You can’t do better than quoting Emma Lazarus’ powerful words inscribed on Statue of Liberty. Actually, you can. The President’s speech on immigration reform was comprehensive, like the policy he is promoting, but he did not convey any particular reason why the broken system must be fixed now. I do not see how this speech will move any votes in either the House or the Senate. Nothing he said is going to get Anderson Cooper to abandon the Gulf of Mexico, nor convince an unemployed worker in Ohio that immigration reform is the thing to do now. Still, the mere fact of the speech may be enough to change the debate, and debates take on a life of their own. The President gets a B for the speech and an A for the effort.
Q & A
Each week, this feature will pose one question to five different newsmakers and analysts.
Our first interviewee is Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Director of Media Relations for the USCCB.
This week’s question: What is the principal impediment to good media coverage of Catholicism/religion?
This article in the Boston Herald, like one in the Wall Street Journal last week, identifies C. J. Doyle as a “Catholic activist.” I have no quibble with such a designation but that is because I am a “big tent” kind of guy. Mr. Doyle has made his reputation questioning the orthodoxy of his own bishop, so he evidently does not share my “big tent” sensibility. And, if you are going to shrink the tent, I imagine that one of the places to start is by expelling those who consistently and falsely attack their bishop.
The situation reminds me of an earlier one from the 1940s and 50s, also in Boston. Father Leonard Feeney, S.J. was so strident in his belief that extra ecclesia nullus salus, that he was excommunicated. So, for distorting the true teaching of the Church in order to magnify his belief that there was no salvation outside the Church, Feeney found himself outside the Church.
This morning, President Obama will give a major speech on immigration reform. Most political analysts are surprised that the White House is willing to pursue the issue, seeing as Congress has not yet quite finished financial reform, climate change legislation is riding rough waters, and any time the White House is not focused on the economy, people ask why. On top of that, there is the march of time and the onslaught of unanticipated crises. From the Gulf of Mexico to the mountains of Afghanistan, these crises continue to bedevil a White House that is at once capable of historic achievement like health care reform and yet also, simultaneously, gives off an air of being not quite ready for prime time.
Welcome to Distinctly Catholic, a new blog that will examine politics, religion and the estuary where the two meet, all from a distinctly Catholic point of view. The blog will be small “c” catholic as well as big “C” Catholic, examining a wide range of issues but always from the perspective of Catholic history and theology.