A bunch of political commentary I’ve been reading…

“‘When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation (with evil), which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.'” …

The best way to save the lives of prenatal children, at least in our current political reality, is to provide women in difficult circumstances the resources to keep and support them. Right now, with no paid family leave, hopelessly expensive child care, and a massive disparity in pay, women are put in a difficult spot. Abortion rates tend to be significantly lower in countries with stronger social welfare systems.

Yes, Catholics may vote for Bernie Sanders (COMMENTARY) | Charles Camosy | February 8, 2016

“The big worry among such [active, stalwart] Republicans is that there is a Trump movement out there that they can’t see. “That’s how we got burned by Obama,” the politico said, recalling the 2008 race in which the Obama campaign used technology and social media to build a level of support that escaped the notice of Republicans stuck in an earlier era of campaigning. Today, clued-in Republicans know and respect Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who goes way back in New Hampshire. Corey’s good on data and technology, they told me. They wonder if he’s got something up his sleeve, and they just don’t see it yet.’ …

I talked to a Republican political operative who has done a lot of work in New Hampshire. He has done so much work, in fact, that he knows many of the streets throughout the state by heart, and knows which houses display candidates’ political signs at primary time and which don’t.

He described driving down a street on the west side of Manchester, checking out the houses. He noticed Trump signs in front of houses that he knew had never displayed signs before. Seeing that, he began to think that all the talk about Trump appealing to a different kind of voter might be true. …

Republican elected officials in New Hampshire are in a delicate position when it comes to Trump. Plenty of them don’t like him, but they know that many of their voters do. So even if they’re inclined to criticize Trump, they stay quiet. When was the last time a big New Hampshire Republican up for election this November blasted Trump? Not lately.

Also, down-ballot GOP candidates need Trump. One thing they’re all trying to do is to sign up as many potential voters as possible, to get contact information in hopes of shepherding those voters to the polls. Trump’s big rallies are great places to do that. Trump events are where the people are, and the other campaigns know it.

So the candidates constantly hear their communications advisers, if they have them, advise against going after Trump. What’s in it for the campaign to be crossways with the front-runner? At this point in the race, nothing. …

Perhaps the most fundamental reason veteran Republicans can’t quite get their heads around the Trump phenomenon is that, if it is real, it would say something about their state that they don’t quite understand.

Byron York: GOP fear and loathing in New Hampshire – By BYRON YORK (@BYRONYORK) • 1/24/16 7:22 PM

He also suggested that Trump’s success in the GOP primary shows that being tough appeals to the party’s base.

“This is why Donald Trump is doing so well. Because at least he knows how to negotiate. Our appropriators, our leadership, has absolutely no clue how to negotiate,” Labrador said in response to a question from The Hill.

“Maybe they should read ‘The Art of the Deal’ and figure out how it is you negotiate big deals,” he added sarcastically, referring to the real estate mogul’s best-selling book. …

February 11, 2016, 05:59 pm – Lawmaker: GOP should take page from Trump on budget – By Cristina Marcos

According to its leaders, the American people don’t really exist. There’s something called the United States, a landmass filled with citizens (and uniformly virtuous immigrants) who are hardworking and industrious. This geographic entity is “exceptional” and uniquely blessed by God, as are its swelling number of random inhabitants. But there’s no nation. Instead, there’s a collection of individuals, all “free,” united only by certain “principles” and “ideals.” And our leaders always say our best days are still before us. 

Thus, American politics isn’t about securing our interests as a people or a nation. Instead, it is an endless argument about the American Creed, the slogans handed down to us from our founding about freedom and liberty and all men being equal. The Right and Left will emphasize one slogan or the other, but the vocabulary is always the same. And somehow, the more high-minded and abstract the rhetoric, the more comfortably it serves the interests of those who already hold power.

Of course, the historic American nation, the white American core of the polity, keeps the System creaking along, even as this indispensable ethnic group is dispossessed and deconstructed by its own government. …

[I]n terms of where we are in the historical development cycle, America is about due for a Caesar. But because this is America, Caesar may arrive in the form of a reality TV star. …

Rather than saying America is “exceptional,” Trump is saying we are a country like any other, one losing the global competition for power and wealth. There’s nothing inherent about America that makes it “great” — it takes decisive action and bold leadership to defeat our enemies and restore our power. Trump makes many conservatives uncomfortable because implicit in his approach is the idea that it’s possible for America to lose. …

But contra the claims of some of the more excitable elements of Conservatism Inc., Trump’s imperial style doesn’t make him a dictator. He’s promised to work with Democratic leaders and cut deals. For this, he’s been attacked by the same conservatives who call him a tyrant in waiting in the next breath. …

In his own way, Trump is trying to build a national policy consensus. He says he will provide health care to the poorest among us, which conservatives turned into an accusation of supporting “Obamacare.” Unlike many conservatives, Trump has argued against raising the retirement age on Social Security and has no patience for slashing those programs which actually benefit his own supporters. Trump’s foreign policy promises an unsentimental defense of our own national interest, rather than the crusading idealism of George W. Bush. When it comes to political correctness, immigration, guns, and taxes, Trump outdoes just about any “movement conservative,” but when it comes to spending, he’s a moderate who believes in some form of a common good, rather than Margaret Thatcher’s sneer that “there is no such thing as society.” Rather than that of Ronald Reagan, Trump’s conservatism is that of Bismarck [sic!!!]. …

He’s using identity politics, but pro-American identity politics, something almost unheard of. He speaks in terms of our collective interest and distinguishes it from the interests of foreigners whose interests he regards as irrelevant. … And we can trust Trump, it’s implied, because his massive ego is now identified with that of the nation itself. “My whole life is about winning, and now I want to do that for America,” he says.

American conservatives have turned on him with savage fury. Their incoherent critique against him largely hinges on Trump’s supposed refusal to mouth the usual pieties about “the Constitution” and “freedom” which the Beltway Right doesn’t even believe. Trump’s tax plan alone shows he is hardly some populist demagogue. While conservatives downplay existential issues like immigration, we are told Trump must be rejected because of his support for ethanol subsidies and eminent domain, both of which will remain in place regardless of who is elected to the Oval Office.

It’s also striking how many conservatives have openly said they would rather lose than have him be the nominee. A key talking point of the emerging Alt Right is that the American conservative movement has failed to “conserve” anything important throughout its history, including traditional values, limited government, and the country itself.

Conservatism Inc. has confirmed it is designed to lose. Or more accurately, the Beltway Right believes it is impossible for conservatives to lose. Even if there was a President Bernie Sanders holding court over a 100 percent Socialist Congress, we’d be reading in National Review how America is still a “center-right nation.”

Not only is America not a “center-right nation,” its “Right wing” political tradition seems indifferent to the nation itself. Trump’s leading primary challengers, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, are not even American in terms of heritage or mindset. Cruz was not born in the country, and for all his recitations of the Constitution, may not even be eligible to be President. To Cruz, the country is simply the subject of a laboratory experiment for his abstract creed of “limited government.” Cruz’s strange combination of Third World Catholicism and degenerate American evangelism means this Princeton/Harvard lawyer backed by Wall Street money LARPs as a kind of 21st century Billy Sunday. His crazed father tells the rubes his son is an “anointed king” who will return the nation to God. But Ted seems to have no particular interest in the country he’s adopted, viewing it merely as a vehicle for his own ambitions. And his own wife is part of a movement to abolish the country altogether.

While Cruz is indifferent, Rubio is actively hostile to the country’s core population. He’s assisted major corporations, especially Disney, in replacing his own constituents. He betrayed the conservatives who put him into the office almost moments after winning his election. He’s gleeful about plunging the country into another disastrous war in the Middle East, this time with Russia. Rubio represents the return of George W. Bush style neoconservatism, now with a white Cuban faux “Latino” as the Shabbos goy instead of afaux evangelical cowboy. As with Lindsey Graham, one can’t help but suspect “they” have something on him. …

Conservatives know neither Cruz nor Rubio would actually do much in office. As Cruz’s supporters in Iowa said, they wanted someone who “shares their values.” They take the hostility of every person he’s ever worked with as proof that he’s “principled.” Rubio’s supporters, especially the consultants, seem to believe he can “win,” and what he does after that is essentially irrelevant.

Yet what could a President Trump really do? In the unlikely scenario Trump wins, we’ll paper over the hole where our national soul should be with big projects designed to conceal the decline. True, the Great Wall of Trump would be a glorious symbol of our national will to survive. Unfortunately, unless we repatriate post-1965 non-white immigrants, legal and illegal, the demographic damage is already done.

One positive effect is the conservative movement would be reconstituted along nationalist lines, but without confronting demographic issues directly, there would be almost no way to reverse the underlying causes of American decline. Trump himself has said he would not challenge anti-white racial preferences and aside from immigration, would leave the multicultural spoils system essentially untouched.

While Trump has undoubtedly fueled the rise of the Alt Right, in office, he might function as a safety valve rather than an accelerant. Like Putin, Trump would impose a vaguely conservative, patriotic veneer on a state with crumbling ethnic foundations. It’s not that Trump is “pro-white”; it’s that he’s not anti-white, which makes him far Right in the current political context.

The best that can be said about him is that we don’t fully know what he’d do, meaning that unlike literally every other candidate, there’s at least a chance he won’t try make our lives worse. Besides, as every Alt Right supporter of Trump knows, it’s not necessarily what the would-be Emperor himself would do, it’s what he would lead to — a legitimate, nationalist American Right. …

Trump reveals, as a Maoist would say, the contradictions within the System. Trump dismisses the propaganda that America is somehow an exception to the laws of history. For America to “win and win and win” as he promises, it requires a nationalist approach in which our government aggressively privileges our own citizens over foreigners.

But that mostly means white people. The dominant ideology of egalitarianism requires that not only should white people not be protected by our government, they should be punished. At the same time, the American government relies on the very same white people it is so eager to dispossess for its terrifying economic and military power. …

[B]ecause America itself is built on an egalitarian lie and denies the ethnic basis for its own concrete existence, a Trump regime can only delay the inevitable. It might even hasten it, as the anti-white identity politics of the Left will be accelerated under a Trump presidency, as the universities and liberal city governments will practically be in outright rebellion. …

But regardless of what Trump does or does not do, the only future for the American Right is identity politics. In the more likely scenario Trump doesn’t win, it’s the end for conservatism. Even if a Republican candidate won the White House, Rubio, Bush, and probably Cruz would promptly work with the Paul Ryan Congress to pass amnesty, thus ensuring conservatism’s permanent extinction. …

Even more importantly, absent Trump, it’s the end of Americanism. Despite the universalism and claim that there is no “Them” in American conservatism, only whites really believe in Americanism. As demographics change, there is no longer a market for Americanism beyond Glenn Beck-style hucksterism and deeply cynical neocon appeals for “America” to fight Russia. If a billionaire with a massive media megaphone, a celebrity following cultivated over decades, and direct access to millions of Americans can’t break this quarantine on nationalism, no one can. The Donald is a Trump ex machina, and his movement ends with him. The demographics are such that a project of “nationalist” revival becomes impossible, as well as undesirable, in a matter of years. …

So where does that leave whites? Today, whites exist as a group in a negative sense. They are a force of privilege and oppression, a malevolent enemy to the larger world. However, we have no objective existence — “whiteness” is an illusion created by capitalism or an oppressive class system. We therefore have no legitimate group interests.

In contrast, other groups (including Jews) do have legitimate group interests. They also have an objective biologically determined existence, as shown by the Leftist fury directed at Rachel Dolezal. What People of Color lack is agency. Regardless of their numbers, wealth, or state institutions they control, they cannot be racist or sexist because they “lack power.” Even Jews masquerade as an “oppressed” group. People of color and Jews are devoid of moral responsibility, mascots for enlightened whites to use to atone for their existence.

To put it another way, whites are in the position of the Third Estate at the beginning of the French Revolution. What are whites in the American system? Everything, in terms of the core culture, the source of political power, and the fount of political legitimacy (as they created the state).

But what are they in the political and social order explicitly? Nothing.

What is our job? To make them something.

And to do that may require a process akin to the French Revolution.

Trump is an opportunity for the System to save itself by giving whites a sense they are tied to the existing System. If Trump goes down, it means whites truly have no stake in the existing political order nor any legitimate means of political expression. But even if he wins, it’s only a temporary reprieve for the United States and for European-Americans. …

For Beltway “conservatives,” whites are simply raw material to be used for their ideological agenda or cogs in a cheap labor machine. For the Left, whites are the eternal enemy that unites their Coalition of the Fringes in an everlasting crusade of hatred. Donald Trump promises to stop the “assault” on the historic American nation. He’s the last American because he’s the last politician who will ever appeal to the core American population, in the name of the old American order, through the old democratic means.

Regardless if he ever wins a single primary, let alone the election, Donald Trump is already a transformational figure. He reveals the System is incapable of saving itself, and European-Americans should plan for what comes next.

Trump: The Last American – Posted By Gregory Hood On February 8, 2016 @ 1:59 am

Trumpism is an expression of the legitimate anger that many Americans feel about the course that the country has taken, and its appearance was predictable. It is the endgame of a process that has been going on for a half-century: America’s divestment of its historic national identity. …

Historically, one of the most widely acknowledged aspects of American exceptionalism was our lack of class consciousness. Even Marx and Engels recognized it. This was egalitarianism American style. Yes, America had rich people and poor people, but that didn’t mean that the rich were better than anyone else. …

Work and marriage have been central to American civic culture since the founding, and this held true for the white working class into the 1960s. Almost all of the adult men were working or looking for work, and almost all of them were married.

Then things started to change. For white working-class men in their 30s and 40s—what should be the prime decades for working and raising a family—participation in the labor force dropped from 96% in 1968 to 79% in 2015. Over that same period, the portion of these men who were married dropped from 86% to 52%. …

By the beginning of the 1980s, Democratic elites overwhelmingly subscribed to an ideology in open conflict with liberty and individualism as traditionally understood. This consolidated the Democratic Party’s longtime popularity with ethnic minorities, single women and low-income women, but it alienated another key Democratic constituency: the white working class. …

the central truth of Trumpism as a phenomenon is that the entire American working class has legitimate reasons to be angry at the ruling class. During the past half-century of economic growth, virtually none of the rewards have gone to the working class. …

Trump’s America -There’s nothing irrational about Donald Trump’s appeal to the white working class, writes Charles Murray: they have every reason to be angry (By CHARLES MURRAY, Updated Feb. 12, 2016 10:35 a.m. ET)

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This rock…

“This “roccia” (rock) will never crumble, nor flake, given that its solidity is guaranteed in the text of Matthew until the end of time. The “rock” remains and no one will scratch it, implicated as she is in a divine undertaking. But on occasion some men may take from others the vision of the rock. Other things may be made to seem like the rock, other things that may appear to all as such. The distinction is a profound one, even if the errors of these men are capable of veiling the reality (truth), they cannot destroy it. The question, easy for all, that presents itself is one of the visibility of the rock. If then situations should occur, that took from certain men the visibility of the “roccia” (rock) in the Church, the consequences would be grave.Those that convert to the Church, convert because they are convinced that they have found the “roccia” (rock), not doubt, hesitation, contradiction or doctrinal anarchy. One converts when one knows that ones hope is not futile. Taking away the visibility of the “roccia” (rock): what happens?”

— Cardinal Siri, Renovatio II (1967), fasc. 2, pp. 183-184.

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Are Protestant ministers commissioned (i.e., ordained and sent) by the Church?


Are current Orthodox minsters commissioned (i.e., ordained and sent) by the Church?


Do they, therefore, gather or scatter for the Lord?


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Certainty beyond the individual…

Here is the error of our Protestant friends. They recognize no distinction between reason and private judgement. Reason is common to all men; private judgement is the special act of an individual…. In all matters of this sort there is a criterion of certainty beyond the individual, and evidence is adducible which ought to convince the reason of every man, and which, when adduced, does convince every man of ordinary understanding, unless through his own fault. Private judgement is not so called … because it is a judgement of an individual, but because it is a judgement rendered by virtue of a private rule or principle of judgement…. The distinction here is sufficiently obvious, and from it we may conclude that nothing is to be termed ‘private judgement’ which is demonstrable from reason or provable from testimony.

— Orestes Brownson, Brownson’s Quarterly Review, October 1852, pp. 482-3 (emphasis added).

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O felix culpa! O felix partus!

christus natus est painting nativity.jpg

“This I can promise you from the mercy of the divine Infant: he that shall confess his sins and be sorry for them, shall have born within him the Light of the world; the darkness that deceived him shall be dispelled; and he shall enjoy the brightness of the true Light. For how can mercy be denied to the miserable this night, in which the merciful and compassionate Lord is so mercifully born? Therefore, drive away from you all haughty looks, and idle words, and unjust works; let your loins be girt, and your feet walk in the right paths; and then come, and accuse the Lord, if this night he rend not the heavens, and come down to you, and throw all your sins into the depth of the sea.”

— St. Peter Damian, Sermon for Christmas Eve

HT to Jeff Culbreath

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God… Faith… Jesus… Whatever?

“True religion is the worship of the true God, not the cult of false gods, who are just so many devils.”

— St. Augustine, City of God, Book IV, chapter 23 (London: Penguin Books, 1984 [tr. Henry Bettenson]), p. 163.

1) Is Jesus, as Catholics regard Him, God?


2) Is God triune?


3) Is belief in the triune God a condition for salvation, as Catholics understand it (ACUI)?


4) Is rejection of the triune God grounds for damnation (ACUI)?


5) Is Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah and the final prophet of God––that is, the Redeemer of Jews and the Savior of Gentiles (ACUI)?


6) Is rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as a false Messiah and false prophet grounds for damnation (ACUI)?


7) Is Jesus, as Jews and Muslims regard him, God?


7) Is the God worshipped by Jews and Muslims triune?


8) Is belief in a non-triune ‘Yahweh‘ or ‘Allah‘ a basis for salvation?


9) Is acceptance to the Jewish or Islamic monadic God grounds for salvation?


10) Is Jesus of Nazareth a false Messiah and a false Jewish Prophet–and therefore a phony Redeemer of Jews and a chimerical Savior of Gentiles?


10) Is acceptance of false Messiahs and crucified Prophets grounds for salvation according to God’s “First (i.e., Mosaic) Covenant”?



To which of these questions do Jews, Catholics, and Muslims answer, “Yes,” and to which of them do they answer, “No”?

And to which God or gods are they praying when they give their answers?

+ + +


The Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.


The Tridentine Creed

I, N, with a firm faith believe and profess each and everything which is contained in the Creed which the Holy Roman Church maketh use of. To wit:

I believe in one God, The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets. And one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

I also admit the Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, to whom it belongeth to judge of the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

I also profess that there are truly and properly Seven Sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all for every one; to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders cannot be reiterated without sacrilege.

I also receive and admit the received and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

I embrace and receive all and every one of the things which have been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful. Likewise, that the saints, reigning together with Christ, are to be honoured and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.

I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the Mother of God, ever virgin, and also of other Saints, ought to be had and retained, and that due honour and veneration is to be given them.

I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.

I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church as the mother and mistress of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent, and by the ecumenical Council of the Vatican, particularly concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching. I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the Church hath condemned, rejected, and anathematized.

This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, which I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, inviolate and with firm constancy until the last breath of life, I do so profess and swear to maintain with the help of God. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and professed by all those over whom I have charge. I, N, do so pledge, promise, and swear, so help me God and these Holy Gospels.

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Doctrine vs. discipline redux…

“But let no one try to trick you by saying that ‘the controversy is not about religion but about customs,’ as the ancient schismatics did, or that the Apostolic See is not dealing with the cause of Catholic communion and faith but is simply pained by the insult of being apparently despised by its critics since the dissidents do not rest from scattering such statements as these to deceive all the simple-minded.”

— Pope St. Gelasius (r. 492-496), Ep. 18, to the bishops of Dardania, no. 6 (cited by Pius IX in Quartus Supra (1873), §50, n. 65).

“If any one saith, that the canon of the mass contains errors, and is therefore to be abrogated; let him be anathema.

“If any one saith, that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema.”

Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon VI and VII.

“Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that ‘without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.’ But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.”

— Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quanta Cura (8 December 1864), §5.

“But since discipline is the rampart of faith, the Apostolic See needed to restore discipline. It has certainly never abandoned this most serious duty even in adverse times when it could attend only to transitory needs while it awaited more the favorable times.”

— Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quartus Supra (6 January 1873), §20.

+ + +

A: “I believe the Bible teaches that believers must receive communion as bread and wine, under both ‘species’, as Catholics call them.”

B: “Well, the Church, the Catholic Church, teaches that the faithful may receive the Eucharist under only one species without sinning. In fact, denying the efficacy of one or the other single species is condemned by the Church! [cf. Council of Trent, Session 13, Canon III]”

A: “Yes, but that’s just a disciplinary matter, so the Church can’t be infallible about something like that. At least, that’s what Vatican I taught. I’ve been in lots of debates with Catholics about papal infallibility, and it always boils down to ex cathedra infallibility in matters of faith and morals only. A mere disciplinary matter like liturgical rubrics can be as fallible as my attempts to explain quantum physics.”

B: “Bravo, at least you got Vatican I right!”

A: “I try.”

B: “But that’s irrelevant in this case, because the real presence of Christ in both species, or one of them singly, is a matter of 0.”

A: “I suppose so, but it’s also a liturgical rubric–a merely disciplinary issue. Wow, speaking of quantum physics, ever hear of superposition?”

B: “Yes…?”

A: “Meaning, like, an ecclesial canon can be both disciplinary and doctrinal– both a matter of praxis and of faith.”

B: “Well, canons per se are infallible, because they are formal declarations of the Church in an extraordinary act of conciliar infallibility ratified by the Bishop of Rome. So I’d prefer to call liturgical matters ‘rubrics’ rather than ‘canons’.”

A: “I think you’re just splitting hairs. Are you saying that receiving the Eucharist under one species is a ‘mere rubric’? I thought you just said it was dogmatic!”

B: “Well, yes, everything outside of that, or the maleness of the priesthood, or the matter of the eucharistic elements, or the words of consecration, which are dogmatic–everything outside of those hard-and-fast canons are ‘mere rubrics’.”

A: “So rubrics can be fallible but canons are infallible, right?”

B: “Yes.”

A: “Sort of like, speed limits are infallible, as far as the authority of the state goes, but speedometers in citizens’ cars can be fallible?”

B: “Huh?”

A: “I mean that the rubrics help the Church conform to the dogmatic canons, even in liturgical matters, just like speedometers help citizens obey the speed limit in their cars. If the speedometers are fallible and unreliable, what good is an  infallible speed limit? The conformity of the driver with the law would vary from car to car, just as the conformity of rubrics with dogmatic worship would vary from age to age, council to council. The speedometers have to be just as reliable as the laws, even if the state (or, Church) can choose to alter their units from, say, miles per hour to kilometers per hour to 里 per hour.”

B: “What is a ‘lee per hour’? Anyway, I think you’re missing the p–”

A: “Not only that, previous councils are chock full of canons–infallible canons–that deal only with disciplinary matters. How could the Church impose those ‘disciplinary’ canons as infallible norms on the faithful, on pain of excommunication, if the Church is not infallible in disciplinary matters as well? Hang on, let me Google something…”

B: “Okay…”

A: “Yeah, that’s it… From the Council of Florence, cited at Vatican I, I quote: ‘The Roman pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to him was committed in blessed Peter, by our lord Jesus Christ, the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole church.’ [Council of Florence, session 6. S Bernard, Ep. 190 (PL 182, 1053).] Wait, wait, let me Google something else, a real doozie…”

B: “Okay…?”

A: “Naw, on second thought, it’s too long to read out loud, so let me just e-mail it to you later, yeah?”

B: “Sure.”

A: “Anyway, my point is, the Catholic Church teaches that the Roman pontiff’s full power as teacher of the whole Church coalesces with and includes ‘ruling and governing’–i.e., making rules for–the whole Church in the authority of Peter. Rules, as in disciplines. If the Pope decrees fallible, even faulty, disciplines, don’t you have a right to resist him, politely, at least?”

B: “Yes, certainly. St. Thomas teaches that clearly in his glosses on Galatians 2, when St. Paul opposed St. Peter ‘to his face,’ as the trads like to say. At times, even a layman has the duty to oppose fallible decrees of the Pope, as long as it doesn’t touch on faith and morals.”

A: “Well, I’m still not sure you’ve clarified how discipline can’t be disciplinary–or, to recall Vatican II, how doctrine can’t ‘subsist in’ discipline–, since the only way the Church honors the orthodox faith about Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist is by upholding a discipline like bread and wine of a certain rubrical stature, priests of a certain phenotypic character, and, again, of regulating for communion under one species. To flout those disciplines just is to flout the doctrine which they embody. Faulty discipline is just the smoke that rises from false doctrine, as true discipline rises from true doctrine.”

B: “Whoa, now…”

A: “Sorry, I’m not done. I kind of lost my train of thought there. Let me get back to the resistance thing. You said that, as long as you don’t oppose decrees that pertain to ‘faith and morals’, you have the right, maybe even the duty to oppose the Pope or bishops about disciplinary or ‘prudential’ matters.”

B: “Yes. That seems right. Otherwise, as one friend put it, Catholics are just mindless robots, and you can count me out.”

A: “Well, I’m not Catholic, so don’t get me started, heheh. But here’s my point: I thought we agreed that previous councils infallibly promulgated canons and decrees, including many that pertain to disciplinary, liturgical, and even–gasp!–prudential matters. So are you saying that anyone at the close of those councils could pick and choose which canons and decrees they would accept, as long as they only rejected the disciplinary ones?”

B: “Okay, no, if you put it that way, no. But I’m talking about run of the mill discipline, like motu proprios, and bulls, and off-the-cuff homilies, things like that.”

A: “So Luther could have rightly resisted Leo X’s bull Exsurge Domine? Isn’t that what kicked off the whole Reformation, roughly speaking–that he was wrong to spurn that ‘mere’, run-of-the-mill bull?”

B: “Look, all I know is, the Pope, and therefore the Church, is infallible of matters of faith and morals only–”

A: “But he can infallibly ratify Church councils that infallibly canonize and decree matters of discipline and prudence?”

B: “Yeah, pretty much.”

A: “Gotcha.”

+ + +

“So anyway here’s that email I mentioned earlier today… It’s from Quartus Supra by Pius IX, from 1873… IOW, AFTER VATICAN I and therefore fully aware of the infallible-in-faith-and-morals distinction yet… still… pretty hardcore for ‘mere discipline’ I say… If you’re gonna follow the pope… you need to follow him, no? And if you believe Christ gave him the power to rule and govern the flock as an expression of his teaching, shouldn’t that entail obedience and compliance across the board, short of ‘mortal sin’? Just sayin’… Anyway, the quote I meant with my bolding…

Christ Himself, however, the God who “is charity,”[19] openly declared that those who do not listen to the Church should be regarded as gentiles and publicans.[20] And Our predecessor St. Gelasius answered Euphemius, Bishop of Constantinople, when he stated that “the flock ought to follow the shepherd who calls them back to safe pastures, rather than the shepherd follow the flock as it wanders off the road.”[21] For “the people must be taught, not followed: and if they do not know, we must impress on them what is permitted and not permitted, rather than give them our approval.”[22]

Definition of a Schismatic

12. But the neo-schismatics say that it was not a case of doctrine but of discipline, so the name and prerogatives of Catholics cannot be denied to those who object. Our Constitution Reversurus, published on July 12, 1867,[23] answers this objection. We do not doubt that you know well how vain and worthless this evasion is. For the Catholic Church has always regarded as schismatic those who obstinately oppose the lawful prelates of the Church and in particular, the chief shepherd of all. Schismatics avoid carrying out their orders and even deny their very rank. Since the faction from Armenia is like this, they are schismatics even if they had not yet been condemned as such by Apostolic authority. For the Church consists of the people in union with the priest, and the flock following its shepherd.[24] Consequently the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop, and whoever is not with the bishop is not in the Church. Further more, as Our predecessor Pius VI warned in his Apostolic letter condemning the civil constitution of the clergy in France,[25] discipline is often closely related to doctrine and has a great influence in preserving its purity. In fact, in many instances, the holy Councils have unhesitatingly cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed its discipline.

Authority of the Holy See

13. But the neo-schismatics have gone further, since “every schism fabricates a heresy for itself to justify its withdrawal from the Church.”[26] Indeed they have even accused this Apostolic See as well, as if We had exceeded the limits of Our power in commanding that certain points of discipline were to be observed in the Patriarchate of Armenia. Nor can the Eastern Churches preserve communion and unity of faith with Us without being subject to the Apostolic power in matters of discipline. Teaching of this kind is heretical, and not just since the definition of the power and nature of the papal primacy was determined by the ecumenical Vatican Council: the Catholic Church has always considered it such and abhorred it. Thus the bishops at the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon clearly declared the supreme authority of the Apostolic See in their proceedings [IOW, to defect from the disciplinary authority of the pope is to defect from his authority as teacher, as Peter]; then they humbly requested from Our predecessor St. Leo confirmation and support for their decrees, even those which concerned discipline.

14. Indeed, “the successor of blessed Peter, by the very fact that he is such, has been assigned the whole flock of Christ, so that together with his bishopric he receives the power of universal rule. Then the other bishops must be assigned their portions of the flock so that they can rule over their flock.”[27] If the supreme authority of this assignment to blessed Peter and his successors is rejected, the very foundations and prerogatives of the patriarchal churches in particular would be shaken. “Even if Christ willed that Peter and the other leaders have something in common, the other leaders have this only through Peter.”[28] …

15. Accordingly, then, unless they abandon the unchanging and unbroken tradition of the Church which is so clearly confirmed by testimonies of the Fathers, the neo-schismatics can in no way convince themselves that they are Catholics even if they declare themselves such. If We did not thoroughly know the clever and subtle deceits of heretics, it would be incomprehensible that the Ottoman regime still regards as Catholics people it knows to be cut off from the Catholic Church by Our judgment and authority. For if the Catholic religion is to continue safe and free in the Ottoman dominion as the Emperor has decreed, then the essence of this religion should also be allowed, for instance the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff. Most men feel that the Church’s supreme head and shepherd should decide who are Catholics and who are not.

False Accusations

16. But the neo schismatics declare that they do not oppose the Catholic Church’s principles in the least. Their sole aim is to protect the [disciplinary?] rights of their churches and their nation and even the rights of their supreme Emperor; they falsely allege that We have infringed these rights. By this means, they fearlessly make us responsible for the present disorder. …

17. We do not wish to recall that after the schism succeeded, the fortunes of the Eastern Catholic Churches declined; then God overthrew the empire of the Greeks in punishment for the sundered unity of His Church. Neither do We desire to recall the energetic efforts of Our predecessors, as soon as it was possible, to call back the straying sheep to the one true flock of Christ the Lord. But even if the results did not fully match the efforts expended, still by God’s mercy some churches of the different rites did return to the truth and Catholic unity of the Church. These the Apostolic See received in its arms like newborn infants and took particular care to strengthen them in the true Catholic faith and to keep them completely free from all stain of heresy.


Also, this from Pope Zosimus:

Although the tradition of the Fathers has attributed such great authority to the Apostolic See that no one would dare to disagree wholly with its judgment, and it has always preserved this [judgment] by canons and rules, and current ecclesiastical discipline up to this time by its laws pays the reverence which is due to the name of PETER, from whom it has itself descended . . . ; since therefore PETER the head is of such great authority and he has confirmed the subsequent endeavors of all our ancestors, so that the Roman Church is fortified . . . by human as well as by divine laws, and it does not escape you that we rule its place and also hold power of the name itself, nevertheless you know, dearest brethren, and as priests you ought to know, although we have such great authority that no one can dare to retract from our decision, yet we have done nothing which we have not voluntarily referred to your notice by letters . . . not because we did not know what ought to be done, or would do anything which by going against the advantage of the Church, would be displeasing.


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