POPE FRANCIS, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, AND JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA

Only Roman Catholic Jesuit priests and their secular counterparts, lawyers, can turn the mind into a Cirque du Soleil act and by contorting reason, torturing and twisting facts, reach whatever position they desire. Because Supreme Court Justices are merely lawyers and priests on steroids, they can reach whatever conclusions they desire and explain them in the most stilted English prose possible. And they do it ex cathedra.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is an example. Although he attended Harvard Law, as an undergrad he went to Georgetown, probably the most Jesuit University in America. That probably tainted him for life. For example, he believes corporations are people. It takes someone with a Jesuit-like Catholic mind (he also attended a Catholic high school) to reach that conclusion.

In good conscience I must disclose I am Catholic, I graduated from a Catholic high school, and I am an inactive member of the California State Bar.

But here’s the biggest problem Scalia has: he must first ignore the entire common law of corporations. Corporations were invented to protect investors from losing more than their investments. For example, suppose Ford Motors built a car that exploded in rear-end crashes. If someone were hurt or killed by one of those explosions they or their family could sue Ford, but usually not sue individual stockholders.

The history of corporations includes four of my favorite food groups: alcohol, coffee, tea, and sugar. At one time, because of bad sanitation, people in London put booze in their water so they wouldn’t come down with one of the many diseases lurking in the water supply. The result was the public was slightly smashed all the time. However, the coffee and tea that used heated water had to be shipped in. This presented two problems: One, who risks the capital by making the initial purchase and paying the shipping cost? And two, who pays the shipping company if the ship sinks?

People began hanging out drinking coffee and tea all day long at the Starbucks of the day, Lloyds of London, where they got wired on caffeine. Because boiled water has fewer bacteria, the people no longer needed to be smashed all day. Like most folks loaded on caffeine (and occasionally cocaine), they thought they could solve all problems. That’s when they came up with selling stock, limiting liability to the amount invested, and buying insurance. What they had done was to create a fictitious business body that would shield the fortunes of the real humans in case the coffee and tea went down with the ship.

Corporations were treated as individuals because they protected investors, not because they voted in elections, got married, or bribed politicians.

In reality, I doubt today’s American conservatives want to treat corporations as individuals. For one thing, they would have to pay taxes on the money they make outside the country. For another, if corporations were taxed as regular folks, their tax rate could triple. I don’t think Scalia would agree to allow the government to treat corporations as poorly as it treats real live people.

Even though he is a Jesuit-educated lawyer, he would have trouble getting out of this position. He could, however, do what most Americans do when something displeases them: ignore it. We have a long history of doing this. For example, most Southerners ignore that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that the Confederate flag is to Blacks what a swastika is to Jews – anathema.

Americans can deny just about anything.

Americans can deny just about anything. 

(photo by Mike Bowler)

Today, the most famous (and probably smartest) Jesuit is, of course, Pope Francis. Mea Culpa, but I like the guy. That the Cardinals chose him shows how desperate they were. They needed someone to figure out how to substantially change the church yet make it appear not to change all that much, and find a rationale for it all. These types of things are right up a Jesuit’s alley. One of Francis’s first acts was to make marriage annulments cheap and easier to obtain. Many of my friends have told me civil divorce is expensive because it is worth it.

But Catholics who divorce and remarry are considered adulterers by the Church unless they first obtain a Church annulment, which means a real marriage never existed. There is a broad range of reasons justifying an annulment, from the youth of the partners, to adultery, to I didn’t know what I was doing. A Church annulment means to a Catholic, as one friend told me, you get your CDL (Catholic Drivers License) back, you rejoin the Church, and begin receiving Communion again. Presumably one can also begin kicking a little money back to the Church.

Francis also said he wouldn’t judge homosexuals and stated, “Who am I to judge?” A day or two later, the Vatican issued a statement saying that wasn’t what he really meant, and practicing homosexuals will probably end up going to hell. The only description I have read of hell is in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Informal and is does not sound like a fun place.

So far this has been the Popes M.O.: He says something hopeful and the Vatican replies with a statement saying the Pope didn’t mean what you thought he said. The great Catholic lay writer, Garry Wills (who has a Jesuit background) says the only way to stop this cycle is to get rid of the Priesthood (see WHY PRIESTS? A Failed Tradition, by Garry Wills, Viking Penguin, 2013). Since the only thing they are needed for is transubstantiation of the Communion Host he goes into a long argument about why consubstantiation is better than transubstantiation and why the Church really doesn’t need priests. Wills is a gifted writer and possesses a far better mind than I, but he misses one important point — most people don’t know or care what transubstantiation and consubstantiation are. They just know Communion makes them feel good.

One solution would be to give Deacons a promotion and special permission to consecrate the host and give communion (they already can perform the other sacraments). Since Deacons don’t have to take a vow of celibacy, this would also solve the married priest issues. This, in turn, would help solve the priest shortage issue, and this is a very Jesuit solution: Just call it something different, eventually it will become different.

Whenever I read Wills, I always get the feeling he would like to be a priest and run a little parish. I feel confident he would find being a Deacon just as satisfying as being a priest and he could be married. I’d bet he would jump at the possibility. Maybe Scalia would let corporations be Deacons.

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