Part one the audio interview with Bishop Louis Vezelis, OFM. The focus is on discrediting Fr. Neil Webster and his account of how it happened. Part II is concerned with Vezelis' account of the Archbishop Ngo saga.DISCLAIMER: The recording is done by those under the umbrella of Vezelis, and thus it is not expected to be completely free of bias, especially when part I engages primarily in the character assassination of the above mentioned priest. With two conflicting accounts, we reserve our judgement from the public domain, and thus allows the reader to make whatever conclusions they feel correct in the matter.
THE TRUTH: PART 2
THE ABDUCTION OF ARCHBISHOP NGO
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
On May 7, 1981 Bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc consecrated one Fr. Michel Louis Guérard des Lauriers a bishop. 1933 - in Belgium des Lauriers taught philosphy at the university of Le Saulchoir and there served as a dominican priest.
Guérard was assigned professorship at the pontifical Lateran University in Rome during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, the date of which is unknown, and was also a member of the pontifical academy of St. Thomas D' Aquine. While there a professor, the second Vatican Council was called by John XXIII, after which, Guérard was a principle author of a work [the Ottaviani Intervention] critical of the New Mass to be promulgated by the Council's decree.
Some time around 1970 Paul VI had him booted out of the university; it seems he was not modernist enough to contribute anything worthwhile to the Vatican II agenda.
Expelled from Rome, des Lauriers went to a notorious traditionalist, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and applied to join his ranks in preserving the timeless traditions of the Catholic Church. Lefebvre placed him in his St. Pius X Seminary in Écône, Switzerland, as a professor and lecturer, where in 1977, he was expelled in for his views on the papacy. Some time later, des Lauriers developed a postulation known as the Cassiciacum Thesis. This thesis espoused papa materialiter non formaliter ideology, that the papal claimant, and his 3 predecessors did not hold the fullness of the Papacy due to their modernist views, an idea that has come to be called Sedeprivationism.
Des Lauriers believed that the validity of new rites of consecration and ordination were also doubtful, and, in order to ensure the continuation of a valid line of Orders, and so, he was consecrated a bishop in a private ceremony in Toulon, France on May 7, 1981 by Mgr. Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc. Des Lauriers went on to consecrate Fr. Gunther Storck, Fr. Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P., and Fr. Franco Munari as Bishops.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
At the beginning of Romans III we notice this: "What advantage then hath the Jew: or what is the profit of circumcision?" Okay, we know that the Jews continued to follow the old law, and continued in the works of the old law such as circumcision. What was happening was there were some christians who were following some of the rituals of the old law as if it were necessary, and St. Paul is here clarifying for them that they do not need to do this. We know that the works of the old law don't contribute to salvation as it was defined by the Council of Florence: "The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and teaches that the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic Law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to divine worship at that time, after our Lord's coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; and that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally. Yet it does not deny that after the passion of Christ up to the promulgation of the Gospel they could have been observed until they were believed to be in no way necessary for salvation; but after the promulgation of the Gospel it asserts that they cannot be observed without the loss of eternal salvation. All, therefore, who after that time (the promulgation of the Gospel) observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors." (Sess. 11, Feb. 4. 1442) This further clarifies what St. Paul meant by the works of the old law, the "matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic Law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments" which some continued to follow , and St. Paul was telling them that that was an error, and that they no longer needed to place themselves under the works of the old law to obtain salvation. This is the theme throughout the whole of the same chapter [Romans 3]; but the Protestants again would have us believe otherwise. In Galations 2 we see exactly what we saw in the council of Florence: "But knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we also believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." that the old law is not salvific, and we can not put our faith in the functions of the old law for our salvation, but in Christ. We will now compare the two [Council of florence in italics, and Galations in normal font]:
"that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally."
"But knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we also believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified."
and now Florence and Romans:
"what is the profit of circumcision?... Because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before him."
"the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic Law... All, therefore, who after that time (the promulgation of the Gospel) observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation.."
And also, we seek clarification from the Bible. Later in Galations 3, we see this "Is he the God of the Jews only?" clarifying that it is not by the law which the Jews follow, the mosaic law, by which the Jews followed as required in the Old Testament, we see works of the law, and circumcision, and Jews, all of this refers to the old law, by which we are not saved, but by the faith in Jesus Christ as confirmed by the Gospel "he who does not believe shall not be saved".
The Council of Florence confirms this by stating that no one who follows the requirements of the law can be saved, this is exactly what St. Paul it telling the Romans and the Galations.
Clearly, St. Paul and St. James are talking about two different things, St. Paul is talking about the functions of the old law, and St. James is talking about good works such as feeding the hungry, and visiting the sick ect. Nowhere do we see faith alone in this issue, it is not in the scriptures.
For instance, if we take into consideration Romans 4:9 , which further clarifies what is meant by works of the law and circumcision , we notice the context which St. Paul intended his earlier statement to be read by. And, as circumcision was a work of the old law reuired for the justification of the people of Israel, so he states that one no longer needs the works of the old law to find justification before God. Nowhere does he mention good works, such as feeding the hungry ect.
Also, another weapon of the Protestants is Ep. 28-9 which states: "For by grace you are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God. Not of works, that no man may glory." which simply means that we are saved by the free gift of grace from God, and not by our own works, done without that grace. Again, this does not mean "Faith alone ", it means that we are saved through faith, by grace, not by any works tht we do all by ourselves without the grace of God, because we can do nothing without God. Protestants misquote this in order for them to legitametize their claims that the Catholic Traditions contradict the Bible. Paul simply means that we are not saved by the operations of the Law, but by Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul means that we cannot do anything of ourselves that we might attribute to our own selves, and not to God, that he means that we can only produce salutary works by faith in the Lord, by His Graces bestowed upon us. This is why in Romans Ch. 4, he states that if by works Abraham was justified, he would have been able to attribute it to himself, that he should be able to boast it. This does not, however, negate the words of St. James which states that we must have good works done by faith through grace to be justified, we know that these we must have; and since they be done by God's grace that their fruitfulness is attributed to God's grace.
So, next time in our series on Justification, we will see how justification is an ongoing process which is a continuing thing, and not something that happens all at once, but is something we must strive after each and every day. We will also see how justification begins on the inside, and that it is accomplished by our own dispositions and faith and is not simply what happens as a result of a divine pronouncement.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus, #10: "We would remind those persons of this truth who desire a kind of Christianity such as they themselves have devised, whose precepts should be very mild, much more indulgent towards human nature, and requiring little if any hardships to be borne. They do not properly under stand the meaning of faith and Christian precepts. They do not see that the Cross meets us everywhere, the model of our life, the eternal standard of all who wish to follow Christ in reality and not merely in name."
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Brief response to a diatribe.
By Bishop Louis Vezelis, OFM, D.D.
The story is told of the sad experience of an opossum in being kind to a snake. It seems the snake was in a bad situation: Its tail end was pinned under a rock. An opossum came along and the snake said:
“Please help me. I cannot get out from under this rock.”
But the opossum said: “ I don’t know if I should help you.”
The snake answers with pitiful sobs: “Oh, please help me or I will be killed or die of hunger.”
So, the opossum, out of pity and kindness, moves the rock and frees the snake.
Now, you’d think the snake was grateful, wouldn’t you.
Then the snake said; “ I’m cold. Please let me get into your pouch just for a little while so I might warm up.”
The opossum was getting a bit uneasy, and said, “Oh, no. I can’t let you do that.”
To which the snake replied: “Oh, please. I’m so cold. Let me in your pouch just for a little while.”
Hesitatingly, the kind opossum agreed – but just for a little while. So the snake crawled into the opossum’s pouch. No sooner did he get in when he bit the kind opossum.
Painfully shocked, the opossum protested: “Why did you bite me?”
“Why did you let me in? You knew I was a snake.”
Unfortunately, although we can usually distinguish between a snake and opossum, it is not always that easy when dealing with people.
The non-Catholic heretical mini-sect operated by Mr. Fred Dimond and his brother featured an “interview” for the purpose of vilifying Bishop Louis Vezelis, OFM, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.
What we have here is nothing but an ad hominum attack, we have no real reasons to suspect Fr. Webster or others involved in this interview other than the allegations of this bishop. Notice that he begins by denigrating a monastery by labelling them a "non-Catholic mini-sect", and he says that it is he who has been vilified; however, he does not bother to demonstrate this allegation. The interview was posted and probably made by MHFM to tell a story about an event that concerns many Traditional Catholics, and the validity of the sacraments they recieve. This is due to the fact that there are those who doubt the validity of the bishop on the grounds that he was somehow not mentally capable when he consecrated several bishops to the bishopric.
This interview from a first-hand witness goes to show, that these accusations are wrong.
What motivated this diatribe was the fact that Bishop Vezelis unmasked the Fred Dimond heretical religious sect operating under the guise of a Roman Catholic religious order.
First of all he comes in saying that he has been so maliciously maligned, then neglects to demonstrate this by pointing out why he thinks that he has been so denigrated, and then turns around and pretends that the whole world knows the facts of the matter already, and that anything untrue or falsely stated about him is done in full cognizence of matter, and thus wholly guilty of a grievous sin; a fallacious assumption. Why? Simply because of the fact that we would have no need of any interview if the facts were already plainly known and thus public, there, then, should never have been an interview at all, then. Since the facts are so concealed in this manner, the accuracy of this account is simply a matter of faith in the integrity of the priest who tells it, the bishop knows this and is why he is attacking the integrity of this priest, since there is no other account that can be consulted at this time. The bishop here does not add clarity, and is not offering to expound the facts of the situation, but rather, to turn this whole account into an ad hominum ad nauseam accusation against a character herein involved. He is not offering what he believes to be the truth, nor to explain why he thinks that he has been vilified.
For this “interview,” Mr. Dimond stumbled onto a strange character, member of the anti-American “John Birch Society” that styles itself as a kind of “mystical body” comparing itself to the Catholic Church. This fellow’s name is Neal Webster.More ad nauseam ad hominum attacks; we see here a denigration of Fr. Webster again, calling him a "strange character". Now we see that the bishop wants to denigrate the father because of a prior political association of which apparently Vezelis does not approve; is this the basis upon which this whole absurd argument is being waged?
Who is Neal Webster and what was his relation to the Franciscan Friars whom he pretends to “know” so well?
Actually, the Friars never heard of this fellow until he showed up with Rev. Fidelis McKenna, O.P. at the first anniversary of Bishop Vezelis’ consecration. That’s about twenty-four years ago. Only now does Webster surface with his horror script probably seen on some late show horror film.
This is a red herring, this is a distraction from the main issue at hand, which is Bishop Thuc. The bishop now continues with this ridiculous contention by accusing the Father of making it all up, but then they claim that the majority of the story is true, while only contesting the bit about their bishop, but then the bishop says it's all from a horror show. This is such a ridiculous and contradictory dispute.
Ok, so now we see this guy dislikes the bishop McKenna even, so who does this man favour? And now Fr. Webster, according to Vezelis, is ungrateful; now let us all keep in mind the fact that this Vezelis still has not given us his account, so we are still in the dark as to what is and is not true in this man's mind.
Webster was outfitted in the traditional garb of the Dominican Order and from this it was assumed that his Novice Master, Rev.McKenna, O.P. vouched for the authenticity of the man as a Roman Catholic. The Friars accepted this implicitly on the fact that Webster was dressed as a Domican Friar. We are not certain how long he was a “Dominican.” What can be attested is that McKenna was living like a mini-despot with “nuns running hither and thither from kitchen to table. Having eaten at the profuse table of this Dominican Friar, it is not difficult to see the difference reflected in the Franciscan Friars humble but healthy fare. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s first find out something about our ungrateful guest.
Not long after first meeting this fellow, Webster, he appeared on the doorstep of the Friary located in Greece, NY. His story was that he had left Rev. McKenna because “he McKenna) tried to make me a Dominican nun.” We did not inquire into this strange avowal. The main point was that he had no where to go. Consequently, we invited him to stay with us as our guest until he decided where he would go.
Webster’s claims, HE WAS NEVER CONSIDERED AS A SEMINARIAN. HE WAS FREE TO DO AND GO WHEREVER HE WISHED AS OUR HOUSE GUEST. HE NEVER ATTENDED ANY RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY FUNCTIONS OTHER THAN TO PARTAKE OF OUR COMMUNITY MEALS.
Actually, we would not receive him as any kind of seminarian because of his bizarre behavior. He revealed to one of the Friars that he drank Lourde’s water so that he would not say anything wrong. Apparently, he must have run out of Lourde’s water ….How can we expect to get a fair view out of this man who apparently dislikes Webster and thus has a bias directed against him and his account, which is detectable through the above statement, and has no interest in telling the facts about the issue at hand, which is bishop Thuc; these sarcastic jokes are not a fair and accurate opinion or story.
He was never asked for any kind of financial reimbursement for the expense of his meals. Although he did not spend much time with the Friars, about two and a half months – it seemed like a rather lengthy time for him to make up his mind to do something.Those deciding to become a monk usually get around four years to make up their mind as to whether that is their desire; nowhere near two and a half months.
While staying with the Friars, Webster told them of his exploits in Bishop Musey’s “seminary’ conducted by the laicized Mr. Thomas Fouhy of New Zealand. According to Webster, Mr.Fouhy aka Rev. Fouhy became “like a madman, screaming at me because I wanted to leave.” Whether Fouhy did get excited about Webster’s decision to leave that “seminary,” may now be questioned in view of the erratic and unstable conduct of Webster.
Mr.Webster’s animosity towards Bishop Vezelis may have been triggered when the Bishop made the observation during one meal that “Catholics could not be members of the John Birch Society.” Whereupon, Webster rudely shouted: “Who said so?!” Observing the untoward emotional outburst, Bishop Vezelis simply confirmed his research into that organization by responding: “I said so.”
Animosity? I detected that not in the interview, I heard a story of an event, not a bashing party for the bishop. This is absolutely preposterous, completely unfounded, and totally without substantiation.
Webster seems to have such a high opinion of himself (A characteristic of most, if not all, members of this Masonic-instituted organization that subjects its members to brainwashing) and seems to consider whatever his undisciplined imagination suggests is therefore true. As far as objective reality is concerned, it is doubtful if this man is capable of distinguishing reality from his emotionally configured imaginings.
Because there is no desire to waste time refuting the lies of this pitiful soul whose eternal damnation is assured because of his insidious detraction of a Roman Catholic Bishop, or anyone for that matter, it is deemed sufficient for any inquirer to know that this man has spun the wildest tales from innocent remarks all the way to outright falsehoods. It is safe to say that whatever this man, Neal Webster, has stated publicly is libelous detraction.Vezelis now says that Webster is going to Hell for not speaking favorably of Vezelis. Further, we still have no evidence that Webster's account is not what happened, so we can't really judge that Webster's account is not true. We don't have another account to which to contrast it with, thus, this being our only evidence, we can only operate based on the evidence at hand, thus, this is simply an absurd ad nauseam, ad hominum, red herring. It's ad nauseam because it is simply the restating of the allegation that Webster is maligning the bishop, without any substantiation.
It is clearly an ad hominum fallacious argument because of the fact that this is simply a whole denigration of the character of this priest, and it is a red herring because this bishop is spending all this effort attacking this priest, rather than addressing the issue that is being discussed, and that is the abduction and validity of Archbishop Ngo dinh Thuc.
The heart-breaking episode of the abduction of Archbishop Ngo is particularly painful to the Friars because Webster has so distorted the facts that the only possible conclusion of his falsehoods is that perhaps he needs psychiatric help. From beginning to end, Webster has presented himself as the “star performer” – the great “crusader” … a kind of Batman or Superman – or even as a kind of Spiderman, judging from the webs of deceit he spins - fighting the forces of evil wherever he decides to find them. Perhaps even a Don Quixote minus his donkey…..
It has been reported that someone has actually “ordained” the man. Whether this is true or not makes little difference because Neal Webster is not in the Roman Catholic Church.Now we have more baseless claims that Webster is not in the Church because he is not under the bishopric jurisdiction of Vezelis, who apparently thinks that he is the bishop of the US Catholic Church. This bishop is acting in a kind of Cult-like behaviour, as he believes that he is the bishop of the entire eastern US, and that the only Catholics under his "jurisdiction" are true Catholic, how can we expect a fair account from him?
We pray for this poor soul and hope that God will not permit him to lead unwary souls astray. The Friars do not seek revenge against this pitiable fellow for the ugly vilifications they suffer from the likes of Webster. But, they do expect that the Lord will settle matters: “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay!” And so we merely say: “Amen!”
So, rather than give us an account of the story, this bishop goes off on a tirade about Fr. Webster. He could've given us all an idea of why he thinks Fr. Webster's interview to be flawed in some way, but obviously he is more intersted in denigrating Fr. Webster's character. It is very interesting how Fr. Webser says something about Vezelis, and then Vezelis' group interprets this as detraction, while they say things that are nothing but an out right denigration and detraction of Fr. Webster, and it is not considered detraction by them; are we seeing a double standard?
They accuse him of detraction, deception, libel, obviously they think he needs some mental help, so they must think he is not mentally stable or something, distorting facts, and lying. Not one word of substantiation or consideration of the events that took place; but we get a comparison of the teller of this story to a snake. Obviously they are not being just, as they are making accusations without producing any evidence, and are not even volunteering any. So, what we see here is not a kind response and an account of the events that they claim happened, or did not happen, but rather, we see them attacking the character and mental capacity of the man who happens to disagree with them in an ad nauseam belligerent defamation of one's integrity. This simply emphasises the amount of insincerity on the account of the Vezelis faction, because if they had any sincerity to them at all, they would have produced their stories on how they claim it happened, and would then demonstrate to us why they believe that Fr. Webster is wrong. Now, if Fr. Webster were to counter this, by disclaiming everything that they say, we would all be left wondering, who's right, for the reason that we would have two conflicting accounts of two eye witnesses, who would not be able to agree on the facts, thus much of it would then be unreliable as to an accurate account.
These are the facts: Rather than having two accounts which we can compare and contrast, we have one account, and a set of accusations against that account.
So, whether the Vezelis clique likes it or not, the only facts we have come from the man whom they claim to be a liar, and a deceiver, ect. So what it all comes down to is this: Fr. Webster had provided us with his first hand account of the last days of Bishop Ngo Thuc, while Vezelis has left us with an ad hominum rant against his integrity; now plainly put, which is more credible, Vezelis' own denigration of Fr. Webster, or Webster's acount of the events? You decide.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Today is the anniversary of the election of Pope Pius IX to the Chair of St. Peter, as the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti was born in Senigallia among a noble family of Girolamo dei conti Ferretti on May 13, 1792.
He received his education at the Piarist College of Volterra and in Rome, where he studied philosophy and theology. He was ordained as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church on April 10, 1819. On May 21, 1827, Pope Leo XII made Fr. Ferretti the Archbishop of Spoleto and on February 17, 1832, Pope Gregory XVI had the Archbishop transferred to the Diocese of Imola, where he was made Cardinal priest on December 14, 1840.
Two weeks after Pope Gregory XVI passed away, June 14, 1846, the conclave for a new pope was assembled. Archbishop Ferretti was elected Pope on the fourth ballot, on June 16, 1846, and took the name of Pius IX in honor of his former benefactor, Pius VII, and was crowned on June 21, 1846.
His first political act, on July 16, was that of granting an amnesty of political prisoners, which was contested by some who now denounced the new pope as one working with the Freemasons.
On November 9, 1846, Pope Pius IX promulgated his encyclical Qui Pluribus in which he laments the conspires of secret societies, the Bible associations, indifferentism, communism, false philosophy, and the licentious press.
On April 19, 1847, he announced a proposed lay advisory council, followed by the establishment of a civic guard on July 5, and on Dec. 29, a cabinet council. Meanwhile, in Rome, the Circolo Romano antagonized an unruly mob against Austria, against which they declared war. On Feb. 8, 1848 a riot forced the Pope to grant a constitution; however, he proclaimed that as the Pope, he could never declare war on Catholic Austria. Nevertheless, the Pope was denounced as a traitor and his Prime Minister Rossi was killed, a papal prelate was shot while standing at a window, and the Pope was attacked in the Quirinal and was forced to promise a democratic ministry. The pope escaped the Quirinal in disguise with the help of Count Spaur and Duc d'Harcourt, the Bavarian and French ambassadors, on Nov. 24, and fled to Gaëta. Rome was now under the power of this radical group who abolished the Papal States and Papal temporal power along with numberless other outrages, and declared a democratic republic, under which the people were oppressed and terrorized. The Pope appealed to Spain, Naples, France, and Austria, and on June 29, French troops restored order in Rome under General Oudinot, and on April 12, 1850, the Pope returned to Rome.
In 1858 Cavour and Napoleon III met in Plombieres plotting war against Austria and the expansion of the Sardinian Kingdom. The dissolution of the Papal states began with the defeat of Austrian forces at Magenta on July 4, 1859 and the subsequent withdrawal of Austrian forces from Papal legations. Victor Emmanuel demanded the annexation of Umbria and the Marches on Feb. 6, 1860. On Sept. 18, he defeated the Papal army at Castelfidardo, and on sept. 30, at ancona, depriving the Pope of almost all of his papal possession, for a time, with the exception of Rome, until when a year later he moved on Rome, making it the capital of the United Italy, completing the disposession of the Papal States. But this was not all that the temporal governments did to suppress the Church. In many countries tithes were abrogated, catholic education was secularized, monasteries were suppressed, Church Property was confiscated, religious orders expelled, and opposing bishops imprisoned or exiled. Such infringements on the rights of the Church were almost universal at this time, most governments of Europe proceeded to seize Church activities as its own. Forbidden to travel from Rome, Pope Pius IX has been considered "the prisoner of the Vatican". The Pope condemned anti-ecclesiastical legislation of Mexico, Columbia, Spain, Austria, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Prussia, and Russia.
On December 8, 1854 the Pope defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Basilica of Saint Peter's before one hundred and seventy bishops and numberless pilgrims coming from all over.
In December of 1864 he promulgated the encyclical Quanta Cura, in which he condemned sixteen errors rampant in 19th century thought. Also at that time he produced the Syllabus Errorum, in which he condemned eighty errors in intellectual thought, including pantheism, naturalism, indifferentism, freemasonry, rationalism, socialism, communism, and religious freedom.
Pope Pius IX, promulgated the papal Bull, Aeterni Patris on June 29, 1869, calling for an ecumenical Council of the Church to be held at the Vatican on Dec. 8, 1869, during which the dogma of Papal infallibility was declared as de fide, a dogma of the Catholic Church.
Pope Pius IX, died on Feb. 7, 1878, and was the longest reigning Pope in the History of the Church, reigning 31 years as the successor of St. Peter.
Pope Pius IX's Links:
Wikipedia on Pope Pius IX
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia on Pius IX
David Hobson's Heroic Life of His Holines Pope Pius IX
Patron Saints Index on Pius IX
L'Osservatore Romano on Pope Pius IX
Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, 1792-1878)
Papal Encyclicals of Pope Pius IX
Documents of the First Vatican Council
Pope Pius IX Declares the Immaculate Conception of Mary
Friday, June 15, 2007
On American Morals
by G.K. Chesterton
America is sometimes offered to us, even by Americans (who ought to know better), as a moral example. There are indeed very real American virtues; but this virtuous attitude is hardly one of them. And if anyone wants to know what a welter of weakness and inconsequence the moral mind of America can sometimes be, he may be advised to look, not so much to the Crime Wave or the Charleston, as to the serious idealistic essays by highbrows and cultural critics, such as one by Miss Avis D. Carlson on `Wanted: A Substitute for Righteousness.' By righteousness she means, of course, the narrow New England taboos; but she does not know it. For the inference she draws is that we should recognize frankly that `the standard abstract right and wrong is moribund.' This statement will seem less insane if we consider, somewhat curiously, what the standard abstract right and wrong seems to mean -- at least in her section of the States. It is a glimpse of an incredible world.
She takes the case of a young man brought up `in a home where there was an attempt to make dogmatic cleavage of right and wrong.' And what was the dogmatic cleavage? Ah, what indeed! His elders told him that some things were right and some wrong; and for some time he accepted this strange assertion. But when he leaves home he finds that, `apparently perfectly nice people do the things he has been taught to think evil.' Then follows a revelation. `The flowerlike girl he envelops in a mist of romantic idealization smokes like an imp from the lower regions and pets like a movie vamp. The chum his heart yearns towards cultivates a hip-flask, etc.' And this is what the writer calls a dogmatic cleavage between right and wrong!
The standard of abstract right and wrong apparently is this. That a girl by smoking a cigarette makes herself one of the company of the fiends of hell. That such an action is much the same as that of a sexual vampire. That a young man who continues to drink fermented liquor must necessarily be `evil' and must deny the very existence of any difference between right and wrong. That is the `standard of abstract right and wrong' that is apparently taught in the American home. And it is perfectly obvious, on the face of it, that it is not a standard of abstract right or wrong at all. That is exactly what it is not. That is the very last thing any clear-headed person would call it. It is not a standard; it is not abstract; it has not the vaguest notion of what is meant by right and wrong. It is a chaos of social and sentimental accidents and associations, some of them snobbish, all of them provincial, but, above all, nearly all of them concrete and connected with a materialistic prejudice against particular materials. To have a horror of tobacco is not to have an abstract standard of right; but exactly the opposite. It is to have no standard of right whatever; and to make certain local likes and dislikes as a substitute. We need not be very surprised if the young man repudiates these meaningless vetoes as soon as he can; but if he thinks he is repudiating morality, he must be almost as muddle-headed as his father. And yet the writer in question calmly proposes that we should abolish all ideas of right and wrong, and abandon the whole human conception of a standard of abstract justice, because a boy in Boston cannot be induced to think that a nice girl is a devil when she smokes a cigarette.
If the rising generation were faced with no worse doubts and difficulties than this, it would not be very difficult to reconcile them to the traditions of truth and justice. But I think the episode is worth mentioning, merely because it throws a ray of light on the moral condition of American Culture, in the decay of Puritanism. And when next we are told that the idealism of America is to set a `standard' by which England must transform herself, it will be well to remember what is apparently meant by a standard and an ideal; and that the fire of idealism seems both to begin and end in smoke.
Incidentally, I must say I can bear witness to this queer taboo about tobacco. Of course numberless Americans smoke numberless cigars; a great many others eat cigars, which seems to me a more occult pleasure. But there does exist an extraordinary idea that ethics are involved in some way; and many who smoke really disapprove of smoking. I remember once receiving two American interviewers on the same afternoon; there was a box of cigars in front of me and I offered one to each in turn. Their reaction (as they would probably call it) was very curious to watch. The first journalist stiffened suddenly and silently and declined in a very cold voice. He could not have conveyed more plainly that I had attempted to corrupt an honorable man with a foul and infamous indulgence; as if I were the Old Man of the Mountain offering him hashish that would turn him into an assassin. The second reaction was even more remarkable. The second journalist first looked doubtful; then looked sly; then seemed to glance about him nervously, as if wondering whether we were alone, and then said with a sort of crestfallen and covert smile: `Well, Mr. Chesterton, I'm afraid I have the habit.'
As I also have the habit, and have never been able to imagine how it could be connected with morality or immorality, I confess that I plunged with him deeply into an immoral life. In the course of our conversation, I found he was otherwise perfectly sane. He was quite intelligent about economics or architecture; but his moral sense seemed to have entirely disappeared. He really thought it rather wicked to smoke. He had no `standard of abstract right or wrong'; in him it was not merely moribund; it was apparently dead. But anyhow, that is the point and that is the test. Nobody who has an abstract standard of right and wrong can possibly think it wrong to smoke a cigar. But he had a concrete standard of particular cut and dried customs of a particular tribe. Those who say Americans are largely descended from the American Indians might certainly make a case out of the suggestion that this mystical horror of material things is largely a barbaric sentiment. The Red Indian is said to have tried and condemned a tomahawk for committing a murder. In this case he was certainly the prototype of the white man who curses a bottle because too much of it goes into a man. Prohibition is sometimes praised for its simplicity; on these lines it may be equally condemned for its savagery. But I myself do not say anything so absurd as that Americans are savages; nor do I think it would matter much if they were descended from savages. It is culture that counts and not ethnology; and the culture that is concerned here derives indirectly rather from New England than from Old America. Whatever it derives from, however, this is the thing to be noted about it: that it really does not seem to understand what is meant by a standard of right and wrong. It is a vague sentimental notion that certain habits were not suitable to the old log cabin or the old hometown. It has a vague utilitarian notion that certain habits are not directly useful in the new amalgamated stores or the new financial gambling-hell. If his aged mother or his economic master dislikes to see a young man hanging about with a pipe in his mouth, the action becomes a sin; or the nearest that such a moral philosophy can come to the idea of a sin. A man does not chop wood for the log hut by smoking; and a man does not make dividends for the Big Boss by smoking; and therefore smoking has a smell as of something sinful. Of what the great theologians and moral philosophers have meant by a sin, these people have no more idea than a child drinking milk has of a great toxicologist analyzing poisons. It may be a credit of their virtue to be thus vague about vice. The man who is silly enough to say, when offered a cigarette, `I have no vices,' may not always deserve the rapier-thrust of the reply given by the Italian Cardinal, `It is not a vice, or doubtless you would have it.' But at least the Cardinal knows it is not a vice; which assists the clarity of his mind. But the lack of clear standards among those who vaguely think of it as a vice may yet be the beginning of much peril and oppression. My two American journalists, between them, may yet succeed in adding the sinfulness of cigars to the other curious things now part of the American Constitution.
I would therefore venture to say to Miss Avis Carlson that the quarrel in question does not arise from the Yankee Puritans having too much morality, but from their having too little. It does not arise from their drawing too hard and fast a line of distinction between right and wrong, but from their being much to loose and indistinct. They go by associations and not by abstractions. Therefore they classify smoking with vamping or a flask in the pocket with sin in the soul. I hope at least that some of the Fundamentalists will succeed in being a little more fundamental than this. The men of Tennessee are supposed to be very anxious to draw the line between men and monkeys. They are also supposed by some to be rather too anxious to draw the line between black men and white men. May I be allowed to hope that they will succeed in drawing a rather more logical line between bad men and good men? Something of the the difference and the difficulty may be seen by comparing the old Ku Klux Klan with the new Klu Klux Klan. The old secret society may have been justified or not; but it had a definite object: it was directed against somebody. The new secret society seems to have been directed against anybody; often against anybody who drank; in time, for all I know, against anybody who smoked. It is this sort of formless fanaticism that is the great danger of the American Temperament; and it is well to insist that if men must persecute, they will be more clear-headed if they persecute for a creed.
- from Generally Speaking, Dodd & Mead, 1929
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Interview Posted at Most Holy Family Monastery with Fr. Neil Webster:
This is snippet of their recap of the interview, which I find most interesting, and provides a very good insight concerning the ArchBishop Thuc controversy.
...In this interview, Fr. Webster, a priest who was with Thuc in his final days, addresses the objection of his mental capacity.
This interview is centered around the very interesting story of Archbishop Thuc’s final days and what happened to him. It’s important to remember that Bishop Thuc’s brother was the anti-communist president of S. Vietnam who was assassinated in 1963. This reveals that powerful individuals were very well aware of the activities of the Thuc family. Did Novus Ordo Church “authorities” conspire with powerful people to kidnap Bishop Thuc, in order to prevent him from consecrating more traditional-minded bishops who would spread the traditional Latin Mass, ordain priests in the traditional rite, and oppose Communism and the Vatican II sect? Hear the fascinating story...
It also goes into detail about the role played by Bishop Louis Vezelis, who was very instrumental in the actions of those who were around the Archbishop during his final days.
Link to Bro. Michael Dimond interviews Fr. Neil Webster about Archbishop Thuc, his final days and his line [1 hour audio]
snippet Obatined from Most Holy Family Monastery E-Exchanges.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Pride is the beginning of sin, the first impulse and movement toward evil. Perhaps indeed it is both the root and the foundation. For "the beginning" means either the first impulse towards evil, or the grounding. ...So also pride is the beginning of sin. For every sin begins from it, and is maintained by it. For that, whatever good things we do, this vice suffers them not to remain and not fall away, but is as a certain root not letting them abide unshaken, is manifest from hence: see what things the Pharisee did, but they profited him nothing. For he did not extirpate the root, but it corrupted all his performances, because the root remained. From pride springs contempt of the poor, desire of riches, the love of power, the longing for much glory. Such an one is prompt to revenge an insult. For he who is proud cannot bear to be insulted even by his superiors, much less by his inferiors. But he who cannot bear to be insulted cannot bear either to suffer any ill. See how pride is the beginning of sin.
This I is one of the best explanations of this vice for I also believe that it is this pride which is the root of heresy, and the reason why there are heretics. Heretics, full of pride, do not humble themselves to rightful ecclesiastical authorities, but declare them to be the heretics, as is the excuse of every heretic throughout history, they have all claimed to be the ones keeping with orthodoxy while, they believe, the Church has embraced the heresy; thus the section on superiors mentioned. Pride is the enemy of humble obedience, a virtue of faith, which keeps a man in the right doctrine, that he submit himself to the rightful authority of the Church in issues of the faith. This pride is also the reason why virtue is seldom found amongst heretics as they, being full of pride as they are, and by this I speak of obstinate heretics, live according to themselves and not according to God, just as they reckon according to themselves and not according to God and His Church.