Links for 9/6/18

I am upset that Rep. Mike Capuano lost his primary in Massachusetts Tuesday night. The people of the Commonwealth had no finer representative in Congress. But efforts to make Ayanna Pressley's victory suggest there is something new going on in American politics misses the really obvious fact, seen also in the defeat of Rep. Joe Crowley in New York this summer, that demographics drive politics. The Irish once grabbed this seat from the Yankees. Now that the district is majority-minority, Pressley saw an opening and took it. It is one of the oldest tales in the book.

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Also at The Washington Post, the U.S. government is denying passports to citizens — you read that correctly, to citizens — along the border. Republicans insist that they are only worried about protecting U.S. citizens from harm by cracking down on illegal immigration, that they are not racists. How, then, to explain this? Or this — a GOP candidate in Florida draws a black opponent and warns voters not to "monkey this up"? If it walks like a racist duck, it is a racist duck.

Relatedly, at Politico, an analysis of how policy director Stephen Miller, an acolyte of Steve Bannon and all-around nasty piece of work, took control of immigration policy. Let's hope it backfires in the midterms. I have not seen Miller give an interview recently, but it is not fun to watch. Relentless sticking to talking points, distorted facts and tendentious arguments, a sycophantic devotion to the leader. No wonder the president likes him so much.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in an interview published in Italian, insists now that he refused a red hat when it was offered to him by Pope Benedict XVI. My St. Bernard Ambrose would like to share the news that he also refused a red hat when it was offered to him by Pope Benedict. Me? If they offer it, I look fabulous in red and I will not refuse.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a conservative blogger who converted to Catholicism and now thinks he is more Catholic than the pope, writes that he believes Viganò. Maybe Longenecker also believes that once Cardinal Raymond Burke is elected pope, he could be made a cardinal, you know, like Newman! If you can believe Viganò, you can believe anything.

Best analysis of what is going on in the campaign to attack Pope Francis comes to us from Spain, where Cameron Doody connects the dots and recognizes that this scandal is really about money, not sex. Note to Doody: It is also about St. Pope John Paul II and his entourage, not Francis, but keep up the good work. And, I appreciate the sharp headline "Dinero sucio."

At Crux, John Allen looks at the controversy surrounding the dishonest editing job a local news outlet did on an interview with Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. Allen makes the point that Cupich is right: The sex abuse crisis is important and critical, but it is not the only thing the pope should be focused on.

Who knew the editors at The Onion read the Catholic legal blog Mirror of Justice? They offer a hilarious take on the angels' efforts to unionize. Of course, if Rick Garnett at Mirror of Justice is right, and the church's teaching that workers have a right to organize does not extend to public sector workers because the church never specifically said it so extends, perhaps the church's general ban on gay sex does not apply to, say, oral sex because the magisterium has never specifically said that is wrong.

At America, this article by Jesuit Br. Joe Hoover argues that there is no real civil war in the church, that the fighting is mostly on Twitter and the blogosphere, that the average parishioner is not affected. I agree with Hoover that these struggles are largely ignored by many people in the pews, but they definitely affect people who work in the church, clergy and lay, shape the conversations at the refectory tables in seminaries where the next generation of clergy is being trained, the discussions in the cafeteria at Boston College where the next generation of theologians is being trained, etc. Still, it is good to remember that many people can't really explain why they go to Mass, and that doesn't mean they are inarticulate. It means they recognize that the mysteries of the faith are ineffable.

[Michael Sean Winters covers the nexus of religion and politics for NCR.]

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