Talk about strange bedfellows, and not of the Bridgeport, cross-dressing variety, but of the intellectual variety: Over at First Things, Matthew Cantarino reports on how some men of the Left have discovered an unlikely champion in the person of Pope Benedict.
I have previously linked to the sermon delivered by Bishop Blase Cupich at his diocese's Respect Life Mass. Someone named Molly Roach posted a comment that caught the eye of a friend who sent it to me, and it caught my heart's attention:
Molly Roach | 1/23/2013 - 12:21pm
“When human life is considered ‘cheap’ or easily expendable in one area, eventually nothing is held as sacred and all lives are in jeopardy.” Cardinal Joseph Bernardin spoke those words in the early 1980s as he expounded what he termed a “consistent ethic of life” and what many of us came to know as the “seamless garment” approach to life issues, the idea that the Church should not focus exclusively on abortion, but see that issue in the context of a culture that had begun to cheapen life and, thus, made abortion thinkable.
Over at the USCCB blog, Father John Crossin, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat on ecumenical and interreligious affairs, notes seven markers on the road to Christian unity. It is stunning to think how far we have come in what is, in Church terms, such a relatively short period of time! Indeed, we saw visual evidence of this just yesterday as Cardinal Donald Wuerl, in choir cassock, prayed one of the readings at the interfaith prayer service for the inauguration.
When St. Paul got to the Areopagus, he found the monument to the unknown God, with which the Athenians were familiar, and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ by referencing that monument. This week, at the annual Respect Life Mass in Spokane, Washington, Bishop Blase Cupich did something similar, linking the vivid, painful and recent memories of the killings in Newtown, Connecticut with the Church's concern for the unborn.
Robert Royal has an essay on culture over at The Catholic Thing that is worth a read. I mostly agree with Royal that any effort to generate culture without reference to the transcendent does not, in fact, generate culture, it generates consumer goods.
The Israeli elections delivered a surprising, but not an ultimate, rebuke to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. His Liked Party coalition, which held 42 seats in the outgoing Knesset, fell to 31 seats in the new parliament, but it remains the largest bloc of votes and so it will fall to Netanyahu to form a new government.
I am watching the National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral. It is on C-Span right now. Cardinal Wuerl looks great. Steve Schneck is seated in the sanctuary as he will be leading one of the prayers. The service began with the hymn, "Guide Me Thou, O Great Redeemer," and while Americans don't sing at full throttle as the Brits do, it was splendid nonetheless. And the first reading was from one of my favorite passages, Isaiah 55. It's not Westminster Abbey, but it will do.
Over at Crisis magazine, there is an article by Nicholas Hahn in which he chastizes the bishops and Father Lombardi at the Vatican press office for daring to support common sense gun control measures. It is clear that Mr. Hahn cares more about the Second Amendment than he does about the Second Vatican Council. He cherry picks a few quotes from pope John Paul II, which were not on point to begin with, and fashions them into a core argument: Bishops, mind your own business and gins are not your business.
My friend Cathleen Kaveny has posted the third in her recent columns on the HHS mandate. There is much here to ponder, including an issue that NCR raised in its editorial naming Chief Justice John Roberts our "Person of the Year," namely, why do Catholic judges get a pass from neo-conservative Catholic thinkers but legislators do not?