Tomorrow night, I will be delivering the twentieth annual lecture at the Institute for Ethics at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. The event is free and open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in the John F. Kennedy Student Center Auditorium. I have never been to that campus, and I have never before been asked to give an endowed annual lecture, so I am greatly looking forward to it. The title: "Time for Caesar To Render: How Catholic Social Teaching Can Cure What Afflicts American Politics." Hope to see you there.
This is extraordinary. Pope Benedict XVI has invited Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Anglican Primate of England, to address the Synod of Bishops next autumn on the New Evangelization.
Mind you, the Holy See does not recognize the validity of Anglican orders, including, therefore, the ordination of Williams as a priest or a bishop. Yet, he is being welcomed to speak at the Synod. Sometimes, when divisions from the past seem insurmountable, the way forward is to look forward together, in the same direction. The Holy Father is telling the whole Church something very, very important here. I hope the members of the USCCB Admin Cm te meeting today in Washington think of this example as they try and figure out a way forward regarding the Church's role in our culture. Instead of issuing anathemas or citing past problems, they need to be willing to look forward, together with those who do not share all their opinions already, and see if they can't find a way to get to the same spot on the horizon.
Last night, Mitt Romney was looking for one, or better yet, two victories in the southern states of Alabama and Mississippi so that he could finally declare “Game Over!” Instead, Romney not only lost to Rick Santorum in both states, he also lost to Newt Gingrich, coming in a close third in both states. In Alabama, as of this morning, with 98.4% of precincts reporting, Romney is only trailing Gingrich by about 1,300 votes, so he might yet come in second there. But, no matter the final tally, instead of “Game Over,” the GOP nominating contest is now “Game On.”
Thomas Peters, over at CatholicVote.org, has taken me and others to task for writing that Father Marcel Guarnizo was suspended from ministry. He points out, citing his father who is a canon lawyer, that suspension is a canonical term, requiring a canonical process. True enough, but the verb "to suspend" is also a word in common English usage and the English language is richer than canonical nomenclature.
In the event, it is a distinction without a difference. Fr. Guarnizo had his faculties stripped and he was put on administrative leave. For most of us, that sounds a lot like a suspension. More to the point, it is not clear why the Archdiocese would initiate a canonical process when Father Guarnizo is not a priest of this archdiocese. Cardinal Wuerl can simply do what he has done - strip his faculties and cut him lose. If Father Guarnizo wants to return to his home diocese, he may do so, and it will be up to his ordinary there, not in Washington, to offer a letter of credentials as to whether or not he is a priest in good standing, to confer faculties with that diocese, etc.
I missed this article by Nathan Pippenger last week at TNR on the difficulties that the GOP is having with Latinos. Pippenger rightly argues that the difficulties are not new, but they are profound and he provides some useful links to survey data.
The Tea Party astroturf group FreedomWorks has pulled out all the stops to defeat Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch in that state's Thursday caucuses. Last night, on Sean Hannity's show, Dick Morris said he was supporting the insurgent efforts to replace Hatch as the GOP nominee because the Senator is a "RINO" or Republican In Name Only.
I have to say that, speaking as a Democrat, I have never harbored the suspicion that Sen. Hatch is "one of us." He is very conservative but he is one of those senators - there used to be 100 of them - who do not let partisanship get in the way of legislative work, still less in the way of human friendship. I am sure that many on the far right were revolted by the prominent role Hatch played at the funeral rites for Sen. Ted Kennedy.
The USCCB Administrative Committee begins a two-day meeting this morning. A lot has happened since the USCCB plenary in November, so the bishops have a full plate but the issue that has captured the attention of the entire nation, the HHS mandates, will undoubtedly garner the lion’s share of discussion.
It is clear that the President’s “accommodation,” announced on February 10, was an effort to assuage the concerns about conscience raised by the bishops and other Catholics, including many of the President’s supporters. And, it is also clear that in one regard, the accommodation works: Catholic institutions will not have to do anything regarding contraception coverage. They do not have to provide it nor refer employees to a different provider where they can get it. Yes, the vehicle the President proposed for delivering universal coverage for women is the institution’s health insurance company, and there is a federal mandate to provide an insurance plan, but there is also a Gospel mandate to provide insurance for workers at our Catholic institutions. In any event, I think the accommodation showed increased sensitivity by the White House to our concerns.
If you want to know how competitive college basketball is, and why consequently it is the best sport going today, think of this one fact: Three of thr four top-seeded teams in the upcoming NCAA tournament lost their conference championships. The fourth, Michigan State, was not slated to get a #1 seed until it knocked off Ohio State in the Big Ten championship yesterday. Syracuse and North Carolina did not even make it into the final of their conference championships.
On any given night, any of the top fifty teams in the country can knock off any of the other top fifty teams in the country. Which means there is never a game you don't want to watch. There is no other sport, collegiate or pro, of which this can be said.
The Archdiocese of Washington suspended Fr. Marcel Guarnizo from ministry late last week, citing his intimidation of parishioners. Guarnizo landed on the archdiocese's -- and the nation's -- radar screen when he denied Communion to a lesbian at her mother's funeral.
In this morning's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne encourages the USCCB, which holds its administrative committee meeting this week, to back off the extreme rhetoric in the debate over conscience exemptions. Let's hope they are listening at the Mothership.