Distinctly Catholic

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.

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.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017