John Gehring has a fine essay up at USAToday on what we Catholics should hope for in a new Pope. I especially like his call for a pope committed to a less ostentatious style of dress and demeanor. Much as I love Pope Benedict XVI, some of the costumes have been off-putting to those who, as Gehring notes, "are struggling to pay a mortgage or scratch out enough for tuition at a Catholic school."
Over at the Guardian, Andrew Brown predicts a "Catholic Civil War" is about to break out, noting that the laity in the West are overwhelmingly ignoring the dictates of the Church on various controversial sexual issues, and the complicated positions of Catholic conservatives. Of course, a bit of history would be a useful tonic to these kind of sweeping predictions.
The sequester looms and the two political parties are far apart on what should be done to avoid it. The Republicans insist that revenue is off the table, having been made to swallow tax hikes at the turn of the year. Democrats insist that entitlements and other key programs are off the table, having agreed to cuts in the last two years. A few brave souls like Paul Krugman say that they should can the entire budget cutting mentality and let the economy get on a sound footing first. Increasingly, it looks like Congress will do nothing and so the sequester will go into effect.
This is the best time of year. College basketball is on almost every night. And, this year, the level of competition is stunning. In years past, being ranked #1 always put a target on your back, but this year it seems there are many more teams capable of hitting that target. This past weekend, #2 Duke lost to unranked Maryland. Anytime Duke loses is a good day to be alive. (Sorry Rick!) But, seriously, can anyone remember a season in which so many teams were capable of knocking of ranked teams?
In yesterday's "Outlook" section of the Washington Post, Notre Dame's Scott Appleby wrote about why the cardinals should consider electing an American pope. The points he makes are, well, so American and so very distant from what it seems to me was the whole point of Benedict's teaching, indeed the whole point of the Council.
The New York Times has a special place in our culture. The newspaper is read by all the major figures in government, finance and culture. Its articles enter mainstream European opinion direct or via the International Herald Tribune. It even makes cameos in popular culture, such as the movie “Julia & Julie” when Julie’s Mom calls and says, “Oh, my God, you’re in the New York Times!”
My colleague John Allen has a story posted today about the Vatican's selection of Ernst von Freyburg as the new head of the Vatican Bank. Mr. von Freyburg is also the chairman of Blohm + Voss, a German company that makes, among other things, warships. At the Vatican briefing, Father Frederico Lombardi, S.J. was asked about this connection. Here are the relevant passages from John Allen's story:
In this morning's Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger takesdown John Patrick Shanley's absurd op-ed at the New York Times in which he hurled accusations against Pope Benedict XVI without producing so much as an ounce of evidence for the claims he makes. Delighted to see I am not the only person distressed by the Times' willingness to publish puerile articles about the Church.
The U.S. is not the only country with challenging questions about border security. At the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier looks at the walls being erected along Israel's borders and asks the important questions about how these man-made constructions, in turn, shape our sense of ourselves.
For me, the best part about Pope Benedict's resignation is that I caught a break from writing about the HHS contraception mandate. But, it is important to read the statement issued by the Catholic Health Association.
The statement does two important things.
First, it eschews the combative tone that some have adopted towards the administration and focuses on fixing any remaining problems, finding solutions rather than bumper sticker slogans.