Saturday, December 12, 2009

James Chastek, On the claim “science studies material and efficient causes”
Tyrant is usually reserved for the man who embodies the degenerate form of kingship. Would it nonetheless help us understand why the ancients thought democracy was so bad, if we were to call its citizens little "tyrants"? If not the meaning, then the emotional association with the word when it is used properly may prevent us from grasping the point, since we reasonably think that a tyrant is worse than a democracy with respect to the immediate effects of his rule.
Pope's Letter to Conference on the God Question

"When God Disappears From Man's Horizon, Humanity Loses Its Direction"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 11, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the message that Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian episcopal conference, on the occasion of the three-day international congress taking place in Rome through Saturday titled "God Today: With Him or Without Him Everything Changes."

* * *

To the Venerated Brother
Lord Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco
Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa
President of the Italian Episcopal Conference

On the occasion of the Congress "God Today: With or Without Him Everything Changes," which is taking place in Rome from December 10-12, I wish to express to you, venerated Brother, to the Italian Episcopal Conference and, in particular, to the Committee for the Cultural Project, my profound appreciation for this important initiative, which addresses one of the great topics that has always fascinated and questioned the human spirit.

The question of God is also central in our time, in which man is often reduced to one dimension, the "horizontal," considering openness to the Transcendent as irrelevant for his life. The relationship with God, instead, is essential for humanity's journey and, as I have had the occasion to affirm many times, the Church and every Christian, in fact, have the task to make God present in this world, to attempt to open to men access to God.

Planned from this perspective is the international event of these days. The breadth of the approach to the important topic that characterizes the meeting, will make possible the sketching of a rich and articulated picture of the question of God, but above all it will be a stimulation for a profound reflection on God's place in the culture and life of our time.

On one hand, in fact, an attempt is being made to show the different ways that lead to affirming the truth about the existence of God, that God which humanity has always known in some way, even in the chiaroscuro of his history, and who revealed himself with the splendor of his face in the covenant with the people of Israel and, beyond that, in every measure and hope, in a full and definitive way, in Jesus Christ.

He is the Son of God, the Living who enters into the life and history of man to illumine him with his grace, with his presence. On the other hand, the desire is precisely to bring to light the essential importance that God has for us, for our personal and social life, for understanding ourselves and the world, for the hope that illumines our way, for the salvation that awaits us beyond death.

Directed to these objectives are the numerous interventions, according to the many points of view which will be the object of study and exchange: from philosophical and theological reflection on the witness of the great religions; from the impulse to God, which finds its expression in music, literature, the figurative arts, the cinema and television; to the development of the sciences, which attempt to read in depth the mechanisms of nature, fruit of the intelligent work of God the Creator; from the analysis of the personal experience of God to the consideration of the social and political dynamics of an already globalized world.

In a cultural and spiritual situation such as the one we are living in, where the tendency grows to relegate God to the private sphere, to consider him irrelevant and superfluous, or to reject him explicitly, it is my heartfelt hope that this event might at least contribute to disperse that semi-darkness that makes openness to God precarious and fearful for the men of our time, though he never ceases to knock on our door.

The experiences of the past, although not remote to us, teach us that when God disappears from man's horizon, humanity loses its direction and runs the risk of taking steps to its own destruction. Faith in God opens man to the horizon of certain hope, which does not disappoint; it indicates a solid foundation on which to base life without fear; it calls for abandoning oneself with confidence in the hands of the Love which sustains the world.

To you, cardinal, to all those who have contributed to prepare this congress, to the speakers and to all the participants I express my cordial greeting with the desire for the full success of the initiative. I support the works with prayer and with my apostolic blessing, propitiator of that light from on High, which makes us capable of finding God, our treasure and our hope.

In the Vatican, December 7, 2009

[Translation by ZENIT]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

James Chastek, Justice and Right

Political theories based on right can very easily dissolve justice into right. Such a dissolution involves saying that there is nothing to justice beyond preserving, delineating, and defending rights. Let’s stipulate that all accounts of justice are in fact rights- relative, that is, that every act of justice is inseparable from the reality that such and such is owed to someone by right. What problem is there in simply using “right” as a proxy for “justice”? Won’t we get exactly the same results?

Justice is the virtue of right operation to others. As a virtue, it is confers good on the one who has it, as giving right operation to others it confers some good on others. Notice that from one and the same action, good necessarily flows into a multitude: the one who acts and another. Right is not like this. Right captures the aspect of justice that speaks of “right operation to others”, but it prescinds from how such an operation needs to be perfective of the one from whom the operation flows. Right is a kind of abstraction in the mind that cannot be an abstraction in reality: the separation of “giving what is due” from the moral perfection of the giver. There is nothing wrong with these abstractions, and political thought needs to make them, but there is a blind side to the abstraction that we need to be aware of.

A full rights theory needs to recognize how the actuality of right- the satisfaction of right- is a good that is not limited to the one with the right, but it belongs both to the one who receives the good by right and the one who provides it to him. There is a single good which flows into two persons in different modes; but it flows in a higher mode into the one who acts or gives since it flows into him as virtue. A full rights theory would be a way of leading to a recognition of the superabundance of justice (where “superabundance” means “a good not limited to one nor diminished by being common”)

Notice that it is not enough to include a notion of “duty” as a correlative of right, though this is necessary. Neither right nor duty speaks to a superabundant good, flowing in diverse modes. Rights based theories must be perfected in one way by relating them to duties and in another way by relating them to justice.
A full rights theory can only be developed within ethics, or a political theory that is built upon "ethics" and the good. The problem is not with rights language, but with the ethical foundation that supports it.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

When I first saw the headline, without the body of the article, I thought perhaps someone was trying to present an alternative to the theologoumenon that the Blessed Virgin Mary is Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix. (Orthodox if understood correctly, but liable to be misunderstood by Protestants and maybe the Orthodox.)

Update on Defining Mary Spiritual Mother of Humanity

"Could Constitute a Historic Benefit of Grace and Blessing for All"

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, DEC. 8, 2009 ( Here is the letter sent today, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, by Cardinal Luis Aponte-Martinez, the retired archbishop of San Juan, to the cardinals and bishops of Latin America on the petition to define the "Blessed Virgin Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, under its threefold aspects of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate."

* * *

8 December 2009
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

My Dear Brother Cardinals and Bishops,

On January 1, 2008, five cardinals wrote to all bishops of the world to notify them of the petition made by an international group of cardinals and bishops assembled at Fatima to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, in humble request for the solemn definition of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, under its threefold aspects of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate. Already in the past, hundreds of bishops and millions of faithful have made this appeal. Again many bishops have recently responded. As one of those five cardinals who sent this global petition, I now wish to provide you with an update concerning this universal Church request.

Recently the Philippines submitted to His Holiness a petition for this solemn definition from Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Lagdameo, President of the Philippine Conference of Catholic Bishops, and several other archbishops and bishops. The petition was accompanied by a personal letter from Philippines President, Madame Gloria Arroyo, in which she strongly supported the request of the bishops.

Also representative groups of cardinals and bishops from India and nearby countries, including Cardinal Vithayathil, President of the National Conference of the Bishops of India, have submitted their own petition for this fifth Marian dogma to Pope Benedict XVI. A similar petition has been sent from Africa by Archbishop Felix Job, President of the Catholic Conference of the Bishops of Nigeria, and various other African bishops. Bishops from Eastern Europe, including Archbishop Kramberger of Slovenia, have likewise sent in their own petition for this Marian papal proclamation. Along with bishops from numerous countries from Latin America, I have sent in our own petition to Pope Benedict for the papal definition of Our Lady’s Spiritual Motherhood.

All over the world, lay faithful have joined their bishops. Numerous prayer days, conferences, individual prayers and petitions to the Holy Father from the laity constitute a positive manifestation for this potential Marian dogma from the sensus fidelium.

We all perceive a worldwide urgency for the greatest possible intercession of our heavenly Mother for the unprecedented crises of faith, family, society, and peace, which marks the present human condition. We see the papal definition of Holy Mary's Spiritual Motherhood of all peoples as an extraordinary remedy to these global crises which today threaten a great part of humanity. The more we freely acknowledge Mary’s intercessory power, the more she is able to exercise this power for the peoples of the world entrusted to her care at Calvary.

I therefore invite you, dear brother, to join your brother cardinals and bishops from throughout the world in this renewed petition to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, by sending in your own letter for his prayerful discernment of what might constitute a next positive step for the solemn proclamation of the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary. Thank you for your own prayerful discernment of this most important work in honour of Our Lady, which we believe could constitute a historic benefit of grace and blessing for all humanity.

+Luis Cardinal Aponte Martinez
San Juan, Puerto Rico,

The Fifth Marian Dogma: Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate
Mother of All Peoples - Home - Petition for the Fifth Marian Dogma
Catholic Culture : Library : A New Marian Dogma?
Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix
Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate by Mark I Miravale, S.T.D., Chapter 3
Dr. Mark Miravalle - The Official Home Page
The Western Confucian: We All Know Christmas Was First a Pagan Holiday, Right? \

I have earlier speculated that there is insufficient witness within Sacred Tradition to the humanity or personhood of the conceptum. But, if Christ was acknowledged as being fully human at His conception, might not that be an argument for human personhood? (Unless one wants to argue that Christ was an exception to normal human development.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Dr. Peter Gilbert: The Filioque: a very basic introduction (via Eirenikon)

The Theses of Christoph von Mettenheim

Thesis No. 1: The special theory of relativity rests on the premise that the velocity of light in a vacuum will be constant and cannot be influenced by the velocity of the source from which the light is coming. From this premise Einstein concluded that time itself must be relative.

Thesis No. 2: In everyday language the concept of ‘velocity’ will designate the relation of distance and time. This concept of everyday language has never been called into question in the theory of relativity. It implies, and presupposes, a concept of ‘time’.

Thesis No. 3: If velocity is to be constant, then this concept of ‘time’ must not change on the distance observed. In the terminology of the theory of relativity it must therefore be ‘absolute’.

Thesis No. 4: Special relativity therefore presupposes in the premise of the constant
spreading velocity of light that time is absolute, and infers from this that time is not absolute. It therefore includes a logical contradiction.

Thesis No. 5: The formulae of special relativity were regarded by Einstein, and are still being regarded today, as practicable approximations to the formulae of general relativity for circular and elliptical motions.

Thesis No. 6: Whenever observations (experiments) were considered to be confirmations of a relativistic time dilation it was always a presupposed interpretation that the formulae of special relativity can be used as approximations to establish relativistic time dilation.

Thesis No. 7: Any application of the special theory of relativity to facts occurring in reality, in particular to measurements of a relativistic time dilation, presupposes some unit of measurement which must first be defined.

Thesis No. 8: Einstein and the adherents of the theory of relativity have never defined units of ‘relative time’ differing from conventional units of time. Where they make exact calculations, they employ ‘hours’, or ‘minutes’ or ‘seconds’, or units derived from these.

Thesis No. 9: ‘Hours’, and ‘minutes’ and ‘seconds’ have been derived from the conventional standard given by the Earth’s rotation.

Thesis No. 10: Any application of the formulae of special relativity in connection with the time units of ‘hours’, or ‘minutes’ or ‘seconds’ for calculating the relativistic time dilations of circular or elliptical motions will lead to logical contradictions.

Thesis No. 11: The same logical contradictions will arise from the application of other standards of measurement (e.g. caesium beam clocks), provided they are employed consistently.

Thesis No. 12: Hence, the mathematical formulae of special relativity are inadequate to establish the relativity of time. They are, however, logically consistent, and can therefore be employed to refute the original hypothesis that the velocity of light in a vacuum will be constant and cannot be influenced by the velocity of the source from which the light is coming.

Q. E. D.

Christoph von Mettenhem ALBERT EINSTEIN oder Der Irrtum eines Jahrhunderts
The hermeneutic of continuity: Statue of Galileo