Distinctly Catholic

Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down in Ohio & Michigan


A Thumbs Down to the the Ohio Catholic Conference and a Thumbs Up to the Michigan Catholic Conference.

Today, voters in Ohio will vote in a referendum on a recently passed law that drastically restricts union bargaining rights. The law would deny public employee unions the right to bargain for pension and other benefits, as well as negating binding arbitration and forbidding public employee strikes. The measure to repeal the new law is called Issue 2.

To be clear, the new law does not deal with the specifics of any given contract between the state government and public workers. It deals with a principle: Do public employee unions have the right to collectively bargain or not? This is not a tough question for a Catholic. A long line of papal teachings dating back to Pope Leo XIII’s seminal encyclical Rerum Novarum affirms the rights of worker to organize and bargain collectively.

More Occupy Targets


In the Outlook section of yesterday's Washington Post, Alec MacGillis of the New Republic, notes that there are more culprits than the thieves on Wall Street to blame for the nation's growing income inequality.

There are many sins for which it is difficult to forgive Bill Clinton, but surely his decision, highlighted by MacGillis, to lower the capital gains tax rate, after Ronald Reagan had raised it, is one of the biggest.

God & Man or God & Mammon at Yale?


My friend Peter Berkowitz, writing at Real Clear Politics, has an essay on a recent commemoration at Yale marking the 60th anniversary of the publication of William F. Buckley's "God & Man at Yale." Much of what Berkowitz writes - and much of what Buckley wrote, is spot-on. But, Berkowitz notes that Buckley complained about both the lack of attention to Hayek and von Mises in the curriculum as well as to the relative absence of any instruction in Christianity. I would only note these these are quite different avenues of learning.

Disturbing Rise in Anti-Semitic Attitudes


According to Florida's Sun Sentinel newspaper, an increasing number of Americans hold anti-Semitic views. According to the survey, 15 percent, or thirty-five million Americans, hold deeply anti-Semitic views.

Of special concern to Catholic leaders is the finding that Hispanics born abroad are more likely to hold such views. 20 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics hold deeply anti-Semitic views according to the survey, but a stunning 40 percent on Hispanics born elsewhere hold such views.

The full survey results are here.

Here is a fit subject for the USCCB's new committee on religious liberty.

Churchill's Lessons


This summer, having completed several projects, I permitted myself a literary pleasure of the highest order: Taking up Churchill’s memoirs of World War II for my bedtime reading. I have read all six volumes twice previously, and in seeking certain quotes have taken up a volume, located the quote, but then found it impossible to put down without re-reading the entire volume. Why do these tomes have such a fascination for me? After all, we know how the story ends. But, do yourself a favor. Next time you are in a used bookstore, see if you can't find these volumes and add them to your library. They are a treasure.

Gehring on USCCB kerfuffle with Administration


John Gehring, at Faith in Public Life, offers his take on the debate about religious liberty and the HHS decision to not renew a contract with the USCCB for their human trafficking efforts.

I put more of the blame for this mess on the people at HHS, but I agree that everyone needs to take a step back and not engage in heated rhetoric that only enflames the situation. The object here, after all, is to care for the survivors of human trafficking. For starters, the Administration has proved willing to correct errors, as witnessed by the decision to reinstate much of the funding for the Catholic Volunteer Network through Americorps. We call the pope Pontiff because he is called to build bridges, not burn them, and we would all do well to follow his example.

San Carlo


My colleague here at NCR, and fellow Nutmegger, Rev. Richard McBrien has beat me to the punch with a fine commentary in Saint Charles Borromeo, and the profound influence he had on Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, who edited the "acta" of Borromeo's apostolic visitations of his archdiocese. The great reformer of Trent directly influenced the great reformer of Vatican II - heaven forfend. Do I discern a hermeneutic of reform?!!!

+Flores on New Immigration


The USCCB Media Blog has a post up aboput a recent talk by Bishop Danuel Flores of Brownsville. Bishop Flores discusses the way immigration patterns are changing due to the endemic violence in Mexico. Before, a father would come over first to make money to bring over the family. Now, the wife and kids are sent first to escape the violence and the father often stays in Mexico working to pay for himself and his family. Given the differences in wages on either side of the border, you can imagine the increase in poverty such arrangements occasion.

When will we finally get a humane immigration policy in this country? And why are Cubans the only Latinos allowed to get virtually automatic documents when the violence in Mexico has far outstripped the violence in Cuba?

Religious Liberty: The Culture & the Church


Our culture is drowning in rights. Everyone thinks they have a right to everything and some take rights they do enjoy to excuse truly abhorrent behavior. Women have a right to free contraception. Bar customers claim a right to drink one too many. Wall Street sharks, take the right to private property that is justly theirs, and turn it into an excuse to rig the game and rip off the economy and the taxpayer. A customer spills his coffee on himself and thinks he has a right to sue McDonald's for producing too-hot coffee. And, of course, once the Supreme Court went mucking around in the penumbra of the Constitution, they found constitutional rights that, for some reason, had never occurred to the authors of that document.

Kudos to OSV


Greg Erlandson, editor of Our Sunday Visitor, as a very clarifying post up about conservative reactions to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace's "Note" on the financial crisis. "Snarky" is the word he uses to describe them.

What is good for the liberal goose is good for the conservative gander, Erlandson suggests, and conservatives have shown the limits of their loyalty to Rome by their dismissive and often rude comments about the Pontifical Council and the document it issued.


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In This Issue

April 21-May 4, 2017