Mar 272018

I was generally positive about the history concerning Pope St. Pius V. until I read this article.

It might sound ridiculous, but jesters used to be so common that nearly every powerful and important person had one. And I mean it: pretty much everyone. Kings and princes? Of course. Bishops? Yes. Cardinals? Yup.

But did the pope have a jester? It might sound ridiculous, but yes, the pope had a jester.

The thing you need to know is that jesters weren’t necessarily clowns. They were responsible for entertainment of every sort in the Renaissance period. Just like artists of the time were expected to be masters of sculpture, painting, architecture and even music writing, jesters were expected to be master entertainers. This included but wasn’t limited to storytelling, athletics, acrobatics, singing and acting. And yes, they knew how to juggle, occasionally wore silly costumes, and told jokes. Their trade was expendable, but also respected. So when dignitaries and nobility visited Rome to see the Supreme Pontiff, a little bit of entertainment was expected.

Have to admit that being the Papal Jester would have been my dream job if it had not been eliminated. I can even do some of the things listed – juggling, singing, acting, wearing silly costumes, and of course telling jokes.

Bring back the Papal Jester in a return to tradition.

Jun 142016

An already tense relationship between the world’s two most powerful Argentines became more so recently when the pope rejected a sizable charitable donation to an organization he backs from Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri. The reason? In addition to possible concerns over the donation’s political overtones, a communication from the pope to the office of the nonprofit, according to the Vatican Insider, had a postscript: “I don’t like the 666.”

The proposed amount of the donation was 16,666,000 Argentine pesos, or about $1.2 million to Scholas Occurentes. The strange specificity of the sum, which contains the number many superstitiously believe can invoke the Antichrist, left some wondering whether the donation was really a troll of presidential proportions.

Macri and the pope, who used to be the archbishop of Buenos Aires, hold differing views on matters of policy, especially the austerity measures that center-right Macri has introduced to stave off critical levels of inflation. An article recounting Macri’s trip to the Vatican in February was headlined “Pope gives Macri a frosty 22 minutes.”

In the world of Vatican reporting you never quite know the truth. But this is what Vatican Insider at is reporting. It certainly seems it is possible that this is epic trolling by Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri.

Now since it is the Washington Post covering the story you can expect some ignorance.

The strange specificity of the sum, which contains the number many superstitiously believe can invoke the Antichrist,…

Yes most Christians believe saying the number might accidentally invoke the Antichrist, just like saying Bloody Mary three times in front of a mirror. Doh!

Pope rejects Argentine president’s donation of 16,666,000 pesos because of the ‘666’ part

May 152016

So I saw an article at Slashdot regarding a list of the longest featured articles on Wikipedia. First here is a definition of what Wikipedia considers a featured article to mean.

Featured articles are considered to be the best articles Wikipedia has to offer, as determined by Wikipedia’s editors. They are used by editors as examples for writing other articles. Before being listed here, articles are reviewed as featured article candidates for accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style according to our featured article criteria.

The top ten longest featured articles is a rather eclectic list while also containing topics you would expect to be there.

1. Elvis Presley
7. Michael Jackson

The interesting mix contains:

History of Poland (1945–89), Manhattan Project, Military history of Puerto Rico, Byzantine navy, Maya civilization, Spanish conquest of Petén, Air raids on Japan.

The summary Slashdot article referenced that one of the articles concerned a pope. At first I expected it to be on Saint John Paul II, but was not really surprised it concerned Pope Pius XII – coming in at #5.

What surprised me though is that the article really fit the definition of featured within the metrics Wikipedia described. This article is well worth reading and I loved the picture of Eugenio Pacelli at six. There is a wealth of information regarding his career in the Church before becoming pope along with his close to 20 years as pope. I already knew the date he died, as it was one day before I was born.

I certainly found it interesting that he was consecrated Bishop on the on May 13th, 1917 the exact date of the first Marian apparition at Fátima and was buried on Feast Day of Our Lady of Fátima, 13 October 1958.

While this article did address various controversies from critics, this was done in a balanced way and the counter-view to the critics was aptly presented. The book “Hitler’s Pope” was mentioned, but was not given much credence in the larger context. Plus there is mention of Josef Müller of the German resistance who Venerable Pope Pius XII worked with extensively in moving against Hitler. The excellent and fascinating book Church of Spies details the Pope’s attempts to have Hitler removed.

Just a very good article all-around with many highlights concerning Venerable Pius XII contributions to the Church and interesting details. For example I found out that he was the first Pope to move away from the predominance of Italian Cardinals and making selection from around the world. Considering that he was born in Rome adds to this.

Mar 082016

Now this is rather odd,

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s main archdiocese has taken the unusual step of publicly saying Pope Francis had been badly advised when he directed harsh words to local bishops during his visit in mid-February.

The pope told a gathering of local bishops in February not to be career-minded clerics, saying, “We do not need ‘princes,’ but rather a community of the Lord’s witnesses.”

The pope also urged them to maintain unity and show more transparency. “If you have to fight, fight. If you have to say things, say them, but do it like men: to the face,” Francis told the bishops.

An editorial published Sunday on a website of the archdiocese of Mexico City also said that some of the pope’s comments had been misinterpreted by “reporters more focused on histrionics than the deep meaning of the words.”

“The Mexican bishops have been accompanying the suffering, downtrodden people, devoting their lives to others and not living like ‘princes,’” the editorial said.

It denies local bishops are out of touch with the people, and says the pope’s comments “might be due to someone near him who gave him bad advice.”

The editorial ends with the question: “Who gave the pope bad advice?” Source

Wow I am going to move to Mexico where apparently they have perfect bishops with no amount of clericalism.

Well, maybe not. It is true the Pope can be a bit of a scold at times like his Christmas speech to the Curia. Still this seems very thin-skinned to me. Say for example the Pope was misinformed, than such bishops unconcerned about a worldly career would not be concerned that they were mischaracterized. That they issued an editorial regarding this is a “Doth protest too much” moment.

Sep 242015

There is the semifamous American phrase “Wait til your Father gets home!” This phrase was suppose to be invoked by the mother after a rough day with the kids. Implying that the kids were going to “get it” when the Father found out about what they had been doing during the day.

What reminded me of phrase is the Pope’s visit to the United States. Apparently we think of the Pope in just this light. That when he visits we want him to deliver the comeuppance for all the wrong doing. To be the militant scold like a prophet of old. That he should be grimacing when photographed with politicians who are at odds with the Catholic faith. That whatever are most important topic is should be on the lips on the Pope at every opportunity. We don’t want the Pope to be a diplomat, but somebody as brash as Patton.

I say this especially as I find myself guilty of this. Pouring through his speeches to look to see if his priorities align with my own narrative. Not listening to the Pope, but playing doctrinal bingo trying to fill my card. It is as if I suspect that people have no idea what the Church teaches so if the Pope doesn’t forcefully speak about something no one will know. The problem is not that people don’t know what the Church teaches in general, but the why behind it.

It is oh so easy to be hypercritical regarding the Pope’s visit and to see everything as a series of “might of beens.” If only the Pope had said this. So many Catholics loved when Blessed Mother Teresa was not shy at all on abortion at the National Prayer Breakfast with the Clintons. Yet even a loving rebuke did not affect any change in behavior regarding abortion by Bill or Hillary Clinton. It seems obvious to me that Pope Francis is following St. Francis de Sales when the Saint wrote “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

So I am fighting against my own tendencies in that I want clear forceful rhetoric. A “Wait til your Holy Father gets home.” That politicians get a rhetorical pummeling.

As even the casual reader of this blog might know I have a great fondness for the writings of SF author and convert John C. Wright. For his blog posts excoriating political correctness and progressive ideology. Yet I love him even more for his clear-eyed sanity.

I thought my readers might also be interested, as this Pope seems to have stirred up more controversy among the lazy and chattering crickets of the press corps than any Pope since World War Two.

My reaction is one of delight. I believe the Holy Spirit Himself must have prompted Pope Benedict to retire, something that has not been done in centuries, to make way for this next man.

Now, let me explain one thing: my opinion of Pope Francis is not based on the newspaper reports. I am a newspaperman and newspaper editor from way back, and I know how the press works, and I do not trust them.

The lazy and dishonest mainstream press has decided to portray the Holy Father as some sort of Leftist reformer or Marxist revolutionary, and, to my intense disgust, the lazier elements of the rightwing alternate press has followed suit.

The first dozen or so times the press quoted something that sounded extraordinary, and I took the time to trace the comment back to its original source, I found that, in context, the Holy Father’s comment was entirely orthodox, and entirely in keeping with the traditional teaching of the Mother Church since time immemorial.

It happened over and over again. Reading about the support of His Holiness for the Global Warming fraud, or his Marxist disdain for capitalism, I looked up the original document or original report, only to see some utterly orthodox Christian teaching on stewardship of God’s gift of the Earth to Man, or Christian warnings against wealth and worldliness as old as Moses.

And after a dozen times, my openmindedness creaked shut: I now simply dismiss, sight unseen, any such extraordinary quotes. Perhaps the Pope in his private opinions leans more to the Left than the average American. I care not. The Church has, in history, blossomed under the Emperors of Rome and Byzantium, who were elected by the army; under sacred kingship, under parliaments, under republics, and even under the tyranny of the Turks. The Church has also opposed all these things because She opposes the world. The Church will be here long after America sinks under the weight of our own corruption, long after the collapse of the North American Federation which comes next, or the Co-Dominium World-State, or the Long Night, or the Instrumentality of Man or the whatever comes after that.

I dare say that the Church will still be here, and her teaching will be remembered, unchanged, as a magician once said of the unicorn, “she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits.”

Therefore I dismiss and despise the press-created image of the Pope as an illusion, as gossip, as nonsense. Why the Good Lord has decided to arrange to have the press, our natural enemy and the enemy of the faith, be charmed and pleased by this Pope, I have no idea. God’s ways are not our ways. What shall come of it, not even the wise can foresee.

To that I say amen.

In a related post today he wrote:

The Pope, as all Popes and bishops before him since the time out of mind, repeats the Christian teachings on mercy, eschewing greed, and being proper stewards of the Earth. The Catholic social teaching has been explicit for a century, and implicit from eternity.

If Francis gives greater emphasis to what seem to American conservatives to what are typically Leftwing topics, this is a call to stir you out of your self regard, and to realize that the socialists stole and perverted the concepts of altruism and service to the poor, not to mention stewardship of the environment. The Dark Lord does not create, he only corrupts.

Jun 162015

Via Jimmy Akin:

With just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet.

Here are 12 things to know and share

The document was leaked by well-known Italian journalist Sandro Magister on the web page of his newspaper, L’Espresso. Subsequently he has had press credentials for the Vatican lifted.

I have seen multiple reports of somebody in the Vatican calling this a “heinous act”, although have not seen a actual source for this. If accurate this is pure hyperbole. Yes reprisal against Magister is appropriate for violating the embargo, “heinous act”? — not really. As if this Encyclical needed more drama involved.

Contrary to some reports the name of the Encyclical “Laudato Si” is not Latin for “People heads blow up.” I’ve been taking a rather novel approach to the whole thing. That is actually waiting to read it before forming an opinion in any way.

I would recommend Larry D’s 10 Things That Won’t Be In Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘Laudato Sii’ for both the humorous list and the sage advice.

Still it will be an interesting upside down week when progressive Catholics tell us how we must obey the Pope’s teachings and conservative Catholics tell us how we don’t have to. Sure, broad generalization with lots of caveats — but hey this is a blog after all.


Jan 152015

During lunch I noticed the activity in my news reader regarding an interview Pope Francis gave today on the airplane. I had already come to the conclusion that if pope’s never again gave an interview on a plane trip that would be just fine.

The medium of an interview on a plane just is really not that helpful for the mission of the Church. It really doesn’t matter who is Pope when it comes to this not being helpful. When Pope Benedict XVI gave an interview inflight and mentioned condoms there was a total media freak out and tons of bad reporting. For the most part reporters are not out to spread the truth, but to get headlines and if they can craft an agenda it is even better. Asking questions on controversial topics is one way to achieve this. Although often it is not the questions themselves, but how they get reported. I can’t remember the last time I thought “That was an accurate representation of what the Pope said” when I read a story.

Pope Benedict XVI often spoke off-the-cuff as if he had written something out previously and was fully formed. Yet that didn’t stop the press from distorting what he said. Pope Francis when speaking off-the-cuff if often not that precise and he casually talks trying to fill out the answer. So of course this just gives the media more room to play with. Still there is much that I like about the casual way Pope Francis speaks as he often reveals information about processes pope’s usually don’t share. For example in the latest interview I found it rather fascinating his talking about the development of the latest encyclical regarding development of the initial draft, his working on it, and the further review process still ongoing. I enjoy how he does this with good humor.

Still the main problems with journalism is that so often it distills complex subjects with necessary caveats into a textual sound bites. The textual sound bite is often what the headline plays off of. The other piece of deception is how several paragraphs are distilled down to less than a paragraph. The ellipsis is the reporter’s friend in this in that you can boil out all context and just print the juicy bits. So when he was asked about religious liberty and freedom of expression 455 words got distilled down to a couple sentences. This was brought about to bring about controversy with the Pope showing a moral equivalence between the terrorist murders of the staff of Charlie Hebdo and the satirizing of (not a prophet) Mohammad. When I saw all the ellipses in news stories I figured I will wait for a full transcript.

Thankfully the National Catholic Register was fairly quick in releasing a full transcript.

Sebastien Maynard (La Croix): Holy Father, yesterday during Mass, you spoke about religious liberty as a fundamental human right. With respect to other religions, how far can the freedom of expression extend, since this latter is a fundamental human right, too?

Pope Francis: Thanks for the question, that is smart, it is good. I think that both are fundamental human rights, religious liberty and liberty of expression. You can’t … Let’s think, are you French? Let’s go to Paris. Let’s speak clearly. You cannot hide a truth. Everyone has the right to practice their religion, their own religion without offending, freely. And that’s what we do, what we all want to do.

Secondly, you cannot offend or make war, kill in the name of your religion, in the name of God. What has happened now astonishes us. But always, let’s think to our history, how many religious wars we have had. Think of St. Bartholomew’s night (editor’s note: when Catholics massacred Huguenots during the French wars of religion in 1572). How can we understand this? Also we were sinners in this. But you cannot kill in the name of God, this is an aberration. Killing in the name of God is an aberration against God. I think this is the main thing with freedom of religion. You can practice with freedom without offending but without imposing or killing.

The freedom of expression … Every one of us has not just the freedom, the right, but also the obligation to say what he thinks to help build the common good. The obligation. If we think of a congressman, a senator, if he doesn’t say what he thinks is the true path, he doesn’t collaborate in the common good. We have the obligation to freely have this liberty, but without offending. It’s true that you cannot react violently. But, if Dr. Gasbarri, my great friend, says something against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others, you cannot make fun of the faith.

Pope Benedict, in a speech, I don’t remember which, he spoke of this post-positivist mentality, of the post-positivist metaphysics that brought people to believe that religions or religious expressions are a type of lower culture: that they are tolerated but that there’s not much to them, that they are in not part of an enlightened culture. And this is a legacy of the Enlightenment. So many people speak against others’ religions. They make fun of them. Let’s say they “giocatalizzano” (make a playing out of) the religion of others. But they are provoking, and what can happen is what I said about Dr. Gasbarri if he says something about my mother. There is a limit. Every religion has dignity; I cannot mock a religion that respects human life and the human person. And this is a limit. I’ve used this example of the limit to say that in the freedom of expression there are limits, like the example I gave of my mother. I don’t know if I was able to respond to the question. Thanks.

Some how the moral equivalence got lost in translation. Now there are parts to pick apart here and there and there are certainly aspects of this I would have questions and caveats about. But generally I understand the point Pope Francis is making.

I pretty much agree with Thomas L. McDonald’s quick critique of one aspect of this answer.

The Holy Father and I are going to have disagree on this one.

“Should not”? Certainly.

“Cannot”? No.

“Every religion has its dignity”? Every one? Eh, not so much.

I totally enjoyed his one word reaction to the Pope’s “But, if Dr. Gasbarri, my great friend, says something against my mother, he can expect a punch.”


Shades of St. Nicholas and Arius.

Back to the central point about papal inflight interviews I just don’t see their usefulness since they always generate more heat than light. Yet I can totally understand how easy it is for them to come about and this is even more true for this gregarious pope who loves talking to people.

Hey remember when Pope Francis said on his flight to Brazil for World Youth Day:

It is true that I do not give interviews, but why, I do not know, I can’t, it’s just like that. For me it is quite an effort to do so, but I thank all of you here.

Good times.

Nov 272013

After reading Evangelii Gaudium I knew one of the areas that would receive some criticism was the area of economics. I jokingly thought that we wouldn’t have to wait long for someone from the Acton Institute to respond.

Fr. Longenecker mentions:

In this article Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute  and author of Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing![][4] gives a cogent, fair and informed critique of the economic content of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation. He shows how the Pope’s conclusions are well meaning, but naive and not well informed. The good thing about Gregg’s article is that he is not condemning the general thrust of Evangelii Gaudium nor is he taking a doctrinaire and opposed view to the pope.

However he does point out regarding Pope Francis’ economic opinions  that it’s well, more complicated…

My own thoughts as I read this document that the Pope’s economic emphasis was rather one-sided with the root of the problem being “absolute autonomy of markets.” As Samuel Gregg wrote I also find some of these points the Pope made to be “straw-man arguments.” Reading what the Pope wrote you would have no idea about the amount of government regulation in this regard or the fact that big government is more likely to lead to increased poverty. The Country of Greece is and so many others are not suffering from the “absolute autonomy of markets.”

Not that I believe laissez-faire open markets is the answer to all economic problems. The problem with any system is not always the system itself, but the fact that original sin is always involved. Without morality a system only becomes more flawed. The increased secularization and loss of morals can make the free market anything but free.

“Finally, true freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.” – Pope John Paul II (source)

Free markets become “license” markets when the bottom line does not include the dignity of the human person. When decisions are made without this necessary criteria. Ensuring free markets requires evangelization and conversion.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Quincy Adams

Our Republic breaks down when this is lost and I would say the same is true of a truly free market. Yet even our flawed free market has done much to reducing poverty and this would be more so with the advancement of moral values.

I certainly don’t want to dismiss the Holy Father’s economic critique since I thought much of it was apt, but just aimed at the wrong target or that the targets could easily have been expanded. It is not government regulation that is the answer here, but regulation of ourselves. Whenever you find poverty you don’t usually have to look far to find a corrupt government involved.

I also found Let’s Listen to Pope Francis on Economics at First Things to be worth reading from a Catholic who is pro-free markets:

Francis’ call is not a governing agenda. We must, however, let it be a wake up call. We must look first at the impact of the policies we promote on the poor and the marginalized, and keep their interests in line first. And this is something Milton Friedman would agree with, by the way. Would most of his disciples? Rhetorically, sure.

But in the conservatarian community I’m a part of, while I see a lot of good intentions and good ideas, do I see enough concern towards directly addressing poverty and looking at everything through the lens of poverty and inclusion, including in my own work? I have to say that the answer is no. And certainly we must say we can always do better.

I am reminded of Sen. Mike Lee’s excellent speech on poverty. It’s truly great. But how much energy is devoted in free market circles in seriously discussing and debating poverty? What percentage? I have to admit that while I most often disagree with their prescriptions, there is a sincere and overwhelming concern for the poor that is more present in the progressive coalition than in my own. We must not be afraid of this concern for the poor that Pope Francis calls us to. We must make it our own and embrace it.

He concludes:

There is a place for discernment, and for advocacy, and even for confrontation. But I think that as Catholics we are also called upon to take the Pope’s message seriously, humbly, and to let it challenge us and to incorporate it into our own thinking, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. For this I’ll pray.Note: My title of Popeconomics is aimed at the humor side with no disrespect to His Holiness.

Note: My title of “Popeconomics” is aimed at the humor side with no disrespect to His Holiness.

Nov 262013

So as a certified Catholic blogger I of course have to write about the new Apostolic Exhortation released today from Pope Francis. Still it would be much smarter on your part to just go read it. Since his first encyclical was likely largely written by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI I had been very interested in seeing Pope Francis’ own style came out in a longer document. I am very impressed with what he had to say and I must also say quite challenged.

The problem with reading Church documents is that it is easy to slip into “hobby-horse” mode where you look to be affirmed in what you think is most important. Or you look for things that other people need to change about themselves. So I was quite delighted to find this in the document under spiritual reading and I think describes this temptation quite well.

  • 153. In the presence of God, during a recollected reading of the text, it is good to ask, for example: “Lord, what does this text say to me? What is it about my life that you want to change by this text? What troubles me about this text? Why am I not interested in this? Or perhaps: What do I find pleasant in this text? What is it about this word that moves me? What attracts me? Why does it attract me?” When we make an effort to listen to the Lord, temptations usually arise. One of them is simply to feel troubled or burdened, and to turn away. Another common temptation is to think about what the text means for other people, and so avoid applying it to our own life. It can also happen that we look for excuses to water down the clear meaning of the text. Or we can wonder if God is demanding too much of us, asking for a decision which we are not yet prepared to make. This leads many people to stop taking pleasure in the encounter with God’s word; but this would mean forgetting that no one is more patient than God our Father, that no one is more understanding and willing to wait. He always invites us to take a step forward, but does not demand a full response if we are not yet ready. He simply asks that we sincerely look at our life and present ourselves honestly before him, and that we be willing to continue to grow, asking from him what we ourselves cannot as yet achieve.

There are going to be a lot of people very unhappy with this document if properly “misunderstood”. One strain of Catholics will be upset about what he said on women’s ordination an abortion and another strain about economics or the charge of neopelagianism for some forms of traditionalism. Although there are some things I wish he had expanded on.


As tempted as I am to post more paragraphs that struck me; I will leave you with paragraph 153 above and your own reading.