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Putin and the (Dis?)Continuity of Catholic Identity

downloadVladimir Putin was recently savaged by prominent Catholic blogger Simcha Fisher, who called him “evil,” “fascist,” and “an enemy of free people and free speech” because of his disregard for the civil liberties which many American Catholics treat like divinely-revealed dogma. Mark Shea seconded Mrs. Fisher’s severe judgment with typical sarcasm. “He’s not some new Constantine,” he harrumphed.

An interesting comparison, Constantine. After all, Constantine has long been revered by Catholics. He is celebrated as a saint among oriental Christians. The eastern Catholic churches, following the Orthodox, even afford him a feast day (May 21). While the Latin church withholds that highest of honors, it nevertheless venerates him for the role he played in the establishment of Christendom.

Yet just like Putin, Constantine was a powerful tyrant, a violent man of blood and steel, who went so far as to execute his own son. He also put to death his wife—at the request of another saint, Helena, called Equal to the Apostles.

The fact is, Mrs. Fisher and Mr. Shea do not scorn Putin because of his disregard for Christian values—which he is struggling mightily to restore, however spotted his own soul may be—but because of his disregard for the dangerous ideals of the Enlightenment. These liberal ideals, such as “freedom of speech” and “freedom of religion,” are sacred to many Catholics, despite the church’s longstanding contempt for such intellectual licentiousness.

Let us not obscure the truths of history, nor be ashamed of them! The Church—understanding that man requires good and godly order to flourish—has long supported and venerated powerful sovereigns, princes and lords intolerant of political and religious dissent. Saint Louis was for centuries upheld as a model sovereign: “the most Christian king of France.” Yet he crusaded against Muslims, suppressed Jewish holy books, and persecuted Christian heretics. Mr. Shea mocks those “traditionalists” who dream of Christianizing the world with the arm of the state, but no less a saint than Ambrose of Milan worked intimately with Emperor Theodosius to suppress Hellenistic paganism using the full might of the Roman government.*

I do not mean to canonize Putin. Nor do I deny that he is, like all men, a grave sinner. No doubt he has innocent blood on his hands, and he should be held accountable for his transgressions. The ideal Christian sovereign would possess not only the serpent’s cunning, but also the dove’s harmlessness. But how often the ways of the world render this balance impossible!

Neither Mrs. Fisher nor Mr. Shea have any idea what it takes to preside over a troubled nation like Russia. Despite his failures (and they are significant), Putin has succeeded in pulling Russia back from the brink of total social collapse and political chaos. He recognizes that the Christian faith is not only helpful, but absolutely necessary, to national well-being. For that, at least, credit is due and approval warranted.

Of course, my point here is not so much to praise Putin as to rebuke those Catholics who would sacrifice the church’s traditional teachings and colorful history—the totality of her identity—on the altar of the Enlightenment. This blogospheric kerfuffle is not ultimately about the president of Russia, but about the relationship of the Catholic church with liberal modernity. Should this relationship be characterized by compromise or conflict? Should we redouble our defense of the ancient faith, or reform (while pretending to do otherwise) those doctrines which the contemporary “individual” finds unpalatable?

The disparate answers to this question reveal a divide among orthodox Catholics. Putin, for all of his manifold flaws and misdeeds, recognizes that Christian civilization—indeed, civilization in general—is fundamentally incompatible with disordered liberal “freedom.” On this count, he stands on the side of the angels. Where do Mrs. Fisher and Mr. Shea stand?

Putin may not be a new Constantine. But if we were to witness the rise of a new Constantine, would Mr. Shea and Mrs. Fisher embrace him? Or would they label him a fascist and an enemy of Christian civilization? Have the boundaries of Catholic “orthodoxy” so shifted that the great princes of Christendom—and the great popes, too!—would no longer find a spirit of fellowship among those who call themselves champions of tradition?

We thus come to the heart of the matter: the “Putin Question”—which can just as truly be called the “Constantine Question”—is really a question concerning the continuity of Catholic identity over the last century or so. Rather, it is a question concerning the lack of continuity of Catholic identity over the last century or so. Are we the same church today that we were five hundred, one thousand, fifteen hundred years ago? If we reject Putin, must we reject Constantine? And if we reject Constantine, must we reject a rough and tumble pope like Urban II? What would the modern “orthodox” Catholic make of the call to crusade? Or God’s command to Israel to conquer the Promised Land? These questions defy easy answers, from traditionalist and modernist alike. They force us to consider our identity—our past, but also our future.

Is Putin so different than Constantine, Theodosius, Saint Louis, or any of the other countless heavy-handed, sword-wielding princes and prelates who governed Christendom for close to a millennium and a half? Can we reject him without rejecting them? And what do our answers to these questions say about our understanding of the Catholic church? Enough of the easy contempt and juvenile sarcasm for Putin. We cannot judge him without judging ourselves—for better or for worse.

*This is absolutely not to advocate forced conversion, but simply to show that there is some role for the state in the creation and maintenance of a Christian commonwealth.


Philip Primeau is an associate editor at Catholic Lane. He also blogs at a-heart-of-flesh.blogspot.com. He may be contacted by email at philipryan.primeau@gmail.com.
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Comments (137)

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  1. CS says:

    A Catholic cannot “embrace” a new Constantine because by definition we would not really know he was being used by God until MUCH LATER, after HIS CONVERSION and death and a few hundred years of history. Revering Constantine as some kind of Christian hero during his life would have been stupid and immoral.

    • Florentius says:

      CS — My friend, Constantine most certainly was viewed as a Christian
      hero during his lifetime–one of the greatest, in fact. Several
      contemporary and near-contemporary Christian historians wrote paeans to
      him and he was vilified by contemporary pagans, including his own
      great-nephew, Julian the Apostate. Read the primary sources, starting
      with this one:

      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=1889758930/evolutionpublishA

      • CS says:

        Thanks for calling me friend! I wrote a long response above clarifying my use (short story: not clear) of the term “Christian hero” above. Writing in a hurry, though, so happy to talk more. I am always interested in learning something I didn’t know before.

        • Richard W Comerford says:

          Mr. CS:

          Is it true that Constantine was not baptized until he was on his death bed? And then by an Arian Bishop? (I do not know what flavor of Arianism.) Or is this another urban myth?

          Thank you

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

          • Philip Primeau says:

            Yes, Constantine was baptized at the very end of his life, because Christians of that age took post-baptismal sin extremely seriously. The penitential system had yet to be clearly worked out. A transgression like adultery could potentially get you barred from communion for a decade — or more.

            And yes, Constantine was baptized by an Arian bishop, Eusebius of Nicomedia. (However, Eusebius did sign the Nicene Creed in 325.)

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Mr. Primeau:

            Thank you for confirming the urban myth!

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

  2. Philip Primeau says:

    “Revering Constantine as some kind of Christian hero during his life would have been stupid and immoral.”

    Then many Catholics of the fourth century were “stupid and immoral.” Eusebius must have been truly wretched indeed!

    Anyway, that’s hardly the point.

    • Jim Russell says:

      Philip–the dimension that seems to be lacking in many assessments of Putin, Contstantine, etc., is the *pastoral* dimension–the idea that God remains “at work” in all of us and that even those who fall short most of the time but *occasionally* respond to grace can actually *grow* in grace and become better than they are. Particularly people who are still breathing. We are often all too ready to forget what it means to be pastoral. (something about going after one sheep out of the 100…)

    • CS says:

      I am not sure how that is hardly the point. You are the one who brought up Simcha’s piece and then used it as a starting point for an entirely different discussion. That is bad faith (using her blog) or confused writing.

      And I am going to speak to the Constantine question again, because frankly there seem to be very few people who can look at the historical issues involved and I don’t think you should be dominating the discussion. For my part, I don’t like my use of the term “Christian hero” because indeed that is exactly how he was portrayed, and I am meaning something different when comparing him to the way that people who are (I hope just) ignorant of world politics are talking about Putin as some kind of *moral* hero because of his cozy-ing up to Christianity. And doing so without any evidence that he is doing it for the good….and plenty of evidence that he is doing it for nefarious purposes.

      I admit I muddled things by putting it the way I did, because *my*interest was in pointing out that while we cannot impose our specifics of cultural morality on the past, neither should we paint in fabulous colors a historical schema that upholds the “gloriousness” of the sword-spreading days of conversion. And you cannot separate “conversion by sword” from the moral schema– the mentality– of the day.

      I forced myself to re-read Eusebius’ speech in praise of Constantine yesterday and found (through somewhat glazed eyelids) that he spends about 97% of it catechizing, and then throws in some dramatic words of praise about Constantine. The drama is par for the course, speech-wise, for the fourth century. It’s obvious, too, in the biography that he wanted to paint him as a hero. But what I guess I am thinking about is that there had previously been *no* ruler for Christians to appeal to…only times in which they were tolerated more than others….there was *no* state where they enjoyed a modicum of safety that could be counted on for generations. Constantine could be categorized as a “Christian hero”, as, in superhero terms, and in that particular context, but not a moral hero. And the difference matters….particularly in today’s world and especially when we are referring to someone who has been well-known to be an enemy of the good.

      It *would* have been stupid and immoral for Eusebius to praise
      Constantine if he knew that Constantine was that very month murdering family members, or if Eusebius was hand-waving away tales of his crimes and saying “it’s ok he is helping Christianity.”

      I know this seems to veer away from your stated goal of this piece. But, also, if your original point was to bring back into the discussion a
      historical understanding of our Church’s past , I personally think you missed it. You might have, in fact, be helping ennoble the wildly hubristic idea that we can make a hero of someone who does not deserve it and possibly *could* be evil. And finally, if you want to argue for bringing back some kind of Catholic state you should come right out and say that. And let people see your ideas for what they are!

      • Philip Primeau says:

        I appreciate your engagement with my piece, but let me reiterate my thesis:

        “Of course, my point here is not so much to praise Putin as to rebuke those Catholics who would sacrifice the church’s traditional teachings and colorful history—the totality of her identity on the altar of the Enlightenment. This blogospheric kerfuffle is not ultimately about the president of Russia, but about the relationship of the Catholic church with liberal modernity. Should this relationship be characterized by
        compromise or conflict? Should we redouble our defense of the ancient faith, or reform (while pretending to do otherwise) those doctrines which the contemporary “individual” finds unpalatable?”

        I’m not so much interested about Constantine and Putin, but about what they symbolize in terms of the continuity — or lack thereof — of the Church’s identity, especially vis-a-vis the Church’s role in society and its relationship with the state. My contention is that there is a tension between the teachings of the past and the teachings of the present on this topic, and that the only satisfactory resolution lies in recovering our commitment to Christian commonwealth and the social kingship of Christ.

        Simcha and Mark’s derision for Putin is not rooted simply in his abuse of power (a legitimate object of critique), but in his contempt for the liberties which characterize Enlightenment liberalism (including “conservative” liberalism). Simcha specifically pointed to his rejection of free speech. In this way, Simcha and Mark are representative of a movement within the Church which seems all too happy to dump traditional teachings about the relationship between Church, state, and society at large. Among these traditional teachings were strong and unequivocal condemnations of liberalism in all its guises, including freedom of speech and press:

        Consider Pope Gregory XVI, who in Mirari Vos, condemned “that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people, which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which, though small in weight, are very great in malice. We are in tears at the abuse which proceeds from them over the face of the earth. Some are so carried away that they contentiously assert that the flock of errors arising from them is sufficiently
        compensated by the publication of some book which defends religion and truth. Every law condemns deliberately doing evil simply because there is some hope that good may result. Is there any sane man who would say poison ought to be distributed, sold publicly, stored, and even drunk because some antidote is available and those who use it may be snatched from death again and again? The Church has always taken action to destroy the plague of bad books.”

        And Pius IX denounced the belief that, “Liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted
        society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute
        liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether
        ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way” (Quanta Cura).

        How does this square with certain ecumenical and papal pronouncements originating in the last century? The answer is not immediately evident, nor is it easy. But the resolution of the tension begins by recognizing that Vatican II and the conciliar popes must be read in light of the proceeding millennium and a half, as Benedict XVI affirmed.

  3. Maria gianna says:

    There can be only ONE reason an atheistic communist like Putin would have to push Christianity, and baby making, and the panicky way they are all trying to suppress the liberal sexual licentiousness that the communist party has been pushing all these years and that would be islam. All these children of the broken communist state are in free fall…the godlike state is gone, and they are looking for a replacement…they have no roots in the Christian Mother Russia, no moral underpinning…nothing…and they are looking for something, anything, because they really are lost. And you have muslim imans rushing in, proclaiming they have the truth, and they do have some truth, all false religions have some truth…and they are creating all these brand new radical muslims who are having babies by the bucketful, while the post Communist Russian woman is still have 3 or 4 abortions a year. The communist guard is finding to their horror, that radical muslims are a lot more hard to control then all those docile Christian martyrs they marched to the gulags….so rest assured, Putin’s motive for his sudden altruistic attitude toward Christianity is completely self serving, or state serving, but to Putin, they are one and the same. He is KGB all the way.

  4. Claire says:

    Simcha Fisher and Mark Shea are faithful Catholics who in no way, shape or form would ever sacrifice traditional Church teaching.

    • bede the venerable says:

      do you mean on something other than a daily basis?

      • The Jerk says:

        Hey Bede, say what you mean.

      • Claire says:

        I said never, and I meant never. Mark Shea and Simcha Fisher write for the NCR, which is a faithful Catholic organization owned by EWTN, another faithful Catholic organization. Simcha Fisher (who had very valid reasons for her opposition to Putin, none of which compromised Church teaching) uses NFP and has 9 children, despite limited financial resources. Her youngest child is named after Pope Benedict. Our country is saturated by cafeteria Catholics who challenge Church teaching. There is no need to accuse faithful Catholics of doing so.

    • RobW says:

      Shea tries to play the middle ground to attract a wider audience but his feeling towards traditional Catholics is obvious. He recently lumped “trads” who are concerned with Obama and the effects Harry Potter has on children with holocaust deniers…hes a disgrace the way he tries to divide Catholics.

  5. Philip says:

    I’m not ultimately interested in Putin. I had hoped to make that clear. This is only superficially about him. It reflects a deeper division among orthodox Catholics on the matter of Church and state, Church and society — the matter, that is, of Christian commonwealth and the universal kingship of Christ.

  6. The Jerk says:

    HA HA he took out the picture of the weeping Putin!

  7. The Jerk says:

    Bring back Weeping Putin!

  8. Jim Russell says:

    Hi, Philip–you wrote: “And what do our answers to these questions say about our understanding of the Catholic church? Enough of the easy contempt and juvenile sarcasm for Putin. We cannot judge him without judging ourselves—for better or for worse.”
    Part of what troubles me about this particular episode among Catholics is really not about Putin himself at all–it’s about the continued blogospheric requirement to be willing to label other people as the enemy or as evil or as stupid etc., and the moment someone does *not* join in such an objectifying assessment (what you’ve referred to as “easy contempt” for a fellow human being) then *you*, too, get “othered” because you’re not hurling epithets at the right sort of people (which appears to be happening now to you, Philip).
    I wish more Catholics would come to the understanding that we *don’t* have to trash other people to express our views or make our points. We just don’t. Furthermore, we *shouldn’t*, because reducing people in this way is not really of Christ.
    At which point the objection gets raised that *Jesus* yelled at people and called them names, so *I* get to do that too.
    Really? Do people understand that *we* have something that Jesus did *not* have–concupiscence? Do people understand that Jesus perfectly controlled his passions–even anger–and did not and could not sin?
    Do people understand that the *rest* of us are not so lucky in this regard? Would anyone find it convincing to hear from a fellow Catholic hurling epithets that “It’s okay for me to insult you and call you evil–I can be angry and not sin, just like Jesus did!”??
    While I hold out the possibility for someone remarkably virtuous to call me names and not sin, I’m pretty sure that I think most people who have called me names have not been concupiscence-free.
    So, my appeal to fellow Catholics is to avoid targeting *persons* and objectifying them (even our “enemies”, whom Christ called us to love). Let’s make our points without stooping to this and without appealing to the example of Christ in our objectification of others…
    Hope this makes some sense to other commenters….

    • Mary Kochan says:

      I wish this advice had been read and followed by all who commented here and that the author had given more thought to whether his remarks may have been interpreted as a personal attack. His conciliatory comment below should have been made part of the body of the article.

    • cfish says:

      hmm… to the point is it ‘loving’ to be angry or call people names?

      Human communication is a intricate and interesting thing. Personally if someone is truly angry at me I’d rather they call me names then not. If they remain civil and smile through their teeth at me ( as the hypocrites of Jeus’s day were prone to do, they have told a lie with their body language and or words). If you treat someone you think of as enemy in a friendly way, are you not be duplicitous. So it seems there is a distinction between being truly civil in ones discourse and merely not calling people names.

      If people are honestly civil minded and do not view me as an enemy, so much to the better. However, I’d rather not be lied too.

      It should not be forgotten that it is a good and loving thing, an act of charity ( aka love) to ‘chastise the sinner’. One would hope if the motivation for doing so is love, that the effectiveness of the act would be of great and prayerful consideration before it is undertaken.

      I guess part of what I find myself reflecting on is the passion and fire of the saints when confronted with such situations. St. Nichols ( Santa Claus) was nearly defrocked for punching the heretic Arius in the face. The strong words the Origin and Augustine had for him and those who taught what he taught were certainly no kinder.

      I think the dividing line comes in part also in what it is someone is trying to address. One might act and speak quite differently depending on weather your objective is to try and bring conversion to an individual, or merely to protect others from the errors that same individual is preaching. ( Jesus was almost primarily doing the latter in scripture as he was speaking to a large crowd).

      I think the balance should be thus , be honest, don’t lie about what you feel, if a man is committing a sin, don’t fail to speak out against the sin, but always remember them man is still a person.

      In calling someone names unjustly there is a sin of commission, but in failing to call someone out on public sin , when that persons sins are hurting others and leading others astray , there is a sin of omission. It seems to me that is often the more practiced sin in our current society. It is not the people fail to be honestly civil, but rather are dishonestly civil as the tacitly accept sins like public catholic figures who promote abortion as morally positive.

      • Jim Russell says:

        Well, if the tradition is that St. Nick was nearly defrocked for decking the heretic Arius, I’d propose that my thesis is accurate–for if it were not an occasion of sin for him, why would he face discipline for it?
        I remain confident that neither decking someone nor calling them evil or stupid, etc., can qualify as a spiritual work of mercy–it’s neither “instructing the ignorant” nor “admonishing the sinner” (and I think “admonish” gets to the heart of it more than “chastise”).
        I also don’t think anyone can argue against the notion that name-calling and othering is *always*, for us mere mortals (saints and the rest of us), a “near occasion of sin.” Sarcasm, denigration, and vitriol are all too often the common coin of the blogosphere, but it doesn’t have to be that way…

        • cfish says:

          I think you main point is interesting, and I’ve never been someone impressed by name calling ect. ( nor is it something I engage it) Still , which is better, to be honest and express anger , or to be civil? Many people lack the nessary verbal accuity to express themselves without name calling, and worse yet many listeners do not understand the feeling that is being conveyed if that tacktic isn’t being used.

          Jesus, certainly did call people names, but as I pointed out, there is only one occasion( and that one usually a bit overblown) when his purpose for doing so was not directed at the individuals , but at warning ‘the crowd’ away from the individual.
          So it think part of the point is who your audiance is.
          Let’s try a practicle example.
          Suppose you were responding to a blog post by a young neo nazi , he has explained why eugenics and the resurection of the master race is a nessary good, that is best accomplished through the use of test tube babies and forced breeding including sex slavery and rape.
          could you give me a 1 or 2 paragraph response that opposes the thesis with sufficent emphisis as to dissuade both the writer AND the audiance , without ,
          ‘name calling’,’nagative lables’, ‘sarcasim’, being ‘snarky’ OR sounding inordiantly ‘heady’ and overeducated, which is much the same as disspassonate for most readers?
          The average newspaper is at an 8th grade reading level for a reason, the average blog post probably is less so , but with level of variance.
          My point is , that i think there is room for all kinds of writing styles, the emphisis should be more on effective communication. who is the audiance , what is the topic and what is the intent of the author.
          Name calling insn’t , nessarily , a sin, and I try not to judge other people intent.

        • Jane says:

          I am so glad to hear someone say “it doesn’t have to be that way”! I am a fairly new Christian whom God in His mercy led to the Catholic church (proving that He alone is the source of all humor). Whenever I read the comments section in a Catholic publication, I am shocked at the “sarcasm, denigration, and vitriol”. All I hear is ego, ego, ego. I am fairly certain that this means that I have a big ego problem. I know I have a long way to go before I even begin to understand what it means to be “meek & mild & humble of heart”. Thank you for defending the notion of peace & gentleness & please say a prayer for me.

  9. Richard W Comerford says:

    Mr. Primeau:

    I enjoyed your article. Indeed I have so far enjoyed everything I have read of yours so far. But is it worth your time and talent to skirmish with other named Catholic writers?

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  10. The Jerk says:

    BRING BACK WEEPING PUTIN!

  11. Allan Daniel says:

    Mrs. Fisher and Mark Shea grant a misguided value to democracy that it does not warrant. Democratic forms of government are no better than other forms of government, and can be much worst. A case can be made that the U.S. is at this moment is one of the most evil of countries on the planet, exporting evil to far lands that had remained relatively innocent before the U.S. give them aid with stipulations to join the evil bandwagon. Everywhere the U.S. walks it leaves a path of death, both moral and physical. Why no Fisher/Shea hissy fit over the great evil Obama has introduced to America?

    Because they live in an America that is a fantasy. Perhaps it was always a fantasy–albeit a heck of a lot better than it is now. Grandma Moses, Norman Rockwell, Robert Frost and “It’s a Wonderful Life” were once a part of the American fabric, but no more. Has not been for a long time. They have been transformed by the principles of democracy into a perverted killing machine.

    As we stand on the Democratic Republic hilltop observing the ongoing destruction, let us pray that our leaders have the moral compass of Putin who at least understands that evil is evil. We are guided by the moral compass of Obama–hide the children!

    • Philip says:

      Allan,

      You’ve made many incisive and helpful points. Thank you. I will continue to write on this subject, so keep an eye out. The Church must once again take seriously the wisdom of the pre-conciliar magisterium. This is not to reject Vatican II, but simply to view it in light of tradition, as is the Catholic wont. Sadly, in the past half-century or so, many in the Church have become dangerously enamored with novelties.

      Regarding the evils of liberalism, I suggest the work of the Spanish priest Felix Sarda Y Salvany, “Liberalism is a Sin” (1886): http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/libsin.htm

      This is a powerful quote:

      “Amongst Catholic Liberals, many go to Mass, even make novenas, and yet when they come into contact with the world, they lead the lives of practical Liberals. They make it a rule “to live up to the times” as they call it. The Church they believe to be somewhat out-of-date, an old fogy, that she is held back by a certain set of reactionaries, ultramontanes; but they have hopes that she will in the course of time catch up with the modern spirit of progress, of which they are the van. The barnacles of medievalism still encumber the Barque of Peter, but time, they believe, will remedy this. The straw of medieval philosophy and theology they hope before long to thrash out by the introduction
      of the modern spirit into her schools.

      Then will a new theology be developed, more in conformity with the needs of the times, more in harmony with the modern spirit, which makes such large demands upon our “intellectual liberty” So they believe (or imagine they believe) that all is well. Is their responsibility before God therefore lessened? Assuredly not. They sin directly in the light of faith. They are less excusable than those Liberals who have never been within the pale of the Church. In short they sin with their eyes open.”

      The book was attacked by modernists and liberals within the Church, but defended by the Sacred Congregation of the Index. Well worth the read.

    • Mary Kochan says:

      I am rather familiar with the writings of Mark Shea and wow, is this ever a mis-characterization! He has often excoriated both Obamaisms and the Obamaists. And to your point about a “killing machine”, Mark has been on that point since way before Obama.

      • RobW says:

        I am rather familiar with Shea’s writings too, he tries to play the middle ground to attract a wider audience but his feeling towards traditional Catholics is obvious. He recently lumped “trads” who are concerned with Obama and the effects Harry Potter has on children with holocaust deniers…hes a disgrace the way he tries to divide Catholics.

        • CS says:

          It doesn’t help that he has been introduced to numerous examples of Holocaust deniers who also happen to be “trads”.

          • RobW says:

            Yea….that still doesnt explain him lumping them together with those who are concerned with Obama does it? Focus.

          • RobW says:

            …and I doubt HIGHLY there were numerous trads who he was introduced to that deny the holocaust. Ive been Catholic for 47 years…never met one.

          • CS says:

            Believe me, I never knew there were so many until I started reading people on the internet. That’s also how I discovered that there were so many people who think democracy is crap equivalent to heresy and that attaining a Catholic theocracy is a reasonable and noble goal. Oh, and Putin is a superhero because he hates gay people.

          • CS says:

            Which is not to say that there isn’t a truly fascinating discussion to be had about the continuity with the past in terms of Church and state. But truly the number of uneducated people who just glom onto Putin because he talks pretty to them…..scary

          • RobW says:

            “Oh, and Putin is a superhero because he hates gay people.”….no he’s not. I think you and Shea should address the really important groups that are ruining the world….like catholic vampires (Vlad Trads) who get abducted by aliens and hate Harry Potter. Ive been introduced to numerous examples of these people…Shea really needs to spread the word before they ruin everything!!

          • RobW says:

            Ive still yet to meet a Catholic who thinks “democracy is crap”…anybody can say the are Catholic and make any goofy claim they want to hiding behind a keyboard…why even write about such people?

          • Allan Daniel says:

            Your message is not very well thought out, is it?

          • CS says:

            Not sure what you mean here….

          • RobW says:

            Its sarcasm bringing light to the fact that Shea likes to lump people into categories…like those who are concerned with Obama and dont like the effect of entertainment such as Harry Potter on small children, with people who “lionize” Putin and who are anti-semitic. Its intellectually dishonest and divisive…as if the world needs more division now.

      • Allan Daniel says:

        You are only as good as your last opinion piece and Shea’s last was misguided. You would admit that he tends to be a bit and strong-headed and unwilling to alter his position when it is suggested he is wrong?

        • Mary Kochan says:

          Really — that is how we are to assess years and years of work? By the last opinion piece? “By the measure you are measuring”, don’t forget.

          • Allan Daniel says:

            Mary, don’t be silly. Shea writes a column and sometimes he strikes out. If you read him regularly, you know he has had to apologize for his rather brash style.

            Please, save the cheap shot about “measure for measure”. He is a columnist and I am not. He publishes expecting his work to be scrutinized.

            A prim uppity manner is no substitute for thinking.

          • Mary Kochan says:

            He has apologized. Oh. I thought he was “unwilling to alter his position when it is suggested he is wrong”. But then, I’m not thinking…

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Ms. Kochan:

            I am a great admirer of Mr. Shea for his stalwart defense of innocent human life. However no one escapes the ravages of the Original Sin and Mr. Shea is not perfect. He can be dismissive of folks who disagree with him. Which is a shame because he would be a great bridge builder in our faction riven Church. I pray that Mr. Shea will soon take an interest in bridge architecture.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • Mary Kochan says:

            Richard, if you have been under the impression that I subscribe to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mark Shea, allow me to disabuse you of this idea. I have known and worked with Mark for years. I was script writer for nearly a year for his podcast on Catholic Exchange, where I also was the editor who posted his articles for a number of years. What amazes me here is the lack of middle ground. I either have to subscribe to the idea that his entire oeuvre is “only as good as [his] last opinion piece” or I am guilty of holding him aloft from the common Fall of our race. Sheesh.

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Ms. Kochan:

            Thank you for your reply. I am not under the impression that you subscribe to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mark Shea. However I am under the impression that our Church is (in human terms) crumbling due to factionalism. It is I think time for honest dialogue.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • Mary Kochan says:

            Agreed. :-)

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Ms. Kochan:

            Please give Mr Shea my best. And tell him that I will make that pilgrimage to Our Lady of LaSalette for his intentions.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • Tomas Tesla says:

            Yeah. Even more so since his Stadium was demolished.

          • Allan Daniel says:

            If you know the story, you know he was asked to cool it by the paper he writes for. I don’t dislike his work, and I certainly don’t dislike him. He has a tendency to be less than adroit with nuances. I wish I could offer you an instance, but can’t remember one clearly.

        • RobW says:

          Amen. Im sure Shea is a nice guy and all but he spends more time trying to be witty and funny than actually trying to convey a logical point. He likes to belittle people as well…not very christian.

    • CS says:

      Putin “understands that evil is evil”? Do you mean that when he has people poisoned with polonium he knows that he is doing evil?
      Or when he takes a mistress? Or are those manly endeavors understandable and not at issue when there is a leader who knows that existing as a same-sex attracted person and trying to speak about it is evil?

      But seriously….Is there some evidence you have that he “knows evil is evil”? Or is it just that you are happy to take the word of a political thug and murderer, that he cares about Christianity… because he says he does?

      • RobW says:

        I hope you get this worked up over our wonderful president who is fine with third trimester abortions and is purposely tanking the economy.

        • CS says:

          YES, RobW, YES I DO.

          Let me tell you something that will free you: You can decry both of them as immoral and dangerous. Hating evil in leaders is not a zero-sum game. It’s not a competition, either, not even when they aren’t friends! We are not in middle school anymore so you don’t have to just pick from the two groups of mean girls.

          You are free!

      • Allan Daniel says:

        CS, I am unable to judge a man’s soul. Nor can you. We can, however, judge a man by his public works when he acts as a public figure. I know for a fact, based on his works, that Putin is acting in a manner that is helpful to the religious identity of his country.

        Philip Primeau
        Philip Primeau

        • Mary Kochan says:

          Please explain why Philip Primeau’s name appears at the bottom of this comment.

          • Allan Daniel says:

            I don’t know. Why do you ask?

          • Mary Kochan says:

            How could you not know? You had to be the one who put it there. Explain why you did so.

          • Allan Daniel says:

            Mary is perhaps being a bit too judgmental? I said I don’t know why the name appears twice at the bottom of my message and I mean just that. I would guess it was in my cache and got repeated into my message by process I do not understand.

            Please, you don’t know me well enough to suggest that I am a liar.

          • Mary Kochan says:

            I don’t know you at all. That is why, when I see what could be taken as an attempt to sign your comment with the name of one of my writers, I make a direct inquiry about it. What “cache” are you referring to? Because I have searched every single one of your previous comments on this site, as well as months worth of previous comments on other sites and his name does not appear.

          • Allan Daniel says:

            Think about what you are asking, Mary. Would I really sign a message with anothers name TWICE when my name is clearly present on the message?

          • Mary Kochan says:

            Why would it even be there once? That is the question.

    • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

      Mr. Daniel, my late father was a devout Catholic. His family emigrated from Italy in the late 19th century. He served this nation honorably in WWII as a military police captain. Your remarks about this nation not only betray your ignorance of this nation’s history and founding values, but also insult him and millions of other Catholic Americans who would have given their lives to defend their fellow Americans.

      I hold no brief for Obama, Putin or their respective political ideologies. But I am so damn sick and tired of “holier than thou” Catholics like you, Mr. Daniel, who know nothing about this nation’s founding values and see nothing but evil in the United States. This nation provided a home for millions of persecuted Catholics from around the globe, a home where they could worship freely without being categorized as second-class citizens.

      If you don’t like it here, then why don’t you become a citizen of the Vatican?

      • Allan Daniel says:

        Joe, I place the one true God above my country. “One knee for my king, two for my God.” When I see my country doing grave evil, I do not support it.

        America today oppresses the Catholic Church. If you knew your history you would know that it has always done so (e.g., Know Nothing movement). It snoops on its citizens, it supports abortion and contraception and it exports these evils to other countries, it oppresses home schoolers, it performs unjust tax spying on lawful political and religious bodies not in favor with the present administration, it supports the killing of the sick, it begins immoral war, etc., etc.

        As a practical matter, it is unimportant what the Founding Fathers thought. It has been demonstrated by enacted laws that The Constitution and Bill of Rights can mean anything an evil person wants it to mean.

        Joe, If your measure of a country is whether you can afford Calvin Klein jeans for you daughter, you are living in the right place. If your aspirations are a bit more lofty, you have an obligation to help change this country and not mindlessly support that which is objectively evil.

        • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

          America today oppresses the Catholic Church. If you knew your history you would know that it has always done so (e.g., Know Nothing movement).

          I not only know about the Know Nothing movement, I also know that it came to naught because it violated the fundamental principles on which this country was based.

          As far as “oppression” is concerned, my late Catholic father could not find a job when he returned home from WWII. This was a man who graduated from NYU with a degree in electrical engineering in less than four years, was a military police officer and earned the Legion of Merit. He found nothing but “Christian only” or “Protestant only” in the want ads — and this was in New York, the nation’s most cosmopolitan city.

          Eventually, he got a job with North American Aviation (later Rockwell International) as an engineer and worked on various military projects, the Apollo program and the Space Shuttle.

          So much for “oppression.”

          Frankly, I’m tired of American Christians whining about oppression. I’m especially tired of Catholics whining about it. Nobody forces Catholics to have abortion or use contraceptives. Nobody forces the American bishops to be spineless weasels. Yes, the Obama Administration has done and supported despicable policies but elected officials can still be voted out in this country — unlike in the Catholic Church, where such malfeasant apostates as Roger Mahony, Bernard Law, Rembert Weakland and Donald Wuerl (for starters) cannot be touched.

          You want real oppression? Go live in Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, for starters. You’ll get more oppression in less than 17 seconds than American Catholics have received in more than 170 years.

          As a practical matter, it is unimportant what the Founding Fathers thought. It has been demonstrated by enacted laws that The Constitution and Bill of Rights can mean anything an evil person wants it to mean.

          Really? So you would have no touchstone on which to base a political revival that would fight the self-proclaimed progressives?

          You could apply your criticism to the Catholic Church, as well, especially on the fundamental issue of capital punishment: http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=1463

          and not mindlessly support that which is objectively evil.

          I don’t. That’s why I left the Catholic Church, which long ago sold its spiritual birthright for the stale porridge of power, wealth, political influence, secular prestige, monarchist trappings and institutional arrogance. It is an abomination before a holy, righteous God and its leaders will be judged far more severely than you could ever realize.

          • Allan Daniel says:

            “I don’t. That’s why I left the Catholic Church…”

            This explains a lot. Your arguments are all over the place and it is difficult to know exactly what you believe. You appear to be not so much for anything but against everything.

            Your misunderstanding of the Catholic Church is based on personal emotions, not object standards. I too had a father who fought in WWII. He was promised his old job when he was released, but the promise was not kept. He don’t spend the rest of his life in bitterness, and he didn’t blame the Catholic Church.

          • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

            I don’t blame the Catholic Church for my father’s troubles, and neither did he. You misunderstand the point and you assume far, far too much. The point is that, despite your assertion, this nation has been very good to Catholics despite the troubles many of them faced.

            My “misunderstanding” of the Catholic Church isn’t based on “personal emotions.” It’s based upon the hierarchy’s refusal to confront the hypocrisy w/in and its tendency to reinterpret divine revelation to serve personal papal agendas. The best example of the latter is Pope John Paul II’s arbitrary, revisionist stance on capital punishment, an abolitionist approach that contradicts centuries of teaching from both Scripture and Tradition:

            http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=1463

            You cannot argue that this was a “prudential judgment” because both of his successors follow the same path. You cannot argue from the catechism because those pope’s actions contradict the CCC, which does not endorse abolition..

            Most importantly, the revisionism changes the fundamental criterion for capital punishment for murder (which is the only serious discussion). Genesis 9:5-6 place the divine image in humanity as the fundamental criterion. Catholic revisionism places the State’s ability to incarcerate capital offenders as the basic criterion. That’s an important leap nobody talks about — and it directly contradicts divine revelation!

            So does Nostra Aetate’s section concerning Muslims. As a result, the hierarchy refuses to recognize Islam for what it is (religious Nazism), refuses to condemn the Palestinian Authority as a “culture of death” for teaching children the “glories” of “martyrdom” and remains silent on the persecution of Christians worldwide — except for some sanctimonious rhetoric.

            The failure or refusal to hold such “successors of the apostles” as Mahony, Law, Wuerl, Weakland and Dolan accountable is self-evident. So is the refusal to do so with the president of the German bishops’ conference, who said on German television that Christ died on the cross “in solidarity with mankind,” not as the ultimate atoning sacrifice for human sin.

            Had my father never been born, the Catholic Church would still do these things. Go do an Internet search on the papal pornocracy between the eighth and eleventh centuries, and you’ll see how long and how pervasive the hierarchy’s abuse of power has been.

            Read Ezekiel 34 and 1 Samuel 2:12-36. Of course, they don’t reference Catholicism but do you seriously think human nature has substantially changed over the centuries?

          • Allan Daniel says:

            Perhaps you are confusing the actions of sinful or misguided people within the church for the church. Christ established the Catholic Church, there is no compelling proof that he established any other church. From Judas on it has been a church filled with sinners. The fact that very many souls do not live up to their calling does not invalidate the church.

            I hope you well explore the spiritual side of the church through the writings of the saints and mystics. There is a battle going on within the church and it is for all a trying time. Our lady of Fatima and St. Faustina say we are in the end times. The Bible says that this will be a time of great confusion and apostasy. I look around and see a church I did not grow up in. At times it appears that all is lost, that noting can salvage the wreck. But Christ will. He has asked for our help. The suffering we experience from the church has merit when we accept it in union with the suffering of Christ.

            I too am dismayed by some of the things John Paul II did. I keep my balance by judging everything since Vatican II by authoritative documents from before Vatican II. Three popes have stated that nothing infallible came out of Vat II.

            In relation to the death penalty, the CCC still states that the state has the right to execute criminals, although you would be hard pressed to hear it from your local bishop. The best statement I’ve read about the good capital punishment does can be found here:

            http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/can-the-church-ban-capital-punishment

            The author, before he moved to Virginia, attended the same church as I and I highly recommend him. Do a search some of his stuff.

          • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

            Allan, sinful people exist in all walks of life. So what? The question is how and when are they held accountable? If any church’s leadership — let alone one that claims to be founded by Christ directly — refuses to hold its own accountable, then that institution deserves no respect, let alone allegiance.

            Moreover, that institution takes God’s name in vain by refusing to hold itself to His obvious standards.

            I find the idea that Jesus founded specifically the Catholic Church to be patently self-serving. That idea has resulted in an attitude of entitlement from many (if not most) Catholics. They effectively excuse the pervasive corruption with the “Judas” argument while refusing to confront it. Somehow, I don’t think God is amused. They also turn Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians into second-class citizens. If the blood of Christ is good enough to redeem Catholics and turn them into adopted sons and daughters of the Most High, it’s certainly good enough to do the same for Protestants and Eastern Orthodox.

            If Jesus lived today as He did during the first century, He would do far more than fashion a whip and drive out the moneychangers if He happened upon St. Peter’s or most any Catholic chancery. St. Peter, himself, likely would be far more violent.

            Of course, I don’t exclude Protestants or Eastern Orthodox from that criticism but that’s another issue.

            Capital punishment is a deal-breaker for me for several reasons. First and foremost is the arbitrary revisionism current teaching represents. Second is the confusing conflict among Church authorities. Third, and most personal, is the fact that if I sent my child to a Catholic school (I’m not married and have no children), my child is taught this nonsense and I tell him the bishops don’t know what they’re talking about (which they don’t), then how can I raise that child to be a good Christian, let alone a good Catholic? How can I credibly keep that child in the Catholic Church, let alone that school?

            Besides, it’s one thing to say that the state may execute murders. It’s quite another to say that God demands their execution though fairly administered due process. They’re not the same, no matter how much anyone tries to spin otherwise.

            When a Magisterium (let alone a Pope) behaves as if it were the Ministry of Truth from Orwell’s 1984, then it’s time to reconsider Catholic allegiance.

            Nothing anyone can say or do can convince me otherwise. My salvation is not tied to membership in any church. My salvation is tied to embracing Christ’s atoning sacrifice as my own redemption.

            Remember the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Jerusalem Temple when Christ died. The open pathway such an act implies argues against the exclusivity Catholicism claims over and above other Christians.

          • Allan Daniel says:

            Joe, if you won’t believe, you won’t believe. You exude bitterness. Your anti-Catholicism is not rational, but rather a bunch of personal opinions buttressed with as many Internet references you can find, no matter how ill-fitting.

          • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

            My anti-Catholicism is not rational? Because I find that the Magisterium will contradict itself when its suits its purposes and the purposes of a particular Pope? Because it will not hold Catholic leadership accountable for what it believes (such as the president of the German bishop’s conference who downplayed — if not denied outright — the doctrine of propitiation) and how it acts (such as Cdl. Wuerl and Canon 915 in D.C., for starters)? How is that conclusion not rational?

            What I find irrational, Allan, is blind loyalty to a religious institution that, time and again, sells out its own stated standards for temporal reasons. You said you were dismayed at some of Pope John Paul II’s actions and you cite prophesies from Our Lady of Fatima and St. Faustina about mass apostasy. Why can’t you see that much of the hierarchy not only is a part of that apostasy but actively encourages it?

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Mr. Joseph D’Hippolito:

            I am a little confused. Are you a member of the Roman Catholic Church? Are you not part of a “Catholic Answers” type website – where you field and answer questions regarding Roman Catholicism? Are you not a famous Catholic apologist? Or am I confusing you with someone else? Thank you.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • cfish says:

            As for capital punishment you should have a talk with Mary Kochan about it. The fact is that while the proposition ‘capital punshiment is morally wrong in modern countries’ is popular in certain parts of the church and was promoted as a development in catholic doctrine by JPII. Pope Benedict made it clear that it was certainly permissible for catholics to be on both sides of that debate, as the church has not definatively spoken the last words on that topic even today. There has been no change in catholic teaching on the issue, there has been some development , but even that is withing specific conditions and bounds.

      • Allan Daniel says:

        Joe, I am unable to find your message with the line stating that church leaders are the problem–in relation to Catholic prophecy. But that is the prophecy! It is found in Holy Scriptures, Fatima, La Salette, Akita and more. The Shepherds will lead the sheep astray.

    • la Catholic state says:

      All democratic nations seem to be on the brink of self-annihilation…..due to governments giving into the evil excesses and self-destructive demands of humans ie abortion, divorce, contraception etc

  12. pete salveinini says:

    Russia by geography, time zones, many ethnic groups and languages and history IS NOT FIT FOR DEMOCRACY. It is by nature a natural place for empire. It needs an authoritarian ruler, a quasi emperor, and its people is rather passive towards the central government until it becomes unbearable and then they protest, AND THEY ARE A LONGSUFFERING PEOPLE,. Putin fits his role rather well over all. He is motivated by having the Russian Republic rise to its rights and potential. He is NOT anti USA, as in the Soviet period, he is simply for pro-Russian interests, and in a very difficult neighborhood. AND HE IS MUCH MORE AWARE AND ACCURATE ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST THAN CURRENT AMERICAN POLICY.HE KNOWS THE REAL THREATS TO HIS SOUTH, AND OF COURSE HE’S TOUGH. He has returned to a reverent respect for the Russian Church. I remember what he said to St-to-be John Paul II about inviting him to Russia: I would like to invite you, but I have to square it with my Bishop. China is more the worry than Russia. China has ambitions to take over eastern Siberia where for some time now has more ethnic Chinese than Russian citizens. The two nations have a non-aggression pact; I wouldn’t be surprised if China invades Russia one day and keeps on going West!

    • Tomas Tesla says:

      Interestingly enough both countries are experiencing a population implosion that will eventually make military adventures less feasible as years go by. In fact Russia has already an imploding population. Unless they find immigrants willing to have many babies right away White Russia is doomed. The Chinese will take another 25 to 30 years to get there but in some regions they are already experiencing population problems. China does not have time to develop a viable global navy. Russia has a declining aging navy. There is no way for them to exert much pressure internationally. For the looks of it the US with his current naval power will be there for a while if the geniuses in DC don’t succeed in taking it down and turning the US into a caliphate.

      • pete salveinini says:

        China has like 45 million extra young males due to its one-child policy who can’t find wives. Historically that bodes ill with war the usual consequence. China and Russia have a non-aggression pact. Historically that means one side will likely attack the other, as Hitler did to Russia. A land invasion of Russia is a real possibility, of course, not tomorrow. But if there is a world-wide depression with the collapse of US currency, that easily could lead to a war, with the chaos that will ensue.

        • Tomas Tesla says:

          I agree that a land invasion of Russia is the most likely scenario if there is a war. That will most likely get India involved also. Kipling’s old “Big Game”. If there is a WW3 it may very well be played in the central Asian steppes.

  13. Cassandra says:

    Why, Philip, do you waste ink (ok, bytes) on the likes of Shea and Fisher. You just encourage them.

    • Philip says:

      Cassandra,

      I appreciate the support. However, I believe that Mark and Simcha are both decent, well-meaning Catholics, even if we disagree (perhaps strongly) on certain points. I’d like to “dialogue” with them (to use the Vatican’s beloved post-conciliar buzzword).

      And not just with them. This is a conversation the that needs to occur all throughout the church. We must seriously reconsider our commitment to political liberalism and work towards a comprehensive synthesis of pre- and post-conciliar teachings.

      Thank you for your comments.

      • Richard W Comerford says:

        Mr. Primeau:

        “work towards a comprehensive synthesis of pre- and post-conciliar teachings”

        Has the Church’s teachings regarding faith and morals changed since the Second Vatican Council?

        God bless

        Richard W Comerford

        • Philip says:

          That’s a very complicated question, Richard, and it constitutes the heart of this matter. “Post-conciliar” is a bit of a misnomer, actually. I’m referring to the teachings of Vatican II and the popes who reigned immediately before and after. It does appear that certain statements issuing from the council and the “conciliar popes” contradict earlier ecumenical and papal statements. There is a tension between the church of “today” and the church of “yesterday.” But I believe that this tension can be resolved. What I do not believe is that the resolution lies in jettisoning the past and acting as though Vatican II constituted a sort of “Year Zero,” in the memorable words of Benedict XVI. We have to go back and examine the writings of earlier popes, and the declarations of councils and synods, and work towards a comprehensive synthesis. Thus far, my writings have been very “big picture.” In the future, I’d like to start considering this “comprehensive synthesis” in concrete terms.

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Mr. Primeau:

            Great answer.

            When I was a boy (back in the Dark Ages) Sister Mary Franceta told us that the “deposit of faith” ended with the death of the last apostle which tradition held was St. John woh died Claire 100 AD. This holy woman also told us it was the duty of the Pope, indeed his primary duty to guard, preserve and pass on the “deposit of faith”.

            If there is confusion as to what constitutes the “deposit of faith” then these are perilous times indeed.

            Is there in fact confusion regarding the “deposit of faith”?

            Thank you.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

        • Philip says:

          Richard,

          I wrote more about the Church and liberty (especially religious liberty) here: http://catholiclane.com/shameless-lovers-of-liberty-against-religious-freedom/

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Mr. Primeau:

            I read your article. It moved me. But I was not sure if the deposit of faith had in fact changed. Did I miss something?

            Thank you

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

  14. daisy says:

    This is why Americans are hated. We tell other countries how to live and it never works. Both Simcha and Shea can talk, talk, but they may be willing to sacrifice my children to change Russia but I doubt that they’d give up theirs.

  15. gsk says:

    Perhaps we can all move past the “spittle-flecked nuttiness” now and look at the deeper question.

    There can be no doubt, given what passes for constitutional scholarship today that there has been something in our core that is amiss. Modern liberals would consider the Founding Fathers themselves a form of “Constantines” for their reference to Judeo-Christian values, and yet the utter rejection of natural law principles by contemporaries attached to the Enlightenment show that there may have been more of Rousseau than we imagined in the foundation after all.

    How can we argue that Christianity has any pride of place today, given the climate? And where did this climate come from but from the freedom to reject natural law–or even the duty to reject it in all secular academic settings. Something is terribly wrong, and unless we address that, we cannot right our course.

  16. Mary Kochan says:

    Philip, et al, I recommend this http://www.evangelizationstation.com/htm_html/Catholic%20Perspectives/did_vatican_ii_reverse_the_churc.htm . More than recommend actually. I would like to state that this harmonizes better with the editorial position of Catholic Lane regarding this topic.

    • Philip says:

      Mary,

      There’s much I agree with in that article. However, it really proves my point concerning the tension between the pre- and post-conciliar magisterium, as it is itself an attempt at resolution. The papacy of Benedict XVI was devoted in large part to establishing a hermeneutic capable of building the valuable insights of Vatican II into the larger framework of Catholic tradition.

      • Mary Kochan says:

        “attempt at resolution”? That language is very problematic. It is no mere “attempt”; it is a solid refutation of the position it refutes, which is yours. The “tension” evaporates in the light of proper understanding.

        Let’s follow the “logic” here:

        1. someone asserts there is tension between the pre-consilor position and V.II.

        2. someone else comes along and demonstrates the continuity

        3. then he who made the original claim of tension says, “Ah ha, the fact that you are demonstrating the continuity is actually a demonstration of the tension to which I was referring.”

        Uh, no…

        • Philip says:

          Mary,

          As I said, there is much I agree with. But it is far from conclusive. That lone essay is not the final word on this complicated matter. The church is still developing a proper hermeneutic. We’ve watched its growth under the “conciliar” papacies, which have generally adopted a broad vision of the council, and we will continue to watch its growth in forthcoming papacies, some of which may ultimately adopt a narrower, more temperate vision of the same.

          That tensions remain is undeniable. Pope Benedict XVI remarked, “Those who expected that with this fundamental “yes” [expressed by the Church at Vatican II] to the modern era
          all tensions would be dispelled and that the “openness towards the
          world” accordingly achieved would transform everything into pure
          harmony, had underestimated the inner tensions as well as the
          contradictions inherent in the modern epoch.”

          Pope John XXIII explained that “the substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another.” On this note, Benedict pondered thusly: “It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at
          different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this
          process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more
          practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent
          matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free
          interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent
          themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is
          changeable in itself.”

          If the Church’s precise relationship with liberal modernity is partially contingent, and if a relationship characterized by openness has proved unprofitable and come at the high cost of destabilizing the pre-conciliar magisterium, then why not adjust our hermeneutic so as to achieve a new synthesis of pre- and post-conciliar teaching, that is, a new “combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels,” one which favors tradition to novelty?

          Anyway, I’ve expended much ink and energy on this in the last two days. I need some rest! ;-) I will take up this subject again in more detail — and with more care — at some point in the future.

          • Mary Kochan says:

            The tensions to which Benedict refers are not the same ones you are are trying to assert. Either we believe the Holy Spirit leads the Church and the promise of Christ sustains her in the truth or we do not. I am gratified on the “more care” part of your comment.

          • Scott Woltze says:

            If you’ve read the texts of the 16 ecumenical councils then you will notice that there are plenty of objectionable passages. I remember reading Otts’s “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” and having an “Uh oh” moment when I realized that the current magisterium departs from past magisteriums on some issues. And the problem is not Ott, he is merely copying, collating, and indexing past councils and other documents (though one can disagree with the relative burden of belief he assigns to various dogmas).

            Also, if you’re unhappy with the content or acumen of one of your writers, please discuss it offline. By all means issue an official correction, but it’s painful to see you publicly upbraid Mr. Primeau in a combox.

          • Mary Kochan says:

            I have read them.

            You are in pain? Well, feelings follow thoughts, dear and if you are so sensitive as to think that my measured response constitutes an upbraiding, well then you might be too delicate for this medium.

          • Scott Woltze says:

            So you don’t see tensions, difficulties even contradictions across council and papal documents in the last 2000 years? By chance are you in need of a bridge? I happen to have one I’m looking to sell…

            As far as my “pain”, it’s called “compassion”–you know, “suffering with”.

            As far as my “delicacy”, I did a stretch in a maximum security prison! LOL

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Mr. Woltze:

            God bless you for bouncing back. It says a lot about you.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • Mary Kochan says:

            I second that! For sure.

          • Scott Woltze says:

            Thank you Richard, it’s great to be home. Life outside of Christ’s friendship is terribly lonely and full of anxiety, and that’s true even for people who seem like a success. Christ makes all the difference now and in the world to come.

          • Richard W Comerford says:

            Mr. Woltze:

            I owe Mr. Shea a pilgrimage to Our Lady of LaSalette. You will be sure that I will remember your intentions on said pilgrimage.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • Mary Kochan says:

            Ah, there you go. You are unwittingly unmasking the troublesome term “tensions” by conflating it with “contradictions”. My point. Now “tensions” is perfectly good word to use for certain theological antimonies, like free will and predestination. So I don’t have anything per se against it.” But “tensions” has become a sort of code word for people who don’t want to go quite as far as actually coming right out and saying that V.II is in contradiction with the received faith and go on to embrace all that logically follows from that assertion.

            Six of one; half dozen of the other. Whether as a bold assertion or a weasely implication, it won’t stand on this site.

            Not to belabor the point but: either we believe the Holy Spirit leads the Church and the promise of Christ sustains her in the truth or we do not. The hour is late people; make up your minds.

          • Jim Russell says:

            I’d certainly second what Mary is saying here–having already mentioned “concupiscence” in this thread, I’ll refer to it again, as it is also the wonderful wound that darkens our intellects. It often allows us to *think* we’ve actually got our facts more clear than we really do, particularly if we think we’re doing better with the facts than is the Holy Spirit-guided *living* Magisterium of the Church…

          • Scott Woltze says:

            My point is that Catholic history is very messy, and that includes its intellectual history (what texts actually say and how they were understood at the time). I think we should be honest about it because intelligent atheists, protestants and the orthodox are (leaving aside silly things like the Black Legends), and so are our teenagers and young people. I don’t know what kind of hermeneutic can square these problems and so I don’t let it bother me. I think it’s simply one more instance where God asks for faith. Finally, rest assured, in no way do I dissent from Church teaching, and I enjoy both forms of the Roman Rite.

          • Mary Kochan says:

            Faith seeks understanding, Scott.

            Without making this about you and allowing me to address more broadly this entire discussion, I wish to say that I am very troubled by the assertion that there are “contradictions.” Here are just two reasons why:

            1. Once we make that declaration, the inclination is to stop seeking understanding and blame the Church (and, by implication, the Holy Spirit).

            2. This constant public drumbeat from certain quarters does not go unnoticed by people who may be harboring a desire to investigate the claims of the Church. And the very assertion that there are contradictions is — as the shocking title Philip chose for his piece demonstrates — a slap against those very claims of the Church.

            So what would be a truly faithful response to (apparent) contradiction? It would be to acknowledge that the problem lies with my own understanding, and then to humbly seek understanding without resorting to assertions that place my own judgment over that of the Church and that, made public, can cause others to stumble.

          • Scott Woltze says:

            Hi Mary,

            I’m sorry to have caused trouble. I was trained as a secular philosopher, and so I am in the habit of probing and asking tough questions instead of refraining out of humility and piety (as advised in the “The Imitation of Christ”). Even secular philosophers acknowledge that Socrates was a trouble-maker.

            I’m not certain that there are insurmountable contradictions, and I meant my tone in the above comment to indicate a ‘maybe’ rather than an ‘affirmation’. I certainly hope I’m not a stumbling block to others, and I know from my own journey that the Catholic Church is the one, true faith and that Christ will always guide and protect it until the end of time. I will now drop the Socrates act and go pray.

      • Mary Kochan says:

        “attempt at resolution”? That language is very problematic. It is no mere “attempt”; it is a solid refutation of the position it refutes, which is yours. The “tension” evaporates in the light of proper understanding.

        Let’s follow the “logic” here:

        1. someone asserts there is tension between the pre-consilor position and V.II.

        2. someone else comes along and demonstrates the continuity

        3. then he who made the original claim of tension says, “Ah ha, the fact that you are demonstrating the continuity is actually a demonstration of the tension to which I was referring.”

        Uh, no…

    • cfish says:

      I understand what the article is saying but I’m still left in an place of uneasy non-understanding. For instance, should we advocate for laws that prevent people from teaching heresy? Or should we allow people to freely seek the truth while exposing and leading others into soul crushing error? Should we prevent the promotion of false gods, and satanic rituals? Or should we allow any religion to build churches and structures as they see fit and are able to finance? Which is it? When Catholics denied the protestants the right to hold office and vote, where they commuting an offense against human dignity? If a catholic king who is under attack from a Muslim nation , destroys all mosks and prevents the preaching of Islam, did he commit a sin? Or did he do his people a favor by preventing the spread of poisonous and deadly error?

      Is it a good or an evil that we ‘suffer a which to live’ ?

      If it is within our power to make it so should bishops have the right to veto an propose laws or not?

      I have difficulty understanding how to apply both the tradition as followed and taught for 2000 years and the phrases in the document , in a way that i feel I am adequately applying both.

  17. cfish says:

    Mr. Primeau your article raises a question that has occurred to me off and on through out the years. Not having had the time to do the reams of historical research I would enjoy doing though. I have to say it appears there is significant reason to say the current teaching of the church, as it is understood by the Magisterial supports freedom of religion, and to a lesser extent freedom of speech because of it. I would love to hear your further opinions on this issue in light of how one can harmonize the various things you have in the comments below from the popes ect.
    With the dogmatic constitution DIGNITATIS HUMANAE
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/v2relfre.htm
    I have been trying to fit this particular document into a continues framework that all catholic theology deservers for some time, without a great deal of luck. As it seems that in many ways, this particular document, more than any other I’m aware of can be interpreted as breaking from past traditions in the teachings of the church.

    The first part of the document contains this.
    ” This demand for freedom in human society chiefly regards the quest for the values proper to the human spirit. It regards, in the first place, the free exercise of religion in society. This Vatican Council takes careful note of these desires in the minds of men. It proposes to declare them to be greatly in accord with truth and justice. To this end, it searches into the sacred tradition and doctrine of the Church-the treasury out of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with the things that are old.”

    The process of understanding how what the rest of the document contains is in harmony with the old , i think is the goal that you have hinted at, and that I would like to advance towards as well.

  18. RobW says:

    This is the first article Ive read by Philip but was informed about “his rejection of Mary as co-Redemptrix, Fatima, the scapular of St. Simon of Stock (which he calls ‘superstitious’ and ‘heretical'”…k wont be reading anymore Phil. Wake up.

  19. la Catholic state says:

    I completely agree. The Church is trying too hard to be accepted by the liberal ‘Enlightened’ world that it is putting Christians and Christianity at risk.

    Recently the President of Zambia decided on the mild course of calling his country a Christian nation, in Zambia’s new constitution. But up pops the Catholic Bishops and castigate this good Christian’s intentions….berating him for such a plan.

  20. Marjorie Louise Jeffrey says:

    Wow, I’m so glad I came across this piece. It’s nice to see a thoughtful Catholic approach the Putin question (or ANY question) with old-fashioned prudential reasoning, rather than the typical kneejerk liberal/neo-conservative/Enlightenment lens. Thanks, Philip – I’ll be following your work with interest!

  21. Anarcho-Papist says:

    Mark Shea favors free speech and Enlightenment values? Since when? Try posting something on his website questioning the orthodox World War II account. See what happens.

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