• https://plus.google.com/108560473169714730821 Richard Parisse

    I strongly disagree with this progressive diatribe. The Catholic University had their say and you have had yours. I hope you feel better now. God bless.

  • http://gravatar.com/dismasdolben dismasdolben

    Well, I predict that it will either “come back to its senses” or get dragged back to its senses by the kinds of Catholic bishops that Pope Francis is likely to appoint in America. I predict that, if this pope lives out for a substantial pontificate, the American Catholic episcopate is in for a rough ride.

    • Christian Schmemann

      I predict that Pope Francis will preside over a schism between the American ‘Roman Catholic’ Church and the rest of the Catholic World and the rest of the Catholic World. The American bishops definitely are doubling down on the theocon position, in open defiance against the Vatican and the Holy Father; this can only portend schism.

      When this happens, much of the concerns that certain Orthodox bishops (namely Russian Orthodox bishops) have about unity with the Catholics Church will disappear, and Pope Francis would effectively see Russia supplant Brazil as the world’s largest Catholic nation (albeit a Byzantine-rite Catholic nation with its own Patriarch).

  • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO


    while I cannot disagree with what you wrote, I wonder if a better way to engage with this WSJ essay would be to challenge the authors on the very subject that the money is being given for: the study of “principled entrepreneurship.” This is a curious subject, and I really am not sure what it means. For the most part, I see the word entrepreneurship as a buzzword of the economic libertarian right, a word that seems designed to invoke images of prosperous shopkeepers and small business owners, but which provides cover for policies and practices that do not benefit them but rather large corporations and the uber-wealthy elite. So the useful contrast would be: what does Catholic Social Teaching have to say about entrepreneurship, and what principles should be used to judge it? And are these the principles that the Koch Brothers hope to have promoted by their gift? The latter question is harder to answer since we cannot see into their hearts, but we can certainly examine their many business practices and ask if they are in conformity with these principles.

    • trellis smith

      I agree David. And while I believe you would be hard pressed to find a nation more brimming with an entrepreneurial spirit than as found in America and that few Americans have much resentment against the sometimes enormous success of entrepreneurs.

      The authors are disingenuous in their defense of the Koch brothers who are the purveyors of corporatism and the public subsidy thereof rather than somehow emblematic of true wealth creation. While they deride welfare queens they themselves are pigs at the public trough. Their core business is nothing more than a creation of government interference.They are hypocrites in the true sense of the word as they actively finance and engage in their con.

  • Kurt

    As a patron of the Lincoln Center and PBS, the Koch donation by itself is not something I would launch a crusade against. But MM is right that not so much the donation but the weak and self-indicting defense made of it in the WSJ is very troubling.

    I wish I had Dismas’ confidence that the future will bring better in the quality of American episcopates. I don’t. I’ve never fully bought the argument that JP2 and BXVI are primarily responsible for the right wing hacks we have today as the American episcopate. Rather, I believe it was due to an unfortunate combination of events — 1) the fleeing departure of working class Catholics from the Church resulting in an upper middle class laity and bishops who do not know a single manual worker, 2) the crisis in financial giving resulting from the child abuse scandal; 3) the early 1990s alliance of Catholic social conservative political activists with wealthy economic conservatives and businessmen and their program to use the Church’s financial dependency on them to push their political agenda and episcopal candidates favorable to them.

    The result is that the American Church is financially dependent on them. Absent a Kirchensteuer, things are not likely to improve much. Not all who give something to the fiddler are asking for tunes. But among a right wing cabal, they want their songs sung.

    • http://digbydolben.wordpress.com dismasdolben

      I’ve never fully bought the argument that JP2 and BXVI are primarily responsible for the right wing hacks we have today as the American episcopate.

      Both those pontiffs were veterans of the wars among ideological rivals that went on in academia and both were more interested in doctrinal rigidity than in any kind of pastoral harvesting of the better fruits of Vatican II, which were left to languish on the tree. (However, I always took comfort in the recorded history of all councils of the Universal Church–that they had always taken at least thirty years for their works to be realized.)

      Influenced largely by their backgrounds in academic politics, they appointed nothing but “yes” men to the Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy in what is basically a Protestant society in which Catholicism has always been at a cultural and intellectual disadvantage. This has contributed to the reduction of Catholic intellectual–and, I would argue, artistic–life to the level of mediocrity. The bishops began to behave as little more than an ideological police force. I would argue that men of towering intellect and moral force could have functioned creatively and assertively no matter how great the financial advantages of their parishioners. Do you imagine that a John Henry Newman was ever intimidated by a Duke of Norfolk?

      I am willing to bet my life’s savings that the ex-Jesuit Francis I Bergoglio will be different.

      • Cojuanco

        There’s nothing wrong with doctrinal orthodoxy. And the downside of a church tax (aside from the fact it would violate American civil law) is that it would make the problem worse.

        Also, to be precise, under the 1983 Code, Francis remains a Jesuit in name as well as in fact, though dispensed to a limited extent from some of his vows (to allow him as first Bishop, then Pope, to own property on behalf of the Church).

        As to the larger topic, it tends to vary, and I think the problem is not so much doctrinal rigidity (looking at the pamphlets passed out by the Catholic Truth Society in, say, England and Wales, they were very, very traditional, yet were very very infused with CST – like where they denounced, along with – of course – artificial contraception and abortion, things like sweatshop labor, and unequal wages between men and women – in 1952, no less! – one gets the sense this would not have happened in America*), or that the wealthy are over-represented in gifts to Holy Mother Church (that’s been the case for several centuries). It’s that the donors are just as assimilated into liberal American consensus social positions as the other dissenters, only a different part. I think the problem in the American Church is that so many of us still are aching too much to assimilate into American culture, instead of transforming it.

        • http://digbydolben.wordpress.com dismasdolben

          I think the problem in the American Church is that so many of us still are aching too much to assimilate into American culture, instead of transforming it.

          It CANNOT be “transformed”; the human anthropology that is intrinsic to the Enlightenment philosophy that informs the founding documents of the American Republic is contrary to the Church’s anthropology. There is a fundamental difference in the beliefs regarding what life is FOR. Catholics in America MUST be, by definition, counter-cultural. This was not apparent during what some writers call the “American Catholic Renaissance,” but now it is plainly obvious.

  • Roger

    Just another university that is “catholic” in name only. Ho hum.

    The Koch Bros should have known better.