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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Did you ever notice?

People who are concerned about the destruction of the rain forests often invoke the possible loss of new pharmaceutical remedies for various diseases. We might lose a solution to our health problems as the plants are destroyed!

Yet when you point out that abortion destroys a possible new Einstein, or a new mind who might find the cure for cancer, that possibility is met with yawns.

I insist on personal autonomy for my sex and drugs, but not for your survival.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Dog That Didn't Bark

In the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze, a memorable exchange took place:

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

Now that another uproar has ignited over the activities of a Catholic model who happily stripped down for a PETA ad and invoked John Paul II to justify it, I would like to draw your attention to the curious silence of the Catholic sex therapist/theologian Christopher West.

Why is Chris silent about a Playboy pinup's run-in with a crucifix? After all, you may remember the spring of 2008, when Mr. West went on ABC's Nightline and waxed lyrical about Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy. West went on to claim he saw deep historical connections between Hugh Hefner and Pope John Paul II. His comments were so effusive that ABC dubbed him a Catholic sex-therapist.

His comments were so outrageous that his own instructors publicly disowned him and warned Catholics throughout the nation to disregard him.

Pennsylvania bishops were so enamored of him that they wrote a glowing review of his work, fit for a frame on the wall of the USCCB's latest lesbian consultant. Several of the people who earn money by his antics also joined in support.

While West himself denied any skills at sex therapy, many Catholics have agreed with ABC's assessment for years. Indeed, I first recall hearing West described as "a Catholic Dr. Ruth" in 2006, while standing in the corridor of a hotel in Kiev, Ukraine, conversing with a fellow Catholic speaker at an international family conference. At the time, I was struck by how succinctly the phrase described West's work.

Thus, given his history, it isn't easy to see why West has been silent on Joanna Krupa's decision to use nudity to promote the noble cause of PETA. Why hasn't he spoken up in favor of the damsel in distress and against the outrageously puritanical attitude of Bill Donahue and the Catholic League? Hasn't West already said:
Admittedly, living in a "pornified" culture makes it difficult to see the human body as anything other than an opportunity for lust. But this is a notion we must counter as Catholics. As St. Paul said, "To the pure all things are pure, but to the impure, nothing is pure" (Titus 1:15). The human body is not inherently pornographic. The human body is inherently "theo-graphic." It is meant to reveal and proclaim the mystery of God. This is precisely why John Paul II speaks of the body as a "theology."

Those who see Michelangelo’s nudes as an occasion of lust are, as Dr. Waldstein observed, in need of a serious transformation. Catholic artists should respond to our pornographic culture not by refusing to portray the human body in its nakedness, but, by portraying it rightly so that we can reclaim the glorious theological truth of our creation as male and female. [emphasis added]
Miss Krupa herself seemed to be channeling West's thoughts when she told TV Guide, "I respect [that] everyone has his own sensitivities. But I, like many, see no clash or contradiction between a partially nude body and a cross."

Why doesn't West come out swinging with a lovely invocation of John Paul II's Love and Responsibility in Krupa's defense?
"The human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendor and its beauty... Nakedness as such is not to be equated with physical shamelessness... Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person...The human body is not in itself shameful... Shamelessness (just like shame and modesty) is a function of the interior of a person."
West loves to natter on about Adam's duty to protect Eve. Why doesn't he put his mouth where his money is and defend Joanna? Certainly Miss Krupa's pictorial depiction is "theo-graphic," isn't it Chris? She is dressed as one of the famous Raphael angels, after all.

Certainly her parts are covered at least as well as anything on the ceiling or altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.

Certainly the cross stands at the very center of Krupa's artistic representation.

Certainly the cause for which the picture has been rendered - the reduction of suffering in animals - is a good one. Isn't the Catholic Church opposed to inflicting cruelty and suffering on animals?

As West has famously opined, while claiming John Paul II's support, the pornography of an image like Krupa's comes from the distortions introduced by our puritanical culture and our puritanical little minds. It is our sinfulness and lust, our concupiscence which leads us to view such a beautiful "theo-graphic" image as something inappropriate.

If only we had the mind of Chris West, we would recognize Miss Krupa for the wonderful artistry she is!
It would be a shame to run from the image she has given us - we should gaze upon it with a holy glance, make it a point of revery, contemplate the beauty of God's image portrayed on our LCD flat-screens!

Indeed, it would not even be virtuous to run from this photo, or to avert our eyes from it! To do such a thing would violate what Aquinas taught us, and what John Paul II taught us! Continence of that sort is NEVER a virtue!

Gentlemen, I put it to you, is it not the case that Miss Krupa "reclaims the glorious theological truth of our creation as male and female"? How is what Krupa doing any different from the wonderful work Hugh Hefner did in reclaiming the naked body from our nasty puritanism, (a puritanical reading of American history Hefner himself imposed on us, and West ignorantly adopted as his own, but let's ignore that for the moment and focus on the Westian meme).

But, unlike the Dominicans, whose constant preaching gave them the nickname "the hounds of God" (from the Latin phrase "domine canes", God's dogs), West's preaching has fallen to silence here. Yet why would this be? West himself has often alluded to the fact that he believes he has a God-given ministry to speak out precisely in this kind of issue.

You are a teacher anointed by God, Mr. West!
This is a wonderful teaching moment!
It would be a sin for you to remain silent, wouldn't it?
Can't you explain how this is an (in)appropriate image?
For it certainly must be one or the other...

So, Mr. West, not to put too fine a point on it, but let's quote from your favorite book of Scripture:
And God called to Adam in the garden and said to him: Where art thou?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The New Ambrosian Rite

In 374 AD, the bishop of Milan died. The town was in great turmoil as debate began about who should succeed him. The Arian heretics wanted one man, the Catholics another. As the conflict in the cathedral became stormy, one man, an unbaptized catechumen, stepped forward to try to quell the dispute and bring order to the debate.

That man was the governor of the region, well-known and well-respected by all sides.
His name was Ambrose.

As the crowd listened to him and began to quiet down, a new shout went up, "Ambrose, bishop! Ambrose, bishop!" He wasn't even baptized, much less a priest, but he was seen as the only solution by both sides in the conflict. Ambrose was hurriedly baptized, confirmed, given first Eucharist, ordained deacon, priest and bishop within the space of three days. He ruled so effectively that his sanctity was a legend even before he died. His preaching brought St. Augustine into the Church.

Why do we recall all of this?

Because we have an anti-Ambrose in Canada, a sign of the evil times in which we live. And we also have a response from Rome that signals the kind of confidence Rome has in both her bishops and in her laity.

Within the last week, the bishop of Calgary has determined that, due to the H1N1 flu, he has the right to suppress the reception of the Eucharist on the tongue and has so decreed within his diocese. While other dioceses have strongly discouraged reception on the tongue, no bishop has had the moxy to actually attempt to entirely suppress this practice, for two very good reasons.

First, reception on the tongue while on the knees is the normal mode by which the Eucharist is to be received, a fact just reiterated within the last six months by Rome. The ability to receive standing and in the hand is actually an indult, a special exception made by Rome (and an exception eminently revocable by Rome) for particular dioceses.

Second, distribution on the tongue by someone who knows what he is doing is actually much LESS likely to transmit infection, as the priest's hand never touches the communicant's mouth.

When the FSSP, who offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in the diocese of Calgary, pointed out these two salutory facts, and added that this prohibition was a violation of their rubrics, the bishop of Calgary responded with great pastoral sensitivity to the spiritual needs of his people and the liturgical laws of the universal Church. He completely suppressed the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in his diocese. When asked on what authority he did this, given the statements from the Congregation for Divine Worship, he responded, "I am well aware of what the congregation decided but quite frankly, it is not their call. It is mine. "

It quite takes one's breath away.

A Little Extreme
So, why would the bishop of Calgary make such a ruling?
Well, let's just say the H1N1 flu is among the least of his reasons.

There are certain bishops who foolishly think that the release of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is a "step backward" for the Church. They hew to the Novus Ordo Mass like a drowning captain clings to the rail of his sinking ship, unwilling to admit that their beloved is not doing the job it was intended to do.

Just as public schools cannot stand vouchers, and the US Postal Service cannot stomach Fedex, so Novus Ordo adherents cannot abide the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. It breaks a monopoly.

So, such bishops natter on about how they want to keep their dioceses from becoming a "Catholic ghetto", while ignoring the broken windows of liturgical abuse, the trashy music blaring from the boom-box choirs, and the shoddy architecture of the sub-standard housing which is the modern cafeteria-church. Like any slum-lord, these bishops don't want other gangs horning in on their territory, most certainly not the "gang from Rome."

But there is more to it than simple personal predilection.

By insisting he has the authority to do such a thing, the bishop of Calgary has made himself a test case, in the hopes that he will become a shining light unto the other bishops, that all may follow his example.

Seven With One Blow
You see, by suppressing the FSSP Mass, the Calgary bishop has struck at the heart of the authority of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, for that is where the Ecclesia Dei commission has found its new home. No bishop has the authority to suppress the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The Calgary bishop claims he has precisely that authority.

The bishop of Calgary has also struck at the heart of the authority of the Congregation for Divine Worship, through which all liturgical modifications legitimately come. Reception on the tongue is the universal norm, a liturgical norm which can never be suppressed nor abrogated. The bishop of Calgary claims the right to abrogate it.

So, with one blow, the bishop has essentially defied the authority of not one, but TWO papal dicasteries. But it is worse than that.

The Holy Father released Summorum Pontificum and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass precisely in order to increase the probability of re-union with other Christians. Not only does it increase the probability that the SSPX separation will be healed, it has also been the stepping stone for reunion with traditional elements of the Anglican communion and, ultimately, for re-union with all the Orthodox Churches in the world. Literally within months of its release, the Orthodox Churches began flocking towards dialogue with Rome.

The bishop of Calgary has, by this action, therefore struck at the very heart of the Holy Father's initiative to bring unity to all Christian churches. If the Calgary option is allowed to stand, it will be a body blow against the possibilities of real reunion with a host of other true Christian churches.

And, with this virtually schismatic act by the bishop of Calgary, we now clearly see why the Holy Father released the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. If you read through this document, you see a very peculiar thing, which is now clearly explained by the action in Calgary.

AC specifically allows individual Anglican communions within the Catholic Church to be headed by an "ordinary" who is not necessarily an ordained bishop. This is, to say the least, unprecedented. Indeed, given that Anglican orders are not valid, the fact is that every Anglican "priest" and "bishop" is really just a layman who dresses funny.

Yet these laymen, who have baptism as their only valid sacrament, will be treated as retired bishops and ordinaries in their own right - they will be given episcopal powers. The laymen who are the Anglican "priests" and "bishops" will be given their own liturgical rite.

True, they will all have to be properly ordained, but the rite is theirs, promised to them, before the consecrated oils touch their hands or their heads.

Not since Ambrose have laymen been raised to such a high level of authority so quickly.

Why would this new Ambrosian rite, the Anglican rite, be permitted?
Because the Holy Father can't trust his own bishops and he knows it.

Prophecy Fulfilled
If his own bishops were trustworthy, if the Holy Father were confident that most of his local bishops would treat the Anglicans with due respect for their rights as Catholics, he would not set up the additional machinery of the Anglican rite. But, as the Calgary bishop demonstrates, the Holy Father can't even trust his own bishops to treat Catholics with due honor and respect. How much honor would they give to filthy little Anglican converts (for that is essentially how many Catholic bishops view these - spit when you say it - traditionalists).

Why are laymen being given their own liturgical rite?
Because, unlike most of the world's Catholic bishops, these laymen actually understand and appreciate holy and beautiful things.

The irony is delicious. The Vatican II types who wanted laymen empowered are getting precisely that with the new Anglican rite. Not only are laymen being empowered, they are being treated as episcopal equals. The men and women who felt thrills go up their legs when they heard that Catholicity subsists in the Church, that elements of Catholicity exist even in Christian communities outside the visible bonds with Rome, have been justified. The new Anglican rite demonstrates that when the Holy Father needs people who have a truly Catholic perspective, he now has to go outside the visible Church to get them. Who said Vatican II wasn't prophetic?

Many people have commented on the fact that some of AC's provisions regarding the Anglican orders are transitional. For instance, treatment of lay people as if they were retired bishops will only last for the life of the current Anglican bishops. Yes, that's true. But it is also transitional in the sense that the current crop of Catholic bishops will likewise be dead before those "transitional" AC provisions are no longer necessary. The AC provisions aren't just waiting out the Anglican bishops, they are waiting out the Catholic bishops as well. Indeed, it cannot have escaped the notice of all Catholic bishops that they are being forced to treat laymen with episcopal deference. No doubt this has played some niggling role in Calgary's cavalry charge into the teeth of a German panzer division.

Obviously, the bishop of Calgary has picked a fight he cannot win. Rome will crush him like a bug. His suppression of normal Eucharistic reception and the FSSP is too outrageous, too schismatic, too much in violation of everything the Pope hopes to accomplish. If the Catholic Conference of Pennsylvania could force out a man like Bishop Martino because Martino was too holy for them, then the bishop of Rome can force out the bishop of Calgary because he's too unholy.

Calgary's probability of getting a new bishop in the next couple of years is now astronomically high, if only because bishops in other dioceses around the world are watching.
And so are the bishops in heaven.
We know which side St. Ambrose is on.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Discipline

Throughout the history of the Church, the greatest of saints have regularly undertaken personal and severe mortifications in order to join themselves to the sufferings of Christ, as He poured Himself out in the Passion - the expression of Divine Love.

Saints have been known to refuse all comfortable chairs and beds, throw themselves into thorn bushes, deliberately expose themselves to extremes of heat and cold, even whip themselves with a scourge, in order to accomplish this goal. In fact, this last practice, that is, self-flagellation, was so common among those pursuing sanctity that it was known simply as The Discipline.

Now, in a great sign of the possible sanctity of John Paul II, we have the testimony of his closest companions that he, too, mortified his own flesh through use of The Discipline:
Polish nun Tobiana Sobodka, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus order, who worked for Pope John Paul in his private Vatican apartments and at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo near Rome. 
Sister Sobodka said: 'Several times he (Pope John Paul) would put himself through bodily penance. 
'We would hear it - we were in the next room at Castel Gandolfo. You could hear the sound of the blows when he flagellated himself. He did it when he was still capable of moving on his own.' 

The flagellation is also confirmed by another bishop who has given testimony, Emery Kabongo, who for several years was a secretary for Pope John Paul. 
He said: 'He would punish himself and in particular just before he ordained bishops and priests. Before passing on the sacraments he wanted to prepare himself. 
'I never actually saw it myself but several people told me about it.'
Why is this important? Because Chris West has, on numerous occasions, publicly said that anyone who mortifies the flesh in this fashion does not really understand the Theology of the Body. He has mocked the saints who have undertaken physical mortifications, especially self-inflicted physical mortification, as not fully understanding the theology of the body. According to West, such individuals showed their spiritual immaturity, their failure to plumb the full richness of Christian teaching, when they did these things. As Chris himself said, "The Church is at about the level of a teenager in her understanding of human sexuality."

I have personal experience of the errors he has publicly taught in this area. Several years ago, I was present for a three-day weekend given by Christopher West on the theology of the body in a Midwestern diocese. Although it was sponsored by a private individual, the event was advertised throughout the diocese, resulting in numerous diocesan officials being present.

West spent the entirety of Friday evening mis-teaching on the place of suffering in the theology of the body, to such an extent that several diocesan officials took turns walking out of the room because they couldn't stand to listen to his errors. Although not a member of the diocesan staff, I had several friends on staff who were aghast at West's teachings. Because they were staff, they could not come forward easily to confront West on these errors.

So, I waited until all the other participants in the evening had conversed with him and departed. Then I personally entered into a conversation with him in order to privately correct him on his erroneous teaching concerning the place of human suffering in the pursuit of sanctity. Mr. West took enormous issue with my statements and responded in a decidedly unfriendly fashion, shouting at me and physically pushing me.

Others who were in the area but out of earshot, including the man who sponsored his talk, saw Mr. West's actions and personally apologized to me for his response, swearing that they would never bring the man into the area again.

Now it turns out that Christopher West, the self-anointed expert on the Theology of the Body, knows that theology so well that he was inadvertently but implicitly mocking Pope John Paul II's own understanding of TOB.

If we needed any further proof that Christopher West is a positive danger to the Church in his misrepresentation of Pope John Paul II's teaching, this personal testimony as to John Paul II's practice versus Christopher West's "interpretation" should put the final nail in the coffin.

Cardinal Rigali, Bishop Rhoades, I call upon you to discipline Christopher West.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Or maybe Palin-Bachman.

Who cares which it is?

But what a race it would be in 2012!

The GOP has the opportunity to put together the first female-female ticket for President and Vice President.

Both women are absolute dynamite, both would be wonderful in office.

Can you imagine the conniption fits the left would throw as it tried to slime two women?
What would N.O.W. do?

It would be glorious fun...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The King of Pizzazz

Most people know Tom Monaghan as the billionaire entrepreneur who invented Domino's Pizza, started the first Catholic law school and university in decades, then trashed both of them in order to move both of them to a Catholic town he was building in Florida.

Many Catholics also know that Tom famously fired Fr. Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press, not once, but twice, reportedly over disagreements about liturgy. Old Tom also had enormous trouble getting the local bishop to agree to consecrate the altar at his on-campus glass cathedral, in no small part because he never bothered to seek the local bishop's permission to build the altar in the first place, thus reportedly making it impossible for Ave Maria Town to ever build its own parish around the campus church.

Much more could be said about Tom's escapades, but the President and Publisher of Our Sunday Visitor probably put it best when he said,
“Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first introduce to Tom Monaghan.”
So, why are we dwelling on Tom Monaghan?
Well, watch how the New York Times connected some dots on Valentine's Day in 1999:

For Mr. Monaghan, the late 1980's were a time when his interest in managing Domino's day to day was waning, while his Catholic activism was rising. He underwrote construction of a mission in the Honduran mountain town of San Pedro Sula and paid $3.5 million of the $4.5 million cost of building a cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, that was favored by the conservative Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo and opposed by liberal Catholics.

In 1988, he was made a Knight of Malta, thus joining an international charitable group with a conservative cast. He also hired several members of the Word of God, a charismatic Catholic group active in right-wing causes, though Mr. Monaghan says he was never a member himself.

Something in there rings a bell, doesn't it? Hmmm... charismatic Catholic group.... hmmm.... Word of God.... wait... where have we heard of THAT group before?

Oh, of course!

The Word of God community was inspired by the charismatic rock drummer and youth leader, Larry Tomczak, who eventually left the Catholic Faith for greener pastures after making millions promoting Protestant theology among Catholic parishes.

The Word of God community was founded by Ralph Martin, who recently joined Drs. Janet Smith and Mary Healy (also WoG) at the faculty of Sacred Heart seminary. Like Ave Maria University, which preferred to fire Fr. Fessio rather than install a communion rail, Sacred Heart Major Seminary adamantly opposes any implementation of Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum, even refusing to train seminarians in the extraordinary form of the rite.

The Word of God movement was precisely and exactly the cult movement that spiritually RAPED Christopher West, according to Christopher West's own testimony in the Washington Post series on the cult's activities. (Fortunately, his cult-enamored parents did allow Chris to play the sacred rock band drums, so important to Catholic liturgy).

The Word of God community was overseen and sanctioned by Bishop Lori. What? Oh, yes. That's right. The man who failed to notice the cult aspects of WoG is now a member of the board of advisors for Chris West's Theology of the Body Institute, so, nothing to worry about there.

Tom Monaghan actively supported THAT Word of God Community.

Throughout the 1980's and early 1990's Tom Monaghan poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Central and South American Catholic dioceses. He poured further millions into anything related to the Word of God movement. Many of his closest advisors were Word of God acolytes and hangers-on. All the South American bishops who received this money were undoubtedly very appreciative.

At the height of Tom's largess, in the spring of 1997, the Washington Post ran an article series exposing the Word of God movement as a cult. Imagine the sadness in Tom's heart. Worse, imagine the sadness in the hearts of Tom's WoG advisors.

But all is not lost! In the fall of 1997, Chris West - star WaPo stool pigeon in the very public Word of God meltdown - starts quietly working on his theology degree at the John Paul II Center Pontifical Institute.

And, by purest coincidence, within a couple of months of graduation, Chris West, the WoG poster boy for spiritual rape, suddenly finds himself invited to a major conference in Brazil... yes, Brazil, of all places... to deliver a talk on the Theology of the Body.

In an earlier essay, I asked how a no-name yokel with a lousy MA, not even ABD or a Ph.D, got invited to address an international theological conference in Brazil.

Obviously, I still have no idea how this possibly could have happened.
But the questions haunt me.

How does someone who, to this very day, cannot tell the difference between New Age spirituality and Catholic mysticism, how does someone who can't understand Aquinas and can't distinguish between a virtue and a vice, how does someone who can't pass the Sesame Street test on Hugh Hefner, Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II ("one of these things is not like the other"), how, I ask does someone like this get promoted as a good Catholic theologian by any Catholic, much less a bishop (or, God forbid, a cardinal)? Or, for the sake of wild speculation, even promoted by a Catholic billionaire?

Well, it's hard to say (although Al Gore could definitely sympathize).

It certainly can't be the case that the university which doesn't like communion rails, and the seminary that doesn't like the Extraordinary Form, would find anything in common with the theologically illiterate musing of a rock drummer as he meditates on the (New Age?) connection between wild sex and the Catholic liturgy.

No, it certainly is a puzzle.
All we know for certain is, things change.

Why, just yesterday Chris West's episcopal supporter, Bishop Rhoades, was excoriating Fr. Jenkins for inviting pro-abortion Barack Obama to receive an honorary law degree at Notre Dame:
"It is disheartening and distressing when an institution that is regarded as Catholic, such as Notre Dame, fails to follow the guidelines set forth by the Bishops of the Catholic Church, especially in these vital moral matters," read the statement. "It is Bishop Rhoades' hope and prayer that all the institutions that bear the name 'Catholic' will affirm the Church's teachings, expose the culture of death and build up the Culture of Life."
Today, that same bishop says, "I love Notre Dame... I want to have a close personal and pastoral relationship. It's such a strong place."

Yesterday, Tom Monaghan, WoG supporter and South American philanthropist, was pro-life. Today, Tom names a field house at Ave Maria University after a pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia slimeball.

Yesterday, Bishop Lori was shocked, shocked to find a cult going on in a community under his watch. Today, he's on the board of advisors for the organization whose ex-cultist founder so deftly mis-quotes Catholic theology.

So, there you have it.
All the dots on how West got his start.
A bishop here, a billionaire there, obviously none of it connected in any way whatsoever, so there must be a supernatural force driving it all.

And I'm sure there is a supernatural force behind it.
There is precedent.

After all, consider the visionaries of Medjugorje, all millionaires now.

Just as Chris West has helped "countless" people, there have been "countless" conversions from Medjugorje. And there really have been conversions from both West's teaching and from Medjugorje. For that matter, innumerable people have come to know Jesus and have eventually entered the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostlic Church through their exposure to the heretical theology of Anabaptism, Lutheranism, Islam, Hinduism, even Buddhism, so why shouldn't Chris West and the visionaries of Medjugorje be able to point to their own happy Catholic converts? It would be absolutely shocking if they couldn't. Chris West, Tom Monaghan, Tessa Bielicki, the various visionaries... what's not to like?

Now, sure, there are the piffling little rumor-mongering stories of disobedience, abuse, etc., but it's pretty clear that God wants us all to be rich.

That's why Tom Monaghan is so pivotal to the success of the Church.

Tom has given us a gospel of monetary prosperity, Chris gives us a gospel of sexual prosperity, and the Medjugorje visionaries live out both to the full (none have taken religious vows).

God wants us to be happy.
What is happiness if it is not being wealthy while having holy sex?

Ultimately, isn't that the heart of the Gospel message?
Isn't it?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catholic Chutzpah

Is it just me, or are Catholics on the East Coast just really good at playing the victim?

Patrick Kennedy made some absolutely heinous public statements about the Catholic Faith.

His bishop publicly invites him to "come to Jesus" and have a private meeting.

Kennedy responds by saying more stupid things aloud to the press, including:
(a) Kennedy is a political victim of the bishop,
(b) why are we shooting one of our own?
(c) shouldn't this debate be undertaken privately?

The bishop responds to Kennedy's public whining in the press with his own public statement.

Kennedy goes into a pout about how this private dispute has suddenly become public and hides behind the media's skirts, refusing to discuss anything at all.

The Catholic press make fun of him.

Compare Pat Kennedy's situation to that of Chris West.

Christopher West made some absolutely heinous public statements about the Catholic Faith.

His instructors at John Paul II institute call him out on it, as do a veritable Who's Who of Catholic intelligentsia.

West goes into hiding while his supporters complain:
(a) West is a victim,
(b) why are we shooting one of our own?
(c) shouldn't this debate be undertaken privately, in journals that no one actually reads?

Numerous commentators ignore these questions and point out West is still a theological basket case.

West goes into a pout about how this private dispute has suddenly become public and hides behinds a cardinal's skirts, refusing to discuss any of the issues that have been raised at all.

Instead, his public reply is a compilation of MORE theologically stupid things.

Some of the Catholic press make fun of him.
Others start humming loudly and hope the whole thing goes away.

Chutzpah: Original Recipe
The definition of chutzpah is killing both of your parents and then throwing yourself on the mercy of the court because you're an orphan.

If the court doesn't know how you became an orphan, you'll be fine.

Catholic Chutzpah: Extra Crispy
In the Catholic version, it's publicly and repeatedly insisting on stupid, heretical things, then throwing yourself on the mercy of public opinion because people call you a heretic.

If the public doesn't know enough about the Faith to identify the errors, you'll be fine.

It worked for Teddy.
Will it work for Pat and Chris?

The Burning Question (tm): Are Chris West and Pat Kennedy cousins?
Has anyone checked the geneology here?
I'm just askin'...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why The Left Loves Islam

On the surface, it seems a great mystery. Why would the leftist liberals who embrace abortion, homosexual rights, pornography, free love, sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll find Islam so endearing?

The Fort Hood massacre has made it abundantly clear. Liberals display a motherly, protective attitude towards a religion which:
  • flogs sodomites,
  • executes raped women for having had sex outside of marriage,
  • forbids females from showing their face, much less their fundamentals,
  • virtually enslaves women inside their own homes by forbidding them to walk in public without the accompaniment of a male relative,
  • displays the height of patriarchy in its polygamous culture,
  • essentially forbids musical instruments of any kind, much less Western rock-n-roll,
  • denounces not only hard drugs, but even the use of alcohol as a violation of morality.
  • permits, indeed, tacitly encourages, the removal of every young girl's clitoris by the age of seven without benefit of anesthesia.
Why would leftists who hold candle-lit vigils outside American penitentiaries constantly coddle men who publicly, and with great fanfare, chop hands, feet and heads from their own criminals?

Why allow the name of Allah and the practice of Ramadan into public schools while forbidding the name of Jesus and the practice of Christmas?

David Kupelian, of WorldNetDaily, argues that the left does this because they are spineless cowards, afraid of coming under the threat of deadly fatwah. But this cannot be the case.

After all, look at the leftist embrace of abortionists, men and women who wear body armor to their place of work. Even though you are much more likely to end up dead from being pro-life than you are from being pro-abort, the left constantly touts the dangers of being in favor of abortion. Liberals love to point to the possibilities of martyrdom inherent in promoting the "right to choose."

They can be brave when it comes to supporting their own principles. So why don't they bravely stand up to the Muslims who so clearly, so stridently, oppose so many of the things liberals claim to stand for?

The answer is simple.

Liberals and Muslims differ in their external expressions of how to live out their common fundamental value, but they do share a common, fundamental value.

Army Major Nidal Hakim Hasan was not the first to name the value, but he is certainly one of the more memorable: "We Love Death More Than You Love Life."

The liberals and the Muslims are both, at bottom, nihilists.
Like calls to Like across the deep.
They know each other, they have known each other since before either was born.

It has been said of the promoters of atheistic evolution, "They think nothing made everything." Stuck with the cosmological fact of the Big Bang, the universe-creating primordial explosion that recalls Scripture's "Let There Be Light", the atheist recoils.

The universe can't be from God.
God couldn't create out of Nothing because, while there certainly is Nothing, there certainly is not God.

"No, no, no... no... you see... listen to me.... listen.... if you fold, spindle, punch and mutilate that original Nothing enough, it will explode (enraged by its own victim status, probably) and produce everything. That's what happened. Not God. Just an explosion. That's all. Billions of years ago. Billions."

The "billions" is important. While even atheists agree a Studebaker could not assemble itself out of window dust over the course of a thousand years, when the numbers start to climb, things change. Perhaps it could in the course of a billion years... a billion years... maybe...

The numbers are the thing. Whether talking about billions of years or trillions of dollars, once the big numbers come into play, the liberal atheist gets that far-away glint in his eyes. He falls into a trance as the numbers increase beyond his comprehension. Atheists are worshipers in the cult of the number, followers of a strange new sort of kabalah in which incomprehensibly huge numbers arrange themselves to form a comprehensible, finite and controllable universe. They are slaves to the numbers just as certainly as Muslims are slaves to Allah.

And, from an atheist's point of view, Allah has a marvelous attribute: Allah can change his mind. Allah turns good into evil and evil into good by simply commanding it. And for the liberal atheist, this is very comforting. Sure, Allah doesn't like homosexuality or rape today, but He might change His mind tomorrow. My self-destructive behaviour today may turn out to be a wonderful moral good tomorrow.

If God exists, I want him to be Allah. I will follow only the God of Mohammed, for Mohammed has shown the way. Indeed, Mohammed discovered this marvelous quality: I don't need to change, Allah will change the universe for me, to suit me. And if Allah does not? It does not matter. There is no Allah. Allah changes, morality changes. The universe is what we make of it. This is the liberal atheist's hope.

With Judeo-Christianity, no such possibility exists. God will never change His mind because God does not change. But with Islam all bets are off. Allah may decide tomorrow that rape is perfectly fine, that homosexuality is the preferred form of sexual expression. All we liberal atheists need to do is convince the imams that this is so. And how tough can that be? We will speak honeyed words, show them that we share their understanding of the universe.

They love death more than Christians love life.
They are our co-travellers, for we love death and nothingness more than Christians love life.
We are the same, you and I, Muslim and liberal.
True, you flog and kill me today, and I sneer at your silly theistic beliefs today, but ultimately, we are fellow travelers, on a long desert trek to the same destination. Like the sadist and the masochist, we make a perfect couple.

Major Hasan has to be protected and excused because Major Hasan is a liberal at heart.

He did to the soldiers at Fort Hood what every good atheist liberal has always wanted to do to those Christian, God-fearing, courageous American soldiers - he shot them through the head. He shot them through the heart. He drove a stake into them, chased them down while they were wounded and pumped more bullets into them. He shot them and shot them and shot them until their blood flowed like water, until their blood clotted on the floor, and then he shot them again. He destroyed them, he vented his rage upon them, he annihilated them for daring to question the annihilation that is coming to us all. He ground them to dust, the dust of the universe.

Major Hasan is a comfort to the liberals, he is the teddy bear they haven't had since they were six.
They want him to win, because when he wins, everyone loses.
We lose hope, we lose our belief in the True, the Good and the Beautiful, we lose our contact with God, with Life Himself. And isn't that annihilation of the bond worth a little bloodshed?

No, the Left does not fear Islam.
It adores Islam.
Islam does what the Left wants to do but cannot yet accomplish - it destroys.
Islam is the hero, the superman.
One day, the Left in the United States will do what Islam does today.

One day.

For more information on Islam, the Fort Hood Massacre, current events and Faith in the news, read Culture War Notes, the Catholic news site.

Update: Following the attempt to blow up an Amsterdam to Detroit flight on Christmas Eve, National Review On-Line notes that the most serious and violent radical Muslims have backgrounds indistinguishable from our ultra-leftist colleagues.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Killing Us Softly With His Song

Deroy Murdock of the National Review is perplexed. He can't understand why Obamacrats would create a new tax on medical devices, a tax that will inevitably lead to lower medical device availability and higher death rates.

If such a tax goes through, the cost of things like implantable defibrillators and insulin pumps will skyrocket. It will become impossible for thousands of people to use these life-saving technologies. It will, in short, be a death sentence for thousands of older people, thousands of disabled people.

Why would anyone do that?
Why would anyone do that?

Barack Obama wants you dead.

Before you close the door and turn away from such a brutally cruel statement, think a moment.

Social security cannot survive the incoming wave of baby boomers. It is on the verge of bankruptcy There is no money for the boomers' old age. Either massive infusions of cash must be made or boomers must die early. We don't have massive piles of cash to infuse, so...

Both parties have known this for years, neither party wanted to touch it because baby boomers would vote them out of office. So, they fiddled, hemmed, hawed, and now the rubber is beginning to meet the road. Instead of privatizing a government program (i.e., removing some portion of a politician's powerbase), raising the minimum age or doing anything that might be seen as eliminating benefits, the politicians have chosen the only other logical alternative. They will eliminate you.

From a purely economic stand-point, it makes perfect sense.

Politicans exist to hold and grow their power. Reducing the power of the federal government weakens politicians. Christians may say "in my weakness, He displays His strength" but politicians do not say this. They never have. They cannot privatize, reduce or eliminate any government program for doing such a thing destroys a politician's reason to exist. In a fight for one's own life, in pure self-defense, it is legitimate to kill your opponent.

From the politician's point of view, we are the opponents.

But that isn't the only way this new approach is reasonable.

From an environmentalist's standpoint, it also makes perfect sense. The environmentalists have long held that the planet is past it's "carrying capacity," that is, they argue that there are too many people. We should have no more than one billion people (some say as low as one million people) living on this planet so that we don't burden it. Obviously, in order to reach this goal, most of us have to die. There's simply no way around it.

Barack Obama has surrounded himself with the most advanced pragmatists of our age, men and women who hold ideology as the highest pure good, something which the grubby existence of actual human beings must bow to and serve. Obama himself opined that his own beloved grandmother was not really worth the end-of-life care that she received. If his opinion of his own grandma rises to these heady heights, what will his opinion of you be?

For these people, God is not a supreme, omniscient Being Who loves us. No, they are the omniscient prognosticators, and they serve a Platonic ideal, an ideal that describes what the world would look like if not for all the stinking masses and their detestable refusal to do what is best for them. We, recalcitrant fools that we are, we are the heretics who spurn their gods. So, for this, too, we must die.

Savvy political commentators know this. But they cannot bring themselves to say these things aloud, although the more thoughtful ones are clearly thinking it.

Peggy Noonan's recent column decried the "callous... stupidity" of the current rulers. This was an unusually frank outburst from a writer normally renowned for incredible quiet reserve. From whence did it come? That, too, is simple.

She sees the hand-writing on the wall. She is horrified by it, but even now, her natural reserve prevents her from connecting the dots in public. To write about something is to give it reality. She is afraid that if she names it aloud, it will become real. So she names instead a hope, the hope that this is merely callous disregard, mere stupidity, a foible of human nature and not a dedicated ideological plan. She sounds cruel and callous in naming it because she hopes it is only cruel, stupid callousness that she names.

But it is already real. It has already been written. Whether in books or in opinion columns, spoken aloud before the people and in quiet conversation behind closed doors by hundreds of Obamacratic minions and followers, sycophants and fellow travellers, the truth has already been named and claimed.

You have to die.
All of us, we all have to die.
Not on our own time, but on his time, on his watch.

We have to die if only to show the Brights that their own predictions were right, if only to give them the sense that they are in the right. Our bumblings, our abortions, our sufferings, even our deaths are now all a necessary part of their self-image.

They are knowledgeable men and women, infallible prognosticators.
They will know their own brilliance, luxuriate in it even more deeply, when they read the soulful requiem over our graves, the graves they dug for us, the graves they buried us alive in.

Obama and his minions need to be brilliant, for if they aren't brilliant, they are nothing, and they don't want to be nothing.

They can't abide being nothing.

So we must die, to prove their brilliance.
And on the day we die, they will sing.
They will sing of this day, for it shows their enlightenment.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

West and Hefner: Together Again

Did you ever wonder where Christopher West got his rave about Hugh Hefner? You know, where did he get the idea that Hefner was really just trying to free America of its nasty, horrible, evil Puritanism past? Why, he got the idea of Hefner's heroic work from Hugh Hefner himself! As a couple of commentators over at the Claremont Institute fondly remember:
The "Playboy Philosophy" may have been verbose but it was fascinating, especially if you were thirteen. Hefner painted a grim picture of the sexual landscape of early-sixties America. America was, we learned, dominated by Puritanism. Books were censored. A few jurisdictions banned, or purported to ban, the sale of contraceptives. Archaic laws against oral sex were on the books in many states, and married couples were hauled off in chains for violating them. Puritanical prosecutors and judges lay in wait to punish anyone venturing to engage in sex that was not of the approved sort. With hindsight, this was an odd perspective on the America of that era, but it described our junior high schools pretty well, and we bought it.

While railing against the Puritanism of present-day America, Hefner described the world that was struggling to be born. A world where sexual gratification was available to everyone (at least everyone who could afford a car and a stereo), and freely consenting girls would be standing on every street corner. We know now it didn't quite turn out that way, but at the time, it sounded good to us...
Now, read Chris West's take on Hugh Hefner below. Notice how he simply transcribes Hefner's false rendition of American society. Hooked by the uncritical delight of a schoolboy, he swallowed Hefner's perspective hook, line and sinker:
When asked why he started Playboy magazine, Hefner said it was -a personal response to the hurt and hypocrisy of our Puritan heritage.- Hefner elaborates: "Our family was ...Puritan in a very real sense.... Never hugged. Oh, no. There was absolutely no hugging or kissing in my family. There was a point in time when my mother, later in life, apologized to me for not being able to show affection. That was, of course, the way I’d been raised. I said to her, ‘Mom, ...because of the things you weren’t able to do, it set me on a course that changed my life and the world.’ When I talk about the hurt and hypocrisy in some of our values - our sexual values - it comes from the fact that I didn’t get hugged a lot as a kid" (interview with Cathleen Falsani,

When I first read this I wanted to weep for this man.... We as Catholics actually agree - or should agree - with Hugh Hefner’s diagnosis of the disease of puritanism.
Catholics should agree?
With Hugh Hefner???

Hefner was and is a pornographer.
That is, Hefner was and is a liar.

As a professional liar, Hefner understood that in order to make his pornography acceptable, he had to be the underdog. He had to be in titanic struggle against overwhelming odds, a David against a Goliath. Males who wanted to see naked, sexually available woman, but knew they shouldn't, needed a rationale for opening the pages of his magazine. Hefner gave them one. He invented the idea of a puritanical America.

To a junior-high school student whose grasp of America history is as good as his grasp on the virtue of continence, the David-vs.-Goliath meme provides a good philosophical rationale for checking out the centerfold's feminine fundamentals. Not that teenage boys need such rationale, but it's nice to know there is one.

For those teenage boys who read the Playboy articles so that they could maintain a pretense of intellectual motivation, Hefner's concepts were as necessary as the centerfold. Let's go back to the political analysis for a moment:
... It turned out that we weren't the only ones who absorbed and internalized the Playboy Philosophy. As the years went by, it became harder and harder to find much in America that could be described as Puritanical. Even in the junior high schools. By the early 1970s, there was probably no proposition that commanded more universal assent than "two consenting adults." The key moment was probably 1965, when the Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that a state could not constitutionally ban the sale and use of contraceptives. It was in Griswold that the Court first discerned a "right of privacy" in the Constitution. Justice Douglas wrote: "[S]pecific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance."
Now, notice. This essay is not written by a bunch of religious people with an ax to grind. In fact, near the end of the essay, the authors state, "Understand that we haven't really changed our minds about the "consenting adults" principle since our junior high school days."

To repeat, none of the authors at the Claremont Institute have ever heard of Chris West. But as political analysts, they do have an adult grasp of American history. And they find people who buy into Hugh Hefner's version of American history to be juvenile at best.
Griswold was pure Hefner, in the sense that it dealt with one of those outrageous, archaic laws that were regularly castigated in the Playboy Philosophy

In reality, the State of Connecticut made no effort to interfere with the use of contraceptives; the statute was on the books but was not enforced. Griswold was commenced by a group of students at Yale who conceived the lawsuit as a class project....
This is the Puritanism that Chris West is fighting? The puritanical attitudes that West selflessly saves all of us from? Where on earth did Chris West get the idea that America is Puritan? Apart from Playboy's philosophy columns, what evidence does he have that it was Puritan at any point since about 1750? Yet, is this not the Chris West meme? Does he not continually decry the fact that America was (or worse, is) a grim placed dominated by Puritanism, an America from which he saves "countless" - countless, I tell you - countless couples? (we know it's true because neither he nor his supporters ever actually bother to count them).

Recall again Chris West's mantra on Nightline: "Hugh Hefner is my muse... I see historical connections between Hugh Hefner and John Paul II."

Even the New York Times recognizes the essential difference between a Hugh Hefner supporter and a Hugh Hefner detractor:
As a cultural force, however, Mr. Hefner still divides the country — 56 years after Playboy’s first issue. To his supporters, he is the great sexual liberator who helped free Americans from Puritanism and neurosis. To his detractors, including many feminists and social conservatives, he helped set in motion a revolution in sexual attitudes that have objectified and victimized countless women and promoted an immoral, whatever-feels-good approach to life.... He recently filmed a Guitar Hero commercial, holding the pipe he gave up after a suffering a small stroke in 1985. (emphasis added)
Read West's words again. On which side of the New York Times' line does Christopher West fall? When even the pagans recognize that Hefner was bloviating, to what extent must we accept his ideological step-child's musings on historical themes?
The point Christopher made—but which wasn’t included in the Nightline piece—was that, as Catholics, we agree with Hugh Hefner’s diagnosis of the disease (i.e., a puritanical rejection of the body and sexuality is utterly contrary to Catholic faith), but we radically disagree with his cure. Christopher told the Nightline correspondent that the Theology of the Body is the true cure for the disease that Hefner diagnosed. These distinctions were lost in the seven-minute piece that ABC aired. Indeed, Nightline made it sound as if West considered Hefner a "hero" of his, which he certainly never said.
West didn't say Hef was his hero. He did say Hef was his muse. The New York Times almost precisely defines the Chris West meme: Mr. Hefner is to be applauded for helping "free Americans from Puritanism and neurosis." Chris West insists Hugh Hefner diagnosed the disease - Hef, not Christ, not the Pope, but Hugh Hefner is the physician who made the correct diagnosis. Hefner is the first person to spring to Chris West's mind when viewing the "Puritan" landscape he sees, a landscape he sees through Hefner's glasses. Indeed, to an aspiring rock star like Chris West, Hugh Hefner, the Guitar Hero advocate, embodies every hormonal teenage boy's dream. His philosophy, his take on history, is worth musing upon.

The Catholic Faith is the Truth, with a capital 'T.' To the extent that any fact of life is mis-represented, it is not Catholic. So, not only are distortions of theological facts to be avoided, but so are distortions of history.

So, let us make a quick summary of major Westian distortions:
Christopher West distorts the story of the bishops and the prostitute in order to promote his own version of Catholic theology.
Christopher West distorts the writings of St. Louis de Montfort in order to promote his own version of Catholic theology.
Christopher West directly contradicts Aquinas on the question of whether continence is a virtue.
Christopher West directly contradicts John Paul II himself, as he speaks in the TOB audiences, on the question of whether continence is a virtue.
For our spiritual edification and delight, Christopher West promotes a liar who pretended to be a Carmelite mystic and who brands Christianity "Christo-fascism."

I have heard, with my own ears, Christopher West say in a public talk, "When it comes to sexuality, the Catholic Church's understanding is about at the level of a teenager."

Now we see laid out even by the pagans, even by pagans who have never heard of Chris West, that West's version of history is just absurd, held only by acolytes of Hugh Hefner.

The worst heresies were created by men who adhered closely to Catholic doctrine in most of what they did. But these heretics, influenced by the age in which they lived, insisted that the Catholic Faith change, even if just a small bit, to accommodate their own distorted understanding of the facts.

Look at the Hefner/West version of history.
Then look at an historian's version of history.

Which will you buy into?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Don't Go West, Young Man

It is common knowledge that Protestants who hold to sola fide (faith alone) salvation have enormous problems with Scripture. Why? Because the only time the words "faith alone" appear in Scripture is in the letter of James (2:24), where James says "We are not saved by faith alone."

Yet, despite this problem, our Protestant brethren - with the best of intentions - hold that as long as you make a saving statement of faith, you will be saved, your life will change, all things will be different for you. Indeed, Luther held that, once you gained the perspective of Christ, you could no longer commit a sin that would damn you.

Chris West is now in similar straits and for similar reasons. His recent reply places him in direct and immediate contradiction to both Thomas Aquinas and his only non-scatalogical muse, Pope John Paul II. West says:
In the language of St. Thomas Aquinas, a person who can successfully restrain himself from sin is “continent” but not yet virtuous. Continence falls short of virtue since virtue presupposes a right desire, and this is lacking in the continent person (see Summa, Prima Secundae, q. 58, a. 3, ad 2).
Wow! Chris West even quotes the title in the Latin!
I wonder if West really knows any Latin?
But, more to the point, does Aquinas really say continence is not a virtue?
Well, let's look!
First Part of the Second Part (i.e., Prima Secundae)
Question 155
Article 1. Whether continence is a virtue?

Objection 1. It would seem that continence is not a virtue. (Readers of Aquinas already know the gig is up. Whenever a Thomistic objection holds to one position, it is a given that Thomas will demonstrate the opposite is the case).

On the contrary,
Every praiseworthy habit would seem to be a virtue. Now such is continence, for Andronicus says [De Affectibus] that "continence is a habit unconquered by pleasure." Therefore continence is a virtue. (See?)
That's gotta sting.

"But wait! Read on, Kellmeyer! Don't you realize that Aquinas contradicts himself just a paragraph later?"
I answer that, The word "continence" is taken by various people in two ways. For some understand continence to denote abstention from all venereal pleasure: thus the Apostle joins continence to chastity (Galatians 5:23). On this sense perfect continence is virginity in the first place, and widowhood in the second. Wherefore the same applies to continence understood thus, as to virginity which we have stated above (Question 152, Article 3) to be a virtue. Others, however, understand continence as signifying that whereby a man resists evil desires, which in him are vehement. On this sense the Philosopher takes continence (Ethic. vii, 7), and thus also it is used in the Conferences of the Fathers (Collat. xii, 10,11). In this way continence has something of the nature of a virtue, in so far, to wit, as the reason stands firm in opposition to the passions, lest it be led astray by them: yet it does not attain to the perfect nature of a moral virtue, by which even the sensitive appetite is subject to reason so that vehement passions contrary to reason do not arise in the sensitive appetite. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 9) that "continence is not a virtue but a mixture," inasmuch as it has something of virtue, and somewhat falls short of virtue.
Now, it is true that Aquinas distinguishes two forms of continence: the continence of venereal pleasure versus the continence of resisting the passions through the use of reason. The first is a virtue, the second... well, here's where it gets interesting. Aquinas points out that the Philosopher (Aristotle) didn't think the second was a virtue. But what does Aquinas himself, enlightened with the light of Christ through baptism in a way the Philosopher never was, what does our baptized, enlightened Aquinas say?
If, however, we take virtue in a broad sense, for any principle of commendable actions, we may say that continence is a virtue.
And, we would be remiss if we did not point out yet another reference from Aquinas:
First Part of the Second Part
Question 109
Article 10: Whether man possessed of grace needs the help of grace in order to perservere?

I answer that, Perseverance is taken in three ways. First, to signify a habit of the mind whereby a man stands steadfastly, lest he be moved by the assault of sadness from what is virtuous. And thus perseverance is to sadness as continence is to concupiscence and pleasure, as the Philosopher says. Secondly, perseverance may be called a habit whereby a man has the purpose of persevering in good until the end. And in both these ways perseverance is infused together with grace, even as are continence and the other virtues.
Now, THAT leaves a red mark. Quite painful.

"Wait, Kellmeyer!" comes the call. "You're cheating! West doesn't even refer to Question 155! Or Question 109, for that matter! He's telling us to look at Question 58, Article 3! That's where Aquinas contradicts himself and agrees with Chris West!"

Oh, yes, of course. My mistake. How stupid of me. I should look only where Chris points and nowhere else, lest I become confused. Let's go take a look at the question that is so much more on point to whether or not continence is a virtue.

In West's reference, Question 58, Aquinas asks "Whether virtue is adequately divided into moral and intellectual virtues?" That answer is certainly going to be more relevant to the question of whether or not continence is a virtue than anything Aquinas might have to say under the heading "Is continence a virtue?"

[Note: A reader pointed out that the original section below, which had originally observed that continency was not mentioned in Q 58, was based on an erroneous translation. After having found a correct translation, I modified the section below accordingly.]

So, when we turn to Question 58 we see... "continency is not a perfection of the sensitive appetite... so continency and perseverance are not perfections ... [or] virtues" and he uses the continent man as an example to demonstrate the lack of virtue in continence and perseverance.

"Ah! So Aquinas does contradict himself!"

Well, no.

Many people think Aquinas uses the word "continence" in two ways, but he doesn't. Rather, he uses the word "virtue" in two ways. For Thomas, "virtue" can mean "habit" or "virtue" can mean "perfection." The difference is one of duration. A good habit, continued long enough, will lead one to perfection. So a virtuous habit perfects the man who practices it.

However, even before the habit perfects the man, it is still a habit - a virtue.

When Thomas denies that continence and perseverance are virtues in Question 58, but affirms that continence and perseverance are both virtues just a little later in Question 109, and again in Q. 155, he is not contradicting himself. Rather, in Q. 58, he specifically says "continency and perseverance are, however, perfections of the rational faculty."

A continent persevering man displays a virtue of rationality, logic, intellect. The continent man knows when he is in danger, so he runs from it - that's virtuous. The only reason we can't call continence a virtue in the sense of final perfection is due to the fact that the man still has strong passions at all. But since it isn't the role of continence to regulate the passions, but only the reason, continence is not a full moral virtue - it cannot accomplish the perfection of the man on its own.

While continence perfects rationality (and virtues always perfect something), it can't touch the passions, it can't get at one piece that isn't yet perfected, because that's simply not the job of continence. And because it perfects part of man, but does not by itself completely perfect him, in that sense alone it is not a virtue.

Hmmm... is there anything here which may confirm this reading? Well, Aquinas does differentiate here between two kinds of virtue: moral and intellectual.

Why is this important? Well, because Aquinas told us in question 155 (not that Question 155 is relevant, of course, but humor me), that both Aristotle and the Fathers of the Church said of continence "yet it does not attain to the perfect nature of a moral virtue."

"See, Kellmeyer? That means continence is not a virtue at all!"

Well, no, not exactly. As I was saying, Aquinas points out in Question 58 that there are two kinds of virtues: moral and intellectual. Moral virtues perfect appetites, intellectual virtues perfect reason.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church names only four moral virtues: justice, fortitude, temperance and chastity (CCC #1807-1809, 2345).

However, the CCC goes on to list several other virtues: religion (2096), prudence (1806), solidarity (1942, 1948), truthfulness (2486), poverty (2833) and of course, faith, hope and love (theological virtues). None of these virtues are called "moral virtues." But they are all virtues, nonetheless. Indeed, CCC #2349 even says:
2349 "People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single." Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence (emphasis added):
There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. . . . This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.
So, according to the CCC, continence is a virtue - it is the lived virtue of chastity.

"No, you're wrong, Kellmeyer!" comes the reply. "What about all the John Paul II quotes that West supplies! John Paul II clearly contradicts Aquinas and the CCC, so JP II and West are right, and you are wrong! Continence is NOT a virtue!"

Oh, contraire, mon frere! Let's look at a what JP II actually says:
In keeping with what has already been said, today we will take up the analysis of the virtue of continence. Continence, which is part of the more general virtue of temperance. Continence consists in the capacity to dominate, control and direct drives of a sexual character (concupiscence of the flesh) and their consequences, in the psychosomatic subjectivity of man. Insofar as it is a constant disposition of the will, this capacity, merits being called a virtue. ...
"STOP IT! That's raising actual welts!"

Well, yes, it is.

"Why are you beating one of our own?"

"Are you alright Chris?... Don't worry, dear. I'll make the bad man go away..."

While someone ministers to Chris, let's consider the Pope's words again. John Paul II is simply quoting Aquinas here, without direct attribution to the Summa. Aquinas spends all of Question 155 Article 2 discussing how continence is part of the general virtue of temperance. There's no contradiction between Aquinas, who calls continence a virtue, the CCC, which calls continence a virtue, and Pope John Paul II, who calls continence a virtue.

"Kellmeyer, you are taking the Pope out of context. What about this passage, in which Pope John Paul II clearly tells us we can overcome concupiscence and be free of its effects?"
... In the light of these considerations it is easy to understand that continence is not limited to offering resistance to the concupiscence of the flesh. But through this resistance it is open likewise to those values, more profound and more mature, inherent in the spousal significance of the body in its femininity and masculinity, as well as in the authentic freedom of the gift in the reciprocal relations of the persons.
We are continuing the analysis of the virtue of continence (emphasis has been added by that lustful, evil Kellmeyer. West rightfully warns us that anyone who opposes his interpretations is lustful and evil; they have not yet become one of "the pure ones", i.e., the Catharii, or in modern parlance, a faithful Westian. Be WARNED!) in the light of the doctrine contained in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae. It is well to recall that the great classics of ethical (and anthropological) thought, both the pre-Christian ones and the Christian ones (St. Thomas Aquinas), see in the virtue of continence (Kellmeyer is so evil) not only the capacity to contain bodily and sensual reactions, but even more the capacity to control and guide man's whole sensual and emotive sphere. In the case under discussion, it is a question of the capacity to direct the line of excitement toward its correct development and also the line of emotion itself, orienting it toward the deepening and interior intensification of its pure and, in a certain sense, disinterested character. ...
.. The Encyclical Humanae Vitae devotes due attention to the biological aspect of the question, that is to say, to the rhythmic character of human fertility. In the light of the encyclical, this "periodicalness" can be called a providential index for a responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Nevertheless a question such as this one, which has such a profoundly personalistic and sacramental (theological) meaning, is not resolved only on this level. (See? Are you READING this Kellmeyer?)

The encyclical teaches responsible fatherhood and motherhood "as a proof of a mature conjugal love." Therefore it contains not only the answer to the concrete question that is asked in the sphere of the ethics of married life but, as already has been stated it also indicates a plan of conjugal spirituality, which we wish at least to outline. ...

If this salvific fear is directly associated with the negative function of continence (that is, to resistance with regard to concupiscence of the flesh), it is also manifested and to an ever greater degree as this virtue (grrr...) gradually matures as sensitivity filled with veneration for the essential values of the conjugal union: for the two meanings of the conjugal act (or, to use the terminology of the previous analyses, veneration for the interior truth of the mutual language of the body).

On the basis of a profound reference to these two essential values, that which signifies union of the couple is harmonized in the subject with that which signifies responsible fatherhood and motherhood. The gift of respect for what is created by God enables the apparent contradiction in this area to disappear and the difficulty arising from concupiscence to be gradually overcome, thanks to the maturity of the virtue and the power of the Holy Spirit's gift. (See, See? Concupiscence CAN be permanently overcome!)

6. If it is a question of the problem of so-called periodic continence (or recourse to natural methods), the gift of respect for the work of God helps, to the greatest extent, to reconcile human dignity with the natural cycles of fertility, that is, with the biological dimension of the femininity and masculinity of the couple. This dimension also has a significance of its own for the truth of the mutual language of the body in married life.
Well, no, that's not what the Pope is saying.

The problem here is partly one of perception. Years ago, a psychologist did a study in which a group of college students were told an expert, a Nobel prize winner, was going to give a lecture in his area of expertise and they were invited to attend. The lecture, given by an actor, was actually just a pile of gobbledy-gook and catch phrase. It made no coherent sense. Yet, when asked afterwards, all the students said the speech was incredibly profound and deeply insightful. It was certainly difficult material, and merited more profound meditation and study, but everyone affirmed they had definitely benefited as a result of hearing this brilliant man's lecture.

Perception. The students were told the speech had content and the speaker was an authority. They believed it. As a result, when they didn't understand what the lecturer said, they didn't attribute the fault to the lecturer or the material, but to themselves. They just weren't as bright as the "Nobel prize winner." If they just studied more, they would be fine. And they certainly were not going to let on that they didn't get it.

God bless John Paul II, but he was a long-winded man. He took very simple ideas and expressed them in highly complex, often needlessly technical language.

Chris West has built a career off of taking his personal theology, imposing it on John Paul II's obfuscating language, and claiming his "insights" are wonderful simplified versions of JP II's work, specially designed for the common man.

The passages above demonstrate the problem in spades.

The first two paragraphs with bolded remarks simply say "NFP is not just a biological action. You have to approach it with the right intention."

The next two paragraphs just say, "As long as you recognize and respect, as long as you are willing to embrace, the possibility of becoming a parent when you have sex, and you recognize that the physical union with your spouse is meant to be holy, you are ok. Don't be a glutton."

That is really all that is in there.

Chris West makes several references to JP II's writings.
He claims those references support his theology.

How far are you willing to trust a man who mis-directs you on Aquinas (see above), who misrepresents the writings of John the Stylite in order to twist the story of the bishops and the prostitute to his own liking, or who debases the writings of St. Louis de Montfort?

How much do you trust Chris West, a man who actively promotes a New Age spiritualist, a woman who lied about her Carmelite background, a woman whose community is associated with at least one attempted suicide, a woman who praised Buddhism for its corrective to "Christo-fascism"? West was enthralled by her, unable to leave his car as he listened again to her tape set.

Chris West advocates the pursuit of a new purity, a new Catharism. There are the enlightened, the Westians. Then there are the slobs, the rest of us who don't understand his special knowledge.

It is interesting to note that the Westian controversy over the propriety of anal sexual activity was also associated with the original Catharii. The term "bugger" is, according to the semi-reliable Wikipedia, derived from the fact that, like the Westians, the original Catharii also had fewer inhibitions about anal sex than unenlightened Catholics.

The rest of us, unenlightened, lustful, evil slobs that we are, do not have the purity of the Westians. That's our problem, really. We're prudes, snobs, Puritans, Manicheans, and we eat Cheetohs for breakfast. We disgust them. Worse, when we point out their errors, we abuse them. Swine like us shouldn't poke our noses into their pure knowledge, especially in public forums. We should strive to emulate them, pure and holy examples for us all. Don't pay attention to what the texts say - let them interpret the texts. The Westians will make it all clear.
I thought that continence arose from one's own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know . . . that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you. (St. Augustine, CCC 2520).
Priests face east when they celebrate the Mass because the Fathers have long held that Christ will come from the East at the Parousia. Priests don't face to the West because the West is associated with error, deception and, ultimately, condemnation. Take the advice of the Fathers. Don't go West, young man.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


With the new note on Anglican admission into the Catholic Church, a couple of thoughts come to mind.

The "personal ordinariate," a new version of the personal prelature, admits two laudable goals, one stated, one left unstated.

The stated goal is that it permits the Anglicans entering the Church to retain the customs of prayer and spirituality that they have maintained since their break with Rome under Henry VIII. By itself, this is to be expected. Similar kinds of situations have been worked out over the course of the last two millennia with every group that has ever broken off. Even the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar rites, having distinct histories of fission and fusion, have also their distinct rites.

The second point is touched on rather tangentially by the canonist Ed Peters when he says the Church is moving away from geographic territories and towards social groupings.

This "social grouping" will create problems down the road, of course, but it isn't noticeably different from what's happened in the United States for the last 50 years.

In medieval Europe, the king may have his private chapel, but Sunday Mass was in the cathedral, and everyone attended, from prince to pauper. That kind of Mass hasn't been seen in the United States in a long time. Today, the rich have their parish church, the poor have theirs, and never do the twain meet. Indeed, when the poor dare to enter a rich man's church, their faux pas is made clear. In much the same way, the poor look askance at anyone daft enough to drive their Beemer to the run-down urban church in the heart of the 'hood.

But, given the who the TAC are and what they represent, the second message is much more interesting.

The TAC love the traditional liturgy. They love chant, the priest leading the people towards the heaven of the altar, the communion rail. They hate guitars, clown noses and insipid liturgy.

The bishops of England have long tried to keep the TAC out of the Church, for fear that a half-million serious Catholics might upset the balance of power. The Holy Father just did an end-run around them.

But it isn't just around them. Think of all the bishops in the developed countries, bishops in the United States for instance, who don't like Summorum Pontificum, who put various illegitimate impediments in place, bishops who just don't understand that the current Novus Ordo liturgy is a thing made for children, not adults.

With the new structure, a structure that could easily be used by not only the SSPX, but many, many other groups, the Holy Father has the ability to do an end-run around recalcitrant bishops throughout the world.

From the descriptions so far, the new Anglican format seems to be essentially a quasi "religious order" that's organized not by vows or living together in stable community (e.g., cloister), but rather by traditional spiritual practice.

Could the Ecclesia Dei groups around the world ultimately be set up in a similar fashion?
If bishops continue to be recalcitrant towards the Holy Father's wishes, there's no reason they couldn't be.

This bodes exceedingly well for Extraordinary Catholics, that is, the Catholics who follow the Extraordinary Form. Indeed, it bodes well for ALL faithful Catholics.

For myopic bishops?
Not so much...

UPDATE: I've had some questions concerning John Allen's report that the Vatican note compares the "personal ordinariate" to military dioceses in structure and lack of geographic containment.

While this comparison is certainly true of the governing structure, it should be remembered that this structure is quite different from the military diocese in terms of its purpose.

The military diocese exists to minister to a highly mobile population. The spirituality of that population can be very much in conformance with that of the rest of the population it exists within, but the governing structure is set up to handle the mobility problem that military service presents.

The population of a personal ordinariate, on the other hand, might be geographically quite stable, its population very unlikely to move at all. It exists in order to protect a specific approach to spirituality common to a widely dispersed group of people, it protects that spirituality from "outside" interference or suppression.

Thus, the personal ordinariate is, indeed, expressly designed to keep its members out from under the thumb of the ordained men who would otherwise oversee those members. In this regard, the personal ordinariate is actually quite a lot closer to the status of a religious order, if only because (a) religious orders exist to protect and promote specific spiritualities and (b) the local bishop has extremely limited ability (read "none") to interfere with the spiritual life of the order.

There is, of course, one exception to the similarity between religious orders and personal ordinariates. A bishop can invite in or kick out any religious order in his diocese. A diocese does not have a religious order within its boundaries unless the bishop invites it in. It can only operate within the boundaries of the diocese until the bishop kicks it out.

That same bishop has absolutely no such control over the members of a personal ordinariate.

John Allen may (or may not) realize this, but for political reasons he may be choosing to remain publicly silent about this aspect of the personal ordinariate. Certainly the bishops recognize what Pope Benedict has done, but they also have good reasons for not drawing public attention to this aspect of the new structure. And, of course, the Vatican is diplomatically silent about this aspect as well, choosing to emphasize the form of the governing structure, while delicately describing the purpose without reference to the local bishop.

I am certain more than one of them will be very interested in seeing what other kinds of personal ordinariates get set up. This just doesn't bode well for local bishops who continue to defy the Pope.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sects, Lies, and the Wild, Wild West

"Recently, while preparing for a long drive, I decided to look through my old collection of tape series for something to listen to (yes, I still have a cassette deck in my car). My eyes landed on a box set called "Passion for God" by a Carmelite Abbess named Mother Tessa Bielecki."
That's how Christopher West began his newspaper column's recent two-part series discussing "Mother Tessa's" thoughts on sex and St. Teresa of Avila.

Given that this is part of his "old tape" set, it's clear that West has spent a lot of time contemplating Mother Tessa's wisdom. Indeed, while he does not refer to her Spiritual Life Institute by name, in his talks, he often holds up as an example a remarkable order of monks and nuns living together in celibate community. Yes, once we discover this community, empowered by Pope John XXIII's personal permission, headed by Discalced Carmelite Father William McNamara and the Carmelite abbess, Mother Tessa, we are taken aback by the breathtaking break with the whole history of monastic life that it represents.

But, we are taken aback even more when we discover that "Mother Tessa" is not now, nor has she ever been, a Carmelite nun, much less an abbess, that the community was not, in fact, set up with the advice of Pope John XXIII, and that none of the men and women there, apart from Fr. McNamara, is under binding vows to the Church.

The truth about the community came out more than 20 years ago, when the September/October 1988 edition of Yoga Journal ran the following letter correcting the inaccuracies in its laudatory portrait of "Mother Tessa":

I am responding to an article in the March/April [1988] issue of Yoga Journal entitled “Everything and Nothing.” Misinformation in an article is bad enough, but total inaccuracies in glaring, large print are more than I can ignore. As a retreatant in 1970 and 1971 and a member of the Spiritual Life Institute from 1972 until 1975, I would like to clarify a few points.

  1. Tessa Bielecki is not, and never was, a Carmelite nun. She has no formal affiliation with any authorized religious community. In 1974, Tessa and Father William decided it would be nice if the community wore robes to community prayer. A Carmelite nun who was in residence at the time designed and sewed robes and woollen capes. We all joked about being “monks and monkesses.” In 1975 Tessa decided that all women in the community should wear headscarves and began signing her letters “Mom.” A split in the community occurred in 1975, and five of the 10 members left. The day I left I witnessed a remaining community member taking a vow of obedience to the Spiritual Life Institute. That was the inception of a probationary period for aspiring community members and the taking of vows. It was several years later that I first saw Tessa referred to in print as “Mother Tessa” and the institute associated with the Carmelites.
  2. Tessa was born in September 1944. This is 1988. If it is true that she is now returning to the world after 27 years, then she was 17 when she became a contemplative. Since she was 22 when she met Father William, That’s very unlikely.

The evolution of mythology is fascinating, and I have watched with interest and some dismay the develping myths and mystique of the Spiritual Life Institute. The community I first visited in April 1970 was a loosely organized interdenominational contemplative group with Father William McNamara as spiritual leader and Tessa Bielecki as gardner, business manager and chief cook. Back then, the permission from John XXIII to start a “new order… which would bring the message of the contemplative life… and which would be composed of both men and women” was a brief papal audience in which John XXIII approved Father William’s desire to begin a more strictly eremetical community. Father William’s original community was comprised of three male religious, each of whom lived in an individual hermitage along Oak Creek in Sedona, Arizona. The community disbanded when one of the members ran off with a local woman.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this and other articles published about the Spiritual Life Institute has been the lack of response from former community members or communities involved in the not-so-glorious side of the institute. One ex-member who attempted suicide after rejections and ostracism by Father William wrote a thinly veiled novel about her bitter experience, but her religious community never spoke out against the institute. As far as I know, the Carmelite nuns have never issued a statement protesting Tessa’s self-designated Carmelite status. I almost wrote a letter in response to a National Catholic Reporter front-page article several years ago, but didn’t.

Father William McNamara is a powerful, charismatic man. Even these many years later, I hesitate to sign my name to a public statement against the Institute because I still fear the powerful impact of Father William’s wrath.

The mythology that the Spiritual Life Institute has created for its beginnings and its present may be harmless but… The Spiritual Life Institute is just another flawed, many-faceted sect; Tessa is still a Polish-American girl trying to believe that she is another Teresa of Avila; and Father William McNamara is a charismatic priest whose charisma has a dark and possibly dangerous side.

Cynthia Davis

Flagstaff, AZ

That, of course, is just the beginning. In the interview with Yoga Journal that the letter references, West's publicly endorsed "abbess" avers that Buddhism is a great counterweight to "Christo-fascism." In this light, it is, perhaps, also useful to notice who Mother Tessa's friends are. Consider this summer 2009 event:
  1. Time: All day event
  2. Summary: In the Shelter of Each Other
  3. Location: Upaya Zen Center
  4. Description: Morning: Participants will begin the day with movement practice led by Zuleikha. This will be followed by teachings on aspects of female power by Jane Fonda, Rabbi Malka Drucker and Roshi Joan. Afternoon: Participants move into two groups: Barbara Tedlock (Mayan shamanism and power); Tessa Bielecki, Jean Wilkins (Christianity, Buddhism, women and power). Evening: Colleen Kelly explores the I Ching. Roshi Joan weaves the day.Upaya Zen Center is hosting “In the Shelter of Each Other Women’s Retreat: Power, Compassion, Resilience and the Shadow” July 16-20, 2008.The instructors are Roshi Joan Halifax, Zen teacher; Jane Fonda, social activist and actress; Mayumi Oda, social activist and artist; Zuleikha, dancer; Tessa Bielicki, co-founder of The Desert Foundation; Cynthia West, poet; Rabbi Malka Drucker, founder of HaMakom; Barbara Tedlock, specialist in Mayan shamanism; Colleen Kelly, I Ching teacher; Marty Peale, field naturalist; Beate Stolte, vice abbot, Upaya Zen Center; Jean Wilkins, Yushin Hieleman and Jisen McFarland, Upaya Zen priests. Call for exact times of morning, afternoon and evening events. $450 for nonmembers; $400 for members; Web site is; e-mail or call 505-986-8518.

We should also take note of the fact that Father McNamara, Tessa's spiritual mentor, recommends praying the Our Father backwards. He asserts that the more spiritually mature a person is, the less s/he needs the Eucharist. Father McNamara is also of the opinion that "Jesus didn't institute a sacrament of the eucharist (sic), he entered into the sacramentality of the universe."

Make of these statements what you will, but it cannot be denied that Tessa's spiritual formation is certainly something Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI would find... remarkable.

Now, in fairness, it should be noted that today, Tessa Bielecki advertises herself as having left the Carmelite community. In fact, Tessa seems to have "left the order" at about the same time her instructor, Father McNamara, was allegedly laicized. Perhaps the Carmelites finally got tired of the personal use Tessa (and by proxy, Father McNamara) was making of the Carmelite name. But, as the recent workshop announcement testifies, that hasn't stopped her from being advertised as an authentic teacher of Carmelite spirituality, not only on her own authority, but also on the authority of none other than that paragon of Catholic catechesis, Mr. Christopher West.

Despite her endorsements by the inestimable West, Tessa Bielecki appears to be a New Age leader of a non-Catholic "ecumenical" cult who massages St. Teresa of Avila's Catholic mysticism into something that Jane Fonda would find acceptable. This is the spirituality that Christopher West not only finds personally enthralling, it is the spirituality he explicitly recommends to other Catholics, Catholics who have far less theological training than he.

As I've noted earlier, Christopher West has a well-documented past with cult movements. He also has a history of "adapting" stories to his particular use.

Most famous, of course, is his version of the story of St. Pelagia and St. Nonnus. His "adaptation" of the spiritual conversion and subsequent life of that holy woman is substantially different from the actual historical account handed down to us by John the Stylite.

Similarly, West's rendition of the writings of St. Louis de Montfort, are, as Father Angelo Mary Geiger points out, starkly different from anything St. Louis de Montfort actually wrote.

Now we find Christopher West endorsing "Mother" Tessa Bielecki, who has, herself, taken certain... liberties... with the writings of St. Teresa of Avila. Well, and with the use of the name "Carmelite" in general. And with essential historical facts, for that matter.

A couple of possibilities follow:
1) Christopher West had no knowledge of Tessa Bielecki's dissimulation. Conclusion: Christopher West's grasp of Catholic theology is such that he was successfully taken in by the spiritual writings of a marginally Catholic "business manager and chief cook" pretending to be a nun.

2) Christopher West knew of Tessa Bielecki's dissimulation, but chose to ignore it because her marginally Catholic theology fit in with his own highly idiosyncratic interpretation of John Paul II's teachings. Conclusion: let us pass on in silence.

It is certain that Cardinal Rigali had no knowledge of Chris West's predilections in this matter. However, it does raise the question of how reliable West's recommendations are when it comes to his other "spiritual lights," his other... muses, as it were.

Taken together with his other very personal renditions of history and doctrine, it also raises the question of how we are to approach his take on any Catholic doctrine or any point of Catholic history he claims to raise.