The budget proposals put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, present, as his “Path to Prosperity” text states, a choice between two futures for the nation. And, let us stipulate at the outset, that Ryan is both sincere and correct when he bemoans the current inability of Washington to courageously address the nation’s fiscal issues. But, in this case, the remedy is worse than the disease because the future for America that Ryan’s budget paints is a vicious future in which the rich get richer, the poor and the marginalized are left to fend for themselves, vulnerable seniors are given vouchers, not health care, and – most disturbingly for Catholics – the common good is entirely set aside in the name of freedom.
This story from the Associated Press will, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Santorum, make you want to throw up. A new book details that the Vatican received information about Father Maciel's crimes more than 50 years ago. (h/t to Rocco!)
I do want to point out one thing however. The article does not implicate Benedict in the cover-up but it leaves open the possibility. That possibility should be foreclosed. As head of the CDF, then-Cardinal ratzinger conducted the investigation of Maciel and then the apartment did nothing with it. Cardinals Sodano and Dziwicz have some answering to do but not Pope Benedict.
Mark Silk looks at the relative moderation of suburban Chicago evangelicals - think Willow Creek - compared to some of the fire-breathing fundamentalists that Santorum chose to hang out with this past week. The question is whether the fire-breathers will come around in November or the combination of Romney moderation and his Mormonism will suggest they should go fishing on election day.
Jonathan Cohn doesn't mince words when evaluating the new budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee. Cohn terms it "stunningly immoral." Especially in the way the protections fall exclusively on the wealthy and the cuts fall exclusively on the poor, especially the elderly, the Ryan budget is a disaster. I will have more on this tomorrow.
Great catch by the good people at People for the American Way. In an interview on the new Sandy Rios show, Rick Santorum indicated that the reason he is doing better with white evangelical voters than with his co-religionists is because he is only doing well with people who take their religion seriously. Huh? I wish to assure the former Senator that I take my religion very, very seriously, and I would still never vote for him.
Over at Crisis magazine, Wolfgang Grassl hits on a truly provocative idea - reviving the Catholic cultural ghetto we associate with the urban, ethnic parishes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century - but, as is common with some Catholic conservatives, Grassl proceeds to mis the mark almost entirely. He thinks that, in hte light of the HHS mandates, our Catholic charities, hospitals, and schools should return to serving only our own. The problem here is obvious: The Parable of the Good Samaritan does not suggest that we should only seek to help our own poor but all the poor.
Mitt Romney knows what he wants – the nomination – and he is pretty sure that last night he took another big step towards achieving his goal. Which is not to say he sealed the deal last night: a 46% to 35% win is a big win, to be sure, but while he was outspending the cash-strapped campaign of Rick Santorum by 7-1, you might have thought Romney could break 50%. Nonetheless, barring a banana peel on his path to the convention, it is difficult to see how any of the other candidates can keep him from the magic number of 1,144 delegated needed to secure the nomination on the first ballot.
The key disappointment for the Romney campaign must be their inability to generate anything like enthusiasm from the GOP base. He has yet to win a primary in which white evangelicals constitute more than fifty percent of the voters. Perhaps they think that the GOP base’s hatred for Obama is so great, it doesn’t matter whether they like Romney, their hatred of Obama will drive them to the polls in droves. It is possible. But, some people like to be voting for, as well as against, and even a slight drop-off in white evangelical turnout could cost the GOP key states like Ohio, Michigan and Virginia.
Kathryn Lopez, at CatholicVote.org, recommends sending letters to those who have stood up for religious liberty this year. She includes the name and address for Speaker John Boehner on the list. Funny, I thought he had pulled the Fortenberry bill?
I think some of us on the left tend to under-estimate the degree of nastiness bishops have to put up with from their right wing flanks. Maybe that is because we dismiss the far right extremists as kooks. But, they are noisy kooks. Think of the attacks on CCHD, and the way the bishops have resisted efforts to dismantle that signature anti-poverty program. Or of Father Guarnizo, the communion-denying priest who basically called Cardinal Wuerl a liar last week.
Last week, I was invited to give the 20th annual ethics lecture by the Institute for Ethics at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. I chose to address Catholic Social Teaching and politics. Here is the text:
Time for Caesar to Render: How Catholic Social Teaching Can Heal What’s Wrong With American Politics
When I was asked to deliver this lecture last autumn, little did I know that the issue of rendering unto Caesar, that is, the relationship between Church & State, would become the stuff of nightly news and newspaper op-eds and polling data, and all the accoutrement of a modern democracy. The recent battle over if and how government mandates should extend to religious institutions reminded us all of something, actually many things, that we would rather forget:
The Constitution did not resolve the issue of the relationship of Church and State;
The Church never fits neatly into any political framework, many of the issues in contemporary political life have many answers and people of good will and good conscience can disagree, and disagree profoundly, as to which answer is best and, more importantly, which answers are even tolerable.