Distinctly Catholic

George Weigel Almost Had Me


I saw the headline of George Weigel's latest column at National Review Online - "Don't Know Much about Theology..." and, for a split second, entertained the idea that he might finally be copping to the fact that he does not, actually, know much theology. As I say, it was a split second, not a lingering one. Of course, Weigel hurls his usual invective scattershot at anyone who does not look on the 1950s as the Golden Age.

Mind you, I agree that the current state of academic theology is often silly, beset by the worst, most faddish, trends in the Academy. I suspect that being the first generations to enter the modern academy as an intellectual discipline standing alongside other intellectual disciplines, a certain amount of putting one's foot wrong was to be expected. I also recognize that the pre-conciliar theology approved by the Church's authorities was often so out-of-touch with currents in modern thought, that these same generations were unprepared for the encounter.

NCR Readers in New England


Two items for New England NCR readers. First, I will be on the "Colin McEnroe Show" today on WNPR. The show airs live at 1.m. and is replayed in the evening at different times. In Connecticut, WNPR is found at a few different locations on the radio dial, depending on where you are.

Saturday, June 16, at 2 p.m. I will be discussing my biography of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, "God's Right Hand," at the Fletcher Memorial Library in Hampton, Connecticut. All are welcome.

Obama on The Defensive


Democrats have a genetic predisposition to hand-wringing. The memo from James Carville and Stan Greenberg criticizing President Obama’s re-election effort, and the commentary thereon, is par for the course: In 1992, there were plenty of criticisms of Carville, Greenberg and their man Bill Clinton as he entered the Democratic Convention in New York trailing both President George H.W. Bush and Third Party, First-Tier Crazy Ross Perot. Events, some of them unforeseeable, intervene, upsetting established narratives. Message discipline is important in a candidate and among his or her surrogates, but it is not always enough.

Gov. Rick Scott: Worst Governor in US


Maybe the man just doesn't understand the root of the word "democracy," but Florida Gov. Rick Scott has announced he does not intend to abide by a cease and desist order from the Department of Justice regarding Scott's efforts to purge the voter rolls in his state. He says he is intent on making sure non-citizens do not vote, although as I pointed out last week, his "purge list" included many citizens, including a 91-year old veteran of World War II.

Gov. Scott, you may recall, has long had trouble with legal issues. Before he became governor, he ran a company that was accused of one of the largest Medicare frauds in history and they had to pay a $600 million fine for the fraudulent activities! Why would he let a little thing like the Voting Rights Act get in his way.

Gov. Scott earns my nomination as the worst governor in America, and that is an increasingly high hurdle.

Dancing on Carr's Grave?


I especially liked the subtlety of the headline at "Angel Queen," when she linked to my post about the retirement of John Carr from the USCCB. Angel Queen declared, "John Carr, USCCB Official with Shady Connections, Leaving USCCB."

Not to be outdone, the insanely right wing website "Culture War Notes" announced Carr's retirement with this headline, "USCCB Pro-Abort Resigns."

Of course, I should like to say that I am proud to be one of Mr. Carr's shady connections. I am proud to stand with the late Cardinal Hickey, with Bishops Murphy and Blaire and others who have chaired John's committee, with Cardinal O'Malley who worked with John back when Cardinal O'Malley was a priest working in Washington, and with countless others who have worked with John over the years. Shady, all of us.

As the USCCB Gathers in Atlanta


As the bishops of the United States gather for their summer meeting tomorrow, the on-going debate over religious liberty will dominate the proceedings. Better to say, the debate over how to proceed in vindicating religious liberty will dominate the proceedings. All the bishops are vitally concerned about the various encroachments on religious liberty that can be seen in our culture today. Only the editors of the New York Times and a few other fellow travelers of the Obama administration continue to insist this is a “phony” issue.

It seems to me that there are two central questions the bishops must address. First, regarding the HHS mandate for the inclusion of contraception in all preventive care plans, the bishops must decide if they will insist that all employers receive a religious exemption or only those employers that are in some meaningful sense religious institutions. Second, how will the bishops talk about the issue of religious liberty and will their speech try to guarantee that the issue is not misused to achieve partisan ends.

Paris, 1200


John Baldwin’s “Paris, 1200” is a completely different type of history from that contained in the book I last reviewed, Brad Gregory’s “The Unintended Reformation.” Where Gregory engaged a broad sweep of history, tracking the interface of ideas and events over several centuries, Baldwin focuses on one city in one year. Nonetheless, this is an important work not only because the precise focus never leads to a narrative bogged down in minutia, but because so many of the issues considered are as perennial as the New England irises I weeded around this weekend.

Latinos Still Back Obama


A new poll shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney among Latino voters by a whopping margin of 66% to 23%. Romney's woeful numbers are little changed over the past few months, indicating that Latinos are willing to overlook Obama's inability to pass immigration reform if the alternative is a man who has endorsed "self-deportation" and voiced support for anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama.

To put the new poll in perspective, in 2008, according to exit polls, Obama won Latinos by 67% to John McCain's 31%. So, if all those Latino voters who told pollsters in this most recent poll that they are undecided, if all of them break to Romney, Obama will still come close to his margins in 2008.


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In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017