Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and designer Donatella Versace arrive at Palazzo Colonna in Rome, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. The Vatican is loaning some of its most beautiful liturgical vestments, jeweled miter caps and historic papal tiaras for an upcoming exhibit on Catholic influences in fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Vatican culture minister, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, joined Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and designer Donatella Versace in Rome on Monday to display a few of the Vatican treasures at the Palazzo Colonna, a onetime papal residence. "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" is set to open May 10 at the Met's Costume Institute in New York. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

Vatican, Versace and Vogue team up for Met's spring exhibit

ROME (AP) — The Vatican, Versace and Vogue are joining forces to show off the Catholic influences in fashion.

The Vatican's culture minister joined Donatella Versace and Vogue's Anna Wintour on Monday (Feb. 26) to offer a sneak peek of gorgeous Vatican liturgical vestments, jeweled miters and historic papal tiaras that will star in a spring exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

"Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" opens May 10 and represents the most extensive exhibit of the museum's Costume Institute, officials said. It also represents the first time some of the Vatican's most precious treasures from the Sistine Chapel sacristy are being exhibited outside the Vatican.

Along with the papal treasures, the Met show includes garments for more ordinary mortals by designers spanning Azzedine Alia to Vivienne Westwood, all set against the backdrop of the Met's collection of medieval and religious artwork.

"Some might consider fashion to be an unfitting or unseemly medium by which to engage with ideas about the sacred or the divine," curator Andrew Bolton told a crowd of Roman fashionistas and journalists. "But dress is central to any discussion about religion. It affirms religious allegiances and, by extension, it asserts religious differences."

The exhibit, featuring some 40 Vatican vestments and accessories spanning 15 papacies, will be spread among various Met galleries as well as the Cloisters branch in upper Manhattan in what organizers called a planned "pilgrimage" blending fashion, faith and art.

With Ennio Morricone's soundtrack for "The Mission" playing in the background, visitors on Monday were able to glimpse a small sampling of the soon-to-be-shipped Vatican bling: the white silk cape embroidered with gold thread that once belonged to Pope Benedict XV and the emerald, sapphire and diamond-studded miter, or pointed bishops' hat, of Pope Leo XIII.

They were put on display at the Palazzo Colonna, a former papal residence in downtown Rome that is a jewel of the Roman Baroque period.

Wearing a cardinal-appropriate red and black velvet tunic dress, Wintour, for whom Costume Institute's space was renamed, said the exhibit shows the influence of the papacy over millennia.

"Part of the power of the church has been how they look, and how they dress," Wintour told The Associated Press. "They have this extraordinary presence."

Wearing his red-trimmed clerical garb and red zucchetto, or beanie, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican's culture minister, told the crowd at Palazzo Colonna that clothing oneself is both a material necessity and a deeply symbolic act that was even recorded in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.

"God himself was concerned with dressing his creatures," Ravasi said.


  1. “….and the emerald, sapphire and diamond-studded miter, or pointed bishops’ hat, of Pope Leo XIII. ”

    Gaddafi and Hussein each had equally priceless bejeweled crowns.
    And they got them the same way as Leo – and all those Popes before and since….

  2. “Vatican bling: the white silk cape embroidered with gold thread that once belonged to Pope Benedict XV and the emerald, sapphire and diamond-studded miter, or pointed bishops’ hat, of Pope Leo XIII.”
    Bling. I believe that word, when translated properly, means “dead children killed by starvation and preventable diseases.”

  3. Just like in the atheist countries of North Korea, China, and so on.

    Those human beings.

  4. China and north Korea don’t present themselves to the world as being appointed by god for the benefit of mankind, or claim to be the voice of morality.
    but i’m glad you can excuse the Catholic church with a good case

  5. It really doesn’t matter how they present themselves, it only matters what they do or do not do.

    Yes, I know you love to carve out special cases to back into whatever you happen to believe to be “moral”, but it’s not very convincing to anyone else.

    The Catholic Church does not present itself to the world as being “appointed by god for the benefit of mankind”.

    It presents itself as the Pilgrim Church founded by Christ to offer the means of salvation in the next world. It freely admits it contains in this world both saints and sinners, and that the sinner may be pikers indeed.

  6. “?The Catholic Church does not present itself to the world as being “appointed by god for the benefit of mankind”.

  7. Is this the way the Catholic Church wants to be seen? As examples of the high fashion and the jewels of the high classed, wealthy? I have to wonder if Ravasi understands what this looks like to the poor, starving, sick, frightened people around the world and to Catholics who want the Church to at least try to look like its’ focus is on them.

    What does all this richness and display of wealth have to do with Jesus and the Mission He gave to those who claim to follow HIm?

  8. No, Bob. They just supported the kings who invaded countries of North and South America, Africa, Asia, supported the enslavement of the native peoples, the destruction of their cultures, and the theft of their lands.

  9. Which “they”?

    Name names, provide dates, and particulars.

  10. You are indeed a humiliation to your fellow apologists. Occasionally – very occasionally apologists get a minor fact straight – not consciously – but by accident.

    “…. the Dum Diversas Bull of 1452, and other related bulls, which grant the Pope’s blessing ‘to capture, vanquish, and subdue the Saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ and put them into perpetual slavery and to take all their possession and their property.’ ”

  11. Yes, when I really want a clear, objective, scholarly look at something, I generally head right over to ncronline.

    So, you’re saying she meant “him” not “they” in “They just supported the kings who invaded countries of North and South America, Africa, Asia, supported the enslavement of the native peoples, the destruction of their cultures, and the theft of their lands.”

    Oh, we also need to leave out North and South America, Africa, and Asia, along with the native peoples, the destruction of their cultures, and the theft of their lands.

    You are indeed a humiliation to your fellow apologists.

  12. In reply to your question, Nothing, Nada, Zilch, Zip.

  13. History offers abundant evidence of Rome’s support for and indifference to slavery.

  14. According to Cardinal Ravasi, “God himself was concerned with dressing his creatures.”
    Actually, the original plan was for the first couple not to be dressed. It was only after the unfortunate mishap with the talking snake that dress became relevant. Perhaps the good Cardinal is thinking of the verse in the Beatitudes – “Blessed are those who wear bright scarlet, for they shall inherit a lifetime subscription to Vogue.”

  15. Versace? Really, guys?

    I mean, I could understand Dolce and Gabbana, but Versace???

  16. As I’ve posted at NCROnline. May I give you evidence?

  17. No.

    There are all kinds of things called “slavery”.

    St. Paul didn’t condemn slavery and in fact admonished slaves to obey their masters.

    Slaves in various places and times had rights, including the right to buy their freedom.

    Without qualifying any of this, general statements about “slavery” are completely meaningless.

  18. Bobby is taking the biblicalist line that slavery then is not really how we understand slavery now. I’ve seen lengthy exposes explaining in great detail about significant differences, and thus the Bible remains the good book that biblicalists think it is, not condoning the owning of another human being for purposes of exploiting his or herlabor..

    When you point out the the biblical understanding of homosexuality is a universe away from our current understanding of it, or that the morals of a people 2500 years ago are vastly different than the morals of people now, you will get an equally lengthy explanation of how they are exactly the same, because god’s word never changes.

    It’s the Bible according to Humpty Dumpty, where words mean whatever they say they mean, nothing more and nothing less.

  19. Actually he’s stating historical fact.

    Slaves in the Roman Empire, for example, existed in classes all the way up to membership in the family household.

    The introduction of the term “biblicalist”, which you coined for the event, simply demonstrates your anti-religious animus, which I read you denying while at the same demonstrating.

    Of course it is all about you, as your second paragraph made clear.

  20. What is important to realize is that it was not the Catholic Church that saw the evil that slavery was or the evil it came to be (to grant some room for the apologists, even if I don’t agree with them). It took the Enlightenment, the Reformation, and the ideas of democracy to create a new view. The Catholic Church had to be dragged into finally admitting that slavery is evil. When was that – sometime in the middle of the 1900’s that JPII apologized for the Church’s involvement in a speech in Camaroon?

    Up to then, they participated in slavery, sold some people into slavery (the wives of priests, for example). Even in the U.S. several religious orders, including the Jesuits, held slaves and sold them when they decided to stop having slaves – they did not free them.

    I don’t know why it is so hard for people to realize that we evolve in understanding, that as we discover more we need to be able to change our minds about old understandings. There is perfection in God, but we will always be in need of changing our minds about our understanding of Him and creation.

  21. I agree with you 100%. I find this constant insistence that the church has led the changes in morality to be a bit annoying. It simply ignores the facts of the matter. Sometimes the church has led, often it has followed, and has had to be drawn kicking and screaming into the current age, whenever that would be.

    You put it exactly. we evolve in our understanding.

    Well, Some of us do.

  22. Yes, “[t]here are all kinds of things called ‘slavery’.”

    Slavery, regardless of “kind”, is “involuntary subjection to another or others. Slavery emphasizes the idea of complete ownership and control by a master: to be sold into slavery.” It is “a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune” (per

    Because you apparently prefer a white-washed treatment of the church’s involvement with slavery, I recommend Joel S. Panzer’s THE POPES AND SLAVERY. The author at time of publication was a presbyter with the Catholic diocese of Lincoln, NE, perhaps one of the most conservative local churches in the United States.

    Yes, “St. Paul didn’t condemn slavery and in fact admonished slaves to obey their masters.”

    Is the above all you know about church and slavery???

    “[G]eneral statements about ‘slavery’ are completely meaningless.”

    Your response is very close to being “completely meaningless” about the subject.

  23. “No.”



    + Nicholas V granted the king of Portugal in 1452 the right, inter alia, “to make war on Saracens, pagans, and infidels; to occupy their dominions; and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.” In 1455, Nicholas V “issued the bull ‘Romanus pontifex’ confirming the first bull…” (p. 62).

    + Popes Calixtus III (1456), Sixtus IV (1481), Leo X (1514), and Alexander VI (1493) issued bulls in the same vein as noted above (p. 65). The bulls issued from 1452 to 1514 “show that slaving was an enterprise requiring no special scrutiny. Nicholas V and his successors approved the enslavement of whole peoples…without setting conditions on the right to enslave” (pp. 66-67).

    + In 1434, Prince Henry the Navigator and his men pillaged two Canary islands populated by Christians, who complained to Pope Eugene IV. In his ‘Creator omnium’, Eugene IV “forbade the enslavement of Christian natives…but in the bull ‘Romanus pontifex’ of 1436 [he] granted to Portugal the exclusive right of conquest over such of the Canaries as were populated by infidels…” (p. 243).

    + Pius V received “558 [Muslim] slaves after the naval victory of Lepanto” in 1571. “Galley slaves [were] obtained from the knights of Malta by Urban VIII in 1629 and by Innocent X in 1645” (p. 78).

    + “In ‘Sublimis Deus’, Paul III denounced the enslavement of Indians. He did not denounce enslavement at home [i.e., “the papal states”]. In 1548,…he declared that, ‘from a multitude of slaves, inheritances are augmented, agriculture better cultivated, and cities increased.’…[T]he pope decreed that slaves fleeing to the Capitol and there, according to custom claiming freedom, were not freed and were ‘to be returned to their masters in slavery and, if it is seen appropriate, punished as fugitives.’ The decree, the pope added, included those slaves who had become Christians after their enslavement and slaves born to Christian slaves” (p. 79).

    + “The catechism based on the decrees of the Council of Trent dealt with slaves under the commandment against theft [as well as] the commandment against coveting a neighbor’s goods” (p. 79).

    + “By mid-eighteenth century, the moral issues arising from slavery aroused even less attention among those [casuists] working in the main tradition” (p. 85).

    + “In 1814, two Irish Dominicans [informed Archbishop Carroll of Baltimore] that the [Jesuit and Sulpician] clerical slaveholders of Maryland were ‘stumbling blocks in the way of their Quaker brethren [and others who had started to limit slavery].’ The Dominicans carried their complaint to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, then in charge of affairs in the United States. The congregation did nothing” (p. 92).

    + “Slavery continued to exist in the Papal States into the early nineteenth century. From 1600 to 1800 a total of two-thousand slaves, almost all Moslem, manned the galleys of the pope’s navy. As late as 1800-1807 in the troubled papacy of…Pius VII, four privately owned slaves and eleven slaves of the state were registered in Rome at the Casa dei Catecumi” (p. 102).

    + “As early as 1814,…the British…had pressed…the pope’s secretary of state, to obtain a papal prohibition of the international slave trade. Pius VII responded by writing personally to the monarchs of France, Portugal, and Spain deploring the trade, but published nothing…In 1822, [the British again asked Rome to prohibit slave trading]. The report back [from the Vatican] was not favorable. True, there was suffering caused by the trade, but abolition was a notion of the antireligious philosophers of the eighteenth century. The most competent theologians and canonists held slavery to be not contrary to natural law and to be approved in principle by the Old Testament. A papal prohibition would please the British, who oppressed Catholics, and it would compromise the colonial interests of France, Portugal, and Spain. Pius VII did nothing” (pp. 103-104).

    + In December 1839, Gregory XVI issued his ‘In supremo Apostolatus fastigio’, “opening words calling attention to the pope’s authority rather than to the subject [slavery] under scrutiny. Published in Rome as a pamphlet, the document was given a title that tried gamely to find a Latin equivalent of the standard European term for the international traffic out of Africa, ‘the trade’…The pope wrote to unspecified addressees to dissuade the faithful ‘from the inhuman trade in Blacks or any other kind of men.’…The pope mentioned measures of [previous popes]…Gregory XVI strictly prohibited it and ordered the prohibition to be posted in Rome…[‘In supremo’] referred to papal actions without acknowledging their limited scope. The prohibition, when it was announced, was not anchored in natural law or in the Gospel. A theologically literate reader would see that with these remarkable omissions there are what a modern observer accurately notes as ‘ambiguities and silences’. The pope stigmatized the trade as ‘inhuman’ without developing an argument” (p. 107).

    + Bishop John England of Charleston, SC “indignantly noted that the pope had in view only the international trade; he quoted Gregory XVI himself as telling him in person in Rome that the Southern states ‘have not engaged in the negro traffic.’ Bishop England [asserted] that the Catholic Church had always accepted domestic slavery; it was ‘not incompatible with the natural law’; and, when title to a slave was justly acquired, it was lawful ‘in the eye of Heaven'” (p. 108).

    + “In 1843, in his treatise on moral theology, Francis P. Kenrick defended the institution of slavery in the United States, going so far as to argue that any defect in title to slaves in this country was cured by prescription: the passage of time made it too late to challenge the owner’s assertion of ownership…His ‘Theologia moralis’, written in Latin and evidently designed to educate seminarians, was the first textbook on Catholic moral theology produced in the United States; he was bishop of Philadelphia when it appeared…[He became archbishop of Baltimore in 1851], and he presided as apostolic delegate at the First Plenary Council of the bishops of the United States in 1852. His views were those of his colleagues and of the Roman authorities. The trade out of Africa was one thing; slavery as an institution was quite another” (pp. 108-109).

    + “Gregory XVI’s letter had no obvious impact on the two nominally Catholic countries engaged in the slave trade, Portugal and Brazil, nor on seminary teaching in France.” “It was [eventually] British resolution and sea power that brought a stop to the business [of slave trading]” (p. 109).

    + “As early as 1878 [the archbishop of Algiers] had addressed to Rome a memoranda on [the slave trade], calling for ‘a great crusade of faith and humanity, which would reclaim honor for the Church’ and ‘crown the immortal papacy of Pius IX.’ Rome made no response” (pp. 111-112).

    + Leo XIII issued his ‘In plurimis’ in 1888, “addressed to the bishops of Brazil, congratulating them on ‘this happy event’ [i.e., legal abolition of slavery].” The pope wrote that “[t]he pagan attitude toward slavery was ‘marked by great cruelty and wickedness,’ the Christian attitude ‘by great gentleness and humanity.’…He noted that slaves had duties to masters, an implicit acceptance of the institution. He accepted the patristic teaching that slavery was a penalty for sin without explaining how the penalty was visited upon the innocent upon birth to a slave mother. He cited letters of the popes rebuking isolated instances of slave trading without mentioning the popes who authorized the kings of Portugal and Spain to invade and enslave the unbelievers. He held up Pedro Claver as a model identifying him as ‘the Apostle of the Moors,’ a phrase quaintly marking as Moors the slaves brought from Africa. Leo did not remark that St. Pedro criticized neither slavery nor the slave trade…Leo labeled [slavery] ‘base’ and ‘cruel’. He did not condemn it as intrinsically evil” (pp. 112-113). The pope did, however, mention “‘human dignity'” in his document.

    The following information is from Thomas Bokenkotter’s A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH:

    + “As recently as June 20, 1866, the Holy Office had upheld the slave trade as moral. The justification was based both on philosophy (natural law) and on revelation (divine law). Various quotations from Scripture were cited in support of this position…The Fathers of the Church and local church councils, laws, Popes, and theologians were cited in the attempt to show that the approval of slavery was part of an unbroken, universal tradition” (pp. 487-488).

    + “The statement signed by Pope Pius IX declared that ‘it is not contrary to the natural or divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged, or given, provided in the sale, purchase, exchange or gift, the due conditions are strictly observed which the approved authors describe and explain'” (f.n. 22, p. 488).

    Returning to Noonan:

    + The 1917 Code of Canon Law “maintained the positions set out in the old law that a free person contracting marriage with one believed to be free but in fact a slave contracted invalidly; and that slavery was an impediment to the reception of holy orders” (p. 117).

    + “Also close to the era of Vatican II, Karl Rahner…published the thirtieth edition of ‘Denzinger’. This authoritative and convenient handbook, first produced in 1854…contained the teaching of popes and councils from Clement I in the first century to the date of the edition…Not a single word repudiating or condemning slavery occurred in the collection” (Noonan, p. 117).

    + Noonan describes how slavery was condemned at Vatican II. He notes that it was “not [done] with fanfare and trumpets.” Nonetheless, according to the author, “[t]he Council’s action was the first categorical condemnation by the Church of an institution that the Church had lived with for over nineteen hundred years” (p. 120). The condemnation appears in ‘Gaudium et spes’.

  24. Noonan, who was a judge, wrote “A CHURCH THAT CAN AND CANNOT CHANGE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC MORAL TEACHING” with the specific aim of claiming the Catholic could change doctrine. Your laundry list is one of those “throw it all on the wall and see what sticks” things that ncronline is so enamored of. Each bullet point would require a post twice this length to place the allegation in context, to explain it in context, and then to point out how it does not actually advance your argument.

    Fortunately the late Avery Cardinal Dulles read Noonan’s book and cut right to the nub of Noonan’s arguments:

    “Maritain’s flexible view of human rights, here applied to slavery, gives a needed correction to Noonan’s position and clarifies what John Paul II probably had in mind. Radical forms of slavery that deprive human beings of all personal rights are never morally permissible, but more or less moderate forms of subjection and servitude will always accompany the human condition.”

    Noonan fails to make distinctions that are essential to the context of the Catholic teaching over the centuries.

    So, there is “slavery” and there is slavery.

  25. Your next post, a reference to a book you like and a laundry list of accusations, was close to being “completely meaningless”.

  26. Contrary to your understanding, the Church of Rome *has changed* its moral doctrine over the years. If anyone was qualified to demonstrate this history, it was Judge Noonan, PhD, who was nominated for a federal appellate judgeship by President Reagan, no liberal. Wikipedia and the NEW YORK TIMES have information about the late scholar.

    I’m familiar with Cardinal Dulles’ review. It fails to persuade. I recommend Cathleen Kaveny’s review at

    You write, “Noonan fails to make distinctions…” No, he does not.

    Slavery is slavery, regardless of the “kind”.

  27. So Bobby picks out one thing of what you said, thinks it’s a bit weak, and ignores everything else.

    He’s not an apologist, just someone to apologize for.

  28. “Radical forms of slavery that deprive human beings of all personal rights are never morally permissible, but more or less moderate forms of subjection and servitude will always accompany the human condition.”

    As I said above… well, doesn’t matter.

    You have the morals of… well, doesn’t matter.


  29. I wouldn’t say meaningless, just a clear indication that anything for his type of Christian….

    Aaaaaaah, never mind.

  30. Your attempt to whitewash the church’s treatment of slavery merits your being designated “Distinguished Keeper of the Papal Chamber Pot”, a white ceramic piece worn about the neck and emblazoned in gold with the chair of Peter (under which is the pot). You join a short list of fellow bloggers for whom the Church of Rome can do no true wrong.

  31. A few minor, really quite minor, points:

    – to this point your entire moral “system” consists of what you like and what you do not like. These assessments appear sans reasoning, sans citations, sans anything.

    – in order to determine whether “slavery” is moral one would need to determine first what is being called “slavery”, since the word itself is equivocal. Doing that sort of analysis appears to be above your pay grade.

    – and, as previously noted, “Risus abundat in ore stultorum”.

  32. No, if there was anyone NOT qualified to determine whether doctrine changed, it was Noonan, who was not a theologian, not familiar with the history of doctrine, simply an attorney of note with an opinion.

    Avery Cardinal Dulles was a world-renowned theologian, with an extensive background in teaching and writing on theology per se.

    Cathleen Kaveny makes the same mistake that Noonan makes, using history to analyze theology. Her theology is less than orthodox

    which is why she writes for Commonweal and is at Boston University. Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger, who had some modest popularity in the late 19th century, provides a lesson in where using history to do theology leads.

    I appreciate the fact that you enjoy citing heterodox sources as though they actually mean something to someone other than you and the other folks that subscribeto them. While no more orthodox, Commonweal IS an intellectual upgrade from ncronline. Clogging the comments up with multiple citations will not resolve anything and you appear to lack the theological chops to actually write something of your own.

    But surprise me.

  33. I’m using the term ‘apologist’ to mean “a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial.” Our fellow blogger is attempting to put lipstick on a pig — the pig being Rome’s shameful experience with defending ownership of human beings, regardless of “kind”.

  34. Your inability to support your position intelligently is why I ceased responding to you some time ago.

    You join the long list of internet denizens for whom the Catholic Church can do no right.

  35. So, what types of Christians are you familiar with as a gay ex-Jew atheist who has exhibited almost no knowledge whatsoever of Christianity?

  36. You seem to get more applause at JoeMyGod.

  37. The fact that you’re familiar with applying lipstick to pigs should raise a few eyebrows, especially if your wife is reading your comments.

  38. “… I ceased responding to you some time ago.”

    Can’t make up your mind?

  39. Dulles was a “world-renowned theologian”, not a historian. On this thread, we’ve been discussing history. It’s quite apparent that, in his FIRST THINGS article, the cardinal was trying to prop up the erroneous notion that Catholic moral doctrine never changes. With respect to slavery, Noonan has demonstrated otherwise. Why some Catholics feel it necessary to defend the self-serving idea that Catholic moral doctrine never changes is beyond rational thinking. As to Noonan’s qualifications, his record speaks for itself.

    Of course, my providing citations of respected writers “will not resolve anything” for you: You’re an apologist for the institutional church. I prefer to cite subject-matter experts because I rely on their demonstrated expertise on matters, whether women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, artificial contraception, local selection of bishops — or slavery!

    As a future pope acknowledged more than 50 years ago, “[F]acts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure doctrine” (Joseph Ratzinger, THEOLOGICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF VATICAN II, Paulist Press/Deus Books, 1966, p. 16).

  40. You know somethin’ ’bout my wife. Them’s fightin’ words, sir!!!

  41. Usury—charging interest on a loan was condemned as heresy by the Council of Vienne and anyone who practised it was excommunicated.The council of Lyon forbade a christian burial for those who practised usury.Any type of usury,no matter how small.The church who is the people of God rejected this and like so many catholic teachings,went out the window.The vatican bank charges usury today.My favourite though is the church through popes(gregory the great,innocent iii,sixtus etc) teaching sex in marriage a necessary evil tainted with sin.Comments by popes,moral theologians in the medeval ages—all speak of sex in marriage being dirt,however how much dirt is involved was debateable.Pope siricus hailed sex in marriage defiles a man.You buddy need to read the history,the church has changed in so many cases(recall pius ix condemning democracy ?),that to deny it is what Aquinas would call willfull ignorance

  42. If you’re discussing history, you can’t opine as to whether or not the Church changed its doctrine, which is a theological question.

    History, broadly, is every thing that has happened involving mankind. To reach into that infinitely complex data and extract meaningful but tiny portions of it and interpret them requires skills that a particular historian may not have.

    For example, Noonan would not be a wise choice to write the history of the Otto cycle engine from inception to today. That would require an engineer, or at least someone versed in engineering.

    Dulles had access to Noonan’s text, and the history of theology. Noonan had access to some documents. The expert was Dulles, the attorney Noonan.

    In reading your laundry list that began “ ‘No.’ Yes: From John T. Noonan, Jr.’s A CHURCH THAT CAN AND CANNOT CHANGE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC MORAL TEACHING, we learn the following: + Nicholas V …” for example I immediately recognized two of the documents as being “proof texts” out of context and out of theological context. Apparently they were the result of a search for the English word “slave” in translations of papal documents without regard to meaning.

    What you call “subject-matter experts” appear to be the usual suspects featured at ncronline, Commonweal, America, and so on. None of them have significant theological bona-fides outside of the left to extreme left wing of current Catholic controversy.

    You appear to be in fundamental disagreement with essentially everything that church teaches.

  43. There are so many scholarly explanations on usury it’s not worth beating it to death.

    When economies moved from barter and specie economies to the beginnings of modern mercantile and industrial bases, the accumulation of capital and the use of loans to fund business began.

    At that point it was no longer like demanding payment of two cows for the loan of one cow.

    Your synopsis of Pope Siricus is silly.

  44. Well, you sure know what you like and where to find it.

  45. I know. I was having a bit of fun with wordplay.

  46. Whether the Church has changed its moral doctrine is a historical question that Noonan most assuredly was qualified to address.

    You contrast Dulles, “the expert [theologian],” with “attorney Noonan.” You’re grasping at straws, anonymous. Judge Noonan was far more than an “attorney”. For example (in addition to the NEW YORK TIMES and Wikipedia), see Noonan just an “attorney”? Don’t you wish 🙂

    To accuse Noonan of interpreting papal documents “out of context and out of theological context” is laughable. No wonder you use an alias.

    “You appear to be in fundamental disagreement with essentially everything that church teaches.”


    Again, grasping at straws. I embrace most Catholic teaching, both doctrinal and social, and rightfully criticize certain Catholic disciplinary rules, e.g., women’s ordination, liturgical translation, and local selection and removal of bishops. I’ve no problem with the Deposit of Faith, defined as all that God has revealed to us through Christ for our salvation, or with the doctrine of papal infallibility, which the Lord willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Unlike you, perhaps, I also accept official Catholic teaching on supremacy of conscience.

    Back to nibbling on crackers for you, Jose.

  47. Once again,let me repeat kindly in case you were half asleep.Any kind of usury was condemned,it made no difference in the eyes of the church if you were charging it to a loaf of bread to a poor person or charging it to a person who wanted to buy land and turn it into a profit with agriculture.NObody is beating it to death,thats historical reality.When economics were changing and people saw the advantage of some usury,popes were still issuing bulls condemning it.When protestant churches were going against slavery,pope pius the ix issued a statement that defended buying and selling people as slaves was not at all contrary to natural law.As far as pope siricus goes he stated’Christ had to be concieved by the holy Spirit otherwise the virgin marys womb would of been defiled by a male seed”. He also tried to impose celibacy because married priests were defiling themselves by married sex.Aquinas,all too knowledgeable on this also stated that priests should be celibate otherwise they defile themselves in the conjugal act.As pope gregory the great stated,there can be no sin when sexual pleasure is involved.Our church has had its share of lunatic popes,so called saints and pastors

  48. The word “usury” in English is “The action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest.” Charging interest, per se, is NOT usury.

    The New Testament is silent on the subject. Luke 6:34-35 is only an exhortation to general and disinterested benevolence.

    Until the fourth century all that can be inferred from the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers is that it is contrary to mercy and humanity to demand interest from a poor and needy man.

    The vehement denunciation of the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries were prompted by the moral decadence and avarice of the time, and we cannot find in them any expression of a general doctrine on this point; nor do the Fathers of the following centuries say anything remarkable on usury; they simply protest against the exploitation of misfortune, and such transactions as, under the pretense of rendering service to the borrower, really threw him into great distress.

    So, as with “slavery”, there is “usury” and usury.

    There was a theological opinion in the Middle Ages that the mutuum, or loan of things meant for immediate consumption, does not legalize any stipulation to pay interest; and interest exacted on such a loan must be returned, as having been unjustly claimed. This was the doctrine of St. Thomas and Scotus; of Molina, Lessius, and de Lugo.

    It was never infallibly taught by the Church itself. Many opinions of all of these scholars, including Thomas Aquinas, reside in the scrap heap of things not adopted by the Church as a teaching.

    Everyone admits that a duty of charity may command us to lend gratuitously, just as it commands us to give freely. Theologians have long since dismissed the theological opinion of the Middle Ages and recognized the lawfulness of interest to compensate a lender for the risk of losing his capital, or for positive loss, such as the privation of the profit which he might otherwise have made, if he had not advanced the loan. They also admit that the lender is justified in exacting a fine of some kind (a conventional penalty) in case of any delay in payment arising from the fault of the borrower. These are what are called extrinsic grounds, admitted without dispute since the end of the sixteenth century, and justifying the stipulation for reasonable interest, proportionate to the risk involved in the loan.

    So we know that the condemnation of usury involves justice and of mercy rather than the charging of interest per se, taking advantage of the poor and needy, charging exorbitant rates of interest. The Church NEVER taught with authority that charging interest per se was immoral. Popes can issue decretals, bulls, and what not, but doing so only constitutes a teaching when both internal and external evidence makes it clear that is not just a discipline.

    THAT is the historical reality. And making assessment requires theological expertise which Noonan, and you, lack.

    Business loans, car loans, home loans do not fall into these categories. The civil law has passed usury laws consistent with a proper understanding of the term.

    As with “slavery”, proof texts based on document searches in English for the term “usury” stripped out of context provide false evidence.

    Yes, you’ve cobbled together a wad of “citations” which allege this, that, and the other. No, in context and understood they don’t prove what you seem to think they prove, just as your opinion on a change in the TEACHING on usury was poorly grounded.

  49. You’re pretty much stuck defending Noonan as more than an attorney.

    He isn’t.

    I see someone else tackled “usury” head-on, and much the same can be said about Noonan’s take on slavery.

    But, since you’re neither an attorney nor a theologian, you wind up calling doctrinal decisions such as Ordinatio Sacerdotalis “disciplines”.

    There is an old Polish saying “He who sleeps dogs awakes with fleas”.

    If you take ncronline and Commonweal seriously, you wind up with theological fleas.

    The first rule, btw, of supremacy of conscience if you’re Catholic is to comport your conscience with that Church’s teachings.

  50. Your looking at the present meaning of usury buddy regarding lending at hi rate.At that time,throughout most of christian history,any and I mean any charging of interest for profit or gain,no matter how small,was considered usury and a violation againsts divine law.
    They had scripyure to back them
    NEH 5:10
    PS 15:5
    EZ 18;13 18:17 22:12


    POPE Urban in 1745 released a bull condemning usury using scripture luke 6 :35

    this involved any interest charged on a loan no matter how small. Your confusing the present revision with the past

  51. These:


    “POPE Urban in 1745 released a bull condemning usury using scripture luke 6 :35″

    were all disciplinary, not doctrinal, dealing with specific situations. Look them up IN CONTEXT.

    As I noted before, there was no prohibition in the early Church against charging interest. The Old Testament proscriptions were not moral laws but cultic and did not carry forward into Christianity.

    The word “usury”, of course, does not appear in any of these documents written in Latin or Greek.

    The basic word in Latin is “utor”, which translates as “use, make use of, manage, control”. When you see the word “usury” in English, you need to see the original text pre-translation to determine exactly what is meant. Since there was not an equivalent word in Latin, usuria was coined in Medieval Latin specifically for the meaning I previously mentioned as a theological opinion of medieval theologians.

    To summarize, the prohibition of loaning at interest in the Old Testament dealt only with Jews loaning to Jews, the people of the nations were fair game.

    That prohibition did not carry forward into Christianity.

    There was never a teaching that charging interest was immoral. There were theological speculations and specific disciplinary prohibitions in response to specific conditions and abuses.

    It requires theological expertise to distinguish a teaching and a discipline, any texts need to be examined in context, including their original language, or you’ll make the same mistake an itinerant preacher armed with a KJV Bible makes when he cites Matthew 23:9 “Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” against Anglican, Orthodox, and Catholic and their clergy.

    What is forbidden is exploitation, the preying on the unfortunate by making their bad condition worse, by foregoing charity and extracting blood from a turnip. That violates the requirements of both justice and charity.

  52. So much for your opinion — which demonstrates nothing.

    By the way, JPII’s “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” is not a doctrinal “decision”. It is a “declaration” whereby JPII tried to do an “end-run” around canon 749.3 in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, to wit, ” No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.” The burden, in other words, is on the pope to make his case that a teaching is, indeed, infallible. While the pope does not need any kind of prior approval to teach (cf. Vatican I’s “Pastor Aeternus”, Chapter 4, paragraph 9 — “Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable”), any such papal teaching is ultimately subject to ecclesial reception in accordance with canon 750.1 and .2. If a *proposed* doctrine is not *received* by the Church, it may be the teaching needs more time and/or better articulation for eventual reception, or it may be it was never infallible in the first place. The 1983 code, of course, carries JPII’s signature of approval.

    JPII’s apostolic letter raised questions among canonists, theologians, and historians, among them:

    1. Was “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” an act of the pope’s infallible teaching authority?

    Seventeen months later, Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the CDF, found it necessary to reply: “In this case, an act of the ordinary Papal Magisterium, in itself not infallible, witnesses to the infallibility of the teaching of a doctrine already possessed by the Church” (cf. CDF Letter accompanying the Responsum). In other words, as an “ordinary” pronouncement, it was not in and of itself an instance of infallible teaching. (The pope has no authority to delegate infallible teaching authority to the CDF prefect, who — with papal concurrence — may only *clarify* the intent of a papal pronouncement as Ratzinger did in this case.)

    2. Has the Church — per JPII’s reference to the “constant and universal Tradition of the Church” — always and everywhere taught that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone?

    There is no evidence of such. Canon 749.3 coming into play, the burden of any act of infallible teaching is on the pope. In other words, merely to make an assertion as JPII did is not enough to get around canon 749.3. Because the pope teaches, the burden is on him alone.

    Indeed, “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” is a disciplinary document with a doctrinal veneer (and a very thin veneer at that). Doctrine is what is believed; discipline is how something is done. The Church of Rome ordains males to the presbyterate (the correct term) as the way of admitting them to official church ministry involved primarily with presiding at community worship. Given Rome’s stress on Tradition (upper case), it is odd that the Vatican ignores earliest Christian history demonstrating that liturgical presiders — presbyteroi or episkopoi, depending on local usage — were not ordained to any kind of “priesthood”. Jesus himself, of course, never claimed to be a “priest”, and other New Testament sources identify him as a “prophet”, never as any kind of priest (HEBREWS, the one exception written ca. 60s – 80s, is an example of typology, which proves nothing). Thank God for Vatican II which retrieved the term “presbyter” from primitive church history. Historically speaking, every ordained presbyter is a priest by virtue of his (or her) baptism; most priests by baptism (the rest of us) are not ordained presbyters.

    Contrary to your belief, one IS NOT REQUIRED to comport his or her conscience with official church *moral* teaching. CCC-1776 governs.

    Thank you for allowing this opportunity to share information from professional and faithful sources in history, canon law, and theology.

    Would that you do the same.

  53. You should open your eyes when I do.

  54. In this context, one might use the word ‘apologist’ to mean “one who defends indefensible church behavior and toxic church doctrine.” I’m thinking here of our two fellow bloggers who believe and accept everything emanating out of the bowels of the Vatican (no wonder Pope Francis decided to live in the modern guest quarters; I’d do likewise if I were pope 🙂

  55. The translations clearly mean usury ,a principle known to the early church fathers and known very well to the bible and therefore popes,theolgians and bishops.In official translation of documents from latin or greek to other languages—usury is used because it is what was meant.Its a ancient practise. Vienne,LAteran,Lyon made it clear that it was a moral doctrine involving the charging of interest on a loan,there was no distinguishing whatsoever,regarding the stuff you claim,all were guilty. As the populace rejected this,it became dead letter. This had absolutely nothing to do with discipline

  56. Unfortunately you have no idea whatsoever what you are writing about.

    You can’t change a teaching that is not a teaching.

  57. If I relied on the nonsense you rely on, I would as confused as you are.

  58. You certainly did wonderful cut-and-paste job from your usual sources.

    Has the Church always and everywhere taught that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone? The evidence is the complete absence of women from the ranks of the ordained from nearly 2,000 years.

    The few early sects who ordained women were universally condemned, East and West, and the putative “orders” treated as nullities.

    That constant practice is the infallible teaching which “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” cites.

    No, the earliest Christian history does not demonstrate that sacerdos were not ordained to any kind of “priesthood”.

    I suggest you read “Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West” and “Rites of Ordination: Their history and theology”, both by Dr. Paul F. Bradshaw.

    “JPII tried to do an ‘end-run’ around canon 749.3 in the 1983 Code of Canon Law” is screamingly funny since the sole source of Canon Law is …. the Pope. What you’re suggesting is that “JPII tried to do an ‘end-run’ around JPII”.

  59. Well maybe I was writing in portuguese and you didnt understand.
    Lateran II condemnd usury(a moral doctrine) as a offense against the natural and divine law,it doesnt get anymore CLEARE than that.Also their talking about any and all forms of usury,that would entail the slightest profit

    “We condemn that practise(that popes mention in Luke also) accounted despicable and blameworthy by Divine and Human laws,denounced by scripture in new and old testaments the ferocious greed of usurers”
    Of course as was shown and proven,it made no difference if you were poor or a man borrowing money to cultivate a profitable land and once u made profit pay back with interest the money borrowed. Back then it was all or nothing

    Council of Vienne—decreed that people suspected of usury,have their account books opened,hailed it a injury to neighbour in violation of divine and human law, and claimed anyone who thought usury was not sinful—they used these exact word “sinful”, was to be declared a heretic. Hillarious I know

    There is more goodies on catholic doctrine moral or otherwise that gets changed or abandoned. Council of Florence hailed if you were circumcized,regardless if for religious or non religious reasons,they will lose their salvation

    by the way i oppose gay marriage,but to claim church teaching doesnt change or gets eliminated thru dead letter,doesnt know what their talking about

  60. No, Lateran II did not condemn usury in a binding teaching document.

    “13. Furthermore, we condemn that practice accounted despicable and blameworthy by divine and human laws, denounced by Scripture in the old and new Testaments, namely, the ferocious greed of usurers; and we sever them from every comfort of the church, forbidding any archbishop or bishop, or an abbot of any order whatever or anyone in clerical orders, to dare to receive usurers, unless they do so with extreme caution; but let them be held infamous throughout their whole lives and, unless they repent, be deprived of a christian burial.”

    Not charging interest, per se, but usury. Would you care for it in Latin so you can confirm it is not simply the charging of interest?

    The Council of Vienne met between 1311 and 1312 in Vienne, a commune in southeastern France. The acts of the Council, with the exceptions of a fragment in the National Library of France and the financial documents of the Templars that had been subpoenaed, have disappeared.

    There is therefore no evidence that it redefined usury to mean “charging any interest at all”.

  61. look at the papal encyclices link and see Council of Vienne vs 29–speaking of usurors) …”they not only grant usury may be demanded and paid but deliberately compel debtors to pay…”
    In vs 29 it speaks of it being against divine and human laws(usury), opening up of bank accounts to check those guilty of it and it being heretical

    The church reversed itself in the 19th century declaring thru 14 decisions of the congregation of the holy office that”the faithful who lend money at moderate interest rates are not to be disturbed” Of course the holy office knew of the teachings condemning usury from all the above mentioned councils who explicitly taught it.
    The laity were disturbed before thru threats of excommunication,heresy,no christian burial etc of which they eventually ignored

  62. Usury, not charging interest.

    You have not provided any links at all.

  63. the link is what you provided,click it,go to the COUNCILS section,see Council of Vienne… click it go to section 29

    USURY–does not involve charging interest,….yeah,right… contraception doesnt involve birth control pill,abortion doesnt involve destroying a fetus,slavery is not inhumane….yeah

  64. We’re done.

    It took me a bit before I recognized the distributist roots of your quotes, but if there is a group that’s about far out of the mainstream as you can get, it’s the distributists.

  65. Only when they support the one-man “Church of Joe” which you have created for yourself.

    But when said “inconvenient truths” contradict and rebut you – well, then your sneering and your arrogance and your condescension and your nastiness come to the forefront.

    Go back to your friends at the National Catholic Reporter and at Crux Online. You contribute NOTHING positive to any discussion here – rather, you contribute a good deal which is NEGATIVE, and that which is, in fact, quite harmful to those souls who believe the heresy and the lies and the falsehoods which you deal up with each comment.

  66. I am not a one-man “Church of Joe”, but thank you for acknowledging my influence 🙂

    Regarding “inconvenient truths”, if I am wrong, I’ll acknowledge it, whether my fellow blogger is progressive or otherwise Most of the time, of course, I am not mistaken because of the time I’ve invested in study of various church-related matters. I am not an expert, but I am educated and informed, thanks in no small part to my retirement more than 18 years ago. I value Joseph Ratzinger’s observation more than 50 years ago that “facts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure doctrine.”

    You refer to my supposed “condescension and…nastiness.” I can only invite you to review your third paragraph, to wit:

    “Go back to your friends at the National Catholic Reporter and at Crux Online. You contribute NOTHING positive to any discussion here – rather, you contribute a good deal which is NEGATIVE, and that which is, in fact, quite harmful to those souls who believe the heresy and the lies and the falsehoods which you deal up with each comment.”

    Rather than be nasty or condescending, I’ll just invite you to remove it or “eat your words.”

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