Benedict XVI leaves Rome to deliver a coded message to his supporters

The Pope Emeritus has not vanished into monastic silence. He’s still offering comfort for those who prefer his vision to that of Pope Francis

11 July 2015

9:00 AM

11 July 2015

9:00 AM

One of the finest speeches Benedict XVI ever delivered was about sacred music. It is a small masterpiece, in which Benedict recalls his first encounter with Mozart in the liturgy. ‘When the first notes of the Coronation Mass sounded, Heaven virtually opened and the presence of the Lord was experienced very profoundly,’ he said.

Benedict robustly defended the performance of the work of great composers at Mass, which he insisted was necessary for the fulfilment of the Second Vatican Council’s wish that ‘the patrimony of sacred music [is] preserved and developed with great care’.

Then he asked: what is music? He identified three places from which it flowed. First, the experience of love, opening ‘a new grandeur and breadth of reality’ that inspires music. Second, ‘the experience of sadness, death, sorrow and the abysses of existence’. These open ‘in an opposite direction, new dimensions of reality that can no longer find answers in discourses alone’. Third, the encounter with the divine. ‘I find it moving to observe how, in the Psalms, singing is no longer enough for men — an appeal is made to all the instruments: reawakened is the hidden music of creation, its mysterious language.’

You can find footage of part of this speech online. It shows Benedict in his prime, speaking with light fluency, dressed in papal robes and appearing thoroughly relaxed in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

Ah, the good old days, traditionalists may sigh. But perhaps you’ve noticed that I haven’t referred to ‘Pope Benedict’. That is because he gave the speech last Saturday.

When Benedict suddenly vacated the chair of Peter in February 2013, he announced that he would live out his days in silence in the Vatican monastery of Mater Ecclesiae. If that was a promise, he has never quite kept to it.

Last year, the Pope Emeritus slapped down his old adversary Cardinal Walter Kasper, a left-wing German theologian, for suggesting that, when he was still Professor Ratzinger, he supported communion for divorced and remarried Catholics — Kasper’s pet cause. He has warned the Church against ‘any wavering from the Truth’. He has welcomed news that the Ordinariate — the body he set up for ex-Anglicans, disgracefully sidelined by the English bishops — now worships in the former Bavarian embassy chapel in Soho. And he told traditionalists that the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass ‘now lives in full peace in the Church, even among the young, with celebration by great cardinals’.

Most of these interventions can be interpreted as implicit criticism of Pope Francis. The ‘wavering from the Truth’ comment was directed at Kasper, a mentor to Francis whose radical ideas provoked fury at last October’s Synod on the Family. (Significantly, the Vatican tried to keep Benedict’s words from reaching the press.) The Ordinariate letter is unlikely to have bothered the Pope, but the message to Latin Mass supporters will have annoyed him. When Benedict praised ‘great cardinals’, he had in mind the arch-conservative Raymond Burke — whom Francis sacked as head of the Vatican’s legal tribunal.

Benedict’s reflections on music are, on the face of it, uncontroversial. But they are the first he has delivered in public — looking rejuvenated. Moreover, in citing Vatican II to defend liturgical high art, he was reviving the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’, the great theme of his pontificate. Benedict views Vatican II as an enrichment of tradition. Francis sees it as a ‘new beginning’ and accuses its critics of ‘wanting to tame the Holy Spirit’. He has rejected the hermeneutic of continuity.

Liberal Catholics will dismiss Benedict’s comments as the embittered musings of a disappointed 88-year-old and point instead to the million-strong crowd Francis drew in Ecuador this week. They overlook something obvious to visitors to many British parishes: younger clergy and worshippers in the West tend to be natural Benedictines, not Franciscans. My own parish is not ‘traditionalist’ but its liturgy has become more solemn, the music more classical and a crucifix has appeared on the altar: a trademark of the hermeneutic of continuity because the priest symbolically faces east, as once he did literally.

Joseph Ratzinger is not the Pope. But by calling himself ‘Benedict XVI’, dressing in white and keeping the word ‘pope’ in his title, he reminds us that he is a living successor to St Peter. Quite what authority that bestows on him is a mystery. But clearly he feels entitled to reach out discreetly to members of the faithful distressed by the dismantling of his legacy. To these Catholics, Benedict is saying, in language far more eloquent than the crowd-pleasing paragraphs of Francis’s encyclical on the environment: my vision is not dead. And nor am I.

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  • One advantage that Benedict had over Francis is that when he spoke people generally understood what he was thinking. Probably, because he himself knew.

    • Jadissock

      I thought the luvvly Damian would have been writing on the rood and norty antics of Bishop Egan – hiring parish priests who had been stashed away in German monasteries, and thus sticking two fingers up at the Committee of Public Safety before Commissioner Volpi was cold in his grave. I appreciate that might be a bit over the heads of Mork from Orc, and Count Arthur Strong – but there you go.

      • Man In Black


        • Jadissock

          You didn’t get the Tolkein subtext, then, MIB? I didn’t get where I am today (Stockport) without knowing how to mix my Sci_Fi fantasy metaphors – and judging by the mismatch between your avatar and handle – nor did you.

          • Man In Black

            My dearest 7′ evil witch, that honestly was just a spell correction.

          • Jadissock

            Yes, well, I’ll let it go this time, but remember my ability to render things into stone with my wand makes me many friends among the rolled-up trouser brigade

          • post_x_it


    • Mary_Carter
    • patriciajshepard
    • patriciajshepard
    • barney

      Bryony Gordon tweeted

      @BruvverEccles Does your God condone being thoroughly nasty to people on Twitter? If so, I’m glad I don’t ‘understand’ your religion.
      2:18 am – 11 Jul 2015

    • barney

      Copied to Jadissock and all the other socks

      Bryony Gordon tweeted
      @BruvverEccles Does your God condone being thoroughly nasty to people on Twitter? If so, I’m glad I don’t ‘understand’ your religion.
      2:18 am – 11 Jul 2015

    • Well said.

      The thought/speech ratio in the cases of Benedict v. Francis seem directly inverted – Benedict showed clear deliberation in everything he uttered and wrote whereas Francis seems to have no brain/mouth (or, in the case of Laudato Si, brain/pen) filter whatsoever.

      It’s particularly striking in the case of economics – Benedict wrote some genuinely brilliant and thoughtful things (Spengler/Goldman wrote a fantastic essay on his ideas for Asia Times) while Francis churns out partisan screeds with language more befitting Reddit posts.

      • ithakavi

        I have to take a slight exception. In Caritas in veritate Benedict described a free market exchange as one in which parties traded items of equal value (and thus a transaction in which no benefit is gained by either party). The formulation was repeated twice, so was not mere oversight. Such a statement would (or should) make a first semester economics student blush with shame. Moreover, his suggestion for a supranational economic authority with confiscatory powers was ludicrous. Ignorance of basic economic principles is a consistent theme running throughout Catholic social doctrine from Rerum novarum to the present. The Church has never really gotten over its abhorrence of ‘trade’ as an occupation or acknowledged the time value of capital (i.e., interest). That being said, Laudato si is the worst of the series.

      • Grace Ironwood

        I second your recommendations of Spengler in Asia Times.
        Delightful and astute, despite his rather rigid Rosenweigian framework at times!

        Francis just keeps on confirming his reputation as a rather foolish liberation theologist.

    • standtall909

      LOL….True! Benedict is CLEAR with his flow of thoughts. Francis…..not so much.

      • Evangelii gaudium is an extremely clear text, more so than Lumen fidei, which was mostly composed by Benedict.

    • ithakavi

      Francis’ problem is that he thinks out loud and often mumbles.

      • Yet some who know him as a chess player say that his moves are the product of long reflection. He is not to be underestimated!

        • ithakavi

          I’m not underestimating him. I think he’s playing a long game. I just wonder whose side he’s on. At the same time, he his fond of speaking about things of which he knows nothing.

          • what he says about capitalism and the ecology is ceertainly not know-nothingism! he may know nothing about women, but neither did Benedict.

          • ithakavi

            His pronouncements on free markets (‘capitalism’ was originally a pejorative term invented by Marxists) and the environment are precisely know-nothingism. He has a profound ignorance of both subjects. Why do Catholics think orthodoxy requires ignorance of basic principles of economics and physics? And by the way, Francis’ ‘scientific’ adviser is a pantheist devotee of Gaia Theory. His uncritical acceptance of anthropogenic ‘global warming’ is proof that Argentina has not produced a completely sane man in over a century.

          • I thought the majority of scientists subscribe to anthropogenic global warming — am I wrong?

          • ithakavi

            It depends on what you would call a ‘scientist’ and what you consider a ‘majority.’ There is a great deal more money lying around for academic research that assumes AGW than for research that treats it like an unproven hypothesis (as it is). Thus you have people like Michael Mann who has amassed millions by manipulating data. It is undeniable fact that global climate was considerably warmer during the Roman and Medieval Climate Optimums than at present. And it is also undeniable that the present warming trend began around 1865, long before significant anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Moreover, warmist alarmists are still trying either to explain away or deny the fact that there has been no measurable warming since 1998. AGW is not about the environment. It is about concentrating political power in the hands of ruling elites and the end of the American Experiment.

            As for economics and free markets, every papal pronouncement addressing the subjects since Rerum novarum is beneath contempt. The Church’s disdain for capital formation and ‘trading in goods’ needs to be revisited. Unfortunately, this Pope is more likely to be reading ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ than ‘The Road to Serfdom.’

          • Let a “scientist” mean someone with a doctorate in a relevant discipline, who has a record of publishing in respected journals etc. Let a “majority” mean, say, 90%. I think a poll of scientists in the defined sense might come up with a majority of 90% who believe in anthropogenic climate change — or am I wrong?

          • ithakavi

            The American Medical Association? Really? Please explain how the collective opinion of a gaggle of gastroenterologists and dermatologists is relevant to the discussion.

            The various science academies to which you allude are political bodies. This is particularly true of the IPCC, which until recently was headed by a railroad engineer turned international bureaucrat. These societies exist for two purposes: to exercise a monopoly on the publication of peer reviewed research; and to lobby governments for money. Your naive impression of dedicated objective men and women in white lab coats peering intently into microscopes is a myth. Moreover, consensus is not a scientific principle. If it were, we would still laugh at the notions of continental drift and an expanding universe.

            Try to think objectively about what the temperature record (to the extent that it is in fact a reliable record of global temperature – a doubtful claim at best) actually shows:

            1. The planet has been warming for 10,000 years. There are warming and cooling cycles of varying lengths superimposed on one another. The current ‘warming’ began in the middle of the 19th century and is not accelerating (and in fact has paused for the last two decades). AGW somehow posits that a ‘natural’ warming occurred for a century to be seamlessly replaced with AGW. How plausible is that?

            2. How does one actually go about measuring global temperature? Much of the ‘record’ consists of the manual collection of data from a few hundred thermometers scattered throughout the planet over a couple of centuries; which have been ‘adjusted’ by questionable means by people with fairly obvious political agendas. The East Anglia data set was then deliberately destroyed so that it could not be replicated. This is supplemented by ‘paleoclimatologists’ with proxy data from tree rings, stalactites, ice cores, etc. etc. by methodologies that pile questionable assumptions in endless strings of speculative inferences. Most of it doesn’t pass the laugh test on adult examination.

            3. It was considerably warmer during two sustained periods in recorded history; both eras being extraordinarily good for human beings. Despite these sustained warming periods, we still have corals, polar bears, frogs, and all the other things that the present warming is supposed to extinguish.

            4. Actual CO2 concentrations are insufficient to produce the dire predictions of the alarmists (they actually admit that if you drill down into the literature). Instead, the alarmists rely a theory of an endless positive feedback loop in which warming forces more warming (all that locked-up methane in the tundra, don’t you know). Somehow previous warmings failed to produce the effect, but our ‘scientists’ ignore that simple fact.

            You are obviously a true believer who accepts the weakest of all possible logical arguments (appeals to authority). So, apparently, is Francis. I don’t know whether to laugh at him, weep for him, or fear him. I am still waiting for him to say something that is simultaneously intelligent and unambiguous. That he has managed to be Pope for two and a half years without doing this even once makes fear the more prudent option.

            I think we will know more about the man after the upcoming regular synod. If he tries to make us all Episcopalians his nature will no longer be in doubt.

          • All very well, but you still have the vast majority of accredited scientists against you. The damage done to the ozone layer by humans for quite a long time is an alarming fact, and the rapid melting of the arctic ice is another. Again the fate of the rain forests and the accelerated rate of species extinction, both caused by humans, is an ecological catastrophe. That is just my personal observation. The entire issue of climate change is of the gravest urgency, as we see in the apocalyptic tones now being adopted by none other than the US President. A true denialist would go through Francis’s encyclical, a mere 200 pages or so, and refute his points one by one, with calm reasoning; I do not see anyone doing this.

          • ithakavi

            1. We stopped using CFCs and the ozone is all better. None of the apocalyptic predictions came true. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

            2. Ice melts in the summer. It has something to do with sunshine and the invariable fact that ice melts above 0 C. Arctic ice is doing just fine. Polar bears are not drowning. Walruses are not starving. Perhaps you missed the story about how all the gravely concerned ‘scientists’ went on an expedition in the Antarctic to showcase the loss of ice (in the middle of the summer no less), got stuck in pack ice, and had to be rescued: http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/17277-global-warming-alarmists-stuck-in-antarctic-sea-ice

            2. Leftist know-nothings are always screaming about ‘accelerated rates of species extinction’ but never actually name any species going extinct. Those ‘statistics’ are based on the number of acres of rain forest being turned into cattle ranches and merely assume that there are some arbitrary ‘X’ number of unknown undiscovered species per acre that are therefore being destroyed. Do you not find it rather strange that the tens of thousands of species being destroyed every year by those nasty ‘capitalists’ are always species that had never been identified before they went extinct? Please, it doesn’t pass the laugh test.

            3. “Accredited scientists” is a tautology. Only True Believers get to do the accrediting.

            4. Francis is putting himself on the side of the Malthusians – the people who say that human beings are a plague on the earth. A Pope should be smarter than that.

            5. I’ve begun to read Laudato si. I’ve been putting it off because I have yet to read a coherent Social Encyclical even from Popes I admire (Centissimus annus and Cartias in veritate showed zero understanding of how goods and services are actually produced in this world or how seven billion people actually get fed). So far, Laudato si is a collection of platitudes mixed in with simplistic ignorance.

          • 1. “We stopped using CFCs and the ozone is all better. None of the apocalyptic predictions came true. Zero. Zilch. Nada.”

            — Still ozone layer depletion is having deleterious effects on air quality, ocean life, human health and much else, even if apocalyptic effects are staved off. CFCs continue to deploy their longterm deleterious effects.

            2. “Arctic ice is doing just fine.”

            Not according to this report: http://qz.com/477951/this-terrifying-gif-shows-how-much-arctic-ice-has-disappeared-in-the-last-20-years/

            “Perhaps you missed the story about ”

            This anecdote proves nothing.

            2. “always species that had never been identified before they went extinct?”

            It’s easy to find lists of identified species that have recently gone extinct, for instance plants in Oceania:

            Hawaii Chaff Flower – Achyranthes atollensis (1964, Hawaiian Is.)

            Casearia tinifolia (1976, Mauritius)

            Cyanea dolichopoda (1990, Hawaiian Is.)

            Kohala Cyanea Tree – Cyanea pycnocarpa (1997, Hawaiian Is.)

            Oak-leaved Cyanea Tree – Cyanea quercifolia (1997, Hawaiian Is.)

            Taravai Aster Tree – Fitchia mangarevensis (1997, Taravai, French Polynesia)

            Moorea Laurel – Hernandia drakeana (1997, French Polynesia)

            Puhielelu Hibiscadelphus – Hibiscadelphus crucibracteatus (1981, Hawaiian Is.)

            Auwahi Hibiscadelphus – Hibiscadelphus wilderianus (1910, Hawaiian Is.)

            Cross-bearing Pelea – Melicope cruciata (1997, Hawaiian Is.)

            Obovate Melicope – Melicope obovata (1997, Hawaiian Is.)

            Nuku Hiva Neisosperma – Neisosperma brownii (1997, French Polynesia)

            Fatu Hiva Ochrosia – Ochrosia fatuhivensis (1997, French Polynesia)

            Nuku Hiva Ochrosia – Ochrosia nukuhivensis (1997, French Polynesia)

            Tahiti Ochrosia – Ochrosia tahitensis (1997, French Polynesia)

            Hawaii Ruta Tree – Pelea obovata (1997, Hawaiian Is.)

            Norfolk Island Streblorrhiza – Streblorrhiza speciosa (1997, Norfolk Island)

            Fijian Weinmannia – Weinmannia spiraeoides (1840, Fiji)

            Skottsberg’s Wikstroemia – Wikstroemia skottsbergiana (1997, Hawaiian Is.)

            Hakeakala Wikstroemia – Wikstoemia villosa (1997, Hawaiian Is.)

            3. “”Accredited scientists” is a tautology. Only True Believers get to do the accrediting.”

            Well, that’s the end of science then.

            4.” Francis is putting himself on the side of the Malthusians – the people who say that human beings are a plague on the earth. A Pope should be smarter than that.”

            Actually he dismisses the population explosion as a myth, which I think is a mistake.

            5. “I’ve begun to read Laudato si. I’ve been putting it off” But yesterday you said on this thread that it was the worst of the series of social encyclicals — a premature judgement.

            “So far, Laudato si is a collection of platitudes mixed in with simplistic ignorance.”

            So no actual mistakes?

          • ithakavi

            1. Seventeen species on isolated islands in a fifty year span (what was the original biological ranges of these plants)? This is the mass extinction event we’ve all been warned about? And poor Casearia tinifolia bit the dust at a time when all those ‘scientists’ were warning us of looming catastrophic ‘global cooling.’ Alarmists tell us we’re losing over 10,000 species per year. You’ve got a lot more listing to do.
            2. Ozone layer depletion has nothing whatsoever to do with air quality. We were supposed to be all dying of skin cancer and going blind from cataracts by now – isn’t happening.
            3. It makes no difference whether Francis buys into the overpopulation myth or not (and what he actually thinks on any subject is pretty mysterious) – he’s still standing shoulder to shoulder with Paul Erlich and his crowd of atheist know-nothings. The enviroalarmist ‘solution’ to the ‘environmental crisis’ is always the same: fewer people. Francis chose, as his ‘science advisor’ Hans Schellnhuber, a pantheist devotee of ‘Gaia,’ an inveterate alarmist, forever falsely forecasting gloom and doom (the Greenland Ice Sheet was to have melted by 2015), and whose prescription is population control. Could Francis not have found a sane objective scientist to advise him?
            4. The history of science is replete with examples of smug self-satisfied consensus subsequently shattered. Peer review is a sham. If you think otherwise you simply have not been paying attention.
            5. Premature judgment, most certainly. One loses heart the moment one discovers that the Bishop of Rome uncritically accepts the notion that carbon dioxide (a/k/a plant food) is a pollutant. I’m reading the thing, at 82 pages it is a slog. Having been disappointed with Caritas in veritate, written by a man of whom I am in awe, it will be difficult to maintain objectivity in reading an ‘environmental’ encyclical written by a man who can’t speak in coherent paragraphs.

            Mistakes? None to speak of, no.

          • Happy that Francis made no mistakes (except, to my mind, in dismissing overpopulation as a threat to human ecology). You concede that your own statement on the arctic ice was completely false?

          • ithakavi

            What mistake did I make about arctic ice? You have one alarmist report. Here’s a non-alarmist report: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2015/05/19/updated-nasa-data-polar-ice-not-receding-after-all/ Personally, I think it’s good that we may now have open shipping channels part of the year. But then, I tend to think of ‘trade in goods’ as a good thing. As I said, the walrus are not starving and we have a no shortage of polar bears.

            Chapter 1 of Laudato si could have been cut and pasted from any ‘Earth Day’ screed from Mother Jones circa 1972, except that then it would have given Dire Warnings of global cooling and the coming catastrophic ice age. It is full of veiled pejorative references to evil ‘economic forces’ and ‘business interests’ and ‘multinational businesses’ and ‘quick and easy profit’ and ‘transnational corporations.’ A century ago people with such attitudes would be more explicit and simply condemn International Jewry. He decries ‘neighborhoods [that]have been created which are closed to outsiders to ensure an artificial tranquility’ as if this was not a perfect description of Vatican City. The man is a cliche.

            When you speak of ‘many more unnamed species, whose number can only be guessed at’ you are making my point for me. You are obviously suffering from tofu poisoning.

          • ithakavi

            Um … you do know the difference between the Arctic and Antarctic, don’t you? And one assumes you could (if you wished) differentiate between total ice and the transitory condition of individual ice shelves (as if such things are supposed to be immutable and permanent). You also need to look up the meaning of the word ‘rebuttal.’

            If Chicken Littles were not so wasteful and destructive of human capital and so productive of poverty and ignorance, they would be amusing. Can you name a single thing that Paul Erlich has ever gotten right? We were supposed to have been eating each other by 1978.

          • I never claimed expertise — I merely pointed to the well known fact that the Arctic has dramatically diminished (the rebuttal claims that the article you posted downplays this by dragging in Antarctic matters to make it seem the 5% diminution of the Arctic is not so unsettling). And then there is a word that strikes terror in many: methane. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_in_the_Arctic

          • ithakavi

            It is not a ‘well known fact’ that Arctic ice has diminished. It is a widespread myth. Please do not cite wikipedia – it’s an insult to your intelligence.

            Methane forcing is also a sack of nonsense. It was considerably warmer during both the Roman and Medieval Climate Optimums and: 1) the permafrost didn’t melt and fry us like bacon; 2) corals, walruses, and polar bears managed to survive; 3) human beings flourished.

            Alarmists could be taken more seriously if they had ever been right about anything. They never have. We now have a Pope who could have felt at home at Woodstock and probably wears a Che Guevara T-shirt under his vestments. It’s a disgrace.

          • It has diminished so considerably, 5%, that maps have had to be redrawn; or are you denying this too? http://www.fastcodesign.com/3049716/see-the-shrinking-of-the-arctic-through-years-of-redrawn-national-geographic-maps

          • ithakavi

            Sigh … A map is not the thing it represents. Sea ice is not a permanent geographic feature. We have had accurate (i.e., satellite) data on the extent of arctic sea ice only since 1979. Thirty-six years of data are insufficient to tell us anything about anything. Five percent is considerably less than the annual variation. You cannot say that Arctic sea ice has ‘diminished’ unless you know what it is supposed to be. You are sniffing unicorn methane again. A pox on all your envirofascist houses.

          • ithakavi

            I’m sorry, but your monomania is getting boring. Historical fact: During the Medieval Climate Optimum (≈ 850-1250 AD) Viking settlements in Greenland were ice-free year-round. No longer. It is indisputable that twice in historic times, during prolonged periods, climate has been warmer than at present. In both instances human beings flourished. No mass extinctions occurred. No anthropogenic causes for these warming periods are possible. You and the Pope are simply wrong. He should know better. Goodbye.

          • I do hope the following letter is simply wrong (it goes far beyond anything the Pope says):

            Sir, – As the world watches, debates and, hopefully, responds to the refugee crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean, it may be worthwhile reflecting that this current wave of migration is simply a taste of things likely to come within the next few decades.

            Over 50 per cent of humanity now lives within a few kilometres of the sea, and most of the world’s major cities are on the coast and already liable to flooding. It is now overwhelmingly accepted that, as global climate change continues, many coastal areas, including such very densely populated places as the Nile Delta, Bangladesh, and even most of Florida in the United States, will be increasingly impacted by rising sea levels and much more frequent and severe weather events, such as hurricanes, cyclones and storm surges.

            Under a changing climate, many of these places will progressively become simply uninhabitable and some whole countries, particularly low-lying island states in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, are expected to disappear completely.

            Inevitably, this will lead to a mass exodus of people from the affected areas.

            Add to this the likely impacts of climate change on the world’s water availability, and the viability of agriculture and food production. The Sahara Desert is progressively moving northwards, and is encroaching upon the Mediterranean and the Maghreb countries on its southern shore. In Asia, the glaciers of the Himalayas are rapidly diminishing, putting at risk the water supply and the agricultural productivity of much of northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

            Comparable changes are happening across the developing world, and also in many more developed countries, including in Europe and North America. Wherever they happen, they will put further pressure on the affected populations to leave and seek better prospects elsewhere.

            Where are they to go? We should be seeing the present crisis in the Mediterranean as a practice run and, however we respond, our actions or inactions are likely to set precedents that may come back to haunt us in years to come. – Yours, etc,

            DARIUS BARTLETT,

            Department of Geography,

            University College Cork.

          • ithakavi

            Have you not noticed that every environmental doomsday prediction of the last two hundred years has proven false? The world is always about to end and somehow it never does. And yet you wackos keep making the predictions and moving the goal posts farther back. ‘Climate Change’ is always about to flood our cities or cause megahumongous tornadoes or some such stupidity. This drunken Irishman you cite is using a real political disaster to hype an imaginary ecological disaster. You Malthusians keep forgetting that Malthus was wrong.

            You people are all bat-snot nuts. The Holy Father is merely Argentine and there isn’t a sane man in the entire country. He’s an embarrassment to the Church and should spend the rest of his life in silent prayer and meditation.

          • Sorry, I look for reassurance and instead I get a cluster of defensiveness and name-calling. Calling a man a “drunken Irishman” is racist hate-speech. Calling him a Malthusian is groundless. Calling him a “bat-snot nut” is hardly the summit of rational or civilised argument.

          • ithakavi

            ‘Drunken Irishman’ is a redundancy. I can’t help it if he’s also loony tunes. His little screed is a tautology which I refuse to dignify by taking seriously. You are well past civilized argument – you merely ignore facts and cite speculation as if it was the same thing.

          • “racist pig” is also a redundancy; but the prof. appears to be British in fact. I did not cite his letter as authoritative, and I deeply hope he is wrong.

          • ithakavi

            No, ‘racist pig’ is not a redundancy, and Irish is not a race. And if he’s British it merely means that he favors warm beer over whiskey.

            His letter is nonsense. He assumes global warming. He assumes rapid sea level rise. He then extrapolates from the rather mundane facts of geographic population distributions and the topography of coastal areas that a sudden significant rise in sea level would require large numbers of people to move. A reasonably intelligent eight year old could reach the same conclusions. He ignores the fact that current coastal inundations are caused by subsidence and erosion, not sea level rise. I live within a short walk from the ocean. My office is one block from the ocean. Where I live there is very little tidal variation. The water level has not moved a millimeter in the last forty years. We have very good historical data on ocean levels from tide gauges in both Europe and China over centuries. Ocean levels have been rising since recorded history (since the last ice age). Again, this is mere Chicken Littleism and not worth my time.

          • PS your “drunken Irishman” is in fact British

          • ithakavi

            Your professor friend is a moron.

  • The hermeneutic of discontinuity rears it’s ugly head again.

    Cafeteria Catholicism like this would like to ignore the simple fact that there’s profound continuity in the environmental visions of Benedict and Francis as these statements from the ex-pops clearly demonstrate:


    • Dorothy

      Artur! What makes this article smack of “Cafeteria Catholicism” to you? There is a certain amount of conjecture in Damien’s thoughts about BXVI’s motives, but it is true that in the UK you can find many people quietly ignoring Francis and just going ahead with the liturgical renewal. He didn’t say BXVI didn’t care about the environment; he said UK Catholics find BXVI more eloquent than Francis. Which of course he is.

      • Setting popes, who have different, but not necessarily competing foci, is sophomoric. I like both my Mozart and my environment. Damian’s piece was such trash that I bet he didn’t even notice that he makes Benedict look like Darth Vader (Empire Strikes Back . . . ).

        • Grace Ironwood

          Do you have a more interesting, non-trashy, post-graduate perspective you’d like to share with us?

          I’m interested.

          • Joe

            I think his point is, these are both great men: great thinkers, great leaders. And both are God’s representatives on earth. Neither professed a message that is contradictory or opposed. In fact, both usually professed the exact same message! In areas of emphasis where they differed, their messages have almost always been complementary and synergistic.

    • Grace Ironwood


      Has anyone seen Francis’ twit feed?
      It is a hypnotic braiding of commonplace new age and greenist ‘spiritual” nostrums with chunks of the Catholic doctrine on life.Back and forth back and forth.

      I wonder if its a media tactic to “meet people where they are”- in this case on twitter doing a bit of virtue-signalling. Nevertheless this is where the people are expressing the closest to transcendental beliefs that postmodern westerners get (individualism, socialism & and environmentalism) and Francis is both intoning & reflecting their values & injecting new Catholic memes- in this case, appropriately, on Life, intertwining them with the chunks of greenist etc memes.

      He makes the implied argument that if you are an environmentalist you shouldn’t be a transhumanist (like Caitlyn)

      Is it a stealth evangelist tactic ?
      Will the postmodernists swallow it or will they actually eat the Church as with the Anglicans’ fate??

      I’m an atheist Cultural Christian interested in educated Catholic opinion here.

      • Joe

        Hmm. In addition to those things you also come across as a sensationalist blogger and climate change skeptic looking for reassurance…

        While I appreciate your insights, there’s nothing weird or “un-Catholic” about preaching a very deep green care for the environment. God’s ideal vision of paradise in Genesis was a green utopia called Eden; he prioritized saving animal species over most of the human race when he called down his wrath on man’s sinfulness during the great flood; the early Catholic church owes much to the “new age green spirituality” of the early Celtic church which kept the faith alive during the Dark Ages.

        Francis is just rediscovering something that had been lost somewhere in man’s techno-fueled march toward modernity. The decay of our environment has mirrored the decay of our souls.

        I think the Catholic church and her followers are actually better positioned mentally/spiritually to understand and truly incorporate this message than are most of the atheist post-modernists in today’s world. For them, it will ultimately be very difficult to reconcile their belief in unlimited personal freedom and self-indulgence with any sort of moral imperative to curb their desires. When that reality hits home I’m not sure Francis’ message will be quite so “popular” among the twitter masses as you suggest.

        • Grace Ironwood

          I understand what you are saying , but –

          Dominion? and this Hippy style anti-technological Collectivism?

          What do you think? Is Francis using this new age discourse to smuggleCatholic doctrine on Life (Nature most definitely included) into it ?

          • Man In Black

            He’s definitely done some smuggling — the Encyclical is, if you read it carefully, predicated on the classical Catholic cosmology of the mediaeval scholastics.

            He’s turned the theory of evolution on its head, BTW, quite brilliantly — by suggesting it as a teleological process towards the perfect Forms that God has devised for his creatures in His Plan ; on the basis of Aquinas rather than Darwin.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Yes. So where does Natural Law leave the enforced celebration of transsexualism and gay marriage?

          • Man In Black

            erm .. outside the Church ?

            My best guess.

          • Grace Ironwood

            I hear that in Denmark the State is now forcing the Church to perform gay marriages. In Australia the Gay Marriage people are taking a Bishop to the anti-discrimination commission for teaching Catholic ethics on marriage in Catholic schools.

            It seems that nothing less than the actual replacement of the cross by the rainbow will do.

          • Man In Black

            I hear that in Denmark the State is now forcing the Church to perform gay marriages

            That would be the Lutheran “church”.

            It seems that nothing less than the actual replacement of the cross by the rainbow will do.

            Looks like — it’s the religious symbol of the homosexualist heresy.

            Faithful Catholics will prefer going to prison than kneeling to that pagan symbol.

          • Grace Ironwood

            I hope that the scriptural religious treat it as an opportunity to demonstrate their faith. The rest of us should ensure we crowdfund them as happened to the hapless pizza family.

            State and public intimidation can have a powerful effect. If the religious defend their rights they will soon become the little guy.I predict those watching the unedifying spectacle of the politics of destruction favoured by the Gay Rights zealots will become disgusted by it.

            And could be a catalyst for the mustard seed?

            The atheist Protestant churches have been hollowed out by their post-christian colonizers long ago, I’m unsure of the position of Denmark’s Lutherans and whether the new laws issue for them.
            I would expect it will be a problem for the country’s substantial Muslim population but we know that they are about the only group the zealots with their supporterrs in the media and state won’t take on!

            So, MIB, have you found any profound work by Francis yet??

          • Man In Black

            Francis is a bit of a messy writer, but parts of his latest Encyclical are fairly profound.

          • As an atheist who respects Christian ethics, you now seem to have outed yourself as one who hopes to find support in the church for your abhorrence of gay marriage — but I think you are looking in the wrong place. Danish Lutherans seem quite happy with celebrating gay marriage in church and RC bishops in their resistance to gay marriage have been touting the virtues of civil partnerships. As a atheist you should make a rational case for your opinions rather than go around rustling up support from the religions.

          • Bendys

            Or the other way around.

          • Bendys

            “Is Francis using this new age discourse to
            smuggle Catholic doctrine on Life (Nature most definitely included) into
            it ?”

            Or the other way around.

          • Grace Ironwood

            always a possibility

  • Dorothy

    Thank you for this. But, oh dear, if he was rejuvenate-able, why on earth did he abdicate?

    • Ding, dong . . .

      • Dorothy

        What do you mean by this cryptic remark? If it is a reference to a work of Mozart, I do not recognize the passage.

    • Precambrian

      Perhaps he needed to step back in order to get better – Popedome can be pretty unrelenting.

    • pattif

      “I havè examined my conscience repeatedly before God…” Who are we to second-guess the outcome of this conversation?

    • Grace Ironwood

      Politics ? workplace poison is present in the Vatican as in other earthly institutions. Just a guess. He obviously couldn’t say he wanted to spend more time with the family.
      Anyone more knowledgeable have an idea?

      • Dorothy

        Actually, having thought about it, the most charitable explanation is that he was exhausted and ill and honestly thought he wasn’t up to the job and dreaded what happened while JP2 was all-but-incapacitated happening while he was all-but-incapacitated. He wouldn’t have had any idea that all he needed was a long rest.

        • As they say in Rome, “Joseph Ratzinger never wanted to be a pope, and he never was!”

          • Bendys

            You wish.

          • No, it’s just a Roman witticism. Of course I fully accept that Benedict XVI was a legit pope just like Francis. The witticism is just a remark on his psychology.

  • Precambrian

    He seems a far deeper thinker than PR-frankie

    • A.J. Boyd

      Perhaps you are not reading deeply enough, then.

    • Man In Black

      I think you’re wrong, and that they’re two different kinds of thinker — Francis’ classical theology is top-notch.

      • Faulkner Orkney

        There are indeed two kinds of thinker…those who build their intellectual perspectives with facts and those who resort to ‘faith’. The latter deserve all the disrespect that can be mustered.

        • Man In Black


          Is there any thinking present in your own comment ? Unable to find any there myself.

          • Jadissock

            Look harder, MIB. Say a prayer to St Anthony, and one might turn up eventually.

          • Faulkner Orkney

            Sorry MIB, let me clarify. There are religious folk who have an invisible, and omnipotent friend (or more) who make up guff and poison the gullible with it, and there are the non-religious who view the world through scientific facts. The former (including both popes) are not nice.

          • Jadissock

            There we are – Man at Back. Faulty Monkey looks at the world through Gradgrindian spectacles..

            The facts she worships spring spontaneously into existence for her convenience, untroubled by even a moderate gestation as a hypothesis. A bit like Pallas Athena from the head of Zeus.

          • Grace Ironwood

            It may take another atheist to break it to you, F.O.

            A-theism has no magickal capacity to embrilliant the idiot.

            Finally, the “sky fairy/invisible friend” line is not and has never been a devastating rebuttal of religious doctrine, even when you repeat it.

          • Kennybhoy

            Bug splat! 😉

          • Faulkner Orkney

            When you claim Catholicism is a philosophy and not a religion your petulant post will deserve a reply…until then, all conversations you have founder on your belief in a god. I know I’m an idiot in so many ways (and suspect you’re a smart son-and-so) but on the key question, I have the facts and you just have happy-clappy hopes.

          • Grace Ironwood

            F, I have no “happy clappy hopes” as I’m an atheist.

            However I am interested in the politics of religion, have great respect for Christian ethics and recognise that theology and philosophy share many things in common, especially in their structured ontological and epistemological thought.

            Interestingly the Human Rights we (you?) hold dear today, derives from the secularised Natural Rights of the Enlightenment, (as in for eg The US bill of rights – ‘we acknowledge such truths as self-evident’ ) which has its roots in the Thomistic Natural Law developed in the 13th C by the Churchmen.

            This nonsense has been robust over the centuries and important to civilised behaviour and the dignity of the human being as it is thought of in the West.

            It survives in dialogue with the 17th C philosophy and is the root of our philosophy of what it means to be a moral being today.

            Perhaps it helps you to understand if we recall that Universities & the learning they embody came out of the Church and nowhere else.

            So I don’t believe that the cornerstone of atheism and the height of sophistication lies in sneering at religion. Perhaps you could dig deep and find the humility to explore that idea too.

          • Man In Black

            So I don’t believe that the cornerstone of atheism and the height of sophistication lies in sneering at religion.


          • Grace Ironwood

            Are you being sarcastic ?

          • Man In Black

            Not in the slightest no.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Will be reading the latest Encyclical for myself.
            I’m interested to see if Francis links respect Human Nature – & therefore mammalian sexual difference is not erasable /malleable according to taste – as part of our respect and humility towards “Nature” (a cultural construct if ever there was one 🙂

          • Man In Black

            “Nature” (a cultural construct if ever there was one 🙂

            Might be misremembering, but I think he denounces that one himself 🙂

          • The Vatican is currently obsessed with “gender theory” which it treats as a new heresy. In the past, the Church was more relaxed about ambiguities of male and female identity.

          • Bendys

            Can you give an example ?

          • The samesex marriage rituals collected by John Boswell would be an example; or the feminine language used by male contemplatives of their relationship to the heavenly Bridegroom; the male role of Joan of Arc. Can you give an example of traditional Christian discourse shoring up the stability of a male or a female identity and attempting to define its borders over against androgynism or hermaphroditism?

          • Bendys

            According to wikipedia Boswell’s books were “a revolutionary interpretation”, so it has nothing to do with the Church’s Tradition. Not to mention that he was a 20th century man, so he did not live in the past, and he was not a theologian.

          • I don’t think much of Boswell as a scholar. I refer merely to the historical texts he published. These certainly do not seem to reflect the gender-obsession of some very recent Vatican rhetoric.

          • Bendys

            And what texts would that be, assuming that they belong to the Tradition of the CC ?

          • the samesex marriage rituals collected in Boswell’s volume

          • Bendys

            More precisely ?

          • Grace Ironwood


            Might you work on the virtues of patience and have some generosity towards those who mean you well but who perhaps don’t agree with you on every point?

          • CLynch451

            Apologies for responding to an old post, but …
            although Catholicism is indeed a religion, it carries with it a considerable amount of philosophy. In fact, as a graduate of a Catholic Great Books program, I took as many units of philosophy as I did of theology. The philosophy is often indispensable for defining the terminology of the teaching.

            Hope this helps.


          • Christianity is not a philosophy but a religion based on an encounter with God in Christ. Btw, there are very many philosophers and even scientists who believe in God.

          • Man In Black

            Sorry, still no thinking there, far as I can tell — all I can see are some trite slogans of atheist dogma.

          • St Ignatius

            What about people like me, who fully embrace science and contribute to it at a decent level and are Christian? This false dichotomy of yours doesn’t hold up in the face of evidence, which is ironic.

        • John Lea

          Alas, no. For example, if I had to judge your intellectual capability (based on your tediously PC comments) with, say, the magisterial tomes of St Thomas Aquinas, I think Tommo might just edge it.

          • ardenjm

            Yes. This rolling out of “scientific facts” is just hysterical – in both senses of the word. Like saying that just because we can’t weigh, discover the chemical constituents of, or the wavelength of, say, Prime numbers they can’t be real and therefore don’t exist.

          • Faulkner Orkney

            I’ll roll out my science, you roll out your ‘ohh, I have a feeling it must be true because it’s comforting’. As for the ‘wavelength of prime numbers’…respect, ardenjm, you truly have me baffled!

          • ardenjm

            Show me some “scientific facts” i.e. empirically verified, experimentally tested, lab confirmed evidence about numbers (or such things as justice, responsibility, goodness, freedom etc) and I’ll be more impressed with your: “Can’t see, touch, smell or feel God therefore He doesn’t exist” schtick.
            Prime numbers are just the best example I could think of to illustrate my argument: they are real but they are not material. They exist, we discover them. They aren’t produced by us. We don’t invent them. They, and everything else that is intelligible to us, are part of reality. But they are, clearly, not material, touchable or otherwise “scientifically factually” verifiable. If you accept their reality then you need to stop rolling out the old chestnut that ALL arguments for the existence of God are a priori disqualified because non-empirically verifiable. If I say God is a big green jelly bean then it would be reasonable to ask for proof of its big, green, jelly, bean – ness. If I say God exists, but not materially, not in the universe, but as cause of the universe then you don’t ask me proof of God within the universe as a material object. I, however, have to show why it’s reasonable to affirm that that kind of being would exist. In a nutshell, the way the universe is – including its intelligibility – suggests that it’s more reasonable that there is a cause I call God than that it just ‘happened’ to come in to existence.

            If that still leaves you baffled I suggest you need to take your blinkers off.

            Faith-based claims are clearly distinguished from the things I’ve said above. Which is why Tony Flew became a Deist at the end of his life: for philosophical reasons. He made no act of Faith in any revelation. His change was entirely intellectual.

          • johnhenry

            Whenever people discount faith, I ask them to tell me the exact area of a circle. Any circle. Can’t be done, but we have faith that every circle has a precise area and someday we may be able to measure it.

          • Hamish Redux

            pi r^2, and the exact value of pi requires transcendental meditation.

          • Talking of religious faith the way you do is an inappropriate as asking for the wavelength of prime numbers — that was the point ardenjim was making. Sheesh.

          • Faulkner Orkney

            St. TA was doubtlessly ‘magisterial’ but I’m not commenting to compete with 13th century theology – my point is to counter the reverence held for the popes and the shameful damage they have done to so many, for so long. That you prefer it to my clumsy ‘PC’ (?) comments reflects your bias for dusty pomp ahead of facts.

          • Aaron Siering

            well you’ve certainly lost all intellectual respectability now too. So yours beliefs are based neither on experience given by one’s sense of faith or a competent intellect but seeming are the products solely of your desires and imagination.

            I love when people like you post because it absolutely makes the case for the Church for any objective, rational, intelligent person interested in the truth.

            I compliment you then on your efforts towards evangelism.

          • Grace Ironwood

            By golly, these people infest boards like this with their utterly conventional comments. Don’t encourage more!

          • Grace Ironwood

            A question for you: if you will not engage with 13thC theology,
            why would you believe in such things as human rights?

          • Faulkner Orkney

            A question for you…why do you keep supporting a god who is responsible for child cancer and a cesspit of other sickening realities? Put that in your ’13thC theology’ pipe and smoke it…

          • Man In Black

            Why do you keep supporting an atheist materialism of strict cause and effect that is responsible for child cancer and a cesspit of other sickening realities?

            Let’s see if you have the brains to work out your own category error.

          • Grace Ironwood

            I’ll talk with you again if you have something less commonplace and more civil to put up.

        • sunzeneise

          What do nonbelievers know of faith?

        • Aaron Siering

          I don’t believe you understand what faith is or seeming could have ever experienced it.

          Faith as I came to understand during my conversion to Catholicism (from a secular scientism) is like a sense that contacts the supranatural world in the same way that our physical senses contact the natural world. Faith leads to an experience of total reality, and has absolutely nothing to do with one’s mere beliefs.

          Intellect divorced from actual experience can go really wonky very quickly, every Catholic needs both the full power of their intellectus and their complete sense of faith. The latter being our sole privilege by virtue of the sacraments. It is what keeps our intellects pointed true to the direction of reality.

          • licjjs

            “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that do not yet appear” (Hebrews) It is an assent of the Will to the revelation of God, to what has been heard through the preaching of the Gospel: “Faith comes through hearing….” (Romans)

          • Aaron Siering

            I really don’t know if you are providing scripture verses that are meant to support what I said–if so great, but unnecessary. Or if you’re simply mistaken about what these verses mean and believe that they somehow contradict what I’ve said…. I guess the middle part is what you believe faith to be yourself? If so I would say that yes faith may certainly lead to the “assent of the will to the revelation of God”, but that would be a consequence of having been given the sense of faith, and not actually what it is in and of itself.

            I don’t know maybe next time try and not be so cryptic, and perhaps what it is you are trying to say will be more readily understood.

          • licjjs

            Sorry if you think my reply ‘cryptic’; it should certainly be very straightforward to Catholics and would have been a generation ago. I was not so much contradicting what you say as trying to add how Scripture and the Church define ‘Faith’. Of course Faith, Hope and Charity are the three great theological virtues.

          • Aaron Siering

            I get that, and I do apologize for being so defensive. It is just that one deals with sooooo muuuuch ignorance online. Especially with Protestants who believe that just because the English translation of the text they use reads a way that they believe is obvious that is in fact what the Gospel or Letter writer meant.

            Also I am a convert, and like a lot of converts I’ve gone through the gamut of different emotions as I’ve begun to mature. At first there was the sense of disbelief and incomprehension over what the Church actually professes. You feel like if only people actually knew then they would be just as surprised, but then you realize how much ignorance there is even among Catholics themselves, and that such apathy is a manifestation of original sin. Then one begins to wonder why so many Priests themselves seem to lack faith–I call them Judas Priests because I believe that in end Judas was really motivated only by his lack of faith. Eventually one slowly starts to realize it has always been this way. The Church has been full of Judas Priests since the beginning and that feeling indignant about it is both an expression of a lack of trust in Jesus Christ and completely useless.

            As one continues to mature one also realizes that if the world is largely ignorant of what Christianity actually is it is because the world, in fact, doesn’t want to know. It isn’t an accident. I am only now starting to really internalize this fact, and if Protestants were interested in the truth in the first place then they probably would have encountered it before now. They are still Protestants because they don’t really care about the truth. However I do sometimes still feel a sense of indignance over it when I am confronted by it.

            However if you felt I was rude in my comment to you, then I apologize to you for that.

          • licjjs

            Welcome to the Church. The road to the Truth is not always an easy road but it is always the one worth taking and I admire and respect you for seeing that. People say this is the age of relativism and it is a fact that Truth itself has been the casualty in the modern stampede of the Garadene swine to the precipice, but, to me, the age is one of the dogma of the zeitgeist: whatever is in fashion IS the truth. This is more difficult to deal with than relativism, it seems to me. We are all experiencing anguish at the situation in the Church at present and one can only weather the storm by clinging to Christ and the Church with all one’s will and love and I find it difficult too not to be able to discuss matters with informed people. As you say, there is much ignorance and one can easily begin to feel isolated. “This is what I will tell my soul and so regain hope: the mercies of the Lord are not all past – every morning they are renewed; great is His faithfulness…” Perhaps this is time ‘to put one’s mouth to the dust to see if perhaps there still be hope’.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Especially with Protestants who believe that just because the English
            translation of the text they use reads a way that they believe is
            obvious that is in fact what the Gospel or Letter writer meant.’

            May we see an example? Because without at least one, this seems like a perfect inversion, a deliberate perversion, of the truth.

            For five hundred years, to the present day, the Protestant requirement, for any who wished to make serious comment within Protestantism, has been to use original languages; and with good reason. It was use of original languages that gave Protestantism the conviction that permitted it to survive the censorships, inquisitions and brutal burnings that greeted their scholastic endeavours. Though even the early NT translations from Latin (the Greek texts being unavailable to alleged Christians) convinced vast numbers of English people that there were biblical truths that had remained more or less hidden since apostolic times.

            This contrasts starkly with the typical Catholic member, whose knowledge of the Bible for a whole millennium and more was never by reading, was always from the lips of priests, who could present whatever angle suited them; if they could read it, that is. Many priests often possessed only a Latin Bible, but could not understand it.

            There are older Catholics today who murmur to their youth that reading the Bible should be left to priests.

          • Aaron Siering

            The point about the English was actually just ancillary. It was more a comment on the fact that so few who believe in Sola Scriptura even bother to learn the original languages and rely first upon someone else’s interpretation, as translation is before anything else an interpretation.

            The far more salient point is that while it is a good thing to read and study the Bible, especially in the age of near universal literacy and inexpensive books, that is not the reason the Bible came to be. The Bible is a liturgical book meant to be heard in the context of the liturgy.

            The next issue is that even if one is reading it in the Greek or Hebrew all writing is inherently ambiguous. That simply is an unavoidable constraint of the medium itself. One who simply attempts to read the Bible and form opinions about it based on their intellectual judgement is missing the point. No reading however close will give one anywhere near the type of experiential understanding that comes from living the Bible through participation in the Divine mysteries.

            As I’ve said elsewhere here one doesn’t really know what war is like from reading about it and one can’t understand what it feels like to walk down a street in the Latin Quarter of the Left Bank by reading a history of Paris.

            Sola Scriptura really misses the whole point of Christianity–which is quite an indictment–that it isn’t first and foremost about one’s mere beliefs. It is first and foremost about having an actual encounter with Christ.

            Catholics understand the Bible because they have shared an experience with the writers of the scripture. It is as it where as if we have all been raised in the same family and have shared intimately a common life, a life that you as a Protestant simply do not know. So when you read our family history in our book, you read it as an outsider and with much confusion about the reality to which it points.

          • pobjoy

            ‘It was more a comment on the fact that so few who believe in Sola Scriptura even bother to learn the original languages’

            They learn the original languages, and defeating Catholics on that very basis is like taking candy off a baby; it’s the easiest heresy in the world to knock over, and there is not much need to use original languages anyway, because Catholics can be put to rout from their own translations!! It happens every day, chum, you should get out more. There’s no surprise that you failed to provide an example of the opposite, anyway.

            ‘The Bible is a liturgical book meant to be heard in the context of the liturgy.’

            The word ‘liturgy’ is not biblical, and cannot be, because Christians have the mind of Christ, who does not need to learn the right words, and certainly not to repeat them. Liturgy is the rote learning of people whose religion was forced on them by totalitarian governments, who would be left red-faced if they had to pray ex tempore. Liturgy reciters go with the world, not with the Word.

            ‘The next issue is that even if one is reading it in the Greek or Hebrew all writing is inherently ambiguous.’

            Years ago, the RCC in England embarrassingly had to borrow a Protestant translation, the RSV, because it had not got itself together enough to make a modern English translation of its own. There was not one word change, as I recall; the only differences were the cover, of course, and the added notes, of course! Christians don’t have, or need, added notes, old fellow. It’s even more embarrassing, now, in a different way. Like newer Protestant versions, the Jerusalem Bible and the NJB are yet more truthful, and Catholics on the ‘net are often embarrassed by their own side! There’s no ambiguity that helped those original totalitarian thugs, because they had to invent ‘papacy’ in order to countermand the Bible, whose meaning was unmistakable, and support their stooges with armed legions.

            ‘It is first and foremost about having an actual encounter with Christ.’

            As Bergoglio said, reading from a Protestant sola fide, sola Scriptura hand-out picked up by a smirking acolyte.

            That’s the main qualification to be ‘pontiff’. You have to say it all with a straight face. Bergoglio gets a bit close, at times, it seems to me. 😉

            People become Christians usually because of personal example set by a convert. Many Catholics have become Christians for exactly that reason. That’s when their eyes are opened when they open a Bible. That’s after their eyes have been opened about Catholic history.

          • Aaron Siering

            Your comments actually just goes to prove my point. You gave me nothing but a string of fallacious arguments. Like your liturgy argument. First you are simply mistaken about what liturgy is, and second the liturgy has been a part of our religion since Moses. The Bible clearly contradicts you. When Jesus learned the Psalms he prayed throughout his life he learned them in a liturgical context. The argument against particular words not appearing in the Bible is frankly stupid and misses the obvious point.

            The other point you miss is that I don’t really care about your idolatry. I can open the invitation for you to become a Christian, but then the rest is your choice, and I honor whatever decision you make for yourself.

            You can’t BS me if even if you have managed to BS yourself. So really who are you trying to convince by even bothering to respond? I think its yourself. If you think anything you said constitutes an cogent response to my comment then you are severely deluding yourself.

          • pobjoy

            ‘First you are simply mistaken about what liturgy is’

            So is liturgy other than a set form of words, printed out in advance, these days? What would terrify you more? A prayer meeting with Christians? Or having to work down a mine?

            ‘The Bible clearly contradicts you.’

            Saying it is far easier than proving it.

            ‘When Jesus learned the Psalms he prayed throughout his life he learned them in a liturgical context.’

            Jesus knew the Psalms, what was in them, just as Christians do. There is no evidence that he could recite them. It is pagans who *learn* stuff.

            Though I don’t suppose there’s more than one in a thousand Catholics who could recite a whole psalm.

            ‘The argument against particular words not appearing in the Bible is frankly stupid and misses the obvious point.’

            But you’ve forgotten what it is. Oh, how surprising.

          • Aaron Siering

            Whether someone who professes to be a Catholic really is or not is a separate point. The Liturgy of the Hours which is the Liturgical prayer of the whole Church goes through the whole psalm cycle every month. The older Breviary which some still use goes through the whole psalm cycle every week.

            If a point is obvious why would I feel the need to explicitly state it? If you were actually interested in reasoning to the truth it would in fact be obvious to you too, since it it was already broached in my original comment. However you are not interested in that, rather you are in interested fallacious little quips, scoring rhetorical points and trying to “win” an argument.

            Again you are either too delusion or too stupid to realize every additional comment you make actually goes that much further in confirming my previous assertions–there is also another option you are simply too dishonest to care. What ever the case may turn out to be you seem to be more than willing to do all the work necessary to make my case yourself.

            I think for that reason I need say no more.


          • pobjoy

            ‘the whole psalm cycle every week’

            One can read the whole lot every day, at home. Though the whole Bible requires attention; a fact that crooks would prefer neglected.

            ‘if a point is obvious why would I feel the need to explicitly state it?’

            That’s a mighty big ‘if’.

            You’re an idiot.

          • Man In Black

            Though I don’t suppose there’s more than one in a thousand Catholics who could recite a whole psalm.


          • pobjoy’s anti-Catholicism would not be shared by any of the Christian churches that have been involved in ecumenical dialogue with the RCC. But your own account of Sola Scriptural misses the power of that Reformation slogan. It must be conceded, too, that the Reformers released Scripture from the obscurity in which our church had kept it veiled for centuries,

          • Aaron Siering

            In what ways did the Church keep the scripture obscure?

          • Man In Black

            This contrasts starkly with the typical Catholic member, whose knowledge of the Bible for a whole millennium and more was never by reading, was always from the lips of priests, who could present whatever angle suited them; if they could read it, that is. Many priests often possessed only a Latin Bible, but could not understand it.

            This is complete anachronistic Protestant gibberish.

            1) Latin and the Romance languages only ceased being mutually intelligible between about 14th and 15th centuries — you cannot generalise on the basis of what may have occurred in non-Romance countries, except insofar as that is where the Protestant Heresy took root.

            2) Did the Printing Press exist prior to the 15th century, and did mass printing exist prior to the 19th ?

            3) Catholic Christianity has never been and is not a “religion of the book” — it is the Religion of the Word, and the Word is spoken.

            4) Your suggestion that there were illiterate priests is ludicrous and ignorant.

            5) Your suggestion that priests “could present whatever angle suited them” is only true of heretics and protestants — isn’t that exactly what Martin Luther did ?

            6) Your suggestion that priests could not understand Latin is as anachronistic as it is false.

            7) The Latin Vulgate is THE best single language translation of the Bible ever made.

            The fact of the matter is that it’s ONLY by the Grace of God that anyone could read the Bible and not invent some false interpretations of it out of his own mind, unless that reading is guided by proper catholic understanding.

          • pobjoy

            If Catholicism is ‘the Religion of the Word, and the Word is spoken’, Catholics had better stop posting, and citing written authorities like their ‘Fathers’; who are invariably doctrinal bastards, anyway. Then there’s Vatican Canon Law, written in black and white. That’s also nugatory (though most Catholics know that, already!). And of course, the training of their priests, that is chiefly based on written sources, is mere frippery. They may as well return to their pre-Counter-Reformation condition of untrained illiteracy!

            ‘Latin and the Romance languages only ceased being mutually intelligible between about 14th and 15th centuries’

            What convenient timing, eh!

            Even people who nominally speak the same language, in the same country, can often fail to understand each other, due to differences of dialect. But for radio and TV, British people would have the same problem today. If, as the poster alleges, the essence of true religion is spoken language, the difficulty is often far greater, because phonetic forms are often quite hard to relate to written ones! Medieval academics (such as they were) had no option but to use a common language, because no vernacular had currency sufficient for common use. And that, of course, was mostly written, rather than oral.

            The reason that English people of the 14th century translated the Bible into English, at risk of their lives, was because only a tiny minority could read it in Latin. And when their ‘Protestant Heresy’ spread onto the Continent, it was not as though the French, Spanish and Germans said, “Yes, we know all about that, we understand Latin, you silly people.” The notion of justification by faith, rather than obedience to creepy priests, as the actual words of Jesus, Peter, Paul, John and James revealed, was as novel, astonishing and liberating to the Continentals was it had been to the English. That’s why a relieved ‘pope’ struck a medal to celebrate the massacre of French Huguenots.

          • Man In Black

            the training of their priests, that is chiefly based on written sources


            You really should stop this ongoing self-exposure of your crass ignorance.

          • In post-Vatican II seminaries the chief written source used in formation is the Bible.

          • Mary Magdelene

            Catholicism is the religion of the Word of God (the bible) and 2,000 years of tradition. I converted from protestantism. I know my bible in and out, and I was surprised how many of the faithful in my latin Rite Catholic Church (Roman Rite, not sedecaventist) who know a great deal of their bible. In fact, when I first met with my priest to talk about converting, he gave me a bible, which includes a concordance, and which many evangelicals use. And we are a latin rite parish. So Catholics can study the bible with edification. In fact, our missal and our mass are entirely made up of scripture.

          • Man In Black

            You’ve written nothing I can’t heartily agree with 🙂

          • Stop, you cannot answer his attack without consulting the actual historical facts. The Reformation did spur the Church into making some effort to communicate Scripture more broadly, as noted here: http://sedosmission.org/old/eng/lenchak.htm

          • justforcatholics.org says:

            The following two quotations are taken from the Council of Toulouse and the Council of Trent in the thirteenth and sixteenth century respectively.

            ‘We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old and the New Testament; unless anyone from the motives of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.’ (Edward Peters. Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, Council of Toulouse, 1229, Canon 14, p 195.)

            ‘Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them.’ (Council of Trent: Rules on Prohibited Books, approved by Pope Pius IV, 1564).

            This is in stark contrast to the Reformers like Wycliffe, Luther and Tyndale who laboured tirelessly to give the Word of God to the people in their own native tongue. In my country, Malta, which is intensely Roman Catholic, the first efforts to translate the Bible into the Maltese language were done by the handful of Protestants on the island. In fact the first complete Bible in Maltese was published by a Protestant society, despite all the opposition encountered from the Catholic establishment.

            Thank God the modern Catholic Church has changed its position. I rejoice that many Catholics are now reading God’s Word for themselves, and hopefully, through the message of the Bible, many will come to experience the grace of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

          • “What the Church actually professes” includes what Pope Francis teaches — there are too many would be hyper-orthodox Catholics around who are calling Francis a Judas pope.

          • Aaron Siering

            I agree that we should generous in extending any benefit of the doubt to our Pope, and I personally have no opinion one way or another about Pope Francis. It is important to keep in mind that Jesus’ promise to St. Peter and to the Church more generally was only that the doctrines of the faith would always be preserved not that we would necessarily have moral men as Popes. In other words being elected Pope is not in and of itself a guarantee of salvation. Pope Francis has not so far made–and probably never will make–any infallible proclamations. So it is really a moot point.

            Whether he is a Judas Priest or not is simply someone’s opinion. Although I certainly agree with him when he said, “who am I to judge.”

            When I talk about Judas Priests above I try and refrain from speaking personally about any one in particular. In other words I am not interested in making any personal judgments about particular persons but rather in stating a fact that is true in general.

            There is also no such thing as hyper-orthodoxy in Catholicism, as there are no progressive or conservative Catholics. There is only orthodoxy and heterodoxy. One is ether an orthodox Catholic or they are not really one at all. In fact this is one of the meanings of the world Catholic which can be translated as simply universal, but also meaning something more like, according to the whole. One either accepts all of the necessary doctrines of Catholicism or one is actually accepting none of them, and if they have done the former then they can’t be more Catholic than any other Catholic. Hence no hyper-orthodoxy. I think at least some of the people you are talking about are actually heretics.

          • I am a Catholic theologian, who has studied theology formally since 1969. I am happy to stake my reputation as a theologian on the following thesis: Pope Francis is not guilty of any heterodoxy.

            But that is only a minimal requirement of bieng a good pope. In addition, I would add that he is a man of wide pastoral and ecumenical vision, close to Vatican II and Paul VI. He points out the core values of the Gospel, which are very different from that obsession with orthodoxy that he denounces as a pseudo-Christian ideology.

            His two major statements so far, namely, Evangelii gaudium and Laudato si’, will remain part of the living treasury of Catholic official teaching alongside the best documents of Paul VI.

          • Aaron Siering

            Yes, I wouldn’t actually say “absolutely nothing” either even if I did just happen to say exactly that. I really only to meant to stress two points: that faith is actually an experiential way of coming to know something and that even when one has had a direct experience of something it doesn’t necessarily mean that experience will ensure that they then hold true beliefs.

            Some beliefs about Christianity, of course, are absolutely essential to hold.

            I also don’t mean to give you a false impression that I am indifferent to the magisterium either in what could be taken as my somewhat flippant tone. I personally would agree with everything you said, although I haven’t yet read Evangelii gaudium.

            Pope Francis may very well go down as an exceptional Pope. He does seem to have a way of getting right to the core of the Gospel. Many of the “hyper-orthodox” Catholics as you called them seem to react from a place of fear on little more than the media’s distorted impression about what Pope Francis meant.

            Nevertheless he does seem to have a disappointing attitude toward the Mass. I believe the theology the average Catholic internalizes comes from the Mass and here in the diocese of Austin, for example, the only Mass, ironically, that seems to have conformed itself to the vision of Sacrosanctum concilium is the one vetus ordo missa at the Cathedral on Sundays, and I understand the Bishop only gives his support to this mass reluctantly. It is much more participatory than the 1962 Mass was before Vatican II. In other words Vatican II has really worked its magic on it. While every other Latin rite mass I’ve attended in the diocese is virtually a scandal. If I want to attend a Novus Ordo missa that is obedient to Vatican II I have to drive 2 hours to Houston.

            I really am a firm believer in the lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi, and that Church teaches her faithful primarily through her mass. Almost nothing else matters if the Mass does not actually inform us of our theology–in way again that has little to do with one intellectual beliefs.

          • Bendys

            So you are saying that the 2000 year old doctrine of the CC is wrong ?

          • I would never say that. But doctrine develops, and some things that seem entailed by doctrine turn out not to be entailed by it at all.

          • Bendys

            And how can you know that ?

          • no, the interpretation or expression of the doctrine was wrong; at least that is how the theory of development seeks to iron out apparent contradictions.

          • Bendys

            The doctrine was expressed by the popes. Do you mean to say that the popes were wrong up to now ?

          • since the doctrine is not wrong, the popes who expressed it were not wrong

          • In any case, this is rather high-falutin’, since there is no conflict on doctrine between Francis and his predecessors — the topic of Damian T’s article.

          • Bendys

            So the doctrine and the popes were not wrong, but still there were “some things that seem to be entailed by doctrine” which “turn out not to be entailed by it”. So that means the theologians of old were wrong to include them in the doctrine ?

          • The basic idea is that the doctrinal core was validly transmitted despite the inevitable shortcomings due to world-views we now see as obsolete — Ptolemaic cosmology, for example. The idea that the Jews were being punished by God with perpetual slavery was profoundly wrong, but is actually corrected by sounder grasp of doctrine.

          • Bendys

            So you are saying that moral teaching is not part of the church doctrine ? What do you think Jesus Christ taught then ?

          • morality is hortatory and reflective. The Double Commandment of Love is indeed the heart of the Gospel, but it is not precisely “doctrine”. We have come to understand the implications of that Commandment over the centuries, for instance in abolishing slavery, repenting of our attitude to the Jews and to gays, etc. But that is not precisely “development of doctrine” though it is similar to it.

          • Bendys

            So you are saying that what Christ taught is not the doctrine of the CC, and that the “development of doctrine” is more important ?
            My, my.. the church of Francis/Bergoglio is “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”.

          • Hyper-orthodoxy is a distortion of orthodoxy that ignores the “hierarchy of truths” and divorces doctrine from pastoral context (as Francis insists we should never do)

          • Aaron Siering

            Yes, I will concede I am guilty of being overly literal here.

          • Bendys

            What is a hyper-orthodox ?

          • It’s a form of heterodoxy.

          • Bendys

            According to the Free Dictionary, heterodoxy is “the state of being at variance with established doctrines or beliefs”, whereas orthodoxy means “the right faith”. So “hyper-orthodox” could never mean heterodox. At the most a ‘hyper-orthodox’ could bother those who are trying to stand the 2000 years old doctrine of CC on its head, and call black white, and white black.

        • Donafugata

          Faith, or PR as it is sometimes called.

        • NOODLESOUP

          I find that faith and the struggle to not let my own opinion rule is an ongoing challenge. Any prayer of mine always seems to begin with the desire for a fuller faith. Fortunately I have arrived at the point of faith and beliefs to know that there truly isn’t anything else left and the fault is mine!

      • Donafugata

        Francis has all the intellect of Tony Blair.

        • But he puts it to better use.

      • Grace Ironwood

        Could you point me towards some of his top-notch stuff– current or at least recent. Thanks.

        We are different people at different ages. My Dad used to rage about bringing
        back flogging. Now he’s a tree-hugger.

        • Man In Black

          Try any University library.

          • Grace Ironwood

            I thought I’d ask you as you purport to know something about it.

      • Evangelii gaudium is based on a pastoral theology fully in touch with the real world, in the manner of Vatican II.

    • Aaron Siering

      Just curious are you a protestant? That is do you harbor the spirit of protest in your heart? Why then the disrespect to the Bishop of Rome?

    • Mary Magdelene

      Pope Benedict is incredibly deep. P. F. shoots off his mouth and then he has to backpedal, or so we think. We never actually DO know what he thinks. I like plain speaking, and I prefer my religious leaders to be plain speaking as well. Jesus was a plain speaker, after all.


        You are correct! One of the reasons that I hate to read a Bible
        is plowing through the unfamiliar structuring of our native language in this case English. Many of the individual parts can be very profound after I dwell on it. I really try to follow Pope Francis’ meanings i.e., applying to a specific person or event or is it something else he is saying in passing. He certainly appears humble and spiritual almost mirroring Saint Francis who also was attempting to reform the Church. .

        • salieri

          Dear Noodle,

          If you native language were English you would know that you were ploughing through it, not plowing. You would also appreciate that what you call unfamiliar structuring was once regarded as a model of beautiful prose.

          Keep dwelling.

          • Factory_Hag

            We Americans spell “plough” as “plow”.
            Everything else you said, I agree with. I was stunned by someone saying they couldn’t get through the Bible.
            When I was a kid in the 50’s, we would get all kinds of classic books as Christmas and birthday gifts. The language for most of the classics is from the Victorian Era and in many cases, before that. Kids who got these books often had little trouble with Shakespeare when they got to it. The classic books were the link between the modern era and the Shakespeare one. My own kids were addicted to the Sherlock Holmes stories around age nine, as generations before them had done.
            For some time now, teachers have been giving kids books they can “relate” to. These books only use the modern slang of the streets. Many of the books I and others read at an early age have been called too difficult for kids in the seventh grade! They have gone from Treasure Island and the Bible, to Judy Bloom. That’s perhaps why people struggle now.
            In the actual Victorian Era, young kids were expected to learn Latin and Greek. Now, they are not expected to learn much at all.

          • The BIble is a library of difficult ancient books whereas Sherlock Holmes is popular entertainment. For reading difficulty, Evangelii Gaudium is easier than Sherlock Holmes.

          • Adrian Johnson

            Ah — but the difference between the Victorians and we of this deconstructionist era is that the Victorians thought that books for leisure reading should be intellectually engaging, articulate, morally improving, witty. Evangelii Gaudium may be “easier” than Sherlock Holmes, but the latter — though merely popular entertainment– expands a young person’s vocabulary and understanding of historical English cultural values in a way that, for instance, the Harry Potter novels do not.
            Horses for courses.

          • Great Christian teachers often deliberately limit their vocabulary to remain intelligible to the simplest of the faithful — St Augustine for example. The Gospels are written in the simplest language.

          • Me oh my, lecturing to the ex-colonials, are we?

          • this sounds like the KJV but not like any of the good modern English translations of the Bible

        • Mary Magdelene

          No, don’t hate reading the bible. You just have to read it every day. After a while, it will make sense to you and you will be edified by the lessons and message God gives us through scripture.

        • Some people hate the Bible because they find it proto-marxist.

      • Grace Ironwood

        If Francis was a Presidential Candidate, he would be numbered amongst the most clownish.

        • No US presidential candidate has written such powerful documents as Evangelii gaudium or Laudato si’. Nor has any spoken so much, in substantial daily doses, with so few mishaps.

          • Grace Ironwood

            did you say mishaps ? 😉

          • mishaps all seem to concern women (including his remark about Catholics breeding like rabbits)

          • Grace Ironwood

            What about the widely-reported, very modish sentiments in the “who am I to judge?” episode & the calamitous agenda of those charged with meeting on the family?
            Those on the right side of history believe the redefinition of the family & the required approval nay celebration is just an inch away.
            In all other mishaps I’m willing to admit a certain responsibility. 🙂

          • some think holding a synod on the controversy-ridden area was a tactical mistake. in any case the faithful are moving forward on their own steam in these areas so the synod is likes to be a futile last hurrah of conservatives putting their fingers in the dykes.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Are these the faithful or the apostates and entryists?
            The “judge” comments were a deliberate choice in an infamously politicised area.

          • not sure what “entryist” means.

            Yes, Francis did make a deliberately gay-friendly remark and was rather pathetically lionized by The Advocate, an indication of how much gays have suffered from the centuries long teaching of contempt (like Jews). But it’s not only on the gay front that the faithful (the majority of them according to US polls) are moving forward. If you judge those who reject the teaching on contraception as “apostates” you risk running up against St Augustine’s celebrated dictum: The whole world securely judges (securus iudicat orbis terrarum). It is hard to convict reality of heresy.

          • Bendys

            However it was the Jews who first taught that “thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind”. Leviticus 18:22
            Was this God’s command, or were the Jews lying ?

          • Were the other grisly commands in the same texts God’s commands or were the authors lying? Do you know the answer? I think we just have to accept that the BIble contains some stuff that is just inhumane.

          • Bendys

            So you think it’s inhumane that the Old Testament says “thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind” ?

          • Yes, especially because a death penalty is attached. But there are several other inhumane utterances in the vicinity of that text. I ask you to read the text in its entirety (the Holiness Code section of Leviticus) to see the problem. Sophisticated exegesis might help, but as things stand it remains one of the most problematic sections of the OT.

      • pobjoy

        ‘incredibly deep.’

        Does ‘deep’ mean ‘devious’?

        • Mary Magdelene

          No. I don’t mean devious. What exactly did Pope Benedict ever do that you would characterize as devious? I’d be interested to know.

          • pobjoy

            What did J Ratzinger ever say or write that was deep?

            He approved the Vat2 Catechism, that said that all baptised were Christians, but later said that non-Catholics were not actual Christians, to the surprise and disappointment of the World Council of Churches. Then there’s his version of purgatory, lasting for centuries, according to some predecessors, but shortened down to a mere spasm for the sake of the nice posh young ladies of the capitalist West, they who must be buttered up.

            Deep, no evidence. Devious, and rather daft with it, more likely.

          • Grace Ironwood

            His essay on What is Europe may be a good place for you to start. I believe his work on music largely needs specialist knowledge to appreciate.

          • pobjoy

            ‘there should be no compulsion in religion’

            It’s strange how a whole continent of people got the same religion, then.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Your answer is incommensurate with my topic.
            I’ll be happy to chat when you’ve read something.

          • pobjoy

            Your topic is the supposed profundity of Herr Ratzinger, as I recall. One must be in a fairly advanced state of dementia to imagine that even thirty people of sound mind could be persuaded to agree on the same religion, without bribe or coercion. So how the poor man can suppose that a whole continent of people can agree on the same religion, without bribe or coercion, must surely require the best psychiatry the world can offer.

            Of course, Grace, we, being of sound of mind, and so very well read, we know that it was not the warm grace of bribery that achieved catholicism, was it. Emperors simply didn’t have the funds for that. It was much more the cold iron of their thugs, wasn’t it.

            It’s like a signed suicide note, a claim to be a Catholic.

          • Man In Black

            Your claims are utterly moronic.

          • Unfortunately, not — from Theodosius on (Cunctos populos 381 or so) freedom of religion was not respected in the Christian world. Vatican II recognized a right to religious liberty, but this was the most controverted decision of the Council. In the past “error had no rights”. (Capital punishment for heresy was common.)

          • CLynch451

            Caritas in Veritate was very thought provoking and — I thought — original and insightful.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Thanks, I’ll look.

          • Mr Grumpy

            When did he ever say non-Catholics are not Christians?

          • pobjoy

            A year or so before he went into ‘convalescence’. It was widely reported in the media. I expect you recall it well.

          • Mr Grumpy

            No I don’t. Give me a link.

          • pobjoy

            ‘No I don’t’

            That took too long to be credible.

          • Mr Grumpy

            You’ve now evaded two invitations to substantiate your claim. Another evasion makes you a liar.

          • pobjoy

            ‘You’ve now evaded two invitations to substantiate your claim.’

            Another lie.

          • Mr Grumpy

            Three strikes and you’re out. Benedict has never said that only Catholics are Christians.

          • pobjoy

            … and another.

          • Man In Black

            Typing out more rubbish pobjoy ?

            What a “surprise”.

          • Mary Magdelene

            During the slaughter of the middle eastern Christians, I watched him on the Computer actually saying that we all have to get together-all christians, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, and he said protestants are christian too. I am Catholic, but a convert from Protestantism, and I know many Protestants who are devout Christians. I give Pope F. credit for saying that, and I am not a fan of his, with his green agenda and his socialist views.

          • Mary Magdelene

            Have you ever read ANY of his writings? You can’t possibly be very intellectual if you can’t see that he is a highly intelligent and and very devout man. Try reading his works. BTW, are you a Vatican II catholic? That would explain your views if you are.

          • A Vatican II Catholic is an orthodox Catholic, and pobjoy obviously despises Vatican II and Catholicism.

          • Mary Magdelene

            And later on, he recanted the Vatican II doctrines he helped to put into practice. He reverted to the traditional doctrine in the end because he realized the evil that was wrought by Vatican II. Write him a letter. I’m sure he will be candid with you.

          • “He recanted the Vatican II doctrines” — if this were true he would have been a complete sham as Pope —

          • Mary Magdelene

            Yes and when he saw the terrible damage Vatican II did to the church he was horrified and full of remorse and ever since, he has championed the tradition Tridentine mass. The difference between pope Benedict and pope Francis is like comparing Joel Olsteen with st. Thomas Equinas.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Yes and when he saw the terrible damage Vatican II did to the church he was horrified and full of remorse’

            So he says. It may have been simply that something went badly wrong, and he was furious about it…

            ‘and ever since, he has championed the tradition Tridentine mass.’

            … seeing no better alternative.

            That does not answer the question of why he is ‘deep’, anyway. On the contrary. At best, it makes him seem incompetent, and certainly not the visionary that his title ‘Vicar of Christ’ implies. It makes all Catholics seem insincere in their most basic belief.

            ‘comparing Joel Olsteen with st. Thomas Equinas’

            If you mean Olsteen and d’Aquino, some would say that they are equivalent: monsters out of the same cauldron of perversions.

            It would be frightened liars who try to promote bastards as saints.

          • Mary Magdelene

            Thomas Equinas, great doctor of the church a bastard? Wow, are you even catholic? You must be novus ordo at the very least. It has always Been the opinion of those in the Vaticanthat pope Benedict is a brilliant theologian. That’s why he was the man in charge of church doctrine . He is a man though, and not God and clearly he came to lament his involvement in vat II. Try reading some of his writings sometime. I doubt you would be able to understand the writings of someone of his intellect though.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Thomas Equinas’

            Maybe he ate like a horse. He evidently didn’t go short of much, anyway. But then few clerics and religious of his day did so.

            ‘great doctor of the church’

            Heresiarch of a cult with no more intellectual value or integrity than Mormonism, another cult that arose because of the many failures of the Vatican. The pompous man wrote nothing that was novel that was also true; and what he wrote that was true was obvious and often tediously unimportant. That the Vatican considers his work deep shows what a frivolous outfit it was, and remains.

            The importance of the Vatican is not at all related to matters intellectual, but entirely to militarism, without which it would never have come into being. It was legions of infantry and cavalry, in the centuries before Christ, in the centuries before Constantine and Theodosius, who made the RC cult. Lock, stock, barrel.

            But why are we talking about this d’Aquino bore? If all posters can do is propagandise, they have nothing intelligent to post, have they. Evidently this poster, who cannot even spell ‘Aquinas’, can write that Ratzinger is ‘deep’; but obviously knows one thing, that Ratzinger *isn’t* deep.

            But we know that deep people are *never* permitted to become ‘popes’. They would be far too dangerous. Ratzinger is merely devious. He twists. He twists the Bible, he even twists previous ‘popes’, so desperate is the plight of his cult, now caught out by so many factors, including his own folly. That is the job description, as defined, with the greatest irony, by Peter, who wrote of the unstable, who ‘twist’ apostolic truth ‘to their own destruction’.

            Though perhaps he is now little more than an actor, and someone else writes the lines for his cameo parts.

            ‘It has always Been the opinion of those in the Vaticanthat pope Benedict is a brilliant theologian.’

            In the Vatican, it does not take much to be brilliant. In the gloomy Vatican, scandalously closed to investigative eyes, even a candle exposes too much shameful truth, and is soon snuffed out. There is very little that is even fitfully bright in the whole cult, but what there is, is forbidden to teach with authority. That is largely Ratzinger’s doing, as it happens. The cult has always suppressed culture, and now the man has suppressed intelligence, and apparently now has nothing to say that is not this pretentious, hypocritical and jealous stuff about music, or its like.

          • Mary Magdelene

            You know, you are just an ignorant liar, who has no concept of the theology of Equinas or the church fathers or catholic doctrine, for that matter. I bet you’re a Thomas Merton man, the novus ordo, communist, Buddhist priest. You are clearly a novus ordo catholic, or as I initialy suspected, a rabid evangelical. I’m not wasting any more time on trying to have an intellectual discussion with you. Good day.

          • pobjoy


            Clearly so many incompatible people!

            ‘the theology of Equinas’

            A bit of horse sense would not be welcomed in the little benefice of Benito.

            What a travesty you lead, Jorge. Or is it Joe.

          • It’s really a slander to say the Benedict XVI was opposed to Vatican II. If he had been, he would have been an imposter as Pope. But it may be true that his activities undermined the reception of Vatican II.

          • If he hated Vatican II he should not have accepted the papal role.

          • A pope who rejects a Council puts himself in an impossible position. But of course Benedict did not reject Vatican II. He failed to realise its promise as effectively as Francis seems to be doing.

          • It’s true that there is ambiguity and inconsistency in Benedict XVI’s ecumenical outlook. He seemed to backtrack on John Paul II’s renunciation of a Christian mission to Jews and Paul VI’s embrace of Anglicanism as “our sister church”; did he ever follow through on John Paul II’s teaching the the one true church of Christ is “present and operative” in all Christian churches?

          • pobjoy

            The short answer is, “No.” There are two phenomena about the Vatican that some Western readers may find hard to believe, but, if it is to be understood, they must be believed.

            Some alive today can recall being sternly and solemnly told by men in black frocks that they were ‘outside the walls’ as far as salvation goes; and the expectation of these men was that they would at least be taken seriously. But this warning was expected, by those who knew much of the history. For many centuries, from before the Reformation, the Vatican had said this. And it made perfect sense, if you accepted that only a Catholic priest could turn bread into God (transubstantiation), and eating God was essential, as Jesus made clear. Not eating God meant that ‘you have no life in you’. You were perfidious, degenerate and on the way to perdition, if you refused the Vicar of Christ Himself. All of that made necessary sense— if a Catholic priest turned bread into God.

            The first problem for these befrocked of the 20th century was that their listeners did not mind at all that they were outside the aegis of the Vatican. In fact, they would have had it no other way. The old threat of sanctions no longer worked. What is more, the ‘excluded’ people have since then gained more credibility as Christians among the general UK public than the typical priest-led person can summon, despite efforts by Catholic prelates to make their ‘flocks’ more ‘virtuous’. It’s difficult for a Catholic to recommend the faith if he or she is unsure whether the local priest is worth recommendation.

            Then there was the phenomenon of the same period, hard to believe today, that there were UK Catholics in genuine, quaking fear of going to hell if they failed to attend Confession, Mass or the ‘Last Rites’.

            That is the Vatican’s problem in the West; too few believe that it has spiritual power and significance, and too many Catholics take the RCC as as Anglicans did, and still do; as a social club, with some vague religious context that they do not really understand.

            Why has the RCC changed, in the West? Joseph Ratzinger blames himself, because it was his theological advice that put into the official RCC Catechism the notion that anyone baptised was a Christian. Many of us at the time knew that this was a big mistake; all those predecessors who has refused the validity of non-Catholics were doing as they had to do. At the time, many Catholics routinely and regularly still rose early to go to Mass on an empty stomach, having attended Confession the evening before. Now, if you do that, and more besides, when the Proddy Christian next door does not bother, what is the point of it? One feels as if one has been taken for a ride.

            So that is why Joseph Ratzinger has changed his mind since Vatican 2. When leader, he spoke of a ‘smaller and purer’ organisation, one in which the doctrine of transubstantiation was taken seriously. When, in 2007, he announced that Protestant denominations were ‘not real churches’ he was attempting damage limitation, because did not perceive that he had any choice.

            But that volte face also caused damage to Vatican credibility. What is the use of a Vicar of Christ if Christ can’t make up his mind about the most basic issue of all? Now we have Bergoglio, whose first reported words as leader were, “Who am I to judge?” That was about homosexuals; but the irony is that it could have been about anything, and everything.

          • He never said that non-Catholics were not actual Christians. That is the Daily Mail version.

          • Devious: declaring himself “Emeritus” (a title correctly conferred by others; an emeritus professor is still a professor), continuing to dress as pope, and to use “pope” in his title, and to be called “your holiness” — all of which for a man who is supposed to know church history is very dangerous behavior — he sets himself up as a beacon for possible schismatics. Let’s not forget that his attitude and activities as head of the CDF did untold damage to the RCC and greatly weakened Catholic theology. HIstory will judge him harshly.

          • Bendys

            Since you present yourself as a Catholic theologian, how exactly did his attitudes weaken Catholic theology ?

          • By discouraging so many theologians who were actually teaching theology as well as many others who might have aspired to such a career.

          • Bendys

            So you think that the strength of Catholic theology consists in having a great number of theologians ?

          • The CDF also militated against the quality of theology.

          • Bendys

            That depends on what is considered quality.

      • valwayne

        Actually Pope Francis has spoken fairly clearly of late. Its just so frightening to see him so firmly on the side of the Atheistic Marxist left that the rest of us are left hoping that it was just poor or confusing language. That the Pope doesn’t intend to align the church with the atheist, Christian Hating, Marxist Left.

        • Mary Magdelene

          I agree with your assessment. But I was referring to his comments on gays which were pretty vague, and he got the gays to thinking the church would let them marry and have full rights to the sacraments. I just pray for holy mother church. We are in perilous times.

          • It’s always about “the gays” around here.

          • Bendys

            And God created Adam and Adam and told them “Go forth and multiply”.

          • Interestingly, Genesis 2, the older and more detailed account of marriage in Genesis, focuses on companionship, not procreation, so it is very applicable to the situation of two men or two women who wish to marry.

          • Bendys

            “Therefore it is not possible to find ‘human values’ or ‘positive
            values’ in forms of union that are objectively contrary to the Gospel,
            as the Relatio synodi [dubiously] asserts (RS 41). Although Catholic
            doctrine has never reduced the sinner to his sin – because the Lord
            never did so – it nevertheless declares it to be contrary to Revelation
            to think that one could find some ‘good’ in sinful relations.” These
            sinful relations and acts, says Sarah, are “intrinsically evil,” namely
            “because of their very object, independently of the circumstances and
            the ulterior motives of the person who acts.”

            Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship,

          • I think the other cardinals, who said that we must consider the total relationship of samesex couples, and who consider that the sexual “irregularity” this might involve is greatly lessened by that context, have just as much authority as Sarah, and are in fact superior theologically and pastorally.

          • Bendys

            “Be ye not many masters, my brethren, knowing that you receive the greater judgment. “

        • This ranting against Marxism, which is detected under every table, has been a plague that has paralyzed the RCC since John XXIII and prevented the great message of Populorum progressio and Evangelii nuntiandi (Francis’s favorite papal text) from taking root. It has allied Catholics, particular American ones, with dictators like Pinochet and with genocidal violence in El Salvador, Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia, etc. Cold war frenzy and fear are still preventing rightwingers from addressing huge social inequalities and the plutocratic subversion of democracy. The ascent of Donald Trump gives a cuddly face to this frozen ideology of fear.

      • Bendys

        Francis knows exactly what he’s doing and saying. Just like the rest of his wrecking crew.

        • So you see him as the antichrist? Are you a sedevacantist?

          • Bendys

            It’s true that Francis does seem pretty vacant at times, especially with that sideways look, but no, I don’t see him as the antichrist. I think he is just a humble servant.

          • So why all the animus against him?

      • Actually it was Benedict who had to backpedal quite often, especially in his PR fiascos with the Regensburg lecture and the reinstatement of the antisemitic Lefebvrite archbishop. His letter of apology on the latter is one of the most embarrassing documents in papal history.

        • Grace Ironwood

          Agreed, but it was intended to save lives given the religion in questionwas proving him right with murdering vulnerable people. As it does.

          • No, not the religion but Islamist extremists. Would you say that Fred Phelps is a typical Christian who could be held up to condemn Xty? Would you say IRA terrorism justifies tarring all Catholics as murderers?

          • Grace Ironwood

            Erdogan himself says there’s not Moderate or Radical Islam, there is just Islam. Remember the learned Imans declined to call Islamic State heretics.

            I think it’s only those you call extremists that matter to the course of history.

          • But Islamic State are not heretics. “Heretics” is what we call fallen members of our family, it implies a kinship. If the Catholic Church called Hitler a “heretic” that would mean an extraordinary conferral of religious dignity on him. Nor can I agree that only extremists matter in the course of history. Extremists have no staying power, (Robespierre, Danton, Napoleon spring to mind), and the great ages of Islamic civilisation were marked by moderate monarchs and patient thinkers.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Well, nice little world you’ve got there Joseph. Shame if something should happen to it.

          • The fact remains that leading Islamic voices have condemned ISIS and said it does not in any way represent Islam.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Taqiyya also remains. If there was a soft jihad underway- what would muslim “community leaders” be doing different?
            I have undertaken a study of the Koran and Hadith (Bukhari’s well-regarded collection conveniently searchable under keyword’s like “slaves” ) and I see little cause for hope.
            General Sisi is the guy.

          • Well “slaves” are all over the Old and New Testaments, so I guess there is no hope for Judaism and Christianity either.

          • Grace Ironwood

            They have both shown an ability to engage peacefully with Modernity.

          • as has Islam

          • Grace Ironwood

            Well, you are still free to believe that or your lyin’ eyes.
            For myself I’ve met an increasing number of apoliticals and gentle progressives who have realised that they don’t have to give up being anti-racists to recognise the threat Islam poses to free societies.
            My funny, apolitical gay brother likens Islam to The Borg.(StarTrek tragic)

          • I’ve just been speaking to a colleague who was at a conference where he met Iranian Islamic intellectuals wrestling with modernity. In Indonesia, too, Islam is open and liberal. Islamist extremism, like IRA terrorism, is largely a product of oppressive political conditions, often connected in the Islamic case with USA imperialism.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Well Joseph, carry on appreciating the extraordinary wealth & wonders of Islam. I started with a positive view of the religion and made excuses for it blaming the West for a long time. As events have unfolded and I’ve learnt more I’ve now changed my view.

            I’ve visited Indonesia and Malaysia over the years & have also had some wonderful students from these countries (and also from some of the gulf monarchies )
            Sadly, in recent decades, these countries have all come under the influence of Saud and are losing their own distinctive, more moderate approaches to their religion.
            Nice to talk to you, but we are starting to repeat ourselves.

          • Grace Ironwood

            I too have met Iranian intellectuals in the West. Sadly, it is these who are atypical.

          • Grace Ironwood

            By the way, have ever you compared the Koran/Hadith’s norms on slavery to those found in the Bible ? They are radically different.
            So is the historical extent and length of time of the two cultures’ participation in it.
            Many would say it, and states of labour addiction very like it, still continues to this day in some Islamic cultures…

          • No doubt they are different. But slavery had an honoured place in biblical tradition from the start to the late nineteenth century, and Cardinal Avery Dulles argues that even today the Church does not absolutely condemn slavery. Slavery in many forms exists throughout the world today, and many international companies use slave labour.

          • Grace Ironwood

            So we’re cool with it no one can be criticised ?

          • Grace Ironwood

            Graeme Wood has written a very well researched and important article called “What ISIS Really Wants” in the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic .

            He details the Islamic State’s Islamic eschatological character and the classical Islamic norms they live by as they hasten to the world’s end.

            “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.”

          • It is easy to derive fundamentalist terrorism from the Bible also, but sane Muslim leaders (not only myself and Obama) have firmly declared that ISIS is not authentic Islam, and I think they must be right, since if Islam were anything like ISIS it would not have lasted and spread, founding entire civilizations, for so long. I’ll take a look at the essay, but in general I find US comment on Islam is dominated by the war on terror, in contrast, say, to the French scholarship (available in all Parisian bookshops) which ranges appreciatively over the entire history of Islamic cultures.

          • Grace Ironwood

            C’mon Joseph, how many Christian fundamentalist terrorists are there around?
            On the other hand…
            Doesn’t this tell us something ?
            Go well 🙂

          • Bush had a daily Bible verse as he conducted his invasion of Iraq in 2003, which took many more lives that Islamist fundamentalism in its whole career.

          • Looking at the article, it confirms that ISIS is not at all typical of Islam but rather cultivates a wacky, extremist theology. “Muslims can reject the Islamic State; NEARLY ALL DO. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.” There is a person on this thread who urges revival of the Inquisition (execution of heretics)–I would say that his position is not authentically Catholic, and is in fact diametrically opposed to Catholicism; in the same way the religious archaism of ISIS is directly opposed to modern Islam. Bernard Haykel seems to have looked into the ISIS abyss so long that it is looking back at him: “But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”” This sounds like a student of the Inquisition who would mock modern Catholics for presenting a cotton-candy view of what their religion truly requires.

          • “The majority are irrelevant” — that is what all extreme fundamentalists think. But the Islamic majority cannot be so easily written off. Haykel now admits this: http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/02/20/3625446/atlantic-left-isis-conversation-bernard-haykel/ One recalls Augustine’s comment that “the whole world securely judges” (securus iudicat orbis terrarum) in opposition to the Donatists who considered themselves the only authentic Christians.

          • Grace Ironwood

            I would say Muslims are the typical extremists, and the typical terrorists.

    • Grace Ironwood


  • ardenjm

    Degrees of Modernism, I’m afraid.
    Benedict XVI became less and less of one as he saw the consequences of its reductive, relativistic, “man is just the matter he’s made from” assumptions. Nevertheless, Vatican II, whilst determined by the Holy Spirit, is thoroughly conditioned by Modernism. Certainly in all of its practical applications. Whilst Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI took aim at Modernism (and its bas-tard offspring Post-Modernism) neither of them dared say outright that this was the threat facing the Church largely because the former saw Communism as the most proximate danger and the latter, being irenic and kind, wanted to promote unity not division. His catastrophic prudential error was in thinking the Modernists had died off and in resigning. In that sense, he can talk about tradition as much as he likes – he’s still the man who brought us Francis.
    And as for dear Pope Francis. The only part of him that isn’t Jesuitically pragmatic (and thus, Real Politik-like ready to ‘make peace’ with Modernity as much as he can) are the vestiges of his Italian grandmotherly piety that make him speak of the Devil etc. We from the UK need only learn that he was Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s choice to understand that the Church is going to continue going through the Modernist crisis – which, like Arianism and the Iconoclastic controversy will last for a couple of centuries. The best thing we can do for Pope Francis is to pray for him and for a good death.

    The best thing we can do for the Church is to pray for a Pope that isn’t a Modernist. This will have to be a miraculous intervention from on high but with God nothing is impossible!

    • This is almost as much rubbish theology as the original piece.

      • ardenjm

        Like you say elsewhere:
        “Original Sin. It didn’t start taking effect in the 1960’s.”
        I agree.

        Now, I doubt you can get over your ‘du haut en bas’ Lady Bracknell approach to those you’ve decided are simply less insightful than you – as evidenced by your fan-waving:
        “I’m sorry, but your torpid reading totally missed the point of this post. Please reread.”
        “Sorry to break it to you, but your understanding of secularization is utter nonsense.”

        But if, however, you’d care to point out – ex cathedra, obviously, since you don’t seem to express yourself in any other mode – the theological errors that are not in keeping with Catholic teaching I’d be REALLY interested to read your arguments. Rather than your blowharding. You are, afterall, a Comparative Literature PhDist. So, like, you do know what you’re talking about. In several languages. And in many tropes. Semiotise-me, man. Catholicly, of course. (George Steiner comes to mind… Alas.)

        • haywardsward

          Original Sin created by Paul, previously Saul who had a bad fall on the road Damascus when he was on a mission to deal with the Jewish followers of Jesus. He had cracked his head, come to, with a loss of sight and what is obviously a case of concussion, possibly brain damage.

          Then, now as Paul, decided to take over the very movement, the followers of Jesus, that he had been persecuting. Rebadges it as “Christian”, places himself as the leader, chief theoretician and pamphleteer.

          Paul devises OS, continually beats the poor followers of Jesus about the head and soul with that and much else. Where was the evidence of OS until Paul came along?

          If I were to have been a follower of Jesus at that time, I might have asked Paul some hard questions. Such as where in the OT or mentioned by Jesus is OS? Why is it we never heard Jesus talk of OS?

          St. Irenaeus then later worked up OS some more into church doctrine

          Later on it might be then understandable why Pelagianism did so well. For if one can be at all rational about any religion why should one accept that a “sin” supposedly committed at the very beginning of “creation” can effect a new born child.

          Of course Paulinity opposed this. This was cutting into its franchise in the Holy Roman Empire. Then along comes Augustine, the “saint” who wrote ” Lord, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet” And argued for OS.

          Rather like all those modern day Southern evangelists, who having wallowed in sin and fornication decide that no one else should. OS was hence linked to concuspience

          Paulinity should be grateful that not all of Augustine’s arguments were taken up by the Church. They might have ended up like the Shakers. For Augustine was definitely down on sexuality.

          Obviously if he had had enough that was it for everyone else! But the Church needed all the faithful to reproduce in order to keep the franchise going, so much of what was in Augustine’s arguments was swept under the carpet.

          However Protestants such as Martin Luther and John Calvin were very keen on OS Further equating OS with concupiscence affirming that it persisted even after baptism and completely destroyed freedom. In Calvin’s case Ultimate Depravity

          • Man In Black

            Thank you for your lovely ranting.

          • haywardsward

            No more of a rant than any apologetics

          • Man In Black

            That’s not apologetic, it’s heretic.

          • haywardsward

            I await an email from The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the erstwhile Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition

          • pobjoy

            ‘Original Sin created by Paul’


            Fundie Alert

          • haywardsward

            What is a Fundie Alert?

          • Man In Black

            Probably some kind of Proddie knee-jerk reactionist idea.

          • “Proddie” — are you from the North of Ireland?

          • Rowland Nelken

            But Augustine has credibility. He calculated that the world would end in 1658. Hence Columbus’ unfulfilled mission to reconquer Jerusalem for Christ by going west. (Read his Book of Prophecies) . I mean, when the End Times drama gets acted out Revelation style, we cannot have a mosque getting in the way of the Temple’s descent from Heaven. No wonder main stream christendom is losing support. No End TImes vissions to get all worked up about, save on the US based fringes. Paul got plenty of support banging on about a New World and Parousia which never came. Much of ISIS’ appeal is on the same level. That is what I love about the Abrahamic religions. They are so rational and logical.

          • Man In Black

            But Augustine has credibility. He calculated that the world would end in 1658

            Oh, really ?

            Book, chapter, verse please ?

    • Man In Black

      Vatican II … is thoroughly conditioned by Modernism

      Completely ludicrous, given that the Heresy of Modernism consists in imagining one’s own personal opinions as being of greater value than the teaching of the Church.

      You are confusing Modernity for Modernism.

      • ardenjm

        And you’re confusing Aristotelian-Thomistic distinctions between what determines the essence of something (i.e. ‘what’ something is) and what conditions the way that something is (i.e. ‘how’ something is.) Thus – we make an act of faith that Vatican II is inspired by God (but then, so was the Council of Florence – and that didn’t achieve its goals). As I said: ‘what’ it is comes from the Holy Spirit: its determinations.
        But we mustn’t airbrush away the fallen human influences on ‘how’ that council was both interpreted (even at the time of its being promulgated) and, above all, rolled-out across dioceses throughout the world. The influence of the errors of Modernism are patently obvious on the level of the conditioning. That’s what I mean by Vatican II being conditioned by Modernism – and not just modernity.

        I’ve made no mistake at all.

        • Joe

          “But we mustn’t airbrush away the fallen human influences on ‘how’ that council was both interpreted…”

          Hmm – being skeptical and recognizing the inherent human biases of all institutions and pronouncements is one of the central beliefs of the post-modern worldview.

          To resist this tendency, you should be unquestionably accepting Vatican-II, wholesale, as the word of God.

          Do you see the circular logic trap you’re beginning to dig yourself? The very act of being watchful for signs of the Church straying into post-modernist thinking requires you yourself to adopt a skeptical post-modernist perspective.

          My Catholic advice is: relax and have a little faith in your church. It has been getting divine guidance for 2000 years now.

        • Man In Black

          And you’re confusing Aristotelian-Thomistic distinctions between what determines the essence of something (i.e. ‘what’ something is) and that which conditions the way that something is (i.e. ‘how’ something is.)

          No I’m not — and this provides no material nor conditional objection of any sort, anyway, to my point that the Heresy of Modernism consists in imagining one’s own personal opinions as being of greater value than the teaching of the Church.

          ‘Course, we could all go and saunter off into these sorts of sophistic intellectual woods — for example, is the Action of the Holy Spirit through an Ecumenical Council achieved by the means of an induction or an emanation ?

          But this would just end up concealing the point of my disagreement with you, just as you have attempted with your own irrelevant appeal to the Aristotelian Categories — even though you are most likely to be perfectly aware that conditions do not determine causes, any more than the individual is what defines its species. Unless you were some kind of radical inductionist materialist, of course LOL.

          Your claim that Thomistic philosophy and theology might be “Aristotelian” is BTW flawed — Aristotle exerts a degree of influence that extends far wider than the Aristotelian tradition itself. Several positions of his, as well as several basic positions of the Idealists, were by St. Thomas’ time simply held as being philosophical commonplaces that were taught to all philosophers. You are attributing an “Aristotelian” hermeneutic onto the Thomistic philosophy and theology as a means to justify your own opinions, regardless of the fact that Aquinas’ pro et contra methodology of examination takes far more from Plato than Aristotle ; and that it was anyway of a specifically mediaeval origin in that particular form.

          The strong supposed connection between Aquinas and Aristotle is of Cluny origin, and was diffused into the Universities via proponents of the Gallican and Anglican Heresies. This intellectual movement was defeated at Trent (though the liturgical innovations they proposed were adopted).

        • You are trying to distinguish some platonic essence of Vatican II from the council as received and enacted with tremendous unanimity by the universal church led by its popes and bishops.

      • post-modernism has no relation whatever to Modernism in the theological sense —

  • Faulkner Orkney

    There’s only one thing I hate more than the pope, and that’s two popes.

    • Cruel words, sister Ork.

      • Faulkner Orkney

        Ask women, ask AIDS suffers, ask children…

        • Jadissock

          Dear me, Sister Mork. We don’t play those rent-a-grudge professional victim games at the Spectator. However, in the interests of research I asked a child of three which pope he preferred.He expressed no opinion on the matter until I gave him a biscuit which he stamped on. I deduced initially from this that he supported the Hermeneutic of Rupture, but when I mentioned that Francis has declared that “The carnival is over”, he switched sides and started bawling.

          • johnhenry

            Hi, Jadis. Still fighting the good fight I see. How’s Phil doing?

          • Jadissock

            Having conversations with himself as PL42 over at the Herald, my dear JH. Had I managed to grapple with wordpress successfully, I would have said hello over on the Damian thread at CPS. How is sunny Toronto?

          • johnhenry

            Toronto’s okay, now that Pride Week is behind us for another year 🙂

          • Jadissock

            I hope your bishop was better behaved than Bishop Donut in New York

          • johnhenry

            Cardinal Tom Collins (Toronto) did not participate in the Parade, preferring instead to mix and imbibe a pitcher of his favourite drink while it was in progress.

          • Grace Ironwood

            The fellow’s doing no good turning to drink unless, perhaps, a bottle of courage as in the Wizard of Oz.

        • Aaron Siering

          Yes they all suffer ultimately because of your “hatred”. You hate we get it, and that hate drives you to desire the world where women and children suffer. That you can’t recognize this and are completely blind to the reality of it doesn’t make it any less true.

          • Faulkner Orkney

            Silly person.

        • Fiona Hanley

          If you asked a person living with HIV they’d probably ask why 26 million died in sub-Saharan Africa before anti-retroviral therapy patents were lifted for developing countries. Barely a whisper of protest or pharma boycott from the liberal West. Lack of healthcare was a far greater factor than the Pope. The AIDS figures are falling now with affordable treatment while his views haven’t changed.

    • John Lea

      Doubtless they think you’re a muppet as well.

  • JS

    ‘When the pealing bells of a mountain-built church flood the valley with their clamour or send the sound straight up to the zenith,the listener,straining to follow,feels his heart expand beyond its usual narrow limits.’ Both Benedict and Francis agree with Guardini.

    Rebuilding in accordance with. ‘Not uniformity, but rather a multifaceted and inviting harmony…that the world may believe’ homily of the Holy Father, 7th July.

    • Faulkner Orkney

      Hogwash wrapped in flowery-prose. Those bells are as much a warning of the church’s malevolence as any poetic positive.

      • God loves you.

        • Faulkner Orkney

          Which one?

          • Jadissock

            Not the one you see staring back from the mirror. The one who will judge us all

          • There is logically only one God. The God os qualitatively different from other ‘gods’ you might know about, such as Zeus, Thor, Quetzalcoatl, Horus etc.
            When you lump in the universal god with these created things, you show profound ignorance.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Almost as creepy as “I’ll pray for you.”

          • Hamish Redux

            It’s pretty creepy to pray for JTSB, a bit like praying for a poisonous toad, but, hey, it’s our duty as Christians.

  • Velo

    Ad multos annos, Papa B.

  • He’s still my pope. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.

    • Grace Ironwood

      I would think most Catholics are still trying to deal with their dismay, Pleb.

      • The dismay is confined to a very small circle. Francis is the most popular pope since John XXIII. Or perhaps you use “Catholics” in a new sense as “Catholics who hate gay marriage — the only type who are useful to my cause”.

        • Bendys

          In your dreams.

          • I sometimes do think I am dreaming that Francis is the most popular pope since John XXIII — not only among Catholics. At first I was a sceptic, but his popularity is now of teflon status.

          • Bendys

            I agree that they both are in the same category.

          • The category of saintly pastors who preach the “medicine of mercy” and the need to interpret doctrine afresh for today, reading “the signs of the times”.

          • I’m sure those who missed Pius XII sneered at John XXIII in the semi-schismatic manner of the above article; but in those days they did that less openly and indiscreetly.

          • I am old enough to remember the wave of affection people felt for John XXIII and it is indeed very similar to the Francis effect.

          • Bendys

            Yes, indeed, being popular was very important to these two popes.

          • yet their humility is recognized by all

  • Christian

    ugh, that was terrible

  • Mary_Carter
    • Hamish Redux

      Hello, Mr Flavin.

      • Man In Black

        Not he, Hamish.

      • barney

        Copied to Hamish

        @BruvverEccles Does your God condone being thoroughly nasty to people on Twitter? If so, I’m glad I don’t ‘understand’ your religion.
        2:18 am – 11 Jul 2015

        • Man In Black

          Flavin, your delirious monomania is extremely tedious.

  • kag1982

    I very much prefer Pope Francis’ vision of the Church in general to Benedict’s. I saw portions of the Masses in Ecuador and it reminded me how happy and joyous populist Latin American Catholicism is in contrast with the dour and stiff the pre-Vatican II European Catholicism that Benedict promoted.

    • Dorothy

      Obviously you have never been to a drinks party after your local TLM.

      • kag1982

        No. I don’t attend any TLM and the types who do in America are crabs who rant constantly about women wearing pants, working, and having opinions in general and the correct interpretations of Vatican II. Most people are glad that they have left the regular parishes because they are always the ones who start fights in the parish and write long letters to the bishop complaining about things. Please stay isolated in your little club and leave us normal people alone. Given what I have read online from British traditionalists online, I cannot imagine that they are any better. They seem even more radical and uptight if that is possible.

        • Jadissock

          Hullo Phil. Fancy seeing you here!

        • Dorothy

          It’s probably the gin talking.

  • mariandavid

    The usual piffling nonsense from a ‘devout Catholic’ who, it seems cannot be devout about his Pope. Ah the joy of selective self-defined sanctity.

    • Grace Ironwood

      Is it orthodox to worship this mortal?

      • mariandavid

        If you do worship him are you devout or heretical?

        • pobjoy

          His imaginary title of ‘Holy Father’ is identical to that of the supernal Jesus; Mary (an idealised version) is called ‘Mother of God’. These can be said to equate to the cults of Jupiter and Juno of which the Vatican is direct successor, historically.

          • Man In Black

            Still excreting your nonsensical gibberish out into the www, pobjoy ?

          • pobjoy

            The cults of Jupiter and Juno were politically motivated to serve the interests of Roman kings by cowing the subservient population of their city; which eventually led to armed legions as far as Hadrian’s Wall, Cadiz and the Persian border. The cults can therefore be said to have their counterpart in Roman Catholic schools in the UK, that receive support from the state. These cults spreading into Europe may have been reactions to the establishment of Israel in the ME, because the Etruscans, from whom the Roman kings derived their religions, are reckoned to have migrated from the ME; and Israel was of course in part set up to counter the idolatry of the region, that invariably encouraged such practices as prostitution and child sacrifice, and provided excuse for warfare.

            So the Mariolatry of Wojtyla, who, for public example, kneeled beneath a statue ot a crowned Mary, may be direct successor to the worship of ‘the Queen of Heaven’ that was common in Babylonia and surrounding areas, and associated with sexual licence.

            The things we teach our children.

          • Man In Black

            bla-bla-bla, and did you get all of that out of a 19th century Marxist textbook ? Or was it published in the 1970s ?

            Or maybe you are a dues-paid member of the Cavalry Chapel.

            In any case, none of that resembles Catholicism in the slightest.

          • pobjoy

            Oh, how the Catholic mind trembles at the truth! He who bears it *must* be under the influence of something that he can belittle, or insult. Surely, ‘Man in Black’ must be on some very strange substance if he thinks the post owes anything to Marxism. He has evidently never even opened a Marxist textbook!

            Probably just as well, because it would probably fly well over his head. It’s ‘Calvary Chapel’, poster. The thought of cavalry no doubt suits the Catholic mind far more naturally than the thought of Calvary, so it’s an unsurprising error. Not that a Catholic can *ever* point the finger at anyone else, religious or otherwise. The Russian Orthodox Stalin murdered more people than the Vatican did, true, but the Vatican did it for far longer. But the progenitors and exemplars of these cults of East and West, Constantine and Theodosius, were such bastards, eh. Again, so surprise.

            ‘none of that resembles Catholicism in the slightest’

            On the contrary, young fellow. Catholic leaders took on the title ‘Pontifex Maximus’, used by the likes of that kindly man, Julius Caesar; you remember, the dude who massacred many thousands of harmless Gauls on his way to the top. And where did Roman emperors get the title? From the kings of Rome, who used it very early in their succession. So your oh-so-matey neighbourhood chum, Jorgie Bergoglio, is actually descended from that sort of far-right thuggish sociopathy, and he can show proper title, too. (Never trust a Jesuit, anyway. He’ll stab you in the back, soon as smile at you.)

            Then there’s this: the only infallible Vatican dogma concerns Juno, aka Mary. There is a shrine in Portugal to which Catholics travel from all over the world. The last quarter of a mile they crawl, because Juno (aka Mary) is their deity, the Queen of Heaven, their Holy Mother. Along with Ratzinger/Bergoglio, of course, their ‘Holy Fathers’.

            And who has a father to whom the child must make formal application in order to get an audience? It’s the same brutish religion that inspired one of the most brutal empires the world has ever known, the one that invented crucifixion. If not cavalry.

          • Man In Black

            Oh, how the Catholic mind trembles at the truth

            Only time I can remember trembling at the Truth was when I was an agnostic, on the point of my Conversion.

            What you’re providing here is its straightforward opposite.

            It’s ‘Calvary Chapel’, poster. The thought of cavalry no doubt suits the Catholic mind far more naturally than the thought of Calvary, so it’s an unsurprising error.

            Unsurprising that you mistake deliberate sarcasm for “error”. But you didn’t answer the question. Are you a stone dove worshipping Cavalry Chapel attendant ?

            Will you soon start boring us with some rantings about “babylonian fish hats” and Jupiter’s toe ?

            harmless Gauls

            LMAO — have you ever visited this country ?

          • pobjoy

            ‘deliberate sarcasm’


            Juno, aka Mary, was not only the sister of Jupiter, but his wife. Which again meets agreement with papist ‘theology’ with its ‘Mother of God’ folly, by which Mary is both mother and wife of deity. Though of course she is married to countless Holy Fathers, also, two of them alive currently! Fancy that, a bigamous mother! Jesus sends ’em crazy.

            Btw, back in her ME homeland, Juno, aka Mary, was known as Astarte, known in the Bible as Ashtoreth, to whom fertility poles were erected. These poles were forbidden to the Israelites, of course. But if Bergoglio was to allow his gowned intimidators to marry, maybe his cult could return to its original vice. It would be a lot cheaper than forking out millions of dollars in the USA courts, eh. Not boring at all.

          • Man In Black

            ‘deliberate sarcasm’


            Yes, really.

            Asking for a third time — do you worship before the cement dove idols of the Cavalry Chapel ?

          • pobjoy

            ‘Yes, really.’

            If you’re sure.

            ‘the Cavalry Chapel’

            Never heard of it.

          • Man In Black

            ‘the Cavalry Chapel’

            Never heard of it.

            Right — so first you “correct” my “error” ; now you’ve “never heard of it”.

            Is hypocrisy an important part of your theological “education” ?

          • pobjoy

            ‘you’ve “never heard of it”.’

            Have you heard of the Cavalry Chapel?

          • Man In Black

            pobjoy 2 years ago

            Marx taught that ‘law, morality, religion’, are, to the proletarian, ‘so many bourgeois prejudices’. In other words, the brutal, amoral example of the bourgeoisie taught the proletarian that there was one law for him, another for the bourgeois; that morality was something delivered by a finger-wagging hypocrite; that religion was bourgeois tool to put the fear of deity into him to persuade him to conform.

            What was that you were saying again about that post of yours owing nothing to Marxism ?

            Sorry, your hypocrisy is simply too ghastly to engage with.

          • pobjoy

            ‘pobjoy 2 years ago’

            Date? Thread?

          • St Ignatius

            Correlation does not equal causation. You presumably think the Bible fell out of thin air and evangelicalism is detached from earlier forms of Christianity. Even the one you despise!

          • pobjoy

            ‘Correlation does not equal causation.’

            True, true. But the later practice of those worshipping Asherah poles was of temple male prostitution, which may have a parallel with abuse of ‘altar boys’.

            It is pagans who have altars, so there’s even more correlation.

          • St Ignatius

            And Protestants have their religion of the book, just like the Muslims. Anyone can play this game.

          • Grace Ironwood

            The old shut up because the crusades eh?

          • Grace Ironwood

            The error of syncretism amongst them in your case.

        • Grace Ironwood

          I had thought it heretical to worship Francis, John or Bob but from what you say, I’m not sure now.

          • mariandavid

            Well he seems very unpopular here – so maybe best to be devout? And I do hear that you can be made a saint by saying you are devout often enough.

          • Grace Ironwood

            A Pascal’s Wager kind of devout?

  • Stephen Wigmore

    A crucifix on the altar? I grew up in a liberal anglo-catholic church and we still had crucifixes. Do Catholic churches not?

  • Louise

    Good article.

  • johnjam

    I don’t mind this going back and forth on who best speaks for the ultimate source but please don’t start any wars. We have enough problems dealing with those who speak with direct links to their “god”. The Middle East is a mess.

  • Hamish Redux

    Mozart is good, but Haydn’s masses are finer. There’s a good recording on Youtube of a Pentecost Mass (in Latin) with Pope BXVI and the Harmoniemesse.

    Pope Francis, on the other hand, prefers the tango, and “the wheels on the ecologically green bus go round and round, all day long”..

    • Rowland Nelken

      I love singing the masses of Haydn, Mozart and those of loads more composers – William Byrd’s are gorgeous. I also dance the tango and sing tango songs. I can empathise with both Popes musically. It’s their God that I find neither useful nor credible.

      • Francis loves Wagner as well.

        • Bendys

          How appropriate.

          • I also love Wagner — as do the majority of music-lovers and opera-goers.

          • Bendys

            I prefer Mozart.

          • Maybe Francis does too — there is no obligation to love only one great composer.

  • Nike’s left breast

    To a [very] lapsed Catholic of a Benedictine tint, Damian Thompson’s article was a fine commentary on this ongoing and saddening trend to decline and irrelevance.

    Benedict XVI has a fine mind – his ‘Without Roots’ is as sharp a polemic on some of the problems facing European civilization as you wound find in any angsty symposium or seminar – but more than that he was resolutely and integrally “unpopular” – aka he disdained popularism. In preferring to pursue truth, he was as doomed to fail in the eyes of the multitude as his original forbearer.

    Ardenjm sees aspects of this as “Degrees of Modernism”, but there’s more than a whiff of postmodernism to Pope Francis’ “rejection of the hermeneutic of continuity”: watch this space for a prolonged descent into internecine deconstruction… but then, as I have admitted, I’ve no dog in this fight.

    • Nike’s left breast

      Note to self: read before posting!
      “Wound would be ‘would’;
      forbear the ‘forbearer’ for a ‘forebearer’

      • ardenjm

        You can use the edit button and correct your mistakes.
        Or airbrush them away – depending on how Stalinist your proclivities.

        Whilst Post-Modernism snarls at Modernism they do so as dogs from the same kennel as far as I can tell….

        • Man In Black

          Whilst Post-Modernism snarls at Modernism they do so as dogs from the same kennel as far as I can tell….

          Whilst I agree with this, it’s more evidence of your confusing Modernity and Modernism.

          Or, if you prefer, Modernism as a period in literary and philosophical and Art History with the Modernist Heresy. The one is most certainly NOT the same as the other.

    • Grace Ironwood

      He also wrote an interesting article about What is Europe.

  • Mark

    Benedict XVI spoke truth unto Islam, he then had to apologise for the offence claimed, but he told the truth.

    For that alone, I am grateful. He tried.

    • Aaron Siering

      Yea, but Pope Francis condemned Islam while he was in an Islamic country which I though was amazing. It is true that the only reason that the Muslims weren’t offended is that they didn’t pick up on the full implications of what he said, which maybe goes to criticisms about his clarity. Nevertheless he did it.

      P.S. in fact Pope Francis did more than just condemn Islam he did so by drawing a distinction between Islam and Christianity.

      • Mark

        Please could you direct me to the quote, I think I missed it.

        • Aaron Siering

          Sorry I looked for the video on Youtube but couldn’t find the speech. I forgot where I saw the original video. I believe the talk was in Jordan and in it he was condemning people who put guns in the hands of children to fight. Specifically I believe it might have been Hamas or if not some Syrian group, and he phrased it such a way that if you really thought it through it was inescapable that it must implicat Islam, itself, if you accept that the “extremists” are only appealing to the precedent set by Muhammad and attempting to reclaim the purity of the first community of believers. In the same phrase he also contrasted with the example of Christ.

          • Mark

            Thanks, I’ll look a bit further for it.

            All I have found is reports of Pope Francis remarks made in Turkey in which he appeared to take the “all religions are the same” line and pointed out that Christians also have extremists among them ” small groups” the term he used.

            Thus of course entirely failing to differentiate the teaching of Christ from that of Muhammad.

            Pope Francis giving mixed messages? I’m afraid that seems to be an ongoing factor in his pontificate.

          • Grace Ironwood

            Francis & Obama have so much in common.

            Shut up because the crusades.

          • Man In Black

            The Crusades, with one or two ignominious exceptions when the stated goal was ignored and the armies hijacked for personal reasons, were efforts towards the defence of local populations against genocidal Islamic Jihadi armies.

          • Grace Ironwood

            I should have paraphrased. This was Obama when speaking to a prayer breakfast of Christian leaders and a Sudanese (Muslim) dignitary, held after another jihadist outrage:

            ‘Shut up because the Crusades’

          • Obama made a good point. But he could have added “because US terrorism against Islamic populations” as in the 1991 war.

          • Grace Ironwood


          • The record of history shows Christians to have a record of violence and savagery far exceeding that of Islam, and much of this violence was committed directly in the name of Christians faith, as in the Crusades and the religious wars and persecutions.

          • Bendys

            Are you sure you are a Catholic theologian ?

          • ad hominems are useless

          • Bendys

            It was not an ad hominem, unlike your epithet of ‘murky’ regarding Benedict’s writings.
            On the internet anybody can claim to be anybody. So if you really are a Catholic theologian, why hide your light under a bushel ?

          • “murky” is literary criticism of texts, not an ad hominem

          • perhaps you have an actual argument against my observation that “The record of history shows Christians to have a record of violence and savagery far exceeding that of Islam, and much of this violence was committed directly in the name of Christians faith, as in the Crusades and the religious wars and persecutions.”?

          • Bendys

            You have attacked Pope Benedict all over this thread in a way totally inappropriate for a man who calls himself a theologian.

          • more his activity as CDF Prefect than his papacy, though. Do you believe that non-theologians have the right to attack popes outrageously, calling them “wreckers” etc., whereas theologians must be staunch papalists so as to provide the antipapalists with a juicy target?

          • Bendys

            The antipapalists always have juicy targets, but Catholic theologians have a certain moral stamina and behave differently from the attacking non-theologians. At least some of them.

          • No modern pope condemns Islam, which is spoken of warmly in Vatican II. Benedict gave the scandalous impression of condemning Islam at Regensburg and then spent a huge amount of effort to dispel that impression.

          • Francis would never equate Islam with terrorism.

          • Aaron Siering

            Well he did if only inadvertently. That is when one followed what he literally said to its logical conclusion. Perhaps ironically the statement was made as a result of an overly generous view of Islam that fails to respect that Islam must always be constrained by the behavior of that first Ummah.

            There is some freedom to devise a sharia according to the values of modernism and in turn take the most generous interpretation to the Quran possible, but in the end Muhammad did what he did and this will forever be the perfect model for a Muslim’s life.

          • There are much worse forms of violence in the Old Testament yet they have not determined Christian or Jewish behaviour. Islam is much more centred on spiritual jihad than on the cruelties attributed to Muhammad.

          • Aaron Siering

            One must be very careful when drawing any similarities between the Judeo-Christian scriptures and the Qur’an because the latter is written in a single literary form that is very different than any of the many literary forms used in the Bible.

            A lot of the violence in the Old Testaments is a literary exaggeration, and while its true that such modes of speech were culturally common throughout the whole region the Qur’an is comparatively much more literal. Even today in Jewish communities hyperbole is a commonly employed rhetorical device–much more so than in any of the Islamic cultures with which I’ve spent time.

            So when we read in Chronicles that God commands the Israelites to engage in genocide it is clear this was not meant literally because a few chapters later the text reports Canaanites living among the Israelites. While the beheading of 800 Jews from Medina is as far as we know really what happened.

            Also it is very difficult to make general statements about Islamic belief, as difficult as it is to make general statements about Protestant beliefs as in both cases you have various groups who appeal to the authority of a book but who all have their own interpretations of what that book asserts. For example you could say that (Protestant) Christians are committed to non-violence which is certainly true of much of British Protestantism after the New Model Army, but that is hardly characteristic of the many divisions and movements of Protestantism as a whole during the length of its existence.

            For many Muslims wondering why Islam’s cultural advance has seemingly been halted–what one writer has called “a destiny interrupted” the logical answer could very well be that the Muslim world has moved away from the purity of that first community. Muhammad will always be for the Muslim the most perfect example of Islam (surrender). The only real question for Muslims is what would Muhammad do now? To which reasonable people may disagree, and some of those people will believe its because modern Islam often lacks the militancy in which Islam began its destined ascent to bring the whole world under what a few centuries later became known as Sharia.

          • There is also a variety of literary genres in early Islam and it is not the Qurran that provides the chief source for the violence attributed to Muhammad. The quarrels you refer to within Islam bear out what I am saying. If you dismiss modern Imams as Modernists you are playing into the hands of Fundamentalists. It is as if someone were to say Catholics are committed to burning heretics and gays because the Bible and the Popes told them so in ages past — Catholic-Muslim dialogue today is premised on the impossibility of return to such barbarism. ISIS is not Islam.

          • Aaron Siering

            The three texts on which Islamic jurisprudence is built are the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sira (biography of Muhammad), all of these are in the same literary genre: Historical-biography and they are all meant to be read literally and taken at face value.

            The Bible never told anyone to burn heretics. Catholicism has always stood for the inherent dignity of persons, even when it has fallen short of realizing it, itself. However you are very clever in how your phrased yourself above. You were careful not to say that the Church burned any heretics, but rather that Catholics did.

            Yes the princes and other secular authorities that burned heretics were Catholic, and granted it is often hard to historically distinguish between the actions of the Church and actions of the state in Catholic Europe. However we have a clear teaching in the Church even when, arguably, those who represent the Church act in a way contrary to that teaching.

            Islam believes itself to have a destiny and barbarous violence will always be the calculus Islam arrives at whether it is your personal opinion that this is Islam or not.

            Even in 100% Islamic countries you still have an avant-guard of more radical Muslims always moving that society towards such barbarous violence. Islam is predicated upon a logic where the most radical and violent group gets to define what Islam actually is, and those moderate Muslims you cheer today either convert or are themselves denounced as apostates.

            This however is not true of Christianity. People may commit violence in the name of Christianity, but this not what Christ taught. Muslims simply can’t make the same claim about Muhammad. The best they can do is argue that Muhammad would have behaved differently if he had been alive today, but then the Muslim has a problem: how to account for the stagnation of Islam’s continued assent? Historically this is the question that has always spawned an increasingly radical interpretation of Islam. At those moments in history that Islam seemed to have been stopped in its tracks are the same moments the Muslim world starts doing some soul searching and where Islam looks back to the behavior of the first community of Muslims for guidance. Arguably then ISIL is the most authentic version of Islam around. At least a large and growing contingent of Muslims believe this.

            You simply can’t believe that humanity is born into a state of original sin and believe that Islam won’t always trend towards barbarous violence.

          • “The Bible never told anyone to burn heretics.” Well in the Old Testament the equivalent of heretics were “idolators” and the Bible does condemn them to mass extermination again and again. Also “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”.

            ” Catholicism has always stood for the inherent dignity of persons, even when it has fallen short of realizing it, itself.” No, in its teachings too it has often fallen short — as in promoting torture (forcing it on British and French kings) or claiming the Jews were condemned to perpetual servitude, etc. etc.

            ” However you are very clever in how your phrased yourself above. You were careful not to say that the Church burned any heretics, but rather that Catholics did.” The Church indeed burned heretics and considered it perfectly right to do so. Thomas Aquinas takes the execution of heretics as a basic legitimate activity. The notion of freedom of religion did not exist, and in this regard also the church failed in its teaching as well as in its practice to respect human dignity.

            “Yes the princes and other secular authorities that burned heretics were Catholic, and granted it is often hard to historically distinguish between the actions of the Church and actions of the state in Catholic Europe.” The church condemned and sentenced the heretics in church courts and then handed them over to the state for the actual executions. You are clutching at straws here.

            ” However we have a clear teaching in the Church even when, arguably, those who represent the Church act in a way contrary to that teaching. ” A clear teaching today — especially since Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis humanae. In the past the clear teaching was in the opposite direction: heretics deserved to die and the state had the duty fo root them out, using torture.

            “Islam believes itself to have a destiny and barbarous violence will be always be the calculus Islam arrives at whether it is your personal opinion that this is Islam or not.” This is like saying that burning heretics will always be in the Catholic calculus.

            “Even in 100% Islamic countries you still have an avant-guard of more radical Muslims always moving that society towards such barbarous violence. Islam is predicated upon a logic where the most radical and violent group gets to define what Islam actually is, and those moderate Muslims you cheer today either convert or are themselves denounced as apostates.”

            In Indonesia the worst violence was based on cold-war hatred of “communists”, a genocide applauded by the USA; I do not know that radical islamic violence found a home in that country.

            “This however is not true of Christianity. People may commit violence in the name of Christianity, but this not what Christ taught. Muslims simply can’t make the same claim about Muhammad. The best they can do is argue that Muhammad would have behaved differently if he had been alive today, but then the Muslim has a problem: how to account for the stagnation of Islam’s assent?” Islam is a very alive religion, in the best sense of the word. I do no see the “stagnation” you refer to. Lots of people see that stagnation among us Catholics”.

            “You simply can’t believe that humanity is born into a state of original sin and believe that Islam won’t always trend towards barbarous violence.” Just as Catholics will always trend towards burning heretics? Original sin is not a category that allows us to demonize others as especially prone to it.

          • Aaron Siering

            Wow you anti-catholic vitriol finally comes out.

            You failed to make any cogent points at all, but I think no matter what I might say you will only come back with more feeble rationalizations and fallacious quip like I am “clutching at straws” when I am actually making a very valid point that bespeaks to a nuanced and complicated historical reality.

            I understand that you only claim to be a theologian and so history and Biblical exegesis might be areas in which you are largely ignorant–as I’ve surprisingly found out that is often the case among theologians–but still you understanding and attitude to the Catholic faith is atrocious.

          • Here again I take my direction from the sincere apologies made for these crimes and criminal attitudes by John Paul II on Ash Wednesday 2000.

          • Aaron Siering

            As regard the use of torture by the inquisition, by today’s standards we would call it enhanced interrogation rather than outright torture, and by the standards of the time the Church’s guidelines were actually enlightened. This was a period when many civil penalties included things like disembowelment for stealing livestock.

            The Church authorized “torture” up to 15 minutes provided it did not leave any permanent bodily defect, and practically never repeated more than twice. Most of the torture devices that popular media portrays as being used by the inquisition were actually only used by civil authorities. It was a widely held belief during the time that to ensure someone is being truthful they needed to suffer distress. A belief that is still argued about in intelligence circles–although most concede that any information provided by people being tortured is not reliable.

            Although there were many inquisitions, it is important to remember that by and large inquisitors were trained lawyers, and so thought like lawyers. Many important legal procedures to protect the accused came out of the inquisition. In fact initially the inquisition was set up by the Vatican to ensure those being accused of heresy and subject to mob violence or civil penalties such as being lynched or burned received a fair trial.

            Like lawyers everywhere inquisitors documented their activities extensively. For about the last 30 years historians have had access to these primary source documents, and much previous “scholarship” has been overturned based upon them. I put scholarship in quotes because most of it was little more than enlightenment historians given the myths of Protestant pamphleteers academic respectability.

            Consequently it seems the Pope is apologizing more for what people believe the Church did than what the Church actually did or also maybe what the Church did in absolute terms and not simply relative to the standards of the day. This is not surprising because the Church is magnanimous like that.

            This magnanimity extends to ecumenicism we’ve been talking about. Again we seem to reacting to perception rather than reality. For most of the Church’s history the supposed antisemitism has actually been theological oriented, and if the situation had been reversed and Judaism wasn’t destroyed in 70 A.D Christians would almost certainly fared worse at the hands of the “Jews” than the “Jews” have at the hands of Christians. Nevertheless there have been moments of outright bigotry against the Rabbinical Jews and that Papal Bull appears to be one of them.

            The question of how to deal with the phenomena of Protestation is a difficult one. I see rabbinical Judaism, Islam and what is formally known as Protestation all as various manifestations of this phenomena, and they all in fact do share key characteristics with each other. In form they are all alike and quite distinct from the model of authority by tradents which is the hallmark of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In this sense not only is Christianity older than Rabbinical Judaism, which like Christianity is an offshoot of tradental Judaism, but is also much more consistent with tradental Judaism actually than is Rabbinical Judaism today. Israel is the Church and in a very real sense one is no logner a Jew who is not part of it, since the Church is the promise of an Israel that has seen to regathering of all the tribes of Israel together with gentiles.

            So the problem with the ecumenicism people engage in the name of Vatican II is that it all too often obscures such realities, making truth harder for people to recognize and is consequently, I argue, bad evangelicalism. I think given another 100 years and the hashing out of the various perspectives such as we are engaging in here we will finally begin to settle on the right balance and the fruits of Vatican II will only then begin to be realized in full.

          • “enhanced interrogation” is just an euphemism for torture. In the US case it is suspect terrorists who are tortured, in the Catholic case it was suspect heretics — i.e. thought crime. Torture and execution were so much taken for granted that the papacy urged the English and French monarchs not to fail in their duty to practise both (or so I read somewhere). I am well aware of modern understanding of the inquisition, having real such massive works as Del Col on the Inquisition in Italy. The prisons of the inquisition were in themselves a gross and tragic breach of human rights, a crime against freedom, largely responsible for the decline of Spanish and Italian thought. But the lasting image that we all immediately think of is the practice of burning alleged heretics alive — Mary Tudor ensured that this would never be forgotten in England, the burning of heretics in 16th century Rome including Giordano Bruno left a similar indelible mark there, and as for Spain, there were sufficient burnings to fuel Schiller’s Don Carlos (and Verdi’s), and none can deny that they happened (in Spain today visitors to the prison of the Inquisition at Seville for example will find the wall posted with warning against the evils of intolerance). In France the burning of Grandier (see Huxley, The Devils of Loudun) might be recalled: “The judges who condemned Grandier ordered that he be put to the “extraordinary question”, a form of torture which was usually, but not immediately, fatal, and was therefore administered to only those victims who were to be executed immediately afterwards. In addition, Grandier was subjected to a form of the Spanish boot, an iron vise, filled with spikes, that was brought to red heat and then applied to Grandier’s calf and ankle to shatter the bones. Despite torture, Grandier never confessed to witchcraft. He was burned alive at the stake.” In a world where civilized nations like France, Britain and especially the USA have been seen to use torture even in contravention of their explicit legal commitments, it is not surprising that the church today should have been involved in such. What is most unpleasant is that it was so involve in the name of the Gospel. Hence the need, and the difficulty, of what John Paul II somewhat mysteriously called the “purification of memory.”

          • Aaron Siering

            Actually the prisons of the Inquisition in Spain were much better than civil prisons. There are reports of prisoners who would commit blasphemy in an attempt to try and be transferred.

            As for Mary Tudor, remember that the move to reform Catholic England came from the top down. Mary Tudor in her role as sovereign reacted to the political threat of politically powerful Protestants who sought to usurp her throne, and had nothing on Henry VIII who largely tortured average English citizens who weren’t quite quick enough in shedding their centuries old Catholic heritage, and who were no political threat to him. We are speaking of the difference between less than 300 for Mary and more than 57,000 thousand for Henry. So it sounds like your history has largely come from Protestant polemical sources.


            In Spain I know that it was actually the Inquisition that put end to hunt for witches when they actually investigate the claims and found no evidence for witchcraft. The situation may have been different in France, but from what you have said so far you are not a reliable source on the subject. Again your understanding of history is deeply flawed and deeply biased, and since this bias is against something you claim to hold allegiance and so consequently where the expectation is that you would attempt to search out the truth it is also deeply troubling and speaks to your harboring a spirit of rebellion (i.e. Protestation) which I’ve else well comment on and obviously also must spill out onto your attempts to do theology.

            The other thing you fail to understand, if in this case understandably so since we are still only in the beginnings of an academic understanding of import of this cultural shift, from an oral culture to our literary one, which happened around the 16th century. A lot of the violence during this time was part the corresponding shift in power from the community (oral) and tradents to the individual (literary) and documentational authority. Making the subtle but profound distinctions between these two perspectives even more obscure is the fact that there was a large intermediary period of manuscript culture where both perspectives were combined in various, complicated and otherwise complex ways.

            In almost all modern academic disciplines today we have made a serious mistake of anachronism as we have applied our modern literary sensibilities on the oral culture that preceded it. So on that last point you can easily be excused for your misunderstanding, but with the rest of it you have discredited yourself entirely establishing that your Protestant prejudices are a real obstacle in preventing you from being anything like even remotely objective.


            I have often been curious how self-professed Catholic theologian can often be in reality so anti-Catholic. You have helped me understand a great deal how a person sustains such cognitive dissonance. People like you are the biggest danger to the Church because you are like water silently attacking the foundations from within, not unlike Judas, himself.

          • As for Mary Tudor, remember that the move to reform Catholic England came from the top down. Mary Tudor in her role as sovereign reacted to the political threat of politically powerful Protestants who sought to usurp her throne, and had nothing on Henry VIII who largely tortured average English citizens who weren’t quite quick enough in shedding their centuries old Catholic heritage, a nd who were no political threat to him. We are speaking of the difference between less than 300 for Mary and more than 57,000 thousand for Henry. So it sounds like your history has largely come from Protestant polemical sources.


            In Spain I know that it was actually the Inquisition that put e nd to hunt for witches when they actually investigate the claims and found no evidence for witchcraft. The situation may have been different in France, but from what you have said so far you are not a reliable source on the subject. Again your understanding of history is deeply flawed and deeply biased, and since this bias is against something you claim to hold allegiance and so consequently where the expectation is that you would attempt to search out the truth it is also deeply troubling and speaks to your harboring a spirit of rebellion (i.e. Protestation) which I’ve else well comment on and obviously also must spill out onto your attempts to do theology.

            The other thing you fail to understand, if in this case understandably so since we are still only in the beginnings of an academic understanding of import of this cultural shift, from an oral culture to our literary one, which happened around the 16th century. A lot of the violence during this time was part the corresponding shift in power from the community (oral) and tradents to the individual (literary) and documentational authority. Making the subtle but profound distinctions between these two perspectives even more obscure is the fact that there was a large intermediary period of manuscript culture where both perspectives were combined in various, complicated and otherwise complex ways.

            In almost all modern academic disciplines today we have made a serious mistake of anachronism as we have applied our modern literary sensibilities on the oral culture that preceded it. So on that last point you can easily be excused for your misunderstanding, but with the rest of it you have discredited yourself entirely establishing that your Protestant prejudices are a real obstacle in preventing you from being anything like even remotely objective.


            I have often been curious how self-professed Catholic theologian c an often be in reality so anti-Catholic. You have helped me understand a great deal how a person sustains such cognitive dissonance. People like you are the biggest danger to the Church because you are like water silently attacking the foundations from within, not unlike Judas, himself.

          • “57,000 thousand for Henry.” Really, I know he executed Lutherans (“the devil’s stinking martyr” Thomas More called one of them); I am ignorant of him executing 57,000 Catholic resisters to his activity. ” So it sounds like your history has largely come from Protestant polemical sources.” Actually, no, from the very Catholic “Fires of Faith” by Eamon Duffy.

            “from what you have said so far you are not a reliable source on the subject. Again your understanding of history is deeply flawed and deeply biased, and since this bias is against something you claim to hold allegiance and so consequently where the expectation is that you would attempt to search out the truth it is also deeply troubling and speaks to your harboring a spirit of rebellion (i.e. Protestation) which I’ve else well comment on and obviously also must spill out onto your attempts to do theology.”

            Well this sort of language is not much help in establishing historical fact.

            “People like you are the biggest danger to the Church because you are like water silently attacking the foundations from within, not unlike Judas, himself.” That sentence would fit well on the lips of an inquisitor at any time.

          • Aaron Siering

            “‘People like you are the biggest danger to the Church because you are like water silently attacking the foundations from within, not unlike Judas, himself.’ That sentence would fit well on the lips of an inquisitor at any time.”

            Thank you. Although in your Protestant eyes I take it that you didn’t mean this as a compliment, I actually find it a very kind thing for you to have said. I am not against inquisitions at all. As I’ve eluded to the fact before it establish new legal rights for the accused in all of Europe’s legal systems. I believe we could still use it today to keep the water getting into the foundations.

            However I will grant you this the rationalization for something like the Inquisition belongs to the mentality of oral culture and the privilege it places on the rights of the community, and I will ready concede that it must seem absolutely draconian to someone whose mentality is firmly imprinted by text culture with its excessive privilege on the rights of the individual.

            Of course that I would still be comfortable with the former perspective is an attribute to my Catholicism. In every case Protestantism and proto-Protestantism is a result of a substantial cultural shift towards text culture with all that entails.

          • I am not surprised, but I am horrified. What you say about oral culture is mystifying — the inquisitors were great documentators, and in fact recorded the oral depositions of their victims very sedulously, for which reason historians are grateful to them. And inquisitions began in the 12th century and continued to the nineteenth; the last execution taking place in the late 18th century. When you say you would set up an inquisition today, beware that you would yourself become its first victim, for what you say radically opposes the present teaching of the Church you claim to belong to.

          • Aaron Siering

            Yes in many cases the details of oral and text cultures are counter intuitive and doesn’t strictly rely on the use of documents but rather in how those documents were used. The new testament letters are very much the product of a oral culture, for example. Having said that modern legal systems are predicated upon text cultures and yes there is a real tension here in activity of the Inquisition–which as you rightly mention was long standing in duration and not in any way a single phenomena. No doubt the focus, execution and norm of the various Inquisition shifted during this period and would make for an interesting research project. It is also worth mentioning that are still vestiges of oral culture with us today. One of the most obvious one’s is the University. Although this is changing and very soon online courses will no doubt close the gap in the perception of their respectability with class room courses.

            That you might still find the distinctions mystifying will not be surprising, as you are most guilty of being locking into the perspective of text culture and the distinctions elude you as you read history anachronistically and draw distorted conclusions.

            For example that you find what I said “shameful” goes to this point. It is also suggests you were a rather bad theologian–you convicted yourself here not me.

            The fact you still don’t get what an Inquisitions is or how they works just goes– as does your seriously misunderstanding of the Islamic world–to the fact that at best truth is a only a distant relation to you that you’d rather not have to visit if it is at all possible. Sheer cultural bigotry is no way to do theology.

            This is indicative of one last thing which is that the refusal to be so intellectually honest with one’s self is paramount to a refusal to pick up one’s own cross–at least it is very hard to imagine the latter happened in the context of the former–and in anyway your comments are strong enough evidence that you’ve never consented to the latter. Since knowledge of the Christianity comes through experience in faith by way of the sacraments. It is quite dishonest for you to present yourself as a theologian, or really even a Catholic, since your knowledge is strictly intellectual being devoid of any actual experience.

            Now granted the above might strict your as rather arrogant, but it is anything but. Your claim is not to dissimilar to any truth claim such as if you claimed to be a Parisian and a historian of Paris, as someone who lives in Paris, metaphorically speaking, I find your claims incredulous with my actual experiences. So I don’t believe you in the least. I don’t believe the truth is in you and I don’t believe you have any relationship with the incarnation of Truth, itself. Although I have no problem believing that you sincerely believe you do.

            Of course experience doesn’t guarantee true beliefs. Although over time repeated experience does have the effect of bringing one’s beliefs in accord with reality. A simple example you walking in your yard and believe you see a snake, you look again and realize it is only a garden hose. However beliefs devoid of any actual experience can never be so altered, and I heard enough from you to feel certain that this is the world you live in.

            I sincerely hope for you that one day all the facts you’ve learned about Christianity will lead to an actual conversion and an actual encounter with God through the sacraments.

          • Well, I see you reaching out in dialogue, but I fear the world of the combox will not provide you with what you need.

          • Bendys

            A torturous death by burning seems to have been traditional for certain sins in the old Hebrews’ times. Maybe that’s where the Inquisition got inspiration from.

            “Hebraic tradition

            In Genesis 38, Judah orders Tamar
            – the widow of his son, living in his household – to be burned when she
            is believed to have become pregnant by an extramarital sexual relation.
            Tamar saves herself by proving that Judah is himself the father of her
            child. In the Book of Jubilees,
            the same story is basically told, with some intriguing differences,
            according to Caryn A. Reeder. In Genesis, Judah is exercising his
            patriarchal power at a distance, whereas he and the relatives seem more
            actively involved in Tamar’s impending execution.[8]

            In Hebraic law, death by burning was prescribed for 10 different
            forms of sexual crimes: The imputed crime of Tamar, namely that a
            married daughter of a priest commits adultery, and 9 versions of
            relationships considered as incestuous, such as having sex with one’s
            own daughter, or granddaughter, but also, for example, to have sex with
            one’s mother-in-law or with one’s wife’s daughter.[9]

            In the Mishnah, the following manner of burning the criminal is described:

            The obligatory procedure for execution by burning: They immersed him
            in dung up to his knees, rolled a rough cloth into a soft one and wound
            it about his neck. One pulled it one way, one the other until he opened
            his mouth. Thereupon one ignites the (lead) wick and throws it in his
            mouth, and it descends to his bowels and sears his bowels.

            That is, the person dies from being fed molten lead.[10] The Mishnah is, however, a fairly late collections of laws, from about the 3rd century AD, and scholars believe it replaced the actual punishment of burning in the old biblical texts.[11]”


          • This is pretty awful stuff — and I ask you the question you asked me — are these divine commands or did the scriptural authors make human errors?

          • Bendys

            So you think that the old Hebrews messed up with the Old Testament ? Jesus seemed to think so too when he told them that they added the practice of ‘corban’.

          • I think Jesus like most other enlightened Jews knew not to read Leviticus in a literalistic, fundamentalistic way, as a means of getting at gays, for example. Let us follow His example.

          • Bendys

            I think you have just denied Jesus.

          • How so?

          • 57,000 is a guesstimate of the total number of executions in Henry’s 38 year reign; it is not the figure for Catholic martyrs — if it were we would not hear almost exclusively of More and Fisher.

          • A reminder of what you are defending: “The first executions occurred over a period of five days in early February 1555: John Rogers on 4 February, Laurence Saunders on 8 February, and Rowland Taylor and John Hooper on 9 February.[119] Thomas Cranmer, the imprisoned archbishop of Canterbury, was forced to watch Bishops Ridley and Latimer being burned at the stake. Cranmer recanted, repudiated Protestant theology, and rejoined the Catholic faith.[120] Under the normal process of the law, he should have been absolved as a repentant. Mary, however, refused to reprieve him. On the day of his burning, he dramatically withdrew his recantation.[121] In total, 283 were executed, most by burning.[122] The burnings proved so unpopular that even Alfonso de Castro, one of Philip’s own ecclesiastical staff, condemned them[123] and another adviser, Simon Renard, warned him that such “cruel enforcement” could “cause a revolt”.[124] Mary persevered with the policy, which continued until her death and exacerbated anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish feeling among the English people.[125] The victims of the persecutions became lauded as martyrs.[126]”

          • Aaron Siering

            If you don’t understand the stagnation then you don’t understand the first thing about Islam. Islam isn’t interested in being a vibrant voice among a plurality of other voices. As a function of it being true it is to bring the Sharia to the whole world. Islam has a destiny. When it is not spreading like wildfire it views itself as being stagnant.

            This is the problem here you don’t understand really Islam for a Muslim’s perspective, and in place of that you project your own beliefs onto it. Well it’s great that you want Islam to be a certain way, and even that you will search for such for evidence that seems to confirm that it actually is the way you wish for it to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that in reality Islam is something else.

          • that’s a bit like saying John Paul II condemned Catholicism when he condemned IRA terrorism

          • Aaron Siering

            No, its actually not because “IRA terrorism” is something which Catholicism must condemn, but such violence can never be condemned in Islam because of Muhammad’s own example.

            Now within the modern Islamic community you may have disagreement over how to interpret Muhammad’s actions in terms of today’s context. However, it can’t denied that Muhammad set the precedent to use political violence to spread of Islam. In other words Muslims may disagree over tactics, but the principle that political violence is a fair means for spreading Islam is just a historical fact–in fact it is a doctrine as unchangeable in Islam as is the sanctity of Marriage is in Christianity. It is also a fact that can’t be asserted about Jesus Christ and the Apostolic tradition of Christianity he authorized.

            Now maybe its true that our Pope believes both condemnations to be similar, but if that really is the case then it only comments sadly on his own ignorance of Islam. Understandably the Pope might very well have a skewed understanding of Islam because of both his own advisers and the fact that he meets mainly with mainstream modernist Imams.

            I can also understand encouraging this kind of Islam, but ultimately it is not for Catholics to say what kind of Islam should prevail. Either way a Muslim must believe that all Christians must, ultimately, come under subjection to Islam eventually, and there are an awful lot of Muslims who believe this should happen sooner rather than later and through violence rather than peace.

            Who are we to condemn this as a fair understanding of their own religion? We can condemn the IRA’s use of terror but we can’t tell Muslims they are wrong, according to Islam, in arming children to fight a Jihad.

          • The RCC condemns violence even when exemplified by divine authority in Scripture and papal authority in history and Islamic leaders have condemned violence by ISIS and the like. There is no iron law here. The whole world condemns Islamist terrorism. If you were right we would see Muslim authorities defending it — but they don’t.

          • Aaron Siering

            You are fundamentally misunderstanding how Islam is different than Christianity. There are no leaders who can speak for Islam. There are only leaders who can speak for their own schools of Islamic Jurisprudence.

            Imagine that there really is no Triune God and so no Holy Spirit. Now imagine that Jesus never left a Church to serve as a vehicle for that Holy Spirit, nor did he empower any Apostle, except maybe John, with the authority to carry on after he had died but this ambiguity has gone to deeply divided the community into two warring factions (arguably the Iranian Shi’as have the authority to denounce any ISIS, but no Sunni sect would recognize this).

            In this version there is also no resurrection–so that the only recourse his followers had to legitimate his authority is in immediately collecting the oral text he had left and having it composed into a written text (this by the way is not unlike how many Protestants would like to reinvent the story of Christianity). I suppose here also imagine, just for good measure, that Jesus’ authority came from his military success against the Romans and that eventually Christianity became the dominate religion of Rome through conquest.

            In this version of Christianity there is no Magisterium and no Pope to declare anything heretical because there is no authoritative body in which “to go your own way” from. This is Islam.

            No Islamic religious leader in the world has the right from the perspective of Islam to condemn ISIL as no one had been empowered by Muhammad–except if you believe the Shi’a version, Ali (so yes, arguably, maybe in the Iranian Mullah’s have the right to condemn ISIL in the name of Islam, but no other Sunni sect has that authority and no Sunni sect will believe that any Shi’a sect has that right), and in some real sense all these other Muslim “authorities” are in competition with ISIS, so of course it is natural for competitors to denounce one another.

            The only thing these “authorities” can do is refute ISIL claims with enough cogency to be successful in mind of popular imagination of the Muslim community. However the fact is only gullible Westerns really buy into these arguments, which is why ISIL continues to grow and is increasingly supported even among Muslims who have grown up grew up in Western countries.

            Ultimately the only authority that ISIL needs is what every other Caliphate in history has ever had–and in fairness practically all secular governments at some point in history–the means to legitimize their version of reality through organized violence.

            In fact this is another and more profound way that Islam is different than Judeo-Christianity: the Israelites were, outside of the impact their religious beliefs have had on the world, an insignificant player in world history. They were crushed by secular powers that surrounded them such as Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and lastly Rome. Even at their most prestigious they were nothing more than a small regional power. Islam on the other hand has always functioned more like a secular state. Caliphate after Caliphate right up until the Turks legitimized themselves, just like secular authorities always do through, at least, the passive consent of those that they govern and their ability to bring organized violence to bear.

            So your “whole world” is a strangely Western one that actually belittles and ignores the cultural perspective of a large population of the world. Which ironically how we got ISIS to begin with.

          • Islam is not that different from Xty as regards authorities — Xty too does not have a single central leader — and basic moral judgement does not have to wait on the authorities of past texts: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2014/08/think-muslims-havent-condemned-isis-think-again.html

          • Aaron Siering

            I never said that Christianity had a “single central leader”. Actually here we can argue that it is actually only Islam that does as the Qur’an is interpreted through the filter of Muhammad’s personal behavior.

            What I said was that in Islam has no authority outside of texts themselves. This is why I call Islam–as I do rabbinical Judaism–a proto-Prostestation.

            So then whose moral judgement are you assuming here? Do you not understand how offensive it is to Muslims for you to interpose the morality you derive from Christianity on to Islam? You seem to think you are speaking in defense of Islam, but you can’t do that by disregarding their own cultural values.

            That Beliefnet article was little more than a joke. It was explicitly written for people without any first hand knowledge of the Islamic world. There is always dissent and a plurality of opinions in Islamic cultures. Good luck finding any two Muslims who believe the same thing. This is arguably one of the forces that propels Muslim society toward violence, or at least authoritarianism.

            It seems that more you try and defend Islam the more your reveal your own Protestantism in the process. It is ironic then that you started out here by defending the Orthodoxy of Pope Francis. You’ve really taken a 180 degree turn.

          • “There is always dissent and a plurality of opinions in Islamic cultures” — how exactly does this distinguish them from Christian ones?

            The Protest in Protestantism refers to a historical Protest of Loyalty and has nothing to do with protests against anything. To treat Judaism and Islam as proto-Protestantism is meaningless.

            Since Vatican II we Catholics have been learning a lot from Protestants, and with gratitude. There are many agreed statements with the churches of the Reformation, and in particular one in 1999 that buries the hatchet on the central doctine of Martin Luther, the doctrine of justification by faith.

            The Islam of Al-farabi, Averroes (Ibn-rushd), Avicenna (Ibn-sina), Al-ghazali, Al-kindi, the Sufis etc., is not the constricted book-worship or Prophet-worship you imagine.

            The leading Islamic authorities in several countries have roundly condemned iSIS and said it has nothing to do with Islam. So here are a few foremost Muslims who agree on something, who “believe the same thing”.

            “Do you not understand how offensive it is to Muslims for you to interpose the morality you derive from Christianity on to Islam?” I think abhorrence of ISIS goes far beyond Christianity — the Japanese have the same moral abhorrence of ISIS. To say that in approving the Muslim rejection of ISIS I am imposing Christian values is to imagine that Muslims are from another planet of sheer barbarism who cannot see the evil of murder.

            I have met several Muslims who “believe the same thing”, namely, the goodness of their Creator, to whom they pray five times a day. “The more you try and defend Islam” is a loaded phrase; Islam and Judaism and Christianity need no defence. And those who attack one often end up undermining the other two as well. All three have a tragic history yet all three have survived to give witness to divine reaiity and human decency.

          • Aaron Siering

            Clearly you are only interesting rationalizing your position, and if I engage you there will be no end to the your attempt to wiggle out of the blatant contradictions inherent in your beliefs.

            You claim to have been a Catholic theologian, but at this point I am thinking you don’t even have a basic grasp of sound argument. That might not be completely true, but in any case you clearly have used whatever you learned to rationalize a position you desire to be true rather than in using valid reasoning to sincerely pursue the truth. It might be a play on words but to call the harboring of such a rebellious spirit in one’s heart, Protestantism, is not at all meaningless. In fact it really gets to the heart of what drove Protestantism historically.

          • As a Catholic theologian, I take my direction from Vatican II, Nostra Aetate:

            3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

            Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

          • Aaron Siering

            This is good, because I did return to this thought today. I was curious why you wanted to see Islam in the terms you do, and what value you believed it served; and ultimately how you could such contradictory beliefs. I recognize now the simple answer is because you believe the Church has told you that you must.

            Although I am not sure is your reading is actually a fair reading of this document, as I am reminded, at this point, that Vatican II was only a pastoral council and not a doctrinal one. So perhaps then this statement isn’t as straightforward as it pretends to be. It has long been the practice of the Church to first affirm what we share in common with non-Catholics, and Muslims, at least, profess to hold the things mentioned in your comment along with us.

            However, here is the problem (noting that nothing in Vatican II changes any doctrine) Islam denies the Triune Nature of God, the dual nature of Christ and the Crucifixion–all these fundamental dogmas of Catholic belief. So sure we can affirm with Muslims the things we have in common, but we can embrace this faith as anything remotely comparable to or in agreement with Christianity.

            Now along those lines I am not at all hostile to Islam. In fact I have many Muslims friends with whom I can be quite open about both our the difference and the internal conflicts in Islam itself. I’ve just studied Islam in some real depth and am realistic about it. I also understand a lot about the Mideast. I affirm modern Muslims who want to reinvent Islamic jurisprudence. However that doesn’t change my analysis that there is an implicit logic in Islam that will always tend to radicalization and barbarous violence.

            I assert you have to accept Islam on its own terms; that you have to respect the culture for what it actually is and not for how you’d like to imagine it.

            Now if you want to cherry pick the fact so that you can believe Islam shares our Christian values then I suppose that is your prerogative, although as I’ve said it smacks a bit of the very cultural imperialism that ironically fuel ISIL’s radicalism; and you go too far if you profess when you profess that Islam is companionable with Christianity. You talk about the goodness of Muslims, but from a Catholic perspective it is actually a great evil thing to deny the Trinity, Divinity of Christ and act of the perfect love of God as it is expressed by passion of Christ. To forget this I believe puts you in real jeopardy.

            Now I have a question for you as a theologian. Are synods infallible, and what does it mean for a synod to express its belief about something?

          • Infallibility is mostly a useless concept. Ecumenical Councils are infallible when they teach doctrine, so we can claim infallibility for the Niceo-Constantinopolital creed and the definition of Chalcedon. Vatican II did not get involved in that topic; it contented itself with re-presenting Catholic teaching for today, with some innovations on religious freedom and relations with other religions. The Council speaks with the full authority of the Church, but to parse it in terms of infallibility would be to get tied up in useless knots.

          • Aaron Siering

            I take your point, but what I am really asking is are they immune from error in this situation. Could it not be the fact that the synod is simply wrong?

          • By the synod, you mean the Council? An ecumenical council is the highest authority. A council as prolix as Vatican II could be wrong here and there (I would say it is wrong on scriptural inerrancy because it let the status quo stand, quoting Leo XIII’s Providentissimus Deus, because the theological groundwork had not been done for a more subtle account. Its presentation of Buddhism is also defective because it neglects to mention that Compassion is the second pillar of that religion beside Wisdom — Fr Dumoulin, consulted for this, deeply regretted his omission. Even Councils that define doctrine are claimed to be infallible only in the result, not in the arguments and illustrations (and the same can be applied to Scripture — what counts there, too, is the thesis defended not the arguments offered for it). However, to reject a council as being completely wrong would seem to make a mockery of the universal magisterium (the world’s bishops) and to reject such defining teachings of the Council as those contained in its Decrees on Religious Freedom and on the Church’s Relations with Non-Christian Religions (the latter paralleled by texts in Ad Gentes and Gaudium et Spes) would be schismatic (as we see in the Lefebvrites) though not necessarily heretical. Infallibility is often used by both liberals and traditionalists to dispense with a given teaching. Nonetheless the teaching, even if non-infallible, enjoys the tremendous status of being the official teaching of the Church. This is particularly weighty if it is the teaching of the whole Church gathered in a Council (as in the case of the above two Decrees) rather than an individual pope.

          • Aaron Siering


          • Bendys

            Vatican II said: “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God”

            Yes, but which God ? The Christians consider Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the Muslims deny it. And what does the Apostle John say ?

            “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist” – 1 John 2:22

      • Grace Ironwood

        If Erdogan could do it in Gemany- and very deliberately offensively- then the Popes can. And should continue to do so.
        Recall the Ratzinger Regensberg Ruckus.

  • Suriani

    Joseph Ratzinger is still alive, quite well and compos mentis why then is he not still Supreme Pontiff? The reasons for his decision to abdicate do not compute.

    • We are job-sharing now.

      Frankie does front-of-house, and Benny does the books.

      Like the Two Ronnies, it’s benediction from me, and it’s benediction from him.

      • pobjoy

        Or is is bendy diction.

        Not so many bent edicts, anyway.

  • Despite this article, we’re still best buddies.

  • stag

    I tried to read the recent encyclical Laudato Sii. I was already quite annoyed just by reading the title. I got as far as paragraph 2, where the Holy Father uses the non-word “rapidification” (see, I got a squiggly red underline!). Whereupon I threw it down on my bed and have not opened it since.

    No serious person can claim for a minute that Francis is half the thinker BXVI was. But he’s the pope, so I guess i should stop moaning.

    • But as a thinker, Benedict was in decline long before he became pope, whereas Francis is in his prime.

      • stag

        BXVI in decline is a far better thinker than F in his prime.

        • But it’s more important for a pope to be in touch with the realities of the universal church — and I think Evangelii gaudium shows a more intelligent response to these than Benedict’s perpetual lamentations.

          • stag

            That’s your view and you are entitled to it.

  • Grace Ironwood

    So why did he resign and leave the Church to Justin Beiber?

  • Grace Ironwood

    I recently read an article that suggested that , because it had never abandoned tonality, pop music has a greater prospect of recovering the older aesthetics of Beauty than the modernist High Culture atonalists.

    Where does this leave the critique of pop as being from the sexual rhythms of the body not spirit – and thus inappropriate for the sacramental context.?

    • pobjoy

      ‘I recently read an article that suggested that , because it had never
      abandoned tonality, pop music has a greater prospect of recovering the
      older aesthetics of Beauty than the modernist High Culture atonalists.’

      Isn’t that a bit like saying that two apples are closer to a thousand apples than no apples at all? Mozart often closes the mind and the emotions, Haydn at least has a sense of humour. But even he is too much for the cult that indulged Palestrina, that strangler of feeling. Catholic music has its origin and motives in a grander plan of deceiving the physical senses, in encouraging the thought that deity is reached *without* making the hard moral decisions. Just what the cult desperately needs today, eh! Right on cue, Joe! No more of Jorge’s earthy tango, anyway!

      There are no actual sacraments, because the principle cited for their use is pointedly antichrist, if the Bible has it right. They are figments of false teachers described as ‘wild animals’ by the apostle Peter, appropriately enough. Despite the veneer of high culture to disguise a savage nature (that is betrayed when the chips are down), his is a sound prediction, or fulfilled prophecy, according to one’s pov.

      So sexual bodily rhythms would not be inappropriate in Catholic culture. In fact, there was video evidence of this on the internet some years ago, which some may recall.

  • LaurenceBoyce

    I almost feel sorry for traditional Catholics. They had their man in place and then he just walked away.

    I said almost . . .

  • rtj1211

    It is of great amusement to me as a non-catholic that ‘the mechanism of revelation of God’ should be determined by a Pope current or former. Each person who is open to the wonders of living on this earth has no doubt found out for themselves which routes they are most receptive to. Personally I found a breaking of the clouds atop a mountain in winter, after struggling through wind and snow for a few hours to reach the top, was a particularly effective way to develop humility before the power of nature.

    The access to joy through music was not revealed by the church, but rather by a violin teacher who practiced what so many christians preach…….circumstance as a child provided limitless access to sadness, sorrow, anguish etc etc and much of it was expressed rather imperfectly through poorly played music.

    I rather enjoyed playing various masses in Austrian churches when a guest pupil 30 years ago. It was, in fact, a principal part of the amateur orchestra’s performance programme. I didn’t feel that I or anyone else was testing the boundaries of God’s tolerance by doing so……….just because Mozart was a sinner shouldn’t mean that he was entirely deluded when choosing to write music in homage to the Lord………it seems just as justifiable as singing ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind forgive our foolish ways………’, doesn’t it??

    I guess democracy was never the way of the Catholic church.

    One wonders whether they have something to learn from the democratic church governance of the Religious Society of Friends??

    • tolpuddle1

      In Britain, the Religious Society of Friends – and all liberal congregations – are dwindling to nothing. The Catholic Church isn’t.

      That’s democracy for you. We, the public, have a right to choose which particular troupe of clowns should occupy the government benches at Westminster – but not the right to determine tenets of religious belief.

      • pobjoy

        ‘That’s democracy for you.’

        But no reason to suppose that Catholics or Muslims should be allowed to vote.

        • tolpuddle1

          You seem to be living in the vanished days of No Popery.

          • pobjoy

            Fascism and Nazism in the 20th century were supported by the Vatican. ‘tolpuddle1’ should be regarded as a possible agent of the same in the 21st.

          • Man In Black

            Carry on with your mendacity, pobjoy.

          • pobjoy

            Look, puddle, timely support from a black shirt.

          • Bendys

            Feeding a (not really Protestant) troll can destroy a thread. And that’s obviously the troll’s wish.

          • tolpuddle1

            They weren’t supported by the Vatican, which did, however, mistakenly sign concordats with them, partly from its fear of Communism.

            Pope Pius XI made some amends for having done so with his 1938 Encyclical “Mit brennenden Sorge”, attacking Nazism.

            There has been an orchestrated campaign of lying against Pius XII, beginning in the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, and gleefully continued by other enemies of the Church since. Pius XII saved some 800,000 Jews from the Nazis – more than most public figures of the time could boast, certainly more than the British Government, which knew about the death camps but did nothing to put them out of action.

            Since fascism and nazism were always contrary to the Catholic Faith and were always hostile to it – and since both are as dead as the dodo (as is the right-wing Catholicism of the past) – what sane Catholic can be an agent of them in 2015 ?

          • pobjoy

            ‘mistakenly sign concordats’

            There could be no mistake about dealing with those sub-humans. Either you are unfit to breathe, or too ignorant to post.

            ‘Since fascism and nazism were always contrary to the Catholic Faith’

            The Vatican was not too proud to accept its acre of land from Mussolini. Adolf Hitler said that his aim was to finish off what the medieval Vatican had begun: exterminate the Jews (which meant evangelicals, too). After that, the Vatican would have been unnecessary, which explains his ambivalence to the RCC.

          • tolpuddle1

            You are being devoured by a hatred for the Roman Catholic Church.

            Since it doesn’t exist to exterminate Jews (or evangelicals), it is still necessary.

          • pobjoy

            The suppression and extermination of Christians (euphemistically described as evangelicals, today) was the whole purpose of the cult engendered by Rome. The most savage of the inquisitions was the Roman one, that was directed mainly at Protestants.The idea was that, in order to prevent Roman subjects from becoming Christians, they were to become ‘Christians’. One sees this today; when a Christian invites a Catholic to become a Christian, the Catholic typically says, “I’m a Catholic,” and swiftly moves on, never staying to discuss the matter. There is sometimes a mocking smile on the face of the fleeing Catholic, too. Educated Catholics harbour great detestation and fear of Christians, and seek to prevent less educated Catholics from being converted to Christ, by Christians who love Catholics, as they love everyone else.

            The reason that Jews were persecuted was due to the blanket nature of the new Roman religion. It was difficult to say that this religion was catholic while there were stubborn Jews left within the empire, people who could not just be exterminated, like ‘the barbarians’. And they were dangerous, too, because of their connexions with the true church. They knew Hebrew, as well as the Greek OT, and they were susceptible to real conversion, because they knew so much of the truth of the gospels. Greek koine, the common language of OT and NT for many in Europe who used them, was suppressed, and Jews were ghettoised, and mocked, and persecuted; this was the beginning of modern anti-Semitism.

            The right-wing Catholicism of the past is the potential right-wing Catholicism of the future, while the hierarchy of the Vatican remains. That hierarchy has to go, if Catholicism is to become acceptable, politically and socially. If Bergoglio is to show that his organisation really means liberated, left-wing business, as he claims, he must begin to take it down.

          • Man In Black

            The suppression and extermination of Christians (euphemistically described as evangelicals, today) was the whole purpose of the cult engendered by Rome.

            giggles … do you even take yourself seriously ?

            Your paranoid rantings are devoid of any connection with reality.

          • tolpuddle1

            “Catholic” means universal. A Catholic is thus a member of Jesus Christ’s one, united, universal Church – thus a Christian. So yes, when invited to “become Christians” by bigoted, self-righteous Protestant buffoons, we are tempted to smile mockingly at such bigotry and ignorance. The only alternatives being to weep or to hit one’s head against a wall.

            That does not mean that we applaud the savage methods that were sometimes used against Protestants, any more than we approve the savagery sometimes used by “Christians” (e.g Elizabeth Tudor and her Protestant government) on Catholic Christians.

            Protestantism is not a universal religion – it is based solely on the money, power and prestige of the USA; and thus as doomed as much as that unhappy, fast-decaying country. So what’s for us to fear ?

            We are prepared to absorb aspects of Protestantism that aren’t contrary to the teaching of the One True Church (most Catholic hymnals nowadays contain some Protestant hymns – and yes, they are sung at Masses). But those aspects of Protestantism that are contrary to Truth, we detest as much as ever; though no longer the Protestants themselves !

          • pobjoy

            ‘”Catholic” means universal. A Catholic is thus a member of Jesus Christ’s one, united, universal Church’

            Cheating, as ever. That’s borrowing the Protestant version of ‘catholic’, that means something intelligent, because Protestants do not limit their membership to one country or even denomination. Anglicans, Baptists, Brethren, Methodists, Presbyterians, house group members and others can meet, pray and work together, and not even know of their affiliations. So there is some meaning to ‘catholicism’ for them. But the same word applied to the RC cult is sinister, because it refers to a cult that could become catholic, i.e. inclusive of all, only by means of murder, or its threat.

            Catholic readers, beware. You have to answer for all your sayings and doings.

          • tolpuddle1

            The Catholic use of the word “catholic” is, of course, many centuries older than the Protestant use of the word.

          • pobjoy

            Indeed it is; the world was far more violent, before Protestanism, those pro testamentum, put the people-burning barbarians of Rome to shame.

            Catholics should live every moment in gratitude that they have not got as they gave.

          • pobjoy

            That does not mean that we applaud the savage methods that were sometimes used against Protestants’

            ‘”The people of this time will be punished for the murder of all the prophets killed since the creation of the world, from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the Holy Place. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will be punished for them all!”‘ Luke 11:50-51

            ‘any more than we approve the savagery sometimes used by “Christians” (e.g Elizabeth Tudor and her Protestant government) on Catholic Christians.’

            Catholic criminals.

          • Man In Black

            Catholic criminals.

            That is an extremely offensive lie.

            Were all those victims of Cromwell’s genocidal evil “criminals” ?

            Your dogmatised blinkeredness is sickening.

          • pobjoy

            Cromwell was one of your own ilk. He merely had the sense to see that the old religion was past its sell-by.

          • Man In Black

            So your response to my denunciation of your offensive lying is to type up some MORE offences and lies ?


            Anti-Catholic hatred is objectively evil.

          • tolpuddle1

            The Catholic priests butchered by the Tudor government were accused of “treason” on no other ground than that of their priesthood; they were not politically involved or motivated.

            Do you believe that it is treasonable to be a Roman Catholic priest ? If not, why was it treasonable in Tudor times ?

            “Because the law said so” ? But what did the law say under the totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century ? To obey a criminal law is criminal. Those punished by such laws are not criminal; otherwise Dietrich Bonhoeffer would be a criminal rather than a martyr. (I make no apologies for comparing Tudor policy – in this regard – with National Socialism)

            The people of England were punished for their murder of Roman Catholic priests, by the terrible civil wars of the 17th Century. Even politically, these were a direct consequence of religious policy under “Good” Queen Bess.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Do you believe that it is treasonable to be a Roman Catholic priest ?’

            What I think is neither here nor there, in this particular context. RC priests were outlawed; that is a matter of fact; it is also a matter of fact that some believe that this should still be the case. It was very understandable that this was the case, because that first class moron, the jumped up Italian layabout Ghislieri, made every Catholic in England a traitor, by means of a Bull that has never been rescinded; it still applies, technically. There is no Catholic in the UK who is not technically subject to arrest, right now.

            ‘To obey a criminal law is criminal.’

            The Bible said that people should obey their civil rulers. Ghislieri said, “No, that’s wrong; disobey your government, or you will go to hell.” And that’s the choice, right now, for tolpuddle1.

            Catholicism is criminal. The name tells you, even before reading history. Get your brain working again.

            Though the poster’s morals are probably beyond redemption. A person who can post on behalf of an organisation that is supposed to be akin to ‘a lamp on a stand, to give light to all’, while admitting to pre-meditated murder by its leadership, falsely accusing others who oppose it of doing the same (there is not one Protestant that a Catholic can accuse of anything), is the very best reason conceivable for believing in the necessity of hell.

            And these are the religionists who claim to be justified by works. It would be amusing, were it not so sick.

          • Man In Black

            cripes, the tripe that you post is so foolish and ghastly, it’s not deserving of any serious responses whatsoever.

          • tolpuddle1

            Antonio Michele Ghislieri, Pope Pius V ; an austere, hardworking puritan, a sort of papal Elijah. He was the architect of the alliance that defeated the Turkish fleet at Lepanto in 1572; therefore were it not for him, Western Europe would have fallen to Turkish rule and become Muslim.

            But then, it always was Roman Catholics, not Protestants, who contended against Islam and saved Europe from it.

            His Bull excommunicating and deposing Elizabeth Tudor and commanding Catholics to rise against her, was not accepted by all English Roman Catholics even at the time, since a Pope’s authority is limited to the areas of faith and morals, and the Bull dealt with political matters. Needless to say, it lapsed with the death of Elizabeth Tudor.

            More generally, we are commanded to put God’s law before civil law when the two are in conflict, as Simon Peter (despite his respect for civil rulers) did in his dispute with the Jewish religious authorities in Jerusalem.

            The Popes who burnt heretics were motivated in doing so by a wish to save people from being misled (perhaps as far as Hell) by false and damnable doctrines. This makes those Popes mistaken, but not murderous. The same may be said of the political schemers – notably Elizabeth Tudor and William Cecil – who killed many (non-political) Roman Catholics; though in saying that, I’m giving the said schemers the benefit of the doubt and assuming them to be well-intentioned people, not (as they may well have been) mere Machiavels.

          • pobjoy

            ‘an austere, hardworking puritan’

            Incorrect. The lived same life he would have had without false religion, except for the hard work. He may well have been ‘bribed’ by a wealthy ‘lay’ Catholic who said, “Let me take you out of all this.” It’s called selling your soul.

            ‘it always was Roman Catholics, not Protestants, who contended against Islam and saved Europe from it.’

            Only for reasons of greed, because the theologies of Rome and Muhammad were equivalents. The Qur’an could have been written by Catholics, to secure their border from Christian influences.

            ‘was not accepted by all English Roman Catholics’

            Whoever failed to accept it was obviously not Catholic; as you realise, but lie.

            ‘a Pope’s authority is limited to the areas of faith and morals’

            There was no infallibility excuse, then; as you realise, but lie.

            ‘it lapsed with the death of Elizabeth Tudor.’

            The ban was merely the conclusion of detailed reasoning, that still fully obtains for the present UK government, and has obtained ever since. As you may not realise, as detail is never a strong Catholic point.

            But please carry on, with your gutless, spineless excuses. The stench is more than enough to choke off decent and intelligent readers.

            ‘The Popes who burnt heretics were motivated in doing so by a wish to save people from being misled’

            They don’t give a damn, now, then.

            Every Catholic can be arrested for condoning murder. Wherever they live.

            Except in Vatican City State. Here’s a picture of its benevolent provider:


          • Man In Black
          • tolpuddle1

            “The Quran could have been written by Catholics” – but it wasn’t was it ?

            “The theologies of Rome and Muhammad were equivalents” ? No, they are widely different, as a comparison of the Quran with the RCC Catechism will prove.

            And if it wasn’t for Roman Catholics, the West would be Muslim.

            Do you seriously believe that when in 2010, Pope Benedict took morning coffee with the Queen, he was appalled by her British sovereignty and by Parliament, and was secretly yearning to depose or overthrow both Queen and Parliament ?

            Er, no, actually – the Bull of 1570 seems to loom large in your thoughts, but not in mine nor of any present-day Catholic, even those in the Vatican.

          • pobjoy

            ‘if it wasn’t for Roman Catholics, the West would be Muslim”

            And if it wasn’t for brave Protestants, it would make no difference, stupid.

            And if it wasn’t for brave Protestants, Roman Catholics would not be able to post. Or make tea.

            Or even read. Which ability they might well not care for, anyway.

            Roman Catholics should be grateful that they are not burned alive, motivated by a wish to save them from ‘being misled’.

            ‘Do you seriously believe’

            Catholics should seriously believe and confess that Catholic Emancipation was achieved only because of the threat of Irish violence, by people who claimed to follow Christ. Past requirements to abjure transubstantiation, and the temporal and spiritual authority of their political leader, since then buttressed and employed by fascism, have a new validity, particularly in view of immigration from Catholic EU countries.

          • tolpuddle1

            Protestantism is merely a by-product of Roman Catholicism; a by-product that wouldn’t exist if Roman Catholics hadn’t died defending the West (and Christianity, in fact) against Islam.

            It’s news to me that the Pope has any temporal authority outside Vatican City. Where does the RC Catechism make such a claim ?

          • pobjoy

            ‘Protestantism is merely a by-product of Roman Catholicism’

            Any liar can type that.

            Had Muslims conquered Europe, it does not follow that the gospel truth would have remained suffocated. Indeed, Protestantism may have emerged earlier than it did, and the warfare may have been far less destructive. So, no preening.

            ‘It’s news to me that the Pope has any temporal authority outside Vatican City.’

            But then you are a proven liar, because you wrote that people who ignored Ghislieri were Catholics.

            If you eat your cake, you don’t have it.

          • pobjoy

            ‘- but it wasn’t was it ?’

            Who can say?

            Why don’t you copy and paste, when you quote? Because you are home to many lying demons.

            ‘they are widely different’

            They both teach justification by works (including Mariolatry). The only difference is the works. Like Mormonism, JWism and more.

          • tolpuddle1

            By stating Mariolatry – the worship of the Virgin Mary – to be an RC practice or doctrine, you prove yourself to be either an ignoramus or a liar. Or perhaps a “home to many lying demons.”

            The faith and works controversy is partly semantics – works are merely a symptom of a living faith (as opposed to a dead faith, which Protestants agree does not save).

          • pobjoy

            Mary was not a virgin for long, as any Bible reader knows.

            The Roman monarchy worshipped Jupiter and Juno, inherited from the Etruscans, who seem to have migrated from the ME. So Juno may have been a successor’ to Astarte, or Asherah, ‘Queen of Heaven’, the pagan female deity of the ME, fertility poles of whom the Israelites were commanded to destroy. When Constantine painted his corrupt empire in Christian whitewash, an invented ‘Mary’ took over Juno’s role, and today, Catholics pray to ‘Mary’ as Queen of Heaven, imploring her for clemency. As the blasphemously pagan dogma of Mass makes clemency essential for Catholics, this ‘clemency’ of the Queen of Heaven is of the essence for Catholics. If any non-Catholic reader thinks that is other than Mariolatry, do say so. But beware, a dangerous Catholic with no mind of his own may say you are demon-possessed! Who knows how berserk they may become!

            ‘works are merely a symptom of a living faith’

            That’s what Christians say, and the Vatican condemns; which it has to, otherwise its ‘priests’ would be out of jobs. Read your official Canons, poster.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer would be a criminal’

            Call him a criminal, then. After all, it was the Catholic Centre Party that, in effect, killed him.

          • tolpuddle1

            The majority of German Protestants behaved even more badly during the National Socialist episode, than the majority of German and Austrian Catholics.

          • pobjoy

            The majority of German non-Catholics were Lutherans, whose belief was in consubstantiation. The difference between that and transubstantiation was negligible to the ordinary German. So Protestants were in a very small minority of evangelicals, who were persecuted, unlike Catholics and Lutherans, whom the Nazis courted.

            So the murder of Bonhoeffer was another Catholic achievement, that may well have been intentional.

          • Man In Black

            Even Wikipedia disagrees with your gibberish :


            During the war Alfred Rosenberg formulated a thirty-point program for the National Reich Church, which included:

            The National Reich Church claims exclusive right and control over all Churches.

            The National Church is determined to exterminate foreign Christian faiths imported into Germany in the ill-omened year 800.

            The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible.

            The National Church will clear away from its altars all Crucifixes, Bibles and pictures of Saints.

            On the altars there must be nothing but Mein Kampf and to the left of the altar a sword.

            Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister for Propaganda, was among the most aggressive anti-Church Nazi radicals. Goebbels led the Nazi persecution of the German clergy and, as the war progressed, on the “Church Question”, he wrote “after the war it has to be generally solved… There is, namely, an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a heroic-German world view”.

            The Catholic Church was particularly suppressed in Poland: between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 3,000 members (18%) of the Polish clergy, were murdered; of these, 1,992 died in concentration camps. In the annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland it was even more harsh: churches were systematically closed and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported to the General Government. Eighty per cent of the Catholic clergy and five bishops of Warthegau were sent to concentration camps in 1939; 108 of them are regarded as blessed martyrs. Religious persecution was not confined to Poland: in Dachau concentration camp alone, 2,600 Catholic priests from 24 different countries were killed.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Even Wikipedia disagrees’

            Oh, ha. Especially Wikipedia. Jesuits marched in and deleted truth long ago.

          • Man In Black

            Your paranoia is suffocating.

          • pobjoy

            Don’t get your hopes up. There will be nothing as brief as suffocation.

          • Man In Black

            You haven’t the faintest clue what you’re trying to talk about, you are extremely paranoid, and your evangelical dogmatism appears to be entirely extra-scriptural.

          • pobjoy

            ‘entirely extra-scriptural’

            Such expert approval!

          • tolpuddle1

            Few German non-Lutheran Protestants ? Hardly.

            Nor was their record in the 1933-45 period much better than that of the Lutherans.

            Bonhoeffer was killed for his opposition to Nazism; the Catholic Church wasn’t complicit in his death.

          • pobjoy

            Don’t evade what’s been written.

          • tolpuddle1

            It depends on what you mean by “taking down” the Vatican hierarchy.

            If you mean, its earthly power and wealth, many Catholics will agree with you. Now that European / Western Christendom – still faintly alive in the days of Catholic leaders like Adenauer, De Gaulle, JFK and Harold Macmillan (an Anglo-Catholic fellow-traveller) – is dead and gone, the power has gone and the money is starting to leak away.

            What, however, no Pope or Council of Bishops will do, is renounce or water-down the spiritual claims (as opposed to the temporal ones) of the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church.

            Since John Paul II and Benedict XVI agreed with many Protestants that we are now in The Last Days, the old controversies are becoming irrelevant.

          • pobjoy

            ‘If you mean, its earthly power and wealth’

            That’s not what I meant, is it. The context is right wing totalitarianism, and that entails the use of the very hierarchy that Adolf Hitler admired, and upon which his Third Reich was modelled. Bergoglio could start by allowing priests to marry; that would not conflict with anything in the Bible, in fact it would be seen to obey biblical command.

            But let’s go with your idea. The apostolic church had none of the possessions of the RCC; the synagogues were as much its possession as they were of any Jews, but they were thrown out of them. They met in their homes, or in hired halls. Why does Bergoglio not go and do likewise? Why not sell off the land upon which his edifices take up often valuable space that could be used for amenity?

          • Man In Black

            What a pile of dogmatised gibberish.

          • pobjoy

            ‘saved some 800,000 Jews from the Nazis’

            … but a predecessor made it necessary for them to be saved. Pacelli believed that Nazism was profoundly anti-Christian, and a ‘danger’ to Catholicism, and welcomed it, because Catholicism is profoundly anti-Christian. That is its nature, and it always was.

            Had the Nazis won the war (and it was closer run than most think), those saved Jews would have died, with all other Jews, and evangelicals, too. There would have been no further use for the Vatican, and Hitler would have done as Napoleon should have, razed it to the ground, without evidence of its existence. Any dissenting priests would have been eliminated, too.

          • tolpuddle1

            It’s difficult to see why Pius would have welcomed a danger to Catholicism, as indeed Nazism was. It’s still more difficult to see how Nazism could have been anti-Christian, yet at the same time opposed to Catholicism, itself, in your opinion, itself anti-Christian.

            Roman Catholicism is Christianity as understood by the Roman Catholic Church, an understanding or interpretation 99% identical with that of the Eastern Orthodox.

            This interpretation is clearly the correct one, since Protestantism has failed, even after five hundred years, to come up with one on which it agrees.

            Disunity – a disunity contrary to the explicit prayer of Jesus Christ (“May they all be One”) – is the essence of Protestantism, which remains what it always was; a mere Protest movement, understandable, but mistaken.

          • pobjoy

            Pacelli believed that Nazism was profoundly anti-Christian, and a ‘danger’ to Catholicism

            Note how the poster has failed to copy and paste the above, but has repeated it without the commonly agreed word ‘Pacelli’, and without the quote marks around ‘danger’. What a frightened thug. Saint Joseph (Goebbels) would be proud. What a brainless person, who cannot see that only the dimmest wit can suppose him a Christian. Evidently, he finds in the neat Bible too much challenge to his arrogance, his greed, or his sexual practices, to want to merely do as he wants to be done by. So he hides in the thoughts of man, like Simon Barjona who was aptly called ‘Satan’. There’s his real link with the past.

            But his vomit needs to be cleared up. Pacelli’s view was that his Nazi friends would make it unnecessary for his own role to continue, because extermination of real Christians would make false ones redundant, and indeed, dangerous reminders of the real faith!

            ‘Protestantism has failed, even after five hundred years, to come up with one on which it agrees.’

            Since Lutheranism was found greatly lacking, and evangelicalism arose, Protestantism has been represented by evangelicals (i.e. Christians) in all its non-Calvinist denominations: Anglican, Baptists, Methodist, Brethren, etc. Christians can meet, pray and work together without even knowing of which denomination (if any) they belong. Denominations are ‘demon nations’, like the cults of the Vatican and Eastern Orthodoxy, founded by the sort of brutal measures that Nazis employed. But at least Christians can exist in denominations; never, in cults. They would not even be welcome in cults.

            ‘a mere Protest movement’

            Another malicious, pagan lie, because ‘tolpuddle’ has been taught the truth, and is ‘trying it on’ with newer readers. Catholics, knowing that they are rebels unfit to live, try to make out that Christians are the rebels. The word ‘Protestant’ means pro Testamentum, i.e. (those) for the Gospel. When it was first used, the word ‘protest’ did not even have the meaning it now has, as contemporary literature demonstrates.

            Ironically, the malicious poster is well aware that his criminal cult is held together only by means of ignoring a kaleidoscope of beliefs, including Hinduism and voodoo. Even one of his leaders kissed a Qur’an, so they are only following example.

          • tolpuddle1

            As a Roman Catholic, I would interested to know of the “Hindu and voodoo” elements in Catholicism ! But of course, they don’t exist.

            Another error (or lie ?) in your post is the pretence that Protestant means pro Testamentum. It doesn’t, as I suspect you well know.

          • pobjoy

            ‘But of course, they don’t exist.’

            The websites reporting on Hindu-Catholic syncretism in India have been taken down, due to Christian criticism, I suppose. But it exists, ok. The syncretism of Catholicism with voodoo persisting in Haiti is searchable, though. You really should read the mind-boggling syncretist history of Jesuits etc. since the Age of Exploration. It’s well known to historians, though rarely to Catholics, who are protected by their priests from dangerous knowledge.

            ‘Another error’

            The Elizabethan poet who wrote, “Dear lady, how I protest your beauty,” was presumably a Catholic monk who preferred male company, then.

            Stop living in the dark.

          • Bendys

            “The mind-boggling syncretist history of the Jesuits”
            Sounds very interesting, although I never heard of it. Do you think because pope Francis/Jorge Bergoglio is a jesuit that he mixes new-age elements like Gaia in his discourses ?

          • pobjoy

            pope Francis

            ‘Bendys’ is probably a homosexual who hates Christianity.

          • Bendys

            And you are a fan of Christianity ?

          • pobjoy

            Is homosexuality bad, then?

          • Bendys

            I don’t know, potjob. What do you say ?

      • haywardsward

        Not according to NatCen BSA surveys 1983-2014 most religions are dwindling. and No religion is now varying between 45-50%

        The British Social Attitudes surveys and the European Social Surveys are fielded to adult individuals.

        But the United Kingdom Census and Labour Force Surveys are
        household surveys; the respondent completes the questionnaire on behalf
        of each member of the household including children as well as for themselves.

        So neither are a true reflection of a conscious decision concerning religion on the part of any children in a household


        • tolpuddle1

          The Catholic Church in Britain WAS ageing, indeed dying – then the migrants arrived. Indeed, as elderly British Christians died off, Britain has become a more secular country.

          This is transient – secular people don’t reproduce. Religious people do.

          Apart from the Pagans, the only religions holding their own in today’s Britain are Islam, Catholicism and the Hot Gospellers. The Muslims, especially, are wonderfully good at passing on their faith to their children.

  • pobjoy

    ‘thoroughly relaxed in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo’

    Not facing the music in the dock at the International Court of Justice.

  • Rowland Nelken

    I love Christian music. Singing in an English cathedral choir gave me some sublime moments. My Christian choral years coincided with the Bible study that converted me to atheism. The realisation that the God whose praises we were singing was but a figment of the imagination was no way a reason to leave the choir. Some fellow singers indeed were atheist or agnostic. I am with the ex Pope on ‘grandeur, breadth, sadness, abysses, sorrow and new dimensions of reality’. If that makes for ‘divinity’ so be it. The strange old stories of that 1st century freelance apocalyptic rabbi were but a starting point and, of course, a sponsor. And Mozart, in his Mass settings, with their jaunty opera like touches, seemed to be adding his own mischievous humour to the Papal mix.

    • pobjoy

      Notes from a reluctant believer. Again.

      • Rowland Nelken

        Please explain, Pobjoy. Who is a reluctant believer, and in what?

        • pobjoy

          Who is a reluctant believer?

          One who deliberately misspells the names of other posters.

          • Man In Black


  • abystander

    How does Damien Thompson know what Pope Benedict “has in mind” when he speaks?
    This “liberal” v “conservative” Catholic stuff is nonsense.

    For example I might prefer the Latin Mass but oppose a married Latin Rite clergy.

    What does that make me? “Liberal” or “conservative”.?

    • pobjoy

      One who keeps a dog, and barks? That can be explained if educated Catholics do not believe that Bergoglio and Ratzinger are any different from themselves, but are invested with a rank that protects them from the demands of the Christian gospel— that they see as bad news, not good.

      The rank is that no less than that of Christ himself. It’s beyond belief that the creator of the universe has so many conflicting opinions.

  • Joseph Treviño

    Bravo. Benedict should have never left. He is needed now more than ever.

    • EnosBurrows

      Be he resigned, Blanche, he resigned…

  • haywardsward

    Ratso was the man running the Congregation fro the Doctrine of the Faith, Formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, from November 25, 1981 – April 2, 2005

    In that period there was much evidence presented concerning the activities of Catholic clergy both in the commission of acts of sexual abuse and the covering up of such.

    On Ratso’s watch very little was done to deal with both the offenders and those that moved them around and covered up their crimes.

    • Man In Black

      Your lies and fabrications fail to impress.

      • haywardsward

        Evidence of a cover up?
        18 May, 2001 Ratzinger sent a letter to every bishop in the Catholic Church.This letter reminded them of the strict penalties facing those who revealed confidential details concerning enquiries into allegations against priests of certain grave ecclesiastical crimes, including sexual abuse, which were reserved to the jurisdiction of the Congregation. The letter extended the prescription orstatute of limitations for these crimes to ten years. However, when the crime is sexual abuse of a minor, the “prescription begins to run from the day on that which the minor completes the eighteenth year of age.

        • Man In Black

          oh deary me, it’s the mendacious and ill-informed, ill-thought-out propaganda again.

          Do you understand that confidentiality is a necessary requirement for proper victim protection ?

          • Sten vs Bren

            Look, there’s two Popes, now. It’s a market.

            Happy Pope or grumpy Pope. Take your pick.

          • haywardsward

            Suggest that you check the Commonwealth of Autralia Royal Commision into institutional responses to child abuse.

            That confidentiality was to hide the abusers and those that covered up their abuse all the way to the top in the Catholic Church in Australia, that is right up to the now Cardinal Pell

          • Man In Black

            oh dear oh dear oh me …

            1) That confidentiality clause concerns sexual misbehaviour by clergy in general, most of which isn’t even illegal under the civil laws, occurring as it does between consenting adults

            2) Around 80% of accusations of child abuse made by kids against adults are discovered by the Police to be unsupported by evidence — where teachers, priests, and others who work with children are concerned, that rises to above 90% — and most cases that lead to Court still end up with a not guilty verdict

            3) Contrary to your mendacious claims, Cardinal Ratzinger, then Benedict XVI, was tireless in his efforts to fight against the abuse of children, sexual and non-sexual, throughout his Cardinalcy and Papacy. When those general orders were given which BTW concern priests disobeying their vows of chastity NOT paedophiles, a general Order had already been given to all Bishops to systematically report allegations of child abuse to the Police. Meanwhile, a change in the Canon Law was being prepared, later put into effect, to ensure that the Church Law conformed with the emerging need for more vigorous child protection

            4) Not Australia, but the Murphy Report is illuminating if you read it with eyes unbiased by anti-Catholic hatred — it makes very clear that parents as much as other clergy were just as guilty of ignoring victims, but the worst of the blame (apart from on the child abusers themselves) lies against the Irish Police who routinely failed to investigate allegations, and the Irish Government and Parliament who had NO child protection laws in place whatsoever

            5) And yes, confidentiality is a NECESSARY protection — protection of victims, their families, and of their right to anonymity ; protection of the accused, who may I remind you are not only deemed innocent until proven guilty but who are also in many cases actually innocent, and THEIR families etc ; protection of confidentiality is also absolutely necessary for proper Police investigation, and for the needs of a fair trial ; and etc etc etc, none of which pertains to your paranoid & ill-willed gibberish

            Child abuse had become endemic throughout Western society post-WW2, and this scapegoating of men who statistically the least guilty in the population of such crimes (the ordinary man in the street is 20 times more likely to have engaged in child abuse than a Catholic priest) is perfectly and ignorantly disgusting.

          • haywardsward

            I. Most of the offenses occurred against minors.

            2. In Australia there are still c. 7, 000 interviews to be done under the auspices of the Royal Commission concerning abuse by members of various organisations including the religious and secular. These range from Christian organisations as in the main stream churches and judaism to the Salvation Army, Also included are the state run care institutions.

            Literature concerning the claims made viz.80% & 90%

            3.Ratso’s letter to which i referred above spells out to bishops the church’s position on a number of matters including sexual abuse by a cleric ‘with a minor below the age of 18 years’. Ratso’s letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been ‘perpetrated with a minor by a cleric’.

            That plus the covering up of the Maciel case and others does not evidence Cardinal Ratzinger, later to be pope being tireless…
            4.. Well yes poor Ireland, “A priest-ridden nation” as James Joyce so aptly said.

            So cowed by the clergy that both the children’s parents and Gardaí would not be prepared to admit that the children could be speaking the truth.

            Such behaviour was also carried out by State police forces in Australia notably in NSW

            5.That confidentiality was used as a smokescreen behind which the abusers and those who protected them, moved them on in some case in Australia flying them out of the country.

            That said it is the Church which behaved in such a fashion to cover up for so long the abuse and to hide and protect the abusers is where the real fault lies.

            In the North America the Church spent big on PR and lawyers in campaigns in an attempt to whitewash the complaints of abuse and to denigrate any one who did come forward concerning both the abuse and the actions taken to hide it and cover up.

          • Man In Black

            I. Most of the offenses occurred against minors.

            well duh — if these are crimes we’re talking about, then given that all sex involving a minor is illegal, whereas only a minority of the sex between adults is criminal, then whoop de doo

            You’re just trying to present statistical anomalies as if they were a portrait of sexual behaviour

            Whereas most sins involving sex will be between adults.

            Compare the number of sex crimes involving minors in your country with the number of people divorced and remarried. The first number will pale before the second.

            Ratso’s letter to which i referred above spells out to bishops the church’s position on a number of matters including sexual abuse by a cleric ‘with a minor below the age of 18 years’. Ratso’s letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been ‘perpetrated with a minor by a cleric’.

            So your response to my reply to your allegation is simply to repeat that allegation.


            In other words you’ve already made up your mind, and are here just to engage in some trolling ?

            Meanwhile you continue not to understand that a priest suspected or convicted of such crimes must face two different Courts — the Civil, and the Ecclesial. Procedures regarding the Church Courts are those that are subjected to confidentiality, for all the reasons given.

            Meanwhile, the Cardinal, then Pope, had put in place measures for the systematic reporting of allegations of such crimes to the competent Police Authorities.

            the covering up of the Maciel case and others does not evidence Cardinal Ratzinger, later to be pope being tireless…

            At no time was Marcel Maciel ever under the authority of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — whose hands were often tied by some deficiencies in the Canon Law dating back to the 1930s. He instituted the required changes to that Law as Cardinal, and implemented them as Pope.

            Also, Maciel was a master con man, and even his closest associates were utterly shocked when the truth of his activity came out, after his death BTW.

            Meanwhile, the covering up of child abuses was endemic throughout the whole of Western Society right up until the Marc Dutroux case shocked everyone into reality.

            How many families covered up abuse of their children, or by their family members, to avoid “shame” ?

            So cowed by the clergy that both the children’s parents and Gardaí would not be prepared to admit that the children could be speaking the truth.

            Such behaviour was also carried out by State police forces in Australia notably in NSW

            Your anti-Catholic bias has never been made more plain and clear.

            Is Australia a “priest-ridden nation” ? Were Australian Police “cowed by the clergy” ?

            Yet the same occurred there.

            Where are your rants against the Police ?

            Why do you not spend your efforts denouncing systematic cover-up by the Police ?

            Why do you choose to ignore multiple reports of clergy who went and denounced child abuse crimes — only to see no action being taken by the Police ?

            In the North America the Church spent big on PR and lawyers

            This is a necessary reaction by any US organisation that comes under attack for any reason, given the absurd nature of the US legal system.

            PS your use of “Ratso” is embarrassingly childish

  • PeterMBeck

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  • Kaingang

    Long live Benedict

  • KevinPTatom

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  • Chris

    Personally I think true humility is with Benedict, and a masked one with Francis. Why, is Francis worried about the rich, poor, climate change etc.. Is there not a deeper concern for the salvation of souls in such time where our young generation are so technologically advanced, where the youth are swallowed up in the pleasures of social media, video games (mostly evil characters/themes), self gratification and so on?? None of his current concerns seem to be directed at saving souls, which should be his number one priority – I mean if Jesus returned to earth tomorrow, would He be more satisfied with souls that are ready to receive Him, or by a better climate, yet with no one aware that their soul is in no state to be saved? Instead of taking selfies with the youth, Francis should proclaim to them that modern day devices if abused, are a distraction to one’s personal prayer life and relationship with God – no one has the time anymore for either, sadly because they are too busy entertaining themselves with social media, sports and the entertainment industry with all its celebrities.

    • tolpuddle1

      Social media, video games, self-gratification, sports and entertainment industry, celebrities, distraction from (and no time for) prayer

      – Yep, that’s Capitalism, all right !

      No wonder Francis feels it a duty to save souls from it.

      And has asked us to preach the Gospel, instead of leaving it all to him.

      • Infidelissima

        He has also asked Italy and the rest of Europe to welcome all of Africa – you know, we should welcome those who persecute and slaughter Christians, and all other minorities in their counties.

        Such an altruistic Pope, he is.

        • tolpuddle1

          You mean the refugees drowning in the Med are jihadis ?

          Well, no, actually.

          It is in any case, Pope Francis’s Christian duty to ask Europe to welcome refugees. And ours.

          • pobjoy

            It’s for rich Catholics to assist poor ones. Let’s see this wonderful family faith in action.

        • Angela Merkel has given similar leadership.

    • Because Francis understands Vatican II — you cannot divorce “saving souls” from concern for justice and the other Kingdom values — hence the need fo the Social Doctrine of the Church, to which Laudato si’ is an important contribution. Francis is doing a much better job of raising young people’s awareness of God and neighbour than if he were to urge them to fret about their “souls” in a creepily individualistic fashion.

    • Why did Jesus worry about the poor? Why did he work healings? Shouldn’t he have confined himself to souls?

  • Milseo

    I’m all for good elevating music in church, and admire Benedict’s intellectual rigour, but remember the lines of Alexander Pope:

    Some to church repair,
    Not for the doctrine but for the music there.

    • Don’t ruin Pope please:

      As some to church repair,
      Not for the doctrine, but the music there.

      • Milseo

        My uncertain memory has paid dubious tribute to a Pope, I see.

  • ChrisJHenning

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  • Ed202

    Insightful and well-written. But you have no proof that he had Raymond Burke in mind. Burke was out of hand and needed to go.

  • tolpuddle1

    Benedict’s message is complementary to that of Francis, not opposed to it.

    Damian T would of course like a full bust-up between Pope and Pope Emeritus, with Francis being K.O.’d and carried out of the ring – even though Francis is a “living successor to St Peter.”

    It’s not a very Catholic hope or vision – but then, Damian isn’t a very Catholic person – only someone who wants the parts of the Church’s message that are in accordance with the mind and will of Damian Thompson. A tweedledum to the liberal Catholics’ tweedledee, in other words.

  • tolpuddle1

    Gosh, Damian is preaching his traditionalist message with increasing manfulness and urgency !

    Perhaps because the Fiend now in the Chair of Peter has committed even worse outrages recently – suggesting we’re causing climate change, even daring to suggest (I recoil when recording this satanic impiety) that Capitalism isn’t perfect – isn’t the End of History and the God-given answer to all humanity’s agelong yearnings, tears and prayers.

    But then, Damian, a traditionalist like you knows that Jesus preached “Blessed are you that are Rich” and “Woe unto you that are poor !”

    Oops, sorry, that was Donald Trump (or was it George Osborne?) in the Wall Street Journal.

  • tolpuddle1

    Damian – why pretend that Francis is Kasper’s stooge ?

    You know as well as the rest of us, that this isn’t true.

    • Bendys

      You are right. Francis is the boss in the Vatican.

      • It was Francis who waved Kasper’s book on mercy in one of his first public appearances. Francis is indeed the boss.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    One good thing about music..when it hits you feel no pain ( Bob Marley, somewhere) and the bass, in modern music, determines the superstructure. Wouldn’t it be good if the same could be said for modern democracy?

  • TerrenceACaraballo

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  • Pudding on my Top Hat

    Thompson I see you are still writing woeful pieces, mind you your pal Tim Stanley is doing the same on the DT .
    You should have wrote the Benedict is giving old time Catholics their ” FIX ” ( former regular readers of Thompsons woeful blog in the DT will understand this reference )

  • pobjoy

    ‘Benedict robustly defended’

    He’s fit to stand trial, then.

  • St Ignatius

    Does Damian ever say anything positive?

  • Mr Grumpy

    Anyone got a link to the full text of the speech?

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    Mr Thompson is reading his own prejudices into what the Pope Emeritus is saying.

  • Falcon 78

    And for what it’s worth, the series of books by Benedict–e.g., Great Teachers, the Fathers, the Doctors (of the Church), etc.–published by Our Sunday Visitor and are taken from Benedicts catechisis sessions are very well written and done. They are extremely readable, yet give a sense of the development of the Church, how things came about, and why they came about. Benedict is a great and disciplined academic mind.

  • ithakavi

    Benedict XVI is a rare treasure; extraordinarily gifted in intellect and supernatural grace. His body of writing – both academic and popular theology – is a gift to the world. His exquisite clarity of thought is in stark contrast to the present occupant of the See of Peter (may God guide and preserve him).

    • I think what people object to in Francis is not his lack of clarity but his excess of it — in his remarks on capitalism and the environment. Evangelii gaudium is a much clearer document than anything Benedict wrote as pope.

      • ithakavi

        I’m sorry, but that is utter nonsense. Francis is incapable of stringing three coherent sentences together in any language. Moreover, he suffers from an extraordinary pride. No Pope before him has ever made such an ostentatious display of humility. As for economics and the environment, the man’s incompetence is preternatural. If the Devil wanted to own a Pope, this is they guy he would have chosen.

      • ithakavi

        And by the way, Evangilii gaudium was largely written by Benedict (as acknowledged by Francis). One must hope the more asinine comments on ‘capitalism’ were added by Francis and his equally moronic Peter Cardinal Turkson,

        • No, Fidei donum was largely written by Benedict.

          • ithakavi

            Stand corrected.

  • Huh?

    Hmmm. Benedict reflects on sacred music, Latin mass, and tradition — all things of great beauty. Francis reflects on the poor, prisoners and the state of our environment — all things of not such great beauty.

    Which one is more Christ-like?

    • pobjoy

      Anyone who says that he is the Vicar of Christ is a con-man, a fool or demented.

      • Bendys

        So you are saying that pope Francis is a con-man ?
        Yes, I think I can agree with you here.

        • pobjoy

          For what reason would that be?

          • Bendys

            You yourself said:
            “Anyone who says that he is the Vicar of Christ is a con-man, a fool or demented.”
            So I agree with you that Francis is a con-man.

          • pobjoy

            Describing him as ‘Francis’ may seem to be approval of his con trick. Describing him as ‘pope Francis’ may seem to be approval of his con trick still more.

          • Bendys

            How would you describe him ?

          • pobjoy

            Jorge Bergoglio.

          • Bendys


    • Cjones1

      The poor will always be with us and the rich person has a harder time getting to heaven than the camel through the eye of the needle (gate). Jesus had a parables where he condemned not putting one’s talents to good use and warned against casting pearls before swine…flavor with your salt and let your light shine forth. It is the sacrifice for others that counts the most it seems.
      The invisible hand has helped the poor and lifted more boats than has the clenched fist of totalitarianism, socialism, and communism.
      In regards to music, entertainment, and sports, St. Augustine bemoaned and condemned the money that was spent on a good time rather than dedicating that money to the poor which, he felt, was a better use of one’s time and made up for a daily diet of sinful actions comparable to the thorns of Paul or a hedgehog’s spines.

      • pobjoy

        ‘The invisible hand has helped the poor’

        Invisible, alright, unless I blinked. The non-existent hand has helped the poor, because the poor have always had to do their own fighting, and they still do. People who write:

        ‘The poor will always be with us’ don’t help them, do they.

        ‘the clenched fist of totalitarianism, socialism, and communism’

        There never has been a clenched fist of communism or socialism, and possibly never will be. The USSR and China were expressions of state capitalism, and it was capitalism that was forced to use a ‘clenched fist’. Awkward, but there it is.

        Totalitarianism was the invariable condition of European states in the Middle Ages, when the condition of the great majority of the population lived lives ‘poor, nasty, brutish and short’. This was because there was a sort of permanent warfare of rich against poor; the rich fooled the poor with their papalist religion, landowners often being prelates as well as politicians. One of the necessary conditions of the end to poverty in northern Europe was getting rid of that pernicious religion, that persists in southern Europe. So take very good care what you write, Cjones. There is zero toleration of salt that has lost it’s ‘flavor’.

        ‘Augustine bemoaned and condemned the money that was spent on a good time rather than dedicating that money to the poor’

        What is wrong with apostolic opinion? Does that not compare with the seraphic nostrums of this Saint?

        ‘See that you also excel in this grace of giving… Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.’ 2 Cor 8:7…14 NIV

        There you are Cjones, salt that has not lost it’s flavour. Socialism. In the Bible. How shocking, eh? What an inconvenient clenched fist. No wonder there was need to invent papacy.

        But are we to believe that ‘the invisible hand’ is that of Catholic Republicans who are this moment moving to get equality among Catholics around the world, some of whom live on two dollars a day? That would never make heresy into orthodoxy, but it would at last give the Vatican some credibility among those who matter.

        • Cjones1

          They chanted “Workers of the World unite” with clenched fists.
          Their politicians ran the economy while committing millions to slave labor in the gulags and death camps. If you didn’t follow the party line, maintained s belief in a higher power than the cherished leader or questioned the virtues of socialism or communism, you would be arrested, forced to confess, reeducated, and either sentenced to a slave labor camp or killed.
          Even Paul in the quote from Corinthians never suggested forcing people to give up their belongings to help the community…it was suppose to be a voluntary offering.

          • pobjoy

            ‘They chanted “Workers of the World unite” with clenched fists.’

            And did the workers of the world unite? Because if they didn’t, there could be no Marxist socialism. What actually occurred was a mighty drive to achieve in decades what capitalism in Britain and Germany had developed over centuries. A drive to modernise a medieval economy in a matter of decades, an effort that required massacre on unprecedented scale. It was unnecessary, but that’s capitalism; and human idiocy. Roman Catholicism is another example of the latter, and precedent and model for another idiocy, Islam, too.

            ‘Their politicians ran the economy’

            They ran the national ‘business’ as a company competing with all the others in the world; while disguising the capitalist class basis of their social structure, that was limited as much by reduced means as need to appear egalitarian.

            ‘it was suppose to be a voluntary offering’

            How many had already volunteered?

            If the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church cannot look after its own, are the rest of us supposed to? What is wrong with the wealthy Catholics of the world doing something about their ‘brothers’ living on two dollars a day? How does Paul’s desire get so few volunteers?

  • Cjones1

    Pope Francis’s recent declarations on certain matters reminded me of the Obama administration’s grand declarations that never accomplish their goals and in the end are delusional. Pope Benedict upheld traditional teachings of the Church and did not adopt the collective humanitarian ideology of political factions who sought to replace God with great societies of man that resulted in genocidal slaughter, cults of personality, and subjugation of religious expression.
    I am hoping Pope Francis recovers from his foray into understanding the politics of the left.

  • Joepat

    How timely! Last Sunday, I attended a Mass that could be an example of the exact opposite of what Sacred music should be. Primarily, it was comprised of saccharin words written by Protestants with the “feel” of Protestantism. Secondarily, it was sung by a woman whose voice was like fingernails on a blackboard — loudly! No wonder hardly anyone attends Sunday Mass anymore. Who can be blamed for declining to hear that when Mass is something that the Protestants can never have and when the music should be the Mass prayers and not a string of holy thoughts. How I miss Benedict and how I pray that the Holy Spirit will bless the Church with another like him in the very near future.

  • valwayne

    Pope Benedict carried on the tradition of Saint John Paul the Great adhering to the spiritual authority of the Church and keep away from secular politics. It is great to hear from him. Its clear that he has set aside the secular authority of the Pope when he abdicated, and Pope Francis was elected. However, he was chosen by the Holy spirit acting through the College of Cardinals so no act of man can wipe that out. He retains his spiritual authority even as Pope Francis seems to so easily discard his in favor of plunging into worldly secular politics, seemingly firmly on the side of the atheistic Marxist Left. It is good to see that there is still a rock in the church that doesn’t bend with the current of left wing secular politics.

  • James R. Ruston

    I see Benedict as basically an law and order person. Ve haf rules, and you vill follow zem. I see Francis as one who thinks caring for each other is more important than strict adherence to rules. Naturally, I support Francis.

  • pobjoy

    Any professional musician will tell you: there’s no such thing as sacred music. There’s no such thing as a secular crotchet, no such thing as a sacred crotchet. A crotchet is a crotchet, a quaver is a quaver. Yet, any professional musician will tell you, music is for generating emotions. Music has a message, in other words. Messages can of course deceive, musical messages, if they are presented in a particular context.

    The message may be a moral one. Any professional musician can tell you: music is associated with places where people become drunk, take drugs, often with sexual behaviour that often creates great unhappiness and social problems. Nazis used music, too.

    Any professional musician can tell you, emotions can be influential in supporting beneficial moral ideals. Angels, expressing joy, sang at Jesus’ birth; shepherds returned, singing, spontaneously. Paul and Silas sang in prison, and the church sang psalms, hymns of praise, and spiritual songs in its meetings.

    To listen to the music of, say, Debussy, can temporarily ‘transport’ one to ‘another
    world’; but there is no moral message with Debussy. People listen to his
    music, and carry on living, much as before, maybe worse, maybe better lives.

    So where does the music used by the Vatican stand, music in a particular context? Does it help its listeners to resist temptation? Does it help its listeners to tell the truth? Or does it do the opposite? Because surely, it must do one, or the other. It can hardly be like the ‘neutral’ music of Debussy.

  • CLynch451

    “He identified three places from which it flowed. First, the experience
    of love, opening ‘a new grandeur and breadth of reality’ that inspires
    music. Second, ‘the experience of sadness, death, sorrow and the abysses
    of existence’. These open ‘in an opposite direction, new dimensions of
    reality that can no longer find answers in discourses alone’. Third, the
    encounter with the divine.”

    As someone who enjoys the sacred polyphony of Victoria, Palestrina, and Byrd (with some more recent polyphony), this really resonated with me. (No pun intended.) I’ve been singing this material in a small, chapel-size church for several years, now, and I still feel these powerful associations–the anguished cries of Jesus on the Cross (O Jesu Christe – Van Berchem), the wonder of the Incarnation (O Magnum Mysterium – Victoria or Lauridsen), and the joy of singing with choirs of Angels (Cantate Domino – Pitoni). Even people who don’t particularly know or like “church music” tell me that the sound just sweeps them up to heaven, as it were. It is a wonderful mystery, this power of music in the service of worship of a God whose presence is suddenly palpable.

    • pobjoy

      The way to end all the problems of the world is to play Palestrina. Who knew.

      • CLynch451

        🙂 Either that, or massive daily doses of tranquilizers.

        • pobjoy

          🙂 True. The soporifics Victoria, Palestrina and Byrd might be cheaper, though.

    • CLynch451

      And since nobody asked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDAQtZz1yf4
      Beautifully shot, too.

  • GreggorytheGreat

    The modernists who follow and praises Pope Francis with their venom attacked Benedict’s speech with their egotism on what should be sacred and beautiful. The raw hatred to Tradition of the Church is all telling in their spirituality for desiring the world and it’s mortal sins.

  • Tanyi Tanyi

    Benedict’s greatest assert that Francis has stubbornly refused to pay attention to was his clarity in speech. There were very very rare occasions in which one wondered what Benedict meant to say. It is worrisome that the Pope’s now spokesman says he is “confused” about Francis. You cannot be a teacher always in need of clarifications from others. You would have to examine your teaching style.

  • JaneSeymour

    Thank God that our beloved Pope Benedict has not remained silent as some may have wished it. His guidance is more than ever needed now. The Catholic Church is in dismay, thanks to Pope Francis confusing everyone.

    • pobjoy

      What is more confusing than a person who believes that a human being is the Vicar of Christ, yet says that that same person is confusing?

      • JaneSeymour

        Because I don’t accept Francis as the true Pope. His election was not valid. So Pope Benedict is still POPE, period.

        • pobjoy

          ‘I don’t accept Francis as the true Pope.’

          Then you must call him by his ordinary name, Bergoglio; and not even as a cardinal bishop. So those who think that Bergoglio is their head are not actually Catholics. That includes all of the ‘invalid’ cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests of the Vatican who necessarily acknowledge Bergoglio, the usurper. Of course, Ratzinger is among the heretics, because he has made his opinion crystal clear who the true leader is.

          Which leaves the poster without a head; and not a Catholic, either. Even more confusing.

          Though not at all confusing for those who have no doubt that Jesus, whose teaching was always in the context of familiar Scripture, referred to himself when he spoke of ‘this Rock’.

          ‘”You are my witnesses! Is there a god besides me? There is no other Rock; I know not one.”‘ Is 44:8

          Had Simon Barjona claimed to be the Rock, he would have been stoned to death for blasphemy by his fellow disciples.

          • JaneSeymour

            Go to Hell.

          • pobjoy

            Though the impossibility of that claim did not prevent Jesus’ disciples from thinking that there was some sort of pecking order within the church. Had Jesus meant that Simon was the Rock, on whom the church of Christ was built, he would have without question been recognised as the greatest of the disciples, with no argument possible about it. Yet, even on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples were quarrelling about this very thing, which of them was the greatest.

  • Justin Bianchi

    It is no secret that the Holy Father Emeritus appreciates high liturgy. It’s fitting that he should reflect on this topic in his retirement – it meant a lot to him before he became Pope.


  • Tony Pelletier

    Mr. Thompson, like you, I greatly appreciated then-Pope Benedict XVI’s clarity and depth. Pope Francis has his one style, with his own qualities. I think you missed the real intentions of Benedict, when you wrote : ”Joseph Ratzinger is not the Pope. But by calling himself ‘Benedict XVI’, dressing in white and keeping the word ‘pope’ in his title, he reminds us that he is a living successor to St Peter”.

    One proof to the contrary, is from an interview that Benedict gave to a journalist last year : ”(…) Benedict explained that when he initially stepped down he wanted to be called “Father Benedict” rather than Pope Emeritus or Benedict XVI, but “I was too weak at that point to enforce it.”

    At least part of the reason for wanting his new title to simply be “Father” rather than Pope Emeritus or Benedict XVI is to put more space between him and the role of the pope, so that there is no confusion as to who the “true Pope” is, Bremer reported.”


    May the Lord bless you.

  • I hope Pope Francis flourishes for a long time. His church needs fresh air.

    • Bendys

      Do you mean that the 2000 years old CC doctrine is stinky ?

      • pobjoy

        1700 years, max.

      • No. But the 2000 years old Christian Idea, expressed in the Development of Doctrine, may be showing its vitality anew.

        • pobjoy

          Development of Doctrine

          How old is that doctrine?

          • true, it was formulated by Newman only in 1845. But it opens up a valuable way of seeing Christianity, and responds to the gibes of those who like to point out inconsistencies in the Christian track record (notably Feuerbach in his very well-informed “Essence of Christianity” — in the historical material which is not fully reproduced in George Eliot’s English translation). Newman’s theory was brewing for centuries (see Owen Chadwick, From Bossuet to Newman) just as his contemporary Darwin’s was. Just as the life sciences cannot get by without Darwin so the theological sciences cannot get by without Newman.

          • pobjoy


            But this refers to

            the 2000 years old Christian Idea, expressed in the Development of Doctrine

            An idea cannot be 2000 years old if it was formulated fewer than 200 years ago.

            It might it be more realistic to say that a body of doctrines that suited a continent in which freedom of expression was severely limited, literacy was sparse, and superstition was commonplace, is unsuited to a global condition in which freedom of expression and literacy are widespread and increasing, and science has all but replaced superstition; and what was called ‘immutable truth’ in the 1950s now has to be tailored to suit different audiences in different parts of the world.

          • Newman speaks of the Christian Idea to refer to the living reality of Christian truth. This provides the Spirit-led dynamism behind the Development of doctrine. Please read JHN himself on these matters. All the texts are online. And yes, the cosmos we know today is totally different from what people imagined it to be in the first century, as is our appreciation of the history and variety of human cultures — so doctrine must develop accordingly.

          • pobjoy

            Newman speaks

            To claim that an idea or doctrine is 2000 years old requires the evidence of an ‘old’ man, not a new one! So where does Peter, the first Vicar of Christ, as claimed, in his letters refer to ‘the Development of Doctrine’? It may seem to his readers that he takes the view that doctrine is indeed immutable, as he directs his readers to ‘stand fast’. The authors called ‘Fathers’ also lack any idea of evolution of doctrine; they constantly appeal to an established standard (real or imagined), that of the revered apostles.

            Catholic clerics made this emphasis on ‘eternal truth’, that was never subject to ‘development’, very clear, less than a century ago; which of course post-dated Newman. So let us see genuine support for this claim of 2000-year-old doctrine, or it will be necessary to discount it.

            Spirit-led dynamism

            Every modern claimant claims to possess that, Mormons and Hindus included.

          • The idea of the development of doctrine comes from a modern sense of history — not from St Peter. But it is not in contradiction to basic Christian ideas, since the dynamism of the Spirit, bringing new understanding of old truths, is all over the New Testament and the Fathers. And the latter do have some proto-developmental insights here and there. To “stand fast” in the faith does not entail the sort of immutability that a dead letter has. The fact that many questionably claim Spirit-led dynamism does not discredit Jesus and Paul; just as the fact that many questionably claim scientific truth does not discredit science. I don’t think I need rerun the battle over Newman’s ideas.

          • pobjoy

            the dynamism of the Spirit, bringing new understanding of old truths, is all over the New Testament

            Then it is very strange that a very late, 19th century convert, one never fully acknowledged by the Vatican, ‘formulated’ it!

            What Bible references did Newman use?

          • Vatican II is also full of references to the dynamism of the Spirit — so, yes, it is “fully acknowledged”. The most commonly cited bibilcal reference is “there are many things I have yet to teach you, but the Spirit will lead you into all truth”.

          • pobjoy

            it is “fully acknowledged”

            Newman wasn’t. Do take more care when reading.

            Though of course Vat2 took place in the 60s, after Catholic clerics has spoken with such gravity about ‘immutability’ in the 50s! How embarrassed they were, too. Do take more care when reading!

            Ratzinger has belatedly regretted so much of this ‘development’, also. And his hasty replacement has made no significant changes, anyway, despite the publicity. That’s why he’s known as ‘the PR pope’.

            The most commonly cited bibilcal reference is “there are many things I have yet to teach you, but the Spirit will lead you into all truth”.

            That was spoken to the disciples before the giving of the Holy Spirit. So it looks as though the RCC, likewise, does not have the Holy Spirit; and admits it.

            Though that surprises no reader of history, or of current media.

          • Vatican II is often called “Newman’s Council” and Newman has been beatified (by Benedict XVI in 2010). I am unaware of any quarrel between Newman and the Vatican on Development; even at the height of the Modernist controversy the Vatican made it clear that it was not condemning Newman’s theory of development.

          • LETTER
            In which Pope Pius X approves the work of the Bishop of Limerick
            on the writings of Cardinal Newman.
            To his Venerable Brother
            Edward Thomas Bishop of Limerick

            Venerable Brother, greetings and Our Apostolic blessing. We hereby inform you that your essay, in which you show that the writings of Cardinal Newman, far from being in disagreement with Our Encyclical Letter Pascendi, are very much in harmony with it, has been emphatically approved by Us: for you could not have better served both the truth and the dignity of man. It is clear that those people whose errors We have condemned in that Document had decided among themselves to produce something of their own invention with which to seek the commendation of a distinguished person. And so they everywhere assert with confidence that they have taken these things from the very source and summit of authority, and that therefore We cannot censure their teachings, but rather that We had even previously gone so far as to condemn what such a great author had taught. Incredible though it may appear, although it is not always realised, there are to be found those who are so puffed up with pride that it is enough to overwhelm the mind, and who are convinced that they are Catholics and pass themselves off as such, while in matters concerning the inner discipline of religion they prefer the authority of their own private teaching to the pre-eminent authority of the Magisterium of the Apostolic See. Not only do you fully demonstrate their obstinacy but you also show clearly their deceitfulness. For, if in the things he had written before his profession of the Catholic faith one can justly detect something which may have a kind of similarity with certain Modernist formulas, you are correct in saying that this is not relevant to his later works. Moreover, as far as that matter is concerned, his way of thinking has been expressed in very different ways, both in the spoken word and in his published writings, and the author himself, on his admission into the Catholic Church, forwarded all his writings to the authority of the same Church so that any corrections might be made, if judged appropriate. Regarding the large number of books of great importance and influence which he wrote as a Catholic, it is hardly necessary to exonerate them from any connection with this present heresy. And indeed, in the domain of England, it is common knowledge that Henry Newman pleaded the cause of the Catholic faith in his prolific literary output so effectively that his work was both highly beneficial to its citizens and greatly appreciated by Our Predecessors: and so he is held worthy of office whom Leo XIII, undoubtedly a shrewd judge of men and affairs, appointed Cardinal; indeed he was very highly regarded by him at every stage of his career, and deservedly so. Truly, there is something about such a large quantity of work and his long hours of labour lasting far into the night that seems foreign to the usual way of theologians: nothing can be found to bring any suspicion about his faith. You correctly state that it is entirely to be expected that where no new signs of heresy were apparent he has perhaps used an off-guard manner of speaking to some people in certain places, but that what the Modernists do is to falsely and deceitfully take those words out of the whole context of what he meant to say and twist them to suit their own meaning. We therefore congratulate you for having, through your knowledge of all his writings, brilliantly vindicated the memory of this eminently upright and wise man from injustice: and also for having, to the best of your ability, brought your influence to bear among your fellow-countrymen, but particularly among the English people, so that those who were accustomed to abusing his name and deceiving the ignorant should henceforth cease doing so. Would that they should follow Newman the author faithfully by studying his books without, to be sure, being addicted to their own prejudices, and let them not with wicked cunning conjure anything up from them or declare that their own opinions are confirmed in them; but instead let them understand his pure and whole principles, his lessons and inspiration which they contain. They will learn many excellent things from such a great teacher: in the first place, to regard the Magisterium of the Church as sacred, to defend the doctrine handed down inviolately by the Fathers and, what is of highest importance to the safeguarding of Catholic truth, to follow and obey the Successor of St. Peter with the greatest faith. To you, therefore, Venerable Brother, and to your clergy and people, We give Our heartfelt thanks for having taken the trouble to help Us in Our reduced circumstances by sending your communal gift of financial aid: and in order to gain for you all, but first and foremost for yourself, the gifts of God’s goodness, and as a testimony of Our benevolence, We affectionately bestow Our Apostolic blessing.

            Given in Rome at St. Peter’s, on 10 March 1908, in the fifth year of Our Pontificate.
            Pius PP. X

          • pobjoy

            Newman was never made a full cardinal, an amazing fact if he did indeed formulate a fundamental doctrine. But it’s very easy to understand his popularity after democracy, education and science had weakened the RCC so much that it was forced to abandon its lofty superority and change its ‘immutable’ teachings.

          • Newman was made a Cardiinal by Leo XIII, with a titular diocese as is normal. The phrase “a full cardinal” makes no sense.

          • pobjoy

            He remained a deacon, not a bishop. That was a calculated snub.

          • oops, of course you are right, Cardinal deacon of San Giorgio in Velabro. But how can it be a snub when it was an extraordinary elevation? The snub was to the ferocious critics of JHN at the time. Since Newman has been so fully and warmly embraced by a string of popes, it is strange to claim some unresolved hostility between him and Rome.

          • pobjoy

            But how can it be a snub when it was an extraordinary elevation?

            Because it was an extraordinary elevation, carried out for political, publicity purposes, to satisfy English Catholics. The Vatican did not like him, and merely gave him a ‘handle’, without responsibility. It was a farce, in truth. He was a) an English convert and b) suspected of homosexuality. And Rome had suffered too much of that suspicion.

          • The Vatican curia did not like him, though he had friends there too — but the elevation was solely Leo XIII’s decision. The idea that it was a cynical pr stunt to flatter English Catholics is new to me — what is your evidence for this claim? Cardinal Manning was also “an English convert”, so that cannot have been a big problem for the Vatican. While there is a whiff of anti-gay innuendo in Anglican sarcasm about JHN’s “monastery” at Littlemore, I know of no such reaction to him in RC circles during his lifetime. His cardinalate was not “without responsibility” as he could have been a papal elector. You could just as well say that cardinals Congar, de Lubac, Daniélou were a “farce”.

          • pobjoy

            The Vatican curia did not like him, though he had friends there too — but the elevation was solely Leo XIII’s decision.

            But the elevation was irregular. Why, because the curia did not trust any who were not part of their Italian clique, especially one who was controversial, much disliked in his own country for his insincerity, and a suspect homosexual. The only reason they could have agreed was to satisfy those influential English Catholics like the Duke of Norfolk. Yes, Manning was an English convert, but he was a rare asset. He had none of the disadvantages of Newman, being respected for his (apparent) sincerity and propriety, and was undoubtedly competent.

            And he did not like Newman, either.

            His cardinalate was not “without responsibility” as he could have been a papal elector.

            In which case, had the vote been close, he would have done as he was told, or else. Like all the others. Not a responsibility, in reality.

            It is anyway useless to cite Newman in circumstances that require changes of doctrine, as today. He may have been a prophet of difficult times for the RCC, but that in no way justifies a claim of ‘the 2000 years old Christian Idea, expressed in the Development of Doctrine’. What the modern RCC is forced to do is actually temporising, and PR, in order to survive democracy, education and science. That’s why Bergoglio is canvassing for opinions, a thing that even fifty years ago would have been utterly unthinkable.

          • In what way was the elevation irregular? Would you say that the elevations of Congar, Daniélou, von Balthasar (who died before the actual day), de Lubac were irregular too?

            “much disliked in his own country for his insincerity,” Well, JHN scotched such insinuations in his Apologia, 1864, which won him huge popularity in Britain.

            “a suspect homosexual” — only in the eyes of a prurient clique — his passionate male friendships, like Tennyson’s for Hallam, generally went down quite well in the Victorian climate.

          • “canvassing for opinions” — well, Pope IX did that before defining the Immaculate Conception and Pius XII did it before defining the Assumption. Guess who first urged the idea of “consulting the faithful in matters of doctrine”? And in this case the consultation is not even about doctrine but about pastoral matters.

          • pobjoy

            And in this case the consultation is not even about doctrine but about pastoral matters.

            Even less reason to canvass the ‘lay’ people. Utterly absurd, being a Catholic, today. People become, or became Catholics in order to get what they hope will be absolute ethical values. It’s absurd to be asked what they are!

            Nobody gives a damn about Assumption, and never did.

          • Nobody? It’s a cherished belief of Catholics.

            The consultation did not put in question absolute ethical values, but asked about practical pastoral issues.

          • pobjoy

            It’s a cherished belief of Catholics.

            It’s a non-belief of Catholics, like transubstantiation and absolution, contraception and eating fish on Fridays. Typical Western Catholics mimic Protestants, but remain Catholic, because they are afraid, not because they believe. They want excuse to reject evangelicalism. “I’m a Catholic, you can’t get me.”

          • If you think Catholics believe in nothing, why do you imagine there is another kind of Christianity that believes sincerely? Why not just say, in thoroughly sceptical fashion, that all religious belief is delusional?

          • pobjoy

            Western Catholics today do not believe in nothing. Like almost everyone in the West, they are perfectly certain that they are not Christians, and that ‘evangelicals’ are Christians. If they have the intestinal fortitude, they join them.

          • Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists — I suppose they do not live up to your ideal of evangelical Xty either?

          • pobjoy

            How can a ‘denomination’ represent a self-respecting deity? There used to be many evangelicals in denominations, but they never made anything of that; denominations never had anything much to do with spiritual reality. Evangelicals would often meet, work, pray and evangelise together, often without even knowing of which denominations they were part. But the denoms became ‘demon nations’ with their liberalisms and heresies, so Christians have mostly left them.

          • I feel quite at ease with the Vatican teaching that the true Church of Christ subsists in the RCC and is present and operative in all Christian churches or ecclesial communities. The search for a purely evangelical church of the pure is a wraith. A church should be a big tent, since we are all sinners.

          • pobjoy

            I feel quite at ease with the Vatican teaching that the true Church of Christ subsists in the RCC and is present and operative in all Christian churches or ecclesial communities.


          • I would not rely on the Daily Mail for this! My quotes are from Lumen Gentium 25 and JP 2’s Encyclical Ut Unum Sint — which carry higher authority than the paranoid CDF document that caused huge offense in 2000. Christ does not abandon his disciples even if they lack the fullness of Catholic means of salvation, as John Paul II asserts in a warmer and more positive tone than the CDF could muster: Ut unum sint 11: “To the extent that these elements are found in other Christian Communities, the one Church of Christ is effectively present in them. For this reason the Second Vatican Council speaks of a certain, though imperfect communion. The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium stresses that the Catholic Church “recognizes that in many ways she is linked” with these Communities by a true union in the Holy Spirit.

            “12. The same Dogmatic Constitution listed at length “the elements of sanctification and truth” which in various ways are present and operative beyond the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: “For there are many who honour Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and of action, and who show a true religious zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by Baptism, through which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and receive other sacraments within their own Churches or Ecclesial Communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and cultivate devotion towards the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise, we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them also he gives his gifts and graces, and is thereby operative among them with his sanctifying power. Some indeed he has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd”.

            “The Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, referring to the Orthodox Churches, went so far as to declare that “through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”. Truth demands that all this be recognized.

            “13. The same Document carefully draws out the doctrinal implications of this situation. Speaking of the members of these Communities, it declares: “All those justified by faith through Baptism are incorporated into Christ. They therefore have a right to be honoured by the title of Christian, and are properly regarded as brothers and sisters in the Lord by the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church”.

            “With reference to the many positive elements present in the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Decree adds: “All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to him, belong by right to the one Church of Christ. The separated brethren also carry out many of the sacred actions of the Christian religion. Undoubtedly, in many ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community, these actions can truly engender a life of grace, and can be rightly described as capable of providing access to the community of salvation”.

            “These are extremely important texts for ecumenism. It is not that beyond the boundaries of the Catholic community there is an ecclesial vacuum. Many elements of great value (eximia), which in the Catholic Church are part of the fullness of the means of salvation and of the gifts of grace which make up the Church, are also found in the other Christian Communities.

            “14. All these elements bear within themselves a tendency towards unity, having their fullness in that unity. It is not a matter of adding together all the riches scattered throughout the various Christian Communities in order to arrive at a Church which God has in mind for the future. In accordance with the great Tradition, attested to by the Fathers of the East and of the West, the Catholic Church believes that in the Pentecost Event God has already manifested the Church in her eschatological reality, which he had prepared “from the time of Abel, the just one”. This reality is something already given. Consequently we are even now in the last times. The elements of this already-given Church exist, found in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other Communities,20 where certain features of the Christian mystery have at times been more effectively emphasized. Ecumenism is directed precisely to making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity.””

          • pobjoy

            I would not rely on the Daily Mail for this!

            You fell right in; I knew that would be your first comment. It was in every newspaper, Times, Telegraph and Guardian, on every UK TV network, and probably just about everywhere else except China and perhaps the environs of Alpha Centauri. But Catholics don’t need your space-taking quotes. They can read in their official catechism that Protestants are ‘brothers’ in Christ. And these words were ‘blessed’ by none other than Big Joe Ratzinger! He screwed things up, big time. So no Catholic knows what to believe, when the same ‘Vicar’ dude contradicts himself. No wonder they treat the RCC as a social club, and ignore whoever might be the current leader. Rather like Anglicanism! Poor Jorge. “Who am I to judge?” sums up his predicament wonderfully.

            The RCC is a cockamamie outfit designed by bad people, like Mormons and JWs, and, like those cults, the only things that keep it alive are ignorance and fear of real Christianity. It’s not a patient that can be revived by a breath of fresh air, because it has the smell of death about it.

          • Of course Protestants are our brothers in Christ — that is what Catholics believe — and Ratzinger never denied that. The Daily Mail reported the well-known story in its usual tabloid style (apparently misleading you), and on a sensitive issue such as Dominus Iesus that newspaper is about the most tendentious source you could have cited. Not for nothing does Salman Rushdie call it “The Daily Insult”.

            For the true spirit of ecumenism, in which Woytyla and Ratzinger and Martini and Bergoglio and Roncalli and Montini are one, see this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eny1-13hTE

          • pobjoy

            Protestants are our brothers in Christ

            Protestants don’t think so. They think that Western Catholics are typically further from the kingdom of God than muggers and prostitutes (though there are few evangelical meetings that don’t have an ex-Catholic or two). But some Catholics are reduced to oiling up to Christians, now that they have far more credibility than Catholics have, and now that they cannot burn them. But they would go back to burning saints, given half a chance, no doubt about that.

            The Daily Mail reported the well-known story in its usual tabloid style

            That’s a falsehood. The BBC reported it in the very same way, as did all the national papers. It’s just that the Mail seems to be the only source of it still available on the ‘net, which seems rather sinister.

            For the true spirit of ecumenism

            ‘We declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.’

          • The Guardian gets it right — Benedict does not deny that Protestant are Christians — he frets about the category of churchhood. Note the reaction of Rowan Williams. Yes, Benedict was a tragedy for the ecumenical movement. but fortunately Francis is healing the damage he did. When you say Catholics want to burn Protestants you are indulging a kind of hate speech and sowing irrational hatred against Catholics. the sort of thing the backward Fundamentalists you cite might get up to. There are many weirdos in every religion and in every society but you do not stereotype whole communities on that basis.

          • pobjoy

            The Guardian gets it right

            Indeed, it does. It reports that the Vatican says, in effect, that it does not regard Protestant denoms as churches. That means that they say that Protestants cannot be Christians— which cannot be taken seriously by anyone who can be taken seriously.

            fortunately Francis is healing the damage he did

            Francis? Who is he?

            The damage Ratzinger did in saying that Protestants are not Christians, which only made him look an ass (which may be part of the reason for his resignation), may be addressed by Bergoglio saying that claimants to Christianity are on ‘the same journey’— but only by dismantling the RCC, in terms of its rationale. He’s only repeating the mistake of Ratzinger, only in folksy, non-theological terms. If one traveller can do without Mass and Confession, so can another.

            So the medieval cult is in flip-flop condition. It inflicts self-damage, whatever it says.

          • Please read Dominus Iesus — it is a very tightly argued document, and certainly does not subscribe to this logic: “it does not regard Protestant denoms as churches. That means that they say that Protestants cannot be Christians”.

          • pobjoy

            So if a Protestant is a Christian, what’s a priest for?

          • There are agreed statements on ministry between the Christian churches. This is a pretty minor issue.

          • pobjoy

            There are agreed statements on ministry

            I’m sure there are. But a minister or elder (presbuteros) is not a priest (sacerdos).

            So if a Protestant is a Christian, what’s a sacerdos for?

          • The agreed statements stress that Catholic ordained ministers are “presbyters”, with the duty of preaching the word and celebrating the sacraments — not very different in that respect from Anglican, Lutheran or Calvinist ministers.

          • In the agreed statements Catholic speak of priests as presbyters and Protestants recognize a priestly dimension to ministy. Here is a discussion on the Lima document that I found on the US Catholic BIshops’s website:

            By locating the ordained ministry in the context of the Church as the people of God, “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” appropriately relates ordained ministry to the ministry of all Christians, while also clearly distinguishing the two. We appreciate its affirmation of the diverse and complementary gifts for ministry of all the baptized. At the same time, we recognize the importance of its assertion that the ordained ministry, tracing its origins to apostolic times, is a permanent and constitutive element of the life of the Church. In this regard, we also commend especially the recognition that “a ministry of episkope is necessary to express and safeguard the unity of the body.

            We find helpful the treatment of the historical development of the three-fold ministry, as well as the delineation of the functions of bishop, presbyter, and deacon, are adequately outlined and balanced.

            Apostolic succession is rightly interpreted as involving the total life of the Church. The view that ordained ministry is an integral part of the apostolic tradition is especially useful in advancing ecumenical discussion. Ordained ministry is thus understood as one of the expressions of the Church’s apostolicity. This understanding, in our judgment, is confirmed by the act of ordination within the believing community which signifies the bestowal of the gift of ministry through the laying on of hands of the bishop and the epiclesis of the Holy Spirit.

            We commend the treatment of the authority of the ordained ministry as an authority of service exercised through love. We affirm with the document that ordained ministry derives from Jesus Christ and is to be exercised in a manner that is personal, collegial, and communal. Thus interdependence and reciprocity between the faithful and their ordained ministers is rightly emphasized.

            We welcome the document’s invitation to all the churches to reexamine their understanding and practice of ordained ministry. Some churches are challenged by the possibility of recognizing the ministry of episkope in those churches which have not maintained the historical pattern of the three-fold ministry. Other churches are challenged by the possibility of recognizing the value of the historical pattern and incorporating it into their structure. These challenges may offer a fruitful way toward ecumenical agreement on the ordained ministry.

            Along with the areas of agreement indicated above, there is need for clarification on other matters treated in this section.

            “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” attempts to integrate two approaches to ministry: one – personal, the other – functional, by recognizing the charism of ministry as a gift of God in and for the Church. We appreciate this effort, but do not find it entirely successful. For example, the non-repeatability of ordination is mentioned only in passing in the context of conditions for ordination; its theological rationale is not adequately developed.

            In general, the document presents as possible, even laudable opinions, certain aspects of ordained ministry that we consider normative for the Church’s life and structure. These normative aspects include the three-fold ministry; the historical succession of office holders in the episcopal ministry; the exclusive conferral of ordination by those entrusted with the episkope of the community; and the presidency of the eucharist exclusively by an ordained minister.

            Although “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” recognizes, at least to a degree, the sacramental nature of the ordained ministry, it does not adequately develop this important aspect of ministry. This is particularly evident in its failure to relate more closely ordained ministry to the eucharist, as the central sacrament and expression of the Church’s reality. While we appreciate the description of ordained ministry as having a priestly character, we would require a treatment of the differences between the priesthood of all believers, the ministerial priesthood, and of their relation to the priesthood of Christ.

            In addition to the document’s emphasis on episkope as necessary ministry in the Church, we affirm that the episcopal office is a constitutive element of the structure of the Church. This office exercises primacy in teaching, leadership of worship, and government in the local church and has a responsibility for ordering the local church to the universal church. It follows that complete reconciliation of the churches will depend on the presence in those churches of this episcopal office.

            In its commendable attention to the communal context of ordained ministry, “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” only implies the prophetic dimension of ministry, that is to say, the God-given authority to challenge, confront, and correct the community. In this context the historical role of binding and loosing could well have been developed.

            Finally, we understand mutual recognition of ministries as part of a process of growth toward unity, marked by several steps. In our view, agreement on the understanding of ordained ministry and mutual recognition of ministries are important steps in this process but they are not of themselves sufficient for the restoration of full communion among the churches. Further doctrinal consensus is required. For example, because of traditional and theological reasons the question of ordination of women to the priesthood is of greater consequence and hence a greater obstacle to eucharistic sharing than the document suggests. A prerequisite for the restoration of eucharistic sharing is the satisfactory articulation of our apostolic faith.

          • pobjoy

            Protestants recognize a priestly dimension to ministy.

            That’s an impossibility. These people you like to imagine are Christians are actually deluded or vile persons. So they cannot be Protestants. If you consort with fools and liars, you will get only folly or lies, Joseph.

            The Catholic ‘Sacrament of Orders’ is defined as unique to the Vatican’s sole appointment and control. So anyone else who claims to ministry must make false claim. Yet, here is Joseph, oiling up to them!

            “Lemme in! I’m your brother!”

            In your dreams, Joseph. Read Hamlet.

          • Sorry, but the Vatican has entered an ecumenical age 60 years or so ago, and you are lunging at ghosts of a dead past.

          • pobjoy

            The Vatican realised that its credibility was shot to bits, in the West, 60 years ago. Ordinary people talked about “Christians, Hindus and Catholics”. They still do.

            For ecumenism, the Vatican must be utterly removed, and prohibited everywhere.

          • pobjoy
          • You want to stick Catholics in their bloody past? Today we honor Cranmer and beat our breasts over these crimes. Martin Luther is honored in Rome. Just as Britain and the US no longer boast about racist genocides in the past, “at heaven’s command”, so the churches are in constant apology and repentance mode. The ecumenical movement that you scoff at comes from a deep sense of the historical scandals to which you refer.

          • pobjoy

            You want to stick Catholics in their bloody past?

            Bloody past? Christians? You want Protestants to associate with criminals, you want the saints to call you their brothers? If you apply to become a member of a real church, Joseph, you will be questioned as to your attitude to crime. And any who even suggest that Catholicism is Christian won’t succeed. Christians won’t even eat with such people.

          • There are warm bonds of Christian friendship between the Christian churches today. None of those churches would subscribe to your attitude. So I don’t see what “real church” you are referring to — it is odd that you have never named it — does it exist only in your mind?

          • pobjoy

            There are warm bonds of Christian friendship between the Christian churches today.

            Christians left the denominations in the last century. If there is warmth, it’s the cosiness of having nobody left to brainwash.

          • If you practice a Christian life, worshipping with others, you are a denomination, like the “No-church” movement in Japan. And you will meet the same problems that all churches meet, beginning with the fractious communities we hear so much about in the letters of St Paul.

          • pobjoy

            If you practice a Christian life

            If you do that, you do not associate with any who have ‘a bloody past’.

            ‘But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.’

            NIV 2 Peter 2:1-3, ironically

          • Do you not know that such biblical quotes were used for bloody purposes in the past? “You do not associate with any who have a bloody past” — well, few churches and no nations have a blood-free past — perhaps we should become Quakers (well, they produced a Nixon) or Buddhists (except they have blotted their copybook in many places too). As soon as your new pure church grows it will encounter all the problems the old churches did, including the temptation of intolerance that the old churches are striving to overcome and that the new churches easily succumb to, unaware that they are reproducing a script from a bloody past.

          • pobjoy

            There is no denomination that has ever used its own authority to kill anyone at all; other than the Greek Orthodox, who were involved in a skirmish in the 11th century, iirc. Indeed the Orthodox describe any ‘pope’ as “as heretical as it is possible to be”. This is not for theological reasons, but for reasons of Catholic violence and rapine.

            So Peter had the Vatican cult ‘to a tee’. See, you’re in the Bible, after all!

          • Luther used his authority to urge massacre of the peasants and the Jews; Calvin ordered the execution of Michael Servetus; so I am not sure what your first sentence means.

          • pobjoy

            Luther used his authority to urge massacre of the peasants and the Jews

            Luther was not a denomination. He was not even a Protestant. He retained auricular confession.

            Calvin ordered the execution of Michael Servetus

            Cauvin was not a denomination. He was not even a Protestant. He retained infant baptism, and made conformist outward appearance essential instead of the individual guidance of the Spirit that he, who never converted from Catholicism, feared.

            Both men attempted to find a substitute for papism, whose demise they regretted. They failed, because evangelicalism arose instead of their substitutes.

            So the RCcult is alone, criminous,and worthy of more punishment, more public indignities, than its leaders, and supporters, can bear. But these events will take place.

          • Well I greatly admire Luther and Calvin and have learned a lot from them — so I can hold my nose at their crimes — I think that a too rigorous inspection of the past would make it impossible for us to enjoy any of the fruits of civilization. Here is Vatican II urging us to forget the past:

            Nostra Aetate #3: The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

            Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

          • pobjoy

            Well I greatly admire Luther and Calvin and have learned a lot from them

            So you’re all set up to massacre peasants and Jews, and to burn anyone who fails to agree with your ‘theology’? Or is it that you learned to be two-faced by their example? Because I can’t think of anything else that distinguishes them.

            The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems.

            I’ve heard of making a virtue out of necessity, but this is ridiculous. Having failed to find even one denom that has murdered even one person, you now turn to those experts in massacre, the following of Muhammad, that established its hegemony by the means of one battle every other year for 160 years. On average, that is. And of course they had the same attitude to Jews and Christians as your gang.

            Theodosius did not have to massacre so many, did he. He took advantage of the legions of Rome trampling down Europe, Africa and the ME for centuries before him. So the record of the Vatican seems less bloody when compared to Islam. So I see why you turned to the Moslems. Cunning, eh.

            We of course do not ever forget that Wojtyla kissed a Qur’an. As well he might, because it teaches justification by works, disagreeing only on the choice of works!

          • I agree that the RCC is more guilty of religious violence than Islam. But my attitude is that we are all tainted by evil and that even the greatest artists and philosophers and theologians are tainted. So discernment is always in order. We can learn from Aquinas without subscribing to his ideas on the punishment of heretics, from Luther’s powerful writings without swallowing all his grossnesses, from Calvin despite his migraine-inducing depressive character, from Heidegger despite his Nazism, from Wagner despite his antisemitism, from Claudel despite his homophobia, from Gesualdo despite him murdering his wife. If you want a world of lily-white purity, where all have immaculate records, well you are not on the right planet, and perhaps you will not find it on any planet.

          • pobjoy

            I agree that the RCC is more guilty of religious violence than Islam.

            Spot the deliberate error.

            we are all tainted by evil

            Does that include Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude and Jesus?

          • obviously in the case of the 5 apostles — they say it themselves! “Depart from me for I am a sinful man” (Peter), Romans 7, “If anyone says he is without sin the truth is not in him” (John). As to Jesus, Catholic theology is obliged to see him as sinless because of the hypostatic union, but he carried tainted human nature — the Spirit “drove him out” into the desert to be purified — the same verb is used of driving out demons.

          • pobjoy


            we are all tainted by evil

            Does that include the ideas of Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude and Jesus?

          • ideas are always embedded within contingent historical contexts — this can be admitted even of the ideas of Jesus without any prejudice to his divine status or to the ultimate truth that his ideas point to — his cosmology would have been that of his time, his central ideas — the double commandment and the announcement of the Kingdom are not original but drawn from previous Jewish tradition — less ideas than saving action is his forte

          • pobjoy

            Ok. Now answer the question.

          • Could you remind me which question you refer to?

          • pobjoy

            we are all tainted by evil

            Does that include the ideas of Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude and Jesus?

          • Yes, in that none of them fully grasped and denounced the evil of slavery — Jesus in his humanity had human limitations.

          • pobjoy

            Ignorance is not evil.

            we are all tainted by evil

            Does that include the ideas of Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude and Jesus?

          • You asked if their ideas were tainted by evil, and I would say yes, because we now understand these ideas as evil, though they did not. Paul’s idea that lesbian sexual orientation is a punishment for idolatry is not only a piece of ignorance but also an idea that is evil in itself; so we need an adult biblical hermeneutics that can take such offences in its stride.

          • pobjoy

            So if the Bible is tainted by evil, why is Catholic theology ‘obliged’ in any way, by anything at all?

          • My theory is that all religions are fragile conventional vehicles that have served to transmit an encounter with the divine. The “binding” power of religions lies only in that encounter, to be discerned and enacted with all the capacities of faith and imagination it calls forth.

          • pobjoy

            My theory is that all religions are fragile conventional vehicles

            Of course it is, now. Papism was set up by people whose empire was set up for just one reason, and it was not philanthropy. By the time Jesus came, they were used to getting bodily comforts with the minimum effort or inconvenience on their part. They made slaves of free people, they stole the fruits of the labour of many more, they put their pudenda wherever they fancied, whenever they fancied. Jesus made that sort of behaviour look very shameful, and the brutish people tried to get rid of Christians.

            But they were warned that “the blood of the martyrs is seed”; and so it turned out. The solution was to pull down all of the temples to their deities, because, yes, in the face of faith in ‘the Galilean’, everything else really did look like ‘fragile conventional vehicles’. Though nothing changed, in practice. The same old pagan priest-led rituals went on. Only the paintwork and the name over the door was changed. The Pontifex was still firmly in control.

            Now, after our exchange, you have realised that papism is fragile, and cannot withstand scrutiny, much more than those old religions could. It is entirely bankrupt, intellectually. Which is a very reasonable conclusion, because papism could be operated only with the support of legions, and straight roads to get them to dissenters rapidly.

            Having shown the RCcult to be bankrupt, intellectually, you now want it believed that the true faith of the Galilean is ‘fragile’, too, because, like those carnal Romans, that is all you actually care about. That response was predictable.

            Yes, they say, “Scratch an atheist, find a Catholic.” But it works the other way round, also!

          • The other side of my theory is that religious conventions have a functional validity — I draw on Buddhist theory here. In my lingo, to say that Greco-Roman religion is a fragile conventional vehicle is a compliment, and in fact could be used in a critique of the Theodosian suppression. The true faith in the God of Israel is what sustains Scripture despite its manifest human fragility, tainted with evil as all human things are. Just as you have cordoned off the faith of Jesus from contact with the human contamination of history, so you must cordon it off from the historical texture of Scripture itself. But I think the idea of Incarnation points us in the opposite direction. (Buddhism regards itself as a fragile conventional vehicle — which, paradoxically, is its strength.)

          • pobjoy

            Oh, it would be a compliment. Go, Joe, make your disastrous self-contradiction into a victory. Fat slob Americans will adore you.

          • Where is the contradiction? It would be nice if you would spell out your position clearly.

          • pobjoy

            Why would it be nice?

          • pobjoy

            In what way was the elevation irregular?

            The norm at the time was to make cardinals of particularly effective bishops. A cardinal deacon or cardinal helper is a bit absurd, even for the RCC. And Newman knew it.

            Newman was despised by the majority of Anglicans, of any churchmanship, well into the 20th century, and not because of homosexuality.

          • JHN wrote very nastily of Anglicans so it is not surprising that they disliked him. I don’t have any recollection of JHN feeling he had got a second-rate cardinalate. The “norm” you refer to is not a legal matter but a statistical one — many bishops became cardinals — but it was not a norm that cardinals should be made bishops (though this is now not only the norm but obligatory).

          • pobjoy

            JHN wrote very nastily of Anglicans

            A good reason to throw him out of any church, then. As I told you, Manning did not like him, and would never have made him a ‘cardinal’; but then Manning did not have to consider the ‘persuasions’ of wealthy Catholics who went over his head.

            The RCC is in a state of slow panic, because it made all sorts of rules, to try to make pagans look like Christians; but then that was when it had soldiers to make people obey them. Now that it cannot, it has to cope with millions of people whose characters are completely unregenerate, with little self-discipline. They can see no reason why they should be any different from the non-religious, because that is what they are, no different.

            We know that; the inappropriate Bible quote about the coming of the Holy Spirit shows that we do. So we know that it is very far from the truth to say that the cult is ‘showing its vitality anew’. It never had any.

          • Newman, in Difficulties of Anglcans, sometimes sounded like you on the difficulties of Catholics. It’s easy to satirize any reiigious community. “The Spirit will lead you into all truth” is a promise of indefectibility and growth to the disciples of Christ. You make an issue of “the Spirit was not yet given”, but in the Johannine narrative it is given two days later, so this is a captious objection.

          • pobjoy

            a promise of indefectibility

            … which the disciples received, because they loved the truth. That must have been a disappointment for those who recognised the truth, but hated the truth. The Spirit would ‘convict the world about sin and righteousness and judgment’; and that occurred, fully and completely, because the disciples were beaten, and thrown out of the synagogues, despite having full title as Jews. The imperial ‘church’ took over that role of persecution.

            in the Johannine narrative it is given two days later

            … soon, because the recipients loved the truth. It’s never given to those who hate the truth, however long they wait.

          • your argument is that the RCC is not the true church of Christ — that is much too wide a topic for this thread

          • pobjoy

            It’s your own argument that demonstrates that the RCC is not the true church of Christ.

            Let’s suppose that you are arrested for robbing a bank in Marseille. The police provide air tickets, passport evidence, and gold bars in your safe. There’s not a shadow of doubt that you were in Marseille, they say. But you point out, trying not to smirk, that you flew to Marseille two days after the bank robbery. You have have a dozen cast iron witnesses that you were watching Arsenal lose to West Brom when the robbery occurred. And the gold bars are a birthday present from your favourite aunt in Calgary. “Phone her up, sergeant.” The police find their spectacles, check, and apologise profusely.

            And that’s why, mutatis mutandis, the RCC is not the true church of Christ. It’s a result.

          • I read this twice and completely fail to grasp your argument.

          • pobjoy

            I read this twice and completely failed to grasp your argument.

            Not to worry. Everyone else does.

            Though you do need to be told everything at least twice, anyway, don’t you.

            “we are all on the same journey together

            The same? Then there’s no need of Catholic priests. Well done, Jorge!

            Anglican evangelicals

            Huh. About twenty-five years ago, Anglicans in traditional evangelical parishes noted that their new clerics encouraged devotion to Mary, auricular confession, and the like. So they moved out.

          • “everybody else does” — really?

            All Christians are on the same journey, that of the Kingdom. Why should the “need of Catholic priests” be such a big deal in this context?

          • pobjoy

            All Christians are on the same journey

            And the RCcult has always tried to stop them. It would be a breath of fresh air if it would stop doing so.

            Why should the “need of Catholic priests” be such a big deal in this context?

            If there is no need for RC priests, and Jorge implied that that is the case, there is no need for the dogmas of transubstantiation, auricular confession, penance and unction, for celibacy and the attendant problems of child abuse. If one ‘brother’ can do without them, so can any other. Ordinary Catholics knew that before Jorge gave his confirmatory dictum. So, if he will follow his own logic, one action of his will cover a multitude of sins; in the words of Peter.

          • pobjoy

            Newman was never made a full cardinal, an amazing fact if he did indeed formulate a fundamental doctrine. But it’s very easy to understand his popularity after democracy, education and science had weakened the RCC so much that it was forced to abandon its lofty superority and change its ‘immutable’ teachings.

  • Evangelii Gaudium is far clearer than Benedict’s murky and remote Encyclicals, and so is Laudato Si’. I guess a lot of people don’t want to believe that Francis is really saying what has says in those documents (if they have even read them, which is doubtful — they are LONG, and we live in an age of soundbites).

  • I am wondering how Damian feels when he is joined by people who are ready to trash not only Francis but also John XXIII, Vatican II, and Cardinal Newman. But does he care at all? And as a leading figure in the Catholic Herald, should he not have some scruples about this?

  • This really is shocking stuff, a wilful blindness to the “miracle of unity” (the late Bp Tony Palmer) that Francis is enacting between the christian churches, to the way his return to evangelical virtues is saving the RCC and making it a force for good in our world ravaged by capitalism and environmental irresponsibilty, and above all to his perfect pastoral touch that brings the miracle of mercy — not of icy dogmatism — to suffering people.

  • “he reminds us that he is a living successor to St Peter. Quite what authority that bestows on him is a mystery.” There is no mystery. The authority of the papacy refers to the office, not the person. The popes/antipopes who resigned in the 15th century and Celestine V earlier lost all papal authority as soon as they ceased to be pope. The title “pope emeritus” is very dangerous in its suggestion that there could be two popes at the same time — something the church has never accepted. Ratzinger should have gone unambiguously back to being just a cardinal and should have changed his clothes back to clerical black. You might as well say that Edward VIII remained King of England after his abdication, still endowed with the mysterious prerogatives of monarchy.

    • pobjoy

      The authority of the papacy refers to the office, not the person.

      If Simon Barjona, not Jesus, was ‘the Rock’, there is no reason to suppose that this was for other than his personal qualities, that were ‘not transferable’.

      • but that text may not really refer to the papacy at all. However the papacy emerged, it remains the fact that it is an office, and like all offices can be relinquished. It is in the first case the office of Bishop of Rome (which enjoyed prestige not only because of its political prestige but as the site of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul). When a Bishop resigns his successor takes over all the authority of the role. An ex-bishop has some sacramental status, but an ex-pope has no status other than what he brought with him to the office (that is, the status of bishop and of cardinal — though a layman could in theory be elected pope and made bishop as part of that). If Ratzinger were still Pope, he would still be Bishop of Rome, which is an absurdity. We do not say that the ex-bishop of a diocese is still bishop of the diocese. It’s nice to have on your cv, that’s all. If Archbishops Carey and Williams went around claiming to be Archbishop of Canterbury or if the two Bushes and Carter and Clinton went around claiming to be President of the USA, they would be locked in a madhouse.

        • pobjoy

          that text may not really refer to the papacy at all

          So which text does refer to ‘the papacy’? Or is it a case of

          “I know he is a great and good man. He told me so himself.”

          Reader, if there is still one left, every claimant to papacy has said that Matthew 16:18 is the basis for papacy. Consult the RCC’s Catechism for solid proof. This ‘Joseph’ poster is too flakey for serious comment.

          • Biblical scholars have way of undercutting ecclesial simplifications. You can study countless “Introductions to the New Testament” and commentaries on Matthew and John (in which the allegedly papal texts occur) without finding any occurrence of the words “pope” or “papacy”. Even the threefold ministry emerges clearly only in the post-NT period. It, and the papacy, are seen as a matter of “divine positive law”, their antecedents in Scripture remaining vague. This is not flakey but what theologians and scriptural scholars say all the time.

          • pobjoy

            Biblical scholars have a way of undercutting ecclesial simplifications

            The ones who are indolent, arrogant and sexual perverts do.

          • so you think Raymond Brown (and pretty much all Protestant exegetes of course) are sexual perverts? I think this is the first time anyone has tossed out this lurid accusation. For a critic of the Catholic Church you seem wedded to the most ultraconservative Catholic views.

          • pobjoy

            So is sexual perversion now acceptable in the One, Holy, Apostolic Church? I didn’t realise. But I suppose it must be, because Jorge “Who am I to judge? Bergoglio is only a puppet worked by Western middle class hypocrites.

          • So you concede then that the vast majority of exegetes today find no reference to the papacy in Scripture? Or do you want to go into sexual issues instead? Are you bored with the theme we have been discussing? I think you could invent a wonderful new theory: the entire history of critical exegesis since 1800 is a massive rationalisation of the sex perversions of its protagonists!

          • pobjoy

            So you concede then that the vast majority of exegetes today find no reference to the papacy in Scripture?

            It’s you who is forced to concede that, artful dodger, because you know that you are ‘whupped’, as you Americans say, when it comes to Bible exegesis. Nobody ever found reference to papacy in Scripture, because it was an invention of the Romans, dating back to the time of their first kings, who probably got the notion from Etruscans, who were as brutish a people as ever drew breath.

            Now you are absolutely correct in saying that the Roman ‘pope’ known as Pontifex Maximus, was an office, not a personal role. Its purpose was brainwashing the plebeians, or peasants, if you like. This was an important means of keeping fat slob patricians fed. Julius Caesar, who massacred many thousands, held this very office. And laughing boy Jorge is his successor. But then you would probably approve of that, eh.

          • I can refer you to the eminent Raymond Brown, admired by Ratzinger and trusted by the Vatican. Here is a reference to him at a Greek Orthodox site: ” the ecumenical findings of biblical scholars that “the papacy in its developed form cannot be read back into the New Testament”, Brown, Peter in the New Testament, p.8. It is therefore anachronistic to apply terms such as “pope” or “primacy” to the place, which Peter held within the New Testament. From an historical perspective, there is no conclusive documentary evidence from the first century or the early decades of the second of the exercise of, or even the claim to, a primacy of the Roman bishop or to a connection with Peter, although documents from this period accord the church at Rome some kind of pre‑eminence. However, by the time of Pope Leo I (440‑61), the bishops of Rome “have developed a self‑image which represents them as the heirs and successors and, in a sense, the continuing embodiment of Peter”, but “this view is tolerated in the Christian East when it is in the interest of the East to do so, otherwise it tends to be rejected in practice”.

          • pobjoy

            So the Vatican, having been totally ‘vanquished’ in its biblical claims, is now the most perfect example of circular argument.

            Time to wind it up.

  • Three quarrels going on here: one with a climate change denier, who thinks Francis is ignorant and simplistic; one from a radical despiser of Catholicism who thinks the whole effort of Catholicism to restyle itself since Vatican II is a farce; and one from an islamophobe who adores Catholic orthodoxy and ignores Vatican II’s call for respect for Islam. This is a fair sampling of the malcontents who wish Pope Francis would just go away. But happily his voice has won a very wide response within the church and outside it, and thanks to him a more sane and loving church is coming to rebirth.

  • Raphael Mokaya

    Love live Pope Emeritus Benedict!!! we love and cherish in you

  • Bendys

    behold! the ancient enemy of mankind and a murderer from the
    beginning has been fiercely aroused. Changing himself into an angel of
    light, he goes about with the whole multitude of the wicked spirits
    to invade the earth and blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to
    plunder, to slay, and to consign to eternal damnation the souls that
    have been destined for a crown of everlasting life. This wicked
    serpent, like an unclean torrent, pours into men of depraved minds and
    corrupt hearts the poison of his malice, the spirit of lying, impiety
    and blasphemy, and the deadly breath of impurity and every form of
    vice and iniquity.”

    Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel – ordered by Pope Leo XIII to be read after any Traditional Low Mass. Forbidden by Vatican II.

  • Kathy Richardson

    As a lapsed Catholic I have no dog in this fight. But I would like someone to explain why Benedict is allowed to speak out on church matters? And why did he resign in the first place? If he is really not well then stay home, retired, out of the public eye and leave Francis to do his job. I seem to remember being taught in parochial school some 60 yrs ago about a great schism and the problems it caused; is the church headed for that again?

  • JonJenn

    What a pope! Can’t believe that after all those years of John Paul and Benedict, we have so many heretics crawling out of the woodwork.