Professor M. Cathleen Kaveny’s article at Commonweal, “Catholic Kosher,” reflects on the way Catholic attitudes towards artificial contraception may be changing from a traditional moral norm which, we believe, is part of the natural moral law and therefore binding on all, into a kind of cultic talisman, akin to kashrut, which binds only Jews. After all, Jewish deli owners can sell ham, they just can’t eat it. As always, Kaveny’s writing reflects not only her intellectual seriousness, but her deeply learned ability to distinguish what is today held forth by some as “traditional” from the actual tradition. As she notes, Thomas Aquinas would certainly not compare the HHS mandate on contraception to Jewish dietary laws.
HuffPost has a slideshow of the most and least Catholic states in the Union, with Massachusetts leading the way and Tennessee coming in last. My home state of Connecticut came in at #4 and I was pleased that the photo they chose was of St. John's Church in Middletown, Connecticut, the first church in what is now the diocese of Norwich. I am not sure how these chose the photos though. I recognize a few of the churches, but very few. (h/t to Rocco)
No, not that SNAP! As the House debates the Farm Bill, the USCCB joined Catholic Relief Services and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference in a letter to chair and ranking members of the House Agricultural Committee, urging them not to support a proposed cut of $16 billion in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The letter praised proposals to increase funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program and for aid to the poorest countries. You can read the press release by clicking here.
For an in-depth look at the issue, check out this article at TNR by Amy Sullivan.
Class is everywhere these days. Not “class” as in “class act” but “class” as in “class struggle.” Yet, Americans remain reluctant to even employ the language that best fits the growing economic and cultural divides within this country. It is part of our national myth that our society is not and never has been hidebound by class distinctions the way, say, the Brits are. Our Constitution forbids titles of nobility. There are only two ways to gain membership in the House of Windsor, you must be born into it or you must marry into it. In America, we believe, anyone can make it to the top.
Robert P. Jones, in an article at HuffPost, shows how attitudes towards health care reform breakdown along racial and religious divides. One thing is clear from his findings: white evangelicals are getting bad information about the ACA. He reports only 1-in-5 white evangelicals think the law will lead to increased access. You may agree or disagree with the methods the ACA adopts to achieve increased access. There is not doubt it will increase access.
I did not attend the closing Mass at the Fortnight for Freedom, held at Washington's National Shrine. I did watch the video of Archbishop Chaput's homily and, as I wrote last week, his sermon was quite good. But, I missed something that happened at the end of the Mass. Archbishop William Lori asked the congregation to take out their I-phones or similar hand-held devices and to text the word "freedom" or "libertad" to the number he provided. You can see the video here.
The decision by the diocese of Arlington to require “fidelity oaths” from Sunday school teachers is deeply troubling. This morning’s Washington Post has the story. But, let me point out at the outset that the issue is troubling for both those who support the idea and those who oppose it.
To observe that Father John Zuhlsdorf is a crank is like observing that the sun rises in the East. You don't get points for stating the obvious.
But, at the end of this post, in which he rightly faults President Obama for his response to a question about the HHS mandate, Zuhlsdorf includes a fake poster showing, in a row, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao-Zedong, and Obama. This crosses the line, even for someone as off-kilter as Zuhlsdorf. Marx, of course, was a writer and thinker, not a politician, so he fits rather oddly with the quartet: In Moscow, after the collapse of communism, the statues of Lenin were hurled from their pedastals, but not the statue of Marx not far from Red Square. There, the inscribed motto was altered, and not by much, to read: "Workers of the World, I'm Sorry." But, Lenin was bloodthirsty. Mao was one of the great mass murders of the 20th century. To put Obama with them is so wrong, I don't know where to begin.
While most of us at NCR were breathing a sigh of relief over the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act, the Court's ruling regarding the expansion of Medicaid is troubling. Sort of. On legal grounds, I suspect the Court got it right - the idea that the federal government could withdraw already pledged funds to the states to entice those same states to sign on for the expansion of Medicaid runs counter to the ideas of federalism at the heart of the Constitution.
Those who are prone to conspiratorial explanations of phenomenon tend to be, well, a little bit crazy. And, their craziness is not only intellectual, it is moral.