Friday, March 8, 2013

Miscellanea; or, While you're waiting for the smoke ...

Over on The Other Blog, my latest post jumps off from a recent New York Slimes/CBS News poll. This cartoon reminds me of one fact I didn't cover there: Of the 500+ Catholics interviewed for the survey, 52% said the new translation of the Roman Missal was "a good idea", while only 32% said it was "a bad idea". (The rest said, "What new translation?")

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If ever the Sacred College were possessed of a fit of madness and elected me Pope — an event only slightly more probable than my being struck dead by a meteor — the first thing I would do is re-write the election rules and junk most of the secrecy. 


First and foremost, Christ founded the Church to be a light in the darkness and a city shining on a hill (Mt 5:14-16); she has no business hiding things in the dark. Second, it's a total joke; the Italian press has the place so compromised that the information security measures are completely ineffectual. And various people outside the College know how the ballots went very quickly after the cardinals are released. Third, the secrecy gives most of the information, which is interesting only to dedicated Church-watchers, a value-add out of proportion to its intrinsic newsworthiness. Put cameras in the General Congregations, and the resulting snoozefest would do more to disillusion the conspiracy theorists than ten thousand apologists. Fourth, we don't really have to worry about the Austro-Hungarian Emperor interfering in the elections anymore. Last, it's no fun watching the College thrash around trying to stop the leaks.

The next thing I'd do is remove Fr. Federico Lombardi and find an experienced civilian PR flack to run the Sala Stampa. Clearly, the Jesuit has never been up to the job.

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Hmm. I haven't ranted on economic matters for a while; Benedict's resignation and the forthcoming conclave took my attention away from the sequestration manufactured crisis. Not to worry; John Tamny of RealClearMarkets.com has written a perfect example of self-serving free-market nonsense worthy of an Outside the Asylum tirade. Exempli gratia:

“[T]he simple, life-enhancing truth [is] that when the wealth gap is increasing, that’s a certain signal that the lifestyle gap is shrinking – rapidly,” Tamny writes.
“[T]he sentient among us should cheer every time they read of rising inequality,” he adds. “The sentient should cheer because it signals enterprise being rewarded, freedom to keep the fruits of one’s labor, and then for all of us not rich it signals that our lives are getting better and better; the lifestyle disparity between us and them (the rich) shrinking precisely because economic achievement is taking place.”
What color is the sky in this guy's world?

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Doctor Don DeMarco has written a piece on a rather snide New York Times op-ed by Frank Bruni. "It hardly matters, Bruni contends, who will be the next pontiff to occupy the Chair of Peter since Catholics 'have minds and wills of their own' and no conclave will ever change that."

For Bruni, the Red Sea has parted, leaving an unbridgeable chasm between an irrelevant, but fascinatingly ceremonial Church on the one hand, and Catholics who can think for themselves, on the other. American Catholics now show “a robust disobedience” and are “less attached to [the Church’s] tradition”.
 Got a news flash for you, Frankie: Catholic disobedience, robust or otherwise, is hardly a new phenomenon. Say what you will about inquisitions; with the exceptions of Spain and (to a lesser extent) Portugal, they were aberrations that had limited reaches and appearances over a span of merely five hundred years, and only had power so long and so far as temporal authorities found the enforcement of orthodoxy useful. Martin Luther himself might have found himself before the Dominicans had not various German princes seen an opportunity to break from papal allegiance. And the English hierarchy very rapidly collapsed in the face of Henry VIII's determination to be both king and pope for Britain.

Disobedience is no greater a sign of intellectual independence than is free submission to authority. But if I were a priest who dissented from the Church's tradition, usually I would suffer far less oppression than I would if I were a college professor who openly challenged various liberal shibboleths.

Funny thing: you're only an independent thinker so long as you agree with the Right People.