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:: The Lidless Eye Inquisition ::

A weblog dedicated to the exposure of the crackpots of the lunatic self-styled 'traditionalist' fringe who disingenuously pose as faithful Catholics.
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"Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by the cunning statements of those who persistently claim to wish to be with the Church, to love the Church, to fight so that people do not leave Her...But judge them by their works. If they despise the shepherds of the Church and even the Pope, if they attempt all means of evading their authority in order to elude their directives and judgments..., then about which Church do these men mean to speak? Certainly not about that established on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20)." [Pope St. Pius X: Allocution of May 10, 1909]

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[:::....Recent Posts....:::]

The revocation of indefinite suspension to this we...

Briefly on A Few Issues... Though the The Lidless...

As I am planning a return to blogging in other for...

Though this weblog has been suspended "in perpetui...

After pondering this in recent days, I cannot thin...

Points to Ponder: I now come to the positive reas...

"One From the Drafting Board" Dept. The material ...

Before this weblog is formally closed in perpetuit...

On Altar Girls and General Norms of Interpretation...

Final Reflections I would like to thank Shawn McE...

The Inquisitors
:: I. Shawn McElhinney
:: F. John Loughnan
:: Peter J. Vere JCL
:: Greg Mockeridge
:: Apolonio Latar
:: Gregory Rossi
:: Keith Kenney
:: The Curmudgeon
:: Mark Bonocore
:: Gregg the Obscure
Affiliated Weblogs/Websites
:: Rerum Novarum [>>>]
:: Sean O' Lachtnain's Home Page [>>>]
:: Envoy Encore Weblog (Peter Vere JCL, contributor) [>>>]
:: Cooperatores Veritatis [>>>]
:: Thoughts of Apolonio Latar III [>>>]
:: Sancta Liturgia [>>>]
:: Disturber of the Peace [>>>]
:: Vita Brevis [>>>]
Specialty Weblogs
:: The (New) Catholic Light BLOG (Peter Vere JCL, contributor) [>>>]
:: John Betts' Boycott BLOG [>>>]
Ecumenical Jihad*
:: Apolonio Latar and Kevin Tierney's Culture of Christ BLOG [>>>]
Specialty Weblinks
:: A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism' [>>>]
:: On the Intricacies of Dialogue - A Commentary [>>>]
:: The 'Tradition is Opposed to Novelty' Canard [>>>]
:: On Assisi and Catholic Principles [>>>]
:: F. John Loughnan's "Classification of Some Integrist (Lidless Eye) Websites" [>>>]
:: A Syllabus of Various (Mostly Pseudo-"Progressivist") Dissenting Authors [>>>]
:: A Canonical History of the Lefevrist Schism - Peter J. Vere's License Thesis From Saint Paul University, Ontario, Canada [>>>]
:: What Makes Us Catholic Traditionalists - written for The Wanderer December 6, 2001 (I. Shawn McElhinney/Pete Vere JCL) [>>>]
:: Yes Virginia, Fr. Nicholas Has Been Suspended - written for The Wanderer March 6, 2003 (Pete Vere JCL/I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Squelching Fr. Gruner's 'Squawking Squire' [>>>]
:: RadTrad Watch [>>>]
:: Antisemitism and the Catholic Right [>>>]
[:::....Site Intention, Disclaimer, Copyright, Etc....:::]
:: Intentions of this Weblog (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Weblog "War and Peace Length" Disclaimer (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Site Copyright (I. Shawn McElhinney/SecretAgentMan) [>>>]
:: Exhortation to Those Who Participate in the Message Boxes (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On Linking to Tridentine Apostolates, Etc. --A Lidless Eye Inquisition Clarification Thread (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
[:::....Heretical Pseudo "Traditionalist" Apostolates....:::]
Mario Derksen's Catholic Insight
:: Responses to Mario Derksen--Parts I-III (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Mario on EENS (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Mario Derksen's Errors on Man (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Mario Derksen's Sedevacantism--Parts I-III (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Response to Mario --Parts I-II (Kevin Byrne) [>>>]
:: Mario's Sedevacantism and His Conscience (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder -I. Shawn McElhinney's Discussion List Comments on the "Karol Wojtyla is the Pope" Subject (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
Gerry Matatics' Apostolate
:: Gerry Matatics Too Hard Line For The Remnant (Pete Vere)[>>>]
:: Concerning Gerry Matatics and His Alleged Sedevacantism (Pete Vere) [>>>]
[:::....Schismatic and Theologically Specious Pseudo "Traditionalist" Apostolates....:::]
Catholic Apologetics International (or CAItanic)
:: Bob Sungenis' "Reply" to Richard John Neuhaus --Parts I-II (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - Richard J. Neuhaus on CAItanic (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On CAItanic and the "Petrification" of their Opponents (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: On Stunted Ecclesiology and Other Examples of the Arrested Development of CAItanic (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Baghdad Bob Meets Bible Bob (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: Commentary on CAItanic (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Sungenis/Ferrara and Double Standards (Apolonio Latar III) [>>>]
:: On Sungenis’ “Novelty”--Parts I-II(Apolonio Latar III) [>>>]
:: A Short Response to John Salza and Sungenis (Apolonio Latar III) [>>>]
:: A Brief Clarification by Your Weblog Host On "Mr. Ipse Dixit" (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Matatics vs. Sungenis (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Sungenis and God's Contingent Knowledge--Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar III) [>>>]
:: On "The Big Bang Theory" and its Pertinance to Catholic Doctrine (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
The Novus Ordo Watch
:: On "Novus Ordo Watch" (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: More on "Novus Ordo Watch" (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: Props to David Alexander (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
The Remnant
:: Beyond Lunacy (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: The Remnant Gets it Right (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: Commending Christopher Ferrara (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX)
:: Points to Ponder - on the SSPX (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: On the "Reconciliation" Rumours of the SSPX (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: SSPX Demotes Key Priest Hoping For Reconciliation (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Three Cheers for Sedevacantism (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: On Fr. Paul Aulagnier (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Schism For One Dollar (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Bishop Rifan the Prophet (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Is the SSPX Still Lefebvrist? (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Civil War Breaks Out in the SSPX's French District (Pete Vere) [>>>]
[:::....Controverted Apostolates...:::]
Kevin Tierney and His Apostolate
:: Responding to Kevin Tierney's Criticism (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: Some Brief Comments on Kevin Tierney's Response to Gregg the Obscure (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: A Response to Kevin Tierney's Response to I. Shawn McElhinney (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: More Sophistry From Kevin Tierney --Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Briefly on Obedience and Kevin Tierney's Appeal to Canon Law 212 (I. Shawn McElhinney/Pete Vere JCL) [>>>]
:: Responsum ad Tiernam Dubiosum --Parts I-III, Addendum (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: A Note About A Blog (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Radtrads Again (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On True and False 'Traditionalism' With Kevin Tierney --Parts I-VII (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, and Global Government --Parts I-III(Greg Mockeridge) [>>>]
:: Clarification on Global Government (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Brief Response to Kevin Tierney (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Miscellaneous Musings on Diversity (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: An Example of the Honesty That Must Accompany Dialogue (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Miscellaneous Muttering On Many Subjects (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: A Detailed Response to Kevin on The Revised Missal, Corpus Christi, Church Attendance, Church Forms, Protocol 1411, Etc. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Miscellaneous Musings (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: "Responsum ad Tiernum" Dept. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Discussing the Liturgy and Various Contrastings With Kevin Tierney (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Refuting the “He’s Not Disobedient. He's Just Stupid.” Defense (Greg Mockeridge) [>>>]
:: "Responsum ad Tiernum" Dept. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
[:::....Controverted Subjects and People in General....:::]
:: Response to a Self-styled "Traditionalist" (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On the Term "Inquisition" (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: Addressing a Sedevacantist Heretic (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: February's Quote of the Month (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: On TAN Books (F. John Loughnan) [>>>]
:: On Defining Modernism (Chris Burgwald) [>>>]
:: Refuting the Late 'Trad' Michael Malone's Errors on Vatican II (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From His Beatitude Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh, Cardinal of the Roman Church (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: The Catechism and Radical Traditionalists (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Screwtape Parody on Radical Traditionalism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Dialogue With a Rad-Trad --Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On Hell and the Catechism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On Sola Fide Trads (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Some Traddie Fallacies Examined (F. John Loughnan) [>>>]
:: Dialogue With Adrian a Self-styled 'Traditionalist' --Parts I-VIII (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From St. Opatus of Milve (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Mr. Smith's Misunderstandings --Parts I-VI (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On the Integralist-'Traditionalist' Conection --Parts I-V (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Discussion With Christopher Blosser on Reflections on Covenant and Mission (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On the Morality of Promoting Conspiracy Theories (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: Question About the Magisterium (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: John Paul II and Islam (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Have 'Traditionalists' Been Too Hard on the Pope Viz Islam (F. John Loughnan) [>>>]
:: A Conversation --Parts I-II (I. Shawn McElhinney/Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Fatal Flaws of False 'Traditionalism' With Albert Cipriani--Parts I-VII (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: A Conversation on Spiritual Maturity and the Traditional Catholic Approach to Difficulties --Parts I-III (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Is it Okay to Complain? (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Obedience: The Rise of True Catholics --Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Radtradism and Mother Teresa (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Common 'Traditionalist' Errors in Dogmatic Theology and the Ordinary Magisterum (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Notes on the Ordinary Magisterium (SecretAgentMan) [>>>]
:: Some Self-styled "Traditionalist" Mendacity (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Posting Rules for Radical 'Traditionalists' (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: Thoughts on Radtradism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Why Garrigou-Lagrange? (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: The Syllabus (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Refutation of Some Common Radtrad Misuses of Citations (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: The Errors of Michael Malone Revisited (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Confuting an Attempted Justification for Schism --Parts I-II (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Another Assisi? Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder -Maximus the Abbott as quoted by Pope Leo XIII in Satis Cognitum §13 (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Dialogue With a 'Traditionalist' (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: "To Be Deep in Catholic Theology is to Cease to Be a (Pseudo) 'Traditionalist'" Dept. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From Pope Benedict XV (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On Charles de Nunzio (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: For Those Interested (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Refuting Mike's Errors (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: A Response to Mike Tucker (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Will it Merely Be More Uncatholic "Business As Usual"??? (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From St. John Bosco (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From St. Irenaeus of Lyons (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Dialogue/Debate on Pascendi (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From Cardinal Ratzinger on the Revised Roman Missal (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Responsum ad Hibernius (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Miscellaneous Material (Gregory Rossi) [>>>]
:: On Liturgical Dance (Gregory Rossi) [>>>]
:: On Humanism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On Humanism and Vatican II (Gregory Rossi) [>>>]
:: John Paul II and Universalism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On Scruples (Gregory Rossi) [>>>]
:: On Tony Blair and Receiving Communion (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Confuting Radical Pseudo-'Traditionalist' Nonsense --Part I (Mark Bonocore) [>>>]
:: Confuting Radical Pseudo-'Traditionalist' Nonsense --Part II (Mark Bonocore/I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: "Wast-ing A-way A-gain in Se-de-vac-ant-a-ville" Dept. (Mark Bonocore/I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On the McElhinney Media Dictum (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Tomorrow Christendom (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Correcting a Common Misperception of This Weblog (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Response to a Guimaraes Article (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: A Response to Fr. Nitoglia (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: More on "Tomorrow Christendom" (Dom Calvet/Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Surprised by Canon Law (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Briefly on Michael Davies' Passing (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On Redemptionis Sacramentum and Canonical Implications for Ecclesia Dei (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Notification of Assisi Essay, Etc. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - Richard John Neuhaus on the Vatican and "Americanism"--Parts I-VI (I. Shawn McElhinney)[>>>]
:: 8 Things You Can Do to Stop the Judaizers (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: On Circumspection in Speech and Public Writing (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: On the Revised Missal Ordination Rites and Other Tidbits (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
::Points to Ponder - John Laux on an Interesting Parallel from History on the Subject of "Preserving Tradition" (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: In Fairness to Michael Forrest (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Michael Forrest and the Jews (Pete Vere) [>>>]
::Points to Ponder - Pope Gregory XVI on the Authority of the Popes (I. Shawn McElhinney)[>>>]
:: Michael Forrest and the Jews--Part II (Pete Vere) [>>>]
[:::....Miscellaneous Dialogual Subjects...:::]
:: Real Catholic Traditionalism (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: An Open Challenge to Catholic Traditionalists (Dom Gerard Calvet/Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Briefly on Quo Primum (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Traditionalist Debate of the Millenium: Pete Vere vs. Shawn McElhinney (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Dialogue on Ecclesia Dei With Mark Downey (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Sister Lucia of Fatima, Ora Pro Terri Schiavo (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Ecclesia Dei And Respect for Traditionalists (Greg Mockeridge) [>>>]
:: On "The Vile Spectacle of Traditionalists Rooting for Bad News" --Dialogue With Kevin Tierney (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>> [>>>]
:: On Liturgical Nonsense, Recent Restore Rants, Church Music, Etc (I. Shawn McElhinney)[>>>]
:: Briefly Revisiting an Old Subject (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Examining Kevin Tierney's "Catholic Contract" (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
[:::....Guest Editorials...:::]
:: The Problems Some Have With Interfaith Outreach (Guest Editorial by Gary Gubinski) [>>>]
:: On the Liturgical Movement (Guest Editorial by the Society of St. John; Prologue by I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Jacinta's Vision (Guest Editorial by Fr. Thomas Carleton) [>>>]
:: Guest Editorial on Private Revelation (Kevin M. Tierney) [>>>]
Any correspondence will be presumed eligible for blogging unless the sender otherwise specifies (cf. Welborn Protocol)

*Ecumenical Jihad listing is for weblogs or websites which are either dedicated to or which to the webmaster (i) are worth reading and (ii) characteri ze in their general outlook the preservation of general Judeo-Christian morality and which are aimed at positively integrating these elements into society. (Such sites need not even be Catholic ones.)

As society has grown more estranged from its founding principles, I wish to note sites which share the same sentiments for the restoration of society even if the means advocated in this endeavour differ. The Lidless Eye Inquisition does not necessarily endorse particulars with sites under this heading.

:: Thursday, December 30, 2004 ::


Among political conservatives in Canada, including Catholics, there's a growing split between those who continue as constitutional monarchists and those like myself who have become republican. So I've started a new blog for conservative Canadian Republicans. It is called Canadian Republic.

:: Pete Vere 2:53 PM [+] | ::

:: Friday, December 24, 2004 ::
More on the Pontifex Maximus Subject:
(Mark Bonocore Responds to Jacob and Charles)

This is a proximate continuation of the thread located HERE and a direct continuation of the threads located HERE and HERE. Mark's words will be in purple font. The words of Jacob will be in black font and the words of Charles in darkgreen. Any sources Mark quotes will be in blue font.

This all seems a bit misleading, so I'd like further confirmation/clarification.

1) Pope Damasus I became pont. max. "in the 370's," and this office "passed naturally to all of Damasus' successors" - but this "was the legal situation until the fall of the Western Empire in 476" - so we're talking about the span of 100 years, right? Just so we're all clear on that.

Actually, it's not as simply and cut-and-dry as that. While modern historians give the year 476 as a convenient end of the Western Roman Empire, contemporary people simply did not see it that way. As I pointed out before, Italy itself (under the barbarian king Odoacer, and then under the Ostrogoths), as well as other Western provinces like Spain, Gaul, and Africa, continued to recognize the ultimate authority of the Emperor of Constantinople; and the Byzantines then re-conquered almost all of the West during the reign of Justinian the Great, continuing to directly rule a sizable portion of Italy for the next 450 years. In all this time, the imperial perrogatives of the Pope (as imperial Pontifex Maximus) were recognized, and that role blended seemlessly into the creation of the Holy Roman Empire, which continued to speak of the Pope as "Pontiff" ("Pontifex") out of a concern for preserving the imperial institutions of old Rome. So, the imperial / legal institution was in no sense interrupted. For example, as late as A.D. 856, we have a Byzantine national like St. Methodius speaking thusly about the Pope of Rome:

"Because of his primacy, the Roman Pontifex is not required to attend an Ecumenical Council; but without his participation, manifested by sending some subordinates, every Ecumenical Council is as non-existant, for it is he who presides over the Council." (St. Methodius, c. 865 A.D.)

Here, St. Methodius is making a reference to binding imperial law.

As for this Pontifex's dealings with pagan institutions, ... This would have extended from the year 367, when Gratian (then co-Western Emperor with his father Valentinian) first gave Pope Damasus the job, through the year 476 (the traditional date for the end of the Western Empire), and well into the late 500's, when pagan institutions were still tolerated (among the wealthier Roman familes) in Italy and in many other provinces. That gives us about 215 years. Then, let us not forget that Italy was populated by a large Jewish community and by a number of ruling Arian tribes (i.e., most of the late Empire's Germanic troops, the Ostrogoths, and then the Lombards); and, in the capacity of his imperial office of P. Maximus, the Pope would be responsible for the care and legal administration of their insitutions (e.g. their burial sites, calendars, shrines, and houses of worship), as well as the institutions of the Catholic Church. Add to this the fact that, with Charlemage's Holy Roman Empire established in the year 800, the north of Europe ---that is, a good portion of Charlemagne's realm --was still populated by pagans (e.g. Saxony). And, while the Catholic Franks attempted to convert these pagans by force, the policy of the Papacy (per its instructions to St. Boniface and the other apostles to the German lands) was one of toleration and accomodation --a slow Christianization of pagan rituals (e.g. the orign of our Christmas tree). This, again, would be the sage approach of a Pontifex Maximus who was used to dealing diplomatically with pagans.

2) The statement "St. Damasus was responsible ... to give legal approval for the celebration of their major festivals ... and to send letters instructing ALL OF THEM to pray for victory when Rome was at war, etc." is dubious at best. It's speculation. Do we have any examples of such letters?

We have the nature of the office. The office did not change. For example, ...

Before it was taken over by the Papacy, the office of Pontifex Maximus was responsible for managing the imperial calendar. This was done by the pagan office holders, and also by Emperor Constantine (who continued to hold the office of P. Maximus) when he implemented Nicaea's decision regarding the prescribed date for Easter. When the Popes take over the imperial office, they too manage the calendar in exactly the same way --e.g. the adaptations of the calendar under Pope Hilary (c. 465), per the astronomer Victorius, and then the later adaptations made via Dionysius Exiguus (before 544) by Popes John I, Fexlix IV, and Boniface II. All these Popes acted in the time-honored, pre-Christian capacity of P. Maximus, as would Gregory XIII centuries later when, once again, the calendar would be adapted on "Pontifical" authority.

Likewise, before the Popes took over the office, the P. Maximus was responsible for the legal protection and financial upkeep of all recognized shrines and places of burial. This, the pagan officials of course did, as did all the emperors in their capacity of P. Maximus (Constantine and his immediate Christian successors among them). When Damasus became P. Maximus in 367, the pagan and Jewish institutions of Rome were certainly not demolished or neglected. So, SOMEONE was running their administration --SOMEONE was maintaining good social order within the religious sphere of imperial life; and we have no reason to believe that this was anyone else but the official appointed to take care of such things --the P. Maximus of Rome.

And, if the Papal Pontifex Maximus continue to perform these traditional duties of the office, why should we conclude that he did not continue to perfom what was probably the most central duty of all (the very reason why the old Emperors jealously retained the office for themselves); and that, of course, is the P. Maximus' duty to call all of the Empire's cult to prayer in times of common crisis --whether apparent (e.g. war, pestilence, etc.) or implied (e.g. if a bolt of lightning hit an important public building, thereby signifying a bad omen). Here, what you dramatically fail to appreciate is how disruptive and untenable it would be among the non-Christian and heretical citizens of the Empire if the P. Maximus were neglecting his public duties and refusing to serve non-Christians in their public and legal religious needs. Such a move would have outraged the non-Christians (esp. the Jews), and they would have no doubt complained about it ...as did the pagan Senatorial familiers (in A.D. 407) when the Christian Emperor Honorius ordered the statue of Winged Victory (a pagan goddess) to be removed from the Senate house. Furthermore, the impression that the Papal P. Maximus wanted nothing to do with the non-Christians of Rome exhibits a total lack of appreication for the Roman sense of "communio," as well as the nationalistic instincts of the Roman Popes who, while Christians first, saw all their fellow citizens as patriotic peers. Thus, when faced with a threat by hords of Visigoths, or Vandals, or Huns, it would only be natural for the Popes to maintain solidarity with their non-Christian peers, and encourage a unified appeal to "the Deity" in any way this could be expressed.

Indeed, ... To cite yet another clear example of the continuity of the office, .... Part of the P. Maximus' duty was to superintend and approve all public marriages --especially those of the upper classes. Well, ... This being the case, what is a Pope to do when a high-profile couple are not orthodox Christians --that is, pagans, Arians, or Jews? At this time, there was no such thing as separation between Church and State, and all marriage was 'religious' in nature. So, here we have a situation in which a Pope (a member of the Christian priesthood) had to bestow his blessing on unions that were outside of the Christian Covenant. Clearly, he could not do this AS a member of the Christian priesthood. Rather, he did it as a civil servant of the Empire --an Empire which, unlike the Church, tolerated non-Christian institutions for the common good of society as a whole. And, if you do not admit that the Papal P. Maximi did this, then are you suggesting that no non-Catholic marriages were recognized or celebrated by the imperial state between 367 and, say, 580? :-) That would come as a great surprise to Galla Placidia, sister of Emperor Honorius, who was married to King Walla of the Visigoths --an Arian. Or, to the daughter of Emperor Valentian III, who was married to the son of King Geseric of the Vandals --another Arian. All of these marriages had to be approved by the P. Maximus. And, at the time, this office was held by Roman Popes.

3) Likewise, the statement "Pope Damasus and his immediate successors ... would have been bound to uphold the legal responsibilities of the offical duties described above for the pagan majority in the city of Rome" is also dubious. To say someone "would have" done something is different than claiming that someone "did" something. I don't want to know what Pope Damasus "would have" done, I want to know what he "did."

Read the history. Do we see non-Christians complaining that their traditional legal rights as Roman citizens were being violated by the Pontifex Damasus or any of his successors???? Nope. Rather, the religious institutions of the pagans, as far as legal toleration was concerned, were preserved and safeguarded. In the few cases when the legal rights of pagans were threatened (as when the statue of Victory was removed from the Senate), we see the pagans making a considerable stink; and, in response, even the Emperor himself was forced to return the statue --an event that took place in 407-08 --a good 40 years after the Popes became P. Maximus. So, where are the pagans, Jews, and Arians ever on record complaining that their religious _expressions are being excluded from imperial public life due to the acts of the P. Maximus?? This would have to be the case if, as you'd like to say, the P. Maximus office was "adapted" by the Popes. However, in reality, it was of course not adapted at all. It was a traditonal imperial office geared toward maintaining religious order in Roman society, and the duties of that office were clear.

The reason I bring this up is because the presumption itself is dubious: i.e., the popes as pont. max. protected the religious rights of pagans.

I'm sorry, but there is nothing dubious about it at all. Doing so was part of the job; and any honest student of late Roman history has to admit that.

Was that really the case in the west? I know that at least from 380, after the publication of Emperor Theodosius' Code, pagans did not enjoy religious freedom in the empire.

Wrong. Go read the real history. What happened was that Theodosius had to contend with a pagan imperial rival name Eugenius who, along with his Franish general Arbogast, launched a civil war against him. The rallying cry of Eugenius and his faction was a return to the classical values of paganism; and when Theodosius and his general Stilico succeeded in quelling the rebellion, it became necessary to put the disloyal pagans in their place. This is why the Theodosian Code ordered the closing of all pagan temples, as well as the philosophy schools. HOWEVER, ... It is an oversimplification of history to say that Theodosius "outlawed" paganism or that public pagan worship ended in the year 380. Clearly, this is not what occurred. Most of the Senatorial families in Rome continued to practice the old classical religions, and the Senate itself continued to make public sacrifices to the Roman gods. Also, the Roman government was never the Nazi-like totalitarian force that Hollywood likes to depict it as. Rather, it was quite liberal and permissive; and after the inital shock of Theodosius' "chastisement," the pagans came back out of their rabbit holes and continued to play a part in imperial Roman life, both among the old Roman artistocrats and among the Germanic Arians.


The two sources that Mark cites refer only to the traditional pre-Gratian duties of the Pontifex Maximus of pagan Rome. Neither of these two sources nor Wikipedia or encyclopedia.com indicate that the Pope performed any of the traditional duties associated with the title after he was named Pontifex Maximus. It may have been that the Pope redefined the title and office of Pontifex Maximus so that he did not perform any of these pagan duties.

You have no evidence for this whatsoever; and the historial events show quite clearly that the exact opposite was taking place. Indeed, the very idea that the P. Maximus office was "redefined" by the Popes illustrates a very unrealistic and naive understanding of the late Roman period, which was in no sense monolithicly Christian. While the Catholic Church was, without question, the most dynamic force in late Roman society, it was by no means the only one. The pagans, the Arians, and the Jews were still very much around, and still quite active in the life of the Empire, especially when one looks at individual Roman cities.

As for online encyclopedias like Wikipedia, ... They also claim that Pope Honorius subscribed to and taught Monothelitism. So, these are by no means reliable sources for comprehensive historical analysis.

Are there any other historical sources that show that the Pope assumed not only the title of Pontifex Maximus but also the traditional pagan responsibilities associated with the title? If so, how can we be certain that the Pope did not also personally consecrate pagan temples as Mark asserts?

We have very few sources for this period in general. The sack of Rome and other important cities, etc. led to the destruction of most of the imperial documents. So, we do not have, for example, Damasus' signature on a decree instructing all the cults of the Empire to pray for victory in time of war, etc. ...and just as we do not have his signature on a document directed exclusively to Christians telling them to pray for such victory. But, since he was P. Maximus, we know that he MUST HAVE issued such decrees; and since the pagan cults and the Jews never complain of being "slighted" by the imperial bureaucracy (something they are very vocal about when it does happen), we can only conclude that Damasus continued to exercise the office just as it was always exercised ...just as Constantine continued to exercise the office of Emperor after he has espoused Christianity, and just as Christian Roman magistrates and/or generals continued to exercise their offices as their pagan predecessors had done. Indeed, aside from modern Christian bigotry and a very narrow imagination, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Pope Damasus and his successors failed to faithfully perform all the duties of the office of P. Maximus, as would any other patriotic citizen of the Empire. For, simply because these men were Popes did not mean that they thought that non-Christians deserved no civil or legal protection or that these non-Christian faiths were totally void of religious truth. To help understand the minset of the age, consider this letter from Constantine to the bishops at the Council of Arles, which was preserved as part of the teaching platform of the Council --a Council that received the blessing of the Pope. It reads:

"The incomprehensible kindness of our God by no means allows the state of a man to stray too long a time in the darkness. Nor does it suffer the odius wills of some so to prevail as not to grant men a new opportunity for
conversion to the truth by opening up before them through its most glorious light a path to salvation. Of this indeed I am assured by many examples and I can illustrate the same truth from my own case, For at the first there were in me things which appeared far removed from righteousness and I did not think that there was any heavenly power which could see into the secrets of my heart. What fortune ought these things which I have mentioned to have brought upon me? --surely, a person overflowing with every evil! But, Almighty God, who sits in the watch-tower of Heaven, has bestowed upon me that which I did not deserve, and truly, most holy bishops of the Savior Christ, at this time I can neither describe nor number these gifts which of His heavenly benevolence He granted to me, His servant When goddlessness, far and wide, lay heavy upon me, when the State was threatened by deadly pestilence of utter corruption and a radical cure was in urgent need, what a relief, what a Salvation from the mischief did God contrive! ...God decreed my service and accounted me fit to execute His decree. And thus have I, setting out from the sea in Britain and the lands where the sun must set, driven out and scattered the terrors that ruled on every hand by power from on High; that mankind, instructed by my mission, might return to the service of the Holy Law and that our most blessed Faith might also spread abroad, under the mighty direction of the Highest. Being convicted that this is my glorious task, this God's gracious gift to me, I come now also to the lands of the East, which, in bitter pains, require my earnest need. What each man, out of conviction, undertakes himself, he shall not try to force on another. What a man sees and realizes for himself, let him serve his neighbor therewith, if he may; but if he avails not to do so, let him leave it alone. For it is one thing to undertake of one's own free will the battle for the hereafter, and another to compel men by punishment to do so. I have stated this and explained it more fully than my grace intended as I would not conceal my Christian faith. Yet, I have done so because, I am told, some men are saying that the usage of the [pagan] temples have been abolished together with the powers of pagan darkness. Indeed, I would so counsel every man, were it not that the rebellious might of false doctrines, to the injury of the salvation of us all, has struck its roots so terribly deep." (Constantine the Great to the Bishops of Arles).

Likewise, ... When, the altar of Victory was first removed from the Senate house, the pagan Patrician Symmachus petitioned for its return, pointing to the traditional toleration offered by Constantine and the other Christian emperors. Symmachus declared:

"He (Constantine) diminished none of the privileges of the sacred virgins, he filled the priestly offices with nobles, he did not refuse the cost of the Roman ceremonies, and following the rejoicing Senate through all the streets of the eternal city, he contentedly beheld the shrines with unmoved countenance, he read the names of the gods inscribed on the pediments, he enquired about the origin of the temples, and expressed admiration for their builders. Although he himself followed another religion, he maintained its own for the empire, for everyone has his own customs, everyone his own rites. The divine mind has distributed different guardians and different cults to different cities. As souls are separately given to infants as they are born, so to peoples the genius of their destiny."

Symmachus goes on ...

"Let others think her (the Roman Senate) mistaken, but merely leave her undisturbed in her error. ...But, it is not possible that there should be only one path to the divine mystery."

And this reflected the general thinking of Roman society at the time ---not a monolithic rejection of non-Christian beliefs in the public sphere, but a tolerating pity, if you will, on the part of the Christian establishment for their deluded pagan neighbors. It's in this sense that Damasus and his successors continued to serve these fellow citizens in the capacity of imperial P. Maximus.

As for Damasus presiding over the consecration of a pagan temple, ... We know that he and his successors didn't do this because no imperial-sponsored temples were built after the 360's. And, even if there were, the Pope could have executed his admisitrative duties as P. Maximus --making sure that a pagan priest was assigned to help in the consecration, etc., without personally participating in something that would violate his conscience as a Christian. In this, one must look at the office of P. Maximus in the sense of a modern Catholic priest who, for example, is made a leading chaplin for the U.S. forces during WWII. In his capacity as head chaplin, the priest would be required to make sure that Protestant, and Jewish, and Buddahist soldiers received services and comfort from representatives of their respective faiths; and so, this priestly head chaplin would, for example, dispatch a Jewish rabbi to some unit where a Jew might need counseling. Yet, in doing all this, the priest would not himself be practicing Judaism or advocating Judaism as equally valid as Catholic Christianity. Rather, he would just be perfoming his job as an officer of the US government --a civil (or, in this case, military) servant. And the Popes' role as P. Maximus was absolutely no different. It must merely be appreciated in the context of what was a far more "religious" (i.e., "superstitious") society.

Mark Bonocore

:: Shawn 1:07 PM [+] | ::

:: Thursday, December 23, 2004 ::
A Response to Jason on Assisi and the Role of the Pontifex Maximus Historically
(Part III of III)

This is a continuation of the thread located HERE and is also a cowritten post of sorts. Essentially, my words will remain in regular font and the words of Mark Bonocore will be in darkgreen font. Any sources I quote will be in darkblue font while any sources he quotes will be in purple font with one exception where I quote a source in purple font. (This exception will be noted in the text of this post.) Without further ado, let us get to it.

As we have covered the practical and ethical elements of the Assisi gathering, all that remains is to cover the historical ramifications of it. Far from being foreign to the history of the papacy from a conceptual standpoint, Assisi actually is very much congruent with the popes' historical understanding of their prerogatives as Pontifex Maximus of the Roman Empire. For some background on this subject, I defer to Mark Bonocore -though some of the breaks in the text are my own doing to aid the flow of the material to follow...

[I]n the year 375 A.D., the Western Roman Emperor Gratian, an orthodox Christian, appointed Pope SAINT Damasus I to be "Pontifex Maximus" of the Roman Empire. Before this time, of course, the Roman Emperors themselves had held this title, which meant that they were the legal head of all religious activity within the Roman realm. However, realizing the untenable and competitive nature of this role when it came to the office of bishops (esp. the Bishop of Rome), Gratian surrendered the title to St. Damasus, who willingly accepted it, and so all Popes from that point on served as P. Maximus of the Roman Empire. Ah! But, there is one problem with this when it comes to the modern, ultra-Traditionalist point of view.

By becoming P. Maximus of the Empire, St. Damasus not only became the legal head of the Church (that is, head of the Church according to imperial law), but he also became the legal head, and so responsible for administering, both Judaism and all of the various pagan cults which still legally existed throughout the Empire! And not only that. Emperor Constantine, years before, had given legal toleration to the Donatist and Novatian heretics; and so, as P. Maximus, St. Damasus (and all his successors) were the legal and administrative heads of all the dissident Christian sects as well! What this meant, of course, was the St. Damasus was responsible, not only for protecting the legal rights of these various non-Catholic religions (some of them objectively idolatrous), but it also meant that he had to give legal approval for the celebration of their major festivals (i.e., encouraging paganism and Judaism?) and to send letters instructing ALL OF THEM to pray for victory when Rome was at war, etc.

So, if John Paul and the Vatican curia are guilty of idolatry for hosting the Assisi event, then so are SAINT Damasus and all the Popes who followed him (down to at least the end of the Roman Empire) for performing their legal duties as P. Maximus. Unlike we Americans, the Vatican has a long memory and does not forget stuff like this.

What modern ultra-Traditionalists fail to realize in disputing the Assisi event is that the Pope is not merely the Pope of Catholics, but, because of both his P. Maximus office, and because of the nature of the Christ-created ministry of the Papacy itself (Vicarius Christi), the Pope is the Chief Shepherd of EVERY religious person on earth, whether their perception of God is perfect (Catholicism) or distorted (Protestantism), or apostate (Judaism / Islam), or immature and worldly (paganism).

In essence, Catholicism never denied that truths about God exist in every world religion. On the contrary, we believe that the Holy Spirit "blows where He will" and that all truths found in these otherwise idolatrous religions can only come from Him. Ergo, when it comes to certain things (like praying for world peace), it is perfectly possible and appropriate for the Vatican to call all pious believers (whether mature or sorely lacking) to prayer --that is, to invoke help from that One, mysterious Truth from which all the truths contained in the various faiths originates. There is nothing unCatholic about this.

If there were, then St. Paul himself was an idolater. [Mark Bonocore: Assisi Event understood in context (circa October 6, 2004)]

Now, I had been somewhat familiar with this situation; however, because I do not know a lot of details about it, I was hesitant to say much of anything publicly. However, as Mark's knowledge of this surpasses my own, I wrote to him last week requesting additional information he might have on the subject. Here is the text of the email he sent to me{1} - his sources will be in purple font (with one exception) and all emphasis is his.

Emperor Gratian (by all accounts, a pious and orthodox Christian) relinquished the P. Maximus office, bestowing it upon Pope Damasus I in the 370's. The office was held for life, and passed naturally to all of Damasus' successors in the episcopal chair of Rome. This was the legal situation until the fall of the Western Empire in 476; and, indeed, for centuries thereafter (per the reign of Justinian, etc. --the Byzantines still referring to the Bishop of Rome as "the Pontifex").

As for the duties of the P. Maximus office, they are common knowledge for any student of Roman history. For example, [this] anti-Catholic website outlines them for us --drawing from the Encyclopedia Britannica and, more importantly, from Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, iii. 235 seq & Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Romer, 430 seq.; Bouche-Leclercq, Les Pontifes, passim. (W. W. F.*).

I should note that I checked my Encyclopedia Brittanica 1985 edition and the quotes below are practically verbatim to what that compendium noted on the matter.

Here are the list of duties for your convenience:

The first paragraph in purple below is one that I have inserted from the linked source above for greater context.

The college existed under the monarchy, when its members were probably three in number; they may safely be considered as legal advisers of the Rex (King/Sovereign) in all matters of Pagan religion. Under the republic they emerge into prominence under a pontifex maximus, who took over the king's duties as chief administrator of religious law, just as his chief sacrificial duties were taken by the rex sacrorum; his dwelling was the regia, " the house of the king." ...

The immense authority of the college centred in the Pontifex Maximus, the other pontifices forming his consilium or advising body. His functions were partly sacrificial or ritualistic, but these were the least important; the real power lay in the administration of the jus divinum, the chief departments of which may briefly be described as follows: (1) the regulation of all expiatory ceremonials needed as the result of pestilence, lightning, &c.; (2) the consecration of all pagan temples and other occult sacred places and objects dedicated to the pantheon of gods by the state through its magistrates; (3) the regulation of the calendar both astronomically and in detailed application to the public life of the state; (4) the administration of the law relating to burials and burying-places, and the worship of the Manes, or dead ancestors; (5) the superintendence of all marriages by confarreatio, i.e. originally of all legal patrician marriages; (6) the administration of the law of adoption and of testamentary succession. They had also the care of the state archives, of the lists of magistrates, and kept records of their own decisions (commentarii) and of the chief events of each year (annales).

Now, needless to say, Pope Damasus and his immediate successors, while they would not personally participate in something like the consecration of a pagan temple, would have been bound to uphold the legal responsibilities of the offical duties described above for the pagan majority in the city of Rome and for the pagan (and Jewish / Samaritan / Zoroastrian, etc.) believers throughout the Empire. These would include the legal authorization of marriages for important pagan and Jewish persons, etc.; the protection of pagan shrines (which still had the patronage of the Empire in the 360's and 370's), the regulation of the pagan 'liturgical' calendar (as well as that of the Christian one), participation and oversight of the funerals and burial arrangements of important pagan officials; and, most "damning of all," the initation and regulation of appropriate ceremonies (e.g. public days of prayer and fasting, etc.), including all the faiths of the Empire, in times of crises, such as wars, pestilence, and other emergencies which sought the help of the recognized "Deity" or "deities," per item # 1 above. This was the job that St. Damasus accepted when he agreed to become Gratian's P. Maximus.

As we can see from Papal history, the Papal Pontiffs, well into the Middle Ages and into modern times, continued to take the traditional (originally pagan) duties of the old imperial office very seriously --e.g., universal calls to public prayer (per the Battle of Lepanto in the 1570's), the regulation of the calendar under both Popes Hilary and Simplicius (461-68 / 68-82) and later Pope Gregory XIII (1572-85). So, why would one assume that, during pagan times, an office holder like Damasus would neglect the formal duties of the office simply because he himself was a Christian??? ...Christianity not being named as the exclusive faith of the Empire until the mid-380's; and, even then, this took over a generation or two to practically implement in the West (esp. in Rome itself).

What's more, ... If you really want to get into the depth of the office and what it meant to the Popes, one has to consider the fact that the P. Maximus office originated in earliest Roman times as the perrogative of the pre-Republican Latino-Etruscan kings of Rome. And, even under the Republic, the P. Maximus continued to live in a special house just off the Roman forum, which was especially provided for him. This residence was called the "regia" --literally, the "home of the king." And this is, no doubt, why, under the Empire, the office of P. Maximus became the perrogative of the Emperor, who was eventually admitted to be the Rex / Basilaus of Rome.

Ah! But, being aware of this very deep cultural tradition, what did it really say when Emperor Gratian gave the office to the Bishop of Rome??? Clearly, from a native Roman point of view, this was tantamount to recognizing a "kingship" (of a sort) for the Pope of Rome, and this is almost certainly the unspoken but substantial origin of the supposed "Donation of Constantine" (perhaps it should be called the "Donation of Gratian"?), and thus the Pope's claim to temporal authority over the Western Empire. And THAT's how deep the pagan tradition runs. :-) ...not only back to imperial times, but back to the very origins of the Roman city-state itself!

Indeed, the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia in its article on The Pope notes that among his titles [t]he most noteworthy of the titles are Papa, Summus Pontifex, Pontifex Maximus, Servus servorum Dei. For those who were not aware of what the "Pontifex Maximus" title applied to, they now have their answer and a further (though frankly unnecessary) example of why what Pope John Paul II's policies viz. Assisi were hardly the "departure from tradition" that so many of the historically mypoic self-styled "traditionalists" would assert that it was. As I noted in my treatise, Newman's dictum on knowledge of history being fatal to Protestantism also applies in spaces to so-called "traditionalism" - this post being yet another in a long string of evidences presented over the years to sustain that assertion.


{1} Mark sent a subsequent correction by email which was included in the above text.

:: Shawn 6:16 PM [+] | ::

SSPX Priest found liable for slander...

...to a tune of $800,000.

:: Pete Vere 1:23 AM [+] | ::

:: Saturday, December 18, 2004 ::
"Let Them Be Anathema" Dept.
(With an Accompanying Mea Culpa)

In light of some subsequent information that has been brought to Our attention, it seems appropriate to note on this thread that your host was apparently duped by a certain individual who made contributions recently to the threads of one of this weblog's posts. The first to sound the alarm on this was fellow weblog contributor Pete Vere and on this issue, he was correct.

Because of this, We have thought about going back and deleting the threads and banning the poster who instigated them. But at this time, We want to reserve most of those options for later if they become needed and retain the threads already posted as a record of what has transpired. In the meantime, We will post a link to this post in the comments boxes of the thread in question and will be reappraising the degree of liberty that has habitually been allowed in these boxes by Us in the past. (Particularly in the new year and with particular emphasis on newer contributors.)

As far as the instigator themselves, they have gone from professing a kind of agnosticism to the unambiguous promotion of (i) the verbal vomitations of one of the saddest examples of a so-called "traditionalist" out there and (ii) the shameless shilling for this individual's opinions however excremental they happen to be. This instigator has furthermore not only shilled for the aforementioned so-called "traditionalists" poorly formed opinions but they have furthermore (iii) defended the aforementioned individual's crackpot "theories" (iv) promoted the aforementioned individual's quackish third rate hack scholarship and (v) promoted organizations likewise guilty of the latter deficiencies which the aforementioned individual has proclaimed as "highly prestigious and credible." The last straw (if ever there was one needed besides what We have already noted) was the instigators (vi) complicity in the attempts by the so-called "traditionalist" at assassinating the character and integrity of an honourable scholar of the cloth.

At some point, a judgment on these matters needed to be made and for Our part, We have decided to do so at this time. In summary, for these reasons among others -with the instigator's now-quite-obvious previous duplicity very much secondary to Our consideration on this matter- it is Our judgment that the instigator be themselves banned from LEI in perpetuity all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

:: Shawn 1:32 PM [+] | ::

:: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 ::
A Response to Jason on Dignitatis Humanae, the Double Effect Principle, Assisi, Etc.
(Part II of III)

This is a proximate continuation of the thread located HERE and a direct continuation of the comments box thread attached to the aforementioned thread. The comments box thread is located HERE.

A key reason why there are problems with understanding the principles underpinning subjects such as that of Assisi and interfaith are because of a deficient understanding of philosophy on the part of many if not most of those who would pronounce authoritatively on them. In other words, the study of theology without a philosophical base to it is the problem. Pope John Paul II noted this in his encyclical letter on faith and reason with the following words:

I wish to repeat clearly that the study of philosophy is fundamental and indispensable to the structure of theological studies and to the formation of candidates for the priesthood. It is not by chance that the curriculum of theological studies is preceded by a time of special study of philosophy. This decision, confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council, is rooted in the experience which matured through the Middle Ages, when the importance of a constructive harmony of philosophical and theological learning emerged. This ordering of studies influenced, promoted and enabled much of the development of modern philosophy, albeit indirectly. One telling example of this is the influence of the Disputationes Metaphysicae of Francisco Suárez, which found its way even into the Lutheran universities of Germany. Conversely, the dismantling of this arrangement has created serious gaps in both priestly formation and theological research. Consider, for instance, the disregard of modern thought and culture which has led either to a refusal of any kind of dialogue or to an indiscriminate acceptance of any kind of philosophy.

I trust most sincerely that these difficulties will be overcome by an intelligent philosophical and theological formation, which must never be lacking in the Church. [Pope John Paul II: Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio §62 (c. 1998)]

I note this because what will be covered in part of this thread is a theological/ethical principle which was built on philosophy rather than conversely. This is a good illustration of why when a philosophical base is not in place initially, the difficulty of properly grasping the principles themselves will be lacking. I however will try to do my best in outlining the steps one by one and commenting on them so that the reader can better grasp what is involved here.

But before doing that, an important prefatory note is needed to outline why this thread frankly should not be necessary to post. I would be remiss in not noting that those who had faith that these principles were reconcilable prior to reading this (even if they did not know how it was done) are to be truly commended. I was once in that group and though I am fortunate to have been given some "sight" on this in recent years, many people in that group have not been. Hopefully I can provide for them some vision now but not without noting that they are to be commended above those who required this post in order to be able to see a foundational principle behind the entire subject we are discussing here. The difference between the two is not insignificant -touching as it does on one of the core elements of faith and what it entails.

Faith was aptly defined by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews{1} as the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. In other words, faith precedes concrete proofs of any kind though (of course) to render an assent of faith to a proposition there must be present what the First Vatican Council called "motives of credibility" or reasons for rendering an assent in a proposition that transcends a person's natural knowledge. And faith is what Our Lord reserved his greatest praise for -while rebuking to various degrees those who demanded concrete proof before they would render their assent.

Perhaps no example stands out as clearly as that of John xx,24-29: the encounter of Our Lord with Thomas the Apostle who upon being told by the other Apostles of the resurrection, nonetheless doubted their testimony of it. The ecclesiastical writer Tertullian used the parallel of St. Thomas and those who have not seen{2} noting that if to them who saw, and therefore believed, such fruit then accrued to the operations of the flesh and the soul, how much more to us! For more "blessed," says Christ, "are they who have not seen, and yet have believed". There is a reason Our Lord reproved St. Thomas for refusing to believe without seeing first and blessed those who "do not see yet have believed." The reason is because faith is not something that is accepted based on receiving conclusive proofs first. I noted this some time ago when posting excerpts to Rerum Novarum of Ven. John Henry Newman's discourse Faith and Private Judgment{3} and have long maintained that the problems he notes in that discourse apply almost as well to many of those who call themselves "traditionalists" as they do to the Protestants that His Eminence was addressing in that sermon.{4}

For I did not come to what I am about to share here without a lot of study and the determination to find convergence where I could not see it out of faith in the Church and a loyal trust in Pope John Paul II. It was troubling at times and did not always make sense. But I practiced religious submission nonetheless and my faith that it was reconcilable (even if I could not see how) was eventually rewarded with sight. Having noted that in advance, let us move onto the material in this thread which will treat on religious liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, and the principle of the double effect properly understood. In the balance of this thread, my words will remain in regular font and my sources in darkblue. Jason's words will be in black font, Jim Scott's in purple font, and my previous words will be in blue font.

The Pope knows [the consciences of the non-Christian participants at Assisi] erroneously tells them to pray to a false God, and he encourages them to obey it nonetheless. As I said, his job is to correct their conscience, not continue to encourage them to obey it (because he knows it is false).

This is a very western and cerebral notion of going about matters Jason. The reason I discussed the oriental mindset in my response to Kevin is because so many of those at Assisi possess it and failure to interact with them in matters that they understand inevitably results in so much sound and fury signifying nothing.

I said it before and I will say it again: you do not prove God to the oriental mind with arguments. This is a key reason why evangelization in the orient was such a dismal failure for centuries. The only time it was successful was when the missionaries made use of inculturation methods to enable them to penetrate the understanding of the more integral oriental weltanschauung. Of course this was anathema to many cerebral westerners of that period (particularly of the Dominican order which I am unabashedly fond of) and these methods were suppressed by people of that outlook. And when these methods were suppressed by ecclesiastical authorities in Rome, any hope of success in the orient dried up like the Sahara in summertime.

So now that you are aware that the oriental mind is not one that conceives of God being "proven" to them, how do you propose that the Pope exercise his mission of evangelization to tpeople of this outlook Jason??? By quoting the Summa??? By enunciating verbal formularies from Dr. Ott??? What pray tell do you recommend to productively bridge this chasm???

"This looks to me like a variation of the "Inviting a pagan to pray in general is the same as specifically instructing him to worship a false god" argument all Traditionalist leaning persons imploy against Assisi."

More or less, yes.

It is a faulty argument. The premise does not take into account the actual circumstances and the actual outlook of those involved but instead tries to shoehorn overly cerebral western theological approaches to an audience that does not approach matters that way. It would be like me flying to Japan and trying to talk to non-English speaking Japanese people in English: a complete waste of time and effort. I fail to understand why this penny fails to drop here with the critics of Assisi and interfaith outreach.

Although I uphold the proper distinction between a pagan's duty to obey his false conscience and a Christian's duty to correct his false conscience.

Aaah but what form does this proposed "correction" take Jason??? Undoubtedly it makes sense to you that with westerners who are all into propositional argumentation, analogical argumentation, and rationalist outlooks that you approach them in that manner. However, with easterns this approach not only will not succeed, I will guarantee you that it will fail. Unlike many who do not listen the dictum of Santayana, I take it seriously and have no interest in not learning from history. And I have centuries of failed oriental evangelization attempts by various religious orders utilizing Scholastic methodology to back up this assertion of mine. With all due respect, what I am stating here is well established and beyond any viable debate.

It is pointless to argue in a mystical manner with a hard core rationalist or someone whose apprehension is primarily cerebral. Likewise, for someone whose apprehension is more integral and less rationalistic, it is pointless to argue Summa style with them. So if you are going to "correct" someone who does not comprehend higher mysteries in verbal forms and Aquinas-like propositional syllogisms, how do you do it??? That is the question that you need to answer since you reject trying to approach these people through appealing to their integral motivations to be religious and the inner sentiments of the human heart. (That can move them towards acts of charity which are meritorious.) Our Lord made it very clear in a parable that authetic acts of charity could be practiced even by the objectively idolatrous Samaritans in his day. There is no reason why we should presume otherwise with the objectively idolatrous Samaritans in our day -some of whom showed up at the Assisi interfaith gatherings at the invitation of the Vicar of Christ and Pontifex Maximus Pope John Paul II.

And also, I don't think that the Holy Father was being an indifferentist or validating idolatry. His reasoning (it seems) was flawed, but without malice.

I do appreciate your willingness to give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt here as per his intentions. I would argue that your approach to this is what is flawed for reasons already noted but I see no hints of malace in your intentions. (Indeed the above statement in my mind removes any possibility of someone entertaining this idea viz. you if they previously had been.)

"This does not go beyond DH at all. I will try to find a few spare moments before the end of the week to jot stuff down on this."

Thanks. If you have any source (Aquinas, Catholic Encyclopedia, Encyclicals, whatever) that say Christians should ENCOURAGE a false conscience, rather than correct it, I would be very appreciative. I just don't see this in DH.

You will not find a source that *directly* makes such encouragements Jason nor do you need to. (This is why I spent some time pointing out the principle of development as it applies to this subject in my response to Kevin.) However, my arguments in the essay are *indirect* arguments of it and they are built on magisterial teaching of the last ecumenical council in its Declaration on the relationship with non-Christian religions (Nostra Aetate circa 1965) its decree on the missions (Ad Gentes circa 1965), and the magisterium of Pope Paul VI in the areas of communication with various stratas of humanity (Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam circa 1964) and on evangelization in the modern world (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi circa 1975).

As I pointed out in discussing Assisi in my essay response to David Palm{5}, Pope John Paul II recognizes Ecclesiam Suam in his first encyclical letter as setting the tone not only for his predecessors pontificate but also as a path that he was to follow as well. Furthermore, as I noted in that response and in my essay on Assisi{6} -as well as the three part response to Kevin on the latter- JP II sees Evangelii Nuntiandi as the authentic interpretation of how to implement the conciliar decree Ad Gentes. Indeed, Assisi builds so directly on the Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam, the Declaration Nostra Aetate, the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae, and the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi that I am shocked that those who have read these magisterial texts cannot see it.

Now if one has *not* read them, I admit that the clear coherence may not be so obvious. But for those who *have*, there is profound difficulty on my part in cutting them any slack. I do not know if you have or have not; however surely you can agreewith me that to criticize Assisi and do so credibly would have to presuppose the critic having at least a basic familiarity with the magisterial texts from which it is based (and is a logical extension from).

Assisi goes beyond Dignitatis Humanae in that it does not just TOLERATE erroneous consciences, but actively encourages obedience to said consciences.

This does not go beyond DH at all:

Further light is shed on the subject if one considers that the highest norm of human life is the divine law-eternal, objective and universal-whereby God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of the human community by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the gentle disposition of divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever more fully the truth that is unchanging. Wherefore every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience, under use of all suitable means.

Truth, however, is to be sought after in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and his social nature. The inquiry is to be free, carried on with the aid of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue, in the course of which men explain to one another the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in order thus to assist one another in the quest for truth.

Moreover, as the truth is discovered, it is by a personal assent that men are to adhere to it.

On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious. The reason is that the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly toward God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind...The social nature of man, however, itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion: that he should share with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community. Injury therefore is done to the human person and to the very order established by God for human life, if the free exercise of religion is denied in society, provided just public order is observed.

There is a further consideration. The religious acts whereby men, in private and in public and out of a sense of personal conviction, direct their lives to God transcend by their very nature the order of terrestrial and temporal affairs. Government therefore ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the citizenry and show it favor, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power, were it to presume to command or inhibit acts that are religious. [Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Declaration Dignitatis Humanae §3 (December 7, 1965)]

There is in other words more than a mere tolerance here. That is why in explaining the connexion of religious liberty to the equation initially (albeit in not much detail) I outlined (i) the concept of "double-effect" as it pertains to this issue along with (ii) the subject of the time factor in conversion as well as (iii) the Church's mature understanding of idolatry as enunciated in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia. Jim has restated the latter quote in some of the message boxes at this weblog. I encourage you to consider the fact that under the principle of double effect, Assisi can easily be placed and the foundation of "double effect" argumentation is St. Thomas Aquinas who first formulated it.{7} One of several sources I have on double effect defines it as follows:

A rule of conduct frequently used in moral theology to determine when a person may lawfully perform an action from which two effects will follow, one bad, and the other good.

The following are taken from the New Catholic Encyclopedia as conditions for double effect to be legitimately performed - my comments on each point will be interspersed.

The act itself must be morally good or at least indifferent.

Prayer to God in accordance with the dictates of one's conscience and convictions is a natural good in accordance with what has traditionally been called "natural law." As those who do not have the Law yet do what the Law requires witness to the Law as written on their hearts (cf. Romans ii), point one is easily sustained.

The agent may not positively will the bad effect but may merely permit it. If he could attain the good effect without the bad effect, he should do so. The bad effect is sometimes said to be indirectly voluntary.

It would transgress the guidelines of charity to presume that Pope John Paul II would positively will the bad effect of those who pray to a false conception of "God." As Jason has relieved the Pontiff of this in his previous comments, we can move onto considering if the good effect could have been achieved without the bad effect taking place.

Essentially the Pope would have to be able to succeed in showing moral solidarity with all theists against an increasingly secularist and defacto agnostic/atheistic world and promote good and charitable conduct amongst them (through manifesting externally their heartfelt concern for all of humanity through prayer) without these people praying to an erroneous conception of God. As it is not possible to reach the eastern mind through verbal formularies and propositional proofs,{8} the good effect intended cannot be attained without the accompanying bad effect taking place too. As a result, the bad effect is *indirectly* voluntary in the process and thus permissible according to traditional Catholic ethical principles. Ergo, the second point for "double effect" is sustained on both of its premises.

The good effect must flow from the action at least as immediately (in the order of causality, though not necessarily in the order of time) as the bad effect. In other words, the good effect must be produced directly by the action, not by the bad effect. Otherwise, the agent would be using a bad means to a good end, which is never allowed.

Prayer for the good-will of others out of a concern for them is a foundational act of charity - a "spiritual work of mercy" if you will. In the prayer of Assisi's participants, the good effect flows from the action. However, in the case of some of Assisi's participants, a corresponding bad effect is a consequence of their noble actions essentially, not the source from which the good effect is obtained. Another way of saying it is as follows: the bad effect is an effect of the good effect which is the cause. If it could be shown that the bad effect was directly intended then an argument could be made that this point is not sustainable. However, that would involve passing judgment on the intentions of the pope and bishops in a non-charitable way. As Jason has admitted that he does not believe the pope positively willed the bad effect -though he seems to believe as I do that the bad effect was foreseen in the equation- the idea of the bad effect being willed to produce the good effect is ruled out and (for that reason), point three is sustained.

The good effect must be sufficiently desirable to compensate for the allowing of the bad effect. In forming this decision many factors must be weighed and compared, with care and prudence proportionate to the importance of the case. Thus, an effect that benefits or harms society generally has more weight than one that affects only an individual; an effect sure to occur deserves greater consideration than one that is only probable; an effect of a moral nature has greater importance than one that deals only with material things.

Let us see, as what we are dealing with here was (i) prayer in solidarity with other theists for peace in the world, (ii) the cultivation of the supernatural virtue of charity via the religious impulse of the participants, (iii) an opportunity for pre-evangelization, and (iv) the breaking down of long-held hostilities towards Christians by the traditions of many of the participants involved. All of this is a positive effect, the only real negatives being that (i) the situation was open to some degree of misunderstanding by not a few parties and (ii) not all of the participants have what Christians would consider a fully orthodox conception of God. This is where the double-effect principle is most prevalent here: the pre-evangelization approach of Assisi is an attempt to proclaim Jesus Christ through having "legitimate recourse to the sentiments of the human heart" (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi §51). As this is a backdoor way of inculcating in the participating parties the theological virtue of charity{9} the positives by far outweigh the negatives and the fourth point is therefore easily sustained.

As it is amply demonstrated above, all of the required criterion is met and therefore the principle of double effect is legitimately applied to the Assisi interfaith endeavours. And to take a page from St. Thomas Aquinas' playbook of argumentation,{10} if double effect is sustained in interfaith endeavours, then it is also sustained in the ecumenical endeavours of the Roman Church and the bishops in her communion directed towards other Christians and towards Jews. But enough on that and onto an important subtext which must be inculcated in the reader until it takes proper hold in their operative viewpoint: the role of Assisi not only as a postive good outweighing any negative effects which are involved but also the pre-evangelization that took place at Assisi and the proclamation of the Gospel that resulted from this endeavour.

I remind you that many of those who were reached at Assisi and who took part in the gathering (out of personal conviction for the cause being espoused) were from traditions that for centuries were unable to be reached by western style Scholastic forms of evangelization. The oriental mind is not (as a rule) reached propositionally but instead in a much more experiential manner. They do not dichotomize between the natural and the supernatural as westerners do but see the presence of what they preceive of "God" as present integrally in all things. This is why they have to be approached in a more integral manner if the Gospel is to be brought to them in ways that they can more readily comprehend it. This is something that evangelizing luminaries of the past such as Matteo Ricci, Roberto de Nobili, and Francis Xavier recognized centuries ago and it is why they were successful in their particular fields of evangelization (Ricci in China, de Nobili in India, and Xavier in India and Japan) for some time until their methods were undermined by overly cerebral westerners from the mendicant orders whose influence in Rome was not minor by any means. But I digress.

Of these four conditions the first two are general rules of morality. A person is never allowed to perform a morally bad action. Nor may one ever positively will an evil effect of an action, even though the act would otherwise be lawful. Thus, a censor of books, who is allowed to read obscene literature, may not take deliberate pleasure in the evil thoughts arising in consequence, though he necessarily permits them to enter his mind. The third and fourth conditions enumerated above pertain specifically to the principle of the double effect.

In summary, all four points of the "double effect" criteria are met with Assisi and this is why I brought up that philosophical principle in (i) my essay response to David Palm (ii) my Assisi essay which was extracted from the Palm response, and (iii) my three part response to Kevin on the Assisi material from the extract essay. And while this is hardly all that can be said on the matter in favour of Assisi and the pope's involvement there,{11} it is more than adequate to deal with the subject matter I intended to cover with this response to Jason on the subjects of Dignitatis Humanae, the double effect principle, and their application to the Assisi interfaith events.

To be Continued...


{1} There is a valid dispute as to whom this author actually was. Though originally attributed to St. Paul and clearly drawing on his influence, the polish of the writing style provides reasonable certainty that it was not St. Paul who wrote it. (I have my own theories on who wrote Hebrews but that is a subject for another time perhaps.)

{2} When writing about the resurrection of the flesh in the early third century.

{3} Excerpts from Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman's Sermon "Faith and Private Judgment" (A Rerum Novarum weblog entry circa October 5, 2002)

{4} Indeed I posted to a message board about five years ago a reworking of those quotes to apply directly to those who call themselves "traditionalists" who treat the magisterium with the same lack of faith that Protestants do with regards to the Scriptures they claim to believe in. If not for a harddrive crash on my computer in mid 2002, that work would have eventually taken the form of a written essay or (perhaps) a weblog posting. Hopefully in 2005, I will find the time to resurrect and republish that idea anew as the observations made were IMHO very trenchant ones and would perhaps open the eyes of some of those who act in this manner -perhaps unaware that they even do it.

{5} The essay from which my shorter treatment on Assisi was extracted.

{6} See footnote five.

{7} St. Thomas first formulated this principle explicitly when discussing the licit nature of killing adversaries during a just war.

{8} Again, God is not "proven" to them as He is to those of a western understanding..

{9} If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know I part; but then I shall know even as I am known. And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity. [1 Corinthians xiii from the Rheims New Testament (c. 1582)]

{10} This is the Scholastic argumentation from lessor to greater in a nutshell.

{11} See the next thread that will be posted for more material on this which also should not be necessary to post if more people practiced the theological principle of faith noted earlier in this post.

:: Shawn 4:00 PM [+] | ::

:: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 ::
Briefly on Numerous Miscellaneous Bits:
(With Kevin Tierney)

Though I originally intended to post this text as a message box followup HERE, the length of the response made that idea impractical. So I have opted for the weblog format and Kevin's words will be in black font. My previous words will be in blue font and my sources will be in darkblue font.

"As far as prudential judgments go, they are not capable of being as divorced from doctrinal principles as you seem to want to make them."

Here you go with more of your unproven assertions Shawn. Where have I really rejected the doctrinal foundations laid out at Assisi? Since you haven't even listed what [d]octrinal foundations exist, other than that a persons consience must be respected (again no disagreement there) So show me what doctrinal parts I'm divorcing from prudential aspects.

Let me see, I have discussed the subjects of (i) an erroneous conscience binding the individual in matters religious, (ii) the development of understanding as it pertains to the subject of conscience, and (iii) the development of the Church's understanding of religious liberty in light of the second point.

Furthermore, I have (iv) outlined the proper understanding of dialogue and how it is to be conducted within various spheres of humanity, (v) outlined the manifested intention of the Church to enter into authentic dialogue with non-Christians in areas pertaining to the common good of humanity, and (vi) outlined the multifaceted nature of evangelization in the modern world and the means set forth by the Apostolic See for this endeavour.

And finally (vii) I have dealt with the subject of idolatry in matters of abstract and applicable principles and (viii) pointed to the Catholic ethical/philosophical principle of "double-effect" as an important principle for grasping if you are to discuss these subjects credibly.{1} Those were the points covered, let us point now to the sources used in the argumentation advanced.

My sources for these points were (i) Thomas Aquinas for the first point, (ii) Newman's principles for the second point, and (iii) Newman's principles and Dignitatis Humanae for the third point. Also, I had recourse to (iv) Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam (via my commentary on dialogue) for the fourth point, (v) the Vatican II Declaration Nostra Aetate for the fifth point, and (vi) Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi for the sixth point. And of course (vii) The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on idolatry for the seventh point and (viii) references to the principle of double effect (which you should know about in discussing these subjects){2} for the eighth point.

Having noted all of this, I fail to see where your charge of my comments being "unsubstantiated" has any merit whatsoever to it my friend. I understand that you may not like the arguments being advanced but that does not constitute an "unsubstantiated" situation no matter how you slice it.

"Now then, there is some truth to the proposition that from the standpoint of prudence one could raise legitimate queries about Assisi much as one could raise legitimate queries about any policy of the Holy See over the centuries."

The only problem is Assisi is not a policy!

Of course it involves policy Kevin!!! It is a form of pre-evangelization perfectly in tune with the magisterium's pronouncements on evangelization in recent decades. As it involves evangelization (albeit in its earliest stages) there are moral principles involved in the equation as well as a coordinative policy clearly set forth. I have gone over this point many times including in (i) my essay response to David Palm, (ii) my Assisi spinoff essay, and (iii) my three part response to your criticisms of the Assisi essay. I also covered it in my treatise when discussing the concept of pastoral theology in light of its increasing emphasis in magisterial policy in recent decades.

Where's the Assisi policy at?

What exactly are you asking here Kevin???

One could say that Assisi represented principles behind the new outlook, just as an ecumenical congress is not a policy in itself.

There is a problem with this statement though Kevin and it is this: Ecumenical congresses do not involve the Church's magisterium as took place at Assisi through the allocutions of Pope John Paul II to the assembled participants. Indeed the manifested intention of the pope is clear here because he had the text published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedes{3} which (according to the prescriptions of Canon Law){4} means that it is an official act of the Holy See to which a religious submission is required.{5} I challenge you to find a promulgation of any texts of an ecumenical congress in the AAS. Until you do, this comparison on your part is an example of apples and oranges.

Your attempt to legalize everything will not work here.

Who said anything about "legalizing" stuff Kevin??? I did not write the rules for how the Church makes known in official (and binding) capacity her teachings and directives. I did not put the allocutions from Assisi into the AAS. I did not declare that it was an egregious error opposed to the dogma of papal primacy to take the position that "assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church's general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals..." [Pope Pius IX: Encyclical Letter Quanta Cura §5 (c. 1864)]

We will pick up the rest of that thread later on in this post{6} but only note here that it does not help your case in the slightest.

Since it's an event aimed towards application of principles, I can fully agree with the principles, but say their application was dead wrong, and I can hope such doesn't occur in the future.

Well, seeing as you have thus far (i) not made any serious interactions with what I noted on the subject of conscience and its complexities as understood by the Angelic Doctor and refined further in subsequent pronouncement of theoliogians and the magisterium (ii) not recognized the principle of development of doctrine as expounded in my essay on Assisi{7} to the aforementioned principles as well as the subject of religious liberty and the discipline of the dialogue, and (iii) not thus far taken into account what the Church has taught in her magisterial pronouncements on these matters.

Nor do you thus far (for that matter) appear to take into account (iv) how Assisi is a very logical application of the principles enunciated by the ecclesial magisterium, (v) not taken into account the Church's mature understanding of the abstract and practical elements pertaining to the subject of idolatry and the intricacies of the application of sin to material idolaters, (vi) not taken into account the intricacies of dialogue properly understood.{8} And of course you have yet to (vii) take into account the complexities of the Church's traditional understanding of double effect and its application to this issue.{9}

With that, I will close on a comment that you made subsequent to the points I interact with above:

I think they would still fall back on the "double-effect" yet as I think you demonstrated Jason (and actually better than I could, to the point where I might not even issue a larger response) the double effect for Assisi cannot be proven.

Jason's analysis of the double effect is seriously flawed.{10} And far from merely saying this, I will (as is my wont) demonstrate it on this very weblog as part of one of my next responses.


{1} I did not outline this principle as it should be a self-evident principle for those who discuss these subjects. However, that is the only feasible criticism that you can make here. If "two outta three ain't bad" according to that great western philosopher Meatloaf, then seven outta eight is...well...you can figure it out. At the very least (meaning: if you count my lack of exposition on double effect as an "unsubstantiated" point), my batting average (at .875 on this thread) is significantly higher than the batting average you have demonstrated thus far on these threads my friend. (All I will say is that it is lower than the Mendoza line and leave it at that.)

{2} Again, this is a foundational principle for discussing ethics and the application of moral theology.

{3} See AAS 79 (1987): p. 868.

{4} See Canon 8 of the 1983 Code (The duplicate in the 1917 Code was canon 9.) The primary sense of the text is legislative; however the same principles apply to documents pertaining to doctrine which are published in the AAS. I remind you that unlike the previous compendium of pronouncement (Acta Sancte Sedis circa 1865-1908: its contents were declared authentic in 1904), the Acta Apostolicae Sedis was established by papal Apostolic Constitution in 1909 as the ordinary mode of promulgating ecclesiastical teachings and directives that were to have binding force.

While it is not necessary for a particular judgment or directive to be published in the AAS to require the assent of the faithful, ordinarily this is how things are done and what is published in the AAS is considered an act of the Chruch's teaching authority. The allocutions at Assisi were published in the Acta in 1987 and the general norms for the assent owed to these texts applies.

{5} Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. [Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium §25 (November 21, 1964)]

{6} With regards to point referenced in quotes, the judgment of Pope Pius IX of blessed memory reads as follows:

"...But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church." [Pope Pius IX: Encyclical Letter Quanta Cura §5 (c. 1864)]

I point out the literal and obvious sense of this passage HERE -see the first three paragraphs of that url in regular font for details. Again, to assert what the Church teaches on these matters is hardly legalizing everything. Indeed, this charge sound very similar to what the so-called "progressivists" say when it is pointed out to them areas where they claim there is libety of thought in the Church where in fact there is not. Just as their refrains of "legalism" do not work in that case, yours do not work here.

{7} Which I might add I deal with in some detail in my response to you.

{8} Another subject that has been the subject of many public utterances on my part including my essay on the intricacies of dialogue which will celebrate the one year anniversary if its public release on Thursday.

{9} This frankly is a subject that you should already be familiar with. And objections about philosophy not being your bag will not wash here since double effect is a cornerstone of not only moral theology but also Catholic ethical argumentation. Nonetheless, I will go over this in my next response to Jason. (The text was completed and I will post it probably tomorrow but possibly on Thursday or Friday.)

{10} See footnote nine.

:: Shawn 2:11 PM [+] | ::

:: Thursday, December 09, 2004 ::
A Response to Jason on Religious Liberty and Assisi:
(Part I of III)

This is a continuation of the threads located HERE. Jason's words will be in black font and his quoting of my previous words in blue font. Any sources I reference in this response will be in dark blue font..

First of all, I guess I need to commend Jason for providing me the opportunity in this forum to expound further on a key subject undergirding the entire interfaith subject that is not often appreciated: the role of the Church's teaching on religious liberty.

You said in your article:

"Encouraging people to pray in accordance with the dictates of their consciences -even if that conscience is erroneous- falls under an application of the principle of "double-effect." Prayer is a natural good and we are impelled by the natural law to pray. Therefore, promotion of prayer among others in fidelity to their consciences is a natural good."

Yes I did. You are skipping around though as your threads of response are in the second part of the thread and the above quote is from the third part of the thread. Multipart responses by me always have a certain systematic flow to them and previously covered points build up to subsequent ones. This is important to consider when you propose to respond to something I have written in either essay or weblog form.

Applying this VERY SAME logic to conscience in general:

"Encouraging people to live according to the dictates of their conscience--even if that conscience is erroneous--falls under the application of the principle of 'double-effect'.

Obeying your conscience is a natural good and we are impelled by the natural law to obey it. Therefore, promotion of obedience to conscience among others is a natural good; though the conscience errs and tells them to do something evil (such as terrorism), the obedience to the erroneous terrorist conscience is a natural good in itself, and thus should be encouraged."

I like analogical argumentation like this; however it has little value in examples such as the orange that you give to my apple. Furthermore, your position on conscience in this analogy is directly contrary to the Catholic Church's teaching on religious liberty as enunciated in the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae. Thus, to respond to your answer will involve a bit of covering the religious liberty subject.

"Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore [this Vatican Council] leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ. Over and above all this, the council intends to develop the doctrine of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and the constitutional order of society" (DH §1).

In other words, the doctrine that would be developed would presuppose the traditional doctrine as expounded by previous popes on "the moral duty of men and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ." Religious freedom would not involve freedom in that sphere whatsoever. It would solely involve a development of the doctrine as expounded on recent popes (particularly Leo XIII, Pius XII, and John XXIII) on the rights of people both as humans as their role in society's constitutional order. For this reason, it may be helpful to refer to this as civil religious liberty because that is what it is: rights in the social order that are intended as a means towards a specific end. In this case, securing for the person as much freedom from outside coersion as possible so that they are able to cultivate their religious impulse over time to (with God's grace) come to recognize the moral law and accept it.

Obviously differing circumstances would involve a difference in how these doctrinal principles were applied; hence the approach to DH is primarily pastoral in nature. But as I have noted before, there is not the dichotomy between pastoral and dogmatic in the realm of theology that many who call themselves "traditionalists" like to assert that there is.

Having noted all of that, let us deal with how the Council defined the term "religious liberty" in the conciliar declaration itself:

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others within due limits. [Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Declaration Dignitatis Humanae §2 (promulgated December 7, 1965)]

I will deal with those "due limits" as it pertains to "immunity from coersion" in a moment. They are tied to certain governing principles which your analysis makes no mention of. However, as I noted in the second thread of the response to Kevin:

The Assisi interfaith gathering involves additional development of Catholic understanding in the area of conscience as the unimpeachable authority of the individual. And it is worth noting that Newman had a significant role in the Church's maturation of the understanding of conscience –his reflections influenced the text which found magisterial expression in the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae of the Second Vatican Council. I chose to not reference the latter in the essay response to David because there were enough subjects being dealt with and the subject of religious liberty is not an easy one for people to grasp. Furthermore, as it was not strictly speaking necessary to have recourse to DH in the subject of interfaith, I chose to go about it in another way altogether. [To "Mr. T" on Authority, Newman, Development Premises, Etc... (circa. November 18, 2004)]

The reason I noted the application of DH here was to point out yet another way that this subject could be approached. I did not decide to take that path with David because his understanding of religious liberty (as is par for the course among self-identified "traditionalists") is not up to snuff. I am not sure where your understanding of these principles is; however your lack of mentioning this in your theory on applying my statements to conscience makes me wonder how well you grasp them.{1} In outlining them here, hopefully it will make clear why your attempted analogical argumentation is not germane to what I said in my response to Kevin or my essay response to David.

The foundation of religious liberty properly understood is that man has a natural right to religious liberty in the social and civil arenas. This right however (like all legitimate rights) has its limits. For example, religious liberty is constrained by just public order and the common good of society. In other words, religious liberty is not just when a person exercises it in ways that are destructive of society's collective good as regulated by what the government preceives as the "common good of society."

Furthermore, common good is also tied to what is called "just public order" as the criteria that must be followed for any legitimate exercise of religion or any other social behaviour in society. The Council made this very clear in its outlining of what the role of the civil authority was later on in the conciliar declaration when outlining what the "due limits" were in the government's rights to suppress any particular expressions which were illegitimate and yet were cloaked under the mantle of "religious liberty" in the following often overlooked words of clarification:

The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. In the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. Men are to deal with their fellows in justice and civility.

Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality.

These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary. [Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Declaration Dignitatis Humanae §7 (promulgated December 7, 1965)]

Now then, let us summarize these points before concluding this post.

---Religious liberty properly understood cannot be exercised in actions which are detrimental to that society's common good (understood in the context of "public order" as defined in DH §7).

---All legitimate rights have a corresponding responsibility attached to them. This was made clear in DH §7 where the "due limits" referred to in DH §2 were expounded upon in some detail. In explaining this principle, the Council taught that [i]n the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. [DH §7]

---The exercise of all rights are contingent upon the parties in question being bound to the moral law and respecting the rights of others and their own duties towards one another and the whole of society. This was noted in DH when it asserted that [i]n the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. [DH §7]

And because conscience is a natural right, it has corresponding natural regulations to it. This is the principle I have long expounded. It presuppose the teachings of Dignitatis Humanae as a matter which (i) pertains to divine revelation for the faithful Catholic and as a matter which (ii) can be shown to have a foundation in reason for persuading either non-religious people of good will or religious non-Catholics of good will.

This is in summary why arguments (such as Jason's attempted analogical argument) which seek to disprove the methodology of interfaith outreach (such as what happened at Assisi) by recourse to illegitimate recourses to conscience are non-sequiturial to this entire discussion. There is nothing in what Jason asserts in his analogy which is even remotely congruent with the understanding that [i]n the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. However, the Assisi gathering not only was congruent with this understanding, it followed it to the letter: people of religion gathering at the invitation of the pope who (i) respected the rights of others (ii) recognized their duty towards others as brethren of earth and (iii) with a common concern for the welfare of the entire human race undergirding their prayers for peace in accordance with the dictates of their consciences.

The difference between my analogical argument and Jasons in a nutshell is the difference between legitimate religious freedom and illegitimate religious freedom. Nothing in what happened at Assisi is in any way detrimental to the common good of humanity or the just public order of society. However, the kinds of actions Jason uses in his attempted analogical reworking of my argument are all detrimental to the common good of humanity as well as the just public order of any society.{2}

Nonetheless, I must take my hat off to Jason for perhaps providing the first time in the history of LEI where I post something here that I may recast for posting to Rerum Novarum. As for the rest, hopefully this discussion clarifies further for those who struggle with it the importance (and the inherent complexities) that underline subjects such as religious liberty and interfaith outreach. One can only hope anyway.

To be Continued...


{1} For more information on some of the intricacies surrounding this subject, please see the Rerum Novarum entry A Few Notes on Dignitatis Humanae circa July 18, 2003.

{2} For some examples of how to differentiate between lawful suppressions of asserted "freedoms" and unlawful ones according to the teaching of Dignitatis Humanae, please see a dialogue on the subject I had with David Palm back in October which is accessible HERE.

:: Shawn 2:00 PM [+] | ::

:: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 ::
A Perfect Stocking Stuffer!

COOL! Just in time for Christ-Mass, Amazon has bundled my two new books, namely, More Catholic Than the Pope, which I co-authored with Patrick Madrid, and Surprised by Canon Law, which I co-authored with Michael Trueman. Purchased together from Amazon, you save over four bucks.

I know, this is another shameless plug for my books; but this being Christmas and I being a doctoral student with two little children...you can pretty much guess where the royalties are going!

:: Pete Vere 10:37 PM [+] | ::


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