Saturday, January 16, 2021


The Lutheran pastor, John Neuhaus wrote a book in 1987 entitled "The Catholic Moment". He later converted to Catholicism and was ordained a Catholic priest and remained a brilliant conservative theologian until his death.

But as a Protestant, he felt that Catholicism of the USCCB of the time frame of 1987 (when Cardinal Bernadine was the chair and Bishop Lessard the chair of the Doctrine Committee, was fulfilling better the Reformation mandate than Protestants were doing, in addressing issues of culture, government and war and peace, not to mention the economy, racism and other issues. 

Thus in 1987, Bishop Lessard, perhaps hoping to rise in the Church in the USA by becoming the Archbishop of Washington, DC or even Chicago, both of which were rumored earlier in his time as our bishop, was more than happy to align himself with the likes of Pax Christi, USA and the two most liberal bishops in the country in 1987, Bishops Gumbleton and Sullivan. He was more than happy to hang me as a most innocent sacrificial victim to work with and deal with insurrectionist nuns of Pax Christi to plan a Mass outside the gate of a Nuclear Submarine Base in our diocese where nuclear weapons also existed in order to invade it at the end of Mass, which they and others did, but not Bishop Lessard or me, his sacrificial lamb!

It was all about the Catholic Moment as Bishop Lessard perceived it and Neuhaus articulated it, where the corporate bishops of America through the mechanism of the USCCB could be relevant in our society, have a place at the table of world leaders and suggest particular policies as it concerns war and peace, disarmament, the economy, racism and so on, specific policies, of course, outside the domain of their mandate as bishops "To teach, rule and sanctify the People of God, or as pre-Vatican II theology taught it, the Perfect Society--independent of any worldly society. 

All of this triumphalism, though, was coming to an end with the papacy of Pope John Paul II as it concerns the function of Bishops' Conferences worldwide and even more so with Pope Benedict's pontificate. Their emphasis was on actual Catholic teaching about local bishops acting independently of a national corporate body like the USCCB which has no doctrinal origin.

And in addition to this, while my bishop and Cardinal Bernadine and the USCCB of the 1980's were receiving such accolades from the brokers of American Liberalism in the secular and religious worlds and indeed from a well known and respected Protestant Lutheran Minister-theologian, John Neuhaus(which also tied into their desire to broker a new ecumenical Church of unity), the bishops' management of the Church and their dioceses was being neglected or mismanaged as it concerns the sexual abuse of minors by bishops, priests and others who work for the Church.

Thus, that one grotesque mismanagement of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church brought about a complete and total collapse of the Catholic Moment which is still occurring in 2021 even as Pope Francis of the ideology of the USCCB of the 1980's must also deal with mismanagement of the Vatican, its financial arm and the sex abuse crisis that continues unabated with the defrocked McCarrick, bishops he named in Chile and those he criticized in the most unpopelike manner who criticized his choices and well, you know what I mean. Liberalism in Church leaders managing the affairs of government, like war and peace, the economy, climate change while neglecting the coming schism in the Church brought on by  the same leaders consumed with being power brokers on relevant issues of the day.

 When CNN was fair and balanced, a bit of Crossfire as it concerns my post on my participation in insurrection and the invasion of a nuclear armaments base in my diocese all motivated by The Catholic Moment in 1987:

John Nolan said:

The Soviets had always seen Western 'peace movements' as fertile ground for exploitation and as the Cold War intensified in the 1980s they made this one of their priorities. Pax Christi International would have been high on the list of targets. Lessard and like-minded bishops, whether or not they cared to admit it, were playing the KGB's game. It was noticeable at the time that groups like Pax Christi and the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, chaired by Monsignor Bruce Kent (since laicized), were quick to condemn NATO as the aggressor for planning to deploy GLCM and P2 in response to the very real threat of Soviet SS-20 missiles.

It was also claimed that US strategy was to confine a nuclear war to Europe, a useful bit of disinformation which suited the Kremlin's agenda of driving a wedge between America and its European NATO partners. Incidentally, in April 2019 Pax Christi US called for the disbanding of NATO on the grounds that it was a threat to Putin's Russia. The Left may be delusional, but it can display remarkable consistency.

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

Anonymous Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

To "para bellum" by building and deploying nuclear weapons, the stated use of which is the annihilation of civilian populations, is grossly immoral.

"It is never permitted to direct nuclear or conventional weapons to 'the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their populations . . . 'The intentional killing of innocent civilians or non-combatants is always wrong." (The Challenge of Peace)

If you want peace, work for justice.




Anonymous said...

By Father K's argument, war is always immoral. Most any war has always killed far more civilians than combatants, merely by the armies moving across the area as locusts and leaving civilians to starve. There is some possibility that perhaps 1000yrs ago or more with far less population density, and smaller armies, that civilian deaths were lower, but not in a VERY very long time has this been so.

Holy Church exists to ONE purpose, and that is the salvation of souls. This applies especially to her ministers. Consider every terrible moment of the Church throughout its history after Constantine, and you will find at root the meddling in worldly affairs and their alliances backfiring sooner or later.

Holy Church was not called to save the world, which is impossible, and against scripture and prophecy. It IS called to save souls so that people can know peace no matter how terrible their lot in life, as this life and world is not our home and only measures an infintely small measure of eternity, and it is only eternity which matters, and not this not-even-a-dust-mote of time in comparison.

The save-the-world folk obviously find the world far more important than they find eternity, and when they are supposedly pastors of souls, one wonders how many of their flocks die scared and alone due to lack of spiritual guidance and whose souls (who have not been taught to find God in THIS life) will manage to suddenly find God at the moment of death as they enter the next. One wonders the same of the save-the-world folk as to their readiness for death when it comes calling, as it does to all...ALL....and yet they persist in believing they can make the world a heaven...not much of a heaven when we all suffer and die, no matter how nice the waiting room.

Quite frankly, this does not seem to matter to the save-the-world folk and one wonders if they even have a concrete view of eternity, or even true Christian faith and practice. Teaching souls to KNOW God is of immeasurably greater value than squandering that life of theirs in the vain attempt to create a world of peace and prosperity which will forever elude them as souls apart from God depart this life by the millions each year, as in 50-60 MILLION or more die annually, and how many of them KNEW God in this life. These squanderers of time and souls will surely answer to God for this neglect of these souls.

Anonymous said...

Father K seems to be privy to targeting information and purpose of our missiles. He best not let our enemies know that he knows, before he finds himself strapped to a vivisection table. Harmless folk, our enemies.

One wonders why we have spent billions of dollars and years of research developing missiles which can hit within feet of a target, when their sole purpose indiscriminate targeting of cities and civilian populations.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anon 12:48 - No, all wars are not immoral. All targeting and/or killing of non-combatants is.

Anon 1:23 - No, I am not privy to secret info. The targeting intentions were publicly available, and may still be. A nuclear device cannot avoid killing non-combatnats. We have already shown at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that our intention is to kill them.

Anonymous said...

You dodge the fact the killing is NOT indiscriminate but instead results from very precisely and lawfully targeted military and infrastructure targets.

The wording of the statement you cite is very precise for a reason, as it understands civilians will die in war, as they always have.

The statement is a firm denial of the targeting of civilians WITHOUT descrimination, simply to kill civilians, which is NOT the case in precisely targeted missiles. These missiles are NOT targeting cities simply to inflict megadeath, there is a purpose and there are lawful targets.

As for your knowledge of targets being public knowledge, the only information released to the public is that which is general to the point of uselessness by an enemy, or utter misdirection, the very nature of waging war demands such security. And any legitimate leaked info you may have is hopelessly out of date, including in the main the very idea of taking out cities simply to do so. We have invested billions to get away from that.

The folk you need worry about are the enemies who know no such compunction. The enemies you ignore, while inviting our own country to a gunfight with them while us armed with only a knife.

And you TOTALLY skipped over the salvation of souls being your primary job rather than a world of "peace and justice", neither of which you are even capable of defining in concrete terms.

Neither of which will exist no matter how much material wealth you slather equally across every person on the planet. SOMEbody will see what YOU have and TAKE it, individually...internationally....

Meanwhile, a world of people who KNEW God would do no such thing. The ONLY way to have that world peace and justice is when all are saints, and one thing we ALL know is that towards THAT end, you are NOT working.

rcg said...

I withheld response in the other thread so as not to offend orninflamebut since Fr McDonald insists on trolling his own forum (just kidding). Fr Kavanaugh’s post was not really a reply to John Nolan and I think he didn’t intend it to be for those that are concerned about the military of the NATO countries targeting civilian non-combatants rest assured that not only is that not doctrine it is not useful in winning a war from a Western perspective.

Richard M. Sawicki said...

It was my distinct honor and pleasure to personally know the late RJN for nineteen years, to receive a “first blessing” from him after his ordination to the Catholic priesthood, and to be a parochial co-worker with him for a very busy three of those nineteen years. His wit, wisdom, and razor-sharp assessment of the world around him is sorely missing from my life these days. Requiescat in Pace!

Gaudete in Domino Semper!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anon 3:07 - The killing of noncombatants, whether discriminant or indiscriminate, is always morally wrong.

The US nuclear strategy intentionally targeted population centers for the purpose of striking fear in the enemy. This was also the purpose of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

See: "Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism"
by John Finnis (Author), Joseph Boyle Jr. (Author), Germain Grisez (Author)

That you can differentiate between "saving souls" and teaching about the immorality of killing non-combatants is troubling. By that reasoning you might argue that we should not teach about the immorality of murder.

Anonymous said...

Father K, I am justifying nothing except the fact your own statements are not in line with each other. ANY war kills the innocent, always has, always will, and yet we DO have the right and even duty of self defense. The only difference between nuclear war and non-nuclear is the scale of destruction.

In the modern battlefield, which I am sure you have managed to dodge, not even birds sing or survive.

And our nuclear weapons are NOT targeted indiscriminately, they are targeted at objects of very precise strategic value. Wiping out the population is NOT the aim.

And you frittering away your priesthood on totally worldly matters, when indeed, not even megadeath matters if all those souls were saved and knew God, and which could happen quite easily through natural events from earthquake to volcanic eruption to asteroid or comet strike, shows you have an entirely inverted idea of your vocation and DUTY, you and the majority of priests and bishops.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think the primary role of the Church, which includes the clergy and laity is the salvation of souls. Why is a priest called to offer confession, if he wants it, to a man about to go to the electric chair or other means of capital punishment? For the salvation of his soul not to commensurate on the injustice of the death penalty. Others can work for its elimination, which in the role of the laity in the world, but the priest’s role is salvation of sinners which is the role of Christ himself.

But the Church has ministries to the body too, such as hospitals, hospices, etc. There is a healing ministry and a ministry of justice and peace of reconciliation.

When it comes to any country’s defense, it is best for the Church to enunciation principles but leave the specifics to the experts. To disarm a country of weapons of self defense, to include a nuclear arsenal, would play into the enemies hands and that enemy might well not be a country but a terrorist organization located in hostile and friendly territory and no moral reasoning with them will ever happen.

When it comes to abortion in order to save the life of the mother, direct abortion is never allowed, is forbidden by the teachings of Christ. The only thing the Church would allow, if the mother discerned it to be for her, is an indirect abortion, aid given that addresses the illness which then indirectly kills the baby, although that is not the intention.

An odd example, but permissible, is the complete removal of the tube in a tubal pregnancy which indirectly takes the child, but removing the child directly is not allowed.
There’s a correlation there in the intent of a nuclear attack. The death of civilians indirectly occurs while directly dealing with the offender in self defense.

Anonymous said...

and I find you typing "saving souls" in quotation marks quite troubling. In case you needed that defined as if a foreign term or perhaps meaningless, that consists of KNOWING God, Loving God, and THEREBY enabled to serve God without taint of selfishness and vainglory.

60 million people die each year, the majority without that knowledge, love and service, and it seems past your obligatory parish duties, those megadeaths are not even on your radar.
And that does not apply only to you.

How many folk have you brought to KNOW God this week, this year, this decade, your entire priesthood? Do your parishoners go to their inevitable deaths unafraid, prepared and at peace after a lifetime of peace in love with their savior? THAT is how you achieve that peace and justice, sir.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

As a priest and in order to lead you away from falling dangerously close to the heresy of dualism, that the spiritual is good and the physical is bad, which heresy of course could jeopardize your personal salvation, I ask you to repent for the sake of your eternal salvation and the health and well being of your body if you, soul and body, find yourself in hell at the final judgment and the resurrection of the body.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Also, let me know if you do repent at my call to you to do so, so I can add you to the list of person this week I saved, or rather Christ saved through me. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

As for where feeding the hungry, healing the sick, burying the dead fits in, it is doing it as a school for loving of God so that folk CAN love their neighbor.

Without that love of God, it is IMPOSSIBLE to love neighbor....not hard...IMPOSSIBLE....

Otherwise it is corrupted by selfish aims, and as exactly debated here as to inverted priorities. There is no problem with many social justice issues when ordered properly. However, for those who do not love God day in and out, their service BECOMES their God.

They should be first concerned with becoming saints so that they then can teach others to be saints. Without that, it is ALL inverted priorities and why Holy Church is on the rocks today without a rudder or sail. And again, Father K, becoming saints is "saving souls". That is the ONLY guaranteed method. All the rest is guesswork, and what pastor leaves salvation of flocks of whom they have charge to guesswork? I can answer that...a bad shepherd.

Anonymous said...

I have no dualism, that the physical is evil. God created it, and it was good. It exists only, however, as a school for learning love of God, and past that, it has no meaning, and attachment to any other purpose or creature is to misuse the gifts of creation. And this physical world is only a passing thing, and the aim while here is strictly learning that love of God so that joined to God in that love, he gifts us as his beloved with HIS eternity.

But, as always, prayer greatly appreciated.

John Nolan said...

Although the Allied nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 marked the beginning of a new era in warfare, area bombing of German cities by the RAF and USAAF had caused half a million civilian casualties, and the USAAF firebombing of Tokyo on the night of 9/10 March 1945 killed more civilians than did the Hiroshima bomb. Note that I deliberately used the term 'Allied' rather than 'American' when referring to the atomic bomb, the development of which was a US/UK/Canadian collaboration; the decision to use it had to be agreed by all three parties.

The ethical implications are still debated, but nuclear weapons once invented could not be disinvented, hence the strategy of deterrence. Although Soviet nuclear strategy was couched in terms of war-fighting and war-winning (there was no equivalent of the civilian-dominated RAND Corporation) the Soviet Union in practice also accepted the logic of nuclear deterrence.

'If you want peace, work for justice' is one of those nice-sounding phrases which doesn't translate into practice. I don't expect churchmen to have studied nuclear strategy, but uttering pious platitudes is no substitute for serious thought.

rcg said...

I did not respond to the previous thread that led to this one so as to not offend I did not view Fr Kavanaugh’s post a response the what John Nolan wrote. The claim that the US targeted civilians misses a vital poit that has been made here before. That the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki compared individually to the London Blitz and were smaller, even combined, to the deaths in Tokyo alone. The mainland military targets had already suffered significant damage such that the impact of the atomic weapons might not have the desired intellectual effect. The Japanese leadership had settled in for a long fight regardless of the impact on their own civilians. Their commitment to this strategy was clear in Okinawa. After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the general staff had a change of heart and convinced the Emperor to resign. By demonstrating to the Japanese the end result of fighting from the beaches and landing grounds, through the streets and fields would, for them, lead to total ruin and probable loss of the Chrysanthemum line they had a tangible reason to surrender. Truman gambled that the Japanese would respond as they did and save many more Japanese lives. There was no other military purpose than to influence the leadership and the policy of the war. That center of gravity placed the civilians on the battlefield and quit when it perceived the inevitable outcome. It is ignorant, dishonorable, and a lie to claim that civilians were targeted for the purpose of striking fear in the enemy. That the foolish risk of their countrymen’s lives and the loss of their nation should strike fear in their hearts was the result of an epiphany, not a threat.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't sound like you think too highly of the bishop who ordained you?!?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Bishop Lessard was a mix of good, bad and indifferent. He lived simply, in the cathedral rectory, wore simple vestments, for the longest time had only one miter. He mentored a very liberal priest, me, to a more solid post Vatican II Catholicism. He allowed me to reintroduce a more high Church liturgy at the cathedral but with some creativity. He supported me in that high liturgy reorientation even when some in the diocese challenged him on it, and some cathedral members did too, including a well none Savannah lawyer who had it in for me!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"'If you want peace, work for justice' is one of those nice-sounding phrases which doesn't translate into practice."

What about "When someone strikes you on one cheeh, turn and offer the other"? Impractical?

And "Thou shalt not steal"? Is this unattainable, too?

Surely we cannot possibly take, "You cannot serve both God and Mammon" seriously, can we?

"If you want peace, work for justice" translates into daily practice when we allow the gift of grace, which takes us out of our complacence and status quo mediocrity, to lead and guide our actions. That hold true for individuals and for governments who control nuclear arsenals.

Anonymous said...

Down through history there have been men who ruled with unfettered power and sought to extend that power and govern others in just such that way. There were times when it took violent means to prevent and thwart the plans of such men. Today we find ourselves having weapons immensely more powerful than those which existed in previous times. Doing away with these types of weapons, as desirable as that would be, would risk subjecting others to the possibility (if not certainty) of being subjugated by those more powerful and who, being in possession of such weapons,would willingly use them to inflict and levy incalculable death and destruction on combatants and non-combatants alike, if it served their aims. Unilateral disarmament of these types of weapons on our part would have the real effect of placing peaceful populations in peril and of putting them at the mercy of the merciless. Do we not acknowledge that there are those who would impose their will over others if there were no expectation on their part that in doing this, their own existence in this world was at risk?
This is not how we as Christians would like things to be but it is the way they are. It can be painful to think about and even speak of such weapons when considering what destruction and death they can bring. What madness is the world today! We maintain weapons which we find necessary to preserve our existence, yet if used could bring an end to us all.
We can and should pray that there will come a time when war and such weapons are no longer necessary to possess, but unfortunately that time has not yet come.

John Nolan said...

If nations which regarded themselves as moral decided to rid themselves of nuclear weapons on moral grounds, it would leave them at the mercy of those who had no such scruples - and they would only need one bomb for the rest of us to roll over.

Where would that leave your 'justice and peace' agenda?

Anonymous said...

John Nolan,

You are dealing with a "woke" individual for whom reason and logic mean nothing.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anon 11:05 - If reason and logic are what undergirds your faith, you must reject the Incarnation and Resurrection, since they are, as Mr. Spock would say, "highly illogical."

No, reason and logic are not what convince me that God's will can be done, even by us poor sinners. It is faith in the power of God's promises that keeps me moving forward and keeps me from falling into the "it's impractical" trap of doubt.

Anonymous said...

Without the A-bombs, the war with Japan could have easily dragged on another year or two. Much of the Japanese Army was still intact, especially in China, prior to the bombs being dropped. The heavy casualties Americans took at Okinawa and Iwo Jima would have looked minor in comparison with an invasion of the mainland. The Japanese were more likely to fight to the death than the Germans. Lives were going to be lost either way, the question being whether fewer would be lost with the A-bombs than a conventional invasion of Japan. And the answer is probably yes.

Bishop Lessard was only 42 when he landed in Savannah---these days, diocesan bishops tend to be older, perhaps because of perception they are less likely to change their ways at an older age. He also had close ties with the Savannah-based Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, with the two Episcopal bishops that served during his tenure, both "High Church" clerics, Paul Reeves, and his successor Harry Shipps. But that was in the days when the Episcopal Church was less liberal than it is today.

Anonymous said...

Thus in 1987, Bishop Lessard, perhaps hoping to rise in the Church in the USA by becoming the Archbishop of Washington, DC or even Chicago, both of which were rumored earlier in his time as our bishop, was more than happy to align himself with the likes of Pax Christi, USA and the two most liberal bishops in the country in 1987, Bishops Gumbleton and Sullivan.

Bishop Lessard's grand plan for his rising through the ranks was thwarted when someone published a picture of him at Tybee beach in his damn speedo.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anon 11:03 - What you say about the Japanese army and the war in Japan is likely true.

However, it is not a valid moral argument for the use of the atomic bomb.

The moral dictum is "The end does not justify the means." It can also be stated, "An immoral means cannot be justified by a good end."

Yes, it may have been desirable to save lives by ending the war more quickly with the use of the bomb. However, that good end cannot, under any circumstances, justify the immoral means of choosing to kill non-combatants, which is what the US did in Hiroshma and Nagasaki.

If that kind of reasoning holds, the a person could justify having an abortion (an evil means) to bring about a good end (the survival of the mother, for example.)

rcg said...

Just noticed I double posted. I apologize for that.

The atomic bomb was a Godsend for the Japanese. They would not have surrendered for any other reason and the death and misery would have been in the millions. It is likely that war in Europe would have either continued or flared up again, probably several times, but for the clear understanding of the destruction atomic weapons would bring. The people faulted for using that weapon to avoid that alternative past were struggling with their fears and desires and defeated them more clearly than a human enemy. We pretend to higher moral standards so as to avoid testing ourselves, which is twice the cowardice. said...

The comments about wars and nuclear weapons brings up an ages old question: Do armies go to war or do nations go to war? The answers are not always perfectly clear. One can argue that bombing the ball bearing factories at Schwienfurt where civilian workers made war equipment was moral while the bombing of Dresden and Cologne, purely civilian areas, was not. On the other hand, Japanese war materials were made in many instances in the houses and sheds of civilians scattered in the hundreds throughout large cities. The actions of the Japanese military throughout Asia were at least as barbaric as the German SS and differed only in the identification of their victims. The civilian populations of Germany and Japan supplied the manpower to the military, albeit involuntary as they were not democracies, but the effect was the same. The Old Testament notes that the armies of Joshua killed populations without mercy to prevent them from rising again. Rules of War is something of an oxymoron, often honored more in the breach than the observance and defining from the pulpit is certainly easier than carrying out in reality.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Lessard was complicit in at least one case of a then suspected, then convicted, now deceased child predator:

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Moral principles are true whether they are preached from the pulpit or carried out in reality.

Violation of those principles is sinful, sometimes mortally, regardless of where those principles are violated.

The barbarity of another person is not license to respond in kind.

Intentionally killing non-combatants because you think you might also be killing combatants remains a violation of the prohibition on killing non-combatants.