Monday, April 12, 2010

Personal Aside: Are Marxist Societies Founded on “Equality and Justice”? More.

    Feast of Pope St. Julius I.*
                             “Equality and Justice” for All? 
          In his encomium to Fr. Michael Pfleger last week as he was conferring on him the archdiocese’s racial justice award, Cardinal Francis George said, “Justice without love is destructive, as Marxist societies, founded on equality and justice alone, teach the world.”

           Are Marxist societies founded on “equality and justice”?   That is what the Cardinal seems to be saying. As a speaker and writer he is quite precise in his terminology, so if he wished, he could have said “as Marxist societies purportedly founded on equality and justice alone, teach the world.”  
       All right: let us assume he said what he meant. If that’s what he meant—that Marxist societies are founded on equality and justice, it’s the view of a typical university professor imbibing the collectivism of the `70s shielded from the realities of history—ideas that were current in faculty lounges during the period (where in `77 I hung out as a John F. Kennedy Fellow at Harvard)…listening to the idealistic Rousseau-ian talk still extant in liberaldom today.  
      If that sentence is not what he meant and needs the insertion of the word purportedly…which he has not corrected as yet…this piece is redundant.   
          But if he means what he says, let’s say this: The answer is, of course, is that all Marxist societies attest to those principles but it no case do those principles operate.  In fact they have been and are run as tyrannies. 
         Nearly every Marxist regime touted justice and equality and the aura of utopian philosophy  but managed to kill millions of their own people and untold numbers of others.  Hitler’s nationalist socialist dream…a leftist dream far more than is recognized… was based on a pure race.  Lenin and Stalin starved and murdered whole classes of people in the name of communism, inveighing a humanitarianism as a very abstract passion, embracing humanity in general but having little love for or interest in humanity in particular. Mao destroyed the culture, economy and lives of a whole nation through repression and starvation in the name of a Marxist notion of the ultimate good.

        In essence, there is no evidence of any Marxist society establishing justice and equality.  And that’s before we get to love. 
                                  Change the Name Game. 
                    Liberalism’s big deal is to change the nomenclature of anything that is unpleasant.  Hence an Evanston High school girl is leading a crusade to drop the “r” word—retardedin favor of something more politically palatable.  Any suggestions to help her? 
                                  Kass’s Column.
                    The Tribune’s John Kass who is my favorite Chicago columnist came forth last week with the brilliant thought that perhaps this liberal furor over Forrest Claypool running as an independent for county auditor is a publicity splurge to use when The Squid finally drags Alexi Giannoulias off the ticket for U. S. Senator.  
                    Interesting thought from one who really understands how The Squid thinks.  Here are all these liberal journalists oooh’ing and ah’ing over this media darling (Carol Marin of the Claypool fan club; the Sun-Times editorial board is in love) and you can count on the panderers at WTTW to play along with this likely Axelrod-designed scenario.   
                  Which brings up the question: Why hasn’t Kass gotten the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary long before now?  True, the liberals have debased it somewhat: if liberal Clarence Page (The Chicago Tribune) can get it (1989) anybody can. With the lefty selection committee it’s easy for anyone port-side to nail it.  
                  But Kass really has deserved it: any year, actually. Especially for his articles which better than any other journalist understands the mentality of the Daley machine.  He is the first one to plumb the depths of the bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Repub-licans he has brilliantly called The Combine. 
        A look at past winners shows an overwhelming propensity for liberals—running at about 5 to 1 ever since the first recipient, arch-liberal Marquis Childs of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1970).   
       The last philosophical conservative to get it was The Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz (2001).   
      Of the whole long list there are only a handful of conservatives including Charles Krauthammer Washington Post Writers Group (1987); Paul Gigot The Wall Street Journal (2000); George Will, The Washington Post Writers Group (1977); Vermont Royster, The Wall Street Journal (1984)  and William Raspberry, The Washington Post (1994).   The rest of the list shows fashionable liberal clichéd mediocrity. The way the taste has been descending I suppose the next one will be Neil Steinberg The Chicago Sun-Pravda followed by Eric Zorn, The Chicago Tribune. William Safire, The New York Times, got it in 1978 but he was not a conservative—just Ariel Sharon’s buddy.  
                                   The Capitolfaxblog. 
            This (I confess) invaluable publication along with its sister Capitol Fax has a snotty, arched way of dissing and dismissing Tribune editorials on the state’s economy because they don’t fit its economic prejudices for which it is indebted to Ralph Martire, the guru of ever-higher state spending and ever-spiraling state taxes…who has no room for tax cuts and no appreciation whatsoever of economic growth apart from jobs that come from the subsidy-induced statist society.  
           The other day the Trib had a great editorial quoting a U of I story published in Crain’s saying the state would collect an additional $2.1 billion in annual revenue enough to fill half of its 2011 budget hole if it had as many jobs as it had a decade ago…meaning that we should cut back the spending and cut levels in order to generate revenue.  
            To which the strongly liberal, pro-government-growth publication commented sourly like this: yeah and we’d have better weather if the grass was always green and the skies blue.  
          None are so blind as those who will not see.   Read it for the Illinois political news (of which there is aplenty) but don’t inhale.  
                              W.W.E.S.?  What Would Ernie Say? 
         Regular readers know that the late  Ernie (Rev. Ernest Kilzer OSB) was my philosophy-theology, history-of-Christianity  professor of 60 years ago at Saint John’s University of Minnesota when that Benedictine school was Catholic. At times I summon his spirit from the Abbey graveyard in central Minnesota for a special examen. Here he is…immaculate in  black-cassock, heavily-starched roman collar and all…responding to my request to talk to me about the future of the Church we both love given that the media have seriously criticized Benedict XVI for laxity in pursuing perpetrators of pedophilia. 
          TR.  Father, the media have unearthed records that seem to attest to the fact that the Pope when a high Vatican official advised against defrocking a California priest caught in lewd treatment of boys despite the recommendation of the Oakland, California bishop and the offending priest himself that he be defrocked.  Then Cardinal Ratzinger delayed for two years for “the good of the universal Church.”   How do you balance “good of the universal Church” versus justice? 
          Ernie.  Easy. That is a faulty comparison. It is not one or the other. You achieve “the good of the universal Church” by promoting justice. Prompt justice for perpetrators meted out in a public way so as to eradicate any misunderstanding of cover-up is good for the universal Church.  What you have here is a human failure of judgment—a moral failure, really—that cannot be reconciled with conscience nor with the moral virtue of  prudence.  
       Prudence is the moral virtue of the mind which enables us to decide what to do in a given situation. You remember from our class discussions where I said the functions of prudence are to deliberate on the means and circumstances needed to perform a morally good action…in this case when all the evidence is in, to remove, prosecute and defrock the offender as well as the offender’s wish to be defrocked…to judge whether the means and circumstances are as good as they should be…and tocommand the will to put into practical effect the decisions that have to be made. 
          TR. A good many of are scandalized with the papacy due to what may in fact be the failure of  Cardinal Ratzinger to put this into effect. 
          Ernie. Well, you shouldn’t be unless you believe that once a man is a cardinal…even a man ultimately to become Pope…he is invested with impeccability. As we know, the first Pope, Peter, was far from impeccable, having denied Christ three timesThose of you who are scandalized by this are illiterate, unschooled, brittle, weak and terribly intellectually undernourished waifs to believe that a bishop—including the Pope—is impeccable. The Pope’s infallibility when he promulgates ex cathedraon faith or morals says that under this tincture he cannot err. But that’s the end of it.  That is not the same…not in any sense related…to impeccability.    Only God and His Blessed Mother are impeccable. I thought I lectured extensively about this and that we had an examination on it in 1947.   
          TR.  You did. Do you believe the disclosures here are good for the Church? 
          Ernie.  Well of course.  Wrongdoing is wrongdoing. Correction of injustice is always good. Humbling of bishops if done with accuracy will do an inestimable amount of good remembering their role should be regarded as authorized custodians of what their predecessors had received back through the centuries from the apostles who originally were with Christ. Remembering that individual bishops do not enjoy infallibility but when in the course of their authentic teaching on faith and morals they agree in such a way as to be definitive, they are proclaiming infallibly the teaching of Christ. 
           It is said as an attempt at self-justification, that these scandals are dug up by rich personal injury lawyers enriching themselves and that defenders of Rome think their pecuniary interests are a good defense.  That may be—but all the same, these are scandals, aren’t they?  They should see the light of day and those churchmen responsible should face the music.   Confession and redress at any time is good for the soul: for bishops and Popes.  I am reminded that Napoleon wanted a Cardinal secretary of state to do something wrong and when the cardinal wouldn’t Napoleon said: “You realize I have the power to break the Church totally!” The Cardinal responded: “Your Excellency, priests, bishops, and Popes have tried to do this since the Church was founded and have been notably unsuccessful. What makes you think you can improve on them?” ex  
           TR.  What would you recommend that the Church do to clear up this mess? 
           Ernie. First,, find priesthood students who are rigorous defenders of their own chastity. . Good spiritual formation in a well-run seminary weeds out those who are not. By chastity I mean an enforced temperance with regard to sexual pleasure. I am told the Oakland, California priest in question  was tagged in his seminary days as showing little spirituality, great immaturity and an inordinate interest in boys and children.  That’s when he should have been kicked out.  
         A chaste person tempers or restrains the desire for sexual satisfaction by not having the experience except within the precincts of marriage.  A mandatory requirement comes from the examen to see that a candidate for the priesthood is a total abstainer from any deliberate sexual desire or indulgence in sexual pleasure.  That means understanding that the subject is utilizing vigilance to preserve his chastity. How can seminary rectors know this?   
            TR,  Yes, how can they?  
           Ernie. Augustine and others said it best. By keeping check on the persons we associate with, the people we allow to influence us, by avoiding needless stimulation through indecent reading, films, entertainment.  And by the practice of prayer to obtain the grace of God without which is it impossible to be chaste.  That includes weeding out men who are susceptible to homosexuality.   
        You must remember that in this lax society where  the popular  mores run against condemnation of homosexuality because it argues it is as natural as being left-handed rather than right-handed, a good many men wish to join the priesthood because that’s where the men are: an unworthy and wholly sinful motive.. An unworthy and sinful motive but one which has been seriously…even sacrilegiously…overlooked in most modern seminaries.   
            TR.  What else?   
            Ernie. What else what? What do you mean? 
           TR.   What else should be done to reform the Church here? 
            Ernie.  It is far too close to government and the state to the point where they are becoming nearly one.  Corruptively close. For example, government should notbe subsidizing Catholic Charities or Catholic institutions regulated by the Church in any form. For example, the public money that goes to Catholic Charities makes Charities conform to government, diminishes the opportunity for evangelization and winning souls for Christ.  
            I don’t care if federal money is given to secular charities and other religious groups which choose to accept it but not this Church.    Give it to the Salvation Army, Protestant charities, Jewish relief—not the Catholic. Our mission is not to be the conduit of monies given to social service agencies but we should dispense private alms. Government aid has corrupted our mission.  By getting it out of the subsidized public social service business you cut back on the bureaucracy that is running them, a stultifying group that deadens the mission of the Church.  
             Assuredly, this means that Catholic Charities will be diminished greatly—but not aid for the poor which would be dispensed by other means.  It also means Catholic Charities will return to what it was originally intended on private contributory alms giving to those who are in need. The Church should reject government aid for its universities—a most corruptive thing.  Attachment to government leads to another evil: the idea that social justice should be dispensed as the special job of government.  
               TR. In the city of Chicago, St. Peter’s in the Loop, a Franciscan church at Sunday Masses recently had a layman read a Special Intention during Mass for the passage of ObamaCare in the Congress.  Your comment?  
               Ernie.  That “Special Intention” was not a sacrilege but still  highly inappropriate.  It used a Church facility which is a consecrated edifice to lobby for passage of legislation that the supplicant insists would be  an Absolute Good. Passage of a ban on abortion, the killing of unborn innocents, would be an absolute good and be appropriate for Special Intention. But a certain kind of health legislation is not an absolute good nor did even its proponents maintain it possessed the perfections proper to its nature.  In the view of the Special Intentioner such legislation would have to be relatively good. But relatively good means subjectively good not an absolute.  In this case,  undue attachment to relative and subjecrtive governmental enactments leads to a greater evil.  
           TR.  …Which is?   
           Ernie. Political acquiescence and allegiance which is highly corruptive.   To get government largesse a bishop or university president of a Catholic institution has to play the game with the prevailing political party. That’s what you had at Notre Dame which groveled to a pro-abortion president and gave him honors—indubitably beseeching rewards from government in the future.  Technically federal largesse shouldn’t interfere with a Catholic university’s spiritual mission—but it inexorably does. You want more?  
           TR.    Yes.   
          Ernie. The role of bishop should not be a high and mighty one. America is a democratic country but it reveres royalty…and this Prince of the Church thing that has been attributed to Cardinals is corruptive for them and for the laity. People…particularly the wealthy… trying to touch the hem of the prelates’ lace surplices bleating“yes, your Eminence!  No, your Eminence!”

           Sometimes a prelate will volunteer to surrender his mansion to the poor. Showboat stuff. Sheen…as brilliant as he was… tried to do that in Rochester, New York. Bad idea. But the bishop should be like a monastery abbot (here I except Weakland): not a world authority on anything except holiness.  For example, why in the world should a bishop have any opinion on whether there is federally subsidized health care in this country?  The job of the bishop is to stay out of politics and not get the idea so common with many that to advocate federalized health care at the expense to the taxpayer—while the Church pays no taxes which should make their public positions aside from abortion suspect—is any way related to the corporeal works of mercy when it is not.  
          TR.  The Campaign for Human Development?  
          Ernie.  It is irreformable, toxic with politics. It should be disbanded forthwith.   The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is a naked lobbying force for larger federal assistance in many areas. It should be abolished.  Bishops should be absent…notably absent…from public policy forums and should not make pronouncements on the economy that are not within their province or understanding.   What makes the bishop of, let us say, Saint Cloud, Minnesota an expert on nationalized health care, the economy, world affairs or anything except those issues that impinge directly on improvement of the moral condition such as abortion?  
          TR. What cyclone has hit Catholic education which fifty or sixty years ago was the Church’s shining jewel?  
          Ernie. The disaster to hit Catholic higher education was the so-called Land o’ Lakes conference in Wisconsin, an assembly of presidents of Catholic universities in which Fr. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame convinced them to shed their parochialism and join the secular league of universities with big name scholars including a few atheists, a few liberal Catholics and a good many nonentities. He is 93 now and unrepentant but we hope that will change. 
        The next thing they did was to shed religious members on their boards of directors and replaced them with Big Business executives to whom fund-raising was all-important and religious belief of little consequence. The third thing was to elevate the faculties so they took command of hiring and promotion, insisting that if they were not allowed to do this they would be placed in an intellectual straitjacket.  In that kind of setting the identity of a university president is really of little or no importance.  
        Now I see my time is up.                            
          TR.  Thank you, Father. 
          Ernie. Peace. 
     *: Pope St. Julius I, . [Circa AD 352]. The son of a Roman named Rusticus, he was elected to succeed Pope St. Mark in 337. He was soon engulfed in the Aryan heresythe 4th century belief that denied the divinity of Christ. It was taught by one Arius a priest of Alexandria who in 318 began to teach that there are not three distinct persons in God, co-eternal and equal in all things—but only One Person, the Father.  The Son is only a creature, made like all other created things. There was a lengthy argumentative battle over whether or not Athanasius was the rightful bishop of Alexandria. At a synod in Rome in 340, Julius declared Athanasius to be therightful bishopa historic turning-point in the struggle with that heresy. Julius built several basilicas and churches in Rome and died there April 12.

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