National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Distinctly Catholic

Why Your Vote Won't Matter


I do not doubt that there will be significant differences between a second term Obama administration and a first term Romney administration. But, barring some unforeseen event, it seems unlikely that either party will control the White House and both houses of Congress. The Democrats have an outside chance at taking the House. The Republicans have a better chance of taking the Senate, but no chance at getting a 60-vote majority in that body. Consequently, and sad to say, your vote won’t count this November.

The dysfunction in Washington is not only obvious, it is increasingly intractable. And, apart from the relative temperament of either party, the causes of this dysfunction are threefold and neither party seems inclined to do much about them.

Schonborn's Interview


Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, gave an interview to Vatican Insider that they have posted here. If your Italian is passable, read it in that language because the English translation is not very good.

The entire interview is interesting, but his remarks about homosexuality bear scrutiny. He considers it along side other things considered sexual sins, such a divorce and remarriage. This is not the Vatican line since 1986, which argued homosexuality was its own kind of sin, an "intrinsic disorder." That way of looking at it always seemed strange to me. The CDF seemed to be saying that homosexuality was not a specific act, like sex outside of marriage between two heterosexuals, nor was it like one of the seven deadly sins, to which all human beings are tempted, but an entirely new category of sin. It will be curious to see what kind of responses Schonborn gets.

Kudos to Gov. O'Malley


If there is one reason it is still worthwhile to be a Democrat it is because, when faced with a choice between gutting public investment in education and other vital needs of the commonwealth or raising taxes on the wealthy, Democrats opt to raise taxes. Yesterday, under pressure from Gov. Martin O'Malley, the Maryland state legislature voted to raise taxes and preserve the state's sense of its obligations to the poor and to the future.

The tax hike is hardly an enormous burden. It applies only to those individuals making more than $100,000 per year and, on average, amounts to about $745. That is on average, so it includes zillionaires - those making less than $250,000 will only pay about $300 more per year. On the other hand, the burden of closing schools, firing teachers, underfunding projects that assist the poor and the marginalized, is far greater.

No politician likes to raise taxes. Those with the courage to do so should be applauded.

Lori's Bizarre Sermon


These words from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, lept to my mind yesterday as I listened to newly installed Archbishop William Lori give the homily at his installation Mass:

Because the sermon is part of the liturgical service, the best place for it is to be indicated even in the rubrics, as far as the nature of the rite will allow; the ministry of preaching is to be fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity. The sermon, moreover, should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its character should be that of a proclamation of God's wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ, ever made present and active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.

Ratzinger's Faith: Part III


The Church is often portrayed as a stern moralizing agent, hurling anathemas against people, fixated on sin, especially sexual sin, and Joseph Ratzinger is also often portrayed as Exhibit A in that indictment. He did not earn the title der panzerkardinal for nothing, right?

But, as early as 1964, as Tracey Rowland points out in her book “Raztinger’s Faith,” which I have been examining the past few days, Ratzinger was concerned about the reduction of religion to ethics. Preaching to a group involved with student chaplaincy at the cathedral of Munster, Raztinger asked: “What is the real substance of Christianity that goes beyond mere moralism?”

Ratzinger's Faith: Part II


In continuing our examination of Tracey Rowland’s book, “Ratzinger’s Faith,” begun yesterday, we turn as she does to one the Second Vatican Council’s most emblematic documents, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, or Gaudium et Spes. Even the title of the document was novel: The document was not, like Lumen Gentium, a doctrinal constitution, but because the Council Fathers wanted to highlight its significance they devised this hybrid name, a pastoral constitution.

Worst Column (So Far) on Gay Marriage


Garry Wills takes to the online pages of the New York Review of Books, a venue that you would think might require some standards of cogent thought for publication, to make a very curious argument about same sex marriage. He suggests that the Catholic Church's view that marriage is a sacrament is simply a medieval "fiction." He makes this point by way of voicing his support for same sex marriage.

Hmmmmm. I can see that there is an argument, although not a Catholic argument, that there is no such thing as the development of doctrine and so the organic growth of the Church's teaching over the centuries is, per se, invalid. I can see, too, that there is a case to be made, although I have yet to see a convincing one so far, that the doctrine of the Church does develop and that such doctrine should now develop to encompass same-sex marriage. But, I cannot understand Wills' argument which seems to be that the only developments that are legitimate are those that end up agreeing with him. A magisterium of one, and on the pages of the New York Review. Who knew?


Subscribe to Distinctly Catholic


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.