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Contra Keller

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It seems that Bill Keller’s op-ed in the New York Times has created more of a stir than I had anticipated and, consequently, must be answered not ignored.

I do not know Mr. Keller. He may have once harbored grandiose ambitions for his understanding of Vatican II. He may have been treated shabbily by a priest or bishop. (Who hasn’t?) He may have been poorly catechized. Such questions come naturally to a pastor, and I wish Keller – and everyone – always had the kind of pastor who could apply balm to troubled souls.

But, Keller has put forth his argument, such as it is, as an assertion. He is pronouncing himself on ideas, not experience, and so we can assess his ideas no matter what experiences he has had. Are they true? Do those ideas show a basic grasp of history and, in this case, theology? Could the type of claims Keller makes be made, say, about economics or geo-physics, and stand up to scrutiny? Sadly, the answer to all these questions is undoubtedly negative.

+O'Malley On Immigration Reform

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Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, released the following statement today associating himself with Archbishop Jose Gomez's statement in support of President Obama's decision regarding undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children:

“I am very pleased by the statement of Archbishop Jose Gomez, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, welcoming the actions of President Obama last Friday providing for legal protection and work authorization to thousands of undocumented youth. This action by the President makes it possible for these young men and women, who have spent most of their lives in this country, to pursue education and employment opportunities and to make a contribution to American society. The United States has historically welcomed immigrants from throughout the world, to improve their own lives and to contribute to the common good of our nation. As Archbishop Gomez said, this executive action by the President is not a substitute for passage of the DREAM Act. It is my hope that the U.S. Congress will see the wisdom of providing the full range of rights and protections which this Act contains.”

Supreme Court Preview

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Over at The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn looks at different possible scenarios when the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the Affordable Care Act, and what those legal scenarios mean in terms of the underlying policies.

Follow an unalterable law of human nature, the more complicated the ruling the stringer the spin will be, so Cohn's look at the scenarios will help us all navigate the fog of commentary that will emerge the second after the ruling hits.

Globalization & Its Discontents

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The elections in Greece on Sunday brought a sense of relief to the world’s financial markets. The New Democracy Party, which is pledged to supporting the already negotiated bailouts and attendant austerity measures, won a plurality of the votes cast, although the painful process of forming a coalition government is still in progress. Nonetheless, the prospect of a new Greek government intent on spurning the agreements and possibly withdrawing from, or being forced out of, the Eurozone, was avoided. World markets breathed a sigh of relief. For about three hours. By noon, fears about the Spanish economy overwhelmed the morning’s gains.

Bad news always travels faster than good, and fear tends to exercise more effective control over human emotions than hope. But, I thought the market’s “invisible hand” was supposed to be rational and not prey to emotions? Globalization has now shown its uglier side.

Gibson Nails Keller

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At Commonweal, David Gibson, who is one of the best religion journalists practicing the craft today, notes the distress, not the irony, in Bill Keller's realization that he and Bill Donohue agree that a smaller, leaner Church is the way to go. Gibson rightly points disconcerted Catholics towards the Common Ground initiative which he exquisitely describes as "deeper, broader, more satisfying — if crowded and complex and maddening."

What most struck me about Keller's article was the complete absence of any sense of the divine at play in his conception of belonging to the Church or in its complicated, frustrating, even bewildering attempts to express its own faith. Like Cardinal Dolan, I am always haunted, happily so, by Henri de Lubac's observation: "What would I know of Him but for her."

Jewish Support on Immigration

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The Jewish Council for Public Affairs issued a press release announcing its support for President Obama's immigration decision on Friday.

JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said: “Finally, reason and decency have come to the table in the immigration debate. The JCPA has advocated for passage of the DREAM Act to reward children who, despite their circumstances, have worked hard and remained in school. But in the face of legislative stagnation, we applaud President Obama and Secretary Napolitano for issuing this policy directive on behalf of young and committed immigrants to permit them to stay and be a part of our nation. This step will assuage their fears that they could be deported at a moment’s notice.” said Gutow.

Rabbi Gutow continued “The biblical mandate to treat the stranger as our own holds particularly true to American Jews. Just as we were strangers in Egypt, many Jews began as strangers in America. In light of many of our own experiences, we have an obligation to see that today’s immigrants, looking for a share in the freedom and prosperity of America, are met with the same opportunities we have had.”

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July 17-30, 2015

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