Distinctly Catholic

Clark on Entitlements


Meghan Clark is fast becoming one of my favorite young theologians. She has a post up at PoliticalTheology.com about entitlements that makes, with greater theological sophistication than I am capable of, one of the points I have been trying to make here: Yes, people, as people, are entitled to food, shelter and health care. She also usefully debunks the "false dichotomy" between person/private charity and government assistance. Good stuff.

Redistribution & The Parallel Universe at Fox


It was clear that the strategists in Mitt Romney’s campaign thought that they had something damaging on President Obama when they released a copy of a tape, made fourteen years ago, in which Barack Obama, then a state senator, told an audience that he was in favor of some level of redistribution, at least enough to “give everybody a shot.” The Romney campaign released this video in response to the emergence of Romney’s now infamous “47%” comments. Alas for Romney, not all “secret” tapes are created equal.

I do not need to add anything to the large body of commentary about why Romney’s comments were wrong about the facts, and morally offensive to boot. The fact that you have prominent Republicans distancing themselves from Mr. Romney’s comments tells you all you need to know about their political consequences. But, I am more interested in why the Romney campaign thought the Obama tape about “redistribution” would serve as an effective counter. After all, government has always been involved in some kind of redistribution of wealth. That is what taxes do, take from some and give to projects or programs that will benefit others.

Weigel & Secularism


George Weigel decries the influences and the effects of secularism in his latest column. Secularism worries me too. But, what I find ironic is that Mr. Weigel, as much as any contemporary Catholic writer, has been complicit in the march of secularism. How so?

Weigel invokes Charles Taylor’s observation about “exclusivist secularism” once thought to be a strictly European affair, the consequence of fights between conservative Catholics pining for the return of the ancient regime and those who associated that regime with the Church and, consequently, saw in the Church an enemy. In America, Weigel warns, the threat of secularism may be less direct but it is no less lethal.

The Reyes Appointment


The news that Jonathan Reyes has been tapped to lead the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development raises some interesting questions. Mr. Reyes is currently the president and CEO of Catholic Charities and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Denver.

First, let it be stated that there is always a case to be made for introducing new blood into any organization. But, there is also a reason people compile resumes. In the press release announcing the appointment, Msgr. Ronny Jenkins stated, “Jonathan Reyes brings vital experience with on-the-ground charities work and with young adults and is a proven administrator.” Great. But, the job that Mr. Reyes has been given also includes lobbying Congress and the administration. It is unclear from Mr. Reyes’ resume that he knows which Metro stop to get off at Capitol Hill, let alone which doors to knock on. At a time when the USCCB is engaged in very delicate and important negotiations, on everything from budgetary matters to promoting religious freedom at home and abroad, it might have been advisable to get someone who was better known and more familiar with the ways of political Washington.


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In This Issue

January 13-26, 2017