Distinctly Catholic

Visiting the Abbey


Yesterday, my best friend and I drove up to St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. This Trappist monastery is set in a bucolic setting in the rolling hills of central Massachusetts, covered with a variety of trees, and the ever present indicator of New England rural life, stone walls.

We visited the Holy Rood Guild to check out their beautiful vestments. We went to Noonday prayer in the chapel. We visited the gift shop and bookstore, where I am happy to report they had a copy of my colleague Tom Roberts' book "The Emerging Church" for sale as well as their delicious jams and chocolates.

If you travel through New England, put a stop on the Abbey on your itinerary. You can get more information by visiting their website here.



The Veepstakes are heating up as we get closer to the expected announcement of whom Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate, presumably, as soon as the Olympics wrap up this weekend. Before considering the options, let’s paint in the landscape.

Usually, a Veep choice does not make a huge difference in the November election, except when the choice tells us something important about the presidential candidate. For example, when Bill Clinton was trying to reclaim and remake his image in 1992, his choice of then-Sen. Al Gore broke the standard model. Instead of picking someone from a different ideological or geographic wing of the party, he chose someone who reinforced the image of Clinton he wanted to project, a young, razor-sharp smart, New Democrat, not beholden to usual interest group politics, more of a technocratic, problem-solver. Gore did not help Clinton carry Tennessee, that was not the point. He did not help him with labor, that was not the point. But, the Gore choice was the exception. The choice of Joe Biden in 2008 was more typical, a tried and true politician who would not call too much attention to himself but would reassure people about Obama.

+Dolan on LCWR


Cardinal Timothy Dolan has a post up at his blog about religious sisters in America and the LCWR specifically. Dolan brings his historian's eye to the role of religious women in the history of the Church in the U.S. but he also goes further, calling on everyone to reject the more extreme interpretations about the Vatican's oversight of the LCWR: Dolan rejects both the "old, bad hierarchs" and the "dangerous, heretical nuns" narratives.

The most interesting comments, though, were these:

When the Second Vatican Council urged a renewal of religious life, with characteristic vigor, they obeyed, and perhaps more than any other group in the Church, took the providential council seriously.

Lord knows, that was not easy. Mistakes were made; many left; divisions occurred; controversy was common. But they kept at it.

More on Bishops in Public Square


Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines has an article at America on Catholics in the public square. Like Bishop Balse Cupich's letter to Spokane's Catholics I referenced yesterday, Bishop Pates's article does not adopt a cultural warrior mode but is also intensely challenging to serious Catholics, asking us to examine the extent to which we are willing to wink at the ways our chosen political parties fail to grasp and enflesh the robust moral vision of the Church. And, because he does not engage in cheap shots, or grotesque analogies, or patent demagoguery, Bishop Pates not only shows faithful Catholics how to engage the public square, his article shows his fellow bishops how they should.



Over at his blog at RNS, Mark Silk notes that two events – the massacre at the Sikh temple near Milwaukee and the arson attack on a mosque in Joplin, Missouri – do not make a trend, but that it is vital people of faith and conscience start paying attention to the rise of xenophobia.

Silk calls attention to Gov. Scott Walker’s remark: “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence.” Silk replies, “Personally I don’t think we have to struggle too hard. The evil in question has to do with xenophobia and religious hatred, both of which can be stirred up or damped down by political leaders.” Silk -1; Walker - 0.

Remembering Montini


Today is the anniversay of the death of Pope Paul VI. His task was herculian, the first pope to bring an ecumenical council to a close and begin its implementation in the modern media age. His temperament, which by his own admission, had a certain Hamlet-like quality, was not necessarily suited to the task. But, by and large, he did it and he did it brilliantly. I continue to believe that for all the happy memories some hold of Good Pope John, who was indeed good, and of John Paul the Great, who was indeed great, Clio will more and more see Montini as the outstanding pontiff of the 20th century.


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In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017