Distinctly Catholic

Catholic Conversation Project


Just back from the Catholic Conversation Project, a gathering of young theologians who started meeting at Fordham three years ago with the hope of transcending the facile and unproductive categories of left v. right that have unhappily migrated from the political sphere into the Catholic world. The shrill histrionics on all sides that surrounded Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to receive an honorary degree prompted the formation of the group, which started with young theologians at Fordham and has grown to include theologians from across the country. They now meet through the generous support of Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, and the meeting is held at a retreat center owned by BC, the former St. Stephen’s Priory in Dover, Massachusetts.

More on Ryan


Politico has two articles of note on the Ryan pick.

This one looks at his love-hate, mostly love, relationship with Ayn Rand.

This one looks at the Catholic vote in light of the Ryan selection.

Note To Readers: I am about to head up to Boston for the meeting of young theologians, the Catholic Conversation Project. They do not have wifi at the retreat center where the meetings are held, so I will not be posting again until Wednesday morning. Enjoy the break - I shall!

+Dolan Gets An Earful


Last week, Ed Mechmann published an item at the blog of the Archdiocese of New York defending Cardinal Timothy Dolan's decision to invite both President Obama and Gov. Romney to the annual Al Smith dinner. Check out the comment section. Cardinal Dolan can now join Cardinal Wuerl and Cardinal O'Malley as one deemed insufficiently pro-life by the Scatenato Brigade. The venom is truly shocking. (h/t Rocco)

The Ryan Selection & The Shape of the Election


Already, the entry of Congressman Paul Ryan onto the national stage is generating some interesting debates within the Catholic world and within the political commentariat. It seems to me that three issues are brought into greater focus by the selection of Ryan, although hoping for intellectual clarity on those issues during a political campaign may be hoping for the proverbial bridge too far. But, here goes.

Obama Derangement Syndrome


Over at The New Republic, Amy Sullivan takes up a theme I have commented on as well, the religious right's penchant for perceiving something dark and menacing in President Obama's sometimes use of the phrase "freedom of worship" rather than "freedom of religion." She notes that President George W. Bush used the phrase "freedom of worship" too, did so frequently, and there was no outcry. To be sure, the HHS mandate does highlight the distinction between the two ideas, but to impute a nefarious agenda to a rhetorical device is misleading. And, she thoroughly debunks the idea that Obama purposefully leaves out the phrase "by our Creator" when he quotes the Declaration of Independence, complete with a video of Obama saying the phrase repeatedly.

Abp Lori on Intrinsic Evil & Voting


From Kathryn Jean Lopez, at National Review, we have this:

“This is a big moment for Catholic voters to step back from their party affiliation,” Baltimore archbishop William E. Lori tells me from the Knights of Columbus annual convention in Anaheim, Calif.

For Catholic voters in November, Lori advises, “The question to ask is this: Are any of the candidates of either party, or independents, standing for something that is intrinsically evil, evil no matter what the circumstances? If that’s the case, a Catholic, regardless of his party affiliation, shouldn’t be voting for such a person.”

Of course, Mr. Romney is on record saying that, as a matter of public policy, he supports access to contraception. And, he has equivocated on the use of torture. And, his health care reform law in Massachusetts, unlike President Obama's health care reform, explicitly provides for taxpayer funded abortions. So, is Archbishop Lori suggesting no Catholic can vote for Mr. Romney?

Taking Exception: Robert Blair Kaiser


Robert Blair Kaiser is a fine, and accomplished provocateur and his commentary published here at NCR, “The Second Vatican Council has already made us free.” Is a fine example of this art form. I am provoked.

The issues about which Kaiser writes are important, which is why I am so disappointed that he encumbers them with statements that are false and/or pernicious.

The Politics of Smears, Lies & Low Blows


Big lies and smears. It must be campaign season.

Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has long been known as someone who is capable of putting his foot in his mouth. He is also known as a former boxer capable of throwing a tough body blow, maybe even one that is a bit below the belt. But, trading in gossip should be beneath his office. When Reid said that an unnamed source told him that Gov. Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes for several years, without disclosing the source, he set Romney up. There is an obvious way to rebut the charge: disclose the tax returns. But, that is precisely the thing that Romney’s campaign had decided not to do. Reid’s unsubstantiated charge, more suitable for a supermarket tabloid than the floor of the U.S. Senate, was the verbal equivalent of the famous question: Congressman, when did you stop beating your wife? To deny the charge entails repeating it. No candidate wants to see the headline “Congressman denies beating wife” although that headline is preferable to “Congressman admits beating wife.” Reid’s charge was a low blow.


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In This Issue

April 21-May 4, 2017