Next week, at the annual USCCB Plenary meeting, the bishops will select several new committee chairs. One of those committees, the Committee on Doctrine, is an especially delicate assignment. Even a man with as clear and careful a mind as Cardinal Donald Wuerl has found himself in the midst of controversy.as chair of the Doctrine Committee. Sometimes controversy is unavoidable, to be sure, but it serves the best interests of the Church when such controversies are handled by bishops, like Wuerl, who are known for their thoughtfulness.
From the print edition of NCR, my second article of analysis about the 2012 election, a profile of Ovide LaMontagne, the Catholic "kingmaker" in New Hampshire GOP politics.
The voters in Arizona exercised some sanity be recalling a viciously anti-immigrant state senator. And, from San Jose, California comes news, of a more ad intra character, of sanity reigning there. Bishop Patrick McGrath has written to the priests and people of his diocese reaffirming his commitment to permit priests to provide for communion to be distributed under both species at all Masses. The letter comes after the bishops of Phoenix and Madison indicated that the Prescious Blood should not be given to the people at Masses in their diocese. Bishop McGrath cites chapter and verse of why giving the Cup to the people is encourgaed by both the General Instructions of the Roman Missal and the USCCB.
Once again, Bishops Olmsted and Morlino have shown themselves to be outliers, pursuing some kind of agenda that could not appear more out of touch if they tried. Kudos to Bp McGrath for restoring some sanity.
From the category "Dept. of Self-Inflicted Wounds," some liberal organizations are upset with the decision by the Democratic National Committee to appoint the Rev. Derrick Harkins of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church to lead its religious outreach efforts. According to a report at Christianity Today, some groups are upset because Harkins is not slavishly pro-choice and he has been ambivalent about gay marriage.
Voters in Arizona struck a blow for sanity on Tuesday. They voted to oust State Sen. Russell Pearce, the president of the Arizona State Senate and a champion of anti-immigrant legislation. Pearce was defeated by another Republican, Jerry Lewis.
Pearce not only was a prime mover in the successful effort to pass a law requiring police to ask for the documents of those they suspect of being in this country illegally, he also pushed for a law, that is now dead, that would have required medical personnel and teachers to do the same. His defeat is a victory for sanity.
The essential dynamic of the GOP nominating contest has been clear for some time now: Mitt Romney, for a variety of reasons, seems unable to increase his support above the 25-30% range, providing a huge opening for one of the more conservative candidates to emerge as the anti-Romney candidate, but none of the other candidates seem able to grab that baton, still less run with it. Last night’s debate was yet another chance for someone to emerge as the un-Romney choice of the GOP base, but once again, that chance was lost.
Many commentators have noted George Weigel's nasty comments about the recent document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. But, Greg Metzger has done the rest of us one better, employing a specatularly devastating rhetorical weapon: Weigel's own words in his oft-cited biolgraphy of Pope John Paul II. Kudos to Metzger for undertaking this necessary work that entailed the unpleasant need to re-read Weigel's magnum opus.
Nate Silver, at the New York Times, writes about Newt Gingrich's rise in the polls. I have been writing since the summertime that Gingrich's time would come although, as Silver suggests, it remains to be seen if Gingrich will capitalize on his moment.
Yesterday, the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the individual mandate, a central component of the Affordable Care Act. Jonathan Cohn, at the New Republic, has the details.
The fact that the decision was authored by conservative jurist Laurence Silberman makes the ruling all the more significant.
Voters in Ohio overwhelmingly voted to overturn a law passed by the GOP-dominated legislature and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich that would have stripped public employee unions of most of their collective bargaining rights.
This is a triumph, in the first place, for the rights to organize and collectively bargain. It is also a victory for all middle class workers who have a vested interest in seeing unions achieve their goals, raising the tide of wages for everyone. The decline of union members as a percentage of the workforce tracks identically with the decline of middle class wages over the past forty years. The vote is also a triumph for the commitment to labor first evidenced in papal teaching in Pope Leo's encyclical Rerum Novarum, 121 years ago, even if the bishops of Ohio, acting through their Catholic Conference, shamefully punted on opposing Kasich's union-busting law.