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Abp Williams To Speak at Synod of Bishops

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This is extraordinary. Pope Benedict XVI has invited Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Anglican Primate of England, to address the Synod of Bishops next autumn on the New Evangelization.

Mind you, the Holy See does not recognize the validity of Anglican orders, including, therefore, the ordination of Williams as a priest or a bishop. Yet, he is being welcomed to speak at the Synod. Sometimes, when divisions from the past seem insurmountable, the way forward is to look forward together, in the same direction. The Holy Father is telling the whole Church something very, very important here. I hope the members of the USCCB Admin Cm te meeting today in Washington think of this example as they try and figure out a way forward regarding the Church's role in our culture. Instead of issuing anathemas or citing past problems, they need to be willing to look forward, together with those who do not share all their opinions already, and see if they can't find a way to get to the same spot on the horizon.

GOP Results: Game On!

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Last night, Mitt Romney was looking for one, or better yet, two victories in the southern states of Alabama and Mississippi so that he could finally declare “Game Over!” Instead, Romney not only lost to Rick Santorum in both states, he also lost to Newt Gingrich, coming in a close third in both states. In Alabama, as of this morning, with 98.4% of precincts reporting, Romney is only trailing Gingrich by about 1,300 votes, so he might yet come in second there. But, no matter the final tally, instead of “Game Over,” the GOP nominating contest is now “Game On.”

You Say Tomato....

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Thomas Peters, over at CatholicVote.org, has taken me and others to task for writing that Father Marcel Guarnizo was suspended from ministry. He points out, citing his father who is a canon lawyer, that suspension is a canonical term, requiring a canonical process. True enough, but the verb "to suspend" is also a word in common English usage and the English language is richer than canonical nomenclature.

In the event, it is a distinction without a difference. Fr. Guarnizo had his faculties stripped and he was put on administrative leave. For most of us, that sounds a lot like a suspension. More to the point, it is not clear why the Archdiocese would initiate a canonical process when Father Guarnizo is not a priest of this archdiocese. Cardinal Wuerl can simply do what he has done - strip his faculties and cut him lose. If Father Guarnizo wants to return to his home diocese, he may do so, and it will be up to his ordinary there, not in Washington, to offer a letter of credentials as to whether or not he is a priest in good standing, to confer faculties with that diocese, etc.

Civil War on the Right

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The Tea Party astroturf group FreedomWorks has pulled out all the stops to defeat Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch in that state's Thursday caucuses. Last night, on Sean Hannity's show, Dick Morris said he was supporting the insurgent efforts to replace Hatch as the GOP nominee because the Senator is a "RINO" or Republican In Name Only.

I have to say that, speaking as a Democrat, I have never harbored the suspicion that Sen. Hatch is "one of us." He is very conservative but he is one of those senators - there used to be 100 of them - who do not let partisanship get in the way of legislative work, still less in the way of human friendship. I am sure that many on the far right were revolted by the prominent role Hatch played at the funeral rites for Sen. Ted Kennedy.

USCCB Admin Cmte Meeting

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The USCCB Administrative Committee begins a two-day meeting this morning. A lot has happened since the USCCB plenary in November, so the bishops have a full plate but the issue that has captured the attention of the entire nation, the HHS mandates, will undoubtedly garner the lion’s share of discussion.

It is clear that the President’s “accommodation,” announced on February 10, was an effort to assuage the concerns about conscience raised by the bishops and other Catholics, including many of the President’s supporters. And, it is also clear that in one regard, the accommodation works: Catholic institutions will not have to do anything regarding contraception coverage. They do not have to provide it nor refer employees to a different provider where they can get it. Yes, the vehicle the President proposed for delivering universal coverage for women is the institution’s health insurance company, and there is a federal mandate to provide an insurance plan, but there is also a Gospel mandate to provide insurance for workers at our Catholic institutions. In any event, I think the accommodation showed increased sensitivity by the White House to our concerns.

March Madness: Best Time of Year

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If you want to know how competitive college basketball is, and why consequently it is the best sport going today, think of this one fact: Three of thr four top-seeded teams in the upcoming NCAA tournament lost their conference championships. The fourth, Michigan State, was not slated to get a #1 seed until it knocked off Ohio State in the Big Ten championship yesterday. Syracuse and North Carolina did not even make it into the final of their conference championships.

On any given night, any of the top fifty teams in the country can knock off any of the other top fifty teams in the country. Which means there is never a game you don't want to watch. There is no other sport, collegiate or pro, of which this can be said.

\"Game Change\"

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HBO’s controversial movie adaptation of the book “Game Change” aired this weekend. The book focused on the decision by the campaign of John McCain to select Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. The “controversy” was generated, and foolishly fed by Palin and her allies, by complaints about whether or not the movie accurately portrayed Palin’s frequent meltdowns during her two and one-half months in the national spotlight.

I do not know if Palin ever actually stood in a stairwell, arguing with Nicole Wallace on her cell phone before throwing the device against the wall and screaming that she was “ruined.” But, the basic narrative of the script was undoubtedly accurate and the filmmakers interspersed clips of news coverage of Palin from that time to make the point. When Fareed Zakaria looks into the camera and suggests that Palin’s problem was not that she couldn’t provide answers to questions but that she clearly did not understand the questions, that was not acting. That was a contemporaneous clip. And, that was the problem with Palin.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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