Filed under: Culture and Catholicism, Uncategorized | Tags: abortion, American Revolutionary Party, Center for Economic and Social Justice, liturgy, Marcel Lefevbre, Michael Greaney, SSPX, stock market
The stock market, at least as it is constituted today, is immoral. It is immoral not because it represents capitalism but because it betrays capitalism; or betrays something even older than capitalism, betrays the bedrock of society: the prudent exercise of private property, whether stone-age club or stock option.
There are Catholic teachings that could guide us to a surer road than this torturous alternation of Bull with Bear markets, the wild swings that manage to maintain wage slavery among the world’s peoples great and small. But there is little discussion among Church leaders of these teachings, and much confusion over the franchise. Some calling themselves Catholic demonstrate the protestant errors of the neocons, with their orthodox moral values (on abortion, divorce, and related issues) but their persistent worship of false gods, the golden calf that passes now for a free market.
Others with a completely opposite agenda also call themselves Catholic, but fail to avoid the socialist error, with their state-driven income-redistribution or welfare programs (as opposed to actual ownership of real property capable of being passed on, productive of value, appreciable) and further betray the faith in another way with their support for gay lifestyle and their compromise on abortion, among many other value issues.
Neither side is correct, and it is arguable that they truly represent Catholic teaching, but they have managed to make fighting words of the venerable Catholic term ‘social justice.’ They influence other Catholics to make common cause with protestant economists whose philosophical foundations support capitalism unrestrained in any way, even when the developments contribute to an un-free market. They cause Catholics to desert Christ’s poor, who will still need housing long after the sub-prime meltdown is doused.
It was therefore refreshing, to say the least, to find one group that seems to offer working people a ray of hope both economically and morally. They have a political party called the American Revolutionary Party, or ARP, another associated website called the Center for Economic and Social Justice, and a magazine called The Social Justice Review: A Pioneer Journal of Catholic Social Action. Their economic program is not a bailout of the big banks, but instead a way to encourage the widest distribution of ownership of new capital in such a way that future bailouts will be unnecessary. The plan just adopted by the US does nothing to address the drastically concentrated ownership in key industries that made failure unthinkable and necessitated state-intervention.
The political name, by the way, for this situation, the one we have just faced where we watched our government conclude that they had no choice but to impoverish taxpayers at the expense of Wall Street, is fascism.
No, no not the little-mustache fascism with its Jewish fetish, the new fascism rather that goes with the twenty-first century, a fascism of the Fifth Element: all the porn and drugs and toys you can afford, but never have love, never have safety, never dignity, AND NEVER OWNERSHIP. The State stands ever-ready to protect the homefires of the Rich, and the poor are racked and stacked and fed in like cordwood as needed. You know, that fascism. Timeless and so chic.
This group’s analysis indicts the current system and its bailout, maintaining that such a collapse is the inevitable outcome of the stock market’s dependence on ever-increasing valuation of stocks, with the possibilities of fraud (as in the deliberate unfair manipulation of share prices, fueled by the practice of tying executive compensation to stock option packages rather than fixed salaries) and the fact that ‘secondary issuances’ are pieces of paper only, linked to no real assets, not backed by value, empty and therefore always dangerously close to disappearing. It is all backed by debt, this so-called free market, and its so-called democratic government, too. And the group convincingly links our broken system, with its ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor, to world-wide resentment against the US, and the guarantee thus of war, and future war, and finally, Eternal War.
The group has an economic program which they call ‘capital homesteading,’ a smart contemporary application of traditional Catholic economic principles like distributism to the virtual frontier, and they’re not talking forty acres and a mule, but another kind of capital. It does not serve to condense the plan’s sensible essentials to a postage-stamp blog; readers may study their proposals on the sites above, and buy the book, Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen. You won’t be able to put it down (you can’t afford to pay the cable, that’s why!).
There are two areas of immediate concern with the group’s beliefs. Either could be a deal breaker for the committed Catholic. One relates to abortion, and the other relates to liturgy. Regarding abortion, this is the position taken by the ARP on their website:
We will recognize the sanctity of every human life, born and unborn. However, we will avoid both government coercion, on the one hand, and taxpayer subsidies, on the other, to influence decisions on controversial issues where citizens are sharply divided on moral or religious grounds, such as abortion on demand. Such divisive issues should instead be settled in the marketplace of moral ideas through the powers of persuasion and reason, rather than through the force of government.
Most ‘social justice’ organizations will not make the statement that they recognize the sanctity of life, but how does the ARP think they can make that statement concrete if they do not protect the life of the baby in the womb through the power of law? Only by removing subsidies of abortion. Taxpayers presently do not directly subsidize abortion through the health insurance provided by welfare programs, but the US government heavily subsidizes Planned Parenthood through a variety of payments-for-service (just as it subsidizes Catholic Charities for many of its services), although it is possible that these government funds make the ‘reduced price’ possible that PP offers to low-income women, and may lower the price of abortion over all. In general, though, the poor are already paying for their abortions, which are cheap, relatively speaking. ‘Sidewalk counselors’ who keep vigil at abortuaries say that many, and some say most, women enter there under coercion from the boyfriend or family, and that only a roll-back of Roe vs. Wade would empower them to resist. It is debatable whether ARP’s position is truly pro-life, but it is not substantially different from John McCain’s.
ARP is also uncomfortable with those who take issue with the new mass. A Catholic journal site publishes Micheal Greaney, an ARP spokesperson and also an article lambasting a book (Priest, Where is Thy Mass published by Angelus Press, that praises the traditional mass and criticizes the new. In the article the author of the book is given as ‘John Vennaro’ , but actually is John Vennari, editor of ‘Catholic Family News,’ a blog with Lefevrist connections). The book is a collection of essays by sixteen priests castigating the new mass. The Journal lambaster, Father John H. Miller, Congregation of the Holy Cross, now deceased, defends the new mass’ practice of celebrating mass turned toward the people instead of toward God with old flower-power archeological arguments refuted by none lower than Benedict XVI himself, in his numerous statements on the praise-worthy practice of celebrating ad orientem.
Of all the vexing abuses to be found in the new mass, abuses long recognized by the Church, abuses that have been consistently tied to empty pews and pastoral nightmares, Miller acknowledges only one and gives an easy solution: “If one seeks reverence in the celebration of Mass in the new rite, let him ask priests to pray it and while they pray it not look at the congregation, except when they greet or exhort the congregation.” Father Miller could know from experience (since the older generation of CSC priests were mildly infamous for abuses, although it is said the new crop is looking more traditional) that the typical Novus Ordo priest is hooked up to a wireless mic amped with enough bass to rock the church–so not looking at the congregation while his every sigh and murmur fills the church would amount to simple coquetry, nothing more.
Perhaps it is easier for the reader to understand abortion as a deal-breaker in evaluating the credentials of a third-party contender than the attitudes of its fellow-travelers toward liturgy. But not if one considers that liturgy is a reflection of the nature of one’s belief in God. The authenticity of that belief. The likelihood that belief in God will guide them in the tight spots, will constrain authority’s tendency to excess over the rights of the individual, especially the poorest, weakest, most vulnerable individuals. The new mass is a sponge for political manipulation in a thousand ways, from the extemporized prayers to the selection of the lay “ministers” to the enforced peace handshake; the old mass is simple and humble and open to no manipulation at all beyond the sermon. That a political party should easily tolerate and share space with those who mock and disdain the old mass is not a good sign for their liklihood to honor the equally old respect for life and property.
One of the functionaries for the Journal site in question has since told the writer that the author of the offensive post, the past editor of the Journal, was deceased, that the Journal staff had long since disagreed with the sentiments expressed in the post, that their chaplain celebrates the old, Tridentine, mass, and that the piece would undoubtedly be taken down by a new editor shortly. This response, however, was elicited by the actions of this writer, not any protest by the ARP.
And yet an otherwise articulate spokesperson for this group, Michael Greaney, on the Journal site, makes an assertion regarding the deliberate suppression by the post Vatican II church of authentic Social Justice teachings, especially those of Pius XI, that is identical to those made by the promoters of the traditional mass. They too believe real Catholicism has been suppressed. Yet Greaney apparently fails to make the connection between his cause and theirs.
“The goal [of modernist forces within the Church] is to make the Church not only in the world, but of it. This must be done, and done completely, in order that the temporal order can force whatever current vision it has of reality on to the Church. Thus the Church will change from a censuring guide and go along with, or, more likely, offer enthusiastic approbation of every change in temporal society, no matter how greatly it may be at odds with reality, that is, with God’s Nature.”
But this is exactly what Marcel Lefevbre believed, only he applied it to the liturgy, not the deliberate suppression of the teachings around social justice, as Greaney does. (But of course it would have occurred in both arenas! What, is Satan stupid?)
Greanley writes, as the core of the failure to pursue the teaching of the whole faith, as the core of the sickness of relativism, that
“Having the Church as guide for civil society and interpreter of the universal moral values that must underpin the social order means that there must be a single authoritative source for such interpretation and guidance.”
So, for modernism to win, the strong center must be abolished. And what, at that hour, wounded our universality and discipline worse than the splintering of the mass into a thousand masses in a thousand, warring, vernaculars, than the enculturation into the liturgy of ideas and beliefs foreign to Catholicism, than the easy disobedience of the shadow national churches that arose behind the liturgical changes?
It is all part of the same trick! And it is not just the liturgy–there are doctrinal areas of ‘confusion’ loosely or directly tied to Vatican II that Greaney notes as instrumental in the hamstringing of social justice doctrine which are noted as instrumental also by supporters of the traditional mass; the most casual reading discovers them at once.
It is ironic that the traditionalists mocked on this website, then, are among the few Catholics left celebrating the feast of Christ the King with the ferver and unabashed love with which Greaney himself writes about it, utilizing the same definition. It is ironic and sad, and it simply does not speak well for either the intelligence of the ARP, or for their moral courage.
For to ignore the impact of sick liturgy on the general sickness of our Church seems worse than simple failure to identify a potential ally (serious enough in a political player). It feels like a willingness to kick someone when they’re down, to join the gangbang. It’s like satirizing Palin’s accent, when you don’t agree with her economics but know your listeners are only hating on her for having five kids. It’s cheap, and in the end it will turn on you.
The proposals of this group merit serious attention, but it is to be hoped that they recognize that the suppression of the truth which they recognize and rightly detest has happened in a number of areas across the board, not just regarding the Church’s teachings on social justice. They must put their money where their mouth is, regarding abortion, by calling for the rollback of Roe V. Wade. And their Catholic members ought to support very publically all demands for the restoration of the Tridentine mass. This should be done for justice’s sake alone, as giving God what He is due, but not only that; it’s for the practical reason that there is magical power at work in the liturgy. Yes! The mass is not something we do, it’s the thing we do, and it saves the world, every day. Literally. Without the sacrificial mass, the world would end. You’re not Catholic if you don’t sincerely believe that.
Some believe that economics trumps worship, but Catholic tradition teaches lex orandi, lex credendi: as we worship, so do we believe. Liturgy trumps all. That is the secret. The holy traditional mass prayed by a fervent community in its ancient language, worth a king’s ransom! Of course it was suppressed, just as were the teachings of Pius XI.
It is sad to find this group of otherwise astute and charitable thinkers undercutting their own arguments in this single but important matter.
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