Friday, April 23, 2021

Corporate persons

A neglected insight of Scholastic political philosophy and traditional conservatism is that institutions can have a personal nature.  The Church, a government, a business firm, a university, a club, and similar social formations are like this.  They can be said to make decisions, to act and to be morally and legally responsible for the consequences of those actions, and to have rights and duties.  They can be praised or blamed, loved or hated, and loyally supported or betrayed.  They can be born, grow, flourish, decline, and die.  They can exhibit distinctive virtues, vices, and other character traits.  They can become corrupted or be reformed.  Since they have such personal attributes (or something analogous to them, anyway) the tradition refers to them as moral persons or corporate persons.

The importance of the notion of the corporate person was central to the thought of Roger Scruton.  As he notes in an important essay on the topic, a corporate person can survive death, as in the case of a throne that is vacant for an extended period of time, so that the government of which its occupant was the head is dormant until someone finally sits upon it again.  He also notes that while corporate persons cannot be said to have anything like sensory experiences, they can be said to have beliefs, intentions, and the like.

Though Scruton does not draw the connection, this seems to make corporate persons analogous to souls, which survive the death of the body and retain their rational powers after death despite losing the exercise of their sensory powers.  The flesh and blood human beings who make up the membership and leadership of a corporate person would, accordingly, be analogous to its body.

Scruton also notes that some corporate persons can be utterly malign, such as the Nazi and Communist parties.  By my analogy, such corporate persons may be likened to damned and impenitent souls, or perhaps to demons who have gotten possession of the “bodies” comprised of their leaders and members.  (That’s a metaphor.  I am not saying that the latter are all literally demon-possessed.)

A corporate person could instead be infallible, as Catholics claim the Church is.  That doesn’t mean that the individual members cannot err, including the pope when he is not speaking ex cathedra.  It means that the “mind of the Church” as a corporate person cannot fall into error, and the reason a pope cannot err when speaking ex cathedra is that in such an act he is giving definitive expression to the mind of the Church.

Then there can be corporate persons that fluctuate between evil and good.  The Roman Empire was such a corporate person.  As persecutor of the Church, it was evil.  The post-Constantinian empire, and then the Holy Roman Empire that revived it, was that same corporate person converted to Christianity and baptized.  The periods in which the throne was empty amounted to the corporate person becoming dormant, like a disembodied soul.  According to the medieval legend of the Last Roman Emperor, the same corporate person will be revived anew to defend the Church.  And the empire of Antichrist might be interpreted as that same corporate person becoming apostate in the last days and returning to its role as persecutor.

Most corporate persons are, of course, nowhere near as colorful as these examples.  They would be the governments, firms, clubs, and the like with which we deal in everyday life.  And that brings us to what we usually think of today when we hear the word “corporate” – corporations in the business sense.  Corporations of this kind are not intrinsically evil, but neither are they intrinsically benign.  Like human persons, they can become corrupted.  In particular, like human persons, they can become corrupted by the tenor of the society that surrounds them.  And they can become corrupted en masse when the society that surrounds them crosses a certain threshold of decadence.  The difference is that they wield enormous power, and thus can do much greater evil than an individual corrupt person can – for example, by massively accelerating, through their influence, the general social decadence that has infected them.

Part of the corruption that can occur is the kind you would expect.  Business corporations exist in order to make money, and like human persons, they can be tempted to do so in immoral ways.  For example, corporate persons, like persons in the ordinary sense, have patriotic duties and duties of solidarity toward the fellow members of the community within which they operate.  And they violate these duties when they let considerations of profit override their obligations to their country and its citizens (by needlessly offshoring jobs, working to relax immigration laws so as to secure cheap labor, etc.).  Modern American conservatives have become more sensitive to this problem in recent years, though market fundamentalism still blinds too many of them to it.

At the same time, it is a serious error to think that profit is all that drives corporations, any more than it is all that drives human persons.  Hence, it is an error to think that greed is the only sort of corruption to which they are prone.  This is something else that modern American conservatives are coming to learn, the hard way.  Corporations could make enormous amounts of money catering to the distinctive tastes and interests of traditional religious believers and others with conservative attitudes.  But they show little interest in doing so.  The reason is that they now largely share the same liberal and secular worldview that prevails in academia, entertainment, and the Democratic Party, and are willing to forego profits that would be earned in a way that might promote contrary values.  Moreover, they now seem increasingly willing to make political enemies of those with contrary values, and actively to promote the interests of their favored party and its ideology even at the expense of alienating some customers.

In his article, Scruton describes how, in Lenin’s Soviet Union, the Communist Party either obliterated all corporate persons other than itself, or so deeply infiltrated them that they became nothing more than its masks.  Nothing was left to stand between the Party and individuals, and the Party treated them as raw material to be molded according to a totalitarian plan rather than as fellow persons whose rights have to be respected and whose concerns and opinions had to be rationally engaged with.  The result, Scruton writes, was:

one corporate person standing triumphant amid the ruins of social life: the Party itself.  But it [was] a monstrous person, no longer capable of moral conduct; a person which cannot take responsibility for its actions, and which can confess to its faults only as ‘errors’ imposed on it by misguided members, and never as its own actions, for which repentance and atonement are due… Like its shortlived disciple, the Nazi party, it [was] a corporate psychopath, respected by none, and feared by all. (pp. 263-4)

In the United States, at the moment, there is no party with the size, apparatus, military muscle, or violent ruthlessness of Lenin’s Communist Party.  What we do have, in the Gnostic cult of Critical Race Theory, is a party line in search of a Party, an ideology as shrill, intolerant, and simple-minded as that of Lenin.  And its sweep through the political class, journalism, the federal government, schools and universities, churches, and corporate HR departments gives every appearance of a corporate mind coming to consciousness and attempting to assemble for itself a body.  Not by way of violent takeover, but by a kind of voluntary euthanasia of independent corporate persons, as they happily make of themselves the organs of this new entity which will rid the world of “whiteness,” “patriarchy,” “heteronormativity” and other objects of egalitarian hatred, as Lenin sought to rid the world of the bourgeois.

Whether this new “corporate psychopath” will in fact arise, and precisely what form it will take if it does, remain to be seen.  But as fallible corporate persons, like human persons, become increasingly infected with madness and evil, the one infallible corporate person that is the Church must get her bearings so that she might more effectively resist them.  For though she cannot die, she can become sick, to the extent that the human beings who make up her body are faithless, feckless, cowardly, and muddleheaded.  There can be only one proper response to the fanatical imposition of error and immorality to which our institutions are being increasingly given over.  It is not dialogue, and it is not fleeing for fear of the wolves, but rather holy intransigence in defense of orthodoxy and sanctity, born of faithful confidence in the Church’s divine Spouse, who will never leave her nor forsake her.


  1. This is very important. In a previous post I asked for references in social ontology from a thomist perspective. I feel like It is a field that need a lot of work. What is the ontology of a corporate person? It isn't a substane, obviously, but also not an artifact (at least it doesn't seem like it). For Searle, institutional facts like these depend on language and the mind of its agents. There's a lot of truth to that. However, his perspective seems too subjectivist to me.
    Anyway, the metaphysics of social reality would be a really interesting topic!

    1. With apologies for the self promotion, this forthcoming article of mine considers this topic in Aquinas. It may be useful if only to serve as a collection of relevant primary texts:

    2. It sounds like a person per accidens, much like how an event or plurality of things can be considered one thing per accidens, and is only unified in the mind.

    3. @Josh Harris

      Interesting stuff. It made the claim that corporate persons exist easier to understand to me.

  2. There are indeed natural corporate persons: the family is one such. It is for this very reason (among others) that the state is not only wisely advised to make explicit provision for corporate persons, but is obliged by natural law to do so. Any state that would pretend (or demand) that there only be one corporate person, the state itself, and nothing else but individual humans, (like the Communists and other totalitarians) is per se a bad state. For, the family is the fundamental social group, which makes up the very fabric of the larger social structures of cities and states. And families have an ontological reality that can be denied only by denying humanity itself.

    Small wonder, then, that Satan and his minions have been attacking the family with might and main, for over a hundred years. The woke mentality, and the critical race theory, and anti-male, anti-"patriarchy" (what they mean in practice is anti-order of ANY sort) are all trying to bring down "family" as a viable social institution, and if they were to get their way, the state would no longer recognize "family" as a corporate being of any sort. It is not hard at all, even for those who are not conservative, to imagine the extent of tyranny over individuals that the state could easily enjoy if "family" is no longer recognized as having any rights or even being.

    @ Spender: it is true that other entities than the family, such as the business, the club, and the parish, depend largely on language and the mind (and intention) of its members in order to exist. But this does not imply that they are merely "beings of reason" like "rational relations" are beings of reason, mere mental pegs for organizing knowledge. Their existence can be said to be more real than that. One basis for saying so is that by nature, man is a social animal, and a rational animal, and so nature intends and designs that we should MAKE social units by willing to do so: these are then cases where man enacts into concrete particulars what nature prescribes in general. They are, then, derived from nature, even though made by men; they are, I suggest, beings of intention, made real by MUTUAL intention of several persons. The state itself has the same character. Because the intention is shared by more than one person, they have more reality than what goes on in the mind of a single person. Because they derive from our nature, they are not merely "artificial" in the sense that we can just as well decide NOT to have them, for man cannot survive without social forms. It is because they are real more so than rational relations that things like the state can morally oblige obedience to laws even from those who would like to not be subject to the state.

  3. Chief Justice John Marshall, like Scruton, stressed that corporations ought to receive legal protection because they can provide common goods that cannot be provided by citizens in their individual capacities:
    "The objects for which a corporation is created are universally such as the government wishes to promote. They are deemed beneficial to the country, and this benefit constitutes the consideration, and in most cases, the sole consideration of the grant. In most eleemosynary institutions, the object would be difficult, perhaps unattainable, without the aid of a charter of incorporation. Charitable or public-spirited individuals, desirous of making permanent appropriations for charitable or other useful purposes, find it impossible to effect their design securely and certainly without an incorporating act. They apply to the government, state their beneficent object, and offer to advance the money necessary for its accomplishment, provided the government will confer on the instrument which is to execute their designs the capacity to execute them. The proposition is considered and approved. The benefit to the public is considered as an ample compensation for the faculty it confers, and the corporation is created."
    Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), 17 U. S. 638

    Following Sir Edward Coke, Marshall did distinguish corporate persons from natural persons by saying the latter did not actually have souls. Coke said this in the Sutton Hospital Case:
    "[A] Corporation aggregate of many is invisible, immortal, & resteth only in intendment and consideration of the law. . . . They may not commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicate, for they have no souls, neither can they appear in person, but by Attorney."

  4. P.S. Michael Novak (of "Spirit of Democratic Capitalism" fame) has written some good stuff on this topic. This essay by Carson Holloway is good too:

  5. Corporations are persons? When a corporation that does illegal and harmful things can go to prison for that, call me. Until then, this America legal fiction that corporations are persons is noxious and stupid. all it does is help shield the corporate CEOs et al from being held liable for their evil, and illegal actions.


    1. the corporate CEOs **et al** from being held liable for **their** evil, and illegal actions.

      Et al . . . Their actions . . . Zing!

    2. That corporations are persons, is not an "America legal fiction". It is universally received law, and holds true for probably every State on Earth. I am not pro-Capitalism (in fact, I oppose it), but your statement just doesn't correlate to truth.
      - John

    3. While i(not a capitalist too, btw) do find the idea of corporate persons reasonable, that is also a problem i have with how it is used. I suppose that in american law there also is a legal way to "cancel" the nature of the corporation and punish the flesh and bone person that made the crime, thought.

      But even having this possibility, it needs to be not that hard to use, expecially when important people is envolved and the crime is great.

    4. @ WCB: As Feser is using the term, "corporate" is a wider term than the "for-profit business corporation". It refers to ANY multi-person aggregate which receives social or legal status in its own right as a single "thing". This would include families, social clubs, parishes and dioceses, charitable enterprises, cities, and states. Indeed, in some cases, the very initial existence of a "city" came through the establishment of a formal "corporation".

      Stepping away from the current practice in most of America (with its current blindnesses), "corporations" can indeed be held morally and legally responsible for (legally defined) crimes and for (socially ascertained) sins/offenses. Officers of corporations (i.e. human individual persons) who intentionally decide to force the corporation to commit a crime can also be held personally responsible for such acts, AS WELL AS holding the corporation legally and fiscally responsible for the crime. While the corporation (usually) will not be jailed, its officers can be jailed, the corporation can lose its assets, and to the extent the human members of the corporation actively participated in the decision to commit a crime,, they too can be jailed or given other legal punishments. The fact that in recent years some of these restraints have been lifted or loosened against many for-profit corporations does not mean all of them have: if a CEO or CFO explicitly decides to file a fraudulent corporate tax return, the CEO or CFO can be sent to prison for the crime; it being a corporate tax return doesn't mean they can't personally be held legally responsible for fraud.

      And, in general, at other times and places different rules have been in place to hold corporate beings (and their human person members) responsible for wrong-doing.

  6. "In his article, Scruton describes how, in Lenin’s Soviet Union, the Communist Party either obliterated all corporate persons other than itself, or so deeply infiltrated them that they became nothing more than its masks. Nothing was left to stand between the Party and individuals, and the Party treated them as raw material to be molded according to a totalitarian plan rather than as fellow persons whose rights have to be respected and whose concerns and opinions had to be rationally engaged with. The result, Scruton writes, was:

    one corporate person standing triumphant amid the ruins of social life: the Party itself. But it [was] a monstrous person, no longer capable of moral conduct; a person which cannot take responsibility for its actions, and which can confess to its faults only as ‘errors’ imposed on it by misguided members, and never as its own actions, for which repentance and atonement are due… Like its shortlived disciple, the Nazi party, it [was] a corporate psychopath, respected by none, and feared by all. (pp. 263-4)"

    That, or most of it, sounds very like the Catholic Church. Until very recently, the CC was not in the habit of apologising for wrongs done to others. And Catholics online are often extremely unwilling to concede that the CC, acting officially and deliberately, has ever harmed anyone - though this adamant refusal to concede that the CC must accept responsibility for evildoing has waned somewhat in the last 5 years or so. To call the CC a "corporate psychopath" is harsh, but not, I think, unjust.

    1. The behaviour of the RC church as a corporate psychopath was only reduced through its loss of political power and influence, yet some would have us go back to those times, dreaming as they do of their ideal RX theocratic or integralist order. The reality they envisage would be bad enough, but the reality in fact would be much worse as the unchecked RC corporate psychopath became established and grew in confidence.

      The one true church, established and protected by God. No , human - all too human.

    2. You must have missed this part:

      "That doesn’t mean that the individual members cannot err, including the pope when he is not speaking ex cathedra. It means that the “mind of the Church” as a corporate person cannot fall into error,"

    3. TN

      Are you claiming that the CC, acting deliberately and officially, has never hurt anyone and has nothing to apologise for? We are talking about corporate psychopathic behaviour here, not the issuing of edicts regarding faith and morals ( which are not the kind of thing that one can prove to be wrong, though to a mind not deadened by indoctrination they may seem improbable and dotty - eg your required beliefs about the Assumption of the Virgin ).

    4. The Church has, in fact, nothing to apologize for. Individual faithful, however, do. That is why we have the holy Sacrament of Penance. Because we are sinners. The Church herself is holy and cannot err, and cannot do wrong, because she is the living Christ, the Body of Christ, and the Bride of the Holy Ghost.

      And "Unknown", I can tell why people don't like you. If you have got nothing constructive to say, don't say anything at all.
      - John

    5. Anonymous 5.32AM

      Awe John, you know you love me really.

      As regards your stipulation that the church cannot err and cannot do wrong whatever actually happens because ..... well because it just can't- that made me wet myself laughing. Yet another example
      of you people defining a problem out of existance!

      So, groups of actors such as corporations can be seen as corporate persons exhibiting corporate responsibility, and such persons can behave as corporate psychopaths EXCEPT for the Catholic Church. I will share this stunning insight widely down the pub tonight and at work on Monday, and anticipate that it will be met with the derision is so richly deserves.

    6. I'am pretty sure that in catholicism the Church is only seen as infalible when the subject is faith or morals. Papal and conciliar infallibility work that way, no?

    7. Ah yes, the surefire test of the soundness of a position - what your drinking buddies at the pub think of it. Tell, me Unknown - you seem to be of the impression that the "crimes of the Church" are so manifest and so many that you expect us to simply know what they are without you saying anything, but if you're going to play this game, I'm going to ask you to provide examples.

    8. In addition, Anon actually is not "defining the problem out of existence". That only happens if the definition is arbitrary and has no good reason to believe it. That the Church is the Bride of Christ is something we know from Revelation, not simply something we pull out of the air. Now, obviously YOU don't believe in that Revelation, but Catholics do, so it is not arbitrary for them to appeal to it for information. You may think we are wrong, but we are not merely defining the issue out of existence.

    9. Callum

      You say that defining a problem out of existance only happens if the definition is arbitrary and there is no good reason to believe it. Well your belief that the church is the 'Bride of Christ' based on something in Revalation fits that description perfectly. There is no good reason at all to accept anything lifted from that book, especially as it is notoriously figurative and symbolic in its language and imagery, so Christians can ( and do ) read whatever they want into it.

      From my meagre knowledge of history the Church should be apologising for the following crimes and failures - no doubt more knowledgable individuals will be able to greatly extend the list. I am sure that you will try to argue that some at least of my examples are to be ascribed to the sins of individuals, not THE CHURCH, but recall that this conversation is taking place on a thread discussing corporate persons, and you all seem pretty unanimous that corporate responsibility exists. Your denial of it in the case of your church because of some scripture in Revalations is risible, and brings you into even more disrepute among ordinary people.

      Saga of the inquisition, with huge numbers tortured and/or burned alive.

      Church involvement in religious wars and massacres, eg those following the Protestant reformation and others detailed by Papalinton in his post later on below.

      Church support of Crusades, and the massacre of Muslims.

      The still recent world wide priestly child sex abuse scandel, and the failure to openly identify and discipline perpetrators , or hand suspects over to the legal authorities.

      Accommodation with the Nazi regime in the 1930s, failure to act against its horrors and injustices and complicity in the escape of Nazis to S. America at the end of the war.

      But all is fine, as the church - uniquely among vast, centralised organisations - has no corporate responsibility, so has no need at all to apologise AS the church! Laughable.

    10. First off, you have misidentified me - I am not "Callum", whom I believe is a different poster on this board. Secondly, your attack on Revelation is as predictable as it is weak - if you subscribe to the Copenhagen Theory of Quantum Mechanics and are debating with someone about the nature of the Many-Worlds interpretation, it is not arbitrary or definition-shifting for him to appeal to premises of the Many-Worlds interpretation in support of his argument. You can say that Many-Worlds is wrong, but then you have shifted the argument up a level and are really arguing about the truthfulness of his foundational beliefs. At no point did he perform some kind of logical trick or sleight of hand, he merely applied consistently the things he believes to be true. The historical section is too large and full of errors to be stapled on to this post, so I will make a separate post addressing it.

    11. Now, for the historical section. You say that your historical knowledge is meagre, and I believe you. Let's do this in a list form:

      -Saga of the inquisition, with huge numbers tortured and/or burned alive.

      The Inquisition is one of the most slandered organisations in history, and untangling this requires some work. Firstly, far, FAR fewer people died in any of the Inquisitions than most people think. There were multiple Inquisitions - one run by the Pope and another run by the Spanish crown, the latter of which was more violent and was used as a political cudgel by the monarchs of Spain. The Papal Inquisition did use torture, but in a very limited and reduced way, and it could only be done once. By comparison, the secular courts of the day regularly used far more brutal methods, to the point where sometimes criminals would deliberately blaspheme so as to be handed over to the Inquisition instead of the secular courts. In addition, you must understand that in Medieval Europe, heresy was as much a political crime as it was a religious one. Heretics were also viewed as social menaces, and the Inquisition was partly set up to bring law and order to the situation - beforehand, mobs often took to burning heretics on their own initiative, with no regard for a trial or anything.

      "Church involvement in religious wars and massacres, eg those following the Protestant reformation and others detailed by Papalinton in his post later on below."

      This isn't very specific, but I'm assuming you're talking primarily about the Thirty Years' War here. That was an extremely convoluted mess that was at least as much about political power as it was about religion. See the fact that Catholic France joined the Protestant League in order to curtail the power of Austria. If you're talking about violence more generally, then all I can say is that A)*humans* are violent on their own - the vast majority of wars have not been fought for religious reasons. B)do you have a problem fighting wars to destroy beliefs that you regard as evil, such as fascism?

      "Church support of Crusades, and the massacre of Muslims"

      This is one of the hoariest old chestnuts in the box. The Crusades were a series of coordinated military endeavours designed to drive back Islamic expansion from formerly-Christian land. They were not designed out of some genocidal desire to massacre Muslims. They only occurred after nearly 500 years of aggression and expansion by Islam that resulted in the conquest of formerly-Christian lands in the Middle East, all of North Africa, and most of Iberia. The famous "blood up to their knees" line is exaggeration invoking Biblical imagery for a deliberate purpose. Yes, it was violent - wars always are. No, not everyone involved was honourable and good and did not always do the right thing. Yes, the Fourth Crusade was a farce (that the Pope of the day condemned, by the way). It was not any more brutal or violent than your average Medieval war, and I would argue that their causes were usually just.

      "Accommodation with the Nazi regime in the 1930s, failure to act against its horrors and injustices and complicity in the escape of Nazis to S. America at the end of the war."

      -The Pope of the time smuggled Jews out of the country and took enormous risks to have *Mit brennender Sorge* smuggled into Germany and read, which explicitly condemned nearly every aspect of the Nazi regime. What more was he supposed to do, invade Germany? One specific cardinal helped Nazis to escape, and he was condemned and defrocked.

      The sex abuse scandal is a disgrace and everyone admits that. The crimes, however, were committed by individual priests and covered up by individual bishops. It was hardly Church policy.

    12. Having gone through what Unknown has said, I sense that one specific thing is the root of all these problems: what does it mean for the Church to act? Does it require one Catholic to act? One Priest? One Bishop? The Pope? The whole body of the faithful? This lack of clarity is at the root of most of our dispute.

    13. Cantus

      Apologies for misremembering your name, which does have similarities with that of a different poster Callum.

      I have just been reading the relevant sections of Revalations, and they are quite opaque, which no doubt explains why there are multiple interpretations of them. I think you are deluding yourself if you ( or your church ) imagines that these verses can be sanely taken as absolving the RC church of corporate responsibilities, whatever happens.

    14. Pardon me, there's been a misunderstanding. I was talking about Revelation in general, IE the entirety of what Christians believe God has revealed to Mankind. I was not referring exclusively to the Book of Revelation.

    15. Also, I'd like to apologise for losing my temper. When my Mother Church is insulted, I lose some control of myself and say intemperate things. Perhaps it is such with anyone who sees his mother besmirched. In any case, I still hold to the points I have made, and think it would be better for both of us to cool the temperature. I've been burned too many times by """debates""" with deliberate bad faith actors like Santi Tafarella, and it makes me overly harsh and acidic in debates of this kind.

    16. Cantus 11.04am

      I genuinely did not pick up on the fact that you were bad tempered, so I was surprised by your apology. Perhaps you are just assuming that your mood must have been conveyed by your text, or perhaps I am insensitive and undescerning of such things as a reader!

      I will have to look into your historical claims more closely,and request that more knowledgable critics of the church post in response, but what you have to say about the inquisition and child sex abuse scandel hardly fills be with confidence.

    17. Cantus

      I will make a brief comment about this on the original thread .

    18. Cantus 11.33zAM

      Oh dear, this is the original thread - I thought that you had made a seperate 'free floating' comment.

      So, the Papal Inquisition did use torture, but in a ' limited and reduced way', and was not as cruel and severe as the secular authorities. Actually, what took place was horrific and church sanctioned, and no amount of distraction tactics by you will change this.

      As regards the child sex abuse scandel, of course it was not supported and perpetrated as an act of official policy, but notoriously, the centre did not act quickly and resolutely to bring the perpetrators to justice by issuing edicts instructing those at all levels of the church to cooperate with legal authorities in reporting what they knew and not concealing or otherwise assisting suspects to evade due legal process.

      I feel that you are allowing your love of the church to blind you to its clear culpability in both of these areas, and this enduring denial of responsibility and failure to apologise fully for its actions is an enduring blot on the reputation of the supposed 'one true church'.

      As I said previously, I will look into your other claims, and invite others to submit critiques if they fall short.

    19. Okay, guys, i founded it:
      "3 The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation, under the aegis and vigilance of the pastors, the "deposit" of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments, and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men.

      2034 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice."76 The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.

      2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.77

      2036 The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation. In recalling the prescriptions of the natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God.78"

    20. The Church is only infallible when the subject is faith and morals. When the subject is a pratical thing them errors can and do happen.

    21. Unknown @ 11.57AM

      "So, the Papal Inquisition did use torture, but in a ' limited and reduced way', and was not as cruel and severe as the secular authorities. Actually, what took place was horrific and church sanctioned, and no amount of distraction tactics by you will change this."

      Better said by Dr Michael Shermer, American historian and science writer: "The only reason Stalin and Hitler killed more people than the Catholic Inquisition is that Torquemeda didn't have gas chambers and machine guns."

    22. Papalinton and Unknown,

      The only reason liberals like yourself aren't murdering and torturing Catholics is because you guys don't have a gun in your hands at the moment. The actions of the French Revolutionaries showed your true nature.

  7. I’m reading Fr. Rager’s short work on the Political Philosophy of St. Robert Bellarmine. Bellarmine makes the astute point that governments (which are a kind of corporation) can take on powers that no individual human can possess, such as the ability to execute criminals or declare war.

    So it seems Scruton is in good company.

    A metaphysical aside: If new substances arise when a new power arises that is greater than the sum of its parts, how is a corporation not a new substance? If we grant moral realism, the ability to legitimately execute criminals is a real new power.

    I think the answer is the new powers arise solely from the accidental relation of parts and do not flow from the substantial form of the “substance”. Thus the unity of consciousness is a proper accident that flows from a sensitive animal’s substantial form. And thus an animal can never not have a unified consciousness (or at least it is unnatural to not have one). However the aggregate of individuals in a nation, though they need government, being social animals, do not need any particular government. Thus the relations and powers that arise from those relations, even though they be greater than the sum of their parts, are nevertheless not proper accidents. And thus a government is not a substance.

  8. What is the take-away from this article?

    "Oh! Woe! is me! The world is ending. The whole world is crashing down around us, never to be the same again, or like it was in the good old days, when Church and Conservatism reigned supreme."

    The article, together with various other articles Feser cites, all his and one from Scruton, are an agglomeration of hard right-wing, conservative palimpsests that decry how the world is changing and not to their liking. Scruton, a self-professed right-wing reactionary, was against everything, foreign aid, modernism along with egalitarianism, and an arch anti-feminist. Indeed, he was sacked for white supremacist sentiments in the UK. Despite being a brilliant scholar he forfeited

    I can see the common and shared kindred spirit between Feser and Scruton, both rueing the loss of more broadly conservative power and influence in an ever-changing world in which their perspective is ineluctably diminished, particularly the power and influence of the Church and of the 'conservative ruling class'.

    This is to be expected but I don't think it will be the end of conservatism in public policy and governance.
    Rather, it will be a redefined conservatism, significantly different to the current ideation of what it means to be 'conservative', one that does not rely on racial, sexual, cultural and gender differentiation, one that does not rely on voter suppression, social disparity and divisiveness to win government but rather putting forward new and fresh competitive ideas in the marketplace.

    1. If you think "voter id" is equivalent to "voter suppression", you're probably a racist. Why? Because you have such a low view of those you imagine to be "suppressed" as to be indistinguishable from overt racists

    2. Unknown at 5.17AM

      What a specious bit of rhetoric that was!

      A different Unknown

    3. Papalinton,

      Why do you model the public space as a free market of ideas and assume that the best ideas are always the most dominant ones? What gives you confidence that this worldview is correct?

    4. You should Google the “ad hominem” fallacy.

    5. Trying to be charitable here, but it does seem like a combination of that and the argumentum ad populum fallacy.

  9. This is just how authoritarianism takes power (call it socialism, communism, Leftism, or whatever): tell lies; force people to profess the lies and crush anyone who doesn't; produce death and human misery but call it by some sanitary euphemism like "workers paradise" or something; watch the whole thing slowly and painfully collapse; claim the whole idea (which was obvious to fail a priori) was never really tried; rinse and repeat.

    A leftist paradise. Just don't call it a person.

  10. The Leftists claim there is no corporate personhood (I assume they must not own any form of insurance?). Then they say "the police" need to be accountable for "their actions". And "whiteness" is somehow a thing.

    Well, what can you expect from people whose only solutions are death and misery in the name of utopia building?

    1. How absurd and lacking in nuance to speak of 'leftists' and the 'the left'. It suits your purpose to manufacture such a devil though I suppose.

    2. Oh . . . it's the right that denies corporate personhood. It's the right building a Marxist utopia using the language of race and the overthrow of "whiteness" . . . ohhhhhh.

    3. The 'left' covers a very wide spectrum of political oppinion my simple minded friend, and Marxism is but the most extrene end of it, not that the people you are venting about are remotely Marxist at all.

      Be a bit more discriminating and nuanced you silly sod.

    4. So, every minute difference of opinion between Leftists must be respected and taken into account, but the actions and beliefs of every Catholic in history can be mashed together and the Church condemned for them?

    5. How absurd and lacking in nuance to speak of 'leftists' and the 'the left'.

      The terms "leftist" and "the left" clearly have as much validity as the terms "rightist" and "the right". Those terms are widely used by the culture at large, both by those who CALL THEMSELVES part of "the left" or "the right" as well as by their political enemies. The terms are not held to be derogatory in themselves, and speaking as if they were is foolishness, given that members of "the left" call themselves members of the left without shame or dismay.

      The 'left' covers a very wide spectrum of political oppinion my simple minded friend,

      So, you admit that the term "the left" has valid semantic content: it is distinguishable from "the right" and (to a lesser degree) from "the center".

      and Marxism is but the most extrene end of it, not that the people you are venting about are remotely Marxist at all.

      There are 2 problems here: first, while Marxism never defined the entirety of "the left", it did indeed stand for the clearest and most definitive aspect of "the left" that was opposed to right and centrist leanings. Also, while it is true that not everyone on the Left is marxist, it is no longer true that there is any EFFECTIVE power on the left that is not practicing marxist methods, even if not for the goal of marxist economic purposes of communist socialism. The old liberal groups of staunch democrats committed to reasoned persuasion and vote-getting to achieve change are effectively silenced in today's Left, while the vociferous revolutionaries on the Left (who implicitly or explicitly advocate violence to achieve change, and who intentionally block and stifle reasoned persuasion) have railroaded the less violent-minded parts of the Left so that the latter are, at this point, mere fodder for the more extreme agenda. Fortunately, some members of the moderate Left are still trying to speak out and hold a course for non-violence, but (so far) they are not much succeeding in the public square, they are being silenced.

  11. Reminds me of the book of revelations where Christ speaks directly to the angels of each church. He has different judgements for each. Perhaps there is no one size fits all.

  12. Professor Feser,

    In modern times, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Republican Party in the United States and the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom is willing to tolerate and even kowtow to the kinds of left-wing ideology you point out. Given this, how can one proceed? If the officials we elect to push back against this problem cannot be relied upon to actually push back against it, what is our recourse?

    1. Could you give examples of this toleration and kowtowing by the UK conservative party to illustrate your point please?

    2. How about, until very recently, Conservative MPs were required to take diversity training courses? Or how about the complete lack of action against Section 127? Their responses against the Woke Left is, of course, very tepid. And Boris Johnson has completely cooperated with the global agenda on the Coronavirus response.

      This, to me, suggests that the differences between the Left-wing parties and the Right-wing parties in the English speaking world is nominal despite the increasing political polarizations. People are more at each others' throats than ever before yet the policies of the parties mirror each other. I know I'm not the only one to point this out.

  13. I'd have to agree with Tony, above, that corporations are "beings of intention, made real by MUTUAL intention of several persons". The comparison soul/body (corporation/members) is a metaphor. Corporations are not eternal, like the soul. Nor would a vacancy in its leadership be death; the corporation is quite capable of living on without ordinary leadership depending on type. On the other hand, the physical end of the corporation in question (Sparta, the Hittite state, the Templars, the Bristol Suffragettes) is the end. One might try to refound such things, but they wouldn't be the same entities.

    It's unlikely Roger Scruton could have used the soul/body analogy when speaking of the corporation because he didn't understand the soul (or person) as immortal or separable from the body, the way Christians do.

    The Church is surely a very different kind of corporation, animated as it is by the Holy Ghost. I'm not sure how this translates into a kind of mind of the Church's earthly members. Pastor Aeternus doesn't seem to have discussed infallibility in these terms.

    In general though, it's so important to defend the corporation in society. It has suffered so much over the last two or three hundred years in the West. Natural corporations have been marginalised while artificial bodies take their place. Intermediary corporations between the family and the state have practically been destroyed. Scruton made the good point that corporations allow the individuals to grow as persons. Intermediary corporations also allowed families to take on their full personality at one time. Much of the discourse on subsidiarity has neglected these vanished intermediary institutions.

    1. Getting back to the start of the post, it's hard to see the connection between traditional conservatism and Thomism on this or many other issues. Traditional conservatism's founder, de Maistre, is about as far as one can get from Thomism. De Maistre's ideas on the nature and constitution of society, centred as they are on its mythical, indeed magical origins, ignore just about everything St. Thomas or St Robert Bellarmine had to say on the nature of society.

  14. Let us review an event that happened on this day, April 24th, a few hundred years ago.

    Although the Waldensian population (numbering around 15,000 in 1685[4]) in certain areas of Piedmont had held privileges of tolerance and freedom of belief and conscience for centuries that were written down in several documents, these long-established rights for Protestant Italians were being violated by new decrees passed by Andrea Gastaldo, member of the Council.[5] Two decrees in particular threatened the continued existence of Waldensian communities in Piedmont: the Edict of 15 May 1650, abrogating the old Waldensian privileges, and the Edict of 25 January 1655, which was in fact a religious expulsion order:
    That every head of a family, with the individuals of that family, of the reformed religion, of what rank, degree, or condition soever, none excepted inhabiting and possessing estates in Lucerne, St. Giovanni, Bibiana, Campiglione, St. Secondo, Lucernetta, La Torre, Fenile, and Bricherassio, should, within three days after the publication thereof, withdraw and depart, and be withdrawn out of the said places, and translated into the places and limits tolerated by his highness during his pleasure; particularly Bobbio, Angrogne, Vilario, Rorata, and the county of Bonetti. And all this to be done on pain of death, and confiscation of house and goods, unless within the limited time they turned Roman Catholics.
    The Waldensian refusal to obey the Edict of 25 January 1655 led the government to send troops to plunder and burn Waldensian houses, and to station over 15,000 soldiers in their valleys.[1] The Savoyard army consisted of local soldiers, as well as French and Irish troops, under the command of the Marquis of Pianezza.[7]

    On 24 April 1655, the Piedmontese Easter Massacre commenced: a massacre of thousands of Waldensian civilians (4,000 to 6,000 according to one estimate) was committed by ducal troops.

    That is the sort of thing that will happen again if the Holy Roman Empire does rise again.

    1. Daniel

      That would probably be the least of our problems should a dogmatic corporate religious psychopath , instituted by God and in possession of THE TRUTH, ever gain widespread power or real political clout and influence again. It is incumbent on us all to ensure that this never happens, but on the contrary, that the power and influence of organised religion continues to plummet.

    2. Yes sir Daniel, whatever you say Daniel . How about if you stf up you pompous twat?

      On the topic at hand, how absurd of me to think that if a dogmatic organisation , divinely appointed and in possession of THE TRUTH, gained real political power and influence, the result would be a horror show? I mean , it isn't as though there are no
      historical presedents for this, should you belong to the Daniel school of political naivity and need to consult them.

    3. So, as a Catholic, I can look back in history and take pride in certain events, people, and institutions. I can also look back and see clear evidence of great evil. Evil events, evil institutions (or institutions that had gone bad), and evil people. So I can confidently say, being a Catholic is no guarantee that one will not be wicked and evil.

      And speaking of history - it isn't as though there are no atheistic regimes that I can use to argue against ever allowing a atheistic political parties to ever gain real political power again. To allow them to cart of religious folks to gulags and concentration camps, and yes, even extermination camps. Communist China is doing that right now with the Muslim Uighurs. Don't get me started on Stalin.

      Atheists do not have some magical claim on rationality. Quite the opposite seems often the case. To claim otherwise is just naive.

    4. Unknown,

      I don't find worrisome or relevant for today is the notion of a resurrected centuries-dead Holy Roman Empire or some hypothetical authoritarian theocracy arising in the parts of the Western world that aren't flooded by Islamic immigration. Rather, what I find terrifying is the feverish paranoia in the mindset that asserts, "It is incumbent on us all to ensure that this never happens, but on the contrary, that the power and influence of organised religion continues to plummet" as a categorical imperative. Seems to me that not only suggests approval for perpetual, totalitarian vigilance, but aggressive, tyrannical persecution intent on trampling on the natural rights of the religious or those who aren't that zealous to assent to such a program. I suspect it all would ironically be done under the pretense of an abstract rubric of "freedom," "neutrality," and "human rights" -- not a shield, but a sword swinging at shadows and spectres.

      So who is presenting the symptoms of a neurosis that would possess a corporate "person" to become such an oppressive monstrosity, a Leviathan? Who is the real "psychopath" here?

    5. @Modus Pownens

      Well, creating a enemy that can appear AT ANY TIME if you do not follow what is being ordened is taught on totalitarism 101, so yea, that is a valid criticism. That this progressive rethoric was and is used as a pretext to horrible acts against religious persons* does not help.

      *think, for instance, of Revolutionary Catalunia

    6. Daniel , Modus, Talmid

      Obviously, totalitarian atheistic regimes have perpitrated monsterous evils too, but I am not advicating the establishment of state communism - I am a left liberal, and defend a left of centre secular liberal democratic state. My comments here about theocracy and integralism in no way imply that other undemocratic ways of organising our affairs are not highly dangerous and undesirable too.

      Roman Catholicism (the preferred form of organised superstition by most readers of this blog ) is claimed to be the one true religion, with the church established and protected by God, yet repeatedly through history we have seen it behave as a corporate psychopath. This is surprising to those of us not lost to blind acceptance of your belief system, as we might have expected the omnipotent founder and guardian to exert a little more influence and stewardship. Be that as it may, it drives home the fact that all of us have an interest in preventing dogmatic belief systems from resting control of society ( or gaining too much inflience within it ), and fighting to preserve and extend secular liberal democracy, with an explici seperation of church and state, and all faiths ( and none ) placed on the same footing before the law.

      Please see Papalinton'a contribution at 4.02PM below for more about the 'human, all too human' nature of the RC, and its corporate psychopathy.

    7. I have no idea who you are Unknown. Use a handle.

    8. Honestly you are like an antifa thug on the street that wears a mask and thinks they are cool when they gang up on random individuals and round house them in the back of the head. And you call me a pompous twat. You, sir, are a coward. And a twat.

    9. Daniel 5.25AM

      Why does that matter, and how would a handle help here? The content of the post at 1.03AM is clear enough.

    10. Daniel 5.30AM

      You are being a wee melodromatic here don't you think, and making an absurd comparison? However I identify myself here - short of supplying you with my real name and address - I remain anonymous, so in that regard I am just like you. Comparing me with an anomymous thug who gangs up on a random individual on the street and bricks them around the head, is I suggest, a little unhinged.

      The real problem here is that you have been simmering over my assertive comment to you at 2.50PM. But I remind you that this was done in reply to you telling me to 'shut it' in response to a perfectly legitimate post that I had made. You were the original unprovoked aggressor Daniel.

    11. Daniel

      I am THE PURPLE GALLINULE. There, I am no longer a coward now. Satisfield?

      As for me being a twat, that has frequently been observed, but at least I am in good company as there are two of us on here now!

    12. @Unknown

      My complain is more because of the tone thing. Your view can also serve as ideological justification to horrible stuff, so it would be cool to be a bit careful with language. And note that i agree that some views(and i include my catholicism here) have more potential to be used violently that others.

      And no offense, but i founded you cooler when i though that you were a bit more radical on the leftism, the market socialists have some insights.


      You are acting on a pretty imature way, remember that we are called to a pretty high standard. If you think that talking with Unknown is useless them remember that Our Lord already said how we should act on these situations.

      No one is saying that you should not use harsh language when necessary, the Hippie Jesus is a myth, but come on.

    13. Unknown @ April 25, 2021 at 1:03 AM,

      You're missing my point. I'm saying secular liberal democracy tends toward tyranny. In fact, in this day and age, it's metastasizing as something virulent and nasty.

      Consider in 2020, for example, freedom of religion and association was curtailed in places like California. Technocratic "experts" of secular liberal democratic locked us up "for our own good." Yet they excused, if not encouraged, the public lawlessness of BLM and Antifa as they rampaged and plundered the small businesses of the those most hurt by the lockdowns, the people whose property and personal safety these officials had sworn to protect. Secular liberal democracy insists it's for legal, political, and social "equality." Well, it certainly appears criminals, thugs, and terrorists are more equal than the average law-abiding, tax-paying citizen.

      Pivoting to the Catholic Church, do you mean the same psychopathic corporate person whose ordained orders have established a myriad of hospitals and universities across the world? The same one that sponsors schools in Africa and feeds the poor? That church? There has never been an institution, secular or otherwise, so devoted to and accomplished at advancing human dignity through good works and charity as the Roman Catholic Church, which perhaps implies that "omnipotent founder and guardian" is exerting "a little more influence and stewardship" than the church's shrillest detractors -- blinded by their prejudices -- can appreciate. And I maintain this fact as more or less a protestant.

      Now, I'm sure even the most devout Catholic would concede that, yes, there have been and are episodes in history that are ignominious, like the Albigensian Crusade, which Pope Innocent III initiated and resulted in an estimated 200 thousand to 1 million dead. But in your and Pap's haste to sally forth that statistic as proof of genocide to impugn the church's reputation, you failed to make sure that the context surrounding the conflict actually sharpened the ideological axe you guys are so intent to grind antagonistically here.

      I quote the second sentence from the crusade's Wikipedia article:

      "The Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown and promptly took on a political aspect, resulting in not only a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also a realignment of the County of Toulouse in Languedoc, bringing it into the sphere of the French crown, and diminishing both Languedoc's distinct regional culture and the influence of the counts of Barcelona."

      Perhaps that's relevant before we unilaterally assign blame to the papacy, the church, or Innocent III -- Pap is not exactly clear when he makes the grotesque comparison with Lenin/Stalin on this comment thread. Other critical details include that Innocent III first tried to resolve the crisis with the Cathars peacefully and diplomatically by recantation and conversion. Even during the crusade, often times defeated Cathars were given opportunities to recant, repent, and convert. There are other mitigating factors, such as punishment didn't always involve torture and death, you guys would have hopefully realized if you bothered to get a basic understanding of the crusade in question before blurting out untenable allegations.

      So no, the church or its popes weren't bent on extermination of those opposed to them like Hitler/Nazis or Lenin/Stalin/Communists were. Pap's claim paraphrasing Michael Shermer that the only difference between the church and the papacy and those mass murderers and their regimes is the available technological means is nothing short of calumny.

  15. Dr. Feser,

    I have a specifically Thomistic question. Businesses, corporations, the Church, etc. are all "persons," but they cannot be substances since, according to St. Thomas, substances do not have other substances as parts and these entities have substances as parts (namely, particular human beings).

    Therefore, what moral or ethical implications, if any, follow from the fact that "corporate persons" are not substances?

    1. Yeah, I wondering about something similar. If institutions are "persons" analogously, does that mean these corporate "persons" only analogously have rights and duties? Surely, when we speak of rights of corporate persons, we don't mean that analogously though. That, when we say newspapers have a right to publish (freedom of the press) they have a real right that is grounded in something deeper than merely a legal construction.

      Don't get me wrong: I really do think institutions and corporations have rights and duties. Writing frankly, I want it to be the case. I get that even if institutions are merely "analogous" persons it doesn't follow that they don't have real rights and duties, but even so, it doesn't entail they indeed do possess them either. As a layperson, I'm not quite sure how Thomist ontology accounts for the seemingly real normativity we take for granted in how we daily deal with corporations and institutions.

    2. Josh Harris has a cool article about the subject. He posted it above on the comments.

    3. Somehow I missed that. I'll check it out when I get the chance. Thanks, Talmid!

  16. Is there any good academic or semi-academic work available dealing with Critical Theory and woke ideology more generally from a Catholic or specifically Thomistic perspective?

  17. WARNING!

    Sorry to go off topic, but I strongly suspect that the enegmatically named 'Ghostman' is in fact Cervantes.

    Ghostman replied to a post that I had directed to Cervantes - berating him for his trolling - as if it was meant for him, and with evident annoyance. He was completely unconcerned about Cervantes' egregious trolling, and proclaimed that he would like to continue interacting with him ( although he had hardly done so before ), and gushed about the Frenchmans's outstanding personal qualities. Then there is the suggestive moniker of 'Ghostman' itself, and the fact that he only materialised here very recently when worries of a troll using multiple identities began to emerge.

    The above is hardly conclusive of course, but I am just sharing my suspicians and asking people to be careful.

    1. @ Lazy Anonymous

      Given that we know Cervantes to be generally capable of doing something like this, I can understand your suspicions. However, I’d caution against making allegations based on plausibility alone (in terms of means, motive and opportunity), as is the habit of Cervantes and the reasoning behind his George-the-omnipresent-troll-theory.

      In fact, it's probable that Cervantes (as Anonymous; the identification is made on the basis of his evident espousal of George-theory) reacted to the first posting by Ghostman (back then still as Unknown) in the Problem of Evil thread mockingly, and assumed him to be George.

      Anonymous April 16, 2021 at 10:42 PM
      Most of us are probably still too flabbergasted at the unearthly erudition of 7.20 AM's believing Catholic and the recondite communications of the naturalist at 1.07 PM on April 15 to notice they were one and the same, let alone wonder how Catholic belief endorses such kinky role-play. But then, there are cretins who've been able to memorize countless form guides back the front because it was their thing, but always backed the wrong horse. Be nice if the fancy-dress ball stops before it gets really out of hand.

      On your supposition, that would be him *attacking* his own sockpuppet. However, having studied Cervantes' trolling activities I've noticed no such pattern, and he generally sticks to them.


      Having seen your interactions with Ghostman, apart from noting the question-begging nature of your, urm, character studies and the weight of (inplicit) demands you make on Catholics here, as before, I'd like to first note that Ghostman is likely our senior (as he is 68), and probably even more unused to modern informal conversation than I am; moreover, his assumptions concerning the nature of your interest (he obviously supposed you to be receptive towards A-T) and subsequent surprise are, surely, quite understandable (Dr. Feser *is* a remarkably tolerant host; on many a blog, Catholic or otherwise, due to their tenor alone, your postings would not be permitted at length). And lastly, Ghostman claims to be a deacon of the Catholic Church, something we have no reason not to believe, and discourtesy towards him is likely to further complicate your discussions with us.

      Come on, Lazy! You're better than that.

      I actually did watch “Fr. Ted” a long time ago and found it very amusing, and though I wouldn't really recommend it nowadays for obvious reasons, I do think it is, among other things, a very apposite parody of many of the ecclesial realities after Vatican II.

    2. Cervantes and Ghostman

      Seems that I owe you both an apology for the premature conclusion I articulated in my post at the head of this thread. My suspicions were not without reason, but I should not have published them on plausibility grounds alone, but should have sought firmer evidence.

      My apologies both.

  18. Feser says this: "What we do have, in the Gnostic cult of Critical Race Theory, is a party line in search of a Party, an ideology as shrill, intolerant, and simple-minded as that of Lenin."

    Feser also notes in that attached hypertext article one of examples of Gnostic thought against the Church, was that of the 20 year Albigensian Crusade in the 1220s CE.

    It seems Lenin and the Catholic Church had much in common. The Catholic answer to the Albigensian/Cathar affair, not unlike any loyalist communist response, was to slaughter somewhere between 200,000-1 million people for simply thinking a different kind of GOD to that of the Catholic regime.

    The long, bloody and sad history of the Catholic Church is no measure by which today's society should be compared. The recent controversies of the Church demonstrates it has forfeited its right to be held up as a model of community going forward.

    As Unknown so rightfully and eruditely points out, "The one true church, established and protected by God" is but an artifice, imagined by people, built by people for people. The whole enterprise, human - all too human.

    1. Papalinton, the Albigensian war was as much political as religious. If 200,000 and more died in it, terrible though that is, it is small beer compared the twentieth-centuries wars and persecutions of secular/atheist ideologies, which killed over a hundred million.

      The leftoid witch smellers of today, in their zeal to catch and eradicate the politically incorrect, outdo anything seen in the past. Now that they've decided the most freakish phenomena are to be held up as sacrosanct and revered by all, the sky is the limit when it comes to the scope of the "purges" they could feel called upon to accomplish.

    2. No one is denying that totalitarian atheistic regimes have done terrible things, but the prime audience of this blog are RC theists, hence the emphasis upon what ( completely predictably ) happens when dogmatic organisations who believe themselves to be divinely appointed and custodians of THE TRUTH, gain real political power.

      There is also the question of why God would not exert better stewardship over His church, and allow it to repeatedly act in the manner of a corporate psychopath, so making it much harder for people to take its pretensions seriously and so undermining the successfull prosecution of 'the great commission'.This may not logically disprove the claim as improbable apoligetic excuses can always be made, but it is certainly evidential and raises legitimate doubts about them.

    3. Cervantes

      You say that the left of today have decided ' that the most freakish phenomena are to be held up as sacrosanct and revered by all'. Could you be explicit here and give examples, so that your bigoted and reactionary right wing prejudices are laid bare for all to see?

      Whatever it turns out that you had in mind, the last part of your statement - ' and revered by all' - is just daft. The liberal left ( well no, everyone really apart from right reactionaries and some religionists ) support fair play and the right of individuals to live out their lives as they see fit, free of discrimination and oppression , unless there is a very good reason to deny this. We have no requirement that adherents of widely contested or rejected philosophical and theological systems reverse anything or hold it sacrosanct - that is just rhetoric on your part.

    4. Sorry, in Unknown at 4.25AM above I meant revere anything, not reverse it. I sometimes have to post quickly on my iphone, with little time to check over, and since I am middle aged with glasses and have big thumbs, I often commit typos. These are far fewer of course on the rare occasions when I am not in a rush or have access to a tablet or laptop.

    5. Miguel Cervantes @ 3.02AM

      "Papalinton, the Albigensian war was as much political as religious."

      So that justifies the Catholic Church to massacre hundreds of thousands of people for committing heresy?

    6. Not at all Papalinton. It means that the hundreds of thousands who died on all sides died in great part for political reasons, and since that time, France has never been a model of Catholic orthodoxy. The end result of the sixteenth-seventeenth century wars of religion in France was that the country stayed Catholic, but mainly because of raison d'etat.

    7. This disingenuous revisionist history writ large.

      "It means that the hundreds of thousands who died on all sides ...."

      NO! Not on all sides. The numbers of Cathars slaughtered was estimated at between 200,000 to a million.

      "France has never been a model of Catholic orthodoxy."

      Absolutely true. The French model of Catholic orthodoxy is emblematic of the diseased and sorry history of the Catholic Church, from its inception to the present. There is not a moment in History where the Catholic Church has been a model of anything other than a self-perpetuating, self-serving organism, not unlike the spread of Covid-19 really.

      I am reminded of Annie Dillard (1945 -), renowned American novelist, poet and non-fiction writer, who noted:

      "I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, 'If I did not know about GOD and sin, would I go to HELL?'
      'No',said the priest, 'not if you did not know'. 'Then why', asked the Eskimo, 'did you tell me?'"


    8. France has been different since the late middle ages, especially. There are certainly Catholic states that have not had this proclivity towards unorthodox ideas (Albigensians, Conciliarism, Gallicanism, divine right ideology etc). Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland have been notable for a singular disinterest in heretical ideas ever since their baptism. People from these nations have generally preferred to leave the faith rather than tinker with it.

      Actually, if the Eskimo had the use of reason, which he presumably did, he would already have known what sin was, just not other categories of sin it is possible to commit. Even being told about God and religion doesn't necessarily mean someone "knows". The sense in which the Church speaks of "invincible ignorance" refers also to an internal area of conscience which is impossible to judge from the point of view of others.

    9. Cervantes at 11.55PM

      Serious observation here.

      You state that even being told about God and religion does not necessarily mean that someone 'knows' that such and such is sinful, as there is the internal arena of conscience which is impossible to judge from the point of view of others. Does this mean then that psychopaths who lack empathy and conscience will automatically go to heaven, regardless of the misery they have inflicted on others? Interesting.

      Ofcourse, this thing called 'conscience' is a psychological factor which varies enormously between people ( some cannot squish a fly without experiencing enormous guilt and distress, while others can happily inflict the most appalling tortures on little children , but forget about it and move on to other things almost immediately - most of us are located somewhere between ).

      Seems that in your eschatalogical scheme it is far better to be a psychopath or at least biologically limited in the conscience department than the opposite - personally much safer!

    10. Invincible ignorance: a deductive Fallacy of Circularity where the person in question simply refuses to believe the argument, ignoring any evidence given.

      If there is anything that characterises "invincible ignorance" it is that of the Church when it comes to the protection of kiddie-fingering clergy, the deny, deny, deny and then clandestinely take them aboard the mothership, the 'RCC Vatican, beyond the reach of the law everywhere to live out their wretched lives in unjustified and unearned quietude. Two Catholic women, Peggy Noonan and Maureen Dowd, absolutely laid bare the travesty the Church really is. They did what the Pope and the 'Old Farts' Club of the magisterium did not have the guts nor the decency to do.

      The only way the Church is going to reform and have any semblance of credibility going forward will be when a full woman team, Popess and women cardinals, literally sweep away the old guard.

      And until that time the Catholic Church will remain in a state of terminal 'invincible ignorance'.

    11. Come on. You can do better than that. My turn to get off the argument at hand and say something provocative: why do these would-be priestesses (and their colleagues outside religion) always seem to support killing unborn babies? I hope the old guard has sharp halberds to keep them at bay.

    12. Papalinton at 2.15AM

      Well said Papalinton! The endless apologetics and excuses for these crimes is nauseating. Nothing to do with THE CHURCH you know!

      When lady religionists have swept away patriarchal oppression in the one true church, they can move on to other things. Here's to the first openly gay Pope, sharing his Papal pad with his husband!

    13. @ Papalinton

      Sheesh this is dumb. "Going forward", try raising the standard of your humour. I know equivocation is important for most of humour, but here you're clearly overdoing it.

      Let us conquer your ignorance together!

      @ (Lazy?) Anonymous

      Please see the link above, but what Miguel is referring to actually has a direct analogue in jurisprudence:

      "In general, it is no defense to a criminal charge that the accused was unaware that the conduct was criminal. This principle has been thought to be essential to the effective administration of law and is justified by the practical consideration that, in cases of serious criminality, the accused is ordinarily aware of the wrongfulness of the conduct if not its criminality.

      A more doubtful question arises, however, in cases of statutory offenses involving conduct not obviously dangerous or immoral. A developing body of law permits exculpation for mistake of law in some such situations, particularly when the accused in good faith has made reasonable efforts to discover what the law is."

      The situation of the Inuit/Yupik before the arrival of the missionaries (and, mutatis mutandis, non-Catholics in comparable situations) is that of invincible ignorance: they did not know that revelation occurred, and hence had no knowledge of the positive divine law promulgated in it, and hence are not culpable. Even after the missionaries arrive, if a tribesman, having received the preaching and considered the issue with appropriate attention, rejects baptism due to, say, gross apologetic failure by the missionaries and thus misrepresentation of Catholicism/preambles of faith, he can be considered to have made the reasonable effort to discover what the law is, and can thus remain invincibly ignorant in respect of revealed law.

    14. The usual legal principle that ignorance of law does not excuse is rests, as noted in the Britannica article (sorry for referencing a non-legal source, substantive legal dictionaries in English are just too expensive, even if digital, in my estimation), rests on the idea that people would know of the general badness of the act corresponding to a crime. As the article notes, the situation is more complicated in statutory prohibitions, where the requisite seriousness of the act derives more from the legislator’s deliberation rather than anything necessarily evident to an ordinary citizen. Christian divine law duties, say, necessity of baptism, participation in the sacrifice of the Mass etc., are “statutory” in this sense.

      As regards the question of who can be considered invincibly ignorant and in good faith,
      see the Catholic encyclopedia article in full. Here I’ll quote the most pertinent bit:

      “It is undeniable that a man cannot be invincibly ignorant of the natural law, so far as its first principles are concerned, and the inferences easily drawn therefrom. This, however, according to the teaching of St. Thomas, is not true of those remoter conclusions, which are deducible only by a process of laborious and sometimes intricate reasoning.”

      As conscience, in Catholic understanding, is a the command of practical reason, rather than a set of emotional reactions, and emotionless person, provided they know of the wrongness of the act, are still culpable, even if they don’t “feel bad” about some evil deed.
      On A-T, emotions are primarily a factor of motivation, not moral epistemology. However, they can be certainly act as exculpatory factors (if they interfere with judgment), but also aggravate the fault (if they correspond to greater malice, e.g. in the case of a compos mentis serial killer deriving intense pleasure from his crimes).

      If you have truly mentally insane, non compos mentis, individuals in mind, provided they are in the state of grace in the moment of the loss of reason, yes, they will go to heaven, if not, to hell. So yes, in a way, being insane (in the state of grace) is better than being in the state of mortal sin. However, practically this is not at all a consideration, as permanently depriving oneself of reason is a mortally sinful act.

    15. Oh come on.

      Adults fantasising about female clergy and gay Popes, in writing, and on a Catholic blog. Seriously?

      If I were to write fan fiction about the Gates’, the Clintons and the entire workforce and clientele of “Planned Parenthood” processing as penitent flagellants through Washington D.C., awaiting the announcement of further penances, on some lefty blog, on any day other than April 1, everybody would find it really difficult to take me seriously ever again.

      Is this really what you want?

    16. Papalinton at 2.12AM

      Don't mind Thomas Gavisus at 4.14AM. From previous posts it is clear that he is not your biggest fan , but here he is just being po faced!

    17. Papalinton

      For further evidence of my thesis see Thomas again at 4.39AM!

      I can honestly say that female clergy and gay Pope's have never featured much in my fantasies Mr Gavison, but a severe lady Thomist with a penchant for chastisement is a different matter!

    18. I wonder how many of the kiddie-fingering predatory Catholic priests, particularly those American ring-leaders in the Vatican will be allowed by their GOD to go to heaven? I suspect all of them.

      Here is some reading to do:
      SEE HERE
      AND HERE
      AND HERE
      AND HERE
      And this is only a sample of the extent of the abuse in Australia.

      Of the 640 victims sexually abused by the clergy, some 43 young people committed suicide after the abuse in the State of Victoria alone.

      I wonder how these young people will feel when they see these priests in heaven?

    19. Papalinton 5.48AM

      They will not get the chance to as
      suicude is a mortal sin, so all these young people will be in hell.

      The child sex abuse scandel is more than problematic for the faithfull, as it is as clear as day that THE CHURCH is at fault for inaction and the protection of suspects, yet this cannot possibly be admitted as she is 'the bride of Christ'. So, there is absolutely no chance of a proper apology which locates blame in the corporate church as well as with individual perpetrators, which means that ordinary people continue to turn away from it in disgust. Quite tight too.

    20. @ Papalinton

      As you no doubt know, sins against chastity are considered grave matter in Catholicism; sexual predation is a sin against chastity as well as the 5th commandment, at the minimum.

      No unrepentant sinner in the state of mortal sin can enter heaven according to Catholic teaching, so no unrepentant sexual predator can do that.

      As your statement seems to be based on false premises as well a slanderous (and given the personal Being slandered, blasphemous), the truth - common knowledge, the conclusion that this is trolling seems very probable.

      If you were unaware of this, I submit it that your ignorance is very great, and so you have no business commenting on any matter in relation to Catholic morals.

      While we are at it, please inform us which rationally held (meta)ethics is informing your condemnations, and provide us with an exposition of your preferred justification for it.

      Failing that, I think we can legitimately dismiss all of your moralising as delusional (not on account on the ethical propositions themselves, but rather, in light of the person making it).

    21. Papalinton,

      The disgusting clergy you mention are numerous and a disgrace. They in no way live and teach authentic Catholicism. They are many faithful priests and laity who do live the authentic teachings.

      The homosexual and pedofilia priests have a liberal view of reality. They embrace the Democratic Socialist platform, not the Aristotelian - Thomistic view argued for on this website.

    22. Ghostman 7.22AM

      You say 'The homosexual and pedophilia priests.......embrace the Democratic Socialist Platform.' Is this what they taught you in RC Deacon school, or have you just dreamed it up?

      Firstly, please distinguish between homosexuality and pedophilia. Of course, both are forms of sexual attraction , but only one can lead to consentual sexual activity, and that is homosexuality when the sex is between adults. This tendency of some reactionary religionists to lump together all sex not geared towards reproduction ( pedophilia, homosexuality, bestiality say ), without proper distinctions, is a disgrace.

      And secondly, wtf has pedophilia got to do with Democratic Socialism????


    23. @Anonymous,

      Here is what you wrote, in bold:

      Firstly, please distinguish between homosexuality and pedophilia. Of course, both are forms of sexual attraction , but only one can lead to consentual sexual activity, and that is homosexuality when the sex is between adults.

      Notice how arbitrary your justification sounds, with italics:

      Firstly, please distinguish between pedophilia and beastiality. Of course, both are forms of sexual attraction , but only one can lead to sexual activity between species, and that is pedophilia when the sex is between two H. sapiens sapiens.


      Firstly, please distinguish between beastiality and necrophilia. Of course, both are forms of sexual attraction , but only one can lead to sexual activity between living beings, and that is beastiality when the sex is between two living organisms.

      In each case, the line being drawn is arbitrary. There is nothing special about "between consenting adults," "between the same species," and "between living organisms." When you study natural law, you will find that the only line that isn't arbitrary is "between two adults of the opposite sex."

    24. Ghostman 7.22AM

      As a PS, I do not think for a second that the majoriity of your 'pedophile' priests were 'natural' and spontaneous pedophiles, but instead were sexually and romantically repressed adults engaging in opportunistic abusive sexual behaviour with easy targets.

      What could be more unnatural than denying males ( sometines young ones ) all romantic and sexual outlets , including masterbation, on pain of hell? To then put them in a stressful occupation where they frequently meet others alone and discuss very intimate isssues just compounds the insanity. This is obviously a recipee for disaster, and the fact that a section developed psychopathological behaviours is hardly surprising.

      When will you daft sods finally allow your ( ever dwindling) priesthood to marry?

    25. Balanced Tryte 8.21AM

      Natural law theory is a much contested and widely rejected ethical theory, and if it puts consentual homosexual relations on the same basis as the child rape or sex with goats, not to mention dismissing consent as being irrelevant, then it is deservedly so. No wonder your ethical musings are so universally ignored.

    26. Anonymous,

      Something can't be both much contested and widely rejected.

    27. Balanced 9.34AM

      Of course it can.

    28. Hi Anonymous,

      When one look at the statistics the great majority of the abuse by priests was homosexual abuse of young males who had reached or were beyond puberty. Pedophilia is abuse of children who have not reached puberty and is a separate thing from homosexuality.

      You don't think that the Democratic Socialist platform is in favor of gay rights? That was the meaning of what I said about the priests who have been offenders in this area. Authentic Catholics know that the teaching of the Church is that homosexuality is a sin. I'm sure you are aware that many priests, bishops and cardinals that puplicly denying the Church's teaching on homosexuality. This became a big problem in many seminaries in the sixties, seventies and eighties, etc. thus we have many offending clergy now.

      The philosophy and theology that support this heretical approach are consistent with the errors prevalent in modern philosophy and modernism that have deeply penetrated the Church and its leadership.

      This modern philsophy and modernism are opposed by Ed Feser, myself and others who believe in natural law teaching and moderate realist epistemology of Aristotle and Aquinas.

    29. By the way, the majority is not always the right decision. These days I would say that is even more true. "Must contested and widely rejected" mean nothing if there are no convincing arguments against conscience and it connection to natural law. The reasonable arguments are much in favor of natural law. Read Ed Feser's work on natural law to start. Just do an internet search.

  19. I'm not "Ghostman". Unfortunately my fan has brought his foot in mouth disease over to this thread as well. Feigning his own haunting, and now posting as anonymous (but carefully mimicking the very studied and unlikely spelling and bracket/comma-spacing idiosyncrasies of that fake ID the "naturalist unknown" blogger acc. ...167), for purposes of future self-exoneration, my fan continues the behaviour that must be boring the .... out of everyone here.

    Any praise is always welcome (I'm not a philosopher - just a Catholic who knows who to put his trust in) but I won't be replying to any comments from Ghostman for some time, due to the recent activity in these comboxes.

    1. Ah, Ghostman is set to disappear is he Cervantes, even though he has enthusiastically posted acres of text recently in conversation with Papalinton and me? When I raised my suspicions with him on the previous thread yesterday I received a long denial, but he hasn't felt strongly enough to appear here yet.

      As for you, the case assembled against you was very strong, but you show neither embarrassment nor remorse, or indignant outrage and denial ( real or feined ). You are an odd fellow Cervantes.

  20. Dr. Feser,

    Please intervene and delete the posts of this Anonymous. He is insisting on false charges with no evidence and is being a nuisance.

    1. You are ridiculous Cervantes, and are known by all as the most egregious and disturbed known troll ever to besmerch this blog.

      Ghostman is meant to be a devout and ethically principled Catholic Deacon. It is completely out of character for him to demand that someone's posts be deleted, especially as they were made in consersation with him, and so provide context to his points. Also, Ghostman has never posted anything less than several column inches long, and would no doubt have written a novella if addressing his hero Feser about anything at all.

      You have completely failed to keep in character here Cerventes!

  21. Anonymous - Here is my website address so you can see I am who I say I am.

  22. Just to clarify, I did't claim to be a deacon, only to have participated in three years of formation. I had to move from the state and the program when the recession of 2007 hit.

  23. They can be said to make decisions, to act and to be morally and legally responsible for the consequences of those actions, and to have rights and duties.

    Corporations cannot be held responsible. There was never a trial where a corporation was forced to be dissolved as punishment while the board of directors went free. In fact, such a punishment would be meaningless and make a farce of justice.

    1. I agree with you that having corporations as persons does not practically work out. Many,many corporations have acted with profit motive as king and have not been held accountable in any way. You can imagine the persons in leadership that lead this ugly approach. They are not accountable either. This is radical capitalism acting out where the corporation becomes an end in itself. The alternative in goivernment controlled socialism and communism is just as bad. The only anser is person acting morally protecting human rights which ever side one is on liberal or conservative. The human diginity of man must be respected and men should not be treated primarliy as a means, but an end in themselves.

  24. The rhetoric in the OP is sort of running ahead of itself. "Not by way of violent takeover, but by a kind of voluntary euthanasia of independent corporate persons, as they happily make of themselves the organs of this new entity which will rid the world of “whiteness,” “patriarchy,” “heteronormativity” and other objects of egalitarian hatred..."

    I know that Prof. Feser wants heteronormativity to remain normative, but he also wants to keep "whiteness" (not sure what that would entail, but if it's some form of whiteness as the default standard, not obvious why we should want it)? And wants to keep "patriarchy"? Ok ... shall we just decide to put the Hapsburgs back on the throne and add the USA to their domains? I am being intentionally snarky and rhetorical myself, but it's worth reading Ross Douthat's worries about conservatism as a collection of people in search of a rationale:

    1. ficino4ml,
      It is clear from Prof. Feser's previous posts--supporting Frederick Douglass's article "What to the slave is the 4th July?" for example--that he does not see "whiteness" as normative. He disagrees with those who push the view that white people are inherently more evil than people of other ethnicities, and therefore that "whiteness" is something that must be overcome.

    2. @Tim Finlay, thanks for pointing out places where Feser says or implies that "whiteness" is not normative.

    3. It is sad that the current Critical Race ideology being produced in the US is being disseminated within Europe at the moment, and it is indeed the case that a return to the Hapsburg monarchy would be a superior option than becoming a CRT vassal state of a far more tropical and diverse USA. The victory of Leninism in Western Europe in the 1920s or after 1945 would probably also have been a better long term future for white Europeans than this.

      Even in the US itself, the future of conservatism may lie in understanding what was true and valuable in both Leninism and the Nazism.

    4. I can't see how anyone could see "whiteness" as normative or "default" in the US, unless he was something out of a Hollywood film. The reason it's talked about at all comes from the extreme left (which seems to include 90% of "educators" on this matter) which questions the very existence of race. At the same time, it is obsessed by races it considers good or evil. The Europeans have no more reason to be ashamed of what they are than any other identifiable group. All pretty straightforward.

    5. Tim Finlay,

      He disagrees with those who push the view that white people are inherently more evil than people of other ethnicities, and therefore that "whiteness" is something that must be overcome.

      Feser let out his inner 14-year-old boy flame warrior and committed the oldest one in the book: straw man fallacy.

    6. BalancedTryteOperators,
      I really wish that it was a straw man. If you attend national meetings of the American Academy of Religion or the Society of Biblical Literature, as I do, you will realize that many academics in that field hold this view. [It is fine to have paintings of a Chinese Jesus, an African Jesus, a Korean Jesus, but not a European Jesus, or a white Jesus for example.] I suspect that this is true in many other academic disciplines as well.

    7. @Tim Finlay: I think we'll agree that any human person is equal to any other human person qua human person. But do you deny that in the USA, there are political, legal and social structures that limit the opportunities of Black and Native American people, at the least, in ways that they don't limit opportunities of White people? Just start with the prison industry, for example, or look at how real estate was dealt with for decades ...

    8. ficino,
      Many of the academics I have heard speak do not limit their positions to whites in the U.S.A. but talk about whites around the world as being specially privileged and needing to confess their whiteness as if it was some sin. This is not limited to the U.S.A.

    9. Too true. Europeans are demonised in many universities in the West, by privileged Europeans. It's also hard to say how the prison system in the US can be held responsible for landing blacks there. Within that system, it is White Americans who face the most systematic violence.

    10. BalancedTryteOperators,
      I am working on an article that involves what the Bible teaches on the topic of punishment and this morning I did a search on the topic of "punishment" in religious online journals. The very first article was titled, "Racialized Religion and Judicial Injustice: How Whiteness and Biblicist Christianity Intersect to Promote a Preference for Unjust Punishment." So according to the academics in my field, a Christianity too informed by the Bible will promote unjust punishment and whiteness will promote unjust punishment. This is not about the advantages that those who belong to the dominant culture in a nation will enjoy; it is a broadside against whiteness which apparently intersects with a Christianity that adheres too closely to the Bible. This sort of thing is endemic in academia.

  25. Cervantes and Ghostman

    It seems that I was wrong in identifying you with each other in my earlier post on April 23rd at 2.33pm. I was premature in reaching this conclusion, basing it on plausibility considerations , when I should of course have sought firmer evidence brfore going public with my suspicions.

    Apologies to both of you.

  26. Apology accepted and I wish good will to you in all your future posts.

  27. Speaking of corporations, whether secular or so called "religious" being treated as or called "persons" why not check out these three references:

    The Idea of a Local Economy by Wendell Berry which was written in response to Sept 11. As were his book Thoughts In the Presence of Fear.
    Both of these references were originally published on the truly conservative Orion Magazine website. The full text of the Local Economy is featured on the Geoff Wells website.

    Unequal Protection How Corporations Became "People" by Thom Hartmann.

    And do a search of the topic the History of the East India Company including the book Bewtween Monopoly and Free Trade by Emily Erikson, and the essay The Original Corporate Raiders by William Dalrymple.

  28. From reading many Catholic lay material on Church teachings, it seems to me that the scope of what must be believed my a Catholic has been made far to wide than what is true and necessary.

    It seems to me that in the tradition of the Church something is infallible if it uses the words "solemnly declares" or "define" or the use of the golden seal (as was used in the Middle Ages). I know people say "when the Pope wants to settle an issue THAT is infallible" but the question has to be asked if he intends to settle an issue infallibly or not. Keep in mind that everything that has been taught by a Pope is controversial in that there are opinions on all sides of every issue in history.

    The first point I want to make about infallibility is that when less formal form is used than was previously used, that indicates that the teaching is not infallible. Church teachings by the Pope are infallible if they are extraordinary. Councils are infallible and are called Ecumenical, which means extraordinary. Pius X in acerbo niminis calls a non-Ecumenical council a "Council" so the Councils are infallible and extraordinary when they are declared Ecumenical and accepted by the Pope. Vatican I defined that "universal ordinary magisterium" is infallible, and this does not necessarily has to mean anything more than when all the bishops of the world clearly and vocally teach something with the Pope. That's just a Council without the title "Ecumenical". It's a Council that is not "located" in one location.

    We always have to ask when dealing with teachings of the Church we always have to ask: are we dealing with fallible teachings or infallible teachings? A *very great error* that has arisen in the Church is that if many Popes in a series teach something, it becomes infallible. This clearly cannot be true because there is no criteria. Are 2 Popes enough? Are 5? If there is no criteria, there can be no infallibility.

    So in conclusion, although there is much more that could be said, it certainly seems that there are fewer infallible papal teachings than what you were probably told.

    1. Item (1): Anonymous, could you put in some identifier (at least, at the end of a post) so we can distinguiush you from the other anonymous posters. This is good conversation etiquette. Thank you.

      Item (2): It is true that the Church intends that something "must be believed" if she teaches it in a form as either a solemnly defined canon of a Council or a solemn declaration from a pope as definitively "to be believed by all the faithful..."

      However, the tradition behind THAT is older and not specified so: the Councils and the popes have traditionally relied upon what the apostles taught, as handed on by the Fathers. And so you have the Councils and the popes declaring things "to be believed" on account of what the Fathers reported was SAID BY the apostles, and taught by them, but NOT STATED (by the apostles) as "solemnly defined or declared" to be held definitively. That is to say, the acts of the Councils and popes are, themselves, testimony that "what must be held" does not arise first and foremost as "what is declared or defined solemnly" but as "what was taught" under apostolic authority.

      (3) The Church taught (in Vatican II) that what "must be believed" also includes that which has been infallibly taught under the ordinary magisterial authority of the college of bishops acting in agreement, even though dispersed throughout the world (i.e. not gathered in council), when they agree on some truth as "to be believed" by the whole Church. Now, some people disagree with Vatican II, but they were expressing something that was held from earliest times, which was that the force of Christ's declaration "he who hears you hears Me" was NOT limited to only those teachings of the Church confirmed by solemn declarations.

    2. I wrote the short document above and my confirmation name is Maximilian (after Fr. Kolbe), so I'll use this if I post again here (I was confirmed in Mexico as a teenager). My particular concern is that so often people say "lots of Popes have said this" and so they think that this makes it infallible. But this has never been defined by the Church to be an organ of infallibility. We have extraordinary teachings of the Pope and Councils, and Ordinary Universal teachings which are the same as Councils but not as formal and so people who disagree with them are not labeled heretics (this organ has been supported by Vatican I). I've seen errors in this regard on several posts and responses on this blog, which is why I posted here (there weren't any very recent ones and I was hoping some people read my thoughts).. There are countless teachings by Popes that lists items as heretical but did not specify that they were being declared heretical (in distinction from teaching fallibly that they contradict Revelation). The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "On 1 October, 1567, Pope Pius V signed the Bull, 'Ex omnibus afflictionibus', in which were to be found a number of condemned propositions, but without mention of Baius' name. According to the usage of the Roman Chancery, the papal document was without punctuation, divisions, or numbers. Again, as had been done before in several instances, the objectionable propositions were not censured severally, but to the whole series were applied various 'notes', from 'heretical' down to 'offensive'. Moreover, not only was Baius' name not mentioned, but for obvious reasons of prudence in those days, so near the Reformation, the text itself was not to be made public. Those facts gave occasion to many quibbles on the part of the Baianists: What was the exact number of propositions?—76, 79, or 80?—Were they, or were they not, Baius' propositions?—Why had not a copy of the Bull been given to those on whose honour it was supposed to reflect? In the famous sentence, 'quas quidem sententias stricto coram nobis examine ponderatas quamquam nonnullæ aliquo pacto sustineri possent in rigore et proprio verborum sensu ab assertoribus intento hæreticas, erroneas . . . damnamus', was the comma Pianum to be placed after intento or after possent, the meaning being reversed according as the comma came after the one or the other word?"

      So we have a decree which this very Encyclopedia says in ex cathedra. Yet one part of this decree can have opposites contradictory meanings, as the above quotation says. Therefore it can't possibly be infallible. Also, the censures range from heretical to "offensive" and it doesn't say which doctrines receive which censure. So it is obvious that this is not infallible. Yet this same reasoning shows that Leo X's decree against Martin Luther was not infallible as well. What is needed are theologians to carefully and without personal bias to look at each Papal document and ask "is this *clearly* an example of papal infallibility" and the opportunity given to others to offer arguments for and against. Thanks, Max

    3. Max, thank you for adding a name. I appreciate it.

      and Ordinary Universal teachings which are the same as Councils but not as formal and so people who disagree with them are not labeled heretics

      I am not sure at all what you mean by "Ordinary Universal teachings". The sense of the phrase "Ordinary and Universal Magisterium" in Vatican II was that the magisterial (authoritative teaching) office of the Church has the character of infallibility when that teaching office is carried into practice in a certain way, namely when the college of bishops, not in a council, teach a specific teaching as "to be held" by the faithful, in agreement with each other as to this teaching. It is "Ordinary" in that they are doing this in their daily and weekly practice of teaching, not in their extraordinary events of a world Council. It is "universal" in that the teaching is agreed by the bishops around the world, not just by a large minority or even a bare majority, and not merely one (or a few) local group(s). When it has this character, it IS infallible teaching even though it has never been formally solemnized.

      One reason for ambiguity is the use of the term "heresy". It is ambiguous because it can stand either for a certain kind of a sinful act, or a kind of a delict from the binding norms of Church rules, for which a "guilty" verdict could be rightly rendered in a Church tribunal. The latter is only a SUBSET of the sinful acts. The sin of heresy exists when a Catholic willfully and contumaciously rejects "what the Church teaches" without due grounds, and this includes not merely what has been taught infallibly (which one could never have due grounds to reject) but also what has been taught fallibly but uprightly and soundly under what we call doctrines to which are owed "religious submission of mind and will" (to which there CAN be, in rare cases, adequate grounds to withhold assent, but never contumaciously).

      But if a person were to commit this sin only in the silence of his heart and NEVER say anything about it to another person, he could not justly be convicted of heresy in the public forum before a tribunal. Hence he could not be branded "heretic" in the Church, and could not be punished with the penalties established for the delict of heresy.

      Hence a person can be guilty of the sin of heresy when rejecting a teaching X that is technically fallible, if they reject X both (a) without due grounds (i.e. without any reasoned basis such as a due prior belief that "in former times the Church taught not-X" , and (b) contumaciously. But the Church does not call such a person a heretic in the juridic sense as being subject to juridic penalties merely from that fact.

      In the early centuries, the Fathers often referred to those who taught theses contrary to the doctrines of the apostles "heretics" EVEN BEFORE there was a Council to define the matter formally. Indeed, St. Irenaeus wrote "Against Heresies" in about 180 AD, long before any of the Councils but the proto-council of Jerusalem. (And before any known substantive documents of the popes rejecting said heresies.) It is right and proper to note that being found formally guilty of heresy by the Church is limited to a narrow set of acts, but the Church has traditionally also used the term "heresy" for a broader class of acts that are still sinful and involve a use of the will to wrongly reject belief in what the Church teaches.

  29. Collectively on a world-wide basis the "catholic" church is of course the worlds oldest and largest corporate entity. Indeed the "catholic" church is first and foremost a business corporation, and a powerful political entity and player (on the world stage) too.

    As a business corporation it uses every legal trick in the book to protect its vast world-wide assets.

    It also, and always has sought to increase its market share in the competitive whats-in-it-for-me market place of consumerist religiosity.

    Indeed its mission statement quite plainly (and erroneously)states that it has a self-appointed claim or mandate to control the religious and altogether cultural aspirations and behaviors of ALL human beings. It also erroneously claims or pretends that its grotesque magisterium is binding on ALL human beings.

    Never mind of course that "Jesus" was never ever a Christian, nor did he found the religion ABOUT him, all of which was invented by people who never ever met him in a living-breathing-feeling human form. A religion ABOUT him as distinct from the universal, non-sectarian Spiritual Way that he taught and demonstrated while he was alive. He most certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with any of the "death and resurrection" mumbo-jumbo of the Christian religion.

    1. Dear Anonymous, is it REALLY too hard to make up some identifier to use in a post and attach it at the end, so we know which anonymous poster YOU are, differentiated from others? Honestly, that's just good manners in conversation.

      You make a lot of claims, but several of them are merely cantankerous exaggerations or just plain erroneous. Nothing of actual proof.

      Indeed the "catholic" church is first and foremost a business corporation,

      Clearly not true. If it were FIRST and foremost a business, it would re-think its spending, which is very often on charitable giving on NON-MEMBERS, including (often enough) non-members with very low probability of converting to Catholicism. Mother Teresa of Calcutta went around working with the sick and dying, not even asking whether someone might be Catholic (and the vast majority of the destitute of Calcutta are Hindu), giving them care even if they adamantly refused to consider Catholicism. Lots more like this. And the Church celebrates her for this attitude of giving, not for "gaining more members of the Church." That's not the behavior of a business.

      Never mind of course that "Jesus" was never ever a Christian, nor did he found the religion ABOUT him,

      On the contrary, he explicitly said "I will build my Church". And he explicitly told the disciples to go out and preach, baptizing, and "to make disciples of all nations."

      all of which was invented by people who never ever met him in a living-breathing-feeling human form.

      On the contrary, the original apostles (and the others of the 72 sent out two-by-two met him, listened to him preach with his own voice and breath, ate with him, etc.

      Indeed its mission statement quite plainly (and erroneously)states that it has a self-appointed

      Refuted above.

      claim or mandate to control the religious and altogether cultural aspirations and behaviors of ALL human beings.

      Manifestly untrue: the Church never claims a mandate to "control" the rights of non-Catholics to adhere a religion, and explicitly DENIES that position in its document "Dignitatis Humanae". However, the Church does claim that of the religions of the world, only that of the Hebrews (before Christ) and Christianity were actually established by God, the others being erroneous.

      A religion ABOUT him as distinct from the universal, non-sectarian Spiritual Way that he taught and demonstrated while he was alive.

      He explicitly based his spiritual way ON HIMSELF as a principal feature of his "way", saying "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me." And "I am the life and the light of the world."

      He most certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with any of the "death and resurrection" mumbo-jumbo of the Christian religion.

      He explicitly predicted his death, and the manner of his death, and his own resurrection. And he certainly brought about his own resurrection from being executed by crucifixion. Nobody with an ounce of sense believes that his disciples willingly accepted complete ostracization from the Jewish community, poverty, and death at the hands of torturers, for a MADE-UP story of his resurrection that wasn't true, in order to preach about these events.

  30. Excuse me. Which anonymous are you? It would be helpful if you put some unique identification in the post so we know who we are responding to.

    Sorry you hve such a very negative attitude toward the Catholic Church and Christianity. My experience and study of the Church bring me to a very different conclusion, as you probably know. I've never heard of the Church being characterized as a corporation. I would at least characterize it as a non-profit corporation. The Church is probably the largest aid giving organization in the world, so at least give it some positive credit for that. It also started the university system, hospitals in the US and was a major force establishing schools in the US. It serves the poor around the world.

    Yes, Jesus Christ was a Jew, but He establishd a New Covenant with both the Jews and the gentiles in a world-wide scope for the Church. There was a pattern of successive covenants with the Jewish people Noah and the Flood, Abraham, Moses at Sinai and David's kingdom. There us significant foreshadowing of Christ's coming in the Old Testament.

    Christ is the only founder of a major religion who claimed to be God. From looking at His words passed on by the Apostles in scripture, either He was a madman or God. His was seen by over 500 people after His resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15, Saint Paul recites what seems to be a formula or creedal statement about the resurrection of Christ.

    "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:

    that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
    that he was buried,
    that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
    and that he appeared to Cephas,
    then to the Twelve.
    Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
    Then he appeared to James,
    then to all the Apostles.
    Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Cor 15:3-8)"

    1. The church has been repeatedly characterised as a corporation in this very thread, as part of the discussion about corporate persons.

      Nobody will deny that the church and its servants have done many good things, but they have done evil ones too eg the tortures of the inquisition, working against the right of women to control their own fertility in the developing world, mass child sex abuse.

      You are clearly an uncritical, unthinking believer, and report all manner of things with conviction, but you are at your most credilous when you claim that Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at once following his death. Name one of these people, and quote their testimony please. The witness of the 500 seems terribly impressive, until we discover that it is based on heresay alone.

      Often an incident or phenomenon will appear baffling and paranormal because not all details relevant to assessing it are known - once a full and accurate account is available, a reasonable explanation may ensue. You surely would not be surprised if the Gospel accounts of the resurrection were inaccurrate and incomplete in certain ways , and if known these might remove the mystery.

      I would note in passing that in recent times large numbers of people over many years reported observing spiritualist medium Donald Doglas Holm perfom levitations and materialisations of large objects like trumpets. The testimony here is much more substantial and impressive than that for Jesus' resurrection appearances, with multiple known witnesses at any number of times, and in locations and lighting conditions ( look him up ). Do you believe that Holm was flying about outside windows and materialising things? Well, maybe you do.

    2. The medium was Daniel Dunglas Home. Sorry for not recalling his name correctly above.
      Would you consider me credulous if I went around proclaiming that he worked miracles?

    3. You seem to be into the idea that the majority view always wins and proves I am somehow blind to the truth. "We have been talking about the Church being a corporation in this thread".

      A corporation is a legal term and even the defintion of corporations as persons is a legal term, not a term in reality. Individual people will be held responsible for their actions by God, not corporations. Altough I believe leaders in corporations have a higher accountability for their actions before God. I don't believe that man-made laws define morality. Indeed many man-made laws are evil and contradict the law of God.

      Man's law should be in line with the natural law known through our conscience. We know that murder of innocents is evil. We don't need a man-made law to tell us this is true. We know this instinctively as part of our natural equipment through our conscience, although through negative experiences we can lose this common sense. I'm not saying we don't need laws, just that our morality doesn't depend on laws, but laws should depend on natural law and natural rights of all human persons.

      A corporation has to be legally established as such. The Church is not. It exists outside of legal definition of its existence and is not defined as a legal entity called a corporation. It has its own status legally without being defined as a corporation. It is, however, an organization and much more.

  31. Well I do believe that Paul said he witnessed to the fact it happened. We all have people we trust and believe what they say because we believe they have crediibility. Why do you find it necessary to personally insult me? You also believe others because you believe the source is credible.

  32. St. Joseph of Cupertino also experienced levitation as witnessed by the religious order he lived with. After close scrutiny of his life by the Church he was declared a saint because of the evidence of his heroic virtue and closely investigated miracles by scientists that happened after asking for his intercession before God. I believe in miracles. They are not common, but I believe they happen. Look into the image of the Lady of Guadeloupe image on the tilma of Juan Diego. Look into the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima on Oct. 13, 1917 with thousands of witnesses.

    There can be physical manifestations of spiritual origins. Both God and the angels can be the source, including the Devil and other evil spirits. It requires careful discernment to determine the source: good or evil.

  33. "A corporate person could instead be infallible, as Catholics claim the Church is. That doesn’t mean that the individual members cannot err"

    This is like saying "A corporation has rights, but that doesn't mean the invidiual who work for it do."

    Same erroneous thinking. Corporations are not persons but rather monsters.

  34. The corporate self is, so far, deemed pathological by modern neuroscience, as all brain circuitry lead to the UNITARY sense of self, something that computers do not do. But, alas, the Church is a lot of people who got their creds through ritualistic mouthings and dances. But absolutely not is this the soul. The soul is the integral metabo-spiritual, if you will, link of man (physics) and that bethroved to man by God (the soul). In that marriage the Will and the Soul converse. Though the whole brain order operates via an opponens system-- like slow release of extention in order to flex the arm at the elbow-- so far as we know. There is no dialectic in the soul. No equilibrium dialectic between good and evil exists; rather like on and off, the soul is on to righteousness and off to evil. However, the brain. working by equilibrium of opponents has, therefore an ever present TREMOR to its decisiveness. This the soul takes note of and, while calling for decisiveness of the brain, it passes judgement kindly based on successive approximation. All neuroscience sees this opponens process at work. However, insight and moral sense that collectively becomes so persuasive as to become the obvious ethic, guides ona acctross the longer lines of life so that we are judged by our vectors not our drifts. Hence, the unnoticeable "will" can only be seen as manifestation of the laws of physics. But INTENT has no physical attribute as it is stored in the soul and too often fades from the mind. The shadow of motivation shapes through outcome while confession before God though one's soul is a very private birth of awareness that a cleric can only assist but never fully fathom before God and on's soul can. We live at many levels of consciousness that only get more numerous as we mature. But fundamentally, one's soul is a privater conversant between God and one's self, and no cleric can pretend to seize it, manipulate it, judge it and damn it. Alas, the Church has disqualified itself for many desperate people because it pretends to know what, as mere humans, clerics cannot know: the accounting of the soul to God on behalf of the material person and his magic brain under the calvarium, that together with the soul constitute the integrative self that stands before God. But that is never superseded by any other man. As with building a house, together as ethical human beings, we can collaborate to form a social ethic by which we all live. But, while the Church is
    and edifice full of symbols to express our appreciation of God's gift to us-- our souls-- never can any other human from the realm of physics ever transgress upon this metaphysical relationship between man and God. The skull, present in all vertebrates stands as a symbol that no man can transgress the barrier, exclusivizing the relationship between the individual's mind (his soul and his brain) and God. Hence, no cleric can ever damn another's soul as it is for God to judge one's sins. Clerics can be like the Good Samaritans, as Spiritutal Adviser but can in no way intervene between the mind of man and God!