Christopher A. Ferrara
It occurs to me that a few thoughts involving the wonder of God’s creation would be a welcome diversion from the baneful reign of the petty dictator from Argentina who somehow acquired the Chair of Peter. At least that was the intent of the lecture I gave at the Roman Forum’s 2019 symposium at Lake Garda—an event I cannot recommend highly enough to any Catholic interested in seeing what John Rao means by a “holistic Catholic experience.” Attend once and Lake Garda will become your second home.
In my lecture I showed why the faith has nothing to fear from the genuine discoveries of modern science. Thus, the faith has nothing to fear from what atomic physicists have been discovering since the turn of the 20th century. Quite the contrary, what they have found has vindicated the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics of matter and form in a way that honest physicists have come to acknowledge, as I discuss below. Yet ideologues in the discipline have resorted to various fantasies in order to avoid the obvious conclusion that there is no material explanation for the transition from the mysterious microworld to the macroworld of everyday objects in which, by the power of God, “we live, and move and have our being,” as Saint Paul told the worshippers of the Unknown God at the Aeropagus. (Cf. Acts 17:18).
Some Amazing Discoveries
In order to understand the motive behind these fantasies some background is in order. First of all, consider the atom, the fundamental constituent of what is popularly called matter but is now better understood to be a duality of mass-energy.
A stack of hydrogen atoms one million tall, each of which is only 0.10 nanometers (a billionth of a meter) in diameter, would be no taller than the thickness of a sheet of paper. Yet each atom is a world unto itself: a nucleus (protons and neutrons made up of quarks bound together by gluons) containing some 95% of the atomic mass and one or more electrons so distant from the nucleus that if an atom were the size of a football stadium the nucleus would be the size of a marble on the fifty-yard line. The nucleus is so dense—averaging 2.5 x 1016 pounds per cubic foot—that duplicating an average nuclear density inside a one-cubic-foot box would require packing in the mass of 6.2 billion cars, each weighing two tons. The nucleus is wound very tightly indeed—by a force (the “strong force”) that is “a hundred million million million million million million (1039) times stronger than gravity.”
Yet atoms are mostly space pervaded by electromagnetic fields. The distant electrons occupy successive energy levels called shells comprising electron orbitals, which are not the circular paths depicted in high school text books but rather fuzzy “probability clouds” where electrons at a certain energy level can be found most of the time. The orbitals’ shapes become increasingly complex with each level of remove from the nucleus.
At the atomic level we encounter the so-called Planck scale, named after Max Planck, whose discovery of Planck’s constant earned him the Nobel Prize. Planck was trying to solve the problem of why a heated black body glows different colors as its temperature rises: first red, then yellow, then white, then blue-white, rather than immediately blue-white as classical physics predicted. Little did he know that a fudge factor he inserted to make the math work actually expressed a universal constant in a nature according to which radiant energy is emitted as discrete packets—quanta—rather than a smooth continuum. The degree of energy quantization expressed by Planck’s constant, the smallest possible quantum of energy, is in an incredibly tiny number: 6.626176 x 10-34 joule seconds. That’s 6 trillionths of a trillionth of a billionth of the energy it takes, for example, to lift a stick of butter one meter.
The famous formula E = hf means, in plain language, that the energy of one emitted photon equals Planck’s constant times the frequency with which that photon is emitted. Where there are multiple photons, the formula is expressed as E = nhv, where n is simply some integer (1, 2, 3) indicating a multiple of Planck’s constant based on the number of photons.
Because the energy jumps are integers—whole numbers, not fractions—there is a stepwise increase in energy rather than an infinitely divisible fractional scale. If it were not so, then energy emission would occur at infinitely divisible frequencies in the ultraviolent range (the “ultraviolent catastrophe”), matter would emit all of its radiant energy at once and go to absolute zero, the radiation spectrum of our universe would not exist, and neither would we.
Further, as Einstein later surmised, the total amount of energy of the photons in a light wave is determined not by the wave’s amplitude (height) but by its frequency (how many wave crests pass a given point in a given amount of time). It is as if a series of closely spaced ripples in the ocean had more energy than a series of widely separated 20-foot-high breakers. That is why, just as Einstein predicted with his Nobel-prize winning idea, light at certain frequencies would knock electrons out of metal (the photoelectric effect) without regard to the intensity (amount) of light directed at the metal.
Quantization applies to all forms of electromagnetic energy, which, as Einstein intuited, are all carried by photons, which are massless particles. All material objects variously absorb and emit photons. You are emitting photons right now in the infrared range. The electromagnetic spectrum runs from radio waves, to microwaves, to infrared light, to visible light, to ultraviolent light to x-rays to gamma rays. The entire spectrum can be called light, as the Catholic physicist Rudolf Hilfer noted during his fascinating lecture at Lake Garda on transubstantiation from a physicist’s perspective. When God declared: “Let there be light” and willed it into being, He created more than just the light that we can see.
Both photons and electrons exhibit wave-like characteristics, as shown by the famous double slit experiments. Single photons or electrons fired at the double slits appear to go through both slits at once, in the manner of a wave, so that when enough of them are registered on a detector at the other side of the slits, an interference pattern builds up like that of conflicting waves created by stones thrown into a pond. (This does not trouble the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysician, as wave-particle duality merely reflects two aspects of the same thing without any violation of the principle of non-contradiction.)
Thus, quantum theory includes wave-mechanics, in which calculations involve a wave-function that predicts the probable state of a quantum-mechanical system rather than fixed positions and trajectories as with the Newtonian mechanics that work quite well with the macro objects of our everyday experience (e.g., the inelastic collision of two objects of equal mass).
Finally, by way of background, at the subatomic level matter becomes somewhat indistinct. When one measures the position of a particle there is uncertainty as to its momentum, whereas measurements of its momentum preclude certainty as to position. From which it follows that the more one knows about a particle’s momentum the less one knows about its position and vice versa. This is the so-called Heisenberg uncertainty principle expressed by the famous formula . That is a vanishingly small degree of uncertainty, to be sure, and it operates only the atomic scale, not in the world of everyday objects.
With this background in view, let us consider how quantum physics has been twisted into bad philosophy by ideologues of the “scientific community.”
Physics Too Far: Matter Without Form
Quantum effects are manifested in innumerable technologies, including photoelectric cells, transistors, lasers, MRIs and atomic clocks. In fact, quantum mechanics is the most spectacularly successful branch of physics in general, whose Promethean accomplishments involve the exploitation of the properties of entities—electrons and photons—which are undeniably real yet can never be directly observed. The discoveries in the field of quantum mechanics are amazing, and the discoverers deserve their due. Again, the faith has nothing to fear from real science.
But it is precisely the practical success of quantum mechanics that has induced in certain physicists a scientific superbia that leads them to blunder about in the realm of philosophy, and in particular metaphysics. They maintain that what science has learned about the quantum realm explains the existence of everything. The materialist ideologues of physics have been arguing since the early 20th century that quantum effects must govern the macro world and that, consequently, “classical objects” such as trees and men are merely matter-waves that collapse into seemingly solid objects only when we observe them (one version of the so-called Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory).
For more than century, however, proof that the macroworld is an illusion has eluded them and they remain unable to explain in purely quantitative terms how something like a tree, a dog, a cat or, above all, a man could be a just an aggregate of particles governed by quantum rules. After all, if you’ve seen one atom of a particular element, especially carbon, you’ve seen them all. How, then, can there so many different things with so many different qualities based on nothing but quantities that are indistinguishable at the atomic level? In short, how can there be a macro world at all?
The physicist Chad Orzel expresses the frustration of physicists determined to reduce the world to atoms and molecules: “determining why quantum rules don’t seem to apply in the macroscopic world of everyday dogs and cats is a surprisingly difficult problem. Exactly what happens in the transition from the microscopic to the macroscopic has troubled many of the best physicists of the last hundred years, and there’s still no clear answer.” Indeed! Orzel further frets that “While quantum mechanics does an outstanding job of describing the behavior of microscopic objects and collections of objects, the world we see remains stubbornly, infuriatingly classical. Something mysterious happens in the transition from the weird world of simple quantum objects to the much larger world of everyday objects.” (Orzel, 2009, p. 79)
Note the word “infuriatingly.” Why would anyone find infuriating the existence of everyday objects not subject to quantum rules? Herewith the motive: an a priori commitment to the proposition that there is nothing in the universe beyond material quantities. Everything that exists is nothing more than a bundle of atoms forming molecules forming objects that are just matter-waves, so that all of reality can be modelled mathematically as a wave-function “without residue.” There is no room in that worldview for a “residue” of “something mysterious.”
But if everything that exists is merely a quantitative matter-wave that collapses when observed, as the Copenhagen interpretation holds, why does the matter-wave of a given object always collapse into the perception of just that object and no other? As Orzel puts it: “The unexplained process of wave-function collapse is like the famous Sidney Harris cartoon of a scientist who has written ‘Then a miracle occurs’ as the second step of a problem.” In the same cartoon (shown above) his associate suggests: “you need to be more explicit about the second step.”
All Orzel can say in the face of “something mysterious” in the transition from the micro to the macro world is that here “physics is forced to become philosophy.” But why are physicists forced to become philosophers? The answer is that they know full well that the universe is a vast ensemble of formed matter and that they have no material explanation for the forms that things have.
Now, even these ideologically motivated philosophers must concede that it would be absurd to declare that the existence of a wooden chair is explained entirely by pointing to a certain quantity of wood molecules and their atomic substructure. The chair exists qua chair only because a human formator in-formed raw wood with his idea of a chair, thus producing what Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) philosophers call an “accidental form.” The carpenter’s idea of a chair is a non-material principle by which the potential of wood to become a chair is made actual. A-T philosophy calls this the formal cause, which determines the structure of the material cause, the raw wood, made into a chair by the efficient cause, which is the carpenter working with tools to achieve the chair’s final cause, that being the purpose for which the carpenter designed it: to sit on.
The Quantum Delusion
Confronted with a universe of natural objects infinitely more complex than a mere wooden chair—including the very atoms and molecules in the wood itself!—the partisans of what Wolfgang Smith has dubbed “the Reign of Quantity” do everything in their power to hide the truth that the universe in all its splendor must be the work of a formator who seems to fit the description of what we call God.
Some are so desperate to deny the existence of a “classical world” of formed matter that they even deny the collapse of the wave-function posited by the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Instead, they fantasize that the matter-waves never collapse into fixed states but rather branch off into an infinite number of universes, so that what we think are “classical objects” are just one branch of an infinitely branching matter-wave. Thus, a gray cat in our universe might be an orange cat in another or perhaps some other kind of animal, and so on ad infinitum. This idea of a “multiverse” embracing an infinite number of different versions of our world, for which there is no evidence whatsoever and no possibility of ever being tested, can rightly be called a quantum delusion.
But any fantasy will do in place of the evident reality of our world, which everywhere reveals the creative hand of that Being who, infinitely exceeding mere human artifice, wedded a vast array of substantial (not merely accidental) forms to what Saint Thomas called “prime matter” (matter without form), giving them acts of existence as subsisting beings with their own inherent qualities, powers and operations—above all man, the only rational animal, whose substantial form is his immortal soul. As Saint Paul admonished the Romans: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…” (Rom 1:20, 22)
Indeed, most ironically, the physicist partisans of a quantity-only universe cannot even explain the existence of atoms, which are clearly formed matter (or mass-energy, if you prefer). To explain how atoms came to be, the ideological opponents of First Causation—meaning God—must resort to scientism’s stock-in-trade: the just-so story. For example, this one published by the CERN laboratory:
In the first moments after the Big Bang, the universe was extremely hot and dense. As the universe cooled, conditions became just right to give rise to the building blocks of matter – the quarks and electrons of which we are all made. A few millionths of a second later, quarks aggregated to produce protons and neutrons. Within minutes, these protons and neutrons combined into nuclei.
As the universe continued to expand and cool, things began to happen more slowly. It took 380,000 years for electrons to be trapped in orbits around nuclei, forming the first atoms. These were mainly helium and hydrogen, which are still by far the most abundant elements in the universe. 1.6 million years later, gravity began to form stars and galaxies from clouds of gas.
So, atoms formed themselves, somehow achieving the perfect balance of mass and binding forces that has sustained their continuous stable existence for eons without change and made possible the stable existence of the universe. When conditions were “just right,” that is!
Not even the crudest wooden chair can form itself, but these tellers of magical tales worthy of a witchdoctor seriously propose that the entire universe and everything in it did just that. A vacuum gave rise to atoms, atoms gave rise to molecules, and then it was just a matter of time and a lot of fortuitous shuffling of fungible particles before molecules gave rise to stars, planets and ultimately Mozart. Any questions?
Even the relatively modest tall tale of the self-formation of atoms has more holes than a sieve. For one thing, where did all the carbon atoms that are the basis of life come from, given that, according to this fable, the early universe was composed mainly of helium and hydrogen atoms? Addressing the “carbon coincidence,” the physicist Jim Baggot admits there is a big problem:
What about carbon? A carbon nucleus has six protons and six neutrons. This would seem to require fusing together three helium nuclei. This is energetically possible, but the chances of getting three helium nuclei to come together in a simultaneous ‘three-body’ collision are extremely remote. It’s much more feasible to suppose that two helium nuclei first fuse to form an unstable beryllium nucleus, which then in turn fuses with another helium nucleus before it can fall apart. This sounds plausible on energy grounds, but the odds don’t look good. The beryllium nucleus tends to fall apart rather too quickly.
Yet here we are, intelligent beings evolved from a rich carbon-based biochemistry. Given that we exist, carbon must somehow be formed in higher abundance, despite the seemingly poor odds. Hoyle [Fred Hoyle, the Nobel prize-winning physicist] reasoned that the odds must somehow get tipped in favour of carbon formation. [Baggot 2013, pp. 263-264] (emphasis in original)
Hoyle theorized that a special property of “carbon resonance” might have facilitated reactions between “unstable beryllium nucleus and another helium nucleus” so that carbon atoms would form inside stars—which, so the story goes, likewise formed themselves. But Hoyle observed another remarkable “coincidence” noted by Baggot: that if carbon’s resonance “were slightly higher or lower in energy, then carbon would not be formed in sufficient abundance in the interiors of stars” and there would be “insufficient carbon to allow intelligent, carbon-based life forms to evolve.” Hoyle was thus forced to concede that carbon must have been formed precisely by a creative intellect:
Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule.”
Of course you would … A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. [Baggot 2013, pp. 264-265]
This is not even to mention all the physical constants of our universe whose fine-tuning makes life possible. As Baggot admits: “The carbon coincidence is just the beginning…. In Just Six Numbers, British astrophysicist Martin Rees identified a series of six dimensionless physical constants and combinations of constants that determine the nature and structure of the universe we inhabit. Change any one of these numbers by just 1 per cent and, Rees argued, the universe that resulted would be inhospitable to life.” [Baggot, p. 265]
As we can see, the foundational pseudo-scientific account of a purely quantitative universe consisting of nothing but variously aggregated yet basically identical particles is impossible to believe even when it comes to inanimate objects. But when it comes to living things, the account is exposed as pure myth. To quote the A-T philosopher Michael Hanby:
Darwinian reductionism of every stripe comes to grief at the living organism, and, in particular, at the human person…. Two centuries of evolutionary biology have failed to yield an adequate account of the organism, adequate to the phenomenon of life as lived. This failure is not as a matter of incomplete research but of a faulty ontology. (Hanby 2013, p. 219).
That faulty ontology involves, as Hanby rightly argues, a denial of the “ontological primacy of form” over matter. Form is denied because form cannot be found in the matter of which things are composed but rather in the constitutive organizing principles—in this case, divine principles—instantiated in the matter that individuates each material being in the universe and gives each qualities not reducible to quantities. As a result of this denial, notes Wolfgang Smith, physicists ignore the corporeal nature of natural objects and their qualities and confine their view of reality to merely physical systems—atoms and molecules—which actually occupy “a sub-existential domain” lying between corporeal objects, with their forms and qualities, and formless prime matter. They study, as if it were the whole of reality, purely physical entities that do not really exist! (Smith 2019, pp. 18-19).
Particularly absurd are attempts to reduce human consciousness to atoms and molecules. To quote the physicist Nick Herbert, one of the more candid science popularizers: “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”
Will Honesty Prevail?
More than sixty years ago, in his work Physics and Philosophy, Werner Heisenberg, the very author of the uncertainty principle, recognized that is precisely an account of the relation between matter and form that is lacking in the physicist’s view of reality:
… in the philosophy of Aristotle, matter was thought of in the relation between form and matter. All that we perceive in the world of phenomena around us is formed matter. Matter is in itself not a reality, but only a possibility, a ‘potentia’; it exists only by means of a form. In the natural process, the ‘essence,’ as Aristotle calls it, passes over from mere possibility through form into actuality….
One may hope that the combined effort of experiments in the high energy region and of mathematical analysis will someday lead to a complete understanding of the unity of matter. The term complete understanding would mean that the forms of matter in the sense of Aristotelian philosophy would appear as results, as solutions of a closed mathematical scheme representing the natural laws for matter.” (Heisenberg, 121-122, 140).
Still a purely quantitative approach, but at least Heisenberg had the honesty to say that modern physics lacks a credible explanation for the existence of “objects or processes on a comparatively large scale, where Planck’s constant can be regarded as infinitely small.”
Much more recently, representing a small vanguard of honesty in physics, the chastened mathematical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder observed with admirable candor:
[T]he information from the smaller things, it turns out, isn’t relevant to understanding the larger things. We say that the short-distance physics “decouples” from the physics at larger distances or that “the scales separate.” This separation of scales is the reason why you can go through life without knowing a thing about quarks or the Higgs boson, or—to the dismay of physics professors all over the world—without having any clue what quantum field theory is. (Hossenfelder, 2018, p. 44)
There is even a movement afoot among some physicists to embrace a kind of metaphysics of matter and form. For example, the physicist Ruth Kastner, adverting to Heisenberg’s own notion of potentia in the quantum realm, argues that “the distinction between a quantum possibility and a fact” in the so-called matter-wave that supposedly collapses upon observation represents “a quantitative version of the old concept of ‘potentia’ in Aristotelian philosophy.” A “quantitative version of potentia” is almost a contradiction in terms as potentia in the Aristotelian sense is metaphysical property involving some power or quality of a thing that is not yet actualized: e.g. the power of hydrogen and oxygen to become water when combined in the right way.
Yet Kastner inches closer to the metaphysical truth when she describes a “new metaphysical picture, which we will argue is supported by quantum theory and its empirical success” which involves “a substance… in the more general, Aristotelian sense, where substance does not necessarily entail conflation with the concept of physical matter, but is rather merely ‘the essence of a thing… what it is said to be in respect of itself.”
Here Kastner cites no less than Aristotle’s Metaphysics, although her application of the concept of form or essence invokes a still-quantitative “transaction” between the quantum state and the macro state of an object. (Kastner 2018, p. 160). Form is still not conceived as a non-material principle, and thus there is no real explanation why a quantum state should “transact” with a macro state in just the way it must in order to give rise to a particular macro object and only that object.
Will honesty and common sense prevail in the physics community? Will there someday be a consensus that matter alone can never explain form, and that the question of form belongs not to physical science but to metaphysics? Don’t count on it. The ideologues of the scientific community are still firmly in control of public discourse and the state schools. Witness this stunning admission by the evolutionary geneticist, Richard Lewontin, who provides a handy summary of that ultimately theological position in his review of a book by the late Carl Sagan in 1997:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.
Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. (Lewontin, 1997)
For more than three centuries now, philosophy and science have conspired to deny the nature of the world in which we live and move and have our being—to deny what was obvious even to the intuitions of Greek wisdom some 400 years before the coming of Christ. Today it falls to us to excavate the obvious, now buried deep down in a mother lode of simple truths hidden by so many sedimentary layers of bad philosophy masquerading as the scientific method.
Like Socrates in his last hours, we marvel at the elaborate ignorance of those who, as he observed more than 2,400 years ago, ignore the manifestations of that power “which keeps things disposed at any given moment in the best possible way” and “neither look for it, nor believe that it has any supernatural force.” (Phaedo, 99c). And so, we labor still against the greatest superstition of all time in the darkest of all dark ages: the tyrannical Reign of Quantity and its denial of the created order of matter and form in which God is everywhere conserving the world.
Introduction: A Matter of Credentials?
Having seen quite enough of Pope’s Francis’ theological wrecking ball in operation, and fearing even worse to come, a number of prominent Catholic academics have issued an Open Letter to the worldwide episcopate accusing Francis of “the canonical delict of heresy” and requesting that the bishops “take the steps necessary to deal with the grave situation of a heretical pope.” The authors declare: “We take this measure as a last resort to respond to the accumulating harm caused by Pope Francis’s words and actions over several years, which have given rise to one of the worst crises in the history of the Catholic Church.”
Archbishop Angelelli (left) in a protest march in La Rioja
In June of 2018, Pope Bergoglio approved the “martyrdom” of the leftwing radical Argentine prelate Enrique Angelelli, Bishop of La Rioja, who died in a car crash in 1976. On April 27, 2019 Angelelli and three others who opposed Argentina’s military regime during the Dirty War (1974-1983) were “beatified” as “martyrs” for the Faith at a ceremony in La Rioja presided over by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
For almost three years the DNC-mainstream media consortium has labored to elevate a fantasy about a non-crime—“collusion” between the Trump campaign and “Russia”—into grounds for invalidating the Presidential election of 2016. House and Senate Committees and a Special Counsel have embroiled the Trump administration from its inception in endless, absurd investigations into the inchoate conspiracy theory that Trump and “the Russians” somehow “colluded” to steal the election from Hillary Clinton.
Whether the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ depends entirely upon her infallibility as an organ of truth, for if she were not such then she would not be indefectible, Christ’s promise of indefectibility (cf. Matt. 28:20) would be void and He himself could not, therefore, be what he claimed to be: the God who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller has clearly had enough of the man from Argentina and his out-of-control papal bulldozer. The Cardinal’s Manifesto of Faith appeared in the immediate aftermath, and appears to have been triggered by Francis’ joint declaration with Ahmed el-Tayeb, “Grand Imam of al-Azhar,” in which Bergoglio declares: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”
I will leave it to John Lamont, in this article, to destroy the desperate argument by Bergoglio’s last remaining defenders that he was referring only to God’s permissive will, meaning His toleration of evil in the world—as if el-Tayeb would sign a document declaring that God tolerates the evil of Islam.
Chief Justice John Roberts with Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2017, listening to President Trump's maiden speech to Congress.(Photo: Jack Gruber)
A History of Disappointments
In 1987 Ronald Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to replace retiring Justice Lewis Powell, a member of the infamous Roe v. Wade majority (7-2). Kennedy, President Ford’s appointee to the Ninth Circuit, was Reagan’s third choice. A firestorm of Democrat opposition had defeated his prior nomination of Robert Bork. Reagan’s second choice, the “moderate conservative” Douglas Ginsburg, was sunk by allegations of marijuana use during college and while a professor at Harvard Law School.
What we got with Kennedy was a justice whose judicial tenor became generally indistinguishable from Powell’s. Indeed, even Powell might cringe at Kennedy’s infamous dictum on the imaginary right to abortion in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, where he joined a bare 5-to-4 majority in refusing to overrule Roe: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.”
Then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, key spokesman for bishops at the summit meeting with JPII on the sex abuse crisis unfolding in the U.S., faces the press at the Vatican on April 24, 2002. The Remnant's Chirstopher Ferrara was there to ask McCarrick the $64,000 question. (Reuters photo)
Introduction: the “Abuse of Minors” Ruse
The homosexual priest and bishop scandal has erupted anew, just as I predicted in an article for this journal seventeen years ago, concerning the useless “pedophile summit” in Rome, presided over by none other than ex-Cardinal McCarrick, the serial sexual abuser of seminarians and altar boys Pope Bergoglio was finally forced to discipline after having rehabilitated him in full knowledge of his past. The 2002 Roman junket for well-fed prelates was cunningly designed to avoid the issue of homosexual activity among the clergy and their “consenting adult” partners in sodomy.
At this point in the Bergoglian Debacle it seems to me that le mot juste for this pontificate is ridiculous. Scandalous, outrageous, blasphemous and even heretical also vie for acceptance, but more substantive adjectives somehow don’t seem appropriate for an occupant of the Chair of Peter who can no longer be taken seriously if we are to take seriously the Faith and the Church that has propagated it for two millennia.
Bergoglio’s theme is consistent: it’s his way or the Catholic way. As he himself has put it in one of the innumerable interviews that belong to his ceaseless attempt to impose his personal opinions on the Church as if they were Catholic doctrine: “I’m constantly making statements, giving homilies. That’s magisterium. That’s what I think, not what the media say that I think. Check it out; it’s very clear.”
Well, we have checked it out. And it is very clear. Putting aside the occasional expressions of a sound popular piety—almost invariably marred, however, by demagogic digs at staunch Catholics or the rich or some other designated object of opprobrium—it is very clear that this pontificate is a joke. A sinister joke, to be sure, but nonetheless blackly humorous. For what but laughter can be the Catholic response to a mere man who treats the Magisterium as the personal possession of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the name he insists on retaining as reflected in his Argentinian passport? “That’s what I think.” One can only laugh at such monumental hubris unaccompanied by either the charisma or the intellect that would characterize a dictator capable of making himself beloved. What we have instead is boundless ambition in a very small package. Few there are who still cannot see this.
Read the Christmas issue of the Remnant Newspaper right now!
On and on he goes, telling us whatever he thinks, as if the faithful could possibly accept that one Pope has the power to overrule all the others in matters of faith and morals: excusing violations of exceptionless precepts of the natural law based on the “complexity of one’s limits,” admitting public adulterers to Holy Communion in “more complex circumstances”; approving contraception as a “lesser evil” to prevent the spread of the Zika virus—thus allowing that evil may be done that good may come of it, the error that is the death of all morality; proclaiming that Luther was right about justification; pronouncing the death penalty immoral while accusing his predecessors, many of them saints or beati, of “ignoring the primacy of mercy over justice,” and even attempting to put over the incredible whopper, based solely on his own opinion, that “the Magisterium of the Church understands that life sentences [las penas perpetuas], which deny the possibility of moral and existential redemption of the condemned and of the community, are a form of death penalty in disguise…”. What’s next, a Bergoglian motu proprio specifying maximum sentencing guidelines for capital crimes?
The laugh track of this pontificate is also triggered by Bergoglio’s blundering interventions into politics—not for the repeal of human laws that contradict the divine and natural law, but rather to call for the adoption of measures invariably in accord with the platforms of the radical Left in Europe and America. Such as: worldwide abolition of the death penalty, with never a call for worldwide abolition of abortion; the elimination of border walls or barriers—while he lives in a walled enclave surrounded by armed guards; the unrestricted mass migration of military-age Muslim males and other “migrants” according to an imaginary “right to migrate”—a right not recognized by the Vatican city state; and all the crackpot schemes and burdens on the common man to reduce carbon emissions while Bergoglio and his fellow climate change fanatics jet all over the world to lecture us about how we must air-dry our clothes and use public transportation. Bergoglio has even seen fit to weigh in against the Scottish and Catalonian independence movements, because “all division worries me.”
The height of Bergoglio’s inane politics is his encyclical on environmentalism wherein, ignoring the apostasy of an entire civilization as it sinks into an abyss of depravity, he deplores “sins against creation,” “the disappearance of ecosystems sustained by mangrove swamps,” “the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity” and the “increasing use and power of air-conditioning,” relegating to paragraph 117 respect for the “human embryo” as “part of reality.”
Just how much of a joke this pontificate has become is seen in this interview, broadcast on December 6 by the Italian bishops’ TV station. In response to a leading question by one Father Marco Pozza, suitably attired in a sports jacket, polo shirt, chinos and sneakers, Bergoglio blithely declares that the words of the Our Father recited by the faithful for 2,000 years are “not a good translation” and that “even the French have changed the text to translation that says ‘Don’t let me fall into temptation’—that I’m the one who falls.”
Have the French done it? Say no more!
Revealing the shallowness of his theological formation, such as it is, Bergoglio exhibited laughable incomprehension of the true sense of our Lord’s petition “and lead us not into temptation…” Said Bergoglio to Pozza: “But it’s not him [God] who throws me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. No, a father doesn’t do this. The one who leads us into temptation is Satan.” Once again imposing his uninformed opinion, Bergoglio had already demanded that the Italian bishops abandon the traditional translation (“e non ci indurre in tentazione”) in favor of “and do not abandon us in temptation” [“e non abbandonarci nella tentazione”].
Sandro Magister notes that during an extraordinary session of the Italian bishops’ conference (CEI) called to consider Bergoglio’s demand—under the President he had handpicked to control the CEI—“[t]he ‘old’ version was not even put to a vote, so that it was impossible to defend it.” As the increasingly contemptuous Magister observes of this latest Bergoglian farce: “Logically, if God cannot ‘lead’ us into temptation, we don’t see why he is allowed to ‘abandon’ us to it. For two millennia the Church has never dreamed of changing that difficult word of the Gospel, but rather of interpreting and explaining it, in its authentic meaning.”
In an interview with Life Site News, the Swiss linguist and Bible scholar Father Reto Nay, joining the swelling ranks of orthodox Catholics who have had enough of this circus, makes short work of Bergoglio’s junk theology: “The text of the Our Father is passed down to us in the New Testament, which was written in ancient Greek. The phrase ‘and lead us not into temptation’ is contained both in Mt 6:13 and Lk 11:4 with identical wording: καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν. This means that the wording of the petition in question cannot be blamed on a transmission error or misunderstanding.”
As Fr. Nay further explains:
The Roman Church may have used the Greek original in the beginning. But it quickly changed to Latin: “et ne nos inducas in tentationem” which is a literal translation of the Greek. So is the English version “and lead us not into temptation,” or the Italian “non ci indurre in tentazione.”
These versions are the result of translating the verb εἰσφέρω/εἰσενέγκῃς (= to lead into, to bring into) and the noun πειρασμός (= temptation, putting to proof). The original text does not offer the possibility of an alternative translation. I am not aware of any period in Church history when this translation was questioned. There is simply no grammatical or syntactical reason to do so.
Of course, Bergoglio doesn’t think he needs a grammatical or syntactical reason to alter the 2,000-year-old translation of the very prayer God Himself dictated in the flesh. Bergoglio doesn’t like it, so it has to go.
But the substitute wording Bergoglio maneuvered to obtain in Italy is theological nonsense, as Father Nay notes:
I have no idea where the “and do not abandon us to temptation” comes from. Deuteronomy 4:31 says, “Because the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them” (a similar reference is made in Psalm 94:14). If this is true (and it is), why then should we pray “and do not abandon us to temptation.” It also seems to insinuate that God actually could “abandon” us in temptation which comes close to blasphemy because it puts the blame on God when we abandon him. But 2 Chronicles 15:2 says, “if you abandon him, he will abandon you.”
To the objection that God would not “lead” us into temptation either, Father Nay replies with the obvious point that “the text does not say that God is the originator of the temptation; the devil is or men…. In this sense, Christ is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit ‘to be tempted by the devil’ (Mt 4:1)…” That is, he is subjected to a trial, in order to show us that trials in the form of temptations are to be expected in keeping with the revealed truth that “all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12),” with temptation being precisely a test of faith under persecution by the devil or his minions—a test we are able to pass if we correspond to God’s grace.
Here I would note that Saint Paul explains this quite precisely: “But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13). That is, God will subject us to the trial of temptation, but will also provide us with the means to overcome it. He will not abandon us to temptation, although we may abandon ourselves by rejecting His grace. This datum of revealed truth is obviously lost on Bergoglio, who operates on the assumption that what he thinks “is Magisterium.”
As this article goes to press, we learn the news that of the seven communist puppet bishops whose excommunications Bergoglio lifted under the terms of a secret agreement with the butchers of Beijing, two have concubines and children. The courageous Cardinal Zen, who did everything in his power to prevent what he calls “an incredible betrayal” of the faithful Catholics in China’s Underground Church, notes that “it is for certain, for a long time it’s public knowledge” that Paul Lei Shiyin and Joseph Liu Xinhong are “married” with children. Yet they are now recognized as legitimate bishops by Bergoglio—who nonetheless continues to leave the bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X in canonical limbo. Another joke.
Cardinal Burke observes that “If it is true that one or more of the ‘reconciled’ bishops from the Patriotic Church in China are married, the Latin Church, by the recent accords with the government of China, has broken with apostolic tradition which has never permitted Bishops to be married, above all, out of respect for the example of Our Lord, the Great High Priest in whose person the bishop acts in a full way. Such a fact, coupled with the open lack of respect for the authority of the Petrine Office on the part of some of the bishops, calls into question the canonical validity of the lifting of the excommunication which the bishops involved had justly incurred.”
Now that the “official” church and its puppet bishops enjoy Vatican recognition, Beijing exploits its secret pact with the Vatican as a warrant to destroy what is left of the Underground Church in China. Thus does Bergoglio literally abandon his sheep to communist wolves who force women to kill their unborn children. At the same time, however, he calls for abolition of the death penalty and even life sentences for guilty murderers while he deplores Donald Trump’s immigration policy. Still another joke—perhaps the biggest yet in this black comedy of a papacy.
As we celebrate the glorious day of Our Savior’s birth, our Christmas prayer intentions ought to include a merciful end to this ruinous pontificate, failing the miracle it would take to produce a staunch defender of the Faith in Bergoglio. Meanwhile, contrary to the opinion of the current occupant of the Chair of Peter, we can be certain that it is God who has allowed us to be tempted to despair in the midst of the Bergoglian Debacle, but that it is also He who has provided the means by which we will be delivered from evil, if only we heed the admonition of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians, the veritable charter of traditionalist resistance to the madness of the past half-century: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.”
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Have we not seen this before: A reformer using abuse in the Church as an excuse to attack Her and make a name for himself?
Rod Dreher, another shallow Vatican II convert who never really got the Faith, has carved out a nice gig for himself as a professional ex-Catholic. Absurdly enough, he is being lauded and feted by still-practicing Catholics around the world for his book The Benedict Option despite his public declarations that the homosexual priest scandal proves that the Catholic Church has deceived her members by claiming to be the Church that Christ founded with a promise of indefectibility. For : “I was naive about the Catholic institution, and saw in retrospect that I idolized it to a certain degree. Because I believed what the Catholic Church said about itself, I set myself up for a very big fall.”