The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Extra, extra! News and views for November 30, 2022

Here are some articles, essays, and editorials that caught our attention this past week or so.*

(Image: Julius Drost/

Liberalism and Religion – “The Notre Dame Law Review hosted its second symposium of the academic year on November 11 in Biolchini Hall of Law. [The symposium] revolved around the theme of ‘Liberalism, Christianity, and Constitutionalism.'” Notre Dame Law Review hosts symposium on ‘Liberalism, Christianity, and Constitutionalism’ (The Law School at Notre Dame)

The Continental Stage – “Voices supportive of Church teaching are not being given adequate exposure.” Who Is Managing the Synod on Synodality? (National Catholic Register)

Liturgical Symbolism – “The venerable tradition of celebrating the liturgy toward the east (ad orientem) is symbolically and theologically more in keeping with the nature of the liturgy as a cosmic and eschatological sacrifice of Christ the high priest.” People, Look East (Crisis)

Moscow and Beijing – “In a new interview with the Jesuit-sponsored America magazine, Pope Francis defended himself against charges that’s been excessively silent on both Russia and China . . . ” Russian reaction to new interview illustrates logic for papal ‘silence’ (Crux)

Midwife of Science – “[I]t is altogether inappropriate for the Church to judge the scientific merit of theories and hypotheses.  . . . the Church should not incorporate the results of science (which can change) into Catholic teaching.” Catholic Guidelines for Science Part I (Catholic Exchange) 

Postwar Tyranny – “As early as 1970, the Italian Catholic philosopher Augusto Del Noce warned of a new kind of tyranny developing in the postwar culture of Western nations.” How to Resist the New Totalitarianism (First Things)

Four Types of Theology – “By no lesser authority than Thomas Aquinas, theology has been called the queen of the sciences. Why did the angelic doctor think this to be the case, and what exactly is theology?” On Theology (Patheos – Summa Catholic)

Political Bullies – “The so-called Respect for Marriage Act has pushed the issue of gay marriage back into the spotlight and, with it, the slogan ‘The right side of history.'” The Lord of History (The Catholic Thing)

Evidence for Agnostics  – “What is the meaning of life?  Or, to frame it in a more skeptical and agnostic fashion: Is there any meaning to life?” Meaning and Moral Matters (Catholic Exchange)

Letter to the Gazette – “Catholics do not oppose abortion for religious reasons. . . . In fact, Catholic claims about abortion — and many other moral questions — are founded on natural law reasoning.” Father Ryan Sliwa: Catholic thinking on abortion (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Follow-Up Letter – “Survey after survey shows that the attitude of Catholics on this topic is very like that of the American mainstream, i.e. a majority is in favor of legal abortion, at least in most cases.” On Catholics and abortion (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

(*The posting of any particular news item or essay is not an endorsement of the content and perspective of said news item or essay.)

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  1. @Letter to the Gazette
    “Catholics do not oppose abortion for religious reasons” (Fr Ryan Sliwa). That is correct in context of natural law and discovery [discovery of natural law principles in Thomistic terms is the inherent apprehension of the intellect]. Natural law principles are not just religious principles, they are also the basis for justice and civil law.
    “Catholics on this topic is very like that of the American mainstream, i.e. a majority is in favor of legal abortion, at least in most cases. The natural law tradition to which Fr. Sliwa refers is honorable and interesting, but by no means philosophically mandatory” (follow-up letter by John M. Connolly).
    From a Catholic perspective Connolly ignores the fact that natural law is the basis of most juridical findings of right and wrong. Nor does the former professor acknowledge that natural law is the basis for moral law and religious doctrine. That most Catholics reject Church teaching [perhaps wrongly dismissed by Fr Sliwa] doesn’t remove the efficacy of Church doctrine based on natural law [the principles of natural law are apprehended through reasoned observation] as well as revelation.
    For Catholics, Connolly’s unfortunate but correct view that most Catholics are not opposed to abortion – based on their refusal to obey the Church, their reliance on their own concepts of scientific knowledge, an indiscriminate libertarian idea of the common good is an apostasy from the truth that begs chastisement. If Sodom was destroyed for homosexuality by fire from heaven, how greater the wrath of God for those who sacrifice their own infants in their idolatry to material goods, that is, to the prince of this world? Unless our bishops take a necessary, courageous stand, Catholics [seemingly a majority] are destined for retribution.

  2. The Continental Stage (#2 re Synodality)…Hurray, we have 26 “experts! We are all saved!

    But, what’s the difference, if any, between these experts “compiling, aggregating, and now synthesizing” the synodal Plebiscite and, say, a low-cost kitchen blender? Of the synodal flip charts, no questions asked?

    Who needs Successors of the Apostles when we can have—all kiss their ring now, or whatever–“experts!” But the article is dated Nov. 22, so we must ask and even hope that the more recent and striking remarks from Cardinal Quelette and even Pope Francis (below) might signal some kind of redirection? Or not?

    A jaundiced eye might notice that Quelette (and Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer) are both over the age of retirement, and now fear that upstarts Grech and Hollerich are now positioned/ postured to replace even their dicastery offices and the Deposit of Faith with the new dispensation of 2023/24—that the ambulatory synodal process itself IS the message?
    Lemming pie, anyone?

    In the resurgent and anti-Christian, syncretic and natural religion of Islam, such a “paradigm shift” is well entrenched and called “abrogation.” The totally inscrutable God is simply incoherent. So, now, within the collapsing/relapsing walls of the Vatican, are the good guys winning, or not? Consult the “facilitator” bishops, subservient now to anointed/ascendant “experts”!

  3. Liberalism and Religion (#1: symposium on Liberalism, Religion and Constitutionalism): I am reminded of a presentation and discussion yours truly delivered at a Newman Center, after which I sat with an Islamic barrister from Pakistan, a graduate student on scholarship studying western Constitutionalism (!)…

    In the medical world an MRI image is sharpened by first adding high-contrast dye to the patient. In retrospect, and at the risk of preening, I propose that I added dye to the triangular theme of the Notre Dame Conference. The title of my subject book was/is: “Beyond Secularism and Jihad: A Triangular Inquiry into the Mosque [religion], the Manger [religion, but very different] & Modernity” [Liberalism and Constitutionalism, both very different] (University Press of America, 2012).

    What do the distinction between Church and State, and then Catholic Social Teaching, have to say to both the rationalism of radical Secularism and the fideism of radical Sharia Law? Better than monologue or even dialogue is the three-way approach again open to the historical fact of the Incarnation. The 2017 CWR author-interview gives a peek.

  4. But there are – can be – circumstances when a Catholic must resist abortion on grounds of religion.

    Bringing it to your attention. This would apply to all Natural Law issues and it demands vigilance.

  5. Ultimately, the local is managing the Synod. The “Continental Phase” helps to add things to his bucket.

    My bishop said this past week that it’s not the numbers that count so much in the responses to the recent parish survey; rather, he is noticing that “when the ‘ parish synthesis ‘ is read back to the parishoners” or “to the parish” it is being absorbed and accepted enthusiastically, everywhere.

    He said that it’s a choice that has to be made between maturing into inclusivity and dialoguing or excluding yourself through “egotism and wilfulness”; and that his experience is that the Synod is progressing with very positive development according to this mode. People are understanding it for what it is.

    “None of the surveys returned complained that what is going on is questionable. All submissions were along the lines of people acknowledging this or that; and adding, but this also.”

    I have to relate some background, though. Over the past 15 years the Life in the Spirit Seminar has taken over the forefront in many if not all parishes. It has a central control of which the bishop was a part before he became bishop. To them all this is not merely normal, it is the Holy Spirit in every instant; and in every instant, extraordinary and miraculous. It’s not “inclusivity” or “dialogue”.

  6. Liberalism
    Has everyone watched the EWTN video on the ‘Liberal’ ‘Progressive’ ‘Democrats’?

    EWTN’s ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ video will show you how the, ‘Liberal’ ‘Progressive’ ‘Democrats’ infiltrated the Catholic Church to destroy the Catholic Church. The Progressives started after WWI and have grown to become 800 covert organizations world wide, with the goal to destroy Christ’s Church. The Progressives have many operatives at top positions of power in our Catholic Church today.

  7. @ At Four Types of Theology.
    David Schloss’ introductory premise is that the existence of God is virtually self evident knowledge according to Aristotle’s first principles. We simply need to contemplate existence to realize this. No need to prove, that came later with skepticism.
    Either something is self evident or it’s not. Contemplation of existence can mean anything, here, most likely reasoned enquiry. God is known through reason exactly as the Apostle argues in Rm 1. That is why God gave us an intellect. Whereas the revelation of God in Jesus of Nazareth is not arrived at by reason, rather by faith. Faith that is the gift of grace. A supreme truth to which all other principles or truths are peripheral. Self evident as revealed to the intellect, lesser or subsidiary principles support this supreme truth as the measure of reason. The truth of Christ’s revelation of the Father, God is the rule to which reason acquiesces. That is why Catholicism teaches it is only in and through Christ that we know God.
    All theology including the four ‘types’ of theology Systematic, Biblical, Historical, Practical are better served with the appreciation that all theology has its root and anchor in Christ’s singular revelation of God the Father.

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