Distinctly Catholic

Romney & the Olympics


While most of the commentariat was focused on Romney's unforced error, denigrating the UK's preparations for the Olympics and Cameron's biting rejoinder, I had a different question. Mr. and Mrs. Romney attended the Opening Ceremonies which featured, among other things, a rendition of Blake's "Jerusalem" set to the magical music of Hubert Parry. Romney has frequently given his examples of his commitment to a religiously inflected American exceptionalism. What does he think of this bit of religiously inflected British exceptionalism? After all, Blake's retelling of a fable - "And was the holy Lamb of God/ On England's pleasant pastures seen!" - trumps even Sarah Palin's exalted ideas about America's special divine dispensations, no?

Profile In Cowardice


For all their bluster in January and February, it now appears that House Republicans are a lot less keen on engaging the fight over the HHS mandate, according to this story in Politico.

What changed? Not the administration's "accommodations" which have proven to be less accommodating than promised. No, what changed is that Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a "slut." The House Republican leadership could not bring itself to repudiate Limbaugh, which would have allowed them to make the case that a legislative fix for the HSS mandate was not a "war on women." And, unsurprisingly, women tell pollsters they do not support a war on women. So, consideration of the Fortenberry Bill was pulled.

Until the GOP leadership takes on the extremists within its own fold, they will be forced into these kinds of cowardly withdrawals.

Contra Garnett


My friend and fellow Catholic commentator Rick Garnett has taken issue with my takedown of George Weigel’s most recent article. I charged that Weigel is dissenting from Church teaching. Garnett thinks I may have overstated the case. Unfortunately, and quite uncharacteristically, Garnett uses a strawman or two to make his argument, which I shall consider below. More importantly, Garnett – and Weigel – seem to be unaware of the actual state of affairs on their side of the aisle, invoking the possibility of an “anti-statist” but nonetheless compassionate conservatism that simply does not exist.

First the strawmen. Garnett writes:

Kaveny on Obstacles to Evangelization


Cathleen Kaveny has posted what I hope will be the first of many items on obstacles to evangelization. Unlike much of the conversation about the "New Evangelization," which tends to focus on the use of twitter and the such, Kaveny goes to the root.

Do people in the developed world frame the fundmental existential problem in the way that Christianity does? As I understand it, the fundamental question that Christianity tries to answer is that posed by the rich young man in the Gospel: What must I do to obtain eternal life?

Kaveny notes that modern man experiences life differently from the way it was experienced in earlier times. We live longer and our faculties diminish. The idea of eternal life may not be as compelling as it once was. But, of course, it is the loneliness of death for those left behind that poses the existential question at its most acute: We Catholics should not desire eternal life, full-stop. We wish to live forever with those we love, beginning with God who is revealed to us as Love Himself.

The Olympics Begin


The Olympic Games open tonight and for the next two weeks, all other news will take a back seat as the leading athletes from around the world compete in London. There is something about the simplicity of athletic competition that appeals to our hearts: Usain Bolt, the Jamaican superstar sprinter who literally ran away with the men’s 100 meter dash four years ago may or may not face a challenge from his competitors, but no one will get to the top of the medal stand on the strength of influence peddling, insider trading, still less with any kind of compromise. The athletes win because they are, to quote the Olympic motto, swifter, higher or stronger than the competition.

Sr. Carol at CACG


Sr. Carol Keehan has a wonderful essay at this week's "Common Good Forum," the weekly essay on Catholic social teaching posted at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. You can read it by clicking here. And be sure to check out the video prepared by CHA that is hyperlinked in Sr. Carol's article. That video, and Sr. Carol's essay, does a better job explaining and promoting the Affordable Care Act than anything to come out of the White House of the HHS. Maybe she should be their press secretary!

Weigel Attacks Church's Social Magisterium (Again!)


George Weigel’s voice never carries deep, because he has long since abandoned any claim to depth of analysis, but it carries far. His column is widely syndicated to Catholic newspapers through the Denver Catholic Register. Just so, Weigel’s voice should be countered when he writes something that is offensive to the Church’s social magisterium which he claims to champion. His column this week is one more piece of noxious evidence that Weigel has simply become a partisan hack of the highest order. Let us examine some of his claims in this latest piece of agitprop.

In Context & Out


The presidential campaign in recent days has been focused on a speech President Obama delivered in Roanoke almost two weeks ago. In that speech, the President said, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” It seems pretty obvious from the context that the “that” in the penultimate and last sentences referred to infrastructure.

Nonetheless, the Romney campaign pounced, lifting only the last two sentences of the president’s peroration, and arguing that the president was being disrespectful to the hard work of entrepreneurs. Team Romney crafted a powerful television ad featuring Jack Gilchrist, a small businessman in New Hampshire, who looked into the camera and asked, “My father’s hands didn’t build this company? My hands didn’t build this company? My son’s hands aren’t building this company?”


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In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017