Yesterday, I noted that I am not much of a fan of the cast of mind which warns darkly about “cultural elites” out to attack the Catholic Church, but that there were two exceptions. Yesterday, I looked at the world of legal scholarship which I believe really has adopted an attitude towards freedom and justice that is antithetical to the Catholic Church, even though I think most of the legal scholars who adopt this attitude do not think of themselves as hostile to the Church. It is more the case that they view the Church as some weird historical leftover, the Easter Bunny with real estate, certainly not an institution possessed of a coherent worldview.
David Gibson tells the tale of efforts by the Episcopal Church in Atlanta to overturn the condemnation of Pelagius rendered by the Council of Carthage. Pelagius denied the doctrine of Original Sin which has long been considered the one doctrine of the Church that required no faith, only observation, for its confirmation.
Original Sin is the most obvious part of the human inheritance. It is our birthright you might say. Felix culpa. Shame on these folks in Atlanta who wish to rob us of it.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Thomas Melady, released a statement signed by a host of prominent Catholics “of different political persuasions,” today calling for a renewed commitment to religious tolerance in American politics at a press conference held at the National Press Club.
‘Two hundred and twenty three years ago our Founding Fathers established through our Constitution, a high ideal for religious tolerance and understanding,” the statement begins before going on to note that “Catholics are particularly sensitive to the history of anti-Catholic bias that surfaced in the election of 1928 and in 1960.” The statement was prompted by recent comments by Pastor Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, at the Values Voter Summit, in which Jeffress suggested voters should prefer Christian candidates for office and called Mormonism “a cult.”
“The word ‘cult’ in its technical sense is unobjectionable,” Melady said at the press conference. “But in common usage it usually is filled with ridicule and sarcasm.” Melady added that “As Catholics, we have felt the sting of anti-religious bias in past elections.”
I do not share the exorbitant fears that some of my more conservative friends entertain regarding the existence and influence of cultural elites determined to destroy the Catholic Church. I am not sure it is true – America’s elites have many motives – and I think this populist concern about elites invites a defensive posture that is thoroughly unhelpful to evangelization. The shadow of elites persecuting the Church seems to me to be, like most shadows, something with little substance but nonetheless capable of producing fear.
That is the provocative way David Gibson looks at recent polling data regarding the relative "God gap" between the Democrats and Republicans and how that gap takes on a different complexion when looked at through the lens of skin complexion. To wit, Latinos, who are the future of the Catholic Church in this country, are far less likely to lean to the Republicans than their white co-religionists. And, if you listen in to one of the GOP presidential debates, is it any wonder?
At a time when some Catholics paint the Democrats as the "party of death" it is wise to ask: Should all bridges to the Democrats be burned? And, what impact will pro-life Latinos have on the future of the Democratic Party?
Writers often do not get to pen their own headlines, so I cannot fault George Weigel for referring to Catholic progressives as “Churchmice” in an article posted at the National Review. Whoever did come up with that title should reflect upon the often ugly things that happen when fellow human beings are compared to vermin. But, this Churchmouse must respond to Mr. Weigel’s article not least because he mentions me by name.
It is difficult to know what to make of Weigel’s arguments, such as they are. At one point he condemns the “hoary ‘liberal/conservative’ hermeneutic of the Council’s history” but this is a strange condemnation coming, as it does, in an article that explicitly and repeatedly indulged in a “hoary liberal/conservative hermeneutic.”
The issue of religious liberty is fast becoming a central concern among the nation’s bishops. The proposed interim rule from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding mandated coverage for contraception and sterilization in insurance plans struck many as a direct assault on religious, especially Catholic, institutions. The Department of Justice’s brief in the Supreme Court case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC is viewed by the bishops as an even more dangerous attack on religious liberty. Last week, Bishop William Lori, chairman of a new ad hoc committee on the religious liberty, testified on the subject before Congress. (I wrote about Lori’s testimony here.)
A colleague called my attention to a blog with which I was previosuly unfamiliar, penned by William Boles. In an essay on efforts to combat the murderous tactics of the so-called "Lord's Resistance Army" in Uganda, Boles highlights to the work of some religious groups to combat the violence.
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.
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.