Drone Shots 3


On of my frequent visits to Rome during the time I was a Consultor to the Pontifical Commission for People on the Move (migrants, immigrants, refugees and seafarers) I stayed at the Casa Internationale del Clero about a block from the Pantheon.  The Casa was a hotel and residence (owned by the Vatican) for bishops and others who had business to conduct with the Vatican.

On one such visit I found myself seated at the dining room table with a group of Anglican bishops.  Naturally I was curious about their being there and so I discretely inquired, “What are you’ll doing here?”

They informed me that they were meeting with Pope John Paul II and the CDF about the possibility of working out an accord which would provide for the reception into the Catholic Church of Anglicans/Episcopalians including their priests with the further possibility of the creation of personal parishes where the Anglican Liturgy could be celebrated with the necessary revisions.

I was excited by the news.  Ever since as a teenager I had discovered the riches of English literature, especially all the works of Willam Shakespeare, I have become an Anglophile.  I told the bishops how happy I was with the news and I promised them that I would be among the first bishops of the United States to implement the Accord if it ever became a reality.

I did become a reality and I did accept the application of several Episcopalian priests to become members of the presbyterate of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.  It was not to be however because in May of 1983 Pope John Paul II transferred me to the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

Shortly after I was installed in Corpus Christi I received requests from two Episcopalian priests to join the Corpus Christi presbyterate.  I accepted them and eventually conditionally ordained them Catholic Priests.  They were wonderful priests and soon an Anglican Use personal parish was started.  My successors did not have the same love of the Anglican Accord as I did and the ‘parish’ remains very small

It was a different story in San Antonio.

There Archbishop Patrick Flores welcomed Father Christopher Phillips who started a tiny parish with converts from Anglicanisn/Episcopalianism. The parish was started by a small group of former Episcopalians seeking entrance into full Catholic communion under the terms of the Pastoral Provision which was established by Pope St. John Paul II.  The parish was canonically erected on August 15, 1983 by Archbishop Patrick Flores and was comprised of just eighteen people (including children).

The first small church building was completed in 1987, with several subsequent additions to the church and school.  The parish school, The Atonement Academy, was established in 1994, starting with sixty-six students.

Father Phillips was/is a remarkable priest.  Married with several children he had the energy and the time to devote himself to his ministry with such zeal that the parish now has approximately six hundred families and about 450 students in the school.

In the opinion of many Latin Roman Catholics The Church of the Atonement was such a place of very spiritual liturgies that they soon threatened to crowd out the former Anglicans in the church on Sundays.

The drone photo above shows just half of the Parish plant.  What a fabulous success story, really it is a ‘miracle.’

As is now well known, the Holy See a few years ago created the personal Ordinariate, like a diocese, to which former Anglicans/Episcopalians have a right to belong.  While it was understandable that the Archbishop of San Antonio would not be happy to see one of the ‘best’ parishes of the Archdiocese leave his jurisdiction and become part of the new Ordinariate, no one anticipated the extreme extent of his opposition.

The people of the Church of the Atonement appealed to Rome and Rome overruled the Archbishops decision to prevent the transfer and now the Church of the Atonement is part of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham based in Houston.

The last sad chapter in the drama of the Archbishop’s relation to the Parish was when three Carmelite nuns who have been working in the Parish and Academy for ten years approached the Archbishop and requested permission to build a convent and he not only refused permission but ordered them to leave the Archdiocese.

I wish the faithful of Our Lady of the Atonement Parish every blessing that they may continue to grow in holiness and become an ever greater witness to the Faith in San Antonio.

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Bishop René Gracida with Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, shortly before he was named Pope John Paul II.
Bishop René Gracida with Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, on September 28, 1978 the day Pope John Paul I died, three weeks before he was named Pope John Paul II. (Photo Provided)
6 Bishops Who Knew John Paul II Share Their Memories of Him
“If the Pope is afraid, then the Church is afraid. And, the Church must never be afraid.”
.APR. 21, 2018

May 20 is the 98th anniversary of the birth of Pope St. John Paul II (1920-2005). Elected in 1978, he went on to serve over 26 years as pope, making him among the longest-serving popes in history. He had a major impact on the Church, including through the appointment of many bishops. I spoke to six bishops who have met Pope John Paul II and asked them to share their memories of him.


Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri

I admire Pope St. John Paul II. He was a man of prayer. He believed in freedom of religion and battled for years with the communists. I met him on a number of occasions. Once, for example, when I was an auxiliary bishop for Archbishop John Roach of St. Paul and Minneapolis, I recall him saying of me: “He’s a very young bishop. He has many years of suffering ahead.”


Paul Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Pope John Paul II was elected my first year in the seminary. He inspired me as a seminarian and priest and appointed me to be a bishop. I met him as a bishop-elect on an ad limina visit and received a pectoral cross from him which I still wear.


John Doerfler, Bishop of Marquette, Michigan

As a young man, my heroes included Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Pope Benedict. When I was a seminarian, I studied theology at North American College in Rome. I had the privilege of serving Mass for Pope John Paul II. It was the beatification mass of St. Katharine Drexel, and they wanted American seminarians to serve at the Mass. I was one of the lucky ones whose name was pulled out of the hat.

I met Pope John Paul briefly after Mass. I remember my exchange with him. I assured the Holy Father I was praying for him. He said, “Well, we’ll pray for each other.”


René Henry Gracida, the retired Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas

In 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, heard about a program with which I was involved with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He invited me to come to Poland to speak to him about it. I went to Krakow, but our visit was cut short when Pope John Paul I died unexpectedly. He had to go to Rome for the conclave that elected him pope.

In the time we did have together, he was fascinated that I was an airman during World War II. He asked me hundreds of questions. We became friends. I have a cherished place for him in my heart.


Robert Morlino, Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have met two great saints: Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul. They show the greatness of what can be accomplished with one’s life. During one of my meetings with Pope John Paul, he said to me, “If the Pope is afraid, then the Church is afraid. And, the Church must never be afraid.” That’s always very alive in my mind.


Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona

(Bishop Olmsted lived in Rome for 16 years, including nine years while working with the Vatican Secretariat of State, and interacted personally with Pope John Paul II.) Pope John Paul II is a great hero of mine. His teaching inspires me constantly. He was a man of great holiness. He was a man of tremendous gifts. He spoke many different languages. He had a great love for poetry and was a poet himself. He had a love for drama and was a playwright. The Holy Father had a great interest in marriage which led to the promotion of the Theology of the Body.

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If truth could ever lose its quality of being the means to know the will of God, and become something false, and thus evil, then mankind is lost. Without immutable truth, we have no way to live in unity with God, with reality, and with one another.


Of Truth and Idols

Pope Francis celebrated and preached at the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday morning. He addressed the concelebrating priests on the themes of the closeness of God and the closeness that priests should have to their people. This priestly closeness is “an attitude that engages the whole person.” He praised street priests “who are ‘close’, available, priests who are there for people, who talk to everyone.”

Closeness, he believes, is “the key to mercy” and “also the key to truth.” Further, “truth is not only the definition of situations and things from a certain distance, by abstract and logical reasoning. It is more than that. Truth is also fidelity (émeth). It makes you name people with their real name, as the Lord names them, before categorizing them or defining ‘their situation.’”

Then Pope Francis made a startling claim:

We must be careful not to fall into the temptation of making idols of certain abstract truths. They can be comfortable idols, always within easy reach; they offer a certain prestige and power and are difficult to discern. Because the “truth-idol” imitates, it dresses itself up in the words of the Gospel, but does not let those words touch the heart. Much worse, it distances ordinary people from the healing closeness of the word and of the sacraments of Jesus.

These words are troubling. An idol is a false god. Idolatry is rendering worship to something other than God – a grave offense against the First Commandment. Idolatry is essentially man worshipping himself through the medium of some created reality. He makes the choice of what idols are important to him. His false god is his own creation, and thus it serves him. This is the complete reversal of the true worship that man owes to his Creator.

Abstraction is the mental process by which we come to know metaphysical realities by considering those material things our reason grasps and drawing rational conclusions. By abstraction, we understand what underlies the reality before our eyes. Thus seeing individual men and abstracting from this knowledge, we come to know the category of humanity, and we begin to understand what constitutes human nature. Abstraction allows reality to reveal itself to our minds.

Truth is the conformity of mind and reality. The truth about God is understood when we accurately grasp the nature and purpose of His creation (natural theology), and when we believe in any supernatural revelation He may make. Jesus told us that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. All truths have their origin in the Truth who is God made man. The Christian understands that the truth is a Person.

Dogmatic and moral truths come from and lead to God. The truth banishes error, especially idolatry, because all truth is found in the Word made flesh. What is true is good and beautiful because it unites us to the good and beautiful God. He created us so that we may know Him by knowing the truth that He is.


Given this, is it possible to make the truth into an idol? Can Catholic dogmatic teachings and the truths of the moral law become false gods that we worship so as to gain “a certain prestige and power”? It’s not possible. The truth as taught by the Church is what unites us to the true God and frees us from the errors of idolatry. Truth is not an idol, it is the remedy to idolatry.

Pope Francis states that “the ‘truth-idol’ imitates, it dresses itself up in the words of the Gospel, but does not let those words touch the heart.” Is the Gospel obscured or falsified by truths taught by the Magisterium of the Church – which are drawn from that Gospel?

If the truth could be an idol, then naturally any use of the Scriptures to illustrate that particular truth would be a charade. But the truth of God cannot be an idol because what God has made known to us is our means of entering into His reality – the goal of our existence.

Francis states that this “truth-idolatry” in fact “distances ordinary people from the healing closeness of the word and of the sacraments of Jesus.”

Here we have the interpretative key to what I think he is getting at. He is defending his decision in Amoris Laetitia to allow some people who are living in adulterous unions to receive the sacraments of penance and the Holy Eucharistic while intending to continue to engage in adulterous relations.

This doctrinal and disciplinary innovation, which contradicts all previous papal teaching and legislation, was confirmed as his unequivocal intention in his letter to the Argentinian bishops of the Buenos Aires region.

Those who defend the Church’s constant teaching and practice on this matter have been subjected to various aspersions. Now they are being categorized as engaging in a horrific violation of the First Commandment because they treat Catholic doctrine as inviolable, and thus binding upon all believers.

If truth could ever lose its quality of being the means to know the will of God, and become something false, and thus evil, then mankind is lost. Without immutable truth, we have no way to live in unity with God, with reality, and with one another.

The good news is that truth can never be false. It’s not an idol, and to defend the truth is not to lead people away from God towards false worship, but rather to invite them to embrace what is, in fact, their deepest desire for goodness, happiness, and peace.

The truth will set you free, it will not enslave you in error and darkness. Those who seek to be healed by coming close to Christ in his sacraments will only realize that goal by knowing and doing what Jesus asks of them. To reject in practice his words about the permanence of marriage and the obligation to avoid adultery, and then assert a right to receive the sacraments risks making an erroneous opinion into an idol.


*Image: His Holiness, Pope Francis [Franco Origlia/Getty Images]

Fr. Gerald E. Murray

Fr. Gerald E. Murray

The Rev. Gerald E. Murray, J.C.D. is a canon lawyer and the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City.

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John-Henry Westen /

Lisa Bourne

NEWSCATHOLIC CHURCHFri Apr 20, 2018 – 11:25 am EST

Catholic Mass attendance in U.S. plunges under Francis pontificate

Catholic, Catholic Mass, Gallup Poll, Mass, Pope Francis

April 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Church is seeing its biggest decline in Mass attendance in the U.S. in decades that started between the papacies of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, a new Gallup poll says.

“From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955,” the poll found.

Francis became Pope in 2013.

Weekly Mass attendance among Catholics dropped six percentage points, the findings said, with fewer than four in 10 Catholics going to Mass in any given week.

In contrast, the survey said church attendance remained strong over the last decade with U.S. Protestants.

The number of weekly Mass-attending Catholics had leveled out at the 45 percent mark in the mid-2000s after dropping significantly during the time of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and its tumultuous aftermath.

The downhill shift in Mass attendance has picked back up under Francis with the biggest drop since the 1970s.

The Vatican’s Central Statistics Office published a report last year in which it found that vocations to the priesthood have continued a downward trend since 2012. The decline was found to have accelerated under the pontificate of Pope Francis. Total seminarians worldwide dropped from 118,251 in 2013 to 116,843 in 2015.

Gallup does not give an exact count from one year to the next, conducting its church attendance surveys toward the middle of each decade from the 1950s to present, Thomas Williams notes in a Breitbart report. Consequently, the time period of 2005-2008 selected for the survey corresponds to the first four years of Benedict’s papacy, and the 2014-2017 period similarly coincides with the Francis pontificate.

“After stabilizing in the mid-2000s, weekly church attendance among U.S. Catholics has resumed its downward trajectory over the past decade. In particular, older Catholics have become less likely to report attending church in the past seven days — so that now, for the first time, a majority of Catholics in no generational group attend weekly,” the poll states.

The biggest drop in Mass attendance between the Benedict and Francis pontificates came among Catholics between the ages of 50 and 59, falling from 46 to 31 percent, a decline of 15 percent.

The only rise in weekly Mass attendance came from American Catholics aged 30-39, rising three-percentage points from 40 to 43 percent.

The young adult demographic – aged 21 to 29 – had seen a small rise in weekly Mass attendance under Benedict from 2005-2008, to 29 percent. But this then dropped under Francis between 2014-2017 to 25 percent.

The current rate of weekly church attendance among Protestants and Catholics is similar at most age levels, the survey said, with the exception of that 21-to-29 demographic. Protestants in the young adult segment more likely at 36% than Catholic young adults (25%) to say they have attended church in the past seven days.

This drop in Mass attendance among Catholic young adults and the disparity between their attendance rate and that of their Protestant counterparts comes as Francis is in the process of convening a youth synod.

Williams noted that the drop in Catholic Mass attendance while Protestant church attendance has remained largely consistent is telling.

This “suggests that specific confessional issues rather than broader societal changes are behind the recent drop in Catholic Mass attendance,” he wrote.

It would be unfair to attribute the entire decline in Catholic Mass attendance to the “Francis effect,” Williams said.

However, he wrote “it is unlikely that the pontiff’s continual deemphasizing of the importance of obedience to church rules such as regular Mass attendance and adherence to Catholic doctrine has not had an appreciable effect on Catholic practice.”

“The Francis pontificate correlates to the sharpest drop in U.S. Mass attendance in recent decades,” Williams said.

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Fr. Rutler’s Weekly Column

April 22, 2018
   The Funeral Oration of Pericles, the statesman who helped make Athens great, honored the soldiers who died in the first phase of the Peloponnesian War, during which Athens took on Sparta. (If you will pardon the prejudice, that was like New York taking on Chicago.) Given in the winter of 431 – 430 B.C., Pericles’ oration extolled Athenian civilization at its height on the precipice of destruction. (The Athenian fleet would later sink into the waters off Aegospotami.) It is a model of eloquence, as transcribed in a very difficult Greek by the historian Thucydides. Esoteric grammarians enjoy its display of such devices as anacoluthon, asyndeton, hyperbaton, and the rhythmic proparoxytone that is absent from the rhetoric of contemporary politicians and prelates, although it occurs unintentionally at times in text messages and various forms of social media.

Imagine listening to this, declaimed without a microphone, over the bones of the dead: “For we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting, too, whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon reflection. And they are surely to be esteemed the bravest spirits who, having the clearest sense of both the pains and the pleasures of life, do not on that account shrink from danger.”

Abraham Lincoln’s soul absorbed the Athenian ideal, and his address at Gettysburg has been compared to the Periclean oration, even though it had only 272 words while an English translation of Pericles has about 3,375. Pericles would die of the plague the year after he spoke, and Lincoln would be shot a year and a half after he left the cemetery in Pennsylvania.

Those speeches were animated by natural virtue, moved by classical piety for lives heroically sacrificed for high ideals. But for the greatest speech of a mortal, I nominate the Pentecost sermon of Saint Peter (Acts 2:14-41) with its sequel, Acts 3:12-25, translated into about 532 English words. Peter’s fishing village of Capernaum boasted no school of rhetoric, and Jerusalemites mocked the Galilean accent of his Aramaic, which was not an elegant language to begin with. (Ignore the dangling participle; even Pericles used it from time to time.) When Peter had finished, more than 3,000 people begged to be baptized.

There are too many speeches today, and public figures spout off daily, often bereft of the Athenian custom of “thinking before we act.” Lost is classical reserve, and, in the Church, there is a fatal weakness for inflated rhetoric, naïve instead of innocent and optimistic instead of hopeful: New Pentecost, New Springtime, New Evangelization. Perhaps because of such delusions, in just the last half-dozen years, the number of Millennials—who are the future of our culture—receiving ashes at the start of Lent has dropped from 50% to 41%. The non-dogmatic and non-threatening oratory of our current ecclesiastical culture would have better results if it simply translated Saint Peter’s lumpish Aramaic: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

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Eccles and Bosco is saved

English bishops to be replaced by jelly-babies

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 02:37 AM PDT

Following a report describing the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales as a “spineless bunch of jellies”, Pope Francis has decided to dismiss all the bishops and replace them with jelly-babies. “They may be a little rigid,” he admitted, “but they’re a lot cheaper to maintain, and most people will notice very little difference.”jelly babies

Your new-look bishops. Cardinals in red, of course.

Although individually some of the bishops (Egan, Davies, …) do regularly show signs of non-gelatinous behaviour, it has been noticed that, when they gather together, their collective decisions are a disaster. It is best to clean out the fridge entirely, and start again.

This week, the bishops had a four-day party in Hinsley Hall, Leeds, and were fortified by a massive supply of cinnabons left over from Arthur Roche’s days and some vintage Nuits Saint Geoffrey Boycott (Yorkshire Burgundy).

The bishops must have considered making a joint statement on the decision of Ealing Council to promote the culture of death (abortuaries), block free speech, and ban vigils. This would have offended the pressure groups 40 Days for Death and Bad Counsel Network, of course, and made the Catholic Church do something that Jesus never intended – shine a light into the darkness of secular death-culture. Bishop Egan, to his credit, had already spoken out, but we have failed to locate any statement from the Cardinal Archjelly of Westminster.


The CBCEW pose for a group photo.

More bizarrely, the jellies issued a statement on the Alfie Evans case, in which the State is trying to enforce euthanasia on a child whose illness has not been properly diagnosed, going against the wishes of the parents to seek treatment away from Alder Hey hospital. Apparently, it is in the “best interests” of the child that he be bumped off (and sadly, we think this will ultimately happen); if you have any comments suggesting the removal of life-support facilities (such as food and drink) from brain-dead members of the judiciary, you should probably keep them to yourself.

It’s nice, once in a while, to see something good in Pope Francis.

What the bishops didn’t notice, in their cinnabon-induced stupor, is that Pope Francis is sticking up for Alfie. Said a spokesman for the Liverpool Archdiocese, “We didn’t even realise that Alfie was a Catholic. Next you’ll be telling us that Archbishop McMahon is a Catholic, ha ha ha.” So that puts paid to Vincent Nichols’s dreams of being Pope Francis II, and we’ll probably end up with Tobin instead. Nighty-night, Catholic Church, we did love you, Baby.

LATE NEWS: Cardinal Vincent Nichols has issued an angry statement on the Pope’s decision to replace him. “Wobble, wobble, blobble, globble, wobble!” he says. That’s telling him!

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Prof. Randa Jarrar, far left, celebrated Barbara Bush’s death, and the suffering of those who mourn her (YouTube screenshot)
Randa Jarrar, Symbol Of Left-Wing Academic Privilege


.You will have heard, most likely, of Randa Jarrar, a professor of English at Fresno State University. Her Twitter account is locked at the moment, but this is what brought her to infamy this week:

Randa Jarrar is a terrible person, repulsive in every way. Damon Linker gives a bit more information about the Jarrar case:

For readers who don’t follow the online political outrage machine: Jarrar took to Twitter shortly after the death of former first lady Barbara Bush to denounce her and the Bush family in vicious and vulgar terms. “Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist,” she said in one tweet. “I’m happy the witch is dead,” she said in another. Her tweets quickly went viral — the original ones as well as follow-ups in which she bragged about her six-figure salary and invulnerability as a tenured professor, taunted the president of her university (Joseph Castro), and posted a phone number that was ostensibly her own but turned out to be the number of a crisis hotline that was soon overwhelmed with calls from people irate about her provocations and clamoring for her to be fired. Within 24 hours, Castro had announced that Jarrar would be investigated, and indicated that she could well lose her job after all.

I saw the Jarrar tweets when they first appeared, and decided that I didn’t want to dignify them by posting them. I know, right? Shocking for me to resist the opportunity to indulge in Dreherbait. But I did, because what Jarrar said was so beyond the pale of decency. However, her case has become a test of free speech principles.

My basic stance is that as deplorable as she is — listen to her various rants for more — protecting free speech means enduring speech you despise. I think Jarrar ought to be condemned — but not lose her job. Those calling for her firing over her insults to the Bush family are wrong (and note well than many conservatives and libertarians have spoken out against firing her). If the university wanted to can her for that prank to the crisis hotline, that would seem just to me. But not for her vile speech.

On the other hand, what if she had taken to Twitter to post anti-Semitic or otherwise racist statements? What if Jarrar were a thin right-wing white male who took to Twitter to dance on Ted Kennedy’s grave? Keep in mind that she did not say these things in a classroom.

Damon Linker points out that the president and board of trustees of Fresno State have a responsibility to protect freedom of expression, but they also have the responsibility to protect the university’s reputation. While Fresno State doesn’t have to worry as much about suffering from legislators punishing it, California being a very left-wing state, this is a needless provocation. The fact that Jarrar taunted her employer, saying she couldn’t be fired because of tenure, makes her a poster child for obscene academic arrogance. There are countless men and women who hold advanced degrees yet cannot find stable work in the academy — and this arrogant troll uses her extreme privilege to spite everyone.

She is not a sympathetic character.

Linker points out something true and important:

Is there any employer in any industry in the United States that would not treat an outburst like Jarrar’s as a fireable offense? The answer, I think, is no. If anything, norms against employees engaging in offensive speech have become stricter in recent years, with many insisting that public statements that demonize any person or group be punished swiftly and severely, the better to send a stern message about the importance of treating bigotry and hatred of any kind as intolerable.

Those saying that Jarrar should keep her job therefore seem to be defending the view that professors should have employment protections, even outside of the classroom and their specialized areas of academic research, that pretty much no one else in the country enjoys.

My job here at TAC involves opinion writing. I have been paid for most of my career to state my opinion. Yet no employer of mine — no newspaper, no magazine — would keep me on if I tweeted something as vile as what Jarrar tweeted. It would be devastating to the institutional reputation of these newspapers and magazines. TAC would lose donors left and right, and would take a real hit in terms of its credibility. Any magazine or publication would. I would never abuse the privilege I have. With that privilege comes responsibility.

So, today, I am much less sympathetic to Randa Jarrar than I was when she first spouted off. I still lean towards not firing her. But boy, is she ever a poster child for left-wing academic privilege and arrogance. If the university president fires her for pranking the crisis hotline, I won’t be sorry.


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A Deductive System



The ideal form of a science is a deductive system. Like Euclid’s geometry. You start with a small number of definitions and axioms (postulates), and then you deduce all the other propositions (theorems) of the system from these axioms. The best kind of deductive system would be one in which all propositions in the system are deduced from a single axiom.

I think we can do something like this with the American cultural belief system often called secular humanism; or called, when considered as a political belief system, ultra-liberalism or progressivism. That’s what I propose to do here. I will attempt to deduce all the beliefs of secular humanism (progressivism, ultra-liberalism) from a single axiom, the axiom of personal freedom. I confess ahead of time that not all the deductions will be logically watertight; I am no Euclid. But they’ll be fairly tight.

 1. Freedom: The best of all things is personal liberty. In an ideal world, everybody would have as much of this as possible. The only limit to personal liberty would be harm to others; that is, we should be morally free to do whatever we like provided we do no harm to others.

2. Sexual freedom: follows logically from generic freedom. So long as we do no harm to unwilling others, two (or more) consenting adults should be free to perform any sexual act they like.

3. Free contraception:  If we are to have a cultural regime of sexual freedom, society, acting through government, will have to provide us with free-of-charge contraceptives to assure that unwanted pregnancies won’t result.

4. Free abortion: Since contraception, even when provided free of charge, won’t always work, abortion also will have to be provided free of charge. A regime of sexual freedom is impractical without abortion. (If it is objected to abortion that it does do harm to other – namely, it kills the unborn baby – we must deny that the unborn baby is a human being.)

5. Homosexuality: It makes no sense to allow sexual freedom to heterosexual persons without also allowing it to homosexual persons.

6. Same-sex marriage: If homosexual intercourse is morally allowable, same-sex marriage must also be morally and legally allowable.

7. Polygamy: If same-sex marriage is allowable, how can polygamy – whether in the form of polygyny, polyandry, or group marriage – be banned?

8. Polyamory: If polygamy is allowed, how can polyamory, its informal cousin, be banned?

9. Adult incest:  If we have a regime of sexual freedom, there can be no objection to incestuous relations between adult brothers and sisters (or homosexual relations between adult brothers or between adult sisters) or between parents and adult children – provided precautions are taken to prevent the birth of babies resulting from these relations.

10. Bestiality: Provided no harm is done to the animal in question, there can be no objection to sex between a human and an animal. If it is objected that this would be wrong because the animal is incapable of giving consent, it can be answered that we kill animals for food without first getting their consent. If we can kill a pig without consent, why can’t we have sex with a non-consenting pig?

11. Anti-violence: If freedom is the ultimate value, the repression of freedom is the ultimate disvalue. And of all the ways of repressing freedom, the most extreme is the use of violence. Hence, secular humanists have an intense abhorrence of violence.

12. Anti-capital punishment:  This is wrong because it is violent.

13. Anti-guns: Guns are instruments of violence, hence the fewer of them in existence the better.

14. Anti-war: War is violent. Therefore. . .

15. Anti-military: The purpose of the military is to make war. Therefore. . .

16. Pro-peace: Peace is the opposite of war.

17. Pro-diplomacy: When it comes to handling disagreements among nations, diplomacy is the alternative to war. Therefore, let us negotiate.

18. Anti-racism: Racism either takes the form of violence or tends toward violence.

19. Suspicion of police: Police are legally allowed to use guns and other forms of violence. Further, police have a reputation for using violence against blacks.

20. Suspicion of very rich people: They are greedy, and their greed leads them to take money away from non-rich people, which restricts the freedom of the latter. The rich, therefore, need to pay much more in taxes and have their industries heavily regulated.

21. Atheism: If God exists, and if we think of God as a lawgiver (the usual way of thinking of God), then God restricts our freedom by giving us laws. To be totally free, we must get rid of God.

22. Anti-Christianity: If there is no God, then Christianity is a false or invalid religion.  But since Christianity has been, in one form or another (usually a Protestant form), the kind of religion that has been dominant in America from the beginning, a fight against religion must particularly focus on Christianity.

23. A new God: Getting rid of God leaves us with a psychological vacuum. For we have always believed that there is some great power in existence that will cause the triumph of the good. But if God is no longer that power, what will it be? The state – that is, the federal government – is the most plausible candidate.

24. Growing the state: The more all-powerful the state is, and the more all-knowing it is, the more believable it is as an earthly God. And so the federal government must be given more and more power, and it must be enabled to capture more and more information about everything, including individual persons.

25. The omnicompetent state: The federal government, being God-like, can guarantee and enlarge our liberty. Therefore the state can solve all problems, can eliminate all obstacles to our freedom: poverty, ignorance, disease, racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, hunger, floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, global warming, etc.

To all of which, we might add: Boomerang. Alas, the relentless pursuit of absolute freedom ends up in something like totalitarianism.

David Carlin

David Carlin

David Carlin is professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.

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German bishops deny that Vatican has rejected Protestant Communion plan

They also said that the Pope has agreed to meet Cardinal Marx in Rome.

Reports that the Vatican has rejected the German bishops’ guidance on Communion for Protestants are false, the Bishops’ Conference has said.

Several Catholic outlets have reported claims from various sources that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had, with Pope Francis’s approval, rejected a draft plan to allow Protestants who are married to Catholics to receive Communion in certain circumstances.

However, the German Bishops’ Conference has now issued a statement saying the reports are “false”. They added that the Pope has agreed to meet Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the conference’s president, in Rome.

The German bishops voted in February to approve a draft plan to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion after making a “serious examination of conscience” with a priest or other person with pastoral responsibilities. They must also “affirm the faith of the Catholic Church”, and wish to end “serious spiritual distress” and a “longing to satisfy hunger for the Eucharist”.

A group of seven bishops led by Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the Archbishop of Cologne, dissented from the plan and asked the Vatican to rule on whether it was permissible.

Austrian Catholic news site reported on Wednesday that “well-informed Vatican sources” said the CDF had rejected the plan. National Catholic Register later said that Pope Francis had backed the CDF’s rejection, but asked for the letter not to be made public.

The plan was previously criticised by several prelates, including Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the CDF, who said it was a “rhetorical trick”.

“Neither the Pope nor we bishops can redefine the sacraments as a means of alleviating mental distress and satisfying spiritual needs,” the cardinal said. “They are effective signs of the grace of God.”

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