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When I was a kid, I noticed that a lot of people were flying POW/MIA flags. I found this odd because I had been told that all of the POW’s and MIA’s to date had been (or were on their way to being) classified as KIA by the government. I thought that the sign of solidarity for those whose status was unclear (but who were most likely dead) was misplaced and Pollyanna-ish, the stuff of Rambo fantasies and conspiracy garbage. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that the motivation shown by folks flying the now-ubiquitous black flag was not a display of their own hope, but rather for the sake of the memories of missing themselves; that the awful thing that happened to them in pursuit of freedom would not be left in doubt forever, and that there were still people at home who would not rest until every single man was definitively accounted for. In this way, the forces of evil would not have victory over their memories.  In the end, the brave will find their true home, and the valiant will, at last, have their rest.

Which brings me to the point of this post. There are thousands of unaccounted-for clergy behind the Bamboo Curtain, and one remarkable case of a Catholic “MIA”  bears retelling, if for no other reason than that Holy Mother Church has been keeping solidarity with the memory of Francis Hong-yong Ho for decades. In October, he will celebrate his 102nd birthday, and he is currently be the oldest reigning bishop in the world, if not the entire history of the Church.

The Most Rev. Francis Hong Yong-Ho (born 12 October 1906) was made Vicar Apostolic of P’yong-yang, Korea, by Pius XII in 1944, and ordained Bishop the same year. When the Chi-Cons invaded and installed their puppet, Kim Il-sung (the father of the present butcher in charge of North Korea), Bishop Hong was, first, imprisoned in 1949, and then later disappeared. In solidarity with Korean Catholics suffering under the Red Yoke, Pope Bl. John XXIII errected P’yong-yang as a diocese and named Bishop Hong as its first (and, to date, only) ordinary on 10 March 1962.

The sign of solidarity against the Communist outrage is ongoing. The Pontifical Yearbook continues to list Bishop Hong as Ordinary of P’yong-yang, with a footnote: “(missing)” Bishop Hong has been the bishop of record in P’yong-yang for 46 years and counting.

See also: Wikipedia.



(NOTE: I am not a theologian, moral or otherwise. I am an attorney and historian by training. If my more theologically erudite readers detect an error in my formulation, I would appreciate constructive criticism. But please don’t dogpile me. Thanks.)

The actor and musician Will Smith recently said something that could be construed by the very stupid as praise of deceased German dictator and noted Fascist Adolph Hitler:

The Daily Record, a Scottish newspaper, recently quoted Smith as saying: “Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, `let me do the most evil thing I can do today.’ I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was `good.'”

Mr. Smith, though not a Catholic nor a scholar of moral theology, here stated a bedrock principle of Catholic moral theology, which St. Thomas Aquinas called “synderesis Simply put, synderesis is the function of judgment whereby we have the natural inclination to do good as directed by conscience. Moral theology professors often use the Hitler example to explain synderesis. Hitler orchestrated a systematic extermination of European Jewry not out of homicidal mania (which is a negation of judgment) but because he really thought, for whatever reason, that such an extermination was in the cause of good, be it the consolidation of his power through the creation of an enemy (the so-called “Orwellian thesis”,) the elimination of a perceived threat to German domination (his stated reason,) or whatever good he, in conscience, thought justified or compelled the elimination of the Jews.

Hitler’s conscience, like everyone else’s, was not formed in a vacuum. Hitler was the student of a long and ignoble Teutonic tradition of antisemitism which was both religious and secular in its nature. Plenty of people-scholars, politicians, polemicists, and churchmen of every denomination-had decried the “Jewish Problem” in the Germanic states since the Middle Ages, and had advocated restrictions on and expulsions of the Jews as solutions. Hitler wasn’t crazy; he simply followed up on this tradition and created a movement (Nazism) which had the power and momentum to carry it to its logical, obvious, and frightening conclusion, what he called “The Final Solution,” in answer to his natural tendency to do what he thought was “good.”

Now, what is important to understand is that Hitler, like many modern people, suffered from an improperly informed conscience. Hitler was the product of a school and tradition of bad, even evil, ideas regarding race, sociology, eugenics, materialism, law, and, worst of all, positivism. His own writings and speeches, not to mention his actions, attest to this. So, his conscience was deeply malformed, and it is only natural that he followed an evil course as a result.
Hitler is not thereby relived, however, of moral culpability for his evil acts, even if they are the inevitable result of his evil conscience directing his judgment to seek out an evil “good.” Thomas would say that Hitler, like all men, was morally obliged to follow a correctly formed conscience. It’s not like the issue of antisemitism was morally ambiguous or uncontested in 20th century Europe. Hitler had heard the arguments for liberality and freedom of the Jewish people, and rejected them. He did so, not as one whose judgment is short-circuited by madness or blind bigotry but as an active advocate for the end of Jewry in Germany by any means necessary.

One must have a properly informed conscious in order to commit objectively moral acts in accord therewith, and the conscience can only be properly informed, says St. Thomas, by the Truth which is God as revealed by God to man and guarded and direct by the Church founded by Christ. Hitler had no regard for the truth and, therefore, misdirected his judgment toward evil “goods”. Those with no regard for the Truth (which is, again, not an abstraction but a Person) will inevitably destroy themselves by calling evil good and following synderesis down the primrose path which leads to Perdition.


Many of you have known the writer of this letter to be faithful, honest, caring for others, wise, of sound judgment, just, decisive, careful with the wealth of the people and the state … and that his heart is big enough to embrace all without discrimination.
-Open Letter of Saddam Hussein on the Occasion of His Execution

Saddam Hussein, A.K.A. “The Butcher”, A.K.A. “The Ace of Spades”
Born: 28 April 1937-Hung: 30 December 2006


galileoarp300pix.jpgSome readers may remember my post criticizing the attempt to mainstream transsexuality in California and the responses it garnered from a transsexual advocate. This advocate, named “Marti”, began by saying that it did not surprise him/her/it that such an unscientific view would come from one whose Church took 300 years to admit that Galileo was right, or somesuch nonsense.

The old canard about the Church condemning Galileo’s theory of heliocentrism is one which, like the Whore of Babylon and the KofC’s Secret Oath, never seems to go away.

Dinesh D’Souza writes a good piece in favor of a proper understanding of history, one which should now be considered required reading by anyone considering trolling my blog in the future.

(H/T to Apoloblogology)


On this day in 1605 (in the Julian Reckoning, the 15 November by the Gregorian,) Mr. Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Parliament with the King in it in what has come to be known as “The Gunpowder Plot.”

As you know, Fawkes was captured in the act, and he along with several other men were executed for treason. One of these was Rev. Henry Garnet, who was convicted of the conspiracy based on being the confessor of several of the assassins. The state conceded his objection to the plot, and it is unlikely he would have been convicted had he not been a priest. During his execution, the crowed grabbed onto his legs and swung around while he was hanging by his neck in an effort to speed up his death.

The anniversary has been observed as an anti-Catholic holiday since 1506. To this day, the tradition of government sanctioned or tolerated “Anti-Popery” rallies continues in many towns, culminating in the burning of effigies of Fawkes, as well as the Pope, in some places, continues.


Savannah is an improbable place. It was founded by James Oglethorpe as a prison colony, built as a exclave of English civilization on the Indian frontier, a settled by adventurers and reprobates whose decedents comprise one of the last intact true hereditary aristocracies left in the New World.

It is a beautiful city without trying to be. Don’t get me wrong; folks in Savannah are particular about their aesthetics. But there seems to be no concern about anybody else’s. So there is no attempt to figure out what the “Savannah Aesthetic” is. We have clues. If you wanted to put up a modest LED sign in front of a downtown store, there would probably be a problem. But, if you want to build a 12′ by 10′ backlit bilboard featuring a cartoon pig dressed like Chef Boyardee, cheerfully preparing to self-immolate to promote your bar-b-q shack, the first question that comes to locals is “I might have to check out their pulled pork.” After all, its only a sign.

Generally, If someone wants to build something ugly, people complain. Then it either gets built or it doesn’t. And life goes on. As my wife pointed out, you can tell a real city from a “new urban” pet project by its occasional ill favored parking garage.

Savannah’s beauty, I think, is somehow tied to one of its greatest civic virtues: Discretion. Savannah spared itself the faithful lightning of Sherman’s terrible swift sword by seeing what had happened to indomitable Atlanta, considering their options, and surrendering before Sherman got their. The result? A Lost Cause and an Intact City. Also, one of the best war memorials in the country, offered in honor of Our Beloved Confederate Dead by a city that would rather quit than burn. The classically educated Southerners who have always run the show in Savannah knew about the transcendentals. Truth follows Beauty, and Beauty follows Truth. All true and beautiful things move toward order, as that order is a mirror of the mechanics of the universe, whose Prime Mover is the ultimate Truth. Civilization is orderly, and thus beautiful and true. Savannah’s beauty is the engine of its civilization. And you can’t have a civilization without a city.

They were right. New Atlanta may be built on the site of the razed city of that name, but it has never had much else in common with Old Atlanta. To this day, Atlanta booms, bustles, and roars along. It is crime ridden, expensive, and ornery. It has all of the problems of New York, except with nicer people, better food, and a warmer climate. Savannah, on the other hand, chose the better part, kept their city, and maintain their beautiful civilization to this day.


(Martin Luther as an Instrument of the Devil from Harpers.)

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther began the liberal revolt against Christendom by making every man his own pope and every man’s conscious his own personal god.


A photo post, originally posted in September:

Here is a series of photos taken from the Fraternity of St. Peter Website, taken in 2002 and 2003, of their mission in Nigeria. I am touched by the dedication of my fellow traditionalists in a country where folks have to struggle with the daily nessecities of life. No matter how we might bitch an moan about the state of the Church in the US, we have it easy compared to most.

image018.jpgThe foundation of the as-yet built mission church, near the present mission

The parishoners help dig out the foundaiton for the new church . . .


. . . make bricks . . .


. . . and cook supper.


The altar dressed for the Holy Sacrifice.


The faithful gather to assist.


The Consecration.


“My Lord and My God.”


Recessional through the construction site with what appears to be the Host, perhaps being born away for the sick.


Servers and Celebrant (from a different mass than that shown above.)





Pictured above are the arms of Archbishop Zen of Hong Kong, prior to being made a cardinal.

The oddity is that the gallero above the shield is violet rather than green, as is the custom for bishops’ arms.

Wikipedia says that Chinese bishops avoid depicting a green gallero in their arms because “to wear a green hat” is the Chinese idiom for being made a cuckold.


The ancient practice of creating certain abbeys as abbeys nullius (literally, “Abbeys of no one”) has its roots in the ancient Church.  Traditionally, abbeys were created in mission territories, and the abbot of these institutions, while usually still a priest, was given territorial jurisdiction as an ordinary.  These abbots nullius enjoythe pontificalia and precedence of bishops, and, as Christianity spread, their abbeys remained outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the local ordinary.

A famous Abbey nullius was Cluny (the only one in France,) which was the home of the Cluniac reform.  It was granted its special status in order to insulate it from the corruption of the local churches.   Cluny became an enclave of orthodox Catholicism during the excesses of the early middle ages.

Since Vatican II, the Church has placed an emphasis on the unity of parishes with bishop-ordinaries.  As a result, Paul VI decreed that no further abbeys nullius would be erected, and all would eventually be reintegrated into their local diocese in due time.

Presently, there are eleven abbeys nullius left.  At least three (in Saskatchewan, Brazil, and Rome) have been integrated in the last ten years.

The remaining eleven are:

  • Maria Einsiedein- Switzerland
  • Monte Oliveto Maggiore- Italy
  • Montecassino- Italy
  •  Montevergine- Italy
  • Pannonhalma- Hungary
  • Saint-Maurice- Switzerland
  • SantaMaria di Grottaferrata- Italy
  • Santissima Trinitia di Cava de Tirreni- Italy (Italo-Albanese Rite)
  • Subiaco- Italy
  • Wettingen-Meherau- Austria
  • Tokugen- North Korea (an interesting case- it was vacant for 50 years until being recently reoccupied by Korean monks.  Since it is a Catholic monastery without any geographical connection to a diocese, it remains an abbey nullius, in  apparent, but necessary, contradiction to the policy set by Paul VI)


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