Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Catholic Divorce

It's been several years since I published anything substantive on the blog (insofar as I ever did), and it's been over two years since I've published anything at all.  But the other day someone asked me about the old Cave, and I thought I might see if I could remember the password to unlock it.

Alas, I could not remember it--it had something to do with....hmmm....I forget.  But I did managed to reset the password thanks to upgrades by Google.  And here I am.

I know that no one is reading, but I do find it useful to write from time to time, even to an imaginary audience, just to get a thought processed and out of my mind.  And so, this has been on my mind due to local circumstances.

In order to validly marry, in ordinary circumstances, a Catholic but have vows witnessed by a priest who's been granted faculties by the local ordinary, the bishop.  

No ordinary faculties, no marriage?  Or so they say?  That's the biggest issue I hear with those challenging marriages witnessed by independent or other non-canonically-deputized, non-chancery-stamped priests in reliance on ecclesia supplet in the current crisis of the Church? 

 But let's look at the other side.  Can you say the converse:  "ordinary faculties=valid marriage?"

Of course not.

One must ask if priests who do have regular faculties are capable of witnessing a valid marriage in any case.  What are the odds that YOUR marriage will be upheld if put before a tribunal?

Let's see the annulment scores for Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, for a period even before Papa Jorge "improved" the annulment process:

  • For 2011: 198 marriages annulled, 4 upheld: a 2% validity rate.
  • For 2012: 193 marriages annulled, 3 upheld, a 2% validity rate. 
  • For 2013: 225 marriages annulled, 7 upheld, a 3% validity rate.
  • For 2014: 186 marriages annulled, 0 upheld, a 0% validity rate.
Yet, old Archbishop Joe and his Kansas tribunal have found more valid marriages than Bishops Finn and Johnston in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on the Missouri side:

  • For 2011: 107 marriages annulled, 0 upheld: a 0% validity rate.
  • For 2012: 68 marriages annulled, 0 upheld: a 0% validity rate.
  • For 2013: 77 marriages annulled, 0 upheld, a 0% validity rate.
  • For 2014: 72 marriages annulled, 0 upheld, a 0% validity rate.
Kudos to  http://marysadvocates.org/ for making at least some of the data available.  It would be nice to have more recent stats (after implementation of the Bergoglian..cough...reforms).  But if publication of those stats isn't now discontinued, they are only available by feeding the beast...i.e., by putting money into the hands of the Canon Law Society of America for a copy of their proceedings.

So yes, I'm aware that some of those annulments in the two Kansas City dioceses are probably for marriages contracted in other dioceses, but really, the vast majority must be local. I'm also aware that "happy" marriages don't come before the tribunal, so the odds may perhaps be somewhat in favor of a finding of nullity.  It's not an unfiltered sample.  And finally, if someone with an obvious "loser" case comes up against an honest priest, they'll probably be told "don't bother filing...either honestly embrace celibacy or honestly embrace sin."

Did I just say "Perhaps somewhat it favor of a finding of nullity?"  Perhaps it wouldn't surprise me if 50%, or 60%, or...heck...even 70% of annulment cases were justified.  Alas, that's the case in some dioceses...let's see...Mobile AL, Nashville TN, Phoenix AZ, Paterson NJ.

But 100% annulments, or darned near it, YEAR after YEAR?  If that ain't a sham, I don't know what is.  How on earth can someone in good conscience feel free to marry based on the finding of such kangaroo courts?  

Well, I guess, conscience is the key for those participating in the scam.  Such is our age of malformed conscience.

But those who do engage in the sham....they've chosen to.  What about the rest of us?
  1. Given that annulments are about as hard to get as chigger bites on a Kansas summer evening, how does someone of genuine faith and a well-formed conscience--someone who DOES have a legitimate basis for an annulment--proceed through the kangaroo courts and look to their judgment with moral certainty?  The illegitimate use of the tribunal sullies the legitimate use as well.  I'm guilty of this myself--when I hear someone is "re"married after an annulment, my presumption is one of doubt.  Not [always] doubt of the individual's good faith, but doubt about the process.  I know that's not fair to the individual.  But it can't be helped.
  2. How does someone of genuine faith and a well-formed conscience who thinks he IS validly married know that is in fact the case?  It seems that even before Papa Jorge's relaxation of the supposedly difficult (cough) process, getting an annulment was an annoyance but a fait accompli around here.  Doesn't the record cast a shadow of moral doubt over all our marriages? Are we all living in sin?
Just reflecting and wondering.  And I'm well aware of the logical gaps in this thinking, which is why I pose these as questions rather than answers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"Today, Lutherans and Catholics have come to acknowledge that more unites than divides us." [Cough]

So the Curmudgeon is back?  Well, yes, for the moment.

I can't bring myself to close the blog down completely, because so many people from old KC Catholic grade schools use it as a defacto place to connect and reminisce (I guess they don't have FaceBook?)

But we've lost the Culture War.  We've lost the battle to regain the structures of the Church for the forseeable future.  So there seems little point in raising hell about everything in Western society or in the larger Church.

However, there's occasionally something more local that's worth noting, and worth raising our vocies on.  The Holy Father doesn't have to deal with you and me (or even that fellow who appears to be Pope, but we can't be 100% sure, given just the publicly-known violations of Universi Dominici Gregis surrounding his ascension).  But hey, what about closer to home?   Abp Joe Naumann in Kansas and the new forgettable Bergolian appointee who appears to have replaced Bishop Finn (but we can't be 100% sure of) in Missouri--these fellows can't stop their ears completely.

And here's a chance to be heard!  Franciscan Heresy is coming to Kansas City on Friday night.  There's a Lutheran/Catholic Celebration of the Reformation.  Abp. Joe and Bp. whats-his-name (the Sacristy card says Jacobus--that's all I remember) are going to cuddle up with some ELCA "bishop" and talk about what unites us rather than divides us.  

It's not bad enough that they're Lutherans, who are going to be affirmed in the Augustinian monk-turned-heresiarch's pernicious errors regarding Justification, Scripture, and the Sacraments.  These are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.  Now if we were going to "dialogue" with Missouri Synod or Wisconsin Synod Lutherans, that might be something.  Even though they're in damnable error, we can be reasonably certain that they're Christians of a sort.   The ECLA is the home of the left-wing, new age goofballs who change scripture, celebrate sodomy, and make regular donations to National Public Radio.  They're the subsect that you join when you want to be a modern-day habitless nun, or a prancing Jesuit, but your old German grandfather will write you out of your will if you cease to be Lutheran.  They're not serious people.

But then again, who better to "dialogue" with if you're a spineless, faithless post-Vatican II bishop, huh?

So I encourage everyone to show up and do some sidewalk counselling.  Maybe you'll instantly shake just one person out of his syncretic complacency.  Maybe you won't...you'll just piss someone off.  But hey, that's planting a seed that might grow.  And it's fun to piss off the right sort of person now and then, isn't it?

  Does anyone have a 2-page to 8-page tract explaining why the so-called "Reformation" shouldn't be celebrated?  It would be great to hand it out to people as they came down the sidewalk.   If so, email me, and I'll pay to print a few hundred copies if it's well done.  

Oh, and as for me, I'd be there, but I just found out about this, and it's archery whitetail season in Kansas, and I've already made a solemn promise to take the eldest of the little Curmudgeons out.  I'm not going to let Abp. Naumann's evil mess up my family commitments.  The eldest Curmudgeon will be a factor in my life for a lot longer than the Archbishop (or at least I hope so), so I must keep faith with her.

If you can't go, but you want to call and ask some hard questions of the organizers, here are your (Catholic) contacts:

Fr. Joseph Arsenault  (Ecumenical Officer-KC Kansas archdiocese)

Fr. Paul Turner (Ecumenical Officer-KC Missouri diocese)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Look what I found!

A year or two ago, when the Boy Scouts of America made its first capitulation with regards to sodomy in the ranks, I thought it was time to get rid of my little trinkets. But I was too busy to dig through my boyhood boxes for them at the time. However, the most recent capitulation for sodomy in leadership happened to coincide with a thorough cleaning of our storeroom, and I came across it timely:

Because I see no reason to wait until the BSA's final capitulation (that's the one where "morally straight" is taken out of the oath because it is homophobic, and all troops are required to accept sodomites), I packed it up today, with this letter:

July 17, 2015

Wayne Brock
Chief Scout Executive
Boy Scouts of America
PO Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015

Mr. Brock,
Please find enclosed the Eagle Scout medal and certificate that I earned in 1984.  I am also returning my Ad Altare Dei emblem, because it would seem rather a farce to keep a religious medal earned in the BSA at this point.

I have been concerned for some time as the BSA has drifted along the wave of political correctness and replaced its traditional values with modern ones, just as the Girl Scouts had done in the 1980s and 1990s.  A couple of years ago, I declined to enroll my own boys in a local troop, because I was uncomfortable with the alterations in the BSA’s orientation since my own boyhood, and I feared that BSA was about to go through more disturbing changes.  Sadly, the organization’s two recent capitulations regarding homosexuals have validated those concerns.  

Your organization has fallen into the hands of cowardly or corrupt men (or men who are both).  I no longer wish to be associated with it, nor do I have any use for its trinkets.   If you keep a central registry of Eagle Scouts, do my strike name from it (earned in Troop 88, Llano Estacado Council, Amarillo, Texas, June 20, 1984, #562).  If I’m still on the rolls of the National Eagle Scout Association, do strike my name from that list as well.  They say “once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout.”  It will not be so in my case.

I feel fairly certain that Lord Baden-Powell, despite his own Victorian tendency towards the political correctness of his day, would condemn the BSA more strongly than I do.



cc:        Scoutmaster, Troop 88
c/o Knights of Columbus Council #4621

Thursday, May 07, 2015

God bless Father Lockwood!

May God bless Father Lockwood for speaking out, and may God have mercy on Archbishop Naumann, who (as he has done with a few of his own good priests in the Kansas diocese) failed to back him up, and failed to even keep silent.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bishop Finn: He missed his chance to be the next Becket

You have to look pretty hard to find a Catholic that supports Bishop Finn. Why? Because powerful people in Kansas City have manipulated the media to paint a good man into a demon. The narrative they constructed has been loud and constant, and these powerful people even managed to get a court to go along with them. Great tactics. Worthy of Lenin, Goebbels, Alinsky or the other master propagandists of the 20th century. But while volume, repetition, and a show trial may sway the uninformed, they do not make something false into something true.
For the uninformed (and there are many of them out there who might find this post) Bishop Finn was an activist against pornography, personally devout, and committed to cleaning up the terrible mess Boland and his predecessors left here. He appointed faithful Catholics to key positions...not dissidents who subscribe to the National Catholic Reporter. He recruited and ordained a couple dozen priests who are more likely than the last generation to teach what the Church has always taught (with dozens more in the seminary pipeline) . And in the case of Ratigan (BTW, ordained by Boland, a Bishop fondly remembered by those who orchestrated this shambles), Finn acted prudently: removed him from parish work immediately, did a legal check to to see if it was an obligatory reporting situation (which he was told it wasn't), and restricted his activities. Then the diocese investigated further when Ratigan caused more trouble (he broke his restrictions..he didn't actually do anything that resulted in a third party complaint to the diocese). Then something reportable turned up, and guess what happened? FINN HAD HIM REPORTED.
But of course the truth doesn't matter to those who are serving the Father of Lies.
Alas, Finn was politically naive and he was (unwisely) hesitant to fight back. It is lamentable that he agreed to plead guilty personally, thinking he would protect the Church and diffuse the situation. Of course it made it worse, and no doubt, he gave up the right to defend himself and speak the truth as part of his plea agreement.  Now all you hear it "convicted, convicted, convicted" in the media. No MSM mention of the real facts, much less the plea bargain and the reasons for it. It's absolute calumny. His REAL mistakes were not treating his enemies, and the enemies of the Church, as what they were, and not boldly calling all Catholics to aggressively fight back against the persecution that is underway against the Church.   Bishop Finn should have reread the life of St. Thomas a Becket as this all started.  Then maybe he would have been inspired to stand firm and face his henchmen instead of compromising.  As it happened, the Kansas City chancery will never become a place of pilgrimage like Canterbury was.
Well the lefties have the upper hand now, but they're graying and they're sterile. They have no succession plan. On the other hand, Finn left a legacy that just may eventually overcome them...probably 40 or 50 young, orthodox priests who (more likely than not) teach what the Church has always taught (or most of it) instead of some warmed over self-indulgent pseudo-theology from the 1960s.. And he invigorated and inspired the faithful Catholic laymen in their enclaves in this diocese. The clock is ticking and the enemies of the Church (as well as those unfortunate folks in the cultural proletariat who took the progressive bait) are going to die off with no one to replace them (they contracept, and the few kids they do have won't make any pretense of being Catholic). Meanwhile, the faithful Catholics who supported Finn are steadfast, and their many, many children being raised in the Church and will be steadfast, too. Eventually demographics just may give those faithful Catholics the inevitable victory (unless our Lord gets fed up with us all and sends an asteroid our way (Rev 8:10).
All that I didn't even get in a jab about "humble" Francis, the Pope of "Mercy" who appoints a real creep as a Bishop in Chile even as he blows things up in Kansas City.  You can bet things would have turned out very differently if Cupich were in Finns position, eh?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

People pay money for this...

I was directed to cutting edge Catholic apologetics from the New St. Thomas Institute, on the topic of....

Chaldean genocide?
Islamization of Europe?
Communion for those in irregular unions?
Blessing gay unions?
Persecution of orthodox prelates and religious orders?
The sanctification of Marxism in liberation theology?
Dogs going to heaven?  Wasps and Piranhas, too?

It's The best 5 Christmas movies of all time, including Will Farrell's best performance ever, in Elf.

Really!  And if what he claims in subscribers is true, Mr. Mottram here makes a pretty nice living at this stuff.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Today is St. Nicholas's feastday.  The little Curmudgeons woke up to candy in their shoes.

Really, is there a better way to celebrate the feast of the great churchman who punched (or at least slapped) the heretic Arias?

We need another St. Nicholas these days...and not because there's a shortage of candy.

PS, no, the Curmudgeon isn't dead or apostate.  He's just been a little busy these last few years.  He misses the blog and hopes to come back some day.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kansas Secession Post (Moving to a new home)

Well, I decided to start a separate blog on the Kansas Secession topic.  It just seemed too much of a stretch to try to move this blog into that topic, as moribund as it is.

Visit my secession blog, Kansas Secession.

But don't bother to visit it often.  I'll probably neglect it as much as I'm neglecting this blog.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

LCWR.....yes, I'm piling on.....

Everyone who hasn't already should pay a visit to the website do the Leadership Conference of Women Religious,. I know, I know....if your'e reading this, then you're already aware of the problem. You needn't do anything more than two things. The first is to idle your mouse for about 30 seconds and watch the full roll of banner photos. The photos tell the story ...believe me. The second is to hit the "search button in the upper right-hand corner and type in "Christ." In over ten years of archived material...newsletters, position papers, and all....you'll find less than two dozen usages of the term.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Chronicles Magazine

Tom Fleming and his little mag are a delight, assuring me there's some wit left in the Catholic remnant. A pleasant change from the Remnant Newspaper, which is incapable of humor. In this month's Perspective column:

"Here in the United States, so-called liberals are really no revolutionary Marxists, while the people who call themselves conservatives are, at one extreme, libertarian capitalistsWho reject any principle or experience that cannot be sold at a profit or, at the other, monomaniacs engaged in a desperate search for a leader to tell them which cliff to jump off of."

Subscribe here: www.ChroniclesMagazine.org

Monday, February 20, 2012

St. Richard Santorum voting to fund contraception?

Still haven't found time for a real follow up, but here's a nugget from the new the new Messiah....the next Jack Kennedy...Arlen Specter's best political friend, talking about his support for contraception funding with Greta Van Someone-or-other....



I mean, the bottom line is my position is very clear. I've had a -- a consistent record on this of supporting women's right to have contraception. I've supported funding for it.

So -- I mean, this is a -- this is a -- in my opinion, this is an attack on someone's religious beliefs because I have a very strong belief, as does my family, in agreement with the Catholic church, somehow or another, that that's -- that's a -- that's something that people should be afraid of, shouldn't be afraid of it.

If you look at my record in the public, I've been clear about -- about that issue. I've had a consistent and long voting record on it. And I think this is the media trying to play -- you know, trying to play gotcha. It's -- it's absurd.

Yep he's just like us!

Read more (including the part where he seems to be ok with funding Planned Parenthood) at: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/on-the-record/2012/02/17/santorum-defends-moral-versus-political-stance-contraception-while-caught-crossfire-super?page=1#ixzz1mvtaefsZ

BTW, President Paul would get the Feds out of the healthcare business. My guess is that his federal budget would not fund Planned Parenthood.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Until I have time to answer...

Travelled this week, so I'm catching up with the family, catching up with the office, and cleaning up the Curmudgeon estate for a get-together we're hosting tonight tonight. So no time yet to boil down a concise answer to the comments from Simpleton and Kookybura. Until there is, I'll leave you with a little snippet from Robert Bolt in A Man for All Seasons which will serve as the epigraph of the response when it finally comes....

Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Santorum or Paul ?

I (and dozens of other folks) received a political endorsement from a very nice, well-meaning woman from my traditional Mass group this week. She was excited that Rick Santorum was talking publicly about the problem of birth control, and she asked us all to support someone who “shared our values.” Her Santorum plea intrigued me—I haven’t seen a faithful Catholic run for highest office, except for Buchannan, who was in a way “before my time”—but I’m still not in Santorum’s camp, to say the least. The Ron Paul sticker is still on my car.

Anyways, I spent a couple of hours crafting a response to her endorsement. I haven’t “stretched my polemical legs” in quite a while, so I’m grateful she gave me the opportunity and the inspiration. Since I was moderately satisfied with how my response turned out, I’m converting it to a blog post. Here goes:

Santorum's personal rejection of contraception is admirable, of course, and it's somewhat in contradiction to...say...Ron Paul, who--as an obstetrician in the 70s and 80s--presumably prescribed contraceptives and performed sterilizations. I'm making that assumption because he's a Protestant, and if he hadn't wrote scrips for the pill, NARAL and Planned Parenthood would surely have found out and painted him as an extremist by now.

But I don't think Santorum's personal position on contraception...even in contrast to someone like Paul who must have personally promoted it (whether he knew better or not)...is enough to compel my vote. Why not? Obviously, someone like Ron Paul isn’t consistently pro-life. But at the most basic level, Santorum isn't consistently "pro-life" either. Santorum’s "pro-life" personal views didn't get in the way of his politics when it would have mattered most: his support of Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary a few years ago. When Santorum could have backed another pro-lifer, Pat Toomey, and tipped the scales, he didn't. Instead, he supported Specter, who was NOT ONLY a pro-abort who controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee (where the best pro-life judicial nominees need not apply, even in the GOP's best days), but was also a turncoat who switched to the Democratic party a couple years later. Every observer I've read agrees that if Santorum had stuck to principle and stumped for Toomey, Toomey would have won (instead of lost by 1.7%), we'd have had a better Judiciary Committee, hence better federal judges, and the Dems wouldn't have had a filibuster-proof majority in the next go-round. (BTW, Toomey did beat Specter the next time and go to the senate after Santorum lost his own seat to a Democrat!)

And really, the issue of outlawing contraception in national politics...it doesn't simply matter, and Santorum won’t pursue it. I'm not saying that it shouldn't matter. It should, but it doesn't. Maybe some day it will at least matter at the state level. It's like nationally outlawing all pornography or buggery or usury or no-fault divorce. They are all admirable goals but candidly, they are not achievable on a national level at our present time and place. Although the link between abortion and all that bad stuff I mentioned above is obvious to us traditional Catholics, most non-Catholics (and heck, perhaps most novus ordo Catholics) aren't intellectually or spiritually equipped to deal with the link right now. We laymen should work one-on-one to convert people away from contraception, and our Bishops and priests should preach against it. However, too much public talk of outlawing contraception by a national political candidate at the present moment will be counterproductive. It will be exploited by his pro-abort enemies and slow down all our efforts to stop the greatest and "most fixable" of these evils...abortion. On this issue, we will only succeed if we tackle only one thing at a time.

The lady said Santorum “shares our values.” Well, leaving the pro-life issue and moving on to look at Santorum's other values? I honestly can't say they're the same as mine:

FIRST Santorum's an interventionist, looking to keep a huge United States military presence throughout the world--running up more debt, getting more American boys killed, and making more foreign enemies. For Santorum, patriotism is about geopolitical power. For me? Nope, patriotism is about loving ones’ land for what it is, not loving one’s government for the power it can project over other governments. Patriotism for me doesn't include going from one undeclared war to another….especially when the next one will be against a huge, prosperous country with a large, well-organized and educated populace that can really fight back—i.e., Iran. Nor does it involve the same bankrupting globalist busybody strategy as that other recently-collapsed empire: Great Britain.

SECOND, Santorum loves Israel--a state and a society which is absolutely hostile to the Church, and which is the very cause of that the "Islamo-Fascism" that Sean Hannity and Billy O’Reilly and the other neoconservative blowhards denounce. I, on the other hand, recognize that Israel is not a reliable ally, and that Moslems don't hate us for our freedom--they hate us because guys like Santorum vote to send Israel the guns and tanks and planes (and bombs marked "Made in the USA") that are used to kill their co-religionists, or if they’re lucky, merely expel them from their ancestral homes and leave them fenced in and starving.

THIRD, Santorum also believes in centralization of government, for example, federalizing education and doubling the number of education bureaucrats (99% of whom probably hate homeschooling). I adhere to the Catholic principle of subsidiarity--that is, the exercise of power by the lowest level capable of doing so (the family, the local church, the community, the state, and only where absolutely necessary, by the feds).

FOURTH, Santorum loves the police state, having voted for all sorts of restrictions on our ability to travel and communicate, and all sorts of new mechanisms for monitoring the daily activities of people in the United States. I value freedom of movement and (in my 30 or 40 flights a year) recognize that the TSA goons, the humiliating porn scanners, and the other monitoring of our activities don't keep us "secure"--they are simply part of a subtle retraining US residents to be sheepish and compliant subjects of the totalitarian state.

Neoconservatives like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich love the general growth in government as much as "moderates" like Mitt Romney and liberals like Hillary Clinton and Barry Obama. While their rhetoric is couched slightly differently, all of them want more government, more federal intrusion on our daily life, more perks for their friends (be they Obama's Chicago Daly Machine wonks or Mitt's Goldman Sachs pals or Santorum's military contractor donors or Newt's insurance company lobbying clients). Santorum won't make it easier for the Church to pursue its mission. He won't make it easier for faithful Catholics to raise holy families. He won't make it easier for our boys to find good jobs. He won't create the conditions necessary to rebuild Christian culture in the United States. And of course, he won't outlaw contraception. He has so many "backs to scratch" that he probably won't even get around to nominating judges that will unwind the nonsensical web of Constitutional "privacy" jurisprudence that prevents states from regulating contraception, prohibiting abortion, and discouraging buggery.

A friend of mine who’s since moved out of state—a very well-formed guy--once recommended Frank Sheed's book, Society and Sanity. Sheed is on solid Catholic ground, and he's an eloquent apologist. One of the central points of the book is a consideration of Christ's answer to the Pharisees, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's...." He approaches modern politics (circa 1960, I think) in the form of two questions about government which should be distinct in everyone's mind, but which are often muddled...they are paraphrased by me as "Who gets to be Caesar?" and "What things are Caesar's?" which I'll further rephrase as "How far does Caesar's authority extend?" My friend also pointed me to where St. Thomas Aquinas addresses the same issues, but I found Sheed to be much more accessible.

So here we are in 2012: this is an election which should be more about the second question than it is the first. All but one of the candidates is focused entirely on the first question. They all want me to believe that if they're Caesar, I can trust them because they share my values, and they can do more for me, and they can do it better. The organs of the federal government will be more efficient and stronger, but they’ll serve my interests. Only one of the candidates has anything substantive to say about that second question, and only one wants you to think about the limits of Caesar's reach. And unfortunately, it ain't Catholic Rick Santorum. It's Protestant Ron Paul.

In a field of imperfect candidates (all either statists or liberals), Ron Paul not only opposes abortion, but he is the one who is the most likely to REALLY give new momentum to the life movement (perhaps more momentum than he himself intends). He'll install judges who read the Constitution as it is (imperfect though it may be) and throw out the reasoning in cases like Roe and Doe and even Carpenter (the case that invented the "right to privacy" that prevented states from regulating contraceptives) and Lawrence (the case that prevents states from outlawing buggery). He’s not touting a huge program of federal prohibitions in their place like some pro-life lobbyists want, but really, such a prohibition is a pipe dream. Returning the life issues to the states (where the battle can be fought and won at least in most places over time) is really the best we can hope for—and the best we should hope for. The several states, after all, are where the plenary power to punish offenses against life and property properly rest.

Also, even though Paul's economic positions aren't perfect, there isn't a Rerum Novarum candidate to compare him to. His Austrian economic theory (BTW, at least he can speak intelligently about economics--the other candidates can't) is a much more sound basis for economic policy than Obama's soft socialism or Romney's Goldman Sachs TARP capitalism or Santorum's military industrial cronyism. In the absence of a candidate with a workable Distributivist program (if there is such a thing), quoting or at least plagiarizing Hillaire Belloc, Pope Leo XIII, and GK Chesterton, Paul's the one candidate who will at least redirect the country in a general direction that could ultimately be refined to a Catholic economic order.

As for militarism and interventionism—Paul’s obviously not a jingo. And as for subsidiarity--that big question about the scope of Caesar's authority--it's clear that a Ron Paul administration will have a smaller federal government--leaving more room in our society for families, the Church, communities, and states to operate and seek the Good on their own. I don't think anyone would argue that point.

The restoration (or rather reformation) of American culture on sound Catholic principles won't be easy. Barring a huge cataclysm, it won't happen in my lifetime. But whenever and however it happens (if it happens at all), it can only come back if we clear away the choking roots of our out-of-control, anti-Catholic, antagonistic federal government, and leave some open ground for the shoots of a civil society where Catholic principles to grow and flourish. A Catholic Humanae Vitae candidate (or…for the pre-Vatican II crowd…a Casti Conubii candidate) who otherwise promises more central government control of society, more war, and more spending, isn't going to do that. But a Protestant obstetrician will do it, even if he may not really appreciated what he was doing with his prescription pad a few decades ago. Ultimately Ron Paul is not the best possible candidate, but this is a multiple-choice test, not fill-in-the-blank.

As I said before, the question is "Who understands what things are really Caesar's?" In each case, Ron Paul is the answer that comes closest to the correct one.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

George Eliot?

My daughter, at 9 years old, asked me about TS Eliot: "Was he the man who betrayed St. Edmund Campion?

"Why no," I said, "TS Eliot was an Oklahoma-born poet and literary critic who moved to England and became one of the most important literary figures of the 20th century. Why do you ask?"

"Because the man who betrayed Edmund Campion was named Eliot. He was George Eliot."

"Interesting....how do you know that?"

"Because, Daddy, I read it in a book from the lending libarary." It so happens that our chaplaincy's lending library is being stored in our basement.

"Hmm. Did you know there was important 19th century novelist...a woman who used the pen name George Eliot?"

Of course she didn't. She's only nine years old, for goodness' sake!

But it makes me wonder. We know why Mary Ann Evans took a pen name. I remember discussing it in my 19th century literature class in college, lo these two decades ago. (Answer: partly for marketing because books by women had a limited market back then; partly for anonymity because she was apparently living a scandalous life).

Why did she choose George Eliot as her pen name? That answer was not readily available via Google, so I must rely on my more literary readers to help out.

Why did she choose "George Eliot" as her pseudonym?