On June 24, 2013 someone unknown to us, writing under the name “Jonathan Doyle,” submitted a comment on our Dec. 27, 2012 post, “Debate online over ‘Usury in Christendom.” We published this person’s comment which can be found below the original post, (comment #17) at this link: http://revisionistreview.blogspot.com/2012/12/debate-online-over-usury-in-christendom.html
What follows is our rejoinder.
Hoffman Contra Doyle
JONATHAN DOYLE WRITES:
...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.
MICHAEL HOFFMAN REPLIES:
In the penultimate paragraph of your comment you refer to modernists as “an inflitrated enemy in the Church.” How can I be “biased” against the Catholic Church when all I am doing is exposing the actions of “modernizing, infiltrated” enemies? For fifteen hundred years the true Catholic Church taught that all interest on loans of money was forbidden on pain of mortal sin. Supporting the true Catholic Church against the subversive agents of the Money Power who have captured the Church of Rome does not make me an enemy of the authentic ecclesia.
JONATHAN DOYLE WRITES:
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) .
MICHAEL HOFFMAN REPLIES:
The true Catholic Church never can falsify the word of God in relation to anything. The post-Renaissance Church of Rome has permitted mortal sins directly contradicting the Word of God. Whether this is a “common claim of the Muslims” it does not nullify the truth. Facts are facts whether Muslims believe them or not. Needless to say, I have not been influenced by Islamic teaching. For my study of the Muslim view of riba, cf. Revisionist History newsletter no. 64, “Modern German and Islamic Resistance to Usury.”
JONATHAN DOYLE WRITES:
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 http://www.onetruecatholicfaith.com/Roman-Catholic-Dogma.php?id=32&title=Denzinger+1600+-+1699&page=2.
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.
MICHAEL HOFFMAN REPLIES
In Denzinger 1609, a query from the Bishop of Rheims to the pope concerned how Confessors should handle Catholic capitalists who practice usury and have been refused absolution in the past (“denial of the sacraments to many business men engaging in that method of making money”). The bishop notes that the current practice of confessors in many cases is to absolve them. Pope Pius VIII responded in Denzinger 1610: “They are not to be disturbed.”
If Mr. Doyle imagines that declaring that priest-confessors who absolve usurers are not to be disturbed signifies that the usurers themselves are to be disturbed, then I would suggest that Mr. Doyle does not have a firm grasp of the English language. Moreover, there is no evidence that in his statement Pius VIII was referring only to the confessors who absolved the usurers and not the usurers themselves when he declared “They are not to be disturbed.” Pope Pius VIII himself made no qualification. Faced with two categories, confessors who absolved unrepentant usurers, and the usurers themselves, he decreed, they were not to be disturbed. And guess what? By some strange coincidence, from thence onward Catholic usurers were not “distrubed’ by having to confess their mortal sin and receive absolution.
Mr. Doyle is endeavoring to discredit my thesis based not on substance but on raising lawyer’s quibbles. Such petty lawyer’s tactics do not detract, however, from the disgraceful and indeed heretical response of Pius VIII to the revolution that was taking place before his very eyes, in that Catholic agents of the Money Power were being allowed to profit from usury, receive absolution and the sacraments, and remain Catholics in good standing.
As for the “rate permitted by law,” if Mr. Doyle will study the rulings of the Penitentiary in the 19th century he will see that this loophole is often invoked, as it was in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, with regard to permission for usury. As the revolutionaries took over the Church they created a two-tier understanding for usury that had never existed in the past: interest on loans of money based on a “rate permitted by law,” which was deemed permissible, contrasted with extraordinarily high interest rates which were now defined as usury, but for which, once again, no bar to reception of the Holy Eucharist and no refusal of absolution was any longer maintained in the confessional.
Denzinger 1609: "If the penitent perseveres in his plan of giving money as a loan to business men, and objects that an opinion favorable to such a loan has many patrons, and moreover, has not been condemned by the Holy See, although more than once consulted about it, then these confessors demand that the penitent promise to conform in filial obedience to the judgment of the Holy Pontiff whatever it may be, if he should intervene; and having obtained this promise, they do not deny them absolution...If a penitent does not confess the gain from money given as a loan, and appears to be in good faith, these confessors, even if they know from other sources that gain of this sort has been taken by him and is even now being taken they absolve him, making no interrogation about the matter..."
Denzinger 1610: "Therefore the said Bishop of Rheims inquires: 1. Whether he can approve the method of acting on the part of these latter confessors. 2. Whether he could encourage other more rigid confessors who come to consult him to follow the plan of action of those others until the Holy See brings out an express opinion on this question."
Pius VIII responded:
1: They are not to be disturbed."
(END QUOTE FROM DENZINGER 1609-1610)
Let us examine the declaration of Pope Urban III (1185-1187), from Denzinger 403
From the epistle "Consuluit nos" to a certain priest of Brescia: "Your loyalty asks us whether or not in the judgment of souls he ought to be judged as a usurer who, not otherwise ready to deliver by loan, loans his money on this proposition that without any agreement he nevertheless receive more by lot; and whether he is involved in that same state of guilt who, as it is commonly said, does not otherwise grant a similar oath, until, although without payment, he receives some gain from him; whether or not that negotiator ought to be condemned with a like punishment, who offers his wares at a price far greater, if an extension of the already extended time be asked for making the payment, than if the price should be paid to him at once. But since what one must hold in these cases is clearly learned from the Gospel of Luke in which is said: "Give mutually, hoping nothing thereby" [cf. Luke 6:35], men of this kind must be judged to act wrongly on account of the intention of gain which they have, since every usury and superabundance are prohibited by law, and they must be effectively induced in the judgment of souls to restore those things which have been thus received." (End quote from Denzinger 403; emphasis supplied).
I reject and contest every notion that usury constitutes something other than what Pope Urban III, in confirming what the true Catholic Church always taught, here states. Usury is anything contracted for a loan above the return of the loan itself.
JONATHAN DOYLE WRITES:
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.
MICHAEL HOFFMAN REPLIES: (Warning to sensitive readers - of necessity some intimate details of a grotesque nature are mentioned here).
Mr. Doyle has his citations wrong. P. 195 of Moral Theology refers to permission for usury, i.e. a “just rate of interest...established...by law." Moral Theology’s permission for sodomizing one’s Catholic wife is on p. 539, not p. 195.
The author is not Heribert “Jones,” it is Heribert Jone.
Mr. Doyle accuses this writer of distorting and misinterpreting quotations. Observe what he does with quotations from the permission for “Catholic” sodomy of one’s wife in the post-Renaissance “Catholic” manual of Moral Theology:
Mr. Doyle indignantly proclaims that this manual, “condemns sodomy, even ‘imperfect sodomy’ in the strongest terms.”
Mr. Doyle should read more attentively. Moral Theology condemns the sodomizing of one’s Catholic wife when the husband ejaculates his semen in her rectum:
“757. I. Imperfect sodomy, i.e. rectal intercourse is a grave sin where the seminal fluid is wasted.”
The Moral Theology manual clearly teaches, for those who can read, that when the husband has anal intercourse with his wife without the intention of ejaculating in her rectum, he is free to do so in that it is not sodomy and it is not a grave sin:
“Excluding the sodomitical intention it is neither sodomy nor a grave sin if intercourse is begun in a rectal manner with the intention of consummating it naturally...”
In other words, if the husband begins his marital act with his wife by having rectal intercourse with her, as long he concludes the act by ejaculating in her vagina, it is not sodomy and it is not a grave sin.
It is also not sodomy or a grave sin, “if some sodomitical action is posited without danger of pollution.”
[All quotations from p. 539 of Moral Theology (Newman Press, 1962) and bearing the Imprimatur and Nihil obstat.
One wonders why Mr. Doyle omitted these quotations in his attempt to impeach my thesis?
He is wasting this writer's time by disputing what are plain facts of the post-Renaissance Moral Theology -- one of the most celebrated “Catholic" statements of dogma in print. The manual gives permission for usury and for sodomy. This is the hallmark of modernity. There is a connection between sodomy and usury. We find it in the medieval, truly Catholic Dante’s equation, wherein he places them together in the seventh circle of Hell in The Inferno.
JONATHAN DOYLE WRITES:
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.
MICHAEL HOFFMAN REPLIES:
Nowhere does St. Thomas Aquinas deviate from this sacred dogma. On a mutuum, the damnum to which Aquinas refers, is strictly limited to cases of compensation for non-payment of the loan; nothing more. The damnum of Aquinas is not an interest payment of any kind (see p. 391 of my book).
Moreover, foenus (or faenus) does not refer to compound interest specifically, but rather, it denotes interest on debt generally. It is always pejorative because of its etymological root as the brood of iniquitous increase. The word is derived from fetus, because it is “quaedam faetura pecunia parturientis” (the brood of increase). The context here is of a mockery of God’s creation by the use of money to create money. The use of foenus/faenus carried with it in antiquity the connotation of man’s monstrous increase, as opposed to God’s natural increase.
“Extrinsic circumstances” relating to fees for a loan arose in the Renaissance with concepts of time value, “administrative fees” and lucrum cessans (see pp. 392-393 of Usury in Christendom). In the majority of cases these are interpretive subtleties created for purposes of circumventing the dogma and sacred law of the True Church against any increase deriving from a loan.
Neither Rerum Novarum nor Quadragesimo anno reinstated the Church’s pre-Renaissance dogma against interest on debt.
Traditionalists often point to the Council of Trent as being a fount of supreme and unassailable Catholic dogmatic Truth. Trent’s definition of what constitutes usury is consonant with all pre-Renaissance Catholic doctrine from the Apostolic and Patristic age, as well as the medieval papacy and councils: “Now, whatever is received above the principal, be it money, or anything else that may be purchased, or estimated by money, is usury.”
What is it about that word “whatever” that sets the human mind working to find an exception or a loophole?
Denzinger after 1515 is no longer a reliable guide to Catholic Truth, since it reflects the statements of the revolutionaries who occupied the Chair of Peter henceforth, all of them being guilty of the formal heresy of tolerating the institution of the mortal sin of usury, or extending this grave and hellish transgression from the initial permission issued by Leo X.
This is a difficult truth to accept, but where there is truth there is Jesus Christ and His Church, as it existed for one thousand five hundred years, until Renaissance modernists subverted and infiltrated, which we have with us still.
JONATHAN DOYLE WRITES
M. Hoffman tries to make a case for a progressive distortion/evolution/falsification 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”...
MICHAEL HOFFMAN REPLIES
In Vix Pervenit (1745) Benedict XIV expanded Leo X’s "infallible" 1515 Bulla Concilii in decima sessione super materia Montis Pietati, promulgating the lawfulness of charging interest for philanthropic ends, to include the lawfulness of interest on investment credit capital. The intellectually lazy failure is seen in the failure to note and comprehend Vix Pervenit’s “fine print.” After many anti-usury rhetorical flourishes throughout the document, the technique of the devolutionary degradation of God’s law through gradualism was deployed with the following subtle papal statement:
“We do not deny that at times together with the loan contract certain other titles — which are not intrinsic to the contract — may run parallel with it. From these other titles, entirely just and legitimate reasons arise to demand something over and above the amount due on the contract.”
The papal usurers apply rabbinic-style loopholes to sneak their usury past the eyes of gullible Catholics who have a psychological need to believe that the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Church of Rome did not overthrow the dogma of the True Church. Vix Pervenit consists of 98% anti-usury rhetoric and 2% loopholes by which usury could continue to operate.
Note that in Vix Pervenit Benedict XIV declined to apply the general prohibition to the specific usury contracts which gave rise for the need for his encyclical in the first place!
Mr. Doyle accepts Vix Pervenit at face value, even though Vix Pervenit is a textbook example of Vatican dissimulation and misdirection, very much in the tenor of the current Pope Francis's undoubtedly eloquent jeremiads against avarice and obsessive pursuit of economic affluence to the detriment of family values. Exceedingly naive people believe that this sort of oratory signifies something. But Jesus Christ said By their fruits ye shall know them, not by their palaver.
Res ipsa loquitor - the facts speak for themselves - usury, both from inside the papacy and among Catholics in general, has grown exponentially, largely unimpeded, from Leo X in 1515, through Benedict XIV in 1745, Pius VIII in 1830, Benedict XV in 1917, John Paul II in 1983, up to the present time of Benedict XVI and now Francis. In the midst of all of these pontificates no other pope restored the mortal sinfulness of usury, or declared that all interest on loans of money must cease immediately, on pain of eternal damantion.
What were the fruits of Vix Pervenit? Because of its rabbinic-style loophole, it opened the door to even more latitude for Catholic usury. Note the testimony of the Bishop Rheims as recorded in Denzinger 1609: "There is bitter dispute over the meaning of the Encyclical Letter, 'Vix pervenit'...On both sides arguments are produced to defend the opinion each one has embraced, either favorable to such (usury) profit or against it.”
For further research:
by Michael Hoffman. Paperback. Illustrated, 416 pages.