The Real News of the Month

January 2003
Volume 10, No. 1

Editor: Joe Sobran
Publisher: Fran Griffin (Griffin Communications)
Managing Editor: Ronald N. Neff
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  -> Losing the War
  -> Wartime Miscellany
  -> The Papal Kiss
Nuggets (plus Exclusives to this edition)
List of Columns Reprinted


{{ Material dropped from features or changed solely for 
reasons of space appears in double curly brackets. 
Emphasis is indicated by the presence of asterisks around 
the emphasized words.}}

Losing the War
(page 1)

     On Thanksgiving Day, suicide bombers blew up an 
Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya, killing a dozen people. At 
the same time, terrorists fired shoulder-borne anti-
aircraft missiles at an Israeli airliner taking off from 
the nearby airport, narrowly missing it.

     Al-Qaeda was suspected of being behind the 
coordinated attacks, as well as an earlier bombing in 
Bali that killed 200 tourists; but nobody can really 
know. Terrorism is a game any number can play, and only 
the players themselves know who they are. They may be 
loosely related Islamic fanatics rather than a single 
organization, more on the model of a Mafia than a state. 
Militant Islamists are now known to be proliferating in 
unlikely places, such as {{ South America's Triple 
Border, }} the lawless area where Brazil, Argentina, and 
Uruguay meet. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs have 
migrated there in recent years.

     What seems most unlikely is that the terrorists in 
Kenya had anything to do with Iraq -- the target of 
President George W. Bush's "war on terrorism." Westerners 
are only beginning to understand the turmoil in the 
Muslim world, and Bush doesn't seem to grasp it at all. 
Jonathan Raban, writing in the SEATTLE TIMES, reports 
that the Islamists bitterly hate the Arab states Bush 
persists in seeing as the problem; they dream of a huge 
Muslim empire, a restored caliphate, without internal 
borders, under Koranic law. They regard the Arab states 
as artificial creations of Western imperalism (which they 
are) and they consider their rulers "usurpers" who have 
betrayed Islam. Raban notes that Osama bin Laden's 
messages never refer to Saudi Arabia by name, since he 
doesn't recognize it; in fact, few Arabs have any loyalty 
to what the West thinks of as "Arab states."

     This means that Bush is taking aim at the wrong 
target. It may be deliberate on his part. Sensing that he 
can't defeat al-Qaeda -- and can't even find it -- he may 
have chosen a more palpable enemy who can easily be 
scapegoated and defeated, one Arab villain serving his 
purpose as well as another. That way he can claim to be 
winning his war, thereby satisfying the public 
expectation that he "do something about terrorism." And 
forgetting his own words when he said that this is "a new 
kind of war."

     Since the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda has been strangely 
quiet. If the Kenya attacks were its work, it's rather 
surprising that it took so long to get around to using 
cheap anti-aircraft missiles against passenger planes. 
Even a few such operations could destroy the precarious 
airline industry and make tourism virtually a thing of 
the past.

     {{ What gives? Has bin Laden run out of resources 
already? That seems doubtful. Is he biding his time with 
patient determination -- waiting, perhaps, for a real 
Arab-American war to begin in Iraq, inflaming the whole 
Muslim world and setting the stage for his next big 
strike against the West?

     {{ And what might such a strike be? It would 
probably involve more than box-cutters. There are new 
rumors that he has been buying small nuclear weapons from 
former KGB men in Russia. A few of his "martyrs" in 
London, Paris, or Washington could bring suicide bombing 
to an unimaginable new level. }}

     At first it seemed that a "war on terrorism" could 
be neither won nor lost. Al-Qaeda and its allies could 
never defeat the U.S. military in direct combat, but they 
were too elusive and diffuse for the U.S. forces to 
destroy. That assessment may prove too optimistic.

     {{ If the Islamists can destroy one major Western 
city, that will be that. The "war on terrorism" will be 
lost. }}

     Perhaps Bush should be preparing a contingency plan 
for surrender -- but to whom? "To whom it may concern"? 
Could we even be sure that a surrender, in the event, 
say, of the destruction of Paris, would be accepted? Or 
would the enemy take out a few more cities for good 
measure? Bush clearly hasn't thought through such 
possibilities. He has been madly confident of victory 
from the start, with no conception of what defeat might 
be like. He still thinks he is fighting his father's war.

     {{ A decade ago, Francis Fukuyama announced "the end 
of history." And a happy ending it was, with "democratic 
capitalism" triumphant all over the world. What we may 
face now is something like the literal end of modern 
Western history. And it won't be happy. }}

Wartime Miscellany
(page 2)

     Much has been written lately about "European anti-
Americanism," and it's almost all sheer nonsense. 
Europeans aren't bombing U.S. embassies or killing 
American diplomats; they're merely expressing disgust at 
U.S. foreign policy, with its reckless arrogance. There 
is plenty of real anti-Americanism, regrettably but 
understandably, in the Middle East, which has taken the 
brunt of that arrogance. But to say that Europe is anti-
American, for voicing civilized dismay at its American 
friends' conduct, is to display the very hubris we are 
being warned against. Naturally, the attempt to equate 
criticism with violence comes chiefly from the same tribe 
of neoconservatives who equate criticism of Israel with 

*          *          *

     The Tribe now prefers the charge of "anti-
Americanism" to the stale charge of "anti-Semitism." The 
latter bears a return address; everyone knows where it 
comes from and what special ethnic interest it betokens. 
Whereas the cry of "anti-Americanism" can enable one to 
sound like an American patriot rather than a whiny Jew.

*          *          *

     It has been estimated that every child born in 
America today is born owing $100,000 -- his share of the 
"national debt," imposed on him without his consent. 
Consider what this means. It makes a mockery of the idea 
that little Johnny enjoys "self-government." Little 
Johnny is, in truth, a slave.

*          *          *

     President and Mrs. Bush reportedly sent out a 
million Christmas cards this year. I'm sure they have 
many, many friends, but something tells me this is one of 
the myriad things little Johnny will someday be paying 

*          *          *

     I am happy to report that the German edition of my 
book ALIAS SHAKESPEARE has received a long rave review in 
one of Germany's leading newspapers, SUEDDEUTSCHE 
ZEITUNG. The Germans, of course, adore Shakespeare and 
insist that he sounds better in German than in English. 
As I understand it, they believe that the original is a 
sort of rough draft, that the author (whoever he was), 
while doing his best, was forced to express himself in 
his halting English because he knew no German. (Maybe the 
same could be said of my own book.) Even if they're 
wrong, the Germans must be given credit for being nuts 
about Shakespeare.

*          *          *

     My anarchist friend, colleague, and mentor Ronald 
Neff has uttered one of his typically brilliant insights. 
In a piece published on THE LAST DITCH website 
( entitled "'Gun-Control' 
Libertarians," he explains the futility of 
"constitutional" government this way: just as some people 
vainly believe that laws can keep guns and drugs out of 
the hands of people who really want them, so the 
conservative vainly believes that a constitution can 
control legislators who are determined to circumvent it. 
A constitution is only a law against making bad laws, as 
it were; and experience amply demonstrates that such 
"law-control" is just as unavailing as "gun-control" or 
"drug-control." *Nothing* can make it work. Laws deter 
only the law-abiding. The state-criminal is at least as 
ingenious as the street criminal.

Exclusive to the electronic version:

     Cardinal Bernard Law has resigned as archbishop of 
Boston, as more details of his dereliction emerge in the 
endless "pedophile" (actually, predatory homosexual) 
scandals. It may be true enough that the media have 
overblown the story, making sexual abuse by priests sound 
more common than sexual abuse by rabbis, ministers, 
sports coaches, school counselors, doctors, and other 
classes of men with special opportunities for intimate 
relations with the young. But Catholics aren't comforted 
to learn that their priests are "no worse than" the 
general population, or that their bishops have been 
facilitating such outrages.

*          *          *

     Trent Lott's supposed gaffe was nothing of the kind. 
He paid a nice compliment to a centenarian at his 
birthday party, and opportunists seized the chance to 
feign being offended. Lott's subsequent apologies were 
his real offenses: he pledged to atone for his "hurtful" 
remarks by supporting all the socialist "civil rights" 
policies he has always pretended to oppose on principle. 
He was willing, in other words, to harm his country to 
save his skin. Once again, desperate panic exposes the 
real man.

The Papal Kiss
(pages 3-6)

     One of the most amazing symbolic acts in the history 
of the modern Catholic Church occurred on May 14, 1999, 
when Pope John Paul II, attending an interfaith 
conference in Iraq, publicly kissed the Koran. It is hard 
to imagine how "ecumenical dialogue" can go further. This 
is not your father's Catholic Church.

     The papal kiss seemed to me far less likely to bring 
Muslims into the Church than to drive Catholics out. 
Surely the Vicar of Christ was aware that the Koran has 
taught untold millions to deny Christ's divinity and 
condemns believers in the Trinity to hell. Personal 
charity to Muslims is one thing; honoring their holy book 
is another. For the Pope himself to do so, in this public 
manner, was not only without precedent, it was stunningly 
*contrary* to all Catholic precedent. As he himself also 
knew. No pope before the Second Vatican Council could 
conceivably have done such a thing.

     Since the Council, the Catholic Church has certainly 
entered a new and extremely troubled phase in its long 
history. Doctrines, liturgy, discipline, architecture, 
vocabulary, and demeanor have all changed profoundly. 
Mass attendance has plunged. So have vocations to the 
priesthood. Priests, nuns, and theologians (of those who 
remain within the Church at all, that is) openly defy the 
Vatican -- often appealing to the spirit of the Council 
itself. The laity routinely ignore Church teaching on 
contraception, one of the few things that haven't 
changed. (There is a widespread feeling that if so many 
other things can be discarded or disregarded, so can 
this.) Many Catholics no longer believe in the Real 
Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Shocking sexual 
scandals, implicating bishops (and forcing one cardinal 
to resign his archbishopric), now appall even Catholics 
inured to horrors. The Church has apologized to the world 
for everything short of damaging the ozone layer. And the 
Pope himself has publicly kissed the Koran.

     All these things, in their various ways, are results 
of Vatican II. The debate rages over whether (and to what 
extent) they are direct results, or indirect and 
unintended consequences. Dissidents who appeal to the 
spirit of the Council often flout its letter. Some argue 
that the bad results are mere abuses of the Council's 
reforms. The trouble is that the ordinary Catholic -- 
encountering, say, altar girls or bizarre new liturgies 
-- can't always tell which results are reforms and which 
are abuses. In today's Church, anything can happen.

     Is the Council to blame for the current turmoil in 
Catholicism? Yes, say two "traditionalist" Catholics, 
Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods Jr., in their 
book THE GREAT FACADE (just published by the Remnant 
Press in Wyoming, Minnesota). They condemn "the regime of 
novelty" in the Church. They don't deny the authority of 
the Pope and the Church; on the contrary, they insist on 
the authority of the Pope and the validity of the 
Council. They are neither sedevacantists (who hold that 
St. Peter's chair is empty, that there has been no true 
pope since 1958) nor schismatics; they agree that the 
Council left intact the central Catholic teachings, 
despite the strenuous efforts of liberals. But they 
nevertheless contend that the Council was an "unmitigated 

     One can argue that the Council changed only mere 
nonessentials. This in fact is the view of most orthodox 
Catholics. But Ferrara and Woods reply that there is 
nothing "mere" about such "nonessentials" as the old 
Latin (Tridentine) Mass. Replacing it with an entirely 
new liturgy has proved deeply unsettling; so have most of 
the conciliar reforms. The Council's adoption of such 
Sixties neologisms (or buzzwords) as "ecumenism" and 
"dialogue" -- never adequately defined, say the authors 
-- has caused general confusion as to the status of the 
Faith itself. Is this the One, Holy, Catholic, and 
Apostolic Church, or not?

     It certainly doesn't act like it. When the Pope 
holds interfaith dialogue at the Vatican with Protestant 
and even female "bishops" (who, in traditional Catholic 
understanding, are mere laymen, lacking sacramental 
ordination), treating them as his peers, never mind what 
the formal doctrine says. The Church's new body language 
can only create doubt in the minds of believers. Nor have 
all the ecumenical powwows since the Council produced 
results in the way of reuniting the churches; today they 
are further apart -- and further from Catholicism -- than 

     Some Catholics are embarrassed when the Pope kisses 
the Koran, but the gesture springs from the ecumenical 
enthusiasm of the Council. It will hardly do to argue 
that the Pope doesn't understand the Council's true 
message; he is, after all, the Pope, and he participated 
in the Council himself. Who is better qualified to 
understand it than he?

     Yes, an argument can be made that the "essentials" 
of the Faith haven't changed; but it's an increasingly 
strained argument. The authors call this position "neo-
Catholic," impugning neither the orthodoxy nor the piety 
of those who hold it. The position, unfortunately, 
requires that the Pope be defended at every turn, that 
even his casual and personal utterances be treated as 
authoritative (if not virtually infallible) declarations, 
that every racking change in the Church, so long as it is 
properly authorized, be regarded as part of Catholic 

     If liturgical forms are so inessential, the authors 
ask, why not dispense with them altogether? The priest 
could simply consecrate the bread and wine, pass them 
out, and send everyone home. Obviously the Church has 
always attached great gravity to the rites, through which 
most Catholics have their most intimate contact with God 
on this earth. It is vital that the rites feel holy, and 
it is very hard for any novelty to seem holy.

     Yet the Council's defenders, including the Pope 
himself, have had to keep repeating that it did not 
represent "a rupture with the past." As the authors say, 
"It is remarkable that a pope would even have to make 
such protestations about an ecumenical council." Never 
before has a council's continuity with Catholic tradition 
been in question. Avery Cardinal Dulles has even tried to 
show that the Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom 
is compatible with Pius IX's SYLLABUS OF ERRORS.

     The neo-Catholic is, or tries to be, by his lights, 
an obedient son of the Church, and he wants to believe 
that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit at every 
step. But according to Catholic teaching itself, God 
protects the Church from error, not necessarily from 
imprudence or outright folly. The authors contend that 
Vatican II committed no substantive errors, but much 
folly. And it urgently needs to be corrected.

     With many citations, the authors show that many 
earlier popes have condemned many of the very things the 
postconciliar Church has adopted. In particular, those 
popes condemned liturgical innovations and ecumenical 
"dialogue" with heretics and unbelievers. They were 
suspicious of innovation in general. "Far, far from our 
priests be the love of novelty!" said Pope St. Pius X. 
But a liturgy formed by centuries of gradual change was 
abruptly traded in for a new model, and further local 
innovations have proved impossible to stop. As the 
authors remark, any pope before 1960 would be utterly 
horrified by the Mass as celebrated today.

     Of all the changes, the one that disturbs me most -- 
it still shocks and horrifies me -- is the change in the 
mode of distributing Communion. The old altar rail at 
which we knelt in awe and humility has been torn out. 
Instead, the communicants stand, taking the Body of 
Christ in their hands almost as if it were a snack. To me 
this will always seem sacrilegious.

     And real sacrilege is common. At an outdoor papal 
mass in Des Moines, one witness recalls that Hosts were 
passed through the crowd in cardboard boxes: "A group of 
Hell's Angels helped themselves to Holy Communion. I saw 
them washing down the Body of Christ with cans of beer." 
And this was a *papal* mass.

     But discipline is not altogether defunct: the 
postconciliar Church has cracked down hard on the 
traditionalists who want to restore the Tridentine Mass, 
while even the most extreme liberals haven't suffered 
excommunication. Many bishops are openly hostile to the 
old Latin Mass.

     John Paul II has hailed the recent reorientation of 
the Church as "an utterly new way, quite unknown 
previously, thanks to the Second Vatican Council." But is 
it really desirable for the Church to embrace the 
"utterly new"? These words have never been a 
recommendation to Catholics before. Even such important 
doctrines as the Immaculate Conception, papal 
infallibility, and the Assumption were in the air for 
centuries before they were made binding dogmas.

     As John Henry Newman wrote, one sign of a genuine 
development, as opposed to a corruption, is that it 
emerges gradually and naturally from all that has gone 
before. It can't be entirely unexpected, or "utterly 
new." The difference between a development and a 
corruption is roughly the difference between growing a 
beard and growing a tumor.

     But Vatican II took everyone by surprise. Liberals, 
heretics, and outright enemies of the Church were 
delighted, even though they had hoped for even more 
radical change. In WHY I AM A CATHOLIC (published by 
Houghton Mifflin), Garry Wills writes scathingly of the 
Church throughout history; he urges the abolition of the 
priesthood and denies transubstantiation in the Mass; but 
he has only praise for Vatican II -- and its results.

     Liberal enthusiasm for the Council, even more than 
the (too few!) conservative qualms, should have been a 
warning. Looking back, it seems obvious -- to me, at 
least -- that the Council was conceived and conducted in 
the heady optimism of the early Sixties. This mood 
affected, or infected, even the Church's hierarchy. The 
reforms came without the caveats and restraints that, as 
we see now only too well, should have accompanied them if 
they were to be adopted at all. Does anyone still believe 
in the ecumenical movement that was one of the Council's 
great hopes? Like the Great Society, it now seems an old 
dream from which we have sadly awakened, amid much ruin.

     The Pope and other Catholic spokesmen still struggle 
to explain that the work of the Council was good, despite 
the wreckage of "reform." If all that wreckage was due to 
"abuses," then at least very strong precautions should 
have been taken against abuse. The Council should have 
warned us most sternly that misapplications of its 
reforms might produce such evil that it would have been 
better if the Council had never been convened at all: 
massive defections from the Church, weakened faith, 
immorality, sacrilege, confusion, and, above all, the 
damnation of countless souls.

     And as soon as these results began to appear, the 
Church should have moved, with all its might and energy, 
to counteract them *immediately* -- even if that meant 
reversing the Council's reforms. Yet there were no such 
precautions, warnings, or counteractions. Apart from a 
few papal encyclicals, the Church's hierarchy have acted 
oblivious to the confusion within the Church and to the 
sexual revolution in the entire Western world.

     This isn't merely a Catholic concern. With the 
decline of the Catholic Church, the West as a whole has 
lost its moral center of gravity. There is no longer a 
huge, adamantine conservative institution to exert the 
restraining influence the Church once did. Before the 
Council, nobody in American public life dared to advocate 
abortion, and even in private life people were ashamed of 
fornication and contraception. Since the Council, madly 
centrifugal forces have prevailed everywhere. No wonder 
many people feel that Satan is at the wheel.

     Even the verbal style of official Church 
pronouncements has changed. The preconciliar Church spoke 
in the language of Aquinas, definite and defining; the 
postconciliar Church speaks in a Hegelian idiom of flux, 
in which nothing is yet complete, no tradition is fixed, 
and nobody is quite a pagan or heretic. Not only are the 
Council's own statements often ambiguous; they have 
created confusion about the status of the Church's older 
teachings, with which they sit uneasily. Many Catholics 
have the impression that those old teachings have been 
superseded -- or that they may be discarded in the 
future. Nothing could be more unsettling to Catholics' 
faith than this uncertainty about the permanence of *all* 
Church teaching.

     The Council's own teachings, insofar as they are 
new, are rather ambiguous, and Catholics no doubt may 
safely ignore most of them. But conservative Catholics 
are loath to do so, while liberals enthusiastically 
embrace the Council, even as they reject or minimize 
earlier teachings. Never has such confusion reigned in 
the Catholic Church.

     A few years ago, in San Francisco, I was struck by 
an arresting yet fittingly symbolic contrast. I passed 
the new Catholic cathedral, an ugly monstrosity of modern 
architecture, with no hint of piety or holiness about it. 
Down the street was a small Unitarian church -- a humble 
stone building in the quaint Protestant style, but at 
least it looked like a place where someone might pray. 
The Unitarian joint was trying to pass for a church, 
while the Catholic joint was trying not to. How perfect.

     John Paul II, now sadly aging and frail, will be 
remembered as one of the towering figures of the 
twentieth century. His is a powerful, magnetic, inspiring 
personality. His life has spanned Nazi and Communist 
tyranny in his native Poland, the Second Vatican Council, 
upheaval in the Church, and of course a unique -- one 
might almost say utterly new -- papacy. His elevation to 
the Chair of Peter in 1978 brought to conservative 
Catholics the kind of rapturous hope the Council brought 
to liberals. They hoped and expected that he would end 
the postconciliar abuses, excesses, and scandals in the 
Church and restore the magnificent dignity and order of 
traditional Catholicism.

     But it hasn't happened. During his long and exciting 
papacy, the state of the Church has only gotten worse. 
Since 1965, when the Council ended, faithful Catholics 
have become inured to horrors. With each new scandal 
their reaction is "Oh no -- what next?" For Catholics 
this has practically become a way of life. As I write 
these words, Cardinal Law has been forced to resign as 
archbishop of Boston because of the still-unfolding 
homosexual and pedophile scandals. Does John Paul himself 
bear any responsibility for his derelict and corrupt 
bishops? The question has become unavoidable.

     The Pope's defenders speak as if it were unthinkable 
to blame the Pope at all, even after a reign of nearly a 
quarter of a century. His authorized biographer, George 
Weigel, predicts that he will be remembered as John Paul 
the Great. This is an understandable tribute to a man 
whose combined courage and charm inspire respect, 
affection, and even adulation around the world. But is 
the title really deserved?

     With all due respect to the Holy Father, I think 
not. I can only see his papacy as a great tragedy.

     Like many tragic figures, the Pope has meant well. 
But his reigning passion has been to salvage the work of 
the disastrous Council in which he played an important 
role. Sincerely devoted to orthodox Catholicism, he has 
tried, by the sheer force of his personal charisma, to 
reconcile the ancient Faith with the Council's novelties 
-- especially liturgical "reform" and "ecumenical 
dialogue," both of which have proved worse than 
fruitless. The new liturgy has weakened, not 
strengthened, the faith of ordinary Catholics; efforts at 
reconciliation with unbelievers have produced only 
momentary goodwill, followed by outrage and new demands 
for capitulation.

     Particularly incongruous have been the Pope's 
apologies for the Church's historic conduct toward 
Protestants, Jews, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and even 
Muslims. Can even a pope "repent" for other people's 
putative sins? Doesn't such "repentance" amount to an 
accusation against his predecessors, who can't defend 
themselves from the grave? Is this not presumptuous and 
unseemly? And, most important, doesn't it clearly have 
the effect of convincing the Church's enemies and 
detractors that they have been right all along -- even if 
they give *this* Pope "credit" for admitting it? What 
other effect could it have? Has John Paul really thought 
he was converting souls by this approach? It has 
certainly never been the approach of any previous pope; 
perhaps for good and obvious reason. Yet this Pope clings 
stubbornly to the ecumenical optimism of the Sixties.

     This ecumenism has gone to bizarre and appalling 
lengths with respect to the Chinese puppet church, the 
openly schismatic Catholic Patriotic Association, founded 
under Mao Zedong in 1957 and vigorously condemned by 
Pius XII, who called its illicit consecration of bishops 
"criminal and sacrilegious." This pseudo-Catholic body 
expressly disavows loyalty to Rome and supports the 
state's policy of forcing women to undergo abortions. 
Meanwhile, Catholics loyal to Rome have been fiercely 
persecuted and forced underground.

     And Rome's response? Since the Council it has 
courted the state "church," seeking "rapprochement"! It 
professes vague concern for the persecuted Catholics, 
while treating the Communist puppets as true Catholics 
too. This ecumenical spirit has not been reciprocated. 
When the Pope canonized 120 Chinese martyrs in the year 
2000, the Patriotic "bishops" angrily denounced him.

     Loyal Catholics who want to believe that the Pope 
can do no wrong should observe that this Pope has told 
the world that his predecessors have done many great 
wrongs. And if that is true of previous popes, it may 
also be true of this one. In spite of his own piety and 
good intentions, shared, perhaps, with those previous 
popes, he may be inflicting grave objective harm, both on 
the Church and on the world it is ordered to convert. 
Nothing in Catholic doctrine forbids Catholics to make 
such a judgment, though they should of course do so only 
with hesitation, respect, and charity. In principle, we 
can all sin and err -- even priests, bishops, and popes. 
And we have recently had plenty of reminders that this is 
more than an abstract possibility.

     But what about the Second Vatican Council? Should it 
simply be discarded? Ferrara and Woods argue that it 
should. They point to another disastrous council -- the 
Second Council of Constantinople in 553. Called to 
reconcile Monophysites to the Church, it produced such 
muddled compromises that it merely aggravated the 
divisions that already existed. It promulgated no 
positive doctrine, and therefore no error, but it was 
quickly recognized as a blunder, and its decisions were 
allowed to lapse. The same could be done with Vatican II. 
Or might have been done; the question is whether the 
changes the Council wrought are so embedded by now that 
they are practically beyond reversal. The job might take 
more than a pope; it might require a new council, for 
openers, followed by a long period of genuine reform and 
return to preconciliar ways.

     The authors also offer a hopeful sign which may 
serve as a model for the recovery of the Church. A 
traditionalist order of priests, the Society of St. John 
Vianney in Campos, Brazil, now works and thrives 
independently of the local bishop. It even has its own 
bishop. Though the order was formed without papal 
authorization, it has received the Pope's permission to 
carry on. Minor differences with Rome have been quietly 

     The Pope's defenders, God bless them, remind me 
somewhat of those political conservatives who deplore the 
condition of the U.S. Government, while loyally exempting 
Ronald Reagan from any blame. Surely this is as 
unreasonable in the one case as in the other, though 
understandable in both. Reagan, unlike John Paul II, came 
to power without a burning hope of bettering the world; 
but he too had great personal and symbolic appeal to 
people who did remember, and hoped to restore, a better 
world. And in both cases their most ardent followers were 
left disappointed. But Reagan's failure lacked the 
grandeur of tragedy. In that respect too he differs from 
John Paul II.

(*Emphasis is indicated by the presence of asterisks 
around the emphasized words.*)

I SEE DEAD PEOPLE: Since 1991, sanctions against Iraq 
have caused countless civilian deaths -- by some reports, 
hundreds of thousands of them, mostly children -- for 
want of food, clean water, and medicine. Why don't such 
sanctions count as "weapons of mass destruction"?
(page 2)

POSTHUMOUS JUDGMENTS: We can argue about whether, say, 
Strom Thurmond or Abraham Lincoln was the more ardent 
segregationist, but, either way, we should beware of the 
notion that a man shouldn't be judged by the standards of 
later times. If that were strictly true, there would be 
no sense in *honoring* a man in later times either, would 
there? (page 7)

A FOND FAREWELL: Al Gore has announced that he won't seek 
the presidency in 2004 or, probably, ever again. The 
relief and applause that greeted this news must have 
reassured him that he'd made the right decision. Al, 
we'll miss you, but ... well, we won't, really. (page 8)

Exclusive to the electronic version:

OUR ENEMIES' LIES: President G.W. Bush's threat to use 
nukes against Iraq makes it pretty hard to answer those 
Europeans, doesn't it?

THE GREAT EXCUSE: Socialism (in all its variants) always 
results in economic harm; a full dose results in 
disaster. Whereupon its advocates either charge that it 
has been "betrayed" or explain that it takes time to 
"build socialism"; *someday* it will work. (A little 
socialism is painful, but a lot of it is -- eventually -- 
sheer bliss! As in the Soviet Union.) Whereas a free 
market needs no excuses. Even a slight tax cut will have 
quick and beneficial effects. So will a black market. 
Economic freedom doesn't have to be "built," merely 

neocon Charles Krauthammer defends -- no, celebrates -- 
the U.S. Government's global omnipotence. Paraphrasing 
Benjamin Franklin, he exults, "History has given you an 
empire, if you will keep it." Well, we obviously haven't 
kept our Republic.


* My Quest for "Firefly" (November 26, 2002)

* Paying for the Bullet (November 28, 2002)

* History, Coming Up! (December 3, 2002)

* Seeing Both Sides (December 5, 2002)

* America the Hated (December 12, 2002)

* More than a Slogan (December 19, 2002)


All articles are written by Joe Sobran

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