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Class Warfare? Bring It

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President Obama will officially lay out his plan to reduce the federal deficit today. He is including a call for higher taxes on those most able to pay them, including a special super-tax on millionaires. The GOP response was not long in coming. “Class warfare may make for really good politics,” said Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) yesterday. “But it makes for rotten economics. It adds further instability to our system, more uncertainty, and it punishes job creation.”

Report on New Evangelization Symposium

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Yesterday, at the symposium on “Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization” sponsored by the USCCB, the day entailed three major talks, followed by questions and an evening discussion among all three speakers and the group of young theologians the USCCB invited to attend the symposium. Unfortunately, the organizers only allowed time for a few questions at the end of each talk, and the evening discussion was not open to the press. Nor were we invited to ask questions at the conclusion of the talks and, as you can imagine, I had several.

Note to Readers

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The wireless connection here at the conference room in the hotel where the New Evangelization symposium is being held is very weak. (Actually, it is intermittant, and keeps falling away.) And, there was not time at the break to run to a Starbucks, type up a report, and post it.

The symposium finishes at 4 p.m. I will post on this morning's presentations early evening and will post on the afternoon's session Saturday morning.

Boehner's Hypocrisy

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Speaker John Boehner gave his response, such as it is, to President Barack Obama’s call for a jobs bill.

Boehner’s response consisted mostly of the repetition of GOP mythologies about “job killing tax cuts.” Yes, even though we are now in the eleventh year of the Bush tax cuts, and we are still experiencing high unemployment, the myth endures. Even though large corporations are sitting atop record amounts of cash, and still not hiring, somehow, a tax increase would make them unable to hire new workers.

But, what was most galling about the Speaker’s comments was his dismissal of what he characterized as President Obama’s “all or nothing” approach to the autumn legislative agenda. Boehner went on to say that he could never, under any circumstances, support tax cuts. So, who has the problem with “all or nothing” approaches to the negotiations? Boehner is willing to consider tax cuts. He is willing to slash spending. He is willing to cripple entitlements. His “all” is permitted.

New Evangelization Symposium Kicks Off

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The USCCB's Committee on Doctrine kicked off its symposium for young theologians last night. In his introductory remarks, Father Weinandy said that the idea for the effort to reach out to the young theologians came from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and that former Dean of the School of Religious Studies at Catholic University came up with the idea of focusing on the New Evangelization. This answered two questions I had about the event. First, this symposium idea began as part of an effort to build a relationship with young theologians, not simply as a means of advancing the New Evangelization. Second, the the impetus came from Cardinal Wuerl. Kudos to Wuerl for taking the initiative and reaching out to these young theologians. One wishes that thirty years ago, bishops had taken such initiatives, the evident divide between the hierarchy and some older theologians might not exist.

Posner on Perry at Liberty University

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Sarah Posner, at Religion Dispatches, looks at Gov. Perry's speech yesterday at Liberty University. She rightly notes that the governor's talk was devoid of the neo-Pentecostalism that was part of his Prayerfest in August. Liberty University is a fundamentalist school, and they have long been suspicious, and more, of Pentecostals. Indeed, In Jerry Falwell's long career, no event brought greater harm to his ministry than his attempt to save the Pentecostal ministries of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. We must always remember that the term "Religious Right" covers a very diverse group of believers.

Film on Sen. Domenici

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There will be a screening tonight here in Washington of a new documentary about New Mexico's former Senator Pete Domenici. It will undoubtedly recall a time in Washington when the nation's business was advanced by means of bipartisan negotiation, which seems like a lifetime ago.

Sen. Domenici's politics are not my politics, to be sure. But, he is a lovely man. When I worship at St. Joseph's on Capitol Hill, he and his wife Nancy are often in the pew in front of where I sit and we often chat after Mass. He served his state and his country and he did so with integrity and without rancor. At the back of St. Joseph's there is a statue to St. Thomas More and I often have thought that, however different our politics, I can see in Domenici's career some of More's concern for the commonwealth. I wish I could say that about more members of Congress today.

Film on Sen. Domenici

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There will be a screening tonight here in Washington of a new documentary about New Mexico's former Senator Pete Domenici. It will undoubtedly recall a time in Washington when the nation's business was advanced by means of bipartisan negotiation, which seems like a lifetime ago.

Sen. Domenici's politics are not my politics, to be sure. But, he is a lovely man. When I worship at St. Joseph's on Capitol Hill, he and his wife Nancy are often in the pew in front of where I sit and we often chat after Mass. He served his state and his country and he did so with integrity and without rancor. At the back of St. Joseph's there is a statue to St. Thomas More and I often have thought that, however different our politics, I can see in Domenici's career some of More's concern for the commonwealth. I wish I could say that about more members of Congress today.

The Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization

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This evening, a three day symposium on “The Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization” will begin here in Washington. The event is sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and they have invited a group of young theologians, many of whom I have gotten to know over the past couple of years through the Catholic Conversation Project. I reported on their meeting in August.

The symposium is a great idea for a variety of reasons. In the first place, many people have not been able to wrap their minds around exactly what the Holy Father means when he speaks of a “New Evangelization.” In the second place, many of these young theologians do not carry the baggage of their predecessors, of either the right or the left. Third, it is so, you will pardon the expression, distinctly Catholic to even recognize that an ecclesial endeavor requires intellectual tasks.

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July 18-31, 2014

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