Rebuilding Catholic Society

The Church is not part of the State. Nor is she simply a part of civil society set up by her members to advance their public and private goals. She is an independent society established by God to be a light to the world. As such, she has her own principles of existence, authority, and action.

Her mission does not normally imply direct involvement in politics. Catholics may campaign for social and political causes that they believe promote good ends, just as they may run businesses in accordance with Catholic principles. The main political contribution of the Church, though, is the view of man and the good life for which she stands.

Nonetheless, proposing that view calls for practical action that has social effects. The Church won’t be listened to unless she embodies something the world needs. To convert others we must first convert ourselves. For that reason evangelization must begin with the self-evangelization of the Christian community. That is a practical and social effort, and it means the leaders of the Church are fundamentally pastors, not philosophers, pundits, philanthropists, or outreach coordinators. The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel to the gentiles through half the Roman world, but his letters have to do with the promotion of Christian life within the Church.

The single most important practical goal of the Church is for Christians to thrive as Christians. The primary way that comes about, of course, is for them to love God and neighbor and live accordingly, and for their pastors to show them how to do so by word, sacrament, and example. There is more to it than that, though. We don’t become good simply by deciding to do so, and even the best words, sacraments, and examples are not enough for most of us. We respond to our total environment, and most of us need all the help we can get.

So we are likely to do better in a setting that is as Catholic as possible. That is especially so in times like the present, when secular society is comprehensively organized and pervasively anti-Catholic. Evil communications corrupt good manners. If Catholics go home from Mass and spend the rest of their time awash in pop culture and studying or working in settings that trivialize religious concerns and enforce perverse conceptions of right and wrong, the strong will no doubt survive. Not all of us are strong, though, and sink-or-swim cannot be the right approach for the Church to take toward her members.

In addition to the Church as a divine institution, we need a Catholic social world that includes the Church as an institution but also extends to the ordinary affairs of life. In a previous column I called that world “Christendom,” and emphasized that when it’s not established as a matter of law we still need it as a system of habits, institutions, and attachments to which we are loyal and by which we can more readily live a Catholic life.

The Church must engage the world while remaining in some sense unworldly, so Christendom—the social world in which Catholics carry on their lives as Catholics—is an in-between sort of affair. It is far from watertight, since it accepts secular arrangements such as markets, modern science, and legitimate government authority. Further, it reflects the imperfections of Catholics. Even saints are not perfect, and the Church includes people who are far from saintly. The leaven of the Kingdom doesn’t work instantaneously among those who have begun to accept it, so the Church must maintain a place for those who are not specially holy or even specially serious.

Mediocre Catholics—who are most of us—contribute to the Church and to Christendom through what is Catholic in them and their aspiration for better things. A drama needs extras and spear carriers as well as heroes, and by their numbers they can help make a Catholic social environment a real though imperfect reality. For the sake of such people the Church must support a way of life that attracts them, leads them to stick with it and support it, and puts them in a web of influences that points toward God rather than the gods of the city.

At present that way of life and web of influences is in disarray, and needs to be pulled together. Many points are obvious. We need schools that are thoroughly Catholic in orientation. If sink-or-swim is bad for ordinary Catholics, it is a thousand times worse for Catholic children. We also need more universities, publications, and other cultural institutions that are authentically Catholic. The assumptions on which mainstream intellectual and cultural life are now based make networks of independent institutions necessary for Catholic thought and culture to maintain itself.

In recent decades Catholic institutions have tended to assimilate to the society around them. That trend is part of the current disarray. There are some Catholic homeschoolers who would like to send their children to the Catholic school across the street but can’t in good conscience because the education on offer is not actually Catholic. That tendency needs to reverse, and it seems likely to do so in the coming years, at least for the institutions that continue to matter. The reasons are intellectual, cultural, and educational as well as specifically religious.

Before the Second Vatican Council many people complained about the narrowness of the Catholic ghetto. The idea seemed to be that the life of the world was going on much more outside the Church than within her, and the Church should throw open her doors and windows and go where the action is. The attempt to apply that strategy may not have improved Catholic intellectual and cultural life, which to all appearances has gone downhill, but the secular culture has gone downhill even more. That’s no surprise: rejecting natural law, adopting a pragmatic attitude toward truth, and making choice the highest good is not a recipe for true or productive thought about the world. The conversion of Saint Augustine came at a time when the exhaustion of classical culture had made the Church the natural home for intellectual activity. If we are right that the Church has a better grip on reality than secular culture, the same seems likely to happen again.

We also need to make it possible to carry on the activities that claim most people’s energies in a more Catholic setting. For most people the greater part of social engagement takes the form of gainful employment. So we need to find and develop work environments that are not at odds with the Faith, either by reason of the employer’s purposes and activities or the view of man inculcated. That will have its complications. Anti-discrimination laws make it impossible to give an ordinary business of any size a specifically Catholic identity, for example by preferring employees who are committed to Catholic principles, or even preferring natural law understandings of human relations. Catholic business would have to be small and informal, perhaps taking the form of networks of independent contractors.

Catholics engage society in other ways, of course, and those should also be put on as Catholic a footing as possible. Charitable activity is an obvious example. In recent times Catholic charitable efforts have emphasized cooperation with government and other non-Catholic actors. The usefulness of that approach is doubtful when government is committed to an anti-Catholic conception of life that inevitably determines the orientation and operation of health and welfare programs in which it is involved.

And finally, Catholics need to engage in political action to defend the Church and Christendom. Government is now inclined to allow the institutional Church some degree of freedom, but to promote social goals such as unity and inclusion in a way that suppresses Christendom as a system of social life. Fighting that tendency will have to be the main focus of Catholic political efforts in the coming years if the Church and Catholic life are to thrive.

In spite of difficulties, the outlook is bright for Christendom, even from a human standpoint, because there is such a need for it. Life must go on, and people carry on as best they can. The rejection of natural law means that secular culture is becoming not only anti-Catholic but anti-reason and anti-human. It’s becoming less and less livable, and if we can offer an alternative that is more adequate to human needs and aspirations there will be takers. Doing so is the social challenge for the Church in the coming years.

Editor’s note: This column first appeared March 10, 2014 in Catholic World Report and is reprinted with permission. The image above is a photo of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.

James Kalb


James Kalb is a lawyer, independent scholar, and Catholic convert who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command (ISI Books, 2008), and, most recently, Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It (Angelico Press, 2013).

  • Vinnie

    “…secular culture is becoming…..anti-reason and anti-human.” Boy is that true!

  • Arriero

    The author begins saying: «The Church is not part of the State.»

    And I reply: The Church has always been State – in fact the Church has always been the foremost expression of government, in Earth and for Heaven – until, precisely, the very anti-Catholic Robespierran revolution.

    Moreover, remember that the first and true French Revolution, the Revolution of the Rights of the citizen and the revolution that still believed in the Catholic king, in a Catholic France and in the Catholic Church, was sometimes well represented under the figure of the Catholic abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, who drafted one of the most admired documents. Unluckily, the nihilist forces eventually managed to steal the whole project; beginning with the death of the last Catholic monarch and the harmful anti-Catholic rethorics that followed. In fact, it very well could be argued that the underlying ideas behind the first and real «revolution» were profoundly Catholic, following the path already opened before by the (Counter-Reformation) Scholastics from the school of Salamanca. And as prof. Timothy Gordon argued some days ago, these same Catholic ideas were slightly reflected in the future American founding-papers, despite the prevailing anti-Catholicism of the majority of pseudo-calvinist masons that were building the nation.

    From an historical perspective we can say that without the State – beginning with Theodosius and later with Charlemagne and the Spanish Catholic Kings – the Church would have never become the greatest Institution in human history. In the last 200 years we’ve witnessed how much ground has been stolen and how much the Church has been marginalized. Is that what we want? No, that’s simply what the anti-government-per-se people want, who are, indeed, intellectual heirs of the Protestant (nihilist) Revolution, whose main lema was briefly: «who the hell is the Church to tell me what I should do». From here was also born the anti-human liberalism we’re living on, in opposition to the real Catholic liberalism of Father Juan de Mariana et al, that does everything in its hand to attack the Church, openly or secretly.

    A Church without real power is like a mother without children; that is to say, an irrational nonsense. Power, government and leadership are intrinsic to the Church.

    • TheAbaum

      The Church has always been State – in fact the Church has always been
      the foremost expression of government, in Earth and for Heaven.

      No. Herod, the Pharaohs, ancient China, India, Post Tudor England.

      “A Church without real power is like a mother without children; that is to say, an irrational nonsense.”

      Apparently to you, “real power” is political power. But of course, your statist idolatry is directly contradicted by John 18:36 “Jesus answered: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence.”

      • Arriero

        Of course, the kingdom of Jesus – i.e. the Kingdom of God – was not from this world.

        The Church he established, however, was, is and should be from this world. Precisely that’s why he established a Church and in turn gave Peter the keys of his Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. There is no Salvation outside the Church.

        That’s why we believe in an established Church, hierarchical and dogmatic, unlike the «God and I» protestant approach. They – as an act of infinite vanity – denied Authority. We, instead, extol – and need – Authority.

        That’s why Nietzsche, the protestant, announced: «God is dead». God outside the Church is weak; that is to say, is not God «en tous les termes». God is from the other world, but lives in this world, through the Church he himself established.

        The Church MUST regain political power if she wants to return to a more prominent place in the world, the place she should have never left. I understand «political power» in its old (greek) rich meaning: «πολιτικός».

        Jesus said: «Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword». We are at war with the nihilist forces, like he was, too.

        • TheAbaum

          I am “at war” with a lot of idiocies, nihilism and the statism you and the rest of the statist idolaters try to push, inter alia.

          Christ came to redeem humanity and save souls, not to establish temporal government.

        • Rusty

          Be careful in how you characterize the protestant denial of Authority. You cannot expect individual human persons to simply accept the truths of the Church “because the Church says so”. It requires each human person to seek God through understanding, because the Church’s teachings are to be reconciled within the properly informed human conscience. The power behind the Church’s authority must come from its apprehension and transmission of Truth, not through the blind acceptance of Authority.

          • ColdStanding

            Umm, then you had better read this from St. Matthew….

            16And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17And seeing them they adored: but some doubted. 18And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

            To deny the authority of the Church is to deny Him to whom all Authority has been given.

            Ignorance is a punishment for sin.

            • Rusty

              Ummm, you had better understand something about people. People don’t obey because you want them to, they obey because THEY want to. Conversion, which is a life-long process for most, involves seeking God and finding Him through the Church and sacraments. Obedience follows conversion, not the other way around.

              • ColdStanding

                Fallen man is in the fallen state precisely because Adam did not obey. Fallen man, therefore, tends not to obey. So, they do not obey because they the object place before them, God’s love for His creation, is unappealing. No, the reason for their lack of response does not rest with the Church or Her message, as if truth and beauty could fail to attract. The lack of response is because of sin. They have, as Catholics do, fallen into sin and can not get out of it because they deny that the Church through Her ministers, our holy priests, can forgive sins.

                So, yes, I do expect that people will do as the Church instructs specifically because She says so.

                It is not the individual that does the converting. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. All that is required of us is our continual consent.

                • Rusty

                  My point is that people will not do as the Church instructs until they are ready to do so. Failing to take this into account in evangelizing is a mistake. This is a distinction that the public statements from our Pope appear to recognize.

                  It is not for Catholics to separate the wheat from the chaff, it is for God alone that judgement is reserved. Sin is ever present – it is the fallen nature of humanity that makes obedience a challenge, and that requires the Church to lead the flock as a flock of sinners.

                  Just as Rome was not built in a day, neither is it realistic to expect all the individual persons who belong to the Church to have the same immediate capacity to respond to the Holy Spirit. People are only ready when they are ready.

    • If the French monarchy was what it should be, and Church and State should be one, does that mean hyper-Gallicanism is the right position?

      In this world Church and State have to be distinct. We can all be happy if the State recognizes that the Church is the custodian of the most important truths, but that doesn’t mean the two should merge, any more than acceptance by the State of modern physics means that Science should be a branch of the State or the State should be run by the National Academy of Sciences.

      • Arriero

        Catholic Counter-Reformation liberalism was the Catholic answer to absolutism – i.e. the complete union between State and Church -, following the ancient greek spirit.

        The Church is above the State because she herself is government, God’s established government body on Earth. I’m not saying that the Church should do the functions of a modern State (issuing debt, taxation, delivery of public services), rather the Church should mantain a prominent place in the public sphere, exercising leadership and asserting her standards and principles. What I’m saying is that this is impossible under current circumstances, with a Church that has been marginalized and whose opinions are not taken as seriously as needed. That’s certainly a product of anti-Authority mainly protestant liberalism. Besides that has happened due to a lack of earthly power, of course; because we all know the Church has not lost and will never lost an inch of her divine power.

        I do not advocate for returning to absolutism. I advocate for the principles of the first liberalism of Catholic thinkers where the Church, although not being State in all its forms and consequences – because she is certainly above any earthly government, having a divine nature which makes her unique -, the Church should mantain a prominent social place and that can only be possible under a closer relation with the State, with Caesar, although not necessarily interfering directly. The Church has always tried to convert the State, that is to say: the Caesar, to the True Faith; and was a pity that the Chinese Emperor was not eventually converted by the jesuits. A Catholic president (in a republic) or a Catholic monarch (in a monarchy) with strong influence and opinion and even with power to overthrow anti-Catholic tendencies must be the future in our societies. Under a real Catholic regime, the belgian monarch would have never signed the law allowing child euthanasia. We need power to stop evil.

        In the US this is almost impossible to happen, insofar as american Catholics are and have always been a minority – very ill-considered historically by both the atheist left and the protestant right – that needs strange pacts to survive. That’s why in another thread I already said that American Catholics should try to support a third party, one completely Catholic and following the principles of the Church, both on the moral ground but also on the economical ground (and believe me the Church has had impressive economic thinkers, although they never received a nobel prize). A third party could fill this vacuum and balance the power both in Congress and in the Senate, helping to move America to a more Catholic society, i.e. to a greater and more healthy society. And as this Pope has shown, the Catholic message, well explained, is still the message for the new century.

  • “Before the Second Vatican Council many people complained about the narrowness of the Catholic ghetto.”

    And their grandchildren, of which I am a part, dream of the Catholic Ghetto as a promised land that we have been banished from.

    • Jay

      So leave the church.

      • ColdStanding

        It is a mortal sin to encourage someone to leave the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, for, outside of it, there is no salvation.

        • Jay

          Why is it a mortal sin? If he’s not happy being Catholic, there’s a marketplace of other faiths.

          • ColdStanding

            Ah, ha, even you recognize it to be a sin, your just trying to haggle over whether or not it is really a mortal sin rather than just a venial sin.

            It is not relevant if there are other groups promoting opinions as to how to re-bind fallen man to God for those are teachings of men not the Truth. Jesus Christ, who is God and is therefore the Truth, has Himself taught fallen man how to become bound to Him again. Only He has the words of everlasting life.

            Therefore, to encourage in the faithful to trust the mistaken idea that one can be saved while being out of communion with the Church puts their soul at risk of eternal damnation. As each thought and action will be called to account at the particular judgement, the soul having done such a thing as is question right now, will have a hard time justifying to Jesus Christ why they told one of the souls He made and loves to go away from Him, for He is found only in His Church.

            Even one mortal sin is enough to damn you. Not only will most people be damned, most Catholics will be damned. The stakes are extremely high. It is not for nothing that our salvation is worked out in fear and trembling.

            • Jay

              But why grumble about in faith? If he’s not happy, how is he participating within The Body?

              • ColdStanding

                That is another matter. Leaving the Faith for a even a few years of your “happiness” is a poor trade against an eternity of suffering. Especially when you consider that the suffering is probably a Cross offered by God to the man. If a man is having problems dealing with suffering, the probability is that he has a vice, which is an established habit of sin even if it would be considered a venial sin.

                Indeed, how is it good policy to recommend to him that course of action which will give him suffering without end? If you are a Catholic, I would heartily encourage you to pray about this and to visit your confessor for his advice. Guard: I am not saying you are in sin, though you could very well be. It is difficult not to be. I say it only to remind you that the examination of conscience, confession, and doing penance is a duty of all Catholics.

                If you are not a Catholic, pray to God for the grace of conversion.

                • Jay

                  I’ll be officially a Catholic on April 20th. My point though is wouldn’t you think God would want a joyful servant, rather than one who is grumbling through life?

                  • ColdStanding

                    Deo gratias! May God richly bless you as you receive the Sacraments.

                    Indeed, seek out God’s Joy. Pray for it. Pray for all things, but especially pray to receive and nurture God’s Joy. He is truly wonderful.

                    Remember: three Hail, Mary’s for your priest after each sermon you hear from him.

                    • Jay

                      Thanks! My wife is also joining. It’s certainly the most important choice I’ve ever made. I guess that’s why I’m a little disappointed when I see Catholics grumble. Some don’t realize what they have!

                    • PatriotGal2257

                      Virtually all the Catholic converts I’ve befriended over the years are much more aware of the beauty of the Faith, deeply appreciate it and are much more conscientious as Catholics than some cradle Catholics I know. God bless you and your wife.

                    • ColdStanding

                      And why wouldn’t they be? The current fashion in liturgy is custom made to make them feel at ease. Others, however, have no place to lay their heads. (That might be a touch melodramatic, but let him who has ears hear it.)

                    • PatriotGal2257

                      Maybe so, but I also have known cradle Catholics who give every indication — subtly and not so subtly — that they would rather be anything else but a member of a parish. They make no effort to live the Faith, even lukewarmly; they go much further by denigrating the Pope, bishops and priests, don’t agree with the Magisterium, turn a blind eye toward abortion, etc. To me, it is immensely distressing to see a person throw overboard such a wonderful gift. Then again, there’s that Free Will thing, and we should pray for them. Some of the converts I know are puzzled by it also, as Jay himself has said.

                    • ColdStanding

                      Agreed. It is very frustrating.

                  • That’s wonderful news, Jay. I am a recent convert too – from a Pentecostal / evangelical background. I hear what you are saying, but you will go deeper and on due course appreciate what Coldstanding is saying. The conversion to submitting to the Church’s authority takes a while. We have been steeped in a Protestant view that our personal convictions are paramount. Anyway: I promise that once you receive His Body, He’ll begin a wonderful transformation inside you, and everything willnin due course become clear and a delight to accept!

      • How does that help, if what I am dreaming about is the Church controlling more of people’s lives instead of less?

        • TheAbaum

          How about instead of “control”, we get more informed consciences.

          • The incredibly bad educational system that makes informing one’s conscience on one’s own iffy at best. Relying on informed consciences alone is what created the culture of death to begin with.

            • TheAbaum

              I didn’t say that they should self-inform.

              • Then to win the culture war that way, will require *academic* control. The current paradigm of academic freedom results in a culture where the only way to get the information is to self-inform.

                • TheAbaum

                  We don’t have “academic freedom”, we have intellectual mayhem, in large part fueled by government created economic disorder.



                  • Arriero

                    – «[…] in large part fueled by government created economic disorder.»

                    Because we live in an anti-Catholic government.

                    The problem is not the government part, but the anti-Catholic one.

                    I think it’s pretty clear that the Church HAS TO control if we want more Catholicism and not less (beginning with schools and universities as rightfully has been pointed out above). But I also very well know that this notion goes against the anti-control, anti-regulation and, ultimately, anti-Authority rethorics.

                    PD- I would ask if those who write in zerohedge really went to college because they only know to say nonsenses, especially when they talk about the economy and the golden calf (QE was hyperinflationary, yes, I see…). What I’m sure is that they never went to a Catholic college. I don’t know how many times they have announced the end of the world; but well, as neo-protestant millenarist as they are, that attitude is not strange.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Lovely. Another morning, another post by one of our resident statist wolves moving amongst the flock in his PHO sheep suit.

                      The problem with your “theory” is simple. You are the one that keeps yammering on that America HAS NEVER been a Catholic country. But even with that, the academy managed to transmit a canon and to inculcate students with the tools of how to think, rather than simply being indoctrination centers. Moreover, this occurs at “Catholic” colleges. The current fascism of the academy was only able to propagate when colleges became federal appendages.

                      As for the erudition of ZH, you might want to look in the mirror at your own noxious fusion of pretense and ignorance. As I’ve said before, your command of English is horrible.

                      “..those who write in zerohedge really went to college because they only know to say nonsenses..”

                      When you aren’t are reaching for some archaic and useless term such as “fiscality”, you misuse common words. The plural of nonsense is not “nonsenses”. The plural of “rhetoric” is not “rhetorics”.

                      I don’t know what Catholic college you purport to have graduated from and quite frankly, but if you are a representative graduate, I’m glad I didn’t go there.

                    • Arriero

                      First of all, unlike Spanish or French, the english doesn’t have an official dictionary or an official body to regulate how the language should be written. Language is the medium that we use to communicate, it’s important to avoid postmodern tendencies on language, more keen to appear in english than in other major language, maybe with the exception of german. Besides, I would rather avoid talking about the english I’ve heard and read in some lost parts of the US…

                      Only slightly related with the issue, let me cite two paragraphs from Oscar Wilde’s «Impressions of America» (who was indeed a real «artists» of english writing): «[…] So infinitesimal did I find the knowledge of Art, west of the Rocky Mountains, that an art patron – one who in his day had been a miner – actually sued the railroad company for damages because the plaster cast of Venus of Milo, which he had imported from Paris, had been delivered minus the arms. And, what is more surprising still, he gained his case and the damages». Writing is a form of art. Later Wilde adds: «[…] All the cities that have beautiful names derive them from the Spanish and the French. The English people give intensely ugly names to places». In fact, in most cases, Spanish and french names with Catholic significance.

                      Secondly, I usually try to avoid the «barbaric» tendencies of english language when writing – i.e. the germanic, and not latin, branch within english language -, striving to use a «latinized» english. That is why I avoid using phrasal verbs, for instance, which have no relation with latin languages. And that is why I used «fiscality» – which is a perfectly used word in english, coming directly from french -; sometimes I also tend to make the plural of some words by adding a final s, as it’s done in many latin languages. Ultimately, there is no official regulation for english, as Joyce and Faulkner very well knew.

                      Apart from that, the other mistakes are due to a fast writing, no deep revisión and typing errors. I never said I was Shakespeare, nor ever intended to be him. Yet what really matters for me is the message, does it matter to you too? Don’t kill the messenger.

                    • TheAbaum

                      You don’t suffer from a lack of an “official” dictionary, but a lack of temperance and prudence. Any unofficial dictionary would give you the proper plural. You relied on one to defend your use of an archaic term, certainly you could look up plural forms just as reliably.

                      You are tedious and pedantic and frequent dead wrong.

                      You write of things you know little about (finance, economics, budgeting-please tell me again how the federal debt isn’t a problem) in a language you don’t know well.



                      I don’t issue Spanish missives because I realize my Spanish is deficient, and I don’t spend three paragraphs of writing graffiti and excuses. I simply avoid speaking of things I do not know, in a language I do not know well.

                    • Arriero

                      About debt, just answer three questions: 1) Has happened anything with Japan’s crazy debt levels? Has it had any difficulty to finance itself in the last 20 years? 2) What’s the risk premium of France? How you explain its level despite the «structural» situation? 3) Why Spain paid a higher risk premium on its (public) debt although it had a lower debt/GDP percentage that even Germany?

                      That’s the rationality of markets…

                      The US has something very valuable called the dollar, a respected currency all over the world, and if you know how works the process of financing government expenditures through issuing debt, you will easily notice why the federal debt is not a problem for the US -although it will never be repaid – insofar as the dollar remains the world reserve currency. The demand for dollars is almost infinite, and as a last resort the US has a very important institution called the FED. The problem of debt in the US is more moral than economic. I don’t like it either, but it has had no bad effect on american risk premium or in the prominent place of the dollar in the world, at least not yet.

                      PD- In one of the articles, that I will read later, it is said that: «Rivilin said the debt-to-GDP ratio is still much too high, and it is a “practical problem”». So what? What does it mean a «practical problem»? The diagrams also show high debt, and I ask: So what? Has lost the US power to finance? No people still want T-bills.

                      PD- This is a very fast written post, so probably there are spelling mistakes.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Adults understand the dangers in the irresponsible and indiscriminate use of things like fire, debt and sex. You apparently aren’t an adult.

                    • Arriero

                      This is certainly a very widespread mistake: confusing public and private debt, thinking that the whole economy is like managing the economy of a family (as the awful Merkel’s «swabian housekeeper» comparison), the problem with what is technically dubbed the «microfoundations approach on macroeconomics», thinking that the whole economy is merely the sum of rational individuals, despising aggregate variables while confusing nominal and real values, and a large etcetera.

                      Government’s debt «is not like» household debt. Certainly, neither I have a little FED in the dining room to pay for my whims nor I pertain to the Montana militia – who used to issue dollars -. I don’t have a last resort option to repay my debt (the debt I don’t have, actually, although the federal debt is «our» debt). I think you understand the difference without needing further technical explanation.

                      There is a personal side and a technical side. Do I like high deficits and a high level of debt? No, I don’t, though deficit spending in the absence of effective monetary policy – like in the Eurozone – is a good – maybe the only – way to boost growth. For me unemployment and poverty (real problems in our day to day) are above debt-apocalyptic theories (imaginary scenarios). Do high federal debt levels pose a big threat for the US economy? I don’t think so, insofar as the world keeps on believing in the dollar. How can debt/GDP decrease? With higher GDP growth. Krugman says that doing more roads and bridges, I better say that doing more QE and less unneeded-roads. And the golden-calf lovers say… well, I don’t really know what they say apart that almost everything should be abolished (except their greed and usury) and that the Rapture is near.

                      To end, some food for thinking:

                      PD- About the prior language discussion, adding that if you ever write something in Spanish (or in French, or in Italian or in Portuguese) I would never attack you for your spelling or grammatical mistakes, but rather I would try first to understand the message and criticize it if I disagree and then helping about the scripture.

                      PDD- The CBO report you posted is interesting. It shows how the deficit has almost been halved in three-four years and how Obama’s deficit is similar to Reagan’s deficit. I.e. the current deficit in «on trend». Without any doubt, the Labor Force Participation Rate diagram is the most disturbing fact, and maybe that’s why the US needs more Catholics from abroad. Someone will have to pay for the retirements, don’t you think? (well, apart from the benefits from the evil statist medicare, that no anti-statist has ever dared to touch, and I suspect won’t).

                    • TheAbaum

                      “It shows how the deficit has almost been halved in three-four years”.

                      Only a true moron would report to the Captain of ship taking on water that the rate of intake has been halved.

                    • Arriero

                      I’m at odds with Krugman. Even so, he is a far better economist than the majority of pseudo-calvinists that dwell in the WSJ, the FT et al. (with some exceptions. One of them is Ryan Avent from The Economist, or Wolfang Munchau in FT, usually discussing about ECB’s madness)

                      Yet I don’t disagree with Krugman in monetary policy, where I do think the FED should have done and should do more.

                      Ben Bernanke, once he has left the FED, has recently said: «We could have done some things on the margin to mitigate somewhat the crisis. […] Although we have been very aggressive, I think on the monetary policy front we could have been even more aggressive.» ( )

                      I was discussing there technical stuff. I don’t shoot the messenger. It’s not the first time you imply things from me citing someone.

                      By the way, the fiscal multiplier is roughly 0 if central banks do their job.

                      The question remains the same: have you any recipe?

                    • Arriero

                      And let me add this one:


                      Very smart people… like their predictions.

                      And some of them manage people’s money.

                      (Don’t shoot the messanger. What counts is the message).

                    • Arriero

                      Just let me add this to our discussion about federal debt and the dollar:

                      Life is easier under the dollar.

                    • TheAbaum

                      One of the dangers of the irresponsible and indiscriminate use of debt is the potential to have your creditors take a dim view of your creditworthiness and call your note, or in the case of a sovereign nation, to begin demanding something else for repayment. Adults understand that, but apparently you don’t appreciate that.

                      Actually, I think, given your expressed antipathies, you want it precisely for that reason.

                    • Arriero

                      Exactly. That’s the point. The point is the the US is not going to lose any of its credibility in the foreseeable future. Demand for dollars is up and growing. The world loves the dollar and will keep on loving the dollar, that’s why you don’t have a debt problem.

                      You can see the risk premium or the interests in T-bills…

                    • Micha Elyi

                      You do realize, don’t you Arriero, that Oscar Wilde is indulging in comic satire, not factual reporting.

                  • I was talking more about the Jesuit schools than the Government schools- where the claim of “Academic Freedom” is total and used to preach against the faith pretty much constantly.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Oh, ok.

            • I submit it was a nearly total lack of informed consciences that created the culture of death. People not listening to the Church, not letting the teachings of Christ’s Church inform their consciences, that created the culture of death. And that, ultimately, the fallen world is one gigantic culture of death. We are on a battlefield, called to spiritual combat. Many have forgotten to put on the armor of God and want to do battle against the enemy using the enemy’s own tactics and weapons. Never has worked.

      • TheAbaum

        He didn’t express a grievance against the Church, why would you say that?

    • Micha Elyi

      “many people”

      Gotta watch out for loose rhetoric as that. “Many” is not a number. “Many” cannot form a percentage. “Many” could actually be a tiny minority of the whole.

  • poetcomic1

    The Church of Nice has made itself merely a ‘noise’ among the ‘noises’ of the world. It has embraced at the highest levels a ‘culture of tolerance’ that cannot define a robust and distinct governing ‘body’. The peculiar ethos of ‘tolerance’ is a refusal to engage directly with the truth of things but only within a ‘narrative’. And that ‘narrative’ is no longer the Church’s narrative it is the ‘story of the world’.

    • TheAbaum

      What is popularly called “tolerance” is actually mandatory indifference and indifference is the opposite of love.

      • poetcomic1

        And like a drug, the level of tolerance, or as you say ‘indifference’ increases. The Shrug Factor. “Who am I to…” yada yada.

        • ForChristAlone

          Tolerance seems to be at the polar opposite of the spectrum from ‘sacrificing one’s life for the truth’ (aka being a follower of Christ).

          • tom

            it’d be nice if Catholics helped Catholics find jobs.

            Too many of us are slipping out of the Middle Class wondering why God has forsaken us.

            Meanwhile, bloggers split theological hairs as a conceit.

    • michael susce

      thank you, the word “narrative” reflects a mamby pamby truth that castrates the power of Christianity and Jesus Christ. No one would dare label science as a narrative. Thanks again.

  • hombre111

    Mimicking the surrounding world is not a matter of “recent decades.” Beginning with Constantine, the Church assimulated to the world around her. I learned in liturgy class that much of the pomp and circumstances of a solemn high Mass was modeled on the royal court. The bishop piece on a chess board is rooted in the role bishops played in the medieval world, where they were military allies of the king. One last thought: a bishop is first and foremost a pastor. True. His main role is not administrator or CEO, which is what we are seeing in most dioceses.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “Before the French Revolution, the hierarchy was known as the Third Estate.”
      No, the First – Clergy, Nobility and Commons.

      It was Arriero’s friend, Abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès who, on 9 July 1789, persuaded the Third Estate to declare themselves the National Assembly, saying, in effect, to the two privileged orders, “we, the unprivileged majority represent the nation; you represent only yourselves and your private interests.”
      One could say that was the French Revolution.

      • hombre111

        Thanks, I got that wrong. But it is still noteworthy that the clergy (not your parish priest, thank you, but your bishops and other big-shots) played this role and were so absorbed into the culture of that day.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          The bishops were also enormously rich. The States-General had been called to deal with the deficit and Jean de Dieu-Raymond de Cucé de Boisgelin (splendid name), Archbishop of Aix proposed to the Finance Minister and former banker, Jacques Necker that the bishops should buy up the deficit, to the tune of £16m (at least £4.8 bn in modern terms), for ready cash, so that they would become the government’s only creditor (at 4%).

          Originally, Necker was for accepting, but his wife Suzanne (the Neckers were Swiss Protestants and she was the daughter of the village pastor of Crassier in Vaud) told him that this compact would establish Catholicism for ever as the State Church in France, so Necker broke off negotiations.

          Boisgelin’s offer may well have suggested to the Assembly where ready funds were to be had. They confiscated the church lands and put the clergy on a salary.

          • hombre111

            Terrific! Give me the name of a book I can read.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Lord Acton’s Lectures on the French Revolution are very good on the ecclesiastical side of the Revolution (Lord Acton was a Catholic, one of the English Remnant). It is available free on line in a number of formats.

              Hilaire Belloc’s French Revolution has a long chapter on the Church and the Revolution, with some very good background detail, also on line.

              The Concordat of 1801 continued state salaries for the clergy. When the Loi du 9 décembre 1905 abolished them, they amounted to 42,324,933 francs or $8,464,986; current real value about $470,653,221. The state also maintained the church buildings, bishop’s palaces, rectories &c and still does, for those built pre-1904. The law never applied in Alsace-Moselle (then part of Germany) and there the clergy still receive a salary and the President of the Republic names the bishops. He also has a veto in the other French dioceses, which consultations ensure is never exercised

              Old habits die hard.

              • hombre111

                Excellent. Thank you.

    • Guest

      Among other errors you make here I would mention incense is mentioned in scripture.

      • hombre111

        Josef Jungmann’s master-work, “The Mass of the Roman Rite,” says, for starters, “The constant contact with the Eastern Roman imperial court brought about in this liturgy above all, a rich development of forms.” p. 48 “The clergy appear in splendid vestments, lights and incense are introduced into the service, an external ceremonial with bowings and hem and or ring kissing is gradually evolved. Forms broaden out, following the pattern set by the Emperor and his highest officials on festive occasions.” p. 39

    • TheAbaum

      “His main role is not administrator or CEO, which is what we are seeing
      in most dioceses, where priests and people are subjected to the cold
      calculations of the business model.”

      What would you know about “the business model”?

      • ForChristAlone

        Especially since he is one whose hands are never tainted with the profits of the evil capitalists.

        • TheAbaum

          If Bishops were “where priests and people are subjected to the cold calculations of the business mode”, Hombre would be the first one to be assigned somewhere where internet access would be severely constrained, if not defrocked.

          • Art Deco

            The sad thing is, I would wager that 30% of the priest corps would find hombre111’s remarks unobjectionable, and the same would apply to chancery rats. You recall that the chump who ran the “Catholics for Kerry” weblog was a USCCB employee. He landed on his feet after the Conference felt compelled to fire him, as you can see here:


            The people who bother them are the people who complain about liturgical abuse or gay-and-lesbian ministries or are devoted to the 1962 missal. The Pope is particularly irked by the last of these.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              “The Pope is particularly irked by the last of these.”

              This would not seen to be the case: “Then there are particular issues, like the liturgy according to the Vetus Ordo. I think the decision of Pope Benedict [his decision of July 7, 2007, to allow a wider use of the Tridentine Mass] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.”

              • Art Deco

                Tell the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate that the Pope does not have it in for them and that they are just imagining all the strictures they are now under.

      • hombre111

        The bean counters and the finance men are the ones who make the final decisions in the diocese, and they do it with cold efficiency.

        • TheAbaum

          If that were only true, then we wouldn’t have somebody like Bishop Blaire spending so much time opining on the federal budget while apparently no applying his vast financial knowledge against Stockton’s bankruptcy.

          • ForChristAlone

            This is in order to excuse himself from ever having to address things like contraception and abortion. Everyone then (or so he believes) can say he is being a good bishop. I’d bet all the tea in China that Blaire voted twice for Obama.

        • Art Deco

          If that were true, about a third of the parishes in most dioceses would be shuttered before the end of the year.

    • ForChristAlone

      Excellent article Mr Kalb.

      Mr Kalb, you write: “Anti-discrimination laws make it impossible to give an ordinary business of any size a specifically Catholic identity, for example by preferring employees who are committed to Catholic principles, or even preferring natural law understandings of human relations. Catholic business would have to be small and informal, perhaps taking the form of networks of independent contractors.”

      We are building a house and through someone I met on a trip to Rome, I found a Catholic builder. Not just any Catholic builder but a group whose principals (and principles) are thoroughly Catholic having 10-14 children each. This is what I would encourage other Catholics to do: when contracting for work you need done, consciously choose orthodox Catholics as a good way of building up the Church community. Ask fellow parishioners, your pastor (if he’s orthodox), and Catholic associates if they know of a Catholic who is ardent about his or her faith. I intend to do this in our new locale when choosing a physician, dentist, financial planner, etc. I want only orthodox Catholics – preferably those who home school and have lots of children.

      • hombre111

        Excuse me, but 10-14 children makes someone thoroughly Catholic? Ay, que cosa.

        • ForChristAlone

          You don’t have any clue what living sacrificially means. You have no clue how large Catholic families learn to live selflessly. You have no clue about the fact that children’s self esteem arises from their experience of making a contribution to their families and, in this, they feel valued. Unfortunately, your thinking is part of the problem. It’s really a shame that if, in fact, you are a celibate for the kingdom you would not instinctively understand what self sacrificial love is all about. You’re to be pitied.

          Oh, I by the way I did not say that having 14 children “makes” someone thoroughly Catholic. You inferred that and tried to leave the impression in people’s minds that I am saying that to have less than 14 children means that one is a lesser form of Catholic. That’s nonsense. Are there no indicators that even suggest to you that someone is a faithful Catholic – even as pertains to yourself? Perhaps you will need to spend more time with the families in your parish you have large families; they have a lot to teach you.

          • hombre111

            You’re the one who said it: I knew he was a truly faithful Catholic because he has 10-14 children.

            In my long years in many parishes, I have had a good long look at families with numerous children. I notice that the one doing the bragging is almost always the man who handles his kids in a super authoritarian way. For instance, a line of wonderfully controlled children kneeling together in church. Perfect. No, say the people who sit behind. Both parents control those kids with brutal pinches to arms or body. I see a little girl on her way to the bathroom confronting her controlling father. A look of pure fear is on her face. I tell the utterly exhausted mother of a large family that she and her husband need to get away for a weekend. “No!” she says in exasperation. “I always return pregnant.”

            I would like to hear the wife express her mind in a way that cannot be censored by her husband. And the other person who needs to express an opinion is the oldest child, especially the oldest daughter. So often, I see the oldest girl come into church with a child in her arms and two or three very small siblings close by. Her body language says it all. She is too young (often no more than ten or twelve) to be the surrogate mother to smaller siblings while their real mother is carrying yet another child. I do not know if the father or mother have a clue what is happening to that child. They do it out of necessity, because they are driven to the limit. So often, that overburdened child gets out of the family as soon as possible, making bad choices on the way out the door.

            • Art Deco

              I notice that the one doing the bragging is almost always the man who handles his kids in a super authoritarian way.

              You know, it would be pleasant every once in a while if you uttered something that did not seem derivative of the confirmation bias of a stupid schoolteacher.

              • hombre111

                Naah, it’s just the opinion of an old priest who got very close to very many people, and learned to distinguish great parents from tyrants.

                • Art Deco

                  1. I tend to doubt anyone here takes your priest shtick terribly seriously.

                  2. It might occur to you that people who post here do mix with large families more often than most. That’s why the fraudulence of your observation is manifest.

                  • hombre111

                    Every parish I have ever had had its share of large families and I got to know them well. I could number some of them among my best friends. But I was very aware of the others, with the rigidity, hidden tensions, and dark secrets, such as advice shared between the daughters and daughters-in-law in one huge expanded family: “just keep the little girls away from grandpa.” The daughters knew by experience what they were talking about. Grandpa, in this case, was one of the founders of the local LaFebre church, with schismatic priests coming from a few hundred miles away to celebrate Mass in a refurbished machine shop with a beautifully carved wooden door. I used to think of grandpa’s good deeds whenever I would drive past that little church.

                    • Art Deco

                      Every parish I have ever had had its share of large families and I got
                      to know them well. I could number some of them among my best friends.

                      I just do not believe you ‘know’ anyone ‘well’. You have shown in these discussions on this site no aptitude for observation and a great deal of aptitude for maladroit caricature.

                    • hombre111

                      I am crushed. Devastated.

                    • Art Deco

                      By what?

                    • hombre111

                      By the fact that I must slog through life under the unsupportable burden of Art Deco’s displeasure.

                    • Art Deco

                      You’re speaking on your own authority, which is worth bupkis. That does not appear to bother you.

                    • hombre111

                      After almost sixty years of prayer, fasting, study of history, philosophy, scripture, and theology, along with heartfelt meditation on the mysteries of God and the drama of human life, a man who is wise becomes his own authority.

                    • Art Deco

                      a man who is wise becomes his own authority.

                      You’re failing at it.

            • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

              True observations here. Such families can be jansenistic and stifling, as I have observed.

            • Arriero

              There is a lot of truth in your comment.

              Maybe it’s not the norm, but it happens quite often.

              I don’t like these attitudes either (sometimes fairly counterproductive), but it’s clear that is not easy raising a large family.

              One old saying in Spanish says: «casa sin hijos, como higuera sin higos», but another also says: «costumbres de mal maestro, sacan hijo siniestro».

              • hombre111

                Thanks! I love the poetry of the Spanish language.

                • TheAbaum

                  A statist love fest…charming…

          • TheAbaum

            “That’s nonsense.”

            Par for the course.

        • TheActualTruth

          I’ve lived around large, orthodox, Catholic families all my life (we have six children ourselves), and what Hombre says rings with truth to me. From my observations, a very few couples truly have what it takes to raise a family of 10-15 well. Kudos to the ones who can, but it’s a special calling. Many of the very large Catholic families I know have more than their share of dysfunction. To portray most of these families as exemplary or an inspiration would be a falsehood. They may look great in the pew, but behind the scenes, it’s a different story.

          • TheAbaum

            “They may look great in the pew, but behind the scenes, it’s a different story.”

            That’s true for just about every family, regardless of the size.

          • Arriero

            Let me recover some quotes about marriage from a well-kown writer:

            «When entering into a marriage one ought to ask oneself: do you believe you are going to enjoy talking with this woman up into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory, but most of the time you are together will be devoted to conversation.»

            «It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.»

            Confidence in the other person should never miss. Confidence expresses itself through conversation, respect and admiration.

            «Remember that a successful marriage depends on two things: (1) finding the right person and (2) being the right person.»

            And my favourite:

            «Sensuality often makes love grow too quickly, so that the root remains weak and is easy to pull out.»

            Though sensuality – i.e. naturality and good confidence – is a very special and needed feature (Pope Francis likes tango, because he is able to see the divine beauty). Ultimately, Catholics have never been puritans. Puritanism is another flawed product of protestantism. We praise Beauty in capital letters.

            Behind the scenes not everything is so rosy. But of course there are degrees of darkness.

            • hombre111

              Some really good stuff.

    • You’re mostly just describing how the Church has used existing forms for her own purposes. The Fathers and Aquinas used Greek thought when it was helpful but didn’t hesitate to add to it or break with it when it left something out or got something wrong. E.g., for the Greeks God and the Good were not the same. And God is (among other things) King, so it makes sense to use forms relevant to kingship as part of worship.

      For all that I agree the relation between the Church and the secular powers is always a difficult one. How can the Church engage the world and affect it
      without getting drawn too much into worldly affairs? How can she be organized and effective without becoming fertile ground for careerism? There’s no final solution for those problems but it does seem important to maintain aspects of the Church that are withdrawn from the world, and to maintain distinctiveness and clarity of language and doctrine so abuses can be recognized as abuses. It seems to me we’ve been weak on those points recently.

      • ForChristAlone

        I think about the world when Christ walked the earth. The Roman empire tyrannized the subjected peoples and various Jewish groups learned how best to live under this occupation. Christ lived, taught, and worked in a fashion removed from direct involvement with the politics of his day. This is not to say that he ignored the events swirling around him; he was more interested, however, in their conversion than directly entering into their politics. We, as His followers, must be engaged but always with our sights on what it is we are after i.e. the conversion of those living in and of the world. The enemy seeks only power; we seek conversion of hearts.

      • hombre111

        Thanks. The Fathers and Aquinas used Plato and Aristotle, but were not able to escape the dualism implicit in those perspectives, which plagues us to this day. This can assume the very dangerous form seen in the past and into the present, where the elites in the Church were celibate, while the lesser classes were married laity. The doctrine of the Incarnation seems to say that we can withdraw from the world only so far before we are preaching some kind of angelism.

        But then, to take the opposite perspective, Charles Taylor blames secularism, in part, on the movement within Christianity to raise all people to perfection. At first, this was done by emphasizing the religious sphere. Here God clearly reigns. But a stress on the humanities and the capacity of reason (natural law) to teach perfection caused many to ask, why do we need the religious perspective at all? Secularism was only a quick step away.

        I know my best religious moments have occurred when I have withdrawn from the world, for a while at least, to some place of silence and meditation, and so I agree on that point.

        • Well, you do the best you can. We see through a glass darkly. Greek philosophy seems a better place to start than modern because it’s more inclusive. In modern times the tendency is to strip down assumptions and sharpen methods for the sake of practical results. The Greeks were more contemplative.

          In any event, Paul was singing the praises of celibacy before Greek philosophy entered the picture at least explicitly. And there are obvious reasons for having Church elites, who necessarily exist, somewhat detached from ordinary life by their way of life. Maybe the point is that it’s very difficult to keep things in balance. That’s one reason we need always to think of God. It’s also one reason we’re in big trouble if God doesn’t guide His Church.

          • hombre111

            Well done. Thanks. Although I am not sure that Greek philosophy, with its dualism, is the best place to start. Dualism has been the source of so many heresies, beginning with Arius or the Manicheans. Because there was no logical way to bring two opposites (matter/spirit, for instance) into one, it would eventually lead most of European philosophy to a total dead end.

            • If you accept the Incarnation then you think two very different principles can join in a unity. You’re OK with a little mystery in the world if that’s the only way to include everything that’s obviously there.

              The alternative seems to be monism, which has its own problems. It’s what people seem to want today. “Everything is God,” or alternatively “the world consists of particles in space and nothing else.” Neither view seems to tell us much or make much sense.

              • hombre111

                For me, at least, the alternative to both dualism and monism is in American philosophy, especially Charles Sanders Pierce, as filtered through the late Don Gelpi, S.J.. It is a triadic view of reality.

                • hombre111

                  P.S., if you are not busy enough and want a headache, buy Gelpi’s “Encountering Jesus Christ” and work through his thinking. Or go to the beginning of Chapter Nine–Doctrinal Christology: Rethinking Chalcedon, for a summary of his philosophical and theological presuppositions.

                  • I can at least promise to remember the name! Thanks for the reference.

              • John Uebersax

                Yes, I think it’s very important to acknowledge this tertium quid — an integrated or harmonized dualism. I believe a close reading of Plato shows that this is what he was suggesting. Plotinus’ philosophy, which transmitted Platonism to Augustine, tended more to world denial.

                The notion of there being three primary cultural orientations figured prominently in the writings of Pitirim Sorokin. He called these Materialism, Ideationalism (one version being asceticism), and Idealism (the integrated worldview).

      • Art Deco

        The amount of social and official contact between bishops and politicians (see Ted Kennedy’s funeral for a gaudy example) and the position-paper mongering of the Catholic Conference are deeply embarrassing. The former are some fingernails a serious bishop could clip right now; as for the latter, why not dissolve the Catholic conference, or, if the Holy See insists it remain, maintain it as an occasional or pro forma conference with no standing secretariat?

        As for parish clergy, what of Fr. Paul Shaughnessy’s suggestion that more asceticism be promoted? His view was that if you look around a rectory and see slick magazines, videos, and single-malt scotch, the priests life of chastity is commonly in a state of disorder as well. I was astonished in reading the obituary of a priest I had assumed was quite busy that he and another priest actually made a habit of traveling to New York every month to see Broadway shows.

        • TheAbaum

          “I had assumed was quite busy that he and another priest actually made a
          habit of traveling to New York every month to see Broadway shows.”

          And you know such a remark led many readers to snicker under their breath.

          As for our suggestion of disbanding or diminishing the USSCB, from your keyboard to the Pope’s ears.

          • Art Deco

            His obituary was online at one point but has now disappeared, so I cannot verify the number of shows he and this other priest supposedly saw, but it was in the three digits. I had not seen him since 2002. He always had disconcerting mannerisms, to say the least. There was not any dirt on him and although he was a canon lawyer who had been assigned to various chancery bodies, he was not as far as I could tell an inner ringer, just a utility man of sorts (he had business training, some proficiency in multiple languages, a canon law degree &c). Bishop O’Keefe had in 1987 assigned him to the most remote parish in the diocese (bar 1 or 2) as ‘administrator’ and there he had remained, with other duties as assigned. He always looked like a physical wreck (i.e. like one of those osteoperosis posters you see at the doctors) and evidently had had some sort of cancer for years before he died.

            Yes, the Broadway business pole-axed me because it was so obvious (conjoined to his effeminacy). Yet, I was told in private conversation in 2001 that he was not regarded suspiciously by the rest of the priest corps (“a good priest, a prayerful priest, the other priests respect him…”). The priest who told be that is an old-school priest ordained in 1958 who was the housemate of the quondam pastor of the neighboring parish to the Broadway aficionado. That quondam pastor has now been re-incardinated and is now with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, i.e. the old school priest was part of the orthodox remnant in the Diocese of Syracuse.

            • TheAbaum

              It’s not my intent to assert that frequenting Broadway shows renders one less than masculine, but in our time, it’s not what I want in my obituary. Whoever wrote it is either tone-deaf or lacking knowledge of something of greater substance. It just seems an odd and trivial thing to put in an obituary-same as saying he was an avid bowler and golfer.

              • Art Deco

                It was not out of place in that particular obituary, which was more of a light-hearted remembrance after he had been buried.

                This guy had issues, but I tend to doubt his issues had practical implications. He was not on the roster of accused priests, for one thing. The number of diocesan priests in Syracuse at that time was about 160, so they were all at least vaguely acquainted with each other. The traditionalist priest who worked for him (who had bad relations with Bps. Moynihan and Costello) had no manifest conflicts with him. The more conventionally orthodox priests I spoke to respected him; the conventionally liberal priests I knew found him vaguely amusing…

      • tom

        It’s just a shame that the Catholic church pretty much ignores its own suffering unemployed. it prefers illegals and Baptists….maybe a Muslim.

  • ForChristAlone

    Those of us who have been baptized into Christ no longer live only a natural life. We live in the realm of the supernatural. Our mission is to present this supernatural life to those who only live in the natural sphere so that they may live this life with us.

  • John Uebersax

    Excellent article!

    • I’d subscribe. If only to combat my utter despair at the permanent loss of the culture war.

      • John Uebersax

        Permanent? How many times were Christians persecuted in Roman times?

        • And the Romans, in the end, won. Everything they did that we were fighting against, exists in modern day America, including slavery and infanticide.

          • John Uebersax

            But Catholicism reigned in European culture for 1000 years after the Roman persecutions. You’re saying it is the end doesn’t make it the end.

            • And yet, the Romans are now back. Oh, they’re called Americans now, but the philosophy is no different, the paganism is the same.

    • It’s hard to be entirely positive. The prophets and for that matter Jesus and Paul say negative things. We’re not likely to come up with a better strategy. In order to establish a different course you have to say what’s bad about the old as well as good about the new. And today we’re submerged in propaganda which it seems has to be dealt with directly, that is, by saying what’s wrong with it.

      • John Uebersax

        Yes, I suppose you’re right about “entirely”. The thought I was trying to express was perhaps more like “when it is positive, thoroughly positive.”

        As many times as the prophets preached doom and gloom, the Israelites ignored them. The new dispensation came as the Gospel, in which Love and forgiveness take the central place. Hate sin indeed; but love the sinner. To be honest, I can’t remember ever seeing that principle genuinely conveyed in modern Catholic publications concerned with social issues.

        • Social issues bring in practical politics, and it’s hard to make politics inspirational through and through. It should have inspirational elements, but it involves compromise, use of force, toleration of evil, alliance with less-than-ideal forces, and so on. It also involves this-worldly loyalties, which bring in this-worldly rivalries and oppositions. There was a point to the devil’s ability to offer Christ worldly dominion, and Christ saying that his Kingdom was not of this world.

          For all that I agree that while both are needed “contemplation of what’s wonderful” mode is more important than battle mode and if that’s not clear it’s a problem.

    • ForChristAlone

      a most worthy proposal…exactly what the doctor ordered

  • Rusty

    What cannot be forgotten is that evangelization, no matter the method, must focus on the ongoing individual conversion of each human person, and this applies to Catholic and non-Catholic alike. We cannot expect or anticipate that temporal power, including acceptance of Church teachings, will be able to rest on authority – each person who seeks the truth will encounter the Church’s teachings and will have to be converted in an ongoing process that is life-long. To suggest that a political structure that imposes Catholic ideals on society is a promised land is to forget that humans have an intrinsic desire to understand what they are being urged to accept. This will always be the Church’s mission. Each person must take that journey as an individual, with the Church offering support and guidance through sacrament and community.

  • ColdStanding

    If we are to fight, surely we must learn for whom, against whom, how and with what means we are to fight. Fortunately, we have the saints to guide us.

    Read just the first chapter of Scupoli’s Spiritual Combat. It will help to set you on solid footing.

  • tom

    A thought provoking article, Mr. Kalb. We should look to how Mormons support one another. There might be 20 forming a company. they then hire the best people they can find, but many of them are Mormons. When they have a job opening, they don’t seek out a Baptist or a Hindu, specifically, but if one came along who was good, she’d be hired. Catholics do absolutely nothing along these lines to help other Catholics. Even a job board in the Catholic newspaper would help or a parish blog site. Instead, Catholics sink out of the Middle Class one at a time…silently.

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  • Ben

    Orthodoxy may be an administrative mess, but at least they didn’t liberalize their liturgy and, by all accounts, water down the Faith. We CAN learn some major lessons from their interaction with secularism and modernity.