Playing the Indian Card

Friday, August 31, 2018

Cardinal Cupich Weighs in

Cardinal Archbishop Cupich of Chicago has weighed in on the Vigano accusations against Pope Francis. He believes Francis is right not to have answered the charges. The pope, he maintains, has a “bigger agenda,” from which he must not let this distract him: “Talking about the environment, defending migrants.” “We're not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”

This is not reassuring.

Talking about the environment and defending migrants are the church's core mission?

This is virtue signalling. This is substituting politics for morality. Once we do that, there is no point any longer in having a Catholic Chruch. We have political parties for that. This politicization is what has destroyed the United Church in Canada, and is destroying the Catholic Church in Latin America.

Is anything accomplished if Pope Francis speaks out on environmental matters? Everyone is in favour of protecting the environment; there is no moral issue here. And Francis has no expertise in determining what approach is most likely to do so.

More or less the same is true of migrants. Some may forget or not care about the interests of the migrants, so the Church does have a role to play. But the public debate is more complex than just being pro- or anti-migrant. And the pope has no special expertise to offer on any more than this very basic issue, which is not really the subject of public debate.

The duty of a religion, any religion, is to give clear guidance on two things: what is True, and what is Good. This kind of virtue signalling introduces confusion instead of clarity over the latter. In doing so, it gives permission to ignore the Good. “I'm a good person; I vote for open borders and a clean environment. I did my bit. So for the rest of it, I am justified to look out for my own interests.” It is a get-out-of-hell-free card, and it will not be recognized at the Pearly Gates.

Cardinal Cupich is doing exaclty this here: feigned concern for the environment and migrants is used as a cover to excuse personal sin: let's not get distracted by trivialities like hypocrisy, abuse of power, child abuse, coverups, lack of repentance, lack of sexual chastity, and sexual predation. The important thing is, we hold the right positions on the environment!

Whether or not Pope Francis is guilty of the specific charges made against him by Cardinal Vigano, it seems beyond dispute that Francis is guilty of muddying the waters on the Good, rather than being a reliable guide. His papacy is turned about the wrong way.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

It Speaks for Itself

What did he know, and when did he know it?

I think Pope Francis will resign.

Nobody can make him. But I assume in the end he has the best interests of the Church at heart.

Cardinal Vigano's accusations have now been confirmed by Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature. The National Catholic Register claims they also have confirmation of some of the claims from anonymous sources close to Pope Benedict.

When Pope Francis was asked about the Vigano claims on his flight home from Ireland, I think his response was telling:

Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.

Francis did not deny anything. Presumably he could not. “The statement speaks for itself” could even be read as an admission that it is all true. He is just hoping that journalists will not find anything further, and the matter may die down. That it may not require his resignation. Are we really going to make such a fuss over sexually active gay clergy?

Another reporter soon after asked him when he first knew of the accusations against McCarrick, and Francis ignored the question, speaking instead in excessive detail of when he first learned of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland. This again seems telling.

I think Benedict tried to fight the rot, and it was too much for him. So he resigned. Francis came in intending to accommodate it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Who vs. The Stones

In the face of unrelenting bad news on the Church, it is perhaps time for a breather. Let's talk about The Who.

Some say that The Who are the ultimate rock band, and that “My Generation” is the ultimate rock song.

I disagree. “My Generation” is a great song, but The Who are not even a good rock band. They do not have the roll that is the beating heart of rock and roll. Their rise may have been the beginning of the end of real rock.

The roll is the solid, predictable, relentless rhythm. That is what the drums have always been about, and the strong bass line. These are the spine and sine qua non of rock and roll.

Keith Moon was a flashy drummer. But he could not keep a beat. John Entwhistle was a technical virtuoso on the bass, but he rarely did the same bass line for two bars. It was all about showing off.

Pete Townshend had the same problem, with his windmilling arms on guitar. Did this change the sound? Did it do anything? No; it was just flashy. Ditto Roger Daltry throwing the microphone around; and the ultimate gimmick of breaking their instruments at the end of a performance. It was cheap pantomime, not rock and roll. It was rock and roll grown decadent,

Compare the Rolling Stones. Every song is based on a riff. The relentless, catchy riff is the roll. Charlie Watts can do lots of impressive things on the drums, but he maintains a steady beat. Bill Wyman's bass was prominent, but consistent, and almost never said “look at me!”

And the best rock song ever? “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.” “My Generation” is just an imitation, in its sense of general discontent. So is the entire “punk” or “grunge” movement, which preserved the true rock flame.

It's all there in “Satisfaction.”

Monday, August 27, 2018


Apostolic  Nuncio Vigano on the job.

The Catholic clerical abuse scandal just got worse.

Archbishop Carlo Vigano, former Papal Nuncio to the US, has publicly called for Pope Francis to resign, saying he knew about the allegations against Cardinal McCarrick, and actually lifted sanctions against him imposed by Benedict XVI. Worse, Francis then used McCarrick to advise him on making appointments in the US church.

Vatican Insider further reports that there are no plans at the Vatican to take further action regarding the scandals in the US. This is significant, because at the level of bishop, nobody in the US has the authority to do anything. Sanctioning or removing a bishop requires action from the Vatican. If this is true, nothing is going to be done.

To be fair to Pope Francis, what he reportedly knew about McCarrick did not involve accusations of child abuse, only of homosexual relations and of not acting decisively on abuse by others. Again to be fair, at its worst, child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy was no worse than among the general population. And again to be fair, all accounts are that the problem has already been drastically reduced by measures now in place. At what point does this become a witch hunt?

There are two separate issues here: child sex abuse, and sexually active clergy. I think in the end they are linked, so that you cannot effectively address the one without also addressing the other. Pope Francis might believe otherwise. Francis may see no great issue with clergy being sexually active, and hence also with being sexually active homosexuals.

I have outlined why I think it is an important issue. Once people start becoming priests not out of religious interests, but for the gay culture and the hookup opportunites, it corrupts the seminaries and forces a culture of deceit that will drive out all good applicants. The people may still have the sacraments, but they have lost all moral guidance from the clergy. And where do the good men, who are genuinely called to the priesthood, go?

For the past few generations, as the West has been falling apart culturally and morally, Catholics have at least been able to rely on the Vatican to speak with moral authority: on John Paul II, on Benedict XVI, and, if with less force, on Paul VI. Now the modern moral anbiguity seems to have penetrated even the Vatican.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Narrow Gate

Church Militant and Bishop Robert Barron are in public disagreement on how many souls go to hell. Bishop Barron, expressing a not-uncommon Catholic view, also promoted by Hans von Balthasar, says we are free to believe that there is actually nobody in hell. Church Militant responds that it is plain from the Bible that many are.

Pope John Paul II writes, perhaps clarifying the matter:

Can God, who has loved man so much, permit the man who rejects Him to be condemned to eternal torment? And yet, the words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew's Gospel he speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Matt. 25:46). Who will these be? The Church has never made any pronouncement…

Matthew 25:46 reads:

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

It gets worse. Bishop Barron's optimistic view conflicts with such passages as:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7)

So the Bible actually seems to say that most people will go to hell.

My interpretation of this particular passage, however, is a little different. I see it as a warning that morality is opposed to going along with the crowd.

This is a critical point, because most people seem to want to believe that the two things are the same: morality consists in going along with the crowd and always getting along with those around you. This is, for example, the essence of the postmodern concept of ethics: ethics are “socially determined,” “socially constructed.”

Logically, this cannot be so. If you are simply going along with the crowd, you are not making a moral choice. You are delegating that to the crowd. You have waived the opportunity to act morally.

What the crowd, or your peer group, or your society, or your government, or your profession or class, does or advocates may happen to be morally right. If so, that is no reflection on you. You have only done what is to your own advantage. As Jesus said, “You already have your reward.”

If, on the other hand, what your peer group, society, or government does or advocates is morally wrong, you do not avoid guilt on the claim that you were “only following orders.” In this case, you do bear personal guilt. Going along with the crowd would have made you happily kill Jews in Nazi Germany, or whip slaves in the Antebellum South.

Following the crowd, or substituting consensus and getting along with those around you for morality, is intrinsically morally evil. You cannot behave morally by doing so, only immorally. It is the broad gate leading to destruction.

Conversely, it is only possible to behave morally when you are going against the social consensus around you. This is the narrow gate, and few find it.

Moreover, some punishment is warranted for this moral failure, whether or not it must be eternal.

Therefore, nothing could be more immoral, and more pernicious, than the current insistence that morality is socially determined.

And the issue arises constantly: it is at the core of life.

Look at current news. Maxime Bernier is being condemned by many for not being “a team player,” not compromising his principles for the sake of his party, as though this were a moral failing on his part. John McCain, who just died, was often condemned for the same. Immorality here is being popularly promoted as morality, and morality as immorality. The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission bases its entire report on the premise that all cultural values are equal and there is no objective moral standard by which they may be measured. Ndeed, it is oppressive and immoral to suggest otherwise. Nobody seems to notice that this position is immediately self-contradictory.

And the current crisis of clerical abuse in Pennsylvania is transparently based, as Pope Francis has pointed out, on bishops going along with those nearest to them, their peer group, rather than following objective morality: protect your colleagues, your fellow priests, your organization, and never mind about right and wrong.

There is a reason that the Devil is called the God of this World.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Max's Chances

The big guns have quickly lined up behind Andrew Scheer and ranged against Maxime Bernier: Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, Michelle Rempel.

The commentators too are all saying Bernier doesn't have a point. Andrew Coyne says there is no pressing issue here to unite people behind some new alternative.

My gut says they are wrong. In the comments on the Internet I see a lot of people saying they are fed up with Scheer's nice guy approach and want to back Bernier. I think this is plausible: it is like what happened with Trump in the US. The elites were whistling with their hands in their pockets, sure there was nothing going on and they were in full control, but they were not listening to the folks. Who were really fed up with just this attitude. I think there is a good chance Bernier can tap in to something similar in Canada.

No pressing issue? Isn't NAFTA and its consequences for the Canadian economy important? If it does not look so now, imagine how things may look after a few months or years of a trade war with the US. And immigration and integration? That was a key issue for Reform thirty years ago. Since then, the annual flow of immigration has never abated; it has grown by about 50%. If it was a popular concern then, it is a bigger popular concern now. As it has proven to be in the US and Europe.

It is predictable that Harper, Kenney, or Rempel would rush to back Scheer. The best hope for the Conservatives and the right in general is that this Bernier initiative goes nowhere; they are doing what they can to make that happen.

The big question is whether Bernier can find funding. And some prominent Western backer.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Beyond Thunderdome

Maxime Bernier.

Mad Max has hit the highway. 

Can't say I blame him. The Trump trade dispute has brought his signature issue, supply management, to the fore, and his party was taking the stand opposed to his own. What is he supposed to do, and preserve his integrity?

This is great news for Justin Trudeau. A divided right could preserve him in power indefinitely, as it did Jean Chretien.

This is a disaster for Andrew Scheer. Rumours are that he got the leadership through the support of the milk and egg cartels, who were desperate to stop Bernier. And he was not prepared to do a Peter McKay and double-cross them. But for the sake of this understandable refusal to betray his original supporters, he threw away a perfect issue for the Conservatives in supply management, and caused a split in the party. I think he also served the voters and the interests of Canada poorly, by avoiding a vital debate and leaving them no choice.

My guess is that if Bernier has enough time to organize before the next election, he should crush Scheer. Quebec is tribal; anyone with right-wing sensibilities, outside the milk producers themselves, are going to vote for Bernier, not Scheer. And the right is resurgent in Quebec, with fears over immigration and with the rise of the Coalition Avenir Quebec. At the same time, Bernier will appeal to the strong libertarian streak in the West. On paper, he could combine the support of both the old Reform Party and the old Bloc Quebecois.

It seems to me there is also a decent chance that Doug Ford, newly elected in Ontario, will throw his support behind Bernier rather than Scheer. It would be awkward for him not to; Bernier is his ideological counterpart, and similar in tone.

Bernier could end up leading the official opposition, and Scheer could turn into another Joe Clark heading up a Red Tory rump, but in less time.

If I were a backroom type within the Conservative Party, you know what I'd be pushing for? A deal to get Bernier to dissolve his new party in return for Scheer resigning, Stephen Harper stepping back in as interim leader, to lead the party into the next election, with the promise that he would step down for another leadership race within a set period after that, and with a commitment that the party would henceforth oppose supply management.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Bishop Morlino Offers Clarity

Bishop Morlino

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison Wisconsin has released a pastoral letter which gets it right regarding the scandal of sexual predation within the Church. At a time when ordinary Catholics no longer know whom to trust, here, it seems, is one clear voice making the paths straight.

I wish we could count on Pope Francis to issue something similar to this. But I fear he is part of the problem. He is always wanting to fudge the moral issue, make the lines less clear, overlook sin. And he seems always to be playing to popular opinion.

Everyone should read the whole thing. But if you only read one passage, read this one:

“If you’ll permit me, what the Church needs now is more hatred! As I have said previously, St. Thomas Aquinas said that hatred of wickedness actually belongs to the virtue of charity. As the Book of Proverbs says “My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate wickedness (Prov. 8:7).” It is an act of love to hate sin and to call others to turn away from sin.” 

At the most fundamental level, the problem here is a modern tendency to mistake overlooking or denying sin with forgiveness. The two are opposites. If you do not hate the sin, you hate the sinner.

“For too long we have diminished the reality of sin — we have refused to call a sin a sin — and we have excused sin in the name of a mistaken notion of mercy. In our efforts to be open to the world we have become all too willing to abandon the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In order to avoid causing offense we offer to ourselves and to others niceties and human consolation.”

And he is prepared to name the sin.

“To be clear, in the specific situations at hand, we are talking about deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics. We’re also talking about homosexual propositions and abuses against seminarians and young priests by powerful priests, bishops, and cardinals.
… There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publically-deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia — this despite clear evidence to the contrary.”
“It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord. The Church’s teaching is clear that the homosexual inclination is not in itself sinful, but it is intrinsically disordered in a way that renders any man stably afflicted by it unfit to be a priest.”

And so, one vital step to restore the Church is to ban homosexuals from the priesthood. And this he calls for, speaking of psychological tests. Not everyone is called to be a priest, after all; woman cannot be priests either.

Moreover, those found guilty must be punished—not quietly abetted and sent on retreats. The former is an act of mercy: the latter is malicious.

“A just punishment is an important work of love and mercy, because, while it serves primarily as retribution for the offense committed, it also offers the guilty party an opportunity to make expiation for his sin in this life (if he willingly accepts his punishment), thus sparing him worse punishment in the life to come. Motivated, therefore, by love and concern for souls, I stand with those calling for justice to be done upon the guilty.”

Bishop Morlino concludes:

“More than anything else, we as a Church must cease our acceptance of sin and evil. We must cast out sin from our own lives and run toward holiness. We must refuse to be silent in the face of sin and evil in our families and communities.”

On this premise, he is right to call for prayer and general expressions of remorse from all Catholics. It is a systemic problem in modern life, perhaps our biggest problem: confronted with sin and evil, we now generally turn our heads and pretend not to see. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Conspiracy of Denial

Edward Mechemann, over at the NY Archdiocese web page, makes the same point as I have here about the impossibility of forgiveness without repentance. He quotes this passage from a bishop's letter:

“This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.” 

Problem: the letter was to a priest who had raped a girl, then procured an abortion once she became pregnant. 

No hint here of moral responsibility. 

In general, of the official corresponsence in the Pennsylvania report, Mechemann says, 'Terms such as “inappropriate sexual relationship”, “boundary issues”, “this difficult time”, and priests being “reassigned” or “out on sick leave” were used to conceal the true nature of what was happening.'
'All the priests were treated as if they had an illness to be treated quietly, not as if they had committed grievous sins for which they needed to repent and do reparation.' 

This may be the whole story. We have lost our sense of sin.

To begin with, it is human nature to want to deny the existence of evil. The moment we admit that good and evil are a thing, if we are ourselves conscious of doing anything wrong, it feels like an accusation.

It is more comfortable for most of us to just deny that there is any evil, and accept that everyone—certainly all present company—is a decent guy. If there is evil, it is safest to see it only somewhere else, among very different people, or in the less than recent past. The Catholic clergy serve as a useful scapegoat in this regard—they are a distinct and recognizable “other” to most of us, like the Jews. They are not likely to be present company; if they are, they are likely to be noticed, so the subject can be changed. The bottom line here, that everyone ignores: child sex abuse is no more common among the Catholic clergy than the general population.

This does not work for bishops, however; for they are themselves Catholic clergy. For them, too, evil must be elsewhere, outside the circle they see every day. For the rest of us, similarly, to see evil in a typical middle-class family living next door is a great threat toour own conscience, and to social harmony generally.

This is why we use such polite euphemisms as “inappropriate,” “negative,” or “misunderstanding.” We are dodging disturbing terms like “wrong,” “bad,” “immoral,” or “selfish,” stripping out any hint of morals.

An example is the common insistence that Hitler was “insane.” After all, no sane man would have done those things. Right?

The idea is absurd on its face. Nobody at the time believed Hitler was mad, or no one would have obeyed his orders. At the time, instead, everyone insisted on seeing him as perfectly reasonable, and a man you could do business with. Declaring him “mad” is a desperate fallback position. Both seek to avoid the simple reality: not mad, but bad.

We see the same with the standard response to mass killers: that they must be mad. In reality, to be so genuinely mad that they did not understand the moral implications of what they were doing would also, more or less automatically, render them incapable of the advance planning needed to commit a mass shooting.

This tendency to avoid moral issues is aided and abetted by psychiatry, which seems increasingly to medicalize moral issues. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, for example, the “Bible” of North American psychiatrists, lists arson as “pathological fire-setting,” and theft as “pathological stealing.” Then there is the generic “Conduct Disorder.”

The spontaneous social consensus, therefore, tends to be that there is no evil anywhere near us, nor among us, wherever we are, and whoever we are. Even if we are at some conference in Munich. Somewhere, theoretically, there may be dragons, but only in places we do not go, on the unvisited edges of our maps. This keeps everyone feeling safe and secure—from being called to account.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


I'm a sucker for a great female voice. Aretha Franklin was one of the best ever.

Here's one by her I love:

And here's another:

Nobody else could really cut loose the way Aretha could.

One more reason to try to get to heaven...

Friday, August 17, 2018

Homosexuals in the Priesthood

Dominic Legge, OP, makes some good points on the clerical sex abuse scandals over at First Things. He agrees that the essential problem is homosexuality in the priesthood. “Every diocese and religious order needs to implement an affirmative program to screen out vocations applicants with a history of deep-seated same-sex attraction.” But he notes a consideration I did not think of: if a heterosexual priest finds himself unable to keep his vow of celibacy, he rather naturally leaves the priesthood to marry. If a homosexual is unable to keep his vows, he does not.

Child Abuse in Pennsylvania

That'll teach them!

You know what ticks me off? The banners after the recent Toronto shooting reading “Danforth Strong.”

And, in just the same way, all the calls right now to fellow Catholics, or to fellow Catholic bishops, for prayer and repentance in reaction to the recent revelations about child abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses, or the homosexual predations of ex-Cardinal McCarrick.

This feels to me morally reprehensible. It feels like saying “Oh well, no one is to blame. It is everyone's fault. Nothing is to be done.” And, tacitly, nothing should be done.

This feels like denying and excusing evil. Which is to say, aiding and abetting evil. Avert our eyes, pick up our pace, and walk on. This is what the perpetrators would want to hear: it was everyone's fault. If everyone is guilty, no one is guilty.

The shooting on the Danforth, and surviving such shootings, has nothing to do with local people being either weak or strong. And while prayer is always a good thing, it is vile to suggest that Catholics in general bear guilt, or all bishops bear guilt, for what some priests or bishops did.

All evil is in the end moral evil. That means all evil is personal. It is a matter of free will. We cannot overcome evil without insisting on that basic point.

Ben Shapiro has suggested that the actions of some of the Pennsylvania priests are a powerful argument for the death penalty. This is really the worst crime imaginable; it is a crime that tends to destroy not the body, but the soul, of the victim, poisoning their recourse to faith.

“It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

This does not preclude the possibility of redemption; which is why I cannot agree with Shapiro.

In fact, redemption in turn is not possible without first clearly acknowledging guilt; and, for the rest of us, clearly and unambiguously pointing out the significance of the crimes, and who is responsible for them. If the perpetrators themselves are to be redeemed, they must first be thoroughly convinced that they are at fault.

This may have been the fatal flaw in the standard approach by many bishops: instead of impressing upon the guilty parties the severity of their deeds, they swept things under the rug in the name of “forgiveness.” Ah well; we are all sinners. Pass him on to another parish....

You cannot forgive someone who is not sorry for what they have done. That is only encouraging them to go straight to hell by express coach.

Do not execute them. But the key response should be one of widespread public exposure, as promptly as possible. And, for mass shooters, no hiding it behind the fiction of mental illness.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

How to End Clerical Sexual Abuse

Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

A lot of Catholics are shaken by the recent revelations about Washington Cardinal McCarrick's resignation amidst allegations of sexual misconduct. This was someone exceptionally high-ranking and widely respected. The scandals and allegations just seem to go on and on. Can anyone be trusted? Will it ever end?

Aside from the appalling damage done to the victims of such abuse, physically, emotionally and spiritually, it is worth considering that financial settlements from such abuse risk bankrupting many dioceses. This is utterly unjust: money donated to the faithful for religious, charitable, and devotional purposes is instead being siphoned off to private pockets to pay for these misdeeds by those put in stewardship over the funds.

Every time a new scandal breaks, everyone editorializes that “we must no longer tolerate this. We must do something about it.” As if we had not seen this before, and said this before. Talk is cheap. But still the scandals go on and on.

To be clear, the incidence of sexual predation and abuse among Catholic clergy actually does not seem to be worse than that among other clergy of other denominations, or teachers, or the general public. But that is little consolation, if the scandals are destroying the faith of many and bankrupting the church. Can something be done?

Something can. Something rather simple.

The independent John Jay report in 2004 found that 81% of victims of abuse by Catholic clergy were male.

Consider that number. This necessarily means that the perpetrators were homosexual.

It is anyone's guess what proportion of Catholic clergy are gay, but nobody has suggested the figure is as high as 81%.

It seems likely that most of the problem could be eliminated at once by barring homosexuals from the priesthood.

This might seem unjust to gay men who want to be priests and are perfectly innocent of any misconduct. But nobody is entitled to be a priest; it is a calling. Accordingly, if it is for the good of the church and the flock, such a measure is justified.

And it would be possible to do. Psychological tests have been developed for the court system, to determine homosexual orientation.

Sadly, one can also see why, despite all protestations to the contrary, it must be difficult for homosexuals to avoid preying on the young.

Consider their situation. If 3% of the population has homosexual tendencies, the figure often cited, that automatically means, if you are homosexual, 97% of people to whom you are sexually attracted are repelled by the very idea of having sex with you. This is on top of the inevitable romantic rejections all the rest of us feel, trying to find a match among the other 97%. Enough of us often experience extreme sexual frustration and feelings of rejection. Just imagine what it is like for homosexuals; 97% of the time they can expect some expression of disgust, and quite likely to lose all contact with the object of their infatuation. The other three percent of the time, maybe a one in ten or one in twenty chance like the rest of us. And they have little way of knowing in advance who is who—unless, perhaps, by the coded message of a clerical collar.

What are you going to do? The temptation must be overwhelming to try to interest some young boy, someone too young yet to fully grasp what it is all about, and groom him to the practice.

It is just not credible to insist this cannot be going on. It must be.

This also suggests that, for the most part, homosexuality may well be a learned behaviour. Homosexuals probably often seduce others into homosexuality.

Why would it not be so? Aren't the rest of us deeply influenced by our first loves, and by our first sexual experiences?

Once a certain proportion of the clergy is gay, and sexually active, it will also naturally tend to poison the well. Other clergy who are not gay, in particular young men entering the seminary or starting out as altar boys, are going to be sexually accosted, and discriminated against if they do not play along. The more so if they go all moral and religious, and so seem likely to object to the conduct in others, or even be likely to report it.

And so, with due respect to all the decent people who are homosexual, it is time to ban homosexuals from the Catholic clergy. There are other career paths they can pursue.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Chrystia Freeland Frees Saudi Arabia

I am lucky not to be in Saudi Arabia any longer; now that there is a spat between that country and Canada.

Who's to blame?

First of all, the Canadian government was doing some no-cost “virtue signaling,” the same thing I blamed Pope Francis for yesterday. They figured it would cost nothing to complain publicly about Saudi human rights violations, and would make them look good, domestically and internationally. Stupid move that came back and bit them.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman is a reformer, who has been making dramatic strides in human rights. In terms of actually improving the rights of real humans, it would probably have been better not to criticise, and thus perhaps undermine him. He didn't need this stick jammed in his spokes.

And there are regimes with worse records than Saudi. But criticising China, for example, could come at a big cost in trade and economic terms.

But I think this move by the Liberal government of Canada gave the Saudi government a chance to “virtue signal” in their turn. And turnabout is fair play. Because he is pushing through reforms, Mohammed bin Salman is vulnerable to domestic criticism that he is giving in to foreign influence and discarding Saudi and Muslim principles. This is a powerful constituency in the Arab world: the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al Qaeda.

This tough reaction to Canadian attempts to influence Saudi domestic policy gives Mohammed an opportunity to signal his virtue to this constituency, at little cost. The real fear, in this regard, to this constituency, is of course the US and its immoral pop culture. But Canada is a useful surrogate, letting Mohammed show that he is tough against foreign influence without incurring any significant costs. Abroad, Canada looks just like the US, more so than any other country, but without the power or the economic importance. And it has less power or economic importance than other alternatives: Britain, France, Germany.

The Canadian government has been foolish enough to give MBS an opportunity. Which, fortunately for most concerned, except for Canadians on the ground, and Saudis in Canada, turns out to have been helpful to him.

A Keystone Kops move, but it's all a comedy anyway.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Pope Francis and Liberation Theology

Some folks need no introduction.

Catholicism is losing adherents in Latin America at a shocking rate. In 1970, Latin America was 92% Catholic. It is now 59% Catholic, and dropping.

No doubt some of those who elected Pope Francis were hoping that having a pope from the region would help.

It has not.

Why is this happening? After all, in other parts of the “global South,” the Catholic Church is growing.

The explanation has to be Liberation Theology. It is almost as soon as it appeared that the numbers started to drop. It can almost be dated precisely. The term “Liberation Theology” was coined in 1971. The connection seems to be tight and profound.

Notably, it is the poor who have been repelled by Liberation Theology. They have been leaving for Pentecostal and Evangelical forms of Protestantism. They tell pollsters the main reason is that these denominations have a clear moral message. But interestingly, the Evangelicals, and more traditional or Charismatic Catholics, also turn out to actually do more for the poor than the Liberation Theology congregations: more help with practical problems like alcoholism, finding a job, food for the hungry—you know, the charity thing. Where Liberation Theology has held sway, these things have declined, along with the numbers.

It seems to me this parallels what has happened with the United Church in Canada. They dropped their religious concerns and went in for “social justice.” And their pews have been emptying ever since. Anyone religious has lost their home.

This is especially worrying because it looks to me as though the selection of Pope Francis, rather than bringing new life to Latin American Catholicism, has brought the virus of Liberation Theology to the universal church. He has imported the basic attitude to Rome.

Francis is not, himself, a Liberation theologian. However, the issue is not leftist politics in itself; leftist politicians do well, on the whole, in Latin America. The problem is the more basic one of ignoring or downplaying doctrine in favour of “pastoral” considerations. Which are not really pastoral considerations, but what is sometimes called “virtue signalling”: replacing deeds with words. Which is, of course, easier and more comfortable for those in authority. They can feel good about themselves without the obligation to actually do good. Signing up for a particular political stance exempts you from the burden of good deeds.

Latin Americans have been leaving the Church, they attest, due to a lack of moral guidance; and that is exactly my rap against Pope Francis. He keeps fudging and confusing moral doctrine. The premise is no doubt that people will all feel better if they are just reassured that whatever they are doing is fine.

But this is not what people need a church or a religion for; and this is not even what people want.

Notably, lots of people are upset at Francis's introduction and promotion of ambiguity on the question of divorce and remarriage, and on who can receive the sacraments. He has turned out to be terrible on the issue of clerical sexual abuse, wanting to deny and look the other way.

His latest idea, that of declaring capital punishment immoral and unjustifiable under all circumstances, is a further step along this road. It has no practical consequences: the Church already taught that capital punishment cannot be justified in a modern state. It becomes a problem for Catholics who actually care about morality, because it is quite possible to imagine situations in which capital punishment might be a practical necessity; in, for example, times of mass panic, insurrection, or war.

In the meantime, everyone is able to seize on this and say, “See! Catholic doctrine can change. It's just a matter of opinion. So let's have female priests, and stop saying homosexuality or abortion is sinful, and ...” So much for the church's moral authority.

So why would Francis do this, other than “virtue signalling,” playing to the political galleries? Being against capital punishment is here a surrogate for being a moral person. You are against killing people. What a fine chap you must be to think that! And it costs you nothing.

I've given Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt. I think I can no longer. His pontificate is turning into a disaster.

Pope John Paul II was selected from a part of the world where Catholicism was especially vibrant. He brought that vibrancy. Pope Francis was selected from a part of the world where Catholicism was collapsing. He brought the attitudes that caused that collapse.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Renaming Stanley Park

Frederick Arthur Stanley

There is now a push to rename Stanley Park, in Vancouver. The new name: X̱wáýx̱way.

Canada is, in world terms, gravely lacking in history, shared culture, and sense of place. We are too young. This impoverishes Canadian life daily. Most of our town and cities west of Ontario, simply number the streets. Stanley Park is one of rather few places in Canada with an international cachet. The last thing we need is a “Cultural Revolution” to tear down any relics of our shared history. Yet that is just what is happening.

So far as I can tell from online biographies and news reports, Lord Stanley himself is not even being accused of anything making him unworthy of commemoration. By all accounts he was a very nice man, who took his responsibilities seriously and showed commitment to Canada—things like endowing the Stanley Cup. He made a point of personally going out West to meet with First Nations, and he spoke French. He spent his last years in philanthropy.

His only fault was having pale skin.

The drive to erase him is apparently only because an aboriginal name is supposedly intrinsically better than the name of some “European” Canadian. Indigenous history trumps shared Canadian history.

The aboriginal history of Canada is hardly currently ignored in our place names, is it? It is in Canada, Ontario, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Quebec, Nunavut, Yukon.

Stanley, as GG, was a symbol of the entire nation. He ought not to be replaced now by a name that is significant only to a portion of the nation. Not “First Nations,” either, but one particular tribe, a few thousand people. For more than one tribe moved regularly through the area, and aboriginal land claims in the Lower Mainland of BC overlap. Any given aboriginal name would automatically favour one native tribe over another, let alone ignore all other Canadians of all other ancestries. The average Canadian or Vancouverite, seeing the proposed new name for the park, would even have a hard time guessing how to pronounce it. That's pretty alienating.

Both the doctrine of human equality and the normal responsibilities of government dictate that public lands should be kept and used for the benefit of the population as a whole, not some ethnic subgroup or class. And shared heritage should be promoted, not factionalism. That logically includes park names. 

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Sarah Jeong's Racism

James Naismith, inventor of basketball.

A lot of people are becoming exercised about the New York Times' recent hire of a journalist named Sarah Jeong, on the grounds that she has for years been aggressively racist on social media. How come anyone who says anything that could even conceivably be considered racist or sexist referring to women or blacks gets fired immediately, but someone whose racism is extreme and directed against “whites” and whose extreme sexism is directed against men is A-OK? This seems to demonstrate a systemic racism and sexism.

But I think quite apart from her racism and sexism, the Jeong hire looks boneheaded purely in terms of competence. Her tweets and posts demonstrate profound ignorance and stupidity. What is the standard for journalism any more? Don't you need to be just a little aware of the meaning and significance of what you write? And if, as Jeong has been, you are a cultural journalist, don't you have to know just a little about the culture? What about awareness of little mechanics like punctuation and capitalization? Or the meaning of the word “literally”?

Someone has quoted from an old post of hers:

“have you ever tried to figure out all the things that white people are allowed to do that aren’t cultural appropriation. there’s literally nothing. like skiing, maybe, and also golf. white people aren’t even allowed to have polo. did you know that. like don’t you just feel bad? why can’t we give white people a break. lacrosse isn’t for white people either. it must be so boring to be white.” Or this: “basically i’m just imagining waking up white every morning with a terrible existential dread that i have no culture.”

So by her stated rules, nobody should be allowed to appreciate any culture not created by someone whose skin was the same hue. And specifically, you're not allowed to play any sports not invented by those of a reasonably similar skin tone.

Right, so as she says, that excludes people with pale skin from playing polo or lacrosse. I am sure that will hollow out many lives. Obviously, she says, they have nothing else. White people all spend their time playing polo and lacrosse.

On the other hand, what is going to be the consequence of her rule for black athletes? Now non-whites may no longer watch or play basketball. Did she really not know this was invented by “white folk”? Or football, for that matter, which evolved from rugby; or soccer, which is after all the world's most popular sport. Or baseball, or hockey, or golf, or tennis. Her rules would be a massive boost for the careers of any white professional athletes. Good old segregated baseball! She wants it back!

So what are the non-whites going to do instead, with their leisure time? It is painful to point it out. The standard complaint about European/North American culture has always been that the culture was entirely constructed by “dead white males.” Other voices, the left clamoured needed to be heard. And I, for one agreed--if not on which voices. This just does not fit well with the assertion that white males have no culture.

But back we go, then, in all the universities, to the old curricula that highlighted the classics, to Shakespeare, Twain, Milton, Dante, Goethe, Homer, Cervantes, and Moliere, to Beethoven, Verdi, Michelangelo, Picasso and Da Vinci. Non-white students should not even be admitted. It would be cultural appropriation.

She is an idiot.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Ezra Levant: Canadian Hero

Ezra Levant

I'm thinking now I may have been conned by official claims that the Danforth mass shooting in Toronto was not a terrorist attack.

I think Ezra Levant was first on the case, pointing out that the shooter's obviously Muslim name was not immediately released, and then released at effectively the same time as a “letter from the family” explaining that he was severely mentally ill. And the letter was suspiciously slick, as if written by some PR flack. When this is pointed out, it does look as though the authorities themselves were colluding to convince the public that it was not a terrorist attack.

Such a deliberate misdirection of the public would be entirely within the traditions of the British civil service. Broadly, the British civil service has always considered it their duty to mislead the public if this seemed to be in the best interests of the state and of public order. Witness the recent suppression of the existence of rape gangs in parts of Britain.

So why wouldn't the Canadian public services have the same ethos?

You don't want public panic. You don't want lynch mobs attacking local Muslims. Most of all, you don't want people thinking the government does not have everything under control.

Levant wanted to know where a crazy person got an illegal gun, and where did he learn to shoot it so well? He looked like a soldier.

Another good question. This is generally a problem with attributing such mass killings to mental illness. Severe mental illness, mental illness severe enough to plausibly cause such an outburst of violence, would also be disabling. It is hard to make any long range plan and pull it off if you are hallucinating and delusional. Granted that the killer had “mental health problems”; as do just about all mass shooters. But these “mental health problems” do not themselves explain what happened.

Reports are that the killer regularly met a large group of people in an area near his apartment. Maybe twenty people. Something like a gang. He worked at a grocery store, and neighbours and co-workers said he was friendly and always seemed cheerful.

Not very disabled socially. Severe mental illness is generally alienating from others; that's why psychiatrists used to be called “alienists.” This level of social contact does not tally with a severe “mental illness.” Other, that is, than the “personality disorders”: psychopathy, sociopathy, narcissism, borderline personality, antisocial personality etc. Which are now called “mental illnesses.” They can be very social. And serial killers invariably have them. But these are not really mental illnesses as commonly understood; they pretty much amount to simply being a habitually bad person.

Where did he get the gun? Now it turns out that his brother's apartment was raided by police just last September, and they turned up 33 guns. So that one's not hard to figure. But the fact that his brother was hoarding 33 guns really does suggest that something organized, and not mental illness, was behind the attack. There was some gang activity going on. It does not help allay suspicions, either, that ISIS has taken credit for the attack.

On top of that, the police found 43 kilos of the drug carfentanil in the brother's apartment. This is an extremely potent drug, apparently, that can be sold like heroin on the street.

However, the quantity found is almost absurdly large for that purpose: enough not just to get the entire population of Canada high at once, but to kill them all at once with an overdose. Seems that supply and demand are out of kilter here.

And there's the thing. Carfentanil is powerful enough to be an effective chemical weapon even in very small quantities. It is recognized as one, and has been used as one. And this is actually the simplest explanation for such a huge quantity being found along with 33 firearms: a terrorist attack was being planned. They had a WMD, in the middle of Toronto, and were all ready to go. Hit a subway station, hit the Eaton Centre. The brother somehow managed to inadvertently expose himself to the drug and went into coma, the cache was discovered, and little brother was left to undertake plan B.

This time, we were lucky.