Distinctly Catholic

Romney's Problem


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.

A Story No Campaign Wants


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?

+Cupich on Same-Sex Marriage Referendum


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.

MSW Responds to +Paprocki


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.

Conscience of a Conservative


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.

Election 2012: Foreign Policy


This election will not be decided on foreign policy issues. Very few elections are. This tells us more about the electorate than it does about the presidency. Most U.S. presidents spend as much if not more of their time on foreign policy concerns on a daily basis than they do on domestic issues. (Most non-U.S. heads of government have to spend a disproportionate amount of time on their relationship with the U.S. president!) Ever since the end of World War II, the U.S. role in the world is unique and often uniquely challenging.

How has Barack Obama handled those challenges? I would give him a B+. He promised to end the Iraq War, and he did. This may not feel like an achievement. The end of the Iraq War felt like Dunkerque, more of an escape than a victory. The decision to go into Iraq was a tragic mistake and getting out of there then became the least bad option. That said, Obama seems to have managed the withdrawal well, Iraq has not descended into civil war – which is no small accomplishment – and the U.S. no longer has a scarlet “I” on its diplomatic forehead.



Yesterday, at Mass, I noticed I could not shed a persistent cough. By nightfall, it had turned into the flu and, despite a hit of Nyquil, this morning finds me still feeling very ill. If I feel better later, I shall post something but, for now, back to bed.

Reducing Religion to Ethics


Wednesday, I argued that George Weigel was complicit in the secularization he denounces because he, and others like him, have been reducing religion to ethics for many years now. It has been suggested to me that I tease out precisely what I mean by this idea of reducing religion to ethics.

The American Ur-text of the phenomenon of reducing religion to ethics is a text often cited by those who seek to demonstrate how profoundly religious the American founding was, George Washington’s Farewell Address, in which we find these words:


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In This Issue

March 24-April 6, 2017