Thursday, August 22, 2013


The unvarnished truth is that fewer people are coming to the sacraments simply because the overwhelming majority of our sacred hierarchs, from the 1960’s on forward, have ingested every limp-wristed, weak-kneed, kumbaya-style ambiguity the conciliar text has to offer, only to regurgitate them back to the souls in their care at every opportunity like pelicans feeding their young.

Along the way, an entire generation or more has come of age having been nurtured on little more than the fast food of modernism by pastors who have utterly ceased to proclaim the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church as the solitary means of salvation, and therefore the paramount importance of the sacraments that the Lord has entrusted to her.

All of this being the case, is it any wonder that the Catholic Church in our day is in the throes of a full-scale institutional collapse?

You can read the rest of "The Catholic Institutional Collapse" with more vague language from an Italian who knows how to do it, Louie Verrecchio at his blog by pressing HERE. I just wish he would write what he means and not beat around the bush!


rcg said...

Pretty straight forward. In a previous post you asked why youth are leaving the Church. There are two reasons this article touches on: First, the Church has communicated that it is no different than any other religion. Secondly, making the Liturgy and Mass 'accessible' has made it irrelevant in the minds of people who do not want to be accepted as they are, but as candidates to be something better.

Gene said...

Well, now, here is my kind of guy! Can he become Pope one tomorrow?

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - Can you suggest where, in the Church's own documents, it has communicated that it is no different than any other religion?

Carol H. said...

Love it!

Gene said...

The documents don't have to communicate it when every action and response screams it to high heaven...

Alex Wojchiechowicz said...

Father Ignotus:

I'm too dumb to think of any documents that comunicate that the Church is no different than any other religion. BUT I CAN TELL YOU HOW THE CHURCH COMMUNICATED THAT MESSAGE IN A MORE DAMAGING WAY: ASSISI!

Every time our popes went to Assisi to pray for peace, they invited leaders from several pagan religions to join them. You might call that ecumenical. Many of us call that equalizing.

Far more people will watch a pope on TV than bother reading Church documents.

rcg said...

PI, point taken, but also made: I have heard priests in homilies declare that if you want to be Wiccan, that is OK, but he chooses Christianity. That is not an isolated incident. Nuns teach Buddhist meditation, etc.

If this is allowed, then it is acceptable. That is a more solid doctrine than a canyon full of books.

It is not that the priest must be publicly chastised, but that the statement needs to be publicly corrected. Otherwise, we are just Unitarians.

Pater Ignotus said...

Alex - The pope is one among many leaders of world religions. We do not believe that world religions are equal, but that does not change the fact that there are many religions, most with a leader of some fashion.

That he should appear in public - praying or not praying - with leaders of other world religions does not communicate that there is no difference among religions.

Nine men play baseball on the field, four people sit at a bridge table, two row together in a scull - yet in none of these or thousands of other instances do we think that there is no difference between people involved.

Why makes Assisi - a common action among religious leaders - different?

And Alex, you don't have to be "dumb" to know that there are NO documents that indicate that we Catholics think there are no differences among religions. In fact, we do believe that the fullness of faith subsists in the Catholic Church, that only through Christ and the Catholic Church is anyone brought to salvation, and that other religions share only partially in the truth revealed by God.

THAT is what we believe and that is what we teach.

Marc said...

Assisi was different because it allowed non-Catholics and non-Christians to use Catholic Churches for their false worship. That is a big deal because false worship violates the first commandment. It bears on this conversation because the Pope was present and apparently encouraging of this false worship.

If you were a parent and you told your children the rules, then proceeded to violate those rules publicly for your children to see, they would conclude that your are disingenuous in your desire that they follow the rules themselves or that the rules don't matter.

This is basically indifferentism and syncretism, which necessarily has the effect of setting all the world's "religions" at the same level.

Marc said...

By the way, Fr. K, aside from the Assisi thing, I like your response. It is very clear and well said.

I have a question unrelated to this for our priests and theologians: How many documents have been given ex cathedra, and what are they? This question has arisen in various contexts and I don't know the answer. Thanks!

Marc said...

To go further off-topic, can we discuss this? Maybe in a separate post... Will our priests here be participating in this? Also, why not have a coordinated weekend wherein something that is actually doctrine is discussed? There is just so much silliness here, I can't write it all down.

Cameron said...

"That he should appear in public - praying or not praying - with leaders of other world religions does not communicate that there is no difference among religions."

Father, that is your opinion, and I generally agree with you, but there is a subliminal interpretation by the people of my generation (Millennials) that it means exactly what Gene said. That is how they... we... interpret it. That is the symbolism to us, can't change it.

John said...

Fr. K

"Subsist" is a weaker formulation than 'outside the Church there is no salvation'. The latter is a clear statement. Any Catholic 1rst grader would have been able to tell you that in 1962. Nowadays, even very high Church officials equivocate and will not give you the 1962 1rst grade answer.

As a matter of fact, one can make a case that, in toto, all of the V2 documents contain confounding language that has caused serious damage to the faith since they were published. I refer you to Bishop Kondratiuos'(sp?) statements on this subject and Romano Amerio's book Iota Unum for very good places to start.

Pater Ignotus said...

Cameron - Anyone can read anything into any image. It is impossible to control what people perceive. We take pains not to GIVE a false impression, but we can't make every action perfectly clear.

If (some)folks of your generation think that having an ecumenical or interfaith prayer service means that every religion is equal, well, there's nothing we can do to prevent that. Today, not having the event is, I think, not a legitimate or helpful option.

The problem is not that someone does something that may be misperceived, but that is that too many people are too willing to be uninformed. Someone sees an image of a Muslim burning an American flag and they decide ALL Muslims act this way. Someone sees a report on a priest who is convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and they decide ALL priests act this way.

This is the problem of perceptions.

Marc - The pope was not encouraging false worship any more than a city that grants a building permit to a non-Christian community for a "temple" of some kind is encouraging false worship. Is a Catholic who attends a business partner's wedding in a Mosque participating in or encouraging false worship? Not at all.

The lines - religious, ethnic, linguistic, political, etc - that divide people are simply not as definitive as they once were, nor can they be.

When community A lived in its village across the mountains from community B in its village, clarity was possible. Now that we freely intermingle across virtually every dividing line, the desire or hope for clear distinctions is a pipe dream.

We have to deal with today's realities, not those of 500 or 800 years ago.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - "Subists" is a different formulation, not a weaker one. Our understanding of the nature of 1) ecclesiology (the nature of the Church), 2) sacraments, and 3) grace has developed and this development makes "subsists" a perfectly good word to use in this regard.

I don't agree that every Vatican 2 document is confounding and harmful. Having read the signs of the times, the Fathers of vat 2 chose to use a different (not weaker, different)approach to teaching the faith. John O'Malley writes in "What Happened at Vatican II", "Vatican Two largely eschewed scholastic language. It thus moved from the dialectic of winning an argument to the dialogue of finding common ground." "It implicitly said, for instance, that it is more valuable to work together a neighbors than to fight over differences, as we have up to now been doing." (page 46)

The style used "ars aludandi" or "panegyric." This was not a new style for the Church as it was used by the Patristic authors, revived in the Renaissance, and revisited in the 20th century by proponents of the "nouvelle theologie."

The purpose of panegyric is not so much to clarify concepts as to heighten appreciation for a person, and event, or an institution, and to excite emulation of an ideal. Its goal is the winning of internal assent, not the imposition of conformity from the outside. (page 47)

Pater Ignotus said...

John - Another thought . . . "Outside the Church there is no salvation" was intended to be a threat. If you are not a member of the visible Catholic Church on earth, you are going to go to hell. Join us or else.

LG 8 says, "this Church, constituted and organized as a society in this present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although (licet) many elements of sanctification and truth can be found outside her structure; such elements, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic unity".

This is meant to be an invitation, not a threat. It is an example of presenting an ideal, thereby inviting others to strive for that ideal. It is an offer - "Here is the goodness and blessing that we have received and we want you to share in it."

It is different, for sure, from the threatening language. But I believe it is more suited to the times and will be more effective in the long run.

Marc said...

Fr. K, I generally agree with your response to me. I used the word "apparently" to mean basically what Cameron is saying -- that this is the appearance from the outside while maybe not the subjective intent of the Pope himself.

I am trying to get out of the business of assuming the intentions of the pope. I recognize that the world is complex, whether it be in the realm of politics or of religion. As I'm sure others in the world have experienced, Pope Francis is a hit with non-Catholics. His style doesn't particularly appeal to my sensibilities, but that makes me the odd ball, not him!

If the Church is big enough for former Anglicans, various Eastern rites, and even charismatics, I think those of my ilk who prefer the older ways can also have our place. I hope you'd at least agree with that... But I won't presume.

John said...


Outside the Church there is no salvation is not a threat it is a fact. The Church teaches not threatens. Of course, God will make the ultimate decision for everyone at the appropriate time.

By reformulating a doctrinal statement with a weasel word like subsists creates unnecessary confusion. A clear doctrinal ambiguity deliberately introduced to please Protestants, Muslims and Jews and to dull the missionary impulse among prideful Catholics. The change achieved the goals intended by it as stated already.

You have ignored the expert references offered. Judging from your reply, studying them might broaden your understanding the many ambiguities in V-2 documents. After all, you made a dare, it is not fair to just brush off the challenge as if nothing was there.

Anonymous 2 said...

The problem I have with this article is indicated by the author’s statement: “The unvarnished truth is that fewer people are coming to the sacraments simply because . . .” Even assuming that the factors identified by the author are indeed causes of the decline in use of the sacraments (which is certainly an hypothesis that seems plausible to me), I suspect that it is likely a mistake to identify them as_sole_causes which is, of course, what the language “simply because” suggests.

Is it not more plausible to think that the causes are multiple, so that the factors identified by the author co-operate with additional factors? Moreover perhaps the various co-operating causes are even mutually interacting and reinforcing to various degrees.

What might such additional causal factors be? Well, we have just had a thread exploring the role of individualism, or at least individualism of a certain type, i.e., a selfish individualism that focuses solely on the self and diminishes obligations to others and the common good. Does the author mention that?

And I was very struck by another factor that Pater Ignotus has mentioned from the pulpit. Please correct me if I misunderstood you, Pater, but I seem to recall you emphasizing that we moderns feel much less dependent upon God than people used to, or than more vulnerable people in other parts of the world may do, because we are relatively much more secure and comfortable, being surrounded by material abundance. This greatly contrasts with the striking image of the two praying peasants in Jean-FranÒ«ois Millet’s famous portrait “The Angelus,” for example.

I would add, as a possible additional factor, our contemporary modern pride (hubris?) in our technological achievements. We seemed over-awed by our own awesomeness!

Here is an image for you to consider: Many years ago I walked into a large hotel in downtown Atlanta, dripping with opulence. You could see all the way up the many stories inside the building with the elevators ascending and descending. I forget the name of the hotel – The Hyatt?. There are probably several like it. I was immediately struck by the thought: “My goodness; these are the modern cathedrals of our materialist society.”

So, those are several possible additional factors. And I suspect there are several more. But, in the case of all of them, including those identified by the author, although it certainly seems plausible to hypothesize that all of them are co-operating causes, one has to prove cause rather than assume it from correlation. Moreover, one also has to assign weight to the different causes, once cause is found (assuming it _can_ be found).

Are there any studies that attempt to do this?

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. And not to overlook in addition, that the modern Cartesian-Newtonian worldview, which really ramped up in the twentieth century in the Western popular consciousness and which most of us in the West still inhabit, eliminated the notion of a purposeful Aristotelian cosmos of final causes overseen by an omnipotent and omniscient God and replaced it with a mechanistic and materialist universe operating according to efficient causes only. And this, together with our demonstrated human achievements in science and technology, attained through use of the secular scientific method predicated upon that worldview, hardly conduces to belief in the supernatural, despite the valiant efforts of those such as Teilhard de Chardin to synthesize the natural with the supernatural.

And one wonders why so many Catholics do not seem to understand/accept the “miracle” of the Mass or other vehicles of supernatural grace?

In sum, all of these factors likely contribute to our Western hubris and lack of necessary humility. And if that is indeed true, doesn’t an effective response by the Church need to go way, way beyond restoring the TLM and other traditional practices? That may be necessary. But is it sufficient? Does it even get at the real roots of the problem? And doesn’t the real counterattack/reformation need to be a convincingly metaphysical one that will overcome the prevailing predominant Western materialist worldview not by denying those truths harbored within it but by transcending them? And cannot other religious and spiritual traditions be enlisted as allies in that endeavor (not as “enemies” of the Catholic Faith), even as we continue to believe and proclaim that salvation is through Christ alone?

Anonymous 2 said...

Marc at 5:11 p.m. yesterday asked about discussing the topic of immigration and the Church and gave a link. I tried the link but it did not work. If it doesn’t work for you, try this one:

It is an important, albeit quite complex, topic and one in which, as a student and teacher of immigration law, I have a particular interest.

BTW Marc, when you suggest a “coordinated weekend” for discussion of doctrine, do you have in mind doctrine as applicable to the immigration issue, or something broader than that? Also, do you mean on the Blog or a physical event?

Gene said...

The immigration issue? What is so difficult about that? If you are here legally, you can go to any Church you like and participate in all the benefits of American citizenship. If you are not here legally, you should be rounded up and sent home. Hey, lawyer, it is THE LAW. When are LAWYERS like you going to stand up and support the law and the Constitution of this country. And, we wonder why no one takes Church Dogma seriously when no one takes the laws of the land seriously, either. We have a generation or two relativist/appeasers like Anon 2 and apostate/Modernist Catholics like Ignotus to thank for this. I cannot believe the relativist, egalitarian, gobbledy-gook dialogue in this thread. Can you guys fry a damned egg without dissimulating about it. LOL!

Marc said...

Well, A2, there is no doctrinal position that unifies us on the immigration issue. This is something about which reasonable Catholics disagree. It seems like priests and bishops should discuss the actual problems in the Chruch and the world as it relates to doctrine instead of wasting time discussing immigration.

I'm not saying the issue itself isn't important, but it isn't a Catholic issue per se.

(Sorry the link didn't work, I was posting from my phone. Thanks for finding it.)

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - Immigration reform is not a waste of time. This is an issue that impacts the lives of tens of millions of humans, impacts families, impacts national economies. Questions that touch directly - and in many cases, negatively - on humans are precisely the matters that should concern us.

And because it is an issue that impacts the lives of humans, it is most certainly a Catholic issue.

John - We do not shy away from using terms that are, to some, unclear or difficult to understand. Were that the case we would not use terms like "hypostatic union," "transubstantiation," or "anamnesis."

I don't doubt that some find Vatican II "unclear." However, I am not among them. That is because I do not read Vat 2 expecting to find the style of didactic linguistics aimed at the third grade level reader. I do not find "subsists in" to be unclear, weak, or hard to understand.

Marc said...

Father, perhaps you should read my post again, as you don't seem to be responding to what I actually wrote.

You should also know that my office does a lot of work with immigrants, so this is not an issue about which you and I disagree. I only disagree that it is the sort of issue that bishops and priests should be specifically preaching on. They would do better to preach on the general concept you mention about treatment of others and let Catholics decide this issue for themselves in that framework since, again, there is no doctrine about immigration reform and we are free to disagree about the best way to accomplish it or if it is even something that is a problem in need of reform.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - I don't know that anyone is specifically preaching on immigration reform. However, the moral principles that support the Bishops' position are also principles that apply in other circumstances.

In that sense, preaching immigration reform might be a practical way to explicate the principles and help others understand the way these principles should work in other situations.

Gene said...

immigration reform means ignoring the law. Regarding "treatment of others," how do you view breaking into someone's country illegally and remaining there in defiance of all law and proper procedure for citizenship. How does that ring up in the legal compendium of twisted terms and disingenuous double-speak? How does it ring up in the Church's teaching that we are to obey the laws of the land? No one wants to consider how law breakers and criminals treat the rest of us...oh, no, let's make an excuse, let's call them victims, let's blame the middle class, let's blame the innocent...a favorite pastime of Leftists. I swear, if good solid blue collar and middle class Americans were not afraid of going to jail and being separated from their loved ones, they would have started shooting years ago.

John said...

Fr. I

Your are evasive, avoid difficult points of argument with dismissive private opinions. Your arguments might be better if they were less self referential.

Anonymous 2 said...


"We have a generation or two relativist/appeasers like Anon 2 and apostate/Modernist Catholics like Ignotus to thank for this." (7:41 a.m.).

There you go again. Wrong again, certainly with regard to me, and I bet with regard to Pater Ignotus as well.

Please show me where I have said anything relativist/appeasing in this thread. And please THINK about what I have written before you answer.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: If you want to have a reasoned discussion about the Rule of Law and about immigration law and policy, I am happy to have it. Let me know.

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. In keeping with Marc's original raising of the topic of immigration, perhaps we should let Father McDonald decide if he wants to create a new thread addressing it instead of using this thread.

Gene said...

Anon 2, There is no "rule of law" regarding illegal immigration. If there were rule of law, they would have all been shipped back like Eisenhower did. I believe he called it "Operation Wetback." All we have is a bunch of two-bit politicians and their legal hacks trying to re-write the laws to provide "amnesty" to a bunch of undesirables and law breakers. There is nothing to discuss.
I'll tell you what, why don't you ask some others on the blog if they have difficulty figuring out where you stand on anything. I know you say you stand with the Magisterium, yet you continue to want to "reason" about issues the Magisterium condemns. You are entirely too "reasonable" for me. I like people who know what they believe and do not have to scratch their heads about it and justify it all the time.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - No, I am not evasive. I disagree with you and your understanding of Vatican Two. There's a world of difference there.

Marc said...

The illegal immigrants I've interviewed seemed to be very hard workers. I think we should keep them and deport some lazy citizens.

In all seriousness, it really isn't that cut and dried. There is real injustice in some immigration cases because the laws are often quite silly as applied.

Gene said...

I'm sure the cases where real injustice is involved can be dealt with. I'll bet they are few. I know they are hard workers...I have hired some legal ones when I was building houses. That doesn't matter. If they are here illegally, they need to go. A nation cannot survive if it does not enforce its own laws. We are rapidly approaching a frontier state. That's fine with me...I am a good shot. But, that is not what is supposed to happen in a nation of laws. Even the President and his cabal are scoff-laws.

John Nolan said...

Anon 2

It is not necessarily true that increased material prosperity and scientific and technological advance lead to religious indifference. The Victorian era saw a remarkable religious revival which, when channelled into charitable efforts did much to mitigate the less positive effects of rapid industrialization and technological change. The great railway termini have indeed been called secular cathedrals, but plenty of fine churches were also being built.

The least religious element in society was the urban poor, whose evangelization was a priority for both Catholic and Anglican clergy. They were not "fighting poverty" in the glib modern sense, but combating the vices that extreme poverty engendered.

Anonymous 2 said...


Yes, I stand with the Magisterium. And I wasn’t asking others on the Blog; I was asking you as you are the one who called me a relativist and appeaser. In fact, as far as I recall, you are the only one who has done that. So again, I ask YOU. Please don’t just allege; substantiate your allegations. Please begin with the current thread as that is the one that seems to have got you started on the ad hominem attacks again (just when I thought we were beginning to get along better).

It is fine for people to know what they believe without the need to justify it. It is also fine for people to seek to understand the justifications for their beliefs. People are different. Thus it is fine simply to accept the Church’s teaching on contraception. It is also fine to study the justifications in Humane Vitae. This is all very Catholic because the Catholic tradition is known for its synthesis of Faith and Reason.

Anonymous 2 said...


On immigration, I think it is shameful that the U.S. federal government has failed to enforce the immigration laws properly and operated an immigration policy under the table for so many years. I cannot stand politicians who engage in trickery and deceit. The Bush administration was far worse than the Obama administration in this respect – about 3000-4000 undocumented migrants coming over the Southern border each day for most of his tenure as President as I recall, representing a de facto immigration policy through non-enforcement. This demonstrated profound disrespect for the Rule of law in my view.

I prefer honest and transparent policymaking and legislating through proper public and democratic deliberation. So, by all means let us have a proper debate about what the legal immigration regime should be or, more accurately, how it should be reformed. And let us deal rationally and justly with the problem of “illegal immigration” both (a) with regard to those millions of undocumented who are already here, many of whom have been here for many years with deep roots in America, and indeed many of whom were brought here as young children (it simply is not feasible, or just, or even prudent to deport all of them now) and (b) with regard to making sure we never get into this position again by ensuring effective enforcement in the future.

Anonymous 2 said...

John Nolan:

Thank you for those thoughts. Yes, the great railway terminals are another fine example of the phenomenon.

I agree about the “not necessarily.” I was hypothesizing and hypotheses require supporting evidence before they can become working theories. However, I still wonder if our most profound problem is not metaphysical.

Anonymous 2 said...


Regarding “Operation Wetback,” it is a lot more complex than “If there were rule of law, they would have all been shipped back like Eisenhower did. I believe he called it ‘Operation Wetback.’” Here are some facts about “Operation Wetback”: It involved far fewer numbers, was adopted largely at the urging of the Mexican government, and was ultimately a failure, being undermined by the desire of American business for cheap labor (sound familiar?). Here is a relatively brief description of salient points (I know you don’t like Wikipedia; nor do I for serious scholarship, but for present purposes, to grasp the main points, it is fine I think):

BTW my position on immigration reform seems to be consistent with that of the magisterium as represented by the USCCB. Yours does not:

Gene said...

I agree that Obama and Bush should be tarred with the same brush regarding immigration. I liked Bush as a person (at least from his public persona), but I consider him to have been a weak President.
I do not trust the all.
I stand by what I said above. I am not going to sacrifice common sense for some air-headed ideal about inclusiveness and immigration reform.

Anonymous 2 said...


As I understand the matter, the positions of the USCCB represent the “ordinary magisterium” of the Church. As such, they are authoritative but not infallible and require “religious submission of intellect and will.” I am not entirely sure how much ultimate freedom this leaves to reject such a position, but I strongly suspect it is not to be rejected lightly or arbitrarily but only after careful consideration of relevant factors in light of Catholic doctrine and tradition, and any relevant documents regarding these. Perhaps Father McDonald or Pater Ignotus can clarify this point for us.

So, yes, you can ultimately choose not to “stand with the magisterium” as represented by the USCCB on the the question of immigration reform. What you cannot do, it seems to me, is to condemn and vilify (call a relativist and an appeaser or whatever insult du jour happens to take your fancy) someone who does choose to “stand with the magisterium” and accept the position of the USCCB on this (or any other question, including, to recur to an earlier dispute between us, the position set out in Faithful Citizenship regarding voting and other political participation by Catholics).

And I agree that one should not “sacrifice common sense for some air-headed ideal about inclusiveness and immigration reform.” But I do not think that is what the Bishops are doing. Their position is much more sophisticated than that. And it is certainly not what I am doing.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 2 - I don't think that a policy statement by the USCCB such as the January 2011 statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or the January 2013 Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration that was the combined effort of the USCCB and the Mexican bishops' Conference, is a part of the "ordinary magisterium" of the Church. Such statements as these are based on prudential judgment on the part of the Conference(s) that are based on the teaching of the Church and the wisdom of the bishops making the statement(s).

A Catholic could, therefore, disagree with certain specific aspects of the proposals made in the statement. But he/she would have to show good reasons for doing so.

Such reasons could not include "They don't speak my language" or "I don't want them as mu neighbors" or "They take our jobs" or some other such "reasons."

The principles underlying the Bishops' policy statements regarding migration are:

1. Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland.

2. Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.

3. Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.

4. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.

5. The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.

Pope John Paul II's "Ecclesia in America" (January 1999) is a good place to look for these principles.

Anonymous 2 said...

Pater Ignotus:

Thank you for the clarification and information. I must admit I am not clear about the different types of magisterial (and non-magisterial) pronouncements, and I suspect I am not alone among readers on the Blog in that. I have searched for a good relatively short and accessible explanation of this matter but have been unable to find one. I have, however, found a couple of books that I still need to get and indeed that I suggested could be studied by those interested in a study group:

 The Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church (1983) (

 Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium (1996)

What I have been going by until now is the following unsatisfactory treatment in Wikipedia, which also included a table of “levels” of magisterial authority:

This entire matter seems so central to many of the discussions on the Blog that I really do think it would help if we could all be clearer about it. That way we would have a framework within which discussion can proceed more productively. At least we would know more exactly where the disagreements are. Perhaps I am influenced by my legal training – in the law we need to know what the relevant authoritative sources are, how they relate to one another, and how to reason with them.

Do you know of a good, short and accessible treatment of these matters?

Thanks again.

Gene said...

5. "The human dignity and human rights of (illegal aliens) should be respected" we round their law breaking butts up and ship them home.

It seems to me that, when we break the law, we have willingly given up our "human dignity." So, treat 'em civilly, smile, hand 'em a burrito, and send them home.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Breaking the law does not result in giving up one's dignity or one's God-given rights.

Those suspected or accused of crimes, and those convicted and in prison retain their dignity and their God-given rights.

They also have an added claim on our compassion and goodness -"When I was in prison you visited me"

Pater Ignotus said...

"Our beliefs about the sanctity of human life and dignity must be at the center of our approach to these issues. We respect the humanity and promote the human dignity of both victims and offenders. We believe society must protect its citizens from violence and crime and hold accountable those who break the law. These same principles lead us to advocate for rehabilitation and treatment for offenders, for, like victims, their lives reflect that same dignity. Both victims and perpetrators of crime are children of God."

From: USCCB's "Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice" November 2000

Gene said...

Criminals do not have the same dignity as victims or law abiding citizens. They may have dignity before God, but that is according to His inscrutable will. They also face His judgement for their crimes.
It is axiomatic that most felons do not rehabilitate. I have no compassion for them except to pray for mercy for their souls...preferably just before the switch is thrown.
"When I was in prison, you visited me." Probably speaking about persecuted Christians...anyway, I worked in prisons for several years as a chaplain.

Anonymous 2 said...


How do you reconcile your apparent enthusiasm for widespread use of the death penalty (throwing the switch for “felons”) with section 2267 of the CCC?:

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

Or do you reject this section of the CCC?

Gene said...

"The Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty."

Pater Ignotus said...

CCC 2267 "Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor."

[There is a big IF there that cannot be overlooked.]

CCC cont'd: "If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person."

[Non-lethal means are sufficient, further diminishing the moral acceptability of the death penalty.]

CCC Cont'd: "Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

[In practice there are no cases in which the execution of the offender is absolutely necessary.]

The only possible reason for suggesting that "I was in prison and you visited me" refers to "persecuted Christians" is self-justification of behavior that is contrary to the Gospel.

Anonymous 2 said...

Okay, Gene, that's a good start. Now, what about the rest of it?

Anonymous 2 said...

Of course, I posted my comment without knowing that Pater Ignotus had posted his. Yes, the rest of the text is there for good reason. I think it is important to recall that the CCC is intended for Catholics in the whole world, not just the U.S. It is my understanding that when the conditions set out in this section of the CCC are applied, continued use of the death penalty is Western nations in not justified. It might be different in some other parts of the world.

How can the passage refer to persecuted Christians when it was said by Jesus himself, before there _were_ any persecuted Christians?

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 2 - Thank you for your remarkable insight into the chronology of Christianity...

Anonymous 2 said...

Thank you for the affirmation, Pater. it just goes to show what years of higher education and a legal training can do for one.