Distinctly Catholic

Lott is Wrong


Jeremy Lott is the influential editor of RealClearReligion, and he has penned an essay expressing his ardent desire that the next pope not be an American. His argument is hard to discern, but the essence of it is that the Church in the U.S. is in shambles, the American cardinals preside over the U.S. Church, ergo, a U.S.-born pope would be bad for the universal Church.

Contra My Colleagues


Feeling feisty this morning, so I am going to take on two of my colleagues, Tom Roberts and John Allen. Let me start by saying that both men are friends as well as colleagues, indeed, Tom Roberts has become my indispensable friend in the past few years, the person with whom I chat on the phone nearly every day and with whom I consult on virtually every issue more important than planning dinner. And, it goes without saying that both men have been at this longer than me, have better sources, and know more than I do about the workings of Holy Mother Church.

Silk's Sound Advice on SSM


Mark Silk, at RNS, calls attention to an amicus brief filed by the American Jewish Committee in the Supreme Court cases on same sex-marriage. Silk notes that the brief is the work of three scholars, one Protestant (Doug Laycock, of UVA who is second-to-none on religious liberty issues), one Jew (Marc Stern of the AJC) and one Catholic (Tom Berg, of the University of St. Thomas Law School and someone whose commentaries on these issues have taught me a great deal).

Vargas Llosa in English


A reader, Oswald Sobrino, generously took me up on my request that someone translate the essay I linked to yesterday by Mario Vargas Llosa on Pope Benedict. My views of the now Pope-Emeritus are less sullen than the great poet's, but I think he captures the essence of Benedict in a way few Catholics have, and why Benedict's writings pose a challenge not just to Catholics but to the entire culture of the West. Thank you Mr. Sobrino for so generously translating the article and sending it on so I can publish it here.

“ The Man Who Disturbs”

by Mario Vargas Llosa

Profile of Cardinal Ouellet


Commonweal has re-published an essay by Michael Higgins, of Sacred Heart University, that profiles Cardinal Marc Ouellet, still the most likely person to walk out onto the loggia sometime next week as the new pope. Higgins clearly likes +Ouellet but the story he tells is troubling: While the cardinals rightly concern themselves with secularization, it does not appear from the track record in Quebec that +Ouellet was very effective in combating the acids of modernity.

Reforms We Need


Calls for reform of the Roman Curia have been around for a long time. The great medieval Councils urged such reforms, concluding with the Council of Constance’s classic formulation “reform of the Church in faith and morals, in head and members.” The Fifth Lateran Council, held on the eve of the Reformation, repeated the call but did not enact the kind of precise direction that would effect it.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017