Distinctly Catholic

New Values Survey from PRRI


The Public Religion Research Institute released yesterday a new set of findings from surveys conducted in September about the role of religion and values in shaping Americans’ political views. In this survey, PRRI focused on the Mormon Question, issues surrounding income inequality and the 2012 presidential campaign. Many of the findings are interesting and, like all such polling, the findings raise interesting questions about the political landscape.

42% of all voters indicated that they were “somewhat uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” with the idea of a Mormon President. By way of comparison, 67% say they would be somewhat or very uncomfortable with an atheist in the White House, 64% register the same skepticism about a Muslim, and 28% about an Evangelical.

RSVP to Emily's List


I am not sure how I got on an email list to be invited to a fundraiser for the pro-choice political organization Emily's List. Nor do I know who "Nancy" is from whom I got the invitation, except that she evidently works at a political fundraising organization. But, I thought I would share my reply with my readers:

Dear Nancy,
I seem to have received this invitation in error.
I am a devoted pro-life Democrat who believes Emily's List is one of the most pernicious organizations to afflict the American body politic in my lifetime.
Michael Sean Winters

Good News for Pro-Life Dems


Cong. Bill Keating of Massachusetts has announced he will not run against Cong. Stephen Lynch but will, instead, run for Congress in an adjacent seat. Lynch is the only pro-life Democrat in the Massachusetts congressional delegation and, as we saw during the health care debate, pro-life Democrats can make a huge difference. Hopefully, Lynch can help move the Democrats away from their pro-choice orthodoxy to, at least, a big tent position.

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?!!!


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017