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Fr. Weinandy's Unfortunate Speech

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The recent address by Father Thomas Wienandy, director of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, has caused more than a few raised eyebrows. Coming on the heels of the same committee’s handling of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s book, Quest for the Living God, Weinandy’s remarks to the Academy of Catholic Theology have put him and his committee back in the headlines.

It is difficult to see how saying that some theologians can be “a curse and an affliction” for the Church – even if you believe it to be true – is helpful. If you think many or most contemporary theologians are singing the wrong songs, it might be more productive to teach them new songs than to simply tell them to leave the choir. Besides, persons are never “a curse” and such de-humanizing language ill befits a Catholic leader, still less a man of the cloth. If Weinandy had more carefully said that some theologies are a curse, his words would not have stung as they have done. But, he said what he said, and sting they did.

9/11 Related Events

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As the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11 loom, I will try and post events commemorating that terrible morning that might be of interest to our readers. Here is the first.
Sacred Heart University will host a screening of the film "Of Gods and Men," directed by Xavier Beauvois. This film is loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibehirine in Algeria. It tells a story of eight French Christian monks who live in harmony with their Muslim brothers. Following the screening of the film there will be a discussion led by Michael W. Higgins, Ph.D., SHU’s vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity. There will also be light refreshments served.
The screening will take place September 13, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the university's Schine Auditorium.

Rick Perry: 2 for 2

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Funny, it is, that Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, fresh from his accusing Ben Bernanke of treasonous behavior, has made another round of headlines by denying what an overwhelming majority of scientists believe about global climate change. (What's next? I vote for denying evolution!)

What was especially interesting about Perry's comments about climate change was his accusation that the scientists who study the issue are corrupt. He stated, "There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they would have dollars rolling in to their projects." That is quite a charge and, unsurprisingly, Perry offered no evidence to back it up, something that cannot be said about the scientists who study climate change and have plenty of evidence to back up their findings.

Chaput's Latest

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Archbishop Charles Chaput, soon to be installed as the next Archbishop of Philadelphia, gave a talk to the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders, which has now been published as an essay by the Witherspoon Institute. The essay is entitled “Nation of Faith; Nation of Immigrants,” and it explores how religion and American culture intersect historically and what Latinos bring with them into the U.S. cultural mix. Chaput addressed some of these themes in his book, Render unto Caesar.

New Evangelization: What Does It Mean?

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Many of the young theologians who gathered at Boston College for the Catholic Conversation Project have been invited by the USCCB Committee on Doctrine to a symposium in September entitled, “The Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization.” The fact that the bishops are reaching out to these theologians is a good sign that the kind of dialogue between bishops and theologians everyone seems to want is indeed starting on this most important project.

“But what does it mean?” This is still the most common question I get when the subject of the New Evangelization comes up. And, it is not easy to answer, in part, because the New Evangelization is designed to re-introduce a sense of wonder, not just a sense of comprehension, about the claims at the heart of our faith. Put differently, as Archbishop Martin of Dublin observed, Ireland may be the most catechized and least evangelized culture in Europe. That distinction between catechesis and evangelization is at the heart of what the New Evangelization is about.

Can Health Care Reform Survive Without Mandates?

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With one appellate court ruling the Obama administration's health care reform was constitutional, and another ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional but not voiding the rest of the law, the question looms: Could the reforms survive without the individual mandates? You know what insurance companies think. And the prospect of higher premiums could cause even Democrats who supported the law to balk. Of course, one state, Vermont, won't have a problem because they are planning on switching to a single payer system which will realize cost-savings anyway.
Politico looks at the state of the question as we all wait for the Supreme Court to take the case,

Gov. Perry Swings For the Fences

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That was fast. It seems to be a requirement for those seeking the GOP presidential nomination that they say truly outrageous things. Gov. Rick Perry, who announced his candidacy only Saturday, was asked his thoughts about the Federal Reserve. Here is his reply:

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous in my opinion.”

Set aside the bullying "treat him pretty ugly."
Set aside the charge of treason, which is a large charge.
Ask yourself this and see if you can ponder the answer with a straight face. Do you think Rick Perry knows anything about monetary policy?

Young Theologians Meet at BC

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Yesterday, I drove up to Dover, Massachusetts where Boston College has a retreat center. I was invited to attend the second meeting of what is now known as the Catholic Conversation Project. The retreat center’s old stone walls kept my phone from getting a signal, which is normally a blessing but with a flooding basement back home in Connecticut and my Dad charged with taking care of my three dogs, this was a challenge. But, the day was extraordinary nonetheless.

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