Sunday, May 22, 2016

Christian Prepping

The Catholic Church has never changed its teaching that usury (what we today call charging interest) at any amount for any time period on any amount is a mortal sin.  It is the teaching today.  The fact that he church keeps making rules to fight it, and current popes still fight it, just shows our rules reveal our weaknesses. The last official word condemning it comes from Vix pervenit, in 1745, the title coming from an exasperated pope writing "No sooner than I answered the question, comes another question..." If there was ever a crime for everyone, it is usury.  Even illicit sex is not as popular (nor as damaging.)

A major exhibition on the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Venice Ghetto has this introduction to make:
Traditionally, the Catholic Church forbade Christians to lend money to other Christians at interest, basing its prohibition on the Vulgate’s translation of Luke 6:35. Prohibitions can be found in the Decretumof Gratian (q. 3, C. IV and q. 4, C. IV) and in chapters 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 13 of theDecretals of Gregory IXThe Third Lateran Council of 1179 enacted a proposal ofPope Alexander III to make all those who violated this prohibition subject to excommunication. This situation made it difficult for people to raise capital, and since the need for capital was persistent, many Christians were open to finding ways to work around the prohibition.
Sigh.  Raise capital for what?  Why do the usury aficionados never say what is so urgent that requires recourse to usury?  A button factory?  Even a mill?  A really big cathedral?  Why, we had all these without usury, so just what is it we need so bad?
One solution was to allow non-Catholics to practice moneylending. This seemed viable, because canon law did not ostensibly apply to non-Catholics, and non-Catholics were in any case not subject to ecclesiastical punishments. Along these lines, many princes throughout Europe adopted the habit of playing host to Jewish communities so that the local Jews could practice moneylending to the benefit of local trade, industry and war-making without the threat of papal excommunication hanging over the Jews or, more importantly, over the prince who made use of them. The fact that Jews were severely restricted from entering most trades in most cities helped to establish this compromise as a trend.
Wow.  Someone said it.  War-making.  Usury to support "local trade" is simply a lie since benecredit covers that.  To say "industry" is disingenuous since the only industry that needs usury is the war making industries and the false economies that rise up around it, like Boeing and Facebook.

And please note the genesis of the "Jewish problem", that is fronting the illicit policies of princes.

While this practice became well entrenched, it did not sit well with all pious Catholics. The Consilia of Alessandro Nievo is an example of a legal opinion that opposed the employment of Jews for moneylending. Alessandro Nievo was born in Vicenza sometime around 1419 and likely studied in Padua. He spent most of his life teaching canon law in his hometown, where he died in 1485. His literary output includes a number of published consilia, comments on the Decretals of Gregory IX and an edition of both the Decretum of Gratian and Antonius Roselli’s Tractatus de Legitimatione Emendetior. It also included the present work, the famous Consilia Contra Judaeos Fenerantes. In this consilium, Alessandro Nievo argued that Jewish moneylending ought to be forbidden on the basis of the Church’s responsibility for Jewish souls. Usury, he argued, was a mortal sin. As such, St. Peter and consequently the Church had no authority to grant a dispensation for it.
So a famous writer in 1419 made probably the best possible case for stopping this practice.  He was widely read.  How are we doing after 600 years?  Sigh.  Same old same old.

Would railing against this evil practice help make things better for the world?  Bestseller Alessandro Nievo would probably say no after 600 years.  And he was restating the obvious with 1400 years of prohibition behind him. Then why bother?  Because there is nothing to keep oneself from thriving within the bounds of usury-free in spite of a world gone mad.  And although there is no personal escape from what is coming, a tidal wave overwhelms all, but for a Christian a goal is to be Christ-like, and that is innocent of the charges when you are executed, more or less.

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