Distinctly Catholic

The DNC's Dumb New Ad


One of the dumbest, and thoroughly bipartisan, mistakes political campaigns make is to fail to get outside the Beltway long enough to craft an ad that will be understood by those you are trying to influence. For years, the Republicans have run against Nancy Pelosi but, you know what? Most Americans don’t know who Pelosi is, or who their own congressman is for that matter.

Mitt Romney & The Evangelical Vote


Mark Silk blogged yesterday on Mitt Romney’s latest strategy for dealing with the evangelical vote in the GOP primaries. Silk, whose new blog at Beliefnet and his long-time blog, Spiritual Politics, are both must-reads, is one of those rare breeds, an academic who writes in lucid and lively prose. He also is one of the nation’s leading analysts of the relationship of religion and politics in American life.

Recently, one of Romney’s strategists stated that this time, the campaign is not going to tailor its message to secure the evangelical vote. Silk correctly notes that this approach is preferable to Romney’s unsuccessful effort to try and obscure the differences between his Mormon faith and mainstream evangelical religion in 2008. But, he wonders why Romney does not merely be straight-forward about his religious faith and seek to generate a common moral consensus as the basis of an effort to generate support from the evangelical community.

Blast from the Past: New Orleans


“Shortly before the completion of the Cathedral, on April 25, 1793, the diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas was created by Pope Pius VI. Don Luis Ignacio Maria de Penalver y Cardenas of Havana was appointed the first bishop. He arrived in state in New Orleans in July, 1795 to take formal possession of his See and begin his episcopal duties. Arriving in New Orleans on the same ship was Fray Antonio de Sedella, a Capuchin priest who had served in New Orleans since 1781 and who was returning from Spain to resume his pastorate of the Cathedral, a post from which he had been removed in 1790 for insubordination by Bishop Cirillo, the Havana auxiliary in charge of Louisiana and the Floridas. Pere Antoine, as he was more familiarly known to his parishioners, was an eloquent preacher and led a charitable life, but he was a firebrand and his career was marked by constant clashing with the ecclesiastical authorities.”

Guns in Church?


Now, we can all feel safe going to church in Louisiana. We just have to remember to pack our handgun. Gov. Jindal signed a law that allows people to carry a concealed weapon in a church. Now, if the Governor signed it that means a majority of legislators approved it. This is crazy!

At my parish, St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the annual Red Mass always features a color guard that carries the nation’s flag down the central aisle, turns in front of the alter, and the whole congregation stands and signs the National Anthem. Until a few years ago, the flag bearers were flanked by riflemen, their weapons over their shoulders. A few of us protested the presence of guns in the church. The archdiocese nixed the riflemen.

Yahoo Watch: Citizens United


A new ad from the intellectually challenged group Citizens United suggests that President Obama’s policy towards Iran resembles the policy of appeasement adopted by Neville Chamberlain towards Germany at Munich in 1938. The difference between contemporary Iran and Nazi Germany are significant, certainly significant enough to question the validity of the comparison.

The episode called to mind another moment when the rightwing got hoisted on its own petard with Chamberlain references. Radio show host Kevin James was on “Hardball” and it quickly became obvious that Mr. James did not actually know what Chamberlain did at Munich.

Q & A: Terrence Donilon


We have already heard from St. Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Whispers in the Loggia's Rocco Palmo, and NPR's Michel Martin. Today we hear from Terrence Donilon, the communications director for the Archdiocese of Boston.
This week's question: "What is the principal impediment to good media coverage of Catholicism/religion?"
Terrence Donilon:
I am not one to buy into the notion that there is a conspiracy against the Church by the media. One of my guiding principles when dealing with reporters is “I will never lie to you but it’s not my job to tell you everything. That’s why they call you a reporter.” Trust is at the core of every meaningful relationship. It is the same with reporters and representatives of the Church. Are there skewed opinions and personalities on both sides? Absolutely. But if we start from the premise that both sides have a job to do, then it makes the work much more productive and successful if there is mutual respect and trust.

Palin on the Airwaves


In case you doubted Sarah Palin’s ability to connect with a key – perhaps the key – demographic in a GOP presidential primary, conservative women, check out the latest video from SarahPAC. As I wrote in the print edition of NCR last year, the role of conservative women in shaping the modern Republican Party goes back to the fight against sex education in the public schools in the 1960s. Mike Huckabee’s campaign was built on the organizational strength of the home-schooling movement, a movement that is dominated by women. And, Palin has something going for her that Huckabee doesn’t: She can address a roomful of women and say “we.”

Wolfe on Evil


The always incisive and always readable Alan Wolfe from Boston College, has a great essay over at TNR, reviewing Terry Eagleton's new book "On Evil." Nothing to add to an essay by Professor Wolfe, who is working on a book about political evil. The essay - and the forthcoming book - should go on everyone's must-read list.

Two From the Post


Two articles on today's Washington Post are worth checking out.
Ruth Marcus discusses the difficulties with Rich Trumka's "Soak the Rich" approach to the nation's fiscal problems. Trumka is correct to suggest higher taxes on the rich, and Marcus is right that it won't be enough. Neither points out that with all the loopholes and tax shelters in the tax code, rich people can hire accountants to help them avoid paying their fair share, so arguments about the appropriate tax rate are misleading.
And Michael Gerson has a column about two men with the same name and wildly different life experiences.


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In This Issue

April 21-May 4, 2017