Distinctly Catholic

John O'Malley on a Lesson from Trent


Over at America, Father John W. O'Malley, S.J., has an instructive article on the different ways theologians were employed in the deliberations of the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council. O'Malley argues that Trent may be a better example for improving the relationship between bishops and theologians than that methods followed at Vatican II.

I know that Trent has become a dirty word in certain circles and a panacea in other circles. But, as a genuinely reforming council, it is second to none and is always worth examination. Kudos to O'Malley for bringing this aspect of its procedures to light.

Galston Predicts Ugly Election


Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution is one of the most keen-eyed observers of politics in America. He has an article up today at The New Republic in which he notes the foul mood of the electorate which has grown distrustful of both parties, convinced the GOP will only stand up for the rich and not sure what President Obama is willing to fight for. He predicts this will yeild an especially ugly election campaign, and I dare say he is right. Out with Hope. In with Venom.

Contra Professor Zunes


NCR recently published a “viewpoint” by Professor Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco in which Mr. Zunes criticizes the Obama administration for its policy towards Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I confess myself somewhat shocked that a professor at a major university could combine so many truly outrageous claims in one small article, so outrageous that it is impossible to attribute them to mere carelessness.

Noah on Cong. Ryan's Blunder


Timothy Noah, at the New Republic, acknowledges that Cong. Paul Ryan has a fine, even bracing, set of talking points on the relative difference between America and Europe, with Americans supporting a less egalitarian society but one with greater upward mobility, compared to hidebound Europe, with its oppressive welfare state, stifling upward mobility in its efforts to preserve equality. Only problem? It ain't true. There is now less upward mobility in the US than in Europe.

Time's Amy Sullivan on RC Conservatives & GOP Primary


Time magazine's Amy Sullivan has a very smart piece up at Swampland about how the different GOP presidential aspirants look through the lens of conservative Catholics. (Smart not least because she gives me a shout out for my post earlier this week about Romneycare funding abortion with taxpayer dollars!) As she notes, although a lot of ink has been slipt about the role of evangelicals, Catholics are a key constituency within the ranks of the GOP primary electorate as well.

Sullivan notes that all of the candidates have problems with Catholic voters, as indeed they do, but that they may end up with Perry. I agree.

Assisi III


In an otherwise balanced article in this morning’s Washington Post, Michelle Boorstein writes, “and Pope Benedict XVI has stressed the sole truth of Catholicism over other faiths, even declining this month to pray with Hindus, Jews and others at an interreligious [sic] event.” That’s not quite right.

It is true that when Pope John Paul II held the first inter-religious encounter at Assisi 25 years ago, part of the program included a “common prayer” to which many conservatives took umbrage. I did not. John Paul II, always aware of the drama of events, was willing to set aside any theological concerns about “communicatio in sacris” in order to send a powerful visual message: Whatever our differences, we religious leaders seek peace and brotherhood. John Paul II had a second inter-religious meeting in 2002 at Assisi which, in the wake of 9/11, was especially poignant.

Morning's Minion Still Swinging


In a second post of the document from the Holy See's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Morning's Minion at Vox Nova takes on one of the conservative talking points used to attack the document, namely, that these prelates are economically clueless. MM argues that the Holy See is much more in touch with mainstream economic theory than the American right. His post is well worth a read.

Weigel's Fatal Flaw


I admit that I did not notice at first the truly fatal flaw in George Weigel's - what else can we call it? - attack on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and its new document on the world financial crisis. I was so aghast at the dismissive tone of his piece, referring to the Council as a "rather small office in the Vatican Curia" as if Cardinal Peter Turkson was some kind of errant child, an outlier run amok, that I missed it.

Until I read E.J. Dionne's column this morning. E.J. quoted that key line in Weigel's diatribe: "This brief document from the lower echelons of the Roman Curia no more aligns ‘the Vatican,’ the pope, or the Catholic Church with Occupy Wall Street than does the Nicene Creed."


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In This Issue

February 10-23, 2017