Distinctly Catholic

Give Us A Pastor


Friday, noting that Cardinal Angelo Scola and Cardinal Marc Ouellet are the leading papabili, I commented upon the historical novelty of theologians as popes. In addition to novelty, I think this tendency unfortunately misunderstands the nature of the papacy in relation to theology, further abetting one of the ugly consequences of Napoleonic rule, Rome’s exercise of disproportionate influence in theological disputes.


Ivereigh on Pre-Conclave Frankness


My friend Austen Ivereigh has a great article up at the Tablet on the frank discussions the cardinals will be having - indeed, conversations began about two minutes after Benedict XVI announced his retirement. The whole process might strike some as unseemly in its frankness, but I confess I think such thoughts betray a kind of gnostic sensibility. The Holy Spirit works through very human instruments.

The Sequester Arrives


I will have more on the sequester subsequently. But, for the moment, the appropriate stance seems to be - a curse on both your houses! Speaker Boehner is hemmed in by his own caucus which seems not to understand basic economics. President Obama, understandably frustrated that his re-election is not providing more ease of decision, is hemmed in by - by what? The fact that the sequester was not avoided demonstrates an inexplicable lack of presidential leadership. He should have had the congressional leaders over for breakfast meetings every day until they solved this thing.

Should the Next Pope Be a Theologian?


It is fascinating to me that the two leading candidates to become Pope – Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops – are both theologians. And, not just theologians, but both men served on the editorial board of Communio at some point in their careers. So, if you cancelled your subscription to Concilium back in, say, the mid-80s because you thought the theological winds were blowing in a different direction, you have no need to re-think that decision.

Contra Mr. Bottum


Last week, I called attention to an article by David Gibson in which Gibson, one of the best reporters on religion writing today, discussed conservative complaints about Pope Benedict XVI, complaints that have only emerged now that Benedict is resigning. As part of his article, Gibson highlighted a column by Joseph Bottum, former editor of First Things. Mr. Bottum and his friends took exception to Gibson’s article and my wholehearted endorsement of it.

Review: Law's Virtues, Part III


Today we conclude our review of Cathleen Kaveny’s Law’s Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society, specifically the final chapter in which she considers an issue at the heart of the debate over the HHS contraception mandate, cooperation with evil. Kaveny is focused on how this variety of moral analysis applies to voting and political behavior, but it is also helpful in clarifying the Church’s response to the mandate.


Review: Law's Virtues, Part II


Friday, I began my review of Cathleen Kaveny’s Law’s Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society and today we continue looking at this important book. (I had thought to conclude the review today, but I think two more commentaries are required, and we will conclude tomorrow.)  


Law's Virtues: A Review. Part I


About five paragraphs into Cathleen Kaveny’s Law’s Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society, you find yourself wishing you had had Professor Kaveny in college as one of your professors. Her ability to take complicated ideas and make them accessible, all the while probing them to their depths, identifying alluring but ultimately distracting detours, and creating a synthesis of religious and secular ideas, demonstrate a pedagogical expertise that is not often found in the pages of academic books.



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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017