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Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is the first American holiday. The Pilgrims banned the celebration of Christmas and the 4th of July was not yet a significant date. The revelry of New Year’s was not a part of the Puritan regimen and they had not invented football yet. But, for all the nasty consequences the Puritans imparted to our culture, they deserve a nod of, well, thanks, for providing a nice story that has become iconic in America’s self-narrative.

Growing up, Thanksgiving meant going to my grandmother’s house for dinner. It was her day to host the family and the meal, especially the gravy, was always perfect. I was not yet a cook myself, so I did not know then what I have come to learn, that Thanksgiving dinner is an enormously complicated meal to cook and that only a person who has had a child pass through her loins has the innate managerial capacity to make eight dishes, all of them hot, come to the table at the same time.

NJ Bishops on Poverty

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The Catholic bishops of New Jersey have issued a statement on poverty that highlights, very concisely, both Catholic teaching on poverty and their immediate plans to combat it.

They are establishing four task forces to look at what practical steps can be taken to alleviate poverty. These kinds of practical steps can only be taken, of course, because the Church, through its various ministries, knows a great deal about poverty. It is heartwarming to see that the bishops are not merely issuing pious words but are taking practical steps to follow the Master's call to serve the poor. Hats off to the high hats in the Garden State.

(h/t to Rocco.)

NY Archdiocese Joins Wage Rally

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Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, attended a rally yesterday in support of higher wages. Sullivan read a letter from Archbishop Timothy Dolan that said, in part, "The church supports fair wages with decent benefits and jobs in sufficient numbers, so that all might find work." The archdiocese has not come out in support of any specific legislative proposal, but as the article linked to above indicates, non-Catholics from the unions and from the NAACP grasped the significance of the Church's support for their goals.

Let's hope the White House is as astute as the unions and the NAACP.

2012 Comes Early

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2012 came early this year. With the collapse of the negotiations in the Not-So-Super Committee, the outline of the 2012 election is now set. The voter’s will focus on three, and possibly four, things next year. First, President Obama’s record. Second, the suitability of whomever ends up as the GOP nominee. Third, and most importantly, voters will face a choice about how to deal with the nation’s finances.

Mark Silk on Donohue's KC Fixation

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Mark Silk, at Spiritual Politics, asks why Bill Donohue is so intent on defending the indefensible behavior of Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn. I can't answer that question and, in the event and as is to be expected from Silk, he meticulously lays out the case why Donohue's confidence appears misplaced.

But, I wonder if even Donohue will be able to stomach this report from the Kansas City Star's court reporter, Mark Morris, that indicates the diocese has filed notice that it may present an affirmative defense in the case, namely, that the pornographic photos on Father Ratigan's computer were constitutionall protected. Huh? Bishop Finn, you may recall, issued his first pastoral letter on the subject of pornography. He is opposed to it. But, the lawyers for the diocese have now stated, in a formal court filing, that they may avail themselves of the argument that pronography is constitutionally protected? Yeesh.

Obama's Choice

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President Obama has returned from his trip to Asia and he faces a major decision, actually two of them. The first decision is the more easily grasped: He must decide whether or not to enlarge the conscience exemption for religiously based organizations regarding mandated coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients under the Affordable Care Act.

An article in yesterday’s New York Times reported that a group of congressional Democrats had two conference calls last week with highly placed White House staffers. The congressional Democrats urged the White House not to enlarge the exemption. According to the Times,

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, said: “It just doesn’t make sense to take this benefit away from millions of women. Americans of all religious faiths overwhelmingly support broad access to birth control.”

Silk Looks at Religious Voting Patterns in Iowa

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The GOP contest continues to be characterized by flux, but over at Spiritual Politics, Mark Silk looks at the crosstabs of a recent poll that breaks down the Iowa GOP electorate by religion. The numbers that jumps out at me: Romney continues to struggle with born-agains, who make up a whopping 47% of the GOP electorate in Iowa, while doing slightly better among Catholics than the general population, Ron Paul has a lock on self-described secularists, and Michele Bachmann seems unable to garner any Catholic support. Has she not been going to eastern Iowa?

Moses Replies to MSW

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Paul Moses of Commonweal has replied to my post this morning about conscience.
He writes, "You neglect to mention here that my Commonweal post starts by saying that I support the point the bishops are making. But if you need a straw man to make your argument, go right ahead."

I did neglect to mention that fact. I also neglected to mention the fact that Mr. Moses teaches journalism at Brooklyn College and SUNY Graduate School of Journalism. This "neglect" occured because neither fact had anything to do with the point I was making, a point that Mr. Moses fails to engage. And, why would he? After all, it is not me with whom he would have to wrestle, but John Henry Newman.

Consequently, I deny making Mr. Moses into a strawman. Instead, I stick by my assertion that there is a type of liberal Catholic, of which he has made himself an example, that confuses conscience rights in the public sphere with the role of conscience within the Church.

\"Without Sunday, we cannot live.\"

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Cardinal Sean O'Malley OFM Cap, the Archbishop of Boston, has issued a pastoral letter on attending Sunday Mass. Apart from his slur against Irish cooking, which is funny but no longer precise, at least not in this Irishman's kitchen as the cardinal has reason to remember, the letter should be read in its entirety. This is the passage that most jumped out at me:

The Eucharist is Jesus’ great gift to us, and the fulfillment of His promise to be with us always until the end of time. It is a central part of God’s saving plan of infinite love for us.

Many Catholics today seem to take the gift of the Sunday Mass for granted. It is a great sadness to me as spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of Boston to note that, on any given Sunday, so many Catholics choose to be absent from Mass. It was not that long ago that almost all Catholics went to Sunday Mass unless they were sick or incapacitated.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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