Our Lady of the Rosary
ON THIS PAGE:
Should Catholics Read the Bible? YES!!
Bears, Bailouts, and Banking
SHOULD CATHOLICS READ THE
Biblical Studies Page
Question: Often you refer to reading
the Bible. When I was young, I was told that Catholics are not supposed to read
the Bible. Is this yet another Modernist change of the Church’s teaching?
Answer: Absolutely not! The Bible
is the Church’s Book. While I am sure that the questioner is correct in
relating what she was taught-I have heard the same from a few others as
well-those who taught her were either mistaken or unclear in their teaching.
From the earliest times the Scriptures were read aloud in Catholic Churches, a
custom inherited from Judaism. As the Canon of Scripture developed, and as local
churches could acquire copies of the canonical books, the Gospels and other
books of the New Testament were read in addition to those of the Old. Over the
course of a year Catholics received a fairly good instruction in Sacred
Scripture simply by attending Mass-even more if they attended the Office. Book
production, however was a slow and expensive process. For many centuries it was
economically impossible for the average person to own a Bible.
Before the introduction in Europe of
moveable type printing around 1439, all books were produced by scribes who had
to laboriously copy existing books. In the main, the scribes were monks, and
their chief effort was in the copying of Bibles and the liturgical books of the
Church (which contain substantial parts of the Scriptures in themselves).
Literate people got their books from the monks, and most were familiar with the
Bible The principle restriction on reading anything was the cost of owning hand
Around the fifth century Europe was
plagued by invasions from the Scandinavian countries to the north, the Moslems
from the south, and the Huns from East Asia. The general literacy rate dropped,
but the monasteries continued to preserve, produce, and duplicate the books of
Western Civilization. Any decline in Bible production resulted from the
barbarian raids, in which many books were destroyed.
When printing was introduced in the
fifteenth century, the first major publication was Johannes Gutenberg’s
edition of the Vulgate Bible in 1455.
The first printed Bibles in English were
the work of heretics, intending to corrupt the faith of those who read them:
Tyndale, 1523; Coverdale, 1535; Matthew, 1537. Even the Protestant King Henry
VIII, who fancied himself to be the head of the Church in England, recognized
the danger of having doctrinally erroneous translations in circulation, and had
a standard Bible published for his church-The Great Bible-in 1539. Even
then, Henry did place restrictions on making marginal annotations, and the class
of person who might own one of his Bibles.
While there were handwritten English language Bibles and books of the Bible
since at least the eighth century, the first printed Catholic Bible in English
was produced in exile-the New Testament at Rheims in 1582, and the Old Testament
at Douai in 1609. The Douay-Rheims Bible was rather literally translated from
the Latin Vulgate. A more readable version was produced by Bishop Richard
Challoner of London between 1749 and 1752. Challoner’s version of the Douay
Rheims, and particularly his annotations heavily influenced later Catholic
biblical scholarship in English.
An American edition of the
Douay-Rheims-Challoner text was published in 1914, and widely endorsed by the
Catholic hierarchy. At the left, one can read the approbations of the Cardinal
Arch-bishops of Baltimore, New York, and Boston. Of particular interest are the
words of John Cardinal Farley, the Arch-bishop of New York: “It is well edited
and should commend itself to the patronage of all our Catholic Laity”
(italic emphasis added).
It must be noted that this enthusiasm for
Bible reading by all Catholics is not just English or American. The American
edition of 1914 includes an indulgence granted by Pope Leo XIII in 1898, and an
even earlier letter from Pope Pius VI in 1778 praising an edition of the Bible
by the Archbishop of Turin, saying: “you judge exceedingly well that the
faithful should be excited to the reading of the holy scriptures. These and
similar documents can be seen full size by clicking on them, or viewing them on
the Parish website.
To recapitulate, the Scriptures have been read aloud for as long as the Church
has existed. Today they are in your daily missal. With great effort, Catholic
monks preserved the Bible, even through the barbarian invasions and pro-longed
periods of illiteracy. The first major book printed in Europe was the Bible. A
Catholic translation should be read, as unapproved versions may contain
doctrinal errors. The Church grants an indulgence to encourage its members to
read the Bible. And many bishops, cardinals, and Popes have urged the faithful
to read the Bible.
So, now, go get
And do visit our
Biblical Studies Page at www.rosarychurch.net/bible/list.html
Bears, Bailouts, and Banking
G. Edward Griffin, The
Creature From Jekyll Island (1994)
there a moral dimension to the government bail-out of Bear Stearns? Isn’t it
stealing to take our money to help out some poorly run company? How could the
law allow such theft? P.L.
A complex question, indeed! First a little background for those who are unaware
of what happened:
Bear Stearns is an investment banking
firm. When two of its mortgage funds became all but worthless due to the current
mortgage difficulties, the company found itself holding obligations in the
billions of dollars with assets running only in the hundreds of millions range.
The bail-out was conducted by JP Morgan-Chase and the Federal Reserve (the Fed).
Morgan merged with Bear, paying $2 a share (it had been as high as $171) and the
Fed loaned $30-billion. The deal was later readjusted to $10 and $29-billion.
Neither Morgan nor the Fed is a government entity, but the Fed is our Central
Bank and the $29-billion was enough money for Congress to question Fed Chairman
Ben Bernanke. Bernanke described a great financial crisis that might be touched
off by the collapse of an institution so large. Many financial institutions hold
Bear’s and each other’s debt, and a domino like collapse is quite possible.
The Fed has also instituted a program of
temporary “debt swapping”
with the large financial firms who hold AAA
quality rated bonds that have lost value. The Fed takes their risky bonds (that
are likely to be downgraded to AA or A) in exchange for AAA rated US treasury
securities owned by the Fed (which cannot be questioned as to their quality).
The short term swap is intended to give the firms time to better their positions
by keeping the auditors from making them lower the assets on their balance
Before we go any further we must pause to
remember that morality and justice should be, but not always are, embodied in
nations’ laws-and-that nations do sometimes make unconstitutional laws,
violating their own supreme national law, or acting with authority that they do
From the moral perspective there is no
question that taking money by force from the citizens to help out a private
business is wrong. From the constitutional perspective, the Federal Government
has no authority to make gifts or loans to businesses, and no authority to
establish a central bank like the Fed. Nonetheless, over the years the
Government has passed laws to do both. Penn Central, Lockheed, New York City,
Chrysler, the FDIC, Commonwealth Bank of Detroit, First Pennsylvania Bank,
Continental Illinois, and a goodly number of Savings and Loan associations have
been on the receiving end of government generosity with our money.
every case, the recipients of this largess have been the larger players in the
industry. Some will argue persuasively that the Fed is a cartel of such large
financial interests and was formed with the mutual protection of these interests
in mind-the smaller interests are free to go out of business at any time and are
rarely bailed out by the government, the large banks, or the Fed.
That the failure of one of these large
firms might cause a cascading collapse is quite true—and exacerbated by the way
money is created and circulated through the economy under the Federal Reserve
System. (Much of what will be said here is valid for other nations as well.) No
gold or silver stands behind the money of these United States—there may be
some gold in Fort Knox, but one cannot exchange dollars for it. Instead of the
money being backed by US assets, it is backed in a perverse sort of way by US
debt. Technically, it is known as “fiat money”—the Latin “fiat”
meaning that someone’s order or suggestion is to be obeyed without argument.
In the early days of the Republic, those
who debased the money were subject to the death penalty. Today, when the Fed
increases the supply of money, it creates no new wealth. No new food, clothing,
shelter, medicine, or luxury goods are brought into existence. Increasing the
number of dollars in circulation lowers the value of each dollar, and raises the
price of goods-this “inflation” leads to the hoarding of valuable durable
goods, making them yet more costly, and discourages saving and investment.
Discouraged investment leads to no new productivity of useful goods. Monetary
inflation usually precedes economic recession or depression, when the “bubble
bursts.” Being spent into existence first of all by the government to pay
government expenses, the new money represents a hidden tax on those holding
dollars, which are now worth less than before. The new money increases the
interest bearing debt, a debt which can never be paid off without eliminating all of
the money in circulation!
To increase the money supply the Federal
Reserve buys a Treasury Bond-let’s say, for $100,000. In exchange, the Fed
places a $100,000 credit in the government’s checking account. The government
in turn spends this new money into circulation in all of the creative ways that
the government has to spend money.
But the creation of that $100,000 is not
the end of the story. When the government buys something, it issues a check to
the supplier. The supplier deposits that check in his bank, and will write
checks on it to the people with whom he deals, causing more checks to be
deposited in more banks. Let’s say that a bank receives a $1,000 check that a
supplier received from the government for the purchase of a hammer. The bank
knows that the depositor has the right to remove that $1,000 at any time—by
simply writing a check to someone else the money may leave the bank or may be
deposited in another account in the same bank. The bank also knows that the
movement of money between banks and accounts will tend to average out, leaving
the funds on deposit with it at a fairly constant level. The bank, whose primary
business is to make loans, feels confident that it can loan out most of the
$1,000 (as well as most of their other depositors’ money), holding only a
small fraction in reserve to meet unanticipated demands for funds. The reserve
level is set by the Fed, and varies over time. Twenty percent is a fairly high
Now comes the magic. Bank “A” loans
out $800 ($1,000 less 20% held in reserve) that get deposited in bank “B.”
Bank “B” can then loan $640 ($800 less 20% held in reserve) which are
deposited in bank “C.” Bank “C” loans $640 less 20%, and so on, until
the loan amount is reduced to nothing by successive deductions of 20%. When
everything is added up, this string of banks has “multiplied” the original
$1,000 into $5,000. No wealth has been created by any of these transactions, and
none of the $5,000 can be redeemed by the Fed, the banks, or the government for
anything other than dollars created in the same way. Often these dollars are not
even checks written on paper, but are simply accounting entries on a ledger, or
electrical impulses in a bank’s computer. Very little money is printed by the
Treasury on paper, and it is no more redeemable than the accounting impulses,
and sometimes less, as cash gets to be considered a nuisance by modern firms.
But the “multiplier” also works in
reverse. If the public has an unexpected need for money and starts to withdraw
it, the banks may be left with less than the twenty-percent (or whatever)
reserve ordered by the Fed. If the situation becomes critical they may cut back
on making new loans, or even become unable to meet the withdrawal requests of
their customers. The Fed has a number of methods for securing against such
eventualities, but when a financial giant crashes, a lot of people may need
money to cover their obligations-and they may need it in a panic, without any of
the opportunity for planning and deliberation they had when they began their
investments. If $1,000 put into the system “multiplies” to $5,000, then
$1,000 removed will take another $4,000 with it—perhaps with the added losses
associated with trying to sell what no one else wants, at fire-sale prices.
We have glossed over several moral
questions that ought to be considered:
something created from nothing be used in exchange for things of value?
and create a perpetual interest bearing debt that can never be paid off
without taking all of the money out of circulation?
How can it be
moral to loan the same money to five different people? Are they made aware
of the risk?
How can we
justify the inherent inflation as it robs people of their savings and
purchasing power—a “hidden tax”?
How can we
justify the uses to which the hidden tax is put (being hidden it generates
little or no demand for accountability).
How can we
justify keeping liabilities off the balance sheet so that the public will
not realize the cost of government?
How can we
justify the inherent risk of an economy that can collapse so rapidly, in
such a disorderly fashion?
Theologians can address the moral
implications of our money system, and have done so for centuries.
But in the
practical order of things, it is for the citizens, through their elected
representatives to demand that the moral law be reflected in the civil law. (Before
gas hits $12.999 please!)
 For a complex description of the
problem see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear_Stearns
 Cf. G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll
Island, pages 41-84
 US Congress, Coinage Act, 2 April 1792, Section 19.
 See Thomas E. Woods, The
Church and the Market (New York: Lexington, 2005, particularly the
introduction and index entries "scholastics," "social
teaching," and "Thomas Aquinas" on page 236.