Pope Francis ticks off both the left and right

Reprinted from the Press and Journal

I’m not Catholic, but man do I love this pope.

Ever since Jorge Mario Bergoglio, otherwise known as Pope Francis, was confirmed as the Vicar of Christ in March of 2013, he’s been boggling the minds of religious and political observers.

Born to Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Francis grew up in a lower-middle class environment in a country about as politically clean as the mob. He came of age in a place very much removed from stable public order. This upbringing led to become the head of the Jesuit order in Argentina at a time of dictatorship and domestic strife.

It is from this background that the Pontiff learned the importance of giving the needy a voice in human society.

All this and more make Francis a fascinating character.

His tenure as Bishop of Rome has been spent reaching out to the margins of society – the poor, the diseased, the lost and forgotten. Not long after being confirmed, he was photographed kissing the head of a disfigured man, an act of profound grace. During his recent trip to Washington, he snubbed a bunch of congressmen to visit a homeless shelter.

The caritas Francis has spread has not come without controversy, however.


A question for conservatives about religious liberty and unjust wars

The political right in America seems to have decided that “religious liberty” is a banner they can rally around. With Kim Davis’s jailing, they have their first hero.

But what is this new thing we claim to value, and what are its limits? Consider a Romanian Catholic infantryman from Ohio, on the eve of the 2003 Iraq invasion, who receives this letter from his bishop:

Because such a moment of moral crisis has arisen for us, beloved Romanian Catholics, I must now speak to you as your bishop. Please be aware that I am not speaking to you as a theologian or as a private Christian voicing his opinion, nor by any means am I speaking to you as a political partisan. I am speaking to you solely as your bishop with the authority and responsibility I, though a sinner, have been given as a successor to the apostles on your behalf. I am speaking to you from the deepest chambers of my conscience as your bishop, appointed by Jesus Christ in his Body, the Church, to help shepherd you to sanctity and to heaven. Never before have I spoken to you in this manner, explicitly exercising the fullness of authority Jesus Christ has given his Apostles “to bind and to loose,” (cf. John 20:23), but now “the love of Christ compels” me to do so (2 Corinthians 5:14). My love for you makes it a moral imperative that I not allow you, by my silence, to fall into grave evil and its incalculable temporal and eternal consequences.

Humanly speaking, I would much prefer to keep silent. It would be far, far easier for me and my family simply to let events unfold as they will, without commentary or warning on my part. But what kind of shepherd would I be if I, seeing the approach of the wolf, ran away from the sheep (cf. John 10:12-14)? My silence would be cowardly and, indeed, sinful. I believe that Christ, whose flock you are, expects more than silence from me on behalf of the souls committed to my protection and guidance.

Therefore I, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See Bishop of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton, must declare to you, my people, for the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the Person and Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just war theory.

 Thus, any killing associated with it is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder. Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion. For the Catholics of the Eparchy of St. George, I hereby authoritatively state that such direct participation is intrinsically and gravely evil and therefore absolutely forbidden.

What would today’s defender of religious liberty say to this soldier? Should he quit? Should he be allowed to sit this one out? Should he be jailed for insubordination? Why, or why not?

It’s worth noting that if a government only waged just wars, this conflict would not arise. It also seems untenable to allow soldiers to abstain from certain wars based on religious convictions and still keep their jobs. (Update: Some have pointed out the U.S.’s relatively generous standards for conscientious objectors, however, that status is usually only granted to people who object in principle to all wars — the Selective Service Act is written this way — not just certain bad ones.)

I have doubts that most of the supporters of religious liberty for Kim Davis would support it in this case, but maybe I’m wrong.

Sorry, Kim Davis should face some repercussion for not fulfilling her duties

Author note: While I find much to agree with in Mr. Church’s sentiment here, I can’t fully embrace ignoring the law without consequences. I guess traditionalists are right about Kant and his epistemological head games focused on non-contradiction: they rot the brain. Perhaps mine is rotten too. I’ll let the readers decide.

Much ink has been spilled on the ongoing plight of Kim Davies, the Kentucky county clerk who is currently incarcerated for refusing to issue marriage licenses.

First Things editor R.R. Reno praises her resoluteness to “quietly following the dictates of her conscience.” Author Luma Simms also celebrates Davis “acting in accordance with God’s moral law which is now written on her heart as a convert” to Christianity. National Review’s Charlie Cooke is adamant that Davis breaking the law and intones that “[she]does not have a leg to stand on.” Rod Dreher blogs, “even though my heart is with Kim Davis, my head says principle matters” and that “if we grant individuals the right to defy any law they like without consequence, as long as they claim religious liberty, the rule of law ceases to exist. “

The liberal media is having a field day over impugning Davis’ intransigence against complying with the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. Back when California outlawed same-sex marriage, the Grey Lady herself endorsed government officials defying the law. But let’s forget about the hypocrisy of the liberal media for a moment. The question at hand for Christians is this: What’s the proper role of civil disobedience in the face of a hostile government?

I love a good poke in the eye of authority as much as the next guy. But, like Dreher and Cooke, I see that the law must have consequences. I’ve praised the defiance of some Southern counties refusing to issue marriage licenses altogether. That movement, small as it is, represents a dropping out of public requirement. But like Kim Davis, the perpetrators have to face the consequences of their choice. And for the Kentucky county of Rowan, the chickens are coming home to roost.


Same-sex marriage is not the “law of the land” in Kentucky, and Kim Davis is right

UPDATE 10:10 P.M. CST – Now that Kim Davis has been arrested and the Kentucky Governor, AG, U.S. Senators and House of Representin’ DeceptiCONS cannot locate shining armor, creedal vows to become a Knight of St John or a Rosary, Ms Davis’s white martydom is a fait accompli. One of the protagonists of this essay have responded by proclaiming that Kim Davis groupies (she is now our Michael Brown) will “withdraw” form “public squares” (can you you name ONE and tell us the last time a “we” gathered in it for anything other than a spring or fall concert featuring a retired Bangles singer?) and that we have “no end game and don’t care [if we have one]”. Oh, and furthermore, “Kim Davis is a bad martyr for the cause of religious liberty”. Oh really? That’s strange, I have a 4 volume set of Alban Butler’s “Lives  OF THE FATHERS, MARTYRS and OTHER SAINTS” a stirring, day by calendar day record of the titular’s day to day life and death, many times in martyrdom. The funny thing is that God has this knack for choosing the least likely candidates for saints and martyrs. e.g. two days before St Stephen the apostle was martyred, Saul of Tarsus assisted in his public calumny, then conspired to have more drastic action taken if Stephen became what I call a Truth recidivist, then watched and encouraged his mock trial and subsequent stoning. 2 days after this, Saul of Tarsus, the man who would be martyr maker king, became Paul the Apostle. It’s a good thing the American Conservative wasn’t publishing then, readers may have snickered and ignored the “convert” (that’s what Ms Davis is) Saul and proclaimed him “a bad martyr for religious liberty”. I might ask the question, pray tell, just who IS a GOOD martyr for religious liberty? The TV heretics who want you to know that God loves you and wants you to live in a bigger house surrounded by newer and more expensive cars?

Mandeville, LA – Rowan County Kentucky Court Clerk Kim Davis refuses to issue “marriage licenses” to homosexuals and she is right to do so, and worthy of your [re]publican and Christian defense, despite the reigning “media” authorities of our time insisting that she “enforce the law.” Who is actually a St. Benedict or a Benedict Arnold here? I humbly submit certain conservative writers are in Red Coat uniform, and here’s why.

SCOTUS Justice Potter Stewart famously quipped about pornography and the Miracle, 14th Amendment.

“…under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

Actually, Stewart’s judicial voyeurism aside, the Miracle Amendment doesn’t say ANYTHING about porn and neither does the First Amendment unless Congress has decided to ban the sale of Debbie (Wasserman Schulz) Does D.C. videos in Schulz’s hometown of Coconut Grove, FL — as they probably ought to. Inquiring minds following Davis’s stint as the judgement porn pariah of the week, might want to know this, seeing as how Ms Davis may be the only county clerk, elected or bribed into office, that IS obeying the law these days.

OK, what does any of this have to do with homosexual marriage licenses that are now the “law of the land,” and Mrs. Davis?

For starters, the SCOTUS is not a legislature, it is a body that reviews the acts of a singular legislature (perhaps you’ve heard of it, its called Congress). AND according to its charter (Article III of the U.S. Constitution) this body only has power to settle controversies arising under the Constitution or between States involving that legislature or the Constitution. We are now wading into factual territory that Constitutional imbeciles and rookie anarchists dare not swim for the obvious reason that facts ruin good Facebook posts and blog screeds written by neo-Christian “optionists.”

In the Obergefell “decision” the SCOTUS had no plenary power to make or enforce law in any of the states that were either a party to the suit or engaged in actions with a party to the suit. The SCOTUS purported to “strike down” the legally enacted laws of those 31 states and therefore made “gay marriage” “legal.” This is the equivalent of the SCOTUS saying that Kentucky cannot have a law licensing drivers, but the court cannot say that KY must have a law licensing drivers of the SCOTUS’s choosing and neither does the Constitution. And there ends the argument, in its cradle and no “Benedict option” or “win-win” compromise can rescue it regardless of the author’s good intentions.

Pseudo-legalists are by now ready to quote Brown vs Board of Education to me and say (sic) “Mitter Chur, that ith eggthactly what the Thupreme Court Did in Brown and we are all better oth for ith.” Wrong. Elevating 9 lawyers from 2 law schools to make all moral and municipal decisions for 309 million people is not only wrong, it is antithetical to the reason we have a federal compact to begin with: the enumeration to the General government of certain powers that the ratifying parties possessed full, sovereign, jurisdiction of a priori for those SPECIFIC purposes and no others (this is the reason, BTW,  Patrick Henry insisted there be a [10th] Amendment attached to the Constitution BEFORE ratification).

Back to our story’s anti-heroes: In whose “better way” [Anderson] or “Benedict option” [Dreher] world did KY or VA or GA or LA or AR et al enumerate municipal, marriage laws (or divorce laws) to Congress? Where!? When?! It is actually the demonstrable case that those states did the exact opposite, very loudly and in front of a watching, blogging and judgement-porn hurling world. Does this legal, moral and traditional act, nay, expression of self-government matter or doesn’t it? It seems that every time there is a controversy that requires the martyrdom of a few Facebook friends or seats at the annual pancake dinner head-table, we are told to “do what’s right” and surrender.

But what’s at stake here is more than just the conscience rights of bureaucrats, and even more than marriage. It’s the historic understanding of constitutional government, which we are once again being asked to give up.

What does American history say? I will spare our subjects the useful condemnation their words words would recive from Orestes Brownson and instead impart the more secular clarion. The loudest and wisest voice among the Founders, warning of exactly this, was John Taylor of Caroline County. In 1808, Taylor wrote a series of newspaper editorials that defended and exonerated the term [r]epublcan from “it’s the law of the land” pansies who tried to hijack it, buckling under the soft pressure of dubious Yankee tariffs and manipulation into fielding standing armies, insisted the Constitution granted no such power to abuse — moreover even if it did, it should be ignored. In Spirit of ’76 # VI, Taylor wrote:

“The doctrine “that nations ought to stick by their governments,” right or wrong, is apocryphal where the sovereignty of the people exists. Are governments the best judges of national interest? No. The most honest? No. How are the degrees of liberty and tyranny graduated? From free discussion and national will down to passive obedience. “

The “national will” is today for “gay marriage” but there is nothing “national” about compulsory acceptance of sodomy, no more than there could be compulsory acceptance of “forms” of incest, provided “the court” said so. We’ve already volunteered to accept polygamy in the West. How so, you ask? Well, if the accepted terms of marriage before the time of Henry VIII were in effect today, marriage would be sacramental and thus any subsequent “re-marriages” would be … go ahead, you fill in the blank for me ____________.

The laws on the books in KY say there is no “gay marriage” to be licensed because the state doesn’t recognize it. in 1794 when they ratified the Constitution they didn’t recognize it. When they were forced to “ratify” the 14th Amendment in 1869 they did not “recognize” nor did they “enumerate” to Congress their municipal power over marriage or divorce in that ratification. So exactly which “law of the land” are Ryan Anderson and Rod Dreher insisting Mrs. Davis “enforce”? And if she will not accept the terms of this extortion, must then, “resign”? To do what precisely, become part of the damaged-soul herd meandering toward the cliff Our Lady prophesied at Fatima?

Mrs. Davis rightly claims obedience to “the law of God,” and is right to do so because without acknowledging His law there can be no recognizable law afterward. It is to the benefit of both the sodomite and the heterosexual that the governing authority not legally recognize or endorse their sinful perversions; but, since it does solemnly recognize them at Dreher and Anderson et al’s insistence, this of course means “Benedict option” fortresses might be filled with adulterers and homosexuals; seeing that few moralists St. Paul might recognize as pious would be publicly accepted, praised and defended. I suspect Dreher and Anderson might have wished that a poll be taken among Herod’s subject’s as to whether St John The Baptist should pretend he was not privy to Our Lord’s sermons on adultery or the Old Covenant’s law that He “came to fulfill” and thus, he were free to compromise a “win-win” deal for Herod and the polygamists in waiting (for licenses).

Error has no right to our minds or to control our moral affairs, says St Thomas Aquinas. In fact, we have been blessed with abundant, Christian guidance on moral questions such as these so as to prevent erroneous and Facebook inspired popular conclusions, to wit:

“We do not, indeed, attribute such force and authority to philosophy as to esteem it equal to the task of combating and rooting out all errors; for, when the Christian religion was first constituted, it came upon earth to restore it to its primeval dignity by the admirable light of faith, diffused “not by persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the manifestation of spirit and of power,” so also at the present time we look above all things to the powerful help of Almighty God to bring back to a right understanding the minds of man and dispel the darkness of error.”

The “darkness of error” has now left the SCOTUS building and has gaseously spread into the homes and offices of the erstwhile Christian press corps, who now perform due diligence on error’s behalf ostensibly because error must not be allowed to make us erroneous i.e. defy the “law of the land.”

The actual “law of the land” requires us, with complete Faith, Hope and Charity, to not ice “wedding” cakes, take “wedding” photographs or issue “marriage” licenses to or for anyone, ourselves included, who may find themselves on the wrong side of well known, yet ignored, moral theology. You don’t need to build a wall or “option” a town to do that, you just need to pray for humility and fortitude. Just ask St Jane de Chantal

Did Catholicism become ‘compatible with the American experiment’ before or after the pope-burning stopped?

The author believes the answer to the question posed in the headline, “Is Catholicism compatible with the American experiment?” is yes. I also suspect he and most people would say the answer to the question, “Was Catholicism compatible with British colonial America?” is no, since it was officially suppressed in most colonies.

So: When did this country become ‘compatible’ with Catholicism? 1776? 1783, when the yoke of a protestant empire that had used anti-catholicism as a political glue was thrown off? Or was it 1868, when the last protestant test oath for public office was revoked? The United States have nothing comparable to, say, the baptism of Clovis.

Brendan McConville, among others, has supposed that the three defining qualities of British colonial identity were attachments to a capitalist economy, protestantism, and the monarchy. Our revolution only got rid of one of them.

The appeal to religious toleration as a Catholic (or Catholic-‘compatible’) principle rooted in the Enlightenment is the least convincing thing in Gregg’s piece, because religious liberty was not embraced by a pope until 1965. And with good reason, because programs of “toleration” often went hand in hand with efforts to check the power of the church. In British North America, toleration was never understood to extend to Catholics, that was a later thing — right up until the revolution the pope was burned in effigy yearly. This was a key civic ritual that helped cement their identity as citizens of the British Empire, and anti-catholicism was one of the few things dissenters and Anglicans had in common.

The Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom reflects the same compromise between the state church and dissenters. “[T]he impetus provided by this Enlightenment concern,” for religious liberty is really rather vague, and there’s a strong case that the Statute is only remotely a philosophical document. Religious toleration in Virginia was necessary because an embattled Anglican oligarchy needed the support of religious dissenters, reconciling the secular-minded ruling class and the anarchic revivalism taking root at the time. The concept of religious liberty prior to the revolution, in both Massachusetts and Virginia, meant hostility to Catholics and bishops of any kind.

Jefferson’s new law arose from an earlier debate during which he and James Madison conspired to quash religious education, something, again, dissenting protestants and a mostly secular-minded gentry could agree on. It also led directly to the only instance in American history of church land being systematically confiscated by the state in the Glebe Acts. The Statute on Religious Freedom is not a victory for religion, it’s close to the opposite.

Since conservatives are out of power, today they are the ones begging for “toleration” where it once was baptists, congregationalists, and so on, the leftists of their day. Gregg seems convinced that a lefty could be persuaded to support religious liberty with a pitch along the lines of, “see, as a person whose intellectual genealogy goes back to the Enlightenment, you should believe in religious toleration too.”

I also don’t get his coldness to David Hume, he extols the Scottish Enlightenment but seems to strongly dislike the most interesting part of it. He finds Hume too “irreligious” but won’t say an ill word of the man who cut up a Bible, wrote the anti-religious Statute, and banned Hume’s History of England from UVA on account of its alleged Tory bias.

Edit: Justin Logan points out that Conor Cruise O’Brien thought it was McCarthy and Kennedy:

McCarthyism was an engine for the social promotion of the Catholics in America and the promotion of Irish Catholics in particular. McCarthy backed Spellman, conveyed to millions of non-Catholic anti-Communist Americans the novel idea that Catholics were a specially reliable and especially tough breed of anti-Communists … Before the McCarthy-Kennedy breakthrough of 1950-60 American Catholics had their tents pitched in the temple of the holy nation. After that breakthrough there is a Catholic altar in the temple itself.

(For far more erudite criticism of Actonians, I refer you to Opus Publicum)

Magicians of the Outer Right, Part Zwei – Power Plays

TRIGGER WARNING: There’s that bit in the beginning of the Book of Genesis about The Tree of Knowledge. The material below is all very well known and available to anyone with a browser. However, the weak of mind are strongly advised to cease and desist.

Ah, I see you’re still here. Very well:

My previous post on Magicians of the Outer Right was, admittedly, occult.

From Outside in’s links digest: “Mirror of obscurity.” Nick B. Steves roundup: “a rather cryptic post.” Some further explication was implied.

Steves also linked this:

The fact is Western culture has its own conception of power, a very naive construct that prevents us from noticing how things actually work. We seem to think people have ideas, and act because they believe those ideas, and power just comes out of the strength of those ideas. Call it faith in Christ, or Protestantism, or liberalism. Our conception of history is the history of ideas.

In the last 20 years or so, with the rise of the Web, this conception has been hyper-reinforced. I post my “Neoreactionary” arguments and evidence about how fundamental “right-wing” changes to society would result in peace, prosperity, less crime, happier children, more intelligence, less obesity and, in the long run, the breeding of unicorns that defecate gumdrops. Some SJW grrrl just out of Wellsley (or more likely, struggling to complete her Womyn’s Studies B.A. at a state university) posts that I’m a POS racist sexist LGBTIQ-phobe whose ideas would lead to death camps for everyone except white cismales. She argues that fundamental “left-wing” changes to society would result in equality, peace, equality, less crime, equal children and animals, equality of intelligence, social justice, racial justice, economic justice, sexual justice and, in the long run, Gaia defecating non-GMO unsalted manna that would feed the world and allow her to pay off her student loans.