National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Distinctly Catholic

People - Laugh!


From some of the comments I see lately, I find it worthwhile to recall the words of Father Gillis: Whom the gods would make bigots, they first deprive of humor.

E.g., no, I am not really going to pay people a dollar to read something other than Abp Chaput's new book. That is a joke, not a lie nor a mean-spirited remark, albeit I confess it is a little snarky. Abp Chaput's views on church-state matters are well known and my disagreement with those views is also well known. I am told that the Abp himself has a good sense of humor and I hope that his acolytes will try to develop one too.

Who Is This Guy?


At the New York Times, Gary Gutting, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame, has an essay asking if it matters whether or not God exists. This reminds me of the old joke in which a commissar in the late 1920s asks a Russian Orthodox priest why he is rushing. "To go to church," says the priest. "Come with me." The commissar explains that he cannot go because he does not believe in God. The priest asks him why he does not believe in God. The commissar replies, "Because Lenin did not believe in God." The priest drily replies, "He does now."

We have seen Mr. Gutting before. Back in February he penned an article for the same series in the NYTimes in which he mangled the entire idea of ecclesial authority with an ignorance of religion that I found shocking - even for the NYTimes.

Friendly Advice to USCCB


Two news items, both of them good news, lead me to conclude that it is time to offer some friendly advice to our friends at the USCCB. First, yesterday the USCCB released the text of a letter from Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Gomez to Speaker John Boehner on the need for immigration reform. Second, a small item in this morning’s Washington Post notes that in many states, although not all, the “anti-sharia law” movement is dead or drying.

Pope to Cuba Vigil


I remain when Pope John Paul II went to Cuba vividly - and so do you, although it might have slipped your mind. I had been at work all day and not seen any television. I listened to nice music on the drive home, hoping to catch "Nightline" - the night before Ted Koppel had announced he would be traveling to Havana the next morning to cover the trip. So, I got home, let the dog out, turned on the TV and Koppel was back in his NYC studio. There were no palm trees in the back. Unbeknownst to me, that very day, the world was introduced to Ms. Monica Lewinsky and any interest in John Paul meeting Castro took a back seat.

Let's all hope there is no repeat!

Warning for Dems in Pew Survey


The headlines about the Pew Survey focus on the fact that Americans still tend to prefer their religion in one part of their lives and politics in another, just as some people keep their vegetables on one side of the plate and their meat on the other. There has been since the founding a sometimes subtle, sometimes not, tussle between America's secular governmental system and the deep religiosity of American culture and society.

But, there is a clear warning for the Obama Administration and Democrats generally in the Pew data: They state:

Opinions about whether the Obama administration is friendly toward religion have shifted modestly since 2009. Currently, 39% say the administration is friendly to religion, 32% say it is neutral and 23% say it is unfriendly. The balance of opinion was comparable in August 2009, although somewhat fewer (17%) said the administration was unfriendly to religion.

The Ryan Budget: The Law of the Jungle


The budget proposals put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, present, as his “Path to Prosperity” text states, a choice between two futures for the nation. And, let us stipulate at the outset, that Ryan is both sincere and correct when he bemoans the current inability of Washington to courageously address the nation’s fiscal issues. But, in this case, the remedy is worse than the disease because the future for America that Ryan’s budget paints is a vicious future in which the rich get richer, the poor and the marginalized are left to fend for themselves, vulnerable seniors are given vouchers, not health care, and – most disturbingly for Catholics – the common good is entirely set aside in the name of freedom.

Maciel's Ghost Stalks Benedict in Mexico


This story from the Associated Press will, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Santorum, make you want to throw up. A new book details that the Vatican received information about Father Maciel's crimes more than 50 years ago. (h/t to Rocco!)

I do want to point out one thing however. The article does not implicate Benedict in the cover-up but it leaves open the possibility. That possibility should be foreclosed. As head of the CDF, then-Cardinal ratzinger conducted the investigation of Maciel and then the apartment did nothing with it. Cardinals Sodano and Dziwicz have some answering to do but not Pope Benedict.

Silk on Illinois, Evangelicals and GOP


Mark Silk looks at the relative moderation of suburban Chicago evangelicals - think Willow Creek - compared to some of the fire-breathing fundamentalists that Santorum chose to hang out with this past week. The question is whether the fire-breathers will come around in November or the combination of Romney moderation and his Mormonism will suggest they should go fishing on election day.


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.