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Tea Party Bites Boehner

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I almost feel sorry for Speaker of the House John Boehner. Almost. He brought a bill to the floor, a continuing resolution to fund the government while Congress works out the appropriations bills. The bill lost when 48 Republicans refused to sign on.

The Speaker needs to get his house in order. Or, in the alternative, he could reach out to enough Democrats to pass such basic, essential legislation. But, this latter course would require that he give something up, that he actually compromise and in today's Tea Party-ridden Republican Party, compromise is a very naughty word.

Catholic Identity

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Last night, a group of Catholic University students huddled around some candles and a sign that read, “Prayer Vigil for Troy Davis” on the sidewalk of the Pryzbyla Center, which serves as the campus’ student union. As his scheduled execution at 7 p.m. approached, the students took turns coming forward and extinguishing one of the candles. Finally, the last candle was extinguished. The students prayed silently. Some were in tears. They did not get the word of the last minute delay, as the Supreme Court considered granting a stay of execution. The students dispersed into the night.

If you want to know about “Catholic identity” at CUA, there it is: Prayer in the face of evil. Students, whose lives are not un-busy, taking time to express their solidarity with a man they did not know apart from the evident injustice of what was about to happen to him. Students overcoming all the noisy distractions of this noisiest of cultures, and finding, even creating, silence.

The End of Don't Ask/Don't Tell

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Not sure about you, but I feel safer already. Don't Ask/Don't Tell, the compromise policy, which was a step forward in its day, has officially ended. So, servicemen and women who happen to be gay, no longer have to worry about their personal lives being discovered and can better pay attention to their mission. Nor do they have to worry about being blackmailed by anyone. Nor do commanders have to worry about losing key staff at critical times.

I will venture the prediction that five years from now, people will have a hard time remembering what DADT was like. The military rose to the challenge of racial integration and it will rise to the occasion again. And, we will all be safer because of it not least because our values of equality and a decent respect for the privacy of others will be more fully enfleshed by consigning DADT to history.

Shoddy Reporting at The Hill

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John Feehery, a former Republican Capitol Hill staffer who now works for a Republican media outfit, has an article up at The Hill regarding the issue of conscience protections currently being formulated by the Department of Health & Human Services. He wonders why the Obama Administration would risk alienating Catholic swing voters.

That is a good question, but Feehery is not very good at reporting the issue. He writes: "At issue is a new government mandate that Catholic hospitals provide contraception services, a mandate that directly contravenes church teachings." No, actually, what is at issue is whether or not Catholic institutions, including colleges and universities, social service agencies, and hospitals too, would have to purchase insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraceptive services.

Habemus Papabile

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Today, at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI imposed the pallium on Cardinal Angelo Scola, the new Archbishop of Milan. This is a special vestment, worn only by metropolitan archbishops and worn only within their metropolitan province. Usually, the pallia are imposed on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul at a special Mass at St. Peter's in the Vatican. In earlier times, the pallia were imposed in an archbishop's cathedral. I asked a Vatican watcher what was the significance was of this special imposition of the pallium on Cardinal Scola and he emailed back "Habemus papam." That may be a bit excessive. But, we certainly habemus papabile.

MSW Replies to Fr. Komonchak

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It has taken me more time than I wished to respond to a query over at Commonweal from Father Joseph Komonchak about a post I wrote here at “Distinctly Catholic.” My original post, which can be found here, dealt with a recent speech by Archbishop Charles Chaput in which I faulted Chaput for gliding past some of the difficulties in his reading of the American founding.

One does not respond casually to a query from Fr. Komonchak who knows more about Vatican II than anyone I know. Additionally, I had to track down a specific book that I had lent someone because part of it was on point. But, in the event, the issue Fr. Komochak raised is perennial so the lack of timeliness does not diminish its import.

The question is twofold: Does the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Religious Liberty endorse the notion of freedom at the heart of the First Amendment? and, secondly, does the fact that we even have to ask the question make Pope Benedict squirm?

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