Already, the entry of Congressman Paul Ryan onto the national stage is generating some interesting debates within the Catholic world and within the political commentariat. It seems to me that three issues are brought into greater focus by the selection of Ryan, although hoping for intellectual clarity on those issues during a political campaign may be hoping for the proverbial bridge too far. But, here goes.
Mitt Romney’s choice of Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate is electrifying. But, electricity is dangerous at times and, in this instance, Ryan is standing in a pool of watery dissent from Catholic Social Teaching that has existed on the Catholic right for some time.
Over at The New Republic, Amy Sullivan takes up a theme I have commented on as well, the religious right's penchant for perceiving something dark and menacing in President Obama's sometimes use of the phrase "freedom of worship" rather than "freedom of religion." She notes that President George W. Bush used the phrase "freedom of worship" too, did so frequently, and there was no outcry. To be sure, the HHS mandate does highlight the distinction between the two ideas, but to impute a nefarious agenda to a rhetorical device is misleading. And, she thoroughly debunks the idea that Obama purposefully leaves out the phrase "by our Creator" when he quotes the Declaration of Independence, complete with a video of Obama saying the phrase repeatedly.
In case you missed my colleague John Allen's article on our NCR homepage, please read it. And if, like me, you fit snuggly in the category "center-left" please take it to heart. Instead of griping, find areas of common concern, build relationships, and let those with a different ideological temperament see your love for the Church shine through.
From Kathryn Jean Lopez, at National Review, we have this:
Of course, Mr. Romney is on record saying that, as a matter of public policy, he supports access to contraception. And, he has equivocated on the use of torture. And, his health care reform law in Massachusetts, unlike President Obama's health care reform, explicitly provides for taxpayer funded abortions. So, is Archbishop Lori suggesting no Catholic can vote for Mr. Romney?
Robert Blair Kaiser is a fine, and accomplished provocateur and his commentary published here at NCR, “The Second Vatican Council has already made us free.” Is a fine example of this art form. I am provoked.
The issues about which Kaiser writes are important, which is why I am so disappointed that he encumbers them with statements that are false and/or pernicious.
Big lies and smears. It must be campaign season.
Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has long been known as someone who is capable of putting his foot in his mouth. He is also known as a former boxer capable of throwing a tough body blow, maybe even one that is a bit below the belt. But, trading in gossip should be beneath his office. When Reid said that an unnamed source told him that Gov. Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes for several years, without disclosing the source, he set Romney up. There is an obvious way to rebut the charge: disclose the tax returns. But, that is precisely the thing that Romney’s campaign had decided not to do. Reid’s unsubstantiated charge, more suitable for a supermarket tabloid than the floor of the U.S. Senate, was the verbal equivalent of the famous question: Congressman, when did you stop beating your wife? To deny the charge entails repeating it. No candidate wants to see the headline “Congressman denies beating wife” although that headline is preferable to “Congressman admits beating wife.” Reid’s charge was a low blow.
Sr. Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB looks at the use of social media by Catholics in a new post up at the USCCB website here. I was astounded to learn that 100,000 people visit the USCCB website daily to consult the Readings of the Day. There is an obvious fruit of the Council, no?
The use of social media is enormously complicated. I am currently up here in Connecticut and do not get the washington Post delivered to my door in the morning and I find using the Post's or the Times' website enormously frustrating. Amongst other problems, the web almost never invites serendipity. But, use it we must, and as Sr. Mary Ann demonstrates, it is be used well by hundreds of thousands of Catholics.
Former Ambassador to the Holy See, Thomas Patrick Melady, who is also one of the co-chairs of Mitt Romney's Catholic outreach team, has an important essay up at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good about the persecution of gays in Uganda. Melady also served as an ambassador to Uganda. Like Bishop Cupich's letter I cited Monday, here is another example of an orthodox Catholic calling on Catholics not to traffic in anti-gay bigotry. Coming from such an illustrious member of the Republican Party's Wise Men, let's hope Melady's counsel reaches far and wide and deep. You can read his essay here.
Morning's Minion, at Vox Nova, has some pointed questions/analysis for Romney's Catholic outreach team. You can read his post here.