Q. In your recent article praising Francis Cardinal George and the Illinois Catholic Conference’s Bob Gilligan for their advocacy and energy opposing Civil Unions you should have added the Illinois Family Institute.
A. Right. Ididpoint out the great work done by Ralph Rivera and Rev. Bob Vandenbosch but neglected to say that they were working in connection with the Illinois Family Institute which does a fantastic job supporting traditional family values—and which launched the Protect Marriage petition drive back in 2006. The burden of my story dealt with the Catholic effort because of the Quinn-Bishop Paprocki exchange and the Church bashing by Ms. Marin.
Q. Your reaction to the death of Elizabeth Edwards?
A. Poor woman. Poor-poor woman. We should all say a prayer for her…undergoing such a trial with cancer and having to put up with that duplicitous lying lout of a husband. I suppose now he’s going to be the Chief Mourner at the funeral. She endured her suffering with grace and calm reserve. RIP. While we’re at it we should offer a heartfelt prayer of gratitude that we didn’t end up with John Edwards as president…which we could very well have since he was a definite front-runner in two presidential contests.
Q. Now-now, did you ever hear the statement “let him who is without sin cast the first stone [John 8:7]?”
A. Sure have. But for its proper interpretation I rely on Ernie [the late Fr. Ernest Kilzer OSB], my favorite professor-philosophy-theology at Saint John’s University, Minnesota [1946-50]: “Gentlemen, this phrase has been misused by many on occasion….and I hope it will not be by you… to shrug away all responsibility for sin under make-believe `tolerance.’ When they say `let him who is without sin cast the first stone’ cynics know that since none of us is without sin none should condemn--thus all sinners are free of guilt. Not so. Not even remotely so.
“Remember the circumstances. Jewish law under Deuteronomy [17:7] and Leviticus [20:10] states that the person who first witnessed the sin of adultery were to throw the first stones. The Pharisees asked Christ to comment on the legal aspect. He instead raises it beyond the legal but to the moral. As Augustine has said [In Ionn. Evang. 33, 5-6]-- He has come to save that which has been lost—not to invalidate the legal. The Old Law on stoning was and is a horror which must be supplanted by the New Law. But the time had not yet come for that. So He interprets the Old Law rightly and postulates the New.
“None of her condemners saw the act so His point is not to give her a pass as you would say, but to testify that if she is to be punished she should be sonot by sinners; let the law be applied but not by its transgressors.
“The crowd shrinks away starting with the oldest, leaving the woman with Christ. Augustine then with some poetic license imagines she is terrified because she is alone with a sinless One who as God knows all things could well initiate the stoning.
“But as He first demonstrated the inexorable measure of justice to the crowd, He now applies mercy. He asks her ‘Has no one condemned you?’ She replies, `no one, Lord.’ He says, `Neither do I condemn you.” Then the most important words: `Go and sin no more.’ Meaning that He knows of her sin as of course He would have to as He is Godand far from dismissing the sin or condoning her actiondirects her to avoid it.
“This is the point of Christ’s confrontation with the Pharisees. Not for you to apply it to yourselves, gentlemen, by saying as you are sinners you wish to give yourselves a pass…or that you cannot in fairness condemn sin…and thereby absolve yourselves as we are all sinners—allowing you to go your free and merry ways and continue over-drinking atAndy Hamm’s [a St. Cloud watering hole frequented by students]. Wouldn’t that be nice—you saying `what the heck, we’re all sinners! Let him who is without sin cast the first stone! Bartender, another beer please!’
[Then Ernie imitated pouring beer into a glass and simulated drinking heartily, raising the non-existent glass to his lips—concluding by wiping his lips and exuding the word “ah!” to the laughter of the class.]
“No, gentlemen, sinners we all are but if—not when—ifyou exceed the limit we must confess and after absolution make firm purpose of amendment and then in His words `go and sin no more.’ AtAndy Hamm’sthe virtuous men I expect you to always be will follow The Philosopher: `Moderation in all things!”
Q. Your view of the likely outcome of the dissension within the Democratic Congress and President Obama over the tax compromise.
A. I think the compromise will pass but one cannot dismiss the reaction of the Left exhibited in words ofThe Daily Kos:Mr. Obama’s Chamberlain Impersonation.Comparing the tax compromise okayed by Obama as equivalent to the sell-out of Czechoslovakia and Poland.