Yesterday, President Obama spoke at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. News accounts have focused on his announcement of new sanctions against Syria and Iran regarding their use of new technologies to further their repressive aims. The President also announced the establishment of an Atrocities Prevention Board, that will serve senior government officials across many bureaucratic jurisdictions, to alert them to pending challenges and articulate policy responses to horror. All to the good.
My review of Ross Douthat's new book - "Bad Religion: How We Became a nation of Heretics" - has been posted this morning at The New Republic.
Notre Dame historian Scott Appleby gave an interview on the LCWR investigation. Appleby is one of the nation's leading historians and his words are always worth listening to. Here is a link to the video.
The United States Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments this week in the case Arizona v. United States. At issue is Arizona’s anti-immigration law, known as S. B. 1070, which requires police officers to ascertain the legal status of those they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally.
There are a variety of legal reasons why the Court can and should strike down the law. For obvious reasons, immigration policy is a federal, not a state, issue. If Arizona can find legal justification for police action that effectively creates a second juridical border, what is to keep California from pulling down the barriers that exist along its border with Mexico? Federal immigration law is enough of a mess without further complicating the issue by permitting all fifty states to enact their own separate provisions.
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has weighed in to support the USCCB's concerns about the Ryan budget. First, in their "Common Good Forum," this week, they published an essay by Nick Cafardi that is well worth the read.
Today, they issued a press release on the subject. The text follows:
Fred Rotondaro, Chair of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, an organization of lay Catholics committed to traditional Catholic social teaching, issued the following statement on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ letters to members of Congress regarding the budget, and on Speaker John Boehner’s and Cong. Paul Ryan’s responses:
I think Ed Kilgore, at the New Republic, is mostly right when he indicates that most evangelical leaders will dutifully line up behind the candidacy of Mitt Romney, their concern for the issues trumping their doubts about his unorthodox doctrinal beliefs. But, most is not all. Kilgore fails to mention the deep fear harbored by some evangelical pastors about the legitimacy a Romney presidency would confer upon Mormonism. Those evangelical churches that are deeply engaged in missionary work in Lein America and Africa will be especially conscious of this danger because in those parts of the world, evangelicals are in direct competition with Mormons for converts.
I confess my bias, but Professor David Schindler, of the John Paul II Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family, is the best, most incisive, smartest theologian in the United States. There are not many books that have literally changed my life, but his book "Heart of the World; Center of the Church," changed my life, opening avenues of reflection i did not know existed.
In the current issue of Communio, Schindler has an essay that looks at the religious liberty debate. With his typical grasp of the theological implications that tend to remain opaque to the rest of us, Schindler exposes a principal difficulty with the USCCB's embrace of the religious liberty issue: Our nation's negative conception of freedom possesses a hidden metaphysics that simply does not square with Catholic anthropology.
Cong. Paul Ryan is a politician, not a theologian, and complaining that politicians are not theologically sound is a little like complaining that carrots are not purple. Seek joy where joy may be found.
In this instance, however, Cong. Ryan chose to justify his budget proposals as consistent with Catholic moral teaching. He could have said, as Churchill did, “The Sermon on the Mount is the last word in Christian ethics. Everyone respects the Quakers. Still, it is not on these terms that Ministers assume their responsibilities of guiding states.” Instead, Ryan asserted that, mindful of the principle of subsidiarity and his strange understanding of the “preferential option for the poor,” his economic proposals amounted to the Catholic baptism of Hayek and von Mises. The lion had lain down with the lamb.
Over at Mirror of Justice, Rick Garnett responds to the Commonweal editorial on religious freedom. I would differ from Garnett's fine essay in only one regard: He refers often to "the bishops" and how they do not want to be partisan and how their statement should not beunderstood in partisan terms. This is mostly true. Sadly, there are some bishops who really are Obama-haters, their hatred clouds their judgment, and too often they can hijack the entire debate in ways that are unhelpful. Additionally, there are other bishops who are too quick to listen to people like Mary Ann Glendon or Robbie George, neither of whom are unclean when it comes to partisan politics. Overall, "the bishops" are not engaged in a partisan enterprise, but some are only too delighted if their legitimate concerns about religious liberty were to make it more likely Obama was defeated in November.
The Public Religion Research Institute released a new study today based on their extensive surveys of Millenials, those aged 18-24. You can find the survey info here.
Politically, what jumps out at me is not only that Obama leads by a healthy margin 7 point margin over a generic GOP candidate (and in many polls, a generic Republican does better than a specific one). The bigger fact is that the Millenials themselves are changing demographically in ways that bode well for the long term future of the Democrats: 57% of Millenials self-identify as white compared to 72% of the overall population.
The other fascinating thing is that a slim majority (51%) of Millenials believe abortion is morally wrong, compared to only 37% who think it is morally acceptable. But, a larger majority, 54%, think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. The Millenials, then, are not afraid of making moral judgments for themselves but are much more wary of making such judgments for others. This trend is even more pronounced on the issue of same-sex marriage.