There is so much to be grateful for this year. But, before we get to that, I wish to reflect a moment about gratitude and why it may be the most vital human attitude, especially in our contemporary culture.
Last Friday, a federal judge ordered a temporary injunction against the HHS contraception mandate for a private, but distinctly religious, employer, Tyndale House Publishing. There is an important distinction to be made here. I have long argued that the most important aspect of the entire controversy is to enlarge the exemption from the mandate for religious institutions such as Catholic schools and hospitals and charities. But, I also believe that private firms, not officially affiliated with any particular church, but engaged in pervasively religious work, should also be exempt.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan penned an article for his archdiocesan newspaper about the recent elections. As in his comments before the election, Dolan's words are measured.
Here is a link to a video of Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete discussing Ross Douthat's book "Bad Religion." The tape is not of great quality, and Monsignor's voice is a soft one, but it is worth the effort to ramp up the volume. Albacete correctly notes that the problem with Douthat's work is its reduction of religion to moralism.
I do not know many people who worry as much as I do about Catholic identity. A priest friend routinely introduces me as a "Catholic fanatic." My three jobs - NCR, CUA and the Tablet - are all involved with the Church. And, in my writing, I am as often damned as praised for a certain stiff-neckedness about my Catholicism, a charge I accept and in which I relish.
Nothing is very clear about the political situation in the Mideast, except one thing: There are no good options. In such terrible moments as this, we seek guidance, perspective, a light in the darkness. Before we even set our minds to thinking about what should be done, it is worthwhile, always worthwhile, looking to history to see what lessons it affords.
This story at the Washington Post details a plan by former Commerce Secretary Carlos Guttierez to form a SuperPAC to "provide cover" for Republicans in Congress who support comprehensive immigration reform. The effort is necessary because Tea Party extremists stand at the ready to defeat anyone who supports immigration reform in a GOP primary.
Every time I get close to thinking I could find my way to actually liking Archbishop Charles Chaput, he goes and says something so outrageous, I find myself pushed back into a posture of deep suspicion or worse.
When you get a roomful of Catholics together, the subject of Vatican II is going to come up, especially in this year which marks the 50tih anniversary of the convening of the Council. Yet, these conversations about what the Council did and did not achieve, what it meant, the whole hermeneutical question seems to me the have gotten bogged down in ideological presuppositions that distort the Council itself and, in a more fundamental way, what a Council means to the life of the Church.
Yesterday, I arrived here in Kansas City, Missouri at the airport and fell to conversation with the driver of the van NCR had dispatched to retrieve me and some fellow NCR writers to bring us to the hotel. He explained to me that officials are planning on constructing a new airport terminal over the next seven years.