As if to illustrate my point…

As if to illustrate my point… January 7, 2015

about the deranged, anti-Catholic thing that so much of the “faithful conservative” Catholic subculture has become, First Things publishes this festival of crazy contempt for Francis in which we are instructed that “Francis is … an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist.” We see the teaching office of St. Peter described as a “sandwich board”. We learn that “Francis serves an environmentalist mindset that, unlike the traditional ethos of conservation, views man as a parasite” (how the aptly named Ms. Mullarkey divines knowledge of the Pope’s Human Extermination Agenda before Francis has even published a word of his encyclical is left unclear. Ours is not to inquire into the prophetic gifts of a conservatism that has so often shown itself able to peer into the future and see success in Iraq, the genius of Cliven Bundy, and the innocence of Fr. Maciel.) We learn as well that Francis is “only being photographed with the right kind of sinner.”

Then it goes to Rev. Wright (culture war dog whistle!)…. and ends with… BUM BUM BUMMMMMM… Satan. And Francis. Next to each other. All it needs is this to really complete the vibe.

Naturally, this revolting (in every sense) smear job is advertised as an act of massive courage by the author’s fans who say: “I’m not a sycophantic groveller before the throne of St. Peter.” The Catholic faithful at FT are accordingly granted permission to likewise stand up against this Pope of Human Extermination and defy whatever it is he has yet to actually say.

Cuz that’s super-duper *real* Catholic faith.

The stinking, sweaty, panic-stricken hatred of the pope from the kind of “faithful conservative” Catholicism represented by Maureen Mullarkey is getting more and more palpable–and respectable among the increasingly deranged right wing.  This was not written on a bathroom wall where it belongs.  It was not published on some blog published from Ignatius Reilly’s basement.  This was published by First Freakin’ Things.

Reader John Medaille remarks, “The rhetoric of the Right-wing Catholics of today is becoming indistinguishable from that of the anti-catholics of yesterday.” Indeed. A friend of mine rather impishly has sent this crazy FT screed to Shoutin’ Bill Donahue at the Catholic League with a request that he denounce this bizarre Know Nothing rant. I doubt much will come of it.  But there is little to separate it from the dumbest hayseed tract from a Fundamentalist who makes Jack Chick look like a Ph.D.

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  • Joseph

    Scathing and hateful indeed. Why couldn’t the writer have just asked the question, “What in the hell is the Pope doing writing an encyclical on Climate Change anyway?” without being such turd. It’s not scientific *fact* as it is still debatable.


    The only thing a Catholic needs to know is that they offend God when they destroy His creation… especially when it’s done intentionally, for greed, and/or when it’s completely unnecessary (when there are other alternatives). This understanding doesn’t have to be attached to the political movement called Climate Change. I *suspect* this is what will be contained in the encyclical and the media is falsely making this out to be Francis’ allegiance with Al Gore to tax the crap out of the world for unmeasurable carbon output so that Al Gore and his other corrupt friends can make millions on Carbon Credits and continue to live in their mansions which consume more power than entire subdivisions and fly alone in their private jets all around the world leaving their “carbon footprints” everywhere.

  • BHG

    Joseph: exactly right, especially the unsettled science part. The screed was over the top, the underlying premise–that the Holy Father might be speaking about something (science) whereof he knows not so much– not so much. But then again, the same can be said of many of the posts here.

  • jroberts548

    Come on. Her name sounds like “Malarkey.” This is clearly some sort of satire.

    The other alternative – that a magazine originally dedicated to religion in the public square is now opposed to the Catholic Church taking any sort of public stance on conservation – is too absurd to consider.

    • ivan_the_mad


    • On Jan 12, 2015, all priests will begin wearing green vestments. Is Pope Francis’ radical environmentalism invading the Mass? Oh noes!

      • Artevelde
      • Fr. Denis Lemieux

        I will happily don green vestments next Monday as a sign of my unity with the Holy Father.

      • Joseph

        Hahaha… I think you just gave The Guardian a lead story. I can see it now: Catholic Church in Solidarity Against Climate Change (Reuters)… On January 12, to show it’s solidarity with the Green Movement, all Catholic clergymen will wear green vestments when performing Mass, considered the holiest form of worship by Catholics and the Pope, the infallible leader of the Church. This will continue throughout the year, only breaking for Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas seasons. The Church will also continue to use organic bread and wine in their ceremonies as a nod towards Environmentalism.

    • John Carter

      Perhaps Malarkey will be the new host of the Colbert Report. 😉

  • capaxdei

    Um… is the Pope writing an encyclical on climate change?

    Or is he writing an encyclical that people have already reduced to whatever neurons fire in their brains when stimulated by the term “climate change”?

    • jaybird1951

      To be fair, many on the left are salivating at the prospect, as they see it based on what the Guardian newspaper published, that Francis will take sides with the global warming/climate change lobby. In effect taking sides politically. Many on the right are reacting to that, actually overreacting. Everyone seems to be reacting to that one article. I think it would be a really great mistake if Pope Francis does take sides in this political controversy especially at a time when the scientific community itself is becoming more and more skeptical about the global warming claims.

      • Jonk

        The Guardian article was a spectacular troll job, I’ll give them that.

      • John Carter

        The scientific community is not becoming more skeptical about global warming … the evidence continues to show an overall increase of temperature. But you didn’t really mean to be “fair”, did you?

        • Joseph

          And you apparently did.

  • HornOrSilk

    They have been this way at FT for a LONG time. They were able to hide it before Pope Francis (everyone ignored Pope Benedict’s analysis which ran contrary to them, but Francis they can’t ignore). The fact is, this has been the kind of problem of the “right” in the US for a LONG time. The Catholic mindset in the US from most sides is not “think with the Church.” Everyone thinks in politics, money, culture, than they do as Catholic. The “Culture war” is a demonstration of this: because it is “war” anything is permissible, which has led to a real discontinuity between true pro-life Catholicism and the “right” in the US. The “left” have a discontinuity as well: they understand the need for the underclass, but the American left have no understanding of the reason for it, human dignity, which is why they have yet to understand abortion. And the “left” is as much into the culture wars as the right.

    Catholics need to be able to see good and bad in both “right” and “left,” and when something is good in one, accept it, work with it, while working beyond it as well. The problem is Catholics have lost how to work at being Catholic. It’s always guilt by association which is used to stop proper assimilation of orthopraxy.

    If people had read traditional saints, they would understand where Pope Francis is coming from. I mean, I still can’t understand how and why any Catholic won’t understand that our sins, individual and communal, have consequences, and do affect the earth. That’s basic Catholic theology (original sin). The talk about famine, pestilence and the like as being a result of sin is also true, though now we understand it is within the makeup of nature, and science is showing how our communal sin creates such disasters. It reinforces Catholic theology, and refines it from the silly Pat Robertson version of such things, because it shows how it is in the natural order, and not just some random judgments which are hard to correlate .

    • Kathleen S.

      Agree with you. FT has been that way for awhile. Pope Francis is a light shining on the defects of the conservative Catholic politics.

    • Ronald King

      Horn, as usual I appreciate and admire your perspective. One point I question is when did Catholics ever have the ability “…to work at being Catholic.”?

      • HornOrSilk

        In the US, not so well, though in some communities, when they were more focused in their community over US politics, you got a lot of it. I would also say those engaging theology, priests, and religious often worked out such engagements, which trickled down to the public more than now, too.

        • Ronald King

          I see your point. My comment was based on my experiences in a Catholic community during the 1950’s and ’60’s in which acting Catholic in a legalistic sense appeared to be the extent of spiritual development.

  • Eerie de Veré

    Wow! Ordinarily this is something I would expect from Crisis Magazine. As far as right-wing Catholics in America being indistinguishable from the anti-catholics of yesterday, this goes hand-in-hand with the irony of Evangelical leaders like Rick Warren giving strong support to the holy father.

    This goes hand-in-hand with the horrific absurdity I have witnessed this week of so-called conservative Catholic apologists undermining and splitting hairs over papal teaching in order to affirm the use of torture as moral and ethical, while Evangelical friends and graduate students express strong solidarity with JPII-Benedict-Francis on this topic.

    Is anyone else reminded of the parable of the two sons in Matt 21:28-32? Does anyone else remember a time when Catholic apologists defended the Pope from Protestant attacks, and not the other way around?

  • ivan_the_mad

    Apparently, judging a book by its cover doesn’t speed one towards foolish error quickly enough. Judging a book unseen and unpublished will get you there at transwarp speeds.

    Praise to the prescience of the partisan!

  • linda daily

    First Things and Crisis are indistinguishable now. Both are simply right-wing political journals not remotely related to faith. Catholics need to understand that both publications have chosen to serve mammon.

    • Eerie de Veré

      If only it were mammon only. However, I become extremely uncomfortable when so-called conservative Catholics split theological hairs and undermine the constant teaching of the last three popes on human dignity, in an attempt to morally and ethically justify the following:

      What is just as uncomfortable is explaining to horrified Evangelical and non-Catholic friends on our side of the border that the apologetics of torture are an anomaly of Catholic neo-conservatives in America, and most certainly do not speak for the Church universal. Fortunately, Popes St John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have blessed us with clear teaching on respecting the human dignity of all people–including the justly imprisoned.

    • IRVCath

      Well, in First Things’ limited defense, they aren’t a Catholic oriented publication, never claimed to be. They are or were a center right publication which had a preponderance of Catholic authors on them.

  • Matthew

    And he quoted an anarchist! I can’t get over that. I can’t.

    Personally I’m a big fan of Ellul. His theology was a bit lacking here and there, but he makes a good case, and I’ve always been a bit partial to Christian Anarchism.

    • HornOrSilk

      Same here. I like Ellul, but I can guarantee, FT would be the antithesis of what Ellul was after (since they are very much into the technique of the corporation and the propaganda of a particular ideology which runs counter to him). But I also agree, Ellul has a few issues of his own, since I do believe there is a role for government and the church to interact.

  • “Climate Change” is first of all a scientific issue. Whether or not someone is going to make money out of it rather than someone else is irrelevant to the main issue.

    But the last two Popes have noted that if climate change does kick in, it is the poor of the world who will suffer most – in other words, the most defenseless of the flock.

    However, if anyone here wants to tell me that most of the climate scientists in the world are criminals or criminally incompetent, I find myself ignoring it as preposterous.

    • Jonk

      Considering we’re talking about a group who parade their models, which are continually proven faulty and have zero proven predictive value, as the reason we must end the process of development that has brought over a billion people out of poverty, I have a hard time thinking of a more appropriate charge for them.

      • Perhaps you might go to some site like Real Climate and debate the scientists there.

        A degree in atmospheric physics or chemistry would be helpful. I haven’t got one.

        I must caution you though – according to what I have been told charging someone on the Net with being a criminal is about the only thing on the Net that can get you sued. Bring strong proof..

        • Jonk

          Appeal to authority.

          There are adults alive today who have never lived in a warming world. No model has predicted such a lull, nor are they capable of explaining it.

          Given that, I’ll go ahead and let the world keep growing, developing, and bringing more people out of poverty, thank you. Slamming the brakes on such improvement because of an unscientific bogeyman doesn’t sound like the best way to serve fundamental human dignity.

          • You never appeal to or rely on authority when considering complex problems?

            I just purchased a dosimeter. Perhaps I should have designed and built one in my garage instead.

            • Jonk

              And if that dosimeter continually fails to provide accurate readings, will you take the manufacturer at their word when they tell you it’s perfectly fine, and you should continue to trust it with your life?

              • It seems to be a rather good instrument for the purpose.

                Background radiation here is approx. 0.12 mSv p/h, which I think should be right.

                Central Pennsylvania.

                • Jonk

                  You mean its accuracy is testable and falsifiable?

                  You don’t say.

                  As soon as climate scientists can actually treat their models the same way, I’ll consider them more of an authority. I won’t hold my breath, though, considering they’re trying to model a nonlinear chaotic system with variables they don’t even fully understand yet.

                  • Take two Earths…

                    • Jonk

                      Or they could develop a model that’s historically predictive, and can account for the 18-year pause, before we start halting economic progress based on incomplete models that can’t account for observed conditions.

                    • Have you tried asking questions?

                      Years ago I interviewed two NASA scientists for a small town newspaper who were working on measurements in the arctic stratosphere. One was an atmospheric physicist and the other was an atmospheric chemist. They both struck me as decent guys with no ulterior motives.

                      Is there any way you can do something similar? If you come at people as if they were sinister characters out of a melodrama you’re obviously not going to get much in the way of communication.

                      I can’t answer your questions in any kind of authoritative way. The only thing I might be able to do is repeat what I read and hear which seems plausible.

                      Do you have any kind of scientific background?

                    • Jonk

                      I’m sure they’re very honest and nice people. They’re also subject to a great deal of groupthink, and can’t seem to recognize that the data (larger extents of sea ice, no measurable warming for 18 years) tends to invalidate the whole theory as it stands.

                      I only have a degree in rocket science, and know enough about nonlinear chaotic systems to understand that, while you can try to model their behavior on average, that model can never have predictive value because it’s so dependent on getting all of the initial conditions precisely right (which is impossible). Add to that the fact that the sun, which provides all of the energy, is another such chaotic system that can’t be modeled with any true predictive capacity, and you come to the conclusion that there’s not much there of long term value.

                      What that means is that anyone who says “N will happen in 30 years” is full of it.

                      The solution to the problem of climate change isn’t to handicap the development and modernization that has brought billions out of poverty. The solution is to prepare for every eventuality. Develop drought-resistant crops, cold-resistant crops, short- and long-season crops, and the like. Extract the resources that were buried under permafrost while you can. Use a Northwest Passage that opens to increase trade and prosperity. In short, treat the world as a dynamic, ever- changing place that we must respect, but also a place whose inevitable and uncontrollable changes we can’t fear.

                    • Why don’t you tell them or their colleagues? I have no way of evaluating your ideas scientifically, or your data.

                      Tell them they are subject to group think, and then hear what they say. You might even learn something.

                      Speaking of rockets, my Dad was a precision machinist and worked on the LEM.

                    • Jonk

                      As Mark has said here, much of the climate change debate has become an issue of faith, not of science. There are some scientists who have become climate change apostates. They don’t get grants anymore.

                    • You just gave me an assertion. You didn’t answer my question.

                    • Jonk

                      This guy’s doing that fine on his own:
                      “Hughes told The College Fix that he has sent copies of his arguments to his former colleagues at the University of Maine and at NASA. Most of them “probably disagree,” he said, but added that they all receive funding for climate research.”

                      Then there’s this, speaking to incentives:
                      ““You will never read or hear any of this from the scientific and political establishments,” he said. “I’m now retired, so I have no scientific career to protect by spreading lies.””

                      There’s an interesting link between climate change panic and population control in the article, too.


                    • Assertions and an anecdote do not constitute proof that there is a global conspiracy of climate scientists.

                      And anyway, if there were solid evidence why would you be wasting time trying to convince me?

                      What about the Pontifical Academy of Sciences? Are they in the fix too?

                    • Jonk
          • Andy

            Please share your evidence that world growth the way it is going is bringing more and more people out of poverty. I really want the proof.

            • Jonk

              The World Bank has some good info, too. Africa hasn’t seen the same growth that Asia has, unfortunately, so we still have a good distance to go.

              • Andy

                Thank you I will look at this information and that above – I appreciate you sharing it with me.

        • Joseph

          Pavel: Perhaps you might go to some site like Real Climate and debate the scientists there. A degree in atmospheric physics or chemistry would be helpful. I haven’t got one.
          Sooooo… why are you trying to debate again? I love that. Climate Change is real, man. I’m not expert, and neither are you… so you can’t debate me when I say Climate Change is real, man.

          • You’re too deep for me, Joseph. : )

            Best wishes.
            God bless.

      • Andy

        You make the statement ‘…are continually proven faulty and have zero proven predictive value…” – please provide the scientific evidence for this – not opinion pieces, or comments from non-scientists. Thank you.

        • Jonk

          Here you go. Reality vs. theory for temperatures, and a long term chart of actual observed sea ice.

  • tj.nelson

    I read the piece last night – I couldn’t believe it – I don’t subscribe to First Things but I never expected that Mullarky. I have been comparing what is going on with the anti-papist screeds of reformation England, the French Revolution, and American anti-Catholicism – it is unbelievable.

    I couldn’t have said this better:

    “The rhetoric of the Right-wing Catholics of today is becoming indistinguishable from that of the anti-catholics of yesterday.”

    Read more:

    • HornOrSilk

      I would say there are a few causes of this. One, many of them were/are converts, which is itself a good thing, but they brought with them their non-Catholic issues and way of thinking: they are Protestants who happen to believe, for now, the Catholic Church is right, but they give a Protestant conditional obedience to the Church. I know many of these who then go from church to church: I know many right now thinking of going Orthodox because of it (which is a danger to the East).

      Another group has been raised Catholic, but are very much American first. They often accused the left of this, which is often true in the US, but they are it just as much. They look at everything in the lens of American politics, forgetting that the foundation of American politics (right and left) stemmed from a reaction against Catholicism. This, I think, is why many of the same memes are used between classical anti-Catholicism and their current ideology. It is because they took on too much of the foundations of American thought which devolves into this.

      Another group has been led astray by the first two, and though they want to be Catholic, and agree that the Pope should be heeded, they are confused because they believed the Pope has been saying the exact same thing as the American right for some time. As a result, in their writings, you can see their confusion; they still hold on to what they “learned” and reason from it, though they are willing to slowly learn and see beyond it. Yet because they have yet to “get there” yes, their words are then re-used by others to reinforce the divide.

      Certainly, there are also the sophists, who just parade what they think can be said for the sake of money.

      • tj.nelson

        Very good analysis. Thanks.

        • HornOrSilk


      • linda daily

        I agree with your comment. It’s a shock to the soul when you wake up to the fact that you’ve been practicing ideology rather than living faith. Then real conversion can begin.

      • Silvina Leonnetti

        Yes. You put it quite eloquently. I grew up in Argentina, and always considered myself a conservative Catholic, or rather, an orthodox one, which in my mind was the same. By orthodox I mean following all the teachings of the Church…then I moved to America, and was in shock to realise that many conservatives here would totally label me a liberal…it is so foreign to me that someone claiming to be conservative actually rejects obedience and publicly despises and maligns the Pope..your analysis certainly sheds quite a bit of light on the why.

        • IRVCath

          At least for the second group, part of the problem is that Catholics were discriminated against for so long, that many Catholics just capitulated, if only to make, metaphorically, the beatings stop. It’s sociological Stockholm syndrome.

          It’s not like Argentina or the Philippines, say, where the anticlericals might passionately hate Holy Mother Church, but it was seen as part of the local culture, an idiot brother if you will, but family nonetheless. Historically, American anti-Catholics saw the Church as alien, and therefore those who brought it ought to be, in their view, suppressed, expelled or brought to abjure the Faith somehow.

  • There was an issue a few years ago that described American workers as “pampered.” I thought: Oh really? Actually, coming from a family of workers it left me feeling a bit abused.

    Then there was an article by a physicist from a completely different field offering what seemed to me an off the wall critique of climate science. OK. I’m not a physicist, but really, I’m not totally stupid. I know my left shoe from the right.

    Then at the end of one of the issues there was a snide sarcastic comment implying that climate scientists are con men.

    There have been some good articles, but in sum I don’t like their attitude.

  • T

    That’s a terrible article. He says “man can’t destroy creation,” which I take he means the earth. Sure man can’t “destroy” the earth, but he can sure as heck make it uninhabitable! Does he not know about nuclear weapons?

    • Silvina Leonnetti

      I think she never heard of Rev 11:18 either.”.And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, AND TO DESTROY THOSE WHO DESTROY THE EARTH”(emphasis mine)

    • Eve Fisher

      Obviously, the author’s never seen the top of a mountain after a mining company’s gotten through with it. Or Chernobyl.

  • Tom Beigel

    “there is little to separate it from the dumbest hayseed tract from a Fundamentalist who makes Jack Chick look like a Ph.D.” Thanks for elevating the discussion and focusing on the issues.

    • T

      The article says the Pope is anti life, a lier egoist ect. Throw in antichrist and that’s exactly what a jack Chick style protestant would say!

      • Tom Beigel

        Well, I would say to the author of the FT article under discussion, please read Matt. 5:22 and be more respectful of our Pope (a fine fellow whom I admire much). What I would not allow her to do is “get you down in the hole that (s)he’s in.”

  • AquinasMan

    Ironically, the greatest effect “climate change” is having on the poor, is the drumbeat for population control coming out of the UN. If the earth is indeed in revolt, it’s not because of coal power plants. It’s because we’re a world stupid drunk on finding new and improved ways to crucifix Christ at Calvary — whether its genocide, abortion, oppression of the poor, sexual evils, materialism, environmental destruction, or putting a shiv in the back of Holy Mother Church, what have you. Nature rebelled at the first crucifixion, in 33 AD, and it’s rebelling at the hyper-charged crucifixion of Christ today. Environmental abuse is only a sliver of the problem, in my opinion. Perhaps it’s too philosophical a stance, but sin trumps science in my book.. Your mileage may vary.

    • You mean people who think the species is changing the climate are crucifying Christ?

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        You mean people who think the species is changing the climate are pushing genocide, abortion, oppression of the poor, sexual evils, materialism, environmental destruction, or putting a shiv in the back of Holy Mother Church?

    • John Carter

      Neither philosophical nor good theology, but your rhetoric serves your agenda, I suppose that’s a utilitarian benefit.

      • Dave G.

        Funny, I didn’t see anything that contradicts what I’m hearing said when it comes to climate change. CNN did a great special on the subject a few months back, and the science was clear: It’s not our industry, it’s our presence that is a bane to the planet, and it’s high darn time we do something about it (all the people in the world, that is).

      • Joseph

        OK… then, the people pushing the Climate Change movement are coincidentally the same people involved in the Population Control movement. Nothing philosophical or theological about that… just a strange, nagging coincidence.

    • Marthe Lépine

      However, through my volunteer work for my parish’s Development and Peace committee, II have learned a few things that you don’t seem to consider important (would it be because they don’t fit your conservative agenda about the poor). I read a long time ago an article about how the ocean water rising was creating problems for a chicken farmer who was operating close to a shore, because their chickens were drowning. Some aid organization provided help by helping him change his operations by raising ducks instead. And that is but one small example of the effect of climate change on some of the very poor people from developing countries. And of course of the things that can be done to help. Whether or not it is because of “warming”, or any other cause not yet clarified, ocean water is rising.

  • Artevelde

    Have they changed a lot over the years at FT? I read a few things on their site by the always entertaining D.B. Hart, and a few other things, quite a while ago. This sort of article doesn’t fit with the impression I had of them.

  • KM

    The writer of the article in question, Maureen Mullarkey, is real even if the name seems really close to “mallarkey.” She wrote to Mark as a reader in January 2013, mentioning that her weblog would be included on First Things starting around that time.


    She’s a 71-year-old artist from Chappaqua, New York who used to write for the NY Sun. Her bio is here: and here:

    Her articles mostly focus on art, and many are quite interesting and thought-provoking even if one doesn’t agree with her. But this article at First Things goes beyond that.

    This is not a surprise considering that her essays have appeared in “Crisis” and Bill Kristol’s neocon rag, “The Weekly Standard.” Furthermore, she seems very devoted to the Latin mass and tradition, so this may be a reason for the anti-Pope-Francis bias in this recent article.

    • Cypressclimber

      Well, this article is not the sort of thing First Things has published — at least so far as I’ve noticed.

      It isn’t that she found fault with the pope. That’s fair game, although uncomfortable. It’s that her article was, as someone else said, “over the top.”

      • Tom Hanson

        And impossibly unclear. In some spots there is no telling who is being quoted, and I suspect that much is imputed improperly to Francis by way of by putting his name next to quotes that are either Mullarkey’s own disgruntled summary takes on what he believes or someone else’s. This particular blog post certainly does not “sound” like it would be a piece the usually admirably civil magazine would ever publish as an actual article. If this is the best she can do going outside her specialty, I think she should pass her new stuff by a good editor, foe her own self-respect as a writer, if nothing else.

    • Which is kinda odd because on social issues, there really isn’t much daylight between Francis and trads. Most trads kinda giggle and reach for the popcorn during all this, because for so long everyone was calling us pop-bashers and pope haters because we didn’t like prudential approaches in doctrine, and now these people are slitting their wrists because the Pope takes a different approach to politics.

      Hey, at least we trads tried to care about doctrine.

      • IRVCath

        People do all sorts of crazy things when shown the prospects of worldly power or money, even tiny things.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Thank you for the information about Ms. Mullarkey. I have often read her blog and occasionally exchanged a few e-mails with her. She a gifted artist, and writes excellent pieces on art history and very good commentaries about contemporary art. As an artist myself, I have leaned much from her. But in the present case, it seems to me that she has wandered much too far from her area of expertise. She is of course entitled to her opinions, but it does not seem that she knows enough about that particular subject to publish those opinions…

  • Guest

    Mark, what do you think about 400 ‘Catholic’ professors calling for racial justice?

  • Brendan
    • Dan13

      Maybe you should read the statement instead of the write-up of it? There is *nothing* in that statement that contradicts Catholic values and while some of their proposals and conclusions fall within the “prudential sphere,” I personally agree with them. Also, Patheos Catholic blogger Timothy Muldoon signed that statement, so perhaps you should tell him that he is “Catholic.”

      And yes, it is fine to compare Eric Garner to Christ because as Christ said, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do unto me.” As a human being created by God, Garner deserved humane treatment as if he was Christ Himself.

      And the charge that “(Father) Charles Curran* signed it so it must be bad” is patently ridiculous.

      *Typical conservative move not to address certain priests by their proper title.

      • Joseph


    • chezami

      I wonder why you put Catholic in scare quotes.

  • KM

    Rebecca Hamilton has written an excellent article about this topic today, and she cites Mark’s post from yesterday as well.

    “What I call The Political Heresy, which is the practice of looking for God in your politics, is, in my opinion, the primary heresy of contemporary America…

    “Pope Francis is writing an encyclical on the environment, and both sides of the political spectrum are sharpening their knives. Because they don’t care about Jesus. And they don’t care about the future of this planet. And they don’t care about people.”

    • Ken

      Yes, thank you for the recommendation. Throwing mine in as well. It’s a very good posting.

  • Ken

    I love the courage of Pope Francis. He doesn’t care about being conservative or liberal he cares about the souls of the church. I’m not keen on reading an Encyclical about climate change but I’ll be open minded and see if I can learn something from it. I wasn’t particularly concerned about torture until I read this blog.

  • Harry Seldon

    Way over the top. The article you cite is over the top, your response is over the top. It’s all a mess. Calm down.

  • Ryan C

    First Things is taking the collapse of NeoConservatism very badly, that’s what happened.

  • Elmwood

    what happened is the conservative coalition must maintain order and squash dissension, even if this means “conservative” catholic media must write articles attacking the Holy Father.

    my guess is that first things, like so many other catholic publications, is funded heavily by organizations representing a certain political ideology.

    • Misguided Conservative

      and this is happening where? I’m 100% that a small percentage of conservatives do this — this is a human trait, after all — but to paint all conservative catholics and conservative republicans in this vein is (to borrow someone else’s words, and definitely not my own) “extremely foolish and or delusionally paranoid”.

    • Misguided Conservative

      First Things is not Catholic, though strongly pro-Catholic in many instances. This is another canard.

  • Sue Korlan

    I wrote Mullarkey last year when she attacked the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul the great. Her response left me with the impression that she was an opponent of Humanae Vitae. First Things is not strictly Catholic, you know. Thanks

  • Pedro R.

    I applaud Catholics who stand up and oppose things like Hiroshima, embryonic stem cell use etc. when they are argued for on dubious consquentialist or utilitarian grounds. Yet, often these very same Catholics will hold up Humanae Vitae as the last word on contraception and know nothing about Casti Conubbii or dismiss it because it’s old(er). The former abandoned the stronger moral and philosophical evidence in favor of consequentialist one.

  • Boethius

    This is not an article in First Things magazine. This is an opinion piece on a blog as part of the First Things website. There is a difference between published articles by the magazine which go through editors and whatnot, and daily opinion postings on the affiliated blogs.

  • Andy

    This piece and then a piece by S. Moore found at the Washington Times seem so alike – how the hell did they read the document to comment before it is published? I read George’s article and found it equally dismissive, not quite as attacking. What is wrong with these folks – seems like fire aim – not ready.

    • Joseph

      They’re so quick on the draw, they’ve drawn and fired before Pope Francis has even left the Saloon. The media irritates me so, but to have these hit pieces published in Catholic media makes it much harder to explain to my family members. Gah. We get enough bad press from the MSM.

      • Andy

        The MSM, I half understand they are to wrapped up in writing and/or saying whatever makes money – not forgivable, but given the U.S. worship of mammon, you know. First Things has to know better, the are now clearly on fusing politics with being Catholic, much to their loss and ours.

        • Joseph

          I think First Things offered a good criticism of the hit piece and explanation that it had nothing to do with First Things position at all. It was just a blog post by a hasty blogger whom they host. Thank God.

  • Laramie Stewart

    Shea want cookie?

  • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

    Mr Shea: You are simply defending what is becoming increasingly indefensible…. Our Holy Father Pope Francis’ behaviour is sometime simply bizarre with the things he says and does.
    Please pray for Our Holy Father and especially Holy Mother Church

    • chezami

      He’s done and said nothing indefensible or contrary to the faith. Meanwhile, the Greatest Catholics of All Time frequently stake out bizarre and indefensible positions.

      • Geoff Kiernan West Australia


      • antigon

        Well, you know, while it is just possible there are other examples, His Holiness’s view that either St. John or one of the other apostles committed sins graver than Judas’s betrayal & suicide might strike some as at least… a bit odd.

      • No, really he has. He is, just for the one thing, supporting a change in Church teaching regarding the reception of the eucharist by those living in a state of sin. It’s heresy and it’s quite serious. So is a failure to stir oneself to judgement and communicate it clearly so that homosexuals living in sin may repent while they still have time. It’s heresy Francis tosses out. These matters are not negotiable. The teaching is black and white, and that’s kindest to sinners! The cardinals have a responsibility to call the heresy out and to elect a new pope.Meanwhile, couldn’t you study what modernism means?

        • Andy

          With respect – share a link where I can actually read where the pope is actively supporting a change in remarried Catholics receiving communion. Also please share with me the doctrine that says we are to judge one-another.
          To accuse another person of heresy is indeed serious and requires much proof. Provide that level of proof, please.

          • Thanks for your kind reply, Andy! I don’t know just one link, Rorate Caeli has a score of articles that detailed the unfolding of he family synod, and they show Francis supporting the most radical approach, as I gave, for communion for the div/remarried, and insisting that that option be carried forward to the 2015 Synod round two even though the membership didn’t support it. And regarding judgement, we are speaking of the authority of the Church, not of us individuals, and yes, the Church must judge, she has the power to loose and unloose, the power to define for us what constitutes sin. (You remember Christ’s words on that, I guess–it was the Last Supper, right?) Protestantism challenged this, substituting individual interpretation for the authority of the Church in all matters from bible to definition of what is sinful. Now Francis just says, follow your own conscience, it will inevitably lead you to heaven. He said that. But you know that’s not true in reality unless heaven admits all, which isn’t what Christ said, He said the path was wide but the gate was narrow, and other statements of that nature, and that’s what the Church has always taught. It takes penance, and almsgiving, and living chastely even in marriage, and prayer, and good works. Our individual consciences can fool us, in fact they try hard to fool us. I have that sleep app that wakes you up gradually based on your body movement to know when you’re just about to wake up anyway, and do you know what we do, the app programmers have learned? So what happens is our bodies get the rhythm and know to lie very very still and fool the app–and WE’RE ASLEEP when we do it. If that isn’t my shyster conscience at work!!! They have a name for it but I’ve forgotten it but if you were interested, google SleepCloud and read around. Modernism teaches that mankind is basically good.Like the twentieth century never happened. No Original Sin.

            The Church has to judge, Andy. We count on it to judge, but the popes since the Council, because of the Council, have backed away from the responsibility, and that includes Ratzinger.

            Thanks again for letting me say all that.

    • Andy

      Please tell me what Pope Francis has done that is indefensible and bIzard – don’t waste my time with things you don’t like, or that annoy you. I want very clear and specific actions that are not in line with what the couch teaches. Be sure to cite the Cathechism or very clear teachings and not the fevered dreams of the Greatest and Most Faithful Of Catholics dream.

      • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

        Andy I’m very confused. I don’t know what the ‘couch’ teaches any more either.
        ‘fevered dreams of the greatest and most faithful of Catholics dream’ … Now that’s confusing.

        • Andy

          First – forgive autocorrect and arthritis for couch, a literate person would recognize that. However, as several have said you seem to be troubled and live in a world where you have decided what the pope says is buzzare and indefensible. You have placed yourself in the realm of those who decide what is Catholic, regardless of what the church teaches. I wish for you greater serenity and peace and pray that it finds you.

      • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

        Again Andy. I did not mention or say anything about Church Teachings. I did mention the bizarre sayings of Our Holy Father that are indefensible . Perhaps you could prove me wrong. See my response to Linda (above) and offer an explanation.

      • Andy, you better go back and read the comments–people have given you quotes that contradict Catholic teaching. That matters.

    • linda daily

      What in your opinion has Francis done or said that is bizarre and indefensible? To me, he is a natural disciple and excellent model who leads based on his living relationship with Christ. Rulebook religion is cheap and easy.

      • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

        Dear Linda:
        How is this for Bizarre?… “The most serious of evils that afflict the world to day is Youth unemployment and loneliness of the old”…
        Youth unemployment and loneliness of the aged?????
        What about the 50 million murdered in their mothers womb?????. What about the de-sacralisation of the Sacrament of marriage by the homosexual agenda???? What about the millions of people starving??? What about pornography???? What about the many children being abused by the Holy Father’ own priests?????
        YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE LONELY AGED????? A sad state of affairs but the two most serious EVILS that afflict the world today????????????????
        Here is another one … “each of us has a vision of good and evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what THEY think is good”…
        I repeat…”What THEY think is good. The likes of Stalin and Hitler and many of the inmate in our prisons would agree with that one.

        Linda I am no scholar, I am simply an ordinary person from the pews trying to make sense of this world and now I have the Holy Father and his confusing statements to contend with.. He offers no explanation and nor do his Cardinals/ Bishops.
        Now please can YOU, explain those statements to me. Please help me I’m flailing….
        By the way stick around for another six months and I will give you another couple every day that you can explain to me.
        Confusion!!?? You bet it is. Is Confusion a gift of the Holy Spirit??? you can bet your life it is not.
        Please pray for Our Holy Father Pope Francis and Holy Mother Church

        • linda daily

          I will pray that the Lord gives you peace.

          • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

            No Linda Not Good enough. I have that peace you speak about, thanks to Our Lord. But thanks for the prayers. What I’m concerned about are the many millions of People that are confused by our Holy Father’s ramblings. I have serious doubt as to his state of mind. I suspect a degree of dementia has set in. All the more reason for our Prayers for Our Holy Father.
            Just as I thought Linda, you are also confused. You have no idea what He means.
            Please continue to pray for Our Holy Father, and for Holy Mother Church.

            • linda daily

              You are obviously troubled by many things. I’d suggest talking with your pastor. Again, peace to you.

        • Clay

          Hi Geoff, I would like to invite you to consider that it might not be prudent to be so invested in understanding every word that the Pope says, but to trust that this is indeed the Church founded by Christ and that he is ultimately in charge.

          I think that part of the problem with living in a world where every thing everyone says is available for public consumption, through social media, is that we can become consumed by it rather than being focused on quieting our hearts so that we might hear what God is calling us to do.
          As for his comment on youth unemployment, I can see where the idleness of our youth leads to selfish pursuits and the loneliness of the aged is indicative of a society/world that does not honor their Mothers and Fathers. Our war is between selfishness and loving selflessness and perhaps the Pope sees that addressing these problems is a means to uproot selfishness in the hearts of humanity which in turn, could put an end to abortion, pornography, lust, etc…
          Regardless of what Pope Francis says or our inability to fully comprehend, I believe his actions have been those of a loving father.
          Please consider reflecting on this image, that of Jesus Christ asleep on Peter’s Boat, an icon of the church, as a storm raged around them. Was there fear? Sure. Confusion? Perhaps. What a gift that we have such a powerful image to rely on, to strengthen our faith! We must trust in Jesus even when it seems like there is a storm all around us.
          Peace be with you!

          • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

            Clay:…”I would like you to consider that it might not… the Church founded by Christ and that he is ultimately in charge”

            I am amused (though sadly) by those that think Popes can do no wrong or make mistakes or err in his judgement.
            Popes are infallible but they are not impeccable. Hence the need for our prayers.
            With respect Clay it is obvious that you also have trouble understanding what Our Holy Father is say most times.
            Every word Our Holy Father utters is scrutinised both by those that Love him and his (and the Churches) enemies.
            All the more reason to be prudent. I suspect the Holy Father suffers from the onset of dementia. (that is my very personal opinion only)
            The solution there would be that those immediately ‘ under’ him. They react like deer in the headlights. It would seem that they too are confused.
            Consider these statements….
            From Blessed Pope Paul VI In the 60th Anniversary of Fatima- 13/10/1977…
            “satan is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic Church. The darkness of satan has entered and is spreading throughout the Church even to its summit. Apostasy and the loss of the faith, is spreading into the highest levels within the Church”
            And his now most famous statement, “The smoke of satan has entered the Church”
            We pray daily for Our Holy Father and the Church.

            • Clay

              Thanks for your response, but I’m definitely not saying that a Pope can not make mistakes or do no wrong. We see in scripture where Peter was corrected by Paul in matters involving the Church. But if we can’t trust that Christ is leading his bride, the Church, then what do we have to rely on? “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16-18) Certainly Satan has entered the Church, right from the beginning. It was Jesus who chose Judas, perhaps to show us that there will always be wolves in sheeps clothing, but if Christ is not leading his Church, what are we supposed to rely on? Our own efforts/personal interpretations of things? Do you know how many Protestant denominations there are? All with their interpretation of Scripture and who Christ is? Satan can not overcome because the blood of the Lamb is what washes His bride clean. Our faith in Christ’s love for his Church and for each of us individually is what should ground us. Christ constantly tells us to not be afraid, but, truthfully & respectfully, when I read your earlier post, I sensed a lot of fear. “Perfect love casts out fear” (John 1 John 4:18) Precisely because of our faith in our beloved, the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
              Psalm 118: 5-6 “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me?”

  • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

    Also Mr Shea, the fact that 1st things decided to publish this ‘bizarre no Nothing rant’ should make you sit up and take notice. It seem ‘1st Things” can see something is amiss.. C. M. Kiernan (Wife)
    PS are you praying for Our Holy Father?

    • chezami

      Every day, ma’am.

      • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

        God Bless you chezami

    • Joseph

      The explanation from First Things is that they *did not decide* to publish anything. It was a blog post from a blogger they host. It’s not their position on the matter. I’d say it’s over now.

      • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

        Joseph: If a paedophile blogged something, would ‘First Things’ not exercise some editorial authority? I am sure they would. May I suggest that management at ‘First Things’ did in fact authorise its publication.
        Perhaps ‘First Things’ would like to comment themselves and explain what happened?
        One should research and print some of the ‘sayings’ of Our Holy Father Pope Francis and then maybe you could explain them.
        Confusion is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit

        • Andy

          Strange, I know many Catholics who are not confused by Pope Francis – those who are confused seem to run on what the MSM says or what groups who are discomfited by the Holy Father and what he says – many of these folks confuse their faith with their political or economic interests.

          • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

            Some are confused, some are not confused….That’s very confusing. Would that mean that those that are ‘discomforted’ by some things the Holy Father says are also confused…
            “Many of these folk confuse their Faith with their Political or economic interest.” Now that’s also very confusing.
            As I said, Confusion is not a gift of the Holy Spirit.

            • Andy

              I love word games – if you are confused look in the mirror, Pope Francis has said nothing that is no Catholic. It is your interpretation that confuses you. What he does is get in your face with how he speaks and writes. That discoforts you because he provides no wiggle room. If people are confusing their faith with politics, that is not the pope’s fault, it is those who don’t know their faith or value political/economic outcomes over what the Holy Spirit offers.

  • michael mchale

    Anyone who is unable to see or acknowledge that Francis, all too often, has strong modernist tendencies is simply denying reality. We can talk about “tone” or “tenor” until blue in the face, but the conversation has to begin with all parties accepting this fact.

    • Andy

      Incredible – three of closest friends are “modernists” evidently by your standards – they value human life, they are pro-life, they value economic growth for all, not just a few, they see the death penalty as wrong, the protested Bushes wars and tortue, they see a need to be less judgmental – and damn, two of them are devoted to and say the Tridentine Mass, one teaches at a small college – they are priests who identify as conservative. They are in for a shock. By the way all three favor universal health care, and vote republican – with as one told me holding his nose.

      • michael mchale

        And your point is…….?

        • Andy

          My point – you claim that Pope Francis is a modernist, yet three priests agree with everything he has said and the last descriptor of them is modernist. I tend to doubt that Pope Francis or these three priests are modernist – there are Catholic – that appellation defies simplistic labels.

          • michael mchale

            Three priests contend Francis is not a modernist, therefore, Francis is not a modernist. Really? If I say the sky is green, does that make it so? Check the record, check the Synod, check his encyclical, and then tell me–with a straight face– that he does not have modernist tendencies.

            • chezami

              The Combox Inquisition continues its ongoing defense of the Church against the pope. The stench of its towering humility is overwhelming.

              • michael mchale

                Exceeded only by the stench of modernism, the “synthesis of all heresies”. Do you enjoy the liturgical dancers at the clown Masses?

                • chezami

                  Where would Reactionary Hysterics be without the bogeymen of a few cherished clown masses lovingly preserved on Youtube? Everyday, the Holy Mass is celebrated millions of times around the world and you guys perseverate on a tiny handful of nutty stuff. And now you’ve anointed yourself to sit in judgment of the Holy Father. But everybody else is the enemy of the Faith. Not you.

                  • michael mchale

                    You mean the Bugnini “mass” which plagiarized Cranmer’s supper service?

                    • linda daily

                      Where did you get your S.T.D. and where do you teach?

          • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

            Andy: Perhaps you should bone up on what a modernist is according to the Church… Read the following ….

            • Andy

              Thanks for the link – already read it – now you tell me what Pope Francis has done that is modernist. Don’t share what others say he has done or said, only what is can be verified as his.

              • Hi, Andy, It’s a decent question, but too big for a com box. Would it be ok if I tried to tackle just one area? Did you follow the family synod, and the Holy Father’s support of the movement to extend communion to the divorced and remarried? There’s no debate that he supports this point of view. Well, that’s modernism. Tradition is that communion is only for those in the state of grace. It’s an earned privilege. Modernism wishes all privileges to be automatic, by state of your being (“a child of God,” “human,” etc. you deserve communion even if you are living in a state of sin).

              • michael mchale

                Exhibit no 1: His statement that the old covenant is not revoked.

                • chezami

                  It’s not revoked. It is transcended. JPII made the same point. The only people that have a problem with that are kooky Sungenis-style reactionaries.