Distinctly Catholic

Social Darwinism


The President used the phrase "social Darwinism" to characterize the GOP House budget the other day. I am not 100 percent certain that this blog was the first to apply that phrase to last year's budget proposal by Cong. Paul Ryan, but it was certainly one of the first. The meme quickly got picked up by other progressive Catholics because it seems to exemplify why Catholics have such resistance to these budget proposals.

Holy Thursday


Last year, I reflected on different aspects of the Holy Thursday liturgy, which is surely among the most beautiful and moving in the entire year. This year, I should like to focus on one seemingly small liturgical change that distinguishes tonight’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

At every Mass, in the Eucharistic prayer, the celebrant begins the words of consecration by saying, “On the night he was betrayed, he took bread in his sacred hands….” At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the celebrant adds three small words that pack a great deal of significance, saying, “On the night he was betrayed, that is tonight, he took bread in his sacred hands….”

“That is tonight.” I have not checked the new translation, but I hope these words are unchanged, especially the verb tense. “That is tonight.” The present tense.

Confusion at Forbes


In today's Morning Briefing, there is a link to an article at Forbes by Jim Powell of the CATO Institute.

Apart from its meandering walk through the history of the Catholic Church's stance towards slavery and subsequent dealings with fascism, the articles only major defect is that it is premised on a misunderstanding. Mr. Powell talks about the Catholic Church's opposition to the HHS mandates regarding contraception but wonders why the Church did not denounce the mandate when the law was being debated. Powell has his mandates confused. This has happened with some frequency lately after the Supreme Court's oral arguments last week.

Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House


Just back from the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House. The President started these two years ago, inviting religious leaders, but no politicos, to the White House in the days before Easter to pray. In his remarks, the President noted that as he and the First lady travel the country, many people say that they are praying for him. "That means a lot to us," he said. "It especially means a lot to us when we hear from folks who we know probably didn’t vote for me -- (laughter) -- and yet, expressing extraordinary sincerity about their prayers."

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington read from the New Testament at the prayer breakfast. Other prominent Catholcs in the room included Rev. Charles Currie, S.J., Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., Rev. Clete Kiley, Rev. Anthony Pogorelc, S.S., Sr. Carol Keehan, Sr. Simone Campbell, Rev. Larry Snyder, and CUA Professor Stephen Schneck.

Shame on Lawrence O'Donnell


I am not someone who thinks sharp elbows are necessarily a bad thing in politics or among the punditocracy, but sometimes rhetoric can lead any of us astray into mis-characterizations of our opponents’ positions. And, sometimes, rhetoric can lead some people into simple bigotry.

Last night, while flipping channels to get analysis of the primary results in Wisconsin, I came across a teaser for Lawrence O’Donnell’s “Re-Write” segment which promised to discuss Mitt Romney’s “religion problem.” I do not expect much from Mr. O’Donnell, who seems intent on taking for himself Keith Olbermann’s claim to being the most inane commentator on the left. Alas, it was worse than expected. Video is below.

Toobin's Media Frenzy


Over at The New Republic, Simon van Zuylen-Wood gives a minute-by-minute look at how CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin set off a media frenzy last week. Toobin has long seemed to me to be more interested in journalistic spin than in judicial accuracy, a talking head who wants, above all, to keep himself in front of the cameras, but last week he outdid himself, arguing that oral arguments don't really matter and then explaining why oral arguments mattered, all within a matter of minutes. Stunning.

Veep Stakes


The GOP Veep stakes have begun. As Mitt Romney appears likely to sweep today’s primaries, especially in the critical state of Wisconsin, all eyes have begun to shift from his battle for the nomination to his November fight with President Obama. And, the first “presidential decision” a candidate makes is to choose a running mate.

The choice is always important because it can allow a candidate to jump start his or her campaign and few candidates need more of a jump start than Romney. Given the negative campaign he has run, the primaries have only served to lower Romney’s favorable ratings. And, given the nature of the GOP base, the primaries have forced Romney into ever increasingly uncomfortable positions, further to the right than he would have liked to be sure, but also positions at odds with his own record. And while his campaign strategists may think the electorate is like an etch-a-sketch, many voters, aided by Youtube videos, have longer memories than can be offset by a quick hit of the reset button.

A New & Vibrant Voice


Tom Rosshirt has posted what we hope will be the first of many op-eds at Creators.com, a website with which I was previously unfamiliar. But, I was familiar with Rosshirt, a man whose prose I have long envied and whose thoughtfulness I have long cherished. In this first posting, he exposes the idea that Sen. Santorum is immune to the kind of "moral gerrymandering" that the right habitually accuses the left of performing. Well worth the read.

Kudos to USCCB


On Friday, the USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief, supporting the Obama administration's efforts to overturn an anti-immigrant law in Arizona. The USCCB opposes the law on the merits - arguing that it ignores the fundamental human dignity of immigrants and that it also subverts one of the goals of a well-constructed immigration policy, namely, keeping families together.

But, what is really interesting is that the last part of the brief objects to the Arizona law because it infringes on the religious liberty of the Church. The brief states: "The Catholic Church’s religious faith, like that of many religious denominations, requires it to offer charity—ranging from soup kitchens to homeless shelters—to all in need, whether they are present in this country legally or not. Yet SB 1070 and related state immigration laws have provisions that could….criminalize this charity… [or] exclude from that charity all those whose presence Arizona and other states would criminalize."


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In This Issue

March 24-April 6, 2017