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The Embarrassment of Weiner's Friends

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Bad enough that now ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner embarrassed himself so publicly. But, last night on the “Ed Show” on MSNBC the indefatigable leftie host and his guests were at pains to defend Weiner. This morning in the New Republic my friend John Judis also casts aspersions on those Democrats who failed to rally around Weiner. I am all for personal loyalty, but this is ridiculous.

It is true that Weiner, so far as we know, broke no laws. And, if the scandal had not involved photos, he might have survived, as Sen. Vitter from Louisiana survived revelations that he had purchased the affections of prostitutes, which is actually against the law.

Southern Baptists Back \"Path to Citizenship\"

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In a move that no doubt reflects the rising number of evangelical Latinos swelling their ranks, the Southern Baptist Convention, long one of the most conservative religious bodies in the country, endorsed a resolution calling for undocumented workers to be given a "path to citizenship" as a part of comprehensive immigration reform.

"I think Southern Baptists understand it’s just not politically viable to send an estimated 12 to 15 million undocumented immigrants back where they came from," Rev. Paul Jimenez, chairman of the SBC’s resolutions committee, told The Associated Press. "It’s not humane either."

Here is some political cover for any Republican presidential candidate who wants to re-frame the immigration debate along the lines long suggested by former President George W. Bush. It is political suicide to alienate the fastest growing demographic in the country over the long haul, but it may be immediate political suicide to tackle the issue in the GOP primaries. It will take courage to do so. Let's see if any such courage is forthcoming.

Debating Faithful Citizenship

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What happened to the debate on “Faithful Citizenship” at the USCCB meeting in Seattle? Perhaps, dealing with the Dallas Charter was enough contentiousness for one meeting. But, the debate on Faithful Citizenship will happen and it is vital that the bishops get it right.

Faithful Citizenship is the statement the bishops issue every four years before a national election. It examines the principal moral issues facing the nation. It speaks to the need for Catholics to form their consciences, not just invoke them. The document continues to articulate the Church’s on-going concern for human life, dignity, justice and peace. Taken in toto, it is a fine document and the USCCB has developed a bunch of catechetical aids for pastors, teachers and parents, all available at a very well done website.

How We Are Viewed: Press Edition

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It is always a good thing for a culture to consider how it is viewed by others. What do Europeans, or the Chinese, or the Canadians, really think of us Americans? This is true for the press too.

I have now come across a French website that looks at the press, including the American press, written by Antoine de Tarle, long-time editor of L'Ouest France and former president of French Catholic Television. Let me confess a bias. I met Antoine in the early 1990s and whenever he is in Washington, we go to Mass and break bread. He is a lovely man but, more importantly for blog readers, he is an endlessly perceptive man. Check out his site.

Forgiveness & Sex Abuse

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Over at USAToday, Cathy Grossman has a post asking whether or not priests who abuse children should be forgiven and what that forgiveness implies for their return to ministry. She notes that retired Archbishop of Anchorage Frank Hurley asked this very question of his brother bishops. In his remarks, he suggested that returning priests to ministry should be a goal of the reconciliation process.

Archbishop Hurley is, to be sure, one of the most delightful people to ever wear a miter, but he could scracely be more wrong on this. Of course, all Christians are called to forgive those who trespass against them, and I suspect that a victim of child sex abuse will only be able to find healing in his or her own life when they can forgive those who abused them. But, such forgiveness has nothing to do with the sad fact that there is no cure for the abusers. They must be removed from ministry forever. Period.

APP Wants Gold Standard Back

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The American Principles Project, founded by conservative Catholic scholar Robbie George, has a new pet project. Politico reports that the organization is pushing a return to the Gold Standard.

On the organization's website, we read: "The United States of America does not need new principles. It needs renewed fidelity to the principles set forth in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These are timeless principles: truths that we hold, in Jefferson's immortal words, to be, 'self-evident.' They are, moreover, universal principles, not the historically contingent beliefs or customs of a particular sect or clan or tribe."

Libya & the War Powers Act

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The NATO intervention in Libya has brought on a new episode of an old series: Debate about the War Powers Act and the constitutional authority to make war. The debate is interesting in several regards because it tends to cut across the usual lines of partisan, and even ideological, divides.

The most valuable aspect of the debate is that it demonstrates clearly the limits of constitutional originalism of the kind advocated by Justice Antonin Scalia and others. For most of American history, there was no question about where the authority to make war lay in our polity: Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress has the power to declare war and no one else. The founders were very concerned that lodging such an enormous power in a solitary executive officer would grant that individual too much power. And, because the chief magistrate is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, such a concentration of power in his hand might invite tyranny of a kind that has long been a scourge upon humanity, a ruling junta.

A \"socialist\" Archbishop?

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In Minnesota, like many states, the Catholic Church has asked state governments not to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor. The scriptural source for this stance is, well the whole message of the Gospels speaks of compassion for the poor, but most specifically, the 25th Chapter of teh Gospel of St. Matthew: Whatever you do for these the least of your brethren, you do for me."

But, David Hann, a Republican State Senator who is the assistant majority leader of the Minnesota State Senate has discerned a socialist agenda at work in the Church's position. In a letter to Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul, Hann accused the archbishop of endorsing a "socialist fiction."

I am guessing that Archbishop Nienstedt does not, in fact, have a well-thumbed copy of Das Kapital on his bookshelves.

Just when you think you've seen crazy, you discover something even crazier.

Romney's Problem with Conservatives

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Sahil Kapur at the New Republic has a post about conservative attempts to derail Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. It is curious that it is not only social conservatives who are suspicious of Romney's conversion to a pro-life stance, but the laissez-faire dogmatists who are attacking Romney. This is the essential problem he faces: A GOP primary electorate that is all wigged up will have a hard time getting enthusiastic about a man whose entire demeanor, to say nothing of his record, bespeaks a more moderate, centrist approach to governance.

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April 11-24, 2014

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