PopeWatch: No Comment

Business as usual at the Vatican:

 

The Vatican has declined to respond to an explosive grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups by priests and bishops in Pennsylvania, refusing even to say whether church officials in Rome have read the damaging documents.

“We have no comment at this time,” Paloma Ovejero, deputy director of the Vatican’s press office, said Wednesday.
But in the United States and elsewhere, pressure is mounting on Pope Francis to address a rapidly escalating crisis that has spread across several continents, from Australia to Latin America.
In the United States, both liberal and conservative Catholics displayed a rare unity in pressing the Pope to respond to the Pennsylvania grand jury report.
“The silence from the Vatican is disturbing,” said Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. “I don’t think the Pope necessarily has to say something today. He needs time to understand the situation. But someone from the Vatican should say something.”
Faggioli noted that Wednesday is a national holiday in Italy, and many church offices are closed. But he also noted that it was well-known that Pennsylvania’s grand jury report, which was in the works since 2016, would be released on Tuesday.
“I don’t think they understand in Rome that this is not just a continuation of the sexual abuse crisis in the United States,” Faggioli said. “This is a whole different chapter. There should be people in Rome telling the Pope this information, but they are not, and that is one of the biggest problems in this pontificate — and it’s getting worse.”
Go here to read the rest.  This is one problem that long predates Pope Francis.  However, he has given no evidence of understanding how destructive of Catholic faith this all is.  Instead he has frequently appointed to high positions within the Church men who have almost certain engaged in sexual abuse or covered the sexual abuse of others.  When it comes to the abuse crisis, Pope Francis is part of the problem and not any part of the solution.
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Published in: on August 16, 2018 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rubber Chicken Version of Pachelbel’s Canon in D

 

 

 

 

 

(I originally posted this at TAC and thought the Pachelbel and/or rubber chicken mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

Hattip to commenter Dale Price for this example of lunatic genius.  As for that whirring sound that you hear, well that should be obvious.

Published in: on August 15, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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August 14, 1945: Surrender and a Coup Attempt

 

 

Allied bombers had been used on August 13, 1945 dropping leaflets over Japan which described, in Japanese, the surrender offer and the Allied response.  On August 14, 1945 met with his military leaders, several of whom spoke in favor of continuing the War.  Hirohito urged them to help him bring the War to an end.  Meeting then with the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War and heard out those who recommended a rejection of the Allied offer unless there was a guarantee that the Emperor would continue to reign.  Hirohito then spoke:

I have listened carefully to each of the arguments presented in opposition to the view that Japan should accept the Allied reply as it stands and without further clarification or modification, but my own thoughts have not undergone any change. … In order that the people may know my decision, I request you to prepare at once an imperial rescript so that I may broadcast to the nation. Finally, I call upon each and every one of you to exert himself to the utmost so that we may meet the trying days which lie ahead.

In normal times in Japan that would have been that.  It was quite rare for the Emperor to so overtly intervene in a decision of the government, but when he did it would have literally been almost unthinkable for any Japanese not to instantly obey.  However, these were far from normal times.

The rest of the day was taken up with Hirohito preparing an address to his people and having a recording played to be broadcast on August 15, 1945.  Washington was advised that Japan had surrendered via the Swiss and the Allied world went wild with joy. (more…)

Published in: on August 14, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sad News

“I’m afraid you have it all wrong, all of you.  I’ve been monitoring some of their old-style radio waves, the empire spokesman trying to ridicule their religion, but he couldn’t. Well, don’t you understand? It’s not the sun up in the sky. It’s the Son of God.”

Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Star Trek, Bread and Circuses episode

 

 

Sad news that actress Nichelle Nichols, at age 85, has been diagnosed with dementia.  Prayers for her and her family.

Black Day of the German Army

He who has not fought the Germans does not know War.

British Army military maxim

One hundred years ago the Battle of Amiens (August 8, 1918-August 12, 1918) was underway, a joint British and French offensive.  The Battle marks the beginning of what historians refer to as the Hundred Days Offensive which ended in victory in World War I for the Allies, a period of relentless Allied drives that tore the heart from the German Army.  Love them or hate them, the Germans have a deserved reputation of being good fighters.  It is therefore stunning to learn that of the 75,000 German casualties of the Battle of Amiens, 50,000 were prisoners.  Quartermaster General Ludendorff referred to August 8, 1918 when 12,000 German soldiers surrendered as The Black Day of the German Army.  By the end of the month Ludendorff was advising the civilian government to seek an armistice because the German Army had reached the limits of its capabilities.  The Fat Lady a hundred years ago was clearing her throat.

The Untouchables: Death Theme

 

Something for the weekend.  The Death Theme from The Untouchables (1987).  With all the news about Chicago violence this week, my thoughts have turned to this wonderful, albeit ahistorical, movie.  The music by Ennio Morricone is wonderfully evocative of time and place.  The sad and powerful music recalls for me the line from The Lord of The Rings It is a sad thing to be a Man, but it is a proud thing too.

 

Published in: on August 11, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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August 10, 1918: First United States Army Formed

 

The announcement of the formation of the First United States Army in France:

 

“The first American field army has been organized. It is under the direct command of General John J. Pershlng, Commander in Chief of the American forces. The corps commanders thus far announced are Major Gens. Liggett, Bullard, Bundy, Read, and Wright. The creation of the first field army la the first step toward the co-ordination of all the American forces in France. This does not mean the immediate withdrawal from the British and French commands of all American units, and it is probable that divisions will be used on the French and British fronts for weeks yet. It Is understood, however, that the policy of organizing other armies will be carried out steadily.”

Pershing had insisted throughout his presence in France that the United States would play an independent role on the Western Front.  The first of three field armies that would eventually be formed out of the American Expeditionary Forces, the First Army would see heavy combat in the reduction of the Saint Mihiel salient in September 18, 1918 and then would fight the largest battle in American history, the Meuse-Argonne offensive for 47 days from September 26, 1918 to the Armistice on November 11, 1918.

Published in: on August 10, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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August 9, 1945: Bombing of Nagasaki

 

On August 9, 1945 the second atomic bombing mission was launched.  The target was the city of Kokura, with Nagasaki, a seaport and a vital part of the military industrial power of Japan, as the secondary.  Fat Boy was being flown in Bockscar, commanded by Major Charles W. Sweeney.  Kokura was obscured by clouds and by smoke from a nearby US fire bombing raid.  After three abortive bombing runs over Kokura, and with fuel running low from a failed fuel pump, Bockscar headed for Nagasaki.

 

Nagasaki too, was largely obscured by clouds.  At 11:01 AM, a break in the cloud cover allowed the dropping of the bomb.  Fat Man exploded 47 seconds later over a tennis court, halfway between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Work and the Nagasaki arsenal.  The blast was confined to the Urakami Valley and the rest of Nagasaki was protected from the initial blast by the hills around the valley.  Immediate deaths on the ground are estimated from 22,000-75,000.

Bockscar due to the fuel leak, had to make an emergency landing on Okinawa with about five minutes of fuel to spare.

Contrary to mythology popular among more paranoid Catholic circles, Nagasaki was not chosen in an evil Masonic plot by Truman to wipe out Japanese Catholicism.  Urakami Cathedral was not the aiming point for the bomb.  The Cathedral was destroyed because the bomb missed its aiming point by half a mile and exploded 500 feet from the Cathedral. (more…)

Published in: on August 9, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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August 8, 1862: Executive Order

Presidents have been issuing executive orders since 1789.  Prior to the Lincoln Presidency, the Executive Orders tended to be fairly rare, often only one or two a year.  Often they dealt with fairly trivial matters.  When the Marquis de Lafayette died, President Jackson issued an Executive Order saluting Lafayette as a friend of liberty and America and detailing the way in which the United States armed forces would honor his passing.  During the Civil War, Executive Orders were quite common, and often had a major impact on the people of the United States.

The Executive Order issued on August 8, 1862 is fairly typical.  The draft was proving unpopular and the Executive Order issued on August 8, 1862 dealt with attempts to evade it.  Note the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus for all people arrested for draft evasion, along with all people guilty of “disloyal practices”.  Unlike critics of Lincoln, I believe that such measures were necessary for the preservation of the United States.  However, no one can deny that both the Union and Confederacy in that time of national crisis ran roughshod over rights and procedures that Americans hold dear.  Here is the text of the Executive Order: (more…)

Published in: on August 8, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments (5)  
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The Man in the High Castle Season Three: October 5, 2018

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61souSkwDk4

 

Well that took a while.  I have eagerly anticipated Season Three of the Amazon Prime Series The Man in the High Castle, and it will finally premiere on October 5, 2018.

The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.

Dick’s novel brings out the contingency of history, a factor overlooked by many people.  History is what has occurred.  While we are living it, making our contribution to what will be the history of our times, we understand that what will be is the result of many factors and predicting the future is a fool’s game.  The past seems rock solid by comparison.  Understanding however the events and circumstances that shaped the past, and also comprehending that different paths could easily have been followed, gives us a different view of the past and the present.    It is one thing to go through life with the philosophy that “what will be, will be” and quite another to appreciate that the future depends upon what we and our contemporaries do now.