I think some of us on the left tend to under-estimate the degree of nastiness bishops have to put up with from their right wing flanks. Maybe that is because we dismiss the far right extremists as kooks. But, they are noisy kooks. Think of the attacks on CCHD, and the way the bishops have resisted efforts to dismantle that signature anti-poverty program. Or of Father Guarnizo, the communion-denying priest who basically called Cardinal Wuerl a liar last week.
Last week, I was invited to give the 20th annual ethics lecture by the Institute for Ethics at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. I chose to address Catholic Social Teaching and politics. Here is the text:
Time for Caesar to Render: How Catholic Social Teaching Can Heal What’s Wrong With American Politics
When I was asked to deliver this lecture last autumn, little did I know that the issue of rendering unto Caesar, that is, the relationship between Church & State, would become the stuff of nightly news and newspaper op-eds and polling data, and all the accoutrement of a modern democracy. The recent battle over if and how government mandates should extend to religious institutions reminded us all of something, actually many things, that we would rather forget:
The Constitution did not resolve the issue of the relationship of Church and State;
The Church never fits neatly into any political framework, many of the issues in contemporary political life have many answers and people of good will and good conscience can disagree, and disagree profoundly, as to which answer is best and, more importantly, which answers are even tolerable.
Today marks the first anniversary of the splendid blog, CatholicMoralTheology.com. The editors of that blog asked me and some others to write up posts commemorating their anniversary, which I was delighted to do. You can find my post here and come back to the site each day this week to find more posts marking a milestone on the emergence of a truly valuable online resource for Catholic Moral Theology.
Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my mother's death. She died on the vigil of the Feast of St. Joseph, patron of a happy death and, indeed, her death copuld not have been more peaceful when it came. What preceded it was far from peaceful: She had been battling Parkinson's for years and then, in August of 2006, she and my dad were in a horrific accident in which she broke both arms, her neck and one leg. She never really recovered, and never spoke again, although after the first few days, she re-gained consciousness. She was certainly aware that I was at her bedside each and every day and that my dad, once he recovered from his injuries, was there each and every day for the entire day.
Obviously, the readers of this blog did not know my mother. But, you have come to know me, and mindful of e.e. cummings words - I am first the son of my parents and whatever is happening to him - I share the eulogy I delivered at my mother's funeral with you:
Eulogy for Claire McDermott Winters
Our Lady of Lourdes Church
25 March 2007, Feast of the Annunciation
The White House took another stab at reaching some sort of agreement on the contentious issue of the HHS mandates regarding women’s preventive services, releasing new analysis of the prior accommodation, as well as new proposed rules for self-insured religious entities.
Over at his still sorta new blog at RNS, Mark Silk brings commentary on the upcoming Puerto Rico primary from Juhem Navarro, whom I met at a book signing event at the UConn Co-op in February. Navarro's comments are the smartest thing you are likely to hear about PR politics this weekend because the news anchors always make a hash of the subject.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams announced today that he will be stepping down as the Primate of England by the end of the year. Williams is, by all accounts an extraordinary man with an extraordinary intellect and a deep faith. When he received the Campion Award from America magazine, Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J. called Williams "a prophet to a post-Christian age." Williams and the Holy Father have developed an especially close friendship. He will be greatly missed.
Dana Dillon's voice is one of the most provocative among the next generation of young theologians, and in this very thoughtful essay at CatholicMoralTheology.com, she looks at the way contraception raises expectations for women and their place in the world that they may not wish to raise. It is provocative and thoughtful, just the kind of essay we have come to expect from Dillon.
I think we can make an educated guess that more people in Syria were killed by their own government in hte past day, or week, or month, than in any other country. I confess I do not know what is to be done. But, I do know what is not to be done, and that is to support the Syrian regime in anyway. At the New Republic, Nick Robins-Early details how some American companies are doing precisely that.
A few weeks ago, I was at a dinner and one of the people present told me that she had stopped going to Mass. My heart sank. Lord knows, there are often good reasons for people to be frustrated with the Church, but, still, the thought of not going to Mass on Sunday is so incomprehensible to me that whenever I hear of someone leaving, I can’t get my mind around it and my emotional response comes to fore. It makes me very sad.
Sadness may be an appropriate feeling, but it is not a moral, still less an ecclesial, response to this phenomenon. Next week, on March 22 from 3-6 p.m. Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (where I am currently a visiting fellow) will be sponsoring a symposium on “Lapsed Catholics” to examine this sad phenomenon. The event is co-sponsored by Villanova University’s Center for the Study of Church Management.