Over at the USCCB blog, Father John Crossin, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat on ecumenical and interreligious affairs, notes seven markers on the road to Christian unity. It is stunning to think how far we have come in what is, in Church terms, such a relatively short period of time! Indeed, we saw visual evidence of this just yesterday as Cardinal Donald Wuerl, in choir cassock, prayed one of the readings at the interfaith prayer service for the inauguration.
When St. Paul got to the Areopagus, he found the monument to the unknown God, with which the Athenians were familiar, and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ by referencing that monument. This week, at the annual Respect Life Mass in Spokane, Washington, Bishop Blase Cupich did something similar, linking the vivid, painful and recent memories of the killings in Newtown, Connecticut with the Church's concern for the unborn.
Robert Royal has an essay on culture over at The Catholic Thing that is worth a read. I mostly agree with Royal that any effort to generate culture without reference to the transcendent does not, in fact, generate culture, it generates consumer goods.
The Israeli elections delivered a surprising, but not an ultimate, rebuke to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. His Liked Party coalition, which held 42 seats in the outgoing Knesset, fell to 31 seats in the new parliament, but it remains the largest bloc of votes and so it will fall to Netanyahu to form a new government.
I am watching the National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral. It is on C-Span right now. Cardinal Wuerl looks great. Steve Schneck is seated in the sanctuary as he will be leading one of the prayers. The service began with the hymn, "Guide Me Thou, O Great Redeemer," and while Americans don't sing at full throttle as the Brits do, it was splendid nonetheless. And the first reading was from one of my favorite passages, Isaiah 55. It's not Westminster Abbey, but it will do.
Over at Crisis magazine, there is an article by Nicholas Hahn in which he chastizes the bishops and Father Lombardi at the Vatican press office for daring to support common sense gun control measures. It is clear that Mr. Hahn cares more about the Second Amendment than he does about the Second Vatican Council. He cherry picks a few quotes from pope John Paul II, which were not on point to begin with, and fashions them into a core argument: Bishops, mind your own business and gins are not your business.
My friend Cathleen Kaveny has posted the third in her recent columns on the HHS mandate. There is much here to ponder, including an issue that NCR raised in its editorial naming Chief Justice John Roberts our "Person of the Year," namely, why do Catholic judges get a pass from neo-conservative Catholic thinkers but legislators do not?
As American civic liturgies go, nothing trumps an inauguration. Yet, watching the proceedings yesterday, I could not help feel that our civic rituals are somewhat pale in comparison to those of the country against which we rebelled in 1776. Couldn’t we have just paid the tax on the tea and kept Westminster Abbey as a focal point for such rituals? Alas, thank God we had the latest installment of Downton Abbey the night before.
Charles Camosy, writing at CatholicMoralTheology.com, on the 40th anniversary of Roe, a subject I suspect we will have many postings on this week, including my own contribution on Friday, the day of the March For Life.
Tomorrow, January 22, I will be participating in a panel discussion "CUA Meets the Press" in which we will discuss what to expect from Obama's second term. Joining me on the panel will be the Washington Post's Melinda Henneberger, Rachel Swarns from the New York Times, and Greg Erlandson, publisher of Our Sunday Visitor. The event is 7-9 p.m. at the Pryzbyla Center on the campus of Catholic University, and it is free and open to the public. To find out more, click here.