Distinctly Catholic

The Fourth Amendment


The editors at NCR have penned a thoughtful editorial on the subject of government surveillance. It raises concerns that I share. Yet, in the end, I find myself in fundamental disagreement with its general assessment of the situation which is far too easy on Mr. Edward Snowden and far too suspicious of the federal government.


The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution sets the limits on government’s ability to disturb us in pursuit of its activities. It reads simply:

Decalogue & Democracy


At the magazine Mosaic, Peter Berkowitz examines the relationship between the Decalogue and liberal democracy, taking his cue from a recent essay by Leon Kass. Both men, Kass and Berkowitz, are among the most thoughtful conservative voices around but I think they are wrong when they suggest that the Israelites were given a choice. In the strict sense, this is true, but the choice was between life and death, which is not what most people consider a choice in our modern understanding of the word.

Let's Put Plan B in Happy Meals


Politico has the story of plaintiffs in the recent case requiring Plan B to be made available, over the counter, to girls of any age now arguing that the court order, and the Obama administration's response, does not go far enough, that generic versions of Plan B should be made available too. This crowd will not be happy until Plan B is included in Happy Meals at McDonald's.

Hertzberg & Francis


Over at The New Yorker, my old friend Rick Hertzberg wonders about where he, an atheist, is going after he dies in light of the Pope's recent remarks. As ever, Hertzberg's prose is a joy to read. But, there is something else at work here: Papa Francesco is capturing the imagination of people who think of the Catholic Church as the Easter bunny with real estate. I do not expect to see Hertzberg sitting next to me at Latin Mass next Sunday, but who knows? 

Luke 4 & CCHD


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19.


Pope Francis on Pelagians, Gnostics and the CDF


Yesterday, an unofficial transcript of a discussion the Holy Father had with six religious men and women from Latin America, the leadership of the Religious Confederation of Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAR), was published. The Holy See’s spokesman offered “no comment” on the transcript which is to say it was reasonably accurate.



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In This Issue

February 24-March 9, 2017