The USCCB has issued its report on the recently concluded debt ceiling and budget negotiations. The document does not mince words, opening with this verdict: “This debate demonstrated the partisan, ideological, and dysfunctional polarization that dominates Washington. It wasn’t pretty, and it isn’t over. While the crisis of default was averted, for advocates of poor and vulnerable people, this debate was disappointing, ominous, and just a beginning.”
The Holy Father met with a group of pilgrims from Traunstein, Bavaria last week and he offered these words:
Even then, though, we can remain joyous and human -- but only if heaven is open for us, only if we can be strengthened in the certainty that God loves us in full, that God is good and, through this, in the certainty that it’s good to be human....
Harold Meyerson in this morning's Washington Post examines the reasons why President Obama will not get a primary challenger from his base, something that doomed previous re-election efforts by Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. He left one thing out, and it is something liberals need to ponder before they carp about the President: health care reform. Here is a signature achievement, one that had eluded previous presidents including Truman, Johnson, Nixon and Clinton. By 2014, unless the Democrats lose the White House, health care will be a right in this country. That is no small achievement. I wish Obama had been better at negotiating with the republicans. I wish he had pushed through immigration reform. I wish he had been able to get card check through Congress. But, he succeeded in making health care a right, and the complainers from the leftwing bleachers should remember that.
Earlier this week, I called attention to a speech given by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles to the Napa Institute about immigration and America’s national story. Yesterday, at the Knights of Columbus Convention, Archbishop Gomez again addressed the issue.
There is something undeniably satisfying, and something very worrisome, about the photo of Hosni Mubarak, the recently deposed Egyptian dictator, in a prisoner's cage in a Cairo courtroom. This is a man who has kept his entire country in a cage of corruption, medieval justice and oppression for many years.
But, the troubling thing is that this image will not be lost on Qaddafi or Assad or any of the other remaining tyrants in the Mideast. It is an invitation to dig in and hold on, at all costs. On the other hand, those surrounding these evil men may take note of the image, too, and conclude that if the evil of the regime is personalized, they can escape with their skins if they bolt now.
Our friends at Faith in Public Life have a new feature, Washington Word, a weekly email that addresses key issues of the day in the context of religious values.
You can sign up for this free email service by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. I just got my first edition and it is very well done.
I will also note that this is the second time the name "Washington Word" has been used for a DC publication. In the late 80's or early 90's, there was an attempt, uncsuccessful in the event, to launch a newspaper of that name to rival the Washington Post's commentary. Let's hope this new incarnation fares better.
Regular readers of this column will know that I am a huge fan of casuistry, which got a bad name during the Protestant Reformation, but remains a quintessentially Christian way of applying legal remedies. Casuistry aims to find a way not to penalize those who, technically but not viciously and with no harm to their conscience, mess up. Casuistry is an expression of sympathy with the human condition. Casuistry is opposed to Pharisaic postures. It is a good thing.
As the debate over the new mandates regarding health insurance policies heats up, I would like to recall a similar debate that happened in my home state of Connecticut in 2007. The bishops there fought a proposal in the state legislature that required all licensed hospitals to deliver Plan B, an emergency contraceptive, to those who had been raped. The legislature passed the law over the bishops' objections and the Republican governor at the time signed it into law.
Here is a short audio commentary by Archbishop Gregory Aymond on the issue of conscience protections for Catholic institutions. Archbishop Aymond was one of the finest of Archbishop Sambi's promotions. Balanced, measured, but always incisive, Aymond's commentary on this, or any issue, are always worth consulting. Note to new nuncio: If you are looking for a coadjutor for Chicago, Aymond could make up for Cody, the last time a prelate from New Orleans went to Chicago.
In 1999, David Howard, an aide to D.C. Mayor Anthony Wlliams, made headlines because he used the adjective “niggardly” in reference to the city’s budget. Howard was white, and a black colleague objected to what he perceived as a racial slur. The word evidently has Norse origins: nigla means to worry about small things. Howard resigned but after an internal review demonstrated, amply, that no racial slur was intended, he was offered a different job by Williams.
I thought of this incident today when the homepage of Politico has two items about controversies surrounding word choice. And the front section of the Washington Post has a third article about another incident.
The Catholic Health Association has just released the following statement from their President, Sister Carol Keehan. For those who do not recall, Sr. Carol was the only non-politician to receive one of the signing pens for the President's health care reform law. If the White House won't listen to her, they won't listen to anyone. Here is the statement:
The Catholic Health Association is both pleased and concerned by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) recent actions on preventive services for women.
We are delighted that health insurance coverage must include critical screening services without any cost-sharing. What to some may seem like small amounts as co-pays for mammograms, pap smears, etc., has proven to be an effective barrier to care for women who have low incomes.
Our hope is that eliminating this barrier will result in earlier diagnosis at a treatable stage of many diseases such as cancer and diabetes. We applaud this aspect of the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and their affirmation by the Health Resources and Services Administration.