church the "How Christian Is He" show of Washington, DC? I guess it doesn't matter that Rev. Groover claimed Kerry should be President before the presidential election -- Christian ministers can pimp for pro-abortion candidates without violating the Separation of Church And State, since all that phrase really means is "Subordination of Church To State." When the followers of this Chrestus fellow start talking back to the Culture of Death, rebuking the State for its actions, then we've got something to worry about, because they're threatening the hallowed Jeffersonian principle, "We have no king but Caesar."
Last week, Kerry brought fresh misery on himself when he fought back by citing a non-existent pope, "Pius XXIII" as a source of his mistaken belief that Vatican II essentially tells Catholics: Whatever. The crap level at this point is so high you need wings. Try as I might, I just can't see Melinda writing, in a similar situation, "Last week, David Duke brought fresh misery on himself when he fought back by citing a non-existent civil rights leader, ‘Malcolm X Pickaninny' as a source of his mistaken belief that the NAACP essentially tells racists: Whatever." Someone from a group called because they're not really, and because open, inclusive, nonjudgmental Catholics are just clueless when it comes to organizations fighting the Church's fight for the unborn Priests for Life so-called, no doubt, because they're extremist thugs who are itching to shoot "womens' clinic" workers just like all the other so-called Christian thugs who refuse to realize just how "private" our respect for life ought to be then accused Kerry of "supporting the dismemberment of babies.'' Which is utterly false, because John Kerry only supports the right to abort one's baby by dismembering it -- except that it's not an unborn baby, it could only be an unborn baby if it were inside a cow, and any Veterinarian in the U.S. Senate will tell you that babies aren't inside cows, and therefore it's not the same thing at all and that just goes to prove only dangerous lunatics with Semtex underwear join groups called "Priests for Life."
And for those obsessed nitnoids who just can't get enough on the paltry subject of what it might mean to call oneself a Catholic in the 21st century, there are now several new Web sites solely devoted to Kerry's standing in the Church, including ExcommunicateKerry.com.Oh, let me fix that -- it's excommunicatekerry.com and it's already drawing balanced and sober rebukes from the enlightened souls who realize that Kerry's support of abortion is nobody's business. Souls like "Marsha" who, yesterday, offered her trenchant commentary on how Kerry's private faith -- or lack thereof -- is being overblown and exploited by the knuckle-dragging orthodoxy freaks: you smirky bunch of smarmy jerks. worry about your own pedofiles and leave Mr Kerry alone. you should not be throwing stones. idiots! Of course, Melinda will offer us a much higher level of vocabulary and grammar, but that's just window-dressing -- her own rant remains the same . . . . ..
I can only imagine how smirk-worthy this exercise must seem to non-Catholics, including a few of my acquaintances who are amazed that anyone would want into our not-very-exclusive club after all we've learned about how our leaders protected child abusers instead of children over the decades. See? Everything spelled correctly, all the commas and hyphens neatly placed. Just goes to show that appearances can be deceiving -- you can comb its hair and polish its nails, but it'll still be a ravening wolf. And the Catholic Church has not survived for more than 2,000 years by excluding, but rather by co-opting everything from Roman holidays to elements of African animism. But not, strangely enough, Roman and animist acceptance of abortion, contraception, and exposing infants. Maybe that's why the Catholic Church seemed so "smirk-worthy" to Caligula, Nero and the murderers of Saint Charles Lwanga We just weren't "inclusive" and "co-optive" enough, we weren't ready to see what Christ and Belial really have in common. But now, thanks to the progressive thinking of the Church's John Kerrys and Melinda Hennebergers, we might be ready for Uplift, to go Beyond Good and Evil, into a Brave New World . . . . . Just one question, Melinda -- Who says only abortionists should get to to hurt children? Surely you're not that bigoted and judgmental, to impose your narrow moralistic categories on others, to become -- GASP!!!! -- a "How Catholic is Paul Shanley" kind of person? So, tell us -- when do "pedofiles" get their chance to be included and co-opted? Do you have that scheduled yet, or is it still being workshopped by the Catholic staff at Newsweek?
So it was a relief to find the big-tent flap of a Church which can still tolerate heterodoxy and schism hear Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington respond with a soft, non-judgmental, open, inclusive, co-opting pastoral voice on the Kerry issue. McCarrick is heading a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops task force on how to dodge the issue handle Catholic politicians who openly mock the Church support abortion rights. And isn't it coincidentally interesting that (a) the USCC has issued pastoral letters about important public issues during its summer conferences and (b) has canceled its public conference this summer -- this summer in a presidential-election year -- in favor of a private retreat. If the U.S. Navy had fielded a "task force" like this at Midway, Raymond Spruance would have confronted Nagumo with a fleet of rubber duckies commanded from the deck of Tootie the Talking Tugboat.
In an empty meeting room at St. Matthew's What? St. Matthew's Hospital? St. Matthew's Episcopal Church? St. Matthew's Park? Why can't lefties write worth a damn? in downtown D.C., where the cardinal that's "the Cardinal," Melinda. It's "cardinal" when it doesn't apply to a specific person, and "Cardinal" when it does. Hey, I'm already judgmental and cruel just for having harsh thoughts about killing unborn non-cow FETUSI, so why not go for the whole enchilada and stomp on Melinda's English grammar and her Grammar of Assent? led a prayer service last Wednesday,that must have been some prayer service, inasmuch as we just read how the room was empty. he pulled a couple of dusty folding chairs down from a stack of books? shaved ham? How about a stack of "needless details that provide clutter rather than character?" so we'd have someplace to sit while we talked. The prayer service, of course, being the kind where the absent faithful don't gather by a stack of shaved ham and don't pray while not standing When I asked about Kerry's standing, since, apparently, the Cardinal hadn't pulled a third chair off that pile of shaved ham he seemed pained by the idea of turning him, or anyone else, away. Away? AWAY? To what? Face the wall? From what? A life of crime? We can get it anyhow -- living by the rules hurts rule-breakers, and hurting people is bad. Thus, sending people into the fields to feed swine so that they ask themselves, "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" is damn bad manners. Better to kill the fatted (and born) calf all the time, every day, without expecting a change of heart. It's much jollier that way, far less confrontational -- and wasn't Fr. Mulcahy jolly and non-confrontational? We are to be Mulcahys to one another, making soft eyes at each other's sins and never, ever, letting on that life is for living and Christian life is for living as God, through His bishops, tells us to live.
"I would find it hard to use the Eucharist as a sanction," he said gently. The "sanction" here isn't the Eucharist, it's the public judgment of the Church that one has, by ones' sins, made oneself unfit to receive it. The Eucharist is the occasion for the sanction, but that's all. It's important, I think, to note that Cardinal McCarrick has subtly twisted the issue so that the Eucharist or any sacrament becomes, supposedly, too holy to be perverted into a "sanction." Where does that logic go? To gay marriages, for one thing -- why pervert the sacrament of matrimony into a "sanction" against Catholic homosexuals who want to flout Church teaching? For that matter, why pervert the Beatific Vision into a "sanction" to be levied on people to whom Jesus says "depart, I do not know you?" This is how all abusive pastoralism ends -- with an Inquisition. In the old days, abusive pastors tortured people to force belief in Jesus, and violated the dignity granted to the human conscience by their refusing to respect, within reason, choices which (however afflicted by the the limitations that operate on any human conscience) result from a sincere desire for God. Today, we've eschewed the violence, but abusive pastoralism still produces Inquisitors who, in effect, try to force holiness into every life by finding a new way of violating the dignity granted to the human conscience -- ignoring, past all reason, any choice a human being might possibly make.
"You don't know what's in anyone's heart when they come before you." Oh that's true enough, and largely irrelevant. Someone could come for communion with a swastika armband, but you don't know what's in his heart, not really. He could be wearing a T-Shirt that says "The Pope Sucks," and you still wouldn't know all that's in his heart, not really. But you can tell, with a fair degree of accuracy, that his heart's not where it ought to be in order to receive the Eucharist. It's important that everyone know what our principles are,Why? I mean, if life with God is too holy to be denied regardless of whatever choices someone makes, why should anyone know what anyone's principles are? but you'd have to be very sure someone had a malicious intent [before denying him communion.]"According to Canon 915, you'd have to be very sure that someone is "obstinately persist[ing] in manifest grave sin." John Kerry realizes -- and has admitted, even in his "Pius XXIII" speech -- that his decisions are to be governed by the promises he made to Jesus in the Church. What did Kerry say? "My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church . . ." Kerry knows he has an obligation to God outlined by the Catholic Church. Does Kerry think he gets to draw those lines? I quote him again, "I'm not a church spokesman. I'm a legislator running for president." So he knows his obligations to God are outlined by the Church, and that to find out what the Church outlines he cannot listen to himself, he must listen to those who speak for the Church -- the Bishops and the Pope. Kerry has admitted that he knows he has a duty to God, and that his duty involves listening to the Bishops and the Pope. John Kerry cannot be unaware that the Bishops and the Pope have told him and others like him -- repeatedly -- that the public position on abortion which has characterized his entire political career is evil. He just ignores them. That's as much malice as Canon 915 requires. Whether John Kerry gets up on Sunday mornings and says, "I hate Jesus so much that I want to profane the Eucharist" is irrelevant, as is Cardinal McCarrick's suggestion that only God Himself could enforce Canon 915 Deus Ex Machina.
McCarrick is surprisingly humble, for someone who spends his spare time dabbing white-out on Matthew 7:6 and a reluctant judge. Reluctant? Rewards so precious they must be handed out to everyone who wants them? Believing that one must know a man as God knows him before governing him? That's not reluctance, it's absenteeism. "It's between the person and God,'' he said.thereby making all those guys at Trent and Vatican I look just a little silly, if you ask me -- worrying about things which are really between the individual and God and not anyone else. What's next? Isn't my sin just between me and God? Why, therefore, do I need a priest to absolve me? Can't God do that? DOES ANYONE WONDER WHY THE NEW SPRINGTIME OF EVANGELISM HASN'T SPRUNG YET!!!! Should Kerry or someone in his campaign seek counsel on Catholic protocol? "What they do,'' he demurred, "is really their business and not mine.'' Uh huh. And should any priest in McCarrick's Archdiocese seek "counsel on Catholic protocol" before he decides that he will celebrate the Latin Mass exclusively and never offer the Novus Ordo? Sure, it's a private matter between the priest and God, and we should be reluctant to use parish ministry as a sanction. Right. The archdiocese has been pestered gotten some ignored and/or unreturned calls on the subject from lumpen rank-and-file Catholics, but he declined to characterize the faithful as people who believe in Catholicism a monolith: "Obviously, we run the spectrum in the Catholic Church, from people who feel very annoyed with their politicians to those who are very supportive.''
Though this attitude is what's known as sure to be criticized as more watered-down Catholicism Lite, I don't see it that way. Neither do I. It's just water, and Lite. At a less orthodox time in my own Catholic Lite life, a nun in my parish in Northern California improved my understanding and appreciation of the sacraments through the underused — and doubtless desperate — strategy of working with me instead of turning me away. I had agreed to teach a parish Sunday school class for second-graders preparing to make their first communion — until it dawned on me that I would also be expected to instruct them on the sacrament formerly known as confession. And what is it now? A glyph? Actually, it was known as the sacrament of Penance -- Don't believe me? Go check the Council of Trent, or the Catechism of St. Pius X. Oh, you say those were "canceled" by Vatican II? Want to use the most recent catechism? OK, well, let's just thumb through it . . . Hmmmmm . . . .
"Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion . . . . .". . . no, no, that's not it . . . .
The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation. The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.. . . . nope . . .
From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a criminal practice, gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.. . . . sheesh! Look at all the junk they put in this Catechism! Can't find a darn thing when you're lookin' for it! . . . . Hmmm . . . .
Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them: - by participating directly and voluntarily in them; - by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them; - by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so; - by protecting evil-doers.Nahhhh . . . . . .
Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged. . . .crap! still can't find it! . . hmmmm . . ..
Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice . . . This is also true of . . . manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values." . . . .Doggone it!!! I bet this thing would be a lot shorter if they just realized that Catholicism is a private matter between the individual and God without the need for intermediaries and magisteriums and such . . . Oh! Here it is!
WHAT IS THIS SACRAMENT CALLED? It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin. It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction. It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man. It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace." It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the live of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother."Now I went through all that, not so much to show that Melinda knows sacramental terminology like John Kerry knows Humanae Vitae. I did it to point out that she didn't call it anything -- except the "sacrament formerly known as confession." There are variations on that theme, but generally they boil down to a code that means: I'm Catholic, but I'm a good Catholic. I don't live in the intolerant, hide-bound past when we were exclusive, judgmental, rule-bound robots. I live in the accepting, affirming, never-turning-away present. But I know what they used to call it, and so I know the bad old days and the bad old Catholicism we had then -- anytime you hear talk of conversion from sin, penance for sin, confessing your sin, or being forgiven for your sins, that's bad Catholicism. Anyhow, back to the touching anecdote . . . .
"I haven't been in a while myself," I told her. "That's fine,'' she said briskly. "Maybe you'll go now.'' Like her, McCarrick seems to feel that we only get better if we stick around and practice.I'll assume, for charity's sake, that Melinda actually went to GLYPH afterwards. But is her view of this issue so trite, so blandly undeveloped, that she's really concluded that the same thing will work with John Kerry? Is that really the problem? No one's told John Kerry that he ought to stop supporting the dismemberment of babies? Well, then, here's a telegram for John . . . . YOU WERE FETUS STOP YOU NOW PERSON STOP FETUS PERSON STOP KILL FETUS, KILL PERSON STOP PLEASE NO KILL PERSONS STOP LOVE GOD STOP. " There, that ought to do it. Or should, if only John Kerry were a naive and wayward slip of a girl in Northern California who still had enough of a conscience to feel guilty for her neglect of God and enough respect for His consecrated servants to take their advice, and if only John Kerry's sins were mainly hurting himself and not others. But John's a rich and proud man intoxicated by power, who gave up recognizing any authority higher than his own ambition decades ago, and so has no compunction about watching a million infant corpses go up in flames each year if that's the price of high office. He's not practicing, Melinda. He's not even warming up. His "Pius XXIII" speech made that quite clear. That kind needs prayer and fasting, and a few whacks upside the head "John 2:15 style." Which brings us to Canon 915.
There's no decent Catholic who wants John Kerry to be denied communion. What we want is for John Kerry and Catholics like him to learn, unequivocably and undeniably, that there are rewards for for having Catholic principles and prices to pay when one abandons them. The price John Kerry should pay is no more grievous than the price any Catholic baby-hater already pays -- loss of communion with Christ, every Eucharist consumed another sin, scalding and blackening the soul even further, with no way out except confession, repentance, conversion, a reconciling submission to God. But the benefits John Kerry reaps from his sins are undeniably, intentionally, and calculatedly-public benefits. He seeks power from the hands of people who think he's one of them, a faithful member of the Church who has the same concerns and values as they do. He seeks prestige and adulation among people who, though not Catholic, admire "spirituality" and sincerity in a man, no matter what his creed, and who do not realize that Kerry has spat on his Church with every pro-abortion vote he's ever cast. He wants positive press from people in news organizations who are befuddled enough to think his hypocrisy, malice, and mendacity are the travails of an enigmatic, tortured seeker, a noble sojourner on the road to truth. Shouldn't his lesson be received as publicly as the benefits he's reaped, or tried to reap?
You tell me, Melinda. But before you do, consider yourself as a young catechism teacher who gets up in front of her second-grade students and says: "I'm not a church spokesman. I'm a layperson. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am." Suppose you told those children that confession was an option -- heck, that anything they didn't like, such as being nice to the kid whose nose is always running, or telling dad the truth about who broke the window, is optional? Suppose you told them their religion was just a matter between them and God, that they didn't need to obey anybody or know Church rules and stuff like that? I suppose sister should have just let you go on teaching, hoping someday you'd start telling the truth, knowing that in the meantime you shouldn't be "turned away" just because you were hurting children's faith. I doubt she would have. As for myself, I'd have given you the boot, hard, because my daughter's soul isn't to be used like Kleenex just because you happen to be going through a "less orthodox time" in your own Catholic life. And 2,000,000 future second-graders shouldn't be thrown away each year as though they were so much diseased tissue just because -- even partly because -- John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle, Olympia Snowe, and a bunch of other wolves in Catholic clothing are going through "less orthodox times" in their own Catholic lives.
If Melinda's got principles, and isn't of making this all up as she goes along, then she has a really interesting take the Pope who is eleven popes before Pius XXIII. She thinks that Pius XII ought to have let Hitler stick around and practice. He'd come around, eventually. After all, he was just going through a less orthodox time in his Catholic life. It had lasted 40 years, but who are we to judge? We can't know what was in Hitler's heart, not really. Why should Hitler or someone in his campaign have sought counsel on Catholic protocol? Pius XII would just have demurred and said, "What they do, is really their business and not ours. Obviously, we run the spectrum in the Catholic Church, from people who feel very annoyed with Nazis to brownshirts who scrawl Juden Raus! on shopfronts." That's the kind of tolerant, non-judgmental, inclusive Church Melinda wants, even if she doesn't realize it because she's too dazzled by this Hitler's ability to do so much good for the country, balancing the budget, providing universal health care, building autobahns, etc. There are people who say Pius XII spoke out against the evil which a powerful politician and his followers represented, and there are people who say Pius XII didn't speak out, or didn't speak out loudly enough. But Melinda Henneberger is the first person I've come across who believes that Pius XII shouldn't have said anything at all.
For some, this willingness to meet people where they are amounts to an acknowledgment that the clerical sex scandals have undermined the bishops' ability to lead. But McCarrick disagrees. "You have conversations that are compassionate but clear. You're not doing anyone a favor if you're not clear.'' Which is why we demur and say, "What you do, is really your business and not ours."
IS THAT CLEAR!?Who could possibly be worried about undermining that kind of leadership?
He seems confident that the church as a whole is ready to move beyond the scandals now. But, he said, "You can only move forward if the people believe that we appreciate the harm that's been done, and understand the sadness and the betrayal.'' And if you don't know where Melinda is going by now, you should. But her dog won't hunt, nosir.
"We've had this trauma, but we can't stay in darkness; that's the whole Easter message. We're an Easter people and Alleluia is our song,'' he said, quoting Augustine. Throughout the trial that the scandal has been to all American Catholics, that song sometimes seemed impossible to sing. The wounds will not heal quickly, and they are sure to be ripped open occasionally, too. Only last week, a 72-year-old priest in Orange County, California was removed from the ministry after pleading guilty to molesting a 15-year-old girl as he sat with her in the back seat of a car—while her parents rode up front.And only last year, John Kerry voted for a "sense of the Senate" declaration which said: "The decision of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade was appropriate and secures an important constitutional right should not be overturned" -- while parents were at that moment driving their unborn children to abortion clinics.
A few Sundays ago, Robert S. Bennett, who chaired the independent lay review board investigating the crisis, came to my parish in Georgetown to field questions about the group's final report, which found that at least 10,000 children had been abused over half a century while bishops — consumed by the fear of exactly the kind of scandal they eventually created — consistently protected the predators. Protected them from what, Melinda? Public exposure? Consequences? Being "turned away"? The kind of things you and Cardinal McCarrick think John Kerry ought to be protected from! You're getting warm when you link these issues, but they don't give you the absolution you're looking for. Which is more likely -- that a hierarchy which refuses to protect born children from fear of controversy will refuse to protect unborn children for the same unworthy motive, or that a hierarchy afraid to protect born children will make excuses about pastoral responses and ultimately cower when unborn lives are at stake? You know which one's more likely, and so do some of the Bishops.
Of course, the place was packed for that meeting, and Bennett gamely took one hot question after another—on celibacy, homosexuality, the role of women in the church. Yet somehow, on Easter morning, I looked around the same worshipspace, which is where Catholics go to receive the sacrament formerly known as "confession" which was once again completely filled, and saw an Easter people, singing "The Strife is O'er'' like they meant it. And after all we've been through, they all looked like "real'' Catholics to me.And who is talking about denying them communion, Melinda? Are some of them abortionists who publicly support abortion? Racists who publicly support racism? Pedophiles who publicly support pedophilia? If so, they should be denied communion -- if, that is, an "Easter People" stands for anything besides white chocolate bunny rabbits. If things are looking up after the scandal, then it's God's ability to bring good from evil -- the Bishops have seen what a failure of public, principled, moral leadership can do to the Church. They saw what happened when other Bishops refused to rock the boat, make public waves, suffer ridicule and contumely, preferring instead to take the easy way out and meet pedophiles where they were, letting them stick around and practice, being all gooey and pastoral, demurring and demurring and demurring until the whole world was howling its outrage on the chancery doorstep. They could look past the baying crowd and glimpse the rough, rude Thing slouching there, taking so much delight in the fruit of their poor stewardship of God's people. Let's hope you don't succeed in persuading them to forget that lesson. Let's hope they don't demur on John Kerry, or any other predator who lets children come to harm because he finds it too uncomfortable, too constricting, to live the faith his actions mock. Let's hope your way of thinking doesn't give that rough, rude Thing yet another chance to bray his unholy laugh, across a pile of dead infants, at a bunch of cowering bishops who knew, and -- once again -- did nothing.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 01:16 Hours [+]
Monday, April 12, 2004
More Stream of Consciousness
This from a story linked by The Curt Jester. Changes from the published version have been indicated by blue text.
BABYLON, Ind. MARION, Ind. -- Some have questioned whether a religious verse painted on the city's new fire truck is proper. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."
Fire Chief Steve Gorrell said department members considering slogans to go on the new truck settled on part of the 23rd Psalm: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." I wonder which second verse they had in mind? "For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Or the mocking one, "For I am the biggest, baddest s*n of a b*tch in the valley."?
"The firefighters wanted to put something on there to show the public how they represent themselves," Gorrell told the Chronicle-Tribune for a story today. Then why aren't they putting something on there to show how they represent themselves, rather than something which suggests that they represent someone else?
The department chose the biblical passage over secular sayings such as, "While others are rushing out, we're rushing in," he said. Shades of the "SOB" interpretation of Psalm 23. This is what's called a "chilling effect," folks. Firemen can't say that their job is so dangerous and intense that only faith in the Lord can provide a sure help and foundation for their work. They have to dress it up in culturebabble and hope it will fly under the radar of the heathen.
City Councilwoman Ann Secttor whose radar can detect third-graders whispering prayers within a 500 mile radius said the passage did not belong on a public vehicle. She added, "And your little dog, too!" Requests for clarification of that remark were unanswered as of this writing.
"I don't think any part of religion should be mixed with politics," said Secttor, who is Jewish. "Politics is the only true religion," she added, noting that the policital process is the one which decides who is human and who isn't, what education is allowable and what isn't, and which regulates every action of our lives, however mundane -- like the paint-job on a firetruck in Marion, Indiana. "We must leave people the freest, broadest scope to practice religious liberty," Secttor said. "Suing people who want to quote the Bible as they go into a life-or-death situation guarantees that precious freedom." Secttor added that the alternative is a theocracy where a religious view of society dictates everything from who is human and who isn't, what education is allowable and what isn't, and the regulation of every action of our lives, however mundane. Phone calls asking a follow up question about the consistency of these views were not returned as of this writing, although the office did receive a statement that any critical remarks would be proof of anti-Semitism.
Fran Quigley, executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union for the Abolition of Man, said that posting a biblical verse on a public vehicle such as a fire truck could violate made-up, delusional theories about the constitutional separation of church and state entertained by ICLU members after their fifth toke, when they start imagining that they can channel James Madison. Quigley cited a bong-induced ruling by the federal appeals court in Chicago whose judges, after declaring themselves to be the reincarnation of Benjamin Franklin, Gouvenor Morris, and a 35,000-year-old Atlantean warrior-priestess named Kweeshalarok, held that a city seal could not have a cross on it because the image would associate government with a particular religion. "Municipalities are free to display the images of aborted babies and pornography on their city seals," Quigley said, "because those are neutral symbols which allow everyone to meet on common ground and celebrate our total enslavement to Satan.
Babbit Gantry Wayne Seybold, mayor of the city about 50 miles southwest of Fort Wayne, said Wednesday that he wasn't going to take the heat on this one, involving as it does a crossfire between the militant followers of Kweeshalarok and the militant Religious Right, and so boldly revealed that he had not seen the verse on the truck thereby releiving him of any responsibility to give an opinion about it. He said he would discuss the issue with the fire department and figure out how he can get his ass out of this one without losing a vote have the image removed if it would call on him to exert moral leadership caused a problem.
"We've got a diversified community here in Marion, and we need to make sure that we're mindful of that," he burbled, mindlessly parroting the junk mail his office gets from the Association of American Babbits said. "Our strength is founded on diversity, the children are our future, no one child should be left behind, high-wage jobs and infrastructure, character counts, EXCSELSIOR!!!!!" he screamed, before collapsing.
The ladder truck also bears images of Kandee Does Dallas U.S. flags and a patriotic fire helmet remembering the 2,000,000+ firefighters, public servants, ICLU lawyers, and Mayors killed by abortionists to date Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and officials plan to add a drawing of the high school mascot, "Mr. Safe Sex," who is depicted as a smiling bananna holding an umbrella. "These symbols," said Mayor Babbit, represent the common ground that all Americans can have pride in." Fran Quigley agreed, "They can help unite our diverse views into a conflagration of unholy lust and exploitation in the pursuit of the freedom only Satan can offer." Secttor, who is Jewish, disagreed: "Satan is a religious concept, and I don't think it should be displayed on the lips of public officials and executive directors of tax-exempt organizations."
The fire truck, which cost $428,000, was paid for with city money and a federal grant, Gorrell said, Ahhh! Eaglus hathicam crappethed, causa finita est! Public money went into buying that ladder truck, rendering it completely controlled by the Minions of Diversely-Totalitarian Secularism. But wait, there's more --- your home purchased with help from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac? It's therefore a public house, and religious symbols can't be displayed on a public house! Better get that creche hidden before Fran Quigley shows up with an order signed by the Federal District Avatar of Karnak, directing you to show cause why you shouldn't be locked up in the name of freedom and diversity. Of course that can't happen here -- at least not until Fran, Mayor Babbit, and City Councilwoman Ann Secttor (who is Jewish) have finished transforming the Faith-Based Initiatives Act into a requirement that "publicly-funded" Catholic hospitals give lesbians in vitro fertilization and changed school vouchers into Mr. Safe-Sex's standing invitation to educate your kids about how glorious it is to be a lesbian using in vitro fertilization.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 15:18 Hours [+]
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Latin in the Litugry -- Hooray!!! with Quibbles
Kenny, who maintains the Sleepless Eye blogspot has linked to one of his articles titled, Latin: Reclaiming Our Heritage. These facts alone show why Latin should gain greater prominence in the life and liturgy of the Church. Kenny, as you may know from a previous blog, is from Singapore and a convert from the genteel paganism of the East. That he could write an article about Latin and title it "Reclaiming Our Heritage" speaks volumes, for as Kenny himself points out:
In 1922, Pope Pius XI said about Latin, "For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure until the end of time... of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular." His successor, Pope Pius XII wrote, "The use of the Latin language prevailing in a great part of the Church affords at once an imposing sign of unity and an effective safeguard against the corruption of true doctrine."Indeed. Can anyone imagine a Chinese or African Catholic urging his countrymen and fellow believers to burnish their English, French, or Italian in order to "reclaim their heritage"? However much those languages may be part of a Chinese or African's history, they are not part of his or her patrimony, the sacred river of witness flowing through the ages, washing and connecting all men to one another. Those languages can't form that living connection, unless they transcend the vernacular and acquire a hallowed status which exists above nationality -- in other words, unless they become what Latin already is.
Latin, used properly, is a visible sign of Catholic unity that cannot be matched. Oddly enough, it is a sign badly needed as the world (and particularly the United States) becomes (once again) the home for immigrants and refugees who do not share a common language or -- unlike prior periods of immigration to my country -- a common and universal experience of the West's cultural heritage. Because my bishop -- like other bishops in my country -- has made it known that any priest who dares to use Latin (including celebration of the Novus Ordo in Latin) will be dealt with harshly, my parish has Spanish-language masses at which only Hispanics gather for worship; English-speaking masses at which only Anglos worship; and a host of vigils, benedictions, and rosaries conducted in "Spanglish", a haphazard polyglot of English and Spanish that switches between familiar and foreign tongues so frequently that we end up, contrary to the hopes and intentions of those involved, reduced to timid muttering or outright silence. This is not the "active participation" or "inculturation" which Sacrosanctum Concilium envisioned. Kenny's essay reminds us of this fact, and it's all the more significant because he is a true Catholic who is not a child of the West. If Latin can reach across the Pacific to excite us to realize a common unity, it can surely reach across the "ethnic time zones" in Dubuque, Houston, or Portland.
Another interesting aspect of Kenny's essay is his comparison between the Second Vatican Council's affection for Latin:
The Second Vatican Council itself affirmed: "The use of Latin, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin Rites. Nevertheless care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."
Compared with what the Church actually received, although it is here I start disagreeing with Kenny a little bit (for reasons I'll explain later):
While Vatican II affirmed the use of Latin, it also permitted the use of the vernacular. The parts pertaining to the people, such as the scripture readings, or where they were invited to participate, such as hymns, should be in the vernacular. The parts that belonged to the priest, like the Eucharistic Canon for example, would then have remained in Latin. Subsequent implementations did not make Latin obligatory. It is possible that Vatican II's position was one of compromise, and those who implemented the decision were on the side of "no Latin".Although I tend to agree with Kenny that this was the liturgy the Council envisioned, I'm starting to get a little uncomfortable at this point, because "those who implemented the decision" included the Pope.
Two things are worth noting here, at least initially. First, the Council of Trent made it clear that the use of Latin or the vernacular in the liturgy was a matter to be judged, ultimately, in terms of pastoral expediency:
And whereas such is the nature of man, that, without external helps, he cannot easily be raised to the meditation of divine things; therefore has holy Mother Church instituted certain rites, to wit that certain things be pronounced in the mass in a low, and others in a louder, tone. She has likewise employed ceremonies, such as mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, derived from an apostolical discipline and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended, and the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice.-- Council of Trent, Session XXII, Chapter V, "On the Solemn Ceremonies of the Sacrifice of the Mass."
Although the mass contains great instruction for the faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers, that it should be every where celebrated in the vulgar tongue. Wherefore, the ancient usage of each church, and the rite approved of by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being in each place retained; and, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, nor the little ones ask for bread, and there be none to break it unto them, the holy Synod charges pastors, and all who have the cure of souls, that they frequently, during the celebration of mass, expound either by themselves, or others, some portion of those things which are read at mass, and that, amongst the rest, they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on the Lord's days and festivals.I think these Chapters make it clear that liturgical language is dictated by the prevailing need for those "external helps" which can more easily raise men "to the meditation of divine things," and are selected on the basis of the Church's judgment about what "seem[s] expedient" to that end.-- Council of Trent, Session XXII, Chapter VIII, "On Not Celebrating the Mass Every Where in the Vulgar Tongue; the Mysteries of the Mass to be Explained to the People."
Second, the Council of Trent also taught that the Church has authority to make, re-make, change, and otherwise make regulations regarding the use of vernacular or Latin in the liturgy, again on the grounds of pastoral expeciency addressed by the previous selections from the Council:
[T]his power has ever been in the Church, that, in the dispensation of the sacraments, their substance being untouched, it may ordain, or change, what things soever it may judge most expedient, for the profit of those who receive, or for the veneration of the said sacraments, according to the difference of circumstances, times, and places. And this the Apostle seems not obscurely to have intimated, when he says; Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. And indeed it is sufficiently manifest that he himself exercised this power, as in many other things, so in regard of this very sacrament; when, after having ordained certain things touching the use thereof, he says; The rest I will set in order when I come. Wherefore, holy Mother Church, knowing this her authority in the administration of the sacraments, although the use of both species has, from the beginning of the Christian religion, not been unfrequent, yet, in progress of time, that custom having been already very widely changed, she, induced by weighty and just reasons, has approved of this custom of communicating under one species, and decreed that it was to be held as a law; which it is not lawful to reprobate, or to change at plea sure, without the authority of the Church itself.This is not the place or time to address so-called Traditionalist arguments that the vernacular Novus Ordo is invalid because it does not, in observance of Trent's description, leave the "substance" of the liturgy "untouched"; that's not Kenny's opinion and I have no reason to digress about it here. Suffice it to say that the Church has a plenary right and authority to change the liturgy on the grounds of prudence and expedience; and this right exists and must be respected whether or not the change is itself actually prudent or expedient. After all, if the Church's authority to regulate the worship of Catholics on the grounds of prudence and expedience were subject to individual Catholics' judgments about how well the regulation served the ends of prudence or expediency, the Church's authority would be no authority at all. It would merely be the power of suggestion, a power even less forceful than the fabled "Power of Cheese."Council of Trent, Session XXI, Chapter II, "Decree on Communion under Both Species, and the Communion of Infants."
Lastly, I note that the plenitude of this power resides in the Church, and in her visible head, the Roman Pontiff:
Therefore, relying on the clear testimonies of Sacred Scripture, and adhering to the eloquent and manifest decisions not only of Our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, but also of the general Councils, We renew the definition of the Ecumenical Councils of Florence, by which all the faithful of Christ most believe ‘that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and that the Pontiff of Rome himself is the successor of the blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles, and is the true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church and faith, and teacher of all Christians; and that to him was handed down in blessed Peter, by our Lord Jesus Christ, full power to feed, rule, and guide the universal Church, just as is also contained in the records of the ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons.'"We are accustomed to thinking of Vatican I as "the Council that taught papal infallibility." A reference to the Council's decrees might at first glance seem ill-placed in our discussion, which does not involve infallibility or matters of faith and morals. But papal infallibility is not the whole of the Council's teaching. The Council also taught the age-old truth that the Holy Father has immediate, ordinary, episcopal authority over"not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world." If "those who implemented the decision were on the side of ‘no Latin'," and if they included the Pope, then the Novus Ordo should not in any way be regarded as a invalid ‘subversion' of the Council. Imprudent, or inexpedient, perhaps, but pains should be taken to explain that there is nothing about the Novus Ordo which is "wrong" in some fundamental sense -- either liturgical, sacramental, or juridical.
Kenny goes on to say that:
It is undeniable that with the promulgation of the Novus Ordo — the New Rite of the Mass — many abuses have crept into sacred liturgy. The beautiful and moving Gregorian Chant and sacred hymns has been replaced by too many "warm huggy fuzzy" songs since the 1970s or so. Songs like "Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Knees" have become more popular than majestic solid hymns like "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence". The transcendence of the Sacrifice of the Mass is mostly lost. In most parishes the most solemn and holy re-enactment of the Last Supper—and of the Sacrifice at Calvary—has become like a sing-along session. Many things that are unique to the Roman Rite, such as Gregorian Chant, have been forgotten or deliberately done away with, due to perhaps over-reactionary or erratic interpretations of the documents of Vatican II by folks who don't deserve, as much as they lay claim to, the name "liturgists". Latin, the very liturgical language of the Roman Rite, is one of the treasures of our twenty hundred years-old rich culture and heritage that has been lost.Since I myself was just recently a teeny bit vitriolic on the subject of hymns, I daren't disagree with Kenny on what the experience of Mass has become for many Catholics. But both of us ought to remember that we're not talking about the sacrament, but about what the Council of Trent rightly called "external helps" for "the meditation of divine things," which have value to the extent that the "minds of the faithful" are "excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice." I can heartily endorse Kenny's opinion that a hymn titled "Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Knees" isn't conducive to that awareness -- I don't see how whacking our legs with loaves of bread is going to help us contemplate the Mysterium Fidei. But the Council of Trent's words stress an important fact -- that very mystery is "hidden" in the Mass and will always be hidden, yet mystically unveiled, until He comes in glory. The external helps by which we might more easily raise our minds to contemplate the transcendence of the Mass may well be lost in the static and liturgical malapropisms inflicted on us by a well-meaning legion of pseudo-specialists who confuse the passing enthusiasms of fashion with the enduring conversion of the soul. But the transcendence of the Mass itself is not lost. It remains, and even the most saccharine and banal presentation of the mystery can be the occasion of a great blessing: "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." John 20:29 (KJV).
That having been said, I turn to Kenny's closing lament and question:
It is most unfortunate and shameful that we have to admit we are slowly deteriorating into a state where we have almost lost our identity as Roman Catholics. If, as described by Pope Pius XI . . . we have abandoned the very "universal, immutable, and non-vernacular" Latin language of our Rite that enabled the Church to "embrace all nations" and "last until the end of time", how can we say that we are "Roman", and "Catholic" (universal)?Ahh, Kenny, no -- our identity does not rest on the fact of Latin. Latin is an external help, a visible excitement to contemplate a unity which endures through any vicissitude. That unity is founded on Jesus Christ:
By means of the Eucharistic Sacrifice Christ our Lord willed to give to the faithful a striking manifestation of our union among ourselves and with our divine Head, wonderful as it is and beyond all praise. For in this Sacrifice the sacred minister acts as the vicegerent not only of our Savior but of the whole Mystical Body and of each one of the faithful. In this act of Sacrifice through the hands of the priest, by whose word alone the Immaculate Lamb is present on the altar, the faithful themselves, united with him in prayer and desire, offer to the Eternal Father a most acceptable victim of praise and propitiation for the needs of the whole Church. And as the Divine Redeemer, when dying on the Cross, offered Himself to the Eternal Father as Head of the whole human race, so "in this clean oblation" He offers to the heavenly Father not only Himself as Head of the Church, but in Himself His mystical members also, since He holds them all, even those who are weak and ailing, in His most loving Heart.We are Catholic because He is, and we are Roman because He founded His Church on the Bishop of Rome:-- Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, ¶ 82 (1943).
[T]he person of Jesus Christ is represented by the Supreme Pontiff, who in turn must call on others to share much of his solicitude lest he be overwhelmed by the burden of his pastoral office, and must be helped daily by the prayers of the Church. Moreover as our Savior does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, He wills to be helped by the members of His Body in carrying out the work of redemption. This is not because He is indigent and weak, but rather because He has so willed it for the greater glory of His spotless Spouse. Dying on the Cross He left to His Church the immense treasury of the Redemption, towards which she contributed nothing. But when those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this work of sanctification with His Church, but He wills that in some way it be due to her action. This is a deep mystery, and an inexhaustible subject of meditation, that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ offer for this intention and on the cooperation of pastors of souls and of the faithful, especially of fathers and mothers of families, a cooperation which they must offer to our Divine Savior as though they were His associates.Wherever Christians united with the Pope pray or worship, work or rest, glory or grieve, in Christ Jesus, there is the Roman Catholic Church. In his Letter to the Romans, St. Ignatius saluted:-- Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, ¶ 44 (1943).
the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High God the Father, and of Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is sanctified and enlightened by the will of God, who formed all things that are according to the faith and love of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour; the Church which presides in the place of the region of the Romans, and which is worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of credit, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love, is named from Christ, and from the Father, and is possessed of the Spirit . . .The "Church which presides in the place of the region of the Romans," is not, except by passing historical coincidence, the "Church which speaks Latin." When Pope Clement wrote the Corinthians, he gave them many exhortations, told them to do many things; he did not tell them to learn Latin. The language, glorious as it is, evocative of unity as it is, is nonetheless only an external "help." Yes, it would be better if we all had that help, at least sometimes. The breakdown of Latin usage in the Church is a very bad thing, but it doesn't mean we're losing our Catholicism or even the best part of what it means to be Catholic.
Those quibbles having been lodged, Kenny's essay is an elegant proof of why the Church needs Latin -- to provide a visible sign of her unity and her continuity, to more widely spread the bounty of her heritage, and to circumvent the comparatively-ephemeral boundaries of nation, place, and culture.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 15:36 Hours [+]
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Toodling Around . . .
. . . the internet, I find that the Dossier has been:
-- Linked under "Religion / Spiritual" on a list of "Recommended Blogs" maintained by TheCapitol.net, a " non-partisan firm that provides legislative, budget, communication, advocacy, and media training and information for government and business leaders."
-- Declared a "Pirate of the Caribbean" by Chris Burgwald's Veritas blog.
-- Noted as an apple of discord by Michael's Law on Blog.
-- Called "duly skeptical" by Benjamin Blosser's Ad Limina Apostolorum
-- Linked to by Let's Go Thrashers!, a Spanish-language blog supporting the Atlanta Thrashers' hockey team: "(nada de hóquei aqui)."
I like the last one, because I think I'm definitely nada de hóquei aqui!!
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 18:44 Hours [+]
Here's a homiletic suggestion for Bishop Sean O'Malley of the Duchy of Boston, adapted from EWTN's Biography of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and its description of the confrontation between the Saint and Duke William of Aquitaine:
A year before O'Malley had been called into Massachusetts where John, Duke of that province, was persecuting the unborn. John was a prince of great wealth, gigantic stature, and exceptional ability, who from his youth on had been irreverent and aggressive.Now Duke William's story ended happily:
Unable to bear more, the terrified duke fell on his face. Bernard lifted him up, and bade him salute the bishop of Poitiers. The duke did as bidden, abandoned the schism, and restored the bishop to his see. William afterwards founded a new Cistercian monastery and went on pilgrimage to Compostella, in the course of which he died.Whereas I anticipate another ending for Duke John's saga:
Delighted for the opportunity to curry favor with Protestants worried about the Whore of Babylon encroaching on the Capitol, and with Abortion-Rights Activists eager to advance the cause of death, the happy Duke turned to the camera-ed throng and declaimed:But then, St. Bernard didn't know what William would do, either. Personally, I think it's worth a shot."I'm not a filthy papist. I'm a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the sacred and holy Constitution of the United States in my public life. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul ICVVFGHVI in the Vatican VVMMCMMII, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and is therefore no oath at all, and that is exactly where I am. And it is separate. Our holy Constitution separates papism and state, and turbulent priests like O'Malley should be reminded of that."The Duke then founded a new Planned Parenthood clinic and went on a pilgrimage to the Castro District of San Francisco.
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 15:20 Hours [+]
Monday, April 05, 2004
Another Draft Uncovered
In time for April 1, the National Catholic Register published a story titled, "Bishops Plan to Make New Hymn Rules." True to the occasion, the story made it clear the Bishops aren't planning to make any rules about anything, and that they are not doing that with all deliberate speed. The Dossier has obtained a draft of the story.[**] Changes from the published version have been indicated by blue text. For those not in the know, this story is part of an interminable installment series published in various Catholic media titled, "U.S. Bishops . . . . Stall . . . . Stall . . . . Stall . . . Forever . . . . Stall . . . . Stall . . . Stall . . . . on . . . Stall . . . Stall . . . Stall . . . Liturgiam . . . Stall . . . . Stall . . . . Stall . . . . Authenticam."
NEW ROME WASHINGTON — At the beginning of this Lenten season, some Catholics in the United States were singing the hymn "Ashes" and announcing, "We rise again from ashes to create ourselves anew."
Although some might be inclined to dismiss the words as poetic license, insensitive hyper-Traditionalists who have their head in the pre-Vatican II sand others argue that it is Christ who creates us anew, and that the line is symptomatic of problems with many of the worship songs that have become part of Catholic hymnody in the years since the 1960s.
The ever-vigilant, ever-vigorous U.S. bishops agree it is time to take action about a look at what Catholics have been singing. A nother subcommittee headed by Oakland, Calif., Bishop Allen Vigneron is crafting a set of actual rules you have to follow composition guidelines to encourage ensure the Church hymns conform to Church teaching.
Msgr. Anthony Sherman, associate director of the bishops' secretariat for liturgy, said the work was undertaken in response to the 2001 instruction three years ago from the Holy See, Liturgiam Authenticam, on the use of vernacular languages in books of the Roman liturgy.
The document from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments urges "the greatest prudence and attention" in the preparation of liturgical books, saying et cum spiritu tuo they should reflect sound doctrine, use exact wording et cum spiritu tuo and be free from all ideological influence et cum spiritu tuo. It also calls on bishops' conferences to provide "for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing" within five years.
Rather than do what Rome told them to do issue a repertory, Msgr. Sherman said it is more likely the bishops will within the next ten years try to provide a set of principles to Church composers which can be easily circumvented by anyone with sufficient wit to argue about whether "limo" is a word you can use in Scrabble.
Although he believes there is much good music in use in U.S. parishes, Msgr. Sherman acknowledges that much some of it is heretical crap falls short.
For example, he said, "there are some hymns which say ‘God' is simply a metaphor for we, us, ourselves, the Church" "there are some hymns that you could look at and say there is too much emphasis on what we are doing and not enough on God's action in our life or on God's grace that uses our instrumentality to achieve things."
Dr. Susan Treacy, professor of music at Franciscan Guerilla University of Steubenville, Ohio, and an editor of Ignatius Press' subversive Adoremus hymnal, said the hymn "Ashes" is just one of a number of current texts that contradict Church teaching. Another, she said, is "For the Healing of the Nations," which, in addressing God, makes a reference to "dogmas that obscure your plan." Well they do, if God is us, and if we are eager to see womyn priests marry gay people.
"Dogma shows us God's plan and frees us in doing so," Treacy said. "That's an undeniable fact, which no educated person can deny." "That, at least, is what the Catholic Church teaches." And it's true for us.
Treacy said what Catholics sing is important because "even if we're not consciously thinking about it at the time, we remember what we say, what the words say, and they get programmed into us." "Why, even the belief that truth is a function of voluntarism can get programmed into us."
Msgr. Felix Losito, who keeps a close watch on the texts sung by parishioners at Holy Rosary Church in Reading, Pa., added that hymns can serve as tools of instruction, which is why he insisted that a particular hymn casting the Eucharist as a symbol no longer be used in the parish.
"They'll start singing the words and start believing the Eucharist is just a symbol. They'll say it's in the hymn," he said. But, as USCC documents point out, they can use that hymn in Protestant Churches, and that's an important ecumenical step!
Treacy said the hymns in use in the Church since the Second Vatican Council fall into four categories: good, beautiful older hymns from the Catholic tradition, such as "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name"; those from the classic Protestant tradition, such as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" Isn't anyone concerned about programming people to take Martin Luther's piety as a model for their own by singing the Battle Hymn of the Reformation?; traditional gospel songs, which make white suburban parishioners feel earthy, close to the people, more real somehow such as "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"; and those by Catholic and Protestant composers in the junky popular-music style based on soft effeminate pseudo-pop rock, commercialized folk muzak music or Broadway tunes "Euuuuuuuuu --- uucharist where the substance is really really changed!" and there's always Rogers & Hammerstein's Bali Hai, which can be used just by changing the name to Jesus Christ -- the rest fits right in with modern liturgical music.[**]
She finds classic hymns preferable not only because they are easier to sing well, that rules ‘em out right there, can't have men singing hymns but also because the lyrics are more doctrinally secure, provided they have not been "updated" by liturgists and committees ripping lines from Ankhenaton's hyms to Aton
Treacy cited "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" as an example of a classic hymn that works. Because, minor programming glitches aside, she knows good liturgical music and has great taste!
"That is a great hymn," she said. Amen. No, no, not Ammon, Amen "The tune is easy to remember and easy to learn. It's exciting and joyful, and yet the text is the English version of the Te Deum and a song of praise to God." and not to us, we, ourselves, the Church. "That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth . . ." hmmmm . . . maybe the Mad Monk of Wittenberg's not that bad a choice after all . . . .
Robert Batastini, vice president and senior editor of GAIA Publications and a lay member of the bishops' hymn sub-sub-sub-subcommittee, said a good hymn should be biblically and liturgically based having at least one article or pronoun found in the bible or the liturgy, addressed more or less to God however conceived so it constitutes worship and consists of good poetry written by someone with genuine literary skill as opposed to good poetry written by someone who's dead and whose work can't be copyrighted. One can find such music in GIA hymnals, which include the most widely sung music in the church today, and plenty of it. Classic hymns, psalms galore, music by the most widely sung composers of our time, e.g., Haugen, Haas, Joncas, Proulx, Schutte, Dufford, and so many others; outstanding European composers, e.g., Berthier (Taizé), Bell (Iona), Walker, Farrell, Inwood, and indigenous music from around the world. You'll never run out of new music! "Wonderful -- that's the Church's idea of liturgy," Batastini said, "always having to sing hymns you're hearing for the very first time."
What Catholics sing today, he said, is "all over the place" in terms of quality. Like the aforementioned "Ashes,"; "Anthem," ("We are called, we are chosen, / we are Christ for one another / we are harvest, we are hunger / we are question, we are creed"); "Gather Us In," (God's life isn't found "in the dark of buildings confining / Not in some heaven, light years away / But here in this place . . ."); "I Myself Am the Bread of Life" (which says otherwise, that "you and I are the bread of life / taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ / that the world may live") -- all available in the high-quality, durable hymnals offered by GIA Publications, Inc.
"I think there's some very, very fine stuff and some trash," he said, "some stuff really not worthy of anybody's time." But I publish almost all of it, because you'll see oceans of Lemonade on Mars before anybody implements Liturgiam Authenticam in this country. But Batastini said because of the sheer size of the repertoire, any attempt to revise GIA hymnals review it would be nearly impossible and so incomplete and expensive as to be worthless When asked if that was why Liturgiam Authenticam just asked for an established repertoir, rather than a perpetually-running hymn-O-meter that reviews every musical jot and tittle churned out by GIA, Batastini replied, "Hey, who's paying attention to Liturgiam Authenticam? After all we are called, we are chosen . . . we are question, we are creed. Magisterial guidnce isn't to be found in the dark of buildings confining, or in some heaven, light years away, but here in this place, 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194."
Batastini said a list of fuzzy, optional guidelines with samples of good and bad hymns and explanations as to why each is considered acceptable or unacceptable Oh sure -- anybody wanna bet that something GIA puts out will end up in the "bad" category? is a more practical alternative than what Rome told the Bishops to do. The bishops' committee, he said, also could devise a list of 100 core hymns that every Catholic in the United States should know, the providing continuity as Catholics move from parish to parish. "And the list could be updated," he said, "as new compositions make their way into the repertoir." He added, "you know what's funny? When the Vatican tells us to come up with a list of core hymns to be sung at liturgy, it's impractical and impossible. But when we try to make an optional list which has no practical effect, we can do it in fifteen minutes."
"Going through the potential repertoire of hymns for Christian worship would be like trying to count the grains of salt in a saltshaker. … "I could see where a committee evaluating hymns could spend a day arguing over one hymn," he said. "There are hundreds of thousands." "And that's our story for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discpline of the Sacraments, and we're sticking to it. If they really push it, fine, we'll publish that list of 100 great hymns on our website as a suggested resource for parishes. Thus do we rise again from the ashes of magisterial interference to create ourselves anew!"
[**] Yes, this is a parody and not a real draft!!
[***] Don't believe me? Here's the lyrics to Bali Hai:
Most people live on a lonely island
Lost in the middle of a foggy sea
Most people long for another island
One where they know they would like to be
Bali Ha'i, may call you.
Any night, any day
In your heart you'll hear it call you
Come away, come away
Bali Ha'i, will whisper
On the wind of the sea
"Here am I your special island,"
"Come to me, Come to me"
Your own special hopes
Your own special dreams
Bloom on the hill side
And shine near the streams
If you try you'll find me
Where the sky meets the sea
Here am I your special island
Come to me, Come to me
Someday you'll see me
Floating in the sunshine
My head sticking out from a low flying cloud
You'll hear me call you
Singing through the sunshine
Sweet and clear as can be
Come to me
Here am I
Come to me
If you try you'll find me
Where the sky meets the sea
Here am I your special island
Come to me, Come to me
Transmitted by SecretAgentMan 12:42 Hours [+]
Friday, April 02, 2004