Friday, November 29, 2019

Gratitude

Knowing that I would be finishing my Thanksgiving work week with a grueling hearing in a dreadful and difficult case, I decided to take today off and make it a four-day weekend.  That gives me time to sit in my big chair and reflect on the many things I have to be thankful for.

- I am thankful to have a home. I have a beautiful little house, currently pervaded on this freezing day by the smell of hazelnut coffee, where I can be warm and comfortable, and take refuge from the harshness of the world.  I am thankful for the patronage of St. Joseph, by whose breakneck-speed intercession I acquired this house, that has everything I wanted in a house, plus some extra things that fulfill desires I didn’t know I had.

- I am thankful for my car, which I acquired after my old car was totaled.  I am even thankful for the collision by which I lost the old car on the very day I closed on the house, just as I was musing on how I was going to be able to keep nursing that old car.  The collision was a surgical strike by God, in which He took out of my life something I needed rid of but would not have gotten rid of on my own, and replaced it with something much better.

- I am thankful for my job.  It is very high-stress and often nerve-wracking, but it is also very rewarding in many ways.  I get to concentrate on practicing law without worrying about the business side of running a practice.  I work with good people in an atmosphere of collegiality and comradeship (yes, I am reclaiming that word from the communists).  We work hard and take a lot of hard knocks, but we also have a lot of laughs.  

- I am thankful for my friends.  True friends are rare, but I have been fortunate to find some.  These are people who have been there for me and not disappeared during hard times, or times when I myself have been at my least lovable or attractive.

- I am thankful to have been born and to live in the United States of America.  It has been rightly said that merely to be born in America is to win at life’s lottery. We have many serious problems in this country, including the degradation of our popular culture, the plague of abortion, the slithering infiltration of socialism, and our national besetting sin of avarice.  Yet in America I am free to lead an orderly life, go about my business, worship my God and strive for excellence.  In a world where millions live in slavery and destitution, I have access in America to everything I need, from eyeglasses to air conditioning, and a lot of things that I don’t strictly require to survive but that do add to my happiness.

- I am thankful to be a citizen of the Catholic Church.  My parents were not devout Catholics — my father was not even a Catholic until I was 7 or 8 — but they made sure I was baptized and received the other Sacraments.  It was my father particularly who insisted that I receive a Catholic education, even though he was not Catholic and never cared much for the Catholic Church even after he entered it. I had a very difficult relationship with my father, but this was a gift from him that I cannot forget.  The Catholic Church herself is wracked with crisis, perhaps the worst in her history, and her hierarchy is infested with perverts and charlatans.  But there is no other refuge, and no other salvation.  It makes no sense to jump off the ship, just because we are in the middle of a typhoon and the guys on the bridge are busy having a drunken orgy.

- I am thankful to be alive, and to have so far been blessed with good health.  I have known people who died, despite wanting very much to live, because they were too ill to go on living; and I have known healthy people who threw away their lives because they thought death was a release from suffering.  But we were made for life, not for death, and even our greatest and seemingly most needless sufferings in this life have value when united to the Cross.

- Finally, I am thankful for the disappointments I have had in my life.  How many celebrities have been ruined by getting absolutely everything they wanted?  How often have I been spared this, because I have been denied things I wanted that would have been bad for me?  How many things I have been denied, even things that are good in themselves, that would nevertheless in my hands have become occasions for sin!  As I get older, I realize that sometimes the best and most loving answer God could give to my prayers is NO.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Painted into a Corner

If you take the position that Pope Francis is an antipope, and that Benedict XVI is still the true Pope: 

(1) What are you going to do if Benedict dies before Francis, thus, in your estimation, vacating the See of Peter?  What if Francis lives on for years afterward, filling the College of Cardinals with his own nominees? When Francis then dies, and a conclave convenes, how will you accept the result, seeing that it was arrived at by “cardinals” appointed by a false Pope?  Will not the line of Popes have been brought to an end?

(2)  What are you going to do if Francis dies before Benedict, and the conclave elects a truly holy, reforming and Catholic man to be the successor of Peter?  Are you not then in the perverse position of opposing that true Catholic as an antipope, and holding as invalid all his purportedly papal reforms, seeing that, in your estimation, he was elected by a conclave invalidly convened while the See of Peter was still occupied?

Haven’t you painted yourself into the corner of sedevacantism?

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Not One Thin Dime

Earlier this month, our bishops and their entourages got together for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall meeting at the posh Inner Harbor Marriott in Baltimore where, amid four-star accommodations bristling with armed security, they promoted left-wing politics, ignored the real crises in the Church, produced glossy brochures and documents no one will ever read, lived it up, and generally wasted millions of dollars of our hard-earned donations.  Now we are about to be hit up once again for donations to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops publishes annual lists of organizations that receive grants from the CCHD.  It reads like a who’s who of lefty, if not communist-front organizations (phrases such as “workers” and “worker’s struggle” are telling, as are pictures of people with upraised fists).  Some of their websites are pretty bare-bones, so that it is hard to see how these organizations could properly be vetted just by checking out their pages; yet the sheer number of grantees is so large that, (assuming the USCCB really cared about aiding only those outfits that are faithful to Catholic teaching) it is hard to believe anyone there could be devoting the time it would take thoroughly to research every one.  The grantees’ webmasters generally appear to be more careful than they used to be about openly declaring their support for blatantly anti-Catholic agendas like abortion and contraception (although many Catholics don’t know or choose to forget that socialism is also condemned by the Catholic Church).  None of the organizations that receive Catholic dollars appear to be devoted to the work of making disciples of all the nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

And so I will not be giving the CCHD one thin dime.  I will not support an organization that supports left-wing agitators committed to the destabilization of American society and the overturning of the institutions and traditions that are the building blocks of that society.  No faithful Catholic should.

But we should make sure our bishops know that we are withholding money from their pet political projects, and why.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Who Do YOU Say that Jesus Is? Francis Is the True Pope.

Ann Barnhardt is a very smart woman with a talent for speaking extemporaneously and producing lucid and very nearly grammatical- and spelling-error-free English prose.  She has courageously (whether rightly or wrongly) taken a stand and radically altered her life to be true to her deeply-held beliefs. She pulls no punches and very forthrightly speaks the truth as she understands it, without fear or favor.  I believe she honestly tries hard to be a good disciple of Jesus Christ, zealous for the salvation of souls, and a good daughter of His Holy Catholic Church.
But trying hard, and speaking forcefully, are not the same thing as attaining perfection or possessing authority, or even just being right.  Barnhardt goes too far by trying to lay upon her fellow Catholics, on pain of committing blasphemy, the burden of accepting as irrefutable fact her opinion that Pope Francis is really an antipope, and that Benedict XVI, having failed validly to abdicate, is still the lawful and rightful occupant of the Throne of Peter.
That Jorge Bergoglio, reigning under the name of Francis, is not the true Pope, is Barnhardt’s opinion and nothing more.  Yet she argues that to not hew to her opinion on this subject is to blaspheme Jesus Christ as a liar, a charlatan and a promise-breaker Who failed to fulfill His guarantees concerning the Sovereign Pontiff.  She also argues, circularly -- and also more consistently with Protestant ideas of private judgment than Catholic ones of authority -- that God in His goodness makes it patently obvious that Francis is not the true Pope, such that we can see it for ourselves without having to be told.  She even thinks that priests who speak the name of Francis in the commemoration of the Mass are deserving of temporal punishments that she asks God to visit upon her instead. Thus, the rest of us are not to differ from her views on how much weight to give each piece of evidence that she adduces in favor of her proposition, or what picture these pieces actually make when put together.  In other words, no other views of the evidence that she considers dispositive are admissible, and — even if she doesn’t put it in exactly these terms — it is a sin to disagree with her opinion on this issue.
The stumbling block for Barnhardt is that the current pontificate is nothing short of scandalous.  She is right about that. If there is one thing the Amazon Synod has made clear, it is that, in our time, filth and corruption go all the way up to the top, and they are increasingly brazen.  Desecrations of the holiest places in Catholic Christendom have probably been going on for a long time, after they have been closed to the public and under cover of darkness.  The new development is that, with the Synod, desecrations were carried out openly and blatantly, before the cameras, and with the public approval of the Pope himself. And the involvement of the Pope, the touchstone of Catholic unity, is the most painful aspect of this mess.  
The Church is no stranger to treason: our Lord Himself hand-picked Judas Iscariot, a tare that He permitted to grow up in the midst of the wheat, knowing he would sell Him for 30 pieces of silver.  Nor is the Church a stranger to less-than-stellar popes. The first Pope started out his career by denying Jesus three times. Over the centuries, we have had bungling popes; negligent popes; worldly popes; weak and vacillating popes; fornicating popes.  But not even about Pope Alexander VI Borgia, with all his mistresses and illegitimate children, is it alleged that he ever sowed confusion and chaos about Catholic doctrine, or supported and elevated proponents of heresies, because of their heresies, or publicly participated in idolatrous rites.  He may have shamelessly shattered the Commandments; but he never tried to suggest, even indirectly, that they weren’t in fact Commandments. Pope Francis, by contrast, has done all of these things.
And so Barnhardt, and other like-minded Catholics, seek refuge in the idea that a man capable of all this can only be an antipope.  The survival of Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, allow them nimbly to sidestep the fever swamps of sedevacantism by maintaining that Benedict is still the reigning Pope, due to his having abdicated under coercion, and/or under the mistaken belief that he could abdicate part of the Petrine ministry while retaining part of it.  The proponents of this view hold that the conclave of 2013 was null and void, since it is not lawful to hold a conclave while the See of Peter is occupied. Alternatively, it is argued that the conclave was invalid because of illegal lobbying and electioneering by Bergoglio partisans.
The abdication of a Pope is, thankfully, an exceedingly rare event in the life of the Church.  The question of Pope Benedict’s abdication, the circumstances surrounding it, and its implications, certainly need to be closely examined.  A careful study of this event will be the task of a future pontificate. There does not at this time seem to exist the will to do it, at least among those who are now in power, so glad are they to have seen the back of Benedict, and so little do they seem to have the good of the Church at heart.  As to the effectiveness of Pope Benedict’s abdication, and the validity of the conclave of 2013, others have addressed these issues more eloquently and expertly than I can. Still, I will throw in a few observations of my own, to be taken for whatever they may be worth.  
First of all, it is difficult to imagine Pope Benedict XVI doing anything without careful deliberation.  The existence of fear on his part does not, ipso facto, imply coercion; nor does it rule out deliberation.  Fear is very often a factor in making a decision that is nevertheless taken knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily.  For example, people often enter into plea agreements, even if they are not happy about doing so, because they fear that to go to trial could result in a worse outcome.  The spectacular imprudence of other alternatives than the one they elect does not mean that their decision to take a plea has been coerced. Thus, Pope Benedict’s fears, if any, about remaining in office do not, of themselves, mean he was being coerced into abdicating.  Even if it could be persuasively argued that he was coerced into abdicating, he could still later acquiesce in having been deposed, and Christ could still ratify that acquiescence. Arguably, if there was a need for his acquiescence, Benedict has done so by reaffirming his abdication, and by declining to try to resume office.
Secondly, the idea strains all credibility that a careful, thoughtful, conscientious and experienced scholar like Josef Ratzinger, with his profound knowledge of Church law, could produce an instrument of abdication that, for some elementary failure in grammar or phrasing, would fail to do what it set out to do.  Mistakes like that are the stuff of first-year law students, which Benedict XVI manifestly is not. Unlike the current Pope, Benedict XVI is a man who weighs carefully every word, and understands that, when you draft a document intended to have some legal effect, every word counts. Also, unlike Ann Barnhardt, Pope Benedict is trained in Latin, so his opinions as to the best choice of words in a Latin instrument to effectuate a legal act are probably weightier than hers.
Thirdly, I do not believe that any after-the-fact musings of either Benedict or his private secretary about the nature of the Petrine ministry, entered upon in an effort, perhaps, to rationalize what he had done, deserve any weight as evidence of his intent at the time of his abdication.  Surely, to the extent Benedict’s beliefs about the Petrine Office, or his intent with respect to it, are at issue, the focus of any inquiry would have to center on what he intended at the time he renounced the papacy.  Whatever he said after the fact, even if it is picking up the threads of theological or philosophical speculations from years earlier, is at best minimally relevant to determining his thinking and his intent during the relevant time frame.  Why? Because people are known to change their minds, and sometimes even change them back again at a later time, and for all sorts of reasons. Even if Benedict’s reflections are relevant, they are not sufficient to tip the scales in favor of an invalid abdication.  Not every piece of relevant evidence carries weight, or deserves to.
Fourthly, Benedict’s conduct since his abdication — the continued use of his regnal name, the imparting of apostolic blessings, his continued wearing of the white cassock, his failure completely to disappear from public view — do not constitute smoking-gun evidence that he is still the lawful Pope.  Here again, it pays to remember that not every piece of evidence, even relevant evidence, carries weight. On the other hand, when you have a theory that you are determined to prove at all costs, you are apt to see relevant evidence where none exists, or to misinterpret or exaggerate in your own mind the importance of evidence that does exist.  When Pope Benedict became the first Pope to abdicate in nearly 600 years, it immediately became clear from the ensuing confusion that the Church really does not have a protocol for dealing with a former Pope, or for how a former Pope should conduct himself. It is quite likely that this lack of protocol is the primary reason why Benedict continues to hold on to some papal trappings.  A future Pope may or may not choose to address this issue.
Fifthly, just as she does not have a background in Latin, Barnhardt does not have a background in canon law.  This is not a criticism of her: not everybody can be an expert in everything. But without a background or training in a field in which you propose to exercise what amounts to some professional judgment, you are missing some important facts and principles; worse yet, you cannot know what you don’t know.  Since Barnhardt feels compelled to give us the benefit of her views on the law of the Church, her lack of canonist training is relevant in considering how trustworthy those views are.  
This is a point worth dwelling on, in a world where people who know less and less are bolder and bolder about ventilating their views, and where few opinions are more entrenched than ones based on ignorance.  I have been a practicing lawyer for over 20 years, and the bane of my existence is people without any legal training who think they know the law better than I do, and who actually fly into a rage because I do not endorse their legal opinions — even though I am qualified to give a legal opinion and they are not.  The reality is that there is a lot more to the practice of law than looking things up in books. In fact, looking things up in books is not even the beginning. You have to first know which books to look in. You have to know which, among myriad authorities, are controlling, and which are merely persuasive, and which ones take priority over others in which circumstances.  You have to know how to check your authorities to make sure they’re still current. You have to know how to read one piece of law in light of the whole body of law of which it is a part. You have to know when you are dealing with terms of art, with specialized meanings, and when you are dealing with terms that have the same meaning as in common parlance. You have to know how to think like a lawyer, which can be the end product only of training and experience.
Even this is not an exhaustive list of all that you need to do law competently.  And all my experience still only covers a small area. I am trained in one branch of the secular law that is based on the English common law, as currently expressed and applied in one small jurisdiction in the United States; and my field of actual experience is even narrower.  Canon law is a field where I fear to tread, even as a trained secular lawyer. It is not true that anybody can do canon law without training, any more than you can do secular law without training. Canon law has different terms of art, different operating premises and different concepts of controlling authorities than that branch of the secular law that I know.  It also requires a background in Latin. How much less confident about interpreting canon law should Ann Barnhardt be, who is not even trained in secular lawyering! Yet she tosses out canons, and what she considers to be her authoritative interpretations of them, like a wealthy aristocrat tossing coins to a crowd.
Barnhardt argues that the question of whether Francis is really the Pope centers on the question Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?”  Well, Ann, who do you say that He is?  You are saying that Christ is not active nor effective in the process of papal succession, and that He can be stymied by mere men, and even by their grammatical errors or semantics games.  You hold, in essence, that He does not ratify an abdication (even an imprudent abdication, entered upon using the free will that He confers upon everyone), strip a man who abdicates of the Office, and then confer it upon a successor. Worse: you are saying that, having designated Peter as the touchstone of Christian unity, Christ would then go on to allow His entire Church to falsely acclaim the wrong man as the true Pope.  How can the whole Church be wrong about something so critical?  Yet she universally acclaimed Francis as Pope upon his election in 2013.  Even you, Ann, acknowledged Francis as Pope, even if you didn’t like it. A lot of us didn’t like it, and still don’t.  But then, we were guaranteed a true Pope, not a likeable one, or even a good one. Regretting the fact that Francis is the legitimate Pope does not invalidate or reverse the guarantee of universal acclaim.
To repeat, this idea that Francis is an antipope serves as a refuge.  The “Antipope Bergoglio” crowd comfort themselves with the idea that Francis is not the true Pope, and that the Church has fallen into the hands of a wicked usurper, because this seems to them preferable to the possibility that a true Pope could permit the proliferation of heresy, idolotry and sexual deviancy within the Church.  That is their opinion.  
Well, here is my opinion.  I believe the situation is much worse than they think.  I think that (1) Benedict XVI legitimately abdicated; (2) that the conclave of 2013 was valid; (3) that Jorge Bergoglio, reigning under the name of Francis, and as awful as he is in light of the evidence of his words and deeds, and the sorry state of everything he touches, is the legitimate Pope.  I think Pope Francis has made it his business to push the envelope, and we are going to see just how far out that envelope goes.  Even now, we are finding out that the lines may not all be where we thought they were.
It is also my opinion that this calamity has been a long time coming.  I have long believed that the Church is under a chastisement. I have also long believed that this chastisement would never play itself out until we got a “spirit of Vatican II” pope.  This we now have in spades in Pope Francis. Now, since the kind and gentle father we had in Pope Benedict could not bring us around, we have been allowed to fall into the hands of an abusive one.  Now the “spirit of Vatican II” is going to carry itself out to its logical conclusion, as far as God will permit for the punishment of our sins.  
Barnhardt and those who agree with her maintain that to regard Francis as the legitimate Pope is to disbelieve in the protections that Jesus promised to His Church for her preservation until the end of time, including the charism of infallibility in faith and morals that the Pope possesses in virtue of his office (which charism applies more narrowly than Barnhardt seems to think).  But this state of affairs is not the result of God failing of His promises, but of us failing in our fidelity to God. Why else would He permit this if not because of our sins? He is allowing the scourge of our own wickedness to fall across our backs. Now the Church must face up to her infidelity. Jesus promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against her; but this does not mean that He will not permit her to go even to the edge of the abyss, for her purification.
The other day, Barnhardt asked: 
“If everything Bergoglio is doing is totally ‘in bounds’ with regard to the Petrine Promise…WHY DIDN’T SATAN, A LEGALIST, DO THIS CENTURIES or MILLENNIA AGO???”
Very simple, Ann.  Because the devil can only do as much as God permits, and no more.  (Who do you say that He is?)  God didn’t permit this centuries or millennia ago.  He permitted other sorts of chastisement. But then, centuries and millennia ago, we had not amassed the sins, and racked up the debt of guilt, that we have racked up in our day.  And so He hits us with a punishment that is fitting to our crimes.  
But He also gives us the grace to repent and convert.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Rumor

There is a rumor going around to the effect that priest of the Boise diocese, or some group of them, have had A Meeting to declare Their Resolution that there shall be No Latin Used Whatsoever in Any Novus Ordo Mass.  This is only a rumor; but, sadly, it is believable.  There is at least one local parish where this rule is apparently in effect.

And it is believable because so much of the Catholic hierarchy has spent the last half-century or so proving that they do not (a) believe in the content of the Catholic Faith, or (b) care about the flock, except insofar as the flock serves their purposes for the moment.  

Jesus asked, which of our fathers, if we asked him for bread, would give us a stone, or a serpent if we asked for a fish, or a scorpion if we asked for an egg?  Sadly, the answer, in our time, is, the Catholic hierarchy.  To so many of our priests and bishops, we are nothing more than sources of money, for which their demands are endless, or raw material for their liturgical or social engineering experiments.  They have no respect for our sensibilities, and double down on the things that hurt or offend us.  They excoriate us, not for our sins, but for wanting to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, or kneeling, or only from the consecrated hands of a priest.  We have to repeatedly beg many of them for the legitimate goods we seek, that lie only within their power to give us (such as the traditional Mass), and they either ignore us, deny us outright or grudgingly dole us out crumbs.  Many bishops are remote, quasi-mythical figures who don’t even answer letters from their subjects or grant them audiences.  Instead, they spend millions of our dollars on vain pursuits, like the just-concluded USCCB general assembly, behind a tight wall of armed security, at the $300.00-a-night Inner Harbor Marriott in Baltimore.  And they spend a lot of time not turfing out the sexual predators from among their own ranks. 

Jesus said: “If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask Him?”  How far must one have fallen not to even know how to give good gifts to the children?
Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, saith the Lord God, forasmuch as my flocks have been made a spoil, and my sheep are become a prey to all the beasts of the field, because there was no shepherd: for my shepherds did not seek after my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flocks: Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I Myself come upon the shepherds, I will require my flock at their hand, and I will cause them to cease from feeding the flock any more, neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more: and I will deliver my flock from their mouth, and it shall no more be meat for them.
Ezekiel 34:7-10.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Local Scandal

The news recently came from Rome that a certain retired and now imprisoned priest of the Boise Diocese has been deposed from the clerical state.  

Now-Mr. William Thomas Faucher pled guilty last year to a selection of felony charges of possessing and distributing child porn, out of about a couple dozen counts.  Despite the support of prominent Boise citizens, like Mayor Chris Bieter, and Faucher’s characterization of himself as “one really sick puppy” who “screwed up big time,” and his argument that he needed to be placed on probation so he could be free to help people in the community, he received a 25-year fixed prison sentence.  That means Faucher, who is now in his 70s, will not be eligible for parole until he has served 25 years, making this effectively a life sentence. The sentence is now up on appeal before the Idaho Supreme Court.

    There is plenty of news coverage of the depth and breadth and height of Faucher’s satanic depravity, which led him to amass a collection of exceptionally violent child porn images and videos numbering in the thousands.  There is no need, then, to darken this space with descriptions of these, or the sacrileges he boasted of committing, or the chat room conversations with other degenerates that police found on his computer. Just the Information (that is, the charging document) filed in the district court makes sickening reading.

But those who profess to have been shocked by the discovery of Faucher’s filthy proclivities should, on further reflection, probably not be shocked.  Faucher gave us a window onto his character during his prejudgment stint in jail by his public outpourings.  He published a newsletter in which he gave his supporters the benefit, among other things, of his complaints about the food, his complaints about access to television, his complaints about the consequences he was facing, and his great condescension in forgiving the prosecutor, the bishop and others who worked to put him behind bars.  He granted a jailhouse interview with the press in which he blamed the late Bishop Michael Driscoll for his plight, and shared his delusional belief that his legacy would not be as a priest who was into child porn. Even his supporters, while trying to make him sound good to the media, painted a picture of a character marked by ice-cold arrogance and viciousness toward anyone who disagreed with his views. Many saints have been imprisoned without having committed any crimes. Can you think of any who wasted time on recriminations?

But Faucher has been letting his biggest red freak flag fly for many years: his longtime public dissent from the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexual morality.  He was for years a darling of the left for his pro-gay politics, even going so far as to print an editorial in the local paper in support of same-sex “marriage.”  For this alone he should have been suspended, yet the diocese left him untouched. Dealing with him fell to the secular authorities, almost a decade and a half later.  

As I have previously noted in this space, we cannot throw out the Ten Commandments without also forfeiting the protection they afford.  It makes no sense to expect someone to actually abide in his private life by moral laws that he publicly rejects. Why, if you publicly deride the moral law, would you go to the trouble of living by it when no one is looking, and preying on innocent people in order to feed the appetites that that law does not restrain? And if priests publicly deride the moral law, they betray their whole mission as priests. They not only sin themselves, but also drag others down with them. Where is the faith of bishops who leave the Eucharistic Lord and their flocks in the hands of these filthy soul-murderers?

I hope for two things out of this sordid business.  First, Christ died and poured out every drop of His Blood for the salvation of William Thomas Faucher, as much as He did for me.  I hope that, before he dies, Faucher realizes the enormity of what he has done, repents of his evil ways and converts, so that he will be saved from going to hell.  Second, I hope our current bishop, for the sake of his own soul and for the souls under his care, will turf out all the dirty priests in his diocese, and that he will single out for particular attention any other clergy who share Faucher’s views on sexuality.  Sex perverts network and stick together, and cover for each other — at least until someone outlives his usefulness. Did Faucher outlive his usefulness? Was it in fact another pervert that turned him in, for reasons having nothing to do with the wrongfulness of his acts? Was it the merest of coincidences that in 2005, Faucher had a deacon in his parish who also went to prison for child porn?  It is in any case hard to credit that someone with such an extensive collection of porn as Faucher’s is a newcomer to the vice, or that he could have been into it, and the drugs he was also caught with, for so long, with absolutely no one noticing.   

There is no real dichotomy between a man’s private life and his public persona.  We are not talking here about singular instances of someone doing something wrong, or something stupid.  Everyone who lives long enough will, sooner or later, do something he later regrets. But evil habits, especially unrepented ones, are another matter.  And if you are a Catholic priest, it matters very much whether you hew to the entire Deposit of Faith, since you are charged with the grave responsibility of upholding and promulgating it.  You cannot have heterodoxy alongside holiness, as the case of Mr. Faucher amply proves.

Monday, November 11, 2019

30 November 9ths Ago: The Wall Gets Torn Down

Saturday, November 9th, was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Those who were not born yet, or were not old enough to be paying attention in 1989, cannot fully appreciate how all-pervasive a part of everyday life the Cold War was, or how sudden and out of the blue were the events that brought it to an end.  

When I was a kid, we were all aware of communism and the Iron Curtain. The old civil defense sirens still wailed us under our desks into the ‘70s. The death of Leonid Brezhnev in 1982, his string of short-lived successors, and the Soviet government’s ridiculous stories about why they disappeared from public view for months, were the subjects of schoolyard conversation.  

When I was in college, I learned German from professors from war-torn Europe who still had relatives trapped in the Soviet sector of a still-divided Germany. One day, I asked one of them if she thought Germany would ever be re-united. No, she said. She did not think the Berlin Wall would ever come down. Just a few weeks later, crowds of ordinary Germans with hand-tools punched holes in the wall and reduced it to a pile of souvenirs.  Less than a year later, the East German communist government having voted itself out of existence, Germany was reunited. The communist monolith had loomed like a dark shadow on the eastern horizon, vast, threatening, seemingly invincible; until, as William F. Buckley put it, one day, God cleared His throat, and it all blew away on a cold wind.  

“I have seen the wicked highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Libanus. And I passed by, and lo, he was not: and I sought him and his place was not found.” (Psalm 36:35-36)

Thursday, June 06, 2019

75 June 6ths Ago: The Longest Day


"Believe me, Lang, the first twenty-four hours of the invasion will be decisive...the fate of Germany depends on the outcome...for the Allies, as well as Germany, it will be the longest day."
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to his aide, Capt. Hellmuth Lang, April 22, 1944

From Part One, Chapter 13 of The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan (available, by the way, on Kindle):

Now Eisenhower stood watching as the planes trundled down the runways and lifted slowly into the air.  One by one they followed each other into the darkness.  Above the field, they circled as they assembled into formation.  Eisenhower, his hands deep in his pockets, gazed up into the night sky.  As the huge formation of planes roared one last time over the field and headed toward France, NBC's Red Mueller looked at the Supreme Commander.  Eisenhower's eyes were filled with tears.

Minutes later, in the Channel, the men of the invasion fleet heard the roar of the planes.  It grew louder by the second, and then wave after wave passed overhead.  The formation took a long time to pass.  Then the thunder of their engines began to fade.  On the bridge of the U.S.S. Herndon, Lieutenant Bartow Farr, the watch officers and NEA's war correspondent, Tom Wolf, gazed up into the darkness.  Nobody could say a word.  And then as the last formation flew over, an amber light blinked down through the clouds on the fleet below.  Slowly it flashed out in Morse code three dots and a dash: V for Victory.

Now you know where the title of this blog comes from.

75 June 6ths Ago: Two Presidents Commemorate D-Day

President Reagan's speech at Point du Hoc, June 6, 1984 -- the 40th anniversary of D-Day.



President Trump's speech at Normandy, June 6, 2019 -- the 75th anniversary of D-Day.




75 June 6ths Ago: President Roosevelt's D-Day Address to the Nation

FDR's address to the nation on June 6, 1944.


My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.


And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.


Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.


They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.


They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.


For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.


Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.


And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.


Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.


Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.


And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.


And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.


With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.


Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.