Saturday, May 30, 2009

Some More Ecumenical Thoughts about Fr. Cutié

My friend, Clayton, who blogs at the endlessly useful Weight of Glory (and who, by the way, has gotten into the habit of being right), sent a link to a piece in a Miami concern, regarding the ecumenical ramifications of Fr. Cutié's apostasy.

Here is a snippet:

Even Episcopalians say [the Archbishop of Miami, John C.] Favalora has a point. Bishop Christopher Epting, the Episcopal Church's point man for interfaith affairs, said Friday, "There's no written rule, but it's certainly been the informal understanding between all our ecumenical partners that it's not something one seeks headlines about. It doesn't help us ecumenically."

There's a delicate diplomacy to conversions, with long-established protocols to ensure that interfaith bridges that take decades to build are not burned in a single afternoon. Epting said the Episcopal Church's ecumenical office, which is usually consulted on all conversions, was not informed about the ceremony ahead of time.

"I wish we had been consulted," Epting said. "We will be pursuing this."
I seriously want to know why we are making the possibly tens of thousands of Anglican communicants who would, with their bishops, swim the Tiber in a heartbeat waiting at river's edge out of concern for Ecumenical sensibilities, especially after a stunt like this.

In any case, how is refusing to welcome people into full communion with the One True Church of Jesus Christ 'anti-ecumenical'?

In closing, we cannot forget that the soul of a man and a priest of Jesus Christ is in mortal peril. Please, pray and do works of mercy for his conversion.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Just so We're Crystal:

I'm right with the Archbishop of Miami about the ecumenical implications of the indecently swift and public Episcopal welcome given to Fr. Cutié.

I also think he needs to be publicly and officially excommunicated, for his good and for the good of the Church.

That is also all I have to say about that.


Brief Update

Folks, I have to beg you to forebear - I know I have promised people considerations on any number of things. They will come, one way or another. Sotomayor is not going to be confirmed this weekend, nor is the nominee for the Holy See Ambassador.

In case you missed it, Sandro Magister has an interesting take on Obama and ND and the future here.

Also, while we're at it, is anybody else wondering what the folks at Christian Unity have to say about this (thanks for the "heads up!" Clayton)?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop 8 Stands in California

The Supreme Court voted 6-1 to uphold the constitutional amendment defining marriage as existing only between one man and one woman.

Same sex marriages contracted between the erstwhile legalization of same-sex marriage and Prop 8's passage are valid.

Any readers with access to the slip opinion are encouraged to send me a link/text/PDF.


Obama Announces SCOTUS Pick

I'll have more on this after I've digested and consulted. In the meantime, here is some wire copy:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama tapped federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, officials said, making her the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robes of a justice.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor, 54, would succeed retiring Justice David Souter. Two officials described Obama's decision on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.

Administration officials say Sotomayor would bring more judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice confirmed in the past 70 years.

A formal announcement was expected at midmorning.

Obama had said publicly he wanted a justice who combined intellect and empathy — the ability to understand the troubles of everyday Americans.

Democrats hold a large majority in the Senate, and barring the unexpected, Sotomayor's confirmation should be assured.

If approved, she would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the current court.

Sotomayor is a self-described "Newyorkrican" who grew up in a Bronx housing project after her parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico. She has dealt with diabetes since age 8 and lost her father at age 9, growing up under the care of her mother in humble surroundings. As a girl, inspired by the Perry Mason television show, she knew she wanted to be a judge.

A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, a former prosecutor and private attorney, Sotomayor became a federal judge for the Southern District of New York in 1992.

As a judge, she has a bipartisan pedigree. She was first appointed by a Republican, President George H.W. Bush, then named an appeals judge by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

At her Senate confirmation hearing more than a decade ago, she said, "I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it."

In one of her most memorable rulings as federal district judge, Sotomayor essentially salvaged baseball in 1995, ruling with players over owners in a labor strike that had led to the cancellation of the World Series.

As an appellate judge, she sided with the city of New Haven, Conn., in a discrimination case brought by white firefighters after the city threw out results of a promotion exam because two few minorities scored high enough. Ironically, that case is now before the Supreme Court.

Obama's nomination is the first by a Democratic president in 15 years.

His announcement also leaves the Senate four months — more than enough by traditional standards — to complete confirmation proceedings before the Court begins its next term in the fall.

Republicans have issued conflicting signals about their intentions. While some have threatened filibusters if they deemed Obama's pick too liberal, others have said that is unlikely.

Given Sotomayor's selection, any decision to filibuster would presumably carry political risks — Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the population and an increasingly important one politically.

Abortion rights have been a flashpoint in several recent Supreme Court confirmations, although Sotomayor has not authored any controversial rulings on the subject.

Sotomayor's elevation to the appeals court was delayed by Republicans, in part out of concerns she might someday be selected for the Supreme Court. She was ultimately confirmed for the appeals court in 1998 on a 68-28 vote, gathering some Republican support.

Among those voting against her was Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee that will hold sway over her confirmation.

Now, more than a decade later, Sotomayor possesses credentials Sessions said he wanted in a pick for the high court — years of experience on the bench. Obama had talked openly about the upside of choosing someone outside the judiciary — every single current justice is a former federal appeals court judge — but passed on at least two serious candidates who had never been judges.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 1: General MacArthur's Thayer Award Acceptance Speech - "Duty, Honor, Country"

Sylvanus Thayer was the 5th Commandant of the United States Military Academy at West Point. The award created in his memory has the following motivation:

The Thayer Award, established in honor of Col. Sylvanus Thayer, 'Father of the Military Academy,' is presented to an outstanding citizen whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify the Military Academy motto, "Duty, Honor, Country." The Association of Graduates has presented the award annually since 1958.

The recipient of the Sylvanus Thayer Award receives a medal with a bust in profile of Thayer on one side, with the inscription: 'The Sylvanus Thayer Medal Awarded by the Association of Graduates, United States Military Academy, for Outstanding Service to the Nation.' The reverse side carries the coat of arms of the Military Academy and the words 'West Point" and "Duty, Honor, Country.' Around the edge of the medal are inscribed the name of the recipient and the year of presentation. In addition to receiving the medal, the recipient’s name is inscribed on a memorial plaque in Washington Hall, the cadet dining facility.

On May 12, 1962, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur received the Thayer Award, and offered the following reflection on his experience of the moral excellence of the American soldier.

For Mp3 audio recording, click here.

General Westmoreland, General Grove, distinguished guests, and gentlemen of the Corps!
As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, "Where are you bound for, General?" And when I replied, "West Point," he remarked, "Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before?"

No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute as this [Thayer Award]. Coming from a profession I have served so long, and a people I have loved so well, it fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But this award is not intended primarily to honor a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code -- the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent. That is the animation of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which will be with me always Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.

The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.

And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory? Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man-at-arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then as I regard him now -- as one of the world's noblest figures, not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.

He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast. But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements. In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other he has drained deep the chalice of courage.

As I listened to those songs [of the glee club], in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.
I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always, for them: Duty, Honor, Country; always their blood and sweat and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.

And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory -- always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password of: Duty, Honor, Country.

The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong.
The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training -- sacrifice.

In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.

However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.

You now face a new world -- a world of change. The thrust into outer space of the satellite, spheres, and missiles mark the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind. In the five or more billions of years the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the human race, there has never been a more abrupt or staggering evolution. We deal now not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe. We are reaching out for a new and boundless frontier.

We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy; of making winds and tides work for us; of creating unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; to purify sea water for our drink; of mining ocean floors for new fields of wealth and food; of disease preventatives to expand life into the hundreds of years; of controlling the weather for a more equitable distribution of heat and cold, of rain and shine; of space ships to the moon; of the primary target in war, no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy; of such dreams and fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all time.

And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars.

Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment. But you are the ones who are trained to fight. Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country.

Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men's minds; but serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation's war-guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded, and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.
Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution.

Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.

This does not mean that you are war mongers. On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.

But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point.

Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.

Today marks my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps.

I bid you farewell.

Ave atque vale, General MacArthur, "Hail and farewell."

Please, pause for a moment and say a prayer of gratitude for our men and women at arms.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's Been a Brutal Week

It's actually been a brutal couple of weeks. I'll try to catch up over the weekend. By next week, things ought to return to normal (I mean my blogging rhythms, roughly).

Thanks for your patience.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Fr. Jenkins Should Have Said

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of 2009, distinguished guests,

We are honored today with the presence of the President of the United States, who joins us at the beginning of his term of office, during which he shall make choices on which the life and welfare of our republic, the health and safety of untold millions of our fellows here at home and abroad, shall directly depend. He needs our constant prayers, and, on this day, at this hour, he has our attention: ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America...

I know it's Tuesday...

and that I haven't posted anything since Sunday. Bear with me. I'll be back in the game as soon as a few things work themselves out. Give me 24hrs.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tamil Tigers Concede Defeat - Pope Appeals for Aid

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, an internationally notorious terrorist organization that has been waging a secessionist civil war in the Indian Ocean island nation of Sri Lanka for more than a quarter century, have conceded defeat.

Pope Benedict XVI has called on Catholic and other aid agencies to make every effort to ensure that the basic needs of war refugees are met. AsiaNews has more...

For Information on ND Coverage...

And, what's infinitely more important, for an example of the proper spirit with which to approach the whole matter, go visit The Weight of Glory.


LD Query:

Does anyone have any of the back story to this (the elderly priest who was arrested at ND this weekend)?

Please e-mail me:

I already know who the priest is and the great distinction with which he has served both the nation and the Church. I am looking for more information about what, exactly, he was doing there, whether he and his group had asked permission, whether they had been denied access to the campus, how many were there, was there a Secret Service security directive in place, etc.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Call for Clarity and Action

Over the past two days, as the coverage of President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame began to pick up speed in the MSM, I noticed the return of an extremely disturbing trend: the tendency of MSM news writers to make blanket statements to the effect that the Catholic Church is against stem cell research, sic et simpliciter. This is not true. The Catholic Church is a strong supporter of every kind of stem cell research that does not involve the deliberate destruction of a human embryo. If you are reading this blog, you probably know this already, but it cannot hurt to repeat it once again: The Catholic Church is against EMBRYONIC stem cell research. If you see this error, please, write to the outlet and point it out. Be brief and document yourself.

This kind of misrepresentation is a disservice to the national discourse.


The Real Priorities of the Real Press

An AP wire story reported US President Barack Obama's Saturday activities as follows:

...Oh, heck, here's the copy, via Yahoo! news:

It [wa]s a busy Saturday for Barack Obama. First he named a new ambassador to China and then he switched from being president to being a soccer dad.

Obama traded a business suit for jeans and a Chicago White Sox jacket before shuttling around Washington to see daughters Malia and Sasha play in separate soccer games.

Obama cheered and clapped along the sidelines at 7-year-old Sasha's game with two Chicago friends. At one point, after Sasha's team scored, the president excitedly shouted "go ... go ... go ... goal."

Obama then moved on to 10-year-old daughter Malia's soccer match. After soccer, Obama went golfing.

Earlier Saturday morning, Obama introduced Utah's Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman as his choice for U.S. ambassador to China.

So, let me get this straight: the AP thought it more important to tell us about POTUS BO's clothes-changes, his personal visits with friends, his daughters' weekend sports activities, his enthusiasm for these last, and his own Staturday sporting exploits, all before telling us who he appointed as the new US Ambassador to China?

St. Francis de Sales and Blessed John Nepomucene Neumann, Pray for Us!

Prayer Request

Please Pray for H, who became a mother for the first time not quite a year ago, and has just been diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer.

Consider this thread a spiritual bouquet.


Friday, May 15, 2009

RIP Wayman Tisdale

Basketball great Wayman Tisdale died of cancer today. He was 44 years old.

Please say a prayer for him and his family.

Here is an obit.

The Lazy Disciple Gets a Makeover

I'd really appreciate feedback on these changes from any and all readers. I'd prefer comments in the combox to this post, but I will not spurn e-mails sent to:

Oh, on that note: I am going to be publishing the e-mail protocol in the sidebar. The short of it is that, if you send it, I can publish it. This does not mean that I will publish something you ask not to be. I will consider motivated requests for anonymity. If things keep gaining pace as they have been in the past 2 weeks or so (I know, no guarantee, there), I am going to consider starting a semi-regular "mailbag" sampling. If you send in something for mailbag consideration, just say so in the subject field. The mailbag rule will be anonymity, unless you explicitly and specifically request identification.

Basically, it's just me here, so the dictates of common sense and common decency have a fighting chance (I know, I know, I heard you - alright already).

There will be some other, minor changes throughout the day, evening, and into the weekend. Keep checking, and please do let me know.

Remember, I am here to keep you, er, happy.


7 Quick Takes Alert!

THe Puella has published her weekly contribution to the 7 Quick Takes project. Go read them: you will be delighted and edified. Link here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sweden Approves Gender-based Abortion

Amy has more over at her place, the via media.

Please: pray, fast and do penance.


Archbishop Burke and the Voter's Conscience: a clarification

I have seen the interview that Abp. Burke gave to Kathryn Lopez over at NRO. He makes the following statement:

"If a Catholic knowingly and deliberately votes for a person who is in favor of the most grievous violations of the natural moral law, then he has formally cooperated in a grave evil and must confess his serious sin. Since President Obama clearly announced, during the election campaign, his anti-life and anti-family agenda, a Catholic who knew his agenda regarding, for example, procured abortion, embryonic-stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage, could not have voted for him with a clear conscience."

Abp. Burke is a great legal mind and a truly great Churchman. As he has formulated the matter above, though, there seems to be an element that, while not wrong, is imprecise as a matter of moral theology; I mean Archbishop Burke's articulation of the conditions for formal cooperation in an act. Formal cooperation requires that there be assent to the end, the purpose of the act with which one cooperates.

Perhaps this is what the Archbishop means by "deliberately", but deliberation is not, in the language of moral science, the same as willing(ness).

I might knowingly and deliberately tie up a fellow hostage while the house robber holds us both at gunpoint, without assenting implicitly or otherwise to the act of robbery. I would yet be but a material cooperator. Similarly, a Catholic might have voted for Obama despite the candidate's views on abortion, etc., and still have only cooperated materially in any eventual evil that came about as the result of the implementation of the President's policies. In sum, only someone who voted for Obama because of his abortion policies would be guilty of formal cooperation.

Catholics who voted for Obama despite their opposition to his life policies were appallingly naive and ill-advised. They acted stupidly, but they did not necessarily commit a mortal sin.

In any case, I certainly do not think Archbishop Burke intended his observations to be an armchair condemnation of millions of people - though Tom Peters is using the Archbishop's remarks to Monday morning quarterback the consciences of his fellow citizens and co-religionists.

This is unhelpful, at best.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This may very well be even better than the first one.

Tip of the hat to the author of fallible blogma:

There you have it.

Abp Burke and Marriage - a brief

I am up to my neck in it right now, so these remarks have to be sintetici:

One of the subtexts to the Abp. Burke's observations regarding marriage, the family, civil society and the state, is not only worthy of mention, but indeed central to our understanding and address of the issue. Those who would use state power to change the basic structure of marriage, usually couch their case in terms of civil rights.

Civil rights are created by the state and are expressions of, or determinations in accordance with the fundamental rights of man. Marriage, however, and the natural society called the family, which is founded on it, is an instituion that is prior to the State.

The institution of marriage does not simply pre-exist the State: it is a natural social institution that survives even when the State disintegrates.

This means that the state is not competent to alter the fundamental structure of marriage.

N.B. This does not mean that a state may not, or ought not, or even must not alter the fundamental structure of marriage. It means that the State, as such, has no power to alter the fundamental structure of marriage. The State does not, as Chief Justice Catherine J. Marshall argued in Goodridge, "create civil marriage." Such a claim is not only based on faulty ontology; it is anti-historical and illogical. Marriage existed before the states did, and it continued to exist even when colonial governments were annihilated and before new ones were erected to replace them; the history of marriage in America belies the claim. Native Americans took wives and had families even when they were not subject to the authority of any state or federal power, while the validity of Indian marriages was never made to depend on the issuance of retroactive marriage licences or certificates after such time as a formerly sovereign nation came under the jusrisdiction of a state, or of the United States; the ontological priority of the institution with respect to the State is something that has never, on principle, been disputed in the history of our nation. If the state creates civil marriage, then the state may destroy civil marriage - without so much as a "by your leave" to those, who have entered into the union; this is absurd.

Nevertheless, it may be that everyone in every generation prior to 1988 has been dreadfully wrong about the right order of marriage's relationship to the State. The gravity of the interests at stake in the question calls for exploration of the possibility.

The right to marry the person of one's choice, without respect to the sex of the persons who would enter into marital union together, can only be a civil right if the state does, in fact create civil marriage. If the state does create civil marriage, then the state has power over nature. If the state has power over nature, then the state is not naturally limited in the scope of its power. If the state, however constituted, is unlimited in the scope of its power, then it is total.

So, the claim according to which the state ought to grant "marriage" as a matter of "civil rights" is actually based on a surreptitious presupposition, i.e. that the state is not naturally limited in the scope of its power, or, more bluntly, that the state is total.

The "gay marriage" claim may therefore be made to hold only within a totalitarian understanding of the state.

Now, I do not think the advocates of "gay marriage" are crypto-totalitarians. I do think they are gravely mistaken about the American understanding of the nature and purpose of government.

The difficulty of the matter is that gay marriage proponents have appropriated the vocabulary of a psychically and politically healthy citizenry, while Catholics and others of good will who oppose "gay marriage" often do so on the basis of spurious claims, e.g. that legislators have a "duty" to represent "the values" of their constituents; or that the "gay lobby" is out to "destroy the family". This sounds more like the ranting of a "second shooter on the grassy knoll" conspiracy junkie than a seriously engaged citizen ready to offer frank opinions and presume the good will of his fellows.

The short of it is that people on the right side of an issue are not guaranteed - and indeed often do not employ - better arguments than their interlocutors on the other side of the issue. Very often, all too often, indeed, the people on the right side of an issue are the wrong sort of people - the sort of people who frown at hot fudge sundaes and gripe about the noise the neighbors' children make while playing in the yard on Saturday afternoon. Too often people think that being right gives them a right to be nasty, or a claim to moral superiority.

In any case, the duty of legislators is to represent the interests of their constituents, and often it is precisely the conscientious execution of this duty that leads a legislator to lose his next bid for re-election. Ours is not a perfect system. It does happen to be better than all the others.

If Catholics are going to help society, then we must rediscover the forms and modes and orders of argument in our political system, and re-engage on the ground that shall then be available to us.


Saturday, May 09, 2009


Blogging will be slow while the Holy Father is in the Holy Land.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Puella 7QT Published

Go Read them: you will be entertained and edified

Engaged at Fallible Blogma

Go check the combox there for a good discussion - and thanks to the blog-keeper, Matthew Warner.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

May 6th, 1527 - Rome is Sacked

They were crack troops, the finest and most feared soldiers in all of Europe. They had been over 20 years in the service of the Popes, and on May 6th, 1527, they sealed their allegiance to Peter's Successors in blood.

From the Swiss Guards' Page at the Vatican website:

On the morning of May 6th, 1527, from his headquarters set up in St. Onofrio's Convent on the Gianicolo hill, Captain General Bourbon launched a series of attacks on Rome. During one of them, at the Torrione Gate, while leading the assault of the walls, he himself was mortally wounded. After just a moment's hesitation, the Spanish mercenaries broke through the Torrione Gate, while the lansquenets invaded the road of Borgo Santo Spirito and St. Peter's. The Swiss Guard, standing firm at the foot of the obelisk (now in St. Peter's Square, but then near the German cemetery within the Vatican close to the Basilica), together with the few remnants of the Roman troops, resisted desperately. Their Captain, Kaspar Röist was wounded, and later killed by the Spaniards in his quarters in front of his wife, Elizabeth Klingler. Of the 189 Swiss Guards, only 42 survived, the ones who, when all was lost, under the command of Hercules Göldli guarded Clement VII’s retreat to safety in Castel Sant’Angelo. The rest fell gloriously, massacred together with two hundred fugitives, on the steps of the High Altar in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Clement VII and his men were able to escape to safety, thanks to the "Passetto", a secret corridor which Pope Alexander VI had built along the top of the wall connect­ing the Vatican with Castel Sant’Angelo. The savage horde was in a hurry, for fear that the League troups would cut off their retreat. Across the Sisto bridge the lansquenets and Spaniards fell on the city and for eight days committed every sort of violence, theft, sacrilege and massacre, even the tombs of the Popes, including that of Julius II, were violated in search of spoils. There were as many as 12 thousand dead and the booty amounted to ten million ducats. All that happened cannot really be regarded with surprise because the imperial army and in particular Frundsberg's lansquenets, were animated by a violent spirit of crusade against the Pope. In front of Castel Sant’Angelo where the Pope had retreated, a parody of a religious procession was set up, in which Clement was asked to cede the sails and oars of the "Navicella" (boat of Peter) to Luther, and the angry soldiery shouted "Vivat Lutherus pontifex!" (Long live Luther, Pontiff!) The name of Luther was incised with the tip of a sword across the painting of the "Dispute of the Most Holy Sacrament" in the Rooms of Raffaello, out of disdain, while on another wall a graffito hailed Charles V, emperor. Concise and exact was the description given by the Prior of the Canons of St. Augustine at that time: "Mali fuere Germani, pejores Itali, Hispani vero pessimi." (The Germans were bad, the Italians were worse, the Spaniards were the worst.) Besides the irreplaceable damage of the destruction of the relics, during the Sack of Rome, inestimable art treasures, namely the greater part of the Church's finest artisan-made gold and silver ware, were lost forever. On June 5th, Clement had to surrender and to accept heavy conditions: he had to cede the fortresses of Ostia, Civitavecchia, and Civita Castellana, to hand over the cities of Modena, Parma and Piacenza, and to pay the sum of four thousand ducats. Moreover, a ransom for the freedom of prisoners was demanded. The papal garrison was replaced by four companies of Germans and Spaniards, and two hundred lansquenets took the place of the Swiss Guard which had been suppressed. The Pope obtained permission for the surviving Swiss Guards to join the new Guard, but only 12 of them accepted, among them Hans Gutenberg of Chur and Albert Rosin of Zurich. The others wished to have nothing to do with the hated lansquenets.
This is the oath the new gaurdsmen, called Halbardiers, take on this day:

I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honourably serve the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the See is vacant.

Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors, respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me!

The LD salutes the new guardsmen, and wishes them all the best in their service.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Brain Storm, Pt. 1 Neocat Priests Learn TLM?

Seriously - bear with me on this one.

The Neocatechumenal Way is one of the responses to the Conciliar renewal. The group counts hundreds of thousands of members, and has several seminaries in different dioceses throughout the world, including one in Rome.

Strong on promotion of the family, the organization has serious issues with its understanding of Catholic doctrine and dogma, and also with its liturgical understanding and practice.

This is not to cast aspersions - it is only to state a fact.

So here is what I propose: that the rectors of Redemptoris Mater seminaries commit to training their men in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and strongly encourage their men to make celebration of the EF an integral part of their pastoral ministry.

NB I most emphatically do not advocate imposing the EF on the Neocatechumenal communities.

I rather envision RM-trained priests actively looking for opportunities to celebrate for traditional groups in need of celebrants, and making a conscious effort to celebrate, say, one EF Mass a week in their parish churches or the chapels where they are assigned - letting the faithful know that they will be doing so.

I can envision three good results:

  • The Neocatechumenal Way would be served by priests with a deeper formation in and appreciation for the roots of Catholic worship. This would help them overcome some of the intellectual and spiritual limitations of the NW vision of the Church and the liturgy as offered by and found in the catechetical texts of the NW's founder, Kiko Arguello.
  • The Way would send a clear message to the Holy Father and to its lay membership, which constitute the group's bulk and strength: "We are really on board with you 100%! We understand that we must be obedient to you, Holy Father, and to your brother bishops in communion with you. We've experienced some growing pains, sure, but now, we are more than ready - we are truly happy to toe the line." It would send the message by action, which speaks louder than words.
  • Some of the liturgical practices of the group have been criticised, and even condemned as unacceptable abuses. This has been cause of confusion and tension for many in the group, who have only known the NW celebration, and/or are emotionally attached to the NW liturgy for understandable reasons. A deeper formation in the richness of the Church's liturgical tradition would go a long way toward making NW priests better able to explain the reasons for the changes in "their" liturgy. Where the light of knowledge shines, there, the fear and resentment that feed on the darkness of ignorance are starved and wither.
These are just three, mind you. Anyone with any thoughts please let me know.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I was going to post on academic freedom and the Catholic university today, though I was distracted by some correspondence that came in, and did not finish an urgent work project as quickly as I had hoped.

Those will have to wait at least another 12 hrs.

In the meantime, check this out: neat new stuff on the 'net

RIP Jack Kemp, 1935-2009

The Buffalo Bills QB and New York Congressman/1996 VP candidate, Jack Kemp, has died of cancer. He was 73 years old.

Please, say a prayer.

Obit here.

These Guys Are Hilarious!

Anyone in Chicago? Going to be this coming weekened? Looking for a great excuse for a road trip?

Check this out:

Event: Hey You Millionaires Pilot Premiere
"Sketches, A new Pilot, extras"
What: Performance
Host: Hey You Millionaires
Start Time: Friday, May 8 at 10:00pm
End Time: Saturday, May 9 at 12:00am
Where: The Playground Theater

To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:

Seriously, one of the members has been making my sides split since I was 2.

Don't take my word for it, though: click here to see for yourself!

Just in case you were wondering, this is neither the academic freedom post, nor the torture post. Rest easy.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Blogger has Fixed the Problem

I mean, the one that kept me away from the blog most of the day.

I'll catch you all up tomorrow.

Look for at least one of the following posts:

  • Academic Freedom and the Catholic University
  • Thoughts on Torture (if you haven't yet, go watch the unedited debate between Cliff May and John Stewart over at the Daily Show)

In the meantime, go get your horizons expanded at The Crescat...

Which reminds me: the world and the world of the internet are both much bigger than I am. Anyone should feel free to send me anything they'd like me to treat, chime in on, or just know about.

e-mail me at

Restoration of the Colosseum: feedback requested

Dear readers,

Rome celebrated its 2762nd birthday on the 21st of last month.

During a ceremony to mark the occasion, Rome's mayor, Giovanni Alemanno, announced plans to begin a restoration of the Colosseum in a year's time, on Rome's 2763rd anniversary of the founding of the city.

For an English-language Italian wire service story with some of the background, click here.

The Colosseum does need work. It is more than an archaeological site, though. It is historically and culturally associated with the persecution of the Church at Rome, and is used for the Papal via crucis on Good Friday.

The recognition of the place as a sacred site is, as a matter of fact, a rather recent development.

Owned and run by civil authority, the Colosseum is presently a major tourist draw and revenue generator, and this is not a cause of friction or scandal.

So my questions are:

  • When you think of the Colosseum, what comes to mind?
  • How much of a say ought the Church have in the planning and execution of the restoration project?
I really am not trying to cause a dust up, here. It is May Day, and I am killing a little time and genuinely curious to hear your thoughts.

NPR reports: Justice Souter to Retire

For the story straight from the folks who broke it, click here (story byline: Nina Totenberg).

Rather than idly (not to say inanely) speculate about what this could mean for the composition of the SCOTUS, or play a Vegas-style game of guessing the nominees, I am going to sit on this for a few days and compose an expostion/explanation of the LD judicial philosophy.

Seven Quick Paschal Takes

The Puella's Friday 7 are up.

Here is a sampling:

4. It’s May. Already. HELP.

Here’s a serious prayer request for you guys - I need to graduate. I really really do, for various different reasons (one of which being that I have no money left). So please, please please pray for me, that I can a) manage my time effiectively to make room for studying every day, b) give thanks to God that I have a brain that can do postgraduate work in the first place, and c) that I won’t fall into my mini-version of despair.

It’s tough. I don’t get the funding Dutch-born students do, so I take on more paid work. Because I’m somewhat smart (in Dutch this is enigzins slim which I think is a brilliant phrase) I can get higher-paid work, but it’s exhausting and when I get home it’s all I can do not to flop out on the sofa after dinner and watch tv til bedtime.

So please pray for me. I’ve no idea who would be some good Saints for this - but I think the blogosphere probably knows this better than I do.

All this hassle for two more letters after my name!

So, say a prayer for her right now, perhaps to St. Thomas Aquinas, Patron of students?

Then, go see them all by clicking here and spiking her stats.

You will be entertained and edified.