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.
Over at Religion & Politics, the still fairly new online journal of the Danforth Center, my friend Mark Silk looks at how an earlier religio-political divide in my home state of Connecticut was healed, that between the Yankees and the Catholics. At the center of the story is a "swamp yankee," Wilbur Cross, so called because he came from east of the Connecticut River. I am a swamp Catholic, also coming from east of the Connecticut River.
The tale shows all the usual suspects in sramas set along the fault line between religion and politics - there is prejudice, there is a politican's wiliness, there is the vanity of the clergy and the politicians, etc. But, there is something else too, the hope that, sometimes, not very often, but sometimes, divisions that seem carved in stone suddenly give way.
According to Pew, the Catholic vote has swung decisively towards President Obama in the last few months. Dan Burke at RNS has the story here.
Fareed Zakaria has a good op-ed up in the Washington Post thing morning as he tries to explain why Romney's campaign has not caught on. He notes the current GOP orthodoxy against raising taxes ever and against any common sense solution to immigration has twisted Romney in knots. He can't explain in detail how he will address either problem because fixing either problem will require the kind of deal that violates the orthodoxy. All that is undoubtedly true.
From the current issue of the Tablet, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols gives evidence of how a bishop can and should talk about the moral challenges facing economic decision-makers in today's society.
Roger Simon, at Politico, on the tensions between Team Romney and Team Ryan. The problem with picking an up-and-coming star as a running mate is that when the campaign hits the skids, and the newest polling data is shockingly bad for Romney, the up-and-comer concludes that the better part of wisdom resides in distancing him or herself from the top of the ticket. Campaign operatives being chatty by nature, this leads to endless stories of campaign in-fighting. The media LOVING such stories, more days pass with the candidate unable to get his message out.
I will only add that this story came out the day after "Game Change" won four Emmy's. Is it too early to start taking bets on who will play Paul Ryan in the movie version?
Bishop Blase Cupich has an op-ed in the Spokane Statesman on the upcoming referendum in Washington State regarding same-sex marriage. I had earlier called attention to the bishop's pastoral letters on the subject.
Bishop Cupich does not demean those who disagree with the Church's teaching. He does not mischaracterize his opponents' positions nor question their motives. Instead, he makes a thoughtful case about some of the downsides that can attend a redefinition of marriage, even while forcefully defending the rights of same sex couples to equal rights before the law. Some will find him persuasive, some won't, but I think everyone can detect the voice of a pastor in his words.
I am deeply grateful for Bishop Thomas Paprocki for his speech in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on the occasion of that city's Red Mass. First and foremost, I am delighted he is evidently reading my blog, as he mentioned me by name, albeit only to criticize what I said. More on that in a minute.
More importantly, Paprocki has done those of us who care deeply about the social magisterium a favor by epitomizing, in one text, what is so pathetic about the attempts of some bishops to hand that social magisterium over to Fox News by invoking prudential judgment when it comes to budgetary matters. Paprocki also seems to have challenged the USCCB and its head, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, here, a challenge that was made explicit by George Weigel in his article commending Paprocki's speech.
Michael Gerson has become the conscience of the Republican Party.
Today, he has a post about the consequences of the GOP's harsh anti-immigrant stance.
Last week, he looked at their disregard for social contract.
Gerson's is a reasonable voice in a party deeply commited to being unreasonable. He is to the GOP on issues of compassion what we pro-life Dems are to our party on the issue of abortion. But politics and cultures change, and they only change when reasonable people raise their voice. Kudos to Gerson for staying and fighting the good fight.
Mark Silk, over at Religion News Service, has some pointed, and excellent, comments about Bishop Paprocki's speech in conjunction with the Red Mass in LaCrosse, Wisconsin over the weekend. I shall be responding to Bp Paprocki's remarks myself tomorrow.