Links for 02/09/15

Now we know: the Pope is not infallible, Cardinal Burke is. In an interview, he says he will resist the pope is the synod develops the Church's doctrine on the divorced and remarried. I am beginning to feel about +Burke the way he once felt about the LCWR: "If it can't be reformed, then it doesn't have a right to continue."

Is there something in the HVAC vents at First Things? First they host a couple of articles telling us not to pay any heed to what the pope might or might not say on the environment. Then, they run a series of tendentious articles by George Weigel where he demonstrates with unique alacrity that he has no idea what is going on in the Church hierarchy anymore. Now, they have an article arguing that what the pope really needs to do is go to Wells, England. Hmmmm. I know that the small town of Wells, with its magnificent cathedral, is on the route to Land's End in Cornwall, but still I do not think that is what the pope meant when he called the Church to go to the peripheries. Rarely have I seen such an unblushing Western-centric article in recent years, and I have not missed them.

And, in the NYTimes, Ross Douthat, with whom I do not often agree, gives the finest appraisal of Obama's not-so good impersonation of Niebuhr. Two money quotes:

 To be persuasive, a reckoning with history’s complexities has to actually reckon with them, and a tossed-off Godfrey of Bouillon reference just pits a new straw man against the one you think you’re knocking down.


A third problem is that Obama is not just a Niebuhrian; he’s also a partisan and a progressive, which means that he too invests causes with sanctity, talks about history having “sides,” and (like any politician) regards his opponents as much more imperfect and fallen than his own ideological camp. This can leave the impression that his public wrestling with history’s tragic side is somewhat cynical, mostly highlighting crimes that he doesn’t feel particularly implicated in (how much theological guilt does our liberal Protestant president really feel about the Inquisition?) and the sins of groups he disagrees with anyway (Republican Cold Warriors, the religious right, white conservative Southerners).


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