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Monday, September 27, 2004

The Whirlwind

Florida hurricanes have delivered two body blows, an uppercut and a vicious right hook, transforming the Sunshine State into an awesome example of what a whirlwind can do. Catholics in America should take careful note.

It has long been the contention of pro-life supporters that geographical location cannot define personhood. A child is a child no matter where that child is located. It cannot be the case that the individual in question becomes a child when she is outside the womb, but remains only a tissue-mass when she is inside the womb.

The USCCB, however, finds the geographical argument compelling in another context, however. Apparently, geographical location does define heresy. For example, John Kerry, Frances Kissling, Ted Kennedy and all the rest may be Catholics in good standing when they step on a plane in Boston, but they are not Catholics in good standing when they step off that same plane in St. Louis. Heresy is diocese-specific.

The idea is ludicrous. Objectively speaking, Kerry and company are in a state of grace and prepared to receive the Eucharist or they are not. If they are prepared, then every bishop who refuses them the Eucharist is committing a grave sin by denying them the Body and Blood of Christ. If they are not prepared, every bishop who administers the Eucharist to them is committing a grave sin by knowingly participating in the profanation of the Eucharist. It is not possible that Cardinal Mahoney and Archbishop Burke are both right, the USCCB blather about "pastoral reasons" and "judgment" notwithstanding. So, why did the USCCB bother to make such an obviously silly theological statement? Because we have been concentrating on the recipients of the Eucharist and not on the consecrated men who administer Him. The bishops would prefer we keep doing that.

You see, what is true for Kerry is also true for the bishops. If Kerry’s public and vociferous support of abortion is sufficient for a bishop to refuse the Eucharist to Kerry, then that same bishop must also refuse the Eucharist to any consecrated man who administers the sacrament to Kerry. After all, Kerry’s stand is public. He is a notorious public sinner whose notorious public sins put him out of communion with the Church. Both the bishop who denies and the bishop who administers know Kerry’s stand because he has trumpeted it from the rooftops. Thus, at least one of these two bishops is likewise a public sinner: he trumpets his own sin from the rooftops either in opposition to Kerry or while standing beside him. In the eyes of each bishop, the other bishop has to be a notorious public sinner as well.

But a bishop refusing another bishop the Eucharist? With that act, we would move from informal schism to formal schism. Now we can understand the USCCB statement. This theologically ludicrous statement is a last-ditch attempt to avoid formal schism, and the bishops are only just managing to get away with it, mostly because the vast majority of adult Catholics don’t know the Faith well enough to think the consequences through. Fortunately for the USCCB, the bishops in question don’t often celebrate Mass together so it won't become publicly obvious, and they are all wise enough not to point out how close we are to a formal schism.

It’s quite a poser. Both sets of bishops could argue that they have a duty to instruct their fellow bishops, and won’t withhold the Eucharist until they have at least warned their erring brethren. But once the erring brethren have been warned and still refuse to change their minds, then what? Some consecrated man with the fullness of orders has to be denied the Eucharist. And it is pretty obvious which group will get Rome’s support.

You cannot publicly and vociferously support legal abortion and be in communion with the Church. Now, the bishop who first announces that he cannot give Jesus to his fellow bishops because they profane the Eucharist will hardly be looked on with great love by Rome. Formal schisms are terrible things. But, on the other hand, Rome can hardly disagree with such a bishop by arguing that the USCCB’s ruling is (theo)logically coherent. It manifestly isn’t. Worse, Rome has no other basis upon which to dispute the justice of such a decision. She would have to go along with the formal break. The Catholic Church in America is hanging by the merest thread, dependent upon the willingness of every single bishop to remain quiet, to refrain from pronouncing the final, damning words that severs the erring bishops from communion with the Church. Once those words are pronounced, we will have created another Protestant Church.

Undoubtedly, the USCCB is praying the whole issue will just curl up and die after the campaign. That’s why certain bishops have insisted on refraining from judgment until after the elections. Contrary to popular belief, it may very well be the case that these bishops do not give a damn about the elections. They are undoubtedly much more worried about the impending schism the elections have forced out into the open.

The bishops have one hope. They hope the heat and emotions the elections generate can be tamed, cooled, brought to a lower flame by the simple fact that the electoral decision has been made. That’s why this decision on Kerry and the Eucharist is being postponed until after the election. Concerns about the election are outweighed by their concern that the Church will almost certainly schism if they decide the issue prior to the election.

Are the bishops right? Will the issue go away after the elections are decided? Not likely. This issue has been building for decades, as pro-abortion Catholic politicians become increasingly strident and orthodox Catholics become increasingly frustrated with the inaction of the vast majority of the bishops. Senator Kerry’s publicly strident embrace of heresy, the most vociferous to date, has finally forced some American bishops to act and has forced all American Catholics to the banks of the Rubicon. If Caesar had only brought elephants with him, the comparison would be complete.

You see, this particular elephant has been in the sanctuary for over thirty years. Now that everyone admits it is there, it would take a Houdini, a Copperfield, to make it disappear. Orthodox Catholics have had as much as they are going to take. They are laying canonical lawsuits. They are forcing the bishops to choose sides. The 2004 elections are just the last step in a process that won't die and won't be ratcheted down. The orthodox will not let it go away. Erring bishops can retire, they can die or they can reform. Whatever they choose to do, they need to do it quickly. These bishops sowed to the wind. The whirlwind is coming.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Christian Liberty - Take Two

Your comments on this endeavor are greatly appreciated.

While I am no expert in economics, I must say that the idea of a VAT or flat tax seems to be a bigger hindrance to the poor than a help, which is why I like - it is the only form of sales tax which would not tax the poor proportionately more than the rich. Certainly the income tax is a violation of constitutional rights against self-incrimination and subsidiarity. I don't generally like taxes on stock holdings and capital gains, as the economists I read always argue these are drags on economic growth.

That having been said, however, I readily admit that I know little about distributism and need to learn more in order to determine if it should be added to the platform.

This platform should appeal to Keyes, given how strong a Catholic Keyes is. However, as has been pointed out, it is not a platform that will attract the masses. Campaigning on a plank that outlaws contraception, IVF, etc. while also increasing the difficulty of getting a divorce is not likely to be widely accepted in this society. But remember, this platform is meant to be a bully pulpit more than a means of winning against enormous odds. We have enough parties willing to compromise on moral issues.

So, the new edition of the platform is at
Please take a look and comment either here or there, as you please. As more remarks are made, more changes will be made.

The Two-Front War

On December 11, 1941, the United States began fighting a two-front war. Historians have argued about the real reasons for Hitler’s declaration for years. Given his theories on race, he had little reason to throw his lot in with the Japanese. But, whatever his reasons, we found ourselves defending the West Coast from attack while parrying military thrusts that emanated from the heart of Europe.

It is sixty years later, and America again finds itself fighting a two-front war. This time, we are defending against the West Coast and parrying military thrusts from the heart of the Middle East. The correspondences may be only skin-deep, but they are interesting.

Japan/Hollywood and Hitler/Islam
Just as Germany seemed to have little ideological reason for joining in with Japan, so Islam seems to have little ideological reason to join in with Hollywood. Just as Germany and Japan could give each other little real military assistance, so Hollywood and Islam have few spheres in which they can coordinate attacks.

What they can, however, they do. Fortunately, there are also some differences. Japanese and German forces never attacked one another, for instance. The same cannot be said of Islam and Hollywood.

Hollywood and the MainStream Media (MSM) send out regular, authentic memos from Very Reliable Sources that Islam is a religion of peace. When events conspire to present another side to the story, the pundits are quick to explain it away as part of the struggle for the soul of Islam:
One group, the so-called moderates, wanted to embrace the society in all its modernity; the other, the "conservatives," wanted to hold it at arm's length and use their mosque as a refuge from modernity. In many respects, this intra-Islam contest sounds not unlike those now going on within Catholicism, within the Episcopal Church or among the other varieties of Protestantism.

The suggestions of sinister activities and affiliations; of adherence to an oppressive, excessively rigid, fundamentalist theology; of rules that exclude those who dare to dissent--all these charges have been leveled at, for example, the Catholic organization Opus Dei.

"We can’t expect anything else from religious fanatics," is the MSM’s unspoken implication. Of course, there is no record of Opus Dei members, or any Christian, for that matter, committing a suicide bombing or holding elementary school children hostage with high explosives, but this is a trivial complaint. The point is that all the bad aspects of Islam find their origin in people who take religion seriously as a model for life, while all good Moslems, like the people of Hollywood, refuse to believe their holy scripture really means what it says.

Similarly, Islam takes issue with some of Hollywood’s values, but not all of them. Islam doesn’t like women dressed immodestly, for instance, but it has no serious objection to prostitution or the larger idea that women are essentially sex toys. The major parting of the ways comes in Hollywood’s assertion that everyone is a sex toy – Islam insists that role belongs exclusively to the fairer sex.

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," intones the Arab, and the point continues to hold true today. Christianity and a seriously Christian president are the targets of their joint assaults. Neither Islam nor Hollywood will relent in their attacks.

When George W. Bush told a crowd that former President Clinton was entering heart surgery and prayers were in order, the AP deliberately lied about the incident, saying the crowd booed at the mention of Clinton’s name. CBS publicizes obviously false documents maligning President Bush. The MSM deliberately falsify the words of Cardinal Ratzinger and proclaim Catholics have the Vatican’s permission to vote for pro-abort politicians. Three courts insist it is perfectly legal to kill children as they are being born, while a fourth tells the original Roe, of Roe V. Wade, that she has no right to attempt to stop the killing.

The Point of Agreement
The message is clear. Christians must be silenced, for their message endangers our lifestyle. The lifestyle is simple. Men and women, but especially women, must remain in subjugation to Hollywood sex-toy culture, even if it kills them. On that last point, Islam and Hollywood agree. And that is the point of nexus between the two cultures.

You see, the Hollywood culture insists that it need not change it’s sexual habits, rather, the world needs to find a way to cure the diseases its sexual fundamentalism creates and promulgates. Even if the world fails in fulfilling its necessary duties towards the sexually profligate, the mere threat of disease should not reduce the level of our promiscuity. Sex is worth dying for. The suicide bombers, who are promised six dozen ever-virgin, large-eyed women and a smaller contingent of sexually active young boys upon entry into heaven, wholeheartedly agree. Sex is worth dying for.

People serious about Christianity are serious threats to both Islam and Hollywood. Serious Christians don’t live or die for sex, they live and die for Christ. They are fundamentalists.

Fundamentalism finds its origin in the idea that absolute truths exist and they affect how we live. As a friend of mine pointed out, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with fundamentalism. The word simply means that your life is built on absolutes that are fundamental to human existence. In that sense, everyone is a fundamentalist.

Problems only enter in if the fundamental truths your life is built on don’t happen to be true.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Is George Bush Jewish?

In 1905, the Russian secret police released an earth-shattering document. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was promulgated throughout Europe. It purported to be the transcript of a meeting between Jewish leaders in which they plotted to take over the world and subjugate the goyim, the Gentiles, to their rapacious rule.

By 1920, the document was demonstrated to be a forgery, yet many people throughout the world continued to believe it. "The document may be a forgery, but the attitudes it reports concerning Jewish leaders is absolutely accurate," went the logic. Indeed, Henry Ford continued to publicize the document as substantially accurate through 1927. The Nazis used it as a justification for their anti-Semitic policies. The substantial truth of the document is commonly accepted by Middle-Eastern Arabs even today.

Telling these people the document is a forgery makes no difference at all. They live near Jews. They work beside Jews every day. They know what Jews are like. The document is forged but you must believe what the document says. Listen to me. I know.

Take another example. As anyone who has read The Da Vinci Code knows, the same thing happened with Dan Brown's novel. Sure, his facts are completely wrong - he doesn't get one statement of historical fact correct in his book. But even though he got every fact wrong, forged and invented all the evidence, none of that matters.
We know what those damned papists are like. We've had their ilk infesting this country since the beginning. The novel's description of the Catholic attitude is substantially accurate. The facts in the novel are forged but you must believe what the novel says. Listen to me. I know.

Now for today's headlines. Sure, says Killian's 86-year old former secretary, those documents are forgeries. He never would have typed them himself and my typewriter could not produce these documents. Even if they could, the language is wrong and the format is wrong - I was his secretary and I never would have formatted them that way, but...

But what?

...but the content is substantially correct.

Like the Arabs who live near Jews, like the non-Catholics who live near Catholics, I know the principle people involved. The documents are forged, but the CBS interpretation of the document is true. The documents are forged but you must believe what the documents say. Listen to me. I know.

Faith may be the evidence of things not seen, but faith is based on facts, not forgeries. What the media don't understand is precisely that faith is never a blind leap. If I order a Big Mac from McDonald's, I have made an act of faith. I believe I will get something I want to eat. That act of faith is based on facts: the fact that this is a restaurant, that it has a menu of food items, that people are waiting to take my order, and that it is in business today - a testament to the fact that others have eaten here and been satisfied with the food. These facts all point to the idea that I, too, might be able to get good food here.

Do I know I will? Not with absolute certainty. The cooks might be new today, they might be having a bad day, it may be that my tastes do not match those of other people - I might not like the food. I won't know I do until I bite into the sandwich. The "thing not seen" is that first taste, but I only got to the point of tasting because the preponderance of evidence pointed that way.

If I walked into a hardware store, saw everyone buying tools, nuts, bolts, heard the clerk telling someone how to install a kitchen sink and then asked that clerk for a hamburger, large fries and strawberry milkshake, THAT would be an act of blind faith. I would have absolutely no facts to support my belief that the clerk will feed me. If, in fact, he DOES give me what I ask for, that would be a miracle. No religious believer operates on blind faith. We all operate on informed faith: facts which require us to logically hypothesize that something more is coming our way, something we can prepare for if only we stay in close touch with reality.

The MainStream Media doesn't understand the difference between faith and blind faith. It is deeply ironic that when the MSM gets religion, they push the blind faith version. "Believe us, even if we have no case. Believe us because we tell you that you should."

They think this will work because they think that's how people get duped into religion. As Stalin said, keep repeating the lie until everyone is forced to conclude that it is true. And he must be right. Look how well it worked for the Soviet Union.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Christian Liberty Party

The inadequacies of America's two major political parties have been apparent for quite some time. Recent conversations have brought to the surface an idea that had been bubbling in my mind for quite some time. What would it look like to have a political party whose platform was formed entirely by Catholic principles? How appealing would such a party be? Political parties built somewhat along these lines have long been important factors in the elections of other nations. However, due to the peculiarly Protestant character of this nation, a nation whose people have long advocated the separation of faith and reason, church and state, America has never been able to form such a party. Now that America is on the verge of no longer being a majority Protestant country, the cultural forces which prevented the union of faith and reason might finally be open to the possibility of uniting the two.

While I do not believe a Catholic political party would ever command a majority of the American voters, the formation of such a party would serve two very salutory purposes: (1) it would be a wonderful platform for educating people concerning Catholic principles (2) like the Green party or the Naderites, it could form a strong and clear-cut vote to court. The political power of the Catholic voice and vision could very well be magnified by this party. Below is my attempt to summarize what such a party platform would look like. I am interested in having this platform streamlined and clarified, so that it might become the basis for fielding candidates in the next election cycle.

Whereas every human person is created in the image and likeness of God, every person must be treated with the honor and dignity due to the divine image.

Whereas God is the formal cause, and human beings the instrumental cause of every human person’s creation, it follows that every human person comes into existence within the context of the family. The family is the basic and most important social unit. The parents, being the instrumental cause of the child’s existence, bear the primary responsibilities towards the child.

Whereas, the most important social unit is the family, the primary purpose of every society is to assist parents in their most important work: that of raising their own children. All social policy must be built in accordance with this principle.

Consequently, any action or condition which disrupts the harmony between the spouses or between parents and children is to be assiduously avoided, every action or condition which enhances the harmony between spouses and between parents and children is to be encouraged.

The nation’s first duty is to protect the family against attack. After the family is secure from attack, all remaining national resources are to be directed towards supporting the family in its work.


Whereas marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman, and cannot be otherwise, all forms of homosexual marriage and/or civil union, and all variations, such as (but not limited to) polyandry, polygamy, fornication, adultery, bestiality, necrophilia, sado-masochism and pedophilia are universally condemned in all their forms. Prompt medical treatment for those afflicted with these maladies should be encouraged.

Artificial procreation
Whereas every person has a right to come into existence with the dignity proper to the divine image, and

Whereas the very definition of “person” presupposes that the created being under consideration is in a special relationship with God and

Whereas parents do not have a right to children, rather, children are a gift made in the divine image all forms of in vitro fertilization, human embryonic cloning, and surrogate motherhood are universally condemned in all their forms.

Whereas the very ability to be conceived is itself a gift of life which derives directly from the Giver of Life, respect proper to the divine image must be given. The artificial creation of human concepti for any purpose whatsoever is universally condemned in all its forms. Bans on embryonic research modelled on those already implemented in other countries should immediately be enacted. All medical treatments derived from the destruction of the human child are condemned.

Artificial sterility
Whereas the use of contraception treats both the spouse and possible children as dangers to the family instead of divine images who are to be protected and cherished, contraception disrupts the marital bond and the parent-child relationship. It is universally condemned in all its forms and the Comstock laws should be re-instated with all speed. Likewise, the fruit of contraception, that is, the practice of elective abortion, whether by surgical or chemical means, is universally condemned in all its forms.

Whereas the person is an image of God and must be treated with the respect due the divine image, euthanasia is universally condemned in all its forms.


Medical care
Whereas advancement in medical care is an important aspect for the maintenance of the family, stem cell research through the use of umbilical cord blood and other adult stem cell sources should be vigorously pursued.

Whereas the parents are the primary educators of their own children and their decisions concerning the education of their own children are to be treated with the greatest respect and care, school vouchers are to be supported.

Economic Matters
Whereas the equitable financial support for the family is of premium importance within society, the following initiatives are to be supported:

  • The implementation of a national sales tax according to the principles espoused at
  • The rights of the worker to a just wage for his work and a just price for goods and services, keeping in mind that it is not the role of the government to determine these but rather to assure that the common agreement between worker and employer is adhered to,
  • The right of the worker to unionize is to be always respected,
  • The right of every adult to own property and use it as s/he sees fit in the support and maintenance of the family is to be always respected,
  • The nation must display a preferential option for supporting families in poverty, providing assistance so as to assure both the dignity and the integrity of all its members. This assistance will take the form of providing conditions well-suited for the establishment of private initiatives dedicated to dealing with the problems of the poor.

Whereas the nation has a duty to protect the families already within its borders, while simultaneously having a duty to respect the families of other nations, immigration laws must reflect these twin duties. The family being the seedbed of a well-structured society, it is in the national interest to promote the well-being of the family in every nation, so that our economic and political relations remain stable and fruitful. Thus, it is not desirable for any country to structure its immigration laws so as to skim off the most industrious, successful or desirable families from other countries for assimilation into itself. Such practices unjustly injure other countries, thereby destabilizing international relations and leading directly to conflict. Similarly, while the nation has a right to self-protection, the processes by which this right is defended must not unduly impede the right of parents to seek out better conditions for themselves and their children.

Whereas the nation has a duty to protect the families who have chosen to live within its borders from foreign assault, the right of every nation to declare and wage war for just cause, after all other avenues of redress have been exhausted, cannot be denied. However, the waging of war cannot target families or the larger civilian population, but only those members of the nations who are duly designated combatants.

Death Penalty
Whereas the nation has a duty to protect the families within its borders from internal assault, the right of every nation to impose just penalties upon criminals, including the death penalty, cannot be denied. However, justice likewise demands that the death penalty only be imposed when all other avenues for maintaining the security of the nation’s inhabitants are clearly inadequate and the identity of the criminal can be established with certainty. While progress has been made in assuring the certain identity of dangerous criminals, the necessary certainty is not in all cases achieved. Furthermore, given the resources of American society, life-long imprisonment in solitary confinement is, in almost all cases, sufficient to sequester the danger to the family that dangerous, unrepentant criminals represent. As a result, the death penalty in America is to be used with extreme infrequency, if at all.

Separation of Church and State
Whereas the family has both spiritual and physical needs that must be met, the state has a duty to make sure that these needs are met. Consequently, since the state has only the power to assure the satisfaction of physical requirements, while the church has the ability to assure the satisfaction of both physical and spiritual requirements, the nation is at all times to honor the importance of religious expression in the public sphere.

Thus, insofar as the tenets of any religion do not violate the principles set forth above, the state may not infringe on the expression of that religion. As the foregoing principles make clear, the doctrine of the separation of Church and state, as currently implemented by the judiciary and the legislative system, is a violation of the Constitution and of America's founding principles. Consequently, a clarification of the proper boundaries of state interference is required. Just as the full exercise of the ancient Aztec religion is properly outlawed today due to its improper use of the human person (e.g., human sacrifice), so any religion which violates the principles set forth above thereby violates the dignity of the human person. Such violations of the human person may never be permitted, since these attack the family, the state, the proper exercise of religion and the safety of the world itself. Admittedly, careful nuance is to be observed in the application of these principles so as to encourage the freedom of the human person while curbing or extinguishing that same person's tendency towards license.

This is the beginning of an outline. I will entertain all suggestions for improving this outline, and keep an updated version here.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Bush and the National Guard

Jared Olar sent me a link on this subject that is quite revealing. It seems that the 60 Minutes memos were forged. The documents, which supposedly were produced in the early 70's, were created using a proportionally spaced, kerned, superscripted font with left-right apostrophe marks on 8.5x11 paper. Unfortunately for the forgers, such fonts were not available to anyone but professional typsetters in the early 70's. Also, the National Guard used 8x10 paper at that time, not 8.5x11.

The Memos
Nearly all typewriters available throughout the 1970's and early 80's were monospaced - every letter takes up as much space as every other letter. In proportionally-spaced fonts, different letters take up different amounts of pre-defined space, depending on their actual widths. So a proportionally-spaced 'i' would take up less space then a proportionally-spaced 'm'. While there were a few proportionally-spaced font balls available for very high end models, these models were never used by the National Guard. The memos are written in proportionally-spaced fonts that were unavailable to the 1970's National Guard.

Worse, the fonts in the memo were kerned. Kerning is a process of setting individual letters very close to each other - each letter is permitted to infringe on the predefined space assigned to the letter preceding it. Kerning allows words to be written in even less space than a proportionally-spaced font allows, and it eases the ability to read. Computer-based software packages automatically kern, but typewriters, even the most high-end typewriters, are completely incapable of it. The fonts in the "1970's" memos are kerned.

Likewise, no typewriter in the world has ever used left and right apostrophe marks - that feature only became available to the masses through the magic of word processors. But word processors didn't appear until long after Lt. Colonel Killian's death. Yet left apostrophes appear on the memos.

Finally, no typewriter in the world is capable of changing font size and superscripting the "th" in a number - "187th" for instance - yet exactly this kind of font size change and superscripting occurs in the memos. Why? Because Bill Gates made Microsoft Word so smart, it insists that it knows what you want to do even when you don't want to do it. It takes quite a bit of patience to fool MS Word into not automatically reducing and superscripting the "th" in the numerical example given above.

The forger was obviously not a patient (wo)man, nor was s/he someone who took the time to think through how best to commit the forgery.

The AWOL Charge
But wasn't Bush AWOL? No. One of the members of Bush's own squadron points out what today's journalists don't know: when a war ends, the US armed forces always immediately begin a draw-down. This affects everything involving personnel positioning and treatment.

First, the National Guard has an entirely different culture than the Air Force. Much more laxity is permitted because National Guard commanders realize their men have dual commitments that full-time servicemen don't. So, for example, physicals are only scheduled during an officer's birth month because the medical office is generally not open. Meetings are often missed and are made up on a catch-as-catch-can basis. Men who transfer to other units on a temporary basis due to civilian job or life situations (a common situation) are shoved into desk jobs and ignored by their temporary commanders, as the unit commanders don't see any point in unit training with someone who will only be with them a short time.

Secondly, once hundreds of pilots begin returning from war, part-time pilots are often released from what would otherwise be binding commitments. It is not at all uncommon for the armed forces to release men from commitments in order to accomplish the reduction in force (RIF) that Congress routinely requires after an armed conflict ends. Speaking from personal experience, a friend of mine who attended the Naval Academy in the late 1980's was released from virtually his entire post-graduation commitment precisely because of the post-Cold War RIF. He got four years of free Naval Academy schooling because he happened to graduate at the right time.

So, the whole George Bush/National Guard debate is based on forgeries and lack of understanding of the 1970's military situation. 60 Minutes started this conversation in order to knock down George Bush. Once the forgery news hits the airwaves, it will make Kerry look like an even bigger liar than he already is. Spread the word...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


On June 20, 2004, Catholic dioceses in America followed the example of so many fractured Protestant denominations and began to break off communion with one another. It is now possible for a Catholic to be given the Eucharist in one diocese and simultaneously be denied the Eucharist in the diocese next door. Catholics in America no longer share full communion. Remarkably, the USCCB gave its blessing to this informal but very real schism. Why?

According to the popular catchphrase, "The Eucharist is not the appropriate place for political battles." It is a sentiment as clear and concise as it is wrong.

The Eucharist's Proper Place
A moment’s thought demonstrates that the Eucharist is at the center of every political battle. It cannot be otherwise. Christ entered the world to heal both its politicians and its politics. He intends to heal the whole of creation, Democrat and Republican. Thus, the Eucharist lies at the heart of every true political battle.
Now, that having been said, we know that we are not to use Him as a tool. The Eucharist is not to be used to hold up the importance of man-made law. We do not use His divine Personhood to accomplish purely political ends. But we do require man-made law to conform to the Eucharist. A partisan political battle is sometimes necessary to assure the Eucharist remains above everything else. In that situation, the Eucharist is not only appropriately placed in the center of the political battle, but bishops, cardinals and lay faithful are required to wage the ensuing Eucharistic political battle.

Let’s take a case in point. When Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church and set himself up as the head of his own Church, everyone expected England to be placed under interdict. An interdict is an ecclesiastical penalty directed against an entire country. It closes all the churches, prohibits the celebrations of the sacraments, and causes the population of Catholic faithful to become so incensed that the ruler whose actions warranted the interdict generally either retreats from his stated intentions or is overthrown.

Henry’s break with the Pope risked interdict. He avoided it only by taking the initiative. Before the interdict could be pronounced, he ferociously attacked every orthodox member of the Church he could find, thereby removing the core of dissent in England. Fortunately for him, most English bishops were cowards who, prefering heresy to martyrdom, fulfilled St. John Chrysostom’s famous dictum, "The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops." They did not want to the Eucharist involved in politics. Thus, Henry’s troops had only to publicly murder several hundred lay people and execute the members of several monasteries and convents in order to extinguish the English desire for orthodoxy. Interdict was rendered useless in restoring the True Faith to England precisely because Henry had wiped out the True Faith first.

Correlations between Henry’s era and today are not original to me, but few have pointed out the way King Henry avoided what would otherwise have been unavoidable. For restrictions on the Eucharist, the Mass, the sacraments, to be really effective, you must first have an informed, orthodox population who understands what is being lost.

Applying Interdict
Now, we should note a few things. Interdict applies to whole towns, provinces and countries. It cuts off not only the ruler who breaks with the Church, but also the lay faithful under his rule, even model Catholics, even living saints. Popes and bishops have used the interdict and excommunication for the whole of the Church’s history. It is still a perfectly valid ecclesial penalty in canon law. Thus, contrary to popular opinion, having a confrontation at the altar rail is not an unusual situation in Church history. Many a consecrated man fought with a recalcitrant sinner while holding the sacred body and blood of Christ in his hands. That’s why a man is consecrated, after all. He is empowered to wage precisely this kind of battle.

Christ Himself is witness to this connection between the Eucharist and politics. The very establishment of the Eucharist was deeply political. Christ was crucified precisely because He had become a political liability in an area where people held politics in higher esteem than holiness. He told us we are to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God’s the things that are God’s. The Eucharist has never belonged to Caesar. We are not to give Him to anyone who esteems Caesar higher than Christ.

God imposed the first interdict in the Garden of Eden. Because Adam, the eldest of our race, sinned, we all suffered a loss of grace. But even as He lifted the interdict through His crucifixion, He imposed a second and different interdict on anyone who denied the divine Person Who existed in the flesh at the moment of conception. The witnesses of the crucifixion might have shared His bloodline and the promises of the Old Covenant, but they could not share in the Eucharist until they accepted that conception was the point at which the divine Person entered creation and that we are made in His image and likeness. In short, they had to repent of their sins and be baptized.

The original system of Temple sacrifice brought actual graces to the people of the divine covenant, graces that would help bring acceptance of the Messiah to the world. But the tearing of the veil at His death, the destruction of the Temple forty years after His death, this was the second interdict. The veil was torn while the Body and Blood hung on the Cross, the Temple was destroyed in the midst of a horrible bloodbath wreaked by Roman troops upon the rebellious and the innocent alike, a political bloodbath that imposed a divine interdict.

Thus, when a bishop says the Eucharist is not the place for political battles, he admits at least one of two things: he is ignorant of theology and history, or the people in his diocese are. Either way, it is not a strong commentary on him.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Several items:

1) On July 26th, 2004, in a case in Kansas, a federal judge has ruled that health care and social workers are not obliged to report underage sex to the authorities. The ruling violates a 1982 state law stating that sex involving a minor is illegal, even if it involves two underage children. Abortion providers can now legally conspire to promote child abuse. This is very convenient, as they already do this. Now they don't have to worry about prosecution.

2) On August 24th, 2004, the lawyers for the USCCB have decided that the Catholic Answers voting guide might be dangerous: the Church might lose her tax-exempt status if she promotes it. The USCCB's own voting guide, roundly criticized for listing such a mish-mash of voting issues in a very morally confusing fashion, has been pulled and cannot even be found on the USCCB's own website anymore.

3) On August 26th, 2004, federal district Judge Richard Casey found "that the testimony at trial and before Congress establishes that D&X [partial-birth abortion] is a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure… credible evidence [exists] that [such] abortions subject fetuses to severe pain. Notwithstanding this evidence, some of Plaintiffs' experts testified that fetal pain does not concern them, and that some do not convey to their patients that their fetuses may undergo severe pain during a D&X [partial-birth abortion]."
However, all that having been said, Judge Casey also insisted that partial-birth abortion had to remain legal as long as any medical doctor felt such a procedure was necessary to protect a woman’s health.

4) A few days later, Cardinal McCarrick, the man who is supposed to head up the commission investigating the dispensing of the Eucharist to pro-abortion heretics, told an Italian newspaper that "questions tied to peace and social justice, as well as aid for the poor," should have equal footing with the question of abortion.

5) The Knights of Columbus, which has historically worked very closely with the USCCB, refuses to kick out members of their organization who support and/or promote legal abortion.

I've spent a long time thinking about the confluence of these facts. To be honest, I cannot think clearly about them. Every time another incident is added to the list, my sadness increases and I cannot get beyond it. The law in this country has become a whore. But that's not the worst of it.

Caesaro-Papism is a malady that has afflicted the Eastern Orthodox churches ever since they broke away. Indeed, one could argue that this is the major cause for the schism between East and West. It's a long word that means one thing: the bishops of the East spend more time listening to their political leaders, their Caesars, then they do to the Vicar of Christ. They treat Caesar as if he were Pope. As a result of their millenia-long fascination with the political culture and their resulting tin ear for theology, the Eastern churches now permit divorce (up to four times) and contraception.

Horses have blinders on them for a single reason: it keeps them from becoming distracted by the things going on around them. Instead of startling and rearing at every passing disturbance, the horse with blinders can focus on his task: pulling the load, running the race, focussing on the finish.

Historically, bishops have almost always needed blinders too. It is very easy to mistake the policy of a local ruler for a universally good theological idea. One of the Pope's major tasks has always been to reign the bishops in, help them ignore the cultural fancies of the day and focus entirely on Christ.

Different popes have had different levels of success at this. Except for John Fisher, all of the bishops of Henry VIII's England, for example, managed to throw off their blinders and follow Henry as he schismed from Rome and established a new church. When bishops lose their focus, the Church is grievously wounded.

Abraham pleaded with God to save Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous men could be found. We have a half-dozen good bishops in America. Can we find four more?