Response to America Magazine’s Editorial “Community of Disciples” (22 June 2009)


They are at it again with the same old tricks.  They are losing on the issues, so they try to silence people by saying that they aren’t being civil or reasonable or tolerant.

The editor of America Magazine run by the Jesuits, comes this editorial with my emphases and comments:

Community of Disciples
The editors | JUNE 22, 2009

St. Ignatius Loyola suggests that in any exchange, “it is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false.” To this call for charity, St. Ignatius added that if correction is necessary, it ought to be delivered with respect and kindness. Those qualities of respect and kindness have at times been hard to find in many of the heated arguments in which American Catholics have found themselves embroiled over the past 12 tumultuous months.   [Plugging into the "demonize" language and "civility" from the Notre Shame fiasco.]

Can a Catholic in good conscience vote for Barack Obama? For John McCain? May pro-choice politicians be given Communion? Should the legal fight to overturn Roe v. Wade bear the full weight of Catholic political energy; or are there other, more effective strategies for combating the culture of death? Should the University of Notre Dame award an honorary degree to President Obama, or even invite him at all? [Now watch this shift!] Should there be more frequent celebrations of the liturgy in Latin; and if so, what version of the Mass texts should be used? [Whoa! From voting and Notre Dame to LATIN LITURGY.  I wonder who these guys have been reading!  ROFL!] Issues like these have always sparked much discussion in the Catholic community, but they are now often dominated by a tone that is decidedly dangerous—harsh and often lacking in respect or courtesy[Rather like the, say, Patristic period?]

This rhetoric has threatened the credibility of the church, as the Catholic tradition of trust and toleration has been de-emphasized. [There was an editorial from a prof. at Georgetown claiming that tolerance began with Vatican II.]  Even a few bishops have made statements like “We are at war” [That would be Bp. Finn.] and “Tolerance is not a Christian virtue,” [That would be Archbp. Chaput.  And Chaput is right.  Tolerance is not a virtue.] suggesting that any notion of the common good has given way to a sharply defined “us versus them” mentality. [A LOT more on that, below!] Such rhetoric also subtly undermines the Catholic principle of subsidiarity first put forth by Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, according to which a pluralistic social structure allows and encourages constructive input from a variety of groups on the grass-roots level[Again, more below.]

This polarization must stop; [This next part is interesting.  More and more, strong bishops are talking about Catholic identity.  Now the editors of America are putting out their objection to the identity these bishops are advancing. Watch:] otherwise our identity as a faith community will be torn asunder and Catholicism will cease to be an elevating force for change. How can we decrease the polarization? [This is all Rawls-speak.  They want to shove out of the discussion any voice that attempts to advance a position that isn’t already close to the consensus position.]  A vital first step is to seek out our common ground in the major civic areas where almost all Catholics agree: religious liberty; the sacredness of all human life; the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating abortion; support for social programs that provide a safety net for the poor; the elimination of segregation, racism and discrimination; and respect for differing religious and social traditions and diverse cultures. Few are the Catholics who do not share these principles, which provide a ready-made common ground.

We also need to find a way to foster civil debate and dialogue on how to incorporate and share our values in a pluralistic society. [In other words, Catholics shouldn’t really raise their voices against the pro-abortion crowd.] Recognizing the distinction between moral principles and their application, we can disagree in good conscience on the way such principles are prudentially applied in the public sphere. [Gaudium et spes called an abomination. More, below.] Even when disagreeing over the concrete applications of moral principles, we also must respect the good will of those with whom we disagree.  Tolerance, charity and respect are not “weasel words,” nor are they excuses to paper over legitimate differences among Catholics. [Yes, there are legitimate differences in many issues, but that stops at other issues.] Rather, they are essential elements for a church in which members work together toward common goals, by supposing, as St. Ignatius wrote, that everyone is striving to act for the greater good.

Our bishops must take the lead in this conversation in the Catholic community. As the Second Vatican Council noted: “Bishops should make it their special care to approach men and initiate and promote dialogue with them. These discussions on religious matters should be marked by charity of expression as well as by humility and courtesy, so that truth may be combined with charity, and understanding with love.” As many have noted, our bishops also need to be careful that they do not overstep their bounds when they prescribe specific policy recommendations, lest they sacrifice their spiritual authority by appearing to be partisan political figures. [The message here is "Shut up bishops."]

In his book Models of the Church, the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., highlighted the image of the church as a “community of disciples.” This image from the early church (Acts 6:1-2) sees every Christian united in learning from and following Christ. Here the church is always a learning church led by the Spirit, not yet in full possession of the truth. [I don’t think the editors of America are suggesting that the Church still not wise enough to teach about abortion, … and therefore should not be too noisy.  Are they?] A disciple is by definition one who has not yet arrived, but is on the way to full conversion. This more humble view of a pilgrim church always in need of purification and improvement may help to tone down the rhetoric and encourage Catholics to work together in addressing the great issues of our day, especially those involving the culture of life. True dialogue, as Cardinal Dulles noted, enables the church “to understand its teaching better, to present it more persuasively and to implement it in a pastoral way.”

The editors of America are trying to silence the voices both of the strong "Catholic identity bishops" and of the grass-roots who, growing stronger in their identity have not entirely surrendered to the progressivist’s embrace of most aggressively pro-abortion politician we have ever seen. 

This is from the pens of Catholic political liberals.  Behind that appeal to "civility" and "reasonableness" and "tolerance" is really the will not to permit a particular message from influencing the debate.

Their accusation is incivility is hypocritical.  What these Catholic political liberals fail to see is that when it comes to opposing things that don’t jive with their agenda they are incessantly uncivil and unreasonable and intolerant.

What the America editorial exposes, however, is just how far the Jesuits are going off the rails, and how inconsistent they are.

The same writers for America recently published an editorial likening Randall Terry and the Cardinal Newman Society to the homicidal Donatist Circumcellions of Augustine’s day (cf. “Sectarian Catholicism, America, 11 May 2009).  Now they publish a plea for pro-life Catholics (and those who favor Latin in the liturgy – sic!) to show “tolerance and respect” toward those who hold differing views.

I guess these Jesuits forgot about their earlier editorial, full of name-calling.

In any event, America declaims that Ignatian charity-in-correction should replace the “heated arguments in which American Catholics have found themselves embroiled over the past 12 tumultuous months.”

America says it doesn’t like the tone of today’s debates within the U.S. Catholic Church.

They characterize this tone as “decidedly dangerous – harsh and often lacking in respect or courtesy.”

They conclude that “[t]his rhetoric has threatened the credibility of the church,” because it de-emphasizes “the Catholic tradition of trust and toleration.”

America, you see, likes Catholic tradition!

The editors appeal to Catholics to focus on the “common-ground” issues that unite them.  These issues include “the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating abortion.” 

But on this, as on the other issues they mention, they warn that “polarization must stop.”

Then, turning their attention beyond the Catholic Church, they urge, in words echoing those of Presidents Jenkins and Obama at Notre Shame, that Catholics “find a way to foster civil debate and dialogue” in a pluralistic society.

Here, Catholics have to be careful, America warns, because our Church teaches respect and toleration for “the good will of those with whom we disagree.” Men and women of good will, they insist, “can disagree in good conscience on the way [moral] principles are prudentially applied in the public sphere.” Hence, America concludes, bishops “need to be careful that they do not overstep their bounds when they prescribe specific policy recommendations, lest they sacrifice their spiritual authority by appearing to be partisan political figures.”

My first reaction to this and the earlier editorial is that by now these Jesuits have completely lost their once firm grasp of Church history.

In their editorial “Sectarian Catholicism” they portrayed St. Augustine, the bishop, as favoring “inclusive, forgiving, big-Church Catholics”, as if, like some prototype of the 20th century Jesuit Father John Courtney Murray, Augustine had wanted to embrace those who held unorthodox views.


St. Bernard of Clairvaux, called Augustine the malleus haereticorum… the "hammer of heretics”.  Augustine was no slouch when it came to handing out demerits. The bishop of Hippo had plenty of room in his Church for sinners (among whom he regarded himself as the chief), but he has no tolerance for theological dissenters, whose excommunication he frequently sought.

Please, America, in your desperation to find kumbaya models for today’s bishops, stop trying to enlist St. Augustine.  Please? 

Other examples in America of historical memory loss are found in this recent editorial, above.

America warns us that the rhetoric representative of the “us vs. them mentality … subtly undermines the Catholic principle of subsidiarity first put forth by Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, according to which a pluralistic social structure allows and encourages constructive input from a variety of groups on the grass-roots level.”

Say WHAT? (Quid dicis? – that for the sake of their pot shot at Latin at the top.)

I must have missed that in Pope Pius’s encyclical.

Let’s look at a source near and dear to the hearts of the editors of America: Father Charles E. Curran.

Curran, in God’s Rule. The Politics of World Religions (ed. Jacob Neusner, Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2003, pp. 71-72) wrote: 

“In Quadragesimo Anno (1931), Pope Pius XI developed the principle of subsidiarity (n. 79)…. According to [this principle], the higher level should do everything possible to help the lower level achieve its own purposes and should only intervene when the lower and more basic level cannot do something on its own.”

Nothing here about “pluralistic social structures” allowing and encouraging “constructive input from a variety of groups on the grass-roots level.”

These America Jesuits would have done better to check their facts with Wikipedia, which defines the principle of subsidiarity as follows: “government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently.”

But wait, there’s more!

The grossest misunderstanding of history in this editorial rests in its total lack of recall concerning the American Church’s past involvement in – of all things – racial desegregation.

In the light of this week’s editorial’s admonition to American Catholics and bishops (well… really to conservatives) to respond with respect and toleration to “the good will of those with whom we disagree,” and to avoid behaving discourteously toward them, the editors of America should pull out back issues of their magazine dating to the 1960’s.

Advice similar to theirs was given in the early 60’s by then Birmingham Archbishop Thomas J. Toolen to priests and Religious in his diocese.

As reported in the Encyclopedia of Alabama, Archbishop Toolen “forbade priests to challenge publicly the state’s segregation laws or participate in demonstrations. They were instructed not to break the law and not to force confrontations that would agitate the state’s white population.” Some Alabama Catholics objected to Archbishop Toolen’s orders, fearing that they would weaken the Church’s anti-segregation teaching. One who did so was Jesuit Father Albert Foley of Spring Hill College, whom Toolen repeatedly ordered removed from the archdiocese. Toolen didn’t oppose racial desegregation, but he wanted change to come to Alabama’s schools gradually. With his auxiliary bishop, Joseph Durick, Toolen denounced the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, but later Bishop Durick signed an appeal to the city’s African American inhabitants, urging them to forego demonstrations in favor of a ‘peaceful Birmingham’.”

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. learned about this appeal, he composed his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963).

In that famous letter, King rebuked those Birmingham clergymen who let themselves be influenced by complaints in the White community that “outside agitators” like King had disrupted the peace of the city by organizing noisy marches and sit-ins. 

ASIDE: Just to remind the editors of America,analogous complaints were lodged against pro-life demonstrators who traveled to Notre Shame to protest the President’s honorary degree.  But I digress…

Dr. King wrote forthrightly in response to these concerns,

“You may well ask: ‘Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?’ You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension’. [!] I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” 

Dr. King posed and answered a second rhetorical question in his Letter: Why he didn’t hold off on the marches and the sit-ins until the newly-elected mayor of Birmingham, Albert Boutwell, had been given a chance to bring a real change to the city?

King replied, 

“We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights.” 

Finally, on why it’s important that non-violent but illegal tactics be employed in the struggle to free African Americans from oppression, Dr. King wrote, 

“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal’. It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season’. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” 

Paul Harvey writes in “Religion, Race and Right in the South” (in Glenn Feldman, editor, Politics and Religion in the White South, University Press of Kentucky, 2005, pp. 105-106) about the kind of clergy that King had in mind

“Most Southern ministers endeavored to unify congregations and communities, dwell on themes of reconciliation, and avoid divisive rhetoric or political activity. For these reasons and others, clergymen were not in the forefront, and indeed were strikingly under-represented, both in the civil rights movement and in the organized opposition to it. They were often the flaccid moderates memorably skewered by Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

The situation among clergy in the North was equally bad, writes John T. McGreevy (Parish Boundaries. The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth-Century Urban North, U of Chicago Press, 1996).

He cites a 1962 editorial published in the Interracial Review warning that Catholic interracial councils were “unprepared today in numbers and in nerves for the coming community spasms and readjustments that must take place if codes of racial separation are to be broken. Indeed,” the editorial continued, “if large segments of Catholic opinion repudiate freedom rides, sit-ins and picketing as crude provocation, what does this imply?”

McGreevy reports that at a 1961 conference sponsored by the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice an African-American Catholic student, Diane Nash, who had participated in sit-ins in the South, spoke to the Conference of the courage shown by freedom riders and her own recent stay in a southern jail. Nash demanded ‘directness’ from Catholic pulpits. “If this is not an area in which the Church must work,” she concluded, “what is?” Matthew Ahmann, Executive Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, extolled the courage of these Catholic freedom riders in the May 27, 1961 issue of America.

The civil rights movement of the 1960’s is that paradigmatic example of “heated arguments” among Catholics, of “decidedly dangerous” rhetoric, “harsh and often lacking in respect or courtesy,” that America’s editors abhor in today’s U.S. Church.

Dear readers, this is what America magazine and that whole group, Kmiec Catholics, etc., are doing.  They are making the same mistake made in the past about racial equality.  We would today level a negative judgment on those who were soft on equal rights back then.  America‘s editors would be writing against them

When it comes to the pro-life voice, strong in condemning abortion. Well… "Shut up", they explain.

With regard to the abortion issue, the editors of America, much like Archbishop Toolen, would rather have Catholics and their bishops “dwell on themes of reconciliation, and avoid divisive rhetoric” while also eschewing the “crude provocation” of those men and women of good will who disagree with Catholic opposition to abortion-on-demand as national policy.

America, once, stood with Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in support of a healthful “tension” in the Church when the issue of the day was racial segregation. 

In contrast, America wants the pro-life movement to wait for a “more convenient season” and to give the new U.S. President a chance to bring the new millennium to America’s unborn children.

David Bobbitt writes in The Rhetoric of Redemption (Lanham, MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 2004)

“[Martin Luther] King’s philosophy was based on faith in God and belief in the power of redemptive love to transform the hearts of human beings, but King’s political and legal successes were not a result of changing hearts and minds through the power of redemptive love. Ultimately all of his successes came about as the result of economic boycotts, court rulings, or from generating sympathy and embarrassment by inducing segregationists to violent overreaction.”

America’s editors just don’t get it.

The rhetoric of social change movements is intentionally confrontational, even agonistic.

A great part of the American Catholic Church, now being led by some courageous bishops, subscribes to it for the sake of ridding the nation of abortion, which the Second Vatican Council’s Gaudium et spes called an “unspeakable crime”.

Dear Editors of America,

For the umpteenth time, numbers too large to measure of American Catholics were disgusted by Notre Shame’s decision to award President Obama an honorary doctorate in law, … in lawbecause, as an Illinois law maker, he twice voted against a bill that would have criminalized the abandonment-to-death of babies who were born alive in spite of medical teams’ attempts to kill them.

That is, infanticide.

And while we’re at it, dear Editors of America, what part of “partial-birth abortion” don’t you understand?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Our Catholic Identity, SESSIUNCULA, The Drill, The future and our choices. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Tito Edwards says:

    Father John Zuhlsdorf,

    I have to say that this article is above and beyond your best to date.

    Not only have you unmasked the moral relativism that has so metastized America magazine, but have crystallized the passion behind such rhetoric that emanates from the many voices of the Pro-Life Movement.

    Excellent article indeed!

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  2. RJM says:

    Commonweal just published an editorial that argued along much the same lines:

    Episcopal Vacancy

    The Editors

    The U.S. Catholic bishops, who meet June 17-19 in San Antonio, must find a way to inspire as well as to lead an increasingly polarized and alienated flock. Sadly, long-standing divisions within the church have been exacerbated by the recent actions and imprudent words of too many bishops.

    It is not apparent that the bishops as a group are fully aware of the damage that has been done both to the unity of the church and to its ability to effectively engage the larger culture. To begin with, there remains the widespread perception that the bishops have learned little from, and shown even less honest regret over, clergy sexual abuse. That is unfair, but such suspicions are kept alive by the defensive, sometimes hostile way in which many bishops deal with the media. Nor is the laity’s or the larger public’s skepticism on this score helped by the lack of financial transparency in many dioceses. In the aftermath of the abuse crisis, one might expect a degree of modesty and humility from bishops when they criticize the errors or failures of others, especially from leaders of a church that has lost a third of its baptized members. What we too often hear instead is strident and self-righteous “prophetic” rhetoric. Too many bishops, in a misplaced effort to emulate the heroic example of John Paul II, seem to imagine that they are battling a new kind of totalitarianism, rather than the more subtle temptations present in any free society.

    Such unfocused assertiveness was most conspicuous in the effort waged by some bishops, goaded by political conservatives, to convince Catholics that they could never in good conscience vote for a prochoice presidential candidate. Not surprisingly, a majority of Catholics were unpersuaded by that argument, one that mistakenly cast the presidential election as a referendum on abortion. Moreover, even many Catholics who did not support Obama resented the notion that bishops were trying to tell them whom they could vote for. Nor were most Catholics, including many who oppose legalized abortion, comfortable with threats to deny Communion to vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden and other prochoice Catholic politicians.

    The election of Obama and Biden, and the support they received from Catholics, seemed to exasperate a number of bishops. The newly elected president and his supposed plans to institute a radical “antilife” agenda were denounced by one bishop after another at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ November 2008 meeting in Baltimore, where political compromise was condemned and America caricatured as a “culture of death.” An expensive nationwide USCCB campaign to avert the illusory threat of Obama pushing the Freedom of Choice Act through Congress followed. In rightly opposing the president’s decision to expand federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, not enough bishops noted that the new policy forbids the cloning of embryos, an important victory for those who recognize the immorality of creating human life solely for the purpose of destroying it for scientific research.

    When the University of Notre Dame invited President Obama to deliver this year’s commencement address, the political animosity among Catholics that has been assiduously cultivated by some for years seemed to reach critical mass, and the damage from the fallout will take months, if not years, to measure. More than eighty bishops denounced the university. “We are at war!” declared Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese in Missouri. (Such words are especially worrying after the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas.) Bishop Finn darkly warned that the church’s most dangerous enemies were not its public antagonists, but Catholics who “attack the most fundamental tenets of the church’s teachings.” This suspicion regarding the loyalty and goodwill of other Catholics seems to be increasingly prevalent in the bishops’ conference.

    Some conservative Catholics are now demanding that the University of Notre Dame be formally censured or disciplined by the bishops. Given the moral seriousness of Obama’s speech there and the positive response it received from Catholics and non-Catholics alike as a kind of model for civil discourse, perhaps the bishops will listen to cooler heads. Last November, Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota, urged his fellow bishops to eschew a prophecy of denunciation for “a prophecy of solidarity with the communities we serve and the nation we live in, which needs healing. We must be, and be seen to be, pastors as well as faithful teachers.” Too few bishops heeded Cupich then. Will more listen now?

    No one imagines that the profound differences among Catholics will be resolved easily or soon. In many ways, the church is divided. Catholics, however, look to the bishops to help heal the wounds of division, not deepen them.

    June 9, 2009

  3. Michael Ryan says:

    Wonderful, wonderful writing, Father Zee!
    God bless you.

  4. ED2 says:

    I studied those writings by Martin Luther King in school about 5 years ago and it was good to see them again. The parallelism that you pointed out is stunning.

    Thank you Father!

  5. BLC says:

    Wonderful, Father Z. One of your best yet!

  6. Castellina says:

    Great article, Father…It seems that America Magazine has adopted the same language and tone of Mr. Obama.
    While we all sing “Cumbaya” and try to “find common ground”– in typical Obama speak–thousands of children get slaughtered.
    As you say, what part of “partial birth abortion” do they not understand? What common ground can we possibly find with someone who finds nothing wrong in leaving babies who are victims of a botched abortion to die a slow death? God bless you Father for unmasking such hypocrisy.

  7. Peggy says:

    So, is this America’s contribution intended to aid Janet Napolitano’s DHS study of “domestic terrorists”?

  8. Rob says:

    Father, you’re preaching the truth that us Catholics are so hungry for! Thank you.


  9. Lepanto says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,

    This piece is absolutely brilliant! I dare say that the Holy Spirit has allowed you to get to the heart of the matter better than anything else I have read on this topic.

    Your points about Martin Luther King and his condemnation of “common ground” moderates are excellent and point to the futility of the liberal/ Rawelesian idea that we should not create too much tension. As you have shown, such concepts are inimical to the message of the Rev. King, not too mention St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Augustine and the Church Fathers.

    Please, please, I beg you, continue to develop this theme. Shout it from the rooftops. This is a winning argument. It pulverizes their potentially tempting but flawed rhetoric on common ground and civility. This needs to be heard!!

    Thanks so much father. I will pray for you.

  10. jamie says:

    I suppose the best way to respond to being accused of incivility is to spend most of your response comparing the SJs at America magazine to the racists who opposed Dr. King. Really, Father, I come to your blog because very nearly all of your posts on current issues in the Church are right, well-thought, and very insightful. Sometimes, e.g., presently, you just go perhaps a little too far.

    First, America’s treatment of St. Augustine isn’t as off-base as you suggest. Yes, Augustine certainly did not embrace heretics, but we should consider which heretics he combated the most. The Donatists, the Manichaeans, and the Pelagians were all opposed by Augustine for the same reason. They wanted a Church ran by only the morally pure. It’s the same sort of error made later by the Cathars and most Protestants. It isn’t entirely off-base to accuse large segments (both left and right, but probably the left more) of the American Church of falling into this sort of error, which has the effect of turning the Church into an assembly of perfecti and credendi, which is not what the Church is.

    Second, there really is some incivility. If there isn’t some incivility, why do you turn comments off on posts that are particularly likely to inflame anti-N.O. sentiments? Did you read the comments to your commentary on the NCR column “Don’t tell the Pope”? There is certainly a time and a place for incivility and agonistic language, but there are also certainly times and places when civility is necessary, and for every St. Ambrose refusing Theodosius, there’s a St. Remigius baptizing Clovis. Certainly, we can at least agree when the S.J. writes. “A vital first step is to seek out our common ground in the major civic areas where almost all Catholics agree: religious liberty; the sacredness of all human life; the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating abortion; support for social programs that provide a safety net for the poor…” Staking out the common ground provisionally doesn’t have to mean abandoning the ultimate goal.*

    Third, I think you’re accusing this editorial of saying more than it does. E.g., “[O]ur bishops also need to be careful that they do not overstep their bounds when they prescribe specific policy recommendations, lest they sacrifice their spiritual authority by appearing to be partisan political figures. [The message here is ‘Shut up bishops.’]” But that isn’t what he’s saying at all. Much of the laity does ignore the Bishops. The Bishops will not help this problem by appearing to be Republicans. What the editorial is saying here is unassailably true. I don’t see how this can be taken to be saying the Bishops should shut up. He’s saying that the Bishops need to be careful about what they say lest the laity takes them even less seriously. You’re very keen at close readings of liturgical texts; perhaps you should stick a little bit closer to the text when commenting on non-liturgical texts.

    Again, I really enjoy reading your blog, but, although I hate to say it, you’re just really wrong on this one. [Nope. I’m right.]

    *With the caveat, of course, that the common ground or the compromise should never be sought for its own sake, but only as a relative good, on the way to the actual good.

  11. Matt Q says:

    Father Z, after reading this latest article along with your comments, I come to the conclusion they are not ignorant of the Faith, they know the Faith BUT they are deliberately perverting and subverting Same in order to promote their agenda. This agenda is the same secular-humanist agenda by the crazed Left whether it’s touted by a weirdo politician or a whacked out Catholic hiding behind the Church.

  12. LCB says:

    And this after only one day at Acton University.

    Imagine what he’ll be writing after a week?


  13. Antonio says:

    Bravo Father Z

  14. JFaulk says:

    I wonder what Jesus these people follow. What do these people think when they read in the gospel that Jesus made a whip and drove the moneychangers out of the Temple courts. Maybe they think that Jesus had no right, since the established rulers \”in the seat of Moses\” permitted these people to be there in the first place. Or what about when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, stated that he did not come to bring peace but division, saying that those who did not love him over their own families were not worthy of him? Or rather the Jesus who said that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees that we will have no inheritence in the Kingdom? It is undeniable with any reading of the Gospels that Jesus engaged people, sinners, exactly where they were, but refused to let them stay in their present state. It is imperative to remember that he told those like the woman at the well, \”Go. And sin no more.\”

  15. LCB says:


    Your first sentence sends the rest of your post astray. The comparison is a valid one. An error in the beginning is an error indeed. America and the “can’t we all just get along and forget about this divisive stuff” crowd are taking the same line the enemies of Dr. King took.

    Secondly, how familiar are you with Augustine’s writings, especially his sermons, or the portions of City of God dealing directly with doctrinal controversies? Reading your comment I can’t help but think you aren’t as familiar with them as you should be to make such a sweeping statement about his work.

    Thirdly, As for incivility, I hardly think that anonymous comments left in an internet comment box are representative of the national debate that takes place on abortion. Civility seems to consistently be redefined in such a way that means “whatever pro-life people are doing.” The opposite of civility is barbarism. And the ones who are barbaric, who are uncivilized, are those who murder unborn children and support the murder of unborn children.

    Fourthly, your example of St. Ambrose and St. Remigius is simply empty. The circumstances involved are wildly different.

    Fithly, America’s appeal to common ground is deceptive and disingenuous. Here is common ground: murder is wrong. All persons can agree to this. The opposition has made clear that they have no interest in actually reducing abortions, and that their pleas for common ground are nothing more than empty words aimed at disarming their opposition. Which leads directly into…

    Sixthly, After citing a false common ground appeal, the article (and you) stress the importance of not appearing with partisan political figures and overstepping on policy grounds. Perhaps you are not a frequent reader of America (I subject myself to each issue, unfortunatly). A brief list of matters in recent years where America has pushed for the exact opposite of what it asks for now: war, immigration, health care, objection rights for soldiers, environmental matters. America is laying out one set of standards and criteria for how individuals and Bishops ought to act when it comes to issues that America wholeheartedly supports. When it comes to issues which the support of America is in question… shocking… an entirely different set of standards and criteria.

    Seventhly, the problem of the laity not listening to their Bishops stems directly from their Bishops not preaching truth for decades. In the face of Bishops starting to preach truth on intrinsic moral issues, America’s stance is clear: stop doing that.

    Jamie, I shall conclude with but 3 things:

    1) In all seriousness, how do you think America would react, and demand the Bishops react, in the face of a renewed attempt to implement racial segregation? And for that matter, how do you think the Bishops OUGHT to act if such a thing were to be attempted?

    2) Should not the matter of abortion, which has resulted in 50 million murders, a disproportionate number minority children, receive the same treatment and attention?

    3) Justice too long delayed is justice denied. By seeking to further delay justice for the unborn, in the name of political expediency and influence, justice is infact being denied.

  16. LCB says:

    All my words, of course, could be summed up with a simple picture– as could Fr. Z’s near flawless response to America:

    Fr. Ted Hesburgh, President Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame… standing arm in arm with Dr. King.

  17. Peggy says:

    Your rebuttal was very excellent. Thank you for the clarification of history. [I hope the MLK, Jr, offspring don’t charge you for use of his wise words.]

  18. Cheers for Fr. Z, excellent

  19. Geoffrey says:

    Personally I would never trust a Catholic publication that calls itself “America”.

  20. m says:

    you compare being a pro-life Catholic to being black in segregated America? That doesn\’t make any sense.

  21. jamie says:


    My point in my first sentence was not that Fr. Z drew a false or bad comparison. My point is that when one’s accused of not entering an argument in good faith, comparing your accuser to the folks who opposed Dr. King is, perhaps, less than prudent. Even St. Bernard, while capable of spectacular polemic, recognized the importance of captatio benevolentia.

    To your second point, no, I’m not nearly as familiar with Augustine as I should be. However, that he opposed Manichaeans, Donatists, and Pelagians; that all three of those would create a Church of perfecti and credendi; that the desire for a Church of perfecti and credendi has been a recurring problem throughout the Church’s history, and that many on the right and the left would have such a Church is clearly the case. The doctrinal errors Augustine condemned the most are the ones we still have today.

    I think the example of St. Remigius does apply. Clovis was not exactly a great Christian. Remigius probably knew that Clovis would not make a great Christian. The Merovingians generally were lousy, and stayed lousy until overthrown by the considerably more pious Carolingians. Remigius could have held out and demanded absolute piety from Clovis. Or, he could baptize Clovis, knowing that it would be better for Clovis to be a bad Christian than just a pagan. Sometimes you have to accept less than perfect.

    Your third, fifth, sixth, and seventh points get at the heart of the issue. I didn’t say that civility means doing what the pro-infanticide people want. I didn’t say the Bishops should stop talking. Of course there’s no common ground with pro-choice people who don’t actually want to reduce abortions. And there’s nothing in the editorial to say that. Granted, I don’t read America; perhaps if I did I too would recognize the SJs as deceptive and disingenuous. But, even if these SJs are deceptive and disingenuous, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a sizable percentage of more or less well-meaning laity to whom America’s way of approaching the issue makes sense.

    Do you want the Church to stand strong on abortion? Those are the people who need to be won over. Those are the people who need to see that the Bishops care about more than abortion. Of course, the Church should speak clearly and unequivocally against abortion. But this doesn’t mean that the Church should only speak about abortion, or that we can’t look for common ground even while maintaining our principles.

    To your final point — well, yes, but who’s seeking to delay justice for the unborn? I’m not saying we should seek to delay a ban on abortions, or seek merely to reduce abortions. I’m saying we should take what we can get while pressing for more, because that’s a strategy that works. It worked for the pro-abortion people (Griswold, then Roe, then a further easing of restrictions), as well as for gay rights people (civil unions, adoption rights, then marriage). If we recognize abortion as an evil, we should be prepared to take steps that might actually lead to it being ended.

  22. Michael says:

    Father Z, Not much to hope from Jesuits in these days.

    The worst thing is that they have infiltrated Eastern Rites. Recently, one of them was appointed Head of the Congregation for Eastern Rites, and made Archbishop.

    See the blog Orate Caeli, post: Pictures from the Consecration of Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., more in the blog Collactio, post: Santa Maria Maggiore – Ordinazione episcopale di P. Cyril Vasil.

    Beutiful ceremony, one would benevolently think, but note guitars, which are a discouraged even in NO, but here it is a triple scandal: (1) as in Novus Ordo, (2) musical instruments are forbidden in Byzantine Liturgy, (3) we have now the new Head of Congregation, which is supposed to preserve the purity of Eastern Rites.

  23. Houghton G. says:

    In the Kmiec Catholics we are witnessing the shaping of a “German Christians” set of Catholics who will carry the water for the eventual government crackdown on dissent against the Culture of Death. America and Commonweal represent an increasingly smaller and unrepresentative wing of American Catholics but they will prove invaluable allies of the Culture-of-Death-Politicians because they will give “Catholic” cover for the persecution. The very rhetoric of this America editorial lays out the basis upon which the 80 or so bishops who took a stand against Notre Shame will be harrassed bureaucratically and eventually, legislatively. It’s already begun in Connecticut (and elsewhere–with, to this point beaten-back, attacks on the seal of the confessional etc.). Eventually the harrassment will yield to even stronger repression.

    And at every stage, “Catholics” will be found who will shout from the rooftops, “They had it coming, for they were uncivil, they were extremists, they sowed dissent and fear with their tactics against abortion. ‘They are a cancer on the body politic and I must have it out,’ Wolsey (or was it Henry?) says in Robert Bolt’s Man for All Seasons.

    And once they start shilling for government repression, once they start justifying repression against fellow Catholics because it’s coming from liberal politicians they align themselves with, even if it’s directed against Catholics (“after all, it’s only aimed at the extremely uncivil Catholics who deserve what they get, who could have avoided this trouble had they been “civil”), once they turn a blind eye to the repression, they will be trapped in it and find that the only way forward is to continue to defend whatever escalation of the harrassment the Culture of Death launches against the few remaining fools who insist on uncivilly pointing out that abortion is murder.

    Steel yourselves for it. It’s coming.

  24. John Enright says:

    Fr. Z: Congrats for this post since it is probably your most profound entry on the issues now facing the Church! It never ceases to amaze me that the Moral Relativists who argue for tolerance of liberal ideas of abortion on demand, etc., do so by trying to silence conservative thought. I think, though, the author is right about one thing – “our identity as a faith community will be torn asunder.” That’s probably a good thing since “Catholic identity” has been muddled by the likes of Speaker Pelosi and her ilk. It’s time to prune the deadwood from the Church and raise the voice of the authentic teachings of Christ.

  25. Maureen says:

    Re: comparing the America editorial attitude to the clergy Dr. King was writing:

    Actually, there’s nothing cruel about the comparison. It’s a very strong comparison, but it’s not comparing these folks to Nazis. The men Dr. King was writing were good men, nice men, the kind of guys you’d love to have had dinner with. They were acting in goodwill. It was just that their goodwill was weak and ill-directed.

    I find this interpretation of the America editors’ work to be a very kind one. It’s tempting for Catholics to become embittered about how much has been taken from them and how obstructive that certain groups of people can be, whenever we try to get anything back or try anything new and useful. It’s tempting to believe that people like the America editors hate us and are trying to keep us oppressed. But the truth is that most folks don’t get up in the morning and twirl their mustachios while plotting world domination through liturgical dancing! :)

    Mostly, the America editors are nice folks who want things to run smoothly and for everything in their line of vision to be happy. That’s not anything different from most people. But at the moment, it’s not helpful. We are often told that people should step outside their comfort zone. In this case, that’s exactly what the America editors should do.

    However we are all called to give ourselves wholly to what God wants, and to seek eternal peace and rest by forsaking a lot of it here. This is not something being said only to the editors of America.

  26. Ann says:

    We need LOTS more Bishops to have the spirit and zeal to teach truth like that of a St. Athanasius!! We need priests to get that fired up about Catholic teaching too.

    St. Athanasius was not well liked for his orthodox faith and zeal in defending Truth over the evils of his day.

  27. prof. basto says:

    Thank you, Father.

    Great article.


    Congratulations on the year of the Priest.

  28. prof. basto says:

    Just to clarify: when I say “Great article”, I mean Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s article rebuking America’s.

    As for America’s article, I ask again: shoudn’t there be a procedure to declare that certain periodicals that claim to be Catholic, in fact, aren’t? I mean, wouldn’t a declaration to that effect on the part of the CDF quash the reception of “America Magazine” in episcopal chanceries.

  29. Scott W. says:

    “Do you want the Church to stand strong on abortion? Those are the people who need to be won over. Those are the people who need to see that the Bishops care about more than abortion. Of course, the Church should speak clearly and unequivocally against abortion. But this doesn’t mean that the Church should only speak about abortion, or that we can’t look for common ground even while maintaining our principles.”

    The Church also speaks out unequivocally about the evilness of homosexual acts and the legal fictions going under the term “marriage” that would lend moral approval of those acts. The Church also speaks out against dehumanizing contraception. The list could go on, but note that the Church doesn’t speak out much against thievery. Why not? Theft is just as wrong as anything else. The reason is that society at large has not completely tossed itself over the precipice into thinking that thievery is a good thing. If there is ever a Thieves’ Pride parade, believe me, there will be more Catholic outcry over the wrongness of stealing. We have to stop pretending. The America article is picture perfect example of warped thinking. It illustrates that people don’t understand that there are “negative norms (praecepta negativa) which hold good always and on every occasion (semper et ad semper), whereas the many other essential and affirmative moral principles and norms (praecepta affirmativa) hold good semper sed non ad semper — are always somehow relevant but leave it to your moral judgment to discern the times, places, and other circumstances of their directiveness.” Thus, you get the attitude that I can ease off the pedal against abortion if I make up for it by championing dubious government entitlement programs. And anyone not sharing this view gets leveled with the absurd charge of being “single-issue”. So we get the usual obfuscating cant about nuance and “theological distinction”. It’s secular progressivism with a daub of Christian spirituality thrown in. When you mix wine and sewage, you get sewage.

  30. Athelstane says:

    America warns us that the rhetoric representative of the “us vs. them mentality … subtly undermines the Catholic principle of subsidiarity first put forth by Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, according to which a pluralistic social structure allows and encourages constructive input from a variety of groups on the grass-roots level.”

    Having done my M.A. thesis on Quadragesimo Anno, I have some small familiarity – perhaps not expertise, but certainly familiarity – with the encyclical. And I’m still wondering where they drew that from.

    Essentially, America seems to be arguing (among other things) that the Church ought to be careful not to get too far out of sync with prevailing secular attitudes, particularly on issues of sexual ethics. To do so would be divisive and “polarizing.”

    There is a similarly dismaying piece in the new Commonweal, which RJM excerpts above. But you’ve done yeoman work with your discussion of this one, Fr. Zuhlsdorf. The Archbishop Toolen anecdote is most illuminating.

  31. Athelstane says:

    Hello Jamie,

    “I suppose the best way to respond to being accused of incivility is to spend most of your response comparing the SJs at America magazine to the racists who opposed Dr. King.”

    No, as Maureen says, I believe Fr. Z was making a comparison with temporizing lay and prelate Catholics, like Arcbishop Tolen, who were reluctant to make too vigorous efforts to challenge cultural and institutional racism, despite not necessarily sharing those racist attitudes (one hopes).

  32. Gus says:

    Congratulations Fr. Z for a scholarly critique of “America”‘s editorial. It is so easy to see through their charade; let’s call ourselves Catholics while we work in everyway possible to strip away everything Catholic. More than anything that the external enemies of the Church can do, these internal enemies are committed to doing in.
    I used to think that the Pope and Bishops’ prudential decision not to excommunicate these internal enemies was advisable in order to avoid a repeat of the schisms of the 11th and 16th centuries but I’m now rethinking this.
    It appears to me that the prudential toleration is only resulting in these enemies continuing to use the mantle of Catholicism and the Church’s resources to continue to spread their errors, forment disent, and lead the faithful astray.
    Despite the valiant efforts of the many bishops and the 100,000s of other who protested the ND scandal, the lattest that I hear is that no censure of ND will come from the Bishop’s meeting in San Antonio.
    This suggests to me that the internal enemies now have so much power that they can defy the expressed declaration of the Bishops and that they can do so because they have plenty of Bishops on their side.
    This indicates to me that the schism is already here; maybe not de jure but certainly de facto. To allow it to contibue to operate undeground for much longer will only result in even more people eventually lost.
    Please Fr. Z if you have any news on what the USCCB will be doing regarding the ND scandal let us now.

    Pax et Bonum

  33. ED2 says:

    m- Father is not comparing being a pro life Catholic to being black in segregated America. He is comparing being a moderatly pro life Catholic to being a “white moderate” that Dr. King writes about.

  34. Allan says:

    Fr Z: Might your parsing of the editorial be coloured by your knowledge of the publication?

    The editorial does not really delve into any of the divisive issues; it just lists them and laments the uncivility of the debate.

    Is this not true? Is the debate not often uncivil?

    The editorial also suggests building on common ground. Is this not a sound strategy?

    I am fully aware that the authors almost certainly feel that “their” side is right and civil, and ours the opposite. But they did not say so in this piece. The editorial seems, on its face, to simply lament the divisions that have arisen and expressed a desire for reconciliation. From there, it is totally appropriate to reply that (as you have) that certain issues are “deal breakers” and creating tension is appropriate. But I think this article, as a stand alone piece, should be evaluated only for what it said, not what we think the follow up piece would say.

    And one more thing: I’ll spare you the details, but in recent discussions with some local priests about the existence of hell and Satan, the ONLY priests who acknowledged the reality of both were local Jesuits. Other priests saw both as symbols and not real things. Food for thought.

    The King analogies are spot on and brilliant by the way. Thanks for that. Sorry we don’t fully agree on the other. I hate disagreeing with people smarter than me – it usually never ends well.

  35. Scott W. says:

    This indicates to me that the schism is already here; maybe not de jure but certainly de facto.

    I agree. One of the worst things the faithful can do is pretend the war for the Church’s soul isn’t on. The opposition sure isn’t. Now, one may decry that this is the us-v-them mentality, but it isn’t because I am still willing to extend some good faith: that is, most of them are not doing it deliberately. But while I can assume that someone didn’t step on my foot on purpose, I can’t pretend he didn’t do it. The language of modern, sentimental therapy-speak is hard to resist, and you can’t habitually speak that language without it warping your thinking. So while we can extend the benefit of the doubt that dissident Catholics aren’t malicious, we can’t pretend that they are not completely pwned by a secular world-view that has only one end: antinomian chaos.

  36. paul zummo says:

    My point is that when one’s accused of not entering an argument in good faith, comparing your accuser to the folks who opposed Dr. King is, perhaps, less than prudent

    Jamie, you completely missed the point. Fr. Z wasn’t comparing the editors at America to white segregationists, but to King’s white supporters who wanted him to tone down his actions.

  37. Veritas says:

    The Lord spoke with authority and not as the Scribes. He came not to bring peace but the sword. He told sinners to sin no more. Please what Scriptures are the trendies reading? Not the Koran, not Marx, and certainly not the Bible. None of these have much tolerance for error. People may believe what they will but their beliefs must be judged by others and they cannot expect us to say all have won so all shall have prizes.Error has the right to exist but cannot expect others to regard it as true.

  38. Scott W. says:

    The editorial does not really delve into any of the divisive issues; it just lists them and laments the uncivility of the debate.

    This is actually the most damning thing. They try to deny weaseling, but that is exactly what they are doing. Who is being uncivil? What did they say that is uncivil? And most importantly, how is what was said uncivil? Ask these questions to show the math and you will only get crickets chirping as a response. In many ways, it resembles the pro-abortionists. That is, they just want to talk about abstract things like rights. Talk about taking a pair of forceps and dismembering someone and they flee for the hills. On the few occasions when they attempt to get into the details, it’s a disaster. Like when a certain poster at another blog said that subsidiarity justified the pro-choice position. So they avoid facts and prefer abstract generalities. What it amounts to is a not so subtle ad hominem. That is, having zero leg to stand regarding the facts and an allergy to interacting with content, they resort to questioning everyone’s motives. It stinks like pigs.

  39. Paul Cortese says:

    When one doesn’t have a horse in the race, one can easily be charitable and seek common ground. If you don’t care about the fetuses, or the fetus is not YOU, you can be magnanimous in the face of it’s impending death. If you care about the fetus as valuable as your very self – charity is lovingly smiling at the man as you’re being murdered.

  40. Baron Korf says:

    I was thinking if the bishops took a real loud and active stance to the point where people were excommunicated and there were constant press releases and all that, wouldn’t that make the editors happy? I mean it would really get people talking. Talking is dialogue, right?

  41. Fr. Johnson says:

    I have to confess that Jamie seems to me to raise a legitimate objection here. Is it really correct to say that those who preferred in the past a gradual approach to civil rights were acting against the natural law in the same way and to the same extent as those who imagine that a gradual approach is possible regarding abortion and infanticide? Historically speaking, isn’t it true that the Church only very gradually helped bring about the end of slavery in the lands of the Roman Empire? Likewise, in the U.S., wasn’t the Church of the 19th century in the main opposed to radical abolition? Finally, doesn’t St. Thomas himself argue in so many words that opposing the established order outright necessarily brings a certain evil with it (namely, disorder); therefore, such disobedience is a last resort. Jamie seems to be asking: Was there an equivalent extremity of means required by civil rights as there is for abortion and infanticide? On a related note: it seems to be an American characteristic to demand immediate changes to perceived or real immorality (or injustice), often without heeding the consequent harm done to public order; for instance: the Revolution itself, the Temperance Movement, Abolitionism (especially Radical Abolitionism), Suffragism, Prohibition, and so forth.
    In Christ, Fr. Johnson

  42. TJM says:

    Well, where was America Magazine when the political left, including some Catholics, were calling President Bush, “BushHitler” or “Chimpy.” See tolerance and
    dialogue only apply to the political right, not the political left. America Magazine is just another version of the National Anti-Catholic Reporter
    but only worse, since it’s published under the auspices of the Jesuit Order. Tom

  43. Mark Windsor says:

    How do you say “suppress the Jesuits” in Latin. I’d love to have a t-shirt.

  44. Nicholas says:

    Outstanding! Grand slam, Fr. Z!

  45. irishgirl says:

    Great article, Father Z!

    Mark Windsor-I’d like to have a t-shirt with that, too!

  46. Lourdes says:


  47. alabama catholic says:

    Fr. Z – I think that your points are well-put. The problems are that people today a) do not know how to make and/or defend a rational and reason-based argument, and b) refuse to face the fact that the logical end of abortion is the murder of an innocent human being.

    If the Catholic Church’s teaching that all human life is sacred and that all innocent human lives must (not should) be protected by law in any truly just society, than NO Catholic could or should stand idly by without taking the strongest (legal) stand possible against abortion in our country. Just as Jim Crow laws and government enforced, race-based segretation and oppression should have been intolerable to all American Catholics in the 1960s, the support of legalized abortion should not be tolerated by any American Catholics in their politicians. In both cases, our legal system has taken a wrong turn and the basic rights of humans have been violated by the very system of justice that should protect them.

    Those who refuse to “rock the boat” in our society on the legal abortion issue today are in exactly the same moral possition as those who did the same on the issue of racial discrimination in the 1960s. They chose comfort over justice and selfish complacency over immutable Truth. Kudos to you, Father Z, for such a jarring, truth-soaked piece of writing.

    I was not alive during the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s. But I will be damned if I will let my personal aversion to conflict keep me from doing all that I can, in prayer, service and example, to work for the protection of the most vulnerable and forgotten among us. Justice demands no less. Any other position is to spit in the face of all who have sacrificed for right throughout our nation’s history. God willing, I would much rather be counted among the Lincoln and King, than among the Jenkins and Kmiecs!

  48. mike says:

    Fr. Z., excellent piece. This is great for educating young people on these issues. I’ll definitely bring this into doctrine class. gratias tibi, pater.

  49. alabama catholic says:

    Sorry. Should have said: “I would rather be counted in history among the Lincolns and Kings, than among the Jenkins and Kmiecs!”

  50. JRC says:

    Dear Fr. Z,

    Thank you for this. I’ve been silently following your blog for over a year now, and this is the best posting I’ve read; I especially liked your comparison of such as the ‘America’ editors to the apathetic middle in the battle desegregation, and your remarks regarding Augustine’s strident opposition to all manners of heresy. What you’ve written here has changed my opinion re: the merits of non-violent civil disobedience with respect to the abortion issue.

    Scott, thank you also for your comment… VERY well put. I agree on all counts and hope that we’ll both have the opportunity to recapitulate these arguments in the future.

    I would only caution other commenters against painting the Jesuits with too broad a brush; my spiritual director is a Jesuit, a philosopher, and a VERY orthodox (little ‘o’!) conservative. Jesuits like him — and there are more than one might think — who are doing God’s work in very hostile academic environments are in a very difficult (and lonely) situation when those on both sides of the road would reject them. They deserve deserve our support and our praise.


  51. Paul Q says:

    Dear Fr. Zed (I’m from Canada),

    Thank you for your perspicacious analysis! You certainly nailed it.


  52. jennifer eva says:

    in response to Fr Johnson,
    I wonder if the dispute needs to be further clarified that the motivations for actions of civil nonviolent disobedience could be the crux of the matter. Dr King Jr. was motivated not just by the sense of injustice, but by the sense of Justice, the supreme Justice. Therefore, for his era, he could “see” best his actions and outcomes but not perfectly.

    If we are less motivated by the Supreme Good, then you will have less than the desired outcome and the evil that will come with it.

    But in this world we tends towards the perfect, we are not yet there and the struggle and tension is necessary and will take carnal forms.

    The answer to what we should do doesn’t lie in the past, but the necessity of us all to tend towards Him that is all Good, Just, etc. if we are to see where we stand then be able to move towards our goal. In this way we have the least chance of bringing evil in with our actions, but I don’t deny that we are imperfect as of yet and we should not be afraid to act because of these but we should move in full awareness of our goal.

    Fr Z you are a blessing, I don’t want to be a moderate. Too much at stake.

    The Pope is genius to announce the Year of the Priest!!! let us pray for them all, this is not just for the priest for those of us that hold in high esteem the vocation, prayer, fasting, almsgiving. Good for all time not just lent.


  53. Father Z: These discussions are very informative but today we are substituting politics for religion. We never discuss MORTAL SIN. “An enemy has done this! Master, should we pull up the tares? No,lest in doing so you destroy the wheat also. Wait til the harvest, at which time we will gather the wheat and put it in my barns. And the tares we will bind up and throw into the eternal fire”.
    It has been thus since the beginning of the world.

  54. Derik says:

    Thanks Fr. Z.
    A guy like me needs broad light to be shed to understand the issue.

  55. Randy says:

    Good job Father Z. It strikes me that they are getting stronger and stronger in their condemnations of our bishops. Bishops are God’s ordained leaders for His church. They have very few bounds they should not overstep. Scholars and magazine editors do have bounds. They need to accept leadership from bishops and not lecture them.

    Virtually everything they said is true. We should be civil. We should celebrate the things we agree on. We should work towards unity. But that does not mean we should not challenge people to greater holiness. It is the classic case of using one Catholic truth to destroy another.

    How many Catholic saints offended people? You can assume all the martyrs offended somebody or they would not have been martyred. Are they all bad Catholics?

  56. Michael J says:

    Have you actually ever met pro-choice(pro-abortion) people who actually want to reduce abortions? If you did, they were lying to you. This is equivalent to a pro-sufferage person who actually wanted to reduce voting.

    Sorry, there can never be “common ground” between Catholics and “pro-abortion people”

  57. Folks: I know a few very fine Jesuits. For the most part I think I said “these” or “the editors” in the piece above.

  58. Mark VA says:

    Bulls-eye from Father Z.

    As far as this article is concerned, I see it as a tactical move to try to silence the growing criticism of the progressive project. An increasing number of Catholics is becoming aware of the errors and compromises that progressivism has maneuvered our Church into, and, as a result, they are finding their long suppressed Catholic identity once again.

    The scandal at Notre Dame may have been one of the events that drove this realization home – somehow, the progressive leadership of that university did not invite a wider debate or seek consensus – they did what they did, knowing full well their decisions were causing a scandal. I suspect many acknowledged that this is the reality of the progressive movement – not its appeals for tolerance and togetherness after the fact.

    I hope that those Bishops who didn’t speak out on Notre Dame will now admit that a game is being played, and not give the progressive project the “civility” cover it seeks. Let it stand or fail on its own. Reviving our true Catholic identity seems a much more pressing and promising matter.

  59. DeborahAnne says:

    Dear Father,
    Thank you for your scholarly analysis, wisdom and stick-to-itiveness.
    Sometimes with tenacity and even ‘tension’ grace abounds abundantly!

  60. Kimberly says:

    I don’t understand why people can’t see the parallel between abortion and slavery. People fought against a horrible wrong; (In the case of slavery), the abuse, horror and shame committed in the name of ownership. Isn’t that what we are doing with the most defenseless human beings in our society when it comes to abortion? We cease being a compassionate, free society when we don’t stand up for wrongs done to our fellow man or woman.

  61. Southerner29 says:

    Wow. Can someone say overreaction? Geez guys, calm down. I think they’re point is not what its being taken on here. I think they’re point is “in all things charity”, or to paraphrase Paul, if we do not do all things with love, then we become clanging gongs, etc. Take a deep breath; we’re all on the same team here.

  62. Scott W. says:

    Wow. Can someone say overreaction?

    Yes. But in general, they would be wrong.

    Geez guys, calm down.

    I am calm. Gee guy, stop giving orders.

    I think they’re point is “in all things charity”, or to paraphrase Paul, if we do not do all things with love, then we become clanging gongs, etc. Take a deep breath; we’re all on the same team here.

    No dice. The whole piece is an exercise is gassing therapy-speak and the olive-branch-in-the-eye tactic. Suggesting people, somewhere, out there, (who we will likely never know because being specific would bring in those things called facts they find inconvenient) is being uncharitable has become the Christian equivalent of the race card. Played so many times, it has lost all meaning.

  63. Mark says:

    All those quotes from Dr King are quite exciting. Is Fr Z saying it is nearing time for active demonstration, protest, etc??

    If so, that is quite exciting. If he’s saying that, it means it’s become somewhat mainstream.

    Hence what I have said in the past about rosary sit-ins by seminarians etc.

    Some bishops arent doing their job. Is it time to start being a little more demanding, re: liturgy, tradition, etc?

    The aggressive-personality-type liberals always pressure priests into doing things. Is it time for conservatives to stop being so polite and to use similar pressure?

    Is it time to create a crisis in order to force the issues to be addressed?

    I hope so.

    I can’t do that as an individual. But if someone respected like Fr Z (or even just ONE popular conservative bishop) called for it, then surely many people would organize it in their home diocese or parish, and I’d feel more certain I wasnt acting in vain.

    Basically, what I want to know is…can there be “civil disobedience” in the Church, to foment change therein? Why or why not?

    Except in infallible matters, why is our obedience to bishops acting negligently or unjustly been typically seen as a “just suffer through it” sort of thing usually, when our obedience to the State has not been?

    Why are Catholics so passive/quietist/defeatist when it comes to problems in the Church, acting as if we just have to sit back and “gradually” wait for change (“when that generation dies off”)…but are willing to be more urgent and Activist when it comes to the State and mere temporal matters?

    Again, why do we treat the human leaders of the Church with such deference, when they are acting in a purely non-infallible way, even though we dont act that way towards the State? Is it because they can bind under pain of sin, even ridiculous things? But much of the evil that we’d like to see ended (like communion in the hand) is not “required” so what would be sinful about protesting it more actively???

    Didnt the Romans drive all sorts of early medieval popes into resignation and exile? Why are we so much less rambunctuous these days??

    It seems to me that many Saints have done this, but the answer Catholics always give is, “Yeah, but they were a Saint”. But it seems to me that is confusing cause and affect? Isnt the stand they took a large part of WHY they were popular enough to be declared a Saint later? If informed by the mind of the Church, why couldnt people stage a rosary sit-in to demand an end to Clown Masses, which kill souls, even though we’d admit it for racial segregation??

    Is this the sign that it is time for a New Savanarola Movement in the Church??????

  64. Mark says:

    “How do you say ‘suppress the Jesuits’ in Latin. I’d love to have a t-shirt.”

    They could be purged without suppression.

    Do we really want to or need to suppress the legacy of St. Ignatius and all the other MANY Jesuit Saints?

    Enthusiasm for suppression suggests to me a belief that there is something intrinsically corrupting about the Jesuit charism or structure, whereas a purge would merely get rid of the Bad Apples that are ruining the bunch.

    Both opinions have been held. Certainly, the first time the Jesuits were suppressed, I think there was indeed a perception of severe institutionalization, militaristic loyalty, secrecy, and fanaticism that was felt to make them dangerous structurally and that the problem was essential and institutional, not just accidental according to the current individuals.

    But do we feel that way today? Is the problem simply that there are many bad Jesuits, or do you really believe that the Jesuit Order is intrinsically corrupting, the charism now a thorn in the Church’s side instead of a blessing, the constitutional structures designed to encourage dissent??

    If the Pope were to merely replace all Jesuit provincials with conservative men, and instruct them to carry out a radical pruning, an Inquisition of all the Jesuits under them…wouldnt this solve the problem without having to through St. Ignatius’s baby out with the bathwater??

    Is the problem actually with “the Jesuits” or is it really just with “Jesuits”??

    There’s a big difference. Consider it and be careful with what you say!

  65. Heather says:

    I am extremely disappointed to see MLK lionized in this post. Indeed, it is a trend among conservatives of today to do this and it is troubling. The man was a complete degenerate and does not deserve it.

    The bishops in the South were being sensible. It was never the Catholic way to impose cultural norms on a population not ready for them. (I said cultural, not moral.) They desegregated the Catholic schools *before* the law required to provide a good example. They rebuked those who opposed them and threatened to excommunicate Catholics who opposed the desegregation of the Catholic schools. But there was nothing wrong with the desire to keep the peace, and keep order, and change peoples hearts to bring about harmony among the races. Organic change provides a more lasting and genuine result. Force does not. See the bus wars for examples.

  66. Heather says:

    Well said Fr. Johnson.

  67. Larry says:

    Excellent rebuttal Fr. Z. Some of you r best work to date. As a graduate of a Jesuit College in the late 60’s I wish only to comment that the editorial reads more like a term paper written by a freshamn student in “Justice and Peace” class. Sentence structure is poor and paragraphing lost out completely. The use of historical “facts” convientially “spun” as a high school debater might attempt leaves anyone who was a history major shaking their heads. I guess the Jesuit model of Catholic has undergone a “reformation” of its’ own. All those Jesuits who were martyred (that is murdered in cold blood) could have escaped unscathed by simply imploring their butchers to negoitate the faith. “Can’t we all just get along?” Of course the problem only compunds itself when we come to the founder of Catholicism, Jesus the Christ. There has never been a bishop who more directly got in the face of the rulers of the day be they Religious or Civil and did not back away from the TRUTH. He certainly did not understand this 21st century Jesuit invention of groveling “so we can get their money and we’ll worry about their souls (if they have any) later!”

    Perhaps it is time for another round with Papal authority, as in “Your Order is Suppressed.”

  68. Gregory W. Stimler says:

    Amen to what you have said. It seems to me that people just want to ride in a boat and be tugged along to the shore by someone else, with the oars sitting in it and the rapids quickly approaching. Many people in their lives have experienced this in some part or another; I believe that moral relativism is a concupiscence (at a minimum) and is something that people need to fight down to its roots: pride. People don’t want to risk martyrdom and thus they just ride in the boat, hoping to reach the shore without rowing, without even lifting a finger. To get something done, one has to do it, and if that means getting thrown in jail for saying “We shouldn’t be doing this and I stand against it and am willing to suffer for those who don’t have a voice” then so be it. I loved Dr. King’s quote, for it applies as much to the spiritual life as it does to politics, so I will post it again:

    “My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension’. [!] I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”

    Thank you for your constant struggle. May we all change our hearts and renew our minds!

  69. Scott W. says:

    I am extremely disappointed to see MLK lionized in this post. Indeed, it is a trend among conservatives of today to do this and it is troubling. The man was a complete degenerate and does not deserve it.

    Only the very brave question or deny the MLK haiography, but your point is one of those elephants in the living room. As blogger Mencius Moldbug pointed out, MLK was from the vegetarian side of the black rage movement as opposed to the carnivorous side of Malcom X and H Rapp Brown. As such MLK was the good cop in a sleazy good cop/bad cop routine. The bad side said, “We’ll kill you.” MLK and his buddies said, “Those guys are crazy. Give us money, power, and prestige or those guys might very well kill you.”

  70. Ma Tucker says:

    Thanks Father. Good work and a very insightful unmasking of the lie of false civility and false compassion. Thanks be to God.

  71. balthasar says:

    All of your rage and rhetoric is futile. Abortion will never be criminalsed in the manner you all want.

  72. chironomo says:


    Politics is a very unpredictable business. It was only perhaps 10-15 years ago that most pundits were SURE that we wouldn’t have an African-American president for at least another 50-100 years. They were SURE. And most of them were also SURE that there would DEFINITELY be at least one if not more Female Presidents before an African-American would ever be elected. That was certain because of what they saw as the unchangeable political climate in this country.

    How many people in this country were certain that the racial division in, say, the 1940’s was just “the way it was” and would NEVER change.

    And the concept of Women voting, when first brought before congress was met with rounds of laughter. It would never happen.

    These are all issues of various classes and categories of people being denied rights. In each case, it was certain that such rights would never be extended because of the contemporary view that such a class or category of people didn’t have those rights. And, in all cases, it was also considered that extending such a class or category of people these rights would infringe on the rights of others.

    Now, I’m not saying that abortion will be “outlawed” tomorrow… but it is a very bold (and unsupportable) to claim that it will “never” happen.

  73. Mitchell NY says:

    Well commented upon Father with just analogies. I am curious if in thier hearts, they are open to debate on the place of Latin in the Catholic liturgy. It always bothers me how they pick and choose parts of Vat II documents to support their arguements and totally ignore and disobey other parts of documents from the same such Council. And Veterum Sapientia preceding the Council?, has that been revoked? I think not..

  74. Scott W. says:

    All of your rage and rhetoric is futile.

    That’s the second time that either “rage”, or commands to calm down have been offered with no supporting argument whatsoever. Thus, my only guess is there’s projection in them thar hills.

    Abortion will never be criminalsed in the manner you all want.

    In other words, against the power of Mordor, there can be no victory. So let’s just join with Sauron.

    But, quips out of the way, I’ll try to offer something more even if we are veering somewhat off the topic. Pro-lifers ought to be prepared to encounter the ludicrous proposition I’ll call Legal Abortion Exceptionalism. Another commentor put it well:

    It really amazes me how often the “what’s your comprehensive legal formula” canard comes up in these discussions. Usually it’s an attempt to imply that pro-lifers are a bunch of sadists who want to persecute mothers with hard time and whatever cruel and unusual punishment they can imagine. Here it’s used as a supposed “argument” that law would be ineffectual.

    But it completely ignores reality.

    Reality 1: Difficulties at implementing law is always a problem, and should not prevent us from making evil things illegal. That applies to abortion, murder (the complexities of dealing with murder and all of the possible mitigating circumstances is beyond most peoples’ pay-grade), slavery, drugs, whatever. Making reasonable, effective, and compassionate decisions of law is a darn difficult thing to do no matter what the issue is.

    Reality 2: Concern about effectiveness is always a problem and should not prevent us from making something illegal. Especially when the crime is the killing of innocent human beings.

    Reality 3: Coming up with solutions that implement the law in reasonable and compassionate ways requires the cooperative effort of a lot of people. Most of the interlocutors here would probably be willing to examine various possibilities of enforcement with varying focus upon the “class” issue. Most of them would also probably be too humble to insist that their solutions were the complete and best answers. Everybody knows that there will be challenges to the prospect–deal with it.

    Asking for the all the specifics isn’t an argument. It’s just a way to make the obvious problems that we always face seem somehow more pertinent to abortion than to any other law that has ever been made.

  75. Larry says:

    Before posting this today I went over to America’s web site and read through some of the 56 responses there. Nearly all were glowing praise for the article and a few seeing no problem in accomodating those of us discribed in the article. What troubles me is the fact that these people see themselves as thorughly Catholic. Of course there are a few who see the Church as headed for self distruction presumably because of those who are conservative. I think that the answer is in the understanding not only of the Church and her doctrines but in the fact that they, like many if not most Americans do not understand what abortion is or for that matter what sin is. These are the children of the “spirit of Vatican II.” They are untroubled by facts and so they feel compelled to dialogue as if there is compromise on every issue. If we are to win the battle against abortion then Catholics, Orthodox, Moslems and those Jews who understand the similarities between the holocaust and abortion need to draw together and launch a media campaign showing in vivid detail what abortin is, what it looks like. It was only when themedia started showing images of clubbed baby seals and men doing the clubbing that the American people started joining in the campaign to save various animals. It is only when pictures are shown that people really wake up. “Priests for LIfe” have these resources straight from the industry that performs these attrocities. As Fr. Pavon points out when someone is talking pro-choice pull out one of these pictures or discriptive brochures and ask: “Is this what you mean?” Sorry for the rant but these people do not see this issue and a matter of life and death for millions of babies. And a most horrible death at that!

  76. Heather says:

    Thank you for the support Scott W.

    So many people are so misinformed about who he really was. He is not someone we should hold up as an example. He definitely should not have gotten a holiday, but no one had the guts to stand with Jesse Helms and oppose it. It’s interesting that many of the senators who denounced Helms on the floor of the senate, apologized privately and said they had no choice. The truth will make you free, but it won’t necessarily make you popular.

    I also don’t think it is accurate (or fair) to compare the methods of the southern bishops in the 50s-60s to the totally disingenuous behavior of the Kmiec Katholics of today. Kmiec is a heretic. Archbishop Toolen was being prudent.

  77. Mark says:

    Martin Luther King Jr was no Saint, and the “hagiographical” trend surrounding him as an individual is indeed disturbing.

    But he still represents a movement that was good, achieved good goals with good means, and is someone to look up to as a public figure, as a civic figure, even if not as private individual. In this sense we can compare him to certain men in Catholic history venerated civically even if not religiously. For example, Constantine and Charlemagne come to mind. The West generally doesnt treat Constantine as a Saint, and Charlemagne’s “blessed” status is suspect…but both men are venerated as public figures for what they achieved even if their private conduct would not mark them as examples of holiness (Charlemagne’s multiple concubines, etc). In a similar way Catholics traditionally had no problem respecting what was good in pagan philosophers, leaders, and heroes, nor George Washington, etc

    There is a place for civic honor towards Dr King, the civic holiday, etc, as long as we dont confuse that with a claim that he was Holy.

    And to suggest a “good cop/bad cop” routine with the Malcolm X types may be an astute sociological analysis of how things worked out practically, but it would be paranoid to suggest that was some sort of actual conscious collusion between the two.

  78. Kevin says:

    “Is it really correct to say that those who preferred in the past a gradual approach to civil rights were acting against the natural law in the same way and to the same extent as those who imagine that a gradual approach is possible regarding abortion and infanticide? ”

    That is a good question, Fr. Johnson, but I don’t see how you derived it from Jamie’s postings.

  79. michigancatholic says:

    1. Who cares what the Jesuits think? They need to be disbanded by the Holy See once and for all. [Two things. As long as they are publishing as they do, I care. Also, do you think they are going to be disbanded? I don’t.]
    2. Until the Church gets a handle on its own problems and its own identity, it can’t do anything about public affairs–its or anyone else’s. We’re completely locked up in our own little political rat race.
    3. The magazine America is a waste of paper pulp that would be better spent making toilet paper. [I think I will stay in the trenches.]

  80. Merriweather says:


    What difference does it make how or why Father Johnson posed the question. It is an excellent point and so far, no one has seen fit to respond.

  81. After all these comments, it’s kind of lame on my part, but I have to say it, I think Fr. Z’s response is great! Thank you.

  82. America is the magazine that shocked (almost wounded) me when I first relapsed as a Catholic in the 70s, after lapsing before Vatican II. Some sister (apparently smitten with the plethora of sacraments that theologians were attempting to add right and left), had a cover story with the e title, “Divorce Should be a Sacrament.”

  83. ssoldie says:

    From my heart, Thank you for being a wonderful priest, prayers and much love for you during this year of the priest.

  84. Luis says:

    If directness is needed from the pulpit what of this….

    “Before we raise a fuss over President Obama’s visit to Notre Dame, I think we need to take a look at ourselves and our actions. After all, the president is not Catholic and not bound by our teachings. We are. It is up to each one of us as individuals to put our faith into action and live what we preach, both in our homes and in our interactions with the rest of society.”

  85. Mr. H. says:

    Two thoughts:

    1) To disagree is not to demonize.

    2) To point out error is not uncivil.

    Mr. H

  86. John Polhamus says:

    “…if correction is necessary, it ought to be delivered with respect and kindness.”

    The same kind of respect and kindness that the iconoclastic Jesuits showed the traditions of the Church for the past forty years…and even before. I am content to turn their other cheek in good concience.

    He’s right of course, the polarization must stop. In short, the Editor needs to resign and go on retreat at a Charterhouse for a year, and America Magazine needs to go out of business immediately and stop embarrassing themselves and the Church.

  87. caine says:

    That packed a serious punch – nonviolent punch, of course.

  88. Ma Tucker says:

    We must tolerate the murder of human beings but be intolerant of any behaviour that may come across as intolerant. These people have rewritten and reduced to one, the ten commandments.

    1. Don’t upset anyone.

  89. joanne says:

    “Tolerance is not a virtue” is the most comforting line in that post. Thank you for the reminder, Fr Z. Much re-ordering of our thoughts and efforts seems to be essential in pro-life activity.
    There is some truth in what “America” says here, but it is truth twisted and used to obstruct and accuse pro-life. On the other hand, I think it worth noting that if we took MLK’s words to heart, many ardent and active life advocates would also stand accused (of cowardice). The very people who stand on the battleground could (and do, for a moment now and then) flare up against each other in a battle of methods, a war of “my way is better than yours.” In fact, there is room for prayer and for humanly direct tactics on and off the sidewalks of abortion clinics. Many gifts, one Holy Spirit.
    As long as we stand together in Love as we oppose the killing of innocent children in the womb, as long as we continue to offer every help to the pregnant woman in need, and to ask for God’s mercy on us all, including the abortionists, we are on common ground. There is no need to “seek” such ground. “Wherever two or more are gathered in My Name…”
    We ardently desire and pray for an end to abortion TODAY, every day. We rejoice over every life saved, grieve over those lost, knowing that WE, alone, cannot achieve that for which we work and pray. But God is with us. He is mighty to save. Blessed be God!
    The fall 40 Days For Life ’09 campaign begins this Sept 23. Anyone who sincerely wants to stand on common ground to end abortion would do well to research the results and methods of this campaign. It works! (
    Thank you for posting on behalf of God’s tiniest children, the poorest of the poor, the child in the womb. And for supporting the significant truth that it is RIGHT to stop the killing of children NOW; it is never sufficient to have as a goal, the eventual end to the legalized murder of children. Much seems to depend on our disposition of immediacy as we actively anticipate the God’s awesome works.

  90. Scott W. says:

    And to suggest a “good cop/bad cop” routine with the Malcolm X types may be an astute sociological analysis of how things worked out practically, but it would be paranoid to suggest that was some sort of actual conscious collusion between the two.

    Which is why I didn’t suggest it was. The fact that it wasn’t concious should creep us out more, not less.

  91. Michael says:

    To some up the America article: The American Bishops should shut up and fall in line with the agenda of the Democratic party or risk being labeled as partisan political figures.

  92. Rudy says:

    Michael is right: This a not so subtle effort by the left to silence the voice of Orthodox Catholicism. It is a party line.

  93. Rob Cartusciello says:

    A side issue, but one must understand that the use of Latin in the liturgy is >extremely< divisive in Jesuit circles. The writer is therefore correct in mentioning it in the article.

    This antipathy to traditional liturgical practice was a source of great sadness for me during my life in the Society, and a significant factor in my decision to leave it.

  94. Hans says:

    This brings to mind a blog post over at “Catholics in Alliance” (.org/node/20563) in March that cast those who oppose abortion as “Old Lights” (from the Great Awakening) in the mold of John Brown, while those who favor Missouri-like [my description] compromise are “New Lights” in the mold of the Great Compromiser, Abraham Lincoln.

    The author, a Professor Stephen Schneck from CUA, seemed not to recall that very old-light Civil War and the marching song John Brown’s Body.

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