Archive for October 2008

Vote for McCain says Bishop Martino

October 31, 2008

The poor old Baffler, the most over-hyped president in living memory, Ronny Reagan had a tagline he used well and often.

When confronted by an opponent who made sense, Reagan woukld shuck and jive , grin and often say, “There he goes again!” A non-sequitur if there ever was one. No matter the world’s most credulous electorate the United States of Amnesia usually bought Ronny’s guff.

Now the Catholic Church really has what can only be described as a total loose cannon (charitable description) or a total buffoon. His name is Joe Martino and he is the bishop in Joe Biden’s Scranton, Pa.Now, “there he goes again.”

Last year in defiance of all Catholic teaching around the right to unionize, Martino decertified the Catholic teachers’ union–for which he was roundly pilloried.

Now, “there he goes again.”

At a meeting in the parish church of St John’s in Honesdale, Pa. on Oct 18  Martino busted into a seminar chaired by Sr. Margaret Gannon IHM. of Marywood University. The good sister was disabusing the parishioners that Catholics are one trick poneys (abortion) when voting in the upcoming federal election.

It turns ourt among Pennsylvania RC’s Obama has a 2-1 lead. This is burning Martino’s shorts.

Sr Margaret was quoting from the US pastoral Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a document approved by 98% of the American bishops and which outlines the many issues which Catholics must pay attention to when voting.

Martino roared “No U.S.C.C.B. document is relevant in this diocese…. The U.S.C.C.B. does not speak for me.”

In other words, vote for John McCain. He says he’s pro-life.

Another John Paul ll appointment.

Economics as autism

October 29, 2008


Eight years ago the students at Lecole Normale Superieure, France’s premier institution of higher learning were circulating with great success a petition protesting against an excessive mathematical formalization in economics.

The petition noted a real schizophrenia created by making modelling an end in itself and thereby cutting economics off from reality and forcing it into a state of autism.

The students, said a sympathetic called for an end to the hegemony of neo-classical theory and approaches derived from it, in favour of a pluralism that will include other approaches, especially those which permit the consideration of concrete realities.

Daniel Cohen, economics professor at the school spoke of the pathological role played by mathematics in economics. Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Jack Lang, said that he would study closely the appeal from the students.

Wall St of course hired these mathematicians to help them in their predictions about the Market.

Autism is a good description of the above—no wonder students began leaving economics in droves.

The human person went missing.

Greenspan meets original sin

October 27, 2008


Grilled by a US Congressional committee, “the Oracle”, Alan Greenspan has admitted his mistake.

““I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms”, ”the Oracle said. 

A dose of humility from the former Untouchable, the man dubbed the Oracle by supine US Congressman who along with Milton Friedman believed in  the Market cult.

The former head of the Fed, Mr.Greenspan was simply following another Ayn Rand devotee, Milton Friedman in elevating the Market(which has never been free) to absurd heights.

Once you decouple mortgages (and their bastard children,derivatives) from the local community you forfeit oversight. The  sellers (piranhas) take their cut, enrich themselves, pass on the paper. As market guru Warren Buffett called them,”financial weapons of mass destruction”—accidents guaranteed to happen.

Rand, the high priestess of selfishness, served as the unofficial deity for  generations of turbocapitalists—those who wanted no limits to selfishness and “regulations” which stood in their way of plundering.

It turns out that that most ancient of Christian doctrines, original sin was more to the point—humans are weak and given the chance will cut corners in their own self-interest.We always need countervailing forces who defend the common good.

“It shocked me. I still do not fully understand why it happened.”

Breathtaking naivete.

It reminded me of JK Galbraith’s definition of a conservative.

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” 

Gordon Brown,amnesiac

October 24, 2008

British PM Gordon Brown was walking with  a new spring in his step after the global financial meltdown. It seems that his plan of propping up the banks  had globally won the day. Happily there were some critics with a long memory—in this culture of mass amnesia that usually means about 15 years.

Brown like his predecessor Tony Blair were those great champions of New Labour–aping the worst part of Bill Clinton’s abandonment of the poor. Even the Conservative leader David Cameron (whose embrace of the free market was worse) attacked Brown for his selective memory

“Gordon Brown is hoping that his whirlwind of summitry will mean that we will forget what has come before,” Cameron said, asserting that Brown, in his 10 years as Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, or finance minister, had presided over “a total breakdown of economic responsibility” and policies that “accelerated [and] . . . actively encouraged the risk-taking culture in our banks.”

In 2005, Brown lavished praise on the bankers.”Your unique innovative skills, your courage and steadfastness’…blah, blah, blah.”A new world order has ben created…thanks for your outstanding and invaluable contribution you make to prosperity in Britain.” Cheers from the pin stripe brigade who made money out of money with no jobs on the ground.In 200t Brown addressing the same group–”thanks to your ingenuity and creativity…” and get this, he even congratulated himself for “resisting pressure to toughen up regulation of their activities.”. Yes indeed, “Britain needs more of your vigour, ingenuity and aspiration that you already demonstrate.”

in the end Brown surrendered to the bankers and their reckless cowboy capitalism.As for the Tory, David Cameron:”The debate is now settled. Liberalism (read deregulation) has prevailed.The Left’s silly idea that markets required tight regulation had been thoroughly discredited.”

Talk of the pot calling the kettle black.

Who defends the people?

“Read a paper every day.”

October 23, 2008

Changing at Tower Hill in the London Underground last week, the face of Lord Soper appeared before me.

Donald Soper was one of those unforgettable Brits who gave the Gospel a good name. A gold medal winner at Oxford, he pursued a life (he had no career) in the Methodist ministry and for 50 years preached outdoors at Tower Hill and Hyde Park, the home of free speech. These outdoor venues attracted the wingnuts and the holy fools with something to say. Donald Soper was one holy fool I listened to many times.

Soper was never cruel in answering the hecklers of which there were many. He always had a great grin on his face, enjoying the give and take of the London street.

Near the end of his worthy life he was asked if he had any advice to give young people. Yes, he did-and it was simple.

“”Read a paper every day.”

Soper knew that thee was no gospel without a context -and each context was different, a simple truth which so many miss. JESSE JACKSON PHRASED IT WELL. “ANY TEXT WITHOUT A CONTEXT IS A PRETEXT.”

A lot of very dumb and worthless evangelising proliferates today, largely because there is no context.

Donald Soper, where are you when we need you?

Can bishops tell the truth?

October 6, 2008

It is generally conceded that the crop of bishops (and seminarians) in the papacy of John Paul ll left much to desire.The “young fogeys” as Andrew Greeley called the JP ll priests by all unbiased accounts were intellectually inferior to the Vatican ll group. thi should surprise no one. 

Let’s leave them behind and cast our glance to the bishops.

Having known several I must say I liked all of them —for different reasons, of course. I acknowledge their deep concern for their office, their Church and their people. I often disagreed with some but hardly ever on the cardinal parts of the faith.

Some bishops came of age in the glow of Vatican ll and showed considerable promise. In Canada there was much unanimity among them regarding the Church as Servant and as agent of God’s reign. This was articulated in the many progressive statements of the 60s and 70s.They were “big men”, recognizing that they were not the Church.They allowed a thousand flowers to bloom and did not seem threatened by differing opinions.

To a man they would have been embarrassed to bring the hammer down on any but the fringe nuts which show up in every community.

This all changed in the pontificate of John Paul ll. It was a difficult time for the “good bishops” who increasingly were placed in the tightening vise of the monocultural world of JP ll.Most went their own way doing what was needed to be done pastorally. This showed up often in their quietly allowing, even encouraging the rite of communal penance. They heard their priests tell them that this sensitively crafted liturgy was often the most moving sacramental practice they had ever presided over.One chuckled as he told me that he demanded it of his priests.This of course changed with their successors, both Roman appointments who listened to but one voice—the Vatican’s.The results were predictable—the disappearance of the Right of Reconciliation among the Catholic people of God.

I thought of these things again when the great Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Sydney,Australia came to Toronto a few months ago on his North American speaking tour. “Robby” stayed with us for a couple of days and it gave me new insight regarding the extraordinary pressures Rome puts on her men.Robby, acknowledged as the brightest hierarch in Australia, had a conversion as the point man in the sex abuse scandal. He emerged wounded but resurrected from this experience and it led him to the via transformativa, a lonely journey towards the truth and God’s people.

It led me to ask the question:Can bishops tell the truth as an office holder in the Church.

I will write of this soon.

Peggy Noonan, market Catholic

October 4, 2008


One of the saddest things about Catholicism in America is how often some of the faithful not only got caught up in post war affluence but positively enthusiastic about people who thought Ronald Reagan and his deleterious policies actually intersected with the Catholic story. One such acolyte is a woman named Peggy Noonan who writes a column for the Wall Street Journal. 

Noonan born in 1950 in affluent circumstances was a constant defender of Reagan’s consistent attacks on the poor at home and his murderous wars in Central America.  She actually wrote speeches for the Gipper.

Now of course the simple deregulatory policies of Reagan have reached their apotheosis in the Wall Street meltdown.

If ever a man entered higher office with a more stupid bromide than Reagan I am at a loss to think of him. “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” And Reagan acted just like that—let the market have its way—turn a blind eye to every regulation which had been carefully put in place to protect the people, the common good and the environment.

Today we see the result. And Peggy Noonan is still at it. Her latest column is great praise for the most embarrassing choice as US VP since Dan Quayle, the supremely underqualified Satah Palin. 

Noonan waxed enthusiastic about the Sad Palin—a loyal Reaganite to the end.

“She killed” wrote Noonan about her evasion of serious answers in the debate with Joe Biden.

What Catholic values are these people defending?