Monday, November 13, 2017

Praying for the Happy Repose of the Souls of the Faithful Departed

"The Friends You Can Always Count On" Bud Light Banality

I take this as a satire on mass-production, bland conformity, ordinariness, banality. The hero here is the man who is rejected for being original and real. "Dilly, dilly," indeed!

It is a statement on the low character of the realm when the realm treasures sand over diamonds.

This reminds me of a line from the 90's regarding priestly formation in this age of political correctness that went something like this: "The priests of this generation are a sun-tanned, blow-dried, Gucci-shoed lot whose greatest moral achievement is being nice." Sometimes "going with the flow" is not the right way.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

European Imperial Triumphalism in all its Splendor!

"...[Y]et I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of [the lilies of the field]." Matthew 6:29

Earthquake Bells Consecrated to the Centenary of Our Lady of Fatima..., and Summorum Pontificum, etc.; Tolentino (MC). On the Feast of St. Thomas of Tolentino, Martyr, in the area in front of the tent/Church of the Cathedral of San Catervo the Diocesan Bishop His Excellency Bishop Nazzareno Marconi blessed and consecrated the new five bells of the church of the Sacred Heart of Tolentino which together with the other three existing ones will form an octave of the E-flat major scale.

The Church of the Sacred Heart of the Brotherhood of the same name, which was generously restored in full by the Government of Hungary, will be solemnly reopened on Saturday, December 9th with the song of the first Pontifical Vespers of the Feast of the Transit of the Holy House of Loreto. It is the only church that will be reopened after the earthquake last year: anti-seismic security works funded by the Hungarian government have given jobs to various women and men in the building, restoration, planting, etc., industries.

The five new bells were dedicated:

1.In Fatimensium visionum saecularibus.
In honore beatissimae Mariae virginis, Christifidelium auxiliatricis,
Hungariae reginae

2. In Honor Sancti Iosephi Sanchez Del Rio,
adulescentis pro fide martyris

3. Sancto Emygdio martyri,
contra terraemotus patrono
(recalling Fabio Quarchioni who died prematurely: a lover of the art of the organ and of bells)

4. In honor of Sancti Nicolai in Tolentino,
animarum purgatorio igni poenas luentium patroni (recalling Niccolò: a boy victim of a motorcycle accident)

5. Sanctis angelis custodibus,
iuventutis patronis

The other three bells on the bell tower were blessed on October 30, 2007 in St. Peter's Square by SS Benedict XVI and then consecrated by Monsignor De Magistris, now Cardinal, in the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro in Rome. They were given the title " Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum " and are dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Thomas from Tolentino, martyr killed by Muslims and St. Vincent Maria Strambi Bishop.

The Pontifical Roman ( PONTIFICALE ROMANUM JUSSU EDITUM IN BENEDICT XIV AND LEON XIII RECOGNITUM AND CASTIGATUM DE BENEDICTIONE SIGNI VEL CAMPANAE ) prescribes that the bell, before being placed in the bell tower, must be blessed according to this order: first the bell itself must be suspended and placed in such a way that it can be touched, manipulated inside and out, and it can be circled all around, then near the same bell to be blessed the fadistorio (seat) for the bishop must be prepared, the holy water container, an aspergillum, 'a bowl of salt, clean bandages to dry the bell when needed, the vessel of the holy Oil of the Sick, the Sacred Chrism, the incense boat, the incense, the myrrh and the thurible with the coals '.

The blessing of the bell involves three main elements:
1) The lustration of the bell with mixed salt water
"The first of the two formulas gives details of the purposes of the blessing, which are not the fruit of magic but the effect of the virtue of the Holy Spirit: Benedic, Domine, hanc aquam benedictione caelesti et assistat super eam virtus Spiritus sancti, ut cum hoc vasculum ad invitandos filios eclesiae preparatum, in ea fuerit tinctum, ubicumque sonnuerit ejus tintinnabulum, longe recedat virtus inimicorum... incursio turbinum... calamitas tempestatum... et credscat in eis devotionis augmentum ut festinanter ad piae matris Ecclesiae gremium, cantent tibi canticum novum in eclesia sanctorum, deferentes in sono praeconium tubae, modulationem psalterii...

The thought of the festive note that the sound of the bell gives to those who listens to the symbolic voice is suggested at this point by the song of the six psalms of Laudes: psalms 145-150.

Meanwhile, the bishop with the blessed water he has mad, washes the bell inside and out, ending the lustration with a prayer to God, so that the sound of that instrument ... fideles invitentur ad praemium...; crescat in eis devotio fidei, procul pellantur omnes insidiae inimici... ventorum flabra fiant salubriter ac moderate suspensa, prosternat aereas potestas dextera tuae virtutis. Per Christum.."

2) Holy anointings. " In the present ritual of the Pontifical Council of Lion XIII, at first it is blessed with the Oil of the Sick and then with the Sacred Chrism. The rite is of Gallican origin, and the reason  is not apparent but it seems to be to complete the analogy with baptism.

The bishop does eleven anointings; seven on the outside of the bell, four inside. In the older Ordines , as in The Gellonense, only the last anointings are done with the Chrism; the first with other blessed oil without distinguishing between that of the catechumens or the infirm. Currently it is the latter which is prescribed.
The Roman Pontifical in the 13th century gives the formula of the anointing: Consecretur ut sanctificetur, Domine, signum istud in honorem S. Mariae Matris Christi, vel sancti illius, in nomine P. et F. et S.S. Amen.
The formula mentions the bell naming; the custom of giving her a sacred name during her baptism, is already evident in the tenth century.
Baronio reports that John P. XIII, in 961, was the first to impose a name on a bell, that of s. Giovanni in Laterano, ingraving it with the name Johannes.
The anointings also have a protective character. From sal. 28 Afferte Domino filii Dei..., prescribed during the ceremony, which affirms the sovereign power of God's voice on all elements, repeating the high concept in seven successive verses.
For this reason The Roman-Germanic Pontifical in its rubrics said: Quot vicibus in psalmis dicit: Vox Domini... totidem (episcopus) signa faciat cum chrismate..."

3) The Incensation
"Having anointed the bell, the bishop puts beneath it the smoking thurible, thimiamate, thure and myrra, so that scented vapors gather and all fill the funnel funnel.
Incense is first and foremost an act in honor of the instrument, which has become sacred; but at the same time continues the exorcist line that pervades the whole rite. The Schola, during the incensation sings the last seven verses of psalm 76 Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi... in which the idea of ​​God's omnipotence over the elements is reaffirmed. 
For his part the bishop in the collect which follows, after invoking the miraculous power of Jesus in the calming of the sea at Capernaum prays to the Lord that dum huius vasculi sonitus transit per nubila, Ecclesiae tuae conventum manus servet angelica, fruges credentium, mentes et corpora, salvet protectione sempiterna".

"From what has been said, it turns out that the bell is not considered a functional object, but almost as a living reality, as, moreover, the whole temple.
It has a name, a ritual similar to that of baptism (now non-existent in the Latin Church) and attributed to it a force derived from divine grace.
This is exactly what is explained the devotional attitude in the Byzantine liturgy of consecration of the bells ...
An attitude that the Christian Occident almost forgets as a result of a real shrivelling of its own faith in many respects. "

Source of liturgical and historical explanations of the ritual: Liturgical Tradition ( HERE ) AC

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"...Thomas can no longer be presupposed..." Ratzinger, 1973

In contrast to a truncated Thomism that rightly became an object of polemical attack by Reformation thought, [this essay--"Gratia Præsupponit Naturam {Grace Presupposes Nature}: Reflections on the Meaning and Limits of a Scholastic Axiom"--] attempts to call to mind again that other side of Scholasticism which is perhaps best characterized by the name of Bonaventure. Of course it also tries to defend the right of "nature" in faith against Barth's one-sidedness. Today, at some remove from the battle lines drawn then [having been written around ten years previous for the Festschrift in honor of Gottlieb Söhngen's seventieth birthday in 1962], I would emphasize this aspect [the ontological dimension] even more clearly: Since Thomas can no longer be presupposed, he should now be discussed as a contrast to Bonaventure.

Footnote: In this connection I would like to refer the reader to the recently completed dissertation by my student Michael Marmann, Gratia præsupponit naturam, a penetrating study, by means of a contrast between Augustine and Thomas, of the indispensable contribution of Saint Thomas to this question.

Dogma and Preaching, Joseph Ratzinger, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011, 143.

Plinthos: This line by Ratzinger expresses perfectly what I felt throughout my seminary training in the 1990's every time the seminary professors, I thought wrongly, presumed that the students had a clear foundation in Thomist metaphysics, twenty years after Ratzinger wrote these words, something which could in no way any longer be presupposed!

There's a new epistemology, but the new epistemology must be well grounded in the old metaphysics at least in its total reliance on the reality of God, of man and of the world: viz., creation with all of its relations must continue to be the bedrock for all of knowledge. That is reality! Without reality and the impinging responsibilities it entails, the new epistemology becomes, at best, a dream of selfish willfulness, and often devolves into a nightmare: e.g. abortion, the terrorism of spontaneous massacres, gaydom.

Cf. Christian Civilization Urgently Needs to Revive and Redevelop the Doctrines of Creation, Metaphysics and Eschatology; and,
Apathy is a Daughter of Indifferentism, Two Different Sins Which Destroy Man and Society.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Texas Massacre Was a Religious Hate Crime of Anti-Christian Atheist

Stephen Willeford, right, the good man with a gun who
stopped the bad man with guns.

A man, an avowed atheist and hater of Christianity, goes to a Christian Church and massacres dozens of people, attempting to kill everyone in the Church during the Sunday service and the news media says that it was a crime which was not religiously motivated.

As a matter of fact, the man's Facebook page was filled with his violently anti-Christian virulence.

Here is the story in Spanish.

The authorities in Texas are calling on all Americans to conduct emergency drills on what to do if someone comes in for a massacre. The implication is that we need many more law abiding citizens armed and ready to stand up and defend the defenseless in this type of ever more frequent scenario. When the police is not enough the people need to police themselves!

One problem is that only 3% of the American adults own guns. The statistics on this are very deceiving. If you google guns per capita USA comes out on top at 90 guns for 100 citizens. But it does not at all say how many of the 100 citizens own the 90 guns. Turns out that, on average, only 3 citizens own the 90 guns. That's scary! In a place like Switzerland it is much more balanced where practically half of the adult male population is armed, viz. 25% of Swiss adults own a gun. For an armed republic, many more adults in the USA would need to arm themselves and go to shooting ranges to learn how to responsibly employ them.

P.S. All religions are not the same. Fanatics massacre Christians daily in the name of Allah on the one hand and in the name of every manner of Atheism on the other, but when was the last time you heard of a Christian massacring people in the name of Jesus? Neither Christ nor His Apostles killed anyone, but rather gave their lives to redeem the world.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Clerical Dress as Conscience

Father Brown Series on PBS by the BBC
loosely based on
G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries

Here is a short reflection I wrote on Tuesday, May 28th, 1996 just days before my June 2nd diaconal ordination, on how "the habit helps the monk," serving as a sort of external conscience.

It helps to keep one good, enforces one's conscience. But should it? avoid scandal one refrains from doing something that is sinful whereas without the added element of scandal one would commit the sin? e.g. if one were at a movie with illicit material in it, is it better to be without the collar?

In point of fact the first scandal is to oneself! By consenting to sin (regardless of others) one is already leading oneself--in effect--into sin. The first scandal is to one's own conscience. If you will, the first, and most serious scandal is giving a bad example to one's own conscience as if it were another person. For, consenting to sin one thereby betrays one's conscience. It is an offense against one's self, by one's self. But the self thereby offended is also weakened by the same act and with repetition of the same offense may eventually concede and suggest it on other occasions. Then the scandal to oneself has taken its effect in causing also one's deepest self to err => leaving no check on oneself from within: only external checks are possible then: 1. One's Guardian Angel vs. Evil Angels. 2. God. 3. Others.

P.S. This reminds me of something I learned while in Rome in my study and reflection on the history of the popes. The "bad" popes were typically most scandalous before becoming pope or even priest (e.g. fathering children as cardinals without yet even being in sacris, they were simply and literally princes of the realm), because the faithful would not tolerate such deviance from the Catholic course by their shepherds! The sensus fidei of the people is a check on the conscience, even of popes! So, wear the clerics, as the popes do, in order to be held to the standard of the saints which is Christ, Our Blessed Lord, Himself. Deo gratias!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Today's Philosophical Crisis

“I  wish to reflect upon [the] special activity of human reason [philosophy],...[it's] drive to attain goals which render people's lives ever more worthy,...the way to come to know fundamental truths about human life, and as an indispensable help for a deeper understanding of faith and for communicating the truth of the gospel to those who do not yet know it...I judge it necessary to do so because, at the present time in particular, the search for ultimate truth seems often to be neglected. Modern philosophy clearly has the great merit of focusing attention upon man. From this starting-point, human reason with its many questions has developed further its yearning to know more and to know it ever more deeply. Complex systems of thought have thus been built, yielding results in the different fields of knowledge and fostering the development of culture and history...Yet the positive results achieved must not obscure the fact that reason, in its one-sided concern to investigate human subjectivity, seems to have forgotten that men and women are always called to direct their steps towards a truth which transcends them. Sundered from that truth, individuals are at the mercy of caprice, and their state as person ends up being judged by pragmatic criteria based essentially upon experimental data, in the mistaken belief that technology must dominate all. It has happened therefore that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being. Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing. Rather than make use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned.

“This has given rise to different forms of agnosticism and relativism which have led philosophical research to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread scepticism. Recent times have seen the rise to prominence of various doctrines which tend to devalue even the truths which had been judged certain. A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today's most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another. On this understanding, everything is reduced to opinion; and there is a sense of being adrift. While, on the one hand, philosophical thinking has succeeded in coming closer to the reality of human life and its forms of expression, it has also tended to pursue issues—existential, hermeneutical or linguistic—which ignore the radical question of the truth about personal existence, about being and about God. Hence we see among the men and women of our time, and not just in some philosophers, attitudes of widespread distrust of the human being's great capacity for knowledge. With a false modesty, people rest content with partial and provisional truths, no longer seeking to ask radical questions about the meaning and ultimate foundation of human, personal and social existence. In short, the hope that philosophy might be able to provide definitive answers to these questions has dwindled.”

Thus, from the introductory section of Fides et ratio (5), which sounds very much like the language of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger during the decade of the late 1990's through to his papal election in 2005, with the famous homily on relativism during the Mass "Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice" from which I quote below.

"How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

"Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be 'tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine', seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

"We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An 'adult' faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.

"We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith - only faith - that creates unity and is fulfilled in love."

N.B. Cardinal Ratinger's book on relativism, Truth and Tolerance, is also from that period (German edition published in 2003, and all of the essays therein [except one, the one from 1964 to "honor" Rahner's 60th birthday, which opens the book], were written during the decade between 1995 to 2005). Much of it is a reflection on the world in the wake of the fall of communism and how the West should proceed forward, with reason well supported by faith.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sevilla Cathedral Summorum Pontificum Mass with Archbishop Present

This is the Capilla Real where the Mass will take place. The tomb of Saint Fernando is there in the middle!

All Soul's Day is Not the Day of the Dead But the Day of the Living

But the small doodle to the right, with flowers, is nice.

Google doodle has it wrong, as usual.

We pray for the faithful departed today, for the souls in purgatory, that they may rest in peace, requiescant in pace, (RIP).

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Expel the Muslims Already!

Santiago Matamoros, ora pro nobis!

On this Feast of All Saints I think it is time for the West to again expel the Muslims from all traditionally Christian lands, because they do not know how to behave themselves in our democracies. Enough is enough!

There is a significant (and ever growing) body of radical Islamists who have declared a religious war against the Christian West. Actually, the case might be made that the very nature of Islam, with its military diffusion from the beginning--from the sword of its founder Mohammed himself--is avowedly and violently opposed to Christian civilization. In any case, because of that militant body of Islamists and the rash of violence which they have perpetrated over the past few decades and which today is becoming a daily phenomenon, it seems to me that all Muslims should be expelled from our lands. Convert to Christianity or leave.

That was the logic of  Spain when it expelled the Moors in 1609, under also very and persistently violent circumstances, after previously having been seven centuries under Muslim occupation. Perhaps today we are all starting to experience the critical crisis of this moment in history. We should peacefully admit that we are in the middle of an religious war and take our side with Christ, and send them all away as Spain did, with the aid of heaven, for the good of the world!

USA, Europe and all nations of Christian heritage should write amendments to their constitutions embracing and promoting that Christian heritage and expelling all Muslims from our lands, and hereafter forbidding any institutions (religious or otherwise) which pose a direct threat to our Christian civil society.

Happy All Saints Day!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Protestants and Halloween

I've noticed that the families which dress their children as Saints for All Hallowed's Eve (and they do well) are exclusively Catholic families. No Protestants! How is it that you can justify celebrating witches and goblins and every type of fiction over the truth of Christ and His Holy Ones! Makes me wonder about the explicit and historical anti-Catholic nature of this secular celebration which has all of the marks of Free-Masonry, and, indeed, witchcraft. The name "Halloween" itself betrays it!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Quas Primas, The Feast of Christ the King, Pope Pius XI's Answer to "Reformation Sunday"

When Pope Pius XI established the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with his 1925 encyclical Quas primas, he did not choose the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year (as later done by Paul VI). He chose "Reformation Sunday" which Protestants celebrate on the last Sunday of October, to propose Christ as the Anti-Luther.

The Lord is not the King of this or that German prince who changes doctrines according to the whim of the moment. He's the King of the universe, unchanging and unchangeable. Pius XI proposed the Feast of Christ the King as a counter-celebration to the Protestant celebration of "Reformation Sunday" on this day.

Source: Scuola Ecclesia Mater

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Metaphysics is the Core of History

Sagrada Familia, Gaudí

[S]alvation history and eschatology, the theology of the great acts of God in history and the theology of existence, can coincide if they are willing to reflect deeply on themselves and to open themselves to this reflection. God's action is, precisely in the objectivity of its "in-itself-ness", not a hopeless objectivity, but the true formula of human existence, which has its "in-itself-ness" outside of itself and can find its true center only in ex-sistere, in going-out-from itself. It is also no empty past but that "perfect tense" that is therefore man's true "present tense" because it is always antecedent to it, always at the same time its promise and its future. Thus it implies, of necessity, that "is" that faith soon formulated explicitly: Jesus is Christ, God is man. Hence man's future means being one with God and so being one with mankind, which will be a single, final man in the manifold unity that is created by the exodus of love. God "is" man--it is in this formula that the whole greatness of the Easter reality has first been fully apprehended and has become, from a passing point in history, its axis, which bears us all.

Footnote: In view of the fundamental meaning of this "is", I would stress more strongly today* than I have in these pages the irreplaceability and preeminence of the ontological aspect and, therefore, of metaphysics as the basis of any history. Precisely as a confession of Jesus Christ, Christian faith--and in this it is completely loyal to the faith of Abraham--is faith in a living God. The fact that the first article of faith forms the basis of all Christian belief includes, theologically, the basic character of the ontological statements and the indispensability of the metaphysical, that is, of the Creator God who is before all becoming.

Cf. on this subject Introduction to Christianity (New York: 1970), 77-104; The God Jesus Christ (Chicago: 1979), 18-30; Principles of Catholic Theology, Part One, Chapter One, Section 2b and Part Three, Chapter One, Section A.

Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1987, 189-190 and n172.
*This footnote is from the 1982 publication of the Principles volume, the essay written in 1967 (Cf., Principles, 396).

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cardinal Müller: Luther’s reform was ‘against the Holy Spirit’

ROME, October 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Luther’s so-called reform was not an “event of the Holy Spirit,” and we should not “change history” or “falsify what happened 500 years ago and the disastrous effect it had” for the sake of “good relations,” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said.

In an article published in the Italian Catholic Journal, La Nuova Bussola, the German cardinal said of Luther’s movement: “From the point of view of the doctrine of the Church it wasn’t a reform at all but rather a revolution, that is, a total change of the foundations of the Catholic Faith.”

Cardinal Müller’s statements come five days after Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian Bishops Conference, praised Luther at a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Lateran University, saying: “The Reformation initiated by Martin Luther 500 years ago was an event of the Holy Spirit.”

The conference, held at the Lateran on October 18-19, was entitled: “Passion for God. Spirituality and theology of the Reform 500 years after its dawn.”

Here below LifeSite offers its readers a full English translation of Cardinal Müller’s article, with the kind permission of La Nuova Bussola.


by Gerhard L. Müller

There is great confusion today when we talk about Luther, and it needs to be said clearly that from the point of view of dogmatic theology, from the point of view of the doctrine of the Church, it wasn’t a reform at all but rather a revolution, that is, a total change of the foundations of the Catholic Faith.

It is not realistic to argue that [Luther’s] intention was only to fight against abuses of indulgences or the sins of the Renaissance Church. Abuses and evil actions have always existed in the Church, not only during the Renaissance, and they still exist today. We are the holy Church because of the God’s grace and the Sacraments, but all the men of the Church are sinners, they all need forgiveness, contrition, and repentance.

This distinction is very important. And in the book written by Luther in 1520, “De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae,” it is absolutely clear that Luther has left behind all of the principles of the Catholic Faith, Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, the magisterium of the Pope and the Councils, and of the episcopate. In this sense, he upended the concept of the homogeneous development of Christian doctrine as explained in the Middle Ages, even denying that a sacrament is an efficacious sign of the grace contained therein. He replaced this objective efficacy of the sacraments with a subjective faith. Here, Luther abolished five sacraments, and he also denied the Eucharist: the sacrificial character of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the real conversion of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, he called the sacrament of episcopal ordination, the sacrament of Orders, an invention of the Pope — whom he called the Antichrist — and not part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Instead, we say that the sacramental hierarchy, in communion with the successor of Peter, is an essential element of the Catholic Church, and not only a principle of a human organization.

That is why we cannot accept Luther’s reform being called a reform of the Church in a Catholic sense. Catholic reform is a renewal of faith lived in grace, in the renewal of customs, of ethics, a spiritual and moral renewal of Christians; not a new foundation, not a new Church.

It is therefore unacceptable to assert that Luther’s reform “was an event of the Holy Spirit.” On the contrary, it was against the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit helps the Church to maintain her continuity through the Church’s magisterium, above all in the service of the Petrine ministry: on Peter has Jesus founded His Church (Mt 16:18), which is “the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The Holy Spirit does not contradict Himself.

We hear so many voices speaking too enthusiastically about Luther, not knowing exactly his theology, his polemics and the disastrous effect of this movement which destroyed the unity of millions of Christians with the Catholic Church. We cannot evaluate positively his good will, the lucid explanation of the shared mysteries of faith but not his statements against the Catholic Faith, especially with regard to the sacraments and hierarchical-apostolic structure of the Church.

Nor is it correct to assert that Luther initially had good intentions, meaning by this that it was the rigid attitude of the Church that pushed him down the wrong road. This is not true: Luther was intent on fighting against the selling of indulgences, but the goal was not indulgences as such, but as an element of the Sacrament of Penance.

Nor is it true that the Church refused to dialogue: Luther first had a dispute with John Eck; then the Pope sent Cardinal Gaetano as a liaison to talk to him. We can discuss the methods, but when it comes to the substance of the doctrine, it must be stated that the authority of the Church did not make mistakes. Otherwise, one must argue that, for a thousand years, the Church has taught errors regarding the faith, when we know — and this is an essential element of doctrine — that the Church can not err in the transmission of salvation in the sacraments.

One should not confuse personal mistakes and the sins of people in the Church with errors in doctrine and the sacraments. Those who do this believe that the Church is only an organization comprised of men and deny the principle that Jesus himself founded His Church and protects her in the transmission of the faith and grace in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit. His Church is not a merely human organization: it is the body of Christ, where the infallibility of the Council and the Pope exists in precisely described ways. All of the councils speak of the infallibility of the Magisterium, in setting forth the Catholic faith. Amid today’s confusion, in many people this reality has been overturned: they believe the Pope is infallible when he speaks privately, but then when the Popes throughout history have set forth the Catholic faith, they say it is fallible.

Of course, 500 years have passed. It’s no longer the time for polemics but for seeking reconciliation: but not at the expense of truth. One should not create confusion. While on the one hand, we must be able to grasp the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit in these other non-Catholic Christians who have good will, and who have not personally committed this sin of separation from the Church, on the other we cannot change history, and what happened 500 years ago. It’s one thing to want to have good relations with non-Catholic Christians today, in order to bring us closer to a full communion with the Catholic hierarchy and with the acceptance of the Apostolic Tradition according to Catholic doctrine. It’s quite another thing to misunderstand or falsify what happened 500 years ago and the disastrous effect it had. An effect contrary to the will of God: “… that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me” (Jn 17:21).

Translation by Diane Montagna

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Feminist Blind Spot


These acts are all anti-woman, because marriage, family, maternity and virginity are the greatest strength and defense of women. Feminists should champion an end to these supreme attacks on true feminity.

"Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" are the greatest feminist laws, opposed to every manner of sexual deviancy and lust, which directly destroys women and children (especially by abortion). If those laws are rejected, women have no defense. And every Jew and Christian in the world ex-professo agrees with all of the above. The greatest irony of our age is that we trash our traditions and ourselves and at the same time demand respect. No wonder the Muslim world despises us. We are in fact quite despicable. Our own hypocrisy condemns us.

Matthew 23:23-39

"...Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and have left the weightier things of the law; judgment, and mercy, and faith. These things you ought to have done, and not to leave those undone.

"Blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.

"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.

"Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean.

"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness.

"So you also outwardly indeed appear to men just; but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; that build the sepulchres of the prophets, and adorn the monuments of the just,

 "And say: If we had been in the days of our Fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

"Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of them that killed the prophets.

"Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

"You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?

"Therefore behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city:

"That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar.

"Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not?

"Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate.

"For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

"Traditional Feminist" Actress Speaks Out: "I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women."

I entered the Hollywood machine in 1986 as a prominent-nosed, awkward, geeky, Jewish 11-year-old — basically a scrawnier version of the person I am today. Back then we didn’t have the internet or social media or reality TV, but I didn’t need any of that to understand that I didn’t look or act like other girls in my industry, and that I was immersing myself in a business that rewarded physical beauty and sex appeal above all else.

Nothing has been a harsher reminder that I work in an industry that profits on the exploitation of women — and not just on screen — than the accusations of Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual assaulter, particularly of aspiring young actresses. Though I am shocked and disgusted by the scope of his alleged predation, the fact that he may have abused his position of power does not surprise me in the least.

I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women. Though pressure to “be like the pretty girls” started long before I entered Hollywood, I quickly learned even as a preteen actress that young girls with doe eyes and pouty lips who spoke in a high register were favored for roles by the powerful men who made those decisions.

I grew up constantly being teased about my appearance, even from members of my family; my nose and chin were the main objects of discussion. As a teenager I started obsessing over the possibility of a nose job so that I would look more like Danica McKellar, with a chin job to balance things out. Soon I wondered if I should get breast implants to look more like Christina Applegate, who got so much attention for her curves. I consistently felt like a troll compared to many of my contemporaries. A “TV Guide” critic described me, in a review of the pilot episode of “Blossom,” as having a “shield-shaped” face of “mismatched features.” I never recovered from seeing myself that way.

I always made conservative choices as a young actress, largely informed by my first-generation American parents who were highly skeptical of this industry in general — “This business will use you up and throw you away like a snotty tissue!”— and of its men in particular: “They only want one thing.” My mom didn’t let me wear makeup or get manicures. She encouraged me to be myself in audition rooms, and I followed my mother’s strong example to not put up with anyone calling me “baby” or demanding hugs on set. I was always aware that I was out of step with the expected norm for girls and women in Hollywood.

I eventually left the business when I was 19 to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles. I craved being around people who valued me more for what was inside my brain than what was inside my bra. After 12 years away from Hollywood, I returned to acting, largely because I had no health insurance and missed performing and making people laugh.

As a “nontraditional”-looking woman, I came back to an industry that had me auditioning for the “frumpy friend” or the “zaftig secretary,” though I eventually landed a role that has earned me four Emmy nominations. Is it a surprise that I play an androgynous, awkward, late bloomer?

I am grateful to bring Amy Farrah Fowler to life on the No. 1 sitcom in America. I am honored to depict a feminist who speaks her mind, who loves science and her friends and who sometimes wishes she were the hot girl.

I can relate. I’ve wished that, too.

And yet I have also experienced the upside of not being a “perfect ten.” As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms. Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an impossible standard of beauty have the “luxury” of being overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we can make them money.

I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.

I am entirely aware that these types of choices might feel oppressive to many young feminists. Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to flirt however they want with whomever they want. Why are we the ones who have to police our behavior?

In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect. Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in.

I believe that we can change our culture, but it won’t be something that happens overnight. We live in a society that has treated women as disposable playmates for far longer than Mr. Weinstein has been meeting ingénues in luxury hotel rooms.

One major bright spot: We are seeing more women taking on prominent roles behind the camera. Women like Jenji Kohan and Jill Soloway are showing the kinds of female characters on their shows that we all know in real life but never got to see on TV. And more women and men are waking up to the fact that it is on us all to sound the alarm on unacceptable behavior.

In the meantime, I plan to continue to work hard to encourage young women to cultivate the parts of themselves that may not garner them money and fame. If you are beautiful and sexy, terrific. But having others celebrate your physical beauty is not the way to lead a meaningful life.

And if — like me — you’re not a perfect 10, know that there are people out there who will find you stunning, irresistible and worthy of attention, respect and love. The best part is you don’t have to go to a hotel room or a casting couch to find them.

Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) stars in the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” She is the author of “Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular.”

Watch a Facebook Live with Mayim Bialik on being a feminist in the Hollywood of Harvey Weinstein.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mr. Trump on David Letterman, before Presidency

Life After Fire/Retire-ment: David Letterman and His Handsome Beard

"I am a bit of a different person [after being fired/retired]; which is good. I mean, thank God! Because the great struggle in life is to be better each and every day. And if you take a look around the horizon of humanity, it's a... My God! is there anything we can do big or small to make the life of just one person a little bit better? And that's no small accomplishment!"

But, the problem, the fundamental problem for "the horizon of humanity" is how do you define "good". You need to define good to know what is better. An humanity which does not get its bearings on the truth to determine what is good and what is evil cannot begin to consider what is better or worse, good or bad or indifferent. That is humanity's present problem: the abolition of truth! Destroy the truth and you destroy man.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Witness to Truth

And it was written in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin. John 19:20

That is the summary of the Person and Life of Jesus Christ, according to His own testimony.

It is in the dialogue during his trial with Pontius Pilate. He declares that the reason his followers did not fight for Him not to be delivered to the Jews is that His kingdom is not of this world, thereby implying that He is a king. Pilate therefore asks whether He is a king, and He answers that Pilate says He is a king: "Thou sayest it; I am a king. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, 'What is truth?'" John 18:36-38

Christ's purpose on the earth is to answer the question regarding truth. He came to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears His voice.

It is interesting to note in this regard how Pilate hears the voice of Christ, the truth, in composing the sentence for the cross: "Jesus the Nazarene, the Jews' King" (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudæorum). A king, yes, and yet not just a king, but the King. The King of the one true God. The King from heaven. God Himself in the flesh. The Truth. "Quod scripsi scripsi!" John 19:22

That continues to be Christ's purpose on the earth, to witness to the truth. He does it supremely through the sacramental ministry of the Church: the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

Cf. Deus caritas est, Benedict XVI, 2005.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Our Debt to Saint Luke

Salus Populi Romani
Attributed to Saint Luke

The "Hail Mary" (in its essence)
Nunc dimittis

Just to name a few giants among the texts which he uniquely recorded and/or composed for posterity, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

To him also we owe the accounts of the Annunciations of John the Baptist and of Christ, The Visitation, the Presentation of the Child in the Temple.

Saint Luke, pray for us.

χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη Μαρία

Monday, October 16, 2017

Weinstein, Planned Parenthood Donor, Tip of the Iceberg of Hollywood Sexual Abuse

Please! Is anyone at all surprised at Hollywood sexual predators? an industry which itself is built on lust and nudity.

One thing that is grossly under-reported in this is the homosexual abuse and pedophilia.

As was done with the Church, so it should be with Hollywood, away with the statutes of limitations on sexual crimes. That would surely be an end to the film industry of America.

N.B. President Bill Clinton was the icon of corporate sexual abuse.  E.g The Lewinsky Scandal. After that, in 1996 the nation elected the perverse president to a second term!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spanish Dance

In Honor of La Virgen del Pilar, Patroness of Spain, October 12th.

The Apparition, La Salve.

Then there is this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Athens, October 6, 2017

The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church met yesterday under the presidency of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, addressing, among other things, the sex-change bill that was recently adopted by the Greek parliament upon first reading, reports Romfea.

The bishops are closely monitoring the intense debate surrounding the bill, which is causing an upheaval in society and in the Church. To this end, it submitted its views in lieu of an open consultation to a representative of the relevant parliamentary committee.

As previously reported, in accordance with the new “On the Free Change of Sex” draft law, it is enough to simply provide a written declaration in order to receive a legal change of gender.

As an expression of the Church’s love for the people, and in view of the forthcoming debate in the House, the Synod expressed its basic positions on the issue:

1. Sex is a sacred gift to man and serves as the basis of psychosomatic complementarity in the mystery of life and love. In this sense, it is not eligible to be changed, but is a Divine gift to man to be used in his sanctification.

2. The Synod considers that the case-law of Greek courts covers, where necessary, existing problems, given that gender is neither freely chosen nor altered at will, but is determined on the basis of anatomical, physiological and biological characteristics which define the identity of a man as established by medical reports to the court. The law can't be content with just the scientifically unsubstantiated statement of the citizen, which may later be changed.

3. The proposed bill arouses emotions in society, attacks the sacred institution of the family, contradicts good morals and common sense and destroys man. Instead of diminishing confusion and mental disorders, it will increase them and give rise to a dangerous social phenomenon, especially when it creates an explosive situation in schools as well.

4. The Synod does not see behind all these efforts an interest in the afflicted and wronged fellow man, but the existence of powerful groups, resulting in the dissolution of social cohesion and the spiritual death of man.

5. The Synod makes a final appeal to the political world as a whole to lift its responsibility and mission beyond political ideals, prejudices and the invocation of uncontrolled rights, to withdraw the bill, to show similar interest in solving the most serious problems which plague our society, our nation and the people, and instead of strengthening tension, division and absurdity, to contribute to the spiritual uplifting of our citizens.

The Church surrounds all people with love and understanding indiscriminately, but always desiring their salvation must demonstrate the failure of critical decisions.

The Sacred Community of Mt. Athos has also raised its voice on the matter, in a letter to the Ministers of Justice and Education and Religious Affairs Stavros Kontonis and Konstantinos Gavroglou, as well as the members of the Greek Parliament.

The group of representatives of each of the 20 ruling monasteries on the Holy Mountain state they also feel the anxiety and concern of the Orthodox faith of the Fatherland over the developments surrounding the sex-change bill.

“With reference to the bill that is to be voted on, we wonder what is left for our future,” the Athonites’ letter reads.

The primate of the Greek Orthodox Church Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens has also spoken out against the bill, saying, “All that is game playing. The Church has its own views. Our homeland has its own traditions, it has the family, everything else is just contrivances so that we waste our time.”

For his turn, Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia indignantly stated in an open letter to deputies of the Greek parliament, “You are promoting a bill which denies the Triune God and Creator and casts blasphemy upon Him. This new law is unnatural, it encroaches upon the psychosomatic identity of the person, fosters depravity, and aims to thwart a person on his path to sanctification and deification.

“The bones of our saints and heroes are trembling! The great liberator of Greece the equal-to-the-apostles Kosmas of Aetolia and our other saints are weeping.”

“Today they tell us that God did not create man and woman, driving the idea from the minds of our children. Every man can easily become a woman, and every woman a man. Do you know why they are doing this?” His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Phthiotis rhetorically asked. “They want to ensure, at any cost, that homosexuals will be able to adopt children,” he answered.

The majority of Greek parliamentary parties have spoken out in favor of the scandalous bill. Only members of the Communist party and the “Golden Dawn” movement have wholly voted against the bill.

Bishop Barron at Facebook: "How to Have a Religious Argument"

Faith is not irrationality.

"Faith is the decision to trust in the revelation of God's own heart."


"Faith is the reasoning of a religious mind." --Newman

"There is plenty of space where we can do rational exploration of God."

In this talk Barron is answering "the YouTube heresies" he addresses in his pioneering talk here.
1. That faith is accepting foolishness.
2. Scientism. That all knowledge is comprised of the scientific form of knowledge. Scientism is self refuting. That claim itself is not a scientific claim but philosophical. This gives way to "The Yeddie theory of God:" That God is an item in the universe.
3. We must be intolerant of mere toleration. "The great compromise." --Stanley Hauerwas
The Christian religion is no mere hobby! but is based on truth claims. And truth claims have a universal intent. If you privatize religious claims you disrespect your intellocator.
4. Avoid "voluntarism:" the trumping of intellect by will. e.g. Casey vs. Planned Parenthood "It belongs to the very nature of my liberty to determine the meaning of my own life, of existence, and of the universe." This destroys argument because it devolves into a mere clash of wills: the rule of violence! Voluntarism breeds violence. That was the theme of the Benedict XVI Regensburg Address.
5. Seek with great patience to understand your opponent's position. Try to get to the bottom of what is being said, because "Religion is ultimate concern." --Tillich. e.g. "Unconditional Positive Regard," mirroring back can help. Find the kernal of truth in the opinion.

The quest is important, but the answer is the point, barring nothing that is true. cf. Thomas Aquinas Summa.

"The open mind is like the open mouth, it is meant to bite down on something nourishing."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Columbus Day! Christopher, the "Christ Bearer!" The Man Who Bore Christ to Our Shores!

May God bless the men who brought Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and the Word of Salvation, with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and true devotion to Santa María de la Immaculada Concepción to our hemisphere and to our people! May their reward be great in heaven and may we, in gratitude for this supernal gift, worthily follow Jesus Christ in faith and holiness according to the Gospel and the Cross which they bequeathed us.

¡Bendito sea Dios por los Reyes, Fernando e Isabel, Católicos!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Fundamental Error Which Haunts the USA: Starvation of Souls, Destruction of the Moral Conscience

In light of the October 1st Las Vegas massacre, I came across a text in Ratzinger which mentions that the greatest catastrophe of our materialist social system is "the starvation of souls and the destruction of the moral conscience."

Ratzinger warns that the geatest danger to the West is to continue the basic error of communism. And the basic error of communism was not economic but human. Communism's error is a lie about the human person: that man does not have an immortal soul, i.e. that man is just material.

"Commentators have...ignored all too readily the role in [the collapse of the communist systems] played by the communists' contempt for human rights and their subjugation of morals to the demands of the system and the promises of the future. The greatest catastrophe encountered by such systems was not economic. It was the starvation of souls and the destruction of the moral conscience.

"The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the communist economy has been recognized--so much so that former communists have unhesitatingly become economic liberals--the moral and religious question that it used to address has been almost totally repressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man's original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem today. Left untreated, it could lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger--above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler."*
Without Roots, Joseph Raztinger, New York: Basic Books, 2006, 73-74."

*"The obligatory reference here is to the following words of Erwin Chargaff: 'Where everyone is free to play the lion's part--in the free market, for example--what is attained is the society of Marsyas, a society of bleeding cadavers.' Ein zweites Leben. Autobiographische und andere Texte. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1955, 168."
Ibid., 155, n 13.

How many "shades or grey" are there? None!, when it comes to a decision between right and wrong, truth and error.

In a nation which now glamorizes sadomasochism and every other perversion, and we deliberately slaughter our progeny, it should not surprise any of us when the lion we create of ourselves comes back to devour us. If there is no right and wrong then the passions reign supreme. And if the passions are supreme then the law of the jungle (viz. lawlessness) is the only law.

Morality concerns the truth regarding right and wrong. Evil exists. Man is capable of evil because he has a soul which makes him free to decide what he will do, whether good or evil. That is a choice which no man can escape, no matter how many times you are told that you are simply a product your circumstances. Everything you do as a person you decide freely to do, and that choice includes a moral weight, with all of the consequences thereof upon you, upon others and upon the world, and upon eternity--good or evil.

The USA Policy in the Middle East: "Push the Christians Out"

Having seen yesterday and the past few month repeated reports on the decimating of the Christian populations of Iraq and Syria and the zero help for those persecuted and destroyed communities (genocide) by the US, it reminded me of a couple of things. (It has been so during the past three Washington administrations, including the present Trump administration. For example, in Iraq non of the US money goes to helping the post-ISIS Christians rebuild!)

One was the dire warnings and predictions both from a few Washington politicians, by the Pope, the Archbishop of Bagdad (who was killed in the war, one of the 600,000 masaquered) and by the international community that an US invasion of Iraq would be a disaster, especially for the Christians.

The other idea that came to mind was what a missionary priest in Palestine told me during my 5-week studies there in 2012, viz. that the Israeli policy in Israel was to "push the Christians out of the Middle East" so that they could destroy Palestine without any Western push-back.

It appears that the US policy coincides with that of Israel, get rid of the Christians.

80% of the Christians of Iraq and Syria have been eliminated since 2003! That is genocide and the USA made it happen and is doing nothing, to date, to stop the completion of the Middle-Eastern genocide of Christianity. Call it a reverse "Crusade." It is an anti-Christian Crusade.

By their fruits you shall know them.

Below are two articles. First the state of the question. Next is an 2003 article expressing why the Iraqi War (before it began) would not help Christians in Iraq, Iraq or the Middle East. It would obviously be colonization by destruction. And so it has been.

We Are Witnessing the Elimination of Christian Communities in Iraq and Syria
SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 - 11:45 AM

Do we want to be the generation that stood by as Christians disappeared almost entirely from the ancient homelands they have occupied since the days of the New Testament?

Will the Trump administration and this Congress let this historic and preventable tragedy happen on their watch?

We are on the precipice of catastrophe, and unless we act soon, within weeks, the tiny remnants of Christian communities in Iraq may be mostly eradicated by the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria.

Other global crises such as North Korea’s nuclear adventurism may be dominating the headlines, but this tragedy has been unfolding in agonizing slow motion over the past decade, an unintended consequence of the turmoil and sectarian strife unleashed by the Iraq war of 2003. Saddam Hussein was hardly a protector of Christians, but the power vacuum that came after his fall made the plight of Christians in Iraq dramatically worse. The George W. Bush administration tried to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, but had its hands full avoiding defeat in the larger civil war. Whatever respite Bush’s surge decision bought soon gave way under the Obama administration to an even more terrible extermination campaignlaunched by the Islamic State, leading to a charnel house of death and displacement for Christians. In turn, the Obama administration found itselfmaking its own painful tradeoffs as it tried to fight the Islamic State while relying on local militias that had designs on Christian lands. The result was an accelerated Christian exodus and extermination of those who stayed behind.

Bureaucrats in the Obama administration compounded the problem by blocking efforts to direct some funding to help local church groups and other religious organizations that were providing almost all of the humanitarian assistance to the suffering Christian communities. Their rationale stemmed from a benighted misinterpretation of humanitarian principles and a desire to avoid the appearance of favoritism when there were so many suffering groups. Such head-scratching punctiliousness prevailed despite the Obama administration’s own public recognition that the Christian and other religious minorities like Yazidis were the victims of genocide and faced extinction unless they were helped.

The counter-Islamic State campaign launched belatedly by Obama and intensified under Trump is reclaiming land, but the Christian minorities are benefiting little from U.S. and U.N. humanitarian and stabilization assistance. The other various factions in the anti-Islamic State coalition seem all too willing to entertain other plans for the newly freed territories. Some communities, such as the tiny Christian pockets in Mosul, are almost certainly lost forever. A few nascent Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains are clinging to viability, beginning the painful process of rebuilding with funds donated principally by a few international relief organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need, and the Hungarian government, and kept alive by emergency aid from the local Catholic and Orthodox dioceses.

Years of humanitarian assistance through the local Catholic and Orthodox churches have provided food, shelter, medical and educational assistance for Christian, Yazidi, and some Muslims internally displaced people and refugees, but those resources have been exhausted and now the eyes of the local communities have turned to Washington, where American political leaders are considering stepping up with significant humanitarian assistance from the U.S. government.

The clearest, best path to rescue involves the bipartisan H.R. 390 – “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017,” co-authored by representatives Chris Smith and Anna Eshoo, which would explicitly authorize the Trump administration, and future administrations, to direct some existing funds for immediate assistance on the ground to religious and ethnic minority communities that have been victims of genocide. Its passage would also to signal to our local partners the priority the United States places on protecting these most vulnerable victims from extinction. Despite passing unanimously in the House, the legislation has languished in the Senate. Unless Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate leadership recognizes the existential urgency for genocide survivors on the ground and therefore prioritize moving on H.R. 390 now — or unless other entrepreneurial senators figure out a way to act regardless — this bill may fall victim to the Senate’s already overcrowded calendar (made even more crowded by the obvious and all-consuming-crisis of Hurricane Harvey relief). The White House should send an unequivocal message to Corker and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to act on H.R. 390 and ensure it is transmitted to the Senate floor as a top-level priority after reconvening this week.

An additional path would be for the Trump administration to use existing congressional authorization for the fiscal year 2017 omnibus, along with executive prerogatives, to direct urgent aid and assistance to imperiled Middle Eastern Christians and Yazidis now. Their plight is a tragedy that many on the Trump team understand viscerally, and many senior officials have spoken of their concern for the issue, beginning with president himself (see also here, and here).

But the administration has multiple other challenges vying for its attention, so dealing with this one will require focus and perseverance — and perhaps some explicit guidance to overcome resistance at lower levels in the bureaucracy, especially at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, about acting on behalf of endangered religious and ethnic minority communities in this way.

Meanwhile, the Senate should confirm Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom as soon as possible, so that he can join the State Department’s capable Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia in serving as Foggy Bottom’s lead advocates on this issue.

The situation is bleak, but it is not yet beyond hope. Some refugees are returning, and if they receive adequate, targeted assistance immediately, this might be enough of a remnant to keep the Christianity alive in its New Testament birthplace for another generation.

But that may require U.S. politicians taking a page out of the Old Testament. The Book of Esther tells the story of a well-placed favorite in the king of Persia’s court. In those days, local political factions were conspiring to exterminate another religious minority, the Jews, and Queen Esther was challenged by her adopted father to use her political clout to intervene on their behalf. Mordecai’s words ring down through the ages, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

The alternative is a bleak one that should sear the conscience of people of every faith and conviction. Unless we act soon, we may bear witness to the final chapter of a genocide that we could have prevented.

Best Argument Against Invading Iraq
by Keith Preston

Proponents of an American military assault on Iraq, from President Bush all the way down to Joe Sixpack armchair warriors, typically state their case in a manner somewhat resembling the following: Saddam Hussein is not supposed to have "weapons of mass destruction". Saddam has not indicated that he has fully disarmed. He has defied inspectors. He has ignored UN resolutions. He is not a nice guy. He might give some of his weapons to Osama bin Laden, or some similar figure, thereby creating the possibility of more September 11-style disasters for this country. And by the way, Saddam oppresses the Iraqi people. An American invasion and occupation of Iraq will be quick and easy. This occupation will allow the Iraqi people to experience the glories of parliamentary democracy which will in turn enrich their lives, fatten their wallets and inspire their Arab and Muslim brethren throughout the world to love America and all the good she does in her selfless efforts to improve the human condition.

Virtually every presumption behind this line of argumentation is false. However, it would be helpful if war critics did a better job of exposing the depth of the fallacies behind the administration's rhetoric. Typically, critics will argue that war with Iraq should not be pursued, at least not yet anyway, because Saddam has already been effectively disarmed (the Scott Ritter argument), or because the inspections have not been given enough time to "work" (the typical argument offered by limousine liberals like Susan Sarandon), or because the US is not militarily prepared (as Norman Schwarzkopf claims), or because such a war "is not in the national interest" (Pat Buchanan's perspective). All of these arguments ignore one basic question: Who exactly is the US government to insist that another nation disarm itself and initiate military force against that nation when its fails to comply with Washington's demands?

I am willing to concede, for the sake of argument, that Saddam is still doing everything within his power to obtain formidable weaponry. I am willing to concede that Saddam is attempting to evade UN inspectors at every step of the way. It is also theoretically possible, though I think unlikely, that Iraq may be a source of weaponry for free lance terrorists at some point in the future. I am even willing to concede that if clear, unmistakable proof were received that Iraq was indeed planning a serious, specific attack on the US at some specific future point, then a case for a "preemptive strike" could indeed be made. I also aknowledge that Saddam Hussein is a despotic head of state. None of this resolves the central issues behind the dispute.

The fact is Iraq has a legitimate defensive interest in obtaining the forbidden weapons. Iraq has in the past been attacked by three nuclear-armed nations (Israel, England and America) and threatened by a fourth (Iran) that is believed to be seeking, and might already possess, such weapons. As for Iraq's failure to comply with UN orders to disarm, the entire disarmament program is a farce. The program was imposed on Iraq in a Versailles-like arrangement by an international quasi-governmental body that is, by all reasonable standards, illegitimate, even if one believes in government. The United Nations is simply a front for First World imperialism and has been ever since it was created by the victorious Allied powers of World War Two, who proceeded to grant themselves permanent seating on the Security Council, for the purpose of managing the affairs of the world on their own behalf.

If at some point in the future Iraq were to sponsor a terrorist assault on the United States, this would only be in retaliation for ongoing American terrorism against Iraq. There is no reason whatsoever for the US to even be in conflict with Iraq. I remember watching television network news coverage of the Iraq-Iran war twenty years ago where Saddam Hussein was depicted as a faithful American ally and a benevolent friend of peace, democracy and freedom. Saddam has never practiced imperialism outside of his own backyard. Iraq invaded its border state of Iran in 1980 only after Iran threatened to export its Shiah fundamentalist revolution to secular Iraq. Iraq invaded its border state of Kuwait in 1990 only after Kuwait was found to be stealing oil from Iraqi oil fields and only after having been given an implicit go-ahead by the US. This is not to say that Iraq's aggression against its neighbors has been justifiable. However, this aggression has been no more comprehensive than aggression by the American state against border nations (Mexico and the Indian nations) early in its history. Certainly, the US has had no legitimate defensive interest in inserting itself into conflicts between Iraq and its neighbors. The effective way for the US to reduce the risk of potential future terrorist threats from Iraq would be a unilateral cessation of hostilities with Iraq and the undertaking of a peace intiative towards that nation.

Saddam Hussein is a despotic ruler but no more so than many, if not most, other heads of state. Until their nation was reduced to a pre-industrial state by the US/UN military assault of 1991 and twelve subsequent years of tyrannical sanctions, the Iraqis maintained the highest standard of living of any Arab nation. Christians and other religious minorities continue to enjoy greater freedom of worship and higher social standing in Iraq than in virtually any other Muslim country. From what I understand, firearms are sold retail and over the counter in Iraq. This is certainly not the case in allegedly "free" or "pro-American" nations such as England, Australia or Japan. The conservative journalist Taki Theodoracopulos observed during his many visits to Iraq that ordinary citizens are typically left alone so long as they do not threaten or publicly attack the government. Such is the case in most Third World nations. Among America's formal or tacit allies in the Middle East and South Asia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia prohibit public worship by any non-Islamic religious community, India is ruled by a Hindu-fascist party that sanctions private mob violence against its Muslim and Christian minorities, Egypt allows police torture of criminal suspects, Pakistan is a one-man military dictatorship, Indonesia has engaged in Pol Pot-like genocide against the Timorese people and, of course, there is Israel's ongoing brutalization of the Palestinians.

Last year, Saddam granted amnesty to virtually all prisoners in Iraq, foreign spies excepted. Thieves were pardoned on the condition that they repay victims. Even murderers were given clemency provided the victim's mother agreed. This is far more magnanimous a gesture than Dubya would ever agree to. Mr. Bush presides over a federal prison system where thousands languish. More than three quarters of these people are imprisoned under byzantine federal tax, firearms, drug or environmental laws or became snared in the legal maze that typically accompanies federal regulatory schemes. Bush has the power of executive pardon and could, with a word, order the release of all of these people. Of course, Mr. Hussein's granting of near universal amnesty was not done out of his own innate goodness. Saddam likely needs his prison guards, and probably the prisoners as well, for his regular army and civilian militias that are currently being mobilized to resist a US invasion.

Whenever the state begins to beat the drums of war, real or imaginary atrocities perpetrated by the official enemy begin to be played up and blown out of proportion, usually with a good deal of hypocrisy on the part of the war propagandists. Thus far, I have heard, from various sources, tales of Saddam publicly beheading his political rivals. Saddam rules his regime the way mob bosses run their respective crime "families" — merciless to enemies but generally ignoring everyone else. I suspected most of these decapitatees were simply rival political thugs seeking to replace Hussein's state with a tyrannical regime of their own so I see no reason to be concerned about their fate. Recently, I heard a story about how Saddam allegedly had his operatives shoot schoolchildren who failed to cheer loudly enough at a state-sponsored rally. While it would not surprise me a bit if this were indeed true, it should be remembered that even the UN has aknowledged that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children have died needlessly from malnutrition or preventable diseases as a direct result of Western sanctions targeting Iraq's civilian population, an acceptable cost according to former US Secretary of State Madeleine Half-Wit.

War propaganda often takes on absurd characteristics. The current war is no exception. Recently, White House Secretary of Lies Ari Fleischer, an Israeli citizen (hey, no conflict of interest there), insisted that the President "knows things" that we ignorant commoners do not and therefore we should simply follow the Maximum Leader blindly into war. I was immediately reminded of a television interview with Richard Nixon I watched years ago where the interviewer (Mike Wallace, if I remember correctly) pointed out that Mr. Nixon had campaigned for the Presidency in 1968 on a promise that he possessed a "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam. When asked if there had indeed been such a plan, Nixon matter-of-factly shook his head to indicate a "no" answer and stated that the alleged plan was simply a "figment of the imagination". Bush continues to insist that this a war for "freedom", as if he had any conception of the idea, and as if Saddam is going to invade the US and declare the Bill of Rights null and void, something that George's buddy John Ashcroft is doing quite well on his own.

The proposed invasion of Iraq is also presented as an effort to "liberate" the Iraqi people which will doubtlessly be met with unceasing gratitude on their part. Perhaps this is why gun shops in Iraq are selling out their inventory to private Iraqi citizens preparing for the invasion and civilian militias, some created by the state but others organized privately by tribal and clan leaders, are beginning to form. Few people welcome a foreign invasion of their country, no matter how much they may hate their own government. Even Soviet citizens living under the arch-tyrant Stalin rallied to the defense of "mother Russia" when the German invaders came. Speaking of Germany, the Hitler analogy is once again being invoked to justify an assault on Iraq. Saddam must be stopped lest the mistake of failing to curb Hitler's ambitions in time to prevent World War Two and the Holocaust be repeated. Aside from the fact that Hitler commanded one of the most powerful states in history while Saddam controls a militarily and economically crippled Third World country, there are some other problems with this argument. Hitler was actually moving eastward toward the Soviet Union and away from the Western democracies when militarily unprepared England and France initiated a declaration of war against Germany. Subsequently, France was militarily defeated after six weeks and the Germans almost made it across the English channel into England itself before being turned back at the Battle of Britain. The Western nations could have slowed down the escalation of the Holocaust considerably by simply bombing and disrupting European railroad lines and allowing Jewish refugees into their respective nations and colonies, both of which they failed to do, although England and America both engaged in large scale terror bombings of civilian targets at Dresden and elsewhere while the Holocaust was in progress.

No doubt there are many reasons why the Bush administration wishes to conquer Iraq. After months of denying that oil was in any way a factor in the formulation of Iraq policy, administration sources have now indicated that they might be interested in Iraq's oil deposits (the second largest in the world) after all, but only for the purpose of "rebuilding" an Iraq that the US has spent a dozen years trying to destroy and "sharing the wealth" allegedly denied to Iraqis by Saddam Hussein, but not by US/UN sanctions, of course. The picture becomes more complete when we recognize the ties of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to the Haliburton oil corporation, which rushed to do business in Iraq following a partial lifting of sanctions in 1998. Israel has predictably been a leading cheerleader for a US war with Iraq, and with the Israeli lobby being one of the strongest of all US lobbies and prominent Israeli partisans like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz holding high-level positions in the administration, the Israelis are likely to get their way. There is also the matter of the fanatically pro-Israel dispensationalist Christian elements among Bush's grassroots support base, the influence of neoconservative ideology on the administration, the ongoing family feud between the Bushes and the Husseins, the President's concern for his own legacy, possibly Iraq's outstanding international debts and, of course, the US government's desire to consolidate the New World Order under its own rule and to eliminate NWO-resistant nations like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, et al. The biggest gang in town wishes to eliminate its smaller, less powerful rivals. Consequences of a US attack on Iraq are potentially catastrophic.

The best possible scenario that has any chance of actually transpiring would be a short and quick war, with few civilian or military casualties on either side, followed by the replacement of Saddam with a regime that is at least tolerable to the average Iraqi with a US military withdrawal following soon afterward and the avoidance of both internal ethnic or religious skirmishes in Iraq or terrorist retaliation against America. Of course, this is the least likely scenario. It is quite possible that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians or conscripts will be killed in the invasion along with thousands of American soldiers who have been seduced into military service under largely fraudulent pretenses. The invasion could escalate into ethnic cleansing or civil war within Iraq or even a large scale regional war in the Middle East. Reportedly, the Pentagon has been ordered to draw up plans for a potential invasion of Iran or Syria as well. If such a plan is carried out, the US would likely find itself immersed in World War Three with the entire Muslim world and facing ongoing terrorist assaults of the 9-11 variety. Neoconservative ideologues and Zionist fanatics, such as the repulsive Norman Podhoretz, have expressed hopes for precisely such a scenario. With nothing left to lose, Saddam may well unload his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons on American troops, Israel, surrounding nations or even his own people, or maybe he will secretly ship these weapons to whatever bands of terrorists express an interest in them. Even those arch-doves at the CIA have argued that this is the main danger posed by Saddam Hussein, in direct contradiction of the Bush administration's rhetoric.

From an anarchist perspective, one of the most intriguing aspects of the US-Iraq conflict is the magnificent way in which the true nature of the state is being exposed. The great sociologist Franz Oppenheimer argued that the state is fundamentally rooted in conquest and slavery and exists for no real purpose other than the maintenance of its own power. Rothbard, echoing Augustine, insisted that the state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large. One of the most important aspects of libertarian theory is the idea that ordinary rules of civilization ought to apply to states as well as private individuals. It is just as unacceptable for the state to engage in murder, robbery and slavery as it is for an ordinary citizen to do so. With this in mind, the solution I might favor to the US-Iraq conflict is the one suggested at one point by the Iraqi Vice-President. Namely, an old fashioned duel between Bush and his cronies and Saddam and his cronies. These two teams of degenerates, leaders of criminal gangs that they are, should simply meet at some neutral location, like the Swiss Alps, and "have it out" in the same manner as the Clantons and the Earps at the OK Corral. Whichever side came out the loser, it would not exactly be a tremendous loss to mankind.
The most cheerful aspect of Bush's drive to war is that so many people are already on to him. Most other nations have refused to endorse his agenda and much of the US public is skeptical as well. An antiwar movement, the largest to date to form prior to the commencement of an actual war, is already beginning to grow and develop. Even the likes of General Schwarzkopf have expressed doubts about the administration's motives and competence and called for granting the inspectors more time. Inspections or no inspections, a US military assault on Iraq would be an act of naked aggression with all of the usual, predictable consequences of aggression for both victim and perpetrator alike. And this is the best argument against invading Iraq.


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