Distinctly Catholic

Abp Dolan on Economic Crisis


I have just received a copy of a letter (text below) sent by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, to all of the bishops in the U.S. that calls their attention to the newly released census data on poverty. Archbishop Dolan writes that the numbers are so shocking that the Administrative Committee wanted to do more than simply issue a statement, and decided that a direct, and specific call from Dolan to his brother bishops might better galvanize bishops, priests and laity to demand that our political and economic leaders address these issues of poverty.

It is heartening to see the USCCB recognize that the Church's stance on poverty is every bit as critical as its stance on other issues. And, it is very encouraging to see Archbishop Dolan writing with such passion about this issue.

Here is the full text of the letter:
September 15, 2011

Dear Brother Bishops,

Class Warfare? Bring It


President Obama will officially lay out his plan to reduce the federal deficit today. He is including a call for higher taxes on those most able to pay them, including a special super-tax on millionaires. The GOP response was not long in coming. “Class warfare may make for really good politics,” said Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) yesterday. “But it makes for rotten economics. It adds further instability to our system, more uncertainty, and it punishes job creation.”

Report on New Evangelization Symposium


Yesterday, at the symposium on “Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization” sponsored by the USCCB, the day entailed three major talks, followed by questions and an evening discussion among all three speakers and the group of young theologians the USCCB invited to attend the symposium. Unfortunately, the organizers only allowed time for a few questions at the end of each talk, and the evening discussion was not open to the press. Nor were we invited to ask questions at the conclusion of the talks and, as you can imagine, I had several.

Note to Readers


The wireless connection here at the conference room in the hotel where the New Evangelization symposium is being held is very weak. (Actually, it is intermittant, and keeps falling away.) And, there was not time at the break to run to a Starbucks, type up a report, and post it.

The symposium finishes at 4 p.m. I will post on this morning's presentations early evening and will post on the afternoon's session Saturday morning.

Boehner's Hypocrisy


Speaker John Boehner gave his response, such as it is, to President Barack Obama’s call for a jobs bill.

Boehner’s response consisted mostly of the repetition of GOP mythologies about “job killing tax cuts.” Yes, even though we are now in the eleventh year of the Bush tax cuts, and we are still experiencing high unemployment, the myth endures. Even though large corporations are sitting atop record amounts of cash, and still not hiring, somehow, a tax increase would make them unable to hire new workers.

But, what was most galling about the Speaker’s comments was his dismissal of what he characterized as President Obama’s “all or nothing” approach to the autumn legislative agenda. Boehner went on to say that he could never, under any circumstances, support tax cuts. So, who has the problem with “all or nothing” approaches to the negotiations? Boehner is willing to consider tax cuts. He is willing to slash spending. He is willing to cripple entitlements. His “all” is permitted.

New Evangelization Symposium Kicks Off


The USCCB's Committee on Doctrine kicked off its symposium for young theologians last night. In his introductory remarks, Father Weinandy said that the idea for the effort to reach out to the young theologians came from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and that former Dean of the School of Religious Studies at Catholic University came up with the idea of focusing on the New Evangelization. This answered two questions I had about the event. First, this symposium idea began as part of an effort to build a relationship with young theologians, not simply as a means of advancing the New Evangelization. Second, the the impetus came from Cardinal Wuerl. Kudos to Wuerl for taking the initiative and reaching out to these young theologians. One wishes that thirty years ago, bishops had taken such initiatives, the evident divide between the hierarchy and some older theologians might not exist.

Posner on Perry at Liberty University


Sarah Posner, at Religion Dispatches, looks at Gov. Perry's speech yesterday at Liberty University. She rightly notes that the governor's talk was devoid of the neo-Pentecostalism that was part of his Prayerfest in August. Liberty University is a fundamentalist school, and they have long been suspicious, and more, of Pentecostals. Indeed, In Jerry Falwell's long career, no event brought greater harm to his ministry than his attempt to save the Pentecostal ministries of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. We must always remember that the term "Religious Right" covers a very diverse group of believers.

Film on Sen. Domenici


There will be a screening tonight here in Washington of a new documentary about New Mexico's former Senator Pete Domenici. It will undoubtedly recall a time in Washington when the nation's business was advanced by means of bipartisan negotiation, which seems like a lifetime ago.

Sen. Domenici's politics are not my politics, to be sure. But, he is a lovely man. When I worship at St. Joseph's on Capitol Hill, he and his wife Nancy are often in the pew in front of where I sit and we often chat after Mass. He served his state and his country and he did so with integrity and without rancor. At the back of St. Joseph's there is a statue to St. Thomas More and I often have thought that, however different our politics, I can see in Domenici's career some of More's concern for the commonwealth. I wish I could say that about more members of Congress today.


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April 21-May 4, 2017