Ad rem and ad hominem with Austen Ivereigh

Ad rem and ad hominem with Austen Ivereigh

From OnePeter5 for August 10, 2017:

What if We Were All Cradle Catholics, Mr. Ivereigh?

Maike Hickson

For some time now, the comment has been coming from the direction of Pope Francis’s supporters and defenders that papal critics often are converts. For some reason, that seems for them to be a defect. Austen Ivereigh, among others, has now put this argument in the form of an article for Crux: “Pope Francis and the Convert Problem.”

Although Ivereigh first insists that he “loves” converts, he comes out with a sweeping comment about many of the prominent papal critics:

Now it is quite possible that elegant commentators such as Ross Douthat and Matthew [Schmitz]’s boss Rusty Reno (both former Episcopalians), or, at the rougher end, writers such as Carl Orlson (ex-Protestant fundamentalist) and John Henry Westen (ex-atheist), or indeed ex-Anglicans in my own patch such as Daniel Hitchens of the Catholic Herald and Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register in Rome, are all correct in their readings. But it is a lot more likely that their baggage has distorted their hermeneutic, and they are suffering from convert neurosis.

As Ivereigh explains, “[a] neurosis is a pathological or extreme reaction to something that simply doesn’t correspond to reality.” In following this line of argument, the author claims that many converts tend to lack humility in not accepting changes within the Church and in clinging to the Church from before the Second Vatican Council. He also quotes one of his sources as saying many converts “have converted mainly because the Church teaches things that match their ideological outlook.” To sum up his depiction of those “troublesome converts”: they converted in order to have the Church adapt to their own “fixed” views and in order to make sure the Church acts according to their own ideas.

Since I myself am a convert, and since I happen to know some of the journalists here named, I would like to make a short response to this sort of argument.

Notably, one could turn it the other way around. Since converts (and it is not right to call John-Henry Westen that, since he is a cradle Catholic who strayed for a while as a youth) have lived outside the Mystical Body of Christ for much of their lifetime, they soon come to know or at least to glimpse how dark it is outside God’s Grace. They do not take the Catholic Faith for granted, but are deeply grateful for the gift they have received. Most probably, some of them have lived a life not in accordance with the Ten Commandments and have now turned their lives around and have come to see how good God’s laws are for us – even seeing that the Laws of God are acts of love – how conforming to such laws make us truly free. These converts have seen (and experienced) the moral disorder in the world and have recognized the beauty and goodness of a life in accordance with God’s laws – His “manufacturer’s instructions,” as it were.

That is part of the strength shown by these converts now. In this regard, we could include those cradle Catholics who have strayed from the Faith for parts of their lives and have returned. I know that John-Henry Westen, as well as Steve Jalsevac, his colleague and co-founder of LifeSiteNews, both have spoken publicly and gratefully about their reversion. They, too, know how it is to be, by their own choice, outside the Mystical Body of Christ – outside of which, as Hilaire Belloc said, there is only darkness.

We who have seen the difference between such light and dark might be now prone to fight fully with our lives for Christ’s Truth because we are, in a sense, good witnesses for it. It is out of our deep gratitude that we wish to give back to Christ for His forgiveness and love and grace.

Thus, in my eyes, it is those who have sinned and converted who are now sometimes the strongest witnesses for the Faith, especially since Pope Francis likes to be so attentive to the sinner and to those at the margins or “at the outskirts.” I myself lived two thirds of my life “at the outskirts.”

Let us now consider what would happen if we all were not converts to the Catholic Faith, but cradle Catholics. Would this save us from Ivereigh’s (and others’) rebuke for our criticism of Pope Francis?

Would we then not fall into the category – often used by the pope himself – of those “self-righteous” and “pharisaical” Catholics who always “went to Church on Sunday” and who “always kept the Commandments” and thus look down upon the sinner with that “judgmental eye”? Would we thus be more convincing or more trustworthy if we were cradle Catholics?

As we now talk about cradle Catholics, we realize that even this argument about hypocrisy does not hold. Since Steve Skojec himself is “one of those” (cradle Catholics), let me remind our readers that he is one of the most forthright and outspoken authors when it comes to acknowledging (modestly) his own defects and sins. I once said to him that, due to his own humility and openness about his own weaknesses, he certainly does not fall under the category of those “priggish” and “haughty” Catholics who, with contemptuous condescension, look down upon a sinner.

But then, who does that at all?

The cradle Catholics I work with in the defense of Christ’s teaching – here and abroad – are filled with the love of Christ and are apt always to keep the spirit of charity. One of the greatest traditional minds of France, Arnaud de Lassus – a father of seven children and one of the great supporters of the Pilgrimage of Chartres, who was friends with my own husband for decades – was known for his intellectual clarity and human charity toward his opponents. I myself can testify to that attitude and disposition of heart, because when I first met him, I was a “practicing agnostic.” He treated me most kindly and then gave me a Green Scapular. I might someday find out just how many graces I received through his deeds of kindness and truthfulness.

Others of those cradle Catholic colleagues of mine have undergone tragedies in life. They have suffered losses, endured injustices, and also sometimes fell.

That is what makes us all human. We are but weak beings who need God’s abundant help, His truth and His supernatural grace. He helps each of us to work his individual salvation, and He asks us to help others work out their own salvation.

As Father John Hardon, S. J., used to say to my husband, “we will be finally judged by our acts of practical charity, by how many people we helped get to heaven.” It is this spirit that guides us. And in this sense, the injustices thrown at us disproportionately, seemingly in a desperate attempt to find some argument to undermine our sincere work, will only help us further on our path. Let us then offer up these humiliations for the conversion of sinners, for the good of the Church – and for the greater glory of God.

A Gadfly in Combat: The Rhetoric of Austen Ivereigh

Dr. Joseph Shaw

Austen Ivereigh has done it again: driven his opponents (many of whom he helpfully names) into a defensive frenzy, which almost seems to prove the point he is making – namely, that these individuals get worked up too easily.

I want to say something about Ivereigh’s modus operandi before saying something about the substantive issue, which has to do with the fact that Ivereigh has noted that a number of people who worry about aspects of Pope Francis’s papacy are converts, not cradle Catholics.

I must be frank: I think Ivereigh is a kind of genius. Watching him debate Matthew Schmitz of First Things on Al Jazeera is like watching a gadfly in combat with a sumo wrestler. He has done the same thing in this recent post on Crux about converts. I am interested in the form as well as the content of arguments, and I recognize a master at work. How does he do it?

There is, in fact, a formula.

1. Whenever your opponent raises an objection to something you have said, don’t let yourself be pinned down. Just change the subject.

You have some detailed and nuanced concerns about the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia? Let’s talk about converts and cradle Catholics!

This is effective in extended public debate, private conversation, and televised discussion alike. Some years ago, I fell into conversation with the distinguished Church historian Prof. Henry Mayr-Harting – a pretty liberal Catholic – on a crowded train from London to Oxford. He was in a pugnacious mood, and we argued pleasantly the whole way. But he never replied to my objections to anything he said except in such a way that I was provoked into addressing a substantially new claim he was making. By the end of the journey, I felt as if I’d spent an hour wrestling with a ghost. Since then, I’ve seen this strategy in action from Mgr. Basil Loftus as well as Austen Ivereigh.

This works by appealing, in one’s defense, to principles or facts with which one’s opponent strongly disagrees, and that brings us to the next part of the formula.

2. Tempt your opponent into arguing on the issues you want him to by asserting airily what you know he will disagree with.

There are issues, and sub-issues, and specific examples, about which one side of any debate looks stronger or weaker. Why waste your time arguing over the ones where you look relatively weak when you can force your opponent to spend all his time focused on the ones on which you look relatively strong? How can you do this? By provoking him to follow you into these sub-issues and throwing in your favored examples, even if they are irrelevant to the matter in hand. It works best with an opponent who keeps thinking: “I can’t let that claim go unchallenged, particularly on TV! People might think I agree with it.”

Now, if you actually want to persuade your interlocutor of a specific point, you need to avoid appealing to things you know he rejects, so it might appear that this strategy is self-defeating. But that would be to assume that the purpose of debate is to persuade the opponent or anyone in the audience who was inclined to agree with him, and that would be a mistake. Rather, the final part of the formula is this:

3. Provoke outrage in your opponent by outrageous and insulting assertions.

The purpose of the debate, for people like Loftus and Ivereigh, is not to persuade, but to lessen their opponents’ effectiveness. One way of doing this is by moving the debate to places where the opponent looks less good, as noted above. Another is by inducing some degree of spluttering rage. The hoped for result is to infuriate and humiliate him and in this way to silence him and his supporters. This works particularly well where the audience is not well informed on the subject at issue, and best of all when the audience is liberal or secular. Anyone, indeed, who is not following the argument in some detail – and Ivereigh is careful to make the path of argumentation dizzyingly serpentine by constantly changing the subject – is reduced to scoring the debate on the basis of which of the debaters is looking calm and self-satisfied and which is looking defensive and hot under the collar. The result is that Ivereigh comes out looking like the victor even if his opponent has given a series of his claims crushing ripostes. Ivereigh gives no sign of being crushed, and everyone watching is too confused to know what’s going on.

In a standalone article or blog post, the above formula is adapted: the trick here is to make so many outrageous or insulting claims that opponents start spluttering from the start, and onlookers think: Here is the masterful Ivereigh, cool and collected, and there are a bunch of people shouting and getting red in the face.

I realized, in addressing the appalling weekly columns of Mgr. Loftus, that it would take a small book to go into all the asinine claims of just one week’s output. Admittedly, after a while, you notice that he is repeating himself a good deal. But all the same, a thorough response would be a full-time job. And that’s two birds with one stone, isn’t it? A pile of theological nonsense purveyed to the public and a potentially effective opponent tied up in knots looking to most people like a nitpicking member of the Spanish Inquisition.

Ivereigh is an incomparably more sophisticated media operator than Loftus, but what is particularly striking about his latest column is how appallingly rude it is. He doesn’t just casually refer to his opponents as neurotics; he goes to some lengths to suggest he is using the word in a technical, medical sense. He is really, truly saying that half a dozen named Catholic journalists and commentators are mentally ill, for the simple reason that they disagree with him. Outrage is absolutely appropriate, but I fancy that it will get us all nowhere.

It is important to notice that if a conservative Catholic tried this shtick, it wouldn’t work. One important reason is that a conservative who baited his opponents with outrageous claims and insults would not be tolerated by his fellow conservatives. (This happens from time to time.) Liberals, on the other hand, are happy to let each other get away with this sort of thing, not because they all agree with all the detailed claims – far from it – but because they are happy to see them being used in the great war against orthodoxy which they all support. Does John Allen, for example, agree with Ivereigh’s absurd claim that the Pope is “chosen by the Holy Spirit”? I doubt it. But for the duration of Pope Francis’s papacy, Allen is happy to publish Ivereigh’s liberal ultramontanist ravings because they are tactically effective. (I’ve written more about this here.)

I suppose it’s worth stating the obvious: that the approach I’ve described deepens divisions and embitters opponents, and that it is contrary to charity and intellectually dishonest. But hey, all’s fair in love and war, isn’t it?

So, what of Ivereigh’s substantive point about converts? Well, it is very simple. Converts in general view the Church in terms of theology and ideas, because they have come into the Church, usually, because of theology and ideas. Cradle Catholics can fall prey to the temptation to see their Catholic identity as a tribal thing. If the Church were somehow to change her teachings, tribal Catholics would, obviously, be less troubled than intellectual converts. There are in fact plenty of cradle Catholics who understand that the Church is not some quasi-ethnic or cultural group, or a cozy club, but actually a community defined by adhesion to the message of the Gospel and the Church’s authority and sacraments. We are blessed, however, with a particularly high proportion of converts who recognize this reality without any prompting.

So, God bless you, Matthew Schmitz, Rusty Reno, Edward Pentin, Carl Orlson, John-Henry Westen, and Daniel Hitchens! All personally demonized by Austen Ivereigh, but gifts indeed from the Holy Spirit to the Church – the Holy Spirit, which, in every age, refreshes the Church with converts. Heaven knows, we cradle Catholics have done little indeed to deserve your assistance.

Originally published at LMSChairman.org. Reprinted with permission under a new title.

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20 comments on “Ad rem and ad hominem with Austen Ivereigh

  1. It is not a problem caused by converts. There are plenty of us who were born Catholic and attended Catholic schools our entire lives who can spot a crazy progressive modernist. Bergoglio’s progressive modernism is a cliché from the 1960s and 1970s Spirit of Vatican II.

    There are some pushy, overbearing, and very annoying converts and ex-converts who get some things quite wrong due to lack of familiarity with Catholic culture and Catholic history but they tend to be exceptions and are often liberal, modernist, or Protestant in their muddled thinking and anti-Catholic baggage, as they seek to boss others around and anathematize orthodox Catholics. It would help for them to ask some Catholics on certain questions to avoid making mistakes. But that is not really what is going on with Bergoglio and the criticism he rightly deserves for the travesty of this modernist pontificate. Cardinal Ottaviani and Fulton Sheen would not have needed Protestant backgrounds to see problems with Bergoglian modernism. The 1970s progressive modernism of Robert Drinan, Richard McBrien and Hans Küng has not been improved much by the Bergoglian Latin style or its extension to regulating air conditioning. The current pontiff has earned criticism from Catholics. His modernist act is all too familiar to those of us who lived through Vatican II. Don’t blame the converts.

  2. Convert shaming? What’ll Austen think of next?

  3. There is no way to know for certain how the statistics for cradle Catholics and converts break down in terms of opposing (or supporting) Bergoglio. For cradle Catholics those who are conservative, orthodox, or traditionalist tend to be blackballed by modernist institutions so there is a false impression giving progressive modernist neo-Catholics greater representation in Novus Ordo institutions, leading to the myth that neo-Catholic modernism is normative. For one thing, the media tends to go to progressive modernist Catholics for opinions on Catholic matters. Call it modernist privilege.

    However, it would be natural that those who converted when John Paul II or Benedict were pope would be taken aback by some of Bergoglio’s positions and rhetoric, particularly his paranoid tendency to hype the idea that the Church is besieged by “rigid” neo-Pelagian triumphalists who need his constant ridicule and admonishment as he (and his minions) seek to align the Church with a secular progressive agenda. Presumably, both John Paul II and Benedict were too “rigid” and in the camp of neo-Pelagian triumphalism (from this progressive point of view) since neither sough to change the fundamental teachings on marriage or sexual morality. Neither previous Pope whined about a menace of neo-Pelagian triumphalism endlessly either. We are expected to believe that knowledge of this problem as a Catholic matter was suppressed for nearly two thousand years from 33 A.D. until it was declared by the Argentine modernist Pope Bergoglio in 2013 A.D. Curiously, Bergoglio’s targets are cradle Catholics.

  4. “Curiously, Bergoglio’s targets are cradle Catholics.”
    These liberals don’t have to be on the same page. They hardly even have to give any arguments. Simple sophomoric ****slinging is enough, because they know that the world is chock full of people just like them; haters of truth, who *want* to believe all the lies they tell.

  5. The current pontiff is a comic-book parody of a well-known stereotype from South American peasant subcultures. Every time he gets sad or irritated about something he starts whining, scolding, and finger-pointing like an old woman. He could be in a Sergio Leone film or a Cervantes novel. Sancho Panza reading Teilhard and Hans Küng. How are the highly-debatable progressive opinions of a crazy old man, repeats from Commonweal in the 1960s and 1970s, how are they a manifestation of the Holy Spirit? Norman Lear, Lou Grant, or Al Gore might as well be Pope. A crazy old man’s crackpot opinions about air conditioning or on the scientific status of whether the earth’s climate is changing due to man-made carbon emissions or recurring solar cycles do not carry the force of infallible ex cathedra proclamations backed up by the Holy Spirit.

    The progressive modernist rantings of Robert Drinan, Richard McBrien and Hans Küng don’t become true just because they are uttered by a whiny, passive-aggressive old man from South America (who likes the tango) in a Ricky Ricardo voice. Popes are not like Carnac the Magnificent. We don’t go to them for weather forecasts.Turning this one into that is not only non-Catholic, it’s silly and absurd. The Ultramontane progressive modernists have turned the papacy into a bad joke. Paul Blanshard could be writing their claims about papal authority. They weren’t singing this Ultramontane tune when John Paul or Benedict were on the papal throne. So everything will get better by changing all the rules? Good luck with that. We heard this song in the 1960s.


    Carnac the Magnificent (ask him about weather forecasts and solar cycles)

  6. Bishop slams papal biographer who claimed Catholic converts are mentally ill

    Claire Chretien

    August 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A retired Catholic bishop criticized Pope Francis’s English biographer, Austen Ivereigh, for recently accusing converts to Catholicism of mental illness because they questioned the pope.

    “The arrogance of the progressives who are the public voice for the present pontificate is nowhere more in evidence than in this current campaign of character assassination they are conducting against converts to the Catholic Faith,” wrote Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, on his blog.

    Ivereigh accused converts and reverts who are critical of some of the actions and statements of Pope Francis of “convert neurosis.” He praised Michael Sean Winters at the National Catholic Reporter for perpetuating this notion. Winters said that he’s sick of converts “telling us that the Pope isn’t Catholic.”

    The narrative “of many of Francis’s angry, vociferous critics adds up to something rather like… that he is, in Ross Douthat’s phrase, the ‘chief plotter’ in a conspiracy to change the Catholic faith,” wrote Ivereigh.

    But the retired Texas bishop said he has experienced converts as holding their Catholic faith more dear than anything else.

    “It has been my experience, and the experience of all of the bishops and priests that I have known that practically all of the converts to the faith that we have known are exemplars of the two characters in the two parables of Our Lord Jesus Christ: The Buried Treasure and The Pearl of Great Price,” wrote Gracida.

    Gracida shared his thoughts while commenting on an article on the controversy by Dr. Maike Hickson at One Peter Five.

    He noted the great personal price many converts pay upon embracing Catholicism.

    “Like the man who found the treasure and who sold all that he had in order to buy the land where the treasure lay and the merchant who, having discovered the pearl of great value, sold all that he had in order to purchase that pearl[,] converts to the faith usually have to pay a great price in order to…profess the faith of the Roman Catholic Church,” wrote Gracida.

    This price is often the “rejection they experience from their birth families,” he observed. This often occurs if the convert was Jewish, Baptist, Adventist, or from a “fundamentalist” church, he said.

    Gracida explained how such a painful experience of rejection motivates converts to care about, and want to share, the Catholic faith.

    “Having paid that emotional (and sometimes financial) price the convert is filled with extraordinary zeal, not only to practice the faith but to bear witness to the faith in a spirit of evangelization much more than cradle Catholics do,” he wrote.

    “As a cradle Catholic, I can testify from my own experience when I, as is so often the case with cradle Catholics, did not realize the great value of the Tradition of the Church until I had strayed from the practice of my faith for a few years in my early 20’s,” the retired bishop recalled.

    But “when I came to my senses (in Salt Lake City, of all places) I returned to the practice of my faith with renewed vigor, eventually becoming a Benedictine monk, a priest and a bishop,” he said.

    American Canon Lawyer Edward Peters called Ivereigh’s article “one of the most embarrassing essays Crux has ever run.”

  7. Come over here and say that

    Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap.
    10/11/17

    Austen Ivereigh, in one of the most embarrassing essays Crux has ever run, recently smeared seven talented Catholic commentators as suffering from ‘convert neurosis’. Not once in passing, but repeatedly, Ivereigh uses ‘neurosis’ and ‘neurotic’ in regard to some seven writers, Ross Douthat, Daniel Hitchens, Carl Olson, Edward Pentin, Rusty Reno, Matthew Schmitz, and John-Henry Westen. Ivereigh even offers a primer on what “neurosis” means, suggesting a war-scarred woman’s throwing herself to the ground when later stopped by a policeman as, one supposes, an example of how ‘convert neurotics’, supposedly being persons given to extreme reactions to un-realities in the Church, might behave.

    While an expert in psychology can tell us whether any of these men are, in fact, “neurotic”, and an expert in morals can tell us whether Ivereigh’s employing and Crux’s circulating of such labels against brothers in the Lord meets any standard of decency in Christian discourse, Ivereigh’s constant referral to these Catholics as “converts” draws my attention.

    Ivereigh’s description of several figures (Douthat and Reno as former Episcopalians, Olson as a former Protestant fundamentalist, and Hitchens and Pentin as former Anglicans) plus what I gather about Westen (a once fallen-away Catholic who went through an atheistic period) and Schmitz (who talks respectfully about his days as a Protestant), suggests that not one of them, not one, would, under American catechetical criteria, qualify as “converts” at all—let alone as neurotic ones.

    According to the (US) National Statutes for the Catechumenate (November, 1986) no. 2 (my emphasis), “the term ‘convert’ should be reserved strictly for those converted from unbelief to Christian belief and never used of those baptized Christians who are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.” Number 3 reiterates that this “holds true even … [for] baptized Catholic Christians … whose Christian initiation has not been completed by confirmation and Eucharist” (Westen) and [for] “baptized Christians who have been members of another Church or ecclesial community and seek to be received into the full Communion of the Catholic Church” (the other six authors).

    Now perhaps the circles Ivereigh runs in ‘over there’ do not bother with this important distinction among persons entering into full communion, and I grant that some Catholics ‘over here’ might still show ecclesial insensitivity by referring to separated Christians coming into full communion as “converts”, i.e., as if they had not been baptized. But, as most of the men Ivereigh chastises are Americans, and as the American bishops are trying to get American Catholics to think more accurately about these things, I thought Ivereigh’s outdated and inaccurate use of the word “convert”—to say nothing of his abuse of the tragedy that is “neurosis”—worth noting.

  8. Beyond the debatable claim that opposition to Bergoglio’s modernism is a phenomenon primarily of converts (on the factual level), a claim which, as a cradle Catholic I would dispute strongly since the opposition to progressive modernism predates this pontificate by a few decades and existed before the recent wave of conversions during John Paul II’s reign, but there are also questions regarding terminology. Although there are metaphorical as well as clinical uses of the term neurotic, there is considerable debate about the Freudian theory of “neurosis” in terms of its definition, scientific status, and genesis:
    www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/garth-wood/the-myth-of-neurosis-overcoming-the-illness-exc/

    Freud’s seduction theory (German: Verführungstheorie)
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freud%27s_seduction_theory

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Assault_on_Truth

    The originator of the recent controversy regarding Bergoglio and his convert critics would have to include Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, both cradle Catholics, in his inventory of neurotics since neither of them proposed the changes in Catholic teachings and discipline which Bergoglio has proposed. Were Fulton Sheen, Henri de Lubac, Archbishop John Hughes, Leo Ward, Flannery O’Connor, Father Peyton, St. John of the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Cardinal Ottaviani “neurotic” for not calling for progressive changes on the rules regarding divorce, remarriage, and reception of Holy Communion?

    • HowlinglyAbsurd says:

      Were Fulton Sheen [and] Henri de Lubac “neurotic” for not calling for progressive changes on the rules regarding divorce, remarriage, and reception of Holy Communion?

      Emphatically no! Nonetheless, they were “neurotic” in their support of Teilhard de Chardin.

      Fulton Sheen, a Fan of Teilhard de Chardin

      Book-review of Footprints in a Darkened Forest by Fulton Sheen, New York: Meredith Press, 1967, 272 pp.: In chapter six, Sheen defends Teilhard de Chardin [the transcript of an episode in his later TV series; an episode which you will never see on EWTN]

      Patrick O’Brien
      Posted December 1, 2010

      Some weeks ago I began to read the book Footprints in a Darkened Forest (1967), by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Now I like most of Bishop Sheen’s work very much, and am currently reading a book of his collected meditations, from pre-conciliar times. But chapter six in Footprints dismayed me greatly. Entitled “The Origin of Man in Society,” this chapter is a defense of Teilhard de Chardin, with Sheen’s assumption of the truth of biological evolution.

      Archbishop Sheen writes favorably: “He [Chardin] wrote that his thought was in one direction: ‘A rethinking of Christianity on the scale and dimension of the universe as it is revealed ever more clearly to us.’” Didn’t red lights flash before Sheen when he read the phrase “rethinking of Christianity”? Didn’t he consider that this “revealing” is that of alleged science and not of God to man?

      Sheen writes: “For Teilhard there is a continuity between an animal seeking food and a magnet pointing to the north; between a male and a female uniting in the act of generation and two atoms uniting to form a chemical compound. The meaning is not the same in each instance, but there is more than a mere figure of speech in this unification. Atoms are not alive, it is true, but they have what might be called pre-life.” Any wonder why Rome condemned Chardin? And why didn’t Bishop Sheen realize the gibberish he was writing in trying to explain Chardin’s Gnosticism?

      Again Chardin is quoted: “The whole world is ascending towards Christ the King, even the irresistible surge of the ocean tides under the Pull of the moon and sun.”

      And further: “His [Chardin’s] fundamental orientation was ‘to attain heaven through the fulfillment of earth. Christify matter.’” More nonsense, quoted by Sheen as if it clarified thought. This nonsense, however, seems to have found a resting place in the Vatican II Church. Consider Paul VI’s Encyclical Populorum progressio and Rome’s flirtation with the United Nations in endeavoring to “build the earth” (a phrase of Chardin’s.) Heaven becomes a well-developed and ordered earth.

      Examples could be multiplied, as Sheen tries to make sense of Chardin. But one last very disturbing quote from the Archbishop: “It is very likely that within 50 years when all the trivial, verbose disputes about the meaning of Teilhard’s ‘unfortunate’ vocabulary will have died away or have taken a secondary place, Teilhard will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century.” Since the cause for Sheen’s canonization has been opened, what are we to think?

      Why look back to a book of Archbishop Sheen’s from 1967? For me, two reasons:

      First, as I just mentioned, the cause for Sheen’s canonization has been opened, and I questioned Tradition in Action recently as to what extent erroneous teaching from a Catholic would disqualify his possible canonization.

      And secondly, this book of Sheen’s indicates the confusion of thought that existed in the Church immediately after the Council. If a churchman of Sheen’s intellect and stature allowed himself to be led into error, who was safe from that post-conciliar diabolical disorientation? Do I blame Archbishop Sheen? Yes, while not excluding myself from intellectual sins. Did Sheen ever retract this praise of Chardin? I do not know.

      * * *

      Re: Henri de Lubac

      From SCOTT VENTUREYRA, Challenging the Rehabilitation of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Crisis Magazine, JANUARY 20, 2015):

      One wonders why Teilhardian scholars seem to gloss over these aforementioned issues [see the previous section of the article referenced above]. Perhaps it is because it is more profitable to ignore these theological problems inherent to Teilhard’s work, or reinterpret them in a fashionable way, then to confront them head-on as Smith has done. This legacy began with Henri de Lubac, Teilhard’s friend and great defender. De Lubac fought to dispel the charges made by critics that, for instance, Teilhard denied the existence of a personal God. However, it is important to realize that Teilhard’s thought evolved from an orthodox position with imbedded seeds of doubt to an increasingly heterodox one. For example, in 1950 (only five years prior to his death) he wrote in The Heart of Matter about his earlier writings in The Divine Milieu saying they originated from a “self-centered and self-enclosed period of my interior life.” He goes on to state that:

      “The reason for this was that by one of those odd effects of inhibition that so often prevent us from recognizing us in the face, I failed to understand that as God “metamorphized” the World from the depths of matter to the peaks of Spirit, so in addition the World must inevitably and to the same degree ‘endomorphize’ God…. All around us, and within our own selves, God is in the process of ‘changing’ as a result of the coincidence of his magnetic power and our own Thought.”

      This is quite distinct from the view de Lubac had defended of Teilhard’s orthodoxy.

      * * *

      From the Wikipedia article on Teilhard de Chardin (a weak defense of Teilhard and a dismissive response of his critics):

      Henri de Lubac (later a Cardinal) wrote three comprehensive books on the theology of Teilhard de Chardin in the 1960s. While de Lubac mentioned that Teilhard was less than precise in some of his concepts, he affirmed the orthodoxy of Teilhard de Chardin and responded to Teilhard’s critics: “We need not concern ourselves with a number of detractors of Teilhard, in whom emotion has blunted intelligence”. – Cardinal Henri Cardinal de Lubac, S.J. – The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin, Image Books (1968)

      • “It is very likely that within 50 years when all the trivial, verbose disputes about the meaning of Teilhard’s ‘unfortunate’ vocabulary will have died away or have taken a secondary place, Teilhard will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century.”

        Hahahahahahaha! Saint Sheen of the Convergence!

      • Good find. The review article on Fulton Sheen and Teilhard was very interesting. Thanks. More so if Bishop Sheen was claiming to understand the neo-gnostic Teilhardian Omega Point. Fortunately, Sheen never proposed changing the rules on divorce, remarriage, and Holy Communion.

  9. Let’s hope he wasn’t a Yankees fan.

    All of the Apostles were converts. St. Paul was, as was St. Augustine.

    Conversion is a continual process even for cradle Catholics. You get tested. The first time you encounter a bad nun or bad priest you are forced to examine your faith. We have had many great converts, quite a few of celebrity or legendary status. One thinks of Newman and Chesterton.

    There are a few (not many) very annoying professional converts who assault the blogosphere. One notorious vulgar one who attacks traditionalist Catholics. There is also one who greatly enjoys bloviating about how stupid and unknowledgeable cradle Catholics are. Presumably, the products of the modernist Spirit of Vatican II neo-Catholicism in the U.S. (Straw Man fallacy).

    It’s amusing that Protestants who placed a double tax on Catholics, blackballed them from their elite schools, executed their leaders, and set about taking over their country (Ireland) then complain about Catholics not being knowledgeable about the King James version of the Bible.

    We’re all in this boat together. Who can I contact to be included in the list of “neurotic” conservative Catholic critics of Bergoglio and his modernist revolution? Unfortunately, not a convert here. Would Charles Rice have made his list? Or Father Hardon?

  10. His prediction could come true. There is still time for Teilhard to be canonized by Pope Francis.

    There were very heated battles over modernism and Vatican II (by opposing factions of cradle Catholics) before some of the targeted converts were born.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mater_si,_magistra_no

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottaviani_Intervention

  11. Or Mahatma Gandhi.

    For any Protestants or secular humanists trolling, that was a joke about Teilhard being canonized (ironic, sarcasm, etc.), “a display of humor in which words are used within a specific and well-defined narrative structure” for playful and comedic catharsis . See the Latin jocō , jocāre, jocāvī, jocātum ( to joke, jest) or consult the Dutch scholar André Jolles for the book on the subject. Evolution is also a joke, but that’s another story.

    Because Catholicism in the U.S. has been influenced by Irish culture, there has been a lot of irony in the polemics and discourse that developed from the Catholic experience of Protestant anti-Catholic agitation. Irony (from Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, ‘dissimulation, feigned ignorance’). In the days before Vatican II, anti-Catholicism was a pretty serious enterprise. So much so that some hysterically anti-Catholic Protestants actually thought that President Kennedy (John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States, January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963) would collude with the Pope to dig a tunnel connecting the White House and the Vatican. Also, that every Pope in history had been the Antichrist. Quite an achievement. According to this theory, Pope Leo X in the early 1500s was the Antichrist. As was Pope Adrian VI, Clement VII , Paul III, etc. Down to Pius XI and XII, Pope John XXIII, and Paul VI. Remember, Martin Luther was against the study of logic and scholastic philosophy, so don’t bother asking how this was possible. Now, this takes an interesting twist, because according to some of the same Protestants, when President Kennedy was shot in the head they were worried he would rise up out of the grave become the Antichrist as well. So JFK and Giovanni Montini (Pope Paul VI) both would have been the Antichrist at the same time. The Protestants who believed this, a few years later, were the source of the charismatic movement. In case you haven’t heard about that, Catholics did not have full access to the gifts of the Holy Spirit until 1967 when in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, some Pentecostalists laid hands on a couple of disoriented and confused professors from Duquesne University. You can also learn about how Catholics worship Mary , how to smash statues and stained glass windows, how to eliminate the study of Latin and logic, and how to cut offensive cross symbols out of flags. Presumably you can also learn how to roll around on the floor shrieking and yelling at a Novus Ordo Mass, but please don’t try that at home if kids are playing nearby.

    • “according to some of the same Protestants, when President Kennedy was shot in the head they were worried he would rise up out of the grave become the Antichrist as well. So JFK and Giovanni Montini (Pope Paul VI) both would have been the Antichrist at the same time.”

      Now that is…um…howlingly absurd.
      So much so that I’m genuinely curious if this is really true — as well as the following:
      “The Protestants who believed this, a few years later, were the source of the charismatic movement. ”

      Dost thou care to enlighten us?
      Given the limitless stupidity that original-sin-infected human nature is capable of, this is a serious question.

      • From JFK… the AntiChrist?
        By Alice Maggio
        ASK THE LIBRARIAN
        SEP 11 2003

        According to the PBS website Apocalypse! (the companion site to an episode of the popular Frontline series that originally aired in November 1999), John F. Kennedy was labelled the AntiChrist for two main reasons. First, he received 666 votes during the 1956 Democratic Convention. In the Book of Revelation, 666 is the “number of the beast.” (Rev. 13:18) Secondly, JFK died of a head wound. Head injuries are significant to prophesy believers searching for the AntiChrist because of Rev. 13:3, which states in part that “One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound.”

        From Anti-christ’s Identity Not Revealed
        By jmcmeans
        Thursday Oct 02, 2014

        According to the Bible, one of the many miracles that the anti-christ will use to amaze the world will be that he will rise from the dead. We don’t know who the anti-christ will be. He will be a prominent world citizen who will be fatally wounded in the head, apparently die, and then miraculously come back to life. This will be the undeniable proof of his bona fides that he is the God or the son of God that he claims to be.

        When President Kennedy was shot in the head and killed in Dallas, the conservative religious leaders went on full alert. Their worst paranoid delusion was coming true before their very eyes. Some of the US military leaders who were in the examination room when JFK’s body was autopsied must have shared this delusion as that is the most likely reason why his brain was removed from his body and not returned. Later, it was announced that the brain was “lost.” JFK the anti-christ can’t come back to life without his brain.

  12. There was a PBS documentary which interviewed some Protestant graduates of a Bible college who, according to their own testimony, were very concerned that JFK would rise up out of his coffin and become the Antichrist, presumably with glowing eyes and demonic powers. This was due to his being a Roman Catholic (“Mystery Babylon” in Protestant anti-Catholic fantasies) and his having a head wound. It was also reported that Protestant students in at least one public school cheered when they heard the report that JFK had been shot. That documentary may be online. Checking on that.

    The phenomenon of believing that Pope Paul VI was also the Antichrist, as well as ALL previous popes in church history, and that JFK would become the Antichrist, and that there would be two Antichrists at the same time, is certainly a very interesting detail of modern Protestant eschatology worthy of deep study.

    I have been a conservative and registered Republican my entire life and no fan of the Kennedys or their modernism. If all the rumors are true about his personal life, JFK had serious character flaws, lapses of judgment, and difficulties in his presidency, but if he and Paul VI were both the Antichrist, there is some swamp property in Florida where you can find some great snipe hunting areas which you might be interested in. The bizarre culture of anti-Catholic lunacy and the fantasies produced by it need exhaustive study and research. Connecting the apocalyptic symbolism of Nero’s pagan Roman Empire with the Church of St. Peter is absurd. The anti-Catholic black legends about Italians and Spaniards have their own folklore and psychology. Remember, for Protestants, JFK was a Roman Catholic and Mass was in Latin during his lifetime. That papal monarchy he was supposedly planning with John XXIII and Pope Paul VI never quite materialized. Perhaps because the Pentecostalists and snake handlers hadn’t laid hands on those mixed-up modernist professors from Duquesne in time.

    Read the anti-Catholic books by Paul Blanshard and Bishop Pike (Episcopalian) for the atmosphere of anti-Catholic hysteria leading up to and during the Kennedy era. None of the stuff they were worried about happened. There is no Catholic Ultramontane Divine Right of Kings theocracy in North America. There isn’t even one in Rome.

  13. A definitive book on the neo-Catholic charismatic movement from the late 1960s is still waiting to be written by a sane Catholic (to explain its Protestant and heretical origins). What exactly was going on in Pittsburgh in 1967 that would have Catholics looking to Protestants for spiritual counsel, God only knows. They must have been VERY confused and disoriented. No Catholic that I know sought Protestants for spiritual advice in the 1960s. Modernist scholars read Barth, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, and Kierkegaard out of curiosity, but generally limited to specialized theological scholars in certain seminaries, graduate schools, in modernist Jesuit circles and such. The Catholic priest who was the pastor of our parish at the time wasn’t reading that stuff. He subsequently left the Novus Ordo and became a follower of Fr. Gommar A. DePauw and the Catholic traditionalist movement. It would be surprising if Cardinal Spellman or Cardinal Cushing spent much time looking to Protestant theology for reliable counsel on spiritual matters. I can’t picture Spellman or Cushing rolling around on the floor with hefty charismatic women yelling and speaking in tongues. Our parents and grandparents would have laughed at that. For one thing, up until that point going to Mass was in your Sunday best, and nobody would let their kids roll around on the church floor at Mass in their Sunday clothes. Totally impossible in First Communion white for kids. Absurd.
    I can’t picture Pat Buchanan, Bill Buckley, Fulton Sheen, or Bing Crosby rolling around on the floor yelling and hollering at Mass. It just would never happen.

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