Wednesday 8 August 2018

A Gatherum Omnium: Fr. Z comments on lots of today's stories | Fr. Z's Blog

A Gatherum Omnium: Fr. Z comments on lots of today's stories | Fr. Z's Blog

A Gatherum Omnium: Fr. Z comments on lots of today's stories

There is so much going on today, allow me to signal to you some things that I found interesting, but have not the time to comment upon comprehensively individual posts.

Here is a Gatherium Omnium with my pointed comments.  I want to have a little of the day off today without posting these separately, so here goes.  This is an experiment.  The combox moderation is, as I write, OFF (though some of you are on permanent moderation for one reason or another).

At Italian Sismografo, we read that the Vatican City State only abolished the death penalty in 2001, only 17 years ago, and the the Papal States applied capital punishment on 527 people in a period of 74 years between 1796 and 1870.   There was an official executioner Giovanni Battista Bugatti (aka "Mastro Titta" and "er boia di Roma").   He started work at 17 and continued for the next 68 years.  He was succeeded by Vincenzo Balducci, to whom Pius IX gave a pension of 30 scudi. The concordat with Italy in 1926 read: "Considering that the person of the Supreme Pontiff is sacred and inviolable, Italy declares that whatsoever attempt on his person or whatsoever incitement to commit such an attempt shall be punished with the same penalty forseen for all similar attempts or incitements conducted against the person of the King."

At WaPo we read the claim from AP and Nichole that Catholic orders of religious in these USA favor the ordination of women as deaconettes.   Well… of course they do!  Water is still wet and the sun still rises in the East.  CARA did a survey of men and women: 72% think it should be done.  Of course we know the state of religious orders these days, don't we.  And we know why groups such as the FFIs and the Canons of St. John Cantius, et. al. are given special treatment.

A priest friend sent an excerpt from a piece by the late and lamented Justice Antonin Scalia about capital punishment penned in First Things in 2002:

It is a matter of great consequence to me, therefore, whether the death penalty is morally acceptable. As a Roman Catholic—and being unable to jump out of my skin—I cannot discuss that issue without reference to Christian tradition and the Church's Magisterium.
The death penalty is undoubtedly wrong unless one accords to the state a scope of moral action that goes beyond what is permitted to the individual. In my view, the major impetus behind modern aversion to the death penalty is the equation of private morality with governmental morality. This is a predictable (though I believe erroneous and regrettable) reaction to modern, democratic self-government.
Few doubted the morality of the death penalty in the age that believed in the divine right of kings. Or even in earlier times. St. Paul had this to say (I am quoting, as you might expect, the King James version):
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5)
This is not the Old Testament, I emphasize, but St. Paul. One can understand his words as referring only to lawfully constituted authority, or even only to lawfully constituted authority that rules justly. But the core of his message is that government—however you want to limit that concept—derives its moral authority from God. It is the "minister of God" with powers to "revenge," to "execute wrath," including even wrath by the sword (which is unmistakably a reference to the death penalty). Paul of course did not believe that the individual possessed any such powers. Only a few lines before this passage, he wrote, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." And in this world the Lord repaid—did justice—through His minister, the state.
These passages from Romans represent the consensus of Western thought until very recent times. Not just of Christian or religious thought, but of secular thought regarding the powers of the state. That consensus has been upset, I think, by the emergence of democracy. It is easy to see the hand of the Almighty behind rulers whose forebears, in the dim mists of history, were supposedly anointed by God, or who at least obtained their thrones in awful and unpredictable battles whose outcome was determined by the Lord of Hosts, that is, the Lord of Armies. It is much more difficult to see the hand of God—or any higher moral authority—behind the fools and rogues (as the losers would have it) whom we ourselves elect to do our own will. How can their power to avenge—to vindicate the "public order"—be any greater than our own?
So it is no accident, I think, that the modern view that the death penalty is immoral is centered in the West. That has little to do with the fact that the West has a Christian tradition, and everything to do with the fact that the West is the home of democracy. Indeed, it seems to me that the more Christian a country is the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral. Abolition has taken its firmest hold in post-Christian Europe, and has least support in the church-going United States. I attribute that to the fact that, for the believing Christian, death is no big deal. Intentionally killing an innocent person is a big deal: it is a grave sin, which causes one to lose his soul. But losing this life, in exchange for the next? The Christian attitude is reflected in the words Robert Bolt's play has Thomas More saying to the headsman: "Friend, be not afraid of your office. You send me to God." And when Cranmer asks whether he is sure of that, More replies, "He will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to Him." For the nonbeliever, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence. What a horrible act!
Besides being less likely to regard death as an utterly cataclysmic punishment, the Christian is also more likely to regard punishment in general as deserved. The doctrine of free will—the ability of man to resist temptations to evil, which God will not permit beyond man's capacity to resist—is central to the Christian doctrine of salvation and damnation, heaven and hell. The post-Freudian secularist, on the other hand, is more inclined to think that people are what their history and circumstances have made them, and there is little sense in assigning blame.

Speaking of capital punishment, my friends Fr. Gerry Murray and Dr. Robert Royal were on Raymond Arroyo's EWTN show last night. They commented on L'Affarie McCarrick and about Francis' change to the CCC. This is "must watch TV".

They think that what Pope Francis did is, frankly, ultra vires.

Meanwhile, back in Rome, the Pope meet with a bunch of Jesuits.  He spoke to them, of course.  Here is how he greeted them in my translation:

Good day!  I am happy to welcome you.  Thanks a lot for this visit, which does me well.  When I was a student, when you had to go to the General and when with the General we had to go to the Pope, you wore the cassock and cape.  I see that this fashion is gone, thank God.

I would respond to the Holy Father – who was wearing a cassock with a little cape – that sometimes clothes do make the man.  There is a relationship between outward habit and inward habit.  Formality is a good thing.  It promotes respect and maintains roles.  Without such, with informality, comes priests saying, for example, "Call me 'uncle'!"

On that same note, Austin Ruse, of the esteemed C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights),  wrote something that will be controversial at the ever more valuable Crisis:

The Fetid Sea in Which They Swim

The gaying of the Church is perhaps the most diabolical attack the Devil has ever launched against the Catholic Faith.


The rest is pretty rough, so I'll leave it there. But he is *expletive" right.

Also at Crisis from Michael P. Foley:

The Jim Foley Option to End Clergy Sexual Abuse

In the wake of the "Uncle Ted" McCarrick scandal have come a series of recommendations about where the Church should go from here and what the laity can do to help. Answers range from Anthony Esolen's urging the resignation of every bishop who knew of the Cardinal's vile actions to Christopher Tollefsen's invitation to suspend all donations to diocesan coffers until the American bishops clean up their act. I also recall that when the clerical abuse scandal first broke twenty years ago, Alice von Hildebrand called for priests to follow the example of Pope St. John Paul II and use "the discipline" (self-flagellation) to mortify the flesh. Not a bad idea, that.

To this promising list I would like to add one more: the Jim Foley Option. Jim Foley was my dad (1930-2009), a relatively short but solidly-built Korean War vet who grew up on the streets of eastern Los Angeles. Jim was a devout Catholic and fiercely proud of his Irish heritage, but he differed from his fellow Irishmen in one crucial respect. As Wilfrid Sheed, son of the great Catholic apologist Frank Sheed, once explained, while the English respected the priestly office and took the man as they found him and while the Australians were cynical about their ordained ministers, the Irish were prone to an undue reverence of the clergy. [A gift that keeps on giving, it seems.]

Jim did not have this tendency. He was enormously respectful of and helpful to the priests in our life even when, which was often the case in California's San Bernadino diocese in the 1970s and '80s, those priests were broken men (usually because of alcoholism) or dishonest (especially where our parochial school's finances were concerned).

But Jim knew where to draw the line. When I was about twelve or thirteen, our parish received a new associate pastor.


He goes on to describe how the priest wanted to "fraternize" with the boys. Continuing….


My father had no proof, but the rumor made sense. Jim did not make a federal case out of it by writing to the pastor or the bishop; instead he went straight to the potential troublemaker and told him not to spend time with me. And if the priest "had any problem with this," Jim added as he thrust a finger at the priest and then a thumb over his shoulder, "I'm going ask you to take off your collar and we are going to step outside."


I anticipate all kinds of backlash from the Jim Foley Option. I don't care. Our culture has moved away from fist fights (which do note, is all that I am suggesting) to ridiculous lawsuits and hysterical shaming on social media, and I don't think it is the better for it. We have forgotten the quick and easy art of conflict resolution through threat of bloody nose.

I do not recommend the Jim Foley Option as the only solution because it clearly is not. But while reforming clerical culture and eliminating the hierarchy's Lavender Mafia will take time, the Jim Foley Option can be instituted without a moment's delay. Just think for a moment how much different the last few decades would have been if every homosexual or pedophile clergyman had lived in fear of getting the stuffing kicked out of him for preying on the innocent. Just think how different the lives of so many victims would be if they had had a Jim Foley like I did. If fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, perhaps a fear of pugilistic dads could become the beginning of clerical chastity.


A couple things about this.  First, "do it yourself gallows" or "the guillotine" this is not.  Not by a long shot.  Next, I have long been of the mind that when priests hear about other other priests doing stupid or wicked things they should get a group of the guys together and find their confrere, perhaps in the parking lot, and "explain the situation". I've never had any takers. We live in troubled times.  For my part, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away I once told a guy from another continent with a different view of women than we tend to have in these USA that, if he ever grabbed Mrs. X and shook her again or even looked at her cross-eyed, I'd introduce fractures to his ulnae and radii.  My language may have been a little more pointed and I may have said it with one hand on his office chair and the other on his desk.  He seemed to get my point despite our cultural differences and he was quite considerate toward women parishioners thereafter.  Yes, I also told the pastor.  The situation was handled.

To be honest, I really do get the urge of some for "DIY gallows", I really do.   But it's one thing to talk about fraternal correction and another thing to talk about lynching and guillotining.

But I do get it.  What normal man, seeing kids threatened or harmed, won't be enraged? For example, when I am with a family who have little kids or grandchildren around – mind you, give the present circumstances I as a rule avoid children as if they were plague bearing ship rats – something wells up in me.  I think I would probably do grievous harm to anyone who tried to hurt them: and I am not even their natural father.  Protective instincts are just plain human.  Urges to harm are of Hell. I can indeed imagine the protective instincts of a father for his sons.  Hence, what Austin wrote, above, makes a lot of sense.  He writes, of course, about the fall out to this approach:

Sure, the Jim Foley who carries out his threats could get arrested, but how many predator priests and bishops or their colluding chanceries would wish to press charges and have their own foul deeds brought into the light of day? Besides, my father would have gladly gone to jail to save me from being molested.

*sigh*  We have been put into a seriously EVIL situation.

His note about self-mortification is apposite. I think I must make a plan along these lines.

An article at Catholic World Report reminds us that Pope St. John Paul II's important encyclical Veritatis splendor will be 25 years old on 6 August, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.  You will recall that certain elements of VS were key to the Five Dubia of the Four Dubia Cardinals about Amoris laetitia, which to all appearances contradicts VS. My friend Sam Gregg of ACTON Institute wrote:

Veritatis Splendor was certainly that rarity: a post-1960s text which forcibly challenged the moral subjectivism and sentimentalism which had permeated most Western culture-shaping institutions. But the encyclical wasn't just about reaffirming basic Catholic moral teaching. It sought to present to a church and world increasingly settling for moral mediocrity a compelling narrative about what freedom and the good life are really about.

Isn't that a key?  Note the "sentimentalism" point.  If you go back and watch that video I posted, above, you will hear Robert Royal say that he thinks that a certain sentimentalism could lie behind the change to the CCC.

Gregg's whole article is really good.  Spend the time to read it.  Perhaps I should PODCAzT it?

BTW… I was at the presser for the presentation of Veritatis splendor (yes, I am getting old).  I remember reading the Latin, which was customarily distributed to journalists before these pressers.  Then I saw it in Latin in L'Osservatore Romano the next day, back when L'OR was mostly useless and harmless instead of positively ridiculous and weird.  Then, months later, I remember sitting in the office of the PCED and checking the Latin of VS in the newly delivered copy of the AAS.  I pulled out the original release in Latin and started to compare it with the official, final version in the AAS.  I found change after change after change.

When They Who Are High Atop The Thing stopped writing their documents in Latin, they got longer and murkier.  With the introduction of word processors the length and murkiness increased.  Now, documents have to be reverted into Latin, which to this days remains the official version.

This to students and scholars: When a document is released these days, it comes out in various languages, none of which are Latin.  However, the Latin that will appear in the AAS is the official version.  However, the Latin version is hardly ever looked and and it can have changes.  So, most of the time, when people cite modern papal documents, they are not referring to the true, official version.  Nor are they double checking the vernacular they are working from against the finalized text in the AAS.  Is this a problem?

At The Catholic Thing, David Warren writes about the change about capital punishment. He opines:

At a time when the Catholic Church endures spiritual catastrophe, he has decisively re-focused from the interior and sacred, to the exterior and profane – in effect from religion to politics, of an unmistakably left-liberal stamp, changing the demeanor of his office by his dress and gestures, his appointments, and so forth.

My impression – that he is systematically undermining the integrity of Catholic teaching, and politicizing what was once apolitical – may be discounted. It is only my opinion. In the realm of fact, I simply notice that the Church is at war within herself, with rival factions, "traditionalist" and "modernist." One would have to be obtuse not to notice.

Hard to argue with that.  If anything has advanced in the last few years in the Church it is disunity.

Church Militant, a few days ago posted a story about how the Diocese of Orlando barred a parish from ad orientem worship.  It seems that the priest started this quite a while ago, but now the diocese has crushed it out… with raw power, not with law or reason.  There is a local petition to the diocese.  However, there is also a separate petition for the reversal of this oppression intended for people who are not in the diocese.  I have no idea if any of you are interested in such things, but that petition can be found HERE.

The faithful have a right to be heard.   Let's put it this way: In the present environment, I would not want to be a bishop known as blowing off the legitimate aspirations of the faithful.

That's it for now.  I may add later.

For now I will NOT turn on moderation.  However, some of you are assigned to permanent moderation because some of you do not think before posting or engage your reason filters, or whatever.

I don't really need the fruits of your chattering Id in my combox.  Also, I know some of you reeeeeally want to vent you frustrations, but let's have more decorum than the libs provide.

If you have any charity towards me, please don't act like a dope in my combox.  Your unfiltered, unconsidered comments can hurt me.  Get it?


Edward Feser, who write The Book about this topic has penned a piece for First Things

I wonder if anyone in Rome asked Feser for his thoughts before this change to the CCC was announced.

Feser writes:

It was clearly and consistently taught by the popes up to and including Pope Benedict XVI. That Christians can in principle legitimately resort to the death penalty is taught by the Roman Catechism promulgated by Pope St. Pius V, the Catechism of Christian Doctrine promulgated by Pope St. Pius X, and the 1992 and 1997 versions of the most recent Catechism promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II — this last despite the fact that John Paul was famously opposed to applying capital punishment in practice. Pope St. Innocent I and Pope Innocent III taught that acceptance of the legitimacy in principle of capital punishment is a requirement of Catholic orthodoxy. Pope Pius XII explicitly endorsed the death penalty on several occasions. This is why Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as John Paul's chief doctrinal officer, explicitly affirmed in a 2004 memorandum:

If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment … he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities … to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible … to have recourse to capital punishment.

Interesting, no?  About Catechisms?

Feser has a razor sharp mind.  He says that what Pope Francis has done contradicts past teaching.

Nor does the letter from the CDF explain how the new teaching can be made consistent with the teaching of scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and previous popes. Merely asserting that the new language "develops" rather than "contradicts" past teaching does not make it so. The CDF is not Orwell's Ministry of Truth, and a pope is not Humpty Dumpty, able by fiat to make words mean whatever he wants them to. Slapping the label "development" onto a contradiction doesn't transform it into a non-contradiction.

He goes on to make the point I made yesterday.  If this new idea of how development is applied to other questions, what results is a circus clown car of results for moral questions.  That's my image, not Feser's.  Feser, as I did, mentions implications for contraception, marriage, divorce, Holy Communion, etc.

More… if this doesn't sober people up, I don't know what will:

If capital punishment is wrong in principle, then the Church has for two millennia consistently taught grave moral error and badly misinterpreted scripture. And if the Church has been so wrong for so long about something so serious, then there is no teaching that might not be reversed, with the reversal justified by the stipulation that it be called a "development" rather than a contradiction. A reversal on capital punishment is the thin end of a wedge that, if pushed through, could sunder Catholic doctrine from its past—and thus give the lie to the claim that the Church has preserved the Deposit of Faith whole and undefiled.

Not only does this reversal undermine the credibility of every previous pope, it undermines the credibility of Pope Francis himself. For if Pope St. Innocent I, Pope Innocent III, Pope St. Pius V, Pope St. Pius X, Pope Pius XII, Pope St. John Paul II, and many other popes could all get things so badly wrong, why should we believe that Pope Francis has somehow finally gotten things right?

That, my friends, is a question to be asked.