About Our Epidemic of Sexual Aggression

Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons: The sex-abuse crisis presents a moment for the Church to communicate more fully the Lord’s liberating truth about human sexuality.

The current revelations of an epidemic of sexually aggressive behaviors (SAB) against women, particularly by men in the media over many decades, has led to calls to address this highly prevalent “disease” in our culture.

Peggy Noonan, however, has boldly identified its spiritual origins in the Wall Street Journal

An aging Catholic priest suggested to a friend that all this was inevitable. “Contraception degenerates men,” he said, as does abortion. Once you separate sex from its seriousness, once you separate it from its life-changing, life-giving potential, men will come to see it as just another want, a desire like any other. Once they think that, then they’ll see sexual violations as less serious, less charged, less full of weight. They’ll be more able to rationalize. It’s only petty theft, a pack of chewing gum on the counter, and I took it. 

The crisis provides an opportunity to acknowledge the full extent of SAB and, especially, its enablement by the culture, families, and schools because of the failure to take seriously the dangers and harm of using persons as sexual objects.

This crisis is not limited to adult males. The troubling reality is that this epidemic is prevalent in adult females, as well as in singles and in adolescents of both sexes.

A recent clinical experience with an adolescent male demonstrates this reality. When he refused the request of a female high school classmate to have sex, she responded with the hostile, insulting comment that he must be homosexual. This was followed that night by a telephone call from her irate mother to his mother, claiming that he was harming her daughter’s self-esteem and her right to have good sexual relationships.

Another example: a college freshman told her mother that the only reason she refused to date anyone in the Catholic high school she attended was because the males expected sex on the first and all following dates.

Many Catholic parents and educators do not recognize or are in complete denial about the extent of SAB in young people, its support by the contraceptive mentality, and its enablement, particularly by females, who crave acceptance and affirmation.

Over the past forty years as a busy psychiatrist, on many days I have felt like an army medic on a battlefield littered with severely wounded adults, teens, and children who have been used as sexual objects by other adults or by their peers. Their symptoms are similar to those with posttraumatic stress disorders.

A number of psychological conflicts are present among those who engage in SAB – the leading problem being severe selfishness/narcissism. This personality disorder is widespread in our time and results in the belief that one has the right to use others as sexual objects.

A leading academic psychologist on narcissism, Dr. Jean Twenge has examined this serious personality disorder in youth and has rightly entitled her book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement because what we are seeing is definitely of epidemic proportions.

Many young people have absorbed this model through exposure to the same personality weakness in one or both parents – or were never taught by parents how to grow in virtues of generosity and self-control to overcome it.

Other important psychological origins of SAB include severe lack of confidence (most often, from rejection experiences in the father relationship and to a lesser degree with mothers); dominating and controlling compulsions; intense loneliness; strong anger that is misdirected sexually; abusive treatment by a spouse, parent, or peers; mistrust of one’s spouse and severe stress.

These factors regularly lead to compulsive pornography use and later SAB.

Such psychological conflicts can be addressed by a commitment to grow in forming and maintaining a healthy personality. This requires a decision to engage in the hard work of pursuing virtues such as respect for control issues, self-denial for selfishness, forgiveness for anger, trust for emotionally distant behaviors, hope and cheerful self-giving for loneliness, and faith for severe stress and anxiety.

The leading cultural factor in this epidemic is the media – particularly television shows and movies whose goals are celebrating sexual “freedom.” Hostility toward Judeo-Christian morality among politicians, educators, celebrities, and public figures is also a contributing factor to SAB.

St. John Paul II’s writing can be an important place to begin in countering SAB in the culture, especially his Letter to Women, which provides strong guidelines for appreciating how women should be valued and treated.

He also offers a crystal clear understanding God’s plan for sexuality in Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World). He wrote there:

. . . husbands and wives should first of all recognize clearly the teaching of Humanae Vitae as indicating the norm for the exercise of their sexuality and they should endeavor to establish the conditions necessary for observing that norm. [34]

Less well-known, but also quite important is The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality,which was released by the Pontifical Council on the Family during the pontificate of St. John Paul II, and can point us towards the cultural purification process needed to reduce the epidemic of sexually aggressive behaviors.

This current sexual-abuse crisis presents an important moment for the Church to communicate more fully – and without fear – the Lord’s liberating truth about human sexuality by placing it, finally, on a lampstand where it can shed some light in a darkened age. It is time to bring to an end the decades of silence about this much-needed truth, beginning with responsible and conscientious parents who, further, can count on support and backup from Catholic educators, priests, and bishops.

Rick Fitzgibbons, M.D.

Rick Fitzgibbons, M.D. is a psychiatrist in Conshohocken, PA who has treated youth and adults with gender dysphoria, and written on the topic. He is the co-author of Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope .

RELATED ARTICLE: Can the Church Recover Its Fighting Spirit?

EDITORS NOTE: The featured painting is titled Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio, 1599 [Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome] © 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Defining Religion

The American Founding Fathers gave much thought to the proper relations between church and state. They did this when they put the “no religious test” provision into the U.S. Constitution. They did it again when, a few years later, they drafted the First Amendment with its two religion clauses pertaining to “free exercise” and “no establishment.” Earlier, Jefferson and Madison did it when they drafted the Virginia statute of religious liberties.

If you had asked the Founders for a general definition of religion, they would probably have given examples: Christianity is a religion, or rather that the many branches of Christianity are so many religions. Islam is a religion, as are Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. And then there were the pagan religions of ancient Greece and Rome, the many religions found among American Indians, and many other religions around the world and throughout history.

They might have disagreed with one another if asked, “Is Deism a religion?” Some would have said no, arguing that Deism, while it includes a system of belief and even a system or morality, lacks a system of worship; and worship is an essential element of religion. What’s more, the objectors might add, the Deists of the world don’t constitute a sacred community, whereas all genuine religions are felt by their adherents to be sacred communities.

Some of the Founders, on the other hand, would have said yes to the question of whether Deism is a religion. Some (e.g., Jefferson) might even have gone so far as to say that Deism is the world’s one true religion. And to the objection that Deists don’t have a system of worship, they could answer that Deists do indeed worship God, not by wasting an hour or two in church on Sunday mornings, but by promoting the happiness of God’s human creatures.

As for the objection that Deists don’t constitute a sacred community, a Deist could reply: “We are a sacred community, not indeed a structured, hierarchical community, but a kind of invisible church – as befits free men and women.”

Now, let’s say our Founders had the ability to look ahead to the 20th century. What would they have said about the Communist and Nazi parties? Would these count as religions in their eyes? After all, they provided their faithful members with some of the important psychological satisfactions that conventionally religious persons received from traditional religions. If you were a Communist in the heyday of that movement, you had the feeling that your life was meaningful.

You as a mere individual, a speck of human dust floating in this immense universe, may not be of any importance. But who can doubt that the CP is a thing of importance? And so you, as part of the CP, are important – just as a person’s finger, unimportant and meaningless all by itself, is important and meaningful as part of a living body.

Further, as a member of the Party you are given a moral code. It tells you how to conduct your life. It tells you what’s right and what’s wrong. It is right to fight against capitalism and in support of the hundreds of millions of victims of capitalism both at home and abroad. It is wrong to co-operate with the police in their defense of the capitalist-imperial regime, or to nod your agreement with journalists who defend the capitalist ideology and its pseudo-democratic political parties. It is right to violate the rules of conventional morality when these violations advance the noble Communist cause, which is the cause of mankind.

And if you were a German Nazi in the heyday of Nazism, you were able to obtain similar quasi-religious satisfactions – a feeling that your life is meaningful plus a code of ethics, even though the Nazi code happened to be somewhat different from the Communist code.

Do we have similar phenomena in the USA today – I mean thoroughly secularized ideological movements that function very like a religion? Yes, I think so. For many women, feminism has become a quasi-religion, and for many gays and lesbians, the homosexualist movement has been a quasi-religion.

I think feminism-as-a-religion, while not yet dead, is over the hill; its heyday was the 1970s and 1980s. But the LGBT movement is still going strong. My guess is that it has not yet reached its peak.

More generally, we have what is often called secular humanism: a comprehensive worldview that includes, as subsections of itself, the two movements just mentioned. This larger movement is characterized by (1) atheism or near-atheism, (2) a disbelief in life after death, (3) moral relativism, (4) a great belief that individual persons should be free to do whatever they wish, provided they don’t harm others in a tangible and obvious way, (5) a great belief in sexual freedom, and (6) a confidence that the state – properly staffed, organized, and funded – can guarantee a high degree of average human happiness.

It is clear that our Founding Fathers didn’t want the state to promote, for example, the views of the Episcopal Church to the detriment of the views of Baptist or Presbyterian churches. But would the founders be okay with the promotion of secular humanism to the detriment of old-fashioned Christianity? Yet that’s exactly what happens when the state promotes the values of secular humanism to the detriment of the values of traditional Christianity – for instance, when public school teacher A is free to tell his/her pupils that same-sex marriage is a good thing while public school teacher B is forbidden to tell his/her pupils that abortion is wrong.

I will be told that secular humanism is a philosophy, not a religion, and that the state, which has no right to promote a religion, has every right to promote a philosophy if it judges this philosophy to be true. I reply that that is a distinction without a real difference – and confusion on this point is doing great damage to our constitutionally protected religious liberty.

David Carlin

David Carlin

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

RELATED ARTICLE: What the Founders Understood About Religious Freedom That We Must Recover

EDITORS NOTE: © 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own. The featured image is by Simone Golob/Corbis.

Political “Science” – in Good Faith

Few contemporary political science students know the checkered history of their discipline, which has principally become an empirical field devoid of metaphysical questions. Aristotle, the “father of political science,” argued, however, that, in a properly and prudently governed polis, the good citizen will be coincident with the good man.

The nature of goodness was thus an essential matter of political inquiry. That simple idea is profoundly significant, for it captures a key element of genuine political science, which aims at developing and inculcating virtue. “The main concern of politics,” Aristotle writes in the Nicomachean Ethics, “is to engender a certain character in the citizens and to make them good and disposed to perform noble actions.”

St. Thomas Aquinas thought that political administration was good if, and to the extent that, it was ordered to holiness. Good people would lead good governments; without virtuous leadership, the citizens would largely fail in the cultivation and practice of virtue. In fact, Aquinas quotes from Proverbs 28:12, 15, 28 and 29:2, the theme of which is that oppressive rulers are ravenous beasts who impair virtue and the common good.

By “virtue,” Aristotle meant excellence of the soul (as did Aquinas), so that “the student of politics must obviously have some knowledge of the working of the soul.” Obviously? Today’s academics?

When almost two millennia later Machiavelli taught that rulers required virtù (not virtue), he argued for might over right, and for the acquisition of power regardless of divine consequences. If Solomon, in Proverbs, warned against oppressive princes, Machiavelli exalted them as effective, contending that the love of power was greater by far – and much more practical – than the power of love.

Since then, political science had become more concerned with what is, than with what ought to be. Cynics argue that we have no reliable measurements of what virtue is, but we have a warehouse of tools for measuring more “useful” matters (such as voter tabulations and public opinion polls).

Lenin defined politics as Kto/kovo (or Who/whom – who does what to whom?) Harold Lasswell (1902-1978) described politics as “who gets what, when, how.” And systems theorist David Easton (1917-2014) said that politics is “the authoritative allocation of values.” Nothing there about virtue, rectitude, or nobility. Nothing there, either, consistent with the Catechism’s observation that “ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (#407).

The American man of letters Russell Kirk (1918-1994), however, struggled to restore the Aristotelian-Thomist understanding that politics is “the application of ethics to the concerns of the commonwealth.” There is a necessary connection, Kirk and his students would say, between Athens and Jerusalem, between the virtues of love and of prudence, between Ought and Is. In conscientiously and continuously seeking that connection between the Perfect and the Possible, one finds both the purpose and the pity of politics.

Philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) saw clearly the danger of our day, warning of the evil sure to result from “the degradation of political science to a handmaid of the powers that be.” Genuine political wisdom proceeds, from knowledge that “the truth of man and the truth of God are inseparably one.” There is a measure, after all, for determining right and wrong in political life. If Protagoras and all subsequent positivists or secularists proclaim, “man is the measure,” they are grievously mistaken, for, as Plato told us, “God is the measure.”

In the absence of proper diagnosis – that “the whole of man’s history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil” (Gaudium et Spes 37) – the medicine of politics curdles and corrupts. Politics is seen either as messianic (with would-be political saviors in the political arena) or as despicable (with debauched despots vying for power and attention).

Here, then, is modern politics: a political convention in Charlotte which boos God and a raft of politicians who, as Walter Lippmann once put it, “advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or otherwise manage to manipulate” the public, to whom they present themselves as servants of the people.

When we scoff at the true, the good, and the beautiful; when we worship the false and fleeting and call the profane sacred; when we conflate what is noble with what is noisome; when fraudulent education creates, as C. S. Lewis said, “men without chests” – then we will continue to look for solutions to problems in all the wrong places and by all the wrong means. We will create hell and call it heaven; we will kill babies and the elderly and call it mercy (cf. Is 5:20). We will cheer what is filthy and loathsome and call it sublime. We will not know that we do not know. And we will not care, for a drugged and decadent society will divert us.

And what of those who seek to restore virtue in public policy and to remind us that we are creatures of a loving God? What of those who speak faithfully of the moral law and of a political science which tells us – against those who boo God – that we are neither angels nor beasts but beings made in His image and His likeness, trying to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12)?

Political science, wisely taught and wisely practiced, tells us always that we must know, first, Whose we are (1 Cor 7:6:19, 7:23). Remembering that, we might heed Churchill’s advice: “The day may dawn when fair play, love for one’s fellow men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forward serene and triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinchnever wearynever despair.”

James H. Toner

Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Air War College, and author of Morals Under the Gun and other books. He has also taught at Notre Dame, Norwich, Auburn, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary.

EDITORS NOTE: © 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Libs on Speech: Succumb, All Ye Faithful

Churches used to be where people went to escape the turmoil of the world. Now, with an outbreak of violence, the turmoil is coming to them. A wave of radicalism is boiling over, and America’s houses of worship are bearing the brunt. In the three months between January and March, there were more than 100 bomb threats called into Jewish community centers. Arsonists are attacking mosques at a furious rate. And I don’t have to tell you what happened at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

“Unfortunately, our society no longer seems to place the same value on religious belief,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said somberly.

“In fact, it often feels that in this modern society, religion is met with disdain and an attitude of militant secularization. We live in a time where violence and threats of violence are routinely used to scare people from practicing their religious beliefs.” As a culture, he went on, “we must make clear that we value this vital right to exercise religious freedom, and do what we can to encourage and foster this faith, for the good of the country. That’s why it is important we make clear that threatening places of worship, threatening religious institutions, and deterring good people from practicing their faith and exercising their right to do so, will not be tolerated.”

This week, members of Congress put their full force behind his words, passing — almost unanimously — a bill called the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017. By a vote of 402-2, leaders from both parties are sending a powerful warning to anyone targeting men and women of faith: you will pay. Specifically, the law would give faith leaders more tools to fight this outbreak of violence, vandalism, and harassment. Threats to property, like bomb threats or anything else that keeps Americans from worshipping, will be severely punished. Congress wants to clamp down on the extremists putting faith in the crosshairs, upping the penalties to three years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. It’s an important policy, but an even more significant message that this Congress won’t stand by while evil men try to shake the faith of our country.

We applaud the House for protecting the churches physically — now it’s time to protect their freedom to speak. The secular Left is doing everything it can to keep that from happening, including an impressive takeover of the mainstream media’s talking points on the Johnson Amendment. For the last couple of weeks, while Congress deals with the snags in the two tax bills, liberals have ramped up their misinformation machine — spitting out dire warnings about the supposed effects of letting religious groups speak openly.

Their predictions, that churches will become underground PACs which funnel “dark money” through the process, is being passed off as legitimate journalism in places like CNN (which is apparently less concerned about fact-checking than it is about keeping Christians from engaging in the political process). Liberals scream that this is campaign finance law in disguise, another ridiculous talking point that the authors of the legislation have repeatedly debunked. Under the language of the House’s tax bill, nonprofits can use political speech only in the ordinary course of business and with very limited money.

As Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), House Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) have explained until they’re blue in the face that there is absolutely no way under this bill that churches are suddenly going to become underground party operatives. This is just about leveling the playing field that was tipped more than 60 years ago — and interpreted by liberal administrations like Obama’s as an excuse to go after religious groups with the full weight of the IRS behind them.

If the Senate agrees to the House language, Lankford, Scalise, Hice and Johnson explain, this is what will happen (hardly the stuff of nightmares): “An environmental nonprofit that sends out an e-newsletter educating its readers about the climate positions of candidates wouldn’t have to fear an audit. A church employee who distributes election voter guides (for which her church did not incur any cost for distribution) could not be punished by the IRS.” Besides, the trio continues:

“The bill also requires that any expenditure related to these activities are de minimis — that is, only minimal and not outside the usual expenses of the organization — to ensure that the organization’s primary function remains charitable or religious in nature… The criticism that our legislation would subsidize religious organizations’ politics demonstrates a double standard for faith-based entities. Leaders and employees of other entities that receive federal funding — such as hospitals and universities — are welcome to advocate for political causes and contribute to them. The IRS does not threaten to punish them when they engage in political speech.”

Liberals are scared all right — but not of churches becoming political PACs (a claim even they can’t substantiate). What they’re terrified of is greater engagement from the Christian community. After last year’s election, they understand how influential evangelicals can be, and they’ll do anything to keep history from repeating itself. If they can keep pastors from firing up their congregations on moral issues, they think they can limit the churches’ influence in the culture. The Framers, John Daniel Davidson points out in the Federalist, would have found this whole idea absurd. “Certainly, the idea that pastors and other clergy aren’t allowed to weigh in on elections or political issues from the pulpit would have struck the Founding Fathers as not only strange but inimical to the idea of a constitutional republic (especially since one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon, was a Presbyterian minster).”

“Pastors, rabbis, and imams can’t be expected to stay silent on social matters like abortion, gay marriage, and transgenderism — or, more to the point, stay silent about candidates who espouse views of those matters that are hostile to the teachings of their faith. The same goes for more conventional political matters, such as war, immigration, and welfare. Religion has a lot to say about all those things, and religious leaders have a First Amendment right to speak to their congregations candidly about them — and about the candidates and officeholders who will make laws pertaining to them,” Davidson argues.

This is a priority of the president, as he reiterated to me again yesterday at a meeting with evangelical leaders in the Oval Office — and it should continue to be a priority of this Congress as it finishes up its work on tax reform.

Contact your leaders and remind them that free speech is for everyone.

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


D.C. Metro Tries to Derail Speech

A New Year’s Revolution for the Military?

Fake News: Pope Francis Is Not Changing the Lord’s Prayer!

It appears that President Trump isn’t the only world leader who suffers from fake news reports. The Holy See Pope Francis has fallen victim to the same shoddy reporting.

In The National Catholic Register Jimmy Akin in an article titled “No, Pope Francis Is Not Changing the Lord’s Prayer” reports:

This is a classic case of the pope saying something and the media distorting it.

Newspapers and websites erupted over the weekend with headlines like:

Shame on all of them.

The pope didn’t call for any changes.

This is a classic case of the pope saying something and the media going hog-wild and completely distorting it.

How did all this start?

Italian television aired an hourlong interview with Pope Francis in which he was asked about a new version of the Lord’s Prayer in France.

You can watch the interview (in Italian) here.

What did the French church do?

They adopted a new translation of the Lord’s Prayer for use in the liturgy. It went into effect on the first Sunday of Advent (which is why Pope Francis was being asked about it).

Basically, they changed the line that in English reads “and lead us not into temptation” to one that means “do not let us fall into temptation.”

What did Pope Francis say about this?

He reportedly said:

The French have changed the text and their translation says “don’t let me fall into temptation,” . . . It’s me who falls. It’s not Him who pushes me into temptation, as if I fell. A father doesn’t do that. A father helps you to get up right away. The one who leads into temptation is Satan.

Various accounts also report him saying that the “lead us not into temptation” rendering is not a good translation because it is misleading to modern ears.

So he isn’t about to impose a new translation on everybody?

Read more.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

The Lord’s Prayer resembles other prayers that came out of the Jewish matrix of Jesus’ time and contains three common elements of Jewish prayers: praise, petition, and a yearning for the coming kingdom of God. It consists of an introductory address and seven petitions. The Matthean version used by the Roman Catholic Church is as follows:

Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

The words of the Son of God as written in the Gospel of St. Matthew 6:9-13 are not changing.

Blessings and Merry Christmas.

On Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem

When President Donald Trump announced that the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Muslim world reacted with outrage and threats. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of “dangerous consequences.” The spokesman for Turkish president Erdogan warned that the move was a “grave mistake” because “Jerusalem is our red line.” Bekir Bozdag, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the move would plunge the world “into a fire with no end in sight.” And Saudi Arabia’s King Salman warned that the move “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims all over the world.”

The leaders of the Western world reacted in similar fashion. Pope Francis, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron all criticized Trump’s announcement. Meanwhile, the patriarchs and heads of the local churches in Jerusalem sent a letter to President Trump warning that the transfer of the embassy “will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence, and suffering in Jerusalem.”

But there is an obvious contradiction here. As Jihad Watch editor Robert Spencer points out in a recent column, these leaders have a record of defending Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, which is being perverted by only a handful of extremists. Pope Francis, for example, has said that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” On another occasion he drew a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism, saying, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.” For over a decade now, various Church leaders and secular leaders have assured us that violence has nothing to do with Islam.

But if that’s what they really believe, why should they worry that moving an embassy would create – to quote from the letter of the church leaders in Jerusalem – “hatred, conflict, violence, and suffering.”

By assuming that Muslims would riot over the announcement, says Spencer, the pope and other leaders are inadvertently admitting the truth about Islam: “that the numerous incitements to violence and hatred in the Quran and Sunnah do tend to lead to Muslims behaving violently at the drop of a hat, or the move of an embassy.”

After all, we are not talking here about a tiny minority whose actions would be rejected by the great majority, but about widespread rioting and violence on a global scale – “plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight,” as Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister put it.

And, apparently, the “fire” would be justified because, as King Salman said, the move “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims all over the world.” It’s a safe bet that King Salman understands Islam better than do Merkel, Macron, May, and the Holy Father. Yet he is even more concerned than they.

He seems to assume that Muslims are highly prone to violence. He understands that they are easily provoked because their religion and their religious leaders tell them to be. Moreover, as he must know, almost anything might be considered provocative. Last July, a “day of rage” resulting in the murder of an Israeli family was called because metal detectors had been installed on the Temple Mount as a security measure. Even Pope Benedict’s measured address to an academic gathering at the University of Regensburg led to global rioting and killing.

There is no end to the number of things that offend Muslims. This, along with numerous other differences, should lay to rest the quaint notion that there is a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism. They are very different faiths. No one worries about global rioting should Catholics be offended by a slight to their faith. Yet if any group has cause to riot, it is Catholics and other Christians. Christians in many parts of the Islamic world face daily persecution and even extermination. They are beaten, raped, and decapitated, and their churches are burned to the ground.

So on the one hand, Muslim believers are ready to commit mayhem over an academic talk or the moving of an embassy, and on the other hand, Christians remain peaceful even though their brethren are being slaughtered and burned alive. How much longer, one wonders, will Church leaders collaborate in the false assertion that Islam and Christianity are equally peaceful faiths?

Religious and secular leaders are caught in a flagrant contradiction. They tell us that Islam is a religion of peace and justice, yet they warn us not to provoke its followers in any way. Don’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Don’t draw cartoons that might offend Muslims. Don’t wear religious symbols that might provoke them. Cover your women and your statutes. Don’t ring church bells in the vicinity of Muslims. Don’t criticize them for persecuting Christians because, as Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University told Pope Francis, such criticism is a “red line” that must not be crossed.

Just stay quiet and you’ll be okay.” That’s what Mohamed Atta told the passengers on American Airlines flight 11 shortly before it flew into the World Trade Center. It wasn’t good advice then. And it’s not good advice now. As Islam expands its global reach, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the “don’t-do-anything-to-provoke-them” policy isn’t working, and never will.

William Kilpatrick

William Kilpatrick

William Kilpatrick is the author of Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West, and a new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, The Turning Point Project.

EDITORS NOTE: © 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Jerusalem is mentioned over 600 times in the Holy Bible — Is Pope Francis ignoring the scriptures?

On December 23rd, 2016 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 was adopted. The United States abstained from voting on the resolution. Resolution 2334 mentions Jerusalem multiple times:

1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major
obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;

NOTE: A Google search of “Vatican statement on UN Resolution 2334” found no results.

According to Wikipedia:

Pope Francis expressed sympathy to the Palestinian cause already during his visit to the Palestinian Authority in May 2014. On May 13, 2015, the Vatican announced the intention to sign its first treaty with the State of Palestine after formally recognizing it as a state in February 2013.[9] The treaty was signed on June 26, 2015.[10] Following recognition of the State of Palestine, Pope Francis proceeded to establish diplomatic relations with that state, and on January 14, 2017 a Palestinian embassy to the Vatican was officially opened.[11]

On December 10th, 2017 Pope Francis said, “I make a heartfelt appeal so that all commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city, in conformity with the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations.”

The statement by Pope Francis that “all must commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city” of Jerusalem is a lie of both omission and commission.

Resolution 2334 did change the status quo of the City of Jerusalem. The Vatican was apparently silent. The Vatican and Pope Francis are clearly anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, given the above major events.

Psalm 122:3-5 ESV reads,

Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.”

Does Pope Francis not understand the Holy Bible? Is Pope Francis ignoring the Word of God? Is Pope Francis putting politics before Catholic principles?

There are over 600 references to the City of Jerusalem in the Holy Bible. Among them are:

Isaiah 62:1 ESV, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.”

2 Chronicles 6:6 when God said, “But I chose Jerusalem for My Name to be there, and I chose David to rule over My people Israel.”

In a World Net Daily op-ed titled “10 biblical reasons behind Trump’s Jerusalem decision” Rabbi Tuly Weisz writes:

This week Jews and Christian Zionists are rejoicing that President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel, and “the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.” He made his remarks from a room set with a Christmas backdrop, the day before the White House Hanukkah party.

Here are 10 biblical reasons Trump made the right decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

  1. Jerusalem is mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible.
  2. King David declared it 3,000 years ago.
  3. The Jews have never forgotten Jerusalem.
  4. The sovereign state of Israel established Jerusalem as its capital city.
  5. Throughout history there has been an uninterrupted Jewish presence in Jerusalem.
  6. Jerusalem is the focus of Jewish practices.
  7. Only Israel protects the holy sites of all faiths.
  8. Jews worldwide pray in the direction of Jerusalem.
  9. American law already requires the embassy to move to Jerusalem.
  10. The name Jerusalem contains a blessing for peace.

Read the Biblical justification for these statements by clicking here.

Pope Francis, as the Bishop of Rome and Holy See, must uphold the Word of God over the resolutions of men. That seems to have slipped his mind?


Trump’s Jerusalem declaration sparks talk of 3rd Temple

Reactions To U.S. President Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement: Hamas, Resistance Axis Call For Violence, Attacks On U.S. Interests; Palestinian Authority, Moderate Arab Countries Express Restrained Condemnation, Hope For Retraction

President Trump Tells The Story Of Hanukkah

On December 7th, 2017 President Donald J. Trump and The First Lady Host a Hanukkah reception in the East Room at the White House.

President Trump during his remarks noted:

This evening we gather to celebrate the story that is told in Jewish homes across the country and all over the world, a story that began more than 2,000 years ago with a tyrant — made practicing the Jewish faith punishable by death. He desecrated the Jewish temple, including the Holy of Holies. But a small band of Jewish patriots rose up, defeated a mighty army, and soon reclaimed their freedom.

But the miracle of the Maccabees did not end there. As they prepared to rededicate the temple, they found only enough oil to light the lamp for a single night. Soon, all were stunned to find that for eight days, the lamp continued to burn brightly — a sign of God’s presence in his dwelling place and a symbol of the faith and resilience of the Jewish people. You do have faith and you do have resilience. (Applause.)

The miracle of Hanukkah is the miracle of Israel. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have endured unthinkable persecution and oppression.

But no force has ever crushed your spirit, and no evil has ever extinguished your faith. And that is why the Jewish people shine as a light to all nations. And right now I’m thinking about what’s going on and the love that’s all over Israel and all about Jerusalem.

Remarks by the President at a Hanukkah Celebration

East Room

7:45 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I know for a fact there are a lot of happy people in this room. (Applause.) Jerusalem.

Thank you. And Melania and I are thrilled to welcome you and so many wonderful friends to the White House. We wish you a very happy Hanukkah, and I think this one will go down as especially special. (Applause.)

I want to thank Vice President Pence and Karen for joining us this evening. (Applause.) Where are they? Where are they? They’re someplace. Come up here, Mike. Get up here. Come on up. Come on, Karen. Get up here. They can get under those ropes, they’re young and strong. Come on up. Great job. As well as Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Shulkin.

I also want to thank our incredible First Lady, Melania. She is with you all the way. (Applause.)

She has worked so hard to make the White House a truly special place for this joyous season. We’ve done this so many evenings now, and I think we set a record two nights ago. We shook hands for three hours and 25 minutes. That’s not fun. Even though I loved the people, that was not fun. (Laughter.)

I am also proud that my beautiful grandchildren — Arabella, Joseph, and Theodore — have joined us tonight — (applause) — right here as we celebrate with all of you the sacred traditions that they observe each year at home.

This evening we gather to celebrate the story that is told in Jewish homes across the country and all over the world, a story that began more than 2,000 years ago with a tyrant — made practicing the Jewish faith punishable by death. He desecrated the Jewish temple, including the Holy of Holies. But a small band of Jewish patriots rose up, defeated a mighty army, and soon reclaimed their freedom.

But the miracle of the Maccabees did not end there. As they prepared to rededicate the temple, they found only enough oil to light the lamp for a single night. Soon, all were stunned to find that for eight days, the lamp continued to burn brightly — a sign of God’s presence in his dwelling place and a symbol of the faith and resilience of the Jewish people. You do have faith and you do have resilience. (Applause.)

The miracle of Hanukkah is the miracle of Israel. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have endured unthinkable persecution and oppression.

But no force has ever crushed your spirit, and no evil has ever extinguished your faith. And that is why the Jewish people shine as a light to all nations. And right now I’m thinking about what’s going on and the love that’s all over Israel and all about Jerusalem. (Applause.)

On behalf of all Americans, I also want to say how grateful I am for Jewish congregations throughout our country. You cherish your families, support your communities, and uplift our beloved country.

Hanukkah is a time for Jewish families around the world to celebrate the miracles of the past and promises of the future. We are proud to stand with the people of Israel and to renew our enduring bond.

This evening, we are blessed to have two very special Hanukkah lamps for this celebration. The menorah on my left has been lit every year since the earliest days of our nation. It comes from the First American Jewish Congregation, whose original members came to this land in the 1650s. That’s a long time ago. It’s a symbol of the history and home the Jewish people made in the United States. Today, we are honored to have with us the congregation’s 10th spiritual leader since the American Revolution, Rabbi Soloveichik. (Applause.) That wasn’t bad. You think that’s an easy one? It’s not. (Laughter.) Thank you, Rabbi, very much for being with us. Thank you, thank you for being with us. We’re also — but he’s so happy with yesterday, that he doesn’t care if I get it exact. (Laughter and applause.) Thank you, Rabbi.

We’re also deeply honored that Louise Lawrence-Israëls is here to share this evening with us and to make a few remarks. Louise is a Holocaust survivor. The first three years of her life were spent in hiding in an attic out of Amsterdam, a row house in Amsterdam — amazing story and amazing situation to be in.

Her family could not light the candles that we’re about to light this evening, but they lit them in their hearts.

On my right is a lamp that survived the Tarnow Ghetto, a city in southern Poland that ravaged and was ravaged by the Holocaust. It will remain unlit in memory of that darkest hour and in order to preserve this relic so that we never, ever, ever forget. And you will never forget.

[T]hank God that a woman who was born into that nightmare of oppression now lives in this land of the free, and that she, along with everyone here tonight, can light the menorah for all the world to see. And the world is watching.

Today, our nation is stronger, and our world is more full of promise — because of the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the faith that burns so brightly in your hearts.

May you all have — (applause) — thank you, thank you, thank you very much. May you all have a truly blessed and happy Hanukkah. God Bless you and God Bless America. (Applause.) Thank you. And congratulations — big day, big event, very important. Congratulations to everybody in the room.

I’d like to invite Louise to say a few words. Louise.


7:52 P.M. EST

The Two Religions of the Koran

These days it’s urgent for Christians to read and understand the Koran in order to get a better handle on a religion that is so much in the headlines. But that asks a lot, because the Koran is a hodgepodge of early and later chapters, arranged in order of length from longer to shorter chapters, thus intermingling the early thoughts of Muhammad from Mecca with the very different sayings after the flight to Medina.

In A Simple Koran, Bill Warner helps to overcome the confusion by rearranging the Koran into chronological order over the twenty-three years in which Muhammad propagated his new religion. This approach, consisting almost entirely of texts from the Koran, with occasional subtitles or explanations, offers a good introduction to how Islam evolved during Muhammad’s life, as well as insights into the crucial division between what Aayan Hirsi Ali has called “Mecca Muslims” and “Medina Muslims.”

The early sections of the Koran, from Mecca, stem from Muhammad’s conversion to monotheism from the multiple polytheistic religions prevailing around the Meccan shrine of the Kaaba. Some sources say that there were as many as 360 deities worshiped in Mecca. Muhammad preached subjection to the one and only God, Allah.

But there was a slip-up: Muhammad seemed to allow three goddesses to share veneration with Allah. According to ‘Ali Dashti’s biography, Twenty-Three Years two verses in Sura 2:19-22 originally said, Have you thought about Lāt and ‘Ozzā? And Manāt, the third one, the other one? Those are the cranes aloft. So their intercession may be hoped for.

This passage seemed to recognize the divinity of the three goddesses, along with Allah. But Allah eventually reprimanded Muhammad for these “Satanic Verses,” which in later versions of the Koran were corrected. Strict monotheism was preached thereafter. (Salman Rushdie wrote a novel involving this passage and is still under the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling for his death.)

The early parts of the Koran re-write the Old Testament, telling stories about how Abraham, Lot, Moses, etc. were all actually Muslims, and how those who rejected Islam ended up in hell. Numerous imaginative stories about Moses appear – usually having little to do with the Biblical version.

Such Islamic revisions of Old Testament histories were accompanied with constant warnings of eternal torture in hell for Kafirs (non-Muslims) who do not convert. This begins a constant theme throughout the Koran, which contains 290 verses about Hell, and over 300 references to the fear of Allah, to whom slavish Islam (“submission”), as to a Master, is required. For example, The Kafirs among the People of the Book and the idolaters will burn for eternity in the Fire of Hell. Of all the created beings, they are the most despicable. (98:6)

In contrast, those who accepted Muhammad’s message were promised a heavenly reward in which they would be “on decorated couches,” waited on by “immortal young boys” bringing fruits and wine and the “flesh of birds,” as well as the amorous attentions of virginal houris.

The Day of the Last Judgment by Mohammad Modabber, 1897 [Reza Abbasi Museum, Tehran]

The people of Mecca, doubting Muhammad’s prophetic credentials, asked him for signs that he was an authentic prophet. Muhammad cited a litany of things as signs – “the succession of night and day,” “the rain which Allah sends,” “lightning,” “the changing of the winds,” “green foliage and grain,” “your slumber during the night and day,” “your quest for Allah’s bounties,” “the ships in the sea like mountains,” etc. Exasperated by the persistent requests for clear signs, Muhammad responds, The signs are in the power of Allah alone. I am only a plain warner. Is it not enough for them that We have revealed to you the Book to be recited to them? (29:48) In other words, the Koran itself is a sufficient miracle confirming him as a prophet.Muhammed didn’t have much success in Mecca; he ended up with only 150 converts. But he had some followers in Medina, and he fled there when the situation became dangerous in Mecca.

The Hegira (emigration) of Muhammad and his disciples to Medina took place in 622. Medina was half Jewish and half Arabian. The Jews, the wealthy class, were largely farmers and craftsmen. They had allies among the Arabs, but an atmosphere of animosity and jealousy prevailed. Some Arabs believed that a prophet would come and lead them to victory over the Jews. Muhammad very soon seemed the one. They took an oath of loyalty to Muhammad, and offered to protect him with arms, if necessary.

Muhammad eventually began to function as a warlord, and started sending fighters on armed raids against trade caravans coming to Mecca. Over nine years, he carried out sixty-five raids (in twenty-seven he was personally present), as well as various assassinations, and executions.

The threats of hell for rejecting Muhammad now became graphic – Allah will “destroy your faces and twist your heads around backwards” (4:47), give unbelievers “clothing of fire,” “pour boiling water on their heads,” “scald their insides and their skin,” and beat them with “iron rods” (22:19).

For Muhammad himself, Allah began to grant special privileges: The spoils of war (limited to one-fifth of the totals), and wives and slave-girls beyond the limits applied to others (Muhammad’s amorous retinue eventually included nine wives and several slave-girls).

A new wave of violence began when the Jews of Medina and even many Arabs rejected Muhammad’s claim to be a prophet sent by Allah. Islamic jihad became essential to spreading Islam in Arabia and elsewhere. A quarter of the verses at Medina are exhortations to jihad, and promises about the rewards not only for the Muslim community but for individual warriors.

In his final years, Muhammad began acting like a prophet/king. Every aspect of life came under his control – times of prayer, food and drink prohibitions, the wearing of veils, inheritance, wills, punishments for crimes, distribution of taxes, etc. – all specified as Allah’s mandates.

In sum, a chronological/biographical reading of the Koran brings out the tremendous differences between the earlier and later parts. There is no jihad in the Meccan Koran, no anti-Semitism, only peaceful calls for conversion. But in Medina, we have the gradual formation of a veritable army, inspired to literally conquer the world for Islam.

The “religion of peace,” therefore, does have some Koranic foundation, but as Islamic history and contemporary events make clear, there is perhaps even greater Koranic justification for violent jihad.

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz is emeritus professor of philosophy at Marquette University. His most recent publications include Natural Law: an Introduction and Reexamination (2004), Five Metaphysical Paradoxes (The 2006 Marquette Aquinas Lecture), The Philosophy of Human Nature (2008), and The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (2010).

RELATED ARTICLE: Bulgaria Moves to Criminalize Radical Islam, Support of Jihad, Sharia, Caliphate

EDITORS NOTE: © 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

VIDEO: America With God or America Without God? A Warning to Every Citizen!

Tom Trento is one of the leading academic activists in the United States. He appeared at the America – The Truth conference in Sarasota, Florida. He discussed what it would be like to have an America with God and an America without God.

Here are his two presentations, each is a must watch for those concerned about the moral compass of America. Given the growing revelations of sexual misconduct and abuse by a wide variety of individuals of all parties his comments are prophetic.

America With God:

America Without God:


A highly skilled debater and dynamic public speaker, exposing the radical agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Trento has degrees in Law Enforcement, Philosophy and Theology. In his extensive travels throughout the United States and Europe, his lectures have exposed Islamic violence and infiltration in government, law enforcement and academic institutions. He is one of the co-authors of Shariah: The Threat to America and appears frequently on major media outlets and talk shows as an authority on Islamic ideology. Mr. Trento’s web site may be viewed at TheUnitedWest.org.

“The Dictator Pope”

Note: This is an all too brief account of a remarkable new book on the pope, which is causing waves in Rome and around the world. Fr. Gerald Murray, Raymond Arroyo, and I will discuss this and other matters in greater detail tomorrow evening on EWTN’s “The World Over,” 8 PM East Coast time (Check local listings for rebroadcasts and postings on YouTube). We began our year-end funding drive on November 8, and I’d like to end it this Friday, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. You’ve already heard more than enough on this from me. There’s still time to click the button. Just do it and do your bit for The Catholic Thing– Robert Royal

The title above is the name of a book that appeared Monday in English (after earlier publication in Italian) by a writer who has assumed a grand Renaissance pseudonym: Marcantonio Colonna (an admiral at Lepanto). He evidently could not publish under his real name, for fear of reprisals. But the case he lays out is largely convincing: that Pope Francis has carefully cultivated an image in public as the apostle of mercy, kindness, and openness; in private, he’s authoritarian, given to profanity-laced outbursts of anger, and manipulative in pursuing his agenda.

This is hardly news, least of all in Rome. This volume, however, is far more probing and detailed than anything that has previously appeared. It sometimes stretches evidence, but the sheer amount of evidence it provides is stunning. About 90 percent of it is simply incontrovertible, and cannot help but clarify who Francis is and what he’s about.

The parts of this story I know best – the Synods on the family that I reported on daily from Rome for TCT – are absolutely reliable. We know, for example, that Pope Francis was quite willing to openly manipulate the Synods by personally appointing supporters of the Kasper Proposal and that he even intervened personally at key points, changing procedures and instructing the bishops about where their deliberations should start – and end.

When Francis cares about something – as Colonna shows – he makes it happen, whatever the opposition (at the Synods, it was considerable). There’s a clear pattern of behavior, whatever uncertainties remain. On the divorced and remarried, the environment, immigrants, “Islamophobia,” the poor, the pope is relentless. But he was not elected to revolutionize marital doctrine or “discipline.” Nor was he chosen to be a player in international politics. He was elected to be a “reformer” who would mainly clean up Vatican finances and deal with the gay lobby, two things that played a role in Benedict’s resignation.

On the financial front, there was a strong start: The council of cardinals, Cardinal Pell’s effort to inject Anglo-Saxon transparency, a new special secretariat on the economy, hiring PriceWaterhouseCoopers to do an external audit. The momentum stalled as the old guard slowly regained control over Vatican finances – and oversight. A series of Vatican Bank presidents, officials, accountants, etc. – probably getting too close to the truth – have been fired without good explanations. (Something similar played out in the Knights of Malta controversy.) Pell had to return to Australia to deal with sexual abuse charges from forty years ago that, suspiciously, resurfaced after being earlier examined and dismissed.

And where was the pope during all of this? He didn’t seem very interested. If he had been, he’d be at least as dogged in dealing with financial reform as he is, say, about global warming. Austen Ivereigh, a British writer and papal fan, entitled his biography The Great Reformer, in part because of Jorge Bergoglio’s alleged role in curbing abuses in Buenos Aires. Colonna doubts the truth of that account, and not only because of Francis’s lack of action in Rome. He thinks the Argentinian stories should be re-examined.

Then there’s the gay mafia. People forget that the occasion for Francis’ famous remark “Who am I to judge?” was not a general comment about homosexuality. It was in response to a question about Msgr. Battista Ricca, who was involved in several notorious homosexual scandals, some right across the river from Buenos Aires in Uruguay. Nonetheless, right after the 2013 papal election, he became the pope’s “eyes and ears” at the Vatican Bank and director of the Casa Santa Marta, where Francis resides.

And then there’s the troubling, casual resurrection of figures like Cardinal Gottfried Daneels, once thoroughly discredited for his support for contraception, divorce, gay marriage, even euthanasia and abortion – and outrageous mishandling of priestly abuse. But he stood with Francis on the balcony of St. Peter’s right after the conclave and read the prayer for the new pope at his inauguration. He was also one of the ringers Francis personally invited to bolster his case at the Synods.

Then there’s the appointment of another radical, Archbishop Paglia, to head the “reformed” John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family. In a remarkably naked authoritarian move, the pope substituted himself for Cardinal Sarah for the institute’s opening academic address in 2016, and spoke of “a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage.” You have to believe that Cardinal Marx was expressing the truth when he said, at the end of the synods, that it was just the beginning.

The least satisfactory part of this book for me is the account of how the “St. Gallen Group” – one of its own members called it a “mafia” – which met to plan opposition to St. JPII and Joseph Ratzinger, identified Jorge Bergoglio as a future papal candidate. He had no global visibility until he gave the concluding address at the 2001 Synod on the role of bishops. NYC’s Cardinal Edward Egan was supposed to do that but stayed home because 9/11 had just happened. The address impressed the synod fathers for its fairness to both sides. Colonna reveals, however, that it was entirely the work of a Synod secretary/speechwriter, Msgr. Daniel Emilio Estivill. We need to know more about how things went, from then to now.

Colonna also weakens his credibility somewhat by repeating rumors that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin convinced Francis to use money from Peter’s Pence to support Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign. No footnotes appear to support this claim, nor does Colonna offer a plausible account of how and why Rome would think Mrs. Clinton – Hilary Clinton? – worth such a risky bet and potential scandal.

Despite a few lapses, the most disturbing element remains: the abundant evidence – confirmed by many particular instances now over years of this papacy – that the pope has little use for established procedures, precedents, even legal structures within the Church. These are not mere trivial rules, Pharisaic legalism, resistance to the Holy Spirit, etc. They are the means by which the Church seeks to be clear, fair, and orderly – and to address unjust actions or abuses by those in power.

When the head of the Church himself does not much feel bound by the tradition or impartial laws he has inherited, what then? That the question even has to be asked is disturbing. Any answer will have to reckon with the eye-opening material in this compelling book.

Robert Royal

Robert Royal

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century, published by Ignatius Press. The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, is now available in paperback from Encounter Books.

EDITORS NOTE: © 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Rebuilding Faith in Egypt

If terrorists hoped to intimidate Egyptian leaders with their deadly mosque attack, it didn’t work. After the brutal murder of 235 worshippers – first with explosions, then gunfire – Cairo isn’t about back down from its promises to protect religious minorities like the ones mowed down late last month.

The grisly scene has become all too familiar here in the U.S., where Sutherland Springs is still trying to piece together their lives from a similar rampage. Now, a half a world away, in a land without the same freedoms, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is doing his best to reassure his people that Egypt won’t back down from its promise to come to the aid of faith communities.

The latest proof? Egypt’s sudden approval of 21 churches’ applications to “restore, expand, and rebuild.” The Christian Post’s Anugrah Kumar reports that the el Sisi government is giving the green light to area pastors and clerics after a 20-year hold on some permits. “A local source was quoted as saying that Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is keen to “show the U.S. that Egypt is standing with the Christians and that there is no persecution in Minya governorate.” The decision is an about-face in some areas, where churches had been closed to help “ease tensions” with Muslims. In other places, it’s an act of defiance in the face of ISIS’s growing threats.

No one who met President el-Sisi in our delegation to Cairo last month would doubt his commitment to greater religious freedom in his land. And while our conversations continue with his administration on behalf of Christians and others, it’s encouraging to see Egypt take bold steps like this one. The U.S. needs to do all it can to help support these transformation religious freedom reforms in the Egypt and the Middle East. The first step would be for the Senate to confirm President Trump’s nominee for Ambassador at Large for Religious Liberty, Governor Sam Brownback. We have a window of opportunity with governments like President Sisi’s. Now is the time to move.

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Putting a Bow on Tax Reform

SCOTUS Arguments Take the Cake

Cardinal Burke: ‘Perhaps We Have Arrived at The End Times’

RAVENNA, Italy (ChurchMilitant.com) – For the second time this year, Cdl. Raymond Burke is warning the “end times” may be here.

On Thursday, the Catholic Herald published an exclusive interview in which Burke, the former head of the Vatican supreme court, again diagnosed the state of the world and the Church as “apocalyptic.”

“In the present moment, there is confusion and error about the most fundamental teachings of the Church, for example with regard to marriage and the family,” Burke explained.

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To illustrate, he pointed to “the idea that people who are living in an irregular union could receive the sacraments,” which he reaffirmed “is a violation of the truth with regard both to the indissolubility of marriage and to the sanctity of the Eucharist.”

“Now, the confusion in the Church is going even further than that, because there is today confusion as to whether there are acts which are intrinsically evil and this, of course, is the foundation of the moral law,” he said.

“When this foundation begins to be questioned within the Church, then the whole order of human life and the order of the Church itself are endangered.”

The Church, Burke said, “seems to be confused.”

Clearly, the present situation of the world cannot continue without leading to total annihilation. Tweet

“In that sense, one may have the feeling that the Church gives the appearance of being unwilling to obey the mandates of Our Lord,” he said, adding, “Then perhaps we have arrived at the end times.”

Burke was expanding on comments he made at a Fatima conference in July.

There, he recounted a young priest asking him, “Cardinal, do you think that we are in the end times?”

“I did not hesitate to respond: ‘It may be so.'” he said.

The American cardinal spelled out his reasons for his thinking. Describing the current age as “most troubled,” Burke said:

Secularization has ravaged the culture of many nations, especially in the West, alienating culture from its only true source in God and His plan for us and our world. There is the daily and widespread attack on innocent and defenseless human life with the resulting unprecedented violence in family life and in society, in general. There is the ever more virulent gender ideology, which propagates total confusion about our identity as male and female and leads to the profound unhappiness and even self-destruction of many in society. There is also the denial of the freedom of religion which attempts to hinder, if not snuff out completely, any public discourse about God and our necessary relationship with Him. With the denial of the freedom of religion comes the attempt to force God-fearing individuals to act against their well-formed conscience, that is, against God’s law written upon the human heart. In supposedly free countries, the government forces upon society practices of abortion, sterilization, contraception, euthanasia and lack of respect for human sexuality, even to the point of indoctrinating small children in the iniquitous ‘gender theory.’

At the same time, atheistic materialism and relativism leads to the unscrupulous pursuit of wealth, pleasure and power, while the rule of law, dictated by justice, is trampled underfoot. In such a pervasively disordered cultural condition, there is legitimate fear of a global confrontation which can only mean destruction and death for many. Clearly, the present situation of the world cannot continue without leading to total annihilation.

At the same moment that turmoil is enveloping the world more and more, Burke noted, the Church is beset by profound crisis. “[In] a diabolical way, the confusion and error which has led human culture in the way of death and destruction has also entered into the Church,” he lamented, such that “she draws near to the culture without seeming to know her own identity and mission, without seeming to have the clarity and the courage to announce the Gospel of Life and Divine Love to the radically secularized culture.”

“For whatever reason,” the cardinal observed, “many shepherds are silent about the situation in which the Church finds herself or have abandoned the clarity of the Church’s teaching for the confusion and error which is wrongly thought to address more effectively the total collapse of Christian culture.”

Pope St. John Paul II after his 1978 election.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paints a dire picture of the Church at the end of the age — a time of unprecedented deception, persecution and suffering: “Before Christ’s Second Coming, the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the Faith of many believers.” (paragraph 675)

It describes the nature of this trial as a “supreme religious deception”: “The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the Truth.”

By this “pseudo-messianism,” man will glorify himself “in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”

As far back as 1976, Cdl. Karol Wojtyla (prior to his papacy as Pope John Paul II) seemed to be of a similar mindset, declaring at the International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia:

We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of the American society or the whole wide circle of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-Gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously.

But in his 1978 inaugural homily as pontiff, Pope St. John Paul II urged the crowd assembled in St. Peter’s Square, “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. … Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. … Do not be afraid. Christ knows ‘what is in man.’ He alone knows it.”

Likewise, Cdl. Burke reminds Catholics to push forward in faith.

“What then must be our response to the exceedingly difficult times in which we are living, times which realistically seem to be apocalyptic?” he asked. “It must be the response of faith, of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Christ, Burke reminded his audience, “is alive for us in the Church.” Christ “never fails to teach, sanctify and guide us in the Church, even as He professed to remain with us always until His return on the Last Day to inaugurate ‘new Heavens and a new earth’ to welcome the faithful to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.”

“We know what Christ teaches us in the Church. It is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the official teaching of the Church. His teaching does not change,” he emphasized.

“In the midst of the present confusion and division, we must study more attentively the teachings of the Faith contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and be prepared to defend those teachings against any falsehood which would erode the Faith and thus the unity of the Church,” added Burke.

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VIDEO: Happy Holy Days from the Trumps

There are few things as big as Donald Trump’s personality — but the National Christmas Tree comes close! At 50 feet, it loomed large over the crowd at last night’s lighting ceremony, almost as large as the debate about the holiday itself. For the Trumps, Thursday’s event wasn’t so much about flipping the switch on a giant evergreen, but about turning the page on eight years of sanitized celebrating.

“We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” he said with gusto. And they aren’t just saying it, they’re embracing it. From the official White House Christmas card to red and green press conference signs, this is the December Donald Trump has been waiting for. “Today is a day that I’ve been looking very much forward to all year long. It’s one that we have heard and we speak about and we dream about. And now, as the President of the United States, it’s my tremendous honor to finally wish America and the world, a very merry Christmas,” he told the crowd at the ellipse. With a bit of irony, Trump pointed back to the 1870 legislation signed by President Ulysses Grant making Christmas a federal holiday. “And I sort of feel we’re doing that again. That’s what’s happening,” he said.

But Christmas isn’t the only thing making a comeback under President Trump — so is the story behind it. In a speech that no one would ever mistake for Barack Obama’s, the 45th president made it clear that this “is a holy season, the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… [That],” he went on, is “the most extraordinary gift of all — the gift of God’s love for all of humanity… Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of this incredible life forever changed the course of human history. There’s hardly an aspect of our lives today that His life has not touched — art, music, culture, law and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person, everywhere in the world.”

“Each one of us is a child of God,” the president reminded Americans. “That is the true source of joy this time of the year… And so, this Christmas, we ask for God’s blessings for our family and for our nation. We pray that our country will be a place where every child knows a home filled with love, a community rich with hope, and a nation blessed with faitords were a breathtaking departure from recent Christmases past, they were completely lost on a media whose only headline appeared to be the empty chairs in the back of the viewing area. (A problem common to every president, Fox 5 points out — with pictures to prove it.) For most of America, though, it was a refreshing break from the Left’s pageants of political correctness. To millions of them, Donald Trump isn’t just tapping into the frustration they feel about Christmas – but the mockery of every value they hold dear: marriage, family, faith, and patriotism.

As far as some liberals are concerned, believing in Jesus is as childish as believing in Santa. They’re embarrassed by the “unsophistication” of Christianity. And, for years, they’ve done a bang-up job persuading others to feel likewise.

“The opponents of ‘Merry Christmas’ and other uses of the word ‘Christmas’ know exactly what they are doing…” writes Dennis Prager. “They are disingenuous when they dismiss defenders of ‘Merry Christmas’ as fabricating some sort of ‘war.’ The Left in America, like the Left in Europe, wants to create a thoroughly secular society… That’s why ‘Merry Christmas’ so bothers the anti-religious Left. It is perhaps the single most blatant reminder of just how religious America is.”

“The ‘Happy Holidays’ advocates want it both ways,” Prager argues. “They dismiss opponents as hysterical, while at the same time, relentlessly pushing to rid America of ‘Merry Christmas.'”

Why? Because in the end, this isn’t a war on Christmas. It’s a war on Christ. Every time the nine letters of Christmas are used, people come face to face with the six that secularists are trying to drive out. So this is hardly a silly little controversy invented by hypersensitive Christians. It’s the epitome of the fight for faith in America. And don’t believe any liberal who says otherwise.

** If you want to reward retailers who aren’t shying away from the reason for the season, check out American Family Association’s Naughty and Nice list. To see who’s Christmas-friendly, check out this list. Or, as our friends at 2nd Vote point out, you can simplify with their December hashtag: #AnywhereButTARGET.

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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The Big Changes the Trumps Are Making at the White House to Celebrate Christmas

There’ve been a lot of wise men in the White House. But this Christmas, there are three more in the East Room, where the Trumps are highlighting a Nativity scene.

That’s just one of the ways the first family is separating itself from the Obamas, who came dangerously close to ditching the 50-year-old display in 2009. There wasn’t room for Jesus at the inn—and for eight years, there wasn’t much room for him at 1600 Pennsylvania either.

The Obamas famously wanted a “nonreligious Christmas” (which makes about as much sense as a vegetarian barbecue). But they were outed by their social secretary, Desiree Rogers, in an eye-opening profile piece for The New York Times.

The lunch conversation inevitably turned to whether the White House would display its crèche, customarily placed in a prominent spot in the East Room. Ms. Rogers, this participant said, replied that the Obamas did not intend to put the manger scene on display—a remark that drew an audible gasp from the tight-knit social secretary sisterhood. (A White House official confirmed that there had been internal discussions about making Christmas more inclusive and whether to display the crèche.)

Ultimately, the Obamas caved to pressure and included a Nativity scene in its décor. For two terms, that was the extent of Christmas in the White House. There were no mentions of Christmas on official cards—and only a smattering of references in eight years of greetings and special events. After eight years of making political correctness a state religion, it’s really no wonder Americans flocked to a man who isn’t afraid to call the season what it is.

“You go to stores, you don’t see the word Christmas,” then-candidate Donald Trump argued on the campaign trail. “It says ‘Happy Holidays’ all over. I say, ‘Where’s Christmas? I tell my wife, ‘Don’t go to those stores’ … I want to see Christmas.”

Thanks to the president and first lady, Americans are seeing Christmas. The White House is alive with tradition, from the “Merry Christmas” on the White House card to its official hashtag #WHChristmas. To the Trumps, it’s just another way of keeping their promise.

“Something I said so much during the last two years, but I’ll say it again, as we approach the end of the year, you know we’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore,” the president said at last month’s Values Voter Summit. “They don’t use the word Christmas because it’s not politically correct. You go to department stores, and they’ll say, ‘Happy New Year,’ and they’ll say other things. It’ll be red. They’ll have it painted. Well, guess what? We’re saying Merry Christmas again.”

The crowd erupted in cheers—completely baffling the media. Like most liberals, they couldn’t understand why the issue resonated so much with conservatives. Other reporters almost mocked the line, latching on to it as another silly soundbite on an issue they consider so trivial. But to every Christian in that room, the president was talking about a lot more than the war on Christmas. He was speaking directly into the fight for religious liberty in America.

Maybe the mainstream media didn’t notice how stifled Christians were under President Barack Obama’s government—how everything they said or wore or posted was scrutinized (or worse, punished). After two terms of the most hostile administration to faith the country has ever seen, I guarantee no one takes the simplest expression—”Merry Christmas”—for granted.

To the people who elected Trump, this isn’t just about putting Christ in a day. It’s about putting faith back in American life.

This was originally published in Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, which is written with the aid of Family Research Council senior writers.


Portrait of Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council. Twitter: .

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