Distinctly Catholic

From Enemy to Brother


I knew the second I saw the title of John Connelly’s book – “From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965” – that this was a book I must read. But, why? I was told, and told by someone whose opinion I respect, that this was an important book. But, the issue of Catholic-Jewish relations has always had a special interest for me. In part, this is because I have been blest with the friendship of many Jews who have profoundly impacted my life, from my Latin teacher in high school, to the person who first invited me to publish an essay, to my boss at the restaurant where I worked for many years. I am also half Polish and am acutely aware of the historic and residual anti-Semitism of the Polish culture, so there is a special obligation to study its roots with a view towards eliminating the cancer. Finally, I suppose, I am alarmed by the rise of anti-Semitism on the Left in American politics, sometimes appearing in anti-Israeli drag, sometimes not, but all too willing to traffic in historically anti-Semitic tropes of the kind that should revolt thinking and learned people.

Cretin Alert: Rep. Joe Walsh


Not far from my home in Connecticut is the birthplace of Nathan Hale, the revolutionary war hero who, before he was hanged by the British, reportedly said as his last words: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."

Tammy Duckworth did not give her life for her country, but she gave both legs and the use of one of her arms when the helicopter she was on crashed in Iraq. But, such a sacrifice can't keep Rep. Joe Walsh, who never served a day in his life, from complaining that Duckworth should not be talking about her war record. Repeatedly. Politico has the story.

Romney: It's To-MAY-to


After several days of insisting that the individual mandate is not a tax, presumably because as Gov. of Massachusetts, Romney insisted his mandate was not a tax, now he has flipped again and said, essentially, if the Supreme Court calls it a tax, it's a tax. Many in the GOP like this way of discussing the Affordable Care Act because they want to convince the average person that they will get taxed to pay for the ACA. Of course, this is only true if you decline to get health insurance, but why let a little thing like the truth get in the way.

The whole episode shows Romney's ability to flip, flip back, and flip again. Maybe he was inspired watching the gymnastics trials last weekend and is jealous of his wife, whose horse is going to the London Games even if she is not riding it. Mr. Romney could surely qualify for either the diving competition or gymnastics, both of which twists and turns and flips and flip-flops and, occasionally, just regular flops.

Abp Chaput's Sermon Closing the Fortnight


The “Fortnight for Freedom” has come to a close. It never seemed like a first class public relations’ effort. The word “fortnight” is a fine word, but an unfamiliar one, ill-suited for a bumper sticker. There seemed to be little coordination among different dioceses. Many did nothing to mark the two weeks. Some mounted half-hearted efforts. Trying to get anything done in the last two weeks of June, when school gets out and people start their summer breaks, is always ill-advised.

Abp Chaput's Flawed Moral Analysis


I just came across this comment by Archbishop Charles Chaput in an interview at the National Catholic Register:

Q: What does the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care reform legislation now mean in the struggle to defend religious freedom?

Chaput: I think it’s a disappointment on the part of many of us in the Church because we had hoped the decision would make our lawsuits unnecessary. But a decision of the court is a decision of the court, and we have to accept it in a generous kind of way. We have to do all we can to make sure the position of the Church on religious freedom is clearly articulated and that the challenge to religious freedom, as embodied in the mandates from the Health and Human Services agency,… are overturned.

Venom From the Right


It has been a rough week for a certain type of conservative, the type who has an over-arching need for literal certainty, who worries about straying from the party line, and who inclines towards fundamentalist understandings of all issues. First, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Supreme Court’s four liberals to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Now, here comes Pope Benedict XVI, appointing as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, a man these fundamentalist conservatives have accused of heresy.

Krauze on Mexican Elections


My friend Enrique Krauze has a very incisive article about the Mexican elections at the Washington Post. The article was published Sunday, when the results were not known officially, but as predicted, the PRI took back the presidency after 12 years out of power. As Krauze notes, those twelve years were important, and Mexico has made great gains, but more needs to be done. Just as the PRI of today is not the PRI of even twelve years ago, or the PRI of 1968 that murdered dozens of demonstrators just weeks before the opening of the Olympic Games, we can hope that the modern PRI will be less hostile to the Church than its earlier incarnation.

How Bishops SHOULD Speak in Public Square


Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, released a statement regarding the Supreme Court's decision last week to uphold the Affordable Care Act. You can find it by clicking here.

To my mind, Cardinal O'Malley's words reflect exactly how bishops should speak in the public square. There is no stridency. There is no attempt to appear like he is a scholar of the commerce clause. There is no doomsday-worst-case-scenario interpretations of the ACA. There is, instead, a restatement of the moral principles at stake in the fight for univeral health care and encouragement to all politicians to continue working to fix the parts that remain objectionable.


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In This Issue

April 21-May 4, 2017