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On Natural Law Print E-mail
By James V. Schall, S.J.   
Tuesday, 21 August 2012

 

We live in a time when more good books and essays have been written on natural law than any time in history. I think of Maritain, Simon, Rommen, Veatch, Finnis, Hittinger, Kreeft, Fortin, Benestad, Rice, Budziszewski, Arkes, Kries, George, Sokolowski, d'Entrèves, and a host of others.

Yet in both the public order and in our private lives, we see natural law receding to transform itself into its opposite. We are quite close in many, if not most, areas to establishing “un-natural ‘natural’ law” as the norm of our morality and civil law.

By the term “un-natural ‘natural’ law” I mean the notion that, if every one or most people do this or that, it must be “natural.” Therefore, any notion of a natural law that would forbid, say, abortion, must be wrong according to “natural law” since so many practice it.

But the natural law principles and logic that identify abortion for what it is, the deliberate killing of a human person, are irrefutable – even if few will acknowledge them. The only real alternative to valid natural law, as many clearly see, is to deny any reason or order in things so that we be free to establish whatever we want by will alone.

The primary intellectual tool that has facilitated this transformation is, ironically, the notion of “human rights.” The spiritual father to this transformation is Hobbes, who gave us the “right” to whatever we judge is necessary for our individual preservation and well-being. The state became the final power to define and enforce these natural “rights.”

Much of the recent natural law literature in Catholic circles is, in fact, devoted to an attempt to reconcile natural law and natural rights. However carefully this reconciliation may have been, it has made hardly any dent on the popular notion that “rights” are what we define them to be in positive law. Thus they bear the same voluntary mutability as positive law itself.

We now see divorce, contraception, abortion, in vitro fertilization, homosexuality, fetal experimentation, cloning, euthanasia, and various extensions of these practices to be proposed and established as “rights.”

Moreover, the civil power of many nations vigorously enforces these “rights.” In some countries, including our own, written constitutions were established as positive, fundamental law in an effort to control and limit the vagaries of what human legislators, judges, and politicians can do. Beyond the constitution, stood the natural law, which was the rule of reason that grounded any human law or constitution.


        Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

Thus, no civil or constitutional law simply by itself was just without having first been implicitly judged according to reason. This is the universality of natural law that, as it were, hovers over all national cultures and religions as well as our individual acts.

It is perhaps no accident that the ferment in natural law issues in recent times arises over marriage, its meaning and its consequences. However of late, we see a new area rapidly opening up.

The older discussions of property that revolved around socialism and communism seem rather antiquated. We understand that economic growth is caused by innovation, just laws, profit, the market, bankruptcy, and demand. We have learned that wealth needs to be created and to grow.

The poor were not poor because the rich were rich. They were poor mostly because they did not know how to be rich or because they lived in zero-sum economies that maintained that redistribution was the only worthy social philosophy.

The president has recently proposed the notion that everyone produces wealth. Thus, wealth belongs to everyone not just to those who are said to create it. But the present distribution is not “fair.” The rich have too much. That is the reason why the poor are poor.

Therefore, it is “right” for the government to interfere through tax or other policies to take from the rich and give to the poor. The premise of this position seems to be that of a no-growth mentality.

The normal understanding of economics is that everyone can become richer if an economy grows. If it does not, distribution will be politicized. Envy will become a major factor in status. The government becomes the main arbiter of who has a “right” to what.

This view is a vague repetition of natural law discussions that were found in the history of scholastic economics. The earth was created for everyone. Therefore everyone had a “right” to everything.

With experience, often over discussions about Plato’s communal property, Aristotles response was more reasonable. Private property was really in most cases a better way to produce and distribute the goods of all to reach each one individually.

As I see it, the presidents proposal is really a revival of Genesis now presented not by God or reason, but by the state as the primary agent of all human affairs. 

 
James V. Schall, S.J., a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the most prolific Catholic writers in America. His most recent books are The Mind That Is Catholic and The Modern Age.
 
 
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written by Deacon Ed Peitler, August 21, 2012
Confiscating the wealth of those who have more in order to give it to those who have less, de-incentivizes the creation of wealth. This results in an increase of those who have less. The playing field is leveled; everyone is "poor."

The liberals who promote class envy are happy; those who work for the government are happy because they now have more and have done nothing to get it save stealing it from those who created the wealth and the majority who are now poor are miserable.

But there is a consolation: the natural law having been abolished in our minds, we can now have all the sex we want, produce the designer babies that will make us happy, abort all the babies we want that cause us inconvenience, and euthanize the sick and the elderly who are a drain on the majority who have been rendered poor by the ruling elite. Welcome to our brave new world under the Democrat Party.
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written by Dave, August 21, 2012
I suspect there will be a lot of comments on this article! May I suggest that a good part of the problem lies in the divorce of natural rights from natural religion? The American Founders knew that they needed Judeo-Christian morality as a prop to the enterprise they had established, and they knew the experiment would last as long as the people were moral. Our society, having lost reference to its touchstone values -- the foundational moral values, based in religion, upon which the experiment was predicated -- is now hopelessly confused and angry about rights talks. Prof. Glendon I believe has the book to be read on this topic (it has been on my list for years...) But the problem harkens back to the very foundation itself: religion was, at the Nation's foundation, reduced to a utilitarian role rather than being seen and cherished as an activity with ends all its own. One might argue that the First Amendment cuts against my argument; I suggest that it supports the argument, inasmuch as it prefers no religion because any religion will do provided it supplies the moral props to the civil order. And so if ever a way could be found to provide the benefits of religion without real recourse to religion, the game was on and now we are in it: the fundamental values fight is whether society needs religion to be good, one side -- ours -- says absolutely yes and the other side says absolutely no.

The claim is wrong, of course, that "everyone is a producer." "The Problem," if it could be reduced to a single term, is "resentment." "The poor" resent that "the rich" have more. "The rich" resent that "the poor" want more and are willing, incited by a corrupted civil order, to take it from them rather than "earn it," but "the poor" see as system that is stacked against them while "the rich" see a system that is likewise stacking against them but is controllable to the extent it is purchasable... What is lacking, it seems to me, is the solidarity that makes subsidiarity possible. What is lacking is a non-economic understanding of the human person and society. This view has disappeared because God has been pushed to the margins.

I must also take some issue with Deacon Peitler, having spent a good portion of the last several years at work in the Federal Government seeking to assist small 501(c)3s that work in desperately poor neighborhoods, trying to bring financial literacy, decent housing, jobs-readiness, and a host of other goods that most people in our society take for granted. I worked with a lot of other Federal employees who, believe me, are not rent-seekers. The poverty in many areas of our country is absolutely mind-boggling; the structural problems leaders in these neighborhoods face -- Bl. John Paul II did speak of structures of sin, recall -- is likewise mind-boggling, and they have no access to capital apart from Government funding. The reasons are myriad and they do have to do with a complex of factors and not just the one set that this or that side accuses the other side of fostering. One can argue all one wants that the problems are not fundamentally economic -- indeed, I have made that argument above, but for our entire society and not just for those groups of people most negatively impacted by our faulty anthropology -- but we do have to recall that Our Lord fed the five thousand and healed bodies too as he went about proclaiming the Good News of the Day of the Lord.

Fr. Schall once again decisively puts his finger right at the heart of the problem: our society is asking the State to play God, the State cannot play God because it is not God, and to the extent it tries, it compounds all the problems it seeks to solve (problems it took on when we asked it to play God rather than relying on family, friends, and intermediary institutions and associations to intervene when intervention is necessary, or perhaps, when we stopped relying on God Himself thinking that human ingenuity was sufficient). The "solution" has to entail relying on the Government to do less -- but it can do so only to the extent that an authentic civic order is revived and private individuals, families, and associations are ready, willing, and able, with capacity, to address the gap. Otherwise we really do throw the poor and vulnerable under the bus -- and make more people poor and vulnerable as the capital needs to finance the undertaking grow exponentially beyond anything the tax base can reasonably provide. The solution has to entail a moral renewal; and moral renewal has to entail religious and spiritual renewal. It falls to us to be the kind of people -- spiritually and morally renewed, with appreciation for the real and legitimate complaints of those who go without (whoever and in whatever "class" they happen to be, for need is found everywhere) -- who can be men and women for the others -- for our family members and for our neighborhoods, cities, etc. -- and who can show that life with God is life in peace and joyful, meaningful service. In the end we really do love the Lord our God insofar as we love our neighbor as ourselves, and our Lord showed us, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, who the neighbor really is.
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written by Walt, August 21, 2012
This article follows on the heels of Fr McCloskey's article "Post Christian America" and is initmately related. Fr McClosky states, "The US will either become predominately Catholic in numbers, faith and morals or perish...". intellectually and spiritually the Catholic Church is the only answer to all the problems we see today. Fr Schall focused on the economy and the Church offers a very rich and deep teaching on economics that is not being brought forward. i have yet to hear about Fr Pesch and his summa of economics mentioned by any catholic commentator. We are facing a defining Catholic moment in history. Are we up to the task?
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written by jsmitty, August 21, 2012
You write:

"Thus, wealth belongs to everyone not just to those who are said to create it. But the present distribution is not “fair.” The rich have too much. That is the reason that the poor are poor."

me: respectfully, I think this is a bit of a strawman. The very real concern is that over the last 30 years in the US and other advanced capitalist societies have experienced broad gains in wealth and income that have been shared very unequally. A great deal of this is inevitable and has always been the case of course. And it is also true that inequalities matter less than a century or two ago since most of the amenities of modern life are available to most people--often even the poorest. But when a significant segment of the population is stuck with unemployment or perpetually low wages and over-indebtedness such that they have trouble affording houses, decent health care and especially having stable families and children then we have a problem that is difficult for the market to address by itself. It is therefore not the case as you assert that "the normal understanding of economics is that everyone will become richer as the economy grows."

It's pretty clear to me that the bottom 2/3rds of the US population is no better off than it was in say 1992 in either absolute or relative terms despite the fact that the US has seen a great deal of economic growth since then. It's not time to hit the panic button yet but the trend here is not encouraging.

If redistribution through the tax code is not the answer, what is? We'll have to do better than big tax cuts on the investor class...that was tried and tried again in the Bush years...and found wanting.

I'm a free marketeer myself...I want people at the top to prosper. But we cannot pretend that prosperity at the top guarantees social benefits that are broadly shared throughout the population. The US has succeeded because its prosperity has for most of its history has been broadly shared. If this is no longer true, then this problem needs to be fixed.
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written by DS, August 21, 2012
Agree with jsmitty that the tension comes not so much from Obama's philosophy, but the collision of global economic circumstances with the demographic/entitlement crunch, the seeds of which were sown 70+ years ago. I too generally prefer lower tax rates/spending, Obama is "within the 40 yard lines" of US political tradition and Catholic economic thought.

For the President's philosophy on private property, one need to look no further than the government's post-bailout actions. If Obama were truly a statist, the Treasury would not have sold its massive stakes in GM, AIG and Citigroup. Especially not at a profit!

Is Obama within the norms of recent US political tradition? Yes. Progressive income tax rates, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and for that matter the tax deductions for mortgage interest and clergy housing, all have redistribution of wealth and a general notion of "fairness" as organizing principles. All are 50-100 years old and have been supported and entrenched by both parties and, to a large degree, the Church.

Does the notion of fairness as described by the President violate fundamentals of Catholic teaching? No. Pope Benedict's 2012 World Day for Peace message highlights the importance of "seeking adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth (and) the promotion of growth." Seeing both sides of an economic issue (growth AND just redistribution, rights AND responsibilities) and not just one side, is a Catholic tradition that goes back to Leo XIII. Benedict also asks governments to assume their proper role in implementing policies to achieve economic justice.

Digressing a bit.....What is never discussed - by columnists, theologians, politicans or economists - is the concept of generational fairness. Current beneficiaries in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s will take out much more in Social Security and Medicare benefits than they ever contributed. In today's political environment, that is an absolute and inviolable right, even though it offends any basic sense of fairness. It is paid for by today's workers, who will likely take out a fraction of what they contributed.

Let's be honest, we all have our fingers in the pie. It seems that everyone else's benefits challenge the concepts of natural law, and our own benefits are an appropriate measure of fairness and justice.
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written by senes, August 21, 2012
Great essay, Fr. Schall. Coincidentally, I am reading your essay ‘On the Uniqueness of Socrates’ (Ch. 5 of The Mind that is Catholic.). For anyone who wants to read more of your thinking on this, that essay is a good place to start, especially the first 5 sections. As you pointed out there, we need to be suspicious of constructing a society built on faulty premises about the nature of man and the effect of imposing radical changes in existing social institution, especially the family, property and the polis, because social engineering is dangerous. Like Alcibiades, politicians don’t want to know, because they do not wish to change their lives and their policies to gain and remain in power.
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written by jsmitty, August 21, 2012
I would second what DS says. Catholic social teaching has consistently pointed out the importance of the adequate distribution of private property (i.e. money) and not simply the property rights of owners. ( One would never know that from reading this piece however) Further, sound economic theory tends to agree on this point that there needs to be adequate purchasing power in the population--too little demand in the economy and you will reach an equilibrium with high unemployment, which is not good for any number of reasons.

There is a political economy problem with capitalism which will always be with us, namely that there will be winners and losers determined by the market, in ways that are very difficult to predict. What becomes of the losers? It's not "envy" to worry about this question.

When Father Schall describes the redistributionist position thus : "The premise of this position seems to be that of a no-growth mentality." I have to conclude he doesn't understand the debate very well.

Everyone wants there to be economic growth...Obama knows very well that his reelection depends on it. The trouble is that economic growth is measured by the growth in the sum of consumption, investment and government spending (C+I+G). Thus if consumption and investment and govt. spending all increase we have growth--but if the increase of income and thus consumption and investment are being done disproportionately by only a small segment of society and all the bottom 75% have to look forward is more government spending, we have a problem, which will eventually begin to effect the stability of our society.

Let's face it, if the aggregation of unlimited wealth at the top (without regard to the rest of society) were the secret to general prosperity, Ecuador would be a thriving country today.

Father Schall wants to argue in abstractions though there are some important practical issues here.

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written by Thomist, August 21, 2012
“The president has recently proposed the notion that everyone produces wealth. Thus, wealth belongs to everyone not just to those who are said to create it. But the present distribution is not “fair.” The rich have too much. That is the reason why the poor are poor.”

That is the crux of Obama’s problem with the economy – he doesn’t understand free enterprise and what Bl Pope John Paul II teaches in Centesimus Annus, 1991:
‘If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy".
‘CA 43. The Church has no models to present;’

Of course Pope Benedict XVI has emphasised that “Society does not have to protect itself from the market, as if the development of the latter were ipso facto to entail the death of authentically human relations…Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility.” (Caritas et Veritate, Benedict XVI, 2009, #36).
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written by Christian Ohnimus, August 21, 2012
In response to Grump:

First of all, economic growth is necessary in large part because the population grows. What happens if the economy is static but the population continues to get larger and larger? Everyone gets poorer. In fact, this would continue until the economy simply could not sustain even basic human needs. The result is famine, homelessness etc. for everyone. We would quickly reach a population cap. History shows that the exact opposite has happened. As the world population has increased so has economic prosperity - this is because the world economy has been steadily growing over all that time.

Secondly, you assert that wealth cannot be created but only transferred and that there is the same amount to go around unless you "print more money." You confuse wealth with money. Money is simply a mutually agreed upon token used to coordinate transactions of REAL wealth: goods and services. It is the goods and services in an economy that have real economic value and they have been increasing in both quality and quantity for millennia. Don't believe me? Well, economic growth is easily visible over the time span of a day or a month or even a year - especially in our recessive economy - but lets compare America to one hundred years ago. America's poor today have amenities that the rich of a hundred years ago could only dream of. Obviously, economics is NOT a zero sum game. Socialism makes that fatal mistake and thus turns to redistribution of wealth as the solution. However, in response to bringing everyone down to the same level the pie does actually begin to shrink over time and everyone gets poorer and poorer - exactly what one would expect in a controlled economy artificially manipulated to be a zero-sum game. A far better way to help the poor is to instead make the pie bigger. There is still an income gap between rich and poor but as the rich get richer the poor get, well, richer too. Its no utopia but I don't think natural law ever promised us that.
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written by Grump, August 22, 2012
@Christian, I would grant that as the population grows so does the economic pie. But the slices available are not commensurately allocated. The world's economy is getting bigger, yes, but it is an unalterable fact that the rich get richer and the poor poorer. Also, not in dispute is the fact the the top 10% of the American population own or control 80% of the wealth.

Speaking of wealth, at bottom wealth is nothing more than money. A piece of land is worth something only in terms of of its liquid or lending value. Same with a diamond or gold, or any other tangible asset that is inherently worthless to anyone unless it can be cashed and then used to buy something else. Of course, this does not apply when paper money itself becomes worthless as history has shown repeatedly. However, as long as a currency is in demand it rules the economist roost.

Your assertion that the "poor" today are better off than their predecessors is accurate in one sense; they no doubt live better -- in large part because they are on the dole. But the gap between rich and poor continues to ever widen, owing largely to greed and the advantages of birth, position, opportunity and circumstance.

Both communism and capitalism have failed. As the old joke goes, "Capitalism is man's exploitation by man; communism is the reverse."
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written by stanley, August 22, 2012
Maybe I am missing something, but behind the general approach supported by Fr. Schall is a call for "the poor" to learn how to create wealth. And the term wealth simply means enough to live on to be a good person. Educating yourself, trying to better yourself, opening up a food truck or some small effort is better than remaining dependent on the government.
Clearly there are a lot of people here who understand econommics...but politicians are using these statistics to support any/all policies...and they don't do what a president should do...Stand for the right thing...not dependent Julia.
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written by Other Joe, August 22, 2012
Grump, you do manage to get everything just wrong enough that your field of vision is distorted. No wonder you are grumpy. Quick points: Jesus said he came to fulfill the law - not end it. The difference is significant and too complicated for exploration here. He said the law flows from love. That is the one thing missing in your summation of the life experience. The Good Samaritan is an illustration of the answer to your grumblings. Someone (I can't bring to mind the name) said that World War Two was a great breaking out of love in the world. At first hearing it sounds crazy, but on further consideration it offers a profound insight. If we are just here to enjoy our comforts then you are right and I'm changing my name to Other Grump, but I don't believe that for a moment, so...
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written by Other Joe, August 22, 2012
Grump, in response to your 2nd post, poverty is not necessarily monetary. There can also be moral and spiritual poverty. Think of an addict and a hard worker. Give each a thousand dollars and send them out into the city. What will happen in time? Without a moral fix, there will soon be a vast income disparity between the two. Give the addict sufficient money and the addict's death will result. With free will, there will always be disparities. It is not true that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That is a dialectical fraud. In fact the greatest disparity known to exist is between top communist party members and the masses who are (often enough to be disturbing) starved to death or murdered at whim with no recourse to any defense. Poverty can also be experienced as powerlessness. Great families with uncounted riches are (often enough to be notable) reduced in 2 generations to relative poverty - read a little. In a dynamic society, the top 1 percent is always changing. In a politically constrained society, the party hangs on to power dynastically - see Castro brothers, the 3 Kims, all the presidents-for-life (or dictators). You are using the perfection fallacy to imply that things could be better with a government that leveled out incomes without regard to behavior (except as it runs counter to the government's agenda). Ask the people of Mao's China, Pol Pot's subjects, The Kulaks of Russia, the boat people of Vietnam and Cuba, Robert Mugabe's subjects (and many, many others) how that turns out. The antidote for a fallen world is Christian love, not statist fancies. Neither cures the problem, but one makes life worth living.
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written by Grump, August 22, 2012
@Other Joe, I admire your optimism. You must be a young fellow. I, too, was once an idealist like you but life wears you down. You come to the end of the road and find there is nothing there; no pot of gold or sense of having lived a purposeful life. "Moments of pleasure in a general drama of pain."

I am just finishing up "Hitler's War" and find it hard to make the leap to your conclusion that WWII was a "great breaking out of love in the world." To my mind it was the worst of the 20th century, leaving behind 100 million dead, wounded and civilization in shambles. Hitler, contrary to pop history, was not an atheist but a self-described "Christian." You can look it up.

Succeeding decades have not changed my mind that the Western World is in decline. Spengler was essentially right.

As for morality, one need not have religion to determine right from wrong but if it helps you so much the better. If you could, ask the victims of the crusades, the Inquisitions, the witch hunts and all the other evil done in the name of Christianity about "Christian love." The only true Christian who ever lived was Christ himself.



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written by Thomist, August 22, 2012
As Grump knows so little of Christ, let us see how He expressed that love in reality to His own:
To His own Apostles, "whom He loved to the end" Jesus exclaimed: “Have you no sense, no wits, are your hearts dulled, can’t you see, your ears hear, don’t you remember?” (Mk 8:17-18) (Frank Sheed, 'Christ In Eclipse', Sheed & Ward 1978, p 42). "With individuals He was very much the doctor with a duty not only to tell them what was wrong with them, but to make sure they realized it.” (Ibid. p 40-41).

As we have seen from Fr Schall, free enterprise, denigrated by Marx as “capitalism”, is the economic system developed by the Catholic Late Scholastics which has transformed the well-being of millions from poverty to reasonable living and that because of the attributes lauded by Bl John Paul II, while Pope Benedict XVI has identified clearly where the failure of individuals causes dereliction of conscience and social and moral responsibilities.

Until that freedom within wise law is restored to free enterprise, and virtues replace vices, societies and economies will continue to languish in failure.
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written by Othe Joe, August 23, 2012
Grump - last try for me. The vile spirits possessing people in the Bible and in real life are self-professed Christians in that they recognized His place in the cosmos. To cast Hitler as a Christian is stupid. He did not attend church, and followed not one Christian value - none. Being a vegetarian does not count. He believed in the glorification of man and race. He lived in the spirit of the anti-Christ and his logo was a broken cross. You apparently are susceptible to press release spin. Calling yourself a Christian, does not make you one. Your overstatements are childishly played. There have been many millions of true Christians, some of whom we call saints. You are using the perfection fallacy to diminish you spiritual betters. It is a fallen world. If you prefer to not appear ignorant, please do not pull Inquisition, Crusade and witches out of the barn. Bad things have been done in the name of Christ (what part of fallen do you not get?) but they were done in opposition to the spirit of Christ in disobedience to His word. Bad things have been done in the name of man - WWII comes to mind. More priests and nuns were executed in the Spanish civil war in a single afternoon than all of the persons executed in the Inquisition in 300 some odd years! Using those old plugs in an argument is tiresome and wrong in scale. Additionally, the Crusades were a reaction to the aggressive spreading of a war-based religion. You might enjoy reading about how Europe was nearly lost – repeatedly. Conventional “wisdom” in these matters has drifted so far from the actual as to have lost the power to excite informed individuals.
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written by Grump, August 23, 2012
@Other Joe. Neither space nor forbearance on the part of moderators allows for a sufficient recounting of the countless Christian atrocities over the past 2,000 years here, but a few as a counter-argument:

*As soon as Christianity was legal (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mobs. Pagan priests were killed. Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain. Examples of destroyed Temples the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.

Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple destroyer. Pagan services became punishable by death in 356.

Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues.

In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights and subject to the sword.

For the sake of brevity, let's jump over the next 1,500 or so years of mass murders in the name of Christianity and look at a little known 20th century example:

Surpisingly few know that Nazi extermination camps in World War II were by no means the only ones in Europe at the time. In the years 1942-1943 also in Croatia existed several such camps, run by Catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Paveliç, a practicing Catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentration camps exclusively for children.

In these camps - the most notorious was Jasenovac, headed by a Franciscan friar - orthodox-Christian Serbians (and a substantial number of Jews) were murdered. Like the Nazis the Catholic Ustasha burned their victims in kilns, alive (the Nazis were decent enough to have their victims gassed first). But most of the victims were simply stabbed, slain or shot to death, the number of them being estimated
between 300,000 and 600,000, in a rather tiny country. Many of the killers were Franciscan friars. The atrocities were appalling enough to induce bystanders of the Nazi "Sicherheitsdient der SS", watching, to complain about them to Hitler (who did not listen). The pope knew about these events and did nothing to prevent them.
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written by Other Joe, August 23, 2012
Grump, one would be a fool to associate with such a murderous horde (even in a kind of tentative denialistic pose of inquiry). May I recommend some of our very fine secular humanist web sites? You will be pleased to find many like-minded individuals who understand the nature and essence of evil. They don't admit to original sin, and so perfection is just around the corner. Make haste! Time is short. Obviously the Ten Commandments are code words for mayhem. As for the Sermon on the Mount...
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written by Grump, August 23, 2012
@Other Joe. Do not keep an open mind or your brains may fall out.
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written by Mark, August 24, 2012
From assertion: "Wealth is not created but merely transferred. The size of the pie is fixed."

To contradiction: "Christian, I would grant that as the population grows so does the economic pie."

It would seem as if you, Grump, don't quite have the grasp on economics you think you do. I recommend Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics.
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written by Grump, August 24, 2012
@Mark. In my case, I recommend a little humble pie.
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written by ib, August 24, 2012
Other valuable studies on the Natural Law include Jean Porters' "Nature as Reason: A Thomistic Theory of the Natural Law" and Pamela Hall's "Narrative and the Natural Law: An Interpretation of Thomistic Ethics". Some work by Protestant scholars like Rufus Black, Craig Boyd and David VanDrunen shows that the ancient Christian tradition of the Natural Law is winning over even many learned non-Catholics.

As for grump, he's just a troll. Ignore him he'll go away. Soros-funded groups have hired trolls like grump to harass serious Roman Catholic websites. Since they are paid to do this, they simply spew nonsense and venom in the comments. Best to ignore these type of trolls, as wise Fr. Schall does.
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written by Grump, August 25, 2012
@ib. I hate to disillusion you but I am not on Soros' payroll. I annoy people like you without remuneration although I would gladly accept any monetary contribution he would wish to make. Speaking of which, I donated $25 awhile back to TCT. Have you contributed?

The gatekeepers at TCT are confident enough in their beliefs that they allow an occasional "troll" such as myself to dissent from the choir here. Nor am I singing solo. There are many others on this form, including some Catholics, who chant different tunes that might be labeled "nonsense" and "venom."
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written by Mark, August 26, 2012
Grump: I recommend humble pie in your case also.

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