Distinctly Catholic

Hackett to Holy See


The White House has announced that Ken Hackett, formerly the President of Catholic Relief Services, USA, has been nominated as the next ambassador to the Holy See. Here is his bio from the CRS website. There had been talk the State Department was thinking of not appointing a full-time ambassador and instead nominating a roving ambassador who would cover several smaller countries.

"Oversimplifying Israel"


National Interest has Peter Berkowitz's response to Jacob Heilbrunn's essay "Israel's Fraying Image." This is an important debate for anyone truly interested in peace in the Middle East: It will never come about unless we are honest about the threats to peace, the nature of the regimes involved, and the way American elite opinion has a tendency to adopt uncritical assessments without the facts.

Blessings on Jeb


Jeb Bush is busy working with Republican members of Congress, trying to persuade them to back comprehensive immigration reform. If anyone speaks for the "sanity caucus" in today's GOP, it is Jeb Bush. Blessings on his efforts to convince enough of the House Republicans, and especially the leadership, to permit an up or down vote in the Senate bill and enough GOP votes to pass the thing. Also, a shout out to Cong. Paul Ryan who has been speaking up for immigration reform too.

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? 


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In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017