Archive for the ‘Catholic Studies’ Category

The Wit of St. John Fisher

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

St. John Fisher, 1469-1535, who was executed on this June 22nd date, wrote several documents defending the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon. In one, the Licitum fuisse matrimonium Hen: 8: cum Catharina relicta fratris suj Arthurj, probably written in 1529, Fisher displays particular wit. According to the late scholar Edward Surtz SJ, Fisher employed the Latin adage or proverb “quite effectively”:

In striving to discover a basis for the invalidity of Henry and Catherine’s marriage in the Levitical prohibition (Lev. 18:16, 20:21), his adversaries are engaging in an activity as futile as seeking wool on a donkey (“lanam ab asino quaerunt”), or hunting a hare outside its burrow (“Inanis est venatio leporis extra sedem suam”), or shaking a bush from which the bird has already flown (“frustra dumus excutitur, in qua non residet avis”). By failing to reconcile the prohibition in Leviticus with the leviratic precept in Deuteronomy (25:5), they are keeping the two farther apart than treble and bass (lit. than a double octave: longius quam bis diapason). Nevertheless it is plainer than any sun (omni sole clarius) that the wife whose husband has died childless is exempt from the Levitical prohibition against marriage to one’s brother’s wife. Yet Fisher can apply a proverb to himself also. In trespassing on the territory of canon lawyers, he realizes that he must face the criticism: The cobber should not go beyond his last (Ne ultra crepidam sutor).

From: Surtz, E. L. (1967). The works and days of John Fisher; an introduction to the position of St. John Fisher (1469-1535), Bishop of Rochester, in the English Renaissance and the Reformation. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, pg. 352.

For more on St. John Fisher, and why he should be named a Doctor of the Church, please see my previous posts.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Catholic League E-Mailing List and Media Resources Hijacked to Promote Pro-Trump Op-Eds?

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

With great disappointment, I report that the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights e-mailing list, on 4/22/16, and on 6/2/16, promoted off-mission pro-Donald Trump Newsmax articles by Catholic League President Dr. William Donohue.   The 6/2/16 Newsmax article was even displayed as a banner as of 9PM CDT 6/2/16 on the Catholic League website.   These articles have nothing to do with the stated mission of the Catholic League to defend the religious and civil rights of Catholics.

Those responsible for this continual violation of the mission of the Catholic League and appropriation of its media resources for political purposes should step down from the organization.   The above actions constitute a stupendous lack of judgment and lack of prudent stewardship of Catholic League social capital.

My father was a student of the late Virgil Blum, SJ, who founded the Catholic League in 1973, and was one of his earliest supporters.   I’m therefore deeply saddened by this inappropriate diversion of Catholic League resources, which threatens the integrity and future of the organization.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.



Richard Dawkins, Mark Tushnet, and the Rise of the “PC Fatwa”

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Earlier, I commented on what I satirically termed a “fatwa” by Richard Dawkins when in 2012 he called upon his atheist followers to mock Catholics who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

On 5/8/16, Harvard constitutional scholar Mark Tushnet issued what I am now calling a “PC fatwa” to treat conservative Christians as Nazis.

Political correctness, or PC, first advanced benignly within university culture over the past decades as a polite way of avoiding conflict among students and scholars of divergent backgrounds and points of view. But it gradually became a malignant orthodoxy banning opposing points of view, and has now metastasized across government and society.

Those like Richard Dawkins and Mark Tushnet who speak for the PC orthodoxy now issue their own PC edicts, or “PC fatwas.” A future age will view these edicts, and PC orthodoxy, as regrettable mistakes.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Time Well Spent: Karl Richter’s 1971 Bach St. Matthew Passion video

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

In the middle of every crazy thing that’s going on, take some time to ponder what the suffering and death of Jesus of Nazareth meant. Want to go deeper? Got about 3 hours, the traditional span of the Crucifixion? Search out the Karl Richter-conducted Bach St. Matthew Passion from 1971 (with subtitles) on YouTube, library, or for purchase. This piece was the JC Superstar of the 1700s. The Richter-led performance was controversial Big Bach (easier to take for Bach rookies), with great singers like Julia Hamari –

The complete recording:

Here is the reference for library use or purchase.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Condemnation of Donald Trump’s “You have to go after their families” Remark

Friday, March 11th, 2016

The following note is being shared with colleagues at UIC:


Certain outrageous and criminal public statements require public condemnation. Donald Trump’s remark, “You have to go after their families,” referring to the families of terrorists, calls for our country to commit war crimes. Yes, DT walked the remark back, but that he would make such an intemperate and ignorant remark groups him with the most infamous and dangerous demagogues in history.

One interesting development this past week of 3/7/16 is that a number of leading and more traditional Catholic intellectuals, mostly allied with the GOP, issued a condemnation of Trump, stating “Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.” While UIC colleagues may not agree with a number of the premises in the statement, addressed to men and women of good will, I share it for your interest:


Albert Schorsch, III
emeritus research faculty

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Aphorism XCV

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Some of the very clergy who criticize politicians for wanting to pause immigration themselves opt for slowing the incardination of internationally-born clergy into the ranks of US Catholic clergy.

We need and benefit from the incardination of international clergy into the US.

This aphorism is not original to me, but is from a loved one.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Reflections for Catholic Schools Week

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

The Catholic Church in the US celebrates Catholic Schools Week starting 1/31/16, following the 1/28 feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor of the Church. Here are some of my thoughts on US Catholic Schools, originally shared in Fall 2015 on the Homiletic and Pastoral Review’s website as a comment to an article, but now slightly updated:

1. Since the middle of the 20th century, our clergy and bishops have been of several minds on the Catholic schools. This is evident by the lack support for Catholic schools by one given pastor or bishop, while a neighboring pastor or bishop might enthusiastically support Catholic schools. Until the clergy reach a consensus and determine an agreed strategy, the schools will continue to languish in many dioceses and parishes. The fact that there is no national collection to sustain and support Catholic school capital needs is exhibit one that there is not a consensus on Catholic schools among the clergy. But it took the bishops decades to realize they needed to set up a collection for the retired religious after many calls for same. Perhaps there is still hope for the schools. . .

2. Fundraising should also address the salary, pension, and benefit needs of Catholic school teachers. This component is too often, and unjustly, left out of major diocesan fundraising efforts.

3. Due to energy inefficiency of school and church buildings, a sizeable, and I might even offer, an unjust portion the noble fundraising efforts for the schools by tens of thousands of parishioners are literally going up the chimneys. Public school districts are now moving to geothermal and other highly efficient heating and air conditioning strategies. Catholics have yet to get serious about the scale of the capital expenditures and organizational changes necessary to sustain the schools, and have instead added symbolic, but not fundamental, energy saving features.

4. The over $250M spent by the Church in the US on community organizing since the 1960s, however well intentioned, would have had much more lasting social and religious impact if used to sustain inner city schools. It will take generations to come to terms with this strategic mistake.

© Copyright 2015, 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Empathy, Intuition, and the Abortion or Life Decision

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

St. Edith Stein’s (1891-1942) 1916 dissertation, Zum Problem der Einfühlung, On the Problem of Empathy, written after she spent much of 1915 as a wartime Red Cross nurse, qualified her as only the second German woman to earn a doctorate in philosophy. Stein’s dissertation is said to be one among “Ten Neglected Philosophical Classics” in a forthcoming chapter by Kris McDaniel in an Oxford University Press volume edited by Eric Schliesser.

Although commonly associated with therapeutic communication, “empathy” is a recently made-up word, introduced into German as “Einfühlung,” or “in-feeling” by Johann Gottfried von Herder in aesthetics in 1774, in the late 1800s into German medicine and psychiatry by Theodor Lipps, and into English by American psychologist Edward Bradford Titchener as “empathy” just prior to WWI.

The English word “empathy” is so new that we can actually date its first recorded public use by then Cornell U. Professor Titchener to a presentation he gave at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign circa 1908-1909 (Titchener, E. B. (1909). Introspection and empathy. Lectures on the experimental psychology of the thought-processes. New York, The MacMillan Company).

In her 1916 analysis, Stein sorted through several of our common psychological conceptions of empathy that have since come down to us through the sciences and popular culture, and narrowed in on those aspects of empathy that would be philosophical useful, using the phenomenological method she learned from her teacher Edmund Husserl, to address the question of how one mind knows another. This problem was essential for understanding how human persons are “constituted,” a philosophical term roughly meaning composed to the extent that they can be known:

“‘Constitution’ is a term that Stein inherits from Husserl, who uses it systematically to mean the way things appear as one (for me, for us).” Lebech, M. (2015). “Lebech, M. (2015). The philosophy of Edith Stein : from phenomenology to metaphysics. Oxford, Peter Lang. Pg. xi”

Stein focused in her reduction to a knowledge of another that is close to intuition:

“Empathy is a kind of act of perceiving [eine Art erfahrender Akte] sui generis. . . . Empathy, as we have examined and sought to describe, is the experience of foreign consciousness in general, irrespective of the kind of the experiencing subject or of the subject whose consciouness is experienced.” Stein, E. (1989). On the problem of empathy. Washington DC, ICS Publications, Pg. 11

“Two-sidedness to the essence of empathic acts – the experience of our own announcing another one.” Ibid., Pg. 19

R.W. Meneses and M. Larkin (2012) summarized Stein’s approach to empathy to three levels, the first level of which is pertinent to this discussion:

“In short, the first level, direct perception, is about the direct, non-mediated (e.g. by expressive behaviour or aprioristic knowledge) co-givenness of another person’s present embodied, embedded, minded experience.
Here, one immediately ‘sees’ the foreign experience.” Meneses, R. W. and M. Larkin (2012). “Edith Stein and the Contemporary Psychological Study of Empathy.” Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 43(2): 151-184. Pg. 175.

In an earlier page, Meneses and Larkin focused on the intuitive aspect of Stein’s early stage of empathy:

“Here, for the first time, that which was directly intuitively given about the other’s experience (during direct perception and/or experiential projection) is represented, in awareness, as a mental object. That is, the content of the intuition is mentalized, becoming, in awareness, an intellectual idea about the foreign experience. This is most transparent when Stein states that, at this level, empathy can be seen as an intuitive idea about another’s experience. Before this level, empathy is not an idea, or a representation, but intuition only (p. 20).” Meneses and Larkin (2012, pg. 173).

Intuiting the existence of another person may be the first step in the constitution of a person. The philosophical problem of the constitution of the human person thus can be directly related to the morality of the abortion decision: Is the fetus or baby a human being or human person? How do we know this?

The earliest stage of “Steinian” empathy, involving intuition, leads us to a new perspective on the abortion decision: When does the parent first intuit–prior to physically sensing or intellectually knowing–the existence of another, of a child growing in the womb? This is a different question from enumerating the stages of growth of the baby within the womb.

While the mind of a fetus or baby in the womb cannot be readily empathically experienced by another, his or her existence can be empathically intuited, a first step in the constitution of the newly-developing human being.

This initial intuition of the life of another may therefore ground the abortion decision: if one intuits the existence of another within the mother, this one who values human life will immediately take precautions to preserve this human life.

An important first question in the abortion-or-life decision thus becomes: When did I first intuit the child’s existence?

As I have written earlier, the abortion and euthanasia decisions are those in which doubt about the existence of life now lead not to caution, but to deadly force. But in almost every other human endeavor, even modern warfare, doubt about the danger to life leads to prudent caution for life-preservation instead.

Abortion ideology, in order to radically refute Freud’s dictum that “Biology is destiny,” chooses immediate deadly force instead of prudent, non-violent problem-solving and compassionate continuing commitment.

For more on St. Edith Stein’s concept of empathy and the constitution of self, please see this lecture by Oxford scholar Nikolas Prassas —

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Refuting Abortion Ideology’s Core Idea

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Those who oppose abortion on grounds that are –

1) moral (abortion as the unjustified killing, ergo, murder of the innocent and defenseless) and

2) demographic (abortion in worldwide practice disproportionately eliminates females through sex selection, thus causing population imbalance leading to male immaturity/lack of commitment and thereby to pornography addiction, rape, human trafficking, and sex slavery, causing therefore even more oppression of women)

– sometimes omit going to the philosophical heart of the matter by refuting abortion ideology’s Core Idea: that abortion is the ultimate answer to Freud’s famous dictum that “Biology is Destiny.”

The Core Idea of Abortion Ideology can also be restated: In order for a woman to be truly free of biological destiny, that is, her role as a mother, the baby must die as subject to the woman’s will to power. Woman’s right to choose becomes woman’s right to kill, a moral equivalent of a war of independence for woman. Killing the baby, in the minds of the abortion ideologists, as ugly as it is, definitively counters the destiny of biology.

The Core Idea that “Biology is Not Destiny” unites Abortion Ideology and Gender Ideology, and will lead ineluctably to what I have called the “Reduction of Motherhood.”

Abortion Ideology represents only yet another instance in history that the oppressed kill not their oppressor, but another totally dependent on the oppressed, yet redefine this killing of the dependent one as an act of freedom, despite all the while not altering their own predicament of oppression. Abortion Ideology, like all ideologies, is thus subject to Gödel’s proof of eventual logical self-contradiction.

Freedom is not gained by destroying someone dependent on you, no matter how one may dress up the killing – unless you define freedom as being alone with your oppressor, keeping in mind that sometimes, your oppressor becomes yourself – the very definition of Hell.

The definitive answer to Abortion Ideology, and thereby Gender Ideology, flows from the continual rediscovery of motherhood, and of fatherhood in relation to motherhood. As a practical matter, unless human reproduction is moved to Brave New World laboratories exclusively, women and men will continue to discover the meaning of motherhood and fatherhood through their loving relationships.

This loving force cannot be stopped, except by a police state beyond any known to human civilization that would be needed to limit reproduction to laboratories. It is not likely that gender ideology will choose or succeed in establishing such a police state, although such a police state would be their own “Ultimate Solution” against natural motherhood. Gender ideology will therefore attempt to place laboratory reproduction on the same legal, moral, and social par with natural reproduction, and continue to reduce the status of natural motherhood, as I wrote earlier, to the status of the hoarding of pets.

The alternative to such a grim future is the transformation of human society into a loving community, in which no woman is forced to be a mother, but motherhood and its great goods are freely chosen, without resorting to abortion. This transformation can grow – one loving couple, one man and one woman – at a time.

Gender Ideology will therefore ultimately fail, because it lacks the means to destroy embodied reproducing gender itself. Gender Ideology is the societal metastasis of higher education political correctness, an unsustainable canon of self-contradiction: therapy to change gender attraction is very wrong but sex-reassignment surgery is very right. Gender theory is the antithesis of embodied gender in fact.

Embodied gender complementarity of females and males continually reinvigorates the human race, and continually reinvents loving intimacy. It just takes one fertile woman and one fertile man to restart human society and culture, despite all the efforts of Abortion and Gender Ideologues bent on dystopian sterility and eugenic fantasy, the latter being the centuries’ old panacea of the super-rich.

Abortion remains, and should always be seen as, a tragic act of desperation and weakness: powerless to eliminate her oppressor or to free herself from a terrible constraint, a mother kills her child. A whole culture of art, literature, religion, statecraft and philosophical special pleading has grown up trying to decorate and sanctify this tragic act, but the fact remains, abortion is the tragic killing of the innocent and defenseless. Abortion ideologues sometimes attempt to reduce abortion to a banal act, like blowing one’s nose, but few take such exaggeration seriously. Abortion is a killing.

The “Commonweal Catholic” has never forgiven St. John Paul II for coining the phrase “the Culture of Death.” Despite the hostility of Abortion Ideology to Catholicism, there are some Catholics who still would like to embrace the culture Abortion Ideology produces rather than step away from it.

For the sake of those wishing to embrace the culture, I offer another tack: One can choose the destiny of Creation, instead of simply negating the destiny of biology. When motherhood and fatherhood are gifts freely accepted, the need for Abortion Ideology recedes.

Many Catholic thinkers smugly dismiss the thought of St. Edith Stein without doing a fraction of the work necessary to probe its challenging difficulty. They do so at their peril, because her thought has the capacity to make their thought irrelevant. The essays of St. Edith Stein on woman, like the Theology of the Body of St. John Paul II, not only undermine Abortion and Gender Ideology, but show another – much more happy – way of living and loving.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Aphorism XCII

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Atheists argue that if religion were abolished, violence would be reduced.

Let’s assume for a moment that that atheists had their way, and that all religion were to instantly vanish from the earth.

Would the world then be peaceful?

No, because people would continue to kill each other for ideology, as they did after the French, Russian, Chinese, and Cambodian Revolutions.

But suppose then that we abolished ideology from the earth. Would fewer people kill each other?

No, because people would continue to kill each other for class, nation, and ethnicity.

But suppose all people belonged to one common ethnic group and one nation and there was total class equality? Would fewer people kill each other?

No, because there would be regional and personality conflicts.

But suppose every person in the human race were cloned to be exactly the same, and reduced to one gender?

No, because there would still be regional and other sources of jealousy.

But suppose there were only one person on earth?

No, because the unredeemed human person is at war with oneself.

Therefore, the atheist fantasy that atheism brings peace is simply that: a fantastic panacea. And none of the reductions in human culture imagined above could be accomplished without the establishment of a worldwide police state which would kill many more persons in the process of reduction.

Peace comes from conversion of mind and soul leading to kindness and mercy to others. This peace is related to Christ’s peace, the peace the world cannot give (John 14:27).

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.