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RC Leaders Call for Religious Tolerance in Elections

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Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Thomas Melady, released a statement signed by a host of prominent Catholics “of different political persuasions,” today calling for a renewed commitment to religious tolerance in American politics at a press conference held at the National Press Club.

‘Two hundred and twenty three years ago our Founding Fathers established through our Constitution, a high ideal for religious tolerance and understanding,” the statement begins before going on to note that “Catholics are particularly sensitive to the history of anti-Catholic bias that surfaced in the election of 1928 and in 1960.” The statement was prompted by recent comments by Pastor Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, at the Values Voter Summit, in which Jeffress suggested voters should prefer Christian candidates for office and called Mormonism “a cult.”

“The word ‘cult’ in its technical sense is unobjectionable,” Melady said at the press conference. “But in common usage it usually is filled with ridicule and sarcasm.” Melady added that “As Catholics, we have felt the sting of anti-religious bias in past elections.”

Religious Liberty: The Legal Culture

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I do not share the exorbitant fears that some of my more conservative friends entertain regarding the existence and influence of cultural elites determined to destroy the Catholic Church. I am not sure it is true – America’s elites have many motives – and I think this populist concern about elites invites a defensive posture that is thoroughly unhelpful to evangelization. The shadow of elites persecuting the Church seems to me to be, like most shadows, something with little substance but nonetheless capable of producing fear.

Is God a White Guy?

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That is the provocative way David Gibson looks at recent polling data regarding the relative "God gap" between the Democrats and Republicans and how that gap takes on a different complexion when looked at through the lens of skin complexion. To wit, Latinos, who are the future of the Catholic Church in this country, are far less likely to lean to the Republicans than their white co-religionists. And, if you listen in to one of the GOP presidential debates, is it any wonder?

At a time when some Catholics paint the Democrats as the "party of death" it is wise to ask: Should all bridges to the Democrats be burned? And, what impact will pro-life Latinos have on the future of the Democratic Party?

Contra George Weigel

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Writers often do not get to pen their own headlines, so I cannot fault George Weigel for referring to Catholic progressives as “Churchmice” in an article posted at the National Review. Whoever did come up with that title should reflect upon the often ugly things that happen when fellow human beings are compared to vermin. But, this Churchmouse must respond to Mr. Weigel’s article not least because he mentions me by name.

It is difficult to know what to make of Weigel’s arguments, such as they are. At one point he condemns the “hoary ‘liberal/conservative’ hermeneutic of the Council’s history” but this is a strange condemnation coming, as it does, in an article that explicitly and repeatedly indulged in a “hoary liberal/conservative hermeneutic.”

HHS & Religious Liberty

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The issue of religious liberty is fast becoming a central concern among the nation’s bishops. The proposed interim rule from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding mandated coverage for contraception and sterilization in insurance plans struck many as a direct assault on religious, especially Catholic, institutions. The Department of Justice’s brief in the Supreme Court case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC is viewed by the bishops as an even more dangerous attack on religious liberty. Last week, Bishop William Lori, chairman of a new ad hoc committee on the religious liberty, testified on the subject before Congress. (I wrote about Lori’s testimony here.)

John O'Malley on a Lesson from Trent

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Over at America, Father John W. O'Malley, S.J., has an instructive article on the different ways theologians were employed in the deliberations of the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council. O'Malley argues that Trent may be a better example for improving the relationship between bishops and theologians than that methods followed at Vatican II.

I know that Trent has become a dirty word in certain circles and a panacea in other circles. But, as a genuinely reforming council, it is second to none and is always worth examination. Kudos to O'Malley for bringing this aspect of its procedures to light.

Galston Predicts Ugly Election

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Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution is one of the most keen-eyed observers of politics in America. He has an article up today at The New Republic in which he notes the foul mood of the electorate which has grown distrustful of both parties, convinced the GOP will only stand up for the rich and not sure what President Obama is willing to fight for. He predicts this will yeild an especially ugly election campaign, and I dare say he is right. Out with Hope. In with Venom.

Contra Professor Zunes

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NCR recently published a “viewpoint” by Professor Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco in which Mr. Zunes criticizes the Obama administration for its policy towards Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I confess myself somewhat shocked that a professor at a major university could combine so many truly outrageous claims in one small article, so outrageous that it is impossible to attribute them to mere carelessness.

Noah on Cong. Ryan's Blunder

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Timothy Noah, at the New Republic, acknowledges that Cong. Paul Ryan has a fine, even bracing, set of talking points on the relative difference between America and Europe, with Americans supporting a less egalitarian society but one with greater upward mobility, compared to hidebound Europe, with its oppressive welfare state, stifling upward mobility in its efforts to preserve equality. Only problem? It ain't true. There is now less upward mobility in the US than in Europe.

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September 12-25, 2014

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