Distinctly Catholic

Against Scientism


The New Republic has published an elegant and important essay by Philip Kitcher defending the importance of the Humanities and History as forms of human knowledge without which our world would be impoverished and less than humane. I came across it this weekend, before reading Pope Benedict's homily at Arezzo, but it is not difficult to see how Kitcher and Benedict would have something to talk about.

Benedict at Arezzo


The Holy Father was at Arezzo yesterday and delivered himself of an extraordinary sermon, even by his high standards. I especially liked the way he linked the Church's long history of humanism with the need for solidarity with the poor and with human life at all its stages of development and in all its multifarious experiences of human need.

For me, the central section in the homily, and indeed a central question for our time - and for all times - was this: "Within the context of the Church in Italy, committed to the theme of education, we must ask – especially in this Region where the Renaissance was born – what vision of man are we proposing to the new generations. The Word of God we have heard is a powerful invitation to live God’s love towards all, and, among its distinctive values, the culture of this land includes solidarity, attention to the weak, respect for the dignity of all. Your capacity to welcome those who have come here recently in search of freedom and work, is well known."

The full text is here. (h/t to Rocco.)

Plague on Both Houses


I really don't like Laurence O'Donnell whose "Last Word" show closes out MSNBC's lineup. But in this segment last night, he quotes Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council who, quite wrongly, says that marriage has "always" been one man and one woman. This is demonstrably false as a quick read of the Old Testament would point out. But, then O'Donnell goes on to champion our modern idea that marriage should be about love, he neglects to mention that the idea of one man and one woman might also be part of the "progress" he otherwise sees in modernity.

In the days and weeks ahead, I am afraid that the debate over same sex marriage will bring out the dumbest, ugliest, most bigoted commentaries, and these will be found on the left as well as the right. Here is the episode. As much as Perkins is not to my taste, O'Donnell is even worse.

Required Reading for Ryan, Sirico, Douthat et al.


While searching for something else this morning, I came across this succinct but pointed article at the Distributist Review by James Baresel, in which the author explains why subsidiarity does not imply adoption of the "small government" libertarianism being proffered by the GOP these days. Very well done, a must-read for those commenting on the Ryan budget, and we'll be looking for more from Mr. Baresel.

Romney Heads to Lynchburg


Mitt Romney heads to Lynchburg tomorrow to deliver the commencement address at Liberty University. The school is set, geographically, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains but in terms of political geography, Liberty is Ground Zero for Romney’s election bid. Liberty University, begun in 1971 as Liberty Baptist College by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, is the largest evangelical university in the country. According to Liberty, they will confer some 14,000 degrees this spring, 60 percent of which will go to online students.

Throughout the primaries, the higher the percentage of white evangelical voters in a given state, the worse Romney did. Until all the other candidates dropped out of the race, Romney failed to win a single state in which white evangelicals were a majority of voters. In October 2011, according to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, Romney managed only a 40 percent favorability rating from white evangelical Protestants.

Two Great New Essays at CMT


CatholicMoralTheology.com, now beginning its second year in existence, has quickly become must-reading within the RC blogosphere.

Two recent essays are especially worth checking out.

Tobias Winright looks at the remaining moral debates about the death penalty, especially in tough cases like the Norweigan mass murderer Anders Breivik.

Meghan Clark continues the public debate about what subsidiarity does, and does not, demand, looking specifically at SNAP, the Supplemental Food Assistance Program, or food stamps.

Both Winright and Clark are serious scholars, and the depth of their learning shames the rest of us bloggers! But they also write in accessible ways. I hope that college and even high school Catholic classrooms are pointing their students towards the CMT blog which is proving to be an invaluable resource for serious moral reflection and insight.


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In This Issue

February 24-March 9, 2017