Distinctly Catholic

Bill Donohue Makes My Day


Nothing quite like being attacked by Bill Donohue to make a liberal Catholic’s day. Donohue is to informed discourse what Hurricane Isaac is to the Louisiana coast, all blustery and destructive wind. Yesterday, Mr. Donohue issued this press release attacking my post about the arrest of Archbishop-elect Salvatore Cordileone for driving while under the influence.

The key paragraphs are these:

Winters, like a lot of embittered Catholic “progressives,” is obsessed with homosexuality. That is why he was unable to write one paragraph in his screed against Cordileone without mentioning this subject. The context? Winters wants the bishop to “think with greater compassion about the complicated lives we all lead today.” He also wants the bishop to show an “approriate [sic] humility and humanness.” All of this is code for “shut up and leave the culture to us.”

Day 2 in Tampa


The ideological diversity of the Republican Party was on display at their national convention yesterday, but the GOP’s central case – that “we have to stop spending money we don’t have” – as Veep candidate Paul Ryan put it, suffered from two difficulties. First, many speakers, including Ryan, surrounded this argument with mendacity as well as some well-crafted lines, but more importantly, the GOP convention had to battle with another story, Hurricane Isaac, in which the newly built, government-paid for levees kept New Orleans from turning into a nightmare. If you live in New Orleans or one of the surrounding parishes, my guess is you are pretty keen on some government spending, and government services also.

Sarah Posner Doesn't Want the Nuns


Sarah Posner, writing at Religion Dispatches, offers a bunch of reason why she thinks Sr. Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus should not be featured at the Democratic National Convention. She argues, among other things, that the nuns are pro-life and not committed to LGBT issues, which is at least an ironic charge seeing as many conservative critics of women religious argue that are not pro-life enough and too silent on defending traditional marriage.

Fr. Jim Martin Feels Left Out


This morning, Father James Martin, S.J., was kind enough to send me this link to his post at America magazine in which he explains why he, not Cardinal Dolan or Sr. Simone Campbell, should be speaking at both political conventions. The article is more evidence that Fr. Martin justly deserves the title, "America's funniest priest."

Of course, I was similarly disappointed not to be asked by either party to lead a prayer at their convention. As I suggested before, if I had to go to the GOP convention, I would recite the Magnificat - "the rich he has sent away empty." If I had to pray at the Democratic convention, I would recite Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." I am guessing I am not going to be invited to either party anytime soon.

Catholic Dems Can't Take \"Yes\" For An Answer


There is much that is troubling about the HuffPost item by Steve Krueger, president of the group Catholic Democrats. Like many Catholic Democrats who spent the six days between the announcement that Cardinal Dolan would give the benediction at the Republican National Convention and the news yesterday that he would also deliver the benediction at the Democratic National Convention complaining about the partisanship of Cardinal Dolan, Krueger now finds himself trying to explain his own carping and, unsurprisingly, his search for blame leads to Cardinal Dolan and not to himself and his fellow complainers.

Opening Night for the GOP


The Republican National Convention opened one day late…and a dollar short, or was I the only person who found all the speeches either flat or strangely disconnected from reality? One thing was obvious, or better to say confirmed what has been increasingly obvious for some time: The Romney campaign may not be very good at running campaigns.

Surely, they vetted the speeches, yes? Then how to explain that Ann Romney, the nominee’s wife, began by invoking, repeatedly, the importance of love and the next speaker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie began by saying, also repeatedly, respect was more important than love. Most of the speeches before the two main events portrayed Mr. Romney as supremely competent, the turn-around artist from Bain and the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, but I couldn’t help thinking how the adjectives used sounded just like those I heard in Atlanta in 1988 when another Massachusetts Governor, Mike Dukakis, accepted the nomination of his party. He, too, was presented as “Mr. Fix It!” He, too, was the non-ideological candidate, the candidate of competence and technical know-how and hard work. He lost.

Happy Feast


Today is the Feast of St. Augustine. Where would any of us be without him? Say a prayer of gratitude today to God for His gift of faith to the man of learning and wisdom whose writings are, to my mind, unparalleled in the Christian canon.

No Schadenfreude


I am sure that some people are tempted to indulge a little schadenfreude over the news that the oh, so censorious Archbishop-elect of San Francisco has been charged with a DUI. I hope that the incident will invite Archbishop-elect Cordileone to think with greater compassion about the complicated lives we all lead today. Just as his arrest does not tell us all there is to know about him, so too, does the fact that a couple uses contraception, or that a given man or woman is gay, exhaust all there is to know about them.

I will also point out that, by definition, drinking while under the influence is not an intrinsic evil, but Cordileone better hope his case is settled soon because his colleague, Bishop Morlino in Madison, seems intent on expanding the category of intrinsic evil to include just about anything that does not cohere with the Republican Party platform. Even the GOP, I suspect, is not about to propose overturning drunk driving laws.

Dear Republican Catholics


Here is an open letter to Republican Catholics. Next Tuesday, I will publish a similar letter to Democratic Catholics. Please note the placement of noun and adjective. If you are first and foremost a partisan, there is nothing I can say to you. I am writing to those for whom being a Catholic is the noun, and their partisan affiliation is an adjective, not the other way round.

Dear Republican Catholics,

I write to you from my heart. I believe that the nation’s political life needs a robust conservative movement, just as it needs a robust liberal movement. The different ideas of the one and the other can, should, and must serve to correct the excesses of each other. Wisdom resides in appreciating the insights of those with whom one disagrees. Those liberals who have read Conor Cruise O’Brien’s magnificent biography of Burke, “The Great Melody” know what I am speaking of here, as do conservatives who have read Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s “The Age of Jackson.”


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In This Issue

January 13-26, 2017