Catholic News Service has video of an interview with Cardinal Francis George of Chicago about the HHS mandate. He does not seem to understand how the mandate works. When he says, "we will simply not cooperate," he hits the nail on the head - Catholic institutions that are exempt or accommodated don't really do anything. The mandate applies to their insurance company or the Third Party Administrator of their self-insured plan.
Ross Douthat, writing in the New York Times, expresses his hope that it will be another 500 years before another Pope resigns. He writes:
The Journal of Southern Religion has posted two new podcasts I highly recommend.
President Obama delivered a curious State of the Union speech last night. I say curious because it was mostly not a typical Obama speech. The State of the Union speech is always something of a laundry list, but Obama is known for his inspirational speeches, not for his ability to deliver a laundry list.
Over at Mirror of Justice, my friend Rick Garnett, who teaches law at Notre Dame, gives an able defense of his profession, as well as arguing that my excitement at the administration's decision to do away with the four-part definition of an exempt religious institution is a premature excitement.
Bishop Blase Cupich has posted the text of a letter he wrote to those who work in catholic ministries that might be effected by the HHS mandate. Unlike Bishop Robert Lynch's recent statement, Bishop Cupich wrote directly to those workers who, understandably, might be worried that the ministries where they work could be closed down or that their access to health insurance might be cut-off. The money quote:
Some leaders know which moments or decisions in their lives will lead all biographies of their lives. Winston Churchill knew that his leadership during World War II would be the central theme of all future historians looking at his life. John F. Kennedy understood that his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis would define his role in the history books: If he messed that up, nothing else would matter.
My commentary on Benedict's legacy has been posted at The New Republic. I will have a more "entre nous" commentary tomorrow here at Distinctly Catholic.
The Washington Post has an interview with Peter Berkowitz of the Hoover Institution, on his new about about the future of conservatism in America. Berkowitz is, as I have noted before, one of the three smartest people I have ever met. I will be getting a copy of his new book at a book party Wednesday night and look forward to reading and reviewing it here at Distinctly Catholic. The interview in the Post shows why this book is a must-read for anyone interested in politics.
Bill Keller, of the New York Times, is not my favorite columnist, and his essay about the HHS mandate gives ample reasons why. For example, he writes: "You might ask why a clerk at Notre Dame or an orderly at a Catholic hospital should be denied the same birth control coverage provided to employees of secular institutions.