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”
“Because we have the truth”
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.”
In a speech presented at the World Youth Day in Poland, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, General-Secretary to the Italian Bishop’s Conference, recounted the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in a way that irritated Father Z. The bishop had concluded the story at the end of Genesis 18, the dialogue with Abraham, saying, “…The city [Sodom] is saved because some righteous ones are there, even though a few of them.” I would have guessed that the bishop may have accidently misstated himself, but he repeats again in the next line “the city was saved”. Genesis 19, which concludes the story with the destruction of Sodom, was omitted.
This should not come as a complete surprise. It was and is still commonly taught in the universities that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was a legend, along with the Tower of Babble, creation story, Noah’s Ark, etc. Since elements of many of these stories can be found in the mythological literature of other Ancient Near Eastern religions, it was assumed by many Biblical scholars that by the time they were written down, the Hebrews had simply adapted these fables to their unique monotheistic conception of God. Particularly for older theologians, like Bp. Galantino, interpreting these Biblical accounts literally would be naïve, thus leaving them open to creative interpretations or to be disregarded as anachronistic and irrelevant to today’s world.
With respect to Sodom, however, proof of its existence appeared in the 1980s. An archaeological site in present day Syria had uncovered a Middle Bronze Age city-state named Ebla. In it they found a library containing tablets that included geographical guides, and a list of cities that included Sodom.
In fact, archaeologists might have actually found Sodom in the Southern Jordan Valley, a Middle Bronze Age site known as Tall El-Hammam. One of the archaeologists working on the project, Steven Collins, concluded it was Sodom based on information from the book of Genesis:
“Theorizing, on the basis of the Sodom texts, that Sodom was the largest of the Kikkar [the Jordan ‘Disk’, or ‘well-watered plain’ in the Biblical text] cities east of the Jordan, I concluded that if one wanted to find Sodom, then one should look for the largest city on the eastern Kikkar that existed during the Middle Bronze Age, the time of Abraham and Lot. When we explored the area, the choice of Tall el-Hammam as the site of Sodom was virtually a no-brainer since it was at least five to ten times larger than all the other Bronze Age sites in the entire region, even beyond the Kikkar of the Jordan.”
He sees evidence of a sudden abandonment of the city and no subsequent re-population of the area for 700 years. He notes also that the site,
“…included a large monumental complex in the lower city/tall, remains of a mudbrick palatial structure in the upper city/tall (called the ‘red palace’ because of the color of the mudbricks due to a fiery conflagration).”
While evidence of destruction by fire is common to Near East archaeological sites, broken pottery shards have been found that were melted down by a heat level that would have to have been much higher than that of a normal fire, even a kiln.
Less likely the site of Sodom is an area on the west side of the Dead Sea traditionally called the Mountains of Sodom and the Cave of Sodom. It’s a desolate area primarily comprised of salt. How this area came to be identified with Sodom is not clear; there are no remains of a city in the area. However, since it is on the coast of the Dead Sea, there are many pillars of salt, many of which eerily take on a human-like form. One in particular is even commonly referred to as Lot’s wife.
Bishop Galantino naturally prefers to talk to the kids about God’s mercy (Genesis 18), but is it helpful to ignore His judgment (Genesis 19)? Doesn’t the former necessarily imply the latter? The sin of Sodom was that as a sovereign city-state it had legitimized sexual behaviors that were contrary to divine natural law. But isn’t that exactly what sovereign Western states are doing today by means of their courts and governmental authorities? At some point following this Year of Mercy could the West experience a Year of Judgment?
“This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.”
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).
1. REFUSAL BY AUTHORITIES TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH CRIME IN IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES .
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”
I hope they will not come upon us now.
KING HENRY V:
We are in God’s hand, brother, not in theirs.
March to the bridge; it now draws toward night:
Beyond the river we’ll encamp ourselves,
And on to-morrow, bid them march away.
Henry V, William Shakespeare
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Obergefell vs.Hodges, a major and well funded campaign began to encourage the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Catholic Church and other non-profit organizations that oppose homosexual marriage. This has caused alarm among Catholic groups like The Catholic League, whose director Bill Donohue warns:
“Anyone who thinks that radical activists will stop with gay marriage is ignorant: The big prize has always been to force the churches to fall in line. …Stealth politics is what the left is good at, and on this issue they will have their unelected surrogates at the IRS do their bidding.”
From a purely financial standpoint the answer to the question posed above is probably yes, it could be a calamity, particularly with regard to a levy on Church property. Yet knowing the true financial impact on the Church would require an in-depth analysis by a major accounting firm. The USCCB might be wise to commission such a study. A lot of dioceses in America are in bankruptcy and if the Church were to be taxed like a corporation she could do what most corporations do to reduce or eliminate their tax obligations. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad as one might think. And then there’s the question of whether parishioners would reduce their giving or stop tithing at all, since the tax-deductability of their contribution would be eliminated. Conducting a broad survey on that question might also be wise.
Some think that the government’s removing of the Church’s tax-exempt status is very unlikely. Since the question of homosexual marriage is a religious matter for the Church, it would be seen as a violation of the First Amendment and be quickly overturned by the courts. (Although, in 1976 the IRS successfully took Bob Jones University’s tax-exempt status away because it had a policy against interracial marriage). Others suggest that the political party in power at the time of such a decision would be too fearful of suffering a backlash at the ballot box and they would elect to back off. Continue reading “Would The Church Losing Its Tax-Exempt Status Be Such a Calamity?”
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.
Pope 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?” In 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?”
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.
Over at Bonfire of the Vanities blog Fr. Fox and his Archbishop, Dennis Shnurr, take a shot at the upcoming movie. The Archbishop had issued a statement to his priests:
The movie is a direct assault on Christian marriage and on the moral and spiritual strength of God’s people.We need to inform our people about the destructive message of this movie and to highlight the beauty of God’s design for loving relationships between a husband and wife in the bond of marriage.
I’m more inclined towards Fr. Fox’s wording:
This movie is filth; it is evil. I’m sure it’s pretty, and has lots of fine production values, yadda-yadda. I can think of no excuse for anyone to buy a ticket to it; or, for that matter, to buy the book. It is also intensely degrading, particularly toward women.
While Father might not see a reason to buy the book, a lot of other people did; what is worth noting is not only the book’s extreme sado-masochistic content, but its broad popularity. According to Wiki, it has sold over 100 million copies and was the fastest-selling paperback in U.K. history. Also, as I understand it, the vast majority of buyers are young women, who I suppose enjoy reading about the degradation of another young woman.
America has contributed quite a lot toward the perversion of Western society, The Kinsey Report, for example, which was a bestseller back in 1948, internet porn, …etc. etc. But the popularity of this thing strikes me as reflecting that our already-debased secular culture has reached a new low. If there is a chastisement, America should be first in line, (see previous post).