Protestant politician explains that he became a Muslim because of his church’s approval of same-sex marriage

Excoriating the Protestant church’s “moral decline” is one thing, but now Wagner has joined a religion that teaches that homosexuals must be put to death:

The Qur’an contains numerous condemnations of homosexual activity:

“And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, ‘Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.’…And We rained upon them a rain [of stones]. Then see how was the end of the criminals.” (Qur’an 7:80-84)

Muhammad specifies the punishment for this in a hadith:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.’” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4462)

Moral decline or moral myopia, giving a divine sanction to murder? Wagner has chosen the latter.

“Right-Wing AfD Ex-Member Explains Why He Moved to Become a Muslim,” South Africa Today, January 31, 2018 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

Speaking to the Bild newspaper on Wednesday, Arthur Wagner, former member of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party’s national executive committee, revealed that his converting to Islam was caused by the Protestant church’s “moral decline.”

“One of the reasons is tied to changes that have taken place in the church, which no longer reflects my values,” he said, referring to clerics’ stance on the AfD as well as their approval of same-sex marriage and gay parades.

Wagner described the situation as “unacceptable” when the church supports “marriage for all” and pastors take part in Christopher Street Day, an annual gathering of the LGBT community in some German and Swiss cities, “where are children.”

Earlier this month, media reports said that Wagner stepped down from the AfD after he decided to convert to Islam.

He made it clear at the time that he hadn’t resigned due to his new religious affiliation, saying that “there was no pressure” and that “it has not changed anything.”

AfD spokesman Daniel Friese, for his part, said that Wagner resigned for personal reasons and that the party “has no problem” with the fact that Wagner became a Muslim….

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Jihad Watch.

VIDEO: My Keynote Speech at Energy Day in Peru

Last October I gave the keynote speech at Energy Day, the most significant annual energy event in Peru. The event was hosted by the firm Laub & Quijandría, led by Anthony Laub, and a video of it is now available online. You can watch it here.

During the speech I made an analogy I’ve never made before. I thought you might enjoy it.

“The fossil fuel industry is the only industry in history that has figured out how to produce cheap, plentiful, reliable energy for billions of people. Even if there are costs, I think we should be really grateful to the people who’ve done this. I think it’s offensive that we say things like, ‘I hate fossil fuels.’

“I was flying in yesterday on Avianca, and it made me think: what if there had been someone on the plane who had said to the pilot, ‘You know what? I think what you do is evil,’ and they were wearing an ‘I hate pilots’ shirt, and they just spent their whole life denouncing pilots. What would you say to them if you were the pilot? You’d probably say, ‘Get off the damn plane.’ What kind of person takes advantage of this amazing human being that’s allowing him to fly, and then says, ‘I hate you, and I want to destroy you’?

“How is it any different to do that to the pilot than to do it to the person who fuels the plane or the person who created the fuel?

“There’s only one industry that allows us to fly. It’s the fossil fuel industry. We tell the industry, ‘Hey, we want to do the most amazing thing ever. We want to fly, so we can get from point A to point B really fast.’ Only one industry has raised its hand and said, ‘Yeah, we figured out a way to do that.’ Then we say, ‘We hate you. You’re horrible. The earth would be better off without you.’”

The Moral Crisis of Our Time

William “Will” Herberg lectures. c 1968

James H. Toner, re-reading a prescient Will Herberg essay from 1968, notes that it’s bad to violate moral standards but deadly to repudiate them.

Nineteen sixty-eight is rightly remembered as a year of chaos, confusion, and confrontation. As the year began, the noted sociologist of religion, William “Will” Herberg (1901-1977), published an essay entitled “What Is the Moral Crisis of Our Time?” in the Intercollegiate Review (January-March 1968). As a college senior reading that essay, I was struck by its analytical and prophetic power.

In Catholic tradition, the word work means efforts that bring order out of chaos. Will Herberg’s essay “worked” for me. Its thesis was – and, I believe, is – so clear and so compelling that it effectively provides a moral and intellectual beacon with which we can see through the darkness of our day and find a path (cf. Deuteronomy 5:32-33) leading to ethical sanity. In short, Herberg’s essay was, to use the literary term, an anagnorisis for me – a kind of mental “Road-to-Damascus Moment” – that drew the loose threads of the day into a recognizable fabric.

Fifty years ago, at the dawn of the fateful year of 1968, there was still hope (as Herberg points out) that out of the rampant chaos then beginning to reign a new morality would emerge from the ashes. (Little did he, or we, know what lay before us as the terrible months of 1968, and beyond, elapsed.) But the situationalism of that new “morality” would fail, Herberg said, “unless [there was] some principle, some standard transcending the particular context.” Without objective standards, “nothing but moral chaos and capriciousness can result.”

If such chaos leads to personal pleasure, though, Herberg warned us, it would be considered desirable. After all, we send our children off with a hearty “Have Fun!” and hardly anyone even remembers saying, “Go with God.” About the rising and ubiquitous sybaritic “culture” of our day, Herberg was prescient.

Herberg’s thesis was as perceptive as it was succinct: “the moral crisis of our time consists primarily not in the widespread violation of accepted moral standards . . . but in the repudiation of those very moral standards themselves.” The moral code of the Greeks, based upon reason, and of the Hebrews, based upon Revelation, had atrophied, he wrote, to the point of dissolution. We were “rapidly losing all sense of transcendence.” We were adrift, by choice, in a sea of disorder with no “navigational” standards to consult.

Where we had looked to knowledge as truth, we were starting to exalt knowledge as power, complemented by the ideology of technology worship. In 1968, Will Herberg did not foresee the grave dangers of unlimited artificial intelligence – the cyborg Sophia did not then exist – but Herberg knew that a kind of technopolis was on the horizon, and he warned us about it.

He pointed to Jean-Paul Sartre’s advice to a young man living in Nazi-occupied France as an example of the moral bewilderment increasingly held as “authentic” in the 1960s. The man had asked Sartre if he should fight the Nazis in the Resistance movement or cooperate with them, obtaining a sinecure in the Vichy Regime. The choice hardly mattered, said Sartre, as long as the decision was authentic and inward. If there are no objective standards to govern moral choice, then what is chosen does not matter. The only concern is whether one chooses “authentically.” Thus Herberg concluded: “The moral crisis of our time is, at bottom, a metaphysical and religious crisis.”

Herberg prophesied rabid subjectivism, all-pervasive antinomianism, and a soul-searing secularism, what Pope Benedict was much later to call the “dictatorship of relativism.” In contending that standards cannot exist unless tradition is respected and revivified, Herberg quoted the Greek elegiac poet Theognis (about sixth century B.C.), who said: “Only he who has the tradition has the standard.”

We now may be so mired in narcissistic norms that we cannot even understand Herberg’s jeremiad: “No human ethic is possible that is not itself grounded in a higher law and a higher reality beyond human manipulation or control.” The reason of the Greeks and the Revelation of the Hebrews are now replaced by modernist profane worship of man by man: thus, tyranny beckons and awaits.

Herberg quotes cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897): “When men lose their sense of established standards, they inevitably fall victim to the urge for pleasure or power.” Herberg, who was Jewish (and also wrote a book on American religion still worth reading Protestant, Catholic, Jew), does not quote St. Paul, but he could have: “when [people] measure themselves [only] by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Cor 10:12) Nor does he quote St. John, but he could have: “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.” (7:24)

Here, exactly, is the crux of the crisis of our day. Is there any rule, canon, standard, or authority that we justly accept as governor of our morals, our politics, our very lives?  We know that the substitution of self or state for God leads to the Gulag. There is a reason, in short, that the First Commandment is first, for God’s wisdom “ordereth all things sweetly.” (Wisdom 8:1 DRB) Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear?

In 1968, Herberg wrote that he could not be sanguine about the prospects of restoring tradition and of revitalized moral standards based upon reason and God’s revelation. Plaintively, he asked, “Is it ever really possible simply to regain what has once been lost?” Were Will Herberg living today, would he have any cause for greater optimism now than he did fifty years ago?

James H. Toner

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: © 2018 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 Persistence of God

For many centuries, almost everybody in the Western world – the world that used to be called Christendom – was a Christian believer. Then, a few centuries ago, some people (mostly intellectuals) began drifting away from Christian belief. But they found that they couldn’t utterly renounce their old Christian beliefs. They were convinced that Christianity was a mere tissue of superstition, and there was nothing they hated more than superstition. Yet they couldn’t get rid of their belief in some essential elements of this old “superstition.” No matter how much they tried to clear their minds of old superstitions, some of them persisted.

Deists, for example, whose heyday was the 18th century, ceased to believe that Jesus is divine or that God is a Trinity. But they continued to believe in an afterlife, and that God exists and that he rewards the good and punishes the wicked. Though the divinity of Christ was a “superstition,” and the Trinity was a “superstition,” somehow Deists felt that belief in God was not a superstition. That was a true belief, just as rational as Newton’s theory of universal gravitation.

In subsequent generations, many went further in their rejection of Christianity. Some turned to pantheism, a belief that flourished among romantics in the first half of the 19thcentury. They rejected an idea of God that the Deists had retained, namely that God is personal. But they continued to believe in God, an impersonal God that was either identical with nature or at least permeated and controlled nature. In the United States, the finest flower of pantheism was to be found in the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Then came the atheists, who were determined to get rid of God completely, whether this God be personal or impersonal. Karl Marx, a resolute metaphysical materialist, was the most famous example of this species of anti-Christian. But even Marx didn’t get rid of God completely. Of course, he got rid of the name “God,” but he continued to believe that there was a great and ultimately benevolent power that would bring the human race to a condition of happiness, not a post-mortem happiness, but happiness in this very world of time and space.

The totally unspiritual and unthinking matter that (in Marx’s view) lies at the foundation of all reality is not, and never has been, indifferent to human happiness. All this time, all these countless centuries, the universe has been moving in the direction of a worldwide human society that will be classless, and as a result of this classlessness will be prosperous and free and boundlessly creative. And we moderns are now, in that rosy vision, not far from this glorious consummation.

Matthew Arnold, a better poet and critic than he was a Christian theologian, in his attempt to reduce the idea of God to its bare essentials, defined God as “an eternal not-ourselves that makes for righteousness.” The “God” of Marx may be defined as an eternal not-ourselves that makes for a classless society.

As long as we believe that there exists, or should exist, some great power beyond our individual selves that can bring humans to happiness, we have not fully gotten rid of the Christian idea of God. After many centuries of Christianity, the belief that there is, or must be, such a power is built, so to speak, into the structure of the Western mind.

If you have grown up in the midst of Western civilization, if you have absorbed the preconceptions of that civilization with your mother’s milk, you will find it almost impossible not to believe in the existence of that great and benevolent power. If you are unable to believe that this great power takes the form of the Christian God or the deistic God or a pantheistic God or the “God” of historical materialism, you will believe that it takes some other form. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for you honestly to believe that no such power exists or can exist.

Nowadays, I submit, at least among those who are unable to believe in the God of the Bible, the most common form of the belief in a great and benevolent power is belief in an omnicompetent government. If you’re an atheist and you find that you’re unable to believe in the God of the Bible or the God of Deism or even the God of pantheism, and you’ve given up on the “God” of Marxism, it is probable that you will believe that there is no social problem – poverty, bad neighborhoods, crime, violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, traffic jams, bad breath in dogs, lack of education, ill health, mental illness, loneliness, marital unhappiness, etc. – that cannot be solved by government, at least given enough time and, of course, money.

The most striking example of this confidence that a godlike government can solve our problems is the expectation that the governments of the world, operating (as it seemed during the Obama presidency) under the leadership of the USA, can shape the world’s climate over the next century or two, and can do this in a benign way. (I say this, by the way, without meaning to take a position on climate-change theory.)

Further, the godlike government in question is the U.S. federal government, not state and local governments, which clearly lack godlike capacities; and not the governments of small countries. Ideally, the best government to take care of these things would be a world government. But we are probably centuries, at least, away from that. In the meantime, the U.S. federal government, being the richest and most powerful of all the governments in the world, is the best we can do.

I am contending, then, that there is an affinity, at least in our post-Christian age, between atheism and a belief in super-big government. The more you incline to the former, the more you will also incline to the latter. And the more you will tend to ignore the – quite abundant – evidence to the contrary.

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 a Soviet poster (“May 1”) by Yakov Guminer, 1928. © 2018 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.

New Jersey Middle School Sued For Instructing Students Islam Is The ‘True Faith’

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a federal lawsuit yesterday evening in the New Jersey District Court against several officials and teachers of the Chatham Middle School and the School District of the Chathams, located in New Jersey.

The lawsuit, claiming several violations of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was filed on behalf of Libby Hilsenrath and her minor son. Seventh-grade students at Chatham Middle School were forced to endure Islamic propaganda and an explicit call to convert to Islam through a disturbing set of videos in their World Cultures and Geography class.

TMLC’s affiliated New Jersey attorney, Michael Hrycak, filed the lawsuit. TMLC staff attorney, Kate Oliveri, the principle drafter of the federal complaint, observed: “The Board of Education and other Defendants are waging a war against the religious protections afforded by the First Amendment. They attack religious liberty by enticing young school children with a direct call to convert to Islam and providing a step-by-step guide on how to effect that conversion.”

One of the videos, linked in this press release, seeks to convert students to Islam and is filled with the Islamic religious beliefs presented as facts, as well as pure Islamic propaganda.  This five-minute video ends with the prayer “May God help us all find the true faith, Islam. Ameen.” 

This video includes the following phrases as facts:

  • “Allah is the one God who created the heavens and the earth, who has no equal and is all powerful.”
  • “Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is the last & final Messenger of God. God gave him the Noble Quran.”
  • “Lo, We have sent thee (O Muhammad) with the truth, a bringer of glad tidings and a warner.”
  • “What is the Noble Quran? Divine Revelation sent to Muhammad (S) last Prophet of Allah. A Perfect guide for Humanity.”
  • “The Noble Quran: Guidance, Mercy and Blessing for all Mankind.”
  • “The Noble Quran: Without any doubt and an eloquent guide from Allah.”
  • “The Beautiful Quran: Guidance for the wise & sensible.”
  • “Islam: A shining beacon against the darkness of repression, segregation, intolerance and racism . . .”

This propaganda video also contains excerpts from the Quran stating that Islam is “perfected” religion and the only religion for mankind. And it ends with a call to conversion: “May God help us all find the true faith, Islam.”

However, just as shocking is the background music which includes the poem “Qaseedah Burdah” in Arabic, describing Christians and Jews as “infidels” and praising Muhammad in gruesome detail for slaughtering them:

  • “He [Muhammad] kept on encountering with them (infidels) in every battle until they looked like meat put on butcher’s bench (they were the lesson for those who were willing to encounter with the Muslims)” (parenthetical in original).
  • “It is as though the religion of Islam was a guest that visited every house of those (infidels and was) extremely desirous for the flesh of enemy. . .” (parenthetical in original).
  • “(The Muslims made their) white shining swords red (with the blood of infidels) after they were plunged; (and the majority of) enemies were having black hair (i.e., most of them were young).” (parenthetical in original).

 WATCH the 5-minute video here

Seventh-grade students were also instructed to view a subtle propaganda cartoon video, 5 Pillars, which included bright, multi-colored words quoting the Islamic conversion creed: “There is no god except Allah and Prophet Muhammad is His messenger.” The video concludes with text containing contact information for the students of Chatham Middle School to set up their own mosque tour.

Clearly, seventh graders were given a sugarcoated, false depiction of Islam. They were not informed of the kidnappings, beheadings, slave-trading, massacres, and persecution of non-Muslims, nor of the repression of women — all done in the name of Islam.

Richard Thompson, TMLC President and Chief Counsel remarked, “What would people say if our public schools taught Christianity as the true faith? After watching this video, I can’t imagine any reasonable person saying this is not Islamic indoctrination. Chatham Middle School made a mockery of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.”

Continued Thompson, “When Libby Hilsenrath brought her concerns to the school board’s attention, on February 6, 2017, they were disregarded. And when she appeared on the Tucker Carlson Show on February 20, 2017 to express her concerns to the Nation, the school community pilloried her. Clueless school administrators across our Nation are allowing this type of indoctrination to take place, and it’s up to vigilant and courageous parents like Libby Hilsenrath to stop it.”

Because of Libby Hilsenrath’s attempts to get the Board of Education to remove the videos and end the Islamic indoctrination of her son and the other seventh-grade students, she was subjected to a barrage of personal attacks from her own community: “hateful,” “ignorant,” “intolerant,” “racist,” “closed minded,” and the list goes on. These attacks significantly intensified after she appeared on the Tucker Carlson Show.

Click here to read the entire Federal Complaint

Of Popes, Bishops, Priests – and the Bridge Too Far

The calling of the Twelve in the Gospel should lead us to ponder the priorities of every priest and bishop. After the Ascension of Jesus and Descent of the Holy Spirit, the newly ordained bishops were called to proclaim Jesus the Redeemer, to celebrate the Sacraments in memory of Him, and to govern their respective churches.

Every priest, bishop, and pope would henceforth be “priest, prophet, and king,” in imitation of Christ, holding these offices in order of priority. A priest offers and administers the Sacraments on behalf of the people. As a prophet, a priest proclaims the Word of God and exercises his legitimate teaching authority. As a king, a priest governs the Church with Christ as the foundation, according to his lawful jurisdiction.

Today, however, there seems to be an inversion of these priorities, resulting in significant distortions: The sequence is not priest, prophet, and king with the accent on service, but king, prophet, and priest with the accent on ecclesial authority, Christ being largely absent.

The long history of papal triumphalism in the name of Christ came to a symbolic end with Paul VI’s retirement of the papal tiara (now on display at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.). Papal leadership in defense of Christendom also symbolically ended with Pope Paul’s return of the Turkish battle flag captured by Christians at Lepanto.

The papal foray into world affairs in the name of Christ made a comeback in St. Pope John Paul’s confrontation with Communism. Christ was always at the forefront, however, from JPII’s reference to the Church’s “living stones” as Poland’s foundation, to his fearless confrontation with the Communist Sandinistas, cross in hand, as he celebrated Mass in Nicaragua.

Under the current pontificate, that bold Christian triumphalism has given way to a kind of stealth secular triumphalism – with calls for dialogue, open immigration, and environmentalism – rarely an invocation of Jesus.

During his recent “Address to Authorities, La Moneda Palace” in Chile, Pope Francis complimented the Chileans on their beautiful country and advances in democracy. He urged them to avoid consumerism and to address environmental problems. But the Holy Father continued a pattern he established in America during his speeches to civil authorities. He carefully avoided mentioning “Jesus,” “Lord,” and “God.” As a result and perhaps by intention, he appeared primarily as a visiting head of state, with a mostly secular policy agenda.

As a body, the American bishops have followed the Holy Father in pushing the boundaries of their prophetic and kingly charisms into the secular arena. The distinctions between magisterial Catholic principles and prudential judgments are, at times, clear.  Dealing with abortion laws, for example, or Nazi practices having to do with the extermination of Jews are clear-cut cases.

At other times, careful distinctions need to be made – for example, whether it is morally acceptable for Catholic politicians to support incrementally better (but not perfect) legislation with hopes to reduce the number of abortions. But the USCCB’s support for specific immigration policies – where there can very well be reasonable disagreements – is clearly a bridge too far.

The bishops simply lack jurisdiction in such matters. Formulating a just immigration policy, like the application of just war principles, rightly belongs to the laity according to Vatican II (“Decree on the Apostolate of Laity”).  Hence, the Catholic faithful need not look upon the opinions of the USCCB as magisterial and binding, but as the opinions of fellow citizens.

By claiming more than their proper authority, the bishops are unwittingly ushering in a new form of ecclesial egalitarianism, in which episcopal statements will have no more weight than a position paper of a Washington think tank.

The trickle-down effect on priests has been corrosive. Over the decades, it has become almost irresistible for ordinary priests to engage in various forms of political posturing, effectively encroaching on the rights of the faithful. But even apart from politics, this attitude encourages the mistaken assumption that the homily (part of the priest’s prophetic office) is central to the Mass. It is not. (Although it would be a great service to the faithful for all priests to take homily preparation more seriously.)

The greatest service of a priest is the reverent celebration and administration of the Sacraments, with the distribution and reception of Holy Communion as the perfect culmination of the priestly ministry. The homily flows from Jesus and the Scriptures and should be taken seriously on those grounds alone.

When I was a young man and not yet ordained, I assisted at several private Masses celebrated by an elderly priest suffering with dementia. He was truly reverent, revealing a lifetime’s habitual devotion. His homilies were always religious and occasionally very amusing. One day he solemnly “excommunicated” the archbishop and “installed” the pastor as the replacement. The pastor offered no objection.

Despite dementia, that priest demonstrated the correct priorities. In imitation of Christ, he was first a priest, then a prophet, and finally a king. He may have lost the ability to be prophet and king, but his priesthood remained intact. And he distributed Holy Communion for the sanctification of those present.

There are countless faithful Catholics, I suspect, who would prefer this priest and his dementia to politically activist – and liturgically destructive – pastors.

When the beloved Pope Benedict resigned, his friend Cardinal Francis Arinze sorrowfully remarked that the resignation would “help many to get more mature in our faith . . . help all of us to be deeper in our faith, to be also, let us say, less sentimental.” He added, “Our faith is not on the pope, it is on Christ who is the foundation of the church.”

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky

Father Jerry J. Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington. He is pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Great Falls, Virginia.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is Fire from heaven, The Sacrifice of Elijah Before the Priests of Baal by Domenico Fetti, c. 1631 [Hampton Court Palace, London] © 2018 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: Tuesday’s Men

Daytona Beach, Florida’s Christian men.

Ambassador at Large Looms Large for Religious Freedom

As Vice President Mike Pence touches down in the Middle East, the U.S. Senate just gave him something else to talk about — the possibility of a new Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom.

Yesterday, Republicans jumped a key hurdle in appointing Governor Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) to the post, which will come as a relief to people like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Together, they’ve fought to make freedom a greater priority for their countries, which have been under relentless attack from extremists.

Now that the Foreign Relations Committee has given Brownback the green light, it’s time for the full Senate to act on Governor Brownback’s confirmation. After eight years of leading from behind, this move is yet another example of the Trump administration trying to give the world’s persecuted new hope — first, that they aren’t alone, and secondly, that help is on the way. The sooner Gov. Brownback is confirmed as ambassador, the sooner the U.S. will be able to expand its efforts to help the persecuted.

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


March Shows Trump in Step with Pro-lifers

‘Pro-Choice’ Doesn’t Mean Anti-Regulation!

Watch the Pro-life Pros at ProLifeCon…

EXPOSED: 4,333 Catholic Priests in the U.S. Accused of Sexually Abusing Children and/or Possessing Child Pornography

According to the National Federation of Priests’ Councils (NFPC) as of 2016 there was, “a total of 37,192 priests in the United States (25,760 diocesan priests and 11,432 religious priests).” The NFPC reported that 590 priests were ordained in 2017.

According to the United States Conference of Bishops, Priestly Life and Ministry website:

The Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) serves the bishops’ committee on CCLV which provides leadership regarding priestly life and ministry and to respond to the needs and concerns of priests.

[ … ]

The Secretariat also assists the Bishops’ Committee on Child and Youth Protection which develops projects and resources to assist bishops in dealing with the problem of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and religious. [Emphasis added]

The featured image (above) is of Fr. James Martin, S.J. introducing the rock band Metallica with the devil horns sign (Screenshot: The Colbert Report, 09/24/13). According to TFP Student Action, media reports found that Fr. Martin:

  • Supports transgenderism for children
  • Said that Catholics should “reverence” homosexual unions
  • Favors homosexual kissing during Mass (sacrilege against God)
  • Tweeted a blasphemous photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe to 169,000 followers (Dec. 12, 2017)
  • Received an award from New Ways Ministry, a group condemned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Lucia I. Suarez Sang in a January 18th, 2018 Fox News article titled “Pope Francis defends bishop accused of sexual abuse cover up: ‘Bring me proof’” reported:

Pope Francis appeared to strongly defend a Chilean bishop accused of covering up a priest’s sexual abuse of young boys just days after meeting and weeping with survivors.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop [Juan] Barros, then I will speak,” Francis said when a journalist asked about the 61-year-old bishop, appointed by him in 2015, despite the cover up accusations. “There is not a single piece of proof against him. This calumny [or slander]. Is this clear?”

Many Chileans are still furious at Francis’ decision to appoint Bishop Juan Barros as the bishop of the southern city of Osorno. Barros was a protégé of the country’s most notorious pedophile priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Read more.

There is one organization that tracks allegations of sexual abuses by Catholic Priests in the United States. The organization is Bishop Accountability.

Bishop Accountability has a searchable database of all U.S. Catholic clergy accused of sexually abusing children and/or possessing child abuse images, commonly referred to as child pornography. According to the Bishop Accountability website:

This database provides convenient access, for law enforcement and other interested persons, to the names of all U.S. Catholic clergy accused of sexually abusing children and/or possessing child abuse images, commonly referred to as child pornography. Links are provided to the publicly filed court documents and mainstream media articles that are the sources for this database, and a factual summary of the allegations is provided for each accused person. This database continues and extends the work done by the Diocese of Tucson, which published the first diocesan list on June 21, 2002, and the approximately two dozen dioceses that have since published lists of their own. Their efforts were based on internal diocesan lists (see a sample from Boston) maintained during the 1990s. Our list also has other precursors, as described in our overview.

The Database of Publicly Accused Priests does not state or imply that individuals facing allegations are guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims. The reports contained in the database are merely allegations. The U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

To search the Bishop Accountability Database by priest’s name, Diocese or state please click here.

A quick search of the five largest states by population found the following numbers of Catholic priests accused of of sexually abusing children and/or possessing child pornography:

  1. California – 512
  2. Texas – 131
  3. Florida – 103
  4. New York – 326
  5. Illinois – 251

Perhaps it is time for Pope Francis and the United States Conference of Bishops to get serious about purging its ranks of pedophiles and pederasts?


Survivors’ Accounts

Assignment Records of Accused Priests

Timeline of Major Events, Documents, Reports, and Commentary

Thousands of Articles on the Crisis

Grand Jury Reports and Other Analyses

HHS Announces New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pleased to announce the formation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  The announcement took place at an event at HHS headquarters from 10:30 a.m. to noon on January 18, 2018, see below video.

Speakers included Acting Secretary Eric D. Hargan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Representative Vicky Hartzler, Senator James Lankford, OCR Director Roger Severino, and special guests.

The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division has been established to restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.  OCR is the law enforcement agency within HHS that enforces federal laws protecting civil rights and conscience in health and human services, and the security and privacy of people’s health information.  The creation of the new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights.

OCR already has enforcement authority over federal conscience protection statutes, such as the Church, Coats-Snowe, and Weldon Amendments; Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act (on assisted suicide); and certain federal nondiscrimination laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion in a variety of HHS programs.

OCR Director Severino said,

“Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren’t enforced. No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice. For too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection, but change is coming and it begins here and now.”

Acting HHS Secretary Hargan said,

“President Trump promised the American people that his administration would vigorously uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom.  That promise is being kept today. The Founding Fathers knew that a nation that respects conscience rights is more diverse and more free, and OCR’s new division will help make that vision a reality.”

To learn more about the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, visit us at

To file a complaint with OCR based on a violation of civil rights, conscience or religious freedom, or health information privacy, visit us at

Of Television – and Liturgy

One of the biggest consumers of time in our culture is television, whether on the home screen or our computers or on our phones. TV, in its various forms, delivers all kinds of experiences that suck us in, whether it’s watching sports or a drama, a detective story or a cute cat video. For convenience here, let’s just call all of this TV.

Since – obviously – TV claims many of our waking hours, with our complicity, when we could be doing other things, it demands careful attention. What might seem harmless collapsing in front of the TV after a hard day begins to raise issues that go way beyond merely wasting time. The great theologian Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of the first who studied entertainment theologically, says that “in [theater or TV] man attempts a kind of transcendence, endeavoring both to observe and to judge his own truth, in virtue of a transformation . . . by which he tries to gain clarity for himself.”

In other words, in TV, which is a kind of mirror on society: “Man [as a spectator] himself beckons, invites the approach of a revelation about himself [from the drama on the screen]. Thus parabolically, a door can open to the truth of the real revelation.” Even a nature video, for instance, can tell us something about the Creator if that’s the way we approach it. But notice that von Balthasar is expecting us to be actively responding to the light patterns on the screen.

By real revelation, he means the revelation of God that comes through Creation and, the presence of Christ, who is the fullness of revelation and is witnessed to in Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. He only says that the deeper revelation can happen, because what can also happen – and knowing how most of us watch TV, most often does happen – is that we are mesmerized by something shallow and unworthy of the dignity of the human person, which produces either a sluggish stupor or an adrenaline rush. Either way, it’s mindless passivity.

Actively responding, in von Balthasar’s sense, means approaching things with our minds fully engaged. We’ve all gotten accustomed, for example, to watching serious news reports interrupted by ads for weight loss programs or fast food deals, that mock real human suffering or serious catastrophes or reports of major historical events. We should not let this disconnect pass unnoticed because it subtly insinuates itself into our minds and hearts. The commercial structuring of the TV experience lacks the solidity of real life, which demands deliberate language and gestures for the really important things.

The great French Catholic poet Paul Claudel says that we go to the theater (or watch TV) to “learn about how things begin and how they cease.” Even an ordinary detective story teaches us something about life and death – particularly about the great void left when someone dies and the most the world can do is, perhaps, find the killer and exact justice.

Properly handled, the liturgy – strange as this may seem to many of us – should be the standard of how we treat important things; it is a steady corrective to TV’s superficial handling of human experience. It can be a school – provided we go dressed for the occasion and spiritually attuned – for learning to develop a proper sense of formality in the presence of the great human truths.

Understood in this way, the liturgy is not separated from life, but takes us into the disposition to see how things really stand, the beginnings and endings as God sees them.

Religion or even prayer are rarely part of television coverage of human tragedies and crises. But prayer and liturgy are – and ought to be – part of good times and bad for God’s creatures such as ourselves. Outside of the mostly secular newsrooms of the developed world, religion bulks large in the lives of people from various faith traditions all over the world.

Unfortunately, TV floods the viewer with inauthentic images of real-life situations. This is why the Church has always had her doubts about theater and other forms of entertainment, not just because they can be bawdy, but because of the false vision of life that they present in such convincing ways. It’s our task to remain vigilant, to maintain a different way of viewing things, even when the spiritual dimension has been suppressed.

We should recognize the role and value of theater (and TV) in cultural life. But responding authentically to what it brings us means actively maintaining a fully Christian perspective. Unlike the television, Christianity does not have an off switch. Being a Catholic involves learning to be a Christian in the world.

Watching TV is not a time-out from our role as followers of Christ. It is just another occasion to practice Catholicism. Will this program show me something of the beginnings and endings of man? Will it take me beyond the TV show to the horizon of the world the way God views it? Will I become a better Christian in the process by not sitting passively with my mind in neutral but rather making connections to the great vision of life, the one found in the psalms and in St. Paul’s Letters?

Bevil Bramwell, OMI

Bevil Bramwell, OMI

Fr. Bevil Bramwell, OMI, PhD is the former Undergraduate Dean at Catholic Distance University. His books are: Laity: Beautiful, Good and TrueThe World of the SacramentsCatholics Read the Scriptures: Commentary on Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini, and, most recently, John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae: The Gift of Catholic Universities to the World.

EDITORS NOTE: © 2018 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.

My Quest to Help Americans Rediscover the Bible

I won’t make any assumptions about how many readers noticed I took a three-month break from column writing.

Nevertheless, I want to explain why.

I needed the time to finish the first volume of the biggest project of my life as a writer, a commentary on the first five books of the Bible, or what are called the Torah in Hebrew.

The commentary is addressed to people of every faith and, especially, to people of no faith.

I have believed all my life that the primary crisis in America and the West is the abandonment of Judeo-Christian values, or, one might say, the dismissal of the Bible.

Virtually everyone on the left thinks America would be better off as a secular nation. And virtually all conservative intellectuals don’t think it matters. How many intellectuals study the Bible and teach it to their children?

And yet, from the time long before the United States became a country until well into the 1950s, the Bible was not only the most widely read book in America—it was the primary vehicle by which each generation passed on morality and wisdom to the next generation.

Since that time, we have gone from a Bible-based society to a Bible-ignorant one—from the Bible being the Greatest Book to the Bible being an irrelevant book.

Ask your college-age child, niece, nephew, or grandchild to identify Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, or the ten plagues. Get ready for some blank stares.

I recently asked some college graduates (none of whom were Jewish) to name the four Gospels. None could.

But what we have today is worse than ignorance of the Bible. It is contempt for it. Just about anyone who quotes the Bible, let alone says it is the source of his or her values, is essentially regarded as a simpleton who is anti-science, anti-intellectual, and sexist.

Our society, one of whose mottos is “In God We Trust,” is becoming as godless as Western Europe—and, consequently, as morally confused and unwise as Europe.

Just as most professors regard most Bible believers as foolish, I have more or less the same view of most college professors in the liberal arts.

When I hear that someone has a Ph.D. in sociology, anthropology, political science, or English, let alone women’s studies or gender studies, I assume that he or she is morally confused and bereft of wisdom. Some are not, of course. But they constitute a small minority.

Whenever teenagers call my radio show or I meet one in person, I can usually identify—almost immediately—the ones who are receiving a religion-based education. They are far more likely to act mature and have more wisdom than their Bible-free peers.

One of our two greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, rarely attended church, but he read the Bible daily. As he said while president, “In regard to this great book, I have but to say, I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man.”

Were he able to observe America today, Lincoln would be shocked by many things. But none would shock him as much as the widespread ignorance of and contempt for the Bible.

I have taught the Torah, from the Hebrew original, for 40 years. Of the many things I have been blessed to be able to do—from hosting a national radio show to conducting orchestras—teaching Torah is my favorite.

When asked how it has affected my life, I often note that in my early 20s, when I was working through issues I had with my parents, there was nevertheless not a week during which I did not call them.

And there was one reason for this: I believe that God commanded us to “Honor your father and your mother.”

In my commentary, I point out that while the Torah commands us to love our neighbor, love God, and love strangers, it never commands us to love our parents. It was sophisticated enough to recognize that love of parents may be impossible but showing honor to a parent is a behavioral choice.

In America, there is an epidemic of children who no longer talk to one or both of their parents. In a few cases, this is warranted. But in most cases, adult children are inflicting terrible, unfair pain upon their parents.

This is one of a myriad of examples where believing in a God-based text is transformative.

Secular callers tell me that they hardly need the Ten Commandments to desist from murdering anyone. That may well be true. But apparently, a lot of people could use the Ten Commandments to avoid inflicting terrible pain on (admittedly, flawed) parents.

The title of my work is “The Rational Bible” because my vehicle to God and the Bible is reason. If you have ever wondered why all of America’s founders revered the Bible, let alone why anyone today might do so, this book should provide an explanation.

My ultimate aim is to help make the Bible America’s book once again.


Portrait of Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of Twitter: .

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Open Doors Shows Others Are Closing on Christians

As if North Korea weren’t taking up enough headlines, Open Doors USA just added another one: Kim Jung Un’s country is topping the list of the world’s “Most Dangerous Places to Be a Christian.” Of course, the distinction is nothing new for the regime, which has owned the No. 1 spot for the last 15 years. “Nearly one of every 12 Christians in the world today lives in an area, or in a culture, in which Christianity is illegal, forbidden, or punished,” Open Doors President David Curry explained. In North Korea, where 50,000 people are suffering in prison or labor camps for their faith, few are surprised.What is surprising, experts say, is the alarming new trend in places like Afghanistan. The struggling country, which is a routine offender on the list, climbed into the second worst spot — a frustrating development for nations like America that continue to pour resources and troops into the area. Even in the Bush years, religious liberty was a problem in the area.

As Open Doors points out, Islamic extremism is the biggest driver of persecution, “initiating oppression and conflict in 35 of the 50 countries on the list.”

Now, with reports that Pakistan has been aiding Muslim radicals in Afghanistan, we’re starting to see the effects. President Trump, to his credit, cut off aid to Pakistan, one of our supposed “allies” in the region hoping he could persuade it to stop giving “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”Amazingly, “Afghanistan and North Korea are nearly tied. Never before,” Curry told reporters, “have the top two countries been so close in incidents. Both countries are extreme in intolerance and outright persecution of Christians in every area Open Doors monitors. Afghanistan now meets the same level of persecution as North Korea in five out of six areas. This is a tragedy considering the efforts being made by the international community to help rebuild Afghanistan are failing to ensure freedom of religion.” Radical Islamists continue their march of savagery through most of the Middle East and Africa, burning schools and villages to the ground in their war against non-Muslims.Pakistan, meanwhile, the accomplice to Afghanistan’s rise to infamy, scored the highest in “churches or church building attacks, abductions, and forced marriages.”

For the Trump administration, which has done an admirable job cleaning up Iraq and driving ISIS out of the country, has another hill to climb in the surrounding nations. The problems of violence and extremism, which have mushroomed in the last decade, point back to President Obama’s failures as an international leader — not only on terrorism, but religious liberty.

As we’ve said before, America’s silence under last administration led to a rise in the global threat that Donald Trump is now working furiously to control. Conservative leaders like retired Rep. Frank Wolf spent the better part of Obama’s two terms begging him to get off the sidelines and defend the persecuted church. But if the president wouldn’t recognize the First Freedom of Americans here at home, how could he fight for the world’s? Fortunately, the new White House has no interest in tip-toeing around the issue of persecution. President Trump has been a staunch advocate for freedom, even going so far as to nominate Governor Sam Brownback to take over as Ambassador at Large for Religious Liberty. In the coming weeks, Vice President Mike Pence will build on the new administration’s agenda, visiting the Middle East and asking for other leaders’ cooperation in the fight.

For now, FRC’s Travis Weber says, the Open Doors Watch List should serve as “a reminder to all of us in the United States to never take our freedom for granted. Indeed, we must use our freedom to advocate for freedom of religion for all around the world, even as we guard against its infringement here at home.”

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

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Jeff Sessions Just Reversed Obama’s Pot Policy. Why That’s Good News for America.

Reversing Obama-era policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has given federal prosecutors the discretion to prosecute marijuana traffickers.

That’s good news for those who believe in the rule of law. And good news, too, for those concerned about public health and the safety of our nation’s youth.

On Jan. 4, Sessions revoked the Cole Memo, a 2014 Justice Department directive issued by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole. The memo essentially gave marijuana producers and distributors in states that had legalized the drug immunity for violating federal drug laws.

Sessions’ directive gives the 94 U.S. attorneys all over the country clear guidance for deciding when to prosecute those who violate federal law prohibiting marijuana cultivation and distribution.

The Baby Boomers reading this column should realize that the marijuana being produced today is many times stronger and more potent than what we saw in the 1960s.

The science today is also much clearer: We have far greater knowledge of the long-term, deleterious effects of marijuana on the physical and mental health of users, particular children and teenagers.

The bottom line: Today’s pot is a potentially dangerous substance. That’s why it is classified as a Schedule I controlled drug along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy—it isn’t alcohol.

While alcohol can be abused, it is not addictive for most people. Moreover, most consumers stop well shy of the point of intoxication. Moderate amounts even have some positive health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Compared to alcohol, we now know that long-term marijuana use can cause physical disorders such as respiratory disease, social problems such as anomie, and mental health problems such as schizophrenia, something we didn’t know about in the 1960s.

Its effect on the young may be more pernicious. It may impair the brain development of children and teenagers. It is associated with lower test scores and lower education attainment. Teenagers who use pot are also much less likely to graduate from college and much more likely to attempt suicide.

Today’s pot is genetically modified to boost the “high” a user can get. The goal, naturally, is to get more people hooked on pot, just like Big Tobacco’s goal was to get more people hooked on cigarettes.

Today’s pot pushers are just Big Tobacco 2.0. Why else would they be infusing THC, the active ingredient, into everything from cookies to ice cream to Gummy Bears?

These products directly target the young, creating serious risks for children who may not know what they are ingesting and teenagers who use these products to hide what they are doing from their parents.

States like Colorado that have legalized marijuana use have seen huge increases in marijuana-related traffic accidents and fatalities as well as accidental poisonings of both children and pets. Pot use by teenagers, who are most vulnerable to its damaging effects, has also greatly increased, as have school suspensions and expulsions for pot use.

The Cole Memo ignored all of this information, directing federal prosecutors to back off enforcement.

So does Sessions’ directive mean federal prosecutors are now going to go after the college kid who smokes a joint in his dormitory?

Of course not. U.S. attorneys have limited resources. They don’t prosecute misdemeanors. The only criminals they will take to court are the large-scale manufacturers and distributors.

Revenue-hungry lawmakers in states like California and Colorado may be willing to trade the problems created by marijuana legalization for the tax bonanza they expect to reap. But it’s a very raw deal for their neighbors.

States like Nebraska and Oklahoma have complained that Colorado’s legalization has increased trafficking into their states, with all of the myriad problems associated with increased drug abuse.

As Sessions’ memo notes, Congress “determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.” The attorney general has no authority to simply decide not to enforce a law, which is exactly what the Holder/Lynch Justice Department did.

States cannot authorize parties to engage in conduct that federal law prohibits and as long as the Controlled Substances Act is on the books, states cannot tell their citizens to disregard it.

From a policy standpoint, it is wise to battle the growth of an industry that distributes a potentially dangerous drug in what is a national market and thus a national, not just a local, problem.

But Sessions has also done the right thing from a legal standpoint. He has acted to preserve a constitutional government in which Congress determines what the law is, and the president and the attorney general fulfill their duty to enforce the law—not ignore it.

Originally published by Fox News.


Portrait of Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. Read his research. Twitter: .


11 Ways Trump’s DOJ Can Start Enforcing Federal Marijuana Law

Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use – New England Journal of Medicine

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

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Contraception: Intrinsically Evil

In 2018, over twenty conferences worldwide (so Janet Smith tells me) will celebrate Humanae Vitae (HV) on its 50th anniversary, but will also conduct a concerted attack on its teaching, which will not have been discouraged by various actions of the Vatican.

The mode of the attack is not difficult to guess. It will not take the form of direct contradiction but rather subversion – changes that would empty HV of its content through a putative “deepening” of its meaning.

The leaders, we can surmise, will be certain bishops, mainly from wealthy countries, and theologians from academic establishments. It will be claimed that because 80 percent of Catholics in certain countries (never mind how well they know or practice the faith) reject HV, the teaching was never “received” and therefore was never valid – at least in those countries, and therefore pluralism will be urged.

The consensus among enlightened people of goodwill in favor of contraception will be cited as a “sign of the times” and evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. We will be told that the Church must “listen” to these people in dialogue. Indeed, the Paul Erhlichs of the world have already told the Vatican that, in light of Laudato Si’, couples should have no more than two children. But how “feasible” is that policy without artificial contraception?

Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Geach (British philosophers married to each other) are said to have toasted Paul VI when HV was promulgated. They were convinced it was the teaching of the Church, but clearly “it could have gone either way.” You need only read the history of a contentious general council – Nicaea or Ephesus, for example – to see that the orthodox party never took things for granted. The Church prevails because followers of Christ act heroically.

That is why Catholics who practice traditional chastity, and love HV for defending it, need to recognize the attack and take steps to counter it. These steps ought to be mainly spiritual – more frequent and more intense prayer, fasting, Mass attendance, and recourse to Joseph and Mary, those twin guardians of chastity in the Holy Family. Perhaps too, a greater refinement in living holy purity is called for. “As for impurity of every kind . . . there must be no whisper of it among you; it would ill become saints.” (Eph 5:3, Knox) But for readers of this column, there will be work of leadership and persuasion as well.

The contours of the attack may be discerned from the writings of prominent “dissenters” from HV back when the previous milestone anniversary was celebrated, 25 years ago, such as a telling piece in America magazine by Fr. Richard A. McCormick, S.J.

To understand the attack, we must think ourselves into an alien and abhorrent worldview. I have in mind mainly those humble Catholic parents of the “JP II” generation, who have been going about their business of bearing children and rearing them, making many sacrifices to that end. They treasure the “theology of the body,” which they rightly view as a full, satisfactory, personalist development of the doctrine of HV. Perhaps they even made a pilgrimage to Rome for the funeral, beatification, or canonization of this obviously “Great” pontiff. Such persons will likely be shocked to learn that these dissenters from HV have thought something entirely different.

For these dissenters, HV was obviously a mistake. It was (allegedly) affirmed merely to protect papal authority, on the poor grounds (dissenters think) that for a pope to reverse an earlier pope is to undermine his own authority. In that perspective, it was similarly enforced, in a small-minded way, by John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger only by arbitrary exercises of that authority, by “rigging” synods and Church appointments. That’s how things are done in the Church, after all. So in a similar shrewd and political way, the “impasse” that the Church has been brought to through these misguided efforts must be reversed.

Humane Vitae, in general, can stand, they think. It’s true, of course, that there’s a general connection between the procreative and the unitive meanings of marriage and the marital act. One may admit, too, that these are inseparable, in the sense that it would be evil to be married and not wish in general to be fruitful, and that it would be evil to view children as other than fruits of married love. These are the core teachings of HV. The doctrine of “responsible parenthood,” too, in HV is capable of a much fuller development, in light of “integral ecology.”

But what should not stand, say dissenters, is the claim that to vitiate an otherwise fruitful act is “intrinsically evil.” That is the sticking point; that is what needs to be gently put to the side. “The single issue that provoked the hailstorm of reactions,” writes McCormick, “was the teaching that every contraceptive act is intrinsically disordered (intrinsece inhonestum, No. 14). . . . Absent that teaching, Humanae Vitae would be bannered as a beautiful contemporary statement on conjugal love and responsible parenthood.”

Some of these dissenters, therefore, reject entirely the concept of intrinsically evil acts. Or, what amounts to the same, they say that what counts as intrinsically evil can change over time. They haul out misconstructions of Church teaching on usury and religious liberty as examples of something “intrinsically evil” becoming permissible. Slavery, on the other hand, was permissible but now is “intrinsically evil.” Capital punishment works perfectly for them, too, as shown to be per se contrary to the gospel” through the Spirit, but previously permitted.

St. John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor seems a difficult problem for them, however. After all, it teaches that intrinsically evil acts are so, semper et pro semper. (n. 82) It attributes this teaching to both the constant tradition of the Church and Sacred Scripture. Worst of all, it cites acts of artificial contraception as a clear example. (n. 80) How could it be put aside?

This year, we will doubtless see clever efforts to do just that.

Michael Pakaluk

Michael Pakaluk

Michael Pakaluk, an Aristotle scholar and Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, is professor at the Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America. He lives in Hyattsville, MD, with his wife Catherine, also a professor at the Busch School, and their eight children.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Paul VI elevating the future John Paul II, 1967. © 2018 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.