Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines has an article at America on Catholics in the public square. Like Bishop Balse Cupich's letter to Spokane's Catholics I referenced yesterday, Bishop Pates's article does not adopt a cultural warrior mode but is also intensely challenging to serious Catholics, asking us to examine the extent to which we are willing to wink at the ways our chosen political parties fail to grasp and enflesh the robust moral vision of the Church. And, because he does not engage in cheap shots, or grotesque analogies, or patent demagoguery, Bishop Pates not only shows faithful Catholics how to engage the public square, his article shows his fellow bishops how they should.
Over at his blog at RNS, Mark Silk notes that two events – the massacre at the Sikh temple near Milwaukee and the arson attack on a mosque in Joplin, Missouri – do not make a trend, but that it is vital people of faith and conscience start paying attention to the rise of xenophobia.
Silk calls attention to Gov. Scott Walker’s remark: “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence.” Silk replies, “Personally I don’t think we have to struggle too hard. The evil in question has to do with xenophobia and religious hatred, both of which can be stirred up or damped down by political leaders.” Silk -1; Walker - 0.
Today is the anniversay of the death of Pope Paul VI. His task was herculian, the first pope to bring an ecumenical council to a close and begin its implementation in the modern media age. His temperament, which by his own admission, had a certain Hamlet-like quality, was not necessarily suited to the task. But, by and large, he did it and he did it brilliantly. I continue to believe that for all the happy memories some hold of Good Pope John, who was indeed good, and of John Paul the Great, who was indeed great, Clio will more and more see Montini as the outstanding pontiff of the 20th century.
Last week, the Romney campaign was wrapping itself in the heroism of Lech Walesa and the Polish trade union Solidarnosc which played such a critical role in toppling the Polish Communist Party and, with it, the Soviet Union and the mountains of lies that had been built up and exposed over the decades.
In Friday's Washington Post, Melinda Hennberger had a great piece on how Romney's European tour was targeted less at foreign heads of state than at U.S. heads of religious organizations.
How should bishops conduct themselves in the public square? The question is as relevant as ever, as the Church finds herself at odds with strong cultural attitudes on a range of issues from the right-to-life, to traditional marriage, to the defense of union rights, to religious liberty. Given our media culture, the loudest and most obnoxious voices are the only ones that get heard. And, so, when a bishop compares President Obama to Hitler and Stalin, that makes news. But, does it persuade anyone?
Culture wars, as the phrase implies, can get especially ugly because the issues run more deeply than mere policy differences, engaging fundamental culture notions, ideas about the nature and extent of human rights, the role of law in society, the relationship between religious values and public policy in a pluralistic country. But, must these issues always be understood in war-like metaphors?
I was planning on taking the day off today. I drove up last night with the three beasts but with traffic leaving DC, what is normally a six hour drive turned into seven and one-half hours, and we did not arrive until a half hour past midnight. Besides, I almost never take a day off.
But, I see that Steve Jalsevac, the managing director of LifeSiteNews, has responded to my post yesterday about their article concerning the Al Smith dinner and while I do not normally respond to comments, an official response from the organization I chastised requires an acknowledgement.
Now, the parallel magisterium at LifeSiteNews has Cardinal Timothy Dolan in their crosshairs. His sin? Going ahead with the annual Al Smith Dinner that has a tradition of inviting both presidential candidates to a fundraising dinner for Catholic Charities.
Of course, the people at LifeSiteNews, and the usual suspects they quote – Deal Hudson, Michael Hichborn – are not concerned about the scandal of inviting a man who signed a health care overhaul that explicitly provided for taxpayer funded abortions. That man would be Mitt Romney. No, this crowd is furious that President Barack Obama will be invited. They cite a line from a USCCB text about not bestowing honors on those who disagree with Church teaching, but as the document in question is entitled “Catholics in Public Life” it is difficult to see how that applies easily to Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama, neither of whom are Catholic.
The controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A is not very delicious. I admit I have never been to a Chick-fil-A. I admit, too, that I had passed signs for their stores for about four years before I realized that their name was a not very clever homonym for chicken fillet. I recall seeing one of their television ads, showing a deep fried piece of unnaturally flat chicken breast, being placed on top of some pickles, lettuce and tomato, all on a hamburger bun, and thinking – “no thank you.” So, I was not disposed to be a patron to begin with.
Consequently, I was not among the throngs of people who lined up to dine at Chick-fil-A yesterday, responding to a call from Mike Huckabee and other leaders of the religious right to show support for the chain. The president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, has recently been outspoken about both his opposition to same sex marriage and about the fact that his restaurant chain has, since its founding, been employed “biblically-based principles” in managing its stores. So says their website, and they cite the fact that Chick-fil-A closes its stores on Sundays.
Thumbs Up to Melinda Henneberger for her article in this morning's Washington Post about Indiana's Senate race. I confess, of all the many congressional races this fall, there is no candidate I hope wins more than I hope Joe Donnelly wins and there is no candidate I hope loses more than I hope Richard Mourdock loses. Donnelly is a pro-life Democrat, a centrist, someone with a bipartisan track record. Mourdock unseated Sen. Dick Lugar in the GOP primary, charging Lugar with being a RINO. Fortunately, the good sense of many people who would have easily backed Lugar is causing them to give Donnelly a second look.