This short item at the Tablet discusses a recent talk by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, to the hierarchy of England and Wales. He urged bishops not to avoid topics that make them uncomfortable, as Pope Francis "also makes us feel uncomfortable." Of course, all reports indicate that the members of the curia are indeed feeling a but uncomfortable these days as they wait to see what reforms Papa Francesco will enact.
Writing at the website of the Africa Faith & Justice Network, Jacques Bahati details how land grabs in Africa, often involving U.S. companies, are picking up where the colonial powers left off, exploiting the continent's resources at the expense of its inhabitants and, coincidentally, shredding even the most rudimentary Western notions of justice.
Well, if some of our friends on the right wanted a culture war, they seem to have gotten it. President Barack Obama on Friday became the first president to speak at a Planned Parenthood conference. His speech , which can be found here, was presented as some kind of cultural triumph on MSNBC. Rachel Maddow, who is very bright and quite capable of dissecting difficulties in politicians’ verbiage, had nothing but praise.
Over at Vatican Insider, they have an interview with Archbishop John Quinn, the former Archbishop of San Francisco about his ideas regarding Church reform, specifically, the idea of establishing patriarchal systems throughout the Latin Church similar to those in the eastern Churches.
We are in the final 48 hours of our NCR Webathon. I am profoundly grateful to those of you who have already given. But, in an effort to put us over the top, and meet our goal, I am making a matching grant offer. If we raise $5,000 from conservatives today, I will not say a bad word about George Weigel for a fortnight. If we raise $5,000 from liberals today, I will not say a bad word about LCWR for a month.
Over at his blog at Religion News Service, Mark Silk takes issue with my suggestion that the Church lost the fight for "traditional marriage" when we allowed no-fault divorce laws to go on the books. Silk points out that the divorce rate in the U.S. started to spike in the 1950s, while the law had to play catch-up, with most no-fault divorce statutes going on the books a decade or more later. I defer entirely to Silk's knowledge, which is as comprehensive as it is thorough.
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.
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.
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."
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.