Distinctly Catholic

Wuerl's Cross


If one is a bishop today, many are the crosses you must carry. But, here in Washington, our Archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, seems to have a new cross to bear this year: George Neumayr. He was orginally upset with how the archdiocese dealt with Father Guarnizo, the priest who denied communion to a woman at her mother's funeral because she is a lesbian. But, Neumayr launched his attack with a degree of personal venom that was, frankly, shocking.

He is still at it, this time including conservative canonist Ed Peters in his diatribe.

As with some other conservative Catholics, Neumayr seems to become unhinged, scatenato, at the prospect of anyone, including a bishop, disagreeing with his particular brand of Taliban Catholicism.

Good Friday


I have been forced by circumstances to know more about death than I would like to know. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I managed a café in Dupont Circle, which is to DC what the Castro is to San Francisco, the center of the gay and lesbian cultural life of the city. Within the span of a few short years, we lost our head bartender, our chef, several waiters and countless customers to the dread disease.

HIV/AIDS was the Calvary of the gay community. I know some will be shocked by the comparison, but I stand by it. For these men, and it was mostly men, were struck down at a horribly early age and so their deaths lacked the naturalness by which Sister Death usually accomplishes her work, coming to those who have lived long and fruitful lives to be buried by their children. Here, the parents buried their children. At dozens of hospice visits, I saw living “pietas” as mothers comforted their dying sons. At dozens of funerals, the bewilderment and the fear that gripped the apostles was evident on the faces of the friends and families who gathered to bury their dead. And, the suffering was, as you can imagine, unimaginable.

Galston to Obama: Lay Off the Court


One of the reasons I especially admire Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution is that he is as willing to challenge those with whom he usually agrees as he is to challenge those with whom he usually does not agree.

At TNR today, Galston urges President Obama not to attack the Supreme Court even if it overturns the Affordable Care Act. As tempting as it would be to use such a decision to rile up the base, it would damage the constitutional fabric of the nation in unforeseeable ways.

As in the case of Mr. O'Donnell yesterday, it behooves liberals to counsel liberals not to descend to the level of Karl Rove, turning every issue into something for political gain. We are better than that, or should be.

Survey on Jews and Jewish Values


It is really, really hard to get good survey data on the attitudes of groups that make up a sliver of the population, such as Jews, Muslims, gays and lesbians, etc. Robert P. Jones, of the Public Religion Research Institute, however, rose to the challenge and has released this important survey of American Jews.

I would only note that the consistently high numbers of core values is something that commends itself to the USCCB. How can Catholics come to attain these remarkably high levels of concordance on values?

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.


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In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017