Over at Il Sussidiario, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete looks at the Holy Father's trip to Lebanon and specifically his speech to political and civic leaders. The pope's words resonate here in the US also, where some Catholics ignore a part of the Church's teaching and fail to see how those teachings all hang together.
Two items at the right-wing site "CatholicCulture.org" address the appointment of Jonathan Reyes to head the USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.
Phil Lawler can scarecely contain his excitement, both that John Carr is gone and Mr. Reyes is coming on board.
And Dr. Jeff Mirus likewise sees the change in earth-shattering terms.
George Weigel decries the influences and the effects of secularism in his latest column. Secularism worries me too. But, what I find ironic is that Mr. Weigel, as much as any contemporary Catholic writer, has been complicit in the march of secularism. How so?
Weigel invokes Charles Taylor’s observation about “exclusivist secularism” once thought to be a strictly European affair, the consequence of fights between conservative Catholics pining for the return of the ancient regime and those who associated that regime with the Church and, consequently, saw in the Church an enemy. In America, Weigel warns, the threat of secularism may be less direct but it is no less lethal.
At the Huffington Post, the finest commentary so far on the Chicago teachers' strike and the issue of education reform more generally, from the fine pen of Michael Peppard. You can find it here.
The news that Jonathan Reyes has been tapped to lead the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development raises some interesting questions. Mr. Reyes is currently the president and CEO of Catholic Charities and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Denver.
First, let it be stated that there is always a case to be made for introducing new blood into any organization. But, there is also a reason people compile resumes. In the press release announcing the appointment, Msgr. Ronny Jenkins stated, “Jonathan Reyes brings vital experience with on-the-ground charities work and with young adults and is a proven administrator.” Great. But, the job that Mr. Reyes has been given also includes lobbying Congress and the administration. It is unclear from Mr. Reyes’ resume that he knows which Metro stop to get off at Capitol Hill, let alone which doors to knock on. At a time when the USCCB is engaged in very delicate and important negotiations, on everything from budgetary matters to promoting religious freedom at home and abroad, it might have been advisable to get someone who was better known and more familiar with the ways of political Washington.
Over the summer, when the GOP attacked President Obama for “dividing America” I thought the charge laughable. For all my problems with this President, I do not think any fair-minded person could charge him with responsibility for the increasing polarization and partisanship in DC or beyond the Beltway. It was not Obama who shouted “You lie!” at a member of Congress during the State of the Union. It was not Obama who said, as Sen. Mitch McConnell did, that his over-riding objective was not to strengthen the country but to defeat the other party. And, beyond Washington, it was the Tea Party on the right that created such memorable moments as the anti-Obamacare rally that featured someone with a sign: “No gov’t run health care: Hands off my Medicare.”
Religion & Politics has a fascinating article by Richard Cizik, longtime staffer at the National Association of Evangelicals, why he was fired, and how he was led to what he calls a "New Evangelicalism." I will be very curious to see what readers think of Cizik's apologia pro vita sua.
As is often the case, Mark Silk says it better than I can: conservative efforts to play a reverse race card fall short when one actually looks at the social science data. You find see his post here.
Last week we looked at Medicare. This week, let’s turn our attention to Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that provides health care to the poor.
Medicaid has always suffered politically from the fact that it is a benefit for a portion of the population, not for everybody. It was Franklin Roosevelt’s genius to make Social Security available to all Americans, an entitlement that is, consequently, politically untouchable. In the best of all possible worlds, America would have long since adopted universal health insurance with some kind of single payer system, and health care would then be untouchable politically. But, things did not work out that way. Indeed, because a single payer system had zero chance of passing Congress, one of the ways the Obama health care reforms expand coverage to more Americans is by expanding the number of people eligible for Medicaid.
Michael Gerson is one of conservatism's more thoughtful commentators and today he recalls two speeches by then-candidates Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in which they challenged the orthodoxy of their own parties in ways we did not see in Tampa and Charlotte. His article is here.
Right next to Gerson's op-ed was an article by Robert Kagan on the situation in Egypt and why some of the rhetoric on the right is not only wrong but dangerous. Last night, watching Sean Hannity, I was hoping someone of Kagan's stature would take on this ridiculous anti-Islamic drumbeating, and I am delighted to see Kagan do the job. I should add that Mr. Hannity called in as his expert on these issues - Sarah Palin. Hmmmm. Maybe she can see Libya from her house too.