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Countdown on Conscience

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This is the final week in which the Department of Health and Human Services is accepting comments from the public on its proposed new rule regarding mandated coverage in insurance programs. The mandate would require insurance plans to include coverage for contraception, sterilization and some drugs that are considered abortifacients. As regular readers know, I have been making the case since the day the rule was announced that the conscience exemption it contained was far too narrow. I encourage everyone to make your voices heard this week as well.

WaPo Half Right in Cain

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An article in today's Washington Post bears the deadline, "Cain speaks his mind, no matter how impolitic." The article mentions some of Mr. Herman Cain's more unfortunate verbal gaffes over the past few months, as when he said he would not be comfortable having a Muslim in his Cabinet, a statement he has since walked back.

It is true that Mr. Cain's verbal miscues are problematic. No one cares what the CEO of Godfather's Pizza thinks about Muslims really, but people can die when government leaders make outrageous statements that understandably inflame passions abroad.

Protecting the Elderly: All Hands on Deck

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On September 18, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston delivered a powerful sermon at the Red Mass in his see city. The Red Mass is an event held in many cities, dating back to the Middle Ages, at which the bishop calls down the Holy Spirit on the assembled members of the judiciary and the legal profession as they begin their new term. The exquisite Sainte-Chapelle was the site of the annual Mass in Paris.

O’Malley chose the occasion, appropriately enough, to address the recent decision by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakely to allow a proposed referendum on euthanasia to begin soliciting signatures so that it can be put on the ballot in the Bay State. The sermon is worth reading in toto, and you can do so by clicking here, but I want to focus on one passage specifically:

Today, many people fear the prospect of a protracted period of decline at the end of life. They fear experiencing pain, losing control, lingering with dementia, fear of being abandoned, fear of becoming a burden on others.

Hahn Interviews Card. George

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Over at RealClearReligion, they have an interview with Cardinal Francis George on the occasion of the publication of his new book "Gos in Action." The interviewer, Nicholas Hahn, does a good job getting the cardinal to flesh out his ideas.

My favorite quote:

You've got to have met God. Religion doesn't start with a set of laws or rules and it doesn't start with a set of ideas. It starts with an encounter, with the living God and in our case, Christ risen from the dead. In that encounter you meet someone you can trust. That's faith: trust in truth. But then you've got the obligation to keep searching for the truth of the faith so that your life is oriented in a way that is consistent with the faith. The trust is a matter of love and faith is a matter of truth. The two together give you the guidance that you look for.

More on Catholic Identity, Ellen Goodman & St. Francis University

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The controversy over St. Francis University's decision to dis-invite Ellen Goodman from speaking on campus because of her pro-choice stance continues to simmer. At Faith in Public Life, John Gehring takes on the "witch hunt" mentality that seems to animate the Cardinal Newman Society.

And, NCR has obtained a copy of a letter sent to the President of St. Francis University by one of their alumni, Matt Ussia. Here is the text:

Fr. Zeis,

Polling Data on Evolution & Climate Change

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The Public Religion Research Institute, one of the few polling outfits that actually focuses on how different religious groups view public policy issues, has a fascinating new survey out that examines attitudes towards evolution and climate change. You can find the summary of the survey here.

Catholics come out looking prettty, well, sane in the survey. We are among the least likely to doubt the findings of science while white evangelicals are the most likely to view science with hostility. Mind - there is a type of lazy intellectualism that endorses not science but scientism, the idea that every human problem has a scientific answer. I would like to see the good folks at RPPI do a survey that looks less at particular issues like evolution and looks more at this fundamental attitude of believers towards science. There is plenty of hubris among the anti-religious exponents of scientism as well as among the fundamentalists.

The Cain Mutiny

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Herman Cain’s surprise win at the Florida straw poll was not that much of a surprise. But, it told us a lot about the state of the GOP nominating contest and about the shape of the Republican Party. The result is more significant than the paltry coverage would suggest – at Politico.com’s homepage this morning, Cain’s win barely got a mention.

No one should have been completely surprised by Cain’s showing. Before the straw poll, many experts thought that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s weak showing in last week’s debate might hurt him but few suggested he would get shellacked. Cain won 37% to Perry’s 15 percent. This result tells us more about Perry than it does about Cain: the Texas governor is quickly turning into this year’s Fred Thompson, the candidate who comes in with expectations he cannot fulfill.

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