Distinctly Catholic

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?”

First CCHD; Now CRS


We have seen these witch hunt tactics before. The parallel magisterium over at LifeSiteNews has taken exception to Catholic Relief Services because of a grant it made for emergency assistance - food, basic nutrition services, sanitation and clean water - to CARE. The grant did not fund abortions. The grant did not fund contraceptives. But, the President of CARE, Helene Gayle, is an outspoken support of abortion rights. Shame on her, to be sure. But, no shame on CRS.

A few years back, it was the parallel magisterium of Judie Brown that attacked the Catholic Campaign for Human Development along similar lines. They knew someone who knew someone who had a connection to Planned Parenthood, or something like that. It is all so much foolishness.

Romney's Speech to VFW


Mitt Romney went to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention yesterday to deliver what his campaign termed a “major foreign policy address.” In a campaign that has been largely focused on domestic economic issues, Romney’s speech was “major” in comparison to the silence on the issue that preceded it. But, it was not “major” in the sense of introducing any actual guide to how he would conduct foreign policy if he were to be elected in November. Like the tax returns he refuses to release, Romney is not showing his policy cards in this area.

Most of the speech was dedicated to a reiteration of American exceptionalism. Now, I happen to think America is exceptional in many ways. But, people who think America is exceptional can, in foreign policy matters, easily slide into hubris of the kind all Americans witnessed when then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld predicted that the war in Iraq would cost about $50 billion and essentially be over in six months. Ten years and roughly a trillion dollars later, we have finally extricated our military from the quagmire Rumsfeld’s hubris got us into.

Say No to Hyatt Until Hyatt Says Yes to Workers


Interfaith Worker Justice continues its campaign for better working conditions at Hyatt Hotels with a post by Mia Fill.

Hyatt and other corporations the treat their workers badly may be able to stay within the narrow confines of the law, but they do not deserve anyone's patronage until they clean up their act with the same devotion that their housekeepers clean up the rooms.

AIDS in America


The International AIDS Conference is going on in Washington this week. Two articles caught my attention, and kept it, regarding the struggle against this still deadly disease which continues to be an epidemic in certain cities, including the one in which I live, Washington, D.C.

This morning, Dan Zak has an article in the Washington Post about how the disease and, more importantly, socio-cultural reactions to the disease, have changed since D.C.’s first conference on AIDS on April 4, 1983. Then, scientists had not really discovered much about HIV/AIDS, still less devised the current regimen of medicines that can largely control its lethality. Zak tells the tale of John Willig who spoke at the 1983 conference about his disease, how he and his partner thought that surely they would overcome it, but that Willig actually died three years later. Then, AIDS was a death sentence.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017