I cringed when I saw that Pope Benedict had said something about condoms in a soon-to-be-released book. It was not the Pope’s comments I feared, but the reaction to them. Ah, here comes the Cervical Mucus Brigade, I thought. And right alongside them the Mainstream Media whose fascination with the human pelvis knows no bounds. And, there, pulling up the rear is the “chaplain to the status quo” lefties who will denounce the Pope’s latest statement as insufficient because patriarchy is surely at work in anything that comes from the Pontiff’s lips.
Welcome to Distinctly Catholic, a blog by Michael Sean Winters that examines politics, religion and the estuary where the two meet, all from a distinctively Catholic point of view. The blog is small "c" catholic as well as big "C" Catholic, examining a wide range of issues but always from the perspective of Catholic history and theology.
One of the highlights of a public consistory for the creation of new cardinals comes when the Holy Father announces the new cardinal's "title," that is, the church in Rome of which he is being made an honarary, or titular, pastor. It is on that basis that they have a vote for the next Pope, preserving symbolically the the ancient practice that the clergy of Rome elect the bishop of Rome.
This morning, Cardinal Wuerl was assigned the title of cardinal-priest of San Pietro in Vincoli, St. Peter in Chains, the church near the Colosseum that contains the chains that once bound St. Peter. The church's most famous feature is Michelangelo's Moses, arguably his greatest sculpture, which was originally intended as part of a larger sculputral scheme for the tomb of Pope Julius II. (Rex Harrison played Julius in "The Agony and the Ecstasy.") Julius thought well of himself and had intended his tomb to dominate the newly rebuilt St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican but his successors had other ideas. The Pope, and his monument, are now in San Pietro in Vincoli.
147 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln delivered the most concise and eloquent statement of the American idea when he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Want to feel good about your country? Take a minute and re-read these words.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
In a radio interview, soon-to-be Cardinal Raymond Burke said that the reason many in the Church do not see eye-to-eye with him on the necessity of denying communion to pro-choice politicians is because they live "in a society that’s completely secularized. The God-centred thinking which has marked the discipline of the Church is not easily understood by those who are bombarded day-in and day-out with a kind of God-less approach to the world and to many questions."
My friend Austen Ivereigh has a report on this morning's press conference in London about the future of the Anglican Ordinariate, which will be constituted early next year. The UK's Catholic bishops promised 250,000 pounds to get the group started, although that figure is a drop in the bucket compared to the relative wealth of the Anglican Church being abandoned by those coming over to Rome.
Last week, in an editorial in the Tablet, the editors wrote that it is expected 5 bishops, 50 priests and 500 lay people have expressed a desire to join the new Ordinariate. Those numbers do not seem proportional to me. One bishop for every 100 laity? Perhaps it is because at the top of the Anglican hierarchy, the bishops were mindful of the universal nature of the Anglican communion and, just so, more attuned to the way that communion has fractured in the past few years. Still, they had better bring enough of their lay people with them or the UK Bishops Conference is going to be subsidizing this Ordinariate forever.
Does anyone have any ideas why so many prelates and so few lay folk are prepared to join?
Yesterday, I called attention to an article by Benjamin Wittes, the super smart senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has thought longer and harder and more intelligently about the legal issues raised by the war on terror than anyone I know.
Wittes has another article today, written with Jack Godsmith, that is worth reading on the subject. I am less sanguine than he about the prospect of indefinite detentions, but his piece also destroys some of the simplistic canards of both sides in the current debate, e.g., testimony acquired through torture is not likely to pass muster in a military tribunal any more than it passes muster in a civil trial.
Balancing justice and security is a tough thing. Beware of those who answers undervalue either of the two needs and of any simplistic answers. There are none.
In this morning's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer holds up John Tyner as a new pop hero. Tyner is the man who videotaped his search at an airport and told the inspector "Don't touch my junk."
Krauthammer suggests that the complicated and, by design, invasive searches at airports have nothing to do with security and everything to do with political correctness. "Dont's touch my junk, you airport security goon - my package belongs to no one but me, and do you really think I'm a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 72-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come?"
I have only one question for Mr. Tyner - and for Mr. Krauthammer. Would you feel the same way if you were seated on a plane next to Timothy McVeigh?
I have already written to defend the new guidelines governing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and the CCHD itself, from critics who charge it has compromised the Church’s identity by funding groups that, while not pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage themselves, belong to coalitions that promote an agenda that is at odds with the fundamental teachings of the Church. It is clear to any fair-minded person that the charges are baseless.
During my reporting on the CCHD and its critics, one comment stuck with me. Deal Hudson, one of the leading critics of CCHD and currently the editor of InsideCatholic.com and formerly the editor of Crisis magazine, asked why so many community organizing coalitions are pro-abortion in the first place, why so many of them stand at odds with the Church on the hot button social issues of the day, even if those positions are not part of their principal mission or agenda, and so, not in violation of the CCHD guidelines. It is a fair question, one the new CCHD guidelines addressed, thoroughly from my perspective, insufficiently from Hudson’s.
In this morning New York Times, Thomas Friedman explains how lies travel fast, and what can be done about it.
In the event, Anderson Cooper at CNN not only exposed this absurd charge that President Obama's trip to India was going to cost $200 million per day, he also pointed to a much-needed growth industry: sound journalism. This is one instance where I like market values. If the cost of spreading lies rises because of work like Cooper's, the incidence of lies will diminish.
Of course, political deceit has long been a bi-partisan growth industry too.
Democrats credit Bill Clinton's policies with the economic boom of the 1990s, neglecting the growth of the dot.com sector of the economy. Republicans think cutting taxes raises revenue every time. Both parties indulge fanciful out-year projections to support their claims.
But at least the slap-down of Bachmann et al.'s ridiculous untruths can start a trend. Complex lies may continue to enjoy a long shelf life, but it is progress if we can at least call out the simple lies.
John Judis has a very smart article about the role of Independent voters and the campaign strategies being crafted in the White House. Judis is a very smart analyst of trends in the electorate, although I wish he had examined thr role of religiously inspired values in motivating these swing voters.