How Conservative Catholic Moral Decision Making in Comboxes Works An Awful Lot of Times

How Conservative Catholic Moral Decision Making in Comboxes Works An Awful Lot of Times August 17, 2012

Drowning, beating, suffocating and freezing prisoners? Launching wars that leave thousands of innocent civilians dead, despite the impassioned pleas of the Pope not to do it? Slashing social safety nets for the poorest of the poor? Nuking thousands of innocent civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki? That is prudential judgment and is just fine. Who can even *know* what’s right? It’s all sooooooo confusing!


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  • I searched the link and couldn’t find the comment that said Simcha Fisher has sold her soul to the devil.

    • Mark Shea

      Did you find the one demanding she be fired? How about the ones claiming that failure to condemn Dolan is like being apologist for the Third Reich? You *do* grasp the concept of “analogous language” right? You can see the point I’m making can’t you?

      • Sam Wood

        Are you kidding me? We need a name for these people, much like the Legion of Menacing Visagoths for Tolerance…

        • Mark Shea

          I think “Combox Inquisitor” works pretty well.

          • B.E. Ward

            *Everyone* expects the Combox Inquisition!

            • Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to ourselves, and blatant violation of the 8th Commandment.

              • Rosemarie


                What, no nice red uniforms? 🙂

            • Ted Seeber

              I normally do, but I was quite unprepared for the group that chased me off that conversation yesterday, who all insisted that there is no hope of a Democrat ever converting to pro life and that the Al Smith dinner which has been going on for 40 years and that nobody ever complained about before, is suddenly cooperation with evil.

            • justamom

              haha, I get what you did there! Monty Python! Love it!

            • Elaine S.

              That should be the new category tag — “Everyone expects the Combox Inquisition!”

      • Blog Goliard

        ” You *do* grasp the concept of ‘analogous language’ right? You can see the point I’m making can’t you?”

        Well, considering that even the phrase “head of state” was met with gormless incomprehension-turned-Godwinism last night on that thread, I’m not taking anything for granted with commenters right now.

      • I do see the point you’re making Mark, and I think the comments in the discussion were over the top. I just didn’t see anyone making that particular accusation. They might have, but I couldn’t find it.

      • Jeff Stevens

        Yes, I saw the call for her being fired. But it had nothing to do with supporting or opposing Cardinal Dolan or the decision to invite President Obama to the Al Smith dinner.

        It had to do with saying that WWJD was never ever a useful question. And WWJD is a useful question sometimes, so I agree with the person who called for Simcha to be fired ONLY in that decrying WWJD in every circumstance is over the top. She said it is “NEVER” a useful question. Sometimes it is.

        Just usually not in public discourse.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Maybe but she is entitled to her opinion. The usefulness or non-usefulness of WWJD is certainly not an article of faith!

          • right, and her point was that *at this point in time* the phrase is a never useful because it has been so cliched and used as a club so much. She did suggest a better question which was “what would Jesus *have you* do?” I also thought her point about Jesus having a personality (being fully human) which informed the way He went about His ministry was really good and helps to counter a certain vaguely gnostic tendency in online commentary about Christ (not necessarily just Catholic but generally).

      • Rev Michael Ishida

        I agree that the invitation to the prez should never have occured it creates a HUGE scandal to say the least but I think calling for the firing of the Simcha may cross the line into a sin against charity. Be careful not to cross that line….. PS did you pray for her and for Dolan????? and at least ask God to guide them in their work? that part is still required agree with them or not

  • Sam Wood

    Dave…you know, her “WWJD” blog article. And she calls herself a Christian!

  • Chris

    There’s a fine line between questioning the rationale of the Al Smith invite, and personally attacking the Bishop, or his office, or personally attacking a Blogger. You can’t really have a reasoned opinion if you’re foaming at the mouth.

    • Irenist

      Ironically, it’s sort of like the Ryan debate in prior threads here: are we attacking *him* or merely his pernicious economic theories? I think Cdl. Dolan is right to sup with sinners (even sinners like Obama and Romney), but I can imagine a criticism of his decision that was about just the decision and not the Cardinal.

    • Ted Seeber

      And for many in that thread, that fine line was crossed early on.

      • Irenist

        Possibly by me, although I hope not.

  • EBS

    Well there are MANY commenters currently “foaming at the mouth” at Simcha’s WWJD article. Its horrid to witness.
    It never fails to astound me that these “Combox Inquisitors” who see the invite as the worst possible sin on the face of this earth, just can’t quite see that vulgar attacks at a leader of THEIR Church, is not a sin, or even remotely wrong!
    Must be all that gnashing of teeth and growling blocking the blood to their brains. I am so over this whole debate about, well….a whole lot of hot air. Simcha called it right. Mark, affirmed it’s absurdity.

  • Andy

    The use of the word scandal is intriguing – a scandal “causes” someone to sin (not completely accurate I know). So, if a person’s faith is such that seeing Cardinal Dolan break bread with President Obama or Governor Romney could lead me to abandon what I believe in a vote for one of them, then it is the person’s faith that is the problem, not a dinner invitation.

    I agree wholeheartedly – the word prudential is bandied about all to often. Prudential seems to know mean if I don’t agree with what the church teaches, and then it is a prudential choice. It seems that “prudential judgment” is now equivalent statement to liberals saying, “I am acting according to my conscience.” It does my heart good to see that the cafeteria is now open for all.

    • Mark Shea

      “Prudential”, for most lay Catholics, means “ignore the Church and do whatever you like”.

      • Irenist

        That and “conscience”: witness Speaker Pelosi and like-minded attempts to worship both God and Moloch. “Prudential”, OTOH, seems to be favored more by those like Congressman Ryan, who prefer to attempt to worship both God and Mammon. (N.B., Moloch and Mammon are figures of speech here. No one is accusing either congressman of actually worshipping a Near Eastern pagan god.)

        • Blog Goliard

          “No one is accusing either congressman of actually worshipping a Near Eastern pagan god.”

          Strangely, I believe I’d have more respect for your average Congresscritter if he or she did.

          • Irenist

            Yeah, the secular idolatry of today is rather bloodless compared to the idolatry of yore. It’s sorta like the difference between Simon Magus and the “Materialist Magician” in the Screwtape Letters.

        • Chris

          Pelosi doesn’t worship Moloch. Moloch worships Pelosi.

      • I don’t think “prudential”, for most lay Catholics, means “ignore the Church and do whatever you like”. I think they think it means “the Church says you can do whatever you like.”

    • Chris

      Well, the words “scandal” and “scandalized” are appropriate, as some bishops have stated clearly that voting for someone who promotes and/or facilitates abortion is gravely sinful. In this case, the scandal offered is the invitation and honor of speaking. The scandal taken is, “it’s okay to vote for this guy”. If the actions of the highest ranking bishop in the United States sow this much confusion among the faithful, then I think it’s fair to criticize them as short-sighted, even un-pastoral. It’s up to the Bishop to shepherd; it’s not up to the flock to decipher the concept of Realpolitik.

      • Andy

        I have no idea how you see having Obama at a dinner, or Romney as he supported abortion and forced Catholic Hospitals to provide next day abortefacents(sp) is in any way an endorsement. I will repeat if having dinner with a person leads anyone to be confused about the teaching of the church or Cardinal Dolan’s leadership it seems to me as if that person has a criss of faith. A shepherd knows his enemy and is able to see his enemy – a shepherd guards his flock – the flock doesn’t really question the manner of the guardianship.
        If it makes me less of a Catholic to accept that Cardinal Dolan is acting in a way that he sees best in guarding is flock then so be it. But this is a tempest in a champagne glass.

        • Chris

          It seems the role of a shepherd is to keep the wolf away from the flock. Obama is undoubtedly a wolf, as he and his policies are directed toward the “strangling” of the Church, which is, the flock. The Lord took the definition to an unprecedented extent when He declared that his job as shepherd was to willingly lay down his life for the flock. Shepherds didn’t lay down their life for a mere sheep. But the Christian Shepherd does. So a Bishop is not just someone who tends sheep; that red cap is a reminder that he is to protect the flock, even unto the shedding of his blood.

          I have no idea how you see having Obama at a dinner, or Romney as he supported abortion and forced Catholic Hospitals to provide next day abortefacents(sp) is in any way an endorsement.

          You’re not getting it. It’s not about an “endorsement”. I don’t think there’s an “endorsement” taking place. The problem is that, yes, words and actions mean things. The message from the Bishops — in complete unison — has been, “this administration presents an existential threat to the Chuch”. That message has come straight from the lips of Pope Benedict XVI, as well. Inviting this man to a night of gaiety and laughter, for the benefit of the very charity that Obama has castrated with his “Catholic” goons in HHS and other depts., absolutely diminishes that message from the Bishops and the Pope. The flock is not at fault if they perceive a “backing down” — the archdiocese is.

          will repeat if having dinner with a person leads anyone to be confused about the teaching of the church or Cardinal Dolan’s leadership it seems to me as if that person has a criss of faith.

          Isn’t this sufficient reason for the Archdiocese of NY to re-examine their invite? That’s the scandal. If someone’s actions are causing a crisis of faith, it falls upon both the scandal-giver and the scandal-taker. If it’s solely the responsibility of the flock to figure it out, as you seem to infer, then why do we have bishops in the first place? This is high HIGH profile and flies in the face of +Dolan’s characterization of urgency for the Church vis-a-vis religious liberty.

          • Andy

            From the first part of Summa Theologica: To the objection that if an all-powerful God exists, there would be no evil in the world, his answer is that precisely because God is all-powerful, he is powerful enough to turn evil into good – even if we do not see how exactly he does this. (My emphasis) This is the crisis faith I am addressing – if we cannot trust God to use an event to start a change then that is our fault and not his. So perhaps that is why I see no scandal.

            Maybe because I don’t see Obama as evil incarnate, nor do I see that he has castrated Catholic Charities, nor do I see the members of cabinet/staff who are catholic as goons I don’t share you fears. I see them as children of God, in error no doubt, but worthy or respect and dignity. Maybe this is why I see no scandal.

            However, the flock is wrong is assuming that the church is backing down. It seems that a quick read of history shows that attacking and belittling people has done little to move the abortion debate. I would hazard a guess that quiet conversation and discussion does more to move the debate. Cardinal Dolan, to use a military analogy, as general of the war may think it is time to take a different path, and this invitation may be the first step on that path. I am going to trust that Cardinal Dolan had a thought in mind with his invitation.

          • You are right: words and actions do mean things – and Dolan’s actions here mean “Christians don’t hate their enemies.” That’s a good message for a shepherd to spread to his Christian flock.

            • Chris

              That’s just insipid.

              One could argue it’s “hateful” to invite the President to such a dinner and confirm him in his sin. One could argue it’s more loving to apply painful medicine, not hand out lollipops and photo-ops. But don’t let reason get in the way of an opportunity to drop the word “hate” into a conversation (is that the new Godwin’s Law?)

        • Michael

          And when Obama starts his Catholic outreach for the election in earnest and plasters photos of him breaking bread with Bishop Dolan all over the place will you see the scandal then?

          • Andy

            No I will not see a scandal. I will repeat that if all it takes for people to change their mind and vote for Obama is a picture of him with Cardinal Dolan then we have far larger problems in the church. I think that you are not giving enough credit to people to ferret out what is happening. If you think so little of the intellectual acumen of your fellow Catholics, or their ability to see what the church teaches and decide who is most closely aligned with the teaching then I pity you and I fear for the church.

  • Skip Dean

    I say keep your enemies closer. You go Dolan!!

    I mean, it isn’t like the culture worship thing that Notre Dame did.

    These two are generals on the field of battle in the Culture War. Why shouldn’t they meet on occasion? It would be the gentlemanly thing to do.

  • Gerrard

    Catholic bishops have not been known for speaking the truth to secular power throughout history. Look at the history of the English Reformation. Mostly, they accomodate and engage in self-protective and aggrandizing actions. I see nothing wrong with wondering if Dolan will be one of the few who does or one of the many who don’t. We’ll see, but in the meantime, it’s not an uncharitable question, considering the history of the Catholic episcopacy.

    • Mark Shea

      It’s uncharitable because for an awful lot of combox Inquisitors, it’s not a question at all. It’s a declaration of guilt.

    • str

      “Catholic bishops have not been known for speaking the truth to secular power throughout history.”
      And who has been known to do that, then?
      I disagree with the Cardinal’s photo-op as well as it might mislead the weak (which, following Paul’s example, we must consider). It’s the political repercussions in a very grave situation that is at stake here, not crises of faith. If the dinner creates a crisis of faith, then the crisis was already there.
      However, despite all disagreement, a bishop is nonetheless a bishop, a successor to the apostles and shepherd of Christ’s flock. He who tries to disqualify “episcopacy” disqualifies himself!

  • If you want to see some serious mouth frothing and vicious verbal abuse, take a look at the comments on my blog on the Archdiocese of New York website (, where I tried to explain the invitation of the President to the Al Smith Dinner.

    • FrMichael

      Mr. Mechmann: The Cardinal comes off as a “Rules are for thee, not for me” out-of-touch bishop of the like we US Catholics have been suffering under for decades. There’s nothing new under the sun for this Peter Principle prelate wearing the scarlet in the Big Apple, even if this one is more charming than the previous Cardinal Archbishop.

      But your own blog post made the Cardinal’s post seem like Holy Writ. I both laughed and cried at many of the hundreds of comments ripping apart your pathetic logic. My favorite one was a comment by a Kevin Doran on 8/11 at 5:51 PM:

      “Let’s see if I get this straight. We (the laity) are asked to pray and fast for two weeks but the Cardinal and his friends drink cocktails and have dinner with this representative of the Anti-Christ. Call me when you get your act together!!!!”

      Fortunately, as this blog host has reminded us over the years, our Catholic Faith does not depend upon the fortitude and prudence of our shepherds, although one weeps over the millions of American Catholics who have left the Faith over the complacency of limp-wristed Manhattan-drinking biblically-illiterate Catholic clergy. I estimate that the American episcopacy is little better than the English one prior to the English Reformation, although Pope Benedict has appointed a few John Fishers in his time who probably will be loyal unto death when the s*%t really hits the fan, the Cardinal apparently not being one of them. He’ll be too busy fundraising with a 21st century Pontius Pilate over a de-Catholicized “Christian Charities” or some such thing.

      I’ll be sure to post this over at your ArchNY blog as well.

      • FrMichael

        Oh, I see that Mr. Mechmann has closed the comments at his own blog. Well, I had good intentions to share this over there…

      • Ed Mechmann

        QED, as we used to say in Geometry class.

  • I want to reclaim the words “Prudential” and “Conscience”. These are terribly important concepts and they shouldn’t knee-jerk get us to make assumptions about how “many people” are using them.

    I haven’t followed all the debate about Cdl. Dolan and the Al Smith Dinner. What I have seen, people often compare this to Christ sitting at table with sinners. I think that’s an interesting comparison.

    Remember, it was the Pharisees that had a problem with this, but it was completely unfair. Sure, these people _were_ sinners, but we can presume that they were listening to Christ and were in the process of repenting. Matthew was a tax collector, but also an Apostle. Christ called Matthew and then ate with tax collectors that day. I assume the tax collectors that Christ ate with that day were Mark and his associates. Zacchaeus was a tax collector who repented at table. I don’t expect Obama to repent at table at the Al Smith dinner.

    I think a better comparison to what Cdl. Dolan is doing is with Christ eating at table with Pharisees, which he also did. Was Christ wrong to eat with Pharisees (Luke 7)?

    I agree with EBS above. I don’t see how this gives Scandal. Scandal is in the perceiver, though, so Cdl. Dolan has apologized IF it has given Scandal..

    • Darn, no edit here. I said Mark above once where I meant Matthew.

    • str

      “Matthew was a tax collector, but also an Apostle.”
      No, Matthew was a tax collector and later became an Apostle.

  • Sherry Weddell

    I can see that it is time to bring out the notes I took in conversations on the issue of voting as a form of cooperation with intrinsic evil from two of the foremost Catholic experts in the world on election eve, 2004. I have often wished that I could sit down with them both 8 years later and ask how the global conversation is developing but as far as I know, everything I learned then is still current. Remember: the topic below is voting as a possible form of material cooperation with intrinsic evil, NOT 1) Archbishop Dolan being photographed with the President at a dinner; 2) a Catholic politician publicly advocating for abortion but the principles seem important since commenters here are asserting that the US Bishops have said that voting for a candidate who supports abortion is a grave sin which, is not, in fact, Church teaching and certainly not something that the US Bishops have declared as a body.

    “On Election eve, 2004, I was in Australia. While there, I took the opportunity to ask two world-class experts on Church’s teaching in this area (who are both known for their careful orthodoxy) and the intense political debate that it had engendered among Catholic voters in the US. One was Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP of Sydney (recently elevated by Cardinal Pell), who has a PhD in bioethics and is recognized as (in John Allen’s words) “one of the sharpest minds in English-speaking Catholicism”. The other was Dr. Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, and one of most respected new theologians emerging today.

    Voting as formal cooperation in intrinsic evil:

    1. Both Fisher and Rowland emphasized that Church teaching is “very underdeveloped” in this area. Bishop Fisher had attended a symposium in Rome on Evangelicum Vitae 73 in February of 2004. EV 73 reads in part:

    73. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. . .

    In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it.”(98)

    A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. . . In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

    Fisher said that at this symposium two top notch, orthodox theologians presented completely opposite views and neither could be considered “wrong” in light of current Church teaching (although Fisher privately agreed with one over the other). The bishop noted that only about 9 scholarly works exist on the subject and that he has read them all. In other words, there is, as yet, no authoritative interpretation of EV 73 to guide us.

    2. Fisher stated that there was no theological basis for asserting categorically that a Catholic could not, in good faith, vote for either US candidate since both had serious problems from the perspective of Church teaching. Fisher said that if he were an American, he’d be voting for Bush – precisely because of the abortion issue, but that it would be a matter of personal judgment. Life issues had been his personal passion since he was at university and naturally they dominate his moral appraisal of the current scene. Fisher noted that other people with other expertise would naturally be pre-occupied with different areas of grave concern that would shape their prudential judgment.

    3. Fisher then made a fascinating comment that I have not heard elsewhere – that there is no basis in Church teaching for comparing two very different “intrinsic evils” and determining that one is objectively and absolutely more grave than the other. One can compare levels of a similar intrinsic evil. You could say that 4,000 abortions is more grave than 40 or that a genocidal conflict that killed 10,000 was a more grave evil than one in which only 500 died. But you can’t, on the basis of current Catholic teaching, categorically determine that abortion, for instance, is always and absolutely more grave than a given unjust war or torture or severe economic injustice. By definition, something that is truly intrinsically evil can’t be relatively less evil anymore than a person can be only mostly dead (well, outside the alternate universe of the Princess Bride, anyway – although I did encounter some situations that came pretty close on the cancer unit).

    So one cannot state, as definitive Church teaching, that the gravity of the evil of abortion must outweigh all other intrinsic evils or any possible combination of intrinsic evils in our political calculations. An individual could arrive at such a prudential judgment in a particular situation in good faith but an equally faithful Catholic could come to a quite different prudential conclusion in good conscience. (Sherry’s note: As Michael Sweeney pointed out so clearly this summer, the problem in the US was a failure to make it clear when the bishops were making prudential judgments rather than articulating Church teaching that obliged.)

    1) When I said that it was my observation that quite a few serious Catholics in the US were under the impression that doctrine had developed in this area, Fisher responded that a few bishops making personal pronouncements simply isn’t the development of doctrine. When I asked Rowland why some US bishops had made such statements when they must know that Church teaching did not support it, she pointed out that many bishops are not familiar with all the nuances of Church teaching in this area. Rowland (unlike Fisher, who thought that any talk of ex-communication in the midst of an election was imprudent) believed that Ratzinger (she said that she was a big fan of Ratzinger) had made a good case for refusing communion to a politician who publicly supports abortion but also agreed that there simply wasn’t any clear Church teaching about voting as a form of formal cooperation with evil.

    • Ted Seeber

      I like this, wish I had moderation points like on slashdot.

      Especially the part about not comparing intrinsic evils. Intrinsic is like infinity- we simply cannot compare from our perspective.

    • Didn’t JP II make it clear in Evangelium Vitae that abortion is the most serious crime against life?

      58. Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an “unspeakable crime”.

      You might say that no comparisons of other crimes against life is made above, but I think “particularly serious and deplorable” is an explicit enough.

      It’s also made clear that the right to life is preeminent among rights:

      101 …

      To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop.

      • Dan C

        The point is that this is a novel evalution and not at all with tools in the Tradition.

        • Are you saying my interpretation of Evangelium Vitae is at odds with Tradition or that Evangelium Vitae itself is novel and is at odds with Tradition?

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      I agree: you can’t compare Intrinsic Evil A with Intrinsic Evil B. It’s like asking, “Which is worse: that the Earth should be destroyed by a meteor impact? Or that the Earth should be destroyed by a comet impact?”

      A meteor or a comet? Which is worse?

      But there’s another angle from which to consider the question: There’s the question of each candidate’s stated support for any given Intrinsic Evil and his voting record on it.

      Which of the major candidates has publicly proclaimed his support for the continuation of any given Intrinisic Evil – in theory or in practice? Which one attends dinners and awards galas sponsored by the National Federation of Intrinsic Evil X (that particular intrinsic evil) Providers, and supports legislation to force men and women of conscience to violate their conscience and personally perpetrate this intrinsic evil, or face professional censure or job loss?

      That’s my starting point. And if we’re going to get anywhere, we have to start somewhere.

      Abortion. Abortion is the classic case of calling evil good, and good evil. As in, Woe to them . . .

      • Ted Seeber

        Is there a National Federation of Torture?

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          No. There’s not.

          That was kind of my point.

  • Psst…want in on a secret?

    ….there are a lot of stark, raving, mad Catholics.

    Maybe it’s always been there but I’ve noticed that there’s been this shift from vanilla ‘orthodox’ Catholic to quasi-evangelical Christian flavor of Catholicism. The whole emotive, wild gesticulating, anyone who doesn’t ascribe to what you believe is a heretic/unwashed type of Christianity. The whole, if you don’t have a large family, you’re bad. If you don’t think Obama is the anti-Christ, you’re bad. If you live in a big city, you’re bad. If you aren’t screaming, crazy, tea party, you’re bad. The list goes on.

    Guess what? It’s not Christian.

    For the record, this comes from an orthodox Catholic, registered Republican who laments that just as our political system has been hijacked by unreasoned nutty elements of both sides of the political isle, our church has as well.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      I think there are a lot of people who are starkers generally, not just Catholics, and they’ve been driven that way because of what’s going on in our country and in our society. We here in the U.S. are ground zero for an awful lot of highly ambitious, rapacious, power-hungry folks who are ruining the country, and we’re all feeling it. Our society has come off the rails. Remember that scene in The Fugitive in which Harrison Ford is running for his life along the path of the runaway train engine? Many of us are running like that. It’s terrible.

      I remember a little bit of what life was like before 1965. Compared to how things are today today, life then was closer to The Shire in LOTR. It really was. There was a sense of innocence, a sense of being sheltered. Today, you feel an onslaught of evil everywhere you turn. It’s enough to make anyone a little nuts. I feel sorry for these poor people who go around the bend; I really do. We need to pray for them.

    • Dan C

      I agree with the fact that there are vocal parts of conservativism that have surrendered to this evangelical Christian-type methodology of societal engagement.

      I do not think that most or the best parts of conservativism are part of this though. In fact, heterogeneous views of society, life and the Church have evolved since the failure of the Great Republican Political Takeovers of the GW Bush years. The best things that has happened in conservativism is the break-down of the unanimity of the movement. Many interesting ideas are now examined on the side of conservativism. The whole line of “crony capitalism” is one.

      This is from a lefty respecting the smart, strong independent thought that has evolved over 10 years on the right.

  • Jeanna

    Psst, I agree with you. Many Catholics today seem to have Clanging Gong Syndrome. At times I too find myself coming down with it and have to quickly take an antidote (Hail Mary full of grace, please share some with me; come Holy Spirit and fill my heart with your love).

  • David Davies

    Mark. I don’t really have a problem with a bishop doing what he can to evangelize Mr. Obama. I do object to the following distortion of the character of those of us who oppose Mr. Obama and his Party tooth and claw. “Drowning, beating, suffocating and freezing prisoners? Launching wars that leave thousands of innocent civilians dead, despite the impassioned pleas of the Pope not to do it? Slashing social safety nets for the poorest of the poor? ”

    1) Mistreatment of prisoners. In every case I read about in the links you provided to news sources detailing these abuses there was an investigation and punishment for perpetrators who were found guilty. That being said, I don’t trust the news media very far so I do not know how accurate these stories were. I certainly didn’t find any evidence that we had a standing policy of prisoner abuse imposed upon the military by the Evil Dick Cheney. And I do object to holding trials in newspapers of comboxes. Please correct me if I am wrong but you seem to be instantly willing to believe the worst about people to whom you have in your own mind convicted of the sin of consequentialism.
    2) Your use of the plural as in ‘Wars’ indicates to me that you include the action in Afghanistan in the category of ‘wars of choice’. With the smoking debris of lower Manhattan still fresh in my mind I do not understand how anyone can argue that a military response to AQ was out of line. And as for Iraq, how was that more of a ‘pre-emptive’ action than the fleet action at Lepanto? The Pope approved, supported and encouraged that ‘pre-emptive’ military attack. Which you certainly know, Chesterton fan that you are. There was a long list of reasons for the Congress to authorize the use of force (Declare War – by euphemism) against Saddam Hussein’s regime. That being said, I think it was a fantasy to think that democratic practices such as voting will convert the existing cultures to modern liberal and tolerant societies. Democracy allows the people to fulfill their dreams, which in to many cases is simply to kill Christians, Jews, and Heretics (Shia, Sunni, etc.). I completely agree with you that we should not be in the business of ‘nation building’. That is a complete misuse of the military.
    3) We are not about crushing the poor. We are about lifting them out of poverty instead of making their poverty somehow palatable with handouts. What is seen in some minds as a ‘safety net’ we see as more like one of Shelob’s webs. We think government agencies are the very worst vehicles for charity. We think it is far better for the poor to be able to find jobs rather than find food stamps. It is far better for the government to remove obstacles to economic growth so those jobs can be created.

    • Ted Seeber

      I’ll believe #3 the day I see bringing back usury laws on the Republican Platform

    • Marthe Lépine

      I do not think that reducing much needed support to the poor is going to motivate such poor to look harder for un-existing jobs… Creating jobs with living wages that the poor could obtain would be a much better way, and that cannot be achieved by lowering taxes for corporations and/or their super-rich executives. Supporting small businesses, and helping self-employed people turn their one-person enterprises into real businesses, would be much more effective.

      • David Davies

        Quite right on supporting small businesses Marthe. There are a lot of us who detest the crony-capitalism which was exhibited by the administrations of both Bush and Obama in 2008-2009. I carry no brief for G.E. or G.M. I think though that you should re-think the issue of corporate taxes. Why should investors in any enterprise, large or small, be taxed twice on the money earned by their investment?

        Ted, what has usury to do with securing a business friendly environment where there is enough commerce for poor people to find work?

        • Hezekiah Garrett


          Now you go find three ways, yourself, and get back to us. Trust me, it’ll be good catechesis.

          • David Davies

            Well, Hezekiah, I can’t find any examples of ‘usury’ in progress. ‘Usury’ being abusively high interest rates. Interest rates now are abusively low. So unless you believe that charging any interest at all on a loan is ‘usury’ I think that you and Ted bear the burden of explaining how a non-existent practice is affecting our economics. And if you believe that interest on a loan is ‘usury’ and not OK, then explain why it is OK to charge rent on an automobile or a house. All three things are property which belongs to someone else.

            • Well, Hezekiah, I can’t find any examples of ‘usury’ in progress.

              How do Rent-A-Centers and check-cashing services and many credit cards not fit this category? These are not things you find in swanky neighborhoods. Their targets are the poorest and most vicious among us.

              • David Davies

                And the answer to all of those is a good job. And to the extent they exist they are the result of a bad economy rather than its cause. Why would anyone use a check-cashing service when it is so easy to get an account at a credit union or a bank? (If you have a good job.) Is check cashing ‘usury’? It is a one time transaction like wiring money. There is plenty of competition for that. If there are exorbitant fees involved there must be some reason that a person would use it instead of the more reasonable bank. Rent-A-Centers? Is that like where you can rent a sofa? Again, a good job allows you to BUY your own sofa. Voila! No ‘usury’. If renting an object can be called ‘usury’. Credit Cards? Yep, a very big temptation. Not a good thing for a person with a bad job and a history of mishandling money to have. But the lenders have been told by the government that they must not exclude those citizens with marginal credit qualifications. So if they don’t give someone a credit card they are racists and/or hate the poor. If they do give someone a credit card they are engaged in ‘predatory lending’ if they actually expect payments to be made on the account. Screwed either way. Ya think that high interest rates might have a little connection to the default rate? Yes, swanky neighborhoods don’t have those things because they don’t need them. They have jobs. Meanwhile, the poorest among us do need places which will cash their possibly worthless checks. If you don’t want a neighborhood with your evil trinity then you want an economy which is robust enough to make these places unnecessary. The best way to achieve that is to encourage a flourishing market in goods and services. How do you propose to do that?

                • Look, I know all of those companies provide useful services. So do prostitutes. That doesn’t make what they do right.

                  The ultimate cure for prostitution is to make sure that everyone is in a fulfilling relationship or is celibate and chaste. How do you propose to do that?

                • Ted Seeber

                  I propose to do it by limiting shipping and thus destroying economy of scale which is the main enemy that is creating the surplus of labor to begin with.

        • str

          I am with Marthe on this.
          “I think though that you should re-think the issue of corporate taxes. Why should investors in any enterprise, large or small, be taxed twice on the money earned by their investment?”
          Well, they shouldn’t. But are they? Are they not paying as corporate income tax some percentage of their profit? Or are you talking about them paying two different taxes? The tax system can always be reformed, made easier, without lowering the amount of taxes.

          • David Davies

            Money which is earned by a corporation is a return on the investments made by the people who share in the ownership of that corporation. It is taxed as income to the corporation. Then the corporation pays dividends to the owners, and that money is taxed as income to each individual owner. The earnings on the investment made by the individual is therefore taxed twice. So if you want to make it ‘fair’ then tax the corporation and make all dividend payments tax-free.

        • Ted Seeber

          1. The interest paid on loans cannot be used for business reinvestment. Credit is a major suck on profits that could be used to pay a higher wage to labor.
          2. Ditto with stock dividends.
          3. That good old reason why taxes are evil, profiting off of somebody else’s labor, is what usury is all about- essentially using the myth of the time value of money to extract excessive fees as “interest” from a loan given.

          Credit and investment markets are hyperinflationary- they almost always hurt small businesses and labor disproportionately.

          Sorry, was away from computers all this weekend.

    • Elaine S.

      I would restate #3 as follows: “We are not about crushing the poor. We are about making sure that spending on entitlement programs doesn’t generate a crushing national debt for EVERYONE in the future.”

    • str

      “Drowning, beating, suffocating and freezing prisoners? Launching wars that leave thousands of innocent civilians dead, despite the impassioned pleas of the Pope not to do it? Slashing social safety nets for the poorest of the poor?”
      I am under the impression that such accusatins can obly be levied against those in government, not against those in opposition.
      Also, it is not akin to going to the cafeteria to say that it is not actually the Pope’s job to allow or disallow wars. He may plead of course (and I happen to agree with the plea regarding Iraq) but anyone may plea this way or that way. The Pope may also teach the contents of morality but it would be (pleasantly) surprising if non-Catholics followed 100%.

      Re the “Wars of choice”: I agree that the war in Afghanistan and against Al-Kaida was justified.
      But Iraq was clearly a war of choice, a war that could be avoided and that alone makes it a stupid war in the situation.
      Lepanto is no counterargument: 1. it was not a pre-emptive strike or even a war but a battle within a war. 2. I doubt that infallibility can be invoked for support for such battle or any act of warfare. I think the Pope at the time did right, but nothing follows from that.
      “There was a long list of reasons for the Congress to authorize the use of force”
      Doesn’t make it right though!
      “What is seen in some minds as a ‘safety net’ we see as more like one of Shelob’s webs.”
      If someone falls to his death, even a cobweb is welcome. And sadly, since you argue against any safety net, do not argue for how to best go about helping the poor but indeed about depriving them.

      • David Davies

        So you don’t believe that Iraq was a “…battle within a war.” I guess that depends on your point of view. I think we have been at war with Islam since the 7th century so ANY military action between our forces and theirs, however constituted, is a “…battle within a war.” And with that perspective neither Afghanistan nor Iraq were ‘preemptive’. As far as safety nets are concerned, we would prefer one which doesn’t trap people so they may later be devoured by the Beast. No problem with catching people before they plunge full tilt into a wall. Big problem with ensnaring them for life. Why did the big Zero just gut ‘Welfare to Work’? His prey escaping his venom and fangs?

        • str

          1. No, Iraq 2003 was quite definitely a separate war that the US chose to fight. The US were not in a state of war with Iraq before that.
          Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is Islam and the US is certainly not Christianity or Christendom. Your perspective happens to be wrong.
          However, Christendom had been in a state of war with the Ottoman Empire for centuries. But anyway, it is silly take events from a different time with a different system of war and diplomacy and different rules and try to transplant it into the present.
          Especially if you overlook the point of whether the Iraq attack was prudent or not.

          2. “Big problem with ensnaring them for life.”
          True, but that’s quite another problem. And removing the safety net (which you advocated above) does not preclude ensnaring people. You see, the government is not the only “devil” around.

          • Blog Goliard

            “The US were not in a state of war with Iraq before that.”

            Wrong. The U.S. was never not in a state of war with Iraq from the commencement of the first Gulf War to the end of the second.

            There was a cease-fire (the terms of which were repeatedly violated, making even that either void or voidable), that’s all.

  • Hi Mark,
    I really don’t know what to say about your blog. I’ve read it over the years, and to me, you’ve become more belligerent and less forgiving towards anyone with an opinion that is different from yours. I say this as someone who, thanks be to God, converted on the isse of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (i.e. torture) after reading arguments in your comboxes. But it seems, more and more, that you are unwilling to extend the charity and kind instruction that you believe the anti-Dolanites lack.

    I realize that there is a large group of Catholics who are as you describe – at least as far as we can see from comments made in the imperfect forum of comboxes which, frankly, allow us to express ourselves very poorly. But I also bear in mind that many of these people with strong opinions, especially about the actions of our bishops have lived for years under leadership that has, at times, been underwhelming, and at worst, destructive (the examples are numerous).

    I guess my suggestion to you is to try and put yourself in their place. Don’t be so quick to strike with your sharp words that can cut to the core of an issue, but can also inflame. Lead by example. If you want people to extend more charity towards Simcha (who I adore, by the way) and anyone else who expresses an opinion that they disagree with – then you do the same. Hold yourself to the same standard that you impose on others. Frankly, I don’t see love of Christ in posts like this because I don’t see where you actually care about the Catholics you believe to be in error. You are far too gifted a writer and a thinker to succumb to angry rhetoric.

    • Mark Shea

      Fair enough, Nerina. It’s a failing of mine, I’ll grant you. I’ll try to do better.

  • Confederate Papist

    I see nothing wrong with Cardinal Dolan doing this for the same reasons other cited above, re: Jesus dining with sinners, etc.

    That being said, I can understand the vapourising of people who have been beaten over the head by “Spirit of Vatican II” bishops, nuns and priests for the last 45 years…but Dolan is NOT one of those guys. Support his decision and pray for him.

  • Nate

    Apples and oranges.

    Much of the criticism of the Al Smith invite has to do with the Church’s continual failure to enforce orthodoxy in its own chanceries, seminaries, parishes, schools, and universities. Those opposed to the Al Smith dinner, like me, see this invite as an example of this intra-Catholic failure: in inviting the president, it shows that those who can do the enforcing really aren’t interested in doing so. Perhaps we who are opposed to the invite are mistaken here, perhaps our arguments are wrong, and perhaps our suspicions are unwarranted. But the argument we are putting forth isn’t nuts. And most of us aren’t throwing a nutty.

    The larger point, though, is that one should not assume that those fighting the inter-culture war are the same as those fighting the intra-culture war. There’s probably some Venn Diagram one could draw, and it’s not complete overlap. I’m bummed that Ryan was a Randian and that Cheney endorses torture and that Planned Parenthood thrives and that the menacing gay visigoths demand applause instead of tolerance. But these issues, while pressing and important, aren’t as pressing *to me* as the fact that the local parish RCIA preaches blatant heresies, a priest ad libs crazy nonsense, confession is once a week for half an hour, the sacred host is hidden in a closet, the school is so minimally Catholic as to be not at all, and the Catholic university in my back yard hands out condoms on its campus mall. Those who are more bummed out by these things find the invite to Al Smith as confirming a suspicion: this opposition to the vices of the secular culture–it’s all a schtick.
    Unfair? Perhaps. Wrong? I don’t think so. But even if it is, it’s not crazy.
    At the vey least, whatever the merit of my argument, because of my interests and priorities, I’m much more likely to add a comment to a post on the Al Smith Dinner-Gate as a post on, say, the Randian influences of Ryan or the fact that a drone wiped out a wedding party in rural Pakistan. Evil and awful. Especially the latter. And neither politician will get my vote unless I hear that such drone attacks will end. But I don’t feel the need to add my two cents to a comment box dealing with this issue.
    Yes, preference in priorities. If someone’s preferences are elsewhere, if someone wants to focus on the evils of Planned Parenthood or our nasty foreign policy, that’s cool too. But we should not assume that everyone is fighting external and internal problems with equal force. So when comboxes don’t light up with equal brightness across the inter and intra cultural disputes, we should not be surprised or alarmed. All this shows, me thinks, is a personal preference and priority placement. As Seinfeld says, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Also, while I’m sure that there are some nasty comments (I’ve read a few myself…not cool!) it seems rather odd to reduce to complaint here to the ravings of a mouth foaming member of the Truly True Catholic Church in a comment box.

    As Walter says, I’m perfectly calm, dude.

    • Irenist

      This is a really helpful perspective. Thanks.

  • Joannie

    I agree with Nate in that the Church Leadership has failed in many ways to properly teach the Faith as firmly but with Charity as well, since you can’t have Love without Truth as the Pope himself has stated to the American Bishops. Is the Pope also a “Truly True Catholic” as well. I am tired of all of the people who say we should not even constructively criticize an American Cardinal who just happens to have a Cult of Personality surrounding him. There is still such a thing as free speech on the Internet blog sites and we need to accept differences of opinion without being uncharitable. Perhaps we can also call the late Cardinal John O’Connor and Cardinal Egan “Holier than Though” like the head of the Catholic said recently on Lou Dobbs. Al Kresta and Teresa Tommeo are also “Truly True Catholics” since they also questioned the invitation but they did NOT personally judge the Cardinal, its the decision he made and the possible mixed signal it may send to the rest of the World, in light of the actions of the previous Cardinals for certain Candidates to not be given an invitation. In this particular circumstance with the HHS mandate, it seems a bad choice to make as it is giving the President a further chance to say what the mandate is doing is not really all that bad because the same Cardinal who was leading the resistance is meeting with the persecutor of our Faith for one night of jokes and right just before the election as well.

  • Peggy R

    I don’t agree with the Cardinal’s action here. But he is wiser than I…quite possibly. (humour folks). I don’t agree with Simcha either. Simcha’s entitled to her view on this are all of us. I do agree that irrationality and a lack of justice and moderation are quite prevalent in the combox world. We should not be criticizing bishops in this vein as Mark cited. [I generally oppose Card Dolan’s move in that it negates direction from bishops not to allow pols who work against Catholic morals to use Catholic properties for events, as guest speakers, etc… It is a “do as I say, not as I do,” move.]

    As far as Ryan’s alleged embrace of Rand, he’s explained his views with Britt Hume. Also, his bishop has come out defending Ryan’s character and “status” as a Catholic which has been attacked by those who disagree with his economics. I don’t think Ryan’s “slashing” benefits for the “poorest of the poor,” but for the not-so-poor who could step up and take responsibility for themselves and their families. The poorest of the poor would always be those most cared for, I’d think. Irenist and I discussed budgeting much in the Ryan thread, hopefully with mutual regard in the end. It was helpful to me. Until the Acton Institute is considered out of bounds with Catholic teaching as is Call to Action, I won’t consider market economics as an out of bounds consideration for policy prescriptions of poverty and the like.

    • Dan C

      Acton Institute is not out of bounds at all. By it does redefine boundaries of discussion. The left get a wider field of play once again since the right wing get so much more freedom these days.

    • Ted Seeber

      I do consider the Acton Institute to be as out of bounds with Church Teaching as Call To Action is.

      But I’ve come to the conclusion, just in the past week as I’ve researched it further, that libertarian Catholics are NOT malevolent, just uninformed.

      And I have hope that one day, an unborn fetus will be considered as worthy of welfare as a 65 year old Medicare patient.

      • Peggy R

        When you’re a bishop or pope you can take care of that then.

        • Ted Seeber

          The Pope tried. Both Tom Woods and Fr. Sircio responded with “Don’t speak ex-Cathedra outside of your competence”.

          Neither seem to consider that morality in business is within the Vatican’s competence.

  • Jeanna

    I understand Cardinal Dolan’s difficult predicament. If it were me though, I’d invite Ron Paul and Tom Hoefling, the only two real candidates I know of who actually have a desire to represent their constituents and aren’t corporate shills. We will have Christ or chaos and IMHO as long as we keep propping up the sham two party oligarchy, chaos will rule.

    • The only two you know of? Really?

      • Ted Seeber

        It’s the “aren’t corporate shills” part that is causing you problems, isn’t it.

        • No, it’s the ‘out of dumb luck the two pols I like are the only ones who aren’t baddies’.

  • Dan C

    Several factors have come into play:

    1. The long-embraced methodology of the right wing to characterize opponents in terms of embodying and displaying the epitome of negative moral characteristics. For example, Obama isn’t just bad, he is Satan, Evil Incarnate. He is also a Marxist, an Muslim, a Foreigner, and a Socialist. Perhaps the operative article in from of each of these titles is “The” such as “The Marxist” etc. This speaks to operative prejudices permitted in discussion in any number of blogs, including those of the Register. The Archbolds love this terminology. It is part of the genie-out-of-the-bottle that are the populist right wing Catholics. Now Satan and Dolan are eating together. No shocker there. Many over-venerated bloggers have encouraged and used this discourse. The Register traffics in them. What is out of place on the Register’s pages is actually Ms. Fischer’s blog post.

    2. Many many leaders of pro-lifism are opposed to Dolan and this dinner. Pro-lifism is for many folks the operative religion over Catholicism. It embodies techniques of mobilization, action, and political engagement that are never ever to be questioned. Alienating the opponent and those who sup with him is the modus operandi. It has always been the case. Such is the work of these masses. And questioning the techniques of pro-lifism is never permitted, since such has been elevated to the level of dogma. Ask Fr. Pavone.

    3. The conservative movement and pro-lifism has elements of a fractured populism that fails to respect nuance and thinks with the mono-syllabic certainty of the mob. Pavone has purveyed such challenging ethical decisions into such black/white concerns for what I suspect is attention and fund-raising. This for him and his followers is a no-brainer. Such campaigns re-inforce the populism, as well as create fund-raising opportunities. Then, with such divisive matters in the future, histrionics will again be used as fund-raising opportunties. It creates a cycle.

    • Blog Goliard

      I like the coinage “prolifism”. It’s as good a term as any to use to try to describe what’s wrong with some sectors of the movement, and with the monomania people contract from it.

      Upthread there’s a mention of a discussion with an Aussie bishop about comparing intrinsic evils. People with prolife monomania are deeply invested in the view that that particular evil is THE evil. Nothing else compares; nothing else even hardly matters at all. If you spend too much time on issues other than prolife, you must just not “get it” (a term that should be banished from our political discourse forever, by the way). Either you don’t fully understand the evil of abortion, or you secretly favor it.

      Prolifism also insists that anything that is done on behalf of prolife is by definition not only good, but mandatory. Doesn’t matter what it is; doesn’t matter if it helps or hurts. It’s prolife and if you’re not a horrible person you get on board. Otherwise, again, you don’t fully understand the evil…or you don’t fully accept the Church’s teachings.

      Prolife also is promiscuous in creating devils…like, in this case, President Obama. And it blurs distinctions; he’s not just a politician who enables these crimes (which should be horrible enough)…he’s exactly the same as people who murder babies with their own hands. And so are you, if you don’t go completely bonkers at the mere thought of Obama having his picture taken with a Cardinal.

      Some profoundly creepy and scummy people hide under the banner of prolifism also. Because if they’ve devoted themselves to the Ultimate Good (a term that is merely a synonym for “prolife”), how can anything they do be wrong? And how can you blame them for any of their behavior? They only do it because they care about unborn babies that much.

      In short, as with any worthy cause (and indeed, many unworthy ones as well), prolife can create monsters of boorish self-righteousness. We all must carefully examine our consciences all the time, even when we know with metaphysical certainty, and with the full and explicit support of the Magisterium, that the cause we’re fighting for is just.

      Maybe especially then.

      (P.S. I am hardly a stranger myself to the various and sundry vices detailed above. Mea culpa. To the extent that my exhortations are sound, may I do a better job of living by them.)

      • Mark Shea

        This is what I am referring to when I say that many Catholics have adopted a heretical soteriology which teaches “Opposition to abortion taketh away the sins of the world.” Say you oppose abortion and you can favor all manner of other grave sins worthy of the fires of hell and you are good to go.

        • I agree that we cannot expect salvation if we are guilty of grave sins that have not been forgiven.

          However, when confronted with two politicians who are the only ones we can reasonably expect to be elected, you agree we can use proportionate reasons to vote for one over the other to limit harm, right? Doing this prudentially (I know, this word is ritually impure because it’s used by evil people) does not involve us in sin ourselves, if we do it in good conscience, right?

          • Mark Shea

            Right. I’m just no certain *I* can do it in a good conscience. Your conscience is between you and God.

        • Ellen Rossini

          Mark, I have been involved on and off in the pro-life movement for the better part of our nearly 40 years under Roe v. Wade since seeing, at age 12, a picture of aborted babies discarded in a heap. I have known hundreds of pro-lifers over these years, and I have never known anyone to say “anti-abortion is all that matters.” OK, so we get a bit obsessive about the murder of innocents in our day, down the street, completely legal. We do spend a lot of energy fighting this intrinsic evil, which is both the symptom and source of much other evil. Pro-lifers are as individual as any other human being, but most activists I know have strong opinions about other matters of public policy and our common life, and are, in fact, rather energetically engaged in the discourse. Your caricature simply doesn’t describe anyone I know. Many of us do see anti-abortion as a starting place, but we’re not saying it’s the finish line.

      • Dan C

        The technique here-ostracism and alienation of Obama and now Dolan-is part of the dogma of prolifism. It is the liturgy of this religion and as such is unquestionable.

      • Dan C

        I am no longer of pro-life email lists but I bet that the “collection basket” is being passed out during this liturgy of histrionics.

    • Peggy R

      Re: Dan C’s comment:

      I quibble with the idea that calling some one a “marxist” or “socialist” b/c of their policies that resemble or may indeed embody those very ideologies is “name-calling.” Since when are these dirty words and bad names? That is a description of a person’s (O’s in this case) economic point of view. Please read about O’s views throughout his life in his own words in his own memoirs. I think they bear up in supporting his belief in a marxist agenda.
      People’s feelings and distrust of Obama, given his ideologies and apparent preferences, are behind the rest of the “name-calling” you cite. Some people sincerely think he’s a Muslim b/c his father and stepfather were and b/c of his bias toward Islam in many regards throughout the past few years. Some people doubt his Christianity b/c he doesn’t sound or seem to believe like most Christians we know. Some people doubt he’s American b/c he doesn’t think like most Americans do (or should) in their view. These “names” are not called out as epithets but as expressions of many people’s doubts and distrust of Barack Obama. This is who they think he is. Really.
      He’s not “different” b/c of his skin color as the liberal media are claiming these days but b/c of his beliefs and priorities as he has expressed them in actions and words these 3 years. It’s unfair to fault people for trying to find explanations for this man’s ideas so different from theirs.

      • Dan C

        This isn’t just name-calling. For the masses, the mob, “the Marxist” is another name for a particular brand of demon. We can discuss later the lack of sense such a commentary makes with regard to this President. Much like “Muslim,” which is a term with a long pedigree of recognized hate and alienation from the right. Until just recently when Catholics have recognized that same brand of “religion hate” can be used as a weapon against itself. (see Robert George’s late in the game attempts to redirect this demagoguery).

      • Dan C

        He is described as “other” and demonized. Not just name-called. That is de rigeur. But the names he is called is that he is Evil Incarnate and for many of the masses these are forms of this Evil. Other demon titles for this devil.

        The mob, for that is the combox commentariat, think in these terms. Nuance is not the strong suit of the mob.

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          And, Dan, is “the mob” something other than any group of which you yourself are a constituent?

          And, if so, how may we be sure of that?

        • Peggy R

          Dan C,
          Sorry for late response. Busy w/family. If “marxist” is indeed an epithet on the right, it is with meaning and good cause, not just name-calling. (That is not to say that no one ever utters such a word with irrational meaning or with intent to hurt, rather than state a fact.) I have to wonder why pols on the left are offended at being called marxist which is what many are indeed. What are they ashamed of?
          The only people who say Obama is the “other” are the liberals. Conservatives have no idea what this means. We really don’t care what he looks like. His thinking, beliefs, and values are not in line with what a good portion of Americans think, believe and value. That’s the problem. It is not his looks, his name, or his parentage. It is what he says and does.
          “Muslim” has a long pedigree of hate from the right? Wow! That’s new to me. Many on the right on certain issues have looked to Muslims as allies on international matters such as abortion.

          Methinks you paint with a broad brush and judge others…according to their skin–or what?

          • Jenny

            I’m sorry but I cannot believe claims that “conservatives,” or any other American, “don’t care what he looks like.” We live in a culture that has been profoundly racist from the beginning. It’s only been in my lifetime (in my 40’s) that black children went to the same schools as white children in my hometown. One of the great lies of modern American society is that racism no longer exists. You can’t excise that level of racism in just a few decades.

            • Marion (Mael Muire)

              I believe Americans are capable of evaluating the policies, positions, and record of a U.S. office holder or candidate for public office more on their merit and less on the office holder’s skin color.

              Many conservatives who are very unhappy with President Obama, have been supporters of Ambassador Alan Keyes, Ph.D.

              • Jenny

                Like I wrote, one of the great lies of modern America is that racism doesn’t exist. It’s not an overt racism anymore. Most of us believe that we’re not racist, even though we are. I write “we” here because I know that I’m guilty of it too. I think today’s racism might be dangerous than the racism of the past because most of us believe we’re not racist.

                Support for Alan Keyes means just as much as “some of my best friends are black.”

                • Peggy R

                  You want to see open unabashed racism, go to Europe, the Middle East, Africa,where native peoples despise openly and speak with no embarrassment about the newcomers who are not of the same race. The US is no more and may be less racist than Europe which has not faced its assimilation and racial diversity issues.
                  Sure, there are racists in America. SLPC is happy to identify those racists, including some black separatist groups. Good on them to note racism in non-whites too. Tribalism is as old as life itself. I think we’re a pretty fair-minded society. I see news article that suggest we’re a racist society b/c online dating sites indicate some races won’t date other races. That’s pretty ridiculous.

                  • Jenny

                    Whether another country is more racist than the US is no excuse for the racism in our own culture.

                    I’ve read far too much history to believe that this is a “fair minded society.”

                    I had a discussion with someone recently about “segregation academies.” He’d never heard the term before. He told me about how Christians in the south had started their own schools in the 1960’s because of secularism. White-washed history but I guess it sounds nicer than the truth.

                    • Peggy R

                      No one is denying racism has existed or does exist. The point, which Marion (MM) made, is that we are capable to evaluating O’s policies and rejecting them independent of his skin color. The left is race-baiting, focusing weirdly on race very often this past week. Conservative ideals are not for only one race or ethnicity. Liberty is for every one.

                      I refuse to be called racist because I vehemently oppose the radical left policies that Barack Obama embraces. I also vehemently oppose the radical left policies that Nancy P embraces, that Chuck Schumer embraces, that Harry Reid embraces, that Noam Chomsky embraces, that Dickie Durbin embraces, George Soros embraces, the Occupy Movement embraces, that MSNBC embraces, that Hillary Clinton embraces, that some radical Catholic nuns embrace, and so on…skin color and ethnicity are irrelevant.

                    • Marion (Mael Muire)

                      Blog Goliard alluded to (below): a “fundamental understanding of the world in general, and their particular place and function within it, (which) would collapse in the absence of sufficient amounts of white racism to oppose and deplore.”

                      Quite so.

                      And I’ve decided Blog G., that because your post contains an unusual frequency of the letter u, that you are a neutrino!

                      Based upon what? you may ask. How does your being a neutrino derive from your use of the letter u unusually frequently? And this to be proven how?

                      Answer! Wait for it: Because I said so!


                      Ain’t it fierce!

                • Marion (Mael Muire)

                  “Support for Alan Keyes means just as much as ‘some of my best friends are black.’”

                  You know what? Your lameness is exceeded only by your bogosity.

                  I’m happy to be called a racist by you, just as much as I would be happy to be called a Fox Terrier by you. Or a Jersey barrier. Or a side table.

                  That’s right. Marion is a side table and a racist.

                  Gee! That hurts.

                  Hey, Peggy, are you a racist and also aren’t you an angora kitten, as well as a fire hydrant, besides which you are an 18″ Chippendale leg?

                  Now, your turn! Isn’t this fun?

                  • Marion (Mael Muire)

                    Peggy, let’s make a list of sub-atomic particles that we can call Jenny: Quarks, mu-mesons, and so on, and say that because she believes X or does Y that makes her an electron.

                    Our doing so won’t have any correspondence with reality, of course, but evidently, that’s the way the game is played.

                    • Blog Goliard

                      Don’t be too hard on her, Marion.

                      I could be wrong…but my strong impression from this thread is that Jenny is like many other well-meaning Lefties I have known, whose fundamental understanding of the world in general, and their particular place and function within it, would collapse in the absence of sufficient amounts of white racism to oppose and deplore.

                    • Peggy R

                      MM–I’ve been out w/family.
                      Good on you! I am also a door..or a jar? gotta go…

                    • Marion (Mael Muire)

                      Person X supports President Obama and therefore he/she is . . .

                      a half-liter of Hollandaise sauce!

                      (Because I said so!)

            • David Davies

              Hi there Jenny! I don’t disagree that racism still exists. Obviously it does. What I do disagree with is this: “I cannot believe claims that “conservatives,” or any other American, “don’t care what he looks like.” I am here to tell you Jenny that I don’t have one itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie racist bone in my body. I like all the different varieties of human persons our Lord has made. “But Mr. Davies, you oppose the Dream Act! You must hate Latinos!!” Yeah. Right. I must have fallen in love with and married my wife because I hate her and all her family and friends. Bolivians, you know. Not as white as the driven snow. And did you know they speak Spanish? And our daughter is half latino, you know. I must hate her too. Oh Yes! The two other LEGAL immigrants I’ve sponsored for immigration know that I hate them as well. Hell, I even have one living in our house with us. I mistreat him every day and make him cut the grass. (Truth is, he operates the driving mower and I the push mower, but you wouldn’t believe me so there isn’t any point in telling you as your mind is already closed tighter than Fort Knox)

  • Mark, please stop trying to satirize the comments on Simcha’s post. It’s impossible to invent anything more outrageous than what some people actually wrote.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    I am baffled at the outcry over this Al Smith dinner. It really makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. The only reason I can see for any of it is the “team sports” mentality present in politics (us vs. them, no exceptions). If that has truly infected the Church and poisoned our charity to this extent, we need a massive repentance.

    This whole affair is extraordinarily sad.

    • Scott W.

      I am baffled at the outcry over the outcry. It’s quite simple. Cdl. Dolan’s invitation is a mistake pure and simple. That doesn’t make him a bad bishop or a devil. It makes him a confrontation-phobic human being like the rest of us. The invitation screams “status quo!” which is simply unsustainable in this age.

      • Confrontation-phobic? I don’t think anyone who has been paying close attention in the past few months to the debate over the contraception /abortion mandate can say that. Cardinal Dolan, and the USCCB behind him, have made it crystal clear to the administration where they stand. They were offered an accommodation and said “no.” They have refused to back down. They are not backing down now. Cardinal Dolan has no problem with confrontation, believe me. Because this invitation is not about the mandate or any political fight. It is about civility and good manners. Look at it as a truce where the grenades stop flying and people can breathe for a while.

        The dinner invitation is only going to become a liability for us and a boon for Obama if we allow it to. We should be in comboxes telling people that it is good for Cardinal Dolan and be gracious in doing this – especially for someone who has already lied to him, betrayed him and ignored him. In other words, he looks much better than Obama at this point. For Cardinal Dolan to maintain relations with the President is Christlike – and also crucial, since we have no idea whether Obama will be elected or not. If he is, we’ll have to continue the fight. We are even very likely to win in the long run.
        The mandate is obviously blatantly unconstitutional and the courts have already given sign of that (Justice Ginsburg’s comments for example, and the recent preliminary ruling in Colorado). It’s not the only battle we will have to wage, unfortunately, and it’s far better to stick together than to incessantly cry “traitor” at our leader. Cardinal Dolan is not the bad guy here!

        • I mean it’s good for Dolan “to be” gracious.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    There was a great deal of uncharity and overheated rhetoric during the slavery debate in this country a century-and-a-half ago, as well. So much so, that it ultimately led to a war in which millions died.

    Even so, and even though John Brown and lots of others acted intemperately and so on, the abolition side was the side of the angels. And the other side was not!

    The thing for Christians to do is to embrace what is right, and hold fast to it for the love of God, while praying God to remove sin and selfishness from their lives, and while extending the mercy and charity to their political or religious opponents that God has been extending to them. It would seem that Cardinal Dolan is trying to do just that.

    Although I am shocked anew every time I think of President Obama expressing his support for the abortion of his own grandchildren if they should arrive at an inopportune time, I can see the virtue in Cardinal Dolan attempting to build bridges until . . . until it’s too late to try to build them any longer.

    Who knows? Maybe if we had had more Cardinal Dolan-like persons in place in 1860 . . . ?

    • Blog Goliard

      John Brown was a terrorist and was rightly hanged. Being on “the side of the angels” doesn’t make any of his crimes any more lovely, if you ask me.

    • Blog Goliard

      I like your broader point, though. (Sorry if my first response there missed it.)

    • Elaine S.

      “Maybe if we had had more Cardinal Dolan-like persons in place in 1860…”
      Someone ought to write a book (heck, maybe I should do it if no one else will) about the role of the Catholic Church in the United States during the Civil War. There were bishops all over the map — literally and figuratively — during the war. Archbishop John Hughes of New York, for example, was a staunch Union supporter; in fact, President Lincoln dispatched him to France to talk Napoleon III out of recognizing the Confederacy.
      Others, mainly in Confederate and border states, went out of their way to remain neutral and counseled their priests to do likewise. Sometimes this caused them problems with either Union or Confederate military authorities, or with Radical (anti-slavery) Republicans who took charge after the war. See this blog post for an interesting example of the latter:
      Then we have Pope Pius IX sending a replica Crown of Thorns to Confederate President Jefferson Davis — a gesture often misinterpreted as an indication that Pio Nono had been rooting all along for the South to win, but more likely was simply a personal demonstration of compassion toward a public figure who was sympathetic toward the Church and seriously considered converting at one time. That, perhaps, could be described as the closest thing to a “Cardinal Dolan-like” gesture to occur during the Civil War — and even today it’s controversial.

      • Elaine S.

        “it ultimately led to a war in which millions died”
        Officially, the military death toll from the Civil War is 620,000, though some historians now believe it was more like 750,000. Either figure is still greater than the COMBINED U.S. military death toll from all other wars up to the present, and when measured against the smaller U.S. population of the 1860s, would be equivalent to about 6-7 million deaths today. It also doesn’t count civilian deaths, which must have been numerous due to starvation, disease, guerilla action, and other causes.

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          Good catch, Elaine. I was including estimated civilian deaths in my “millions”.

  • Dan C

    I have one quibble with this post. While the combox commentariat may be disruptive and uncharitable, they are led into battle by pro-life leaders who are egging them on. The commentariat is just once again off its leash. Pavone is cheering this on, and likely seeing Priests for Life’s account rake in contributions.

    These events are fund-raising opportunities, too, as anyone running such an activist group knows.

  • Brother Cadfael


    I agree with you that the tone and content of the Combox Inquisitors referred to above is, in a word, uncharitable. And irrational. But, to be perfectly honest, I find it strikingly similar to the tone and content of many of your recent facts-be-damned attacks on Ryan. You have singlehandedly determined (based on a relatively scant amount of evidence) that Ayn Rand is the only significant influence on Ryan, that any reference to Aquinas by Ryan is insincere and can only be explained as political expediency, and that whenever he uses the words “urban legend” to deny that he has an obsession with Rand he is really just lying about having ever even heard of her. And near as I can tell, anyone who tries to suggest that your analysis of Ryan might be a little more measured and charitable is likely to find themselves dismissed by you as a right wing nut who is just trying to find another way to drop bombs and torture terrorists. What I can’t figure out is how you can possibly be surprised by (or take offense at) the tone and content of the Combox Inquisitors?

    Perhaps we can also listen to Cardinal Dolan when he suggests that based on his own personal experience, which includes years of correspondence with Ryan, that the man has a sincere interest in, and a good understanding of, Aquinas? And that Ryan has “an obvious solicitude for the poor?” Or does your reasoning above only apply to conservative Catholics in the combox?

    • Mark Shea

      You have singlehandedly determined (based on a relatively scant amount of evidence) that Ayn Rand is the only significant influence on Ryan

      No. I have not. I have determined, based on Ryan’s words and deeds that Rand was, painfully obviously, a huge influence on Ryan (not the “only” influence) and that hissudden attempt in April to blame this perception solely on his liberal enemies and not on his own words and deeds (It’s all an “urban legend”) was as preposterous as Obama’s pretense that 20 years at Jeremiah Wright’s church made no impression on him.

      I am not very near to likewise determining that this wilful misreading of multiple statements by me is not an accident but is dishonest. Stop misreading me and pay attention.

      • Richard Johnson

        But Mark…your suggesting that a they apply the same standard to members of their tribe that they apply to members of the other tribe. That’s….that’s….REASONABLE!!! And you know we can’t be reasonable, especially in an election season!

      • Brother Cadfael


        Here are just some of the quotes I was relying on when I made the statement that you have claimed Rand was the only significant influence on Ryan. Please let me know where I am misreading you or being dishonest.

        You suggested that Rand was Ryan’s “principle intellectual guiding light” and his “primary influence” and that he was a “fanatical devotee” of hers.

        You called Ryan “a disciple of Rand who subordinates the teaching of the Church to her erroneous human tradition.”

        You accused Ryan of a “cock-and-bull attempt to adapt Catholic teaching to the needs of his Randian kookery.”

        You described Ryan as “a completely orthodox disciple of John Galt.”

        You said that “Ryan has dedicated years of his adult life to spreading [Rand’s message] with his evangelism for Atlas Shrugged.”

        Finally, you offered this nugget: “He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice.”

        Do you really think I’m the one being unfair?

        • Mark Shea

          Yes. “Principal” and “primary” do not mean “only”. If she were his only influence, he would not be Catholic or anti-abortion. Next question?

          • Brother Cadfael

            Nor does “only significant” mean “only.”

            If his Catholic beliefs are subordinate to the Randian kookery that he is fanatically devoted to and has spent years of his life spreading; if his attempts to invoke Aquinas and Catholic Social Teaching are disingenuous, opportunistic, and simply matters of political expediency; pray tell, what exactly are the other significant influences you have identified for this Randian Class Warrior?

            Perhaps your criticism of Ryan is just an urban legend perpetuated by another conservative Catholic combox wingnut?

            • Mark Shea

              Since you seem to be illiterate, here is the full context of the quote you are mining:

              Because when it comes to the specific place in which Ryan is most deeply in debt to her–her analysis of the relationship of Makers and Takers (“Producers” vs. “Looters” in her parlance)–Ryan comes out as a completely orthodox disciple of John Galt.

              Yet never fear: he is not a *pure* Randian. As a career politician, living off the public teat, and not a Producer or Maker of any kind, he comes out as a perfectly orthodox specimen of our Ruling Class who only picks and chooses at Rand as he only picks and chooses at Catholic teaching. So we find him laboring to enrich the rich with your taxes via state bailouts, laboring to crush liberty with support for the Patriot Act, supporting the rise of a police/torture state by throwing his weight behind a man who eagerly supports torture, voting for pre-emptive war and expanding our already massively huge military (as powerful an expression of fealty to the state as can be given), and enriching himself immensely by magically profiting from the collapse of the economy as so very many other members of Congress magically managed to do. So no. He is not a *pure* Randian. He basically likes the “You aren’t the boss of me” parts of Rand, while taking a much more lax view of using the state to get riches and power when it is useful.

              Give it up, dude. You claimed I said something I don’t say. She’s not his only influence. She is a huge and primary influence. And it’s crap when he tries to blame liberal enemies for inventing that as an urban legend.

              You’re welcome to vote for him. But give up the stupid “Ryan is Aquinas to Rand’s Aristotle” hogwash.

  • Brother Cadfael

    For what its worth, I don’t think Cardinal Dolan’s invitation is either wrong or a mistake, and any suggestion that Fisher should be fired for anything in that article is ridiculous.

  • Bill

    I can’t stand Barack Obama. I’m fairly sure Mark Shea doesn’t stand him either. That doesn’t mean we’re in the time of Leviticus and Obama is a leper. His Eminence has every right to eat with Obama and should.

    Decrying him as Neville Chamberlain is wrongheaded. It’s emotionalism run amok.

    • Blog Goliard

      Neville Chamberlain?

      What blessed precincts of the Internet have you found, where the combox crusaders only compare Cardinal Dolan to Neville Chamberlain?

      Meanwhile, they’re still at it over on Simcha’s post. I think my new favorite was when I got accused of glibly avoiding the other side’s arguments…by someone who disappeared when I asked which points he would like me to go back over.

      At least when I lost my cool, it led to the crazies actually reading what I wrote and responding to it for a little while. (Kinda.)

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    You may not be unfair, brother, but you are wrong.

    • Brother Cadfael

      It would not be the first time I’ve been wrong. But if I’m wrong in my characterization of what Mark is saying about Ryan, then I am being unfair. Which is why I’ve tried to stay close to the actual text of what Mark has said. Much closer, I think, than Mark does when he claims that Ryan dismisses any influence by Rand as “urban legend,” when those words were quoted in the context of Ryan’s supposed “obsession” with Rand. Denying that an obsession is urban legend is not the same thing as denying any influence, no matter how many times it’s repeated.

  • Brother Cadfael

    You’re seriously quibbling with whether I egregiously misrepresented you by stating “only significant” instead of “primary” and then you’re going to claim that I have said Ryan is Aquinas? Good luck finding that one!

    I guess I’ll have to wait for that other significant influence, because conceding he is not a “pure” Randian is not the same thing as identifying other significant influences in his life. Even in the quote you just threw up there, he only picks and chooses the Catholic teachings he likes. If his Catholicism is not a signicant influence, I’m seriously wondering what you think are the other significant influences on this fanatical Rand devotee?

    • Mark Shea

      Since I have already acknowledged he is a pious Catholic and is anti-abortion, I’m not sure what else you are looking for. Nor am I particularly interested in finding out. Bye!

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the Head of the Pro-Life Cause.

    Not Pro-Life party or parties.

    Cause. The Pro-Life Cause. Which is different from party.

    Jesus is not limited to either party, or to any party. But He does very much lead and command our work and prayer for the protection of the most vulnerable from decisions that seek to destroy them.

    That being the case, Jesus cannot at the same time lead and command us to work and pray on behalf of making it easier and more affordable to destroy the helpless, as we have seen in, for example, the very sad cases of “Nuns for Choice” (I just threw up a little in my mouth.)

    No, He is not divided against Himself. He is not for righteousness on the one hand, and for iniquity on the other. Jesus is the same today, tomorrow, and forever.

    Nevertheless, although solidly pro-life, Jesus continues to love those who commit outrages against the sanctity of life. Jesus loves the mother who chooses to deny her baby its existence. Jesus loves the physician who wields the instrument of death. Even as he did for us, He laid down His life for them, as well.

    Think of it: the Spotless Lamb, whom nothing soiled or corrupted by sin ever touched in His life here on Earth, and who now reigns in Heaven at the right Hand of the Father, nevertheless, regards with mercy and compassion those who deal death to the unborn. And yet, so often, we who have steeped ourselves in sin from the dawn of our reason, and who have frequently turned our backs on God and refused Him, yet build up a store of merciless wrath against our neighbors – sinners like ourselves!

    It would be for the purity of Holy God to unleash merciless wrath against sinners – but He does not! He is a God of mercy and of compassion. On the day of their judgement, yes, the wrath will be terrible. But until our earthly course is finished, it is the time of trial, the time of repentance, and the time of God’s mercy.

    When our devotion to the pro-Life cause is as it should be – motivated by a love of God and directed toward God, and like God, holy, pure, compassionate, charitable, mild, long-suffering – then we will achieve greater and greater things for His cause. When my devotion to the pro-Life cause is not as it should be – tinged with self-righteousness, fueled by inordinate wrath against my neighbor, and a partisan spirit of bickering, then my efforts to advance of Jesus’ cause can gain but little traction. Poor, deluded wretch that I am: I am working against Him when I think I am working for Him.

    The Evil One loves to do that to us: to get in there and poison and divert any and all efforts to serve the good God. Without constant prayer and sacrifice the Evil One will delude even good pro-Life persons in this way, too, as he has already long since deluded and taken by chains those who embrace the Culture of Death. If we let him, the Evil One will have us both for his own – those who are partisans of the Culture of Death as his bondservants, and those of us on the side of Life (we suppose) but who fail to purify our intentions and reign in our pride and wrath.

    The true servants of the Most High work hard, moving mountains by their faith, but they reign in their pride and wrath, as is fitting for those who follow the example of Jesus Christ, their King.

  • kim

    shut up.
    so catholics are tired of the bloodbath of spineless leaders, heretics in the midst, and scandals.

    so some good catholics say stupid things and idiotic jerks come out of the woodworks.

    shut up. let people tend their wounds and try to figure things out.

    stop shouting into the abyss. most catholics are faithful; they are trying and live in trying times.

    cut them a break the way the lefties do to all the militant muslims

    some Catholics needed something from Dolan’s leadership and felt let-down. big whoop. So, they don’t all have the time/intellect/faith to sort it out. no wonder saints were never appreciated in their time. they were probably as picked apart and analyzed as the average combox commentor or struggling catholic, or priest, or bishop, or pope….

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    It used to be, “Pay, pray, and obey.”
    Now it’s, “Shut up.”
    I was wondering if Progress was all it’s been cracked up to be. Looks like probably not.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Boy, someone touched a nerve, as evidenced by the continued assininity over 12 hrs and multiple posts varying the theme.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      Good morning, Mr Garrett,

      I suppose your comment refers to Peggy and my little riff (above) from last evening. I’m sorry you find our humor “asinine”. Just being silly, we were. If you don’t like it, you can always skip it.

      By the way, anyone who objects to such humour as “asinine”, is without a doubt, a propellor from a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

  • Mike

    Seems silly to to discuss/argue over WWJD. I always thought that this whole thing was some slick marketing ploy created by someone to sell bracelets, shirts and coffee mugs. I mean no one can say with any clarity WWJD. Maybe our time is better spent looking at WDJD – What Did Jeus Do. Mr. Shea and other theological and Biblical scholars can answer these questions better than I. Jesus did eat with sinners, Jesus never condemned the Romans. In fact, he healed the Romans centurions servant. And we have St Paul’s letter to the Romans, 13:1-7. Ironic, that Rome, the epitome of evil, and talk about government infringing on religious freedoms and now it is the seat of Christendom! So In terms of this Al Smith issue, first I think it has been blown way out of proportion. Second, I must admit my first knee-jerk reaction to Crd. Dolans invite was this is nuts. But, after reading his blog, while still not completely on board, I must say I understand his perspective and as my bishop, I feel called to subordinate my feelings and support and pray for him. With God, all is possible

  • David Davies

    Here is a link which is interesting in light of all the above. Apparantly his eminence has good things to say about Paul Ryan:

  • RandyA

    I had intended to post a long reply, but now I realize there is no point. My wife and I are apparently just hicks for questioning a bishop’s decision and not being able to find substantive reasons for changing our minds.

    If we are wrong in our analysis, then we’ll have to pay the price. I sincerely hope that we are proven wrong for Cardinal Dolan’s sake since our circle of influence is quite small compared to his, or Mr. Shea’s. I’m un-bookmarking this site after many, many years of reading. My esteem is bad enough without it being damaged on the Internet too!

    • Blog Goliard

      The Internet is an especially dangerous place for people who have a combination of poor reading comprehension and thin skin.

  • Hezekiah Garrett


    If you start out with a bogus definition, youll never get anywhere.

    Now go find out what usury actually is, THEN find 3 examples of your own. We will gladly wait while you catch yourself up.

    • David Davies

      From my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, which I have relied on for over forty years now:

      Usury. 1) Interest. 2) the lending of money with an interest charge for its use. 3) an unconscionable or exorbitant rate or amount of interest; specif: interest in excess of a legal rate charged to a borrower for the use of money.

      All fit within my previous posts. If you have another definition of usury I am most curious to hear what it could be.

  • Hezekiah Garrett


    What is a good job? A bad job? Id be very interested in your answers as a way to know you.

    Becauae if for one second you make these distinctions based on anything but morality (janitor good, abortionist bad) you’re endangering your soul. And the examples you gave, seeing as the abortionist can buy a couch much more readily than the janitor, dont lead me to believe that is the distinction you make. In which case, you are on a wide an easy boulevard to eternity.

    Now, I will await an answer: how do you distinguish good and bad jobs?

    • str

      “Becauae if for one second you make these distinctions based on anything but morality (janitor good, abortionist bad) you’re endangering your soul.”
      Really? I agree that if one does away with morality the soul’s in danger. But so when one takes other factors into account. And a job you cannot live by is not a good job, regardless how moral the work is.

    • David Davies

      Nobody has suggested that there is no moral dimension to work. Obviously a high paying job as a hit man cannot be accepted as a ‘good’ job. That a job should satisfy moral requirements should be understood. In a discussion of womens’ clothing is it necessary to point out that ‘fabric’ does not include things like chicken wire or exotic tropical lumber?

      So a ‘good’ job is one which does not involve immoral activities and enables a person to support himself.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    So until everyone is chaste, the exploitation of women shouldnt even be on our radar?

    My apologies, but thats what I understand you to ne saying. I assume the error is mine.

  • Hezekiah Garrett


    You mean to say a bad job is being in the employ of one who denies his workers a just wage?

    Its a bad situation, but I dont see how it is a bad job. The job is your work, not your compensation.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    We never entered into a state of war with iraq, we did it all under UN and NATO fig leaves. The UN was content to have the terms of its ceasefire ‘violated’.

    I put violated in quotes because their ackack in that decade was less than a joke.its like me shooting the 4 yo next door because he keeps sticking his hand thru my fence clearly marked ‘no trespassing’.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    In other words then, Davies, the exploitation of the poor in this country, thru usury, is their own damned fault?

    And no, there is a world of difference between def. 3 (yours prior) and definition 1 (the actual meanung of that term of art.)

  • David Davies

    No, Hezekiah. The exploitation of the ‘poor’ is not their fault. It is the fault of ‘poverty pimps’ who advocate for programs which lock the ‘poor’ in at the bottom. Their programs enslave rather than elevate.

    What does “(the actual meanung of that term of art.) mean? I think that ‘usury’ involves abusive interest terms on a loan. As in, 200 percent per month is ‘abusive’. And most likely illegal. Don’t we have laws against loan-sharking? Are you one of those who insist that ANY level of interest is abusive?

    Yes, we have had no ‘Declarations of War’ passed since Dec 8, 1941. We aren’t allowed to use that kind of language anymore since war was outlawed by the United Nations. A thing remains what it is whatever language you may use to describe it. We have been at war with Iran since 1979, or 1953, or 400 B.C. depending on your terms of reference. At the present time there is a state which is engaged in killing American military personnel by the use of its surrogates. If you don’t think they are at war with us then you are remarkably blind.

    • Ted Seeber

      The Supreme Court did away with Usury Laws in the United States in 1978. Basically the regulation is now “The Usury Laws where the Bank is Headquartered are the Usury Laws for the United States for all transactions with that bank”. Since South Dakota and New York don’t have any loan sharking laws, most banks that issue credit are headquartered there.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    No, usury is interest collected, at any rate, on loans of consumption.

    Yeah, its poverty pimps keeping much of this country’s working poor down, debasing their wages and encouraging them toward profligate consumption.

    Your economic beliefs are unabashed evil. Go read Rerum Novarum and its successot encyclicals. You are endangering yourself.

    • Blog Goliard

      You so readily resort to name-calling that it is hard to take what you say seriously, and even harder to respond respectfully.

      Please reconsider your tone.

    • Ted Seeber

      I was using usury in it’s original theological definition, which is collecting unearned money through the use of a fraudulent contract.

      Loans against the poor are only ONE example of this. One can commit such fraud against a rich man as well, leaving him with less money to pay his employees and forcing him to lay them off and/or pay them less than a living wage.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    One example, please?

    Ive been quite careful not to do as you claim. Perhaps you confused my mathematical proficiency with your own reading comprehension?

    • Mark Shea


      Blog Goliard is a decent chap. Stop answering him (and many others) with hostility or stop commenting here.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Sure thing, Chief. I’ve volunteered it a time or 4 myself. Glad to finally do it. I leave you to your mammon worahippers and their apologists.

  • Hezekiah,

    I really like having you and your perspective around. A toned-down, non-sarcastic you is very much needed here. Please don’t go.

    • Mark Shea

      I agree.