Distinctly Catholic

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.

Why the Church Should Fight Anti-Gay Bigotry


Last week, I called attention to, but did not write about, an important article by former Ambassador Thomas Melady and the Reverend Richard Cizik, a prominent evangelical leader. The two men wrote about the need for Christians to oppose efforts in Uganda to criminalize homosexuality, including life-time prison sentences and even death as penalties in certain cases. I think Melady’s and Cizik’s article is very important.

Archival Treasure Trove


In case you missed it from the print edition, here is a link to my profile of Catholic University archivist Maria Mazzenga and how she is making the university archival collections available online. As the article shows, the resources of CUA's archives, which include the papers of the bishops' conference, are especially useful for Catholic school teachers, with a variety of aids for them to incorporate the holdings into the curriculum.

Really Bad News on Jobs


The May unemployment numbers are out and they are grim. Only 69,000 new jobs were added, well off the 200,000 per month new jobs being added in the early months of the year. The unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent.

I do not believe President Obama bears primary responsibility for the anemic economy. And, I am shocked that so many people seem so willing to embrace the kind of laissez-faire economic policies that got us into this mess in the first place, both in terms of causing the 2008 meltdown and in terms of adopting the Bush tax cuts which undermined the government's long-term fiscal health. Also ironic that what we need is some good old-fashioned stimulus, and that, too, cannot be enacted because of GOP austerity orthodoxy.

Berkowitz: \"Reading Into the Constitution\"


Over at Policy Review, Peter Berkowitz has a review of a new book by Jack Balkin in which Balin tries to create a synthesis between the originalism we associate with Justice Scalia and the "living document" approach to constitutional interpretation we associate with, say, Justice Breyer.

You do not have to agree with Berkowitz - or with Balkin - to enjoy the essay. It shows, in clear and lucid style, how complicated these issues are and, yet, how fortunate we are to live in a country and a time when such issues are resolved by argument and not by guns. Speaking of guns, I cannot refrain from recalling best refutation of Scalia's originalism I have ever heard. A friend remarked that he agreed the Second Amendment should be understood in its originalist sense and, consequently, he believed individual citizens had an absolute, incontrovertible right to bear muskets.

Defending the Right to Vote


U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle yesterday struck down key provisions of Florida’s new voting law, specifically targeting those provisions which put limits on the efforts of groups like the League of Women Voters to register people to vote.

The State of Florida has been systematically thumbing its nose at two of the most basic principles of democracy: the right to vote is inviolable and we should encourage citizens’ participation in elections. The first principle, the right to vote, was at the heart of the civil rights movement. Am I the only one who gets choked up when I heard Cong. John Lewis speak about this issue with such fervor, having fought for the right to vote and been hit over the head and chased by dogs for it, and now, fifty years later, finding that right under assault again?


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017