Distinctly Catholic

Secular Impoverishment


The Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center is a lovely room but it was entirely unsuitable as a venue for last night's service marking the anniversary of 9/11. The event was originally scheduled for the Washington National Cathedral, but that building was damaged first by the earthquake and then, during a thunderstorm, when a crane repairing the original damage collapsed.

The change of venue affected the entire proceeding. In a cathedral, the singers would have appeared to be offering their music in prayer. On a concert hall stage, they appeared to be performers, and performance is not appropriate at such a time. The President would have delivered his words, which were very fine, from a pulpit, not from a podium that might have been used at the Oscars. The only redeeming moment was when one of the speakers quoted Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete!

Dark Thoughts on 9/11


Earlier this summer, when conducting interviews for an article about 9/11, I realized that no matter how I began the interviews, no matter what question I asked, the first thing everyone did was tell me exactly what they had been doing that morning, who told them the news, where they watched the unfolding horror and with whom. 9/11, the most public act of hatred in our times, was experienced in a deeply personal way.

Yesterday, at the various services of commemoration, there was much talk of resilience. This talk is not misplaced but neither is it the whole story. For me, that day remains a dark day with mostly dark lessons, and so do the ten years since. Here are those memories and those lessons.

Wise Words on 9/11


The Holy Father sent a telegram to Archbishop Dolan and the Church in the U.S. on the anniversary of 9/11. And, at an event here in Washington on Thursday night, Leon Weiseltier, literary editor of the New Republic, offered his reflections on the anniversary. Both men produced wise words and I print them here:

To my Venerable Brother
The Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

On this day my thoughts turn to the somber events of September 11, 2001, when so many innocent lives were lost in the brutal assault on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the further attacks in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. I join you in commending the thousands of victims to the infinite mercy of Almighty God and in asking our heavenly Father to continue to console those who mourn the loss of loved ones.

Clueless Media Analysis


Last night, Chris Matthews had Nia Malika-Henderson, national political reporter for the Washington Post on to discuss the previous night's GOP debate. At one point, the subject of Gov. Rick Perry's denual of the science surrounding climate change came up. Here is what Ms. Malika-Henderson said:

No, I think, when the Tea Party, when folks from the right hear
climate change, they actually hear climate tax. And so one of the things
they do is they just try to undermine the science of it. So that`s what
you saw him doing last night.

But I think this puts him obviously in the mainstream of the Tea
Party. And I think a lot of Americans, quite frankly, doubt some of this
climate change science.

Bachmann on Immigration


When asked her stance on immigration at the GOP debate the other night, Michelle Bachmann said:

One thing that the American people have said to me over and over again -- and I was just last week down in Miami. I was visiting the Bay of Pigs Museum with Cuban-Americans. I was down at the Versailles Cafe. I met with a number of people, and it's very interesting. The Hispanic-American community wants us to stop giving taxpayer- subsidized benefits to illegal aliens and benefits, and they want us to stop giving taxpayer-subsidized benefits to their children as well.

Anyone who knows anything about immigration knows why this story is, well, silly. Cubans, of course, because of special treatment by the immigration laws, are never undocumented or, as the Congresswoman would have it, illegal. Once they touch our shores, they receive documents automatically. So, while it is true that Cuban-Americans may want to stop benefits to undocumented workers, most Hispanics have a different view of the matter. And, even Cubans, I suspect, do not share her evident delight in visiting the sins of the parents upon their children.

Obama's Jobs Speech


Finally, President Barack Obama seems to have understood that sweet reasonableness is not enough. In the face of Republican intransigence, and ten months of fighting on their turf, he turned the focus back to his own agenda last night and challenged the Congress in ways that will force them to act or to bear the consequences. And, there was a flash of fire in his eyes and in his tone that is welcome indeed.

Obama’s speech to Congress last night was arguably his best since the campaign in 2008 in political terms. There was no soaring rhetoric, no turn of phrase that sticks in the mind beyond the repetition of the dull words, “And you should pass it now!” But, he did something – better to say he started to do something – that he has been unable to do all year. He defined a fight with the GOP on his turf not theirs and did so in a way that any obstruction on their part may prove politically costly.

Will Mormonism Matter


Robin Abcarian at the LA Times asks if and how evangelical Christians will warm to the candidacies of the two Mormon candidates for the GOP presidential nod, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.

Catholics, of course, faced the obnoxious, residual religious bigotry in the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, and we must raise our voices clearly and powerfully against any attempts to deny Mr. Romney or Mr. Huntsman their right to be president on account of their faith. Besides, there are plenty of other good reasons to oppose them.

A Chilling Moment in the Debate


While it may be difficult to discern a clear winner in last night's presidential debate, there was a clear loser: the audience. It was shocking when Brian Williams began a question about the liberal application of the death penalty in the state of Texas. Here is the transcript:

WILLIAMS: Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you...


That's right. The audience erupted in applause. It was chilling.


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In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017