Catholic University and (A Disgraceful Image of Our Lady)

Catholic University and (A Disgraceful Image of Our Lady) February 22, 2008

My alma mater, the University of Dallas, has an art exchange program with a non-Catholic university. Well the other university sent over an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a g-string with dollar bills tucked in in a stripper pose. In the name of academic freedom, the University allowed the image to be presented in the on campus gallery. Someone took great offense and removed the piece. Now President Lazarus is furious that the piece is gone. The full story is here.
My first reaction is outrage that Our Lady was presented in such a fashion. My second reaction is that IF the piece was to be allowed, there needed to be a public debate over it. Was the artist trying to make us question how women are victimized by the sex industry? Was she trying to get out of the Dichotomy of Saints and Sinners? The piece is called “Saint or Sinner?” Was it to sacrilege The Mother of God? Outrage Catholics? What was the point?

What are your thoughts?

EDITED: A reader thought I should change the title so as not to offend Our Lady even more. I thought it was a good idea. I left the details in the post, though, because that is what happened.

Also: I spoke with UD’s president, Dr. Lazarus, on the phone. I expressed my dismay over what happened and he emailed me his public statement over the matter. The Statement is not yet posted on the University’s website and I emailed him to tell him it needs to be done ASAP so everyone can read it.

He said when the exhibit first went up he was gone for three days (remember, the art professor is in charge of the exhibit). When he returned he heard about the outrageous image and he went to see it for himself. He agreed that it was offensive and unacceptable, but he was persuaded to keep it by keeping the image isolated from the rest of the exhibit and to have a public discussion over it. The next day, while he was working on his statement about the piece, he discovered it was stolen.

My thoughts: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

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  • Both the theft and the acceptance of the picture are wrong. Clearly, the implication is that the Theotokos was a sinner; there might even be the suggestion that sexual infidelity was the explanation for the birth of Christ.

  • david

    Off with the head of the artist.

  • I know nothing about this particular case, so take this with a grain of salt…but to portray Our Lady in this way, whatever may have been the motive or idea being expressed, seems like a failure even artistically – Catholics going ballistic about this (which is my own first reaction) was reasonably to be expected: the ensuing controversy would almost certainly obscure whatever statement the artist was trying to make (unless that was the point, in which case the whole thing is just an example of monumentally bad taste.)

  • Off with the head of the artist.

    David, that’s enough.

  • I would like to see the print returned…to the artist after the exhibition is over. The artist will lose nothing and Our Lady will not be shamed by its presentation on a Catholic campus.

    The University has a lesson to learn–as do all faculties at Catholic institutions: Serve your institutional mission or get another job. To do otherwise is dishonest. To use resources donated to a Catholic institution to undermine its mission is the real theft here.

  • To use resources donated to a Catholic institution to undermine its mission is the real theft here.

    I’m not sure displaying the print “undermines” the university’s mission. I’m also pretty sure that Mary can handle whatever these weirdo artists can throw at her, and that we do not need to protect her from shame. I tend to agree with much of what the university president and the art professors said in the article.

    That said, I disagree with the president’s statement that “theft is always wrong.”

    Art undermining a Catholic university’s mission? Nah. ROTC programs that teach our Catholic kids to kill? THOSE undermine a Catholic university’s mission.

  • I have to take a strong pose against vigilantism, because I’m tempted to it myself.

    If the university president had been portrayed in a demeaning fashion, would it have been allowed?

    That these attacks on the Blessed Virgin are defended suggests to me the defenders believe she is only a symbol, and not a real person alive in Christ.

  • “Death to Paleologus!!!” 😉

    Pax Christi,

  • Eddie

    A disgrace all around.

  • jh

    I am pretty sure the Cardiinal that is about to arive on Campus would not have been pleased. I am pretty shocked this was in display at the University of Dallas that is a pretty sane Catholic school. That is a scandal.

    That being said it should be returned unharmed

  • ben

    I certainly hope the person who stole it makes sure it is destroyed.

    That would benefit the soul of the artist.

    What a gesture of of mercy to try to ameliorate such a great sin.

    Surley the theif is his brother’s keeper and loves the offending artist enough to risk sanction and rebuke in rendering aid.

  • Tim

    I strongly feel that you should delete the headline and your graphic description of the picture. They both extend its obscenity and I should not have had to even think about these things upon visiting this site. I have a large and beautiful picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe on my wall. Don’t create foul associations that I need to try to forget.

  • Michael,

    The resources of Catholic donors used for this display include all the resources it takes to do anything on that campus. Buildings, infrastructure, staff. To use these resources to dishonor Our Lady is a wholely anti-Catholic act. What part of this issue is so difficult for you to understand?

    Your Catholic sensibilities are way off. We should understand Our Lady as our spiritual mother and defend her at least as much, if not much more, than our own mothers.

    If someone put up a print of my mother as a stripper anywhere, I would do everything in my power to defend her honor.

    It is precisely the failure of Catholics to stand up for their faith that Catholicism is mocked as it is.

    Back in the 60’s one could presume that the faith and the Church were indestructable. We now know that the faith is fragile, the culture in plain deterioration and relativism has run amok. The stakes are high and Mary does, in fact, need good decent Catholics to come to her aid.

    You may sit in your armchair ruminating on the unassailability of the faith while Rome burns. Or you can actually behave as a responsible adult Catholic. The Church can ill afford such armchair Catholicism.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Tim, you make an excellent point. I should also note that I think whoever took the print NEEDS to return it to the home school.

  • ben

    I don’t think they need to return it to anybody. It needs to be destroyed.

    DR. Lazarus is wrong in all of his talk about the problem with the work being offensive to the community. What the cummunity of UD thinks about it is secondary.

    This “art” is blasphemus and offensive to the Blessed Mother and her divine Son the Pantokrator. Its destruction is an act of mercy, not an act of violence.

  • You may sit in your armchair ruminating on the unassailability of the faith while Rome burns. Or you can actually behave as a responsible adult Catholic. The Church can ill afford such armchair Catholicism.

    “Armchair Catholic”? Please.

    I’m not sure going batty at every single supposedly anti-Catholic piece of artwork constitutes being a “responsible adult Catholic.” I’ll spend my energy elsewhere and in such a manner that maybe I can contribute to a Church that will actually be respected and these kinds of artists will not want to demean the Church in this way. I’ve run around in underground music and supposedly “radical” communities for so long that this kind of thing phases me little. Thing is, whenever I encountered the typical punk rock atheist, I would often hear that I had given him or her a lot to think about and maybe even more respect for Christianity. Engaging people who criticize the Church and acknowledging their criticism is the way to change things, not flipping out and attempting to “protect” Catholics or Mary or whoever from whatever.

    But I guess that’s just “armchair Catholicism” to you, Father, isn’t it?

  • Donald R. McClarey

    A “Catholic” university that would accept, let alone display, such a gross depiction of the Mother of God isn’t worthy to be called even Catholic in name only. That this is even an issue of debate among Catholics is a scandal.

    “And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee”

    The University of Dallas bills itself as the Catholic university for independent thinkers. Perhaps it should bill itself as the Catholic university for independent thinkers who think just like their liberal peers at secular universites.

    I hope the good thief who stole the painting has given it an appropriate burning.

  • Michael

    I am sure some people would think we are “armchair” if we don’t join in with the mob against Hypatia.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Donald, first off, UD is an outstanding Catholic University. The art Professor and later the University President, are in my opinion, completely responsible for this exhibit. The Art Prof is the one who should have used his/her judgment. When it came to the attention of the Prez he should have done something. But as for the rest of the University Profs (who have been just as outraged) and the student body (also outraged ) they had little responsibility and power to deal with the situation.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Radical Catholic Mom they of course had the responsibility to stand up when the Mother of God is insulted as do all Catholics. They had the power of protest and raising a clamor. The supine attitude of too many Catholics to this type of offensive garbage is truly nauseating.

    This is the equivalent of some “artist” submitting to a black college a piece of art depicting blacks as apes. No self respecting college would accept such a piece. That a “Catholic” institution accepted a work of this type under the mantra of academic freedom speaks volumes about how many Catholics are willing to sit idly by while their faith is attacked.

  • Policraticus

    A “Catholic” university that would accept, let alone display, such a gross depiction of the Mother of God isn’t worthy to be called even Catholic in name only.

    I can understand where you are coming from, but we must keep in mind that often these decisions are made by one person or a handful of people. I think it may be brash to criticize the entire university on the basis of a poor judgment by a few.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    I do like this letter which appeared in the University News.

    http://media.www.udallasnews.com/media/storage/paper743/news/2008/02/19/Commentary/Letter.To.The.Editor-3219795.shtml

    Bravo to Joshua Neu!

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Michael Joseph you are correct that to condemn the entire university is incorrect, and as Mr. Neu and Radical Catholic Mom demonstrate the sentiment of the administration in this matter may well not be representative of students or the alums.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Exactly what Policraticus says. And Donald, how on EARTH do you know that they did not raise a clamor? Really? My sources, including the President tell me quite the opposite. It is the reason he has had to write a letter addressing the issue. I think he needs to be much more aggressive in his mea culpa.

    As for Michael,”Engaging people who criticize the Church and acknowledging their criticism is the way to change things, not flipping out and attempting to “protect” Catholics or Mary or whoever from whatever.”

    I think we CAN and SHOULD engage criticisms and people without sponsoring the blasphemy. But then I think it is blasphemy to disgrace Our Lady in that way.

  • I think we CAN and SHOULD engage criticisms and people without sponsoring the blasphemy.

    Don’t get me wrong… I tend to be suspicious generally of arguments for “academic freedom” in order to justify these kinds of things. I do believe in a strong sense of Catholic identity and that this means our institutions need to draw lines at times. And this is precisely why I am against ROTC on Catholic campuses, the new Ayn Rand institute at Wheeling Jesuit University, and hosting speakers on campus whose views directly and actively oppose the views of the Church (although this can be a complicated issue). I am sympathetic to the arguments against hosting “The Vagina Monlogues” on Catholic campuses too, even though I have seen it myself and quite liked certain parts of it.

    I do think that when it comes to artwork these things can be more difficult as the “meaning” of a given work can be ambiguous. Clearly artwork which at first glance appears to be “anti-Catholic” might indeed be critical of this or that aspect of the Church but might actually be be able to teach us something.

    Secondly I think it’s important to think about how one really engages art… art like this has to be displayed in order to engage it, unless one just wants to read about it in a book. Compare with reading controversial works in college… Surely you didn’t go through your college career without reading views that were severely critical of the Church, even blasphemous? If you did (and I hope you did) was the school “sponsoring blasphemy”? No, it was providing the opportunity to engage ideas, even ideas that are critical of the Church. I think a case like this art work thing provides a similar pedagogical opportunity, just like reading works that are critical of the Church.

    Now, if the school decided to permanently place this work in the student union or the library, that would be something else entirely.

    Also important to consider that, to my knowledge, none of us has even seen a picture of the artwork. So let’s not go overboard (calling for beheadings and such) when we don’t even really know exactly what we’re talking about.

    And Donald — Your comparison with racist artwork is nonsense.

  • From the letter to the editor Donald cited:

    Dr. Lazarus is correct when he stated in an email that stealing is intrinsically evil.

    Stealing is not intrinsically evil.

  • Mark D.

    Perhaps we should not be so surprised whenever some “outside the Church” look upon it and see not so much the Virgin Mother but an unfaithful harlot.

    Maybe this should call us to deeper reflection and conversion. Sometimes others tell us painful truths about ourselves, albeit in unseemly ways..

  • I’m not sure displaying the print “undermines” the university’s mission. I’m also pretty sure that Mary can handle whatever these weirdo artists can throw at her, and that we do not need to protect her from shame.

    Michael, it is just these sentiments which inspire a laziness in Catholics.

    We have Mormons who visit PC whenever we mention their religion. Some are overly defensive which is not at all attractive. But, they go out of their way to speak their mind and engage those who would assail them. If only the tiniest portion of the Catholics in the US would be inspired to defend the faith in this way, we would not be having Madonnas stripping in our colleges.

    I realize that I am the minority opinion in these times when it is fashionable for Catholics to consider themselves open minded for welcoming these things.

    I hope you dont think I have gone batty. So far I have only argued that Catholic should stand up for their faith. Is that so crazy?

  • RCM,

    I agree with you that no institution should be judged on one issue. Institutions are complex beings which are always a mix. Notre Dame has for years been judged by those who dont know it based largely on the well published rantings of one man who is way out of tune with those around him. And now we have the V. Monologues which for some are a kind of new face of Notre Dame. So, I do sympathize.

    There are very real problems with the loss of Catholic identity at many Catholic schools, but I dont think that either UD or ND are in immediate danger. Still, we must be vigilant or we will not hold back the spirit of the age.

  • I hope you dont think I have gone batty. So far I have only argued that Catholic should stand up for their faith. Is that so crazy?

    Standing up for the faith is a fine and good thing to do. But I think it’s dangerous to “stand up for the faith” simply by silencing critical views. We need to get used to living in a society that opposes our faith and to realize that we are becoming a minority community in a lot of ways. Jesus said there would be persecution. If we are not persecuted, then something is wrong with us.

    I would rather that Catholics stand up for their faith in ways that matter most: defending the defenseless, opting for the poor, saying no to war, etc. Weak and lazy Catholics (as you put it) are the ones who claim to be Catholic but who ignore what the Church teaches when it comes to how they live in the real world. The American Catholic soldier who goes to Iraq despite his Church’s opposition to the war, not even taking into consideration the Church’s just war teaching, now THERE is a lazy Catholic.

    Seriously, a stupid painting should be the least of our worries. We need to stop getting into these culture war battles that the media loves so much. Indeed, how we respond to these sorts of things ends up confirming a lot of the critiques that many non-Catholics have of Catholicism.

    It is precisely the failure of Catholics to stand up for their faith that Catholicism is mocked as it is.

    No, I think Catholicism is mocked for a variety of other reasons, including various manifestations of the misuse of power. It is not mocked for being weak.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Michael, I agree with you that we should not silence our critics or shout them down just because we don’t want to hear it. And art critiquing a point is tricky because of the reasons you point out. I have to agree with Matt Talbtt’s original point that if there was a point to consider surely the artist knew it would be lost by the intense emotional reaction. Honestly, in many cultures the WORST thing you can say to someone is something ugly about their mother or their wife. If that is what the artist wanted to say she hit the nail on the head. If that isn’t what she wanted to say, then . . . ? That is why it is not a “stupid painting” to Catholics. She is our Mother and she is dressed as a hooker! You cannot expect an intellectual discussion after an emotional bird has been flipped.

  • david

    Stealing isn’t intrinsically evil, Mr. Anarchy?

  • jh

    “Seriously, a stupid painting should be the least of our worries. We need to stop getting into these culture war battles that the media loves so much. Indeed, how we respond to these sorts of things ends up confirming a lot of the critiques that many non-Catholics have of Catholicism. ”

    I think we can walk and chew gun at the same time. THe fact that this is at a Catholic University is abhorent. One of the commandments is to Honor thy Mother. THis is not honoring her.

    YOu are right how we respond will be noticed by a lot of non Catholics. Inclusing many evangleicals and other devoted Christians that wonder if we even adhere our own Gospel

  • ” I would rather that Catholics stand up for their faith in ways that matter most: defending the defenseless, opting for the poor, saying no to war, etc. Weak and lazy Catholics (as you put it) are the ones who claim to be Catholic but who ignore what the Church teaches when it comes to how they live in the real world. The American Catholic soldier who goes to Iraq despite his Church’s opposition to the war, not even taking into consideration the Church’s just war teaching, now THERE is a lazy Catholic.

    Seriously, a stupid painting should be the least of our worries. We need to stop getting into these culture war battles that the media loves so much. Indeed, how we respond to these sorts of things ends up confirming a lot of the critiques that many non-Catholics have of Catholicism. ”

    It is the habit of the ideologue to greet every question with the same answer. How did we get from a debased image of the Blessed Mother to just war teaching? Is that all you really want to talk about?

    Catholicism is bigger than any individual’s list of pet topics. And it is the duty of a Catholic to become versed in the Church’s breadth and depth to the extent that he is able, including how to deal with challenges to the faith of every kind.

    So, it would be nice to have a decent conversation on strategies for dealing with such issues as the stripper Madonna, but as long as we have to wade through commentary on just war theory I dont suppose we will get very far.

    Seriously, why bother commenting on a topic if your point is that it is not worthy of commentary? unless your objective is simply to insert mentions of just war theory wherever possible.

    There. I have mentioned it three times so far.

    I can see that this is not the forum for actually discussing this issue which is actually an important one if we consider our Universities to have a meaningful mission to form Christians in how to actually behave in modern society.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    “And Donald — Your comparison with racist artwork is nonsense.”

    It all depends on whose sacred cow is being gored doesn’t it Catholic Anarchist? The analogy was apt. Racist art given to a black college would obviously be intended to be a grave insult. Presenting to a Catholic university a piece of “art” attacking the Mother of God is a spit in the face to every Catholic at the institution, exept for those too stupid to realize it, or those too indifferent or hostile to their faith to care.

  • scriblerus

    What problems there have been at UD have long been the result of the disconnect between the administration (mostly ex-bishop Grahmann’s cronies) and the students, alumni and faculty.

    This is pretty indicative of the administration’s attitude towards the Catholic identity of the university. I’m really scratching my head over how a University located in heavily Hispanic Texas could allow this sort of sacrilege to be displayed. While not racist, it certainly reveals a callousness towards the traditions of one very big ethnic group.

  • jh

    I would like to also point out that this is just not another painting. It is of the Lady Of Gudulape. That image according to Catholic belief and custom is a real image of our Lady as a result of a miracle

  • Catholicism is bigger than any individual’s list of pet topics. And it is the duty of a Catholic to become versed in the Church’s breadth and depth to the extent that he is able, including how to deal with challenges to the faith of every kind.

    And it would be nice to have a conversation with a priest who didn’t resort to condescension, calling me an “armchair” Catholic and exhorting me about my Catholic duties to stand up for the Virgin Mary. Spare me the sermons, Father.

  • Michael I,

    if the shoe fits wear it. Are you going to tell him to “shove it” next?

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • He hasn’t reached that point yet, Matt. You, on the other hand, are pushing it…

  • Michael I,

    awesome, I’ll be among the honored few.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Fr. J:”I realize that I am the minority opinion in these times when it is fashionable for Catholics to consider themselves open minded for welcoming these things.”

    Just to point out that every single commenter here has opposed the sacrilegious painting on a Catholic campus. I am not sure how you are “in the minority.” And, believe it or not, it is at Vox Nova, where you were notified about such a thing. I am not certain how it has been implied that the rest of us here are “open minded for welcoming things.” There is only one person who disagrees and he has a right to disagree with me.

  • nathancontramundi

    Though generally not finding myself too much in disagreement with Michael (or Fr J, whose former home, Morrissey, holds no candle to the illustrious hall across South Quad!) here, I must assent to Fr J’s comments about Michael’s unnecessarily repetitious remarks about ROTC and Just War Theory. In particular, though sympathetic to his pacifistic ways, I fear that Michael, in a forum hardly appropriate for such discussion in the first place, over-simplifies both the Just War Theory and the ROTC program. Contending that the mission of the program is simply to train people to kill hardly touches upon the complexities of international relations and the program itself. That Catholic soldiers partake in a war that the Holy Father (two, now!) condemned is problematic; however, it is wholly unfair to make the wholesale claim that they do so without contemplation of papal condemnation or the Just War Theory. Nothing is intrinsically errant about serving one’s country in the Armed Forces, and those at the top, rather than in the middle or at the bottom, who make the decision to go to war. You may rightly find fault, Michael, with my failure to address the notion of a conscientious Catholic soldier’s going a.w.o.l., but I have no desire to suggest that any man behave so treasonously, even in the face of such a moral dilemma.

    Fr. J, I don’t believe that Our Lady’s University is necessarily in such dire straits as, say, the well-intentioned members of Project Sycamore might assert, but I am presently not so willing as you to suggest the she is not in danger of losing her identity. Vigilance, indeed, is key, but the continued presence of the VM and the Film Festival, whatever their merits be, the dwindling ratio of Catholic faculty, and the absence within the Economics Department of any courses dedicated to teaching economics within the framework of Rerum Novarum and related encyclicals continues to inspire fear in me.

    In Notre Dame,
    NPO

  • TeutonicTim

    Interesting that the usual suspects don’t see the need to speak out on such things. Like Matt M. said, if the shoe fits… and a few are definitely wearing it…

    Matt – Watch out, you’ll get one of the Mr. Iafrate “special” insults!

  • Nathan – Now THERE’s the kind of thinking that makes a mockery of Catholicism. The Church’s views on this war are well known, and less than 1% or Catholic soldiers have the ___s to do what is right. This statistic indicates to me that few soldiers take the Church’s teaching seriously. That serving in the military is not, according to Church teaching, intrinsically evil is irrelevant. Church teaching must be applied in real life or else we make a mockery of it.

    Such life and death issues are much much more important than a painting. That was my main point, and not to get into another huge discussion about just war teaching. You and Fr J have brought that on.

    This forum is indeed an appropriate place to bring up such issues, placing them side by side with the silly issues that “Internet Catholics” get fired up about.

  • BTW, if theft is an intrinsic evil, why does the Church approve of theft in necessity? People, learn moral theology for a change. MI is right — theft is not an intrinisic evil, especially because “theft” is about human constructs about property which often neglects the real owner, God. And that one who has more is to use it for those who do not as a steward, not for hoarding.

  • nathancontramundi

    Michael, at no point did I, implicitly or explicitly, make the claim that the Church’s views on this war are not well known, and I’ll thank you not so arrogantly to posit otherwise in future posts. In fact, I quite specifically noted that both JP II and B XVI have condemned it. I, too, because of the Church’s condemnation and my own reasoning, oppose it. That needn’t translate into the harsh judgments that you offer.

    It requires a supreme degree of uncharitableness to speak as crudely as you do, claiming that “less than 1* or [sic] Catholic soldiers have the ___s to do what is right . . . few soldiers take the Church’s teaching seriously.” This claim of yours seems to have its roots not so much in any empirical evidence (I can’t reasonably suspect that you’ve interviewed so great a number — if any — Catholic soldiers necessary to make such determinations infallibly.), but in your own ideology, to which, as I also noted, I am sympathetic. You are right, I add, to expect a Catholic to uphold the principles that he claims to espouse; nonetheless, it asks of a great sacrifice to expect a soldier, sailor,or other serviceman to reject one set of vows he has taken in order more closely to follow another (granted, one of greater importance) at the risk of punishment. We might laud him as a martyr or sorts, but the wife and children dependent upon his meagre military wages might not be in the position to understand his decision in such a manner, and in a country such as ours, with its particularly peculiar sort of patriotism/nationalism, this may spell certain doom for him. I agree with you about the importance of applying Church teaching in real life, but fear that many shades of grey exist in practice, lamentable as that be.

    I don’t agree that the initial issue of this particular post is silly; however, I agree with you that, relative to what you, Fr. J, and I, take up, it is less important. I never meant to imply otherwise. I chose poorly by using the word “forum”, perhaps; I meant to suggest that this particular thread is not the best place to discuss the incredibly complex issues of Iraq, Just War, ROTC, & c.

    Best,
    NPO

  • Nathan – I know that you know the Church’s teaching on the war. If you review what I wrote above, note that I didn’t say that you are not aware of Church teaching. To clarify, I meant that despite the well-known teaching of the Church, Catholic soldiers largely ignore it.

    You are right, I add, to expect a Catholic to uphold the principles that he claims to espouse; nonetheless, it asks of a great sacrifice to expect a soldier, sailor,or other serviceman to reject one set of vows he has taken in order more closely to follow another (granted, one of greater importance) at the risk of punishment.

    I completely disagree here. The vow of baptism is, of course, more important (as you admit) and I think that if the soldiers are truly trained to kill and to survive all sorts of torture and whatnot, that they could certainly handle a little jail time for refusing to serve in an unjust war. But sadly I think most soldiers do not even think twice: they follow their orders.

  • Eddie

    “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

    2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.”

    Why are soldiers, relying on the judgment of those who have responsibility for the public good, to be morally exhoriated for obeying that authority? Even if it was immoral originally to invade, certainly trying to establish an orderly transition of government is not immoral. I think your condemnation of the soldiers is uncharitable, intemperate, and unwarranted.

  • Eddie

    …and why the heck is war being brought up on a thread about blasphemous art work?

  • I think your condemnation of the soldiers is uncharitable, intemperate, and unwarranted.

    And I think your elevation of civil authority over that of the Church is typical. That the Church recognizes that it is the civil government’s role to “make the call” whether or not the state goes to war (the Church doesn’t start wars, the state does) does not mean the authority of the state is absolute. The Church’s authority, rather, is. It’s your kind of thinking that led to so many Christians supporting the Nazis.

    …and why the heck is war being brought up on a thread about blasphemous art work?

    I made a fairly peripheral comment about war in a response to “Fr. J”‘s ridiculous comments about “lazy” Catholics. But because some commenters can’t let an anti-war comment slide without turning it into a huge defense of their permissive views on war, it turned into a side discussion. But you absolutely right, we should get this thread back on track.

  • Eddie

    “It’s your kind of thinking that lead to so many Christians supporting the Nazis.”

    LOL. The Reductio Ad Hitlerum. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum
    Michael, you’ve made your joke (I assume you aren’t really serious…playing the Nazi card)

    But you didn’t answer the question. Why is it immoral of soldiers to serve in Iraq, as the U.S. tries to ensure an orderly transition of power?

    You asserted that “less than 1% or Catholic soldiers have the ___s to do what is right. This statistic indicates to me that few soldiers take the Church’s teaching seriously.” I’m just asking you to back up that assertion – why is serving in the U.S. military as it transfer power wrong?

  • Eddie

    “Art undermining a Catholic university’s mission? Nah. ROTC programs that teach our Catholic kids to kill? THOSE undermine a Catholic university’s mission.”

    I agree your comment about the military was ‘fairly peripheral’ to the discussion as long as by peripheral you mean ‘completely irrelevant’. Even on its own terms it doesn’t work; if all military service were evil, then ROTC might undermine a Catholic university’s mission. But it’s not, as the Catechsism says, so…..how does that relate to blasphemous artwork?

    Back to the point of the thread, a strong case could be made that art work mocking Mary does undermine the mission of a Catholic university. If the mission of the university is to promote a Catholic understanding of the human person and the world, then artwork that mocks Catholicism by mocking its most cherished symbols should not be given a privileged position on display. Mockery of Catholicism undermines the mission of a Catholic university to me.

    Fr. J’s comments were right-on; you lazily dismissed blasphemy, then apropos of nothing brought up ROTC programs as if the conventional Catholic understanding was that ROTC was an intrinsic evil (I agree that theft is not, but neither is ROTC). Then you snidely said you didn’t need any sermons from him…really a pretty disgraceful performance Michael.

  • G Alkon

    Blasphemy is everywhere…

    It is in the air…

    About which instance will you choose to care?

  • Eddie – I didn’t “play the Nazi card.” I study the stuff. It’s the same dynamic all over again.

    You will deny this, and likely raise ghost of Hitler to defend invading Saddam’s Iraq.

    G. – Right on.

  • Eddie

    Michael – are you going to answer the question of why it is immoral for soldiers to serve in the U.S. military as the U.S. tries to transition power in Iraq?

    You said “less than 1% or Catholic soldiers have the ___s to do what is right. This statistic indicates to me that few soldiers take the Church’s teaching seriously.” Those are strong words. Do you have an argument to support them?

  • Eddie

    “I didn’t play the Nazi card….”

    When you said “it’s your kind of thinking that led to so many Christians supporting the Nazi’s..” you played the Nazi card, Michael.

    “You will deny this, and likely raise ghost (sic) of Hitler to defend invading Saddam’s Iraq.”

    It’s difficult to respond to this (rather bizarre) method of disputation. Telling me that I would ‘raise ghost of Hitler” hypothetically in the future, and then treating something I didn’t and (had no plans to) say as an argument against me.

    I am not sure what the precise phrase for that syllogistic error is (a blustering non sequitur?)

  • david

    Hold up. Stealing is not intrinsically evil? Being a simple fellow, the Ten Commandments are profound.

    Obviously I am missing something. Taking what does not belong to you–evil.

  • Eddie

    David – in some situations (desperate poverty etc), taking what does not belong to you is not evil.

    CCC 2408 “There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one’s disposal and use the property of others.”

  • radicalcatholicmom

    For whatever it is worth, Michael, UD doesn’t have a ROTC program.

  • Eddie

    David, just to clarify, the use of the term theft was imprecise. I suppose that technically taking what does not belong to you in desperate circumstances is ‘not theft’, rather than theft. But what is colloqially referred to as theft ‘taking what does not belong to you’ is sometimes morally justified or even virtuous.

  • Eddie

    lol radicalcatholicmom; good post by the way.

  • david

    What if violence (not including killing) is neccessary to provide essentials?

  • david

    I wonder what the great Cortez would do if he saw such blasphemy.

    Also, seeings how I figure that Cortez and his band of conquistadors were manifesting destiny, am I a Calvinist.

    sorry to mix threads.

  • For whatever it is worth, Michael, UD doesn’t have a ROTC program.

    Well, they better get with the program and do their Christian duty and start one up. 😉

    (My Catholic alma mater hasn’t had an ROTC program for many years now.)

  • TeutonicTim

    “Well, they better get with the program and do their Christian duty and start one up.”

    Well you said it, so I can say I agree with what you wrote…

  • It is sad how many people on the internet will say “playing the Hitler card” or invoke “Godwin’s law.” The second really says nothing about the accuracy of the conversation and the analogy, the first, however, is just misunderstood.

    “Playing the Hitler card” is about guilt by association. It is properly invoked if someone is saying because Hitler did something, it is wrong. Hitler ate. It’s therefore evil to eat. That would be playing the Hitler card. X is wrong because of Hitler.

    Now that is not the same thing as saying X is wrong and Hitler is an example of X. Genocide is wrong. Hitler committed genocide. Saying how Hitler committed genocide is not playing the Hitler card. Of course, the internet abuse of the “fallacy” would lend to people thinking it was.

    Ultimately, I think pseudo-intellectuals like to call people on these “fallacies” because 1) they lack the analogical imagination and or 2) they don’t have anything valid to say so they think they will give an “all out winning statement” which only proves to anyone they are the ones who have nothing to say.

  • Eddie

    Henry, I just want Michael to explain his comment that “less than 1% or Catholic soldiers have the ___s to do what is right. This statistic indicates to me that few soldiers take the Church’s teaching seriously.” That sounded like the kind of cheap shot or attack you were referring to on the other thread. He has not responded, and instead really did play the Nazi card.

    Henry, much as I appreciate, your references to me as a ‘pseudo-intellectual’ who either 1) lacks analogical imagination, or 2) doesn’t have anything valid to say, I’d prefer to hear Michael (or you) defend the statement. I have not insulted Michael once, nor you. You (and he) have insulted me. Do you share his view about American soldiers and ROTC programs?

  • Eddie

    Here is a question. How many soldiers willingly said no to their commanders when Church officials said the Iraq war is not a just war? How many of them didn’t care and cared more for what their orders were? The truth of the matter is you find the soldier’s true master when they are pressed in such situations, and they go with the flow. This is the problem historically. It’s how the Nazis were able to get people to follow their evil. “Well, the Church is wrong. We are the authority.” And the thing is, people dare teach the Church moral law and argue with the Church on just wars, saying the Church has no authority to declare a war unjust. Viva nationalism.

  • Eddie

    Henry,

    1) The abuse does not take away the use. That’s why relying on the Hitler analogy without careful consideration on a blog thread generates more heat than light. It’s like saying, ‘you think Bishops should have authority to manage their dioceses, just look at the abuse scandal.’ Just because a power can be abused doesn’t mean it has.

    2) The Church has not abrogated the authority to make the determination that a war is just or unjust; it has said that authority resides with the officials responsible for the public good.

    3) With regard to the situation in Iraq, there were a large number of Catholics (among the 2/3 of the country who supported it) who felt the war met just war criteria. I was not among them, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the Vatican opposed the First Gulf war also, which in my opinion did meet just war criteria. Either way it’s a matter of prudential judgment which does not bind the soldier’s consciences.

    4) In order for the soldiers in the U.S. army to be guilty as you charge, they would first have to believe strongly that the war did not meet just war criteria. You may allege they don’t care, but unless you have some sort of empirical research that is just an uncharitable ad hominem against U.S. soldiers.

  • Eddie

    Note the use of analogy in point 1. I’ll try and include more analogies in my posts to show I do not (like a dog) ‘lack analogical imagination’. Maybe the equivalent for you would be to refrain from attacking people as pseudo-intellectuals with nothing to say to prove you can for a while. Another analogy.

  • “The Church has not abrogated the authority to make the determination that a war is just or unjust; it has said that authority resides with the officials responsible for the public good”

    Incorrect. The Church has said that the public authority has the right to enter a war if it is just, and it is the duty of that authority to determine if they will or will not. It has not said that the final authority is in the nation (otherwise, Hitler’s war was a just war).

    And to your “the soldier has to believe” means they can ignore the Church. You proved the point. The soldiers ignore the Church. Thanks. Bye.

  • The Church has not abrogated the authority to make the determination that a war is just or unjust; it has said that authority resides with the officials responsible for the public good.

    The Church retains the authority to say whether a war is just or not. The Church only recognizes that the authority to make the judgment whether to go to war or not belongs to the state, because obviously states make war, not the Church. The Church can, and must, be able to make judgment upon the state’s decisions though, either way. It must. Otherwise, one’s ultimate authority is the STATE, not the Church.

    One can see clearly that comparing the situation of American Christians today and German Christians during the Nazi regime is hardly “playing the Nazi card” when one actually does some study of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For an introduction to the evolution of his views on nationalism, as well as his radical praxis, see http://www.catholicanarchy.org/essays/BonhoefferWeb.pdf

  • Eddie

    “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

    2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense. ”

    The phrasing of the language indicates that “the evaluation…belongs to the prudential judgment” of public authorities. There may be extreme cases in which that evaluation is unequivocally wrong and should be resisted. The Iraq war does not seem to be one of them; I opposed the war, but I know many people that supported it and 2/3 of the American public did. Church officials comments on the war (particularly since they were hardly emphatic or forceful) may inform but certainly are not binding on individual’s consciences. Your condemnation of U.S. soldiers is unfair and unwarranted.

  • Eddie

    Michael, as I noted above, bringing up the Nazis on the slightest provocation because you happen to be studying them does not further discussion. It is one of the most common and most abused forms of argument. Just because soldiers did what they were told under the Nazi’s, and U.S. soldiers did what they were told in Iraq, doesn’t mean U.S. soliders are cowards or immoral. It means that following orders is an important part of being in the military.

    That doesn’t shed any light on whether or not participation in Iraq was immoral. If a solider believed the war in Iraq was unjust, then perhaps you would have a case that they were disregarding their moral duty. To assert as you did that less than 1% of U.S. soldiers have the ___s to do what is right is to make a very broad generalization without any evidence.

  • Noting the direction that this thread has taken, all my suspicions are confirmed.

    It the habit of the ideologue to answer every question with the same answer. In this case, apparently the desecration of Catholic sacred images is really about the war. Perhaps everything is really about the war. Perhaps there is no more important thing than the war. But, we can all play this game of “change the topic.” Let’s take a look:

    desacrated image>>Iraq war because the war is more important

    Iraq war>>abortion because more people are killed by abortion in the US than by the war by a factor of 10 or so.

    abortion>>adoption and other resources for pregnant women because women need to know there are options

    adoption>>money for women to keep their children because some ppl are unhappy about having been adopted

    money for women to keep their children>>universal health care because we should see the big picture

    universal health care>>better education funding because education is the single greatest factor in raising incomes

    We can always find reasons to switch the topic to our personal fav. The better way is to deal with each topic on its own merits. And, if one is not interested in the topic, to refrain rather than disparage so that a meaningful conversation can be had on the topic at hand. Rather, we have here a gutted conversation which had the promise of discussing strategy, of thinking through what is happening to our Catholic universities, or articulating a vision of Catholic culture in a secular society.

    But, that opportunity has been hijacked.

  • There may be extreme cases in which that evaluation is unequivocally wrong and should be resisted. The Iraq war does not seem to be one of them…

    Wars either meet the criteria or they do not. Killing is either justified or it is not.

    I opposed the war, but I know many people that supported it and 2/3 of the American public did.

    Sounds like “I’m against abortion but I wouldn’t presume to push my views on others.” That or this sort of democratic Church thinking where the fact that half of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence (or birth control, or abortion, or … or…) must be a reason to call the Church’s teaching into question. That kind of argument holds little weight for me.

    Your condemnation of U.S. soldiers is unfair and unwarranted.

    Sorry, you seem to be saying this out of patriotic sentiment, not from a desire to think with the Church. My condemnation of the soldiers’ involvement in an unjust and sinful war (note the difference – I have friends who fought in the war and we’re still friends) is entirely warranted. We ARE in an extreme situation where people like yourself want to give all authority to the state and leave “our boys” with no worthwhile pastoral guidance. Their souls (and ours, for our involvement) are in danger.

    Just because soldiers did what they were told under the Nazi’s, and U.S. soldiers did what they were told in Iraq, doesn’t mean U.S. soliders are cowards or immoral.

    You are right – it is more than being cowardly or immoral. It is systemic evil, and the American Church (both in leadership and in its members) is complicit.

    It means that following orders is an important part of being in the military.

    It’s also an important part of being a Catholic. Therein lies the conflict. “Our boys” have made their choice.

    To assert as you did that less than 1% of U.S. soldiers have the ___s to do what is right is to make a very broad generalization without any evidence.

    I am plugged into war resister networks and am constantly reading accounts of conscientious objectors. I think Nate will back me up when I say that few of these brave guys are Catholics. Instead we get this garbage: http://www.catholicmil.org/

  • Fr J – Feel free to carry on your strategizing about what to do about this painting. Multiple conversations can happen at once. I did attempt to clarify why my peripheral war comment fit into the discussion, but it seems Eddie is interested in showing how much he “supports the troops” and will not let it go. Please, don’t let me stop your crusade. In fact let me help. It seems like Bill Donahue isn’t up on this story yet. You may want to collaborate with him. He’s into this kind of real (as opposed to “armchair”) Catholicism too: http://www.catholicleague.org/

  • What is confirmed, Fr J, is that you come with prejudice and will only read things within the light of your bias. You ignore the whole, and think discussion has to be one thing or another. Your inability to look at the whole and read things within the context of the whole, coming as it were to a quick decision, is a sad situation indeed.

  • BTW, Fr J, you would do well not to make statements like, “abortion>>adoption and other resources for pregnant women because women need to know there are options” when no one here is for abortion. Your abusive representation of a difficult question and issue is noted. You only think in “either/or” dualism for some reason. If someone thinks there are a lot of problems with adoption in our society and it is better to work for the women not to need to give up their children, it doesn’t mean they are for abortion. To make that conclusion is bad faith indeed.

  • Edward

    Micahel I,

    Get over yourself. So you got your feelings hurt by Father calling you a armchair Catholic. Suck it up…you’ve made your point. By the way, I’m a Ron Paul fan too, so try to resist the urge to call me a bloodthirty warmonger.

    Something to note in all this blather from UD’s President is that he seeks to remove the focus from the sacrilege itself and his failure to remove it (common sense tells us that this is sacrilege, so please spare me the artistic criticism). In today’s Gospel when Jesus points out the Samaritan woman’s sins, she immediately changed the subject: “I can see you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Perfectly natural human reaction to take the focus off her sins and try to move the conversation to a deeper theological discussion.

  • Eddie

    Michael I.

    “You seem to be saying this out of patriotic sentiment not out of a desire to think with the Church.”

    More baseless accusations. I quote the Catechism, and try to apply it; you don’t respond with any sort of argument based on the Catechism. Instead, it’s all accusations.

    Just because you (or I) think the invasion of Iraq did not meet just war criteria doesn’t meant that Catholics who disagree are acting immorally. It’s a non-binding matter of prudential judgement.

    Note, that there are two different issues with respect to Iraq. 1) Should we invade?, 2) What should we do once we have invaded? Church leaders certainly have not condemned the U.S.’s attempt to transfer power peacefully, even if they did (sotto voice) say they didn’t think the original invasion was justified. Our soldiers trying to maintain peace in the region and transfer power are certainly not complicit with immorality, even if the original invasion did not meet just war criteria.

  • I was not accusing anyone for being pro abortion. In fact, I was assuming everyone was prolife and I used abortion as shorthand for the abortion issue, hence the reference to more deaths than the war in the previous line. Poorly stated, I agree. But no accusation intended. I was only trying to show that a conversation can be shifted endlessly.

    Your making broad statements about my abilities or inabilities doesnt really address the any of the points I have made, does it? I’ll admit that I did make some hasty judgments in part owing to what came up when I googled Vox Nova–something to the effect that there are some Marxist affinities here. I had also been forewarned that there is a campaign against adoption by one of the contributors here (regardless of countless adopted people the world over). Then I arrived to find truly careless and baseless assertions of Calvinism and Gnosticism hurled at an article that was on the whole fairly innocuous. Then I found this sad conversation in which the strongest voice was one that has for two days pursued the conversation only to undermine it.

    And since this thread really does seem to be about the war, I’ll chime in. I agree with Eddie. JPII’s position on the war was a matter of his personal prudential judgment. There was nothing binding there. There is no church “teaching” as such on the Iraq War. It is important to honor the hierarchies of Vatican communications in order to understand them properly.

    And true too is Eddie’s estimation that the Church’s opposition to entering the war should not be translated into a position on how the war is conducted or when or how it should be ended. That would be a matter of additional later communications, which to my knowledge have not been issued.

    I do feel free to carry on about strategizing regarding the painting; however, there is no one here who takes it seriously enough to continue the conversation. Was is posted as a mere matter of curiosity?

    “Wars either meet the criteria or they do not. Killing is either justified or it is not.” Hmmm. This is rather black and white thinking. True, the pope was opposed to the war–jus ad bellum and jus in bello are different things. Once in the war, the situation has changed. We cannot return to square 1. Now that we are on square 11, I do not see the church pronouncing on the war–neither did it at square 2 or anytime since. If I missed some other church pronounces, I would like to know it and read them.

  • Fr J

    Your own words elsewhere state, “Sounds like a disguise for a pro-abortionist to me.” Having accused RCM of that on your own blog, you then return to the same discussion here. Please, spare me the dishonesty.

    And you do know there are some “Marxist affinities” with Christianity as a whole, as per Benedict’s own statement suggesting Christian Socialism is close to Church doctrine? Marxism got much of its social thought from Christianity.

    It’s interesting when Catholic Social Doctrine suggests something that some people don’t like, they will say “Marxism” or “Socialism” or the like. So it is always easy to say “Marxist affinities” but you would also have to see it in — the prophets, St John Chrysostom, St Basil the Great, et. al. It is not the same as “complete agreement with all things Marxism.” But it appears Marxism is a boogeyman where if you have something similar to Marxist thought or see something good in an aspect of Marxist thought — you are guilty of being a Marxist, even though it is clear one is not.

  • JPII’s position on the war was a matter of his personal prudential judgment.

    NO IT WAS NOT. I am surprised that an ordained priest would make such an absolutely ignorant statement. Prudential judgments are indeed the laity’s to make in certain cases. The Pope, on the other hand, was speaking with the voice of the Church, according to the Church’s traditional, well established just war tradition, and according to the Catechism which, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger noted, does not include (and therefore DOES NOT PERMIT) the notion of a pre-emptive war. It was NOT JPII’s “personal opinion.”

    This kind of sick undermining of the Church’s tradition is shameful coming from a priest.

  • Henry,

    Having read RCM’s responses, I am glad to take her at her word–as a pro-life Catholic. So, no, I did not intent to accuse her or anyone of being pro-abortion (though her position on adoption is remarkably similar to many who are in the pro abortion camp). So, no dishonesty here.

    I am well aware of the Marxist tendencies in liberation theology–though I would tend not to associate Marxism with CST directly. While the profits have urged mercy and generosity toward the poor, I would not call that Marxist. Marxism has just too much baggage to lay it on the scriptures such as class struggle, violence, materialism and atheism. Like gnosticism, Marxism is complex and the use of the lable implies all kinds of associations the speak likely does not intend.

    In my youth I went through various phases from Dorothy Day and pacifism to Marxist and I even joined the Communist Party, briefly. I have read the sources. I have also read the CST tradition including the second Instruction on Liberation Theology by Ratzinger. It is fair to say one can employ a Marxist critique to a social disparity, but never a Marxist solution. Espousing a Marxist solution is what I might call Marxism. One cannot simply be a Marxist and a Catholic simultaneously without so restricting Marx as to make him unrecognizable to himself.

    It has been 25 years since I first took the path of Marx. He is a dead end. I don’t miss him. And while a younger generation, both Catholic and Evangelical look to be faithful to their religious commitments while trying to break free from the conventional American conservatism of the Republican Party and the extreme moral relativism of the Dems, I would suggest not to return to the dead ends of previous generations and seek new ground.

  • The pope did not explicity bind the consciences of the Catholics involved in the war. He could have–though not without high cost to the Church.

    Yes, the pope applied the traditional constraints of jus ad bellum. But in what kind of communication was his judgment announced? One learns the weight of papal speak by the particular device used?

    So was in at a Wednesday audience? Was it at an Angelus? in an Encyclical? a diplomatic communication? Whose conscience did he bind?

    It has been a long time since this all happened and I honestly do not recall. Do you have a citation?

  • Who is talking liberation theology, Fr J? You keep adding more and more charges and bringing up more and more assumptions.

    You say there are “Marxist affinities.” You earlier said “pro-abortion.” You are quick to make all kinds of judgments on people you do not know, and whom you have not obviously read. Prudence suggests you do that. It is obvious that you want to say we are wrong, and trying to find something which will stick. If one doesn’t work, you will pretend to be sorry, but do another (while still doing underhanded comments which show you are continuing on the first critique). This says so much about you, but so little about what is said on here by those who post on here.

    And to deny the affinity between the prophets (not profits) and Marxism is to ignore much about Marxism itself. No one has ever said “Marxist solutions” are the way to go, but people have said “Marxist critiques” are often valid. As the Pope has done recently. It’s not either/or, it’s not dualism. Stop with the dualism. It’s Marxism is unbalanced like other errors, but it has much which is true, like other errors.

    You might want to read this: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova/2008/02/15/benedict-xvi-on-marx/

    And that is Servant of God Dorothy Day.

    —-
    On second thought, you might be talking about Blackadder being a Marxist. If that is the case, what do you have against Groucho?

  • While the profits have urged mercy and generosity toward the poor, I would not call that Marxist. (emphasis mine)

    Your mis-spelling here speaks volumes.

    (And the prophets did more than that. They urged justice.)

  • Sick? Shameful?

    You can do better than that, Michael.

    I was a dorm rector for 5 years. I am used to being called much worse by adolescents.

  • Sick? Shameful?

    You can do better than that, Michael.

    I’m pleased to see that you are so amused by your deliberate attempts to distort the Church’s teaching.

    The pope did not explicity bind the consciences of the Catholics involved in the war. He could have–though not without high cost to the Church.

    You are right; he did not. This does not make Church teaching on this war mere opinion.

    Yes, the pope applied the traditional constraints of jus ad bellum. But in what kind of communication was his judgment announced? One learns the weight of papal speak by the particular device used?

    Ratzinger seemed to find confirmation in the Catechism. I don’t actually recall the precise mode myself, to be honest. But there were many, and repeated, statements and personal visits to the White House by Vatican officials, as you probably know. The U.S. bishops, of course, issued a letter. Individual bishops issued letters to their dioceses. There was a unified voice of opposition to the war on multiple levels. Anyone who studies ecclesiology knows that this is called the Church leaders being in communion. Sadly, you and priests like you undermine this teaching and this is scandalous.

  • nathancontramundi

    I willingly admit to my own part in leading us to this point, and for that, find no recourse but to apologize. Am I too bold in asking that all of us step back one moment, particularly in this season of Lent, to breathe deeply and to recall that, whatever differences separate our individual perspectives, we are all, whether priest of my beloved CSC and former rector of the Manor, graduate student in Canada or in Maryland, or adjunct professor of religion, we all are members of the same Body of Christ, all worshippers in his Bride, and, thus, that we must all behave more charitably toward one another, not allowing our differences to divide us — to divide the Body of Christ?

    In Notre Dame,
    NPO

  • Thanks, Nathan. Good advice. Were you a Manorite?

    “Contramundi?” Is this a reference to Brideshead Revisited, by chance? I have recently fallen for that novel. My mind has been swimming in it for almost two weeks.

  • nathancontramundi

    Actually, Fr J, a Fisherman, a prodigy of Fr Rob!

    It actually isn’t; I’ve yet to read Waugh, as I need to. I just like the thought of positing myself against the world. I feel, often enough, as if it’s against me.

  • Nathan,

    In scrolling back just now I see that I missed your earlier comments addressed to me. Yes, old ND is such a mix it is hard to get a good estimate of its relative health as a Catholic institution.

    Certainly Catholicism is unavoidable on the most superficial level at ND. But that doesn’t mean anyone can’t escape its draw, or lose one’s faith here, as anywhere. Still, if one is looking for the Catholic influence, it is here in abundance more than at most Catholic colleges.

    On the other hand, the dearth of serious Catholics of Ivy League calibre willing to relocate to S. Bend to teach is a real problem. While some departments have been careless about Catholic hires, even if they were careful it would remain a difficulty.

    So if one is looking for Catholic theology, they will find what they need and more. If one is looking to study English with a Catholic interpretive eye, that would be harder to do, not to pick on English per se.

    The VM is Notre Dame’s stripper Madonna and we have handled it less well than many. I regard that as more than a disappointment but as a real case of shame. There needs to be a conversation on the what weaknesses of character, personal and institutional, have led to this sad condition at so many of our schools. Sure, some of it is generational, but some of it is really a matter of good people lacking courage in the pivotal moments.

    Courage. I am no paragon of the virtue. But, once Catholicism had this virtue as its hallmark. Places like ND have been all to willing to give up what they can uniquely offer for the sake of the coveted regard of their “aspirational peers.”

    The courage to stand up for the faith, to willingly pay a price for it, to make it truly the highest good in one’s life. That is what we, myself included, are lacking in this pragmatic and political age.

    Henry, calm down. I never leveled a charge of “liberation theology” or “pro-abortion.” I did think some arguments made sounded pro-abortion, and they do, but I never leveled the charge. I did make mention of liberation theology, which is a natural reference when talking Catholicism and Marxism, but I never made a “charge” of it, whatever that would mean. I was just discussing Marxism in relation to the faith. So take no offense. Sensitivities do run high here. Not everything I write is a criticism. Sometimes I just make comments. Henry, we do have a way of talking past each other. Maybe it is better if we just leave it at that.

    Anyway, Nathan, thanks for the chat. I have been meaning to look over at project sycamore, but havent yet. Thanks for the reminder. Their concerns, I’m told, are dear to my heart!!

    So, you were at Fisher, were you? I hope you enjoyed the view of the Manor while you were there : ) When were you there? Have we met?

  • nathancontramundi

    I was there from fall of 2002 through May 2006. I did enjoy the view of the Manor, much more, I’m sure, than the view you had of our correction facility of a dorm, and had a few good friends in your ranks. We met briefly once or twice, but never in any depth. We share some good mutual friends/acquaintances, though: Br. Justin Brophy, Mike Quisao amongst them.

    Nice Facebook picture!

  • Brophy and Quisao? You are good people, Nathan! (as they say in Virginia) Say hey for me when next you see them.

    You are always welcome over at Per Christum. We dont really argue over there. In fact, only at one other blog, ByzCath, have I ever gotten into the fray before. To argue is part of my nature, just not a very big part. Anyway, PC is very good natured as most of the posts are by Simple Sinner and David B, both being better souls than I. I did write a post on the VM at ND a couple of weeks ago which you might be interested in.

  • Eddie

    Thanks for posting here Fr. J. I appreciated your comments, and was surprised by the rudeness of the responses. Please keep in mind that Michael I. and Henry, while bullies, do not Vox Nova make. A lot of the other writers are quite fair and engage in substantive discussion.

  • Stuart Buck

    Fr. J. — I’d echo everything Eddie just said, except for the word “surprised.”

  • We love you too, Stuart.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    AAgh! I went to make empanadas and sell them and mira que pasa!

    If we can bring the post back to sacrilegious art being shown on Catholic campuses, please, it would be much appreciated. I think everyone has pretty much stated their beliefs and opinions.

    It did strike me last night, though, Michael, before I fell asleep that in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodox communities, an image IS the face of God so to warp an icon or to have Mary as hooker, is truly blasphemy, as blasphemous as any atrocity committed against innocent human beings. Or more so, I should say.

    Henry, did I get that right? In the West we seem to have lost that deep devotion to the images of our God and Saints. Yet, I would argue that the Hispanic people have the SAME devotion to their Guadalupe image as Eastern Catholics have for icons. I know in Ecuador the people would reverence the statues and crucifix like the Byzantine Catholics reverence the icon.

    So while I DO understand your concern for atrocities committed against humanity, we must remain sensitive to the very real atrocity of dressing Our Lord’s Mother as a hooker. To recognize one does NOT mean we do not care about the other. In fact, I will argue with you that by recognizing the holiness and respecting God and Mary, we SHOULD have that overflow to the human family.

    And Fr. J: You are free to read what I have written for Vox Nova to see what my thoughts and views are by clicking on my name under “Categories,” unless you would like to continue thinking I am “campaigning against adoption.” I DO have deep concerns about the adoption industry. I do NOT believe we should go through life without questioning our own actions and our own beliefs especially when we are too comfortable. I am a convert and I continue to convert within the Faith. I would invite you to critical reflection. But that you have little desire to read the ONLY book written from the perspective of those women who were forced to give their babies away pre-Roe says SO MUCH MORE about you, then it EVER could about me.

  • RCM,

    I love empanadas. What filling did you use? In Bolivia there are empanadas fritas de queso that are to die for, if not from!

    I have not refused to read anything. I have just not read this book in the past 48 hours. I am not sure you have read what I wrote in response to you over a Per Christum. I think that some of your perspectives and assumptions on adoption can be very hurtful to those who have been adopted and to those many good religious including in my own Congregation who have given their lives for the good of the children.

    Now every woman capable of conceiving a child is fit to raise one. That is a fact of life. No woman should be forced to hand over her child, but who on earth is advocating that?

    Also, as we understand history, there is never a return to the past. To be pro-life is not to desire that state of affairs pre-Roe. So, I am not sure how the stories of those particular women are pertinent to the question either of Roe or of adoption today.

  • I meant to say “Not every woman capable of conceiving a child is fit to raise one.” Sorry.

  • “Thanks for posting here Fr. J. I appreciated your comments, and was surprised by the rudeness of the responses. Please keep in mind that Michael I. and Henry, while bullies, do not Vox Nova make. A lot of the other writers are quite fair and engage in substantive discussion.”

    Bullies? Eddie, really. Talk about more dishonesty.

  • Fr J

    You have a way of making attacks and then when called on them, pulling back “Oh I didn’t mean it as an attack.” Your clear words about VN on PC without knowing anything about what the people on VN believes says much. Please, do not play games. You make points thinking it says something, almost like trying to find something which will stick. “Oh, I didn’t mean to say…” when you did say and said things which only make sense in that way; otherwise there is no reason to say what you did say.

    Stop letting your bias get the best of you. Come here without it and actually deal with what is said. That way you won’t have problems like in MZ’s newest post, where YOU are the one who does what you claim we do.

  • Eddie

    “Bullies? Eddie, really. Talk about more dishonesty.”

    …and it continues. What was I dishonest about? You called me a pseudo-intellectual with no analogical imagination and nothing to say. Now you’ve added dishonesty to the list, without specifying the charge. This sort of extended ad hominem is uncalled for here or anywhere else. It is an intellectual form of bullying and I think it is disgraceful on a Catholic blog, particularly for a moderator.

    I have not once questioned your motives or claimed you are a ‘pseudo-intellectual’. You may think it is because of your pristine prose or the lucidity of your arguments, but it is rather because these types of shots should not be taken. They should be out of bounds in polite discourse, and they are a disservice to all involved.

  • “You are bullies” is a polite dialogue point? And it is honest?

  • Eddie

    Yes, Henry. It is both honest and a point of dialogue. I am addressing your manner of disputation. Making the accusations you made against me is a form of bullying. You may respond “but I only said you were a pseudo-intellectual with no analogical imagination and nothing to say”, because it’s true! It doesn’t matter; those accusations should be out of bounds.

  • Eddie

    Those are not substantive arguments, they are personal attacks.

  • Eddie

    You really are making me laugh. Really.

  • Eddie

    Henry, do you think those charges are part of civil discourse?

  • Eddie

    You ignored the substantial point which was made: the error in application of “playing the Hitler Card.” It was clear how and why you used it; very typical of a certain class on the internet. You don’t like it when people see through your rhetoric. And then you call it bullying when they do. Nice.

  • Eddie

    Henry,

    Even if there was a syllogistic error (which I don’t grant for a moment), your accusations were not substantive.

  • Eddie

    The more you type, the more you prove my point. Continue on. I needed a good laugh.

  • Eddie

    Once again you putting me with ‘a certain class on the internet,’ and I (in bad faith) ‘don’t like it when people see through my rhetoric’. Henry you are still attacking motives (which you can’t assess).

  • Eddie

    Once again — you prove my point. There is no discussion of motives in my words.

  • Eddie

    This is pointless. Continue bullying (and laughing).

  • Eddie

    Yes, Henry, saying I don’t like it ‘when people see through my rhetoric’ is a discussion of motives. It is assigning an (uncharitable) motive to me.

  • Ok, I have made a discussion of your motive for your own attempt at bullying me and Michael… with the ad hominem of “you are bullies.” That is a side issue to the original where there was no discussion of motive, nor no bullying. It is quite clear who the bully here is.

  • Eddie

    Have there been any updates on the painting, RCM? Did they ever recover it?

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry — the obvious problem with playing the Hitler card is that Michael was drawing a false equivalence — as if America today is going to turn into Nazi Germany, just because soldiers here generally obey the commander-in-chief just as Nazi soldiers do. It’s the exact same lapse in thinking that led many conservatives to say that Saddam was going to be another Hitler, because after all, Saddam was a dictator. Yes, Saddam was a dictator, but that did not mean that he posed a threat to the world anywhere near the level of Hitler. In the same way, it’s true that American soldiers generally obey the commander-in-chief, but that does not mean that America is going the way of Nazi Germany.

    That’s why “playing the Hitler card” is destructive to honest dialogue (in which you purport to be interested) — when you take anything you don’t like about America and compare it to Nazi Germany, the analogy is usually so inflammatory and out-of-place that people on the other side of the debate often get upset.

    Eddie — don’t take it too personally. Henry treats anyone in this fashion if they say something he disagrees with.

  • Stuart

    Once again, you show you are incapable of understanding the argument. The argument is “it is wrong to go into an unjust war, even if the state tells you it is just.” The example was Hitler, who said the state’s decision was superior to the Church. That is a legitimate example. And that is exactly the argument people use to justify ignoring the Church. It is analogous. The question is: which is superior, Church or state, in determinng morality. Hitler’s answer was the state. The Church’s answer is the Church. American Catholics…. ?

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry, you made an earlier comment in which the whole point of comparison was that in both Nazi Germany and in America, there weren’t many soldiers who “wiillingly said no to their commanders when Church officials said” that the “war is not a just war.”

    One can imagine several positions:

    1. The state’s judgment always and at all times is superior to that of the Church, no matter what. If anyone here took that position, you’d be right to suggest that the same principle would excuse Nazi Germany. But no one is taking that position. Hence your analogy is just inflammatory.

    2. The Catechism expressly says that whether a war is just or unjust should be determined by the “prudential judgment” of state officials. Section 2309. Thus, it is wrong to suggest that for a soldier to act in accordance with this prudential judgment is equivalent to Nazi soldiers. I think this is closer to what has been argued here. I’d note that if the doctrine of prudential judgment means anything at all, it must mean that state officials at least sometimes have the right to disagree with particular Church officials. (If state officials always had to agree with whatever some Vatican official said, they wouldn’t really have any right of prudential judgment, now would they?) Thus it can’t be right to suggest that allowing for any disagreement at all would justify Nazi Germany — there has to be some sensible way to draw a line here without suggesting that “prudential judgment = Nazis.”

    3. Whenever various Church officials take issue with a particular war, that automatically overrides the prudential judgment given to state officials by Catechism 2309.. Is this what you are arguing?

  • Stuart and Eddie,

    I am seeing some patterns here.

    See you over at Per Christum.

  • Katerina

    This is very sad.

  • Zeke

    What a sad situation. But it is far from the black and white issue it’s made out to be here. This is far from the type of phenomena plaguing Catholic universities in this country (eg: DePaul). People who make it out to be that way are just arm-waving.

    It’s a actually a very complicated issue. For starters, it was part of an exchange between universities. The work was not specifically invited and no money went toward it (well, it’s bought now). The faculty and staff DID make SOME (arguably inadequate) provisions to make it clear that this was not an endorsement (the ‘restricted access’ to the piece). To Dr. Lazarus’ credit, the president himself took a first hand look as soon as he was notified and asked the right questions of the faculty. Not being an art scholar, he trusted in his faculty at the outset, but, rather than leave it alone, began to draft a more thorough response. Then it was stolen. You certainly can’t blame Dr. Lazarus. He’s not an art scholar. He trusted his faculty. Would you have him walking around like the Saudi Minister of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, censoring and firing at the first smell of unorthodoxy?

    The question I would pose to the students, faculty, and staff is: Why wouldn’t such a work be displayed? And the question behind that is: What does it mean to be a Catholic University? Maybe it’s time that debate was had on campus – indeed, nationwide.

    Personally, I think the proper response in THIS specific situation would have been to receive the piece. If it was for use specific to an art class, let it be put up in the classroom for discussion, no different, say, than discussing Nietzsche in Philosophy class. It’s a closed, controlled environment wherein the print was used as a teaching point as part of a lesson plan. I can’t imagine anyone would object to that. The most you might get there is some kid calling home to complain to his parents, which, sadly, is not only very popular with this generation, but would also generate results on campus. But let’s take it for granted that we all agree that the professor leading the discussion would adequately deal with the issue and any involvement by Mom and Dad would be the unwarranted result of a whiny milquetoast.

    However, if it was displayed in a university gallery, it would in theory be available to the whole university. I would still say, receive it. But in such a case, art faculty should coordinate beforehand to have the display in the gallery correspond to a lecture discussing the issues surrounding such a work and the proper response of an authentically Catholic university. Make it an event open to all students. A sign at the door could make it clear that the work may be objectionable to some viewers and the discussion should be rational. It need not be a debate and the there need be no defense of the piece – just rational explanation of the Catholic response. Perhaps the event could end with a vote among those present whether or not to remove the piece from the gallery or send it all back, etc. It is important that such an event take place right out the outset to benefit the students and the prying eyes of alumni and bloggers with the University’s clear response. I even envision the event starting with Dr. Lazarus expressing his personal distaste for the piece, but reserving his statement of the official University response until after the lecture. Administration supporting Faculty! Faculty supporting Administration! Students right at the center!

    I am troubled by some of the comments I’ve heard from students and alumni regarding the print and the culpability of the University. Catholic higher education is not indoctrination. And while so-called academic freedom has real limits, the school that touts itself as the Catholic University for Independent Thinkers should be able to provide the tools for young adults to confront schlock when they see it and condemn it in a rational way – in a way that makes sense to their non-Catholic peers, ie: the rest of the world, ie: the earth in which they are supposed to be the salt. Another way to pose this is: What is a most Catholic response that the students and faculty of a Catholic University can send back to Murray State University when it the exchange is completed?

    In my opinion, refusing outright to display the piece, under the circumstances in which it was received, or otherwise reacting purely out of indignation, is too akin to the certain lynching of a Danish cartoonist. Such a response would not evoke the rationality that Catholicism is at home with. Certainly, it should be driven out of the temple and there is a time and place for righteous anger. And certainly it is very offensive. But in response to all those individuals invoking their dear mothers: if my mother were an internationally recognized figure (say she was a popular canonized saint), I shouldn’t be surprised to hear certain jerks malign her. And as tempting as it would be to simply cover my ears, in my heart I would prefer instead that those jerks come to know her as I do. And, as offensive as it is, I’d have to admit that in many cases that would mean hearing these jerks out. And so I think the right response would be to allow those pejoratives to be voiced in carefully controlled situations in which they could be summarily, and hopefully finally, dispelled. So again, I pose the question: What is a Catholic university? Is it a sanctuary from the world? Is it a seminary? No and No. The university is for lay education. Lay people are in and of the world. Can they be prepared to live their faith in and of the world – like the salt that improves the taste of the meal – if they don’t confront it – if they remain in the metaphorical shaker?

    Follow up questions that I believe pertain are: Do students read Nietzsche or similarly anti-Catholic philosophers, poets, authors, etc? What books are kept in the library? What other art is displayed on campus?

    A danger in starting out down the road of the perfunctory eschewing of the anti-Catholic in the world is that a lot of what we would at first condone, upon closer examination, isn’t so Catholic. For some perspective: Byzantine saints used to write vehemently against the Christian use of Greek philosophy because their experience of Greek thought was that it was born in paganism and that the Greeks were surrounded by demons. So I mean to ask, in eschewing the anti-Catholic from the university, where do we draw the line? What if the print had appeared to be a nice picture of the Virgin, only to find out it was created by a sociopath who molested little girls? I recall that Italian Renaissance painting is a favorite of UD students, but it’s predominately secular humanist. A print of the Birth of Venus probably would have received rave reviews from many students, but it’s decidedly un-Catholic. So where do you draw the line? This is not to say that you don’t draw any lines. It is to say that the issue is much more complicated than people seem to understand.

    Moreover, this whole issue is of special importance and needs to be discussed in light of the recent efforts of UN and EU legislators to amend the constitutions to make blasphemous publications illegal – unprotected by free speech. This is a big effort by many European and Asian Muslims to put an end to the type of cartoons that appeared in the infamous Danish newspaper – and to put a stop to any public social commentary on their religion. At some level, I imagine such an amendment appeals to many Christians as well. However, I believe it’s very disturbing. The beliefs of Islam, and ALL religions, SHOULD be subject to scrutiny. Let human reason and the Holy Spirit prevail. Silencing that debate before it starts seems to me to represent a fear and an exclusivity that is entirely unChristian. Again, there is a time for righteous anger. Just as there is a time for public debate. Scripture certainly gives us far more examples of Our Lord engaging in the latter.

    Finally, I hope the students, not Campus Safety, find the thief and ensure that the print is returned. Theft is theft. Any attempt to justify the actions of this individual is as full of holes as the UD Art Security perimeter. The fact that the individual(s) have remained anonymous speaks very strongly to their wrongness; as I implied above, this was not the temple. If someone had stood up and smashed the print or torn it to shreds, and proceeded to explain his actions to the community, I might be more forgiving. Under the circumstances, it is terribly damaging to the reputation of the University of Dallas – and therefore, to the reputation of the Catholic identity that the thief presumably sought to protect. At best, it repays evil for evil. At worst, it repays evil for the ignorant good intentions of a hard-working art student. In all cases, I imagine that the most positive outcome would involve the student body’s return of the print. Then such a work could be properly de-installed from such a campus -not through some sophomoric stunt, but under the light of Christ.

  • It did strike me last night, though, Michael, before I fell asleep that in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodox communities, an image IS the face of God so to warp an icon or to have Mary as hooker, is truly blasphemy, as blasphemous as any atrocity committed against innocent human beings. Or more so, I should say.

    I agree with you here. If the artist were to have taken an actual icon and defaced it, that would be blasphemy, and I would be more concerned in that case. But even in that case, to say it would be worse than an atrocity against human beings is still wrong, I think. Don’t forget human beings are the primary image of God.

    the obvious problem with playing the Hitler card is that Michael was drawing a false equivalence — as if America today is going to turn into Nazi Germany, just because soldiers here generally obey the commander-in-chief just as Nazi soldiers do.

    Stuart – That is not the argument that I made. Reading comprehension is a skill. Do develop yours.

    I’d note that if the doctrine of prudential judgment means anything at all, it must mean that state officials at least sometimes have the right to disagree with particular Church officials.

    Sure they have that right. Church and state are separate. I think that as things are today, we should expect to see the state disagreeing with the Church more and more. This is precisely what is happening. The presumption that the Catechism makes is that states are actually using just war teaching and actually have the desire to use it well. That can no longer be presumed. But although all of the above is true, the Church maintains the authority to judge the state and its actions. Period. Although the state makes the final prudential judgment, the actual decision to go to war, the Church has the final moral authority over the state. I do not see what is so difficult to understand here.

    there has to be some sensible way to draw a line here without suggesting that “prudential judgment = Nazis.”

    If that is what you think our argument is, seriously, check your reading comprehension.

  • Do students read Nietzsche or similarly anti-Catholic philosophers, poets, authors, etc? What books are kept in the library? What other art is displayed on campus?

    A point I made above, which was ignored.

  • Stuart Buck

    If that is what you think our argument is, seriously, check your reading comprehension.

    This is bad faith argumentation — if you disagree with someone’s interpretation of some random comment that you threw out there, it’s your responsibility to offer the correct interpretation. It’s not useful or in good faith just to sneer at someone’s reading comprehension.

    In any event, you certainly haven’t made a sophisticated point (here, for example). All you (and Henry) have done is make the simplistic argument: 1) American officials thought the war was a good idea; 2) Vatican officials disagreed; 3) The Church has the final authority; 4) Therefore American soldiers are to be condemned and compared to Nazis for going along with what their commander-in-chief said rather than becoming conscientious objectors forthwith. The only principle that can be gleaned from your argument is that soldiers should automatically follow the Vatican and not their commander-in-chief. Which, if taken seriously, suggests that there is no such thing as prudential judgment here after all.

    But that can’t be right. Thus, your attempt at reasoning must be in error. And thus, there must be a better way to draw a reasonable line here that both preserves the prudential judgment of state officials (which necessarily means that there will be many cases in which soldiers should follow the state rather than the Vatican), but that also explains why Nazi Germany was not a valid exercise of prudential judgment.

  • …if you disagree with someone’s interpretation of some random comment that you threw out there, it’s your responsibility to offer the correct interpretation. It’s not useful or in good faith just to sneer at someone’s reading comprehension.

    That’s not my responsibility if I have made repeated attempts to clarify where I am coming from. It’s clear you are not interested in understanding me, but that you want to intentionally twist what I am saying by summarizing it like this:

    Therefore American soldiers are to be condemned and compared to Nazis for going along with what their commander-in-chief said rather than becoming conscientious objectors forthwith.

    I have no interest in playing games with you Stuart.

  • Stuart Buck

    You haven’t made repeated attempts (or any attempts whatsoever) to clarify what it means to say both that 1) the Church has the “final moral authority” over just war questions, and yet that 2) state officials are expressly authorized to decide whether a was is just by using their “prudential judgment.” Those two propositions are difficult to square with each other.

    Moreover, you repeatedly suggest that American soldiers had a duty to become conscientious objectors in the Iraq war, even though you also admitted that the Pope didn’t bind anyone’s conscience on this issue, and that you didn’t “recall” the “mode” in which a Church statement might have been made. You need to come up with an explanation as to why what went on in 2003 fell so far short of valid prudential judgment — in a way that was known by the run-of-the-mill soldier at the time — that soldiers actually had a duty to rebel against their orders.

    This isn’t a game — it’s just exploring the logical implications of your comments.

  • What if the piece were an image of MLK hanging from a tree and given to an African American college? Would you expect such a college to just properly contextualize it, find a way to excuse it, question everyone who objects about what it really means to be African American, reduce it to an academic/intellectual exercise to learn how critique this art regardless of personal feelings, tell students that to impulsively eschew racism is somehow dangerous, claim that a flattering image of MLK by a member of KKK would be worse?

    Why is it that every other group can stand up for itself, but when Catholics take offense they are told to go re-examine what it means to be Catholic?

    Such intellectualism is phony.

  • Those two propositions are difficult to square with each other.

    No, they’re not. States make the final decision whether or not to go to war. This is because states and states alone make war. The Church does not make war. The Church provides a set of just war criteria which it presumes states will use when they are “discerning” whether to go to war or not. (This, however, can no longer be presumed, as the Bush administration has made abundantly clear.) The state, indeed, makes the “prudential judgment” whether or not to go to war. It “makes the call”‘ so to speak. Nevertheless, the Church’s teaching stands in judgment of the state’s decision, whatever that may be. And yes, while the Church does not bind the conscience of the individual soldier in these matters, we know that when one disagrees with Church teaching, the burden of proof is on the one who disagrees. There are forms of responsible disagreement, and irresponsible disagreement. The fact that the vast majority of U.S. soldiers are not following the Church’s thought when it comes to the Iraq War suggests that either the Church’s just war teaching and specific judgments of two popes and the U.S. bishops (al of which were in union with one another) are either wrong, or that U.S. soldiers and those who support the war in Iraq do not take the Church’s teaching on war seriously.

    You need to come up with an explanation as to why what went on in 2003 fell so far short of valid prudential judgment — in a way that was known by the run-of-the-mill soldier at the time — that soldiers actually had a duty to rebel against their orders.

    The Bush administration’s reasons for entering into the Iraq war were based on lies. This was clear to anyone paying attention at the time, and it has become even clearer over the last couple years. If you still do not accept that the war was based on lies, I’m not sure what to tell you that will rouse you from dream land.

    Even if their reasoning was not based on lies, just war teaching insists wars can only be just when in self-defense. The Iraq War, indeed the entirety of the war on terror, is based on preventative, offensive war, not defense. Catholic teaching forbids what is taking place.

    “Run-of-the-mill soldiers,” especially if they are people of faith, have a duty to know what the hell they are doing. They have a duty to know and engage the teachings of their Church on war. Aside from those who actually make the decision to go to war, they are the ones who should take just war teaching most seriously. And most simply do not. Run of the mill soldiers are accountable for the killing that they do, and the killing that they enable others to do. Participation in unjust killing is inherently evil, whether it is done by a run-of-the-mill soldier or a run-of-the-mill abortionist.

    I’m not sure how much clearer I can get. If you still want to distort my argument to “Iafrate thinks soldiers are Nazis,” then I’m through with this discussion.

  • Stuart Buck

    States make the final decision whether or not to go to war. This is because states and states alone make war. The Church does not make war. . . . The state, indeed, makes the “prudential judgment” whether or not to go to war. It “makes the call”‘ so to speak.

    This is a misunderstanding of what the Catechism says. It says that the application of just war criteria is committed to the prudential judgment of state officials. Like it or not, that’s in the Catechism. So what does that mean? In the above passage, you seem to be reducing it to just a tautological fact, i.e., that it’s only states who engage in war in the first place, and so of course they make the judgment as to whether or not to go to war.

    When the Catechism gives state officials the right to exercise “prudential judgment” to apply just war criteria, that has to mean something much more significant than the mere fact that state officials do, in fact, have the governmental authority to conduct war.

    If the Catechism said what you seem to desire, section 2309 would say, “While states obviously have the capacity to make the decision to go to war, the application of just war criteria does not allow for prudential judgment. Instead, the moral question whether a war is just will always be made in any individual circumstance by the Vatican or by individual bishops.” That’s clearly not what the Catechism says, however.

    The Bush administration’s reasons for entering into the Iraq war were based on lies. This was clear to anyone paying attention at the time, and it has become even clearer over the last couple years.

    You say this only with the benefit of hindsight. In fact, it was NOT clear to anyone paying attention at the time. My brother in law, for example, was in military intelligence in the 101st Airborne. After he got out, he told me something like this: “We had all kinds of intel showing that Saddam had WMDs.” But later he also said, “If we knew then what we know now, we shouldn’t have gone in there.”

    I’ll take his word over yours with regard to what informed people knew (or thought they knew) at the time.

  • M.Z. Forrest

    By your interpretation we would be unable to say any side in a war acted justly or injustly.

  • You say this only with the benefit of hindsight. In fact, it was NOT clear to anyone paying attention at the time. My brother in law, for example, was in military intelligence in the 101st Airborne.

    Hah. No, it was clear to many many people at the time. Surely it wasn’t so long ago that you have forgotten all the opposition to the war?

    As far as our interpretation of the Catechism goes, Stu, I think we’re talking past one another. So for me, it ends here.

  • Stuart Buck

    No. It’s a difficult problem to square, and there does need to be a point at which the moral obligation of which Michael speaks does kick in. At the same time, it can’t be true that whenever the “Church” (meaning individual officials) expresses an opinion about a particular war, that opinion is binding on all state officials — otherwise, there would be no room for the exercise of prudential judgment. The whole point of prudential judgment is the freedom to reach an opinion that is different from the opinion of Church leaders. By the same token, if the real rule is “do whatever Church officials think,” then you don’t have prudential judgment over that issue.

  • M.Z. Forrest

    I would certainly be willing to grant a charism of sorts to our elected leaders in addressing war. I certainly think people could disagree on a particular prudential judgement. From this I would not claim we are immune from concluding a particular prudential judgement is erroneous. Our bishops have been quite willing to make that judgement. As the New Oxford Review has pointed out though, the bishops except for a few have been unwilling to assert that one who takes arms in this war is acting under pain of sin. This has been disappointed. Recognizing that, it is hardly shocking that many soldiers have refused to give up the war.

  • nathancontramundi

    It seems that my humble request has been ignored, as has RCM’s. *sigh*

  • At the same time, it can’t be true that whenever the “Church” (meaning individual officials) expresses an opinion about a particular war, that opinion is binding on all state officials — otherwise, there would be no room for the exercise of prudential judgment.

    You seriously are not reading me very attentively. I have said repeatedly that despite the Church’s stated views on various wars, we can actually expect state officials to disregard them.

    I find your view that the “whole point of prudential judgment is the freedom to reach an opinion that is different from the opinion of Church leaders” a tad suspicious.

    Done.

  • Stuart Buck

    Hah. No, it was clear to many many people at the time.

    Whether Saddam had WMDs was not “clear” to “many many people at the time.” That’s just retroactive wishful thinking. It certainly wasn’t clear to people who were much more well-informed than the average protester in the street.

    I have said repeatedly that despite the Church’s stated views on various wars, we can actually expect state officials to disregard them.

    That’s completely beside the point. Of course state officials can and do disregard the Church. But if the question is whether they are ever morally allowed to do so under Church doctrine, it’s no answer just to point to the trivial fact that state officials can, in fact, disregard the Church. (As if I had been arguing that Church teachings were binding in the sense that once a teaching came down, the US government literally could not disobey it.)

    You have yet to give an account of what “prudential judgment” actually allows. Again, “prudential judgment” has to mean something more than, “Church officials always get to make the moral decision, and prudential judgment enters the picture only in the factual sense that state officials do, in fact, make decisions without being struck down by lightning.” Such a notion eliminates any possibility of “prudential judgment.”

  • Done.

  • Stuart Buck

    Michael —

    Earlier you claimed, “There was a unified voice of opposition to the war on multiple levels.”

    I do see one statement that is a unified voice: http://www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship/FCStatement.pdf

    See paragraph 33:

    “Prudential judgment is also needed in applying moral principles to specific policy choices in areas such as the war in Iraq, housing, health care, immigration, and others.”

    The bishops go on to say that while they “urge Catholics to listen carefully to the Church’s teachers when we apply Catholic social teaching to specific proposals and situations,” the “judgments and recommendations that we make as bishops on specific issues do not carry the same moral authority as statements of universal moral teachings.”

    Upstream, you said, “The Church’s views on this war are well known, and less than 1% or Catholic soldiers have the ___s to do what is right.”

    You can believe that if you like, but it’s just a wishful fantasy of yours, not anything that the “Church” requires.

  • Stuart. I do not disagree or deny any of the quotes you have found. If you go back and look, I have taken those statements into account.

    Done.

  • david

    Michael J. Iafrate.

    I like to read yer writings, but, dude, how can you be a pacifist and so cruel with the pen? I wanna cry reading the way you bludgeon a man of God. Ya know more dignity than the angels and what not.

    Why are you so mean?

  • Stuart Buck

    If you go back and look, I have taken those statements into account.

    Well, you haven’t mentioned it in this thread (and it’s not very useful to make a hand-waving claim that you addressed that Bishops’ statement in some other unidentified location). In any event, if you do acknowledge the Bishops’ quotes on the Iraq war, then you’d have a really hard time making the broad and sweeping claim that “less than 1% or [sic] Catholic soldiers have the ___s to do what is right.”

  • Mark D.

    Zeke,

    Bravo.

    The melodrama and feigned hysteria of one certain clergyman here is almost laugable. I am sure Our Lady is much more saddened by Catholics rationalizing their refusals to stand for basic rights than she is over some sophomore art student making a Howard Sternish attempt to shock.

  • Mark D. Who is being hysterical? What makes you think I am feigning anything? If we lose respect for the sacred, as Catholics we dont have much left. The moral teachings of the Church which are dear to you and I will not stand without the sense of the sacred. To desecrate the sacred leads to the cheapening of human life. It is not that complicated. But, I have seen you elsewhere with your high disregard for Catholic education.

  • Mark D.

    Fr. J.

    My high disregard for Catholic education? Such capracious accusation is beneath what the collar stands for around that is likely around your neck. I have earned a B.A. from the University of Toronto, Saint Michael’s College, and multiple MAs from Duquesne University. I have taught in Catholic high schools, done educational service for my diocese and cherish my Catholic education and the critical and prudential thinking it has instiled in me.

    Again, in the scheme of things, there really and simply are more scandalous things about which you can be outraged. If this piece of art is such a threat to the university’s Catholic identity, then I hate to think how tenuous such an identity actually is.

    Your Bill Donohue-ish politicking is counter to the deeper purpose of a university and will only encourage graduates with nothing to protect and critically serve them in the complex, real world. And this ‘outrage’ in fact does very little than to keep a bastion mentality and preclude the possibility of a true Christian engagement with neighbor.

  • david – I appreciate the feedback. I try my hardest to be nice, but alas, I am human like anyone else.

    Mark – Didn’t know you also did work at Duquesne. My undergrad and M.A. are from nearby Wheeling Jesuit. Through our little “ministry” over at Gerald’s All-You-Can-Eat Cafeteria, of course, I learned of our St Mike’s connection. Where are you now?

  • Mark D.

    Finishing up at Duquesne. I know a Amy Crinelly and a Gretchen ? (a Greek first year graduate student in English) from Wheeling Jesuit. Do thes names ring a bell?

  • Both ring bells, if you mean Criniti! Tell both of them I love them. 🙂

  • Mark D.

    yes..Criniti..she is a Ph.D candidate in English, ABD I believe. Intellectually as sharp as a razor and with a heart. as good as gold. I had a Milton class with her… 5 years ago. But I do not see her much now…Gretchen was in a Renaissance Drama and Politics class w/ me, just this past fall. She is a thespian… and a Shakespeare lover…

  • Fr. J.

    Mark D.

    I am no Donahue. I have simply noted that embracing the desecration of the sacred by Catholic institutions is ecclesiastical suicide. For that I am excoriated? Very poor form.

    Toronto?? That explains an awful lot.

  • Toronto?? That explains an awful lot.

    Please elaborate, Father. I insist. Our Canadian readers probably can’t wait for your insights.

  • Mark – ABD, huh? Didn’t know she was that far along. I’m jealous. 😉

  • Michael

    Once I got to ABD, at least hear at CUA, I found the ABD stage is harder than classwork and comps. Alas. Enjoy the pre-ABD stage while you can.

  • Mark D.

    Fr. J,

    “Toronto? That explains alot.”

    Keep the insults flying. Gilson, Maratain, Joseph Owens, J.M. Cameron, John Rist, the Basilian Fathers, the Pontifical Institute of Med. Studies…

    Put down the pom-poms and repress your football gamelike advocacy of your university. All of the national sports programs have gotten to you, I surmise. If only you would have had someone like a Hutchins (sic?) from Chicago there last century…

  • Fr. J.

    Mark D.

    Actually, I said nothing about “my university” which happens to be Boston College, another historically Catholic institution like Toronto.

    And yes, BC’s football program is flirting with a National Championship, but that would not impress me as much as a much as some other more essential qualities most Catholic institutions have to work on.

  • Fr. J.

    Mark D.

    There is no engagement with a neighbor who publicly desecrates your sacred images. We could actually teach the “artist” that engagement is only possible on the basis of mutual respect.

  • Toronto? That explains alot.

    Fr J – Have a reply to my concern about this comment you made to me?

  • Fr. J.

    Historically Catholic institutions with a compromised identity and administrative discipline are all pretty much in the same boat. Toronto is one of them. In my experience they often create a milieu of low expectations regarding Catholicity. Nothing too complicated.

  • Fr. J – Come with the evidence. Or shut up.

  • Also please specify the specific school to which you refer. Be as specific as possible. OR SHUT UP.

  • Fr. J.

    Dear Michael,

    It seems that you don’t like me or at least my comments. It must be frustrating to run a blog and have people with different opinions from your own leave comments. I do appreciate your frustration, but I am afraid your tone is a poor reflection on the Christian faith you claim to uphold.

  • Fr. J.

    Oh, and allow me to refer you to a very important book: The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches
    by James Tunstead Burtchaell . It will tell you everything you need to know.

  • Fr. J – I don’t mind opinions different than my own. What I don’t like are your comments that have no basis in fact, such as your judgment of “Toronto.” You make reference to no particular school and to no particular facts in your attempt to marginalize what I say based on the fact that I am going to school in Toronto. You can’t make a comment about “Toronto’s” (which school do you mean, and WHY) “compromised Catholic identity” and not back it up with facts Er, rather, you CAN, but it makes you look like a fool. Come with the facts, or shut up.

    If you are interested in the ecclesial identities of institutions, check out “Conflicting Allegiances” ed. Budde and Wright.

    When you are interested in a substantial discussion based on FACTS rather simplistic attempts to marginalize people with your baseless opinions, let me know.

  • Fr. J.

    I did not attempt to marginalize you or anyone. You are ascribing motives to me that I do not have.

    Again, Michael, your tone is a bad reflection on the faith you claim to hold. Calm down. Pray.

  • Fr J – As I thought. You can’t back up the mindless comments that you make.

  • Fr. J.

    Seriously? What was this charge I leveled against Toronto? What was the content of this charge? What is it that has you so upset? You really are having a hard time letting something go. So what is this terrible charge that I made?

  • Fr. J.

    Again, your tone betrays an ill spirit. What is the matter? Can I help?

  • Historically Catholic institutions with a compromised identity and administrative discipline are all pretty much in the same boat. Toronto is one of them. In my experience they often create a milieu of low expectations regarding Catholicity. Nothing too complicated.

    Back that statement up with FACTS, Father. “Nothing too complicated.”

  • Fr. J.

    Again, you need to read “The Dying of the Light.”

  • Which facts, about “Toronto,” did you learn from your book learnin,’ Father? Please summarize it for us.

  • What, specifically, did you learn about “Toronto” in the book, Father? Please summarize it for us.

  • Fr. J.

    Michael, I will be glad to discuss the book when you’ve read it. Educate yourself.

  • That’s what I thought.