Distinctly Catholic

The Boston Celtics


There were two things about last night's victory by the Boston Celtics over the Miami Heat that struck a nerve. One was in the last minute when Paul Pearce had the ball and he was being guarded by Lebron James. James is arguably the most incredibly athletic phenom in the league, perhaps in any league. Pearce, like the rest of the Celtics, is considerably older than James and he lacks James' natural athletic prowess. But, he stared James down, took a step back and launched a three-point shot that caught nothing but net. The ball came off of his fingers but the shot originated in his heart.

The second thing that stood out was what transpired at every time out. As a team, the Celtics went to their bench. On the other side of the court, five individuals walked to their bench. The Celtics are a team, they play as a team, they have some extraordinary talent but their greatest talent is that they play as a team. The Heat, on the other hand, seem like five separate sub-contractors, brought together to work on a common project but never quite functioning as a team.

Grim, Grim, Grim in Wisconsin


To say that last night’s results in the Wisconsin recall election were disheartening is a bit like saying oyster sorbet is a bad idea. (Yes, in a fit of inventiveness, the chefs at New York’s River Café once created such a concoction and it was as bad as you would imagine.) It is not only that Gov. Scott Walker will be emboldened to pursue his divisive brand of politics in the Badger State, it is that voters in all fifty states must wake to the realization that GOP fundraisers across the country have new evidence to bring to fat cat donors: Give us enough money and we can win.

Dear CDF: Please Condemn My Book


Yesterday morning, I went to Amazon to see how Sr. Margaret Farley's book was performing in sales. It was #96 in the "sub-category" of "gender and sexuality" within the broader category of religion and spirituality. This morning, it is #1. It also is now the #1 book in the sub-category "theology."

So, I have a request of the CDF. Could you please find something to condemn in my recent biography of Jerry Falwell? I could use the extra sales.

On Wisconsin


Voters in Wisconsin today are deciding whether or not to recall Gov. Scott Walker. I am not a fan of recall elections although they were designed precisely for this kind of situation: a candidate runs on one message, gets into office, and governs in ways that the voters clearly did not endorse. Walker did not put much if any emphasis on the need to deny the collective bargaining rights of state employees when he ran two years ago, but that was the centerpiece of his efforts to bring the state's finances under control, and effort made more difficult by Walker's insistence on cutting taxes first.

Changing the Guard at America


America magazine today announced that Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J. is stepping down as editor of the storied Jesuit weekly and will be replaced in October by Fr. Matt Malone, S.J.

As many of you know, I began my blogging career at America and was greatly blessed to work with Fr. Christiansen, who, among other gifts, knows more about Catholic social teaching, and its nexus with the whole of Catholic theology, than almost anyone I know. I also have had delightful exchanges by email with Fr. Malone over the years and have, through his writings, become acquainted with a mind that can best be described as penetrating. He is an excellent choice to lead the journal.

Father Christiansen will be taking a sabbatical and then teach. Somewhere out there are some very lucky students at a Jesuit college who will soon have the benefit of his learning. I extend all good wishes to him in the future and offer Fr. Malone a hearty welcome back.

The Brits


You have to credit the Brits: They have a series of wonderful national songs to sing and they love nothing better than to stand in the rain and belt out the words. We in America, stuck with an unsingable national anthem, do our best to struggle through "God Bless America" at the ballpark, but while the song is singable, it lacks the uumph of "Land of Hope and Glory" or "Rule, Brittania." Of course, as a Catholic, "Rule, Brittania" is not my favorite song, mindful that when the lyrics proclaim, "Britons never shall be slaves" they were not expressing the concern that eighteenth century Britons might wake up the next morning and be black and indentured. No, the idea was that Britons were free and Protestant, unlike the slaves in France who had an absolute monarch and a popish church.

Anti-Gay Bigotry, Part II


A trio of recent videos has shown anti-gay bigotry on full display with American churches. First, there was pastor Sean Harris in North Carolina who counseled his congregation to “punch” the gay out of any children who show what he characterized as gay traits. Then a second pastor in North Carolina, pastor Charles Worley, was shown suggesting that gays and lesbians be rounded up into camps and put behind electrified fences where they will die out because they can’t pro-create. Finally, yesterday, there emerged a video of a child in an Indiana church singing that there are no “homos” in heaven.

I feel no responsibility for the actions of Protestant pastors and the odious bile they spew in Christ’s name. I suspect the Master will have something to say to them at the judgment seat. But, these episodes do display the need for the Catholic Church to differentiate itself from such hateful bigotry as clearly as possible.

Commonweal Symposium on Religious Liberty


Our friends at Commonweal have an online symposium on the USCCB document on religious liberty issued after the Administrative Cmte meeting in March. The contributors are a who's who on the subject including M. Cathleen Kaveny, Douglas Laycock, Mark Silk and others. I will consider their essays later in the week, but recommend them to everyone for their thoughtful analysis.


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In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017