Distinctly Catholic

Exit Occupy; Enter Organize


The future of the Occupy Wall Street protests remains in doubt, after a court upheld Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to evict the 24/7 encampments from lower Manhattan. Similar efforts in other cities to rein in the protests have been undertaken, most notably in Oakland, after someone was shot and killed near the protest site in that city.

The Occupy Wall Street movement should declare victory but they should not go home, if by “go home” we mean abandon the field. Their victory lay in the fact that the protests have changed the national discussion, inserting a new metaphor, the 99%, into our nation’s political discourse. They have reinserted some populist vigor into the left, reminding the country that it is not only government bureaucracy that threatens Americans’ freedom and prosperity, but the decisions and practices of the titans of the financial class. They took the Republican charge that the Democrats were engaged in class warfare and turned it on its head by pointing out that there is already some degree of class warfare going on, but only one side in that war has been fighting and winning for lo, these many years.

About Time Dept.


It is not often these days when I read that a committee in the GOP-controlled House did something I want to applaud. But their vote to limit the pay of top executives at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae gets a two thimbs up from me.

There are plenty of top executives who go to work at the Treasury Department or the Defense Department, etc., who could make much more money in the private sector. Some, perhaps, are only looking to pad the resume for a still-greater payday down the road. Call me naive, I think some undertake these challenging assignments at rates that are hugely lower than they could command in the private sector because they want to serve their country. But, whatever the motives, and most humans walk through life with mixed motives at most times, I do not doubt that these two organizations could recruit plenty of top flight executives without offering them multi-million dollar bonuses.

Impressions from USCCB Mtg


For those who came looking for battle cries, the USCCB meeting has been a disappointment. True, Bishop William Lori, head of the new ad hoc committee on religious liberty gave a rousing speech on the subject, but USCCB President Archbishop Timothy Dolan did not mention the issue, still less issue a summons to war, in his inaugural presidential address. Indeed, at a press conference yesterday, when asked about his meeting with President Obama, Archbishop Dolan said that “I found the president of the United States to be very open to the sensitivities of the Catholic community. I left there feeling a bit more at peace about this issue than when I entered.”

USCCB Elections Dominate Afternoon


The afternoon session of the USCCB today was highlighted by elections for chairmen-elect of various committees. Traditionally, chairmen-elect serve for a year with the incumbents, learning the ropes as it were, before taking over as chair the following year.

Last year, however, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore was elected to serve as the chairman-elect of the committee on international justice and peace, but his selection lapsed when Pope Benedict named him to head the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, an appointment that requires residency in Rome. The bishops selected Iowa’s Bishop Richard Pates, by a vote of 122-114 over Bishop Frank Dewane, of Venice, Florida, and Pates will take the chairmanship of the committee immediately.

The new Secretary-Elect for the USCCB, one of the organization’s principal officers, will be Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle.

Few committee chairs have a more difficult and delicate assignment than leading the Committee on Doctrine. The bishops selected Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul to lead the committee with 128 votes, compared to 111 votes for Worcester, Massachusetts Bishop Robert McManus.

USCCB Morning Session Report


Several bishops made presentations at the USCCB meeting on their different areas of competence this morning.

Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, chairman of the Committee on National Collections, presented a new document, “One Church, One mission – Guidelines for Administering USCCB National Collections in Dioceses.” The new guidelines “do not create new rules,” Farrell said, but instead provide some of the history and context for the collections. He noted that the World Mission Sunday Collection is mandated by canon law, and that two, Peter’s Pence and the Holy Land Collections, are both undertaken at the request of the Holy See. The other national collections, such as the Home Missions Appeal and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, were approved a two-third majority of the USCCB.

+Dolan's First Presidential Address


Archbishop Timothy Dolan delivered his first presidential address to the full plenary of the USCCB today since taking the helm of the bishops’ conference last year.

“Love for Jesus and His Church must be the passion of our lives,” Dolan began, quoting Blessed John Paul II, moving into a discourse on the necessary connection between Christ and the Church, quoting the great theologian Henri deLubac, “For what would I ever know of Him, without her?” Dolan acknowledged the difficulty this linkage has faced in recent years, saying, “Because, as the chilling statistics we cannot ignore tell us, fewer and fewer of our beloved people – to say nothing about those outside the household of the faith – are convinced that Jesus and His Church are one.”

Off to B'more


For the next couple of days, I shall be live blogging from the USCCB meeting which kicks off this morning in Baltimore. This morning features the first presidential address by Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the first address from the new nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, who dined last night with all the U.S. cardinals and the officers of the conference. In the afternoon, there are a few action items and, most importantly, the election of some key committee chairs, including new chiefs for the Pro-Life Activities Committee, the Committee for International Peace and Justice and the Committee on Doctrine.
Stay tuned.


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In This Issue

March 24-April 6, 2017