“Put not your trust in princes,” intones the psalmist. So it is not merely a matter of desiring to appear non-partisan that should guide the bishops in their governance of the Church. And, the psalmist’s warning contains wisdom for all of us Catholics. To me, in simplest terms, this warning is a part of a broader biblical narrative, confirmed by many centuries of tradition, that we Christians should put our faith first. All of our mundane concerns, including the concerns of politics, should flow from our prior religious commitments and beliefs. Or, as I said to someone at a party this weekend, “You know, on your deathbed, neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party is going to send anyone and, besides, they would not send someone you would want. At that moment, you will want a priest.”
I knew that it was strange to hear the President of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Father Terence Henry, fret so much about cooperating with an intrinsic evil regarding health care on EWTN last night, when his university had just hosted the former CIA Director who perpetrated his own set of intrinsic evils. But, I had not realized just how fraudulent Henry's indignation was. Grant Gallicho at Commonweal has done the heavy lifting on this one.
While acknowledging that the issue is complex, Pope Benedict XVI nonetheless offered his clear and unmistakable support to the USCCB's efforts to get Congress and the White House to pass comprehensive immigration reform. During his final address of the ad limina visits by US prelates, Benedict said:
While here in Washington, attention has been focused on the speaking gig given to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Georgetown's School of Public Policy, I was surprised to see that the Franciscan University of Steubenville invited retired Air Force General Michael Hayden to give the school's commencement address and receive an honorary degree. Hayden, of course, as Director of the National Security Agency and also of the CIA not only authorized the use of torture, he had openly defended such use again and again.
Last night, on EWTN's "The World Over," the President of Franciscan University at Steubenville, Father Terence Henry, talked about the school's decision to cease offering health care to its students rather than comply with the HHS mandates regarding contraception. At least twice he vowed that the university would never, never, never cooperate with and intrinsic evil. But, isn't torture an intrinsic evil? Did I miss the inaptly named Cardinal Newman Society's petition protest against Hayden's appearance? Or is Catholic outrage now to be reserved only for Democrats?
I do not doubt that there will be significant differences between a second term Obama administration and a first term Romney administration. But, barring some unforeseen event, it seems unlikely that either party will control the White House and both houses of Congress. The Democrats have an outside chance at taking the House. The Republicans have a better chance of taking the Senate, but no chance at getting a 60-vote majority in that body. Consequently, and sad to say, your vote won’t count this November.
The dysfunction in Washington is not only obvious, it is increasingly intractable. And, apart from the relative temperament of either party, the causes of this dysfunction are threefold and neither party seems inclined to do much about them.
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, gave an interview to Vatican Insider that they have posted here. If your Italian is passable, read it in that language because the English translation is not very good.
The entire interview is interesting, but his remarks about homosexuality bear scrutiny. He considers it along side other things considered sexual sins, such a divorce and remarriage. This is not the Vatican line since 1986, which argued homosexuality was its own kind of sin, an "intrinsic disorder." That way of looking at it always seemed strange to me. The CDF seemed to be saying that homosexuality was not a specific act, like sex outside of marriage between two heterosexuals, nor was it like one of the seven deadly sins, to which all human beings are tempted, but an entirely new category of sin. It will be curious to see what kind of responses Schonborn gets.
If there is one reason it is still worthwhile to be a Democrat it is because, when faced with a choice between gutting public investment in education and other vital needs of the commonwealth or raising taxes on the wealthy, Democrats opt to raise taxes. Yesterday, under pressure from Gov. Martin O'Malley, the Maryland state legislature voted to raise taxes and preserve the state's sense of its obligations to the poor and to the future.
The tax hike is hardly an enormous burden. It applies only to those individuals making more than $100,000 per year and, on average, amounts to about $745. That is on average, so it includes zillionaires - those making less than $250,000 will only pay about $300 more per year. On the other hand, the burden of closing schools, firing teachers, underfunding projects that assist the poor and the marginalized, is far greater.
No politician likes to raise taxes. Those with the courage to do so should be applauded.
At the Guardian, Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Tablet, responds to a recent attack by Hilary Mantel on the Catholic Church. Her essay is splendid. Full disclosure: I write for the Tablet so Ms. Pepinster is one of my three bosses!
These words from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, lept to my mind yesterday as I listened to newly installed Archbishop William Lori give the homily at his installation Mass:
The Church is often portrayed as a stern moralizing agent, hurling anathemas against people, fixated on sin, especially sexual sin, and Joseph Ratzinger is also often portrayed as Exhibit A in that indictment. He did not earn the title der panzerkardinal for nothing, right?
But, as early as 1964, as Tracey Rowland points out in her book “Raztinger’s Faith,” which I have been examining the past few days, Ratzinger was concerned about the reduction of religion to ethics. Preaching to a group involved with student chaplaincy at the cathedral of Munster, Raztinger asked: “What is the real substance of Christianity that goes beyond mere moralism?”