Today is the Holy Father's 85th birthday. I wish him not only many happy returns of the day but many happy years. He is an outstanding pontiff whose writings and talks have inspired millions and invited those with ears to hear to consider their faith more deeply. He has not shied away from diaolgue with the world - his conversation with Jurgen Habermas, published in book form - displays a critical mind at work in ways few of us could keep up, but he has never forgotten that for a Christian, as we discern the signs of the times, Christ remains the measure.
Bishop Augustin Roman, the Cuban-born auxiliary bishop of Miami, was buried on Saturday. In addition to the prelates from the United States who came for his funeral, bishops from Cuba and Haiti also attended and, in a rarity, the Apostolic Nuncio also flew down from Washington.
It was not only the hierarchy who engaged in this unprecedented outpouring of affection. The U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Miguel Diaz, who is a Cuban-American, issued a statement recalling Bishop Roman's special place in the life of the Church and the Cuban-American people:
On behalf of myself and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, I wish to express my deepest condolences on the passing away of His Excellency Auxiliary Bishop Agustin Román, the human rights leader who became the first Cuban-American to be consecrated a bishop in the United States.
From this morning's "Morning Edition," at NPR, Professor Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at Catholic University (where I am a visiting fellow) takes on Cong. Paul Ryan's claims that his budgetary proposals are in line with traditional Catholic social teaching.
It goes without saying that Schneck's views - and maybe even Ryan's - are more sophisticated than those offered in the NPR piece by David Barton and Rick Warren.
My two favorite Notre Dame law professors - okay, they are also the only two Notre Dame law professors I know, but I do like both of them and can scarcely contain my admiration for each - are engaged in debate over the religious liberty jurisprudence as embodied in the important Supreme Court decision Employment Division v. Smith.
Here is Kaveny's first post.
Here is Garnett's post.
And here is a subsequent post by Kaveny.
I am not a lawyer, so I especially appreciate the ability of both Kaveny and Garnett to explain complicated legal issues in terms the rest of us can understand.
Sarah Posner is a propagandist, not a journalist.
Last week I wrote about how pre-existing narratives can actually becloud our vision of contemporary events, rather than elucidate them. Of course, in some sense, we all have pre-existing narratives or else it would be impossible to place data in context, impossible to make sense of the world or bring our different sets of beliefs and experiences into some kind of coherence. But, anyone wishing to be intellectually honest must be aware of the down-side of pre-existing narratives, the way they can miss nuance, dismiss alternative arguments and frustrate the possibility for political resolution.
Mark Silk has a breathtakingly astute post on Florida's "stand your ground" law and what St. Augustine would have thought of it, as well as the disturbing fact that some so-called conservatives, seem to lack Augustine's appreciation for human nature.
The President of the Interfaith Alliance, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued a statement yesterday expressing his “disappointment” at the USCCB’s document on religious liberty. I do not know the Rev. Dr. Gaddy, and now I am glad that I don’t. Here is the text of his statement and my comments will follow:
UPDATE/CORRECTION: Below I related the story of Cardinal Wuerl's discussions with the government of the District of Columbia regarding same sex marriage. I was mistaken in suggesting that Cardinal Wuerl had proposed a variation on the "Levada solution" because the Levada solution dealt with domestic partnerships, not same sex marriage, and so that solution was not available to Cardinal Wuerl. I regret the error.
The USCCB this morning released the text of a new document from its ad hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. The document, entitled, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” takes the recent debate over the HHS mandates and brings the discussion to the 35,000 foot level, surveying the landscape more broadly and making the case that the issue of religious liberty is urgent and warrants the attention of both the Church and the nation.
Over at America, the always readable Kevin Clarke takes on the Ryan budget and Ryan's claims about how that budget coheres with traditional Catholic social teaching. Masterfully done!