National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Distinctly Catholic

MSW Responds to +Paprocki


I am deeply grateful for Bishop Thomas Paprocki for his speech in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on the occasion of that city's Red Mass. First and foremost, I am delighted he is evidently reading my blog, as he mentioned me by name, albeit only to criticize what I said. More on that in a minute.

More importantly, Paprocki has done those of us who care deeply about the social magisterium a favor by epitomizing, in one text, what is so pathetic about the attempts of some bishops to hand that social magisterium over to Fox News by invoking prudential judgment when it comes to budgetary matters. Paprocki also seems to have challenged the USCCB and its head, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, here, a challenge that was made explicit by George Weigel in his article commending Paprocki's speech.

Conscience of a Conservative


Michael Gerson has become the conscience of the Republican Party.
Today, he has a post about the consequences of the GOP's harsh anti-immigrant stance.
Last week, he looked at their disregard for social contract.

Gerson's is a reasonable voice in a party deeply commited to being unreasonable. He is to the GOP on issues of compassion what we pro-life Dems are to our party on the issue of abortion. But politics and cultures change, and they only change when reasonable people raise their voice. Kudos to Gerson for staying and fighting the good fight.

Election 2012: Foreign Policy


This election will not be decided on foreign policy issues. Very few elections are. This tells us more about the electorate than it does about the presidency. Most U.S. presidents spend as much if not more of their time on foreign policy concerns on a daily basis than they do on domestic issues. (Most non-U.S. heads of government have to spend a disproportionate amount of time on their relationship with the U.S. president!) Ever since the end of World War II, the U.S. role in the world is unique and often uniquely challenging.

How has Barack Obama handled those challenges? I would give him a B+. He promised to end the Iraq War, and he did. This may not feel like an achievement. The end of the Iraq War felt like Dunkerque, more of an escape than a victory. The decision to go into Iraq was a tragic mistake and getting out of there then became the least bad option. That said, Obama seems to have managed the withdrawal well, Iraq has not descended into civil war – which is no small accomplishment – and the U.S. no longer has a scarlet “I” on its diplomatic forehead.



Yesterday, at Mass, I noticed I could not shed a persistent cough. By nightfall, it had turned into the flu and, despite a hit of Nyquil, this morning finds me still feeling very ill. If I feel better later, I shall post something but, for now, back to bed.

Reducing Religion to Ethics


Wednesday, I argued that George Weigel was complicit in the secularization he denounces because he, and others like him, have been reducing religion to ethics for many years now. It has been suggested to me that I tease out precisely what I mean by this idea of reducing religion to ethics.

The American Ur-text of the phenomenon of reducing religion to ethics is a text often cited by those who seek to demonstrate how profoundly religious the American founding was, George Washington’s Farewell Address, in which we find these words:

Rotondaro on Income Inequality


At Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Fred Rotondaro lays out the big picture on income inequality. I wish he had been on CNN last night. They had someone from the Wall Street Journal who made the point, factually correct but grossly misleading without context, that the wealthy have been paying a great and greater share of federal taxes in recent decades. He failed to note what Rotondaro points out - they are paying more because they have garnered almost all of the income growth in hte past thirty years. The middle class is not paying more because they are not making more.

Clark on Entitlements


Meghan Clark is fast becoming one of my favorite young theologians. She has a post up at about entitlements that makes, with greater theological sophistication than I am capable of, one of the points I have been trying to make here: Yes, people, as people, are entitled to food, shelter and health care. She also usefully debunks the "false dichotomy" between person/private charity and government assistance. Good stuff.

Redistribution & The Parallel Universe at Fox


It was clear that the strategists in Mitt Romney’s campaign thought that they had something damaging on President Obama when they released a copy of a tape, made fourteen years ago, in which Barack Obama, then a state senator, told an audience that he was in favor of some level of redistribution, at least enough to “give everybody a shot.” The Romney campaign released this video in response to the emergence of Romney’s now infamous “47%” comments. Alas for Romney, not all “secret” tapes are created equal.

I do not need to add anything to the large body of commentary about why Romney’s comments were wrong about the facts, and morally offensive to boot. The fact that you have prominent Republicans distancing themselves from Mr. Romney’s comments tells you all you need to know about their political consequences. But, I am more interested in why the Romney campaign thought the Obama tape about “redistribution” would serve as an effective counter. After all, government has always been involved in some kind of redistribution of wealth. That is what taxes do, take from some and give to projects or programs that will benefit others.


Subscribe to Distinctly Catholic


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.