Over at Spiritual Politics, Mark Sill demonstrates anew that he may be the most thoughtful non-Catholic commentator on things Catholic writing in America today. He takes on Rick Santorum's evident unfamiliarity with a core concept of Catholic Social Teaching, the preferential option for the poor, and recalls George Weigel's attempts to water-down the phrase to meaninglessness.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, at the USCCB MediaBlog, has a post up about the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services not to continue a grant to the USCCB for its work assisting the victims of Human Trafficking.
There are many unanswered questions here and the fact that the ACLU was suing the government over these grants might well be part of the picture. It is also possible that HHS, if it intends to expand the conscience protections regarding the mandated services under the Affordable Care Act which I sincerely hope they will do, thought it necessary to throw a bone to pro-choice groups. Still, the victims of human trafficking should not have to pay the price of political calculations.
This is a story with legs. Stay tuned.
Over at Vox Nova, Morning's Minion raises two concerns about Faithful Citizenship, the continued, and inappropriate use of the category of "intrinsic evil" to frame political choices and the lack of attention to the social consequences of the economic meltdown.
MM has a point, actually two of them. Still, opening up Faithful Citizenship at this time would have meant opening a Pandora's box best left closed.
Over at Crisis Magazine, which one would want to describe as an intellectual mouthpiece for RC neo-cons but hesitates to do so while it persists in publishing intellectual drivel, has an article up by Nicholas G. Hahn III in which Mr. Hahn attacks the bishops for their "immigration obsession." His nose is out of joint because the USCCB has a special part of its website educating Catholics on the justice of the DREAM Act and the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Hahn believes that, having failed to evangelize our own, the bishops are trying to "replace" US Catholics with immigrant Catholics. He urges them to abandon the cause.
There is too much bile in Hahn's article to refute, but I will only call attention to his most absurd, and central, claim. He writes:
Tuesday, Archbishop Jose Gomez gave a talk at Loyola Marymount University to inaugurate that school’s Hispanic Ministry and Theology lectures. His speech, entitled "'Greater America': The Hispanic Mission and the New Evangelization," amplified some of the themes he addressed at the Napa Institute earlier this year, which I wrote about here. Gomez, both in his talks and in his day job as Archbishop of Los Angeles, confronts the reality of the Church in the twenty-first century in this country, and if these early talks are any indication, that future is in good hands.
At last night's debate, Herman Cain said that one of the advantages of his 9-9-9 plan was that it is simple. He is not entirely wrong. It would have been better, politically, if the President had organized his health care reform around the simple-to-understand proposition - Medicare for everybody. The part about Cain's plan that has people swooning is not so much the 9-9-9 part, it is that he starts by eliminating the current, byzantine tax code.
But, there is also something to Mitt Romney's observation that simple answers are often inadequate. Ask Barack Obama, who promised change, a simple enough noun to understand.
Still, Cain's proposal is not only simple. It is a big idea, simply expressed. When you get to the details, many American who currently enjoy deducting their home mortgage interest might think twice. But, Americans like big ideas, and the bigger the better. In his World War II memoirs, Winston Churchill observed: "Their [Americans'] national psychology is such that the bigger the Idea, the more wholeheartedly and obstinately do they throw themselves into making it a success. It is an admitable characteristic, provided the Idea is good."
The inimitable Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete on the Occupy Wall Street protests and the need for an American version of the Habermas-Ratzinger dialogue.
I have one quibble. I am not so sure that we have an American equivalent of Habermas.
All the challenges facing the different candidates were on full display at last night’s debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Nor are the problems merely issues of bad debate prep, although some of the candidates could use better preparation to be sure. Each candidate faces a slightly different challenge in these forums and none of them except Newt Gingrich seems to rise to the occasion.
Gingrich was not only the first candidate to garner spontaneous applause for one of his answers, when he attacked Ben Bernanke and the press in a single breath. He also was the first candidate to interject himself forcefully and without being asked a question into a discussion of the effects of the European debt crisis, showing not only a command of the issue, adding something the previous candidates had neglected, but showing himself as the kind of guy who is willing to be pushy, to be assertive and combative when needed. It was very effective. Perhaps Gingrich was a bit overly flush with his awareness that he was again doing well for he went a tad far in suggesting that Chris Dodd and Barney Frank go to prison.
Over at CatholicMoralTheology.com, they have begin a discussion on the one year anniversary of the gathering at Princeton to discuss abortion. That event included everyone from Peter Singer to John Finnis, and most everyone in between and the on-going discussion, by such serious thinkers, is an important one. These issues strike deep in our culture and we must wrestle with them.
The Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services announced a large number of grants to organizations that help support poor and vulnerable families and especially focus on responsible fatherhood, a cause that has been near and dear to President Obama's agenda. Among the recipients, three jumped out: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Trenton received $555,330; Wichita Catholic Charities received $1.4 million and the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut's Catholic Charities received $800,000. Maybe all those anti-Catholics in the Obama Administration we keep hearing about were asleep at the wheel on this, but I think, as in all things, the story is more complex: The Administration is willing to work with the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church needs to work with the Administration, on areas of mutual concern. Now, if only we can get the Administration to live up to its commitment to liberalism and provide adequate conscience exemptions....