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Papa Bergoglio: Who Is He Like? Papa Ratti

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In America, when someone tells about a new friend, we tend to ask, “What does she do?” My foreign friends attribute this to Americans’ famous pragmatism and business sense, that we want to know what a person does. They prefer to ask, “What is she like?” Or, “Who does he know?” These questions probe personal qualities and relationships. In the last month, since Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped on to the loggia of St. Peter’s, I have been asking myself, “Who is he like?” And, while there are many differences, the answer I have come up with is Achille Ratti, known to history as Pope Pius XI.

Pacem in terris at 50: The Video

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My colleague Jerry Filteau already reported on the conference at Catholic University to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope John XXIII's encyclical Pacem in terris. At the conference, Dennis Sadowski and Chaz Muth interviewed some of the key speakers and, afterwards, produced this great, short video on the significance of Pacem. It will take less than four minutes of your time and is well worth watching.

Wieseltier on Boston Bombings (& So Much More)

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Leon Wieseltier, like Kinsley writing in the pages of the New Republic and, like Kinsley, one of those writers I wish I could write like, has this essay on our response to the Boston bombing. The money quote: "We cling desperately to the illusion of our immunity, even after it has just been disproved by experience, and to the fiction of the pastness of the past: we call it 'closure,' which is just a decision not to care anymore, and not to let experience intrude any further."

Stopping the NRA

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Our friends at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good have an essay this week from Bill Buck, who founded the new group Americans for the Protection of Children. The group aims to take on the National Rifle Association where it obviously matters most - the ballot box. There being only 1000 people on the planet, as the saying goes, Bill and I worked together on the campaign of Gen. Wesley Clark in Little Rock back in 2004.

Douthat on "Liberaltarians"

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Ross Douthat, at the New York Times, on the increasing, and bipartisan, influence of libertarian ideas. As I have said before, the ideological fault lines in American politics do not line up precisely with the partisan fault lines, and that lack of coherence can't last forever. I do not know if it will be a slow, gradual process by which one party becomes the libertarian party on all or most issues, or if some crisis will speed up the process.

New York state senator in the wrong on torture of accused bomber

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Yesterday, I called attention to an interview on the Piers Morgan show on CNN, in which Republican State Sen. Greg Ball defended a tweet he sent out calling for the bombing suspect in Boston to be tortured. Mr. Ball, who is not in law enforcement and had no inside information on the investigation, suggested that there might be information the suspect had that could only be garnered through torture.

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