The New Pagans

The New Pagans and the Church
by Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
A 1958 Lecture by Joseph Ratzinger

This lecture was delivered in 1958 by Joseph Ratzinger when he was a young priest assigned to youth ministry. He had been assigned to lecture to young people and hold religious instruction classes. The lecture was translated by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.

According to religious statistics, old Europe is still a part of the earth that is almost completely Christian. But there is hardly another case in which everyone knows as well as they do here that the statistic is false: This so-called Christian Europe for almost four hundred years has become the birthplace of a new paganism, which is growing steadily in the heart of the Church, and threatens to undermine her from within. The outward shape of the modern Church is determined essentially by the fact that, in a totally new way, she has become the Church of pagans, and is constantly becoming even more so. She is no longer, as she once was, a Church composed of pagans who have become Christians, but a Church of pagans, who still call themselves Christians, but actually have become pagans. Paganism resides today in the Church herself, and precisely that is the characteristic of the Church of our day, and that of the new paganism, so that it is a matter of a paganism in the Church, and of a Church in whose heart paganism is living.

New Oxford American Dictionary
Definition of the word “Pagan”
a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.
• dated, derogatory a non-Christian.
• an adherent of neopaganism.

Definition of the word “Neopaganism”
1 a person who is concerned with or advocates the protection of the environment.
2 a person who considers that environment, as opposed to heredity, has the primary influence on the development of a person or group.

Neopaganism is a highly varied mixture of ancient and modern elements, in which nature worship (influenced by modern environmentalism) often plays a major role. another influence is … magical and occult traditions, and radical feminist critiques of Christianity.

Let us pray
All powerful God, it is through your Church, generously endowed with gifts of grace and fortified by the Holy Spirit, that you send out your word [that the “Past is Prologue”] to all nations. Strengthen your Church with the best of all food and make it dauntless in faith. Multiply its children to celebrate with one accord the mysteries of your love at the altar on high.

Pope Francis by Muris–Let’s get this straight:

Let’s get this straight: Concern about Pope Francis is not rooted in dissent, but in dismay.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio – articles – email) | Mar 17, 2017

One wonders where Pope Francis finds the people who provide articles to L’Osservatore Romano which attack those who raise questions about his leadership. The latest is Father Salvador Pié-Ninot, who has criticized what he calls “dissent in the form of public criticism” of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Of course, I do not know that the Pope actively recruited Fr. Pié-Ninot. As evidenced by the broadside released by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, there are plenty of churchmen who are happy to preach tradition and orthodoxy when those who can promote them are traditional and orthodox, and to condemn those who value tradition and orthodoxy when those who can promote them are not.

This is nothing new, though I freely admit the uncertainty of assigning motives in particular cases. What I really do know, however, is that the arguments made by Fr. Pié-Ninot completely misrepresent the nature of the concerns of the faithful in this matter. Since Fr. Pié-Ninot is a theologian, one has little choice but to surmise that such misrepresentation is either deliberate or unwittingly driven by ideology—even if we grant that this is only a reasonable assumption, not a known fact.

I say this because Fr. Pié-Ninot’s criticism is based on the claim that some Catholics are guilty of “dissent in the form of public criticism”. But there are two glaring errors in this claim. First, criticism is not dissent unless it takes the form of denying the truth of something the Church has taught. Second—and this is the main point—as a general rule those who have criticized the Pope’s approach to divorce, remarriage and Communion have not denied the truth of anything Pope Francis has officially taught.

Two Issues

I regret that, even in some of our own commentary, we have used a kind of shorthand, talking about the controversy over Amoris Laetitia. But the controversy which is shaking the Church at present is not over what Amoris Laetitia actually says but how it is to be interpreted in practice. The questions arise precisely because Pope Francis himself has encouraged bishops and pastors to address these marriage questions in ways that (a) are forbidden in Canon Law; (b) violate both Catholic tradition and the clear magisterial teaching of Pope John Paul II; and (c) are not, in fact, taught in Amoris Laetitia.

The only problem which reasonable critics have discerned (to use one of Pope Francis’ favorite words) in Amoris Laetitia is an unfortunate (and perhaps tendentious) lack of clarity. This affects two particular issues:


In section 8 of the document, Pope Francis repeats Pope John Paul II’s conclusion that gradualism in moral theology can be used to describe the subjective stages of moral growth but can never be understood as “gradualism of the law”. Though Francis does not say so, gradualism of the law would mean that different moral teachings apply to persons at different stages of moral growth: What is sinful for a saint will not be deemed sinful for a person who is less advanced spiritually. This, of course, would be nonsense. Sinful behaviors are objectively wrong. Only degrees of personal guilt can vary.

Unfortunately, instead of clarifying this point, Pope Francis continues with a discussion that can be interpreted to lapse directly into what he has just denied, namely gradualism of the law. He suggests (but does not clearly teach) that it is possible to recognize that a sinner may be doing the best he can even though he has chosen to persist in his sin (as opposed to repenting of it but sometimes falling again). This leads to (unstated) speculation about whether the person should be judged to be actually sinning. The Pope suggests (but does not clearly teach) the idea that such a person may be pursuing a lesser good that simply falls short of the ideal. Insofar as this text can be taken to undermine the Church’s confidence in the liberating grace available through Christ, the discussion would be construed as drifting tacitly into gradualism of the law.

Admission to Communion:

On the question of changing the traditional Catholic teaching and discipline concerning the reception of the Eucharist, the text of Amoris Laetitia does not directly address it. Rather it offers two uncertain hints. First, in #300, the text states that since the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases, “the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same.” Footnote 336, attached to this sentence, is not much clearer: “This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline…”.

Second, in #305, the text reads: “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin—which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such—a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” But there is no clarification of what this might mean in marriage cases, and once again, footnote 351 (attached to this sentence), is not much clearer: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments.” The note then reminds readers of certain aspects of Penance and Eucharist, without specifying how and when they are to be used. Yet the use of both has been expressed clearly and consistently in the past, encouraging Penance in these cases, and prohibiting Communion.

Immediate Confusion

It is impossible to pretend (as some ecclesiastics have done) that there is no sincere confusion. As a matter of public record, the text of Amoris Laetitia as it affects these two issues has meant different things even to different bishops and cardinals. Some bishops (and episcopal conferences) have decided the text does not change the existing sacramental discipline of the Eucharist, especially since Canon Law has not been changed. Indeed, this is also the conclusion of the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller. Other bishops (and episcopal conferences) have decided the text intends to permit reception of Communion in some (or a few) cases by those who are divorced and remarried without benefit of an annulment, after a period of discernment with the help of their pastors.

Still other bishops have decided that reception of Communion for those in every sort of irregular marital situation is now left to the persons in question, who are to decide for themselves if they feel comfortable enough with their situation to receive the Eucharist. As far as we know, Pope Francis has never even unofficially favored this third view, but neither has he unofficially favored the first. The only interpretation the Pope has favored in interviews, conversations and personal letters is the second. Meanwhile, a number of bishops and theologians have proposed examples of cases which could justify reception of Communion under the second interpretation, but they have not agreed with each other on which cases qualify.

In other words, there are widely varying and mutually inconsistent interpretations all across the board, and it is precisely this that faithful Catholics throughout the Church have complained about. In addition, it is precisely this confusion that the cardinals who submitted “dubia” to Pope Francis hoped to remedy. They used the traditional method of seeking clarification by presenting a number of precise questions that can only be answered with a clear “yes” or “no”. For their pains, Pope Francis has not only refused to clarify what he means, but he has belittled all those who have such questions, including the cardinals. He has called them names, and he has launched a campaign of public criticism and demotion of critics, along with both publication and promotion for those who are willing to champion the uncertainty, pretending that only bad Catholics are confused.


The point of all this is to demonstrate that Father Salvador Pié-Ninot has completely missed the point by characterizing Catholics with legitimate questions as dissenters. The truth is that none of those who are confused by the Pope’s overall behavior in this matter have accused him of error in his exercise of the Ordinary Magisterium (such as Amoris Laetitia). What has concerned them is the uncertainty of the text coupled with the Pope’s personal (non-magisterial) support of pastoral practices which, again, he has not officially taught. To review, these pastoral practices and the claims that justify them contradict the current Code of Canon Law, deviate from Catholic tradition, differ from the formally-taught conclusion on this very matter by Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio (#84), and so have thrown the Church into conflict and confusion around the world.

It is critical to recognize that this is not a question of dissent. It is a request for the elimination of serious confusion which has been actively encouraged by the Pope. As I have stated several times before, Pope Francis is actively pursuing a pastoral and administrative program based on principles of faith and morals which the Holy Spirit appears to have prevented him from officially teaching. Under such circumstances, dissent does not enter into the issue at all. It is shamefully disingenuous to suggest that it does. Two things alone enter into this question: Dismay that this has come to pass in the Church, and deep concern for the care of souls.


Posted by: dover beachcomber – Mar. 23, 2017 4:41 PM ET USA “The controversy which is shaking the Church at present is not over what Amoris Laetitia actually says but how it is to be interpreted in practice.” Change “Amoris Laetitia” to “the Second Vatican Council” and you have a fine summary of the predicament of the last 50 years.
Posted by: Jeff Mirus – Mar. 22, 2017 10:12 AM ET USA bkmajer3729: You raise a good question, but once again we have a statement which the context protects from the necessity to understand it as an error in Faith. Paragrah 297 is about the human tendency to write people off. The emphasis is on “reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy.” It is in this sense that the Pope writes, in the very next sentence, that “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” But he then goes on to say, “Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community (cf. Mt 18:17). Such a person needs to listen once more to the Gospel message and its call to conversion. Yet even for that person there can be some way of taking part in the life of community, whether in social service, prayer meetings or another way that his or her own initiative, together with the discernment of the parish priest, may suggest.” In other words, there are questions of prudence here, including prudence of expression, but nothing that (considering the context) can be shown as intending to violate prior Catholic teaching.

Editor: Continue to pray to eliminate the confusion.

What is Happening

Your Prayers are Greatly Needed for our Country and our Political System. 
Lord, all justice and all goodness comes from you; you hate evil and abhor lies. Lead us, your servants, in the path of
your justice, so that all who hope in you may rejoice with the Church and in Christ. (Divine Office)

The Words of St. Francis: To all magistrates and consuls, judges and governors all over the world…I ask you with whatever reverence I can that you do not let the cares and worries of this world cause you to forget God and turn from the path of his commandments..

 A Christian can never remain silent in the face of violence, poverty, hunger, corruption or abuse of power. – Pope Benedict XV

 Pope Francis takes a “Wait and See” attitude
Pope Francis adopted a “wait and see” attitude toward President Donald Trump, in a interview with the Spanish daily El Pais.
“I don’t like to get ahead of myself, or to judge people prematurely,” the Pope said regarding Trump. “We will see how he acts,
what he does, and then I will form an opinion.”

(This post and report will be updated from time to time because there are changes and revelations happening almost every day.)

1. Our President and his Administration: What Happened

  • “The March for Life”
  • Source: and January 27, 2017
    “Life is winning in America because of all of you,” Vice President Mike Pence told the youthful crowd [at the Annual March for Life in Washington]. His presence was a clear sign of White House support; no incumbent president or vice-president had ever before made a personal appearance at the March for Life. President Trump underlined that message on his Twitter account: “To all of you marching—you have my full support!”…

    Trump’s action fulfills a campaign promise to pro-life supporters. The executive order does not yet fulfill Trump’s promise to cut off all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

  • “Mexico City policy”
  • The president’s executive order reinstates the “Mexico City policy” that was first adopted by President Reagan, blocking the flow of taxpayer money to organizations that use the funds for abortions. The policy was rescinded by President Clinton, reinstated by President Bush, and rescinded again by President Obama—all by executive orders issued soon after they took office.
    Trump’s memorandum reinstituting the policy directs top U.S. officials for the first time to extend the anti-abortion requirements “to global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies.”
    In 1976, Congressman Henry Hyde introduced a provision which prohibits any funds from Medicaid being used to pay for abortions. In the last 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has been renewed annually and has saved more than two million lives!
    This important legislation will make the Hyde Amendment permanent and will apply it across the federal government, not just to Medicaid. This will save even more innocent lives!

    Our tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood
    “It is deeply troubling to many Americans that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion network…receives more than half a billion taxpayer dollars per year,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. “This concern has rightly grown with revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions.”

    Exposé: no prenatal care at Planned Parenthood, January 24, 2017 Source: and
    Planned Parenthood officials frequently say that their clinics offer valuable prenatal care, [though] a new undercover survey finds that most Planned Parenthood clinics turn away women who ask for that help. Live Action,
    A pro-life group, recorded calls to dozens of Planned Parenthood clinics across the US. Of the 97 facilities contacted, only five offered any kind of prenatal help. In most cases, receptionists quickly told the caller that Planned Parenthood does not offer that sort of service.
    “Planned Parenthood offers abortions, so they don’t offer prenatal care,” said a typical clinic staffer.

    Note: Planned Parenthood coached staff to cover up child abuse, former employee discloses 1-18, 2017
    A former Planned Parenthood employee has said that the organization trained its counselors to skirt laws requiring them to report the sexual abuse of young girls.
    In 2011, an undercover investigation by the pro-life group Live Action found that Planned Parenthood abortion clinics made no effort to notify authorities when underage girls reported that they were sexually involved with older men. Following that episode, Planned Parenthood briefed employees on how to respond to such situations.
    Now Ramona Trevino, who once worked for Planned Parenthood, reports that the briefings were not designed to help protect young women. Instead, she said, employees were instructed on how to identify investigators.

    Report: Planned Parenthood didn’t report child sex trafficking to law enforcement as it claimed (Live Action)  

  • Defunding Planned Parenthood by the States
  • Before Obama left office, he pushed through a parting gift to Planned Parenthood. A rule that prevented states from having the ability to defund Planned Parenthood in their own states. 
    On Feb 19 the House passed a resolution to undo Obama’s rule and voted to overturn his parting gift–thanks to the leadership of pro-life Representative Diane Black and others. Now the resolution goes on to the Senate, and then to the desk of our new pro-life president, Donald Trump.

    President Donald Trump’s offer of federal funding
    New York Times By MAGGIE HABERMANMARCH 6, 2017
    US President Donald Trump suggested that he would work to preserve federal funding for Planned Parenthood if the group stopped performing abortions.

    Planned Parenthood—which is the largest abortion provider in the US—quickly rejected the offer. The group insists that federal funding, which amounts to about $500 million a year, is not used for abortion services. Nevertheless, the institution said that it would not accept an offer that required an end to performing abortions.

    Pray that the House and Senate will deliver a bill to President Trump’s desk that will stop the flow of our tax dollars ($1.5 MILLION dollars a day) to Planned Parenthood. 

  • Some Democrats are Trying to Influence and Change the Church’s Teaching about Abortion.
  • Nothing new. By Phil Lawler, Oct 12, 2016
    “We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good,” wrote John Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign. He was responding to a supporter who had suggested a campaign to bring change within the Catholic Church, to “demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship.”
    A political campaign to change the teachings of the Church: is this unprecedented?
    Unfortunately, no. In this country, the desire to change the Church in order to advance the liberal agenda was on display more than 50 years ago:
    In July 1964, several liberal theologians received invitations to the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, for a discussion of how a Catholic politician should handle the abortion issue. Notice now that abortion was not a major political issue in 1964. Ostensibly the meeting had been called to provide advice for Robert Kennedy, who was running for a New York Senate seat. But a candidate was not likely to face questions about abortion in 1964; the Kennedy planners had the more distant future in mind.
    From the Hyannisport meeting emerged the argument that a Catholic politician might be “personally” opposed to abortion, yet support its legalization: the flimsy argument that “pro-choice” Catholic politicians have so enthusiastically embraced. And it’s not a coincidence that one of the theologians who had attended the meeting helped form the pro-abortion front group, Catholics for Free Choice.
    So it’s an old story, really. But the full truth about the Hyannisport meeting didn’t emerge until 2008, with the publication of my book The Faithful Departed (from which the quote above is taken). With Wikileaks the truth has come out faster.

    2. Our President and his Administration: What is Happening.

    Illegals entering the southern boarder

  • Immigration:The President’s executive order on refugees and illegals entering the southern boarder
  • President said, during the campaign, he would build a wall along the Mexican border to halt the entry of illegal drugs and drug carriers from entering the United States.

    No preferential treatment for persecuted Christians in revised executive order
    March 08, 2017
    President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on refugees no longer offers preferential treatment for Christians and beleaguered religious minorities fleeing persecution.
    Father Benedict Kiely, who raised funds for persecuted Christians, told the National Catholic Register, “It may seem politically incorrect to prioritize a specific group or groups, however, given the lessons of history, I wonder what prioritization might have done in 1938 for the Jews of Europe?”
    “There’s a dire need for President Trump to issue a separate executive order—one specifically aimed to help the genocide survivors of ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” added Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute.

  • Religious Freedom:
  • USCCB committee chairmen call on President Trump to protect religious liberty February 17, 2017
    Four bishops who chair committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have called upon President Donald Trump to enact religious-liberty protections.
    A draft executive order has been published in media outlets, but the order has not been signed.

    “Over the last several years, to our great dismay, the federal government has eroded this fundamental right, our first and most cherished freedom,” stated Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Charles Chaput, Archbishop William Lori, and Bishop Frank Dewane.

    President Trump has pledged that his “administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land.” We urge the fulfillment of this promise, including an end to regulations and other mandates by the federal government that force people of faith to make impossible choices…

    It is indeed encouraging to hear that the President may be considering an Executive Order to implement strong protections for religious freedom across the federal government, in many of the areas where it has been eroded by the preceding Administration, such as health coverage, adoption, accreditation, tax exemption, and government grants and contracts. We ourselves, as well as those we shepherd and serve, would be most grateful if the President would take this positive step toward allowing all Americans to be able to practice their faith without severe penalties from the federal government.

    A draft of the proposed executive order was circulating among political activists in Washington, prompting enthusiasm from religious leaders and criticism from secular liberals. The sweeping document would:

    •Require all federal agencies to recognize that the free exercise of religion extends to all citizens, not only in houses of worship but in public conduct.

    •Ensure that the federal government does not take action against organizations because of their stands on issues such as same-sex marriage or gender ideology.

    •Instruct the relevant federal agencies to provide exemptions to the “Obamacare” mandate to all religious institutions that find the policies objectionable, and provide all citizens with health-care programs that do not subsidize abortion.

    •Define religious organizations to include any groups founded on religious principles—not only churches and charitable groups.

    •Order federal agencies to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of employees “to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law,” and forbid any adverse action against federal employees or contractors for religious stands they might take outside the scope of their federal work.
    Pornography laws:

  • Conscience Protection Act:
  • USCCB urges senators to support Conscience Protection Act
    The chairmen of two committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have called upon senators to pass the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (S. 301), sponsored by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
    As of 3-15-2017 Conscience Protection Act has yet to pass the House.

  • Pornography laws
  • Attorney-general nominee Sessions promises tough enforcement of pornography laws.
    Catholic World News January 17, 2017
    Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been nominated – [and who now holds the office of Attorney General] told a Senate confirmation hearing that he would “vigorously” enforce federal laws against pornography. Sessions said that pornography laws “should continue to be effectively and vigorously prosecuted in the cases that are appropriate.” He said that he would consider restoring a special task force within the Justice Department to prosecute crimes involving pornography.

    We must pray earnestly for Senator Jeff Sessions to prosecute crimes involving pornography.

    3. The Democratic Party and the last administration under review by the Trump administration?

  • Obama’s LGBT policy
  • Obama’s Human Rights of LGBTI Persons
    Human Rights of LGBTI Persons February 17, 2017
    The Trump administration has decided not to eliminate the position of Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, a position created by the Obama administration in 2015.

    Executive Order 13672
    USCCB rues Trump’s decision to retain Obama’s LGBT executive order, February 03, 2017

    Note: The chairmen of two committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to leave in place a 2014 executive order on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment.

    Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore issued their statement a day before the president addressed the National Prayer Breakfast and pledged to protect religious liberty.

    “The new administration’s decision not to rescind Executive Order 13672 is troubling and disappointing,” the prelates said. “The Executive Order is deeply flawed, and its many problems are outlined in our statement from 2014 … In seeking to remedy instances of discrimination, it creates new forms of discrimination against people of faith.”

    Human Rights of LGBTI Persons February 17, 2017.
    Note: Pope Francis strongly criticizes transgender ideology August 04, 2016

    The Holy See Press Office has published the transcript of the meeting between Pope Francis and the bishops of Poland that took place during the Pope’s recent apostolic journey there.

    During the conversation, which took place on July 27, Pope Francis strongly criticized the teaching of transgender ideology to children.

    “In Europe, America, Latin America, Africa and some Asian countries we are seeing some real ideological colonizations,” he said. “And one of these, I’m going to say it outright, is gender.”

    “Today, children—children!—are told at school that they can choose their sex,” he continued. “Why are they taught this? Because the books are supplied by the people and institutions that give you the money. These are the ideological colonizations backed also by countries that wield a great deal of influence. And this is terrible.”

    Pope Francis added:
    Speaking with Benedict XVI, who is well and lucid, he told me: “Holiness, this is the age of sin against the Creator!: He is intelligent! God created man and woman; God made the world like this, like this, like this, and we are doing the exact opposite.”

    Note: A young girl who is unhappy as a girl surely does need sympathy, support, and loving care. But if she thinks of herself as a boy, she should not be encouraged in that delusion. A girl is a girl, and a boy is a boy, and neither medical procedures nor hormone injections can change that reality.

    We must pray earnestly to change this teaching in the schools.

    4. What has been done to try to disable this administration.

    The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church has released a statement protesting policies and appointments of President Trump’s administration. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)
    The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, has called upon its more than 1 million members in 39 countries, including the United States, to do all they can to see that a host of decisions and actions by the Trump administration, described by the bishops as “clearly demonic acts,” “do not last.” The bishops are calling for concerted grass-roots action, including bringing pressure on Congress.
    Those demonic acts are as stated in the Council of Bishops AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH Episcopal Statement January 31, 2017
    Bishops issue the following statement in response to the views and actions of President Donald Trump since his inauguration on January 20, 2017.
    The charges against Trump for demonic acts and spiritual wickedness,include:

    1.Trump Administration’s denial of climate change, the order for expediting reviews and approvals for infrastructure projects.

    2.In addition, support for the XL and Dakota pipelines, places profits above the importance of protecting the environment, and the health of citizens.

    3.President Trump claimed during the campaign that he would build a wall along the Mexican border to halt illegal immigration,

    We ask that every member of this denomination, and people who are committed to justice and righteousness, equality and truth, will join with us to thwart what are clearly demonic acts.

    We must do more than talk and write, we must act. Again, the Apostle says that “we wrestle”, not just talk, with spiritual wickedness.

    St. Thomas More, OFS

    Razor-sharp Dialogue of Comfort
    By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio – articles – email) | Jan 17, 2017

    I feel privileged to have read another book written by St. Thomas More while he was in the Tower of London awaiting execution: A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation (see my comments last November on The Sadness of Christ). More remained extraordinarily calm under fire for his refusal to approve King Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon or to acknowledge the King as “head of the Church in England”. Moreover, when it comes to his Tower writings, Sir Thomas was not only innocent as a dove but wise as a serpent—and perhaps sharper than a serpent’s tooth.

    The Dialogue of Comfort is presented as just that, a dialogue between an uncle, Anthony, who is nearing death, and his nephew, Vincent, who greatly fears the Turks will invade their native Hungary. Vincent is hoping that Uncle Anthony can give him sound words of comfort that will help him to be true to Christ in the coming upheaval and persecution. Accordingly, the Dialogue discusses all of the goods which may disappear under the Turks, from prosperity to life itself, and Anthony offers ways of looking at each of them which we can use to keep these losses in perspective, especially as compared with eternal happiness with God.

    Throughout the text, More draws on the discussions he has had in the Tower with his wife Alice and his daughter Meg, when they visited him in sore need of comfort for his impending loss. He also peppers the discussion with practical wisdom about how incompletely we appreciate so many things here on earth, and with humorous stories which illustrate how foolish we can be in our attachments. For example, he tells of a man who relies on his ability to ask forgiveness of God with his last few words, rather than striving to amend his life. Riding across a slippery bridge, his horse loses its footing. As horse and rider plunge over the edge into the dangerous waters below, he cries out his few last words, “Well I’ll be damned!”

    There is, of course, great spiritual wisdom in More’s Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, but its sharp cleverness consists in More writing of the need for comfort in the event of the Turks’ invasion of Hungary while he was being deprived of the exact same things—the Church, prosperity, status, liberty, health and life itself—by a reputedly Catholic king in England. The evil perpetrated by Henry VIII is so astonishingly abrupt and obvious that the mind boggles that so many in England can remain outside the Church when they reflect on the historical events that led them to become Protestants.

    The nature of imprisonment
    More’s response (for Anthony is clearly More) to his fictitious nephew’s fear of imprisonment is particularly clever and genuinely deep. He patiently brings Vincent to grasp his point that it is really how we look at our prison that is the chief determinant of how much we suffer there. He gives some examples of the nobility being imprisoned under conditions that are delightful in comparison with the normal circumstances of the lower classes, and he notes the many ways in which so many people seem to be imprisoned by their material, physical, mental and moral circumstances.

    But most interesting of all is his proof that every single man, woman and child on earth is imprisoned there by God Himself, and cannot escape that prison except through death. Each of us, then, lives under a judgment, and yet we constantly convince ourselves that we are free and happy and, yes, in charge of our own lives. Referring to a wealthy and powerful man condemned to death but imprisoned on a beautiful estate, with complete liberty to enjoy all its benefits, More continues the dialogue:

    ANTHONY: Now, nephew Vincent, what would you consider this man? A prisoner, because he is being kept for execution? Or not a prisoner, because he is in the meantime being so favorably treated, allowed to do everything he wants except escape? I ask you, now, not to be hasty in your answer, but to consider all this carefully. I do not want you to grant anything in haste, and then later, at your leisure, regret it and think you’ve been deceived.

    VINCENT: No, by my word, Uncle, in my mind this thing needs no study at all. This man is, for all the favor shown him and all the liberty lent him, still condemned to death and being kept for that reason, and kept under such surveillance that he cannot possibly escape. He therefore is, quite obviously, still a prisoner.

    Indeed, one person might despair of such a magnanimous imprisonment, while another might be fully recollected, in constant conversation with God, and quite content in a small cell.

    Suffering and contentment
    Surely it would be impossible to argue that St. Thomas More did not suffer during his imprisonment. In an effort to crack him, as if the discomforts of his Tower cell were not enough, his books were taken away, and also his writing implements. He was reduced to writing with bits of charcoal on what scraps of paper he could find or conceal. There can be little question that he wrote The Sadness of Christ, A Treatise on the Passion, and A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation at least in part to present all of these meditations and arguments to himself, for his own spiritual comfort.

    Yet the calmness and genuine concern for others which Sir Thomas displayed throughout his imprisonment and even up to the moment of death testify to the effectiveness of his own remedy. Fortuitously, Americans in the mid-Atlantic region have a signal opportunity to be inspired by an extensive exhibit on Thomas More which is on loan from the Stonyhurst College Collections in England, until March 31st at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, DC. It was there during the Christmas holidays that I was reminded of the prophetic words of G. K Chesterton, written in A Turning Point in History back in 1929:

    Blessed Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, even perhaps the great moment of his dying; but he is not quite so important as he will be in about a hundred years’ time. He may come to be counted the greatest Englishman, or at least the greatest historical character in English history. For he was above all things historic; he represented at once a type, a turning point and an ultimate destiny. If there had not happened to be that particular man at that particular moment, the whole of history would have been different.

    Once Lord High Chancellor of the Realm, More died “the King’s good servant, and God’s first.” His true public path to glory began with his beatification by Pope Leo XIII in 1888, but he was not canonized by Pius XI until 1935, shortly before Chesterton’s death. In 2000, Pope St. John Paul II declared him patron of statesman and politicians.

    St. Thomas More, pray for us.

    Gender ideology

    No scientific evidence to support gender ideology, scholars argue
    August 22, 2016
    There is no compelling scientific evidence to support the theory that some people may be programmed at birth to identify with the opposite sex, two leading scholars argue in a new journal article.
    Writing for New Atlantis, Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University conclude that the claims put forward by “gender ideology” advocates are without a scientific basis. They find “no compelling biological explanations for human sexual orientation.”
    The authors report that same-sex attractions are not necessarily permanent. In fact, among males who report same-sex attractions during adolescence, 80% find that they no longer experience those attractions as adults.
    Mayer and McHugh also find that homosexuals and other “non-heterosexuals” are markedly more likely to have suffered abuse in childhood, and dramatically more prone to “adverse health and mental-health outcomes” as adults.
    For example, the attempted-suicide rate among people who identify as “transgender” is estimated at 41%– eight times the rate for the overall population.  Sex-change surgery does not improve those odds, the authors report. On the contrary: “One study found that, compared to controls, sex-reassigned individuals were about 5 times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide.”

    • Sexuality and Gender (New Atlantis)

    • @ mclom2107…I agree! Kids are so impressionable growing up too. Any real life sexual experiences bad or good leave indelible imprints on a person’s psyche no doubt. This study is at least a step in the right direction to recognize that sexual orientation is not pre-programmed into our DNA. If society is going to encourage same-sex orientation as a good thing that is even to be celebrated then it is going to be a tough go of it in life. Interesting the correlation of abuse in youth found also.
    • Posted by: mclom2107 – Aug. 23, 2016 3:59 AM ET USA Very grateful to have this information. How can mainstream media be persuaded to put these statistics out for public discernment and debate? I feel desperately sad for young people who are being pushed into gay or transgender life styles by their teachers, and horrifyingly, sometimes their parents. When I was young, same sex crushes were a normal part of growing up for some children, especially those I think who were shy or had dysfunctional parents; one then matured and moved on.