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 major issues like abortion anti-Semitsm or the union of Austria and Germany during an election campaign, they are not telling people how to vote, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick Theodor Innitzer of Washington Vienna said.

Instead, they are encouraging Catholics to study candidates' positions the upcoming plebiscite on a wide range of questions and weigh them all very carefully, Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

Life issues like abortion and euthenasia the humanity of Jews come first because "without life, you cannot have any other human values," the cardinal said.

But the church is not a single-issue institution, he said.

"One (issue) may be primary, but there are many issues that have to be considered. There are probably people who are with us on one issue but against us on many other issues. All these things have to be weighed very carefully -- without giving anybody any direction on how they should vote," he said. "We joyfully acknowledge the eminent work which the National-Socialist movement has done and is still doing in the fields of national construction and the economy, as well as in the area of social welfare, for the benefit of the Reich and the German people, in particular the poorest among them," he said.

Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer spoke after a Vatican official, Cardinal Francis Arinze Eugenio Pacelli made headlines around the world when he that Catholic politicians who were unambiguously pro-abortion should not be given Communion. He was presenting a new Vatican document on Eucharist-related abuses. preached at Notre Dame Cathedral that Germany was a "noble and powerful nation whom bad shepherds would lead astray into an ideology of race." And after the metropolitan of Linz, Germany, home-town of Adolf Hitler, stated categorically "that it was impossible to be a 'good Catholic and a sincere National Socialist." Some speculated that Pacelli was referring to a Vatican statement on Church-state relations.

Cardinal Arinze's Pacelli's remarks were read by many as a reference to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler the probable Democratic nominee for U.S. president leader of Austria after the plebiscite and a supporter of legalized abortion, anti-Jewish policies who has continued to receive Communion. court Catholic support for his Nazi party.

Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer, in Rome with several other U.S. bishops on their "ad limina" visits required of heads of dioceses every five years, called to Rome to consult with Pacelli after the Vatican publicly rebuked his support for the Anschluss in an article published in L'Osservetore Romano discussed the issue April 27 with Cardinal Arinze Pacelli, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments Secretariat of State. Cardinal Arinze Pacelli seemed surprised that his remarks had caused a political stir, Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer said.

"He made it clear that where he stands is what the document said. The document goes so far, and no further," Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer said.

The Vatican document titled, Mit Brennender Sorge said that "anyone who is conscious of grave sin should not celebrate or receive the body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession, except for grave reason." "Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community -- however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things -- whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds." It did not speak about withholding the Eucharist as a sanction.Nazism.

Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer said that while church law foresees situations in which Communion should be denied Catholics work vigorously against Church teaching interpreting the law is a delicate question.

"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.

Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer said his approach to Catholic politicians who clearly oppose important church teachings is to make sure they know what the church teaches, keep dialogue open, and let them know that "if they are taking a public stand there will be some sanctions of a certain nature." "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 United States Austria we're not talking about anyone in particular. We're talking about a genus of people, a group of people, who may be Catholic and who may not be accepting of the teaching of the church," 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.

Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer met privately with Kerry Hitler in mid-April. He said the encounter lasted nearly an hour and was "a good meeting, a meeting where we discussed many things." He declined to elaborate, saying that when he meets someone "as a priest" he does not think it appropriate to give details. "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.

Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer heads a task force established by the U.S. Austrian bishops to discuss issues related to Catholic participation in political life. It is addressing, among other things, the question of reception of the sacraments by politicians whose positions contradict church teaching.

The cardinal said the Vatican has shown interest in the task force, which expects to complete its work after -- well, well after, the presidential election plebiscite this year.

"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.
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."

Monday, April 26, 2004

Catholic Un-Answers

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.

Why should I bother?
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:
"It is not our policy to deny Communion. It is up to the individual."
Gee, what a great staff! Hold on, Jim, we have Mark Adkinson, a spokeperson for the Archdiocese of Washington, on the line. Mark, what do you think about Jim's question particularly about the Missalette, which says he shouldn't receive communion?
"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.
Yes it is.

Via The Curt Jester we learn about the future of school vouchers and faith-based initiatives.
One Thought About "Curmudgeonly" Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney couldn't tell the difference between a hero and a sandwich.
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.

They do.


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.

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 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 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!
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!

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Good News

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!

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.

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, let me fix that -- it's 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."
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.

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.

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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.