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Entitlement Is Not a Swear Word

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The issue of entitlements, and entitlement reform, is inexorably gaining prominence, yet I fear greatly that the Democrats, and specifically President Obama, are letting the Republicans, and specifically Cong. Paul Ryan, define the debate. And, this is an issue on which the USCCB should, I believe, be front and center articulating a foundational article of Catholic social teaching that has implications for both our commitment to social justice and our commitment to the dignity of every human life.

Garnett's Gloom

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Over at Mirror of Justice, Rick Garnett is feeling glomy about the intractable ways political and ideological discourse is engaged. I am less gloomy than he, but I share his concern that few of us try often enough to try and discern what wisdom might reside in the viewpoints of those with whom we disagree. Here is good grounds for an examination of conscience by all bloggers and blog commenters!

Weigel on LCWR

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Regular readers of my blog will know the very, very low regard in which I hold the opinions of George Weigel. He and his neo-con fellow RCs have tried to subvert Catholic social teaching for decades and still seem incapable of believing that the Master meant what he said about avarice and riches.

Now, he has set his sights on the Vatican's "assessment" of the LCWR in a post at the National Review. The article is filled with his usual absurd arguments - if only nuns wore habits, all would be well with the world - and his usualy penchant for nostalgia - invoking the memory of Ingrid Bergman in Bells of St. Mary's - but this paragraph of his was especially disturbing even by Weigel's standards:

Webathon: Please Give

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In case you are on a direct RSS feed - and I confess, I do not know exactly what an RSS feed is - to my blog and not to the NCR homepage, you may not know that our annual webathon is going on. Please donate generously. The work we do here is so vital not only to the Church but to the news business. Increasingly, mainstream press outlets don't have religion reporters and those that do often have people who do not understand the often complicated ways the Church works.

Especially this year, when our election campaign is drowning in religious language and ideas, it is vital that the American people receive informed commentary on how religion and politics interact in American history and in America today. That is one of the principal objectives of this blog, to provide informed commentary on the estuary where religion and politics mix and to police that estuary for tendentiousness and stupidity are so commonly found.

The commentators on this blog are always generous with their words of praise and criticism. If you value the opportunity to be provoked, this week we need you to be generous with your cash as well as your comments.

New Series at TNR Looks at Romney's Policies

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This morning, The New Republic, launched a new series of articles that will look at the substance of the proposals Mitt Romney has put forth. The first in the series, by Jonathan Cohn, looks at Romney's economic proposals and concludes that by focusing on the long-term, and neglecting the short-term need to juice the economy and put people back to work, Romney has the cart before the horse. Only if economic growth kicks in, can the long-term problems become managable.

You can agree with Cohn or not, although if you do come prepared with strong arguments and lots of data because Cohn knows more about more policies than most essayists. But, TNR is doing us all a service by focusing less on the ups-and-downs of campaign life and more on the substance of the proposals being put forth by the man who claims he can lead America to greatness.

MSW on LCWR

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I did not have the visceral reaction many of my colleagues had to the news of the “assessment” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That was, until I read the document itself. But, before we get to the text, I have to ask myself: Why did I not instantly recognize the injustice many of my friends discerned?

In part, I have learned to resist overbroad interpretations of events that fit neatly with a previously determined meta-narrative, in this case the meta-narrative that sees the bad, old, meanies at the Vatican going after unsuspecting Catholics. I do not recall cries of “injustice” when the Vatican, in 2000, appointed an apostolic visitor to Mother Angelica’s abbey, although that too involved men assessing women, the far away Vatican bureaucrats ordering U.S.-based women religious to open themselves to investigation and, in the event, resulted in the removal of Mother Angelica from the leadership of her abbey.

Gibson on Subsidiarity at USAToday

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Over at USAToday, David Gibson, one of the best religion correspondents writing for secular outlets, disentangles the Catholic idea of subsidiarity and how ti does and does not conform to Cong. Paul Ryan's invocation of the word as justification for his budget proposals.

A related observation. As Gibson notes, subsidiarity is not a word in common usage. Yet, there it is, at the heart of a major political debate in our nation in 2012. Those who continue to invoke the memory of Father Neuhaus, and warn about the "naked public square" must ask themselves - would a society that is truly banishing religious discussion from the public square find an article in USAToday on subsidiarity in its midst?

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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