Abortion and Other Evils On Catholics

Celebrate the Month!

Hello! It is June, which, according to the Catholic liturgical calendar, is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which symbolizes our Blessed Lord’s love for humanity. As we know, Jesus Christ has a human heart by virtue of becoming man. The Sacred Heart of Jesus denotes the entire mystery of Christ Jesus, as the Son of God and the cause of our salvation.

Our Lord gave these twelve promises to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to those who devote themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Have mercy on us!

P.S.: Why—were you expecting something else?

On Catholics

Yes, Christ Indeed Was Born on Christmas Day

Merry Christmas, everyone! Typically, for the last few Christmases, I have been criticizing the famous “Christmas” song, Mary Did You Know? on account of its heretical and Protestant content, so now I shall talk about a much calmer subject, namely the age-old question as to whether Jesus was actually born on December 25. This is not an issue that pertains to Faith directly, of course, and a good Catholic can deny this and still stand within orthodoxy but I think it is a fair issue to discuss, especially considering that a minority of Christians seem to think Christmas is a pagan practice of some sort that ought to be avoided.

First of all, even if the date of Christmas were chosen based on a pagan holiday, I see nothing wrong with Christians adopting the date and the good parts about this pagan practice, giving people something to celebrate in the place of pagans such as Mithras or whoever. This was done in the case of All Saints’ Day, which was placed on November 1 because that was the day of the pagan holiday of Samhain and the Church wished to give the Celts something else to celebrate. That said, in the case of Christmas, I think there is a very good historical argument to be made that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ actually was born on December 25 or at least thereabouts, so here I would like to defend it. 

Objection 1: There seems to be that Christians may have placed the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25 to create an admissible alternative (or perhaps to infect Christianity by paganism).

To this I respond that I admit that this has been done for All Saints Day, as I have admitted (although this is to make a good alternative to a pagan holiday rather than an infection of paganism. The same argument is used for Easter since supposedly the word comes from Ēastre, goddess of the spring. This particular argument easily falls apart, seeing that Easter is not even an English holiday. It is celebrated by Christians all over the world, and in most other languages, its name comes from Pesakh, which is the Hebrew word for Passover

But as for Christmas, if that were really from a pagan holiday, one would have to name the exact pagan holiday whose place it took and show that Christians intended to supplant it by introducing Christmas on December 25. 

A common candidate introduced is Saturnalia, an ancient Roman festival and holiday in honor of the god Saturn. This at first might seem like a good candidate, as it was celebrated with a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere—which, unfortunately, seems to be rather similar to how some people celebrate Christmas nowadays. However, this argument falls apart since Saturnalia was celebrated from December 17 to December 23 and was over by the time of December 25.

A better candidate is the “Birthday of the Unconquerable” or Sol Invictus, which is recorded to be on December 25, first mentioned in The Chronography in A.D. 354. Now some have identified the Unconquerable with Helios or Mithras. However, there are a few problems with this. First of all, the Chronography of 354 is a Christian document. It is not specified who the Unconquerable is, but since it is described in a Christian document, I think it is just as likely that it referred to Jesus Christ as it is Helios. There was a pagan festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (or the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun”) which is thought to have been celebrated on December 25, but I think this proves nothing because it is very possible that Emperor Aurelian (who established the cult) chose December 25 to overshadow the Christian holiday, as in 274 and he is known to have organized persecutions.

Objection 2: It is written, “And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8) But shepherds do not watch flocks during the winter. Therefore, Jesus was not born in the winter.

To this I respond that this is true in some places, such as Russia or Canada, but it should be remembered that Bethlehem rests at the latitude of 31.7° north, so there is less temperature variation. With that in mind, it is perfectly reasonable to watch flocks in the winter.

The Biblical Argument for December 25

Obviously, the Bible does not give an exact date of Jesus’ birth. However, I think there is a reasonable, albeit not foolproof, argument from the Gospel of Luke that Jesus was born in late December. In Luke 1:5, Zechariah is described as being “of the division of Abijah”, which, according to 1 Chronicles 24:10, is the eighth course of priestly divisions. Now, the reason this is important is that there are set dates when each course is supposed to begin work. At that time, in the division of Abijah’s case, the first course takes place around March and the second around September. Now, I admit March cannot be ruled out from Scripture alone, but this still only leaves us with two possible months to work with rather than twelve, which, supported by tradition, I think greatly helps our case. 

Luke 1:23-24 testifies that Elizabeth conceived soon after Zechariah came home, meaning John would have probably been conceived in early October. The Bible (see Luke 1:36) also testifies that Gabriel came to Mary six months later. Considering that soon afterward, we learn that Mary immediately “arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah” (Luke 1:39) to Elizabeth’s house and at this point, she is referred to as “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43) by Elizabeth, suggesting that Mary did not waste time and was with child by the time she arrived. Now, six months after September makes for March and nine months after March makes for December, which perfectly matches the tradition that the Annunciation happened in March and our Lord was born in December.

Granted, all of this is something of a stretch, but the Bible easily allows for Jesus being born in December. Therefore, combined with tradition, I think it is reasonable to suppose He most likely was. And speaking of tradition…

Church Fathers

Around the year 204, St. Hippolytus of Rome wrote that “the first advent of our Lord in the flesh, when he was born in Bethlehem, was eight days before the Kalends of January, the fourth day [i.e., Wednesday], while Augustus was in his forty-second year.” (i.e., 3 or 2 B.C.) (Commentary on Daniel 4:23:3)

The Kalends was the first day of the month, so eight days before January 1 would be December 25. This quotation is among the earliest references to the birth of Christ as December 25 and appears seventy years before Emperor Aurelian made Sol Invictus a Roman cult.

Returning to the Chronography itself, Part 6 does indeed state, “Birthday of the unconquered, games ordered, thirty races.” This could easily be a reference to Helios, but considering that Constantine had legalized Christianity at this point, it is unclear, as was explained above. However, in the same document, part 12, it states: “Eighth day before the kalends of January Birth of Christ in Bethlehem of Judea.”

In other words, the very Chronography, the first document ever to give the date of Sol Invictus, actually testifies to Christ being born on December 25.

Finally, St. Augustine states that Jesus “was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th.” (On the Trinity 4:5)

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

All Scripture verses are from the Revised Standard Version.

On Catholics

Responding to Zippy’s “Conservatism, Elections, and the Kantian Chasm”

I have already written on Zippy Catholic more than once. Most particularly, I wrote on one of his posts about whether voting is sinful. It is my view that it is not but it was his. Now, one of my biggest objections was that if every Christian refrains from voting, it is basically assured that the “Left” will win and legalize abortion again and whatnot. Now, he more or less responds to this objection in an article entitled Conservatism, Elections, and the Kantian Chasm, so I will respond back.

The conservative disposition is to not rock the boat: things could be worse, and often enough efforts to make things better actually backfire and make things worse.  In general this is a pretty wise and commonsense disposition to have.

Beyond simple incomprehension and outright refusal to grant manifest premises, the most  common objection I get to my voting arguments is that if enough people did as I do the bad guys would win.   Sure, the abstract Kantian idea that you should act as you think everyone should act is nice in theory.  But the reality is that things can get worse, and we will never get to the point where everyone refuses to endorse evil.   If we manage to achieve relevance at all, we’ll just get to the point where the moral “idealists” become a large enough body of conscientious objectors that the bad guys will take over completely.  We’ll fall into the Kantian chasm:

In the first place, as I’ve argued before, reality is not linear.  The idea that if enough people did as I do, all else equal, things would get worse, contains a bad premise.  That “all else equal” works reasonably well in a very narrow range of engineering problems does not imply that it is a useful model of human society. “All else equal” is one of those assumptions that will turn on you and eat you alive once things start to get even marginally complex.

First, I want to commend him for having captured the view of the opposing side fairly well. Now, Mr. Zippy barely elaborates on the claim that “all else is equal” is a bad premise, but, as can be seen, he includes a link to an article entitled “All other things equal, ceteris paribus doesn’t make for a very good argument“. His basic argument, from what I can follow, is this: Anyone who refuses to vote is making a much more powerful statement than a vote that has a negligible outcome. Anyone who does the evil of voting will become a worse person, leading to a worse country overall. Therefore, Catholics voting will ultimately have a negative outcome. At least, I think this is Mr. Zippy’s reasoning. I apologize if I misconstrued it. I already responded to the idea that the effects of voting are negligible here, but I want to add that I do not think everyone who votes for the least evil candidate is making a moral compromise. We are called to prevent as much evil as possible and that sometimes does not mean all evil, any more than in a complicated pregnancy, a doctor may want to save both the mother and the child, but if that is impossible, he should still save at least one.

In the second place, reality is not static.   In case you haven’t noticed, for anyone defending traditional morality things aren’t getting better, they are getting worse.   It makes no sense to defend the hill you are standing on when it is sinking into an ocean of nihilistic hedonism, aided and abetted by the very people whose team you support.  The hill we are standing on is one where our society has committed mass murder of the innocent on a literally unprecedented scale.  The Nazis and the Communists have nothing on us when it comes to raw body count, and we’ve explored areas of depravity that it never occurred to them to explore.   It isn’t the conscientious objector who refuses to endorse the lesser evil and the liberal consensus that forces it upon us who is admitting defeat and surrendering.   That modern conservatives have decided to live under their own Treaty of Versailles is an admission of abject surrender, dhimmitude under the nihilist-hedonist caliphate.

I see what he is saying, although I would note that he wrote this before Roe vs. Wade was overturned in a fairly democratic fashion, which probably would not have happened if people had not voted for Donald Trump, who in turn appointed two of the justices who were involved in the overturning of the law. This is not to say that Donald Trump was perfect, but already I imagine many children’s lives were saved because of him. So maybe we are fighting a losing battle, but I would rather fight in any way we can and make the end memorable if there is any chance of saving children by doing so.

In the third place, another aspect of the conservative disposition is realism: to face reality as it is actually given to us, and to defend what is good in it without becoming enslaved to some theoretical ideology.  It is this third tendency that makes it worth the bother to even talk to conservatives.  But I think the biggest problem is that, ironically, conservatives have failed to face the full extent of our political reality.   Adopting a semi-Kantian idea that despite our individual lack of influence we should idealistically act as pragmatists is not rational.

The cloak of prosperity has hidden the bodies far enough out of sight that we don’t have to really face them, and the band plays on.

This, once again, assumes that voting is idealistic, which I think is strange because the popular vote is what sways the electoral college which, in turn, sways the election. In fact, it is very rare when the president does not win the popular vote, so I find it very difficult to believe that if all orthodox Catholics refused to vote, it would not negatively effect the outcome of the election.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Catholics

Responding to Zippy Catholic, “The Bus Stops Here”

Some months ago now, I was exposed to the idea that voting, in at least most countries, is a sin. It initially started in the comment section of my article, Carson Vs. Hoggard: A Presidential Debate (Pro-Life). From then on, two excellent gentlemen wrote a response to me. This resulted in a brief blogging war, but they kindly gave up, since I was dragged into it and was unready. Still, now that I have had time to prepare myself psychologically and intellectually, I thought I might as well jump into it again since this issue does pertain to sins and immortal souls, which is the point of this apostolate. Now, the two gentlemen who responded were adherents to the theology of a man named Matt, who wrote under the codename “Zippy Catholic”. He passed away in 2018, making me slightly hesitant to respond to his views, but it is an important issue for those of us still living, whether a Catholic should or should not vote, and since there seem to be some Catholics out there as devoted to him as I might be to Augustine or Aquinas, I might as well respond to him.

I will here be responding to an article of his published in 2012, entitled, The Bus Stops Here. Without further ado, let us begin.

There are a number of layers to what I think has been established when it comes to voting in mass market universal suffrage democratic elections, like our upcoming Presidential election. People tend to get off the bus at whatever stop doesn’t make them feel uncomfortably sociopathic: nobody likes to be that last lonely person on the bus, disembarking in that barren old tumbleweed town at the end of the line after a long and arduous ride. But since these conclusions have been established sequentially, the more uncomfortable conclusions don’t act as a reductio of prior conclusions: just because you don’t like the final stop or the next stop, that doesn’t invalidate the previous ones.

So welcome aboard!

I am slightly confused about this beginning statement, but I think it is going to be clarified later.

What the Bishops have focused on (and what I also focused on years ago here) is the first and by far most important bus stop: avoiding mortal sin, the most pervasive form of which, in voting, is formal cooperation with evil. Once our cooperation isn’t formal (or proximate material, but we don’t discuss that much), whether or not we ought to do it becomes a prudential judgement. Avoiding formal cooperation with evil means getting our intentions right; and since most peoples’ intentions are (rightly or wrongly) focused on possible election outcomes and their implications, that is where the focus lies. The good news is that most people who are even bothering to read this can make it here.

Here, I would like to express my agreement with Mr. Zippy. It is a mortal sin to, for example, vote for a candidate because he supports abortion. It can furthermore be a sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate because he is in favor of other things which, though in themselves good, are less grave than abortion, such as issues with less moral or more prudential weight, in regards to things such as taxes, guns, capital punishment, various immigration issues, and so forth. But keep in mind proportionate reason—Zippy and I will disagree on what it signifies.

The next stop is coming to the realization that prudential judgement isn’t code for a subjective triumph of the will, despite the fact that right liberals (who are generally called “conservatives”) like to use it that way. This mirrors the way their left-liberal cousins use “conscience” as a means to avoid subjecting their views to objective evaluation. Neither “prudential judgement” nor “primacy of conscience” is code for “my subjective assessment is above criticism and can’t be objectively wrong”. This is probably one of the longest standing themes of this blog.

Beyond that comes the realization that it is simply false to suggest that the Church has “granted permission” in some blanket sense to vote this way or that, and that contrary to what is commonly suggested, voting is not morally mandatory. The Church has given guidance in various ways and with varying degrees of Magisterial authority (or not, as the case may be) on how to avoid formal cooperation with evil; but once we have managed not to formally cooperate with evil making a sound prudential judgement based on true premises is up to us. The fact that the Church hasn’t explicitly given further guidance on how to make that prudential judgement in a way that satisfies the cravings of those who want their decisions to be made for them does not constitute evidence that one may simply do as he wills.

These words such as “liberal” and “conservative” sometimes baffle me. I oppose abortion and same-sex marriage, so I suppose I am a conservative, but such terms are rather subjective in regards to the times. I will have to discuss the question about whether voting is morally mandatory elsewhere, but I think it can be, depending on the context. We as Catholics do have a duty to limit evils as much as we are able. If voting does that (an idea which Mr. Zippy probably challenges), I think Catholics ought to vote.

I agree that once must make sound prudential judgments when deciding how to vote, but there is such a thing as an educated prudential decision.

Further down the line comes the realization that mass market universal suffrage democratic elections are not merely a matter of choosing what outcome we prefer. They are game-theoretic contests and civic rituals with all sorts of history and implications, most of the consequences of which obtain no matter who wins or loses. Right reason requires us to take this into consideration. The Church gives no guidance on game theory, as something outside of its charism, and explicitly disclaims expertise on what constitutes a good form of governance. This is a huge barrier, and a lot of folks get off the bus before this stop. There is tremendous resistance to focusing on anything other than what outcomes people think are best, or “least evil”. This is in part because of that (essential) initial focus on avoiding formal cooperation with evil, which most definitely does require us to take outcomes into consideration.

Following that is the realization that because our personal, material influence over the outcome is literally negligible – our personal signals are well beneath the real world noise floor of the process – a genuine, objectively correct evaluation of voting under the principle of double effect (we’ve already assumed material, not formal cooperation with evil here) requires us to consider primarily the outcome-independent effects of our personal acts, since our personal acts effectively have no material outcome-dependent effects. Voting in mass-market universal suffrage elections is necessarily an idealistic act: it literally, in principle as the kind of act it is, cannot be a pragmatic act. It is literally irrational, an act which goes against right reason, to vote for President (or other national office or mass market referendum) under some pragmatic “vote to limit evil” calculus based on weighing potential bad outcomes against worse outcomes. Even more people get off the bus here.

So basically what Mr. Zippy is saying is that any vote for our legal system (and most legal systems) has a negligible effect on an election. Therefore, we should not vote because (he claims) voting is not a pragmatic act. To this, I respond that I think his premises are wrong.

Yes, in itself, a single vote does not do much. However, a large quantity of votes do. In the United States, where I live, only five presidents have lost the popular vote out of forty-six presidents who have held office. So yes, the popular vote is not the only factor in the election (the electoral college is also relevant, although even there, there has always been an almost negligible number of faithless electors and the fact that a vote varies in power depending on one’s state does not rule out that a vote has any power), but it is a part of it and has some real effect on the election. So, yes, if I were not to vote (not that I can do so legally yet), I would probably not do much. However, if all orthodox Catholics were to do the same, that could potentially effect the election. We are part of a wider community than just ourselves. One grain of sand may seem like nothing, but a massive pile of sand could drown someone. So if everyone were to do the same as Mr. Zippy is proposing, it could do serious damage. 70.6% of Americans identify as Christians. Obviously, they do not all identify as Pro-Life, we are working toward that. If 70.6% of Americans were to vote for a Pro-Life candidate, I guarantee we would almost undoubtedly win every time. No candidate has ever lost that much of the popular vote and won.

Then by applying a concrete understanding of the nature of voting in modern mass-market universal suffrage elections to all of that, I conclude that a proportionate reason to vote in our current circumstances does not exist: not for anyone, because the outcome-independent considerations apply to everyone, and even if there were an exception or two through some loophole in some argument somewhere, the near-universality would preclude the act because of scandal. In fact I think the scandal at the very first bus stop – the fact that the great majority of people formally cooperate with grave evil when they vote – is sufficient to preclude any proportionate reason for anyone who has gotten this far to vote. Just about everyone is off the bus by now.

Again, I think this reasoning fails. The first reason is that because, as I have already shown, a citizen’s vote does have real power, not on its own, of course, but when combined with the collective of voters. I understand the concern of scandal, but typically when a person votes, it cannot be assumed that that person is saying, “I think every view this person holds is good”, but only that this candidate is the best choice of the alternatives. Whether they are all bad or not is not directly relevant. Besides, there is little scandal that can actually be caused since votes in our modern culture are typically rather private affairs.

I do qualify the result in one way: if a person has a completely ulterior motive for voting – say a girl he wants to date won’t accept a date unless he votes or whatever – then he may (assuming it doesn’t involve doing evil in a similarly ulterior way) have a proportionate reason. It is for this reason that some radical change in voting laws – say a mandatory requirement to vote or face a fine – could easily change the prudential calculus. It is for this reason that (mass market) voting is disanalogous to paying taxes, serving in the military, jury duty, running for a local school board, or any of thousands of other possible civic acts: a prudential judgement proceeds based on the consequences of acting, and this entire analysis, once we’ve gotten past the initial step of avoiding formal cooperation with evil, is a prudential analysis. I can’t draw some bright boundary of how every possible prudential judgement of every possible civic act is going to come out: they each have to be made in their own right.

Voting in order to get a date would be a horrible reason to choose to vote for someone, and if this candidate supports more serious evils than a better choice, I think it could potentially be a serious sin. 

All this said, I know that there are many people who do not think voting should be allowed in the country at all and perhaps we should revert back to monarchy or aristocracy. I am actually sympathetic to this view. However, in most modern countries, the ruler is decided by democratic election. We may work toward another form of government if we wish (although that seems nearly impossible at this point), but in the meanwhile, I think we must work with what we have. If we can improve the state by taking part in democratic election, I think we have a duty to do so.

I am aware that Mr. Zippy responds to some of my points in other places on his blog. I will have to respond later on, so stay tuned. I seriously have to respond to his views on women’s suffrage for one thing. Until next time, farewell my friends.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Catholics

Can Catholics Celebrate Halloween?

Every year, the only holiday I consistently seem to manage to post for, other than my annual anti-Mary Did You Know? rant, is something for Halloween, so I might as well do on this one. I only became aware last year that some Catholics are anti-Halloween—though clearly, from my observation, a minority, even in comparison to, say, the anti-Harry Potter and anti-D&D crowd—so I thought I might as well look into this.

I feel I must look into it because this is a rather serious issue, so I would prefer if no one were to place an unnecessary burden on his or her self. Since some Catholics seem to think it is dangerous to celebrate it, I thought I might as well look into it.

Now, I admit evil can come out of Halloween. For that reason, it is useful to remember the religious origins of Halloween or at least not go too far on the spookiness. For instance, I would recommend a Catholic dress up as a knight rather than a witch, and try not to use imagery that might be perceived as occult. That said, to quote Vatican exorcist Fr. Vincent Lampert, “Ultimately I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the kids putting on a costume, dressing up as a cowboy or Cinderella, and going through the neighborhood and asking for candy; that’s all good clean fun.”

Other exorcists, of course, would disagree. One prominent one is the late Father Gabriel Amorth. His speech can be found here, but I have transcribed it below. I warn that a few aspects of the translation seem rather rocky at points, but for the most part, I think it would be understandable and I tried to tighten it up a bit in order to make the English smoother. Without further ado, let us begin.

“First of all, we should not refer to Halloween as a mere festivity. We Christians should instead think of it as a disturbing phenomenon which involves an event that is presented with a festive character. However, we must not forget as most of the media does that this event is the biggest feast for the world of the occult. It’s the “New Years’ Day” for satanists. It’s the feast of the spirit of darkness which came from the Celtic tradition, a tradition which did not include children merely “trick or treating” as they do in the USA. But instead (satanists) ask, “sacrifice or curse”.”

I am under the impression that there is some dispute about whence the tradition of trick-or-treating initially came. For instance, it may, according to some, come from the medieval art of mumming, which was basically when amateur actors came door to door to perform on holidays and were sometimes given food as a reward, somewhat similar to the modern practice of caroling at Christmas.

Another possible origin is in the practice of souling, dating at least as far back as the 15th century, in which “soulers”—typically consisting of children and the poor—would beg on Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day from the rich and were frequently given what was called a soul-cake, which was basically a round shortbread biscuit with sweet spices, which seems to have symbolized the prayers at this time which were being offered for the dead.

This sounds like a good practice, does it not? It contains the corporal work of mercy that is almsgiving, with a deeper Christian symbolism of prayers for the dead. I only wish it were still socially acceptable for homeless people to go trick-or-treating. 

But here I imagine people like Amorth would say, “Fair enough, perhaps these practices may well relate to the origin of trick-or-treating, but these practices stem from far beforehand in the pagan practice of Samhain.” I think that is a fair objection. I am not certain how close the correlation specifically between the practice of trick-or-treating and the feast of Samhain is, as I am no historian, but I am willing to grant it for the sake of argument. For those who are unaware, Samhain was a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, which was held on November 1 with celebrations beginning on the evening of October 31. On that day, the souls of the dead were considered to be closest to the souls of the living. Some of the practices of Halloween probably do have pagan origins. But we as Catholics celebrate many things that were adopted and baptized from pagan cultures, such as the Christmas tree, which is frequently traced to the symbolism of trees in pre-Christian winter rites, such as those of the Norse and Saxon religions. 

Here, I suspect Father Amorth would argue that Halloween has not been baptized or if it has been baptized, it has been unbaptized (which is not a thing with people, but with holidays, I imagine it could be). And in all fairness, I grant that there are almost definitely some Neo-pagan cultists who still celebrate Samhain under the mantle of Halloween. But the average child going trick-or-treating will not be exposed to it. And yes, maybe it would not be wise to dress up as a witch or whatever, but even so, I do not think it will necessarily want children to be witches. It is not as if the average child will feel immersed in that world most likely or at least nowhere near as much as reading a book where there are wizard characters wherein the readers are supposed to see themselves, such as in Harry Potter, another series which I find many Catholics oppose at least to an extent. But in the case of Halloween decorations, I do not think the average child would think more about it than simply a fun thing to be spooked about, just as certain older people like to watch horror movies, especially if the children have read books and know that the characters who mix magical potions are generally evil.

“Even today, Satanists and the world of the occult want to recruit and attract people who are weak. On Halloween, these rituals include animal sacrifice. It’s symptomatic [sic.] for us Christians, for us believers, to understand that a Pope, 834 years after Christ, Pope Gregory IV, moved the feast of All Saints, which at that time was on May 13, to November 1 in order to stop this most evil tradition which had arrived from adoring the darkness and the world of the dead.”

We can agree there, but, as I said, some of these traditions can be baptized as the Christmas tree was. I have no idea what Satanists are doing, but the average child probably will not run into it.

“Everything today comes trivialized, the macabre, the violence, horror, blood, all are considered to be a game. I hear different parents who tell us about children who are terrified and have nightmares and other children who no longer understand the difference between life and death. And so Halloween has truly became a dark and horrible school that imposes on us the dictates of relativism which our Holy Father speaks and that continues to be a great evil for us.”

This seems to be closer to a psychological argument rather than a theological one. I will note that most of these things are very much tempered down. I do not quite understand the point about relativism. However, if Father Amorth’s concern is a pragmatic one about how it helps a child’s development, that is fair enough. But that does not prove the practice is sinful and I find the average child is unaffected by things getting mildly spooky for one night of the year.

Of course, if any Catholic is uncomfortable with Halloween, he is free to not celebrate it, just because it may have once been a pagan festival and now be celebrated by a small number of Neo-pagans (or, according to Father Amorth, satanists), but I am unconvinced that it is sinful.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Catholics

Response to “Francis: The First Anti-Pope in Centuries?”

I was recently sent an article entitled “Francis: The First Anti-Pope in Centuries?”—even though the dash is quite unnecessary in the word antipope. The article includes the subtitle, “The case is airtight – and foolproof – that he is” and is written by a fellow called Matthew Hanley. First of all, it is indisputable that he is not because Pope Linus II exists or at least did exist before he inexplicably vanished in 2007, and the Palmarian Christian Church has somehow had four Popes, somehow having two Popes named “Peter” after we were completely without a single one for a solid 1937 years without one. However, Mr. Hanley is wrong for a more important reason—namely, that Francis is the real Pope.

It is a long article, so I will not quote the entire thing, but I hope to deal with all Mr. Hanley’s main points. If the reader is unfamiliar, Beneplenism seems to be increasingly common among people who are concerned about Francis’ papacy. Basically, it espouses that Benedict XVI never validly resigned and therefore Francis is not the true Pope.

Mr. Hanley simply begins by mentioning a few things Pope Francis has done which some Catholics have found scandalous, although I do not really see why, considering that St. Peter denied Jesus three times and then there was the time when Paul had to rebuke Peter for hypocrisy in not eating with Gentiles when the Judaizers were around. The point is, the Pope committing scandalous actions is by no means a legitimate reason to question his pontificate. So his first real point in questioning the legitimacy of Francis’ pontificate is the following:

Consideration 1: “Is Francis a heretic? Several well-respected scholars and religious have formally claimed so.  If any Pope were indeed an explicit heretic, he would automatically forfeit the Papacy, and place himself outside the Christian fold.”

This is a complicated subject. It has been disputed for many centuries among theologians whether God would even allow a heretic to be Pope. It is my personal view that it is probably possible, since Popes are human beings and have been known to commit other mortal sins. Besides, it is possible that Honorius I was himself a formal heretic, although that is in dispute. It is true that some, most famously Bellarmine, have taught that a Pope would automatically forfeit the papacy by heresy, but even that does not work. A council of bishops would be necessary to declare the Pope as such. The Church does not, of course, truly judge the pope in Bellarmine’s version, but only determines if he is a heretic. He would not be ipso facto deposed until the proper authorities, namely the bishops at a council, rendered a judgment and declared him to be separated from the Church. Until then, the Pope would retain the pontificate and his acts of jurisdiction.

If it were really up to the laity’s personal judgment to determine whether a pope is a heretic, that would be chaos, as can be seen from the existence of sedevacantism and Beneplenism. For a more exhaustive writing on the subject, see my article, Can Popes Be Heretics?

Consideration 2: “There is also the matter of the St. Gallen Mafia, a group of high-ranking cardinals vehemently opposed to Benedict XVI, named for the town in Switzerland where they regularly met. According to a recent autobiography by the late Belgian Cardinal Daneels, one of its members, they maneuvered in advance to install Bergoglio. Such manipulative scheming, if true, would automatically invalidate the outcome of the conclave.”

This again fails and it comes from a misunderstanding of canon law. I assume Mr. Hanley is referencing the document Universo Dominici Gregis. Universo Dominici Gregis is a document issued by Pope John Paul II on February 22, 1996. Now, Chapter V of the document, which takes up paragraphs 62-77, describes the necessities for an election to be valid. For instance, it tells how ballots are supposed to be cast, when and how the election is supposed to begin, and so forth. What this means is that the elections would be invalid if the cardinals, instead of casting ballots, were to just do something weird. For instance, if the cardinals were to have a hotdog eating contest and the last man swallowing whole hotdogs wins, that would be considered null and void—as enjoyable as it would be to see 120 older men choking down hotdogs.

I presume Mr. Hanley is referencing Chapter VI, paragraphs 78-82 or thereabouts. I find that many Beneplenists do not quote paragraph 78, for reasons that should be made clear in a moment, but I will here.

78. If — God forbid — in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae. At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.

79: Confirming the prescriptions of my Predecessors, I likewise forbid anyone, even if he is a Cardinal, during the Pope’s lifetime and without having consulted him, to make plans concerning the election of his successor, or to promise votes, or to make decisions in this regard in private gatherings.

80: In the same way, I wish to confirm the provisions made by my Predecessors for the purpose of excluding any external interference in the election of the Supreme Pontiff. Therefore, in virtue of holy obedience and under pain of excommunication latae sententiae, I again forbid each and every Cardinal elector, present and future, as also the Secretary of the College of Cardinals and all other persons taking part in the preparation and carrying out of everything necessary for the election, to accept under any pretext whatsoever, from any civil authority whatsoever, the task of proposing the veto or the so-called exclusiva, even under the guise of a simple desire, or to reveal such either to the entire electoral body assembled together or to individual electors, in writing or by word of mouth, either directly and personally or indirectly and through others, both before the election begins and for its duration. I intend this prohibition to include all possible forms of interference, opposition and suggestion whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree, or any individual or group, might attempt to exercise influence on the election of the Pope.

81: The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election.

82. I likewise forbid the Cardinals before the election to enter into any stipulations, committing themselves of common accord to a certain course of action should one of them be elevated to the Pontificate. These promises too, should any in fact be made, even under oath, I also declare null and void.

I quoted this at length so as not to be accused of taking anything out of context. However, in simplified terms, John Paul II proscribes a latae sententiae excommunication for anyone who cheats on the election, which, if there was actually a massive conspiracy to install Pope Francis, would included it. 

However, notice John Paul II’s words, “At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.” In other words, even if a latae sententiae is invoked, that does not make the election invalid. I think that since it does not say otherwise for the others following it, it can be safely assumed that they do not make an election invalid either. To name a somewhat similar example, many Americans believe that the election of 2020 was a fraudulent one and Joe Biden should not be legally president, but as long as the U.S. government recognizes him as president, he is president. 

For those who are stuck on how a man who invoked a latae sententiae can be Pope, let it be known that an undeclared latae sententiae does not prevent someone from becoming Pope. As a matter of fact, in paragraph 35 of Universo Dominici Gregis, John Paul II explicitly states, “No Cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the Supreme Pontiff, for any reason or pretext.” (Universo Dominici Gregis, 35) “Active” means that a cardinal may take part in a papal election. “Passive” means that a cardinal may be elected.

Or see the even clearer words from Pope Pius XII—“None of the cardinals, by any excommunication, suspension, interdict, or any other ecclesiastical impediment, by pretext or cause, can in any way be excluded from the active and passive election of the Supreme Pontiff.” (Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, 34, December 8, 1945)

Now, in case anyone is unsure whether he or she read this sentence properly, the Church goes out of her way in her law to say that Freemasons, formal heretics, apostates, and simoniacs can be valid Pope. The reason for this is that sins such as heresy and even simony can be committed secretly without anyone really knowing. The Church makes this law to prevent exactly what the Beneplenists are claiming to be happening from happening. An invalid Pope on the see of Peter, that no average lay Catholic would recognize, would be a cancer to the Church. Imagine, the bishops appointed by him would have no true right to govern their respective dioceses. No laws the Pope passed would be binding on the Church. Most importantly the cardinals named by him would not be valid electors of a future pope, making future elections of a valid Pope impossible. So no, this does not make Francis’ pontificate null and void.

Mr. Hanley goes on to say that these issues are irrelevant, because Benedict’s resignation was invalid, and then he goes on to describe a personal anecdote as to his own story, so I will skip to the first actual argument that Benedict’s resignation is invalid.

Consideration 3: “First off, I was a bit surprised to learn that immediately after Benedict XVI’s Declaratio (within days), prominent Latinists, canonists, philosophers, theologians and journalists were pointing out significant errors in the Latin text Benedict XVI had delivered. [. . .] It is indeed noteworthy (and mortifying) that no one affiliated with the subsequent conclave called for an investigation into this matter at the time.  That would have been prudent and indeed necessary, precisely because non-compliance with canonical norms voids such juridical, ecclesiastical acts. After all, if the consequential shortcomings or ambiguities of Benedict XVI’s Declaratio had been publically enumerated in a transparent effort to clarify his objective, Benedict XVI could have easily responded by issuing a simple, unambiguous renunciation of the Papacy, free of error, which would meet the requirements of canon law.  But that never happened.”

Mr. Hanley is, I assume, calling into question the idea that there was ever Peaceful and Universal Acceptance—a doctrine, by the way, for which I think the Catholic Church is in dire need of a dogmatic definition. The doctrine of Peaceful and Universal Acceptance is that legitimacy of a Pope, who has been elected peacefully and accepted by at least a practical unanimity of Catholics, is infallibly certain. I am curious who these “prominent Latinists, canonists, philosophers, theologians and journalists” and what they said. I wish a source were included, but I do not think that matters much for my purposes. 

The most well-known theologian for teaching this view is probably John of St. Thomas, a Dominican friar from the seventeenth century. This is his quote on the subject:

The unanimous election of the cardinals and their declaration is similar to a definition given by the bishops of a Council legitimately gathered. Moreover, the acceptance of the Church is, for us, like a confirmation of this declaration. Now, the acceptance of the Church is realized both negatively, by the fact that the Church does not contradict the news of the election wherever it becomes known, and positively, by the gradual acceptance of the prelates of the Church, beginning with the place of the election, and spreading throughout the rest of the world.  As soon as men see or hear that a Pope has been elected, and that the election is not contested, they are obliged to believe that that man is the Pope, and to accept him.

John of St. Thomas, Cursus Theologicus, Tome 6.  Questions 1-7 on Faith.  Disputation 8

So, in other words, this is en par with rejecting a Council, by saying it is null and void on a technicality into which the Church never looked. One can see why I have trouble justifying this with our Lord’s promise in Matthew 16. 

Now, John says that people are obliged to “believe that that man is the Pope, and to accept him”, as soon as they hear a Pope has been elected, and that the election is not contested. Remember, this was long before the World Wide Web and television or radio or whatever, so news did not travel as quickly, hence he describes it as a “gradual acceptance”. Nowadays, he probably would not have described it so specifically.

So how can an election be contested? The most common way in the past is if another person were also claiming to be Pope—which is not the case with Benedict, by the way. Although PUA has not been dogmatically defined, I doubt several Italian writers expressing concern about a papal resignation’s wording, which was never addressed, would be enough to contest a papal election’s validity.

Consideration 4: “While several canons pertain to our awkward, canonically impossible “two pope” situation, the most central is canon 332§2 – which explicitly details what is required for a valid Papal renunciation. It reads:

“If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.

“The main problem is that the Roman Pontiff Benedict XVI did not renounce the office itself – munus in Latin – but rather a set of functions or ministry (ministerium in Latin) that one may exercise by virtue of holding a specific office in the first place. The Latin text of the Declaratio, it must be emphasized, is the binding version. [. . .] his use of one Latin word over the other for the object he was renouncing can yield various interpretations. Where interpretation is possible and clarification is needed, there is doubt; where there is doubt, there cannot be the clear and proper manifestation of the juridical act in question. Ergo, we have an invalid Papal renunciation.  

“Some have claimed that the Latin terms munus and ministerium are close enough if not interchangeable, so that the meaning is clear: Benedict XVI basically intended to stop being the Pope. This is sharply contested; my understanding is that canon law decisively distinguishes between these two terms; that nowhere does the term ministerium correspond to the dignity, charge or office denoted by the term munus; and that the proper, precise meaning of words must inform our understanding of ecclesiastical law and related juridical acts. [. . .] The term ministerium simply does not signify an ontological equivalence with the sovereign dignity of the Papacy itself; renouncing it, therefore, does not mean Benedict XVI stops being the pope.”

As can be seen, I skipped over a couple sentences so as to make it more concise, but the reader can look at the original text if he is interested. I think I captured the meaning well enough.

First of all, in Latin, munus and ministerium mean basically the same thing. Perhaps one could say that they do not mean precisely the same thing, but they are close enough that they do not really matter. I do not think there are any two words in any language that mean precisely the same thing in every context.

But even if I grant Mr. Hanley’s distinction between the two more-or-less identical terms, it still does not work. Let us consider the context: Benedict is resigning from the ministry of the papacy. Here is the thing: even if the office and ministry are ontologically distinct, they are still necessarily connected. Throughout the history of the Church, the office and ministry of the Papacy have always been considered together.

It is well-known that the Pope has the authority to both teach and govern, so it is absurd to suppose Benedict thought that the two roles could be separated, unless Benedict is a formal heretic, which I think undermines the point of supposing Francis is an antipope. But look how clearly Benedict states his resignation:

“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.” (Source, emphasis added)

The phrase, “the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant” does not seem by any means vague, and this is followed by the statement, “a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff”. In other words, he clearly said that a new Supreme Pontiff will be elected. Ambiguity can exist, to an extent, in the eye of the beholder, but I think this is clear enough.

Consideration 5: “There are other common objections to the view that Bergoglio is an anti-Pope, such as the claim that Benedict XVI has stated, ex post facto, that Francis is the Pope.  My understanding is that he has never done that.  What he has done is vaguely say that “the Pope is one” – without ever specifying who is that one.  Meanwhile he still dresses and blesses as befits the Pope alone, while still residing in the Vatican; all while he has never plainly said Bergoglio is the one and only pope. Curious, don’t you think?”

As I said, Benedict basically acknowledged it in this original Declaratio. As for Benedict wearing white, first of all, the fact that he still wears white does not undo his resignation any more than I would be Pope by wearing white. Remember that the last time we had a papal resignation, the Pope did not even wear white, so there is some confusion as to how to treat a former Pope in the modern day. However, even if you think Benedict should not wear white, that is hardly solid evidence to call him Pope.

As for his giving apostolic blessings, it is possible for the Pope to delegate this power to another, so this is no great proof. Perhaps Pope Francis gave this to Benedict. 

Consideration 6: “Another typical objection goes like this: distress over the fact that Bergoglio routinely flouts traditional Catholic belief, orthopraxis and metaphysical reality has led some Catholics to manufacture a convoluted hypothesis about Benedict XVI’s Declaratio so that everything Bergoglio has ever done will have no standing whatsoever. In other words, they have invented a pretext to dispatch with someone they deem to be an errant pope.

“But that too evades the central issue: how does what Benedict XVI’s Declaratio actually says comport with binding canon law? [. . .] Perhaps there is something I haven’t accounted for, but to date I haven’t found any adequate rebuttal to the specific claim that Benedict XVI did not fulfill what is required by canon law for a valid renunciation of the Papal office.”

I made sure to quote the last sentence, because it does show humility for Mr. Hanley to admit he does not know everything. He goes on a bit more on this issue, but I am not even going to quote it, since he is right: it evades the central issue. We, sedeplenists—a Beneplenist might object to me calling him not a sedeplenist, but frankly it is the best term that comes to mind and the word “sedeplenist” is typically defined as someone who holds that line of popes from John XXIII to Francis is valid—we, sedeplenists, can sometimes be guilty of the genetic fallacy by saying such things. I suspect that many people were led to hold Beneplenism because they opposed many of Francis’ words and actions during his pontificate. However, that does not really say much about whether Beneplenism is true or not. 

Consideration 6: “There has also arisen a rift of sorts among those who are rightly convinced Bergoglio is an anti-pope.  In one camp are those who feel that Benedict XVI made a “substantial error” in his Declaratio, because he aimed to retain a portion of the Papacy yet also incorporate a successor pope to take over the practical, day to day administrative and governing functions of the universal Church.

“In other words, he mistakenly thought he could bifurcate or otherwise expand the Papacy – transform it from a Divinely instituted charge given individually to St. Peter and all his individual successors to a similarly authoritative but more collegial unifying entity.

“The relevant canon for this view is 188, which reads:

“A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.”

I have heard this argument many times before, but I think that is very implausible. The fact that there can only be one Pope at a time is basic Catholic theology, testified very directly in the First Vatican Council. For example, “the Church of Christ may be one flock under one Supreme Pastor.” (Pastor Aeternus III:2)

I frankly think it is absurd to suppose that a great theologian could simply be unaware of the such a fundamental teaching of the Catholic Church such as that there can be only one Pope at the same time.

Consideration 7: “In another camp are those who contend that Benedict XVI did not erroneously attempt to pluralize the papacy, but rather that he specifically and intentionally did not renounce the munus because he intended to remain Pope.  So why such a tack? 

“He did this because he felt he could no longer properly function as Pope on account of pervasive opposition from within the Church itself. He was essentially impeded from governing in accordance with his charge in the manner he saw fit.  (Canon 412 delineates the criteria of an impeded See).

“By stepping aside the way he did, he judged his unworthy, subversive adversaries would likely jump at the chance to seize power; their nefarious ways would eventually be exposed, thereby hastening a much-needed purification of the Church.”

I think many people fail to realize the moral implications of this idea. In other words, in order to allegedly save the Church, Benedict led almost all the Faithful to submit to an antipope. This would be one of the most massive scandals in the history of the Church, leading millions into schism, leading to numerous invalid bishops, unbinding laws, and invalid cardinals.

Besides, how could Benedict even know who would become Pope? Benedict does not choose the next Pope. What if, when Benedict resigned, we were to get a good man who thought he was a Pope but was not? Even if you can say Benedict thought an evil cardinal would probably be elected, that is hardly assurance. Besides, if he planned for everyone to think a wicked man or a heretic was Pope, that says some not too positive things about his character. A scandalous Pope (or well-accepted antipope) would be a scandal to the Faithful and a load of bullets for all those anti-Catholic people who like using straw-man arguments (I am looking at you, James White).

Any way one can slice it, Benedict’s supposed plan to expose corruption would both be gravely scandalous (probably worse than anything Francis has done) and could go wrong in so many ways.

Mr. Hanley goes on for some time after this with various closing statements, but I will not get into those, since the basic arguments are over. I will say that Mr. Hanley admits that if this matter is not rectified, the next conclave will elect an anti-pope, which is what worries me about this viewpoint. Once Benedict passes away (which we hope will not be for some time, but he is already ninety-five), all the Beneplenists will have to become sedevacantists and, provided the Church does not declare that Benedict was Pope all along, they may remain such for a long time.

Remember Matthew 16:18, “On this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Revised Standard Version) If almost no one in the Church even realizes who the true Pope is and is submitting to an antipope (therefore, committing material schism), I might question whether the Church has indeed fallen into the snares of the Devil. There can never be a time when the teachings of the Catholic Church can fall into general obscurity, so I see no reason why the identity of the Pope can.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Catholics

A Response to Club Schadenfreude’s “You Can See How Crazy Christians Can Be.”

I found an article called “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – you too can see how crazy Christians can be.” In itself, this does not really seem to be the most polite title. I decided to respond to it because… well, I do not really know why, but I see no reason why not—and then, abortion is an important issue. It is written by someone called Club Schadenfreude. I banned her from commenting on my blog a while ago because she was harassing other commenters and thus, in my mind, preventing honest dialogue. However, that is something I really do not like to do, so I thought I might as well make it up to her in a much more temperate climate of responding to a blog post. Without further ado, let us jump into it.

To begin with, she is apparently responding to a fellow Catholic who writes under the name Kristor. See his article here. The article is so short I might as well quote the whole thing here:

The recent decisions of the Supreme Court cheat Moloch of his accustomed cheap comestibles. He’ll have to make do with less. But, as with all natural systems under the orbit of the moon, this is a case of pushing the envelope in one way only to see it bulge out in another. Moloch will be served, adequately, or there’ll be hell to pay, and no pitch hot.

There will be deaths. Not of children in the womb, but of others. Moloch must be fed, by his slaves. Now that he’ll be denied the food of babies from so many “trigger” states, he’ll need to be fed in some other way. His vassals will try to figure out how  to immolate some high profile victims, to sate his hunger and avert his wrath. I suspect they’ll offer up some from among their own company.

It can’t work. It can’t suffice. His wrath shall inevitably consume all his worshippers. There are not victims enough to sate his lust. His servants then are doomed.

Reject him! Serve the Lord of Life! Only thereby might you prevent your own ingestion, and dissolution, in the insatiable maw of Moloch.

I might as well give my own thoughts before responding to Schadenfreude’s. I admit this is somewhat dramatic and sensational—clearly not meant to be read by the Pro-Choice but rather to inspire Pro-Lifers. Still, I will not say he is wrong, provided we take “Moloch” in a somewhat metaphorical sense. Now let us get to Schadenfreude’s response.

No Moloch, dears, and no Christian god. I do love the lies of Christians, who have no problem with their god killing children at all. The hypocrisy is wonderful. And it’s always good to see an impotent imaginary god that can’t get rid of another imaginary god.

Lest there is any doubt, this is definably not how anyone should approach apologetics, whether Christian or atheist. Intellectual virtue consists of a character that promotes intellectual flourishing, critical thinking, and the pursuit of truth. Random and on-the-spot accusations of lying, coupled with random, impromptu, and impolite pieces of sarcasm is basically the opposite of that.

Literally, the only people left who are happy with human sacrifice are Christians. We see this in their myths (a babe born in a manger and Jephtha’s daughter for starters), in unfortunately common actions where Christians think their god will heal a child and let the child die, and now in their need to sacrifice women. 

I wonder if she is using the term literally metaphorically. I honestly cannot tell, but if she is not, I greatly doubt that. At any rate, I do not see how she can excludes Muslim and Jews by her criteria—not to mention anyone who actually worships such demons.

But I might as well respond to this actual argument. Remember, God gave life in the first place, but He never intended it to be permanent on Earth. It is our calling to be with Him in heaven. It is easily in God’s rights to take His children when He wills, while it is not within the rights of men who do not have authority over life and death. When you look at it that way, this reasoning could be said to be quite logical, even if it is hard for us to see in this life. Besides, if we are just talking about children here, chances are many of them will go to heaven when otherwise, for all we know, perhaps they would not.

Something I’ve found out recently is that the Catholic Church doesn’t allow baptism for the still-born, nor can a mass be said (more information down in the comments). Why? Because they haven’t taken their first breath and therefore aren’t alive. Now, funny how this isn’t what they claim about abortion at all. Now, Christians other than Catholics might be insisting that they don’t believe in this, but funny how they all read from the same bible, and it also says life begins with the first breath too. As always, the bible and its god is no more than a Rorschach test, showing what the human wants to pretend is true, nothing more. 

This is a clear example of taking a doctrine out of context so as to imply that the Catholic Church is in some way hypocritical, which as it is framed, could be said to be intellectually dishonest if done deliberately. The Catholic Church does not allow for baptism of a stillborn—or baptism for any other corpse. The Church also would not baptize the corpse of a catechumen who dies in a car accident or a baby who was born alive and then got his head chopped off by an evil serial killer of a doctor (sorry to give the reader nightmares, but that was the only example that came to mind). The Church only has power over the living. As for the dead, we entrust them to the mercy of God and hope that they are saved. 

As for banning masses to be said for them, that is not entirely accurate. I will say I imagine it is not done as much because few theologians think they are in Purgatory and they are probably either in Heaven or Limbo. In the comment she links, she claims, “My point about baptism is that if a fertilized egg, zygote, fetus is considered “alive”, then the RCC should be baptizing them as soon as the woman has a positive pregnancy test.” I was under the impression that “RCC” was simply Protestant slang, but that is beside the point. The point is that it seems quite difficult to me to baptize an embryo unless you expect a priest to have the doctor temporarily remove the baby from the uterus for a baptism, which seems very unsafe.

But as for embryos and fetuses being “alive”, science alone tells us that and indeed that a fetus is an independant organism. As for us reading the same Bible, this feels like grasping at straws—either that or not really understanding the root differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. It is true that it is troubling that all Protestants follow the exact same method of learning about God but then cannot agree on anything. I discuss this inn greater depth here. Catholics, however, have a teaching authority to keep them on the same track and follow both Scripture and Tradition, which leads to doctrinal unity.

To this, I foresee the objection that not all non-Protestant Christians are Catholic. The Orthodox Church is still huge and then there are also High Anglicans, who are not quite Protestant, Old Catholics, Sedevacantists, and Beneplenists to name a few. I will simply knock off Sedevacantists and Beneplenists from the list since I think the whole thing results from a misunderstanding of Canon Law (no offense to anyone reading this who espouses such views—I deal with them elsewhere). The Orthodox and Anglicans do not have quite the same tradition, although it is very similar. Hence, it can be noted that there is a lot less doctrinal variation among us than there is among Protestants. I would argue that Catholicism best reflects the Early Church, but whatever is the case, simply stating that “You all disagree with each other and therefore you must all be wrong” is simply unsound logic.

I should probably respond to the last sentence, “As always, the bible and its god is no more than a Rorschach test, showing what the human wants to pretend is true, nothing more.” This is the fallacy of bulverism. Bulverism is a term humorously coined by C. S. Lewis after an imaginary character. It is a rhetorical fallacy that assumes a speaker’s argument is invalid or false and then explains why the speaker came to make that mistake or to be so silly (even if the opponent’s claim is actually right) by attacking the speaker or the speaker’s motive. Now, the objector might claim that Schadenfreude (I can never remember how to spell that) explained why this is wrong before making this psychoanalysis. However, even if Christianity contained an alleged contradiction, it would not follow that we are all liars, unless she expects us to be infallible gods—and, as we know, Schadenfreude does not believe in gods—we could just be much more charitable than to go around accusing people of being liars.

So what does this teach us? First of all, be mindful of intellectual vices which do not promote charity in dialogue and apologetics. Second, when you find a two-thousand-year-old system of faith and think you can refute it by an alleged simple contradiction in a few paragraphs, keep in mind that you might have to do more research before you think you have refuted this organization. Generally, when millions of people hold to a viewpoint, especially one as historically intellectual as Catholicism, I think it is unrealistic to suppose one can refute the idea so easily—which is why I think it is, in fact, irrational, to go around accusing us of intentional deceit.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Catholics

Can Popes Be Heretics?

Note: I recently have had a back-and-forth debate with Jack from Vidimus Gloriam Eius and Scoot from Times-Dispatch of Vichy Earth, two excellent individuals, on voting. I wanted to apologize for possibly complaining about being pulled into that discussion, which was done partially just for comic relief. I more often deal with objections to the Faith, but I agree that this is an important discussion for Catholics to have, especially if (as some have claimed) voting is sinful. Since this is so important to us, Catholics, it is not too far from the sorts of things I tackle on my blog, so people are still free to attempt a rebuttal of my work.

This is often considered a very relevant question. This is not to make a statement about the Pope, but many have been concerned about various vague statements Pope Francis has been saying. I understand this. Still, I think it is a fair concern. Nevertheless, I think it can be dangerous to claim that on this account, someone is somehow not Pope. Nevertheless, the Popes’ heresies or alleged heresies have been frequently used to justify ideas such as sedevacantism and Beneplenism. I myself will not claim any Pope has been speaking manifest heresy. However, even if one does hold this view, one cannot claim that the Pope is not Pope on these grounds. This I will defend as follows.

In another post, I explained that this is by no means inconsistent with the doctrine of papal infallibility, which only protects the Pope from error when he is officially defining a doctrine, which is something that no Pope has done. Nevertheless, theologians have been arguing for centuries as to whether a Pope could be a heretic. But the question cannot simply be up in the air, if we are going to definitively claim that the Pope is not the Pope. It has to be definitive Catholic teaching. Otherwise, we could very well find ourselves outside of the Church because of our personal opinions are inconsistent with what is supposedly happening now.

Here, I imagine some sedevacantists would say that it is dogma that Popes cannot remain Pope if they are heretics, and they would appeal to Pope Paul IV’s Papal Bull, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, from 1559. The Bull was written to prevent Cardinal Morone, whom Paul IV suspected of adhering to the then-newborn heresy of Protestantism, from being elected to the papacy. The Bull begins by saying that: “the Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of God and our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fulness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith.” (¶1) After teaching it is licit to contradict a heretical pope after he is elected, Paul IV goes on to say:

“In addition, that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:

“(i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless.” (¶6)

Notice it only teaches that their promotion would be null if the heresy is committed before elevation to the Holy See, not afterward. Quotations of alleged heresy I have read which sedevacantists produce are generally from after elevation. First of all, this does not refer to internal heresy. If that were true, then there would be no way of knowing whether a pope or bishop was a real pope at all. There have been many bishops and priests in the past who were openly heretics. For that reason, I would not be surprised if some are privately heretics. For instance, I could easily believe Antidicomarianitism (the denial of the Perpetual Virginity) without telling anyone. I could become a priest or a bishop and still I would not tell anyone of my Antidicomarianite position. Surely, I would still be a valid bishop. 

Moreover, the idea that an election would be null and void is not based on the private judgment of Catholic individuals. The judgment would have to be rendered by the proper authorities before the election would be rendered null. The Bull was a disciplinary decree that attached a retroactive penalty to one who was authoritatively judged by the Church to have deviated from the faith prior to his promotion or election. For the bull to have any practical effect, the cardinal would have to admit to be guilty before his election or else be found guilty by the Church. Sedevacantist bishop, Donald Sanborn, admits of Pope Benedict XVI:

“Even if it [Cum ex Apostolatus Officio] should for some cause still have force, it could only apply to Ratzinger if he were legally recognized as a public heretic. But, as we have seen, there is no legal condemnation of Ratzinger. Before the law of the Church he does not have the status of heretic because (1) he himself does not hold himself guilty of heresy, and (2) no legitimate superior holds him guilty of heresy.” Sanborn, Donald, Explanation Of The Thesis Of Bishop Guérard Des Lauriers, June 29, 2002.

An admission of guilt or a condemnation by a higher authority is the condition necessary for the election to be juridically rendered null. Otherwise, his acts of jurisdiction are indeed valid.

Aside from that, however, the bull is not dogma nor even still in effect. It is often assumed to be because the bull says it is to last in perpetuity, ending with these words: “If anyone, however, should presume to attempt this, let him know that he is destined to incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul.” Naturally, I can see why someone might think it to be dogmatic or infallible, but in truth it is not. The same bull was actually brought up long ago when papal infallibility was defined in the First Vatican Council. There were heretics who denied the dogma of papal infallibility (probably—if they dared so insult our Lady—along with the Immaculate Conception), leading to the founding of a schismatic group called “Old Catholicism”. These heretics pointed out the various penal sanctions, arguing them to be completely unjust, tyrannical, and contrary to Catholic principles in an attempt to disprove papal infallibility. Rather than defending the document itself, the defenders of the Faith simply argued that the bull was not infallible. Actually, Cardinal Joseph Hergenrother, Church historian and canonist at the time wrote as follows:

“The Pope does not here speak as teacher (ex cathedra), but as the watchful shepherd eager to keep the wolves from the sheep, and in a time when the actual or imminent falling away even of bishops and cardinals demanded the greatest watchfulness and the strongest measures. The Bull of Paul IV may be perhaps considered too severe, injudicious, and immoderate in its punishments, but it certainly cannot be considered an <em>ex cathedra</em> doctrinal decision. No Catholic theologian has considered it as such, or placed it in a collection of dogmatic decisions; and to have done so would have only deserved ridicule; for if this Bull is to be considered as a doctrinal decision, so must every ecclesiastical penal law. Papal Infallibility, it is most true, excludes any error as to moral teaching, so that the Pope can never [definitively] declare anything morally bad to be good, and vice versa; but infallibility only relates to moral precepts, to the general principles which the Pope prescribes to all Christians as a rule of conduct, not to the application of these principles to individual cases, and thus by no means excludes the possibility of the Pope making mistakes in his government by too great severity or otherwise.” (. . .) “The sort of proofs our opponents bring forward in this matter show an entire ignorance of Papal Bulls. Compare, for example, another Bull of the same Pope directed against the ambitious endeavours of those who coveted the Papal dignity; this Bull has equally the agreement of the Cardinals, is published out of the plenitude of the Papal power, is declared to be forever in force, threatens equally all spiritual and temporal dignitaries without exception, etc. And yet it is undoubtedly not in the least a dogmatic Bull. If it were, there would be scarcely any recent ecclesiastical laws (as oppose to dogmas) for canonists to discuss; while dogmatic theologians would have been all in strange ignorance of their province.”

Hergenröther, Joseph. Catholic Church and Christian State: A Series of Essays on the Relation of the Church to the Civil Power. United Kingdom, Burns and Oates, 1876, 42-43, 45.

So what Hergenrother is basically saying is that the fact that the Bull is a Magisterial document issued by the pope which teaches that it shall remain in perpetuity does not mean that it cannot be abrogated by a future pope. The Bull is disciplinary, not doctrinal. A pope cannot bind a future pope to merely disciplinary matters and ecclesiastical governance. Even sedevacantist Bishop Sanborn admits that “Cum ex apostolatus is an apostolic constitution, a law, made by Pope Paul IV , which says that if a pope should be a heretic, his elevation to this dignity would be null. It was made in order to ensure that no Protestant could ever become the Pope. It does not apply to the present case for two reasons. The first is that it is no longer the law. It was derogated (made obsolete) by the 1917 Code of Canon Law.” So it is not dogma that heretics cannot be Pope.

All the same, sedevacantists often point to current canon law, which states that they would incur a latae sententiae excommunication (1917 Can. 2314 §1, Can. 2335). It is sometimes argued that such heretics would be outside of the Church and therefore false popes. The idea is that if Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) were not pope on the grounds of allegedly being a heretic, no subsequent pope would be the true pope either, as the cardinals appointed by John XXIII would not be true cardinals and therefore be able to elect any subsequent pope.

To explain this, we must first understand the difference between liceity and validity. A licit action means one carried out in accordance with law. The law may be a natural law, a law revealed by God, or a human law, civil or ecclesiastical. An illicit action is, therefore, necessarily immoral. An invalid action, on the other hand, is one that does not produce the spiritual or juridical effects that it intends to produce. A valid action, whether licit or illicit, good or evil, produces such effects.

Now how does this tie to the papacy? Well, if a bishop who appoints a certain priest as pastor of a parish and knows that the man is morally or psychologically unfit, violating Canon Law (can. 521 §2, 1983 Code; can. 453 §2, 1917 Code), that bishop acts illicitly, but the priest is still the pastor of that parish. Some sedevacantists argue that Roncalli’s election was not valid because he had allegedly previously fallen into heresy, thus bringing him to cease to be part of the Catholic Faith. However, Roncalli’s election would be valid anyway, as is made clear by the special Church law governing conclaves. Pope Pius XII, in his apostolic constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis in 1945 explained it as follows:

“None of the cardinals may in any way, or by pretext or reason of any excommunication, suspension, or interdict whatsoever, or of any other ecclesiastical impediment, be excluded from the active and passive election of the supreme pontiff. We hereby suspend such censures solely for the purposes of the said election; at other times they are to remain in vigor.”

VAS 34

“Active” in this context means that such a cardinal may vote in the election, while “passive” means that he himself can be elected. Now, one might wonder why the Church’s traditional law went out of its way to allow heretics, apostates, and Freemasons to be pope (after all, who wants an evil pope plotting to destroy the followers of the One of Whom he is the vicar?). But when one thinks about it, it rather keeps anything from happening like exactly what the sedevacantists say is happening. It would be like a cancer to the Church. The heretical pope would appoint false cardinals and canonize false saints. Christ organized the Catholic Church to be unified and without a pope, Catholicism could fall apart.

Remember that offenses akin to heresy which contain a latae sententiae excommunication can be committed in grave secrecy as I have explained. So, if the Church’s law had required the cardinals to be free of all ecclesiastical censure, the cardinals would have no guarantee that the cardinal was eligible because he might have committed some secret crime incurring excommunication. If this were true, this would be very harmful to the Church. So if Roncalli were a secret heretic, apostate, or Freemason before being elected to the papacy, they would not have the strict moral right to be popes, but popes they would still be.

Canon 2264 (still going by the 1917 code, which sedevacantists accept) states: “An act of jurisdiction carried out by an excommunicated person, whether in the internal or the external forum, is illicit; and if a condemnatory or declaratory sentence has been pronounced, it is also invalid, without prejudice to canon 2261 §3; otherwise it is valid.” Canon 2261 §3, by the way, makes an exception to this invalidity when it is a case of an officially excommunicated priest giving absolution to someone in danger of death. Now, as it says specifically “otherwise it is valid”, provided that the excommunication has not been declared, an act of jurisdiction carried out by the excommunicated person is valid. Therefore, if a pope is validly elected and refuses to admit he has fallen into heresy, no other cleric has the authority to excommunicate him. So if the pope refuses to resign, all his acts of jurisdiction would remain valid.

What happens if a pope falls into heresy during his pontificate, rather than before? It would certainly seem contradictory if a pope could fall into heresy after he were already elected that he would lose his jurisdiction. Why should a pope be a true pope if elected in heresy, but lose his papacy if he were to fall into heresy later?

The one other canon which sedevacantists might point out is Canon 188 §4 (1917 Code), which states: “Due to the fact that a tacit resignation by virtue of the law accepts any office, becomes vacant automatically and without any declaration if . . . the cleric has publicly defected from the Catholic Faith.” However, to “defect publicly” from the faith clearly means something more drastic than to make heretical statements in the course of public speeches or documents. This particular cause of losing an ecclesiastical office is found in that section of the Code dealing with the resignation of such an office (canons 184–191) and is part of a canon which lists eight sorts of actions which the law treats as “tacit resignations.” In other words, they are the sorts of actions that can be safely taken as evidence that the cleric in question does not even to want to continue in the office he has occupied before. §3 mentions a priest who accepts promotion to another ecclesiastical office incompatible with his previous one. §5 mentions a priest who gets married, either canonically or civilly. §6 mentions a cleric who, contrary to canon law, spontaneously join the secular armed forces. So, if I were to publicly defect from the Catholic Faith, that would be like if I would cease to call myself the “Chivalric Catholic” and become the “Chivalric Puritan”, for example. The cleric would cease even to profess to be Catholic and clearly has not the slightest desire to continue in his previous clerical office. Such a defection would be clear to the most ignorant of all Catholics. It is quite clear that none of the popes after John XXIII have ever acted in such a way. All of them, including Francis, have publicly professed to be Catholic and shown every public sign of intending to continue exercising the papal office until death, save Benedict XVI who formally resigned.

So yes, whether you like him or not, Pope Francis is still the Pope and successor of Peter, to whom we all owe our allegiance. This is not to say we cannot disagree with him, but when we do so publicly, as children to a father.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Catholics

Responding to Vidimus Gloriam Eius: Series on Voting

This does not have much to do with the purpose of this article, but all apologia means is a formal written defense of one’s opinions or conduct, from a Greek word meaning “a speech in one’s own defense”. We get the word apologetics from it, which is the science of defending one’s faith and a very good word.

To summarize what happened, I accidentally plunged myself into a debate about whether Catholics can morally vote in a U.S. election. I am not even old enough to vote legally and I have already ended up in this thing in which I by no means wanted to get involved. I actually would prefer to be defending a Marian doctrine or finally getting around to a long overdue rebuttal of Sola Fide, but (alas!) I am stuck arguing for voting.

I am responding to a blogger who writes under the name Jack. This all started because I wanted to write a simple article about how a Catholic should not vote for a pro-choice politician. Needless to say, it got more complicated than I intended with two commenters saying a Catholic should not vote. Jack, in particular, says that there is no proportionate reason to vote since a vote does not do anything. Since all candidates support some evil, voting is a sin because it is unnecessary material cooperation with evil. He writes about it in his article, Series on Voting (I): Contrary to all (proportionate) reason.

Now I shall deal with his objections…

Jack makes a fairly good explanation of what constitutes a proportionate reason to materially cooperate with evil here:

Suppose we are considering commissioning act X to stop some evil E, wherein act X is not an intrinsically evil act but it involves material cooperation with evil. You have proportionate reason to do X when 1) X is reasonably effective in stopping E without being excessive and 2) stopping E does not produce evils and disorders greater than E.

This is called the Principle of Double Effect—when the act is not in itself sinful and there is a grave enough reason to allow the evil it will cause to occur. 

Now we come to Jack’s second article, where most of his actual rebuttals are. It is entitled, Series on Voting (II): (C)heap excuses. I assume this is a pun of some sort.

Basically, Jack makes a comparison to a heap of sand, saying that a heap is still a heap if one grain is taken from it. Similarly, if one vote is taken from the popular vote, the outcome does not change at all.

I think this is rather unreasonable since there is a significant difference between a 70,000,000-grain heap and a 55,300,000-grain-heap. If we are competing heap-sizes, this sort of thing adds up.

To give another analogy, in a hive of eusocial insects, for instance, ants or bees, if one kills an individual ant or bee, the difference is not extreme, perhaps rather minuscule, but together, the ants or bees are still a body which works to the survival of the hive. The fact that if all the worker bees were to die proves that each individual worker bee matters.

Now, 21% of Americans, more or less, are Catholics or at least identify themselves as such. I imagine more than half are of the cafeteria variety, but it is our intention to change that. In other words, if you are thinking of yourself as an individual, of course your vote will do little. If you think of yourself as a part of a larger body, however, that could potentially together affect an election’s outcome, I think it would be morally negligent not to get involved, and do our best to get more people to vote against as much evil as possible, thus making the power of this “heap” greater.

I know most candidates nowadays are in favor of evil of some sort, but not all evils are the same. Abortion, for instance, should be a higher priority than same-sex marriage, even if they both matter. But if we do not get involved in civil affairs, I fear those children might be doomed.

With all respect to Jack, I think he takes a fair to simplistic and individualistic view on voting. Of course, alone a vote will not do much. However, many votes in a “heap” will. If, alternatively, someone with a platform were to encourage Catholics not to vote, I think that could have a negative effect and, if enough people are influenced, it could be detrimental to the election.

Besides, I do not think there is much to lose. Let us say we vote and do lose to the more evil candidate. In that case, at least a person tried to help. If he does not vote, however, such a person has done nothing and therefore is partially responsible for the worse outcome.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Catholics

More On Voting: A Response to Scoot

I: Carson Vs. Hoggard: A Presidential Debate (Pro-Life)

II: An Apologia For Idiocy

III: An Apologia For Voting 

IV: Winners, Losers, and N/A

I never wanted to get involved in this debate. I truly did not. I just wanted to make a point about the Pro-life cause, but then I found myself plunged into a debate far beyond my original points. I do not know how many rebuttals I will be able to do. If Scoot does another rebuttal to this article, I do not know if I will respond, just because I have many apologetical topics to discuss. Now, if the reader would like to know the background to this discussion, I would recommend reading the articles linked above. However, suffice it to say that Scoot believes that Catholics should not take part in modern democratic elections. I think they should, because if Catholics do not get involved in politics, we might as well let evildoers conquer in that area. But I will do my best to respond to Scoot here.

Now, Scoot has a rather long response, so I will simply summarize much of it. Scoot gives the example of Donald Trump and how he lost the popular vote but still became president because of the electoral vote. Many people objected to this supposedly being illegitimate. Scoot holds that this is an unreasonable claim because they voted in the United States and therefore consented to the outcome. Furthermore, Scoot points out that the majority who voted against Donald Trump objected to the outcome because they felt they would not be represented. Scoot argues, however, that this is unreasonable, since if a leader were to pander to everyone, nothing would get done.

Now we get to the first part of Scoot’s article with which I actually disagree. I will quote it at length lest it seem I am taking anything out of context.

Abortion, Democracy, and Why Your Vote Matters

We have now all the pieces, I think. Let’s suppose for example that abortion was to be decided by plebiscite, a national-scale referendum where the Government would put it to the people a heads-or-tails vote, this simple question: “Should Abortion be legal? Yes or no.” The Government would then adopt a binding resolution turning the outcome of this vote into law.

You would be tempted to muster all your Catholic buddies and go to the polls on plebiscite day in order to pack the ballot for a big ol’ HAIL NAW. But then something shocking happens: The next day, the newspapers all shout the headline on the front page: Abortion Should Be Legal.

You are tempted to console yourself and your friends–hey, at least we did the right thing, at least we voted no.

This argument is the same as saying Trump is not your president because you didn’t vote for him. The outcome of the vote does not determine the morality of the vote, neither does the way you vote determine the morality of the vote. The act of voting consents to the outcome, be it “yes” or “no”, before you ever know the results of the vote. In other words, you consent that by voting abortion might become legal anyway and that you agree to abide by that outcome. Your act of voting is to intrinsically consent to the proposition that abortion may be legal and the process of voting is simply the way of determining whether abortion is legal. If the pro-abortion side wins, then the only acceptable response of a good democrat is to say “Oh, I guess Abortion is legal after all!”

I think I see what Scoot is saying, but I think this line of argument follows for every other form of government. Now, I understand the comparison to people who think Donald Trump should not have been president being unreasonable. However, for both the presidency and the legality of abortion, I think there is another side to it.

I suppose if you vote, you can consent that even if I lose, whoever wins the election will be president. However, it is equally fair to say, this person will be president, but I very much wish he were not.

Similarly, a person can say, if we lose, abortion will be legal. However, this does not negate the statement, the legality of abortion would be bad and immoral. Any government, whether democracy, monarchy, or oligarchy, could potentially become corrupt and do evil, but that does not make it wrong to participate with the intention of doing good. Otherwise, I think all Catholics would be doing is standing back and allowing evildoers to win. Remember that not acting can also be wrong. Our omissions can give the evildoers a better chance, which I think is a worse outcome.

Well Intended Principles

Chivalric Catholic is nevertheless right that the Church does not admonish democracy as a political system, nor does the Church admonish civic participation, and further still the Church encourages us to make the best with what we’ve got.

The United States of America and other classically liberal polities are not intrinsically evil, but you see how voting can force you–without realizing it–to consent to evil. Further still, there are other forms of civic participation that can do more tangible good than voting. Hambone likes to describe the ballot box as a “revolution release valve”–we get whipped up into a political fervor, go to the ballot, let off some steam, and go home thinking we’ve done something. You have done something, but perhaps not what or as much as you thought.

This is where the “proportionate reason” line of argument comes in, which I am not very well versed in so this is where I will pass the baton to Jack if he would like to pick up on that line of reasoning.

As far as I understand, the “proportionate reason” argument says that the definite discernable good of a given act is what is important, and the definite discernable good of voting is so miniscule as to be meaningless. Therefore, if the decision to vote comes down to a prudential judgement, pragmatic analysis should result in deciding not to vote.

I agree there are probably other things that can do more than voting. Taking part in pro-life protests is one way. Writing on abortion and its evils is another that can sway many people. Still, even so, one of the main things we can do by doing each of these things is sway people’s votes which, in itself, does more than a singular vote on the part of an individual citizen, but it still relates to voting.

I disagree that the vote is so minuscule that it is meaningless. On its own, it might be minuscule, but this sort of thing would add up if every orthodox Catholic were to refrain from voting. That could potentially effect the outcome of a vote in some way.

I would like to thank Scoot for the response. It should be noted that we are both Catholics and probably agree on around 95% of things. Still, I hope I have brought clarity concerning my own point of view.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor