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.
A new study by the Jesuit Conference, the Kino Border Initiative, and Jesuit Services USA details the violence and abuse that migrants often suffer at the U.S.-Mexican border. In the weeks ahead, we will hear a lot about border security and let's hope that our politicians recognize that the physical security of migrants is as important as building a fence.
All this week, those of us who write about the Church for a living have had some interesting conversations with our more well-known colleagues in the press who know little about the Church. Actually, strike that last comment. I have been studying and reading about the Church for all of my adult life and I still know little about it. There are vast areas of study I have not engaged, whole regions that remain opaque, and theological debates I have not jumped into, and, as I say, I have been at this for more than thirty years.
Garry Wills, in an essay at The New York Times, gives away his argument in the very first paragraph. He writes:
In monarchies, change is supposed to come from the top, if it is to come at all. So people who want to alter things in Catholic life are told to wait for a new pope. Only he has the authority to make the changeless church change, but it is his authority that stands in the way of change.