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Boehner & The Bishops

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According to Politico, Speaker John Boehner does not yet have the votes to pass his plan to raise the debt ceiling, cut government spending, raise no new taxes, and leave the Pentagon budget almost completely untouched. Good.

Boehner's plan is awful, as the USCCB indicated in its letter to members of Congress. The bishops quite explicitly echoed President Obama's call for a balanced approach to the problem of the government's long-term fiscal health. "A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons," they wrote. "It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly."

The full text of the USCCB letter can be found here.

Amb. Melady on Abp Sambi's Passing

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Ambassador Thomas Melady, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See during the administration of President George H. W. Bush sent the following message to the freinds and colleagues of Archbishop Sambi:

To the Family of Archbishop Sambi,

My wife Margaret and I just learned in Santa Cruz, Spain, about the passing of Archbishop Sambi. We extend our condolences to his family and his colleagues at the Embassy of the Holy See in Washington. I have been in regular contact with him since his arrival in Washington. He soon became a dear friend; he cared for people. He was a superb Nuncio of the Holy See. He also understood the pluralistic nature of US society. His passing is a loss to both the Holy See and the United States.

Warm best wishes,

Thomas Patrick Melady
Senior Diplomat in Residence, The Institute of World Politics
Former U.S. Ambassador to
Burundi, Uganda and the Holy See
President Emeritus
Sacred Heart University

Hispanics Hit Hardest by Recession

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A recent Pew Study indicates that income disparities have grown as a result of the recession, and that Hispanics have been especially hard hit.
This is the kind of fact that President Obama and his re-election team should be focusing on like a laser beam. It touches on issues of unemployment and the pressing need for mortgage assistance. It requires government intervention.

Gehring Takes on R.R. Reno

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John Gehring, who writes at Faith in Public Life, has a takedown of R.R. Reno's recent essay in First Things that was, frankly, bizarre. Not just the run of the mill bizarre in these unbelievable times, but bizarre in ways that Dickens was able to lampoon. If only the poor would wear a tie, all would be well. Yeesh.
As Gehring notes, it is sad to see a once fine journal like First Things publish such an article. The fact that there are many varieties of poverty, and that there are links between them, is obvious and important, and it deserved a thoughtful treatment, not a collection of catch phrases.

The Iceberg Cometh

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Of course, the captain of the Titanic had been warned that there were icebergs in the area too. He declined to slow down the ship, so fixated on reaching New York in record time that he ignored the risks posed by the icebergs. His decision was more than unfortunate, it was criminal, because he was putting more than his ship at risk, he was putting the lives of hundreds of people at risk.

Watching the members of Congress discuss the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling last night, I couldn’t get the image from the movie “Titanic” out of my mind: the captain in his bridge as the water rises past the windows, and finally the pressure is too much, the water crashes through the windows, the captain is overwhelmed and drowned. The captain looked filled with sadness and self-pity as the scene unfolds, but I could muster no pity for him, reserving mine for the innocents outside the cabin who would also drown.

Card. George Hearts Sr. Carol

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During the health care debate, Cardinal George was a bit frosty towards the Catholic Health Association and its leader Sister Carol Keehan. But, in an interview with David Gibson over at Commonweal, Cardinal George had this to say:

"Sr. Carol Keehan is a very smart and a very dedicated lady. So she brings up things that are good for bishops to be aware of, because she’s much more involved in this. She understands insurance in ways that not many of us do, so what she says is very important.

Sen. Mike Lee: Tea Party Darling

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Senator Mike Lee from Utah, the Tea Party favorite who won his Senate seat last year by defeating a very conservative but not conservative enough Sen. Robert Bennett, was on the talk shows last night. In an appearance on Hannity, Sen. Lee referred to President Obama as "His Imperial Majesty." Lee is a young man, only forty years old, and watching him I realized that he is precisely the kind of obnoxious campaign operative that both parties produce. They say things like that in private, demeaning their opponents, evidencing a "win at all costs" approach to politics that is juvenile, as if they weren't good enough to make the football team so they put all their testosterone into political fights. I have encountered many such nasty operatives in Democratic circles, but it is really shocking to see someone on national television talking this way. Say what you want about Obama but there has been nothing imperial about his presidency and the man clearly has no pretensions to majesty.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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