"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Catholics Can’t Vote for Pro-Abortion Candidates

by Father Frank Pavone | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 9/19/11 7:23 PM

Whether it’s an election year or not, I see to it that Priests for Life echoes loud and clear the duty of citizens to inform themselves about where the candidates stand on the issues. This evaluation starts, of course, with where they stand on violence against human beings, because if public servants cannot tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public, they don’t belong in public office.

What if a candidate supported terrorism? Would citizens say, “Well, I disagree with you on terrorism, but what’s your health care plan? Maybe we can work together on some social programs. After all, terrorism isn’t the only issue.”

The parallel, of course, is abortion. “Typically, the skull is brought out in fragments rather than as a unified piece” (Baby-killer Martin Haskell, in 1999 Court testimony in Wisconsin, regarding legal abortion). How can anyone make the case that this skull-cracking, which is still legal, is less violent than terrorism? How can anyone make the case that we can tolerate it while we work with the candidate on “social” programs? The heart of what is “social” is that it respects the other person – and that means not cracking their skull. We fight terrorism, and rightly so. But when we allow abortion at the same time, the evil we fight becomes merely a reflection of the evil we do.

And it’s not only the position of the candidates that matters. It’s also the position of the political party to which the candidate belongs. Elections bring not only candidates, but parties into power. How can the position of those parties on key issues not matter as we evaluate whom we will support?

Many will support a particular party because it’s a family tradition (or a Church tradition?), or because they are in bed with leaders in that party who support their social programs in exchange for their silence on baby-killing. That’s often the reason for the perplexing spinelessness often observed among Church leaders on the abortion issue.

In an interview conducted by Gianni Cardinale and published in October of 2008, now Cardinal Raymond Burke observed, “At this point, the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitively into a ‘party of death’ due to its choices on bioethical issues.”

Not only is this an accurate observation, but it’s perfectly legitimate to say, even in Church. I know, because Priests for Life passed IRS scrutiny on these points. After all, it is a spiritual work of mercy to “instruct the ignorant.” That’s why at Priests for Life we have information both about candidates and political parties, and how to evaluate them. See http://www.priestsforlife.org/candidates.

When I preach – and help other priests to preach – the clear message that candidates and parties must defend life, some – including clergy – complain to me that my message hurts their favorite candidate or party. My response? “Go tell your favorite candidate or party to get the babies’ blood off their hands and clean up their act regarding defending life. Then my words won’t hurt them anymore.”

LifeNews.com Note: Father Frank Pavone is the national director for Priests for Life.

News From Obama’s Home State

October 25, 2012


Three states form the base of Democratic political power in the United States: California, New York and Illinois. All three states are locked in an accelerating economic, demographic and social decline; all three hope that they can stave off looming disaster at home by exporting the policies that have ruined them to the rest of the country.

Mary Williams Walsh, a talented reporter who is doing much to sustain the luster of the New York Times brand these days, hasa must-read piece on the mess that is Illinois, and it is a compelling description of the misery and ruin that well-intentioned liberals combined with aggressive public sector labor unions inflict on the poor they ostensibly want to serve.

Reporting on a bipartisan task force report on Illinois’ grotesquely mismanaged finances, Walsh tells it like it is. As Walsh summarizes the findings of the task force co-chaired by Paul Volcker and Richard Ravitch:

Illinois has the lowest credit rating of the 50 states and has America’s second-biggest public debt per capita, $9,624, including state and local borrowing. Only New York State’s debt is bigger, at $13,840 per capita. But Illinois has not been able to use much of the borrowed money to keep its roads, bridges and schools in good working order, because years of shoddy fiscal practices have taken a heavy toll, the report said.

This of course is President Obama’s home state; one wishes that he spent more time on the campaign trail describing his horror and remorse at what decades of bad government have done. Apparently, the subject holds no interest for him: no lessons to be learned here about where blue governance ultimately leads.

But there is more. As Walsh writes,

Nearly two-thirds of the Illinois state government’s $58 billion in direct debt consists of bonds the government issued to cover retirement payments for workers, including a $10 billion pension obligation bond that broke all previous records in 2003.

Yet despite all that borrowing, Illinois’ public pension system is still in tatters. In fact, its total pension shortfall is conservatively estimated at $85 billion. Recent changes that raised the retirement age for new workers and limited the pensions that future workers can earn have not reduced the existing obligations.

The task force said that further reductions in pension benefits appear inevitable, though legally difficult, because the state has promised more than it can deliver.

Illinois politicians, including the present President of the United States, have wrecked one of the country’s potentially most prosperous and dynamic states, condemned millions of poor children to substandard education, failed to maintain vital infrastructure, choked business development and growth through unsustainable tax and regulatory policies — and still failed to appease the demands of the public sector unions and fee-seeking Wall Street crony capitalists who make billions off the state’s distress.

Blue politicians speak eloquently and often sincerely about their desire to help the poor. They speak beautifully about the need for better education as a ticket to better lives. They speak intelligently about the contributions a well managed, well organized government can make to the common good.

But these beautiful sentiments have less and less to do with the actual policies they pursue. Readers of Via Meadia can see a pattern here. We have “peace movements” incapable of advancing the cause of peace; environmentalists whose political ineptitude damages the causes they most hope to serve; and we have a form of blue state liberalism that blights the lives of exactly the people it wants to help most.

American liberalism today is in an advanced stage of intellectual decline. Cynical and short sighted interests wrap themselves in the increasingly tattered mantles of sacred ideas. Liberals are right to feel that social justice matters, that the poor should have greater opportunity and that government in a democratic society cannot remain indifferent to the existence of great social evils.

But where liberals in America have the freest hand—in states like New York, California and Illinois—we see incontrovertible evidence that the policies they choose don’t have the consequences they predict. California by now should surely be an educational, environmental and social utopia. New York should be a wonder of glorious liberal governance. Illinois should be known far and wide as the state that works.

What’s interesting about the governance failures of these states is how comprehensive they are. Other than politicians, union officials and Wall Street investment banks, nobody really benefits from the choices Illinois has made. As the Volker-Ravitch report tells us, even the public sector unions, the architects of many of the state’s most destructive policies, are going to get shafted as a result of the bad policies they’ve supported. They’ve created a state that simply won’t be able to honor its promises to the workers the unions represent.

The French say that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. But it is also true to say that behind every great failure lies a great blunder. Late 20th century American liberalism is wrong about the way the world works. It doesn’t understand cause and effect very well. It cannot feed itself. Given full power it cannot design and implement policies that advance the causes it honors. Modern American liberalism can only win Pyrrhic victories, because liberals in power take steps that advance their decline.

This is not to say that conservatives and Republicans have all the answers. Sometimes, they aren’t even asking the right questions. What will happen to the African-American middle class if government employment continues to be cut, the USPS is allowed to reform, and the Supreme Court further restricts the use of race preferences in higher ed? If liberal policies are increasingly failing African Americans and the poor more broadly, what can be done? If bureaucracies staffed by unionized, life-tenured civil servants are too expensive and too inefficient to do the jobs that need to be done at a sustainable cost, what are some other ways we can organize government functions? Clinging grimly on to failing policies and dying institutions is the Democratic answer by and large, even as Democratic policies accelerate the rate of decline and aggravate the damage done. But the serious work of building alternative visions and models and testing them out at the state level is still in its very early stages.

Some 21st century answers, like charter schools, have already appeared and won a measure of bipartisan support, but much more needs to be done. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives need to think much more clearly and much less sentimentally about policy so that voters can have choices that are both clearer and better than the ones we have now.

In the meantime, it is more than troubling that President Obama seems so unwilling to reflect on the rich experience of liberal failure in his home state. A term or two as governor of Illinois, wrestling with the consequences of liberal decadence for the constituencies he cares most about, might have prepared him for a genuinely historic role. As it is, he is running for re-election as the torchbearer-in-chief of an ideology that has long passed its prime.

Doubts about his opponents (and many of these are well justified) and the lingering nostalgia many Americans still feel for the values and institutions of the liberal past may yet enable the President to squeak out a win next month and if so, I will join his supporters in wishing him well and in prayer that God will give him the wisdom and the strength to lead the country for another four years. But at a time when the overwhelming policy failures of modern American liberalism are undermining the basic viability of three of our greatest states, it is to say the least disappointing that the President wants to nail the national colors to the mast of a sinking ship—and that he has so little to say about the comprehensive failure of the political allies among whom he launched his career.

Barack Obama is a Liar

October 25, 2012

By Selwyn Duke

Calling someone a liar is a serious accusation. This is why, aside from the unwritten contract allowing for mutual prevarication, politicians are so reluctant to do it. And not just anyone is a liar. Legend has it that our first president said, "I cannot tell a lie," but, being only human, G.W. no doubt could and certainly did, at some point. A liar, however, is someone who lives and breathes the lie; someone who specializes in the art of artifice; someone to whom lying is his first recourse, not his last. Such a man is Barack Obama.

In four years, Obama has gone from "change you can believe in" to a man you simply cannot believe. And it's not just Benghazi-gate, although that's a good place to start. With the recently revealed emails showing that the White House was told a mere two hours after the attack that it was a terrorist act, no reasonable person can still conclude that the Obama administration was honest in its aftermath. And the claim that the violence was sparked by some anti-Islamic film wasn't just a lie - it was a liar's lie.

It was dumb.

It was obvious that it would eventually blow up in the administration's face and make Benghazi into the scandal it has now become. But such things are only obvious to the intellect; at issue here are instincts.

Of course, since the Obama administration had failed to provide requested security for our Libyan diplomats despite previous attacks on their consulate and the approach of 9/11's anniversary, the president had a vested political interest in suppressing the truth. This made the Benghazi-gate lie one of callousness and convenience, not malice. But then there is the matter of Hampton University in Virginia.

The speech Obama gave there on June 5, 2007 received a bit of attention recently before being dismissed as "old news." But perhaps nothing reveals the president's character better.

Appearing before a mostly black audience and speaking Ebonics-style (despite never having lived in a black community), Obama accused the federal government of showing cruel indifference to the primarily black victims of Hurricane Katrina. The evidence, he claimed, involved something called the Stafford Act, which requires a locality receiving federal disaster relief to provide 10 percent as much money as Washington does. And as Obama worked the crowd, he said:

When 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act. ...And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, 'Look at this devastation; we don't expect you to come up with your own money. Here, here's the money to rebuild...because you're part of the American family.' What's happening down in New Orleans?! Where's your dollar?! Where's your Stafford Act money?! Makes no sense. ...Tells me that somehow the [black] people down in New Orleans they don't care about as much.

This is Racial Grievance 101, the main course offering of a community organizer (agitator?). And it's no small matter, as stoking the fires of racial and ethnic hatred has cost scores of millions of lives throughout history. Yet, isn't there something to be said about raising awareness of injustice? Well, now for the rest of the story.

Barely two weeks before Obama gave the Hampton U. speech, the US Senate had in fact waived the Stafford Act for New Orleans. Moreover, that city ended up receiving more aid than Florida and NYC combined. But that's not all. As Thomas Sowell wrote:

Unlike Jeremiah Wright's church, the U.S. Senate keeps a record of who was there on a given day. The Congressional Record for May 24, 2007 shows Senator Barack Obama present that day and voting on the bill that waived the Stafford Act requirement. Moreover, he was one of just 14 Senators who voted against - repeat, AGAINST - the legislation which included the waiver.

Absolutely mind boggling. Obama votes against the bill that includes the waiver designed to help people about whom he purports to care. Yet the bill passes despite his resistance. Obama nonetheless appears before a black audience not two weeks later and claims that the waiver for aid was never granted. Even more damnably, he clearly implies that this is due to white "racism."

Then there is the most ironic chapter in the Obama Annals of Artifice. It's common to dismiss those who question the president's origins as cranks and con men, but, as American Thinker pointed out, Obama was "the original birther."

This refers to the revelation in May of this year that Obama's former literary agency, Acton & Dystel, printed a promotional booklet in 1991 that touted Obama as having been "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii." Note that this was a polished volume created at great expense by a professional outfit, and there is only one source from which its agents could have gotten the notion that Obama was born in Kenya: Obama himself.

Thus, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the president has lied about his birthplace - either when claiming more recently that he was born in Hawaii or, far more likely, when claiming in 1991 that he wasn't. And it's easy to understand why he would've claimed the latter. By the '90s, having exotic origins could truly enhance your cachet and hence your marketability. And this little twist on truth was small potatoes for a guy willing to disgorge lies designed to foment racial unrest.

This brings us to the presidential debates. It's fine to fact-check, to reveal that Obama really did lie about the decline in oil production on federal lands, tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas, middle-class tax cuts, Egyptians' newfound love for America, and a Status of Forces agreement. But at some point it's a bit like trying to itemize the libations of a guy who has crashed both your cars, squanders the family funds on booze, staggers home in the wee hours, and is a continual embarrassment around the neighbors. You no longer need to prove that certain individual drinks were imbibed; it's painfully clear that the individual is a drinker.

While hard-core partisans will remain in denial on our drunk-on-power president, good people, who generally have a desire to be polite, should realize that politeness becomes vice when it obscures truth. And if we don't wish to descend into dishonesty ourselves - the intellectual variety - we need to acknowledge that the truth about Barack Obama is that he simply cannot tell it.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/10/barack_obama_is_a_liar.html#ixzz2ALcYoYMM

The hidden real truth about Benghazi

- Doug Hagmann (Bio and Archives)

Most people know that we’ve been lied to about the attacks in Benghazi, but few realize the extent of those lies or the hidden secrets they cover. After all, the lie is different at every level. Thanks to a well placed source with extensive knowledge about the attack, the disturbing truth is slowly beginning to emerge and is lining up with information contained in my previous articles published here weeks ago (Here, Here and Here). The truth reveals the most serious situation in the world today as it involves the interests and destinies of us all.

A mosaic of lies

According to the U.S. government, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed during a spontaneous protest at the consulate office in Benghazi by a frenzied crowd of Muslims outraged over an obscure internet video. Recently released “sensitive but not classified e-mails” from Stevens to the U.S. Department of State painted a picture of poor security for U.S. personnel and the embassy, which was obviously true but had little to do with the events of September 11, 2012. The failure to dispatch an extraction team or otherwise rescue the men during a firefight that lasted upwards of nine grueling and tortuous hours was not the result of any intelligence failure, but caused by our unwillingness to widen the conflict and expose the nature and scale of our true mission in Benghazi.

Based on information provided by my source and corroborated elsewhere, the official account by administration officials is a mosaic of lies that were necessary to cover the unpalatable truth of covert actions taking place in Libya, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The primary objective of our covert actions was to secretly arm anti-Assad “rebels” in Syria by funneling arms from Libya to Syria via Turkey, with other destinations that included Jordan and Lebanon. Regarding the threat to Stevens and the other murdered Americans, the truth will reformat the persistent question posed to government officials, from UN Ambassador Susan Rice to White House Spokesman Jay Carney and others from “how could you not have known” to “how could you have done these things?”

First, it is important to understand that Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Dougherty and Tyrone Woods were not killed at a consulate office in Benghazi—as there is not such office there. They died at one of the largest CIA operations centers in the Middle East, which was located in Benghazi and served as the logistics headquarters for arms and weapons being shipped out of the post-Qaddafi Libya.

Although the U.S. government insisted that Stevens was involved in securing and destroying the numerous caches of arms and weapons once under the control of Qaddafi, the operation was more complex than that. The visual accounts of weapons being destroyed were indeed real, but those weapons were not operational. The working weapons were actually separated and transported to holding facilities for their eventual use in Syria. Russia was fully aware of this operation and warned the U.S. not to engage in the destabilization of Syria, as doing so would endanger their national security interests. Deposing Assad, as despotic as he might be, and replacing him with a Muslim Brotherhood-led regime would likely lead to unrestrained Islamic chaos across the region.

The Turkish warning

According to my source, Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 to meet with his Turkish counterpart, who reportedly warned Stevens that the operation was compromised. They met in person so that Stevens could be shown overhead satellite images, taken by the Russians, of nefarious activities taking place in Turkey. But just what were these nefarious activities?

It is reasonable to suspect that these activities were more dire than just your average “gun running” operation. Since the overthrow of Qaddafi, it is estimated that upwards of 40 million tons of weapons and arms were shipped out of Libya to Syria. But it was also known inside intelligence circles that Qaddafi possessed chemical weapons in addition to numerous surface-to-air missiles. Could it be that Russia obtained unmistakable surveillance footage of the anti-Assad “rebels” being shown how to load chemical payloads onto missiles inside Turkey near the border of Syria? Weapons, of course, that were shipped from Libya by the CIA in conjunction with various Muslim Brotherhood rebel groups. If so, such weapons could be used as a “false flag” type of operation—one that would be implemented to “set-up” Assad by making it appear that he was using these weapons on forces dedicated to his overthrow.

The blowback by the international community would be swift and punishing, and the entirety of the civilized world would be demanding his overthrow. NATO would then be used to expedite his ouster, and Russia’s moral position within the international community would be weakened. Was the meeting held to show Stevens that the operation was compromised and that they had to stop?

A Nation/State sponsored attack?

While the administration asserts that the attack in Benghazi was conducted by a group of rebels acting alone, the facts seem to indicate otherwise. The level of coordination was such that we did not deploy military assets, located just an hour or two away by air, to rescue Stevens and the others at the CIA operations center in their time of need. If, as the administration contends, that the attack was perpetuated by a group of frenzied rebels, our military could have easily handled them in short order. So why was there no rescue operation?

Perhaps the statements made yesterday by Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense provides some insight if one analyzes the essence of those statements. Among other things, Panetta said that “...the basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on…” Well, it has been confirmed we did know what was taking place on the ground in Benghazi, so exactly what did Panetta mean by this statement?

Against the backdrop of the official story, it makes little sense. If, however, one considers the alternative, that the attack was coordinated and was a nation/state sponsored attack, then it becomes clearer. Panetta and the highest levels of this administration likely knew exactly what we were doing, and knew that the operation was compromised. They knew, or had reason to believe, that the attack was being conducted at a nation/state level in response to our covert operation in Libya and arming the anti-Assad Syrian opposition.

Although Russia figures prominently here, Iran now comes into focus as Russia is not likely to directly engage U.S. forces. They must, however, protect their interests. Much like we were using anti-Assad forces to advance our objectives in Syria, Russia was using Iranian-backed forces to protect theirs. It appears that the attacks were conducted or facilitated by Iranian assets—perhaps as many as three teams of assets in Benghazi.

As the White House and other agencies monitored intelligence in real-time, they faced a dilemma. They knew that the nation/state sponsored attack teams were lying in wait for U.S. rescue forces to arrive, which is the reason the fight did not conclusively end sooner. They did not know exactly where all of the attack teams were, but knew they were present based on signal communication intercepts. Could they risk such exposure by deploying a rescue team to Benghazi, only to end up with another Black Hawk down type scenario? In addition to that scenario, the entire operation now becomes exposed for what it is. Take another look at Panetta’s statement in that context. Does it now make more sense? Bad PR in an election year, no?

As daylight approached with no response from the U.S. and no aid to the Americans under fire, the attack teams had to disperse into the cover of the remaining darkness, but not before their mission was accomplished. And sadly, it was.


From the day of attack in Benghazi, Iran has been engaged in a full spectrum attack on the U.S. and NATO across the board involving embassies, bombing and even cyber attacks. All of this is the fallout from the arms and weapons smuggling operation, which was far greater than understood by the Western media.

Russia has now moved their contingent of S-400 missiles into much of Syria in anticipation of NATO establishing an “air cap” over Syria. A ten-mile “buffer zone” along Syria’s border has been created for Syrian refugees, but it also acts as a catalyst for the encroachment into Syrian territory. It sets the stage for further advancement and erosion of Syrian land, incrementally, of course.

It is also of critical importance to note that last weekend, Russia completed large-scale exercises of their Strategic Nuclear Forces under the watchful command of President Vladimir Putin. These were the first such nuclear exercises conducted since the fall of the Soviet Union.

To those with discernment, it is obvious that we are at the precipice of World War III. Putin himself stated as much, noting that WW III will not start in Iran but Syria, his own “red line in the sand.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Dark Fifth Column Within The Catholic Social Justice Movement


Gamaliel's Secret Ties to Obama Continue to Cast Shadows

By: Shaun Kenney (Diary) | October 29th, 2012 at 08:15 PM

Most faithful Catholics in the pews know there’s a place for social justice — the “preferential option for the poor” instantly recognized in persons such as Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul II vs. the preferential option for the state so cherished by needless bureaucrats and six-figure directors who hold the poor of our society hostage for greater government funding.

So is it any small wonder that with a dour economy and just a tiny bit of sunlight from organizations such as Societas and the Reform CCHD Now Coalition, that the entire rotten edifice is falling down?

I continue to write about this for one reason alone: Catholicism shouldn’t be wedded to political ideology — ever. Yet time and time again, we see members embedded in the Catholic social justice movement pulling the wool over the eyes of faithful Catholics, priests, and bishops… and sometimes, cranking out one or two members who arguably do more damage to the standing of the Catholic Church in America than any other modern politician.

Case in point? Barack Obama.

In the 1980’s, Barack Obama entered the world of community organizing through the CCHD-sponsored Gamaliel Foundation. From 1985 to 1988, Obama worked for the Developing Communities Project, which is an affiliate of Gamaliel.

So, it’s only natural that when Obama ran for Senate and subsequently for president of the United States, the Gamaliel Foundation was his biggest cheerleader.

…and after all, why not?

They trained him.

They built him up.

It only makes sense that they would do their best to send him to the most powerful seat in the world.

Strange as it may have been, I suppose we shouldn’t even be all that surprised that Gamaliel organizers even “prayed” to Obama to create universal health care with the response “Hear Our Cry, Obama!”

Now if you skipped over this, click on the YouTube video and let it run in the background.

“Deliver us, Obama!”

If you’re Catholic… you hear something oddly liturgical about that?

It’s called the General Intercessions or Prayers of the Faithful. An intention is mentioned after the homily (sermon) such as “for the an end to abortion” and the response is “Deliver us, O Lord...”

…or deliver us, Obama.

No, I don’t think they’re talking about pizzas here.

So what’s the big deal about Gamaliel’s Obama-worship?

As a long-time grant recipient of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Gamaliel Foundation received reimbursements specifically for Obama’s training at Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation.

In short, unbeknownst to the Catholic faithful, this radical arm of the Catholic Church actually paid for Obama’s training.

Given the fact that Barack Obama is well known for his sidestepping of the truth, such as:

…when he said that Obamacare would not cover abortions (it does),
…that the HHS mandate would not force religious institutions to disobey their consciences (they do),
…or how the White House has flat out lied about the terrorist attacks in Libya (it was),
…one has to wonder if lying was a part of the training he received while working for Gamaliel.

After all, Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals – which would have been required reading for a young Barack Obama — states emphatically that “(e)thical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times.”

Sound Catholic to you? Probably not…

And so it seems that ethical standards are indeed elastic with the Gamaliel Foundation when it comes to addressing concerns about its relationship with an organization committed to destroying the basic building block of society — a family.

According to a recent statement by the Reform CCHD Now coalition (RCN), a collection of concerned Catholic organizations investigating the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the Gamaliel Foundation provided a falsified letter to the National CCHD office in Washington, D.C.

Turns out that Gamaliel didn’t want the CCHD to know about its relationship with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.


Because as a CCHD recipient, Gamaliel is forbidden from being a member of a coalition that has taken organizational positions in opposition to the Catholic Church.


Reform CCHD Now indicates that in addition to being a founding member of FIRM, the Gamaliel Foundation is a long-term member of FIRM’s organizing committee.

As FIRM indicated on the “Who We Are” page of its website, “The organizing committee is the governing body of FIRM.” This means that Gamaliel would have had a hand in FIRM’s decision to publicly support the Uniting American Families Act, which is a back-door way of recognizing same-sex marriage.

When RCN presented this information to the CCHD, the response was that Gamaliel provided the CCHD with a copy of a letter it allegedly sent to FIRM in May of 2010, severing all ties.

Here’s where those elastic ethics come in, because RCN took a deeper look at Gamaliel’s website and found a file folder marked “FIRM Strategy Session.” In that folder were four files dated “2011”; files that indicate that Gamaliel was a member of FIRM in 2011, on its executive committee in 2011, and that Gamaliel’s president is a contact.

Even more interestingly, RCN discovered meeting minutes for a FIRM conference call which took place on December 9, 2011. The minutes not only list Ana Garcia-Ashley (Gamaliel’s president) as a participant on the call, but indicate that Gamaliel was nominated again for membership on FIRM’s executive committee for 2012.

Oops x2.

This is not a matter of confusion, folks. Gamaliel delivered a letter to the CCHD dated May 2010, claiming to sever ties with FIRM, but all indicators are that this relationship has not ended.

On top of that, both Gamaliel and FIRM attempted to strip their websites of the evidence RCN found, proving this ongoing relationship.

In short, Gamaliel attempted to hide the evidence in order to preserve the siphoning of funds from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.


The interesting twist to the story is that after RNC presented this information to the CCHD, Ralph McCloud, the executive director for the CCHD cancelled a scheduled meeting with the Reform CCHD Now Coalition, claiming that “we see no reason to meet at this time.”

Refusing to answer any questions about Gamaliel’s misleading information to him, it seems that there are some — McCloud included? — who are hoping Gamaliel will all blow over, and that Gamaliel’s funding status won’t be affected.

Yet in 2008, McCloud participated in Gamaliel’s “Realizing the Promise” forum, which declared that “today, community organizing has arrived in Washington D.C.”

At the forum, McCloud said of “this day,” referring to Obama’s election to the presidency:

…as we proceed on this day, on this day, a good day, a great day, we draw upon that faith, knowing that because of our efforts, because of our shared mission, that soon, and very soon, we will see a new Jerusalem, and we will be able to see and witness justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, and the lion will lay down with the lamb.

Sounds fairly pot committed to this reader.

Given such a statement at this Gamaliel event, it would appear that the truth regarding this situation will not find an ally in McCloud or the Catholic Campaign which he leads. Who then will weed out the institutional rot?

Catholics must take back their parishes from the politically charged -isms and the darker fifth columns embedded in our institutions. The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus was right: “Fidelity! Fidelity! Fidelity!” — and until we see greater fidelity within the Catholic Church here in the United States, how will Americans ever be able to participate in the New Evangelization we are called to participate in?

Obama, hear our cry?

Somehow, that just doesn’t quite seem to fit.

Five Heretics That Every Catholic Should Know and Why They Matter Today

Blog: Ascending Mount Carmel

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oftentimes, what appears to be a newfangled spiritual movement within Christianity is often simply a regurgitated (and usually very watered-down) heresy from many centuries ago.

In the spirit of that statement, I thought it might be a good idea to list who I think are some of the heretics whose ideas are still active today; the next time someone attacks the Church with a particular statement or doctrinal assertion, you will be able to say, "Well, actually that was so-and-so who said that first, and he was condemned by the Council of ______".  It's always surprising to see where heretical ideas actually originated from.

Henceforth, I present to you my personal take on five famous and not-so-famous heretics...and why they matter to Catholics today.

1.  Arius (256 - 336 A.D.)

"The Word is absolutely alien to the essence and property of the Father.  He is one of the order of works and creatures; he is one of them."1

Let's get the obvious out of the way first.  Arius was the bane of orthodox Christianity, and his heretical doctrines spread all over the place like weeds, so much so that they still survive today.  Much of Christendom succumbed to his heresy, and if not for the great figures of 4th-century orthodoxy such as St. Athanasius, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and many others, Christianity would be a much different faith than it is today.

But what exactly is the heresy of Arius?  Simply put, Arianism declared that Christ was subordinate to the Father, and was a created being (i.e. not God).  The Nicene creed that you recite on Sundays is a direct response to the heresy of Arius.

Like many heretics, Arius was not a fool - fools would never be able to wreak as much damage to the Body of Christ as he did.  Citing Scripture and twisting certain passages in the thought of Origen to his own use, Arius managed to nearly destroy the Church.

Why he matters today:  His teachings live on in various modern movements such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Arian Catholic Church (yes, apparently this really exists), along with any other group that denies the divinity of Christ. If any group claiming to be Christian denies that Christ is God, then you know what kind of "ism" you are really dealing with.  If a supposedly Christian group is speaking of Jesus as merely being a prophet or anything but God, then the shadow of Arius is undoubtedly behind it.

2.  Berengarius of Tours (999 - 1088 A.D.)

If you're Catholic or Orthodox, you've probably (I hope anyways) always known that the Eucharist is the Real Body and Blood of Christ - we do not consume a symbol.  Though others would argue against it, the Church has always held to the reality of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.  What is interesting is that it wasn't something first denied in the Protestant Reformation, but was actually a man by the name of Berengarius.  Though rumblings had occurred in other writers before, most notably in John Scotus Eriugena, Berengarius seems to be the first to explicitly attack the Real Presence in the Eucharist.  He instead opted for the view that Christ is spiritually present in the sacrament but not really present - later declarations on "transubtantiation" were made in direct response to this (though I do not think the Orthodox have ever laid out what is going on during the Consecration in as systematic a way as Catholic theologians have).

Why he matters today:  Even though there were a couple theologians that had gone against the Real Presence in the Eucharist before him, Berengarius was really the first to take his doctrines so far that even an entire movement called the Berengarians survived after him.  He opposed and attacked the Church on the issue of the Eucharist, denying that any change took place resulting in its being the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, instead opting for a spiritual understanding (something, I would argue, is much closer to orthodox Calvinism).

When someone attacks the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, modern Catholics can know where the idea came from, and why the Church's theologians formally defined the change as "transubstantiation".  The ideas of Berengarius, I would argue, live on today in the doctrines of the Reformation, especially in the teachings of Calvin.

3.  Montanus (2nd - 3rd century A.D.)

Montanus is one of my most disliked of all heretics, as he was the wolf that snatched that great apologist, Tertullian, from the bosom of the Church - though really, when one reads Tertullian, one can see the seeds of a great fall in his writings.  He needed something more extreme than what the growing Church could provide.  Thus he joined the Montanists, a charismatic sect that had grown up around the prophecies of Montanus and two women named Prisca and Maximilla.  Claiming the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, they became known as "fanatic rigorists"1, with Montanus espousing himself as a prophet through whom the Holy Spirit spoke through to the world.

Why he matters today:  I think it's a fairly easy parallel to draw between charismatic movements and Montanism.  But what I want to point out is that Montanism, in my opinion, has made itself felt in any movement where Holy Spirit is erroneously placed in opposition to the Church.  The "spirit of Vatican II" movement, in my humble opinion, draws its strength from the same poisoned well as Montanus and his companions.

4. Miguel de Molinos (1640 - 1696 A.D.)

Miguel de Molinos is a little less-known than others, by my reckoning, and yet his influence I think is felt all over the world of unorthodox prayer forms infiltrating the world of modern Catholicism.

Molinos was the central figure in a heresy known as "Quietism", and "taught interior annihilation, asserting that this is the means of attaining purity of soul, perfect contemplation, and the rich treasure of interior peace: hence follows the licitness of impure carnal acts, inasmuch as only the lower, sensual man, instigated by the demon, is concerned in them."3

E. Allison Peers, that distinguished scholar of Spanish mysticism, intriguingly refers to his teachings as warping the mysticism of such figures as St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

Why he matters today: When studying at Newman Theological College, I was shocked to see that what is known as "centering prayer" was being pushed on students as a good and wholly orthodox form of prayer.  Upon doing a little research, I began to notice some very disturbing similarities between it and a heresy known as Quietism, which did most of its damage in the 17th century.

In my opinion, centering prayer as it is known today is merely a watered-down form of core Quietist principles.  Though certainly modern centering prayer does not advocate excuses for sinful acts as does the doctrines taught by Molinos, it is undoubtedly similar in its teachings on interior annihilation.

According to Catholic Answers, "Quietism bears similarity to certain elements of Eastern mysticism and the New Age movement, and it is mirrored in one of the chief principles of Protestantism.

Like Quietism, many Eastern religions (Hinduism and Buddhism, for instance) aim at a state of detachment or indifference, whether it be Nirvana for the Buddhists, tranquil oneness with the pantheistic 'all-god,' or the Tao.

Elements of Quietism can be seen in the quasi-mysticism of the New Age movement. In emphasizing subjective mystical experience or 'feeling,' downplaying personal moral responsibility, and eliminating sacrament and ritual, many moderns are unaware of the debt they owe to a seventeenth-century writer for their 'modern' religion.

The Reformation doctrine of sola fides is a cousin to Quietism in that it rejects mankind's reciprocal role (through obedience and good works) in the process of salvation."4 

5.  Nestorius (d. 451 A.D.)

The chief heresy propounded by Nestorius was that Christ's two natures were entirely separate and distinct, thus resulting in a kind of two persons in one body.  This was fought chiefly by St. Cyril of Alexandria.

But this is not the aspect of Nestorius' thought that I had most interesting, nor why I mention him here - modern scholarship seems to take a more sympathetic view to Nestorius' Christological errors.  The reason why I mention him here is that he was the first to deny the title of Theotokos (God-bearer) to the Virgin Mary - in other words, he attacked the idea that the Blessed Virgin Mary was the Mother of God, preferring instead the term Christotokos (Christ-bearer).

Why he matters: Many evangelicals and fundamentalists these days are very much against calling Mary the Mother of God - now you can tell them where that idea first came from, and that it was condemned in the early Church.  As a side note, if anyone brings up the idea that the Virgin Mary did not remain a virgin for the rest of her life (the doctrine of her perpetual virginity), then one would do well to bring up the fact that the first to say such a thing was a heretic known as Helvidius.  St. Jerome's reply to Helvidius on the subject is crucial reading.

1 - Arius, Thalia
2 - Rev. John Laux, Church History, pg. 64
3 - A. Perez Goyena, The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Miguel de Molinos"
4 - Todd M. Aglialoro, found HERE.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Showing support for LCWR during these trying times

National Catholic Reporter

Richard McBrien | Oct. 29, 2012

It's old news by now, but I want to add my name to the already long list of people who have supported the Leadership Conference of Women Religious against the Vatican and its allies in North America.

The nuns have been in the forefront of the struggle to keep the spirit and the letter of the Second Vatican Council alive, not only in religious communities of women but also in the Catholic church at large.

Unfortunately, LCWR is a scapegoat for everything the right wing in the Catholic church loathes. One should recognize that ultra-conservatives exist in the highest ranks of the Vatican, excluding no ecclesiastical office in the church.

As I said (to a standing ovation) at the symposium held in my honor at the University of Notre Dame toward the end of April, few North American Catholics would be Catholics today if it were not for the nuns. The nuns, I insisted (to another standing ovation), are the greatest asset to the church in North America, and one hopes and prays that the Vatican will soon come to realize that as well.

The nuns are not only among the leaders in the church who wish the keep alive the spirit and the letter of the Second Vatican Council, but are also among the thousands who are celebrating with the rest of the church the 50th anniversary of the council's opening in the fall of 1962.

The council brought fresh air into the church, just as Pope John XXIII had hoped, but neither he nor his closest friends could have foreseen the terrible backlash he would also unleash.

He couldn't have foreseen, for example, the concerted efforts of his successors, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, to undermine the council, consciously or not, by the appointment of bishops and archbishops unfriendly to the council.

Examples of such bishops are (with the diocese and year they were first ordained a bishop): Thomas Welsh, Arlington, Va., 1970 (now deceased); Thomas Daily, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1974 (now retired); Nicholas DiMarzio, Brooklyn, 1996; David Ricken, Green Bay, Wis., 2000; Richard Lennon, Cleveland, 2001.

Examples of such archbishops are: John Myers, Newark, N.J., 1987; Joseph Kurtz, Louisville, Ky.,1999; Jose Gomez, Los Angeles, 2001; Francis George, Chicago, 1990; Charles Chaput, Philadelphia, 1988; Edward Egan, New York, 1985 (now retired).

Nor could John XXIII have foreseen the wholesale assault on the nuns of the United States, not only in the "visitation" of the sisters' communities, but also in the investigation of LCWR, which has been the source of so much good for the U.S. church.

Neither could he have foreseen the demoralization that has set into the Catholic church nowadays, with many Catholics looking forlornly at the Second Vatican Council as if it never happened and the pontificate of John XXIII as if he never existed.

The bishops appointed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI insist they support the council, but that the council was misinterpreted by progressive Catholics. Progressive Catholics, on the other hand, feel the recent crop of bishops overemphasize the abortion issue to the practical exclusion of the church's traditional emphasis on social justice and the needs of the poor, which the Nuns on the Bus have highlighted.

We cannot overemphasize the fact that a pall of sadness now covers the church. Many have dropped out (the recent Pew poll disclosed that ex-Catholics constitute one-tenth of the U.S. religious landscape); others stay because they have found a worshiping community that meets their spiritual needs (usually on a college or university campus, where the long arms of a bishop cannot reach).

But I have not given up hope -- nor should you, my readers. The nuns (including LCWR) will eventually be vindicated, a new pope will be elected who the electors think is only a seat-warmer (just as they once regarded John XXIII), and the pendulum will swing the other way. It always has.

Some of us will never see the change, like the saintly Moses, but it will come. As John XXIII insisted, history is the great teacher of life. And history has much to teach us.

© 2012 Richard P. McBrien. All rights reserved. Fr. McBrien is the Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

Wisconsin priest resurrects Latin Mass

October 27 

While few in the pews are fluent in the language, it seems nothing is lost in translation.

The Associated Press

MANITOWOC, Wis. - Sunday's Packers football game might as well have been occurring on another planet for the 50 adults and children attending the Latin Mass inside the downtown ornate sanctuary of the former St. Boniface Catholic Church.

The Rev. Canon Andreas Hellmann prays during a Latin Mass at a church in Manitowoc, Wis. In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI called it a “precious treasure to be preserved.”

"Holy Mother, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death," said teenager Ashley Reif as she prayed the rosary out loud many times with parishioners starting about 30 minutes before the beginning of the "Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite" in what is now St. Francis of Assisi's Faith Formation Center.

The Rev. Canon Andreas Hellmann normally leads the Latin Mass, which began last October, as a liturgical ceremony encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI who in 2007 said it is a "precious treasure to be preserved." While Hellmann's sermons and general announcements are in English, the 90-minute Mass and accompanying chants by the choir are in a language that few in the pews are fluent in.

"But once you get used to it, you will feel at home anywhere ... Chicago, Paris or China," Hellmann said Monday from St. Joseph Oratory in Green Bay, his "home" that is part of the global religious community Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

As Hellman opened the Mass by sprinkling the altar and "the faithful," he proclaimed, "Gloria patri, et filio, et spiritui sancto." A Latin-English booklet missal offers side-by-side translation of the Mass that the priest and attendees from Manitowoc, Kewaunee and Sheboygan counties describe as filled with "beauty," "majesty" and "reverence."

Hellmann is cognizant of the impediments to more Catholics choosing to experience Latin Mass, especially in the United States where many people seem compelled to check their smartphones for text messages or Facebook updates seemingly every few minutes.

"People are used to a Mass that may be entertaining, makes them feel good, celebrates the community," Hellmann told the Herald Times Reporter of Manitowoc.

But the priest said the focus is on Christ's sacrifice on the cross and is part of a service with long stretches of silence. "That might be disturbing to some people," Hellmann said. "But we live in such hectic times ... let your soul breathe and appreciate the divine drama and liturgy."

For much of the Latin Mass, the priest's back is toward the congregation as he says, "Gloria in excelsis deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te."

"I'm not turning my back on them, but we are all turning ourselves toward the Lord," Hellmann said. "The one very beautiful thing I know is that in the heart of the Mass, the canon of the Mass, I pray the same way as Christians have done as early as the fourth century," he said. "Our participation must, first and foremost, be internal and spiritual," said Hellmann, ordained in 2000. "The beauty of the liturgy, the chant, the majesty of the Mass leads to internal change ... without that, I wonder what would be the spiritual fruit."

Hellmann said, "Christ and the devil are at war and we are caught in the middle."

But the people of God have free will to not give in to the devil's temptations. Prayer is all powerful, Hellmann said.

With the smell of burning incense thick in the air, he said Jesus Christ is "the bridegroom of our souls" who holds the keys to heaven and eternal salvation.

Margaret Reinbold, Reif's grandmother, sang in Latin in the choir loft Sunday with four others. She'd like to see others learn the liturgy in what she called the Roman Catholic Church's official language.

"What I find beautiful is being able to receive the Lord on our knees and on our tongue," Reinbold said of the priest, and only the priest, placing consecrated communion wafer in her mouth as part of the Eucharist during a Latin Mass.

Her husband, Joe Reinbold, believes the Eucharist "has lost some of that sense of reverence" when the wafers are not distributed by priests "who have consecrated hands." Then the Eucharist, he said, may become more symbolic like many Protestants believe, rather than true transubstantiation where the bread and wine has become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Bill and Jennifer Neumann of Whitelaw attend Latin Mass in Manitowoc and Green Bay with their six children, ages 3 to 10. On Sunday, Francis, 10, and Victor, 7, assisted Hellmann during the Mass.

Bill Neumann said he understands how for many Catholics, taking the time to understand and appreciate the Latin may be a challenge.

"For us, the Mass is about having family time together," he said.

"We enjoy the reverence ... this Mass is the closest thing to the Vatican we can find. We are going to go there on a family trip in about six years," Neumann said.

The Role of Infanticide and Abortion in Pagan Rome’s Decline

by Emmet Scott (October 2012)

Theories about the fall of Rome have been thick on the ground for many centuries. The “traditional” view, that it had been caused by the violence of the invading barbarians in the fifth century, was seriously undermined by the application of new and more stringent methods of historical enquiry during the nineteenth century. Indeed, by the first decades of the twentieth century it had become apparent that, as an imperial power, Rome was already in a fairly advanced state of decay by the end of the second century – over two hundred years before the official “end” of the Empire in 476. Historians began to speak of the “crisis” at that time. They noted a contraction of Roman power in the third century: the loss and abandonment of several provinces, beginning with Dacia and parts of Germany. They noted too a general shrinking of cities and the cessation of construction on a monumental scale. All the great structures which to this day dot Europe and elicit the admiration and astonishment of the tourist – the aqueducts, the amphitheatres and the city walls – were raised before the beginning of the third century. After that, there was almost nothing. More and more historians began to discern “a fundamental structural change” at the time, “which the great emperors at the end of that century, and Constantine himself at the beginning of the next, did but stabilize.” (Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Rise of Christian Europe (2nd. ed., London, 1966), p. 27) A new consensus developed, according to which there were “two successive Roman Empires... First, there is the Roman Empire of Augustus and the Antonines, of which we mainly think, the majestic web of planned cities and straight roads, all leading to Rome... Secondly, after the anarchy of the third century, there is the ‘Lower Empire’, the rural military empire of Diocletian and Constantine, of Julian the Apostate and Theodosius the Great. This was an empire always on the defensive, whose capital was not Rome, but wherever warring emperors kept their military headquarters: in the Rhineland, behind the Alps or in the East; in Nicomedia or Constantinople, in Trier, Milan or Ravenna.” (Ibid.)

The Roman Empire, it thus became clear, was already in an advanced state of decay by the year 200; and it was also increasingly less “Roman”. We hear that, “Already before the ‘age of the Antonines’ [in the second century] it had been discovered as Tacitus remarked that emperors could be made elsewhere than in Rome,” and, as the above writer drily remarked, “By the third century AD they were generally made elsewhere.” In that century, we know, “there were not only military emperors from the frontier: there were also Syrian, African and half-barbarian emperors; and their visits to Rome became rarer and rarer.” (Ibid., p. 47) And the advent of “half-barbarian” emperors was paralleled by an increasingly half- or fully barbarian army. From the third and even second century historians noted the recruitment into the Roman legions not only of great numbers of “semi-barbarians” such as Gauls and Illyrians, but of actual barbarians, such as Germans and Sarmatians. Indeed, so far had this custom gone by the fourth century that by then several distinguished Roman families boasted a barbarian ancestor many generations earlier.

The crisis of the third century naturally became the subject of intense debate amongst historians. Nowadays it is often regarded as having an economic origin, and scholars talk of inflationary pressures and such like. This may be partly true; but what seems undeniable is that the real problem lay deeper. There is now little dissention on the belief that by the year 100 the population of the Empire had ceased to grow and had begun to contract. The inability to hold the most outlying of the provinces, in Dacia and Germany, is viewed as an infallible sign of a general shrinkage, and archaeology has provided solid evidence: by around 400 the great majority of the empire’s towns and cities occupied less than half the space they did in 150. There are also clear signs of a marked decline in rural populations: excavations in southern Etruria and elsewhere in Italy have shown a fairly dramatic fall in rural populations from the end of the second century through to the fifth. (See eg. Richard Hodges and William Whitehouse, Mohammed, Charlemagne and the Birth of Europe (London, 1982), pp. 40-42)

From the same period archaeologists have noted not only the cessation of major new building but also the demolition and recycling of existing monuments. (See eg Peter Wells, Barbarians to Angels (New York, 2008), pp. 109-10) There appears also in the urban settlements of temperate Europe a layer of dark humic soil, sometimes more than a meter thick, containing cultural debris – pottery, bones of butchered animals, glass fragments, etc – mixed into it, covering occupational remains of earlier centuries. “The dark earth,” says one historian, “has been found to contain remains of timber-framed, wattle-and-daub huts, along with sherds of pottery and metal ornaments datable to the late Roman period. These observations demonstrate that people who were living on the site were building their houses in the traditional British [and north European] style rather than in the stone and cement fashion of elite and public Roman architecture.” (Ibid., pp. 111-12) “What are we to make of these two major changes reflected in the archaeology?” the same writer asks. He concludes that, “After a rapid growth in the latter part of the first century... [there was] a stoppage in major public architecture and a reverse of that process, the dismantling of major stone monuments, at the same time that much of the formerly urban area seems to have reverted to a non-urban character.” (Ibid., p. 112)

What could have caused such a dramatic and sustained demographic collapse? As might be expected, writers of various hues have not been slow to propose answers. These range from the plausible to the bizarre. The best explanations however have kept an eye both on archaeology and on the written sources, and what has emerged over the past fifty years is a picture of a Roman Empire unfamiliar to most students of classical civilization. It is picture of a world immersed in decadence, squalor and brutality.

Life in a Roman city, it seems, was anything but comfortable. The image of the good life of centrally-heated villas with mosaic floors and marble pillars – the image generally presented to the public in guidebooks and documentaries – was of course far from typical. Much new research has been done on the living conditions of ordinary Romans in the last fifty years, and what has emerged is the picture of a life of almost unimaginable squalor. The cities, by modern standards, were packed: people lived in appallingly confined spaces. In Rome, the great majority of the poor inhabited multi-story apartment blocks named insulae (“islands”), which were little more that multi-story slums. They were also death-traps. Several Roman writers noted that the most frequently heard sound in the city was the roar of collapsing insulae. They were constructed of the cheapest materials, and their occupiers rarely had any warning of their impending disintegration. The streets around these insulae contained a central channel into which the inhabitants threw their sewage. The whole city stank, summer and winter, and so great was the stench that even the rich, in their exclusive areas, could not avoid contact with it. Hence the annual retreat in the springtime to their summer residences in the countryside.

As might be imagined, deadly epidemics were commonplace, and the failure of the ancients to understand the pathology and spread of infections led to a plethora of pandemics which wiped out millions.

Crime too was of epidemic proportions; and a society which exacted the death penalty for minor offences offered no real deterrent against more serious crimes such as murder.

The sheer savagery of Roman attitudes is of course already well known, and we need not labor the obvious fact that people who could watch other human beings being torn to shreds by wild beasts for “entertainment” were of a very low spiritual state. The institution of slavery, by its very existence, had a corrupting effect on attitudes, and slaves, as the property of their owners, could be exploited in whichever way their owners wished. All of them, both male and female, were the sexual playthings of their masters, and must submit to the sexual demands of their owners at any time or place. The sex “industry” was a major employer, as excavations at Pompeii, Herculaneum, and numerous other ancient cities have revealed only too graphically.

As might be imagined, a society which harbored such attitudes did not shrink from taking drastic measures to deal with the unwanted issue of casual liaisons, and the practice of infanticide was widespread and commonplace in the classical world. (See eg. William V. Harris, “Child Exposure in the Roman Empire,” The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 84 (1994)) Official Roman documents and texts of every kind from as early as the first century, stress again and again the pernicious consequences of Rome’s low and apparently declining birth-rate. Attempts by the Emperor Augustus to reverse the situation were apparently unsuccessful, for a hundred years later Tacitus remarked that in spite of everything “childlessness prevailed,” (Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, iii, 25) whilst towards the beginning of the second century, Pliny the Younger said that he lived “in an age when even one child is thought a burden preventing the rewards of childlessness.” Around the same time Plutarch noted that the poor did not bring up their children for fear that without an appropriate upbringing they would grow up badly, (Plutarch, Moralia, Bk. iv) and by the middle of the second century Hierocles claimed that “most people” seemed to decline to raise their children for a not very lofty reason [but for] love of wealth and the belief that poverty is a terrible evil. (Stobaeus, iv, 24, 14) Efforts were made to discourage the practice, but apparently without success: the birth-rate remained stubbornly low and the overall population of the Empire continued to decline.

A major and exacerbating factor in the latter was the fact that baby girls seem to have been particularly unwanted. A notorious letter, dating from the first century BC, contains an instruction from a husband to his wife to kill their newborn child, if it turns out to be a girl:

I am still in Alexandria. ... I beg and plead with you to take care of our little child, and as soon as we receive wages, I will send them to you. In the meantime, if (good fortune to you!) you give birth, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, expose it. (Lewis Naphtali, ed. “Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 744,” Life in Egypt Under Roman Rule (Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 54)

Although it may be tempting to dismiss this letter as anecdotal, the very casualness of the writer’s attitude shows that what he was saying was not in any way regarded as unusual or immoral. In such circumstances we cannot doubt that girls were especially selected for termination, and since the propagation of populations is fundamentally related to the number of females, such a custom can only have had a devastating effect on the demographics.

In addition to infanticide the Romans also practiced very effective forms of birth control. Abortion too was commonplace, and caused the deaths of large numbers of women, as well as infertility in a great many others, and it has become increasingly evident that the city of Rome never, at any stage in her history, had a self-sustaining population, and numbers had continuously to be replenished by new arrivals from the countryside. (For a discussion, see Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History (Harper Collins, 1996), pp. 95-128)

In his trenchant study of Rome’s social history during these centuries sociologist Rodney Stark wondered how the Empire survived as long as it did, and came to the conclusion that it did so only through the continual importation of barbarians and semi-barbarians. Far then from being a threat, the “barbarians” were seen as a means by which Rome might make good manpower shortages. The problem was that no sooner had the latter settled within the Imperial frontiers than they adopted Roman attitudes and vices.

Quite possibly, by the end of the first century, the only groups in the Empire that was increasing by normal demographic process were the Christians and the Jews, and these two were virtually immune from the contagion of Roman attitudes.

Taking this into account, several writers over the past few decades have suggested that Rome’s adoption of Christianity in the fourth century may have had, as one of its major goals, the halting of the empire’s population decline. Christians had large families and were noted for their rejection of infanticide. In legalizing Christianity therefore Constantine may have hoped to reverse the population trend. He was also, to some degree, simply recognizing the inevitable. (Ibid., pp. 95-128) By the late third century Christians were already a majority in certain areas of the East, most notably in parts of Syria and Asia Minor, and were apparently the only group (apart from the Jews) registering an increase in many other areas. This was achieved both by conversion and by simple demographics. The Jews too, by that time, formed a significant element in the empire’s population – and for the same reason: They, like their Christian cousins, abhorred the practice of infanticide and abortion. It has been estimated that by the start of the fourth century Jews formed up to one tenth of the Empire’s entire population. Whether or not Constantine legalized Christianity therefore, it would appear that in time the Empire would have become Christian in any case.

The question for historians was: Did Constantine’s surmise and gamble prove correct? Did the Christianization of the Empire halt the decline? On the face of it, the answer seemed to be “No!” After all, less than a century later Rome herself was sacked, first by the Goths and then, several decades later, by the Vandals. And by 476 the Western Empire was officially dissolved. The general consensus then, for some time, has been that Christianity somehow failed to halt the demographic collapse in the West, though it is admitted that it most certainly did halt it in the East, where civilization flourished as never before in the fifth and sixth centuries. The Byzantine Empire of this time, it is now clear, experienced a Golden Age, with cities and towns expanding dramatically and housing populations well in excess of anything experienced during the time of the Caesars. The West was Christianized later than the East, and was in any case a more rural and less developed part of the world, even at the height of Rome’s imperial power. Yet evidence has begun to emerge that even in the backward West Christianity led to a revival, a revival coinciding precisely with the adoption of Christianity. Thus Ireland experienced her own Golden Age from the late fifth century onwards, and all the evidence indicates an expanding population, with Irish colonists and missionaries spreading first throughout the British Isles and then onto the European mainland. Visigothic Spain was one of the first parts of the West to become fully Christian, owing at least in part to the region’s large Jewish population. And sure enough, from the sixth century onwards Spain’s economy shows signs of recovery and her population begins to grow. During the late sixth and early seventh centuries the Visigoths established at least five new cities in Iberia – the first new urban settlements to be founded since the second century AD. The enormous remains of Reccopolis, largest of the Visigothic cities, is now an important tourist attraction.

It has became increasingly clear over the past half century that much more of the heritage of Rome survived than had hitherto been imagined, and that, under the influence of Christianity, Roman civilization flourished both in the East and in the West during the sixth and early seventh centuries.

How the heritage of Rome was ultimately destroyed is another story entirely, but it occurred in the first half of the seventh century and was directly related to the rise of Islam.

Emmet Scott is the author of Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy (New English Review Press, 2012)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Obama's Fog of War

October 25, 2012

By Randall Hoven

There's been a whole lot written and said about Benghazi, but in my view, few are hitting the nail on the head. What is really going on is that President Obama's worldview is collapsing in the face of reality, and even he can't prevaricate enough to sustain that view in the public's mind.

Despite using both the words "terror" and "Benghazi" somewhere in a long speech on September 12, Obama later blamed the Benghazi attack on "the video" -- first on Letterman on September 16 and then at the U.N. on September 25. Anyone with eyes and ears knows that Obama and his people were blaming the attack on "the video" for days and weeks after the attack. If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe Chris Matthews or the newspaper he tells us to read.

How many times do we have to hear that some attack by jihadis is a reaction to something we did? Did we allow someone to post a video on YouTube? Did we allow someone to draw a cartoon? Did one of our infidel Marines touch a Koran with an ungloved hand? Did we let girls go to school? How many ways are there to offend these people?

These jihadis tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. While not totally successful, that attempt killed six people and injured more than a thousand. Osama bin Laden wrote his first fatwa, declaring war against the U.S., in 1996 -- during President Clinton's first term. In his second fatwa, written in 1998, he said this:

On that basis, and in compliance with God's order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it[.]

And don't forget Black Hawk Down in Mogadishu (1993), Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (1996), our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (1998), and the USS Cole in 2000.

All that, all that, was during Bill Clinton's presidency. Before George W. Bush was president. Before we went to Afghanistan or into Iraq. Before Abu Ghraib. Before Gitmo. Before waterboarding. Before any cartoons or videos. And then we got 9/11, which had been planned since about 1996, eight months into Bush's presidency.

Get it? Jihadis need no excuse. It is beyond stupid to credit recent attacks and protests to a YouTube video. There will always be a YouTube video that "offends" Muslims. How about this one? Rest assured: every time jihadis kill more Americans, they'll have some "insult to Mohammed" they can blame it on. And also rest assured that American liberals will swallow that excuse.

The reality is that jihadis kill Americans because that is what jihadis do. To them, it is a Muslim's duty. It is "in compliance with God's order" and has been since 1998 at least. No new excuses needed.

The question we should have is, how much of the Muslim ummah shares Osama's sentiments? Obama's answer to that question is "only al-Qaeda."

That is why liberals thought we shouldn't be in Iraq. If Osama bin Laden was not in Iraq, why should we be? Saddam didn't plan 9/11; Osama did. Why weren't we tracking down Osama in Afghanistan or Pakistan, instead of "nation-building" in Iraq? (As it turned out, AQ was in Iraq, and there was "a sufficient basis for a reasonable jury to draw inferences that Iraq provided material support to bin Laden and al Qaeda." But never mind that for now. Those are mere facts.)

As recently as the October 22 presidential debate, Obama was still harping about AQ, to the point of berating Mitt Romney for not calling AQ "the biggest geopolitical threat facing America."

We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on those who actually killed us on 9/11. And as a consequence, Al Qaeda's core leadership has been decimated[.] ... Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida.

I therefore infer that Obama considers AQ "the biggest geopolitical threat facing America."

President Bush explicitly rejected this view. The War on Terror was not simply about AQ. It was not even solely about the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 attacks were a wake-up call that we need to take terrorists generally much more seriously, and that we really could not let WMD get into their hands.

The law authorizing the use of force in Iraq said this (my emphasis):

... the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001[.]

If you buy the view that the only real enemy in the so-called War on Terror is AQ, a tiny group of crazies in the AfPak mountains who follow some nut named Osama, Obama's policies make total sense.

(1) We should not have been in Iraq; instead, we should have gone after Osama bin Laden and AQ in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(2) The only problem is AQ and not Saddam, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezb'allah, the Muslim Brotherhood, or anyone not explicitly in AQ.

(3) Killing Osama was all-important, since he was the leader of AQ, our only threat.

(4) We have nothing to fear from the "Arab Spring" because those Muslims are not AQ -- just people who want freedom and democracy.

On the other hand, if you believe that the "enemy" is a strain of radical Islam that goes well beyond a group called AQ, then the opposite of those points makes sense: we should have stopped Saddam. We should fight against all radical Islamic terrorists. Killing Osama was not all that strategically important. And we have much to fear about the Arab Spring.

In short, the "it's all about AQ" theory was a convenient excuse to do nothing other than the occasional drone-kill or SEAL-kill of an identifiable AQ operative and then "Disneyfy" all other Muslim movements as people who yearn only for freedom and democracy -- even people who killed Gaddafi by "bayonet stab to the anus" or sexually assaulted Lara Logan.

And here is how much the "it's all about AQ" crowd wanted that worldview to be true. They claimed that killing Osama turned the corner on terrorism. Here are the words from the State Department, just this July.

The death of Usama bin Ladin, al-Qa'ida's founder and sole leader for the past 22 years, highlighted a landmark year in the global effort to counter terrorism[.] ... The loss of bin Ladin and these other key operatives puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.

Remember that phrase: "a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse."

And do you know what that State Department statement was based on? A report by the National Terrorism Center that said this:

Attacks by AQ and its affiliates increased by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011.

In what universe does an increase of attacks indicate "a path of decline"? In the same universe where an attack on a U.S. embassy in a Muslim country on September 11 was motivated by a YouTube video that no one saw.

It was just in July that the State Department said that AQ was on "a path of decline." By September, protesters would be flying AQ's flag over our own embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Kuwait, and Libya while chanting, "Obama, we are all Osama." And four Americans, including our ambassador, would be killed in Libya, after which CNN ran this headline: "Pro-al Qaeda group seen behind deadly Benghazi attack."

Do we still think AQ is on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse? Do we still think AQ is confined to small pockets in AfPak and maybe parts of Yemen and Somalia? Do we still think AQ itself is the only group of Muslims that thinks Allah commands Muslims to kill Americans? Do we still think that Muslims who want to kill Americans represent just some teeny-tiny slice of the ummah? Do we still think the "Arab Spring" is a freedom and democracy movement and not a jihadi/sharia-law/global-caliphate and anti-American movement?

I guess we can hope the answer to all those questions is "yes." But hope is not a strategy.

Randall Hoven can be followed on Twitter.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/10/obamas_fog_of_war.html#ixzz2ALfzuAS0