Usury in Christendom

By Timothy Fitzpatrick
June 23, 2019 Anno Domini
Book Review

Michael Hoffman’s Usury in Christendom is a thought-provoking and challenging elucidation on the gradual acceptance of the mortal sin of usury in the Catholic Church contrasted with the supposed stern stand against usury by early Puritans—the supposed inheritors of medieval Catholicism.

The first couple hundred pages are fairly straight forward and illustrate the Biblical and Early Church teaching on usury, which appears uncompromising (no amount of interest is permitted under the sin of usury, according to traditional Church teaching). Hoffman starts with Medici Pope Leo X as the beginning of the Church leadership’s slide into apostasy (the love of money being the root of all evil). It was Leo X who, as Hoffman contends, created the loophole for moderate rates of interest with the institution of the monte di pieta, a Florentine bank supposedly designed to offer relief to the poor from the excessive interest rates of Jewish and gentile loansharks thriving in the region. Hoffman argues that the loophole of Leo X and those of Popes thereafter has absolutely no moral justification and is a contravention of Biblical teaching. A fair point by Hoffman that’s difficult to counter, especially considering that Leo X threatened excommunication to anyone publicly expressing doubts over his 1515 Bull. However, on page 226, Hoffman seems to inadvertently provide his own loophole when he writes, “Few churches today exhort against interest on loans beyond the rate of inflation….” How is Hoffman’s exception of inflation any more permissible than the monte di pieta’s exception of circumventing Jewish loansharking by way of low-rate fees required to keep the bank in operation? Hoffman then shows that the loopholes eventually led to mass acceptance of differing forms of usury, persecution of anti-usury dissidents (within the Church and outside of it), and the Catholic Church’s lending of its own money at interest. He claims encyclicals of post-Renaissance popes, like Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum of 1891, were merely rhetoric to placate the masses while Church-sanctioned usury continued unabated.

The latter half of Usury in Christendom ramps up the book’s overall polemical tone and uplifts the early Puritans—unlike the supposedly wayward later Puritans—as the harbingers of anti-usury, anti-capitalist Biblical economic practices. And even when he does discuss those wayward Protestants, like crypto-Jew John Calvin, he can’t help but blame their permittance of usury on the influence of “Roman Catholic nominalists”. Catholics are somehow solely responsible for all usury in the modern world, it seems. Hoffman clearly suggests that the apostate Roman Catholic leadership is primarily responsible for modern usurious capitalism, not Jews or Protestants. The latter have been unfairly scapegoated, although they are involved, Hoffman insists. The Catholics must also be responsible for the early Puritan’s usurist loophole, with which Hoffman seems to have no problem, of permitting usury on commercial investment.

“The early Puritans were capitalism’s worst nightmare; how they came to be made synonymous with its ‘spirit’ is an act of legerdemain by way of a malignant prejudice.”

John Cotton is one such early Puritan to whom Hoffman frequently refers.

Hoffman seems to feel that he must—in the name of historical truth, I suppose—correct Catholic “ignoramuses” in their prejudicial views on the early Puritans and, to a lesser degree, anti-usurist Calvinists. After all, it seems according to Hoffman, Catholics ought to look to Protestant reformers (heretics) to correct Catholic apostasy. A rather absurd conclusion, if in fact, it is his. Hoffman’s championing of the early Puritans is set up early on in his book as he leaves them out of his list of the guilty parties involved in usury. “Modern Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and Mennonites are all guilty of this grotesque disobedience to God.” He seems to suggest, as he does with the early Puritans, that early Protestants were obedient to Biblical teaching on usury. It was only modern Protestants that got it wrong. While Hoffman be be correct that many Catholics throughout the ages have levelled unfair and/or exaggerated charges against early Protestants of usury and Shylockian economic practices, he comes across as quite angry and reactionary—the same way he does with his critics in public discussions (online comments, etc.).

Hoffman’s yearning for an Amish-like economic system may be ideal for the Church, but it is completely impractical in a time when Satanic communism co-opts any legitimate anti-capitalist movements. It may be even more impractical now because of the no-return-like state of the world economy (it seems the banksters have created a system by which only further usury and quantitative easing can keep it going). At times, Hoffman seems to embrace Soviet critiques of Western “colonialism”, particularly in the following mocking tone:

“Was it Puritan Conquistadors who, in an orgy of greed unprecedented in the annals of the western hemisphere, contracted a gold fever that burned so hot it plundered and enslaved the helpless indigenous nations at their mercy?”

Regardless, Hoffman does correctly point out that capitalism and communism are two dialectical forces that both serve the purpose of the money power. They are both based in materialism.

He also equates the “social justice” in Fr. Charles E. Coughlin’s The National Union for Social Justice with the same kind of modern “social justice” against which pundits like Glen Beck rail. Hoffman may be correct that Beck is a hopeless predatory capitalist, but I doubt very much that Coughlin’s social justice is the same as that expressed by the radical Left today.

Critics of Hoffman have pointed out his inconsistent reasoning when accepting mainstream media narratives in one instance and rejecting them as “cryptocracy” propaganda in the next instance. The following Hoffman polemic illustrates this:

“Are these fables about the first Puritans seeded by the Cryptocracy to keep us from studying the radical Protestant roots of resistance to the authority of money? With the virtual collapse of the credibility of popery in the 21st century—with its melange of institutionalized child molestation and ‘infallible’ canonization of ‘Blessed’ John Paul II, patron saint of Voodoo in Benin and Koran-kissing in Rome—an alternative to papalolatry is intensely to be desired.”

Hoffman’s refusal to publicly acknowledge to which Church authority he subscribes only further provides ammunition for his critics. But perhaps we can glean something from a small footnote on page 259. Is he Protestant? Catholic? Schismatic?

“In our protest of the idolization of mere human beings (Romans 3:10; Matt. 20:25-28), we meant to take nothing away from the esteem due to faithful and saintly pre-Renaissance pontiffs who upheld the integrity and authority of the Word of God.”

Completely left out of Usury in Christendom’s equation, oddly, is the history of usury and capitalism—for or against—in Eastern Orthodoxy, particularly as it pertains to the great and prosperous Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Orthodox position is the same anti-usury teaching of the traditional Roman Catholic Church). Was this an historiographical blunder or does Hoffman think it irrelevant? Apparently he feels that the relatively short Puritan period warrants more attention than 1,000 years of Byzantium—through which to learn lessons on usury.

On a minor note, the book has no index, which is unusual and inconvenient.

Putting aside Hoffman’s frequent Puritan apologetics, his book makes solid points about the apostasy of Catholic leadership since the Middle Ages when it comes to usury. His logic and standards are sometimes inconsistent, but his points on usury in the Catholic Church are valid and important. His theory on loopholes is plausible and should not be ignored, despite his biases.

“Contraception, abortion, and homosexuality are, in part, derived from the corruption of a society that has legalized the crime of usury.”

Media anti-Catholic narratives with an endless shelf life

A refutation of Michael Hoffman II

By Jude Duffy
June 29, 2017 Anno Domini

Michael Hoffman II says my comments about him posted on an article published on Henry Makow’s site are calculated to harm his “reputation as a historian”. This is provably false. Far from being “calculated”, my comments were originally a private reply to a woman who wrote to Henry taking issue with my passing reference, in another Makow piece, to Mr. Hoffman as anti-Catholic. This woman challenged me to substantiate my description of Mr. Hoffman and I did so. Henry asked me if he could publish this private reply on his site, and I agreed. So, no calculation.

However, since Mr Hoffman raises the subject, if he wishes to rebut slurs, real or imagined, on his historiographical credibility, no one is stopping him presenting all his formal academic qualifications in this discipline.

Incidentally, my original passing comment about Hoffman (and other alternative media types such as David Icke) alluded to their penchant for uncritically recycling any and all negative narratives the corporate media serve up about the Catholic Church—even though they urge their followers to treat the same media’s narratives about most other issues with contempt. Hoffman in his counter-attack has made no effort to refute this criticism.

Nor has he addressed my point about why he condones the media’s unrelenting efforts to portray clerical sexual abuse of minors as a uniquely Catholic crime. This co-ordinated hate campaign is one of the great media scandals of our time (as some Protestants and even some atheists have acknowledged), yet Hoffman promotes it very enthusiastically in his writings.

Only a few days ago, an item appeared on British Sky News relating to Peter Ball—former Anglican bishop and close friend of the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles—who has been convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse of minors. The report stated that the former head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, had been ordered by the current Archbishop of Canterbuy, Justin Welby, to cut all formal ties with the Church of England, because of his role in covering up the crimes of Bishop Ball.

In addition to being the former head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Carey sits in the British House of Lords and is still a prominent figure in British public life, so this was by any standards a huge story. If it had related to a former Catholic bishop found guilty of sexual abuse, and a former head of the Catholic Church in England found to have covered up his crimes, it would have made front-page news, not just in the U.K. but also around the world. The ultra-Zionist New York Times would have devoted endless column inches to it, and the usual oligarch-funded and directed cultural Marxist groups would have staged noisy protests outside Westminster Catholic Cathedral.

Even the self-styled traditionalist Catholic movement would have jumped on the bandwagon, showering the corporate media with sycophantic garlands for “exposing the sickening corruption at the heart of the post-conciliar Church”.

Yet not only was this story not the main headline on Sky News, it didn’t even merit its own report from a religious affairs or legal affairs correspondent.

Furthermore, Sky News chose to downplay Peter Ball’s crimes by referring to them as the ‘abuse of young men’, when the victims were in fact teenage boys. Over 80 per cent of the victims of Catholic clerics convicted of sexual abuse were in the same age range as Ball’s victims (or the ones he has been convicted of – he has also been accused of abusing younger children). Yet the media invariably refer to Catholic clerical abuse of teenagers as ‘paedophilia’, ‘child abuse’, or the ‘rape of children’.

Needless to say, and regardless of the culprit, there can be no question of minimising the horror of the crime of homosexual abuse of teenagers, but the anti-Catholic vendetta of the media is discernible even in the different language corporate presstitutes use to describe equivalent crimes—depending on the religious denomination of the perpetrator.

Underscoring this vendetta, the Daily Mail, a vile pornographic propaganda organ of the British-Masonic establishment, in its report on the Ball scandal, repeatedly referred to Bishop Ball as a ‘priest’, a term that in Britain usually denotes members of the Catholic clergy.

Mr. Hoffman of course never has anything to say about this whitewashing of the crimes of Protestant clergy, because, quite demonstrably, he shares the Zionist media’s hatred of the Catholic Church.

He repeatedly insists it is only the post-Renaissance Church he objects to, but unless he is exceedingly dense, he must know that the Catholic Church has never held that her divinely guaranteed indefectibility would run out after a given period of history—quite the reverse. If the Church is not indefectible now, she has never been indefectible. And if she had never been indefectible, she would have been as much a fraud in the Middle Ages as she is now—according to Mr. Hoffman’s logic. He really must choose.

 

Moreover, Mr. Hoffman once again refuses to answer the crucial question as to what religious authority he deems worthy of obedience in the here and now. Does he believe that in today’s world every Christian must decide for himself on the great moral issues of our time? That is the definition of Protestantism—and liberalism

Hoffman challenges me to substantiate my claim that he admires Cromwell. This is extraordinary. In his writings he has repeatedly sought to downplay the Judaizing tendencies of Cromwell and the Puritans. Indeed, to read much of what he writes on this subject, one could be forgiven for assuming that the Jacobites had triumphed in the religious and political conflicts of 17th century Britain (see for example one of his most recent pieces on this subject ‘The Great Divide’ – May 2. 2017).

One doesn’t have to be a fan of the Stuarts (I’m not) to recognise the utter absurdity of placing the blame for Britain’s emergence as a usurious capitalist superpower on that dynasty—akin to blaming the Romanovs for the ills of the Soviet Union. Quite simply, Catholics were a defeated and persecuted minority in the days when usurious capitalism became the dominant economic system throughout the U.K. and its colonies.

If British Protestants had the aversion to usury that Hoffman attributes to them, they had ample opportunity to combat this vice from a position of enormous strength, as they held uncontested power in Britain and its possessions  throughout the late 17th century, the 18th century, and the 19th century. As it was, usurious capitalism went from strength to strength in the era of Protestant hegemony.

The United Kingdom has never had a Catholic Prime Minister and hasn’t had a Catholic monarch since the days of the Stuarts. The United States only got its first Catholic President in 1960, and he was only deemed a worthy candidate when he promised not to let his faith govern his political decisions.

And he got shot.

The incontestable fact is that Protestants were ‘early adopters’ of usurious capitalism. Many of the founders of the Bank of England were Huguenots—as was its first governor Sir John Houblon. Even in the predominantly Catholic countries of France and Italy, Protestants dominated usurious banking—something their religious descendants still acknowledge today.

The same applies, incidentally, to Freemasonry. Hoffman dismisses the many papal condemnations of Freemasonry as a smokescreen to hide the real agenda of the “Romanists”, just as he dismisses papal condemnations of usury. On the other hand, he ignores the indisputable and very concrete links between the Protestant churches and Masonry, e.g., Anglican and Lutheran archbishops’ and bishops’ membership of the Freemasons.

So, in Hoffman’s bizarre counter-intuitive form of historiography, binding papal encyclicals can be dismissed as charades, whereas irrefutable evidence of Masonic domination of Protestant churches is deemed irrelevant in assessing the merits of these denominations.

Hoffman doesn’t appear to worry unduly either about Calvin’s openly stated support for usury, Luther’s admiration for occult alchemy, his proto-modernist attempts to edit the Bible to his own taste, and his exhortation to his followers to “sin boldly”.

Nor does Hoffman get around to explaining why, if the radical Protestants of past centuries were such upstanding folk, most mainline Protestant churches now support abortion, homosexuality, and why even most of the more conservative Protestant denominations endorse birth prevention and promote Israel First ultra-Zionism.

He largely ignores, too, the Protestant Anglo-Israelist origins of corrupt occult societies such as the Orange Order, Purple Arch, the Black Preceptory, Skull and Bones, and Scroll and Key—most of which flourished in the radical Protestant heartlands of northern Ireland, Scotland, New England, and the British colonies. Instead, he focuses all his moral outrage about the degeneracy of modern institutional Christianity on the Catholic Church.

For someone who takes such offence at criticism of his own stated views, Hoffman falsely attributes statements to his critics with reckless abandon. He says I claimed that usury “began” with Protestants. I would never say anything so absurd. Usury didn’t begin with Protestants or “Romanists”; it has always existed. I did say that Hoffman has attempted to whitewash Protestantism’s role in the rise of usury, and he has made no attempt to refute this charge.

Hoffman calls my speculation about the reasons for his admiration for Luther, Calvin, et al., “Freudian drivel”. Actually if I had to write the piece again, I’d leave out the last bit about Hoffman’s possible motives for lionising Protestant leaders and Puritans—not because it’s in any way far-fetched to speculate that he may have fallen prey to romantic hero-worship—a much more plausible hypothesis than his own outlandish claim that the popes were secretly promoting Freemasonry while pretending to condemn it. No, the reason I’d omit this final paragraph is because, with hindsight, I think it gives Hoffman too much credit, and may falsely imply a nuanced outlook on his part about religious matters, where no such nuance or balance exists. Regardless of his motives, of which I obviously have no certain knowledge, Hoffman’s writings about the Church are quite simply the work of a crude anti-Catholic propagandist.

Incidentally, the only reason I even added the last bit is because Henry Makow, being a magnanimous sort of chap, asked me if I’d care to balance my criticisms of Hoffman with something positive. That was the context in which I wrote what I did about Hoffman’s piece on Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin. However his views on the Old Crooner notwithstanding, Hoffman’s anti-Catholic bigotry is beyond reasonable dispute in my view.