Monthly Archives: August 2015

Il nostro soldato (Our Soldier)

This article talks about the role of religions during the First World War in Italy. It devotes specific attention to Catholicism and the attitude to the war of the Catholic Church and the Holy See. Here is an excerpt about the “usefulness” of religion and military chaplains:

Agostino Gemelli (1878-1959)

Agostino Gemelli (1878-1959)

“In 1917, Agostino Gemelli (1878-1959), a Franciscan military chaplain, doctor and psychologist, published a book entitled Il nostro soldato (Our Soldier), in which he demonstrated (on the basis of personal observations and data collected from other military chaplains) that the religion of the soldiers at the front was not the expression of an authentic faith, but the result of psychological mechanisms that could be directed to reinforcing their strength and commitment in battle.”

I have not been able to located this book online, but from what I can glean from online sources, this lack of authentic faith was, to Gemelli, not a bad thing, necessarily! It could be exploited.

“Gemelli also had an apologetic objective: to show the army and the Italian state the importance of religion in the psychology of the soldier, in order to achieve victory, and in the “national education” of the Italian people after the war.

The Italian authorities, for their part, were well aware of the usefulness of religion to maintain soldiers’ morale, and optimize their commitment to the war effort. As early as 12 April 1915, before Italy’s entry into the war, one of Luigi Cadorna’s (1850-1928) circulars reintroduced the role of the military chaplain – gradually suppressed between 1865 and 1878 and partially readmitted to the health services in the war in Libya – by establishing the allocation of Catholic chaplains to each regiment….

According to official estimates, 24,446 clergy were mobilized during the war, of which 15,000 were soldiers and 2,400 military chaplains. The latter carried out many functions, ranging from giving spiritual comfort to education. The most strictly religious tasks were celebrating mass in the field, the functions for the repose of the dead, the administration of the sacraments (including general absolution and communion before the fighting), and preaching. The sermons intertwined explanations of the Gospel with reminders of the values of order, discipline, and patriotism. Except in the case of a minority of nationalist chaplains, the preaching was not usually aligned with war-time propaganda, but tried to mould behaviour in the listeners which would be not only patriotic, but also Christian. Therefore, there was an insistence on the necessity of faith and religious practice, the purity of morals and language, and a sense of duty and obedience. The performance of duties by the soldiers was not presented as a constraint imposed from above, but as a spontaneous adhesion, arising from love of the country, which was presented as a Christian virtue.

…The religion proposed by the Catholic chaplains was different from the religion “experienced” by the soldiers. This was expressed in devotional and superstitious practices whose objective was safety and personal salvation and a peace that did not depend upon victory. It resorted to materials from various sources, linked to the most ancient beliefs (such as stones, nails, human remains) and the landscape of war (copper crowns from grenades, bullets extracted from the wounds of comrades) or the Catholic tradition itself (scapulars, blessed laces, medals, alleged relics, rosaries, crucifixes, vials of holy water, medals, holy cards, prayers and votive offerings).

Hm. This Agonstino Gemelli is an interesting figure. According to this article: “Scholars tend to judge him solely in light of the Fascist regime and mark him as the archetypical clerical fascist.” He was known for his accommodations to the State. It seems Agostino Gemelli was also an outspoken critic of Saint Padre Pio, stating that Padre Pio was “an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people’s credulity” with his stigmata. Yikes! I have not seen any evidence that Gemelli has been considered for sainthood, though I do think the American government might be taking a few pages from his playbook when it comes to how religion can be “useful” to reinforcing commitment to war.

Aug. 9, Ave Crux, Spes Unica

This homily was delivered by Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, at the close of the Forty Day Fast for the Truth of Christian Nonviolence at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City, August 9, 1997. The end of the fast commemorates the date in 1942 that marks the execution Edith Stein (Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) by the Nazis at Auschwitz.

Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is Jesus’ prophetic gift to His Churches because she voluntarily gives up all the accouterments of worldly power and wholeheartedly embraces the “powerless,” unrealistic, vulnerable Cross of Christ-like love. She says, “Ave Crux,” “Welcome Cross,” not out of ignorance of alternatives nor out of defeatism. She exclaims with open arms, “Ave Crux” because she knows it is “spes unica,” “our only hope” – the only power that can help, that can save.

Click here to read the homily.


With God on Our Side

Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that the land that I live in
Has God on its side

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side

Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
l’s made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side

Oh the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side

I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side

Through many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side

So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war


Reject Politics as Usual

The Republicans are the Party of War, and they pretend to be against abortion. 
The Democrats are the Party of Abortion, and they pretend to be against war.

On the Republicans, see my previous post of Ron Paul’s article and this blog item by Laurence Vance at

from The GOP Has Blood on Its Hands:

“The Republicans had complete control of the White House and the Congress for over four years when Bush was the president. Why did the Republicans fund Planned Parenthood during this time? And why did conservatives not criticize them then for doing so? The GOP has blood on its hands.”

On the Democrats, see this great article by Glenn Greenwald.

from To Defend Iran Deal, Obama Boasts That He’s Bombed Seven Countries:

“Beyond accurately describing Iran Deal opponents, Obama also accurately described himself and his own record of militarism. To defend against charges that he Loves the Terrorists, he boasted:

‘As commander-in-chief, I have not shied away from using force when necessary. I have ordered tens of thousands of young Americans into combat. . . .

I’ve ordered military action in seven countries.'”

Catholics need to develop a new form of protest and resistance not based on trying to change the Federal government by voting.

War: A Commentary (1983)

War: A Commentary by Gwynne Dyer is a 1983 Canadian television miniseries filmed by Gwynne Dyer, now available on YouTube. The miniseries was commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada and consists of 8 one-hour episodes. Episode 3, “The Profession of Arms”, was nominated for an Academy Award. The series was broadcast to 45 countries.

From a 1985 review in The New York Times:

“Mr. Dyer, who comments on camera as he walks over old battlefields from the Civil War to the trenches of World War I and the bombed-out cities of World War II, has strong credentials in military history. He has taught at the Canadian Forces College and served as a senior lecturer on war studies at Sandhurst, Britain’s Royal Military Academy. His book ”War” (Crown Publishers), an expanded version of the series, leaves the same impression as this program: ”War” is a cautionary tale against World War III.”

Planned Parenthood and the US Government — Partners in Crime


[this article by Ron Paul contains important lessons for Catholics and all pro-life folks. I made a couple of paragraphs bold because they are particularly relevant to both the anti-abortion and the anti-militarism cause — Doug] 

Politics Is Not the Path to Pro-Life Victory
by Ron Paul

During my time in Congress, I regularly introduced legislation forbidding organizations that perform abortions from receiving federal funding. The US Government should not force taxpayers to subsidize an activity they believe is murder. Thus, while I was horrified by the recently released videos showing Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing selling the organs of aborted babies, I am glad that the reaction to these videos has renewed efforts to end federal funding of abortion.

My experience in Congress does not leave me optimistic that federal funding of Planned Parenthood will be ended this year, however. This is not just because the current US president is pro-abortion. When I started my efforts to end taxpayer support of abortion, I was shocked to find out how many Republicans, including some self-described “pro-life” leaders, were unsupportive of, and sometimes hostile to, my efforts.

Most pro-life politicians preferred to add language to funding bills prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortions, rather than denying federal funds to abortion providers. This approach does not stop US taxpayers from subsidizing abortions. The reason is that money is fungible. Giving Planned Parenthood $100 to use for non-abortion activities allows it to spend an additional $100 of its non-government funds on abortion.

Foreign interventionists in both parties were particularly hostile to my efforts to eliminate federal funding for international organizations that performed or promoted abortions. This is a foolish policy that gives people around the globe another reason to resent the US government.

Planned Parenthood may have abandoned the explicitly racist and eugenic views of its founder Margaret Sanger, but the majority of its abortion “services” are still provided to lower-income and minority women. Every day nearly 2,000 African-American babies lose their lives to abortion, a rate five times higher than the Caucasian abortion rates.

I support the black lives matter movement. I have long advocated an end to the drug war, police militarization, and other threats to liberty that disproportionately victimize African-Americans. However, I wish some of the black lives matter movement’s passion and energy was directed to ending abortion. Unborn black lives also matter.

The federal government has no constitutional authority to permit, fund, or even outlaw abortion. Therefore, efforts to make abortion a federal crime are just as unconstitutional as efforts to prohibit states from outlawing abortion. A Congress that truly cared about the Constitution would end all federal funding for abortion and pass legislation restricting federal jurisdiction over abortion, thus returning the issue to the states.

While passing legislation may help limit abortion, the pro-life movement will never succeed unless it changes people’s attitudes toward the unborn. This is why crisis pregnancy centers, which provide care and compassion to women facing unplanned pregnancies, have done more to advance the pro-life cause then any politician. By showing women they have viable alternatives to abortion, these centers have saved many lives.

One factor hindering the anti-abortion movement’s ability to change people’s minds is that too many abortion opponents also support a militaristic foreign policy. These pro-lifers undercut their moral credibility as advocates for unborn American lives when they display a callous indifference to the lives of Iraqi, Iranian, and Afghan children.

Libertarians who support abortion should ask themselves how they can expect a government that does not respect the unborn’s right to life to respect their property rights. Therefore, all those who wish to create a society of liberty, peace, and prosperity should join me in advocating for a consistent ethic of life and liberty that respects the rights of all persons, born and unborn.

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given. 

Here is the link to the original article:

Politics Is Not the Path to Pro-Life Victory