Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Pope Francis is of the "inductive" school or psychology of 🤔thinking, more feminine, circular and open. Pope Benedict and most other pope's, but especially the German pope were/are more of the deductive school which is masculine, linear, clear and logical, building upon what preceded in a methologically precise way.

Given Pope Francis novel papal approach to thinking, Fr. John Hunwicke's blog, "Mutual Enrichment"  has had a series on the question of Pope Francis being heretical or not. Fortunately the answer is NO in his 4 th installment which I copy below. It is very insightful:

So, if the present Pope appears to imply that God's final Word was not already spoken in Jesus Christ, and that the Divine Priority now is to create and consolidate a New Age, the New Bergoglian Age of Mercy, does that make him a heretic?

Most certainly not. In structural terms, the polarity of orthodox versus heterodox is very often not useful because it is on a different page from the actual language which is being put under the microscope. If one were to take the pope's words seriously in a nakedly propositional way, one might have no alternative but to condemn them as most gravely erroneous. One might even have to condemn them as analogous to other claims made to the possession of a New Understanding which supersedes or completes the Old. Obvious examples are Islam, Montanism, and Mormonism. But the necessity to be rather more linguistically nuanced than this did not cease to have validity when Wittgenstein died. The analysis of 'language games' is every bit as necessary now as ever it was. Having a sensitive nose for differences of literary genre is as important for those who examine papal documents as it is for analysts of Horace and Ovid.

Intelligent readers ... which is to say, all readers who have diligently worked their way through these pieces ... I apologise for taking so long to reach my conclusion ...  will be longing to make an angry point to me: "You began by saying that Pope Francis should not be judged by the canons of precise and logical discourse. But that is precisely what you ... with your close and lengthy syntactical analysis of one rather silly passage in his 2017 Easter Vigil Homily ... have just wasted a lot of your time and ourtime doing."

You are quite right. Bergoglian discourse is agglutinative and impressionistic rather than linear. It is much more interested in deploying rhetoric incoherently to achieve a conviction in the hearers which will drive them to action, than it is in laying out an argument in such a rational way as to satisfy even a moderately fastidious logician. This Roman Pontiff finds it much easier to dash off a painterly spectacular in the style of Edvard Munch's The Scream than to design an architectural edifice which will actually - given the laws of Physics as they apply on planet Earth - stand upright.

In order to understand the rhetorical methods of the current bishop of Rome, illumination may be gained from the speeches in Euripidean tragedy. These have sometimes been analysed in terms of "the rhetoric of the situation". Vide the most interesting account of this in pp xxiv-xxix of her 1954 edition of the Alcestisby the late Amy Dale, of Somerville College in this University, the wife of Professor T B L Webster. It is the sort of point that women can sometimes grasp more readily than men.

And, dear readers, that is precisely why Papa Bergoglio cannot be deemed a heretic. To be definable as a heretic he would need to have advanced formally, with full understanding and responsibility, propositional errors. It is perfectly clear to me that he has, quite simply, not done so. Nor has he ever come close to doing so. Nor is he ever likely to. Not in a month of Sundays. He avoids precise propositional assertion like the very plague. It would get in the way of what he really wishes to achieve.

What he does is this: he has in mind a practical result, and so he gathers together assertions which appear to him to back it up. Those assertions do not need to be be mutually coherent (or, indeed, to sit easily with established dogma). Shocking? Frankly, folks, S Paul appears to me sometimes to do something very similar. When it suits the argument, the Apostle will tell us that no man can fufill the Torah; when it suits him, his line is that Gentiles do it rather better than Jews. This is one reason why 'Pauline scholars' have some of their problems. I have some (only some) sympathy with a Finnish academic called Heikki Raisanen, who regards S Paul's teaching as so incoherent as to be pretty well beyond reconstruction or comprehension. To judge Pope Bergoglio by the canons of formal logic is quite simply to make a genre-error. It is not illuminating; it is not helpful; it is not, in the profoundest sense, accurate.

Is this a dangerous pontificate? Not nearly as much as panicky people fearfully imagine. Come off it! And cheer up! The ease with which Pope Francis and his associated ideologues, while studiously "not changing doctrine", in fact over-ride and ignore the Magisterium of his predecessors, will make it pitifully easy for his successors to dump his 'teaching' with only the most perfunctory of formalities, and then to restore the simple lucidities of the Tradition handed down through the Apostles, the Deposit of Faith. He has already pretty well sawn off the branch he is sitting on. Or imagine him as a Humpty Dumpty sitting on an increasingly wobbly wall. 

To the frightened and the fearful I add: Just hold tight whenever the roller-coaster seems to be going dangerously fast, and remember that her Immaculate Heart will prevail. This is Fatima Year!


James said...

I've never had much time for Hunwicke's pseudo-intellectual twaddle, but he seems to have excelled himself this time. What a self-indulgent, patronizing piece, all fuelled by the racist assumption that the poor little South American can't cope with Western European rationality. Hunwicke's contempt for Pope Francis comes across in every sentence.

p.s. love the picture of the boat!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what Fr. Hunwicke was saying. It seemed like he enjoyed "showing off" his intellect but what good is that if it isn't clear and doesn't teach or help anyone. I took it as arrogance telling people to calm down everything is fine with Francis. No it's not. Francis has remained silent when he is asked to clarify his teaching so that souls may not fall into error. His refusal is a dereliction of his obligation to confirm his brethren in the Faith. Fr. Hunwicke, I'm sure, seems to be a very genuine and caring priest but he has the Anglican disdain for the "Romans".

Victor said...

"more interested in deploying rhetoric incoherently to achieve a conviction in the hearers which will drive them to action"
Unfortunately, or fortunately, all this incompetent rhetoric has made me simply ignore anything the pope has been saying, and this has been for quite a while now.

James: I don't think there is racism in this article. Francis has mentally not moved out of South America and the 70s (which may be the same in his mind), even though he has done so physically.

Gene said...

"The Pope is not a heretic..." Yeah, yeah..and Obama is not a Muslim, and Hillary is not a Socialist, and Bruce Jenner is not a man, and the Pope is not Catholi....oops, wait a minute....!!!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Bergoglian discourse is agglutinative and impressionistic rather than linear. It is much more interested in deploying rhetoric incoherently to achieve a conviction in the hearers which will drive them to action, than it is in laying out an argument in such a rational way as to satisfy even a moderately fastidious logician. This Roman Pontiff finds it much easier to dash off a painterly spectacular in the style of Edvard Munch's The Scream than to design an architectural edifice which will actually - given the laws of Physics as they apply on planet Earth - stand upright.

Readers will be aghast, but when I read that paragraph, I thought: something very similar could be said about President Trump.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Exactly Fr. Fox, although Pope Francis is religious, His Holiness and President Trump are populists, use vulgar slurs against those they dislike (although Trump's are over the top) and appeal to the "masses" like Evita Peron in Argentina (a populist who had the common touch with the working class as does Trump and Pope Francis).

We live in very strange times in both America and the Vatican.

Gene said...

Trump is "religious," too. Being religious has nothing to do with the Christian/Catholic Faith. In fact, Karl Barth once said that, "Religion is what happens to a man when he falls from grace."

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, a pope can encourage heresy among the faithful without being formally heretical himself. For instance, by failing to defend the faith explicitly when it is attacked. By failing to clarify it when it's meaning is questioned.

James said...

Yes, you're right, that's too strong: "unconscious racial stereotyping" covers it better.

Marc said...

I think the question whether Francis is a heretic is easily answered from a colloquial perspective. However, from a canonical and juridical perspective, it is incredibly difficult to answer it. It may even be impossible to ever juridically determine that a living pope is a heretic.

Fr. Jean Michel Gleize SSPX wrote a multi-part piece on the question whether a pope can be a heretic and whether Francis is. That article is very nuanced, as is appropriate considering the nuance necessitated by the question. He concluded that Francis, in Amoris Laetitia, is promoting heresy. But that does not make him a heretic. Perhaps a difficult distinction is laity to grasp, but it is very signicant when addressing whether someone is guilty of the crime of heresy.

Ultimately, whether Francis is a heretic is of little to no consequence to our lives. We have our duty of state to see about. We keep the faith and pray for perseverance during the crisis. Maybe Cd. Burke and his crew will do something about the situation and maybe not. Whatever happens, we have the sacramamets and the Catholic life as it's been given to us by our forebears.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

President Trump and Pope Francis may - MAY - both be populists, although I think that is too shallow an analysis of the Pope. The difference I see is that Trump is a populist for what he understands to be his own benefit while the Pope is a populist for what he understands to be the good of the Church.

As far as the President is concerned, populism is good for winning elections, but it is not good for governing a nation as it is based on fanning the flames of alienation. David Brooks writes in today's NYTimes, "Worse, alienation breeds a distrust that corrodes any collective effort. To be “woke” in the alienated culture is to embrace the most cynical interpretation of every situation, to assume bad intent in every actor, to imagine the conspiratorial malevolence of your foes."

To echo Martin, readers will be aghast. But understanding the difference is essential in forming judgments about each man.

Anonymous 2 said...

To supplement Father Kavanaugh’s observation, one other difference between their rhetoric is that the Pope does not constantly utter falsehoods. President Trump does—several times a day it seems.

On another point, this inquiring mind really wants to know what the Trump supporters and apologists here have to say about all the positive things Trump now has to say about the religion of Islam. I have wanted to put them to this question ever since Trump referred to the children who were the victims of April’s apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria as “children of God.”

So, what do the Islam bashers here think about the following statements made by Trump in Sunday’s speech in Saudi Arabia?

“Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world's great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. . . .

Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith. Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.”

It could be the Pope talking.

Is it now PC in Trump World to speak positively about Islam and Muslims because the Great Leader has said these things?

Or is all this just another falsehood on Trump’s part?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. Kavanaugh writes:

"The difference I see is that Trump is a populist for what he understands to be his own benefit while the Pope is a populist for what he understands to be the good of the Church.

Father, how can you know that Mr. Trump knowingly ("what he understands...") seeks his own benefit -- as opposed to what he thinks, rightly or wrongly, to be for the good of the country?

I'm not interested in debating the merits of Mr. Trump's proposals. I'm interested to know how you can know this about his inner life.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin - Most of the commentators who know Trump well have voiced this opinion. "For psychologists, it is almost impossible to talk about Donald Trump without using the word narcissism. Asked to sum up Trump’s personality for an article in Vanity Fair, Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard, responded, “Remarkably narcissistic.” George Simon, a clinical psychologist who conducts seminars on manipulative behavior, says Trump is “so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example” of narcissism. (Da McAdmas, The Atlantic, June 2016)

When have we known Mr Trump to act altruistically or in a self-sacrificing manner? (Please don't post about the plane he sent to pick up stranded Marines - that is a totally debunked tale.) His ability in business has been directed toward - wait for it - self-enrichment.

He has stated that he does deals, not for the money, but for winning the deal. That's to his own benefit.

In selling Trump Tower space he admits that he discriminated (The Art of the Deal). "They (the board) can reject you for any reason they choose, without explanation. It's a license to discriminate...It's absurd and probably illegal, but it happened to be great for Trump Tower." That's to his own benefit.

"I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.” (The Art of the Deal)

He admits to manipulating the media to his financial advantage (The Art of the Deal, page 183) That's to his advantage.

And then, there are three wives...... To his advantage.

etc etc etc

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Well, no one's perfect! We must accompany him.

Marc said...

Well, a real-life psychologist (who hasn't evaluated Trump) made statements that Trump is a narcissist so it must be true. I'm sure that psychologist has no ulterior motive at all so is completely trustworthy.

What do psychologists say about the pope? Is he a narcissist as well? He exhibits many of the same characteristics as Trump, except he gets better PR because the leftist media likes his leftist positions.

For my part, I don't see a lot of different between the two leaders. They both play act their positions in an effort to achieve their personal political ends. Neither is likely very interested in the well-being of the group he purports to lead. The difference is one is an actual politician, a career in which such behavior is expected, and the other is the pope.

James said...

"They both play act their positions in an effort to achieve their personal political ends"

Similar criticisms were levelled at Reagan and St John Paul II thirty years ago, which makes for an intriguing comparison. I know which pair I'd rather see in power...

John Nolan said...

Definition of a 'pseudo-intellectual' according to one commentator on this blog:

One who knows Greek and Latin and is steeped in classical culture.
One who knows more about patristics than most Catholic bishops, that of Rome included.
One who knows more about liturgy than any number of self-styled 'liturgists'.
One who has the erudition and eloquence to sustain an argument over more than one paragraph.

Of course the commentator regards himself as a genuine (not pseudo) intellectual, although he gives scant evidence to justify his arrogance. I suggest he leave, trying not to scrape his knuckles on the ground as he goes.

James said...

Ha ha, John, I just knew you'd come out and defend Fr. Hunwicke, as you and he are like two peas in a pod.

The same snobbery, the same zeal to parade your second-hand ideas, the same disdain for anyone who doesn't share your prejudices: what is it about retired English school teachers that makes them so insufferably tedious?

Anonymous said...

What is it about retired English school teachers? Maybe, because they read to much English lit, they share a common historical phantasy: "...the simple-minded and dangerously misleading assumptions, drawn from a triumphalist history of Anglo-American achievements that has long shaped the speeches of statesmen, think-tank reports, technocratic surveys, newspaper editorials, while supplying fuel to countless columnists, TV pundits and so-called terrorism experts." and I would add, "retired English school teachers/"

Anonymous said...

Charles Krauthammer, a board certified psychiatrist, wrote, "Trump's hypersensitivity and untempered Pavlovian responses are, shall we say, unusual in both ferocity and predictability. This is beyond narcissism. I used to think Trump was an 11 year old, undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive. An infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value - indeed exists - only insofar as it sustains and inflates him" 5 August 2016

Gene said...

I don't think anyone (besides Anon above and other hysterics) takes Charles Krauthammer seriously anymore. He is a republican establishment talking head and nothing more. Sort of like George Will.

Mark said...


Are you at least open to the possibility that Krauthammer and Will may have a point in their critical perceptions of President Trump? Or do you worship Trump so much that he is beyond criticism?

By the way, I am still waiting for a response from you and other Islam bashers to my post at 1:26 p.m. yesterday.

rcg said...

Boy, this went off the rails quickly.

It seems some people are defending the Pope because they dislike Trump. Others are torn because they don't like Hunwicke. Neither of those are sane responses.

Marc said...

Response to A2, as requested:

Everything in that quote you pasted is correct: Saudi Arabia is home to one of the holiest sites in Islam, etc. Those are just factual statements. There are positive things about Islam and Muslims -- everyone is created by God and bears His image so no one is completely evil. That doesn't change my firm belief that Islam is a false religion whose adherents unwittingly worship demons. It is an inversion of Catholic Christianity so that is very likely a scourge sent by God, as some saints taught.

That being said...

As a political strategy, it makes sense to focus on building positive relationships with Muslim governments so that they can try to help root out those amongst themselves that are prone to violence. Trump is deftly attempting this, it seems to me. Whether that is the reality, I question because I think that our government's absurd Middle East policy causes more harm than good, especially our unconditional support for Israel.

I don't know whether Trump is a narcissist or not. I don't think it's meaningful for a mental health professional to purport to pass judgment on someone whom that person has not evaluated. I'm sure as a person interested in proper application of the scientific method and intellectual honesty you can appreciate that.

Anonymous 2 said...


Thank you for your response.

You refer to your “firm belief that Islam is a false religion whose adherents unwittingly worship demons.” President Trump, on the other hand, called Islam “one of the world’s great faiths.” There is, to say the least, a tension between these two characterizations.

I don’t have a problem with what President Trump said. It seems to me that you and like-minded others should.

More generally, we agree about the absurdity of our Middle East policy. For example, one can still appropriately support Israel while avoiding absurdities such as unleashing the demons of Hell by invading Iraq as we did.

I do appreciate proper application of the scientific method and intellectual honesty; indeed, Trump’s own failures in this respect provide yet another reason, among many, why I find him so appalling.

And now we learn about the cruel exclusion of Sean Spicer, a devout Catholic, from the audience with the Pope, something he reportedly had set his heart on. We must await better information to know whether or not Trump himself was responsible for this exclusion but it would certainly be in keeping with his apparently cruel nature. Perhaps Sean is now, in Trump’s eyes, just another “loser.”

Gene said...

Anon 2, So, what is it about Trump's statements? They are plain, political statements. Muslims are still one of the most undesirable, primitive, and savage religions on the face of the earth. I do not worship fact, the jury is still out on him because his presidency is barely begun. But, I like what he has done so far. I'll overlook his brashness and his populist swagger. I grew up in the era of Gene and Herman Talmadge, Edwin Edwards, George Wallace, and others of that popuist stripe. Trump has nothing over Gene Talmadge, who once said, "Ya'll got three friends in this world...Jesus Christ, the Sears and Roebuck catalog, and Gene Talmadge." In response to accusations that he stole money from the government to spend on local farm programs, he said to a huge crowd of south Ga. farmers, "Yeah, I stole...but I stole for ya'll." He was re-elected in a landslide. All you liberals were wearing Depends everyday back then, too.

Anonymous said...

I will note that Gene and Herman Talmadge and George Wallace we also of the overt RACIST stripe. Funny they should be mentioned as members of Gene's political populist pantheon...

Marc said...

Mark, Islam is "one of the world's great faiths," as that phrase is popularly understood. As Catholics, we can recognize that it isn't even properly called a "religion," but we can use commonly understood phrases to describe things to avoid confusion (as in, when we refer to "the Methodist church," even though technically it isn't a "church").

I find Trump to be an annoying personality, and I probably disagree with many of his positions, to the extent he has positions and they can be understood. His mismanagement of the White House is surprising to me since I thought that might be his strong suit. But, then, I remember when he went bankrupt (although I was like 10 years old at the time).

I'm bothered that I have to vote for someone like Trump. I wish our political system presented better options. As I hope you can see by my comments here over the years, for all my faults, I try to let my faith drive my political choices despite having a degree in political science. While I don't wish to rehash the debate we've had before, I don't think a Catholic can in good conscience vote for someone like Hilary Clinton. And I think that the Supreme Court appointments alone necessitated a vote for Trump. So I'm firmly not in the Trump apologetics business. I hope that he accomplishes certain aspects of his platform: immigration reform, tax cuts for the middle class, reduction of health care costs, decrease in abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood. At this point, I'm not sure he'll get very far because of the ridiculous Republicans.

My first priority is my faith, as I said. I don't think it's proper for Catholics to put politics first and then wedge that into the faith or use it to justify some religious position. We probably agree on that point. Yet, we come to different conclusions politically.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The Catholic Church does recognize Islam as a religion, and we do not use that term merely to avoid confusion. It is not a religion as we are a religion, but it is, properly, referred to as a religion.

(We also recognize and refer to bishops in other Christian denominations as "Bishops." They are not bishops as we understand them, but they are, properly referred to as bishops. The Vatican does not refer to the current Archbishop of Canterbury as "Mr." Welby.)

"The Church, therefore, urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other RELIGIONS (caps mine). Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture." NA 3

"Then [we refer] to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism, the Muslim RELIGION (caps mine) especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God.” Paul VI Ecclesiam Suam 107

"Our pilgrimage to these holy places is not for purposes of prestige or power. It is a humble and ardent prayer for peace, through the intercession of the glorious protectors of Africa, who gave up their lives for love and for their belief. In recall the Catholic and Anglican Martyrs, We gladly recall also those confessors of the Muslim faith who were the first to suffer death, in the year 1848, for refusing to transgress the precepts of their RELIGION (Caps mine).” Paul VI, Address to Islamic Communities, 1 August 1969

Etc Etc Etc

Anonymous 2 said...


Big difference – Talmadge was not President representing the nation.

Of course you overlook Trump’s brashness as you seem to share the same ethos and to practice the same sort of incivility.

Anonymous 2 said...


I understand your point about linguistic convention but Trump did not have to use that language. For example, he could have said “Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in Islam.” The fact that he did not but used the language he did is telling, as is the strongly arguable (albeit not inevitable) implication from his accurate statement that terrorists do not worship God: namely, that Muslims who are not terrorists may worship God.

More profoundly, I want to ask you: If, as we believe, God creates our souls and all humans bear His image and likeness, isn’t He responsible for a soul being born into a Muslim family and an Islamic culture or, indeed, into any non-Christian family or culture? Given this premise, and absent a further premise regarding predestination, why in the name of Heaven would He then condemn that soul to perdition?

By the way, even though we may reason our way to different conclusions, I do respect your conscientious approach when deliberating how to vote, as it seems you respect mine.

Mark (aka Anonymous 2)

Common Catholic said...

I agree with Marc's comment at 5:54.
Barack Obama did things that if Mr Trump were to follow suit, it would generate all manner of self-righteous condemnation from his opponents. The occupation of politician carries with it all manner of negative connotation but that did not begin with Mr. Trump.
It is interesting how some Christians would still vote for Hillary Clinton today, even given who she would nominate to the Supreme Court, her philosophy of support for Planned Parenthood, and given her philosophy and convictions, other things she would do which would be inimical to faithful followers of Christ.

Marc said...

A2, it's impossible to understand why God allows some people to be born into non-Catholic families. Regardless, we know that everyone whom God wills to be saved will infallibly be saved. Others will be damned by their own sinfulness. This follows from God's predilection for some souls: God loves some more than others. The mystery of predestination is not for us to comprehend. And it's impossible to address your thought-question without reference to the concept.

It should be said that even those of us born outside the faith can convert and be saved, if it is God's will. And He will save us, if He so chooses, even if he has to send an angel to preach the Gospel to us to accomplish His ends.

To finish up the discussion of Trump, I don't read too much into his phrasing. I don't expect linguistic precision from politicians since their words are generally, I assume, calculated to actually say as little as possible. Plus, we're talking about Trump -- I don't expect precision from him in any case.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

This is not correct: "God loves some more than others."

CCC 605 "At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." He affirms that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many"; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us. The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer."

This and many, many other sources can be cited to show that the idea that "God loves some more than others" is incorrect.

Marc said...

In the broad sense, God loves everyone. No one contests that. God wills all men to be saved, and no one contests that. All men are not saved, though, and no one can contest that. St. Thomas addressed this paradox, expounding on St. Augustine.

If one thing is better than another, it is because God wills the better for one thing and not the other: that is, God loves one thing more than another because God is the cause of good.

We cannot save ourselves, contrary to Pelagianism. Some are saved and some are not through God's permissive will. Therefore, those who are saved are saved because God wills the better for them. Hence, God loves some more than others.

Ite ad Thomam.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

God wills that all be saved.

Being saved is better than not being saved.

Not all are saved, not because God wills SOME to be saved and OTHERS to be damned, but because some reject salvation (free will).

This is not evidence of preferential love by God for some, since God loves all equally, but of the rejection of that love by the individuals who act is ways that lead to condemnation.

Christ died for all, opening the way to salvation for all. That Christ died for all, not only those "predestined" for salvation, is further evidence of God's unqualified love for all.

Marc said...

I'll stick with St. Thomas on this topic instead of Michael Kavanaugh.

Anonymous 2 said...

Marc and Father Kavanaugh:

In researching this issue, I found the following articles, which make a lot of sense to me. What do you think about what the authors write?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh:

I'm sorry to say that your response, in defense of your claim to know President Trump's inner life to the extent that you can assert his approach to public policy is aimed at his own benefit, and excludes acting for the benefit of the country, is most unpersuasive.

Demonstrating that he has flaws was not necessary; his flaws are manifest. That he pursued business deals for his own benefit isn't probative. Business deals are, generally, for ones own benefit -- that's the point (although that doesn't prevent that same deal benefiting others as well).

And pointing to what "most commentators" say is very weak tea. Who cares? You are simply pointing to other people who demonstrate no more real knowledge of Mr. Trump's inner life than you do.

The accusation you made against him is very serious.

But beyond that, it hardly explains anything.

Let us, for sake of argument, suppose you are right: that Mr. Trump's fundamental motivation is his own benefit -- not the nation's benefit. Then why run for President? Do you really think he will make himself richer as president, than not? He has spent a significant sum of money seeking the presidency; and now that he is president, he is foregoing a not-insignificant amount of income and business activity. It is far-fetched to suppose that being president will enrich him materially. Before taking office, he could spend all the time he wanted on making money; if he is spending any time on money-making now, it is certainly much less. And he is subject to far greater scrutiny than before. And, he faces new legal risks. And, he has almost certainly alienated people who might otherwise have been customers.

Marc said...

A2, the Akin article seems to approach the issue from an interesting perspective. The second article is rather fluffy.

This question is a very intricate theological question that has resulted in fractured schools of thought, even among Thomists. I recommend for your consideration a book called Predestination by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, the most esteemed Thomist of the 20th century. In the book, he explains the question in great detail and refutes the Molinists and the Calvinists, among others. He also provides a history of the theological thought on this topic. It is a difficult and technical book, but understanding this question greatly increased my appreciation for God's sovereign will and love for mankind, so it is definitely a worthwhile read.

I don't think that finding articles by armchair theologians like Jimmy Akin is going to give you a real good understanding of the depth of this issue. It is simply too complex for that sort of pithy analysis. That is, of course, if you are inclined to study it at all, which is questionable. As I said, it was good spiritual reading for me and not just something to increase technical understanding. So I recommend it.

Anonymous 2 said...

Whatever Trump’s inner motivations, he has dragged the Republic (and the Republican Party) further down into the swamp of political tribalism, incivility, falsehoods, disregard for facts and attacks on the truth, and as we now starkly see in Montana, physical violence approved by many in his base. He is truly a leader for our times. God help us. I, for one, cannot wait for him to be removed from the Presidency and for President Pence to take over (although I would personally much prefer a President Kasich).

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin - Yes, my accusations are very serious. don't need you to tell me that. His destructive behavior is very serious, and you should not need anyone to tell you that.

Not being his spiritual director, a job I would not wish on my worst enemy, I can judge his inner life only by his outer actions. Start with five children by three wives and go from there...

Why run for president? Because it is all about him/herself. That's what narcissists do. It's not about money for Trump - it's about winning.

Marc said...

A2, re-reading my comment above, I wanted to clarify the "which is questionable" part because it could sound like an insult the way it's written. That's not my intention.

I was trying to say that I think topics like predestination aren't necessarily good matter for everyone to study or consider very much because it is one of those mysteries on which it is easy to slip off the rails. I personally found it more spiritually edifying than I expected, so you might as well. But you know yourself better than I know you, of course!

Anonymous 2 said...


Thank you for the reference. I found the book online and have been trying to read in it a bit this evening. It is, of course, very scholarly and not easy reading. Seeking commentary on the book I found this source, which also seems quite helpful on the general topic of predestination:

Marc said...

A2, for a bit of a more dogmatic approach, along the lines of the article you linked, you might consider the Pohle-Preuss Dogmatic Theology Manual, which is (thankfully) available online.

The section on predestination starts at page 222.

Common Catholic said...

One could certainly from objective observation, characterize Mr Trump as an egotistical, narcissistic boor. Being of human nature though, it should be acknowledged that there is a more underlying complexity to his make-up as a person. No one here can say with certainty that Hillary Clinton is a better person than President Trump. And yes, for many who run for public office, it is about winning and power.Many who have run for higher office have already held positions of power and responsibility, and having been elected to whatever positions they have held, have what it takes to get elected. This gives them a leg up. What makes Mr. Trump different is that he has never held elective office. A person who holds public office must be judged by the actions they take, the policies they promote, and the laws and regulations they help bring to fruition. It is way to early to judge President Trump. Just on two fronts, unlike his predecessor, he is Pro-life and Pro-religious freedom(in the context of legal issues that are being hashed out in that arena). For that I am thankful, although what he can accomplish remains to be seen..
While Mr Trump's predecessor was outwardly possessed of a more agreeable and pleasant persona, he was not all that amenable or willing to compromise in the pursuit of his philosophical aims and objectives, some of which are, and have consequences, inimical to Christian belief, and will have a persistent effect for some time. We can thank God that he was not able to appoint more Supreme Court justices(being that Presidents of his philosophical bent always seem to get those who bring that philosophy to the bench).

Anonymous 2 said...

Common Catholic:

The last Obama Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, was a fine choice:

“On March 11, 2016, Senator Orrin Hatch, president pro tempore of the United States Senate and the most senior Republican Senator, predicted that President Obama would ‘name someone the liberal Democratic base wants’ even though he ‘could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man.’ Five days later, on March 16, Obama formally nominated Garland for Supreme Court Justice.”

But, of course, the Republicans wanted to play politics instead of doing their constitutional duty by giving him a hearing:

“In an unprecedented move, Senate Republicans (under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) refused to consider Garland's nomination, holding "no hearings, no votes, no action whatsoever" on the nomination.”

And then the Democrats turned around and played the same stupid, petty political game themselves by obstructing the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch.

Pathetic all round!