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Vatican One and Papal Infallibility

The plans for the reforming the Catholic Church have been in the works for centuries, and Pope Pius the 9th is a reform pope, but several problems have cropped up. Remember that the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church and he is currently the head of the Papal States... like a king. A few years ago, a Catholic French aristocrat had expressed the liberal idea that the Church should adopt democratic principles because the old religious-aristocratic system is dead. The Pope sent a reasonable correction to the aristocrat, and included a list of errors that all people should correct in their religious observance. If a king had issued such a list, it would be called a royal decree. The French are currently reacting badly to anything that appears to disdain their democratic zeal. (France has opened its first parliament recently.) So they burn the Pope's decree in the street. The Pope then calls for the largest convocation of Bishops ever assembled which will be called the First Vatican Council or "Vatican 1" in modern times. They must work out the religious policies for the Church going forward. Far down on the agenda is Papal infallibility.... answering the question: "When is a Pope's decision final and not subject to a vote of the bishops?" The debate is going well: atheism is a bad idea, pantheism is not allowed, etc, but as the bishops turn toward the Pope's role in making religious decrees, it gets strange. They agree that the Pope is infallible only in those decisions that deal with his Pastoral duties to the Church in regard to Faith and Morals. That is, whenever he speaks ex cathedra. In July, the majority vote in favor of this proposition. Two vote against. A VERY large number of bishops abstain. Two days later, French troops withdraw from the Papal States to go to war with Prussia. On the 20th of September 1870, the Army of Italy moves in and the Papal States are no more. Italy is unified and Rome is its capital. Pope Pius the 9th is now king of 110 acres of real estate. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Even by his critics, Pope Pius the 9th was considered a charming man and well-liked by those who met him. By virtue of my personal promise to remain objective, I admit that I do not like Pope Pius the 9th. I am Jewish and he was bad for the Jews in many respects. However, objectively speaking, I understand the political pressure he was under. He was making reforms and those reforms went south. He tried to wrest control of the Church back and a lot of people got caught in the cross fire. Whenever one's goal is to reform an organization, even with a carefully planned reform, at some point one must stop. That exact point is not always easy to define. If one goes too far, the organization becomes something else entirely, and one's core mission is lost. For a religious organization that can be disastrous. I am a Modern Orthodox Jew and I am aware of that tension between the need to modernize without throwing away one's core religious principles. I am often stepping between two worlds and two ways of thinking. When I walk into a synagogue it is the 11th day of Elul (eh-LOOL) in the year 5776 since the Creation. When I step out, its September 14th, 2016. I am part of a pre-Enlightenment religion immersed in the world of Enlightenment. In this I share many feelings with Catholics because they are the other pre-Enlightenment religion trying to live in this Brave New World. We are the remnant. [6] [7]

Standard Oil of Ohio

John D. Rockefeller is not yet the richest man in history, but he is working on it. Oil drilling in Ohio is ongoing, but John is not an oil man per se. He was a clerk in a produce company, but he formed a partnership with his brother William and another fellow to refine oil rather than drill for it. John's expertise is in cutting costs, especially transportation costs. By 1868, he and his brother have built the largest refinery capacity in the world. This year the old partnership is dissolved and reestablished as Standard Oil. Profits soar. There is a glut of kerosene on the market, so the profit margins are thin. This works in favor of Standard Oil. Rockefeller makes a deal with the railroad companies. For a substantial discount on freight cost, Standard Oil will guarantee to ship a certain amount of oil. They will also load and unload it themselves. With lower transportation costs, kerosene prices drop by half. Smaller companies cannot get the big discounts that Standard Oil can so they fold. Standard Oil buys them out, keeping some going and shutting down others. In 2 years they will call it "The Cleveland Massacre" as 22 of its 24 competitors go down to destruction. You will hear a lot of hollering, and one of the loudest will be John Archbold who will head to Oklahoma to make his fortune, but he will return to become Rockefeller's assistant and later run Standard Oil while Rockefeller engages in charitable work. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... that all sounds reasonable. A businessman does a better job, more efficiently and is rewarded for it. That's fine. But in those days there were few regulations on businesses and in my general reading, my sense is that success bred a type of robber baron mentality that led to collusion between companies and unfair business practices. I'm all for a fair playing field and discounts for volume users. Crushing competition and stifling innovation through collusion is generally bad. It was like when the riverboat companies tried to stop the railroads from building bridges across rivers. The underlying (and underhanded) argument was over the right for a river freight company to strangle the growing railroad freight company in its crib. We like the idea of cheap freight costs, but it is a precarious balance when government tries to help a new business grow, and the same government being used to protect the businesses that are "too big to fail." Standard Oil was eventually broken up because of its anti-competitive practices. That is why we have Chevron, BP, Exxon-Mobile, and others. After the break-up, Mr. Rockefeller became even richer than before. Once freed of central control, the companies were more efficient and responsive to local market forces and made Rockefeller even richer than before. AT&T went through a similar process. There is no company "too big to fail."

In Other News

  • The fireman's pole is invented in Chicago. The spiral staircase keeps the horses from coming upstairs, but it has become a bottleneck. [13]
  • Stevens Institute of Technology opens in Hoboken. Future graduates will include the founder of Texas Instruments, the developer of the Gantt chart, and the co-inventor of Bubble Wrap. [14]
  • New Years Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas become paid holidays for US Federal employees. Note that neither the Congress nor the President has asserted the authority to declare Federal holidays for anyone except Federal employees or within the District of Columbia. [15]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1870, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Papal infallibility - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 12 June 2015. “The solemn declaration of papal infallibility by Vatican I took place on 18 July 1870. Since that time, the clearest example of an ex cathedra decree (not the only such decree) took place in 1950, when Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary as an article of faith.”
  2. Papal States under Pope Pius IX - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 September 2016. “The Papal States under Pope Pius IX assumed a much more modern and secular character than had been seen under previous pontificates, and yet this progressive modernization was not nearly sufficient in resisting the tide of political liberalization and unification in Italy during the middle of the 19th century.”
  3. Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy. Random House. “The debate was long and spirited, and the wording as finally accepted--by a majority of 533 to 2, but with many abstentions--disappointed the extremists on both sides. The Roman pontiff, it declared, was indeed infallible, his definitions "being irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church"; his infallibility was, however, restricted only to those occasions "when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when, in discharge of the office of Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church."” 
  4. Alex Shrugged notes: France went to war with Prussia over a mistranslation of a public statement made by Bismark. It translated into a slight insult to the French Ambassador. The French went wild and went to war. They got their heads handed to them by the next year. But that gives you a sense of the volatility of the French at that time.
  5. Ems Dispatch - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 13 September 2016. “The French translation by the agency Havas did not translate 'Adjutant', which in German refers to a high-ranked aide de camp, but in French describes only a non-commissioned officer (adjudant), so implying that the King had deliberately insulted the ambassador by not choosing an officer to carry the message to him. This was the version published by most newspapers the following day, which happened to be July 14 (Bastille Day),[10] setting the tone, letting the French believe that the king had insulted their ambassador, before the ambassador could tell his story.”
  6. Remnant - definition of remnant (2016). Retrieved on 14 September 2016. “A surviving trace or vestige”
  7. Alex Shrugged notes: By 'remnant' I am referring poetically to those in exile in Babylon, a vestige of what is left, keeping the faith in hope of returning to the Promised Land... metaphorically speaking. Personally what I am thinking is that I don't want to throw away so much of what my fathers of the past have fought and died for. The core must remain if for no other reason than to keep faith with them.
  8. Our history. ExxonMobil (OFFICIAL SITE)) (2016). Retrieved on 13 September 2016. “1870 Rockefeller and his associates form the Standard Oil Company (Ohio), with combined facilities constituting the largest refining capacity of any single firm in the world. The name Standard is chosen to signify high, uniform quality.”
  9. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 432-433. 
  10. The Rockefellers: The Legacy Of History's Richest Man. forbes.com (July 11, 2014). Retrieved on 14 September 2016. “The Rockefeller legacy began with a 16-year-old bookkeeper in Cleveland, Ohio, whose greatest ambitions were to earn $100,000 and live 100 years. His formal business training included a ten-week class in accounting, as well as a con-artist father who was known to say, 'I cheat my boys every chance I get. I want to make 'em sharp,' according to the biography John D. Rockefeller: Anointed with Oil.”
  11. John Dustin Archbold - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 September 2016. “In 1864 Archbold went to the north-west Pennsylvania oil fields and spent 11 years in the oil industry there. When John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company began buying up refiners in this oil-rich region, many independent refiners felt squeezed out, and Archbold was among Standard's harshest and loudest critics. In 1885 after becoming skeptical of reports of oil discoveries in Oklahoma, he sold-out at a loss, saying 'I’ll drink every gallon produced west of the Mississippi!'”
  12. John D. Rockefeller - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 September 2016. “On 10 January, 1870, Rockefeller abolished the partnership of Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler[39], forming Standard Oil of Ohio, which rapidly became the most profitable refiner in Ohio. Standard Oil grew to become one of the largest shippers of oil and kerosene in the country. The railroads competed fiercely for traffic and, in an attempt to create a cartel to control freight rates, formed the South Improvement Company in collusion with Standard and other oil companies outside the main oil centers. The cartel received preferential treatment as a high-volume shipper, which included not just steep rebates of up to 50% for their product but also rebates for the shipment of competing products.”
  13. Fire Houses and Fire Fighting. weirdfacts.com (2016). Retrieved on 13 September 2016. “The fire pole was, a tradition in almost every fire department, it was invented in Chicago. The original purpose was to reduce the time it took firefighters to get from the second floor of firehouses (where firefighters lived and slept) down to the ground (where their equipment was). Nowadays, they are not used very often, but are usually still installed for tradition's sake.Fire houses were also equipped with spiral staircases so the horses would not try to climb the stairs into the living quarters Spiral staircases were difficult to descend and relatively slow when moving many men down to the wagons. The slide pole was a much more efficient way to move them quickly downstairs.”
  14. Stevens Institute of Technology - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 June 2016. “Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) is a private, coeducational research university located in Hoboken, New Jersey, United States. The university also has a satellite location in Washington, D.C.. Incorporated in 1870, it is one of the oldest technological universities in the United States, and was the first college in America solely dedicated to mechanical engineering. The campus encompasses Castle Point, the highest point in Hoboken, and several other buildings around the city.”
  15. Straus, Jacob R. (November 16, 2012). Federal Holidays: Evolution and Current Practices (PDF). Retrieved on September 13, 2016.

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