Justice Scalia: Christians seen as “cretins”


Over 4,000 people flocked to the Archdiocese of Denver for its annual “Living the Catholic Faith Conference” held this year from March 2-3.

The two-day conference – which began as a forum for Catholic educators and has only recently opened  to the public – featured Justice Antonin Scalia and noted scientist Br. Guy Consolmango as keynote speakers.

James Cavanaugh, director of Evangelization and Catechisis for the archdiocese, told CNA that organizers added a Spanish Track and “invited speakers that would appeal to a broader audience” in order to reach as many Catholics in the area as possible.

This year was the most attended in the history of the conference, with about 1,500 participants for the Spanish Track and over 1,000 for the Teen Track, which was introduced for the first time in 2012.

During his address, Justice Scalia addressed a large crowd about how Christians are perceived as “cretins” or people of insufficient mental capabilities by “sophisticated society.”

St. Thomas More was a “prime example” of “the Christian as cretin” during his life in the 16th century, Scalia said. Although many martyrs before him died for “noble” causes such as refusing to deny Jesus or for spreading the Gospel, More – according to his peers – died for a papacy that was “corrupt and politicized.”

“But of course,” Scalia reminded the crowd, “More was not seeing with the eyes of men, but with the eyes of faith.”

“He went to his death,” Scalia said, for refusing to reject Christ’s teaching that “only the Pope could bind and loose.”

Scalia reminded conference attendees that the mentality is not new to the modern era and cited the story of St. Paul trying to evangelize the Athenians in Acts of the Apostles, but having no success due to their refusal to believe that Christ rose from the dead.

“The ‘wise’ men of Athens circa AD 50 know just as well as the men of America AD 2012 that people don’t rise from the dead,” Scalia said.



  1. Henry Karlson says:

    Let me get this right. Scalia, who is known as being one of the Supreme Court justices who has worked hard to weaken religious liberty in the US, is giving this type of talk now? Why does he remind me more of Cromwell than More?

  2. I love Scalia. He says it all. We have some great Supreme Court justices on the court – Conservative Catholics by the way (and also by the way all appointed by Republicans for those who see the two parties as equal) – but Scalia has the most startling voice. He articulates it perfectly.

  3. Henry Karlson says:

    Yes, like his positions regarding religious liberty, where he takes it away in his court decisions and how he tells Catholics if they don’t believe in the death penalty, they should not be judges.

  4. One irony is that More was so much more intelligent than his adversaries. Some English author said he was the greatest man that England has ever produced. Maybe time for the Queen to apologize for his execution.

  5. Well, now, Justice Scalia and Rush Limbaugh have something in common (in addition to their gender). They both use inflammatory rhetoric to gain attention to their opinions.

  6. As we contemplate how Justice Scalia believes he and other Christians are perceived by secular society, let’s remember that Scalia dissented from the majority decision in a 2002 case (Atkins v Virginia) in which the Supremes ruled that it was unconstitutional (cruel and unusual punishment) to execute people proven to be mentally retarded. Scalia would have let that individual be killed by the state. He’s certainly entitled to call himself a Christian AND a good jurist if he wishes; it’s up to God, thankfully, not me, to decide whether he is a good Christian. But I certainly do not see evidence there, or in many of Scalia’s other opinions from the bench and off the bench, that he is a good jurist or a reasonable man.

  7. Holly Hansen says:

    Catholic triumphalism is alive and well.

  8. Thank you for asking hard questions.

  9. Thank you for raising hard questions.

  10. But is he really off mark? If we look back to last week, on the incident in Maryland, we see that many of the typical comments against Fr. Marcel and the Catholic Church were not simply a matter of disagreement, but one in which were were told we were bigots, out of touch with reality, stuck in the Middle Ages, etc. (and these were some of the nicer comments).

    No, I think that he hit this nail on the head.

    BTW: HMS, you still owe me an apology on my comments re Chris Matthews.

  11. Thank God!

  12. Don’t hold your breath, awashingtondccatholic. I don’t do Rush Limbaugh apologies.

  13. Steve, somehow I think there is much more to that dissent than a mere assertion that he thinks it’s hunky dory to execute retarded people.

  14. First of all, the law is the law. If judges of any religion have have a consciencious objection to a law, then they cannot be judges. And that goes for pro-life judges (I’m strongly pro-life) on abortion issues. So Scalia is right, if want you say is accurate. Second, I have no idea what you’re referring to, but it smacks of twisted demogoguery.

  15. You don’t have to issue a press release. A simple “I was wrong and I apologize” would suffice.

  16. Henry Karlson says:

    So you think people who are against abortion should not be judges because the law allows abortion?

  17. I only do apologies face to face and after two Irish coffees. Then, I have an excuse to take it back.

  18. Sounds right.

  19. Please Henry, Scalia has long fought the battle to preserve the Constitution and to return it to the intent and actual words used by the founders that was voted on by Congress and ratified by the States. If religious liberty is important, then everyone should be supporting the USCCB against the attack on it by this administration. The court needs about 2-3 more Scalia’s to save it from making the Constitution one we use to live by and that brave men and women lost their lives to defend.

    Your comment on the death penalty assumes that any support for the death penalty is against Catholic teaching. That is not true. Show me a magesterial document saying that this is a position all Catholics much believe and accept. There is for not supporting abortion without proportionate reasons which means you need to come up with something that comes close to the holocaust of 54 million innocent babies. How about coming up with the proportionate reason to match the holocaust? The church does teach that gay sex is gravely disordered and an intrinsic evil and that marriage is and can only be between one man and one woman. Again, magesterial teaching.

    How we fight poverty, how we decide on war, how we decide the best way to protect the planet, and how we come down on the death penalty are open to discussion and understanding within Church teaching and all of them added together to not come to a proporionate reason even if the candidates disagreed on each of them. But we all know they don’t. both support the death penalty. Both supported the wars which most came with democrat leadership. Both have poverty plans and the fact we have tried the failed one fromthe democrats for decades in total failure does not make big government solutions Catholic teaching, both value the planet with different ideas and apporaches.

    How about someone on the left actually addrssing these issues for a change.

  20. Scalia is in line with Catholic teaching. The judge upholding the law of the land supported by both political parties and allowed by the Catholic Church should not be held up to ridicule.

    I think it would be fair to compare what Rush L. said to what a million dollor donor to Obama said only the donor used words that are not allowed on network TV and uses them all the time. Should Obama give back the million dollars and the left call from him to lose his job? Or is it OK to use any words to describe conservative women who agree with Magesterial teaching of the Catholic Church on pro life and pro family issues? Yes, Bill Maher gave a million to reelect Obama because both have the same family values and view on abortion.

    By the way, hope this gets as much coverage as the Rush Limbaugh comment.

    Fluke as a wide-eyed 23-year-old girl caught without contraception on a college campus full of predatory men, Fluke herself is really a 30-year-old women‘s rights activist who not only didn’t get caught without contraception at Georgetown, but specifically knew the university didn’t cover it and chose to attend for precisely that reason. Her mission was to force Catholic Georgetown to go against Church teaching and provide not only birth control, but also coverage for those who desire to have sex change operations. She co-authored a paper on this a few years ago.

    Why was saying she was 23 so important? It made her seem like a simple student that would gain more sympathy and who was enrolled and then discovered she was unable to get free pills while attending her $50 K a year university and couldn’t find a way to get them for less than $3K a year. Hope she is not a math major. In reality the 30 year old activist researched the fact before enrolling to make sure Catholic Georgetown did not cover them. Another fact left out is that she is the past President of the Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Their mission is:
    “Reproductive justice will exist when all people can exercise the rights and access the resources they need to thrive and to decide whether, when, and how to have and parent children with dignity, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.”

    Even the Washington Post has picked up on part of the story. They might as well run the rest of the lie as it is all over the alternative media and easily researched.


    This of course is why she was brought in at the last minute which would not allow anyone to find out exactly who she was before she gave her rant at a congressional hearing. Any doubt the democrats knew the entire story?

    So as some have labeled it, Sandra Fluke is no fluke, but probably a fraud. And she has the nerve to walk out while the Bishop was testifying on Catholic right to religious liberty along with the democrats who knew this distortion.

    So how many believe that HHS should not mandate that anyone who wants a sex change operation the company should pick up the cost? Is this next after the election?

    [How the hell did we get from Scalia to Rush Limbaugh and Fluke? Stay on topic. Please. Thank you. Dcn. G.]

  21. Steve, if one reads the constitution carefully, it clearly spells out the scope planned for the Supreme Court and one that the court pretty much adhered to once final touches were made over the next few years. They are to rule based on the law as written and leave it to the legislature of the state or the federal government to make changes or for there to be a constitutional amendment. If one looks at the entire history of the bench, we see judges who rule based on the law even though they may disagree with that law. That is why we have three coequal branches of government.

    When we see the law exposed to something we think is not right or fair, there is then a process in place to make those changes through those means provided. In situations like this, the governor and President also have a massive power to pardon.

    What has happened in the last 60-70 years is we have allowed the courts to take on the right and duty of the other two branches of government and this has upset the entire system of government that worked very well until this happened. When we saw a wrong, we set about a process to change it which included making sure the government of the people, by the people, and for the people was not bypassed. When you have non elected lifetime judges, often by a single vote of a single judge, force issues of deep value and concern on all the people in the country, you will have deep anger and resentment build. That is why elections and governing continue to grow more volatile. Now we have religion liberty, the first and most essential right in the bill of rights under attack by the government that was supposed to have a wall around it to protect it from government grasp or interference.

    Remember that a liberal court that rules on things liberal want but can’t get enacted can become a massivly conservative court. We have had both over the years. Our protection was the written word, not what they thought it should have been or giving them the ability to ignore it.

  22. “So how many believe that HHS should not mandate that anyone who wants a sex change operation the company should pick up the cost? Is this next after the election?”

    Mark, you’re sounding a bit like Rush Limbaugh when you use rhetoric like that.

  23. Barbara P says:

    According to Scalia the Constitution does not prohibit the execution of a defendant who is actually innocent.

  24. Barbara P says:

    Go read Scalia’s opinion in Employment Division v Smith.

  25. Mark, for a good example of judicial activism (the very thing that conservatives decry in the name of “strict constructivism”), go look at the Gore v. Bush decision. Yeah, I know, it was eleven years ago, but when Republican-appointed justices step in and end a vote count in order to select the Republican candidate as the next president, that’s a huge step toward demolishing any facade about the court being careful not to overstep its powers. Conservatives seem to love judicial activism when it serves right-wing causes.

  26. No doubt, Kevin, and I’m sure William Brennan would have said there was much more to Roe v. Wade than anyone’s desire to end the lives of babies in the womb. In the end, though, Scalia thought the state should have the right to kill a man who had a very low IQ. He and Justices Thomas and Rehnquist, two other folks that many Catholics on the right seem to love, were the only ones on the Court who thought the state should have the right to kill a convict who had a very low IQ. People can embrace the justices they want to embrace, even if the Constitution says explicilty that cruel and unusual punishments are prohibited.

  27. Good point, Barbara. This is the Troy Anthony Davis case, which the Court dealt with in August 2009. Anyone who doubts that Scalia took a ridiculous (and AMORAL) position in that case should look it up.

  28. awashingtondccatholic says:

    well, if that is what is stopping you, don’t let it. Come on, you can do it.

  29. Deacon, I was responding to HMS who brought it up. Why add adm edit to my response?

  30. HMS, not limbaugh, but Flukes paper she co authored detailing it and birth control or any other reproductive need as something that should be covered. That is why she was run in at the last minute to testify so no one could do any research.

    Honoring Deacon request, I will leave it there.

  31. Steve and Barbara, you make my point. I don’t want any judges stepping in and those that think it was good to reverse the religious liberty meaning and text in 1947 Everson and to give us justification for abortion, end of school prayer, and legal protection for homosexual behavior are going to have their OX gored when the court is convervative and uses these precedents to bring about conservative viewpoints.

    should have had to get amendments if we were going to change the religious protection clause of protecting religion from government to government from religion. Failure to get this change would have meant the government could not establish a state secular atheist relgion which has radically changed the country right up to the latest attack on religious liberty. they would have had to get an abortion amendment to allow the federal government to force this on the nation. they would have had to get a law to force national acceptance of homosexual acts or gay marriage. I doubt they could have set up any rule giving the IRS power to penalized religious organizations from doing what they want in the public square even to endorsing candidates. Guess how many churches endorsed Lincoln and had been actively support anti slavery candidate for years.

    I love that the constitution has the equal branches and restrictions that force the central government to jump over high hoops that bring all the people into play and that we have the tenth amendment. Yes some suffer under this slow approach, but when the country makes the changes the right way, it does not leave near as much bitterness. Distorting the laws to make it work to fix something is not the answer and the bitterness you see in our country can be traced directly to this activist type of decisions. How many are still upset with the ruling in Bush or the one to give corporations status of a person. the left loved it when they had the judges doing things they approved and will pay a terrible price if they face a very conservative court.

  32. Again, the system allows the courts to rule by the constitution and the law of the land. When that law flies in the face of the constitution, it should be struck down. When the law is bad and remedies are needed, there is the pardon process. We have about 10 years or more of appeals and everything else involved in the death penalty and we also have pardon capability by both governors and presidents. If a judge rules by the law, I support them. when they invent words or meaning not there or distort what the amendment was designed to resolve, then I think they do a massive diservice to the people.

    if the rules of the game are wrong and the rules clearly allow amendments to be made and provide pardon privledges, I think we have a good way to resolve problems.

    I was reading Bonhoeffer on Germany before and after Hitler. We went from judges that were massively liberal to judges that were appointed outright nazis and made almost every act by Hitler legal in a matter of months. It was possible because they did not have the Constitution or a history of democracy with a strong pillar of protected religious freedom and liberty. We do not want to give this up for expedience sake.

  33. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    HMS compared Scalia to Limbaugh for the use of inflammatory rhetoric. You, “Mark,” then used that to go off on a tangent and discuss a whole other issue. That has nothing to do with Scalia. Or even Limbaugh. It was bad enough that HMS gave you that bait. It was worse that you took it and went in another direction.

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