Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Neil Gorsuch Nominated to Replace Scalia - Wrote Important Book Opposing Euthanasia

President Trump with Neil and Louisa Gorsuch at right 

Donald Trump just announced that he had nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the open position on the Supreme Court. The position had been open since Judge Antonin Scalia passed away last February.

Gorsuch was one of the names on a list of twenty potential nominees that Trump had made public during the election.

"I am a man of my word," said President Trump. 

The 49-year-old Gorsuch is a graduate of Columbia, Harvard Law School and Oxford University. On constitutional interpretation, he is thought to be an originalist in the mold of Scalia, and has a record of defending religious liberty. In 2009 he published The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, which some have cited as one of the most important  and comprehensive recent arguments against the practice.

“All human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong,” he wrote. 

Tonight, after being introduced by the President, Gorsuch made a short speech where he called Scalia a "lion of the law."

He also cited the importance of his own religious faith. Judge Gorsuch is an Episcopalian.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Archbishop of Malta: Bergoglio as Sun Myung Moon

Archbishop Scicluna (True Father is currently arranging his betrothal to a seminarian)

A few weeks ago, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and the only other Maltese bishop Mario Grech, published controversial guidelines for the interpretation of the Papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Among other things, the guidelines stated that the divorced and remarried can receive communion "as long as they are peace with God."

Today, Edward Pentin has an interesting albeit disturbing article where he dissects the first interview on the matter given by Scicluna. I encourage you to read it here.

But the thing that jumped out the most for me was Pentin's account of some additional statements that Scicluna made subsequent to the interview:
Archbishop Scicluna’s wish to avoid addressing previous papal teaching was further witnessed the next day. In a homily on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul in Birkirkara, Malta, Jan. 25, he said: "Whoever wishes to discover what the true will of Christ is for him, the true heart of Jesus, he should ask the Church, not blogs.” 
To which any Catholic would answer, "of course." Then came the kicker: 
“He must ask the Pope and the bishops who are in communion with the Pope,” he added. “Whoever wishes to discover what Jesus wants from him, he must ask the Pope, this Pope, not the one who came before him, or the one who came before that. This present Pope. "
Now, this latter claim would have made even the most extreme Ultramontanist blush. All past Church pronouncements are meaningless. The current Pope is infallible on all relevant things, at least until he dies, at which point his declarations become a dead letter, and the opinions and statements of the next Pope become the new standard.

That may be Amoris, but it's not Catholic.

But actually it's even weirder than that. Note that Scicluna doesn't speak of a Church member understanding "teachings" or "doctrine," but rather of a faithful Catholic "discovering" (and only by asking the Pope) "what Jesus wants for him."

Bergoglio as Sun Myung Moon.

The difference of course is that instead of your True Father arranging a first marriage for you, Francis is giving you a bit of help with your second one.

Or your third one.

Or however many it might take for you to finally be "at peace with God."

And then there's this other minor problem. The only person you're allowed to go to for guidance is the Pope. But in the most well-known instance of a Catholic or group of Catholics asking the Pope for guidance - by asking five yes or no questions - the Pope refused to answer. And those who asked the questions (along with their perceived allies) appear now to be undergoing a purge.

As far as I know, even Moon wasn't that difficult.

Quebec City Mosque Attacker was White, Non-Muslim

Alexandre Bissonnette (from his Facebook page) 

This morning I reported that the two suspects in custody in the Quebec City mosque attack had been identified as being of "Arab origin" and "Quebec origin." Soon, reports of "Arab origin" became "Moroccan" or "Moroccan-Canadian" And it was also claimed that the two suspects were students at Laval University - a school with a large Muslim population. A few hours ago two names were leaked - Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed Khadir - seemingly confirming the earlier reports.

However, the police just released Khadir, designating him as a mere witness. Bissonnette is now the sole suspect in custody. Apparently, he turned himself in after the attack, fourteen miles from the mosque.

There is no evidence that Bissonnette is Muslim.

Indeed, screenshots have now been posted of his Facebook page, showing that he is a supporter of various "right-wing" causes and politicians - including Donald Trump. And there are reports that he had an active social media presence opposing refugees and feminism.

Update: February 3: There are other reports that he "liked" some left-wing politicians and causes and had "pro-environment" views.

All reports (from an unknown number of original sources) suggested that there were two or three gunmen. But police are now going on the theory that Bissonnette was the lone shooter.

One widely circulated story quoted a witness claim they overheard a gunman shout "Allahu Akbar." It is unclear what we should make of this now. It's possible it was a mistake in the confusion of the attack (as the victims were Muslim, someone may have shouted out something similar). Or it could have been yelled by the attacker as a sort of sick joke, similar to the alleged words of the Munich shooter a few months ago.  

Quebec City Mosque Attackers Shouted "Allahu Akbar" - One Suspect is of "Arab Origin"

This evening, two or three masked men burst into the mosque of the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City, firing automatic weapons. At least six people were killed and eight injured. Two gunmen were quickly captured. The authorities have still not released their names.

Radio Canada earlier reported that a witness inside the Mosque had heard one of the gunmen shout "Allahu Akbar" with a Quebecois accent. Now, TVA nouvelles is reporting that one of the suspects is of "Arab origin" and the other is of "Quebec origin." The latter term is often used loosely.

UPDATE (2:20 PM CST): Montreal-based LaPresse is reporting that one of the suspects is of "Moroccan" origin.

UPDATE (3:20 PM CST): Now it's being reported that the two gunmen are students at Laval University - a school has a large Muslim population and numerous terror ties. One of the suspects in custody is "Moroccan-Canadian." An unconfirmed report claims the other is from Guinea. 

At this point it it very likely that both are Muslims. 

There is speculation that the two men were from a rival breakaway mosque but this has not been confirmed.

When news of the attack broke, social media erupted with tweets and posts blaming Donald Trump, who it was alleged had prompted the attack with his recent "anti-Muslim" travel ban. There were also more general condemnations of "hatred", "intolerance," and "Islamophobia." The Daily Beast even published the names of two "white supremacists" who had allegedly carried out the attack before being forced to retract the story after it turned out they had been hoaxed by a fairly obvious "fake news" satire piece (the "white supremacists" were second-tier right-wing media personalities).

As it began to look more and more probable that the terrorist attack was not the work of Islamophobic Trump supporters but was instead part of an internecine Muslim conflict, some of the accusations that "Trump was responsible" gave way to pleas "not to jump to conclusions." And many began to argue that "it didn't matter who the attackers were." Rather, what mattered was that "the victims were Muslim."             

Sunday, January 29, 2017

When Alexander Hamilton Called Unrestricted Immigration a "Trojan Horse" Threatening Our Liberty and Sovereignty

Yesterday, I wrote of Thomas Jefferson's anti-immigration arguments in his Notes on the State of Virginia. My intention was not to argue that Jefferson was consistently anti-immigrant (he obviously wasn't), but that anti-immigration arguments of the sort that some today would no doubt label "un-American" or even "fascist" were perfectly normal and acceptable parts of political debate in the Founding Era and were often made by many of the Founders themselves, including Thomas Jefferson.

Sixteen years later Jefferson would appear to change his tune, arguing in his first Message to Congress that restrictions on naturalization - there was a fourteen year waiting period - should be eased:
[S]hall we refuse to the unhappy fugitives from distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?
He then went on to seemingly contradict his skepticism in Notes about admitting people with different civic habits and values, in favor of a more optimistic assessment:
[M]ight not the general character and capabilities of a citizen be safely communicated to every one manifesting a bona fide purpose of embarking his life and fortunes permanently with us?
I say "appear" and "seemingly" because debates about immigration in these times often grew out of larger differences between Federalists and Republicans. These differences threatened to cause secession or even civil war with (it was feared) the involvement of foreign powers. It's not that one party was necessarily more pro-or anti-immigrant than the other. Rather, it often depended on whether the potential immigrants were seen to be allies or enemies of one or the other side.

So it actually wasn't completely inconsistent for Jefferson to be, say, against French emigres when he believed them to be monarchists but in favor when he believed them to be radical republicans (although obviously Jefferson didn't exactly put it that way or admit it). For Jefferson, the French had gone from being bad guys to good guys - a little revolution had occurred in the interim.

The anti-immigrant sentiments expressed by Alexander Hamilton, writing as "Lucius Crassus" in the New-York Evening Post of January 12, 1802, as a reply to Jefferson's first Message, should be understood against this background.

Hamilton first reminds Jefferson (of course!) of his earlier views:
The opinion advanced in the Notes on Virginia is undoubtedly correct, that foreigners will generally be apt to bring with them attachments to the persons they have left behind; to the country of their nativity, and to its particular customs and manners. They will also entertain opinions on government congenial with those under which they have lived, or if they should be led hither from a preference to ours, how extremely unlikely is it that they will bring with them that temperate love of liberty, so essential to real republicanism?
"Lucius Crassus" then goes on to employ language that would seem to fit only the most paranoid nativist:
The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils, by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others. It has been often likely to compromit the interests of our own country in favor of another. In times of great public danger there is always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone weakens the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.
And here's the sort of "common-sense" view on immigration that one might easily imagine a "build the wall" advocate employing today:

By what has been said, it is not meant to contend for a total prohibition of the right of citizenship to strangers . . . But there is a wide difference between closing the door altogether and throwing it entirely open.
Hamilton would end by claiming that unrestricted immigration was a Trojan Horse (or in those days they said "Grecian Horse") for the United States:
To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens, the moment they put foot in our country, as recommended in the Message, would be nothing less, than to admit the Grecian Horse into the Citadel of our Liberty and Sovereignty.
It's not clear that Jefferson had quite said or meant precisely that, but this was a public political debate among strong antagonists, not a philosophical disputation in a salon.

Tomorrow: At the same time Jefferson was becoming more "pro-", George Washington was becoming more "-anti"...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

When Thomas Jefferson Was Anti-immigrant

Last summer I wrote as post titled, "This Blog is Pro-Immigration*". The * denoted four caveats or further considerations including law and order, the complications introduced by state provided "welfare", problems created by hostile governments or parties and the threat of dangerous or hostile ideologies such as Islam.

So, for example, based on some of those considerations, I support Trump's policy on "the wall." I also support the recent freeze on refugees and travel from some Muslim countries.

I don't think it's unreasonable to disagree, either with my "liberal" general position, or my more "conservative" particular position on Trump's actions.

But I do think it's unreasonable to assert that Trump's actions are "un-American." This is usually simply asserted as a conversation stopper, though it's sometimes coupled with another conversation stopper - "we are a nation of Immigrants."

Now there's plenty of historical precedent for Trump's actions. For that matter, there's also historical precedent for pretty much any action anyone could conceivably take regarding immigration, pro or con. Immigration policy has constantly been a subject of debate throughout American history and virtually every philosophical or political permutation has been advocated or tried.

Perhaps realizing this, some pro-immigrant advocates go back to the Founding Fathers. They were resoundingly pro-immigrant (it is claimed). Among other things, they were all immigrants or quasi-immigrants themselves. If there have been anti-immigration arguments, movements or policies in American history, they have been deviations from the clear beliefs and intentions of the Founding Fathers.

This is manifestly false.

Curiously, one of the most famous (or it should be the most famous) "anti-immigration" arguments was given by Thomas Jefferson in Chapter VIII of his Notes on the State of Virginia (1785). Here Jefferson makes two sorts of claims. One is the quasi-mathematical claim (complete with tables) that the unrestricted growth of the country's population (abetted by immigration) would not be economically supportable. The second is the claim that importing people with differing ideological beliefs or habits - e.g. "Monarchists" - would not be conducive to civic order or liberty. Here he contrasts "internal" growth of population (which would take, according to his calculations, "27 years and three months" longer to achieve a stipulated population benchmark) with internal growth plus immigration. 
Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet, from such, we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass. I may appeal to experience, during the present contest, for a verification of these conjectures. But, if they be not certain in event, are they not possible, are they not probable? Is it not safer to wait with patience 27 years and three months longer, for the attainment of any degree of population desired, or expected? May not our government be more homogeneous, more peaceable, more durable?
Now, do not misunderstand. I actually don't completely agree with Jefferson's first claim. Nor am I a big fan, in general, of Jefferson the man (though, like virtually all Americans I am a fan of at least a few of his ideas). But here's one of the most prominent Founding Fathers making an essentially anti-immigration argument in one of the primary philosophical-political works of the Founding Era. If it doesn't count as an important "American" influence or idea, nothing does. 

And, as it happens, I do think his second argument is sound, although it obviously requires careful interpretation in particular cases. These days we don't fear Monarchists. But we do fear Muslims. And I, like many if not most Americans, think that fear is well-grounded - for even stronger reasons than Jefferson gives concerning the (then Monarchist) French. So, for example, I'd much rather live under a French King than a Muslim Caliph. For what it's worth, I'm confident that Jefferson would have agreed, especially against the background of Jefferson's own later dealings with Islam in the Barbary Wars.

Next: Alexander Hamilton on Immigration as a Trojan Horse.

(He's the hip Hispanic guy in that musical.)

BREAKING: Knights of Malta Council Accepts Grand Master's Resignation

Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein

The Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta has voted to accept the resignation of their current Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing.

They resignation had been ordered by Pope Francis.

The Council consists of ten members, including the Grand Master. According to Edward Pentin of National Catholic Register, there was only one dissenting vote.

UPDATE: Pentin would correct this a few hours later to "handful."

In addition, the Council acceded to the Pope's demand that all disciplinary decrees against the expelled Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager be immediately annulled. Boeselager is again Grand Chancellor.

The Order will be now be temporarily run by Grand Commander Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein until a new Grand Master is Elected.

However, real power is expected to reside in a Special Delegate appointed by the Pope.

There had been some question as to whether the Order would accept the Special Delegate, but they appear to have done so, today.

From the Order of Malta, a few minutes ago:
The Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing resigns from office 
Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein assumes the office of Lieutenant ad interim, Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor 
The Sovereign Council, the government of the Sovereign Order of Malta, met this afternoon in the Magistral Palace in Rome. On the agenda was the resignation from Office of Grand Master presented by Fra’ Matthew Festing, in accordance with article 16 of the Constitution of the Order of Malta. The Sovereign Council accepted his resignation from office. Conforming to the Constitution, the Pope has been notified of the resignation of Fra’ Matthew Festing, which will be communicated to the 106 Heads of State with whom the Order has diplomatic relations. In accordance with Article 17 of the Constitution, the Grand Commander, Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, has assumed the office of Lieutenant ad interim and will remain the Order of Malta’s head until the election of the successor of the Grand Master. The Sovereign Council thanked Fra’ Matthew Festing for his great commitment during his nine years in office. 
Subsequently, the Sovereign Council presided over by the Lieutenant ad interim annulled the decrees establishing the disciplinary procedures against Albrecht Boeselager and the suspension of his membership in the Order. Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor immediately. 
In a letter sent yesterday, 27 January 2017, to Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein and the members of the Sovereign Council, Pope Francis reaffirmed the special relationship between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Apostolic See. The Pope affirmed that the Lieutenant ad interim assumes responsibility over the Order’s government, in particular regarding relationships with other States. Pope Francis noted precisely that his Special Delegate will be operating on “the spiritual renewal of the Order, specifically of its professed members.” The Sovereign Order of Malta ensures its full collaboration with the Special Delegate whom the Holy Father intends to appoint. 
The Sovereign Order of Malta is most grateful to Pope Francis and the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for their interest in and care for the Order. The Order appreciates that the Holy Father’s decisions were all carefully taken with regard to and respect for the Order, with a determination to strengthen its sovereignty. 
The Lieutenant ad interim together with the Sovereign Council will soon convoke the Council Complete of State for the election of the successor of the Grand Master, according to Art. 23 of the Constitution.

The Vagina Monologue: Full Text of Pro-Women's March Homily - Thirteen Minutes of Cloying Leftist Cliches

Last Sunday, Fr. William Lugger of St. Casimir Parish in Lansing Michigan gave a homily while wearing a pink "p*ssy hat" - the;anatomically-shaped clothing accessory adopted by the Women's March as an ironic protest symbol.

As far as I know, the homily was well-received by his congregation. He then put a picture of it up on his public Facebook page with the comment, "The Kingdom of God is at hand!" Aside from a few grumblers, this was well-received by his Facebook friends, many of whom were members of the parish.

As should have been foreseen, a critic then shared the picture on the Facebook page of Lugger's diocese. Lugger oddly responded to this by putting the picture up again on his public page along with a note saying how angry he was that the picture had been shared to the diocese. (It had also been shared to other pages at least 70 previous times - no doubt including many pages of members of the diocese.)

The "p*ssy hat priest" story became a minor viral sensation among foes and friends alike, but "Fr. Bill" was unapologetic. He did however, feel it was important to reassure everyone that the hat was "only a prop" (what else would it have been?), and raced to put an audio recording of the homily up on the parish website so that his critics would understand how innocuous the whole thing really was, or how profound his homily was or whatever.

As of today, all pictures of the p*ssy hat have disappeared. But the homily itself remains.

The transcription below was taken from that recording. As far as I know, it's the only transcript in existence.

The historical record owes me one. Big time.

As one might have expected, there's nothing particularly surprising or unusual about the homily. It's thirteen minutes of cloying liberal cliches - in other words, a fairly typical homily from a Catholic parish, circa 2017. To be fair, Fr. Bill does acknowledge that Jesus suffered and died primarily for us to "get to salvation." But he then spends the remaining 90% of his time outlining how we can best bear witness to Jesus' ministry by becoming anti-Trump social justice activists - just as Jesus was the original anti-Trump social justice activist. And, of course supporting the Women's March is part of that effort.

We've all heard this sort of thing before, even and especially from Catholic priests. But I want to quickly remark on just one point:

The monstrous arrogance of the man and people like him.

Judging from the homily, the primary - indeed perhaps the only - principle of Fr. Bill's political philosophy is that all people are well, people. And it's wrong to treat people differently because they're, well, different.

Not only does he believe that this was the primary teaching of Jesus' earthly ministry but he seems to believe that most people at most times, even and especially after the time of Jesus, were not aware of this insight. So he disses the historical Catholic Church and historical America. He disses Donald Trump and presumably most Trump voters. According to Fr. Bill, he, his parishioners and liberals in general do in fact "get it," but most others, including many Christians, past and present, do not.

He's the Pharisee who thanks God he's not like the other guy.

For Lugger, the Kingdom of God is at hand (finally!) because at long last enough people are hip to the basic proposition that a wealthy American straight white male is not any more morally valuable than your average working-class Congolese lesbian.

And yes, it is Fr. Bill who brings up the Congo (see below). He seems to think the Women's March was about it.

His Kingdom of God is at hand. Or at least it was at hand until Donald Trump came along. This is why he fights.

Now imagine all that with a vagina on his head.

From the audio recording on the St. Casimir Facebook page:
[Unintelligible]...it's not why I'm doing this. I put this on today [the p*ssy hat] for a number of reasons, mainly because of what the Scriptures speak of. These last few days, we have seen many of our brothers and sisters, not only in our country but around the world, wearing this. It symbolizes a whole number of things. For the most part it symbolizes pushing back against theories or ways of thinking that do not do justice to our sisters and brothers.
In the second reading today from St. Paul, he's hearing all of this dissension about the coming Church. Some are saying that they made their allegiance to Paul and Peter and Caiphus and Apollos. And he says, look my brothers and sisters, Jesus died on the cross for all of us. It wasn't Paul. It wasn't Peter. It wasn't Caiphus. It wasn't Apollos. Jesus died on the cross for all people
So, we often have the symbol that we use as Christians, which is the cross. And for us. This is out hope of unity. That when we either wear this around our neck, or we place it on the altar, or we hang it on the ceiling, it is a reminder to us that the life of Christ was not just about dying and rising on the cross. That was the main reason he came - for us to get to salvation. However, in Jesus' ministry, he reached out to all the marginalized people that He encountered. Everybody that Jesus reached out to that we hear about in the Scriptures are basically outcasts of the society in which Jesus was living. He showed them, or tried to explain to them they were valued members of society. So He touches the person with leprosy and heals them. He speaks to the women at the well from Samaria. He goes down to the banks of the pond and raises up people who were sick and bleeding. He speaks to the tax collector and invites himself to his house.
We come here today and we listen to the voices of many many people who are feeling very much afraid and threatened by many other different people. They keep telling us that we need to not let them in to our country. We need to send them back to their own country. We need to get rid of these people or get rid of that person. And the reality is that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot do that. We cannot allow that to happen.
We live in a world now that is very much a world community. We are connected to our sisters and brothers throughout the world. Our nation is a wonderful and powerful nation in lots of ways. The first thing that happens when some tragedy or catastrophe affects another country around the world, whether it's an earthquake or bombings or whatever, who do they turn to, they turn to the United States of America because they know it will help. The same thing has to go for the people who are marginalized by society. They must turn to our country to say, "we need your help" and our country has to be a model for that. We can't exclude anyone under the umbrella of freedom and justice and peace.
The opening song today - we sang about let us be a light for our sisters and brothers. Let us speak and live in justice and peace. We can't sing that song or live that out if women are looked down upon or not paid for their [unintelligible] of work. We can't do that when there are children who are suffering from poverty and nakedness in our world. We can't do that when veterans have no place to go because their country has shunned them. We can't do that when there are people who are killed for simply because of who they love or their background. We can't expect that to be justice and peace because Jesus [unintelligible].
We come today and the Scriptures announce to us that the Kingdom of God is at hand. But Jesus even know before he returned to the Father, he wasn't going to do this alone. He knew that he had to go back to Heaven and prepare a place for us. So who did he choose to continue his mission? Four skeevy, smelly guys who wreaked of seawater and dead fish. He didn't go to downtown Jerusalem to pick out the mayor or the wealthiest person in Jerusalem. He went to the seashore and picked out your average guy to follow him and to continue his mission and ministry. And even then in the course of his ministry, he picks out several women who are there to continue to help him promote the message of the Good News. And if you remember on Easter Sunday, the first one to receive the message that Jesus had died for the cross, is not one of the Apostles. It was Mary Magdalen - a woman God chose to shoulder the power of God's love.
But [unintelligible] for today is that as we come here and see those various scenes of marches over all of our, not only of our nation, but around the world - in Paris and Rome and Cairo and other places - people are tired of being marginalized or put into [unintelligible] boxes and are treated as less than human. It doesn't matter what your skin is like. It doesn't matter what color your hair or what nation you come from. God loves us equally. And he showed that in Jesus Chhist. Jesus didn't say, "I just died on the cross today folks, on Good Friday, for the people here in Jerusalem that they might change their minds around." Jesus told us he dies for all. Jesus' blood was not shed so that a few people in the central part of Israel would be free from sin. He did that for all people at all times. So we as brothers and sisters in Christ have the responsibility to continue to share that message with our sisters and brothers. Catholic social teaching is the foundation of Jesus' life. [Unintelligible] is revisiting that vision of Jesus and opening up the Church to many many [unintelligible].
The church is not perfect. You look over two-thousand years of the Church history, the Church has done some pretty awful stuff in the name of Jesus Christ. Even churches when I wa growing up - the French church would not have approached the Polish church because one was seen as less Christian or less holy than another church. There was dissension in Flint. One side of Flint was African-American, the other side was pretty much all white. And the first time I ever really interacted with an African-American person was when i went to junior high school. And then in the late sixties we all saw that in the rioting that took place, down not only in Detroit but around the country. We can't have that today in the guise of being Christian or even American.
America's a wonderful place, but in its two-hundred and something years there's been some pretty bad stuff here. Whether it's the Civil War. Whether it's the Civil Rights Movement. whether it's our brothers and sisters who have been hung from trees in the South. Whether it's our brothers and sisters who, because people see them and look at the color of their skin or whatever clothes their wearing, automatically think that they're a bad person or a terorist who will blow up someone. We can't do that in our world nowadays. We can't marginalize people [unintelligible]. We are called to be good and faithful members of the world community.
When we heard our newly elected president on Friday say, "America First," well I'm thinking, maybe fifty or a hundred years ago "America First" would be the right thing to say. But nowadays I'm not sure. Because we're not isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. America shares its resources. It gives food and money and clothing and medical supplies to the rest off the world. We're all brothers and sisters on this planet. Yes, we want jobs for our American brothers and sisters and we want health care and we want equal rights. But shouldn't that be the same thing for our brothers and sisters in the Congo or in the Middle-East or in South Africa. I think that was the message of the walks this last week. It's the message of the Gospels. It's the message of who we called to be as brothers and sisters in Christ.
So when we come forth to Communion today, where we see that nourishment that speaks to our unity, it also speaks to us that as we go forth from the celebration we're supposed to witness Jesus [unintelligible]. We're not all perfect. We all have our faults. We are all sinners. If we acknowledge that and gain strength from God's forgiveness and mercy, we can then change to be better people, We can be inclusive in our love, not exclusive of who we love or who we relate to.
The family for our Little House [the parish has designated a house for a refugee family] looks like they're coming not this week but the following Tuesday or Wednesday, First or second of February. When people have heard what we're doing, for the most part people have been very generous and very kind, lifting up our parish. But there have been people - some say, "why are you doing that, why do you have to do that now? Who are these people that are coming. Are they Catholic? Are they Muslim? Are they African-American or African? Are they different from us? Under the umbrella of God's love, it sent matter. That's why we're doing what we're doing, because we are called to do it. If we had the resources we could have twenty-five or fifty houses around the neighborhood for various people who need help in education in family in homes and food and clothing and shelter.
So listen very carefully to the Gospel. who Jesus picks out. He does the same thing to us. He says come and do my work. He doesn't care what kind of bank account we have, what country we were born in, what our background is, who we love. He just says come and do the work of freedom and justice and try to rid the planet of persecution and unhealthy un-wholeness. It's the message of the Gospel. I think that's what my sisters and brothers were trying to talk about in this weekend of protests. I know that for most of them, that's what it was.
So we come here. We ask God to empower us with the same gifts of the spirit to reach out to our sisters and brothers. And when we do that, when they see us treating our sisters and brothers in justice and peace and mercy and forgiveness, they can use the line that Jesus uses in the Gospels: "Today the Kingdom of God is at hand."

Friday, January 27, 2017

Fox & Friends: "Hey, Donald Trump, if you're watching, turn some lights on and off." (Corner room in White House blinks lights.)*

This happened yesterday morning, I believe.

*But don't get too excited. Here's the addendum to the story:

That's okay. As long as it made Bill Kristol choke on his danish, it's all good.

PURE EVIL: Speaker at Women's March Was Convicted of the Kidnap, Torture, Rape and Murder of a 62-Year-Old Man - "He was a homo, anyway"

Activist Donna Hylton made a five-minute speech on the featured stage of the DC Women's March. She spoke in-between Cecile Richards (the head of Planned Parenthood), Kiera Johnson (the executive director of URGE - wearing the white "abortion" smock), the reggae-folk-singer (I didn't get her name) and Stephanie Schriock (president of Emily's List). Like many of the speakers, Hylton also was interviewed by and appeared on various television shows where she was given the opportunity to make the case for the March.

As far as I know, no one asked about her past. If they knew of it, they didn't speak about it.

Ms. Hylton spent 27 years in prison for participating in a horrific crime. But as far as I can tell, she's not repentant. Indeed, judging from her speech at the Women's March, she wears her imprisonment as a badge of honor against "injustice."

The young Hylton was one of four women and three men men who participated in the kidnapping, attempted ransom, torture, rape and murder of a white real-estate broker, Thomas Vigliarole. They had been hired by an associate of Vigliarole to extort money from him. But the kidnapping escalated into a deadly session of sexual torture and rape.

The case, notorious at the time (1985) in New York City and Long Island, has some similarities with the recent kidnapping incident in Chicago.

Except that it was a thousand times worse.

Vigliarole believed the three girls were prostitutes who were going to have sex with him. Instead, they picked him up on March 8 in Elmhurst, Queens, at Maria’s home, and drugged him to make him drowsy. Then they drove him to Selma’s apartment in Harlem. The apartment had already been prepared for an extended torture session: The closet door had been cut, a pot put in it for use as a toilet, the windows boarded. 
For the next 15 to 20 days (police aren’t sure just when Vigliarole died), the man was starved, burned, beaten, and tortured. (Even 10 years later, Spurling [one of the ten investigating detectives] could recall Rita’s chilling response when they questioned her about shoving a three-foot metal bar up Vigliarole’s rear: “He was a homo anyway.” How did she know? “When I stuck the bar up his rectum he wiggled.”) 
The three girls took turns watching the man. It was Donna who delivered a ransom note and tape to a friend of Vigliarole’s, who was able to get a partial license plate number of the car she was driving. He notified the police, who traced the plate to a rental car facility. On April 6 the suspects were arrested, and detectives spent 36 hours straight interviewing the seven men and women. “We had to keep going back and forth and catch them in lies,” said Spurling. “It was a never-ending circle of lies.” 
Spurling himself interviewed Donna: “I couldn’t believe this girl who was so intelligent and nice-looking could be so unemotional about what she was telling me she and her friends had done. They’d squeezed the victim’s testicles with a pair of pliers, beat him, burned him. Actually, I thought the judge’s sentence was lenient. Once a jailbird, always a jailbird.” 
But there was another moment, on our second day together, when she slipped verbally, and said in an almost irritable way, “He [the victim] was going to die anyway, so . . .” and then she caught herself. I just looked at her. All her previous protestations that when arrested she’d had no idea Vigliarole was dead were clearly lies. 
...[Hylton had said:] "When they told me the victim was dead I just broke down. I didn’t believe it. Look, I know I did something wrong, but I didn’t kill anybody and I didn’t want anybody killed. I wasn’t out for anything evil, maybe love, maybe acceptance.” 
Hylton’s signed statement, and the recollections of Detective Spurling, tell a different story. “All the girls’s hairs were on the bedsheet they wrapped him in,” recalled Spurling, “so they were all on the bed with him, or maybe having sex with him.” Rita and Theresa recalled hearing Hylton reading the ransom statement, while Vigliarole’s captors held a knife to his throat and tried to force him to repeat it after them into a tape recorder. She was indeed sighted as the deliverer of the ransom note and tape.
Let's not mince words. The Women's March wasn't about women. Nor was it about gays or blacks or immigrants or any other "minority" group. It was, if you are a Christian, about Satan making a frontal attack on human life, while at the same time attempting to taint as many souls as possible by getting them to go along with it. You can just see him listening to the speakers and laughing.

Or if you are not a Christian, it was about the propensity of human beings to cloak irrationality, violence and raw hatred in the language of "rights."

The whole thing dripped evil. Accept it or not. Renounce it or not. Accept part of it (or accept its "ideal") and cover your eyes for the rest. Or not.

But for your sake, I would choose carefully.       

Here is Donna Hylton's speech. It comes between 2:26:00 and 2:31:00.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pentin: Pope Ordered Knights Commander to Write Resignation on Spot, Make Sure it Implicated Burke

Yesterday, I cited a source claiming that the Pope's recent "annexation" of the Order of Malta was a "Mafia-like transaction." I personally made comparisons with the Nazi seizure power in Germany and neighboring countries.

That may have sounded over the top, though in my partial defense, I wasn't alone.

But recent reporting on what actually happened is making the comparison seem more and more apt. What Edward Pentin described today (see excerpt below), could almost be a scene out of Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, as another independent ministry is taken over by the Party, or a monarch or president is ordered to validate the absorption of his country into the Reich.

Did Pope Francis threaten Knights of Malta Grand Master Matthew Festing with violence, or did he allude to the fact that tanks had already crossed the border? The answers are: obviously not to the latter, and I assume not to the former. Most accounts claim that Fra' Festing was under a huge amount of "pressure." But it's not immediately clear in what that pressure consisted. It does seem as if the poor man did take his vow of obligation to the Pope seriously, even though many have since claimed that his vow wouldn't apply in this sort of case.

The Sovereign Council of the Order could still refuse to accept Festing's resignation when they meet on Saturday.

In earlier stories by Pentin and others, it was claimed that there is in some ways an unprecedented level of fear among members of the Curia, though the reason or rationale for that fear was not completely obvious. What's the worst thing that could happen to a Vatican functionary or clergyman who refuses to go along with the Francis agenda? Is getting one's career advancement nipped, or getting re-assigned to or removed from this or that post the most horrible thing imaginable? It really is a mystery.

But what is actually happening is not a mystery. Francis may not be shooting people or throwing them into camps, but in the manner of any revolutionary dictator he's quickly moving to annex or destroy all independent sources of power that might conceivably oppose him, now or in the future.

You come when summoned, and you immediately comply with the order to transfer authority to the Party. You may even be asked to betray a comrade.  

From Edward Pentin in today's National Catholic Register. Read the rest here
The Pope summoned Fra’ Festing to the Vatican on Jan. 24 on the strict instruction not to let anyone know about the audience — a modus operandi that has been used frequently during this pontificate, the Register has learned. During the meeting, Francis asked Fra’ Festing to resign immediately, to which the Grand Master agreed. The Pope then ordered him to write his resignation letter on the spot, according to informed sources. 
The Register has also learned that the Pope told Fra’ Festing that the reason for asking for his resignation was the Pope's conviction that he has to do a new, “complete investigation” of the Order, and that such an investigation would be “more easily conducted” if the Grand Master resigned. 
The Register has been told that the Pope then had Fra’ Festing include in his letter of resignation that the Grand Master had asked for Boeselager's dismissal “under the influence” of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Order. However, as patron the cardinal has no governance in the Order and can only counsel the Grand Master, meaning the decision to dismiss the Grand Chancellor belonged solely to the Grand Master.

"The Catholic Church is now just another liberal NGO"

Save the children

Consider this claim:
The Catholic Church is now just another liberal NGO.
("NGO" stands for non-governmental organization, like Oxfam or Doctors without Borders or Save the Children.) 

Do I believe the claim? No. I wouldn't be a Catholic if I did. To paraphrase an Evangelical friend of mine alluding to the hypothetical discovery of the body of Jesus, if I felt that the Church was just a liberal NGO, I'd quit and go sell hot tubs in LA.

Or, rather (and not to sound too much like a Modernist), I don't believe that it's literally true. But it does contain an element of truth.

Let me propose that the Catholic Church being just another liberal NGO is now the main experience of most people, at least in Western countries, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. And many people, including many Catholics are fine with that.

It's not exactly an original observation of course. But I was prompted to again consider it after the "p*ssy hat priest" incident of a few days ago. Fr. William Lugger, a priest in Lansing, Michigan, donned a "p*ssy hat" - the favored protest accessory of the recent Women's Marches last Saturday - during his homily at the altar, and posted a picture of it on his Facebook page.

I think it's fair to say that virtually all of his Facebook friends, many of whom are parishioners in his Church, saw nothing wrong and everything right with what "Fr. Bill" did. Most comments were in the nature of "You go, Fr. Bill." When one critic asked him what he thought he was doing, Fr. Bill responded: "Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ." He got a lot of "likes" for that.

As vile as the whole thing is and was, I think the real tragedy is that Lugger is merely an extreme example of what is now the norm in many parishes. While it's true that some parishes have liberal FrancisChurch priests imposing their agenda on more orthodox laypeople, in the majority of parishes, the audience digs it, as it were.

The "religious experience" of many Catholics is this: one goes to church once a week, where one's buddy, Fr. X (usually one syllable), gives a homily alluding to the social justice issue of the day, backed up by passages from the Bible. Framing the homily are various chants and songs and a ritual meal sharing to mark the fact that everyone is on the same page.

Indeed, the point of churchgoing is to mark the shared experience and give everyone a motivational lift for the next six days, just as would happen every Monday at the NGO's all-staff meeting.

There are other rituals and gatherings that occasionally come up. Some are officially called "sacraments," some are fried bologna lunches (see Fr. Lugger's Facebook page), or whatever. These also, are essentially bonding sessions for members and staff.

And of course, amidst it all is the collection of money, ostensibly for the "programs" that the Church is constantly advertising. As with many NGO's, 90% of the proceeds go to administrative expenses. But that's okay, it's the intention that's the most important thing. Everyone in the organization cares. Everyone's on the same page.

I've just described the experience of many Catholics at "the bottom." But let's look now at "the top" of the organization.

The CEO is called "the Pope." As with many NGO CEO's, much of his goal is to motivate the staffers and represent the organization positively to outsiders. In performing these duties, stories from the Bible are often used and Jesus is mentioned often. Usually, the context is to support a particular program or set of programs or buck up the staff. Sometimes the stories are used to highlight the fact that the organization has enemies, both within and without, and supporters should be watchful of them. The programs are too important to allow politically-motivated opponents to destroy them. 

Why would someone work for or be a member of such an NGO? There are many reasons. It makes one feel good. It's a way to be useful and help others. Despite the general trend towards secularization, working for the Church still has a certain prestige, The pay is sometimes not so great, but coupled with the perks, the package can often be pretty good, especially at the upper administrative levels. Then there are other things. It's an open-secret that many join so they can have romantic relationships with the "natives." This is of course officially prohibited, but it has proved difficult to stamp out.

This transformation of the perception of the Catholic Church from a transcendent institution into just another liberal NGO has been going on for some time, but it has obviously accelerated under Pope Francis. Let me suggest that if you're trying to explain the crisis of the modern church to an outsider - say, a non-Catholic or non-Christian - it's the best way to explain it. They simply won't understand what you're talking about if you bring up "modernism" or "the magisterium" or whatever.

It's not that the modern Catholic Church has taken God out, per se. God (and his more PR-friendly son, Jesus) is still invoked often. He of course is the real CEO, and He wants to spur you on in your efforts to help migrants and battle climate change and keep the local food bank going. You get a big thanks from Him every Sunday. You're part of an elite team - unlike the others who don't care. He'll even pick you up when you fall down, etc. etc. and all that.


The above may seem like a criticism of liberal politics or liberal activism. Actually it's not. Obviously, the Church shouldn't be about liberal politics. But it shouldn't be about conservative politics or conservative activism either - though it goes without saying that sometimes the Church can and should at least to some extent become involved in what some may classify as "political issues."

To put it directly, God didn't walk the Earth 2,000 years ago, and then suffer, die and rise again to rid the world of ____ (insert your favorite liberal - or conservative - social or political problem).

I'm not basing that claim on scripture. I'm basing it on logic. If God did have that purpose, then He spectacularly failed. And as a Catholic, I obviously believe that God cannot fail.

Jesus didn't die for women's rights. Since (at least according to women's rights activists), women still don't have full rights, then if He had done so, Christianity would be just about the most pathetic botch of a religion ever.

Rather He died to save women from sin.

Men, too.

And no, I don't mean He died to create a world (right now, in this life) where all women were the perfection of virtue (not that there's anything wrong and everything right about striving for or encouraging that). He died to save those who aren't the perfection of virtue from the consequences.

Fr. Bill, the p*ssy hat priest, may once have known that. But it's clear he's forgotten it by now. And there are thousands of priests who are just like him, even though they may have never covered their heads with a disgusting cap.

For them, the modern Church is nothing but an NGO. The tragedy is that, at least in a certain sense, they're partially correct.

But don't misunderstand. As far as I'm aware, for all his sacrilege, Fr. Bill still has the power, acting in the person of Christ, to among other things, Consecrate the Host and forgive sins. The Consecration still occurs, whether anyone still realizes it or not. But, at least as far as forgiveness of sins is concerned, I would doubt he exercises that power for more than a few minutes a week, if that. He's too busy "preaching the Gospel" (as he sees it) and hanging out with the natives at fried bologna lunches.