James Carroll was given ample space in the Boston Globe to explain his thoughts on the Second Vatican Council. And, fine writer that he is, he recalls with exquisite detail his entry into seminary in the early 1960s. He remembers what he was wearing, he remembers the changes in his routine, he remembers his surprise when a television was brought into the common room of the seminary so that the inmates could watch the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
Judge Carol Jackson, who was named to the bench by President George H.W. Bush, ruled against a private, for-profit employer who had brought suit against the HHS contraception mandate. This is the Taco Bell issue, although the plaintiff in the case was not Taco Bell. ThinkProgress has the story here.
Archbishop Gomez wrote a column in his diocesan newspaper, the Tidings, that framed some key issues for Catholics to consider when voting.
The key takeaway for me was this:
Neither presidential campaign has distinguished itself with its veracity. But there is a hierarchy of deceit in campaigns, as in life.
Meghan Clark has another thoughtful article, Part II in her series, on Thomas Aquinas and how his approach to ethical judgment requires the kind of careful analysis that some bishops - Morlino, Paprocki, Boyea come to mind - wish to ignore, preferring a kind of moral relativism that permits them to sweep all the moral failings of Mr. Ryan's budget under the rug of prudential judgment. As Clark indicates, Thomas is more demanding.
The issue of religious liberty has seemingly fallen by the wayside this election.
Over at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Steve Schneck looks at the different ways the human dignity of the elderly is threatened in our society.
Here is a nightmare scenario: We create a culture in which we put tax cuts for the rich above sustaining Medicaid, as sound conservative libertarian doctrine insists. Seniors and their families then face horrible financial burdens. Then the libertarians of the left come along with a quick fix: euthansia. That, my friends, is the culture of death and the fact that its source is libertarian in both instances tells us all we need to know about why Catholics must resist the libertarian sensibilities whenever and wherever they show themselves.
You will recall the GOP debate last winter when people applauded at the prospect of a person being left to die because he had no health insurance. That was an anecdote. We can't let it become a governing philosophy.
Also over at The New Republic, Noam Scheiber shows how the Ryan selection has been a drag on the GOP ticket. The simple reason: His Medicare proposals have so scared seniors that they are turning to Obama. Seniors have always been the toughest demographic for Obama, but he is now leading or running even with them in key swing states. Romney needs to rack up huge majorities among seniors to offset Obama's lead among young voters. This, more than anything, explains why the election is fast slipping out of Romney's grasp.
There is one other aspect to this that warrants attention and makes Romney's climb even steeper. He can run ads, he can go on the stump and say that he will not change Medicare for seniors. But, on Medicare, seniors trust the AARP more than they do a political ad or a stump speech. And, seniors are not selfish - they like their own Medicare but they want their kids to have it too.
Over at The New Republic, Amy Sullivan raises a slightly different challenge to Paul Ryan and his episcopal defenders than the ones Ihave been raising. She agrees that the moral obligation to help the poor can be achieved in different ways and that reasonable people could disagree about which ways are more effective. But, as she points out, Mr. Ryan has never suggested what those other ways might be! Just give tax cuts to the rich and hope?
It is not surprise to any regular readers that I am a big fan of New York's Cardinal-Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Some of those reasons are personal: Dolan, like myself, studied under Msgr. John Tracy Ellis, who was the most cultured man I have known, literate in the extreme (and cultural literacy is one area where being extreme is a good thing!), and a very fine priest. Ellis imparted to all his students, the future-cardinal included, a sympathy with the human condition that comes from the study of history, and a certain modesty about our own roles. Msgr. was also attuned to the workings of the Spirit in history and often quoted the words from the Gospel about the Spirit being like the wind, we see the leaves of the trees rustle, but we know not whence the wind came nor whither it goest.