Non abbiate paura

One way in which Christ brings peace is by conquering fear:

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

Fear is contrary to peace because one cannot be tranquil as long as one expects to suffer the privation of the good. But the Pascal Mystery removes any cause for fear of any created thing; tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and death itself (cf. Romans 8:35) are no longer fearful because Christ has transformed them by His passion, death, and resurrection into the means by which we are united to His sacrifice and brought to ultimate triumph.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am certain that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

The mercy that God shows in the Pascal Mystery liberates particularly from the fear of shame, of accusation, of exposure–the fear that the “doxa,” the appearance of goodness that we spin around ourselves, will be exposed for the sham that it is. God has mercy on us because we are weak and miserable, and therefore we glory in our weakness as that which attracts God’s pity: “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9-10)

I thinking of these things yesterday in connection with the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Both of them exemplify the peace that comes from the conquest of fear–summi pontifices qui terrena non metuerunt. St. John XXIII is of course famous for never being stressed-out and anxious despite his towering responsibilities: “Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one…Only for today, I will have no fears. ” And one might say that the main theme St. John Paul II’s pontificate was hope: “Non abbiate paura!” His last days were a sort of living exegesis of 2 Corinthians 12:10: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Naturally there have been those who have been critical of the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II, and think that many of the criticisms are connected to this theme of peace/fear/hope. I have argued before that the main challenge that the papacy has faced in the modern world is the crisis of Christian hope brought about by the rise of the ideology of earthly progress. In the case of Pope St. John Paul II there have been two opposite criticisms, both of which have to do with his attitude toward progress; the first is the traditionalist critique that sees him as not opposing the ideology of progress strongly enough, and the other is the leftist critique that sees him as opposing the “progress” of Marxism in central Europe and South America, and abortion rights in the whole world. If you only to read one of the many critical articles and blogposts that have been published in these days, I would recommend one by El Mono Liso, an occasional commentator on this blog. El Mono Liso’s piece has the advantage of combining the traditionalist and the progressive critiques into one:

I come at this hostility from two entirely different angles. The first is of course the left wing one and recognizing JPII’s negative effect on the economic and social life of the West, notably, anti-communism and his stance against reproductive rights. The second is diametrically opposed to this: it is the traditionalist critique that JPII was a horrible liberal, a syncretist who kissed the Koran, etc. Here you could say that I have a multiple personality disorder, but I think these objections have more to do with my respect for both the “traditional” Church and the “liberation theology” Church as the only two options worthy of respect. For me, the canonization of JPII is the canonization of a church of mediocrity, a church that doesn’t know what it wants, that holds irrational and contradictory positions, and barely has a coherent argument for it. [… JPII] was pretty blatant about not requiring Jews to come to Jesus to be saved, Protestants not necessarily needing to convert to Catholicism to be considered part of the Church, etc. etc. None of these latter things have much foundation in Scripture or tradition, but when it came to the birth control pill or abortion, look out world, that is where the fight against relativism made its last stand.

Obviously I disagree with El Mono Liso, but I think that I can see “where he’s coming from.” The apparent irrationality and contradictoriness of the post-Conciliar Church’s positions comes I think from the subtle approach that Vatican II took to the question of progress. As I have argued before, Vatican II had an ambivalent attitude toward progress; it wanted to convert the world by subverting the secular ideology of progress with Christian hope. This approach had some limited successes (e.g. in the movimenti), but in huge swaths of the Church it backfired disastrously–instead of subverting secular ideology Christian hope was itself subverted in many Catholics, leading to a catastrophic internal secularization of the  Church.

Now, I think that El Mono Liso exaggerates the differences in St. John Paul’s attitude toward syncretism and such things on the one hand and toward sexual immorality on the other (is Dominus Iesus really less intransigent than Evangelium Vitae?), but there are reasons why things appear thus. On the one hand you had spectacular “progressive” changes in Church discipline, and apparently in Church doctrine (though I would argue that these can be explained away), with regard to things that pertain to the heart of Christianity such as the Sacred Liturgy and the understanding of extra ecclesiam nulla salus, and then on the other hand in a marginal and obscure question of morals such as contraception the Church suddenly decides to make a stand against progress. If one looks closer though I don’t think that there is anything arbitrary about the stand that the Church makes on “reproductive rights.” Sexual “liberation” is one of the key projects of the false Gospel of progress, and it is deeply rooted in the Baconian project of the domination (and thus denial) of nature that is the hard core of that ideology. Insofar as the Church wants to accept the positive aspects of “modern civilization” while rejecting its false, blasphemous core it makes sense that this would be one of the main sticking points.

El Mono Liso thinks that the Church’s stance against “reproductive rights” is arbitrary, and thus “completely gratuitous and mean-spirited.” But is this really true? The ideology of progress, which claims to be so concerned with people’s welfare, and so against trampling on the weak, is the ideology which promotes the murder of innocent unborn persons. Rusty Reno recently wrote a thoughtful peace on how this merciless mercy stems from the replacement of Christian hope with the ideology of progress (I know that quoting Reno has torpedoed this post’s chances of being taken seriously by El Mono Liso, but then those chances were never very high):

Faced with what Rawls describes as “incalculable moral and political evil for civilized life everywhere,” what are we to do? To fail to do what is necessary would seem a dereliction of our duty to humanity. Ought we not to break moral rules in order to save the possibility of morality? If not us, whom? It’s a vexing question, one for which religious belief plays a significant role. Those who believe in God as the providential Lord, overseeing creation and guiding history, will naturally believe that he responds to the “supreme emergency” in his own way and in his own time. Those who don’t believe in God? They can grit their teeth and insist that a moral absolute is a moral absolute. But that’s hard to do without a belief in God as the providential governor of history who eventually rights all wrongs. Rawls identified an alternative, the one that requires moral relativism. In dire circumstances we can set aside moral absolutes. […] I’ve come to see that this describes the moral atmosphere of our times quite well. We each take on the role of commander-in-chief, often invoking the “supreme emergency exemption” to address what we imagine to be dire circumstances in our lives, or the lives of others. For example, a friend recently asked me if I honestly believed that abortion is always immoral. “What if your daughter was fourteen and became pregnant? Would you really refuse to make an exception? Would you really force her to live with the consequences?” The question is typical, reflecting not an insouciant and amoral relativism, but instead an anguished awareness of dire circumstance. Most Americans who support Roe v. Wade see abortion as a personal Hiroshima. The same holds for euthanasia. It’s “tragic,” but “necessary.” We’re to respect life, except when, regrettably, we’re not.

Hence St. John Paul II wrote that our time is more opposed to mercy than any other.

I wrote my post on the papacy and progress before Pope Francis was elected. At the time my hope was that in an increasingly hostile secular world the new pope might abandon the too-subtle strategy of Vatican II and return to something more like the strategy of the Pian age. Pope Francis obviously has not done that. In fact, he is even less hesitant about the Vatican II approach than his immediate predecessor, and of course that is “his call.” Whatever one might think about the prudence of Pope Francis’s approach, it’s basically the same as that taken by the two predecessors that he canonized yesterday.


24 thoughts on “Non abbiate paura

  1. This is a good response, but I am not sure it addresses something that sprang immediately to mind with EML’s piece, namely how does the intense focus on pelvic matters not look arbitrary to a bulk of Catholics and non-Catholics alike when so many other points of Church teaching and discipline, on the pragmatic level, have been cast aside as if they were arbitrary? It’s one thing when sexual morality comes as part of a “package deal” of what it means to be Catholic; it’s something else when so many other parts of the package have been discarded or left “optional” and yet sex, sex, sex remains the focal point for a good number of conservative Catholics. When I have raised this point before, the typical response is that on sexual matters things have gotten so “out of control” that the Church has been forced to prioritize it over-and-above other matters. Really? Look how “out of control” just about every other aspect of (post)modern life has become, including the economic sphere, and yet we find the Church packed to the brim with conservative apologists for the neoliberal ordo because there are, arguably, “cracks” in the Church’s social magisterium. But that “stuff” is not prioritized at all.

    Without being able to quite formulate why, I will say that I have a kneejerk uneasiness, even slight revulsion, toward a Catholic Church that will preach the evils of contraception and same-sex marriage (points I agree with fully) and yet shrug off how it handles a range of other matters which — at one time at least — were coherently integrated into the life of the Church as illumined by her mind: inter-confessional marriage; annulments; Christian burial; praying for the souls in Purgatory; Eucharistic discipline; Confession; etc. The Church has shifted away from its sacramental-spiritual context and found itself entirely tethered to be a practical moralizer, even going so far as to rely more and more on empirical arguments lifted from social science. (Sometimes that evidence is lacking, which puts Catholic moralists in a bit of a pickle.)

    Maybe what I am driving at is that it’s much easier to take the Church seriously on sex when she takes everything else about herself seriously.


      • Is it an exaggeration? Maybe not among every single conservative Catholic, but certainly among the mouthpieces for conservative Catholicism (or maybe I should say neo-Catholicism). I don’t think you could look to any of the usual sources of conservative Catholic commentary in the U.S. and not find almost daily (or, depending on the publication cycle, monthly) pieces on some matter of sexual morality, be it contraception, fornication, gay marriage, etc.


  2. Dear Pater Edmund,
    The bishops and the recent Popes have seemed to be, at best, wandering in the wilderness. One of the issues that is devouring the Church today is the graduated income tax. Economies around the world are being devastated by the poor plundering the rich, and the remedy would require a revolution in thinking. St. Thomas Aquinas condemns the use of the graduated income tax in I-II Q. 96, Art. 4 of the Summa, when he says that burdens must be ‘equal’ and ‘proportionate’, which seems to exclude both the graduated income tax and the ancient Roman head tax. I know you have a doctorate, but I wonder if you are familiar with this passage. It really seems it must be solved, or the left will devour the globe and make us marxist forever. Wondering what your opinion is.


    • I don’t agree that I-II Q. 96, Art. 4 shows the injustice of graduated income tax. In II-II Q. 66, Art. 7 St. Thomas teaches the principle of the universal destination of goods: “Things which are of human right cannot derogate from natural right or Divine right. Now according to the natural order established by Divine Providence, inferior things are ordained for the purpose of succoring man’s needs by their means. Wherefore the division and appropriation of things which are based on human law, do not preclude the fact that man’s needs have to be remedied by means of these very things. Hence whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor. For this reason Ambrose [Loc. cit., 2, Objection 3] says, and his words are embodied in the Decretals (Dist. xlvii, can. Sicut ii): “It is the hungry man’s bread that you withhold, the naked man’s cloak that you store away, the money that you bury in the earth is the price of the poor man’s ransom and freedom.””

      Since the superabundance of the rich belongs to the poor the state can serve the common good by redistributive measures such as graduated income tax–as long as they are kept within reason, and don’t defeat the purpose of private property noted in Art. 2 of the same Q.


    • In fact, I-II q.96, art. 4 not only does not condemn a graduated income tax, but at least in some cases demands, if there is an income tax, that it be graduated.
      To impose burdens “proportionately” does not mean imposing them in mathematical proportion to person’s absolute wealth, but means imposing them in a manner corresponding to their condition and means. Suppose, in the face of a famine, the citizens of one town had to on average give up 20% of their income for the next 12 months to help those in the neighboring town to survive. For an extremely poor person, giving up 20% of their income would entail starving themselves, whereas for an extremely rich person, giving up 20% of their income would not. Imposing a materially equal 20% tax across the board would thus entail imposing an improportionate burden on the poor, and therefore the rule of proportionate burdens mentioned in I-II q. 96, article 4 would demand a different material distribution, one which would impose truly equal human burdens on the poor and the rich.

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  3. Of course it is the teaching of the Church that a rich man must give out of his overabundance to the poor, but that is not the same thing as implying that the poor can take it through the government. You are simply begging the question. Pope Pius XI condemned the so called “third way”:

    From socialism: the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles. This follows, because, as the eminent Karl Marx himself has said, democracy is the road to socialism.

    Fr. Bolin, you are utterly twisting the meaning of proportionate. Proportionate can only mean proportionate, which, according to the only mathematical definition listed on, means “having the same or constant ratio or relation”. “[T]ruly equal human burdens” is just demagoguery.

    Like that for the golden calf, the support for the graduated income tax comes only from a deeply corrupt populace, never from a traditional monarchy, aristocracy, or other society. Aristotle said that the difficulty in preserving a democracy lies in preventing the poor from plundering the rich. Bastiat, who may well have been ignorant of Aristotle, also called this legalized plunder. This type of plunder intrinsically involves moral hazard, irrespective of whether or not the plunderers directly benefit or not. Support for education as we know it also comes from democracy: before the rise of government colleges in America, even undergraduates at Harvard finished their degrees by about the age of eighteen, so that they could marry quickly. It is inhumane to subsidize education to any age remotely close to eighteen, virtually forcing human beings to put marriage off past the age of eighteen, particularly considering the barbarity of dress in our age.

    The only way to make eighteen a reasonable age for marriage, and to restore Catholicism to the schools the overwhelming majority of Catholics will attend, is to completely get the government out of education. Anyone who votes or otherwise works works otherwise simply is degraded and doesn’t care remotely enough about chastity.

    The Church is profoundly corrupt and weak. Everywhere, political parties are more powerful than it, and have far more influence than the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. Every Catholic hierarchy on Earth is wracked with corruption. The Irish, Germans, Italians, Americans, Singaporeans, Nigerians, Hong Kongers – you name it, all are mired in filth. Protestants recognize all this and usually fail to convert as a result, despite the corruption of so much of their movement. The Pope is so profoundly corrupt that he cannot keep from swearing in public during a blessing. The Onion and Drudge Report complained about the Pope’s swearing, but to no avail. The Pope is profoundly demagogical. For example, there is his statement “Who am I to judge?” Further, HH cannot dogmatically teach anything contrary to the condemnation of Pius XI, the natural law, the plain condemnation of St. Thomas Aquinas, who, I remind you, was lauded as virtually flawless by many Popes:, and in short, the tradition of the Church. I understand that St. Thomas himself was guilty of some type of heresy regarding the Incarnation. Nevertheless, he has been given extreme praise.

    Catholics have been abused to the point of the near extinction of freedom in their respective countries. We care deeply about the poor, but not for your movement, which is modernist, democratic, and communist, and has already ruined the industrialized world. It is the duty of orthodox Catholics, in all charity, to inform you that the monumentally awful truth is that the only reason it is so difficult to persuade you is that flattered and dominated by demagogues, you are profoundly degraded and corrupt and menacing and burdensome to civil society. To intend to support the “welfare state” (legalized plunder) with one’s vote in America is to take, on average, more than $10,000 per voter from the rich, and therefore, unless done by a madman, even if one votes for the democratic right, is mortal sin. Therefore, no matter how little support we might have, we are devoted to the cause of threatening you with excommunication, as well as the black-listing of your orders. When the economy collapses due to the leftist predations of central banks and outrageous parliaments, you might just miss the money. (We too, are hostile to the charging of interest.)



    20. Let them furthermore know that it is likewise a mark of the natural, and so of the immutable, condition of human affairs that even among those who are not in higher authority, some surpass others in different endowments of mind or body or in riches and such external goods; therefore it can never be lawful under any pretext of liberty or equality to usurp or injure in any way the good or rights of other men. Divine precepts on this subject are clear and can be found throughout the holy scriptures. They forbid us strictly even to desire the goods of other men, much less seize them.[18]

    25. But if the faithful scorn both the fatherly warnings of their pastors and the commandments of the Christian Law recalled here, and if they let themselves be deceived by the present-day promoters of plots, deciding to work with them in their perverted theories of Socialism and Communism, let them know and earnestly consider what they are laying up for themselves. The Divine Judge will seek vengeance on the day of wrath. Until then no temporal benefit for the people will result from their conspiracy, but rather new increases of misery and disaster. For man is not empowered to establish new societies and unions which are opposed to the nature of mankind. If these conspiracies spread throughout Italy there can only be one result: if the present political arrangement is shaken violently and totally ruined by reciprocal attacks of citizens against citizens by their wrongful appropriations and slaughter, in the end some few, enriched by the plunder of many, will seize supreme control to the ruin of all.

    32 Consequently the men who rashly proclaim Socialism and Communism find many prepared to listen to them when they falsely claim that in other similar cases, the property of others can be taken and divided or in some other way turned to the use of everyone.

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    • Mariano, I’m sympathetic to some of your concerns here, but you’re neglecting important elements of the question and of the Church’s teaching on these matters.

      I agree that a certain inequality of wealth is good. There are different stations in life, and each person ought to get as much wealth as is fitting to his station. I agree that the best system would be an aristocratic one, in which the aristocrats themselves gave of their superabundance to support the poor. Unfortunately, as Leo XIII noted in Rerum Novarum, industrial capitalism has brought about a new situation; a system which destroys the links between riches and nobility, and cuts the traditional ties between the poor and the rich, replacing them with purely contractual relations. In this situation, since the rich have much more power than the poor, they tend to use it to amass an unjust share of the produce of labor. As Leo XIII teaches:

      when there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government.

      In this situation one has to invoke the principle of subsidiarity: when individuals and lower level institutions are unable to fulfill their function and preserve just order the state must provide help (“subsidium“) this is why (regrettably) measures like a graduated income tax become necessary. Nor does this involve endorsement of “socialism” in the sense condemned by the Church. That kind of socialism denies any right to property whatsoever, but moderate redistribution actually strengthens the rights of property. As Pope Pius XI teaches in Quadragesimo Anno:

      The wise Pontiff [Leo XIII] declared that it is grossly unjust for a State to exhaust private wealth through the weight of imposts and taxes. “For since the right of possessing goods privately has been conferred not by man’s law, but by nature, public authority cannot abolish it, but can only control its exercise and bring it into conformity with the common weal.” Yet when the State brings private ownership into harmony with the needs of the common good, it does not commit a hostile act against private owners but rather does them a friendly service; for it thereby effectively prevents the private possession of goods, which the Author of nature in His most wise providence ordained for the support of human life, from causing intolerable evils and thus rushing to its own destruction; it does not destroy private possessions, but safeguards them; and it does not weaken private property rights, but strengthens them.


    • Such a shame that Aquinas didn’t have an modern English dictionary such as that on, to tell him how he should write Latin. 🙂

      In Aquinas’ Latin, as well as in older English texts, proportion is used for two different types of mathematical relationships: the arithmetic proportion (30 is to 20 as 60 is to 50 as 310 is to 300), and the geometric proportion (5 is to 6 as 20 is to 24 as 120 is to 144).

      Following Aristotle, Aquinas compares the fair distribution in distributive justice to the geometric proportion, in that the following conditions are true of just distribution, as they are of geometric proportion but not true of arithmetic proportion:

      (1) if person A is to person B as good C is to D, then person A is to good C as person B is to good D.
      (1a) if person A has the same merit as B has, and the good C is the same as D, then person A relates to good C as B does to D; (if C is fitting for A, D is fitting for B; if C is excessive for A, D is excessive for B; if C is too little for A, D is too little for B).
      (1b) If person A has more merit than B, and the good C is similarly greater than the good D, then person A relates to good C as B does to D. (if C is fitting for A, D is fitting for B; if C is excessive for A, D is excessive for B; if C is too little for A, D is too little for B.)
      (1c) Likewise if person A has less merit than B, and the good C is similarly less great than the good D.

      (2) if person A is to person B as good C is to D, then person A + person B together are to good C + D together in the same proportion. Thus, if the goods to be distributed are so assigned to persons that the greatness of the good given to an individual person corresponds to the greatness of their merit, then the goods taken as a whole correspond to all the persons. Consequently, this is the fitting kind of proportion to distributive justice, because if C is fitting for A, D to B, etc., then it is fitting to give all those goods (C, D, etc.) to all those persons (A, B).

      The key problematic here is: how does one identify merit? Who merits more? Who merits “twice as much”? In an oligarchy based on wealth, one could somewhat plausibly argue that merit increases arithmetically with wealth, so that one who is twice as rich merits twice as much as another. (Even in an oligarchy it is not so evident; why shouldn’t merit increase proportionally to the square root of wealth, powered to 0.8? Some other relationship?) But what about in an oligarchy based on birth?
      In a democracy, it is also clear; here distributive justice means giving the same to each person, since each is equally deserving.
      In an aristocracy, merit corresponds to virtue, but virtue is not directly quantifiable, so one is stuck with the problematic of finding a way to identify when a person’s greater virtue makes him twice as worthy to receive common goods as another.

      A similar issue applies to the proportional imposition of burdens for the sake of the common good. The burdens to be imposed on persons for the sake of the common good are to be proportionate to those persons, are to correspond to the worthiness and ability of each to bear the burden. Now, a very rich man is (at least) as capable of helping out by means of 5% of his income as a very poor man is by means of 1% of his income. (The rich man’s giving up 5% of his income likely does not require him to give up any personal enjoyment, and only slightly decreases his security for the future; the poor man’s giving up 1% of his income may require him to give something up personally, but only slightly decreases his security for the future. — note that it is actually impossible for the burden to be exactly the same for the rich and the poor man, it can only be, all things considered, a similar burden) Therefore distributive justice demands that, if the state needs to require so much wealth from its citizens for the sake of the common good, the rich man be taxed at 5% when that poor man is taxed at 1%.


  5. Hello! Unrelated comment: the sermon above includes a magnificent plea:
    “I beg of you, I implore you, in humility and with trust! Let Christ speak to man! Only He has words of life! Yes of eternal life!”
    What Benedict XIV says with logic in the speech before the Reichstag and other speeches, St. John Paul says here with Rhetoric. And what an incredible rhetorician he was! His pronunciation is noble actually everything about his person is noble fine aristocratic.


  6. Fr. Waldstein, before this conversation started, I consulted a leader in the TFP, who confirmed me in the obvious point that your idea of an aristocracy that submits to the graduated income tax is utterly anomalous. It’s ridiculous. No aristocracy worthy of the name will ever submit to the graduated income tax or indeed any other democratic law. The modern history of the graduated income tax can only persuade one that it is indeed a democratic law. You, Fr. Waldstein, are no partisan of aristocracy! The fact of the matter is that today, the likelihood of succumbing to utter Marxism is virtually guaranteed; you may not know the full truth about the Federal Reserve. The upper class has no strength, and no Pope can truthfully say otherwise! After squandering the country’s treasure for four years, Obama was reelected over a man many pundits would call moderate or even left-wing! Have you ever read Harrison Bergeron? Reviews of Idiocracy? Brave New World? 1984? All of them predict the triumph of the rabble!

    “one has to invoke the principle of subsidiarity”: As I understand it, here you are being completely twisted. Subsidiarity expresses the idea that the lowest unit of government should deal with the local problems, and that higher levels should only deal with what is necessary to their level. Hence the US used to be a society in which subsidiarity applied.

    As for Fr. Bolin’s argument, I must admit that I have never even heard of distributive justice. I am ignorant. However, it would seem that what you are calling distributive justice can justify nothing, since Fr. Bolin wrote:
    “here distributive justice means giving the same to each person, since each is equally deserving.” People are never equally deserving, democratic or not.

    “That kind of socialism denies any right to property whatsoever”: No, “that kind of socialism” is full communism. Socialism was a term coined by demagogues to refer to partial communism, which is what you and Dr. MacArthur have been advocating. Arguments about labels matter!

    With the phrase, “…likely does not require him to give up any personal enjoyment…” you reveal that your life has had a lack of scope typical in the corrupt clergy of today. Rich men always enjoy every penny of their property, even when they willingly give it away. Just because in time of great distress they are required to give up their superabundance does not mean that they do not necessarily miss it. But as De Tocqueville writes in Democracy in America, democrats (you) do not understand that the highly talented normally need all their wealth to live a normal life.

    Not everything that Popes say is infallible, and Leo XIII and Pius XI clearly had modernist sympathies. The condemnations of Pius IX and St. Thomas are clear, so I am going to reprint part of them:

    therefore it can _never_ be lawful under any pretext of liberty or _equality_ to usurp or injure in _any_ way the good or rights of other men. Divine precepts on this subject are _clear_ and can be found throughout the holy scriptures. They forbid us strictly even to desire the goods of other men, much less seize them.[18]

    If you are willing to admit that your responses to my first post were sophomoric, then we have a conversation. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you had never even heard this line of reasoning. You should admit it. If you won’t admit that all of your posts have been mostly juvenilia, then there is no point in arguing with you and Fr. Bolin. I realize that you are trying to be civil here, but that doesn’t change the fact that you appear deeply corrupt. The only thing that might conceivably change my mind is this bit about distributive justice, though I doubt it. That would call for a reference.

    As it is, you give every impression of being the rabble ordained, and neither your lineage nor graduation from TAC, as good as it can be, changes that. In fact, graduation from TAC is so likely to make you materially poor, given the lack of grade inflation and the bad effects of the Morrill Act of 1862, that you are almost more likely thereby to become part of the rabble! I’ve known several TACers, and many of them were communists like you. Of course, there was Dr. MacArthur himself. There is no shame in being poor or in being a priest; quite the contrary, and there can be glory in going to TAC. I’ve been very poor and I’ve also successfully wooed gorgeous and talented women, and you deserve a mountain’s worth of shame for BEING MENACING AND BURDENSOME TO CIVIL SOCIETY.


    • If you please you can call Fr. Joseph Bolin and Pater Edmund evil Marxists, enemies of the church and of God, but calling them sophomores seems a little hasty.


    • Mariano, first a clarification: I agree that in a well ordered aristocracy there would be no need for a graduated income tax. My position was rather than given that we regrettably do not live in such an aristocracy emergency measures are necessary. The coterie of usurers and crony capitalists who currently have the lion’s share of power in the global economy are emphatically not an aristocracy, and it would be absurd and dangerous to legislate as though they were.

      On subsidiarity this is what Pius XI says in Quadragesimo Anno:

      As history abundantly proves, it is true that on account of changed conditions many things which were done by small associations in former times cannot be done now save by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.

      Note that he says that because of changed conditions some things that used to be done at the lower level now have to be done at a higher level. But oh, I nearly forgot, you think that Pius XI was a modernist sympathizer and that your not bound to submit your will and intellect to his teaching. It’s ironic that you accuse Leo XIII and Pius XI of having modernist sympathies–not only because it’s the opposite of the truth, but also because the “not everything popes say is infallible” line is a typically modernist justification for dissent. But Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis writes:

      Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine.

      You quote Bl. Pope Pius IX:

      it can never be lawful under any pretext of liberty or equality to usurp or injure in any way the good or rights of other men. Divine precepts on this subject are clear and can be found throughout the holy scriptures. They forbid us strictly even to desire the goods of other men, much less seize them.

      Well, of course it cannot be lawful to seize the goods belonging to another man! But the whole question is whether that is what is going on in every case of graduated income tax. In cases where the poor have too much power and abuse it to take an unfair share of the product of labor from the rich, not for the common good, but for the private advantage of their class, then they are clearly taking what belongs to others and that is unjust. That is what Bl. Pius IX is condemning. But if the rulers who have the care of the common good impose proportionate (in Fr. Bolin’s sense) burdens for the sake of the common good of justice (as is sometimes necessary cf. my first comment), then they aren’t taking what belongs to another; they are taking from the rich what belongs to the poor and giving it to those poor (cf. St. Ambrose quote above). As I said, in a true aristocracy that would not be necessary. But we don’t (alas) live in such an aristocracy now. The social teaching of the Church since the time of Pope Leo XIII is largely concerned with what one can do given the lamentable state of civilization in general, what extraordinary means become necessary given the development of the modern economy etc. Hence he writes at the very beginning of Rerum Novarum:

      That the spirit of revolutionary change, which has long been disturbing the nations of the world, should have passed beyond the sphere of politics and made its influence felt in the cognate sphere of practical economics is not surprising. The elements of the conflict now raging are unmistakable, in the vast expansion of industrial pursuits and the marvellous discoveries of science; in the changed relations between masters and workmen; in the enormous fortunes of some few individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses; the increased self reliance and closer mutual combination of the working classes; as also, finally, in the prevailing moral degeneracy. The momentous gravity of the state of things now obtaining fills every mind with painful apprehension; wise men are discussing it; practical men are proposing schemes; popular meetings, legislatures, and rulers of nations are all busied with it – actually there is no question which has taken deeper hold on the public mind. Therefore, venerable brethren, as on former occasions when it seemed opportune to refute false teaching, We have addressed you in the interests of the Church and of the common weal, and have issued letters bearing on political power, human liberty, the Christian constitution of the State, and like matters, so have We thought it expedient now to speak on the condition of the working classes.(1) It is a subject on which We have already touched more than once, incidentally. But in the present letter, the responsibility of the apostolic office urges Us to treat the question of set purpose and in detail, in order that no misapprehension may exist as to the principles which truth and justice dictate for its settlement. The discussion is not easy, nor is it void of danger. It is no easy matter to define the relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labor. And the danger lies in this, that crafty agitators are intent on making use of these differences of opinion to pervert men’s judgments and to stir up the people to revolt. In any case we clearly see, and on this there is general agreement, that some opportune remedy must be found quickly for the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class: for the ancient workingmen’s guilds were abolished in the last century, and no other protective organization took their place. Public institutions and the laws set aside the ancient religion. Hence, by degrees it has come to pass that working men have been surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition. The mischief has been increased by rapacious usury, which, although more than once condemned by the Church, is nevertheless, under a different guise, but with like injustice, still practiced by covetous and grasping men. To this must be added that the hiring of labor and the conduct of trade are concentrated in the hands of comparatively few; so that a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.

      You see, he is not teaching about the order of things that would hold in a well ordered aristocracy; he is teaching about the measures necessary to correct some of the worst injustices caused by the modern liberal order that destroyed the aristocracy.

      In the next paragraph, by the way, he writes of socialism and uses exactly the sense that I claimed was the sense condemned by the Church:

      To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies.

      That is the kind of socialism condemned by the Church.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It would seem that by this standard of socialism of yours rejected by the Church, even Cuba can’t be rejected, because there is some private property in Cuba.

    “Emergency measures” is just demagoguery. This has been a prosperous country, and the only emergency has been caused by the left, broadly understood.

    As for whose property we are discussing, St. Ambrose’ use of property can only be said to be true in a loose sense. Again, the rich owe out of their superabundance, but that doesn’t mean that the poor can take it. The only reasons you disagree is that you’re deeply corrupt and that you had probably never heard the argument from St. Thomas about proportionality. It would improper in a semi-public forum to discuss your corruption in further detail, though I’d be happy to do so privately.

    As for proportional, again there is nothing proportional about the graduated income tax. The burden YOU ARE PROPOSING TO IMPOSE, and by which NATO has been ravaged since before 1949 is completely disproportionate and unequal. For example, in America, the bottom 50% actually get money from the government in a program called the earned income tax credit. In this case, what you are proposing is proportional would be something like this: rich man’s income: poor man’s income:: rich man’s tax: poor man’s tax. Let this be represented as ri:pi::rt:pt. Since under the earned income tax credit, the working poor get money, the second ratio, rt:pt, in America is negative. Since the ratio ri:pi is positive, the proportions do not equal one another, so the tax is disproportionate. There is no “regressive” tax in America, so the tax code overall is disproportionate, and in fact grossly so. I don’t have exact statistics, but if I did they might persuade even you that in America there is gross disproportion in the tax code. A proportionate tax would be the so-called flat tax – everyone pays an equal proportion, such as fifteen percent.

    As De Tocqueville and Aristotle have pointed out, the rich need a lot more money than the poor do. Upper-class women of NATO don’t reproduce (mostly) because they are decadent but partly because they can’t afford servants. Thus NATO and Japan risk the scenarios posed in _Idiocracy_ and _Harrison Bergeron_: genetically poor populations oppressing the remnants of the descendants of the upper classes of old. Cardinal Wuerl won’t excommunicate Pelosi and Biden because they support at least part of a doctrine that you do, so maybe you deserve bishops like Wuerl. Maybe for forcing mediocrity on the west you deserve to be tortured by sodomites, as we evidently are about to be. After all, those sodomites are the embodiment of sexual and economic mediocrity, which, I add, go together. The graduated income tax is oppression of the rich and talented, pure and simple. If there is any hope for you, it is in this argument of St. Thomas’.

    As I wrote above, and which I do not believe you have addressed: “This type of plunder intrinsically involves moral hazard, irrespective of whether or not the plunderers directly benefit or not.” It also involves intrinsic conflict of interest.

    Any truly rich man who fails to help the poor is playing with fire. Nevertheless, it is his fire to play with. Giving to the poor has to be governed by prudence. For instance, in a polity with a single wealthy man and starving poor who recently squandered the public money, the wealthy man would naturally insist on getting political power as a price for saving the lives of those beneath him. Anything less would be imprudence.

    “…and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine.” Generally, not absolutely. Key distinction.

    Citing Leo XIII is a sure sign of being foolish and non-entrepreneurial – that is, not free. You asked for it. Leo XIII approved of workers threatening a strike, which is contrary to the proverbs “Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10), “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider its ways, and be wise” “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor” (also in Proverbs) not to mention “Arbeit macht frei”. If Catholics are ever to rule, they must engage in ceaseless labor. Accounting for the necessity of time for family and God, anything less is modernism and comes, not from the Proverbs or sound doctrine, but from demagogues.

    Aeternus Pastor does not guarantee that the popes will say what needs to be said. With “The discussion is not easy, nor is it void of danger. It is no easy matter to define the relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labor” Leo XIII is practically admitting that he is incompetent and a modernist. The very title, Rerum Novarum, screams, “I am a modernist!” for, as it is written, “There is nothing new under the sun.” He also uses the term “working classes” to refer to the poor, which signals that he was a leftist and therefore a modernist. The phrase “the greed of unchecked competition” signals the same. There is nothing new about having a class of arrivistes, no matter how powerful the industrialists of the 19th century were, and clerics, too, can be arrivistes. It is beyond probable that leftists have completely blown out of proportion the vaunted vulgarity of those arrivistes. It must be said that their power was tightly circumscribed. High military and diplomatic commands weren’t available to them without the degrading scramble up the ladder, for instance. Perhaps you haven’t read what De Tocqueville wrote about the American military and the quest for promotion within it. Nor could the wealthy really do anything beyond bribing senators etc., since they weren’t willing to become demagogues themselves.

    By the way, at least in America, the 19th century, (and elsewhere, the Industrial Revolution, to the degree that it happened) was a time of explosive economic _growth_, and saying anything else is completely out-of-touch. That growth touched lots of people, not just the elite. By the way, many of those elite were champions of mankind, and denying that is sick. That explosive growth would not have happened without the relatively ‘unfettered’ capitalism you seem to be so intent on oppressing.

    Your position has already had a share in irretrievably ruining NATO and Japan, and your refusal to admit this just goes to show that there is probably no arguing with you. The difference between you and the likes of Barack Obama is only of degree, not kind.

    I definitely don’t enjoy insulting you, but you are brazen and richly deserve it. In conjunction with the admission that both your intelligences are exceptional and that you have rare and extensive knowledge of philosophy, etc. my judgment that, because you disagree with the economic teaching of the Scholastics, as popularized by (surprise!) the Austrian School, you are the rabble ordained stands as a measured, just, and necessary judgment. Your arguments come from moral juvenilia. “We want money!” cry the rabble, all the while sitting on the dole when they should have been working for peanuts and eating a diet with little meat. I’ve eaten a meatless diet during Lent, and so can (and must) they. As it is written, “He who shall not work shall not eat.” Probably ignorant of the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle, those to whom you minister will suffer tremendously, and you two will suffer ingloriously.

    With one exception, I know of no reasonable Catholic government in the past two centuries. The Papal States were ludicrous on economic policy, Austria was a byword for lethargy (no way around saying it) in Napoleon’s time, Metternich ridiculed the Italian States, Spain under Franco owned companies, Spain during the traditional monarchy was synonymous with tyranny, and Portugal under the Estado Novo was a backwater. Particularly, I’ve studied the Hapsburg regulation of commerce in the mid-19th century, and it was oppressive and profoundly unrealistic. The exception was the government of Gabriel Garcia Moreno of Ecuador, and his government was short lived. When traditional governments do not dominate, clerics lose their sense of right and wrong on this question. Hoppe demonstrates very clearly around page 55 of his book _Democracy: The God_ that the graduated income tax and affiliated spending come from an increasing degree of democratization, not from traditional governments.

    Unlike much of Leo XIII’s thought, the pedigree of freedom, on the other hand, goes back at least to the Scholastics, as proven by the book _Christians for Freedom_ by Chafuen. I challenge you to provide irrefutable evidence, archeological or otherwise, in support of your idea that in the Age of the Church (the Middle Ages), a general, Distributist confiscation of property was ever called for. The period just after the twelve apostles doesn’t count.

    Another probability in support of your social status is the number of children your mothers may well have had. While it is one of the greatest services that the Church can know, having lots of children tends to make those children poor, and therefore more tempted by the prospect of wealth taken from the rich. To repeat, there isn’t necessarily any shame in being poor by itself.

    In contrast to your evil policies, in 2003 and 2004, I assiduously and repeatedly begged my parents to buy precious metals. As you may not even know, the returns of those metals made them the best big class of investment of the last ten years, as predicted by the Austrian Theory. They have increased by about four times, for a rough return on investment of 25% per annum.

    Neither of you is fit for freedom because you don’t want freedom. Neither of you has an entrepreneurial bone in your bodies. You pretend to scorn money but insist upon taking the money of others. You are partially abolishing private property and are fit for nothing better than the partial communism you espouse! What you are pushing is class warfare, and you should expect to get class warfare in return. The saddest part is that ultimately, you deserve Hell for pushing your doctrine and voting for tyranny, for in _On Kingship_, St. Thomas condemned tyranny as being one of the worst of sins.


  8. If you hadn’t heard the argument of St. Thomas on proportionality before this conversation started, you should admit it.
    I really don’t want to make enemies of you, but you are shameless.


  9. Mariano, I presume that you want to be a faithful Catholic, and are really interested in being formed by the truth handed down from the Apostles in Scripture and unwritten tradition. If that is so, then I urge you to take a close look at your whole approach to these things, and ask yourself whether it is the right approach. Consider just two points:

    1) Your attitude toward the teaching office of the Church. It seems to be your position that you don’t have to submit to teachings of certain popes on economic questions because “not everything they say is infallible.” Doesn’t your position amount to putting your own private judgement above the the judgement of the Vicar of Christ? If you only agree with the successors of the Apostles when they happen to agree your preconceived notions, then what good is their teaching to you? In fact, the Church teaches that we must give religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings of the Vicar of Christ even when he teaches by an act which is not by its nature definitive. I urge to read this article by Peter Kwasniewski.

    2) You say that you are for “freedom,” but this is a rather ambiguous term. As I argued recently, the modern notion of freedom is much different from the true notion. Appeals to freedom can be dangerous. As St. Thomas writes:

    Every aversion towards God has the character of an end insofar as it is desired under the notion of liberty, as according to the words of Jeremiah (2:20): For a long time you have broken the yoke, you have broken bonds, and you have said, ‘I will not serve.’ (ST IIIa Q8, A7, r.)

    You appeal to the theories of the so-called “Austrian School” of economics. But if you read Austrian economists such as F. Hayek you will find numerous (approving) references to John Locke and other modern philosophers who developed the new notion of freedom and hardly any references to Aristotle or St. Thomas. Don’t you think it possible that these people might not be the best guides to these matters? I recommend that you read Christopher Ferrara’s books The Church and the Libertarian and Liberty the God that Failed to see an extended critique from a traditional Catholic perspective of the notion of freedom presupposed by the “Austrian School” economists.


  10. There is no reasoning with you. I write about the advantages of aristocracy in order to defend property and the defenseless upper class, and I’m called a Nazi, which movement, may I write, was scorned by Prussian aristocrats, among others. I cite the natural law, St. Thomas, Aristotle, the late Scholastics, the Bible, and a Pope, (and by the way, I’ve read On Kingship, Plato’s Republic, bits of the Summa, and parts of Aristotle’s Politics) and I’m labeled a classical liberal with a problem with the papacy.

    By the way, from
    . . . Chafuen convincingly undermines the facile assumptions that free-market ideas and theories originated with Adam Smith and his contemporaries. (Theological Studies) – from’s reviews of Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics (Studies in Ethics and Economics) by Alejandro Chafuen.

    In Dr. Kwasniewski’s article, he cites Lumen Gentium: “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff”. This is in line with the point I made above: that encyclicals command true _general_ obedience, but obviously if there is a real reason to disagree _that is in line with the tradition of the faith_, one can and in fact must disagree. From, the third definition of socialism, the Marxist definition that would have had currency during the writing of Noscitis et nobiscum, is “the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.” i.e. You.

    Thus, the graduated income tax is not part of the authentic magisterium, and is in fact condemned by Pius IX. HRH the head of the Brazilian Imperial House recently wrote a message to the Pope that was posted on, in which HRH cited a section of Canon Law that points out that sometimes it is the duty of the laity to confront bishops, including the Pope. The Head of the Imperial House Himself is just a little bit traditional, and HRH would be hostile to your point, as would the rest of the organizations affiliated with TFP.

    I have exceptional intelligence, and given the profound corruption of the Church, I’m going to be vigilant. As I said, these things clearly follow from the natural law and are clearly explained by the Angelic Doctor. You haven’t responded to the argument about the two proportions, one positive, the other negative. I found some statistics about the income tax in America that applied about seven years ago; the top ten percent of earners paid 73% of income taxes; the bottom 40% pay nothing. As for your supposed point about liberty being the rallying point for the unfaithful, you are simply taking the liberty of abusing the rich.

    I reject as ludicrous the political theory of the Austrian School and its implications for what they would never call policy. For instance, I would like to see many movies and TV shows banned. Aristotle said that economics was easy, but Ferrara is bumbling and highly irresponsible, and that is not traditional or aristocratic. Ferrara’s books wouldn’t be taken seriously without democracy. If you could find some serious evidence from before 1848 to support the graduated income tax, I might begin to reconsider, because I’m willing to be reasonable, but you can’t give evidence because it’s a novelty that plainly comes from democracy. I challenged you before, and you didn’t produce any evidence.

    Protestants, secularists, and Mohammedans rarely convert because our bishops are so corrupt. They know it’s a circus. In fact, it’s worse than a circus, because a circus at least has laws and customs by which it strictly abides. Even the deeply corrupt Duke of Wellington looked down upon Catholics. The Catholic Church is corrupt, and dog bites man. The Church has been so decadent for so long, culminating in the laxity of this evil Pope, that there is an outstanding chance that the Apocalypse is close. Our Lady of Fatima has certainly talked about matters related.

    I’ve written this to unreasonable and corrupt men to defend myself before the readers, who may well be confused. You two are modernist burdens and menaces, and we’re going to work to blacklist Stift Heiligenkreuz and the Archdiocese of Vienna.


    • My dear sir, I wish you would use your exceptional intelligence to read things a bit more carefully. Then you would find that the your argument about ” the two proportions, one positive, the other negative” was already answered by Fr. Bolin before you made it. You would also find that there is nothing in my position to suggest that the Church ever called for a graduated income tax before 1848– since my position is precisely that such a system only became necessary after the rise and development of industrial capitalism and the “new things” described by Pope Leo XIII of happy and glorious memory.

      HRH of Brazil was doubtless referring to Canon 907:

      In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.

      There is nothing in that canon about dissenting from the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff on faith or morals, as repeatedly expressed in encyclical letters addressed to all the bishops of the world. In fact, such a reading is excluded by (among other things) Canon 752:

      Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

      You write: “There is no reasoning with you.” I’ve come to the converse conclusion: there is no reasoning with you. I will, however, pray for you: Benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti descendat super te et maneat semper.

      Liked by 1 person

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