More Bad Defenses of Amoris Laetitia [On Divorce and Adultery]

Fr. Gerald E. Murray on more attempts to justify giving Communion to those remarried without annulment: assertions in opposition to Jesus.

The claim was widely made during the two Synods on the Family that the innovation of allowing persons living in adulterous second unions to receive Holy Communion, as proposed by Cardinal Kasper and others, was not a change in doctrine, but simply in discipline. I did not believe this to be true then (or now) and, apparently, neither did many of the supporters of this innovation.

The first evidence of that was the seemingly universal refusal to identify these unions as adulterous in fidelity to Christ’s words: “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.” (Lk 16:18) Instead of adulterous these sinful relationships were called “irregular” unions. This tactic reduces Christ’s teaching to the level of a regulation. The use of scare quotes further diminished the stature of Christ’s teaching by casting doubt on whether we should really consider these unions to be irregular at all.

A conference on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia was recently held at Boston College. Further evidence of the rejection of Christ’s plain teaching on marriage, divorce and adultery is found in the reported comments of two speakers: Professor Cathleen Kaveny and Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J.

Kaveny used curious language to describe Our Lord’s teaching on marital fidelity: “Jesus clearly disfavored adultery.” No, Jesus forbade adultery. One can disfavor things that are good in themselves, but simply do not appeal to one for a variety of reasons. One can never claim as good and right something that God has clearly forbidden.

Kaveny continued: ”It’s clear that he rejects divorce and remarriage as contrary to the original will of God. But nothing in Jesus’ words or conduct demand that the sin involved in divorce and remarriage must be conceptualized as a sin that continues indefinitely, without the possibility of effective repentance.”

Well, the original will of God remains in force unless God himself has indicated otherwise. Jesus clearly reaffirmed the prohibition of divorce and remarriage, harkening back to God’s original plan for man and woman as revealed in the Book of Genesis.

Click here to read the rest of Father Murray’s column . . .

Fr. Gerald E. Murray

Fr. Gerald E. Murray

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

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery by Guercino, 1621 in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London.

The Freudian Slip – and Fall

Robert Royal writes that the reputation of the founder of psychoanalysis is waning, as it should, being so far from truth.

My friends and family sometimes berate me (gently) for my longstanding habit – since my teen years – of reading the New York Review of Books. And, true, many other things might lay greater claim to your attention. Though it’s America’s premiere book review, NYRB is very ingrown. (It could be called theNew York Review of Each Other’s Books.) Mostly Jewish, secular, New York liberal – and almost always pushing a point of view you can predict without having to read. There are days when I wonder myself if NYRB and most of the American intellectual class are merely fretting and fiddling with frivolous secular obsessions while our whole civilization burns.

But in addition to reviews of books you might not otherwise hear about, NYRB is a convenient way to take the temperature of the culture. And sometimes there’s a surprise, as in a recent article by Frederick Crews about the scholarly demolition of Sigmund Freud. No one talks much about Freud these days. But he’s a prime example of a much bigger phenomenon in modern culture: the way that some dead intellectual, as John Maynard Keynes once famously said, continues to enslave even practical men and women of the world, despite the fact that his theories, once thought the last word in rationality and social revolution, have proven false.

Freud famously wrote about God as the psychological projection of a great big Father in his book The Future of an Illusion, and he’s responsible for no small part of modern secularism – and the sexual revolution. But as is often the case with people who are themselves psychologically disturbed, it was Freud who was doing the projecting – projecting a whole raft of notions he claimed were scientific but have increasingly been shown to be peculiar to a certain sector of Vienna in his time and, even more telling, to his own peculiar psyche.

Several biographers, even some who want to continue defending Freudianism, have noted the inconsistencies and outright contradictions in Freud’s work, beginning with his lack of careful observation or real insight into the people and world around him. Though he worked hard to make his daughter Anna his intellectual as well as physical heir, for example, he never noticed that she was lesbian.

But that’s just for starters.

Click here to read the rest of Robert Royal’s column . . .

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: The featured image is a portrait of Sigmund Freud from Madam Tussauds, Vienna.

The Catholic Magazine Interview with Milo they Refuse to Print

Milo Yiannopoulis talks about his Catholic faith, masculinity, Fr. James Martin.

Milo Yiannopoulos is best known as a conservative provocateur, famous for making statements like “Feminism is cancer,” “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy,” and “Islam is cancer,” among others. His talks are routinely interrupted by leftist protestors, most notably at Berkeley in February, which ended up cancelling Yiannopoulos’ talk after Antifa members smashed windows, overturned barricades, set fire to property and attacked police. Although Church Militant does not endorse everything Yiannopoulis says and does, we are on the same page with regard to the unchanging teachings of the Church and opposing Catholics who would try to change Christ’s teachings to make them more comfortable. Church Militant reproduces here what America magazine refuses to publish. 

By Milo Yiannopoulos

Over five weeks ago, I sent the following answers to questions I was asked by America magazine, a journal run by Jesuits. They have chosen not to publish it, perhaps out of compassion, fearing too many of their aging readers would suffer heart failure. Or perhaps they couldn’t stand my tweaking of their most famous contributor, Fr. James Martin, notorious for equivocating over any Church teaching that might cause a stir at an Anglican garden party.

Amusingly, while the Jesuits struggled to decide if they could bear to publish my answers, one of the Church’s highest ranking Cardinals called out Fr. Martin by name as “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality.” That means my side in this dispute enjoys support from a black prince of the Church raised on a continent where martyrdom is common, while the other side’s champion is a white bourgeois man in whose life the worst threat is that the wine is a bit off this week. 

Ask yourself:  Which of these men would you want to have your six?

Although you grew up Catholic, you now say and do many shocking things in your public career which seem to be at odds with your childhood faith. In what sense do you still consider yourself a Catholic? 

Plenty of saints were shocking, to say nothing of our Lord, who got in a spot of trouble for His shocking claims, as you might recall. I am certainly no saint, but I don’t think “shocking” is a helpful way of approaching the question of Catholics in public life. It doesn’t settle much to say that the current Pope is shocking to many Catholics, including me. Or to note that I’m shocked by supposedly Catholic politicians who make laws in flat contradiction to the natural law, which you need no faith to grasp.

In my case, do you mean it’s shocking that a Catholic like me is loudly worried about Islam, which has waged war on Holy Mother Church for more than a millennium?

Or that I say Planned Parenthood’s abortion crusade amounts to black genocide?

Or that I’ve supported Pope Paul VI’s criticism of artificial contraception so strongly that Hillary Clinton attacked me for it in her presidential campaign?

Frankly, what’s really shocking is that a poor sinner like me has spoken out more on contraception than 99% of our bishops, who seem too preoccupied with diversity and climate change to talk about God.

Maybe you mean it’s shocking that I’m always joking about my lack of chastity and my fondness for black dudes, but I still call myself Catholic. And I don’t see what’s so shocking about that, either. One of the most famous saints of all time, sixteen centuries ago, prayed, “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.”

Image

Anyone who grows up in Catholic cities like New Orleans and Rome emerges pretty unshockable — and certainly wouldn’t be alarmed by me.

I think it was a visit to New Orleans that inspired Evelyn Waugh to make an observation I often quote:  Protestants seem to think, I’m good, therefore I go to church, whereas Catholics think, I’m very bad, therefore I go to church. Waugh also said, when people asked how he could call himself a Catholic: You have no idea how bad I’d be if I weren’t.

Sins of the flesh, let us remember, are at the bottom of the scale. The Church says self-righteousness is at the top. Therefore, I’m in a lot better shape than some of my feminist and establishment Republican enemies. To say nothing of Islam!

In life, I believe in aspiration. If you’re a poor kid, aspire to rise economically. If you’re shy, aspire to confidence, so you can defend your views in public. And if you’re a wretched sinner like me, aspire to end up better than you are now. Miracles do happen!

Where do you experience tensions with Catholicism in your life?

Who says any Catholic should lack tension stoked by his weaknesses? We Catholics are better at clothes, food, and parties. Why shouldn’t we be better at guilt, too?

You don’t see me disputing the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. There’s no intellectual tension, because I wouldn’t dream of demanding that the Church throw away her hard truths just to lie to me in hopes I’ll feel better about myself. I love the truth, not lies, and I know no one’s feelings are the basis of truth.

That’s why I don’t understand those Catholics — such as, if you’ll forgive my horrid impertinence, this magazine’s editor at large, Fr. Martin — who imply that if people don’t like what the Church says, maybe the Church is wrong or should apologize. The Church was founded on a rock and a cross, not on a hug.

Still, if you insist I talk about feelings, I’ve said before that I feel there’s something wrong with the fact that my lovemaking can’t produce the mini-Milo’s I’d like to have. How’s that for a subjective confirmation of the Church teaching that same-sex attraction is “objectively disordered” because it can’t lead to procreation?

Bottom line: The Church says I’m not culpable for my temptations, but I shouldn’t sin. She’s right. And her founder said He came to heal those who knew they were sick, so I don’t despair.

What was the best thing about your Catholic upbringing?

One good thing was hearing Mary praised for her motherhood. Whatever my own mother’s shortcomings, I learned that motherhood is the greatest vocation, and one that God banned all men from. That’s why I think it’s sad that today’s feminists, as Chesterton observed, despise motherhood and all the other chief feminine characteristics. The idea that men and women shouldn’t be different — shouldn’t have different interests, strengths, and ways of relating to Creation — is insane, and it’s empirical fact that trying to deny these differences makes all of us less happy.

“I think it’s sad that today’s feminists, as Chesterton observed, despise motherhood and all the other chief feminine characteristics.” Milo tweet.

Growing up Catholic also taught me the value of humility, even if that’s not exactly a forte of mine. This virtue is important for society, because it teaches us to be tolerant of a diversity of opinions, rather than arrogantly trying to silence people we disagree with. And it’s important for me personally, because despite my vanity, I know I’m not as smart as Thomas Aquinas or as good as St. Francis.

There’s a great line from the novelist Flannery O’Connor, who liked to shock and troll a bit herself: “I’m not limited to what I personally feel or think; I’m a Catholic.” She meant the same thing Chesterton did in his famous quip, “Tradition is the democracy of the dead.” Political correctness gives us thin gruel and loneliness. The Church gives us a grand party with red meat and red wine.

[ … ]

How do you pray?

On my knees.

Who are your role models, either living or dead, in the Catholic faith?

Pope Benedict XVI is still the wisest and most erudite man in Europe, though I’m sure he doesn’t deserve to have me hung around his neck as an admirer. He was also brave enough to declare publicly that Islam’s irrationalism is one of the world’s great problems.

By the way, in the same Regensburg lecture he pointed out that secularists in the West are also dangerously unbalanced, because they’re as hostile to religion as Muslims are to rationality. I note that he credits my wild pagan ancestors in Greece for the West’s deepest rational roots.

My personal motto, “laughter and war,” comes from a passage in Chesterton’s Heretics. He should be the patron saint of Catholic journalists. And of course Hilaire Belloc was brilliant as a defender of the West. In the 1930s, when the Caliphate had collapsed and no one imagined Islam would ever come back, he prophesied that the West would again be threatened, because our superior money and technology can’t take the place of a devotion to your civilization.

I’ve already quoted St. Augustine, who had his own pelvic issues. I once tweeted out an illustrated page from his Confessions that began, “I will now recall my past foulnesses.” That’ll work for my memoirs someday, too.

Rabelais and the anonymous trolls who wrote the Carmina Burana are kindred spirits.

She wasn’t a Roman, but the conservative essayist Florence King earned a title I aspire to. A New York Times book reviewer said of her: “The mind of a Jesuit with the mouth of a truck driver.”

What’s your favorite Scripture passage and why? 

I’m tempted to go for the easy Waugh line from Ecclesiastes:  “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

You recently self-published the new book Dangerous after Breitbart fired you and your original publisher withdrew the contract. How do you respond to critics who say you are “hateful” and “hurtful” to others?

The truth often hurts, as the Church has always understood. That’s one reason she so often shows us a Man in agony on a cross. I don’t delight in others’ pain, but I’m not scared into silence by the fear someone somewhere will take offense.

“The fact that so many of us think hurting people’s feelings is the greatest evil says all you need to know about the decline of our civilization.” Milo tweet.

If I’m wrong about something, don’t whine; show me evidence and make rational arguments.

Or tell a good joke! A big part of what I do is playing the jester, telling the powerful the truths they don’t want to hear. Maybe that’s what you meant about my “shocking” aspect. A friend who’s a brilliant medievalist at the University of Chicago (and who was just received into the Church this Easter, Deo gratias), likes to embarrass me by writing about me as a holy fool.

The fact that so many of us think hurting people’s feelings is the greatest evil says all you need to know about the decline of our civilization.

I say embarrass, but of course it’s a great compliment and I am happy to receive any kind of attention.

By the way, I wasn’t fired.

In the book you mention that you made a mistake in the broadcast that got you fired. Looking back at your public career to date, what would you do differently if you could do it all over again?

I would change nothing.

In 2011 and 2012, you were featured in Wired UK’s yearly top 100 most influential people in Britain’s digital economy, and the Observer once called you “the pit bull of tech media.” How is tech media changing the way we do journalism today?

I blame tech bloggers for the proliferation of “process journalism,” which means writing whatever appears to be true at that moment and fixing it later. Of course, they never bother. Tech journalism today has lower professional standards than a Detroit bordello, which is why I left to become famous for a living instead.

You were one of the first tech journalists to cover the Gamergate controversy, criticizing what you saw as the politicization of video game culture by “an army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners, abetted by achingly politically correct American tech bloggers.” How do you respond to critics who say you are supporting the tendency of video games to demean women?

Just as there was no evidence in the 1990s that rock music, heavy metal and video games caused violence, there is no evidence today behind the moral panic that video games make you sexist. It’s politics masquerading as well-meaning academic enquiry. Fortunately, we won, and the noxious feminists are on the defensive in gaming.

What does masculinity mean to you?

It means a willingness to expose yourself to enemy fire, whether or not you wear a uniform, in order to defend the good — your family, your church, your country, your civilization. Now the men in uniform are much better men than I, but even I can do a bit to defend those things with the gifts God gave me.

Our Lord, as always, showed the way: He endured the horrors of the Passion to defend and redeem the whole world. I’m with Rod Dreher: Anybody who only preaches a namby-pamby God, and not the highly masculine God of Scripture, is leaving young men vulnerable to the monstrous false gods of race and ideology.

Boys struggling to become men are always potential barbarians, because they hunger for masculinity but aren’t sure where to find it or how to productively express it. Our Lord revealed it to them, but too many in the Church keep masculinity hidden or the subject of shame.

As a gay Catholic, you’ve debated same-sex civil unions on television news programs, surprising some people with your perspectives. In a nutshell, what do you believe about this issue and why?

First, I’m with St. Thomas Aquinas: The civil laws can’t forbid everything the Church forbids, because utopianism does more harm than good, given how weak most of us are.

I was for a long time contemptuous of gay marriage. But then I fell in love, and now I don’t know what to think.

I’d add that just as the Church doesn’t insist civil society require everyone to follow all her views of proper conduct, so civil society should follow the First Amendment and not bully believers into espousing whatever views politicians have enacted. It disgusts me when gay activists harass in the public square, much less in the courts, those simple believers who aren’t harming anyone while they bake pizzas and the like.

In 2008, the BBC featured you in media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to the United Kingdom. From your perspective, what was most significant about his visit?

One major thing he did was to visit John Henry Newman’s Oratory and move him a step forward toward canonization. That’s great, given that Newman’s nemesis was liberalism in religion. He was not, as George Weigel has joked, a believer in an ice-your-own-cupcake world.

The Vatican has launched a commission to examine and overhaul the Holy See’s media communications strategy. If you could give any advice to Pope Francis about how to do journalism today, what would it be?

Stop talking.

Any final thoughts?

Pray for me. I need it.

Reprinted with permission from MiloYiannopoulos.net; slightly edited.

Why Rosaries Scare the Media

Clemente Lisi: Diversity of thought would go a long way in improving newsrooms and the stories they produce, especially about religion.

In an era of fake “news,” readers are bombarded each day with stories – most of them legitimate, but sometimes totally made up – and fueled by social media. The newsgathering process, the method by which journalists report the news and editors determine the value of stories, has increasingly become a bone of contention.

Readers no longer blindly accept accounts in the morning papers or continuously streamed on Twitter feeds. Sloppy errors, perceived biases, and last year’s presidential election all helped feed into the narrative that the mainstream press is out of touch with everyday Americans. Indeed, the Internet has become both an opportunity for journalists, but increasingly also a challenge.

Newsrooms, from my experience, lack diversity. While diversity in the job market is the aim of all companies, no other industry needs it more than journalism. Newsroom diversity leads to big ideas, better debates, and improved news coverage. The problem? Diversity is often seen as having to do with either race or gender. Are there enough African Americans on staff? Should we hire another woman? These are all questions media companies grapple with behind closed doors every time there’s a job opening.

What employers never lose sleep over (or even talk about) is whether there are enough devout Catholics in their newsroom or if they need to hire a person of faith – any faith – to report on what’s going on in the world and in the community. Believing in God is taboo in the newsroom.

To say there is a religious blind spot in hiring is a gross understatement. But it make a big difference in the way important issues such as abortion and gay marriage are covered by media outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. Media coverage can sway public opinion and help determine laws and policy. It impacts social mores and it’s being done largely without people of faith in key positions.

There is no more secular setting than in a newsroom. Liberal bias does exist in the media, but most journalists don’t see it. You can’t see bias when everyone around you thinks and feels the same way.

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Lisi’s column . . .

Clemente Lisi

Clemente Lisi

Clemente Lisi, a new contributor to The Catholic Thing, is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at The King’s College in New York City. He has nearly twenty years experience as both a reporter and editor at media institutions such as the New York Post, ABC News, and the New York Daily News.

Prospective on the Person: An Essential Initiative in the Struggle to Save the West

Robert Royal celebrates the 100th edition of the personalist journal Prospettiva Persona, an essential initiative in the struggle to save the West.

People sometimes write me to complain that much online commentary is too negative. That TCT and other sites do not pay enough attention to the many good things happening and to Christian joy.

You can’t be against “joy,” of course, assuming (a large assumption) that you know what authentic joy is. The way the phrase is often used, I admit, strikes me as a somewhat less than fully Christian effort to tell a hedonistic world: Look, we’re having fun too. In my judgment, that hasn’t worked out so well. It may be just me, but like Paul writing to the Thessalonians, I think it safer – and better – on the whole, these days, to keep faith and work quietly.

There are many groups and individuals who do so and never get any notice. I was with one such group last week and hope to help many people hear much more about them. Twenty-five years ago, in the immediate afterglow of the fall of Communism and of John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus – which reviewed the disasters of the previous century and tentatively sought a way forward – a remarkable married couple decided that the work necessary to the reconstruction of civilization had not ended with the Cold War. Indeed, it had just barely begun.

This month they published the 100th number of their quarterly magazine, Prospettiva Persona (“Perspective on the Human Person”), and also announced – not their retirement, but their new roles as contributors and counselors to the new editor Flavio Felice (a sometime contributor to The Catholic Thing and old friend to many of us).  Flavio, a man of many talents, is the youngest person ever to receive tenure at the Lateran University in Rome, where he teaches Catholic Social Thought.

Giulia Paula di Nicola and Attilio Danese met and married as undergraduates, went to study philosophy – Hegel of all things – in Germany, but like other earnest seekers of wisdom in the twentieth century, decided that much modern philosophy was too stretto, i.e., narrow. They found their way – like Jacques Maritain, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Gabriel Marcel, Edith Stein, Emmauel Mounier, Karol Wojtyla (later JPII), and many others – into the “personalist” currents of modern philosophy. And founded Prospettiva Persona, significantly not in Rome, but on the opposite coast of Italy, in the city of Teramo.

Click here to read the rest of Bob Royal’s column . . .

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.

American Catholics Urged to Join Polish Catholics to Pray the Rosary Tomorrow — October 7th

American Catholics are urged to join an estimated one million Catholics in Poland who will participate in “Rosary on the Border” along Poland’s 2000-mile border. This momentous event will take place this Saturday, October 7 at 2:00 PM Poland Local Time.

The rosary prayer is being held on the Feast of Our Lady of Victory which commemorates the Battle of Lepanto, when the Holy League organized by Pope Pius V defeated the Islamic Ottoman Empire, thereby saving Christian Europe from Islamization.

“Rosary on the Border” will send a clear message that Poland will defy any threats to its Christian values.

The Thomas More Law Center calls on American Catholics to unite their prayers with those in Poland to keep both countries Christian nations.

The Polish bishop’s conference has urged all the faithful to join in this initiative. Those who cannot physically join this remarkable event are urged to pray at their homes, churches or where they are at the time.

According to the official website, Poles will begin to pray at 2:00 PM their time. You, too, can pray with them no matter where you are in the United States. Here is a handy timeline guide so you can easily unite your prayers with our Polish family abroad:

  • Eastern Standard Time:      8:00 AM
  • Central Standard Time:      7:00 AM
  • Mountain Standard Time:  6:00 AM
  • Pacific Standard Time:       5:00 AM

How to Destroy Catholicism in America

David Carlin writes that liberal Catholics seem intent upon following the “reforming” path of liberal Protestants, and it’s the road to ruin.

May I respectfully recommend a study of the history of liberal Protestantism in the USA? You will soon see that today’s liberal Catholics are traveling down the same road that liberal Protestants traveled down earlier – that is, a road to destruction.

Thomas Jefferson’s cut-and-paste Bible

It’s hard to blame the old Protestants for what they did, for they didn’t know where this road led. They were pioneers, they were cutting a path in the religious wilderness. They feared that traditional Christianity was becoming unbelievable; that if they didn’t modernize their religion by dropping certain old-fashioned doctrines, modern men and women would no longer be able to accept Christianity.

As it turned out, to modernize Christianity, at least if you carry this modernization process beyond a certain limited point, is to destroy it. Look at the liberal Protestant denominations today. All of them are shrinking rapidly in numbers. All of them have lost much of their once-great social influence.

But liberal Catholics don’t have this excuse. They can’t very well say, “We didn’t know where our liberalism was taking the Church.” For they have the precedent of liberal Protestantism in front of them. Their ignorance is vincible – and culpable.

Liberal Christians, beginning with the Boston Unitarians of the late 1700s and early 1800s, always “improve” Christianity according to the same pattern. The pattern is this: You attempt to blend what seems to you to be the essentials of Christianity with the best in whatever happens to be the fashionable anti-Christianity of the day. This synthesis, partly Christian and partly anti-Christian, will of course be incoherent; but at the moment you’re creating it, it looks pretty good.

In the generation after the American Revolution, the fashionable form of anti-Christianity was Deism. And so the Boston Unitarians said in effect, “While Deism is very wrong in its rejection of Christianity, the Deists, it must be admitted, make a few good points. So let’s toss out the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ and Original Sin. We’ll then have a purified Christianity.”

Click here to read the rest of Professor Carlin’s column . . .

 

Trump’s Picks for Fed Chief, Governors an Opportunity to ‘Drain Swamp’

President Trump can immediately reshape Federal Reserve policy in a way that most presidents simply cannot. 

When President Donald Trump took office, there were three vacancies on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Then, unexpectedly, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer resigned, effective “on or around October 13, 2017.”

Throw in the fact that Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s term as chairman expires Feb. 3, 2018, and it’s very easy to see why so many conservatives have been excited about Trump fighting the cabal of elites running Washington.

Trump could easily appoint five of the seven Fed board members, including the chairman, during a single term in office. That sort of influence means the president can immediately reshape Federal Reserve policy in a way that most presidents simply cannot.

Because the Fed has been navigating one of the most controversial periods in its history—a fivefold increase in its balance sheet, massive credit allocation to the housing and government sectorsand a major expansion of its regulatory reachconservatives are paying particularly close attention to the pick for the next Fed chairman.

On Friday, the president told reporters he expects to nominate the next Fed chairman in two to three weeks, so conservatives may not have to wait much longer to see how serious the president is about “draining the swamp.”

When it comes to the Fed, a president who talks about draining the swamp and transferring power from Washington, D.C., back to the American people makes many folks­—especially moderate politicians—a bit nervous. And caution is certainly in order, because the Fed exerts so much control on the flow of money, the means of payment for virtually all goods and services.

But one of the main reasons conservatives care about a change in direction is that decades of monetary policy experiments have failed to rid the U.S. of financial crises or to appreciably tame the business cycle. Yet, through it all, politicians have remained content to give the Fed more power and authority. (Dodd-Frank is only the latest example.)

Continuing on this path is the polar opposite of giving power back to the American people.

If the president is serious about transferring power out of Washington, so that people can better control their own lives, he has many well-known scholars to pick from who would signal a shift in direction.

The ideal candidates for the Fed board are those who had nothing to do with creating the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or implementing the Fed’s so-called “emergency” loans during the 2008 crisis. They are those who have openly acknowledged Dodd-Frank did virtually nothing to address the real causes of the 2008 crisis and that more top-down regulation from Washington is the wrong approach.

These candidates would believe in most, if not all, of the following ideas:

On Bailouts

On Accountability

On the Limits of Monetary Policy

On Optimal Monetary Policy

On Maintaining Neutrality in the Economy

If Trump really wants to transfer power away from Washington and give it back to the American people, he will infuse the Fed’s Board of Governors with a major dose of new thinking.

If the president uses this opportunity wisely, he can ensure that the Fed board puts less faith in the government’s ability to fine-tune the economy and ensure the safety and soundness of financial markets. He can prove to conservatives that his campaign promises were more than rhetoric.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Norbert Michel

Norbert Michel studies and writes about housing finance, including the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as The Heritage Foundation’s research fellow in financial regulations. Read his research. Twitter: 

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Living by the Sword

Brad Miner notes that Islamist rage about the Crusades is a Muslim fantasy that actually comes from Christian liberals.

Sixteen years after the attacks of September 11, it’s probably the case that the “excuse” of the Crusades as a motivating factor behind the violence of al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups has somewhat diminished in plausibility.

Of course, the Islamofascists may well aver that events of more than 900 years ago still burn in Muslim consciousness, but that doesn’t make it so. Osama bin Laden made reference to the Crusades as, no doubt, has Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS. But the truth is they abhor the West because their understanding of Islam demands hatred of and war against the infidel: then, now, always. This is the only “root cause” that matters.

In any case, most of us will never have occasion to debate a terrorist on the matter. Indeed, we’re much more likely to go toe-to-toe with a jihadi liberal about the Crusades and their impact, which is what makes Thomas F. Madden’s new primer invaluable.

The Crusades Controversy: Setting the Record Straight is a 50-page broadside against the serial stupidities and half-truths of those who believe, in Professor Madden’s words, that the Crusades were “the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general.”

In fact, they were “a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslim armies had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world.” The armies that marched and sailed from Western Europe into the Byzantine Empire and on to the Holy Land came in response to pleas from Christians in the East to save them from the weaponized religion of Mohammed.

Those Christian warriors summoned by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095 were not a rabble of “lacklands and ne’er-do-wells” spoiling for a fight wherever they could find one. They were a cross section of European society that included many of the wealthiest, most powerful men in Europe, not a few of whom lost fortunes – and their lives – in the struggle to liberate the original homeland of Christianity, which had been established not by the sword, but through peaceful conversions half a millennium before the birth of Islam.

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Miner’s review . . .

Brad Miner

Brad Miner

Brad Miner is senior editor of The Catholic Thing, senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA. He is a former Literary Editor of National Review. His new book, Sons of St. Patrick, written with George J. Marlin, is now on sale. The Compleat Gentleman, is available on audio and as an iPhone app.

IMF Head Foresees the End of Banking and the Triumph of Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin “”puts a question mark on the fractional banking model we know today.”

Jeffrey A. Tucker

by  Jeffrey A. Tucker

In a remarkably frank talk at a Bank of England conference, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund has speculated that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have as much of a future as the Internet itself. It could displace central banks, conventional banking, and challenge the monopoly of national monies.

Christine Lagarde–a Paris native who has held her position at the IMF since 2011–says the only substantial problems with existing cryptocurrency are fixable over time.

In the long run, the technology itself can replace national monies, conventional financial intermediation, and even “puts a question mark on the fractional banking model we know today.”

In a lecture that chastised her colleagues for failing to embrace the future, she warned that “Not so long ago, some experts argued that personal computers would never be adopted, and that tablets would only be used as expensive coffee trays. So I think it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies.”

Here are the relevant parts of her paper:

Let us start with virtual currencies. To be clear, this is not about digital payments in existing currencies—through Paypal and other “e-money” providers such as Alipay in China, or M-Pesa in Kenya.

Virtual currencies are in a different category, because they provide their own unit of account and payment systems. These systems allow for peer-to-peer transactions without central clearinghouses, without central banks.

For now, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin pose little or no challenge to the existing order of fiat currencies and central banks. Why? Because they are too volatile, too risky, too energy intensive, and because the underlying technologies are not yet scalable. Many are too opaque for regulators; and some have been hacked.

But many of these are technological challenges that could be addressed over time. Not so long ago, some experts argued that personal computers would never be adopted, and that tablets would only be used as expensive coffee trays. So I think it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies.

Better value for money?

For instance, think of countries with weak institutions and unstable national currencies. Instead of adopting the currency of another country—such as the U.S. dollar—some of these economies might see a growing use of virtual currencies. Call it dollarization 2.0.

IMF experience shows that there is a tipping point beyond which coordination around a new currency is exponential. In the Seychelles, for example, dollarization jumped from 20 percent in 2006 to 60 percent in 2008.

And yet, why might citizens hold virtual currencies rather than physical dollars, euros, or sterling? Because it may one day be easier and safer than obtaining paper bills, especially in remote regions. And because virtual currencies could actually become more stable.

For instance, they could be issued one-for-one for dollars, or a stable basket of currencies. Issuance could be fully transparent, governed by a credible, pre-defined rule, an algorithm that can be monitored…or even a “smart rule” that might reflect changing macroeconomic circumstances.

So in many ways, virtual currencies might just give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money. The best response by central bankers is to continue running effective monetary policy, while being open to fresh ideas and new demands, as economies evolve.

Better payment services?

For example, consider the growing demand for new payment services in countries where the shared, decentralized service economy is taking off.

This is an economy rooted in peer-to-peer transactions, in frequent, small-value payments, often across borders.

Four dollars for gardening tips from a lady in New Zealand, three euros for an expert translation of a Japanese poem, and 80 pence for a virtual rendering of historic Fleet Street: these payments can be made with credit cards and other forms of e-money. But the charges are relatively high for small-value transactions, especially across borders.

Instead, citizens may one day prefer virtual currencies, since they potentially offer the same cost and convenience as cash—no settlement risks, no clearing delays, no central registration, no intermediary to check accounts and identities. If privately issued virtual currencies remain risky and unstable, citizens may even call on central banks to provide digital forms of legal tender.

So, when the new service economy comes knocking on the Bank of England’s door, will you welcome it inside? Offer it tea—and financial liquidity?

New models of financial intermediation

This brings us to the second leg of our pod journey—new models of financial intermediation.

One possibility is the break-up, or unbundling, of banking services. In the future, we might keep minimal balances for payment services on electronic wallets.

The remaining balances may be kept in mutual funds, or invested in peer-to-peer lending platforms with an edge in big data and artificial intelligence for automatic credit scoring.

This is a world of six-month product development cycles and constant updates, primarily of software, with a huge premium on simple user-interfaces and trusted security. A world where data is king. A world of many new players without imposing branch offices.

Some would argue that this puts a question mark on the fractional banking model we know today, if there are fewer bank deposits and money flows into the economy through new channels.

How would monetary policy be set in this context?

Today’s central banks typically affect asset prices through primary dealers, or big banks, to which they provide liquidity at fixed prices—so-called open-market operations. But if these banks were to become less relevant in the new financial world, and demand for central bank balances were to diminish, could monetary policy transmission remain as effective?

The Full Picture of Christ

Casey Chalk on an 1872 image of Jesus that serves as a reminder that “Happy Jesus” isn’t always what we need in dealing with our sins.

Gab Max’s “Jesus Christus,” completed in 1874.

There is an old image of Jesus, solely of his face. His features are pale, worn, and haunting, with dark, penetrating eyes that sear into a man’s soul. Though once quite popular in Catholic homes, it is now rarely to be found. The painting is Gab Max’s “Jesus Christus,” completed in 1874. It is a shame that contemporary Christian culture has developed a bit of revulsion to such paintings, which reflects what I would argue is a tendency among Christians in our day to want only a happy, joy-filled Jesus, rather than the man who died a terribly brutal death upon the cross.

I have a deep familiarity with this particular rendition of our Lord. It was a print that hung at the bottom of the stairs, between the office and the guest room, at my Catholic grandparents home in the mountains of western Virginia. I first encountered it as an elementary schooler. As a young boy (whose parents had traded the Catholicism of their own upbringing for a vibrant, less severe evangelicalism) the painting terrified me. I had come to expect and envision a loving, tender Jesus, not one whose hollowed eyes seemed to follow me through the darkness of the house on my way to the bedroom. I would practically sprint past it, afraid to encounter such a disturbing image of Christ, and maybe even a little afraid He would come and get me!

It now, ironically enough, sits in my garage, one of many items bequeathed to me by my grandparents, something my wife and I had forgotten about while abroad in Asia the last three years. When my wife saw it, she was, like my boyhood self, a bit unnerved. She pressed me to get rid of it. Yet I think the message that visage proclaims is one all Christians need to hear and absorb into the recesses of their devotional life.

Christian – and frequently even Catholic – culture has become intensely focused on the Savior as the loving, welcoming, joyful Jesus who bid the little children come to him, who healed the sick, and loved the sinner. These are all true, important aspects of Christ and His ministry. Yet it is incomplete, and if we narrow our focus to these archetypes, our own faith will accordingly weaken.

We must remember, even apart from the Lenten season, the role of Jesus as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 . . .

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Chalk’s column . . .

Casey Chalk

Casey Chalk is a writer living in Thailand, an editor for the ecumenical website Called to Communion, and a graduate student at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College. He has also written about the Pakistani asylum-seeker community in Bangkok for New Oxford Review and Ethika Politika.

Documented Cases of Religious Discrimination Jump 15% by Ian Snively

Freedom of religion isn’t as protected as some Americans may think. In fact, reported attacks on religion are increasing in the U.S. and, according to First Liberty Institute, the evidence is undeniable.

The 2017 edition of a First Liberty report called “Undeniable” shows threats to Americans’ First Amendment rights spanning the past five years.

The number of documented incidents of religious discrimination grew 15 percent in 2016 compared with 2015. The number of incidents increased by 133 percent, from 600 to more than 1,400, between 2011 and 2016.

“We’re in a battle right now for religious freedom in the future of our country,” First Liberty President Kelly Shackelford said in a Facebook Live video Sept. 12.

Justin Butterfield, editor-in-chief of the study, said in an interview with The Daily Signal that much of the data comes from court filings from across the country.

The research team also collects reports from news outlets and other organizations, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group.

Butterfield, who has a law degree from Harvard, said researchers specifically looked for instances where someone was illegally restricted from, or prosecuted for, practicing his or her faith.

“Undeniable” divides cases into four categories: attacks on religion in public areas and the workplace; in schools; in churches and ministries; and in the military.

First Liberty, a nonprofit legal organization established in 1997, focuses on defending religious freedom in court cases. It has participated and provided information in court cases at all levels, including the Supreme Court. It also publishes reports educating Americans about the relevance of the First Amendment.

First Liberty began research in 2004, when Shackelford and others testified during a Senate hearing on discrimination and intolerance based on religion. Two senators, the late Democrat Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and John Cornyn of Texas, got in touch with Shackelford, wanting to know how prevalent the issue was.

Butterfield said Kennedy and Cornyn asked First Liberty to collect more reports of attacks on religion. The organization  first published “Undeniable” in 2012, and has published a new edition every year since.

One court case in 2012 that he found particularly appalling, Butterfield recalled, was Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC. In it, a teacher fired by a Lutheran school sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act, even though churches have the freedom to choose leaders.

When asked why he thought more cases of religious intolerance were emerging, Butterfield said that now more than ever in America, the “concept of religious freedom is unpopular.” Some Americans, he said, are “increasingly hostile to religious beliefs that differ from their own.”

But what separates the U.S. from other countries, he said, is Americans’ persistence in fighting for their faith.

“When people stand up to their religious liberties, they win,” Butterfield said.

Ian Snively

Ian Snively is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

There Should Be No Religious Tests for Judicial Nominees

White House Rebuts Attacks by Democrats, New York Times on Catholic Court Nominee

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Pope Francis accused of propagating heresy

In a document titled Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis (Correction subsidiary of heresies propagator) Catholic scholars and lay people world wide have in a letter to Pope Francis raised the issue of heresy in Church doctrine. The letter was sent to Pope Francis, when there was no reply, these Catholics published their letter to the world on September 24th, 2017.

The document deals with two issues facing the Catholic Church, modernism and the influence of Martin Luther on Pope Francis. The document states:

Scandal concerning faith and morals has been given to the Church and to the world by the publication of Amoris laetitia and by other acts through which Your Holiness has sufficiently made clear the scope and purpose of this document. Heresies and other errors have in consequence spread through the Church; for while some bishops and cardinals have continued to defend the divinely revealed truths about marriage, the moral law, and the reception of the sacraments, others have denied these truths, and have received from Your Holiness not rebuke but favour. Those cardinals, by contrast, who have submitted dubia to Your Holiness, in order that by this time-honoured method the truth of the gospel might be easily affirmed, have received no answer but silence. [Emphasis added]

In May 2015 Russ Douthat in The Atlantic column titled Will Pope Francis Break the Church? wrote:

The Church is not yet in the grip of a revolution. The limits, theological and practical, on papal power are still present, and the man who was Jorge Bergoglio has not done anything that explicitly puts them to the test. But his moves and choices (and the media coverage thereof) have generated a revolutionary atmosphere around Catholicism. For the moment, at least, there is a sense that a new springtime has arrived for the Church’s progressives. And among some conservative Catholics, there is a feeling of uncertainty absent since the often-chaotic aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s and ’70s.

It appears that the Church is now in the grip of a “counter revolution” against the policies and politics of Pope Francis.

The following is a summary of Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis:

A 25-page letter signed by 40 Catholic clergy and lay scholars was delivered to Pope Francis on August 11th. Since no answer was received from the Holy Father, it is being made public today, 24th September, Feast of Our Lady of Ransom and of Our Lady of Walsingham. The letter, which is open to new signatories, now has the names of 62 clergy and lay scholars from 20 countries, who also represent others lacking the necessary freedom of speech. It has a Latin title: ‘Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis’ (literally, ‘A filial correction concerning the propagation of heresies’). It states that the pope has, by his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, and by other, related, words, deeds and omissions, effectively upheld 7 heretical positions about marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments, and has caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church. These 7 heresies are expressed by the signatories in Latin, the official language of the Church.

This letter of correction has 3 main parts. In the first part, the signatories explain why, as believing and practising Catholics, they have the right and duty to issue such a correction to the supreme pontiff. Church law itself requires that competent persons not remain silent when the pastors of the Church are misleading the flock. This involves no conflict with the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility, since the Church teaches that a pope must meet strict criteria before his utterances can be considered infallible. Pope Francis has not met these criteria. He has not declared these heretical positions to be definitive teachings of the Church, or stated that Catholics must believe them with the assent of faith. The Church teaches no pope can claim that God has revealed some new truth to him, which it would be obligatory for Catholics to believe.

The second part of the letter is the essential one, since it contains the ‘Correction’ properly speaking. It lists the passages of Amoris laetitia in which heretical positions are insinuated or encouraged, and then it lists words, deeds, and omissions of Pope Francis which make it clear beyond reasonable doubt that he wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical. In particular, the pope has directly or indirectly countenanced the beliefs that obedience to God’s Law can be impossible or undesirable, and that the Church should sometimes accept adultery as compatible with being a practising Catholic.

The final part, called ‘Elucidation’, discusses two causes of this unique crisis. One cause is ‘Modernism’. Theologically speaking, Modernism is the belief that God has not delivered definite truths to the Church, which she must continue to teach in exactly the same sense until the end of time. Modernists hold that God communicates to mankind only experiences., which human beings can reflect on, so as to make various statements about God, life and religion; but such statements are only provisional, never fixed dogmas. Modernism was condemned by Pope St Pius X at the start of the 20th century, but it revived in the middle of the century. The great and continuing confusion caused in the Catholic Church by Modernism obliges the signatories to describe the true meaning of ‘faith’, ‘heresy’, ‘revelation’, and ‘magisterium’.

A second cause of the crisis is the apparent influence of the ideas of Martin Luther on Pope Francis. The letter shows how Luther, the founder of Protestantism, had ideas on marriage, divorce, forgiveness, and divine law which correspond to those which the pope has promoted by word, deed and omission. It also notes the explicit and unprecedented praise given by Pope Francis to the German heresiarch.

The signatories do not venture to judge the degree of awareness with which Pope Francis has propagated the 7 heresies which they list. But they respectfully insist that he condemn these heresies, which he has directly or indirectly upheld.

The signatories profess their loyalty to the holy Roman Church, assure the pope of their prayers, and ask for his apostolic blessing.

VIEW HERE FULL THE DOCUMENT HERE

I was asked by a Rabbi what I thought, as a Catholic, about Pope Francis. My reply was, “I don’t want a Catholic Church that changes with the world. I want a Catholic Church that changes the world.” Perhaps this quote by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen says it best.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Is the Pope Catholic Enough for Conservatives?

Pope Francis, Fr. Martin, and Faith without Reason

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of The Atlantic.

The Next Scandal in the Church?

William Kilpatrick writes that the Church, because of its endorsement of unlimited immigration, is complicit in the rise of Muslim sex abuse in Europe.

In a recent article, Fr. James Schall, S.J. argues that “The only real way to eliminate the historic aggressiveness of Islam is to convert its believers.”  Yet if you had to bet, “the conversion of the world to Islam is, in the long run, more likely than its conversion to Christianity.”

From a purely human perspective, the conversion of Muslims is a tall order. It’s not just that Islam is a tough nut to crack, it’s also that some today – usually Catholics – have an aversion to conversion. (Even the pope had denounced “proselytism.”)  In good multicultural fashion, they don’t want to fiddle with the unique cultural identity of the “other.”

These fashionable ideas won’t attract many Muslims, and it has an alienating effect on Christians as well. The Church in the West has been losing members as a result of the impression it gives that other faiths are just as valid as our own. So before undertaking the conversion of the Muslim world, the Church needs first to do something about the deconversion of Christians.

Ironically, one of the factors that is driving people out of the Church is its response to Islamic terror. After every terrorist attack, the Vatican (or some prominent bishop) assures us that the violence has nothing to do with Islam, which we are told is a “religion of peace” – a response not a whit different from the politically correct, secular liberal response.

In fact, Church leaders often put secular leaders to shame in their advocacy for Islam. The Obama administration called for the admittance of 10,000 Syrian refugees; the USCCB called for 100,000. When European leaders began to admit that Muslim migration should be restricted for the sake of national security, Pope Francis responded by insisting that the safety of migrants was more important than national security.

There are no statistics about how many Catholics are leaving the Church because of its welcoming attitude towards Islam, but there is anecdotal evidence.

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Kilpatrick’s column . . .

Totalitarianism, Anarchism and Our Growing Discontents

David Carlin on the rising forces of the American Left: they begin as Democrats, then become anarchists, and, as history proves, will end up as totalitarians.

Given the history of Communism in Russia, China, and elsewhere, we have good reason to fear that political leftism will have totalitarian tendencies, even when the leftists in question happen to be Americans. That’s so, but there’s a further danger beyond the threat of tyranny. Please bear with me as I try to explain.

There’s an odor of totalitarianism in the many efforts being made by leftists nowadays to repress certain manifestations of free speech and freedom of conscience. We are told that “hate speech” doesn’t deserve the protections that are normally given to all other kinds of speech. For hate speech, unlike scientific speech and pornography (allegedly), does harm.

We are also told that when somebody engages in racist hate speech, this does serious harm, both direct and indirect, to African-Americans and other “persons of color.” And this harm is more serious than the harm done by, let’s say, pickpockets.  The same goes for homophobic hate speech. If we can ban pickpocketing, why can’t we ban hate speech?

Our leftists would agree, at least as an abstract proposition, that freedom of conscience is an excellent thing. But if your conscience tells you, a member of the KKK, to beat up a black man, should the rest of us, should the law, respect your freedom of conscience? Of course not.

But if your conscience tells you not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding celebration, is that any different?

Some of us (myself, for example) think we detect embryonic forms of totalitarianism in this leftist crusade against hate speech and freedom of conscience. Others (leftists) think people like me are moral dinosaurs, trying to block a wonderful movement that is “on the right side of history.”

Allow me to suggest, however, that totalitarianism isn’t the ultimate leftist aim. The ultimate aim is anarchism. Totalitarianism is an intermediate step between the dreadful present and the anarchist ideal of total freedom.

Click here to read the rest of Professor Carlin’s column . . .

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.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Anarchists shopping in Seattle. © 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.