The Washington Post reports:
On an official trip to this ancient city [Naples] in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, Pope Francis entered the local cathedral to pray to Januarius, the patron saint of Naples. Januarius’s 1,700-year-old dried blood is known to “spontaneously liquefy”, a phenomenon seen by true believers as a miraculous sign from above. Those gathered anxiously watched as Francis prayed before, then kissed, the ornate silver and glass reliquary containing the coagulated clot.
And lo and behold, the dark stain dissolved.
The cardinal of Naples, standing beside Francis, joyously heralded the sacred melting, bringing a round of gasps and applause. Then Francis himself acknowledged the mystery, in which the blood had only half liquefied. “It means the saint loves us halfway,” Francis said, according to accounts of those present that day five months ago. “We must all spread the word of God more, so that he loves us even more.” …
For some Neapolitans, the blood-melting made the recent papal visit all the more magical. Rita Santoro, a 69-year-old who sells prayer cards on the steps of the cathedral, was waiting just outside during Francis’s March visit. He touched her head as he left, “and after that, the stomach problems I had been having just disappeared”. … “For me, the blood liquefaction for the pope was a miracle,” she said. …
Far more than his predecessor, Francis has thrust himself into the contentious world of so-called popular devotions — including the mystical celebration of holy relics, such as the blood, bones and clothing of saints, as well as the adoration of the Virgin Mary through processions and other rites. By doing so, Vatican watchers say the pope is effectively endorsing a more ardent and mysterious brand of Catholicism that is popularly practiced — especially among the poor — in his native Latin America.
Critics, however, say the pope may be flirting with superstition.
May be? Otherwise there is nothing about religious belief in the supernatural which can be called superstitious?
Also citing his frequent mention of the devil and explicit backing of exorcisms, some say he risks undercutting his image as a 21st century moral leader in tune with the times. “The danger is that popular devotion becomes all too important, that we seek to elevate ourselves by touching a body part or a cloth touched by a saint,” said Vito Mancuso, a theologian and author based in Bologna, Italy. “We would be moving backwards, almost to idolatry.”
Almost? Worshiping a painted plaster “Virgin Mary” is not idolatry?
The incident in Naples, where Francis caused a stir with the blood of Saint Januarius, marked only one in a long list of recent papal devotions to relics and other mysterious artifacts. In June, for instance, the pope “venerated” the Shroud of Turin, praying before the cloth believed by some to be the burial garment of Jesus Christ despite disputed tests that have carbon-dated it to centuries after the crucifixion.
The pope made no official claim about the shroud’s authenticity. But his personal charity has sent at least two busloads of homeless Romans to visit the shroud, and the pope additionally taped a special video message celebrating it.
“Let us listen to what it wants to silently tell us, across death itself,” the pope says in the message. “The sole and ultimate word of God reaches us through the sacred shroud.”
And to millions and millions of sane people, that makes perfect sense?
The pope has recently requested that the remains of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, widely known in Italy simply as Padre Pio, be publicly exhibited in St. Peter’s Basilica next year. Six months after Francis became pope, the Vatican for the first time publicly displayed bone fragments said to belong to Saint Peter despite lingering doubts about their true origins.
What, we wonder, would ever make those doubts stop lingering and go away?
American Catholics anticipate a visit soon by the superstitious pope and a corpse.
Coinciding with the pope’s U.S. visit, the body of Saint Maria Goretti — an 11-year-old Italian girl stabbed to death in 1902 by a family friend — will also travel to the United States on a multi-city tour. In Nettuno, Italy, her sanctuary is filled with mementos of gratitude — wedding dresses, rosaries and statues — from those who claim to have been cured of ailments after praying to her.
But here too doubts are lingering:
Even among those who support the pope, his actions have raised red flags. Citing Francis’s affinity for popular devotion, the Catholic blogger and US-based author Taylor Marshall, for instance, wrote that he feared what “sophisticated non-Catholics” might make of the pope’s actions.
Such a person, Marshall wrote, “shakes his head and thinks to himself, ‘This Pope doesn’t get it. This isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ! This is shanty town syncretism at best, or ignorant magic at worst’.”
And the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about “ignorant magic”?
In this 2011 video, Christopher Hitchens talks aboout the immorality of Christianity, and the absurdity of religion in general.
This video is from years ago. (We didn’t watch it all – just getting a general impression was enough for us, so we could enjoy the parody below.)
And this is the ever funny parody:
One of the comments under the first one:
Religions are advertising agencies for a product that doesn’t exist.
Paul, theologian of the post-Apocalypse heavenly utopia, and Karl, theologian of the post-Revolution earthly utopia, celebrated their union decades ago in South America. The Great Reconciliation of their faiths was published under the title Liberation Theology.
What brought them together is a charming story. Their pet underdogs met on a bank of the Crocodile Tears River, and mated on the spot. Paul and Karl shared a hearty laugh as they watched their pets sporting with each other.
Karl had condemned Paul’s ideas in scornful terms. And Paul had rejected Karl’s ideas with fury. But when they met at last, they found they had far more to unite them than to separate them – above all their bleeding-heart condition.
The happy couple have adopted numerous children, many of whom now live – illegally – in the United States. Ever-caring parents that they are, Paul and Karl have done their best to provide for the safety and comfort of those rather wild kids of theirs. (“Bless their little rebel hearts!”)
Here’s the feel-good story of what they did for them, taken from Canada Free Press, where it is told by Cliff Kincaid:
What has not yet been reported is that the Catholic Church, which gave President Obama his start in “community organizing” in Chicago, has been promoting the sanctuary movement for more than two decades. …
Pope Francis said a “racist and xenophobic” attitude was keeping immigrants out of the United States. …
“Few people are aware that this extreme left branch of the Catholic Church played a large part in birthing the sanctuary movement,” says James Simpson, author of the new book, The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America.
Simpson says Catholic Charities, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and its grant-making arm, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, are prominent elements of the open borders movement.
The sanctuary movement has its roots in the attempted communist takeover of Latin America.
With the support of elements of the Roman Catholic Church, the Communist Sandinistas had taken power in Nicaragua in 1979. At the time, communist terrorists known as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) were threatening a violent takeover of neighboring El Salvador. President Ronald Reagan’s policies of overt and covert aid for the Nicaraguan freedom fighters, known as the Contras, forced the defeat of the Sandinistas, leaving the FMLN in disarray. In 1983, Reagan ordered the liberation of Grenada, an island in the Caribbean, from communist thugs.
Groups like the Marxist-oriented Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) were promoting the sanctuary movement for the purpose of facilitating the entry into the U.S. of illegal aliens who were supposedly being repressed by pro-American governments and movements in the region. The U.S. Catholic Bishops openly supported the sanctuary movement, even issuing a statement in 1985 denouncing the criminal indictments of those caught smuggling illegal aliens and violating the law.
Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits the transportation or harboring of illegal aliens. Two Roman Catholic priests and three nuns were among those under indictment in one case on 71 counts of conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States. One of the Catholic priests indicted in the scheme was Father Ramon Dagoberto Quinones, a Mexican citizen. He was among those convicted of conspiracy in the case.
Through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an arm of the Bishops, the church has funded Casa de Maryland, an illegal alien support group which was behind the May 1, 2010, “May Day” rally in Washington, D.C. in favor of “immigrant rights.” Photographs taken by this writer showed Mexican immigrants wearing Che Guevara T-shirts, and Spanish-language communist books and literature being provided to rally participants.
An academic paper, The Acme of the Catholic Left: Catholic Activists in the US Sanctuary Movement, 1982-1992, states that lay Catholics and Catholic religious figures were “active participants” in the network protecting illegals. The paper said, “Near the peak of national participation in August 1988, of an estimated 464 sanctuaries around the country, 78 were Catholic communities—the largest number provided by any single denomination.”
A “New Sanctuary Movement” emerged in 2007, with goals similar to the old group. In May, the far-left Nation magazine ran a glowing profile of this new movement, saying it was “revived” by many of the same “communities of faith” and churches behind it in the 1980s.
One group that worked to find churches that would provide sanctuary to immigrants in fear of deportation is called Interfaith Worker Justice, led by Kim Bobo, who was quoted by PBS in 2007 as saying, “We believe what we are doing is really calling forth a higher law, which is really God’s law, of caring for the immigrant.”
But conservative Catholic Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute says Interfaith Worker Justice is run by “committed Marxist socialists”, and that Bobo is “highly active and involved with the Democratic Socialists of America”, a group which backed Obama’s political career.
And here is Ted Cruz, a candidate for the presidency, who apparently cannot understand that the Obama administration is letting the children of Paul and Karl into the US and tolerating any mischief they are getting up to – murders and rapes, for instance – in the interests of the Higher Morality and the Greater Good of Mankind:
Today we have posted essay number 14, Mystic Communism: Georg Lukács, in the series by Jillian Becker titled The Darkness of This World (Part Two). (Find it under Pages in our margin.)
Here is part of it. We hope you won’t neglect the footnotes (not added here). They are laden with information.
Georg Lukács (1885-1971)
Georg Lukács was the quintessential revolutionary romantic of the twentieth century, longing to avenge his inner desolation on the civilization that nurtured him. And as an active participant in two revolutions and two despotic regimes, that is what he did.
With this essay we come to the nub of the whole series. Like all the other self-absorbed intellectuals we have talked about, fictitious and real, Georg Lukács advocated the doing of evil as the necessary means to a higher good. But unlike the others, he found himself actually in possession of the power to harm and destroy other lives, and he used it with passion and pride.
He was born in Budapest in 1885. The son of a banker ennobled by the Emperor of Austro-Hungary, he was nurtured in luxury. In his late teens he started writing professionally, reviewing plays for a small circulation periodical. He promoted the staging of avant-garde drama. He also tried to write plays, but without success. He realized and accepted that he “would never be a producer” and regretted that he “was no writer” – by which he probably meant a writer of plays, novels or poetry.
In fact he wrote prolifically. His first book, Soul and Form, appeared in 1910; a collection of essays mostly in literary criticism. Their dominant themes are art, Romanticism, longing, God, love, death, and bourgeois life. The volume was greeted with critical acclaim. No less a judge of literary merit than Thomas Mann – who was later to be the most insightful and devastating critic of Lukács’s character – praised the work as “beautiful and profound”.
One of the essays is about some German and Swiss writers who, Lukács allows, created admirable works despite being bourgeois. “The bourgeois way of life signifies only a denial of everything that is beautiful, everything the life-instinct longs for”, he states with conviction.
This was not the disdain of the aristocrat for a class beneath him. (The von Lukács family, for all its wealth and title, would in any case have been classed as haut bourgeois rather than true nobility.) Nor was it (yet) a revolutionary’s contempt for the established order. It was the romantic artist’s repudiation of the average and ordinary. Lukács deemed himself an artist because, he wrote, “the essay is an art form”, and essays such as his could be “intellectual poems”.
He concedes that a degree of genius is to be found in the works of those ordinary bourgeois men who were nevertheless writers. “This bourgeois way of life,” he wrote, “has no value whatsoever, in itself. For only the works which it brings forth confer value upon a life lived within such a framework and within such a form.”
What makes a life bourgeois, Lukács explains, is “first and foremost by the exercise of a bourgeois profession”. (One of the writers he examines earns his living as a judge, another as a clergyman, another as a government clerk. Lukács himself had no need to earn a living.) “A bourgeois profession,” he goes on, “as a form of life signifies, in the first place, the primacy of ethics in life”. These ethical men “do their duty”. The characters in the stories of one of them are “incapable of evil”; there is “no real sin” in their world. But that, to Lukács, far from being a fine thing, is a fault. The artistic achievement of these merely ethical men is, he declares, “great after its own fashion”. But he himself valued the aesthetic far above the ethical. The highest art could not be achieved by a person who binds himself to duty, but only by one who is capable of sin, intimate with beauty, and whose life-spirit longs for … the unreachable. For years his life-spirit burned with longing, seeking what it could not find; the search, and its frustration, being the tragic fate of such a soul as his.
“This longing is more than just something waiting for fulfillment, it is a fact of the soul with a value and existence of its own; an original and deep-rooted attitude towards the whole of life, a final, irreducible category of possibilities of experience,” he wrote. Such a soul “will always long for something he can never reach”.
In 1911, Lukács wrote a story titled On Poverty of Spirit. It is told in the form of a letter from a woman to the father of a young man who has killed himself. She recounts a conversation they had two days before his death, about the suicide of her sister, who had been the young man’s lover. He talks at length about his ideas and feelings, for the most part philosophically, but he does state plainly that he is guilty of her death “in the eyes of God”, in that he failed to “help” or “save” her. One can discern through the thicket of beautiful profundities, that he had refused to marry her because he wanted to dedicate himself wholly to his work as a writer. Furthermore, “she had to die so that my work could be completed – so that nothing remains in the world for me except my work.” But after all the argument about it and about, Lukacs wants us to understand that the young man did the right thing when he shot himself, because of his guilt and for other sound, if rather obscure and certainly long-winded, philosophical reasons.
On Poverty of Spirit was written after – and about – the suicide of his own lover, Irma Seidler, whom he had not married, being dedicated to his work as a writer. She had married someone else, had not been happy, and had drowned herself. The story he wrote was a confession of his guilt. But he himself did not do the right thing. It was enough that his alter ego did it in the story: the brilliant young man tragically performing an extreme act of penance in fiction rendered it unnecessary for Lukács himself to perform it. Besides, what he, the author, did was something better, higher: he gave the episode a “form” as a work of art. When Lukács spoke of “form” he meant art – always expecting the word to resonate in the minds of his cultured readers with Plato’s theory of “Forms” or “Ideals”. To him, a work of art was a revelation, or representative, or reminder of the “noumenal” reality that – so Plato and Kant have convinced Middle European intellectuals – lies behind, beyond, above this “phenomenal” world in which we live.
When he wrote Soul and Form, Lukács believed that the two worlds were irreconcilable; that a soul belonged to one or the other. (He does not say, but almost certainly knew, that in the creeds of the old Gnostic cults, the souls of the “Perfects” or “Pneumatics” belonged to a transcendent world, while the souls of the common “Hylics” were bound to the earth). His own soul – he knew – belonged to the higher, better, mystical world, the world of “essences”; the unreachable world. Here in this world, “abandoned by God”, he felt he was a stranger, an alien on earth; that humankind did not belong here; and that there was “an antagonism between the soul and the world”. That is what he meant when he asked rhetorically- cried out, so to speak, in his writing – “How can one bring essence into life? How can life become essential?” For years he searched for an answer. Morbidly pre-occupied with death, tragedy, and the condition of the human soul – above all his own – he wrote: “Man is abandoned to immanent meaninglessness.” He longed for “an extinction of selfhood” through “complete absorption of the ego into a higher being”.
Often he conjectured that the only answer was in death, and he brooded on suicide. He declares in Soul and Form: “Life is without value, without significance, and we [presumably he and all those who suffer the same spiritual anguish] would be ready to consecrate it every moment to death.”
His was an intensely religious temperament, but he was drawn neither emotionally nor intellectually to any organized religion; not to the Judaism of his ancestors, nor to Christianity – though his parents had him baptized in the Lutheran church in 1897 so that he could attend a good Lutheran school.
Karl Jaspers – later a famous philosopher – met Lukács in Heidelberg in 1913 and had no difficulty recognizing the nature of his contemporary’s mystical beliefs. He records: “Many came to Heidelberg [University] who were men of letters and potential candidates for Habilitation. Among them was Georg von Lukács from Budapest and Ernst Bloch from Mannheim. … At that time, they were Gnostics who shared their theosophical fantasies in their social circles.” It is probable that Lukács simply announced to Jaspers and all the company that he was a Gnostic. He was calling himself a “gnostic activist” in his writings years before he became in any way active in public life.
By “gnostic” he meant possessed of that intuitive knowledge which is a special gift to the specially gifted. What he intuitively knew which the ordinary (bourgeois) person could not know in the same way, was that there was a higher better world, the “intelligible” world: the “essential” world; the “noumenal” world. What he meant by “activist” is less clear. He seems to have meant that he not only thought philosophically that there is a higher better world, but that he also felt it. The activity was not muscular but emotional. It was not worked out by the intellect but immediately known by “intellectual intuition”, through which one might become “good”.
Become good? But had he not rejected ethical behavior? Certainly he had – and by “goodness” he did not mean anything so bourgeois as ethical behavior. He expounds his idea of what goodness is in Poverty of Spirit:
“Prince Myshkin [hero of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot] and Alyosha [hero of Dostoyevsky”s The Brothers Karamazov] are good; what does that mean? … [T]heir knowledge [gnosis] became realized in deed, their thinking left the purely conceptual realm of knowledge, their view of mankind became an intellectual intuition: they are Gnostics of the deed.” … “Goodness is the miracle, the grace, and the salvation. The descent of the heavenly realm to the earth. … It is an abandonment of ethic. Goodness is not an ethical category; you’ll find it in no consistent ethical system. And with good reason. Ethics is general, binding, and far removed from men; it is the first – the most primitive – exaltation of mankind over the chaos of everyday life; it is man’s moving away from himself, and from his empirical condition. Goodness, however, is the return to real life, man’s true discovery of his home.” … “Goodness is madness, it is not mild, not refined, and not quietistic; it is wild, terrible, blind, and adventurous. The soul of the good one has become empty of all psychological content, of grounds and consequences; it has become a pure white slate upon which destiny inscribes its absurd command to be followed blindly, recklessly, cruelly to the end.”
In the First World War, Lukács was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian armed forces; but he dodged the draft with the help of a certificate from Karl Jaspers (who was a qualified doctor and psychiatrist), and through the use of his father’s connections – the calling in of a favor owed to the banker by a personage close to the royal and imperial government. Duly declared unfit for active service, Lukács did his patriotic duty as a letter censor in Budapest for a few months in 1915.
It was after the war, when his country was in the abjection and disorder of defeat, that he found the answer to his spiritual search, a solution to his loneliness, despair and longing. He recognized that the “higher being” into which his “ego” might be “absorbed” was the International Communist movement. In December 1918 he joined the newly formed Hungarian Communist Party.
The commitment of his soul to the Party was no less religious for being political. He saw Communism as a cure not only for his own discontent – his despair, or loneliness, or Faust-like boredom with the contemplative life – but for everyone else’s too. He assumed that everyone suffered from the same malaise as he did. As a general social phenomenon he called it “alienation”, and declared it to be the result of capitalism and the bourgeois order. Communism, he believed, was the salvation of all mankind, provided only that each soul had faith enough and submitted utterly to its church. …
Jillian Becker July 19, 2015
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian Communist and Pope, is telling whoppers.
Fortunately, Christopher S. Carson puts him right with a wonderfully cheerful story. It comes from Front Page. We slightly abbreviate it:
Last week, Pope Francis released his controversial environmental Encyclical, Praised Be, to the public. It is not simply a matter of global warming endangering the planet, he writes. The Pope has a comprehensively dark vision of the world. He writes that
The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth … beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish … Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.
In other words, the Industrial Revolution is to blame for covering the planet in rubbish. But if it’s covered in trash, it’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160 percent since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8 percent since the 1920s.
It’s an odd kind of “mistreatment” of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009. This is in spite of the fact that Earth’s population increased from 760 million to 6.8 billion and incomes (in real dollars) rose from $640 to $7,300 during the same period. …
If the globe were truly turning into a great heap of exploited waste, you would expect natural resources to become more expensive as the cost of extracting rises and scarcity becomes the norm. But natural commodities are cheaper today than ever. The real price of almost all natural resources – from iron to salt to coal – is cheaper today in than 50 or 500 years ago. In Britain, artificial light is 20,000 times cheaper per man hour worked than it was in 1300.
On a global scale, with only a few exceptions like China, air and water is cleaner than ever. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged. In advanced countries, lead pollution declined by almost 100 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent; ozone and nitrogen dioxide declined as well.
A car today emits less pollution cruising at full speed than a parked car did in 1970.
In the America of 1900, about 25% of all deaths were from contaminated drinking water. Today, hardly anyone here dies from this scourge. The Pope seems oblivious to the fact that the richer the nation is, the cleaner its environment.
Despite the masses wading around in the Pope’s seas of “filth,” and despite a world population of 7.3 billion, the poorer countries’ incomes have surged since 1975; since 1981, the number of Earth’s people in extreme poverty fell by an amazing 1 billion, even as the population increased by more than 1.5 billion.
But if there is one environmental issue that most exercises the Supreme Pontiff, it is global warming. “A very solid scientific consensus,” he writes, “indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events.”
Well, the warming over “recent decades” apparently does not include the last two decades, because over the past 18 years no net increase in global temperature has been recorded, despite the atmosphere’s CO2 content rising by 8 percent. Both the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica have this year posted record high ice packs.
The Pope’s letter seems quite concerned about the poor of Africa experiencing crop failures as a result of global CO2 emissions. But the opposite appears to be true: CO2 is plant food, and the rising CO2 levels are helping to water and green the continent.
According to a 2007 study in the science journal Geology, Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”
If the trends of higher CO2 concentrations continue, and political strife abates, Africa, far from being a ruined land of desiccated drought, could well become the breadbasket of the world. All it needs from the West is fertilizer and genetically hardened crop strains that resist insect damage.
“Praised be” … Mankind, which has so rapidly improved his lot and that of his Earthly home.
The Catholic Church is now officially, doctrinally, the Universal Church of Jesus Marxist.
Or the Universal Church of Jesus and Karl.
Which name will it choose? It needs to choose one or the other, or something along the same lines, to describe itself accurately.
It has a Pope who embraces International Communism. Which requires world government. Perhaps Pope Francis sees the Vatican as the Communist capital of the world – rather than the UN, as other world-government campaigners do.
Although as yet he and his fellow performance artists, costumed in their gorgeous gowns and priceless bling, do not allow any of these labels, they are nevertheless accurate.
This is from PowerLine by John Hinderaker:
Pope Francis has become a deeply problematic figure, all the more so after his encyclical on global warming was leaked to an Italian publication. The letter, some 129 pages long, is directed to Catholic bishops, but Francis grandly says that it is intended for every person in the world. The letter has not yet been translated into English in its entirety, but portions of it have been run through Google Translator. Even from these bits, some conclusions are obvious.
First, the Pope has no idea what he is talking about. His letter is full of factual errors. For example:
Scientific consensus exists indicating firmly that we are in the presence of a worrisome warming of the climate system.
This is false. There has been no net global warming for something like 18 years, according to satellite data, the most reliable that we have.
In recent decades, that the heating was accompanied by the constant rise in the sea level….
Sea level has been rising for approximately 12,000 years, first dramatically as the Earth warmed rapidly at the end of the last Ice Age, and much more slowly in recent millennia. Currently, the rate of rise of sea level is not increasing.
…and is also hard not to relate it to the increase in extreme weather events, regardless of the fact that we can not attribute a cause scientifically determined to each particular phenomenon.
Wrong again. Extreme weather events are not increasing. This isn’t an opinion, it is a fact: there is no plausible empirical claim to the contrary. In fact, for what it is worth, the climate models that are the sole basis for warming hysteria predict fewer extreme weather events, not more, because the temperature differential between the equator and the poles will diminish.
It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanism, and the variations of the orbit of the Earth, the solar cycle), but numerous scientific studies indicate that most of the global warming of recent decades is due to the large concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other) issued mainly because of human activity.
Putting aside the fact that there hasn’t been any net warming during the last two decades, this is precisely the issue that is the subject of intense scientific debate–a debate that, it becomes increasingly clear, the realists are winning. For the Pope to wade into this controversy would be nearly inexplicable, absent some overriding motive.
That motive is, apparently, hostility toward free enterprise and the prosperity that it creates. Francis has manifested such hostility in previous statements, and it comes through again in his anti-global warming letter. Francis sounds like just another leftist: the solution to global warming is more state control to dictate how people live, and new international organizations to direct vast transfers of wealth and power.
The fact is that through human history, freedom has rarely been popular. That goes for the history of the papacy, too: John Paul II is the most notable exception in modern times. People offer various definitions of American exceptionalism. In my opinion, American exceptionalism resides chiefly in the fact that, for one brief shining moment, at least, a large majority of Americans really believed in freedom. I don’t think Pope Francis has much sympathy with that sentiment.
The Pope’s letter is full of concern for the poor, of course. But the poor would suffer most from any prohibition against efficient energy (i.e., fossil fuels). Francis’s suggestion that “rich” countries – that means us, how rich do you feel? – should subsidize the majority of the planet, apparently forever, is fatuous. … There is no prospect that leftist energy policies will help poor nations. The poor need, as much as anything, cheap energy, which frees resources for everything else. To deprive poor nations of cheap energy is to condemn them to long-lasting if not permanent poverty.
The Papal flag should be be changed to deepest red.
From CNA Daily News:
Can a country with deep Christian roots like Mexico find itself at the mercy of demons? Some in the Church fear so.
Only a country with deep Christian roots can “find itself at the mercy of demons”.
And as a result, they called for a nation-wide exorcism of Mexico, carried out quietly last month in the cathedral of San Luis Potosí.
High levels of violence, as well as drug cartels and abortion in the country, were the motivation behind the special rite of exorcism, known as “Exorcismo Magno”.
Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, presided at the closed doors ceremony, the first ever in the history of Mexico.
Also participating were Archbishop Jesús Carlos Cabrero of San Luis Potosí, Spanish demonologist and exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea, and a smaller group of priests and lay people.
The event was not made known to the general public beforehand. According to Archbishop Cabrero, the reserved character of the May 20 ceremony was intended to avoid any misguided interpretations of the ritual.
Whatever could those “misguided interpretations” be?
But how can an entire country become infested by demons to the point that it’s necessary to resort to an Exorcismo Magno?
“To the extent sin increases more and more in a country, to that extent it becomes easier for the demons to tempt (people),” Fr. Fortea told CNA.
The Spanish exorcist warned that “to the extent there is more witchcraft and Satanism going on in a country, to that extent there will be more extraordinary manifestations of those powers of darkness.”
Fr. Fortea said that “the exorcism performed in San Luís Potosí is the first ever carried out in Mexico in which the exorcists came from different parts of the country and gathered together to exorcise the powers of darkness, not from a person, but from the whole country.”
“This rite of exorcism, beautiful and liturgical, had never before taken place in any part of the world. Although it had taken place in a private manner as when Saint Francis (exorcised) the Italian city of Arezzo,” he stated.
The Spanish exorcist explained, however, that the celebration of this ritual will not automatically change the difficult situation Mexico is going through in a single day.
“It would be a big mistake to think that by performing a full scale exorcism of the country everything would automatically change right away.”
We’ll try not to make that mistake.
Nevertheless, he emphasized that “if with the power we’ve received from Christ we expel the demons from a country, this will certainly have positive repercussions, because we’ll make a great number of the tempters flee, even if this exorcism is partial.”
“We don’t drive out all the evil spirits from a country with just one ceremony. But even though all will not be expelled, those that were removed are not there anymore.”
“Those that were removed are not there anymore”. Amazing,
Fr. Fortea emphasized that “when the exorcists of a country drive out its demons, it has to be done in faith. You’re not going to see anything, feel anything, there’s not going to be any extraordinary phenomenon. We have to have faith that God conferred on the apostles a power, and that we can use this power.”
“In any case, if this ritual were to be carried out in more countries once year, before or after, this would put an end to any extraordinary manifestations which would show us the rage of the devil. Because, without a doubt, the demons hate to be driven out of a place or to be bound with the power of Christ.”
The Spanish exorcist said that “it would be very desirable that when there’s an annual meeting of exorcists in a country, a ritual such as this exorcismo magno that took place in Mexico be performed.”
He also emphasized that a bishop “can authorize its occurrence once a year with his priests in the cathedral”.
“The bishop is the shepherd and he can use the power he has received to drive away the invisible wolves from the sheep, since Satan is like a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour, and the shepherds can drive away the predator from the victim,” he concluded.
Sometimes religion can be great fun!
… or, The War between Truth and Superstition.
The topic of the persecution of Galileo by the Catholic Church arose recently on our pages in controversial comments under our post Wicked people causing climate change, 1437-2015 (May 20, 2015).
Here are four short videos that tell the story dramatically: how the immense power of the Catholic Church ensured the victory of lies over truth – but only for a time. The makers of the videos are careful to indicate that the Vatican eventually conceded what it could no longer deny:
From A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, by Andrew D. White, 1896, pages 350-361:
Few errors have ever cost so much shedding of innocent blood over such a wide territory and during so many generations [as the theory of] evil agency in atmospheric phenomena … the belief that certain men, women, and children may secure infernal aid to produce whirlwinds, hail, frosts, floods and the like. …
In 1437, Pope Eugene IV, by virtue of the teaching power conferred on him by the Almighty, and under the divine guarantee against any possible error in the exercise of it, issued a bull exhorting the inquisitors of heresy and witchcraft to use greater diligence against the human agents of the Prince of Darkness, and especially against those who have the power to produce bad weather. … [And] on the 7th of December, 1484, Pope Innocent VIII sent forth his bull Summis Desiderantes. Of all documents ever issued from Rome, imperial or papal, this has doubtless, first and last, cost the greatest shredding of innocent blood. … Inspired by the scriptural commandment, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” Pope Innocent exhorted the clergy of Germany to leave no means untried to detect sorcerers, and especially those who by evil weather destroy vineyards, gardens, meadows, and growing crops. … [W]itch-finding inquisitors were authorized by the Pope to scour Europe, especially Germany, and a manual was prepared for their use – the Witch-Hammer, Malleus Meleficarum … revered for centuries, both in Catholic and Protestant countries …
With the application of torture to thousands of women, in accordance with the precept laid down in the Malleus, it was not difficult to extract masses of proof for this sacred theory of meteorology. The poor creatures, writhing on the rack, anxious only for death to relieve them of their sufferings, confessed to anything and everything that would satisfy the inquisitors and judges. All that was needed was that the inquisitors should ask leading questions and suggest satisfactory answers: the prisoners, to shorten the torture, were sooner or later to give the answer required, even though they knew this would send them to the stake or scaffold. …
Pathetic, indeed, are the records; and none more so than the confessions of these poor creatures, chiefly women and children, during hundreds of years, as to their manner of raising hailstorms and tempests. Such confessions, by tens of thousands, are still to be found in the judicial records of Germany, and indeed of all Europe. …
Throughout the later Middle Ages the Dominicans had been the main agents in extorting and promulgating these revelations, but in the centuries following the Reformation the Jesuits devoted themselves with even more keenness and vigour to the same task. … It was mooted among the orthodox authorities whether the damage done by storms should not be assessed upon the property of convicted witches. The theologians inclined decidedly to the affirmative; the jurists, on the whole, to the negative.
In spite of these tortures, lightning and tempests continued, and great men arose in the Church throughout Europe in every generation to point out new cruelties for this discovery of “weather-makers”, and new methods for bringing their machinations to naught. …
But here and there, as early as the sixteenth century, we begin to see thinkers endeavouring to modify or oppose these methods. … As to argument, these efforts were met especially by Jean Bodin in his famous book, Démonomanie des Sorciers, published in 1580. It was a work of great power by a man justly considered to be the leading thinker in France, and perhaps in Europe. All the learning of the time, divine and human, he marshaled in support of the prevailing theory. With inexorable logic he showed that both the veracity of sacred Scripture and the infallibility of a long line of pope and councils of the Church were pledged to it … In the last years of the sixteenth century the persecution for witchcraft and magic were therefore especially cruel …
Protestantism fell into the superstition as fully as Catholicism. … The Reformation had, indeed, deepened the superstition; the new Church being anxious to show itself equally orthodox and zealous with the old. …
Typical as to the attitude of both Scotch and English Protestants were the theory and practice of King James I, himself the author of a book on Demonology, and nothing if not a theologian. … [H]e applied his own knowledge to investigating the causes of the tempests which beset his bride on her voyage from Denmark. Skilful use of unlimited torture soon brought these causes to light. A Dr. Fian, while his legs were crushed in the “boots”, and wedges were driven under his finger nails, confessed that several hundred witches had gone to sea in a sieve from the port of Leith, and had raised storms and tempests to drive back the princess. …
With the coming in of the Puritans the persecution was even more largely, systematically, and cruelly developed. …
Torture was used far more freely [in Scotland] than in England, both in detecting witches and in punishing them. The natural argument developed in hundreds of pulpits was this: If the All-wise God punishes his creatures with tortures infinite in cruelty and duration, who should not his ministers, as far as they can, imitate him?
From the Daily Caller, March 17, 2014:
An assistant philosophy professor at Rochester Institute of Technology wants to send people who disagree with him about global warming to jail.
The professor is Lawrence Torcello. Last week, he published a 900-word-plus essay at an academic website called The Conversation.
His main complaint is his belief that certain nefarious, unidentified individuals have organized a “campaign funding misinformation”. Such a campaign, he argues, “ought to be considered criminally negligent”.
Torcello, who has a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, explains that there are times when criminal negligence and “science misinformation” must be linked. The threat of climate change, he says, is one of those times.
Throughout the piece, he refers to the bizarre political aftermath of an earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, which saw six scientists imprisoned for six years each because they failed to “clearly communicate risks to the public” about living in an earthquake zone.
“Consider cases in which science communication is intentionally undermined for political and financial gain,” the assistant professor urges.
“Imagine if in L’Aquila, scientists themselves had made every effort to communicate the risks of living in an earthquake zone,” Torcello argues, but evil “financiers” of a “denialist campaign funded and organized a campaign to discredit the consensus findings of seismology, and for that reason no preparations were made”.
“I submit that this is just what is happening with the current, well documented funding of global warming denialism,” Torcello asserts.
From the Washington Post, April 30, 2015:
[At the Vatican], the center of global Catholicism, church leaders joined with politicians, scientists and economists to draft a statement declaring not only that climate change is a “scientific reality” but also that there’s a moral and religious responsibility to do something about it. And an even more powerful statement is expected soon from Pope Francis himself, who is slated to release a major papal encyclical on the environment this summer.
All of this is enough to make environmentalists, members of a traditionally secular movement, nearly rhapsodic. After a history of being rather too technocratic and wonky, there seems to be a growing realization in green circles about the importance of an alliance with the world of faith.
This has been a long time coming. The effort to mobilize religious believers to worry about climate as part of a broader, biblically grounded “creation care” mandate has a long history (though it has traditionally focused more on evangelicals than Catholics). …
The reason … is that it makes the climate debate moral, not scientific or technocratic. And when issues are moralized, people feel before they think and refuse to compromise. It may not be what we strictly call “rational,” but it is politically powerful… The moral emotion that is probably most relevant to the environment is … what many of us would simply call compassion or empathy. Recent research suggests that this emotion drives people toward environmental causes. There seems to be a deep connection between caring about other humans and then extending that to nature.
Yup. We need to know history so we can repeat its mistakes.