Contraception and Spousal Accountability

Everyone knows that millions of Catholic married couples are using contraceptives irrespective of the Church’s condemnation of the practice. What is interesting about this reality is that the common methods being used place the responsibility on either the man or the woman, but not both. This means that only one of the two is actively facilitating contraception. So, for example, what if a Catholic man has a change of heart on moral grounds and would rather his wife switch from the pill to natural family planning and she refuses? According to Pope Pius XI, he would not be culpable for the sin of contraception:

“Holy Church knows well that not infrequently one of the parties is sinned against rather than sinning, when for a grave cause he or she reluctantly allows the perversion of the right order [contraception]. In such a case, there is no sin, provided that, mindful of the law of charity, he or she does not neglect to seek to dissuade and to deter the partner from sin” (Casti Connubii, 1930, #59).

Continue reading “Contraception and Spousal Accountability”

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300 Years of Masonic Mischief

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Shriners on parade

While Freemasonry originated in 1717, it was in 1870, the same year the American order, the Shriners, were founded, that it began a concerted assault on the institutions of the Roman Catholic Church. It was a portentous year as the government of Italy seized the Papal States, leaving the Church with no sovereign home. It was also the year of the Franco-Prussian War, won by the Germans in a rout that was viewed by many in northern Europe as a victory over Catholicism. The Kulturkampf was instituted in Germany after the victory leading to the imprisonment of thousands of priests. In France, Church-run institutions like education and hospitals were seized and secularized. Discriminatory laws against Catholics were also passed in Switzerland and Italy. Continue reading “300 Years of Masonic Mischief”

Why Europe Will Return to the Christian Faith

“Because we have the truth”

Otto von Habsburg
Otto von Habsburg

This was the reply of the late Otto von Habsburg (1912-2011) when asked the question of why he was so convinced Europe would once again return to Christianity. The inquiry was in the context of Europe’s continuing secularization on the one hand, and non-Christian immigration on the other.

The interviewer, an instructor at Thomas More College, was surprised by the would-be Emperor of Austria’s confidence:

“The manner of his response made a deep impression on me. It was sovereign and serene, and filled with a glowing, inspiring hope—a hope anchored in an unwavering faith in Christ and His Church.”

Continue reading “Why Europe Will Return to the Christian Faith”

The Validity of a Marriage is Determined by Proper Consent

marriage2Marriage as we know it today originated in the twelfth-century. It was the result of the efforts of the Gregorian reform movement to wrestle full jurisdiction over marriage from the pagan-influenced customs of the feudal nobility. The latter treated marriage as means of forming strategic alliances with other families, or as a way of keeping wealth within an extended family. Arranged marriages precluded consent which often meant that it precluded love. They were often arranged before the child (usually the daughter) had even reached adolescence.

Church authorities used a variety of strategies to accomplish its goals, one of which was that fact that within Latin Christendom it was the Church that determined whether a particular marriage was valid or not. People wanted their marriage to be valid; it determined the legitimacy of their children and their ability to inherit. The Church knew this. But its problem was that it did not possess a uniform definition of what constituted a valid marriage. Continue reading “The Validity of a Marriage is Determined by Proper Consent”

Why Social Engineering is Intensifying in the U.S.

Future historians analyzing our recent history will notice that Western leaders of the 1990s and after (e.g. Clinton, Blair, Cameron, et al.) reflected a major shift away from their predecessors on moral questions. There was still a shared acknowledgement of the Judeo-Christian foundations of the West, but it obviously had become less of a guide for positions on moral issues. What social historians in particular might note is that these government book1administrators were the first generation of graduates that were educated in institutions saturated with the phenomenon known as political correctness. Students in the major universities from about 1970 on were being increasingly indoctrinated as to what were the acceptable opinions on race relations, sexuality, homosexuality, cultural values, etc. This was exposed by University of Chicago professor Allen Bloom in his widely-read 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind.

Compare the moral outlooks of two contemporaries, Barack Obama and David Cameron, with two other contemporaries, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Can you picture the latter two defending the government’s attempt to impose a legal right for transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their new sexual identity? One can imagine hearing Thatcher’s response to the notion —  “preposterous!”. There is a precise reason behind why we are seeing the social engineers of today intensify the force of their efforts to impose their agenda on American society and why it will continue to increase in severity. Continue reading “Why Social Engineering is Intensifying in the U.S.”

“You are Allowing Evil to Raise Itself up Arrogantly!” St. Hildegard Reproves Her Pope

“This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.”

…Voltaire

There was a time when St. Hildegard would have probably agreed with these paradoxical but generally true shortcomings of the Holy Roman Empire. As an adult Hildegard had come to know a succession of Emperors, since they were in reality no more than Kings of Germany and she was as famous a German as they were. She especially detested Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for his determination to usurp the authority of the pope in ecclesiastical appointments. Hildegard received a gracious letter from the Emperor, in which he referred to her as “holy lady”, and “beloved lady”, requesting her prayers as a means of obtaining grace. Not uncharacteristically, she responds by fearlessly assuming her role as a prophet, of the Old Testament type, delivering threats in the first-person voice of God (very unusual for a woman in medieval times):

“He who Is says: By My own power I do away with the obstinacy and rebellion of those who scorn me. Woe, O woe to the evil of those wicked ones who spurn me. Hear this O king, if you wish to live. Otherwise my sword will pierce you” (Baird, Joseph L. The Personal Correspondence of Hildegard of Bingen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Letter #44, p.78).

She follows up with another letter in which explicitly insults the King (a guy who could make her life very difficult):

“…[I]n a mystic vision I see you like a little boy or some madman living before Living Eyes. Yet you still have time for ruling over worldly matters. Beware, therefore, that the almighty King does not lay you low because of the blindness of your eyes, which fail to see correctly how to hold the rod of proper governance in your hand. See to it that you do not act in such a way that you lose the grace of God” (Letter #45, p.78).

Continue reading ““You are Allowing Evil to Raise Itself up Arrogantly!” St. Hildegard Reproves Her Pope”

5 Reasons Why Western Europe Will Lose the Battle Against Islamic Extremism

1. REFUSAL BY AUTHORITIES TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH CRIME IN IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES .

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England

A major debate erupted earlier in the year over the existence of “no-go zones” in a number of European cities. These are dangerous neighborhoods primarily populated by Muslim immigrants that even the police avoid. The following description of no-go zones near Paris comes from an article in the New Republic:

“The word banlieue (“suburb”) now connotes a no-go zone of high-rise slums, drug-fueled crime, failing schools and poor, largely Muslim immigrants and their angry offspring.”

Worried about a drop in American tourism, the Mayor of Paris threatened to sue Fox News over reports about these zones in Paris. Fox retracted. Nevertheless, in an earlier post, I reported in detail how dangerous Paris can be and how hesitant the authorities are in responding to Muslim immigrant crime.

It’s a problem all over Europe. The following rare admission comes from the Chief Constable of the Police Directorate Osnbrück, Germany, regarding these sorts of areas:

“Every police commissioner and interior minister will deny it. But of course we know where we can go with the police car and where, even initially, only with the personnel carrier. The reason is that our colleagues can no longer feel safe there in twos, and have to fear becoming the victim of a crime themselves. We know that these areas exist. Even worse: in these areas crimes no longer result in charges. They are left ‘to themselves.’ Only in the worst cases do we in the police learn anything about it. The power of the state is completely out of the picture.” (Link)

Refusing to acknowledge a social problem doesn’t make it disappear. A bias toward multiculturalism in the European pressrooms only support this. Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Western Europe Will Lose the Battle Against Islamic Extremism”

Is Social Engineering the Salient Evil of Our Time?

The term “social engineering” originated in the late 19th century and was used by early sociologists to define the attempt by governments to influence human attitudes toward certain ideas or behaviors. It is primarily associated with authoritarian governments like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Chairman Mao’s China. Using manipulative laws, re-education, and propaganda, they sought to reshape their societies according to their repective ideologies. All governments, however, practice social engineering to some extent, with the intention of producing a desirable outcome that is in the best interest of the public. Regulation of industry and financial markets, laws, and tax incentives are a few examples. But social engineering, even in free societies can have a sinister side.

jpiiPope St. John Paul II tried to warn the West about this in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor. Written just after the fall of the Soviet Union, something he had helped accomplish, he cautioned the West about the dangers of freedom in a society that was losing its moral foundations:

“Today, when many countries have seen the fall of ideologies which bound politics to a totalitarian conception of the world — Marxism being the foremost of these — there is no less grave a danger that the fundamental rights of the human person will be denied and that the religious yearnings which arise in the heart of every human being will be absorbed once again into politics. …Indeed, if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”

It may not be correct to assert that social engineering itself is an evil; that would depend on whether the desired outcome is evil in nature. We get a clue about the intentions of today’s social reformers from a recent article in the New York Post. Citing Gallup Polls, the writer points out some of the dramatic changes that have affected American culture in the last decade or so. They reflect a complete shift in attitudes toward moral issues over very brief periods of time. Some examples:

  • In 2003 34% of people polled said they were in favor of legalizing marijuana; in 2013 it was over 50%. (Interestingly, only 7% said they used it).
  • In 2006, support for homosexual marriage stood at 39%, today it is 60%.
  • In 2001, only 40% of those surveyed considered homosexuality morally acceptable; today it is 63%.
  • In 2003 only 34% of people polled thought that having a child out of wedlock was morally acceptable. Today that number is 61%.

He compares the scale of these massive changes to the cultural revolutions of the 1960s and notes perceptively: “We’ve hardly taken notice of it, because it happened in people’s minds instead of in the streets.” He cannot explain how this came to be, but suspects it has to do with the degrading nature of pop culture. In my view, however, what is ultimately responsible for this is social engineering by government institutions: schools, legislatures, presidents, judges, as well as lobbyists and special-interest groups, and those that fund them. The journalist rightly poses a troubling question that should give Roman Catholics a cause for concern, “…what comes along with this mass departure of moral judgment from public life?” social10In his encyclical, St. John Paul II answers that question: “…if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power.” (note the word “easily”) Continue reading “Is Social Engineering the Salient Evil of Our Time?”

Today’s “Soft Despotism” and St. Hildegard’s Futuristic Visions

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami recently celebrated a Red Mass for members of the legal community. His homily touched on the legal troubles currently facing the Catholic Church:

“And so in our country as in other Western countries, we see a tendency to relegate religion to the private sphere. And, in these countries, we see the courts chipping away at the original understanding of religious freedom. In order to fit new political agendas, religious freedom is being reinterpreted narrowly to mean merely “freedom to worship” but excluding the freedom to serve and/or the freedom to witness. The Catholic Church in this country is currently battling in legislatures and in courts against this tendency. And it is not clear that we will prevail. Education, family law, healthcare are just some of the areas in which narrow readings of religious freedom are paving the way for antireligious policies.”

According to St. Hildegard’s vision of the fourth beast, the Black Pig, we will not prevail. This era, which began in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union, is unusual in that it is focused squarely on society’s leaders rather than the people themselves. She explains that the blackness is caused by the pig rolling around in mud and excrement, reflecting the corrupt nature of this era’s leaders:

“…[T]his epoch will have leaders who blacken themselves in misery and wallow in the mud of impurity. They will infringe the divine law by fornication and other like evils and will plot to diverge from the holiness of God’s commands”[Scivias, Book III, Vision 11]

The reason we will not prevail has to do with Hildegard’s explanation of the symbolism of the ropes, which signifies that the particular evil that characterizes each era will be present from its beginning to its end. Archbishop Wenski goes on to call what’s happening to the Church “soft despotism”:

“…[I]n this country and other liberal democracies, people of faith are being increasingly subject to a soft despotism in which ridicule, ostracism, and denial of employment opportunities of advancement are being used to marginalize us. We see this when butchers, and bakers and candlestick makers are being put into the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs. …Christian pastors are stalked and threatened for being “Christian” pastors, social scientists are expelled from universities for having turned up “politically incorrect” facts, charitable organizations and confessional schools are harassed if they take seriously their faith’s moral precepts and required their employees to support their missions.”

I discuss this present era at length in the book. Until it ends, however, what signifies the era, the actions of leaders who “…plot to diverge from the holiness of God’s commands,” will continue unabated. Catholics should be prepared for this to intensify.

…rjt

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“Either They Shall Stay Together in Righteous Union, or They Shall Both Abstain From Such Unions!” St. Hildegard on Divorce and Remarriage

marriage2In her first book, Scivias, within which we find the vision of the five beasts, many of St.Hildegard’s twenty-six visions included references to matters relating to marriage and sexuality. Her language at times can be rather blunt, employing less than delicate phraseology. The visions of this twelfth-century Doctor of the Church can take the form of direct warnings from God, written in the style of an Old Testament prophet, “Thus saith the Lord…”, taking the form of a first-person oration by God Himself! This is uncommon in medieval mystical literature and more unusual in that it comes through the voice of a woman. An example of this comes from Book 1,Vision 2,Chapter 3, in which the text is specifically referring to prohibitions against incestual relationships (All quotations herein are taken from the following translation: Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias, translated by Columba Hart and Jane Bishop. The Abby of Regina Laudis: Benedictine Congregation Regina Laudis of the Strict Observance, Inc. Paulist Press, 1990.):

…[F]or the embraces of a man and woman related by blood would be wickedly enkindled into shameless fornication and ceaseless lust much more than those of unrelated people. I am explaining this by this person [Hildegard], …she is receiving this explanation not from human knowledge but from God. (p.82)

The Medieval scholars that stumbled across Hildegard’s little known Latin works in the late twentieth-century were astounded by the authority in her first-person voice of God. She discusses marriage in the Second Vision of Book One, the context of which covers the fall of Adam and Eve:

But if either husband or wife breaks the law by fornication, …they shall undergo the just censure of the spiritual magisterium. For the husband shall complain of the wife, or the wife of the husband, about their sin against their union before the Church and its prelates, according to the justice of God; but not so that the husband or wife can seek another marriage; either they shall stay together in righteous union, or they shall both abstain from such unions, as the discipline of Church practice shows. (p.78)

Continue reading ““Either They Shall Stay Together in Righteous Union, or They Shall Both Abstain From Such Unions!” St. Hildegard on Divorce and Remarriage”