Monday, December 17, 2012

Debate online over “Usury in Christendom"

The new book, Usury in Christendom: The Mortal Sin that Was and Now is Not, is being debated online here:

Sample contemporary text cited by those opposed to the book:

The following is allegedly written by Fr. Peter Scott of the SSPX:

"If, however, usury is always a grave sin, this does not mean that there cannot be legitimate interest, provided that it is not charged for the value of the money itself, for it is a pure means of exchange and has no producing power on its own, as does man's labor, or real property. Fr. Walter Farrell, O.P. sums this up quite well in A Companion to the Summa, Vol. III p. 239: 

"When we demand, over and above the return of the original sum of money loaned, an added amount for the use of the money, our act is the same as selling a man a glass of wine and then charging him for the privilege of drinking it. If we keep this simple statement of usury in mind, it will not be difficult to understand the absolutely necessary distinction between usury and legitimate interest. The latter is charged not for the mere use of the money as in usury, but on some extrinsic title.  Extrinsic titles for legitimate interest could include such things as the risk of losing one's money altogether, the positive damage caused to the creditor by such outside factors as inflation, or the human productivity which becomes possible if money is invested to purchase stock in a business enterprise, thus producing dividends." 

Author Michael Hoffman responds:

“Loophole locutionists and escape clause casuists use tricks with words to change usury into “legitimate interest”

By Michael Hoffman
Copyright ©2012

Assuming Fr. Scott really wrote the preceding, as attributed by, his endorsement of Fr. Farrell represents advocacy of some of the main loopholes that began to emerge on the part of heretical/modernist canonists and theologians who were beginning to push the envelope on the eve of the Renaissance, in order to impose situation ethics as a means of modifying and ultimately abolishing the total usury prohibition of interest on debt of the True Catholic Church. None of Farrell’s qualifications and stipulations apply today: any legal rate of interest on debt may be charged by a Roman Catholic. Farrell is merely outlining the innovations employed in times past by which God’s Law against usury was gradually evaded and derogated over time, leading to the complete abolition of His Law. From this root of evil comes the template for revolutionary change by which God’s other Laws and statutes have been gradually derogated and then overthrown by the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Church. 

Under the escape clause, "Extrinsic titles for legitimate interest” we discover that the dogma prohibiting all interest on debt can be overthrown by the modernist revolutionaries on various mitigating pretexts which had been rejected and condemned by the Church for more than a thousand years, as I demonstrate in my book, Usury in Christendom: The Mortal Sin that Was and Now Is Not.

Another argument used by opponents is that if I dare to say that St. Alphonsus Liguori permitted certain forms of interest on debt, thereby overthrowing the magisterial dogma prohibiting it, I am “a snake.” There is no arguing with a mindset that proceeds a priori from the conviction that Alphonsus Liguori could not possibly have advocated mortal sin. Alas, he did. Am I a “snake" for retailing a truth from the documentary record? What sort of totalitarian mentality proclaims it so? Was this not the mentality that St. Paul faced when he asked of the Galatians, “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).

There are two problems with the debate over my book as it has unfolded at First, many of the opponents at of the book Usury in Christendom, have not read its 416 pages wherein most of their objections are answered. Some of the critics at say it is enough to glance at my book’s advertising copy to understand it sufficiently. Is it really necessary to state that a back-cover blurb will only describe the general tenor of a book? To fully understand specific data contrary to the received consensus, one has to take the time to actually read the data, rather than seeking to counter a straw man. 

Second, some of the book’s opponents have a one-track mind that runs thus: the popes of the past 500 years and saints like Liguori cannot be wrong; therefore Hoffman is wrong.

To gain credibility for this enormity, they must hypnotize themselves into thinking that the revolutionary post-Renaissance Church of the past 500 years did not depart from the truth, which the Magisterium of the True Church had faithfully and dogmatically promulgated for the nearly one thousand five hundred years preceding the Renaissance. To sustain their argument they have to engage in a denial of reality by maintaining that there is no contradiction between the Church as it existed from the first century for more than a millennia, and the modern Church of the Renaissance and post-Renaissance. I don’t see how they can maintain this fallacy, given the history and theology I present, which testifies to the magisterial dogmatic prohibition on all forms of interest on debt prior to the modernist revolution. 

The problem from the point of view of debate, is that there is little actual debate transpiring at -- i.e. opposers have not furnished authoritative statements, documents or texts from popes and councils prior to the Renaissance contradicting the data that this writer has marshaled. 

The argument of the opposers is that the modernist Church (dating it as I do, from the Renaissance onward), could not possibly have contradicted the True Church, or departed from the magisterial dogma of more than a millennia. In this regard, I say the emperor has no clothes. My opponents respond by proclaiming me an enemy of the Church. Which Church? The True Church or the modern simulacra?

How can anyone who stands for what was taught unambiguously by the Church from its inception until the Renaissance, be an enemy of the Church?

How can someone who denounces and exposes the revolutionary change that was suffused with escape clauses and justified by loopholes which led to the overthrow of magisterial dogma on usury -- be an enemy of the authentic Church of Jesus Christ?

It is the loophole locutionists and escape clause casuists who partook of the overthrow of the strict prohibition on interest on debt, or who defend the overthrow as being thoroughly consonant with Truth — these are the ones who have departed from the Faith and put forth a usurpation that is called Catholic because Renaissance and post-Renaissance popes and some “saints” are responsible for it, or implicated in it. Men, no matter how exalted their status, do not make the Truth; God does. To imply otherwise is thoroughly rabbinic. Truth is not altered because modernizing popes and those persons declared to be saints departed from it. When men have a higher claim to authority than the doctrine of the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Fathers of the Church and all popes and councils for more than a millennia, we have a personality cult, not the Church of Jesus Christ. This is one of the issues the opponents of my book will not face: the abuse of authority that has given rise to the modern ecclesiastical permission for interest on debt, for liturgical revolution, and for the nullification of Christ’s mission of converting the Jews.

There is a double-mind that decrees with circuitous monotony that the radical overthrow of the Catholic Church’s usury dogma cannot be an overthrow because the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Church endorsed it under the loophole of “extrinsic titles.” 

Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” Let us assess the usury revolution by His criterion. Through the process of gradualism — the slow, steady erosion of eternal truth by means of the weapon of sundry escape clauses grouped under various headings including “extrinsic titles” — the modernist Church over the past 500 years has been responsible for the rise of usury: with the Medici "charity banks"; through nominalism and Eck’s 5% for the Fuggers; and by means of Benedict XIV’s redefinition of usury through his promulgation of extrinsic title loopholes. Then came the Pius VIII era, which decreed to confessors that usurers were to be absolved and not disturbed. All of these mortally sinful and heretical abominations were reconfirmed and enlarged by all subsequent papal administrations in the 19th century, culminating in the operation of the Vatican’s own usurious bank and the 1917 Code of Canon Law permitting whatever interest on debt the secular law of the land allows! 

The permission for interest on debt was a case of situation ethics. Once the door to that Pandora’s Box was opened, every other type of error fueled by the temporal chauvinism of the situation at hand, was unleashed, leading to the situation ethic at the core of contemporary modernism. Conservative and “traditional” Catholics exhibit symptoms of mind control when they militate against modernism while denying that the overthrow of the Church’s dogma of the mortal sin of interest on debt is any kind of modernizing change. Here again, the self-sabotaging double-mind shows itself to be a partner in the modernist destruction of God’s Law despite its declamations against modernism. 

Facts must be faced. Where there is truth there is Jesus Christ. Some “Catholics" have no trouble standing against what the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, the Fathers, and the whole Church taught, if it means they can be seen to uphold various Renaissance and post-Renaissance popes and “saints.” They fail to see that we owe allegiance to the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Councils, and the popes of the Church of All Time, against the modernizing revolutionaries. God does not change. The truth does not change. Interest on debt was, is now, and ever shall be until the Second Coming and the end of time, a soul-damning transgression against God and His Creation.  

Reviving alibis from the past ("extrinsic title”) will not extricate the opponents of God’s Law from the crisis brought about by a radical encounter with reality. The resort to these tired, Talmudic-type of distractions, which were successively confronted and fought by the True, pre-Renaissance Church, is not sufficient to nullify God’s unchanging Law. This writer is well familiar with loopholes such as damnum emergens, put forth hundreds of years ago by mouthpieces of the Money Power (cf. p. 391 of Usury in Christendom). Lawyer’s tricks with words ("the absolutely necessary distinction between usury and legitimate interest”), cannot undo the nullification which the modernizers perpetrated when they gradually abolished God’s Law against interest on debt.  There never was any “legitimate interest" on debt in the Bible or the Church of Jesus Christ. 

Illusion cannot proceed without distraction. Distraction is what is being employed and illusion is what is being generated by those who cannot bring themselves to face a harsh and terrible truth. But until we do face it, no progress can be made in combatting the root of the evil confronting mankind. 



visitor said...

Mr Hoffman,

May I ask? Are you a sedevacantist? Or which protestant denomination do you belong to? Thank you in advance. I look forward to reading your book.

Robert de Brus said...

"...these are the ones who have departed from the Catholic Faith and put forth a usurpation that is called Catholic because Renaissance and post-Renaissance popes and “saints” are implicated in it. "

Michael Hoffman,

Twice in your post you refer to canonized saints as merely "saints", as though they are not.

Do you reject the canonizations of the Church in the post Renaissance era?

Note that I am not a party to the usury debate, just wanted to clarify what youre getting at.

Michael Hoffman said...

To vistor:

On what basis do you imagine that I may be a sedevacantist or a member of a Protestant denomination?

The answer to both questions is negative.

Michael Hoffman said...

To Robert de Brus

The post-Renaissance Church has initiated the canonization process for Pope John Paul II, a revolutionary wrecker and heretic. Will the declaration that he is a saint make him a saint?

In the past, the post-Renaissance Church has declared unrepentant advocates of the mortal sin of interest on money to be saints. Do such canonizations entail the emulation of the example of these “saints"? Are we to compound their sin and error? Can these canonizations by the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Church render hellish behavior saintly?

If your definition of a saint is any person declared to be such by the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Church, then no qualification of the term is necessary.

If however a saint is defined by whether or not he or she was faithful to the Word of God and His Law as upheld by His True Church, then it is necessary for the salvation of our souls to distinguish between those declared to be saints by the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Church, and those whose teachings or example were the opposite of saintly.

Jason said...

A couple of observations after visiting that site:

1. Critics should actually read the book they're critiquing.

2. The main antagonist - who admittedly did not and will not read the book - is a perfect example, the fruit if you will, of one who has taken Papal Infallibility to its logical conclusion.

visitor said...

Mr Hoffman,

The answer to your question is that after reading several dozen of your posts and your "Secret Societies..." book, it was merely a guess. I certainly do not wish to offend, I am just curious since you write quite a bit about the errors of Rome and yet you do not seem to claim to be, say, presbyterian or something like that. Just curious. If you do not wish to answer, no matter, I am still going to buy your book on usury. Thank you for your time.

I am Eastern Orthodox by the way.

Redmond said...

I look forward to reading your book as I've never been in favor of usury. I was wondering though if you believe rent on properties is the same as usury or not? since I recall coming across this view some time ago in a book by Mooney on the subject.

Michael Hoffman said...

To Visitor

I have indeed answered your initial query. Read my reply (above).

Obviously you have not seen a copy of my book on “Usury." I mention sedevacantism on p. 35

Michael Hoffman said...

To Redmond

If it is a simple matter of rent, defined as fair payment for the use of property, then this would not be interest on debt and consequently not usury.

It is a different matter if lodging is provided on credit, with interest charged on the debt which the renter incurs. Cf. p. 227 of “Usury in Christendom."

I do believe that "rack-renting," however, violates the Commandment against theft. The Elizabethan Puritan Miles Mosse, writing in 1595 in his book “The Arraignment and Conviction of Usury,” states:

‘to cover their sin and to uphold their credit,’ usurers ‘have devised fair cloaks to shroud their ragged garments and have begotten a more cunning and subtle of traffic in the world,’ so that there were ‘13,000 devices which men of evil conscience have invented’ to practice their wicked art. It was ‘now one thing, now another,’ inflated prices or unfairly low wages, high rents or the taking of pawns, ‘always being usury, and yet never plainly appearing to be usury.’ (end quote)

Here Mosse furnishes an inventory of avarice considered as broadly representative of a usurious spirit, if not usury per se. Historian David Hawkes imparts the truth that the English people of the Elizabethan era had a savage contempt for interest on debt. Mosse is an example of that furious jeremiad.

In contradistinction to his type of remonstrance, I would prefer to term the charging of inflated prices on goods (“whatever the market will bear," as the buccaneer capitalists say) -- instead of just prices -- and rack-renting, as being two forms of Mammonism, i.e. the personification of the demon of covetousness.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Dr. Hoffman, I'm very poor and have not bought the book but I'm wondering do you answer or talk about the use of Jesus's use of usury in the parable of the ten talents. Didn't Jesus say to the holder of the one talent that you could've given it to the moneylender and earned interest on it?

I am curious if this was covered in the book and if not, can you expound on that now?

Michael Hoffman said...

To W. Lindsay Wheeler

Yes, it is necessary to reply to the myth that Jesus sanctioned usury in His Parable of the Talents, and we have done so on pp. 50-53 of “Usury in Christendom.”

While it is does not do justice to the topic to reduce a response to a few sentences, I will venture to offer a one-paragraph summation of the correct exegesis of the Parable:

"The substantive point of the parable is that Jesus’ statements are made in reply to the mentality of the servant who called him a 'hard man' (in the Greek austere, i.e. harsh). The servant is terming his master, Jesus, a hard, ruthless man. The advice to put money at interest is based on an if/then proposition. The wicked servant had slandered his master in a feeble attempt to justify his own laziness. If Christ is a cruel master, then the servant is justified putting the money at interest” (p. 51).

We have much more to say in the book (as noted, three pages’ worth) in defense of Christ’s purity in regard to any aspersion that dares to associate Our Lord with advocating, in the parable, interest on debt.

michael said...

My few comments are for encouragement...both for the author, who has provided us all with an amazingly relevant and illuminating "the love of money's" rotten "root" so subtly planted within the churches boot(which the books title perfectly encapsulates)Thank you Mr.Hoffman for soldiering through this minefield of misinformation holding firmly to the truth! Next, I want to encourage all truth seekers to bundle whatever courage nessesary to read this book and discern if it is truth or fiction based on facts...rather than presupposition. The truth is! and "he who does not want all the truth deserve no truth"...

ken said...

Mr. Hoffman:
Thank you for standing up to our enemies, the money lenders and those who promote them. It appears you are also being attacked by those Christians who should be supporting you. Their attacks seem to be defense mechanisms to protect them from the fact that the Catholic Church could have strayed from the path of truth. The Church was made to lead mankind to God and redemption, not worldly wealth. Why would a religious body support such a secular practice as usury which hurts the poor?
Unfortunately, I believe the answer lies in the Talmudization of Christianity and the Western world in general following the Renaissance.
It is important to note that in a letter dated 1492 to Chemor, the chief rabbi of Spain, the Jewish Grand Sanhedrin recommended that Spanish Jews "make your sons canons and clerics in order that they may destroy their churches."
This is why something a vile as usury could be suddenly approved of by the Church after one and a half millenia of rejection.
This is not a pleasant fact but it is a fact. The Church has never stemmed this subversion and it continues to erode Christianity up to this day.
I am a Catholic and believe that we must admit that our Church has strayed from the narrow path. We must ask hard questions and be willing to listen to unpleasant answers. Most of all, we must reject those things which are evil and support those who seek to lead us from those damning practices.
Thank you for helping in that fight.

Michael Hoffman said...

To ken

I have not been able to verify the authenticity of this statement: “ ... in a letter dated 1492 to Chemor, the chief rabbi of Spain, the Jewish Grand Sanhedrin recommended that Spanish Jews 'make your sons canons and clerics in order that they may destroy their churches.”

Even if the statement is true, if you have read my book on “Usury” you will know that the focus of my study is on gentile usury.

Moreover, even if no Judaic persons had ever influenced the Renaissance Church, there would still have been legions of gentile scoundrels at work inside of it.

It is a mistake to adhere to the Right Wing template of always searching for crypto-Judaic agents when studying subversion of the Church.

The leading malefactors in the overthrow of God’s laws against usury by the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Church, were overwhelmingly gentile.

We need to look to our own house in order to track how we ourselves came to be corrupted by evil through our own fallen human nature. When Adam and Eve fell, there were no Jews to blame for the wicked disobedience of our first parents.

It is salutary to study how it is that the people of Christendom became worse than the Talmudists. This is the focus of my book. I hope you will find the time to read it.

bill bannon said...

Deuteronomy it folks....God permitted usury to the Jews toward foreigners. God does not permit the intrinsically evil.

Michael Hoffman said...

To Bill Bannon

You don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.

Please read “Usury in Christendom” for a thorough rebuttal of your claim.

Jonathan Doyle said...

I have read the book, and my overall impression is that M. Hoffman’s
bias against the Catholic church does a great disservice to himself
and to his otherwise thought-provoking book.

It would appear that M. Hoffman’s preconceived idea is that “the Catholic
Church falsified the Word of God, especially in relation to usury” (a common
claim amongst muslim polemicists today, perhaps M. Hoffman has been influenced
in this regard by his muslim teacher)

There are at least two outright falsehoods that are stated as facts
in the book. The falsehood of the first of them can be checked by anyone
who has access to the internet, and the falsehood of the second can be
checked by anyone who has access to Heribert Jones’ “Moral Theology”.

On page 383 of the book, it is stated that in items 1609 to 1610 of Denzinger
“The sum effect of this papal directive was that those who take interest on money according to the rate permitted by law must not be disturbed”.

Now those items are online, at

Anyone reading those two short paragraphs will see that
1) Those “not to be disturbed” are not the “usurers” but the confessors
2) Those confessors are not even advocating usury, but are trying to “hold
a middle course”.
3) Nowhere is “rate permitted by law” mentioned in those two paragraphs.

On page 390 of “Usury in Christendom”, it is claimed that Heribert Jones'
“Moral Theology” gives “permission for sodomizing one’s Catholic wife”, and
a paragraph from p.195 of “Moral Theology” is quoted as putative evidence for this.
In point of fact, the immediately preceding paragraph condemns sodomy, even
“imperfect sodomy” in the strongest terms.

Another very weak point in M. Hoffman’s book is his treatment of St. Thomas
Aquinas. M. Hoffman claims that his position is completely in accord with
St. Thomas’, but conveniently omits to discuss the parts of the Summa
that would be hard to reconcile with this claim, such as solution 1 of Art.2
or Art.4 in IIa-IIae Q.78.

M. Hoffman tries to make a case for a progressive distortion/evolution/falsificatiopn
of the doctrine on usury by the Church, but the progressive distortion is all
of his making : his books starts by giving a fair exposition of the Church’s
teaching on usury, and later on his quotations become increasingly distorted
and misinterpreted (on what grounds, for example, does M.Hoffman calls the
Catholic interpretation of Vix Pervenit (an interpretation shared by Fr. O'Callaghan)
an “intellectually lazy failure” and rejects this intrepretation in favor
of an interpretation by a “modernist Catholic” (i.e., an inflitrated enemy
in the Church?)).

Thus does the book increasingly depart from Catholic doctrine and increasingly become like M. Hoffman’s preconceived misconceptions about it, culminating in the falsehoods I exposed above.

Michael Hoffman said...

Dear Mr. Doyle:

My rejoinder to your comment is online here: