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 Rules for Discussion & Controversy 
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New post Rules for Discussion & Controversy
Gentle Reader,

These are the principles which govern discussion and controversy. They will be enforced on the Bellarmine Forums without apology. Let us meet the standard set by Holy Mother Church, so that we have nothing to fear on this score on Judgement Day, and so that others may benefit from our example.

Pope St. Pius X, speaking to the Catholics of France, in Vehementer Nos. "You feel that you must defend this faith with your whole souls. But be not deluded -- all labor and effort will be useless if you endeavor to repulse the assaults made on you without being firmly united. Remove, therefore, any causes of disunion that may exist among you. And do what is necessary to ensure that your unity may be as strong as it should be among men who are fighting for the same cause, especially when this cause is of those for the triumph of which everybody should be willing to sacrifice something of his own opinions. If you wish, within the limits of your strength and according to your imperious duty, to save the religion of your ancestors from the dangers to which it is exposed, it is of the first importance that you show a large degree of courage and generosity. We feel sure that you will show this generosity; and by being charitable towards God's ministers, you will incline God to be more and more charitable toward yourselves."

Pope Leo XIII, to the Catholics of Spain, in Cum Multa: "Yet it is easy to see how important it is that unity should exist among the minds of men, and all the more so that, amid the unfettered prevalence everywhere of error and in the war so violently and insidiously waged against the Catholic Church, it is absolutely necessary that all Christians would unite their wills and powers in resistance, for fear that separately they may be crushed by the cunning and violence of their foes."
And, "The admonitions, therefore, which we have given to associations, We likewise give to writers; We exhort them to remove all dissensions by their gentleness and moderation, and to preserve concord amongst themselves and in the people, for the influence of writers is great on either side. But nothing can be more opposed to concord than biting words, rash judgments, or perfidious insinuations, and everything of this kind should be shunned with the greatest care and held in the utmost abhorrence. A discussion in which are concerned the sacred rights of the Church and the doctrines of the Catholic religion should not be acrimonious, but calm and temperate; it is weight of reasoning, and not violence and bitterness of language, which must win victory for the Catholic writer."
And, "Animated by brotherly love and all inspired by the same sentiments, they triumphed over the haughty domination of the Moors, over heresy, and over schism. Let the faithful of Spain imitate the example of those from whom they have inherited faith and fame, and show that they inherit not only their ancestors' name but their virtues also."

And the words of that veritable vade mecum of traditional Catholics, Liberalism is a Sin. "In vain do the Liberals cite the words of Leo XIII (1878-1903) in the encyclical Cum Multa, exhorting Catholics to avoid violence in the discussion of the sacred rights of the Church, and to rely rather upon the weight of reason to gain victory; for the words have reference to polemics between Catholics discussing the best means to preserve their common cause, and by no means apply as a rule to govern polemics with the sectaries of Liberalism. The intrinsic evidence of the encyclical proves this beyond cavil. The Pope concludes by exhorting all associations and individual Catholics to a still closer and more intimate union, and after pointing out the inestimable advantages of such a union, he instances, as the means of preserving it, that moderation of language and charity of which we are speaking. The argument is plain: the Pope recommends moderation and charity to Catholic writers as a means of preserving peace and mutual union. Clearly, this peace and union is between Catholics and not between Catholics and their enemies. Therefore, the moderation and charity recommended by the Pope to Catholic writers applies only to Catholic polemics between Catholics on free questions. Would it not be absurd to imagine that there could be any union between truth and error, therefore between the advocates of truth on the one side and error on the other? Irreconcilable opposites never unite. One or the other must disappear."

Therefore, we must decide which questions are "free questions" and which are not free. And when we know which questions are free, we must on no account lose peace with fellow Catholics over them. It also means that on those questions which are not free, those who (pertinaciously - that is, knowingly) take the wrong side depart from the Church and become her open enemies. With these we can dispute with no holds barred. But with fellow Catholics we are enjoined strictly to peace, moderation, charity. There is no middle ground.

The "pope question" is certainly an open question. It is what is called "free." Not, as a liberal would say, that any man may take any view he likes, but in the restricted sense which Liberalism is a Sin means when it employs the word - that it is not a question judged by the Church, and therefore it may be freely discussed by Catholics. All are obliged to discover and cling to the truth - all should strive to meet this great obligation - but all are not presumed to know the truth that the Church has not yet finally declared.

St. Augustine, referring to the fact that without charity all other virtue is worthless, says: "And yet, if within the Church different men still held different opinions on the point, without meanwhile violating peace, then till some one clear and simple decree should have been passed by an universal Council, it would have been right for the charity which seeks for unity to throw a veil over the error of human infirmity, as it is written 'For charity covers a multitude of sins.' For, seeing that its absence causes the presence of all other things to be of no avail, we may well suppose that in its presence there is found pardon for the absence of some missing things." Emphasis added.

In Christ our King.

Sat May 20, 2006 5:25 am
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New post Re: Rules for Discussion & Controversy
The following notes are intended to explain the approach taken by the moderators of the Bellarmine Forums. If you fall afoul of these principles and need to be corrected, please do not take offence. They are the main reason that the Bellarmine Forums are what they are. You may not like the spirit or policies of the Bellarmine Forums, and that is your right, but obviously you will have to act within them if you wish to retain the privilege of posting.

In rational creatures in this world evidence precedes belief. That is, we accept things because they are proved. Anything we adopt as a certain opinion, or a matter of faith, finds entrance to the mind because an authority on the relevant matter presents evidence. In the case of natural truths, that evidence would be first principles, demonstrated facts and valid logic. In the case of Catholic doctrine, the evidence would be authoritative preaching, quotes from a catechism or approved theological work, or authoritative ecclesiastical texts.

This is how everybody's views and beliefs ought to be formed, and if minds are not formed in accordance with this approach then those minds are not behaving rationally. In any case, nobody is permitted to approach any question of truth, natural or supernatural, on the Bellarmine Forums without following these fundamental principles of rational thought.

A moment's reflection will convince you that if you believe something it must be because you were presented evidence for it which you found convincing. It must therefore be possible for you to trace back the source and pass the evidence on to others. There is no hurry to present those sources. But if you don't have time to put in the effort to do so, then you evidently don't have time to post anything else. So please don't.

If you can find the time to post your opinions and beliefs, then you can use the same time to find the evidence. If like most people your time is severely limited, then please reorganise your limited time so that if you can't post multiple opinions or beliefs plus evidence, then stick to one opinion or belief and its evidence until you have the available time to offer more.

The alternatives to this policy are two. One possibility is that the Bellarmine Forums becomes a free publishing platform for whatever impiety, theological error, or nonsense that any member feels like posting. The second possibility is that the moderators allow a free-for-all and fulfill their responsibilities to God and man by spending huge amounts of time finding sources to contradict errors, and even more time writing refutations of bad arguments. The first possibility is fundamentally opposed to Christian doctrine and right reason; the second is unfair and stupid (and still opposed to Christian doctrine anyway).

The whole point of proper procedure is that if anybody is mistaken, he can discover that he is mistaken and change his view. This applies to all, including the moderators.

The fact is that the Bellarmine Forums provide the opportunity to perform a service to fellow Catholics. Please take advantage of it and you will earn the gratitude of all.

In Christ our King.

Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:26 pm
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