These are dark days for dogma

When we have defined and identified the evil thing, the colors come back into everything else. When evil things become evil, good things, in a blazing apocalypse, become good.

(us.fotolia.com/TTstudio)

“Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human.” — G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905)

Dogmas or doctrines are human endeavors to state as clearly as possible the truth about something, particularly truth that has been revealed. The human mind exists to formulate dogmas, to know and to articulate what is known about what exists. Dogmas flow from careful distinctions—this thing is not that thing. Reality is a well-nigh unlimited storehouse of different things, each of which has its own differences from and likenesses to other things. All beings have some analogous relation to other beings. We classify things according to these differences and similarities. In this way, we can carry them about within us as things we understand.

We find what things are by what they do or do not do. When we understand a dogma about something, we do not, by that human formulation of it, intend to imply we know absolutely everything about what we are dealing with. Human knowledge can be accurate and true without comprehending absolutely everything about a given thing. This fact is what is meant when we say dogmas flow over into mystery. One end of what we seek to know is always its very existence, its standing outside of nothingness. The cause of any finite existence reaches into what is existence itself, what is uncaused but is.

By now, it seems clear enough that the present Holy Father does not like dogmas very much. He does tell us that he has a few principles learned back in his youth, such as “the whole is greater than its parts” or “time is greater than space.” These principles sound like dogmas. Pope Francis often appears to see the world in the light of exceptions. The old natural law philosophers always insisted that we take into every situation issues of time and place when dealing with any given reality or action. In some way each existing thing is different from any other existing things.

Doctrines and those who hold them are often seen by the Holy Father to be “rigid” or even “hypocritical”. In previous eras, most people thought that it was the nature of the Church to have an office whose function was to decide things, even though things were not usually decided finally until absolutely necessary. At the beginning of the Roman Canon of the Mass, after recalling the name of the pope and the local bishop, we read: “et omnibus orthodoxis atque /catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus—all those who hold and teach the Catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles.” We are not to make up new doctrines but the romance of Catholicism is to keep those doctrines intact that were handed down to us. They remain ever new in the light of whatever is popular or current. Not to preserve this mission in time or place would evidently be an abandonment of what the Church is.

Those few believers and non-believers who want to know what exactly is to be held and practiced according to Christian revelation, however, are seldom answered these days, almost as if it is an impertinent question to wonder precisely what is meant by theoretical or practical issues that involve actual human living. Yet, from the same source, we hear much advice and many solemn opinions about earth warming, immigration, war, economics, and ecology. Many of these are political opinions normally associated with what is called “the left”. And these are things that by no means rise to the level of dogma in their importance or certitude.

Indeed, an astonishing number of recently appointed papal advisors are known to advocate abortion, contraception, and the radical limits of growth, all of which views are deeply controverted by facts that never seem clearly to emerge in papal considerations of these issues. Moreover, these advisors never appear to change any of their opinions which have long been considered by previous popes to be contrary to the human good and the divine law. While nothing is wrong with knowing what one’s opponents maintain, following their advice would be another matter.

In light of this papal silence about the meaning of faith in particular circumstances that apparently involve revelation when clarity is needed, people are encouraged to go ahead and make their own decisions in difficult cases. After a while, the exceptions will become new rules and difficult cases may become norms. We obtain our “theories”, if we have any, from seeing what others in our time do. Modern culture is not neutral. It already contains embedded ideas guiding its laws and customs, ideas that need to be examined for their philosophical and theological content. This examination in part is what the theological enterprise was about.

We maintain that we want to be modern; things are constantly changing. Logically, on the basis of this approach, the norms that flow from historical or geographical conditions also change. This latter approach is recently said to be what Christ did in His own time. Christ in practice did, however, set forth a considerable number of rigid, clear, and unchangeable statements intended to remain unchanged in other times and places. However, we cannot have imposed on us today, so it is said, out-of-date criteria.

We alienate ourselves from our modern society and culture if we insist on living according to certain universal principles that are said to be rooted in reason or revelation and abide over time. In this process, scriptural “thou shalt nots” seem to become “thou shalts”. Contrary to the old adage that those who forget their history are bound to repeat it, we now believe that history can teach us little or nothing. It certainly cannot bind us to universal truths valid over time and space and said to be sanctioned by God.

II.

This year’s annual Chesterton Conference was held in Colorado Springs under the theme of “The Tyranny of the Learned”. The theme suggests we do not live under a democratic regime. Elites rule us. Whatever we do derives not from nature, revelation, or experience but from some obscure theories that, on examination, have their origins in someone such as Hegel or Rousseau, or even in Epicurus or Heraclitus. The ordinary man is looked on by our elites as a clueless fanatic or as a hopelessly biased person, locked in the prison of dogmatic religion that allows no exceptions to its unpopular rules.

Religion, it is said, should not bind us by any criterion of excellence in the light of which we seek to live. Rather it should promote a vast caretaking enterprise, with all sorts of connection to the State, which has now become the final authority. Religion should not be concerned with why people need information or guidance about their transcendent destiny. The eradication of poverty and control of the environment are the central issues. Indeed, poverty seems to be something that needs to be perpetuated to give both religious and governmental elites a moral sense that they are “doing” something noble.

This caretaking is government’s chief concern and justifies its ever expanding power over the citizens. The question is not why people need help, but how to take care of them no matter how they arrived at the point of needing someone else’s help. Virtue ethics is replaced by a universalized compassion that does not much inquire into the question of why help of any kind might be needed or what really does work to remove actual poverty.

On the book tables at the Chesterton Conference, I noticed a very old book. It looked like a remnant that was found in some old attic or bookstore. The book’s faded yellowish-green cover looked like something from about 1910. The book was said to be an anthology of Chesterton’s writings entitled ABCs of the Christian Life. I had never heard of such a book with this title. So I bought it. It turns out that that the book was published in 2017 by Ave Maria Press with an Introduction by Peter Kreeft. It is a selection of twenty six topics arranged alphabetically and taken from various books and articles in the vast intellectual gold mine that proceeded from the mind of Chesterton.

Kreeft wrote that Chesterton “saw things that we don’t see; that is why we desperately need him here in the country of the blind. He seems crazy only because he is the sanest inhabitant in our global madhouse.” If there is anything we remember about Chesterton, it is that he came into the Church because, being sorry for his sins, he saw, again and again, that its dogmas were true. The arguments of the heretics, on examination, were, in examining their errors, what led to the truth.

Chesterton understood the need of a doctrinal authority consistent over time and place. In the years since he began to write, only God knows how many people have found their way into the Church, or remained in it, because of his clarity of intellect. The number, I suspect, is enormous. When we see this intellectual aspect of the Church de-emphasized, we begin to worry, as Belloc once put it, about the “human side of the supernatural Church.” Revelation is directed to intelligence. Nothing distinguishes the Catholic Church as it has historically presented itself more than this realization.

III.

Why do we need dogma and what kind of dogma do we need? Under the letter “D” in this collection is a passage from Chesterton’s famous book on Charles Dickens. Here we find some remarkable things about the dogma that most perplexes modern (and ancient) man, namely, hell. Dickens, Chesterton tells us, could describe “miserable marriages, but not monotonous marriages.” Such a passage is not unrelated to recent controversies about marriage in the recent Synods of the Church.

Dickens held that “a desolate place is a place where anything can happen. This is a good thing for his soul, for the place where nothing can happen is hell.” Could it be put any better? We live in a place where anything can happen, even repentance or damnation. Once we have decided our lot by rejecting truth and living accordingly, nothing new can happen to us. This is the essence of the dogma of hell.

Dickens was not an optimist. Why not? “When I say optimist in this matter, I mean optimism in the modern sense of an attempt to whitewash evil.” Whitewashing evil is what most of the aberrations of our time are about. The world is not a more interesting or fascinating place if the possibility of evil is rejected. If we cannot choose evil, no drama is possible, no war or struggle over worthwhile things ensues.

Dickens called evil what it was: “evil”. This affirmation did not prevent him from seeing that in this life anything could happen, even forgiveness and repentance. Dogma is what prevents us from the vice of whitewashing evil, of calling evil good. The unity of the human race demands calling what is good, good, and what is evil, evil, in all times and places.

Dickens wanted to keep alive “the idea of combat, which means, of necessity, a combat against something individual and alive.” Combat against “isms” and “ideologies” such as racism or genderism is rooted in that impersonality, that abstraction from individual persons. They alone are involved in real issues of good and evil from which they are ultimately saved or damned. “If he (modern man) manages to praise everything, his praise will develop an alarming resemblance to a polite boredom.” Neither praise nor blame will make any difference in a world in which what we do makes no ultimate difference. If all things are morally equal, then what is the “good of good”?

This optimism that nothing we do makes any difference is “the very heart of hell.” The “joyless approval” of everything can only be met by “a sudden and pugnacious belief in positive evil.” This belief in the reality of evil clarifies the distinction in things, the difference between good and bad things which is not accidental. It is a question of dogma.

The world can be made beautiful again by beholding it as a battlefield. When we have defined and identified the evil thing, the colors come back into everything else. When evil things become evil, good things, in a blazing apocalypse, become good. There are some men who are dreary because they do not believe in God; but there are many others who are dreary because they do not believe in the devil.

We cannot be dreary if we are fighting on a battlefield. If we do not believe in the devil, we do not see the terrible realities that come from our refusal to distinguish dogmatically what is good from what is bad, what is true from what is false.

“For the full value of this life can only be got by fighting…. And if we have accepted everything, we have missed something—war.” It is no accident that the encounters in heaven between Michael and Lucifer were depicted as wars. We cannot avoid the fact that false dogmas can be affirmed. We do not deal with abstractions here. “The evil may be inhuman, but it must not be impersonal, which is almost exactly the position occupied by Satan in the theological scheme.” Our struggles are not against flesh and blood but against Principalities and Powers.

“It is, perhaps, the strongest mark of the divinity of man that he talks of this world as ‘a strange world’, though he has seen no other.” That is a remarkable sentence, mindful of Augustine. This passage is mindful of Chesterton’s famous question about why we are “homesick even at home?” The only answer is that we are not made for this world, even when this is where we begin our final journey. The refusal to accept this basic truth is the origin of most modern ideology that wants to give us a final end so much less than that which the dogmas of the Church promise us.

The world ”is not to be justified as the best of all possible worlds. Its merit is not that it is orderly and explicable; its merit is that it is wild and utterly unexplainable. Its merit is precisely that none of us could have conceived such a thing, that we should have rejected the bare idea as miracle and unreason. It is the best of all impossible worlds.” Chesterton’s final paradox, that this is “the best of all impossible worlds”, brings us back to the dogmas of the faith, those whose stability over time assure us that it is in this world in which evil is possible where we are to work out our salvation, a salvation that sees beyond this world. Only dogmas can assure us that what we were promised “from the beginning” remains possible in this impossible world.

About James V. Schall, S.J. 158 Articles
James V. Schall, S.J. taught political philosophy at Georgetown University for many years until recently retiring. He is the author of numerous books and countless essays on philosophy, theology, education, morality, and other topics. His most recent book is Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism (Ignatius Press). Visit his site, "Another Sort of Learning", for more about his writings and work.

35 Comments

  1. Is there such a thing as unofficial change of Dogma? In close family circles, if ever the occasion arises in which any criticism of Francis comes about, often times my wife and I are screamed at by our “Neo-Catholic” loved ones that “He hasn’t changed Dogma”!!!!. Is this Pope’s subtle or in some cases, not so subtle, way of turning things upside down, making evil good, and good evil, in an attempt to bring the church up to date and “modern”, actually his means to change Dogma? And is this subtlety evil and/or diabolic, or just the nuances of “another bad pope”? It doesn’t seem as though we are just afflicted with one man’s viewpoints and opinions, but rather, living within a concerted effort to destroy the church, or at least split or divide her. I think that is called schism, is it not? Mother against Daughter, Father against Son, and so on, and so on. These are indeed “Dark days for Dogma” but I might add we have been forewarned prophetically of these days, and that should only strengthen our resolve.

    • He wants to make the death penalty an intrinsic evil. But the scriptural ignorance didn’t
      begin with him. St. JPII called slavery an intrinsic evil in section 80 of ” Splendor of the Truth”
      when in fact God gave the Jews perpetual chattel slavery over foreigners in Leviticus 25:44-46. Slavery prevents nomad cultures without prisons from executing the petty thief inter alia.
      Pope Benedict wanted to purge the Bible of the massacres God ordered ( see Verbum Domini sect.42 ). All three sought the worldwide abolition of the death penalty in contradiction to their own faulty ccc 2267 and in contradiction to Rom.13:4. How to I process these anti Biblical errors. I thank God he gave me a love of all verses which is what Aquinas and the Fathers had and like them I read the whole Bible and mentally photographed much.
      That protects me from the virus in the Vatican which virus is not as new as Francis.

      • Everything you said was fundamentally wrong. JP II of course, properly called that which we today call slavery an intrinsic evil, because it of course is, and Popes have been issuing encyclicals denouncing unjustified slavery for centuries. So this denunciation of slavery is nothing new. JP II ddi not say that the quite different institutions of antiquity were an intrinsic evil. And your interpretation of what Pope Benedict said is completely wrong. You complete misread what was said in Verbum Domini. I have no idea where you get this stuff. The fact that our society now has prisons, etc means that circumstances have changed and the death penalty is no longer needed. But it is still allowed, in certain circumstances. It is still a matter of prudential judgment for governmental authorities. Sorry, you are misreading everything.

      • I fail to understand what you have against what you have against what Pope Benedict writes in Verbum Domini 42. The statement you make according to which “Pope Benedict wanted to purge the Bible of the massacres God ordered” has no basis in the text of the document. What he wants to do is the explain these matters which can surprise and even scandalize some contemporary readers of the Bible, which is something perfectly legitimate and in accordance with his ministry. An approach to the Bible that takes into account the historical and cultural context of the age when the texts were written or when the events narrated took place and it is an essential tool for a proper understanding of the Bible. As for the Book of Leviticus, the many norms about temple worship have been superseded. The Book of Joshua gives a story of how Joshua made a lightning war on Canaan and destroyed many of the cities. However, other passages indicate that the Hebrews first established themselves in the higher ground not inhabited by the Canaanites and in fact, the whole territory was not subdued by Israel until the time of King David some 300 years after the time of Joshua. Pope Benedict also states that: ” Rather, we should be aware that the correct interpretation of these passages requires a degree of expertise, acquired through a training that interprets the texts in their historical-literary context and within the Christian perspective which has as its ultimate hermeneutical key “the Gospel and the new commandment of Jesus Christ brought about in the paschal mystery”.[140] I encourage scholars and pastors to help all the faithful to approach these passages through an interpretation which enables their meaning to emerge in the light of the mystery of Christ”
        May I respectfully suggest that before you begin to write commentaries on the Internet and reject perfectly legitimate and correct Papal that you take note of Pope Benedict’s suggestion that you first acquire “the correct interpretation of these passages requires a degree of expertise, acquired through a training that interprets the texts in their historical-literary context and within the Christian perspective” You obviously don’t have a sufficient understanding of the principles of CAtholic Biblical interpretation. You arrogate to yourself an authority you don’t have, especially when it comes to criticizing something written by Pope Benedict, who is a very careful writer who chooses his words carefully and is certainly no given to ambiguity.

        As for capital punishment, St. John Paul II does not attempt to change the doctrine, as Pope Francis clearly does. He makes a prudential judgment according to it which modern States have means of punishing criminals without having recourse to capital punishment. Being a prudential judgment, you are not bound in conscience assent to it but to respectfully accept it.
        I can understand why you would write this, but in the two instances you quote, it is not proven to be correct, as I have pointed out above: “That protects me from the virus in the Vatican which virus is not as new as Francis”. Up to the present Pontificate, such documents have been carefully written and vetted, and they cannot be easily declared to present errors.

        • Thomas,
          You are incorrect. And the failure of Israel to kill the Canaanites on God’s timeline may be similar to Saul not killing Agag on God’s timeline for which he was removed from the kingship of God’s people by Samuel. Here are the actual words from Verbum Domini 42….that you should have quoted:

          ” Revelation is suited to the cultural and moral level of distant times and thus describes facts and customs, such as cheating and trickery, and acts of violence and massacre, without explicitly denouncing the immorality of such things. This can be explained by the historical context, yet it can cause the modern reader to be taken aback, especially if he or she fails to take account of the many “dark” deeds carried out down the centuries, and also in our own day. In the Old Testament, the preaching of the prophets vigorously challenged every kind of injustice and violence, whether collective or individual…”

          You’ll note that Benedict groups massacres with trickery, cheating, and violence TOGETHER and says the bible does not explicitly denounce the IMMORALITY of any of that 4 member group. He then says the prophets challenged every kind of violence….are you unfamiliar with the prophets Thomas. Elijah killed 450 idolaters in I Kings 18 by slitting their throats. Eliseus the prophet was told by God to kill any of the house of Ahab who escaped Jehu and Eliseus as he was dying ordered King Joash to attack Aram and retrieve the territory of Israel taken by Aram in the past. Jeremiah in 48:10 tells the Chaldeans they are cursed if they don’t kill the Moabites…” A curse on anyone who is lax in doing the Lord’s work! A curse on anyone who keeps their sword from bloodshed!” Still think Benedict is correct in painting the prophets as Joan Baez. Samuel the prophet ” hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal” because Saul failed to. What the prophets did attack was the violence of Jews against Jews..often poor being robbed by rich of their land. In the Sinai Covenant, God promised victory in just battles if the Jews obeyed the ” law”. It was a quid pro quo that no prophet could speak against: ” The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you” Deut.28:7. Benedict was dead wrong on all this and your narrative doesn’t allow you to admit it. ON the death penalty all three Popes sought worldwide abolition despite the worst area for murder on earth being non death penalty northern Latin America from Brazil to Mexico…by UN 2012 figures. Brazil has 50,000 murder victims a year ( no death penalty). China has 11,000 murder victims a year with 7 times the population of Brazil….both have millions of poor unlike Europe, Canada and Vermont.

  2. “We cannot correct Jesus Christ” (Card Gerhard Mueller). From the man of truth truth will flow. Like life giving waters given by the Holy Spirit when the hour for combat arrives. Fr Schall has determined the hour is now. “Dogmas or doctrines are human endeavors to state as clearly as possible the truth about something, particularly truth that has been revealed”. The latter phrase identifying revelation is the unimpeachable standard of determining the truth, not simply of the Catholic faith. The Truth. Because Jesus Christ is Truth. Fr Schall aptly points to the Pontiff’s vision of truth as incongruous with Man’s historical definition based on logic and the principle of non contradiction [contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time]. Deny the principle and deny reason. But there is the Satanic falsehood. That Truth, God, can be justifiably refused in favor of self determination. Fr Spadaro is no fool. Neither is the Pontiff. They present a new paradigm of process phi in which new dogma supersedes its predecessor. Thus Spadaro says, not tongue in cheek but in conviction that 2+2 can equal 5. However the new paradigm does not come to us strictly as dry dogmatic rationale. It is couched within a rhetorical appeal to mercy for a broken human condition. Is not God Love itself? Merciful and compassionate. Those who disagree are mired in a deficient paradigm of the past. Rigorists. The appeal is powerful. Particularly from a Roman Pontiff. Its tragic flaw is that it’s Messianic. We have one Messiah Jesus of Nazareth.

  3. Fr. Schall never fails to write the most intelligible and beautifully stated realities. I love what Fr. Schall writes and only wish I could have been in his classes. What a teacher !!

  4. Pope F promotes the work of the Walter Kasper who is a DISBELIEVER.

    Kasper has for 40+ years taught students and seminarians to DISBELIEVE in the miracles of Jesus in his book “Jesus the Christ” (1st Ed. 1976, 2nd ed. 2011; pp 90-91). He calls these “legends,” including the Transfiguration, the command of the storm on the Sea of Gallillee, and the raising of Lazurus.

    Kasper has taught Catholic people to reject the Judeo-Christian and Nicean theology of the eternal perfection and dominion of God, in his work “God in History” (Mainz, 1967), in these words: “The God who sits enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offense to man.”

    And since Kasper denies the Gospel, and the Council of Nicea, there really isn’t much left to believe in – which explains why 92% of German Catholics don’t bother to go to Mass, and no one becomes a priest. They have been listening to Kasper and his promoters for 50 years – and they get the message – there is little to believe in.

    Francis calls this “theology on its knees.”

    Kasper and his promoter Francis are selling decadent, unfaithful and arrogant Church. It is pretentious and preposterous for the “self-styled-leftist-Kirk” of Crux et al to suggest that Pope F the deserves support rendered to faithful Popes like his 2 predecessors, whose faithful work he denies with every action of his abusive pontificate.

    I wonder how Team Francis celebrated the feast of the “Non-Transfiguration” last Sunday – since they teach that it didn’t happen.

    They have abused their offices long enough.

    • Crux is funded by the Knights of Columbus, therefore, a formerly orthodox organization has also been corrupted by Francis.

    • Chris,
      Why didn’t St. John Paul II censor the writings of Kasper….he had over 20 years to notice and do something about it. Fr. Raymond Brown who taught the American clergy to distrust certain NT verses ( “Birth of the Messiah”….textually Mary never said the Magnificat but Luke stuck it in there after getting it from Palestinian anawim/ no census at Christ’s birth/ no flight to Egypt)….served on the Pontifical Biblical Commission under St. JPII with Ratzinger at the CDF who said boo despite issuing a warning about modern biblical scholars and later writing just like them ie Verbum Domini 42.
      I just think you’re allowing too much credit to the predecessors perhaps because one was strict on sex and the second one helped the Latin Mass cause but both stated that we couldn’t be sure Judas was in hell, both hated the death penalty while Christ in Mark 7:10 affirmed the one for cursing one’s parents, both were cafeteria as to inspiration taking place in scripture ( see Evangelium Vitae section 39 wherein St. JPII quotes Gen.9:5-6 only after removing the death penalty mandate from the center…within an encyclical that waxes revolutionary on the death penalty). Both men disliked vast tracts of the Old Testament ( violence incidents) but unlike Francis were more subtle about it….see EV sect.40 ( Pentateuch death penalties as not from God) and Verbum Domini 42 ( herem not from God). I don’t read trads. I group with no one. I evangelize by mail toward Scripture and Augustine’s work on hidden prophecies as they predict Christ and the Church. I don’t evangelize toward my diocese which is giving Communion to non repentant gays via the concept of good faith ( sincere erroneous conscience) under a Francis appointee. In short Francis is an advanced stage of something that began in liberal biblical scholarship…which however also affected his two predecessors who hid it better. They knew to rarely let it appear in their writings. Francis for all his faults is not shrewd and “prudent” as they in effect were. I like that he’s absurd. He gives a clear warning when he says the 5th commandment condemns the death penalty. For the lightly read…the same Deuteronomy gives multiple death penalties by God through the same first person imperative mood. A twelve year old Southern Baptist would know Francis is incorrect on the 5th commandment.

      • The Church DOES NOT ACCEPT BIBLICAL LITERALISM, as you seem to do when you appeal when you refer to a 12-year-old Southern Baptist.

        • Actually had I not referred to the 12 year old, you would have had nada to go on for your …er…haiku as it were. Look up the 8th commandment. It only has a literal sense.

      • Bill –

        I am very, very familiar with the play and the actors in the drama of the last 50 years in the Church.

        Yes – I give JP2 and B16 a lot of credit – and of course you disagree. That’s fine. I do not worship Popes, so they can be criticized, as Pope Benedict has repeatedly reminded us.

        I am not interested too much in quibbling about lesser matters like the death penalty. It is and remains in the faith a prudential judgment reserved to civil authorities. If JP2 doesn’t think so, he made an error in judgment.

        As to your concern that JP2 did not “censor” Kasper for his theological denials and errors, I probably share your belief that he should have “censored” any theology from a Bishop or Cardinal that denied bedrock elements of the faith as Kasper has done for 50 years. But JP2 had a prudential judgment to make, and it seems he chose “containment” rather than open conflict. My inclination would have been otherwise. But he was a supremely intelligent and wise man of gigantic experience, and he chose what he thought was a wise path to follow.

        But since JP2 and B16 explicitly “censored” Kasper in other matters – such as the “divorce-remarriage-adultery-Holy Communion” issue in Familiaris Consortio, etc etc and Kasper and Dannerls et al were in the St Galens Mafia to oppose them for decades – there is no doubt that they were on 2 different sides of the battlefield.

        As to the battle – generals have to make decisions and pick their battles. God will judge, and we can ponder, if hurt picked the right ones.

        But there is no doubting the faithfulness of JP2 or B16 – this is as clear as the fact that Kasper denies the miracles of Jesus etc, etc.

        You do not venture to sa

    • Chris the god of Cardinal Walter Kasper is constructed in the mind of Cardinal Walter Kasper and exists only there. The God we worship is revealed to us in Jesus Christ and exists independently of perverse human construct. Although what is said here seems repetitious the issue of our idea of God is an ongoing problem for most of us. In counseling for example I’ve often beneficially addressed this phenomenon.

      • Fr. Peter:

        I agree 100% about Kasper.

        When you learn how many bedrock elements of the faith Kasper does NOT believe in, you quickly come to the realization that he has concocted a new religion, and the only thing certain about it is that he and his fellow Mafiosi are the rulers.

        And the church for them is a loose confederation of national tribes, United by their common DISBELIEFS.

  5. “Dogma is what prevents us from the vice of whitewashing evil, of calling evil good.”

    If this is so, then those who hate dogma would like to whitewash evil.
    And this truism is stark relief now at the Vatican with the Pope and his cohort.

  6. Sadly, I have watched the devolution of the Roman Catholic Church since the mid-1960s. Prior to John XXIII’s papacy, the Church was quite spectacular, and soon after Vatican II it started to quickly erode. Priests left the priesthood. Nuns left their habits behind or left the convent altogether. Churches that were full during every Sunday Mass are now half or two-thirds empty. I’ve been scandalized for nearly 60 years, and Francis is the icing on the cake. Jesus, help me not lose my faith as I get closer to end of my life.

  7. An excellent essay, as usual! Faith alone can empower the soul to choose the best of the presented worlds. The trouble is, today, most people see no need to choose an End for which they must adhere to a certain system of well defined Dogmas. In this present, seen reality, so much is possible for men today (education, jobs, good living), that God is reduced to a footnote and only thought of on occasion. Meanwhile, the few stop to think, “what happens after all of this is over?”. The ability to have, to do and to appropriate is now prized above the ability to be. I therefore think that for an individual to choose to live a according to the Dogmas of the Church (which point toward another world, unseen for the moment), that individual needs to be faced with his own mortality; a question of ontological purpose. How many men these days live with this mind?

  8. A most excellent essay, to be sure! Thanks for this…. Faith and reason, can empower the soul to choose the best of the known worlds (seen and unseen), tis a function of ‘being’. The trouble is, today, most people see no need to choose an End for which they must adhere to a certain system of well defined Dogmas. In this present, seen reality, so much is possible for men (education, jobs, all the human requisites for excellent living), that a Creator is reduced to a footnote, and only thought of on occasion. Meanwhile, the few stop to think, “what happens after all of this is over?”. The ability ‘to have’, ‘to do’ and ‘to appropriate’ (things, people, ideas, etc.) is now prized above the ability ‘to be’. I therefore think that for an individual to choose to live according to the Dogmas of the Church (which point toward another world, unseen for the moment), that individual needs to be faced with his own mortality; a question of ontological purpose. How many men these days live with this mind? How many can cut from their consciousness (even for a short time), the clutter and noise of modern living; and sitting in silence, actually listen to the possibility of something extant other than themselves?

  9. The Pope Francis was elected to keep the catholic Faith’s dogmas unchanged.
    If Francis doesn’t like dogmas, he would have rather to resign like did his predecessor. This would give us hope to at last get a less heretical pope.

  10. And when the powers in Rome tell me that the doctrine regarding marriage has not changed they are lying thru their teeth. Hissing actually.

  11. A great article to stir the blood and fill the mind with resolutions to strive for the Good to be visible on earth as it is in Heaven.

  12. In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved” and then Our Lady dictates the third secret of Fatima. Reading Father’ excellent truthful article makes you think the third secret is about the rest of the Church losing the dogmas? Yes.

  13. Anti-antisemitism was also something that Chesterton endorsed. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that as all humans are imperfect so to are their institutions?

  14. We must up hold Doctrine and the church teachings 0f the catholic church and listen to what the pope is telling us.. God’s word is enough to listen to instead of theologins with their own ideas instead of God’s ideas. God’s word is the key for all to hear and do. Bible should be in all homes and we would have a better world.

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