The Fruits of Soft Discipline: When Truth Becomes Mere Opinion

Fr. Mark Pilon: We have failed to maintain discipline about truth. When we are unwilling to defend the truth, truth itself becomes mere opinion.

When I was in the seminary in the early 1960s, we were indoctrinated in the notion that the harsh discipline of the Church over the centuries would be a thing of the past following Vatican II. Supposedly, none of this harshness had ever really worked to safeguard the teaching of the Church, so a new softer approach was needed.

Pope St. Pius X

A half-century later, the results are in – and it’s indisputable that the softer approach didn’t work. In addition to the exodus of priests, nuns, and religious, there’s been a massive loss of knowledge among ordinary lay people about what the Church teaches. And no wonder, since there’s been little effort to make Church teachings clear in the flight from the bad old days of “harsh discipline.”

The bad example most often cited back then was the effort by Pope St. Pius X to root out modernism by removing dissident professors and then, in 1910, instituting the Anti-modernist Oath “to be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.” This oath began by embracing and accepting “each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day.”

Those errors were then briefly explicated, followed by this submission: “I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decreeLamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas.”

Now the “enlightened” critics of this oath were many and prominent during the Second Vatican Council, and they won just two years after it closed. In 1967, the CDF under Paul VI issued a much-shortened Profession of Faith in “substitution of the Tridentine formula and the oath against modernism.” It is a brief restatement of the Creed with a closing qualifier: “I also firmly accept and retain each and every truth regarding the doctrine of faith and morals, whether solemnly defined by the Church or asserted and declared with the ordinary Magisterium, as well as those doctrines proposed by the same Magisterium.”

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

About the Author

Fr. Mark A. Pilon

Fr. Mark A. Pilon

Fr. Mark A. Pilon, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from Santa Croce University in Rome. He is a former Chair of Systematic Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, and a retired and visiting professor at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. He writes regularly at

Something Stirring in the West? Global rejection of ‘authoritarian liberalism’

Robert Royal on Europe’s immigration crisis: we cannot allow a proper Christian appreciation of welcoming to value all cultures except our own.

In the past week, the Czech Republic elected an anti-establishment billionaire, Andrej Babis, as prime minister. The New York Times called that step a “new threat” to European unity. Accurate, in a way, because there have been several other recent steps in the same direction. The irony in this way of viewing things, however, is that the Times and many of its readers think of the European Union as a kind of Holy European Empire. Europeans and others who see the EU bureaucracy – whatever good the EU may have otherwise done – as arrogant and lacking in “democratic transparency” are viewed as dangerous renegades and “authoritarian.” (Babis’ party ANO, by the way, is an acronym meaning “Action of Dissatisfied Citizens”).

Meanwhile, a day later, in nearby Austria, Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration (and a practicing Catholic), became prime minister in what the Times called a further “rightward lurch” within “Europe’s new normal.” So strong is the rejection of the open borders and pro-Muslim policies of Europe that voters gave this relatively inexperienced young man (an otherwise strong supporter of the European Union) and other Austrian rightist parties nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Something is stirring in the Old West.

We’re seeing a remarkable if disorganized reaction in the developed world to the ways that what might be called “authoritarian liberalism” has come to dominate us. Trumpism, of course, is the most obvious example. But even in Europe, the place that seems to have gone the furthest down the liberal path, something remarkable is underway.

Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, is the least surprising part of these developments. The Brits have only been half-hearted EU members and never entered the monetary union. There’s something in the pragmatic Anglo-American mind that doesn’t sit easy with the kind of irresponsible bureaucracy that has come to dominate Brussels. Lax immigration policies while London has been repeatedly hit by terrorist attacks were the last straw. In a way, Brexit is unfortunate because, as an Italian friend said to me recently, “Without the British we Europeans are mostly just ex-Fascists, ex-Nazis, ex-Communists.”

In France, mother of dirigiste government, with a people used to being managed from Paris, the Front Nationale – once thought too far-right and tainted by earlier anti-Semitism – received one-third of the popular vote in an odd election earlier this year. Emmanuel Macron, the current president, was not so much a popular choice as a tolerable alternative. The Front Nationale may or may not succeed in the future, but a large segment of the French – much larger than the actual pro-FN vote – is seeking for something that will turn back France’s own terrorist threats and, perhaps more importantly, will secure French identity.

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

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image taken of the burning Muslim migrant camp in Calais, France known as “the jungle” is by REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol.

Moral Progress? On the fallacies of progressive utopianism.

Christopher Akers on the fallacies of progressive utopianism. We’re not called to leave a better world but to leave the world as better people.

It has become a kind of drumbeat in debates concerning moral issues to hear that “it’s the 21st century, get over it!” Or: “it’s 2017, not the Middle Ages!” Those who assert such things seem to think that they have made a point that cannot be rebutted; a veritable killer blow to an opponent’s position. This attitude has also seeped into our political discourse. Politicians seem to greatly enjoy castigating the Church, demanding it “keep up with the modern world” on a variety of moral issues.

As a so-called “millennial,” however, I look around me and find this line of thought to be absurd. There is no reason at all why living in the year 2017 should automatically confer upon us moral superiority. The reality is that individual men and women are just as good or evil as they ever were. And we have good evidence to back that up. As G.K. Chesterton once opined, to discover the truthfulness of original sin, all we have to do is step out of our front door. To my eye, this truth hasn’t changed a lot.

History is a crooked path, in part cyclical, rarely and only in short bursts linear. All the easy talk of the progressive “arc of history” has to ignore the most obvious evidence. Great civilisations – including our own – rise and fall. The horror and mass-murder of the twentieth century should have dispelled the naïve belief in constant moral and material progress. Ideologies replaced faith, men forgot God, and both peacefulness and refinement have been in retreat. Yet the drums of the “progressives” beat on, though what we are progressing towards, no one can exactly say.

The disparagement of Western history and culture is at the centre of this unexamined modern worldview. It is unnerving to consider that our forebears may not actually have been as ignorant or corrupt as is often claimed. We’d much rather pretend to admire the latest architectural monstrosity than admit that classical structures might reflect admiration for certain public virtues or that the medieval cathedrals are actually effective in raising the soul to heaven. Indeed, it has become passé or downright offensive to speak about the glories of Western civilisation. We don’t want Augustine, Dante, Shakespeare, or Bernini anymore; that would be too “Eurocentric” and “elitist.”

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Akers’ column . . .

About the Author

Christopher Akers

Christopher Akers

Christopher Akers is a writer living in Scotland and is a graduate of Edinburgh University. He is currently a graduate student in Literature and Arts at Oxford University, and his work has appeared in National Review and Reaction.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Monsignor Alfred Newman Gilbey.

Sameness versus Equality

David Carlin: Girls in the Boy Scouts? Another step towards one of the goals of “progressivism”: abolishing the differences between males and females.  

I see that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has decided to allow girls to become members. This, I submit, is a momentous development in the great American culture war, as was the BSA decision a year or two ago to allow openly gay men to be scoutmasters. I have no inside information regarding the BSA decision-making process, but I think it’s not hard to figure out for anybody who (like me) has been paying attention to the culture war for the past thirty years or so.  Here’s what I think happened.

(1) There has been a decline in BSA membership in recent years.

(2) This decline is partly the result of the introduction of openly gay scoutmasters, for this led many parents, especially Christian parents, to be skeptical of the moral soundness of the BSA.

(3) The BSA decided that this decline in numbers could be stopped and even reversed by allowing girls to become members.

(4) The executive leadership of the BSA was pressured to move in this direction by many of its big corporate sponsors, who earlier pressured the BSA to admit gay scoutmasters.

I don’t know what the top executives at the BSA get paid, but I’m willing to place a wager on two things: first, that they get paid pretty well; and second, that their pay is heavily dependent on contributions from big corporate sponsors.  Therefore they don’t like to displease their big corporate sponsors, and they are pretty good convincing themselves that what the big sponsors want is, when you really think about it, good for the BSA.  Most of us are pretty good at this kind of thing – convincing ourselves that what is for our personal advantage is also good for the world.

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.

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.”


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; 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.


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.