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Good Questions From Kevin Clarke

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Over at America, Kevin Clarke asks why the John Jay Report draws a line in the sand at age ten in defining pedophilia, when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for the American Psychiatric Association draws the distinction as "pre-pubescent" or "generally age 13 or younger."
I hope the John Jay Report authors can explain their choice of where to draw the line.
It is easier to answer Clarke's second question. For reasons known to him alone, Bill Donohue and a few others have made a lot over the fact that mostr of the sexual abuse cases are not, they contend, strictly speaking pedophilia but ephebophilia, that is, abusing a teenager rather than a child. I have never seen the value of drawing such a distinction. 11 years old and 14 years old are both too young to be having sex and the idea of a priest, who is at least going to be 26 or older, engaging in sex with anyone under the age of consent strikes me as engaging in pedophilia. And, no matter what you call it, it was wrong. Donohue's attempt to draw his distinction just muddies the waters.

Good News/Bad News

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Conservative Republican Senator Tom Coburn has pulled out of the "Gang of Six" negogiations in the Senate which were aimed at finding a solution to the nation's long-term deficit problems. The bad news is that, once again, the politicians in Washington have been unable to fashion the kind of compromise that is required. The good news is that today's GOP is tilted so far to the right that any compromise would not be anywhere near the center.
The way to solve the long-term deficit problem is for both parties to articulate their approaches, with definite plans, and run on those plans in the 2012 election. Let the voters decide. Of course, the voters might just render a mixed and muddled verdict. Voters tend to do that. But, the current negotiations are being conducted by two parties that both over-interpreted their mandates, the Dems in 2008 and the GOP in 2010. And, in the nature of such negotiations, I fear that the Dems will cave more than the GOP.

Clearing Up Any Confusion

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A thoughtful reader sent me an email regarding my analogy in my morning post between the sex abuse crisis in the Church and Danny Goldhagen's book about the Shoah. My point was not that the Catholic laity bear some of the responsibility for the sex abuse crisis. The hierarchy owns this one. My point is that we should not look only to impersonal forces like institutional culture in assessing blame but must remember that actual persons both committed these crimes and covered them up. At any time, the members of the hierarchy could, and some did, stand up and say, "No" we are not going to handle this the way we have in the past.

Lay Oversight Is Not the Answer

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Sometimes, I feel like a conservative Catholic. This is one of those times. With the combination of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s circular letter to the world’s bishops on clergy sex abuse and the forthcoming report from the John Jay College researchers into the sex abuse crisis, I anticipate, and have already begun to witness, much foolishness. Perhaps it is because I lurk in leftie circles that I witness more of the foolishness there. I am sure there will many silly things said on the right, too.

Stewart v. O'Reilly

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When Jon Stewart goes on Bill O'Reilly's show, you can be sure the result will be entertaining. At issue was O'Reilly's obsession with the fact that rapper Common was part of a White House poetry event, despite the fact that he has spoken out on behalf of two individuals he believes were falsely convicted of killing policement.
Of course, by O'Reilly's standards, no one who has taken a controversial position fruaght with moral significance, should be invited to the White House. My question: What about those who lived there? For example, Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner who begat children from one of his slaves. Which is worse, raising the possibility that someone might be falsely accused in a criminal proceeding or owning other human beings? We know that some of our greatest presidents such as FDR and JFK had affairs? Is that not worse than thinking a jury might have gotten it wrong?
In any event, here is the link to the video.

NY-26 & Paul Ryan

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Congressman Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin, so his name is not on the ballot in next week's special election in New York's 26th congressional district. (This is the seat vacated by the married congressman, whose name we have all forgotten, who got caught shirtless in a photo on a dating website.) But, Ryan's proposals to gut Medicare are all over the airwaves, as Jonathan Chait points out over at TNR.
Most alarming? The GOP is running an ad claiming that the "Democrats want to cut Medicare." I suppose "cut" is not exactly what the GOP, following Ryan, wants to do to Medicare. They want to gut it, not cut it.

Gingrich's Account at Tiffany's

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Below, I commented on what I perceive to be a lack of self-discipline in former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. I was referring to his manner of speaking. Well, according to Politico, sometimes Gingrich listened once too many times to the ad and he "said it with diamonds." Politico reports that he and his wife had an outstanding debt of close to half a million dollars at Tiffany's. I suppose this nixes any chance he had at going for the Bubba vote on the basis of shared cultural affinities.

Medicaid Cuts & Subsidiarity

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[Note to readers: I apologize for the delay. I always try to post by initial blog entry by 9 a.m. but we lost power at my home this morning and it only came back on at 9 a.m.]
Much of the criticism of Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposals has focused on his plan to convert Medicare from a guaranteed benefit program to a privatized, voucher system. I agree with the criticism but also wish the critics would go further, point out that Medicare actually is “socialized medicine,” argue forcefully that there are certain things, such as the human dignity of the aged, that should not be left to the vagaries of the market, and make the always salient point that abstract economic theories should not trump immediate human needs in the allocation of societal and government resources.

Mater et Magistra Conference

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This week, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is holding a conference in Rome on Blessed Pope John XXIII's encyclical "Mater et Magistra" and what it means today in an era of globalization. It is good to remember that that encyclical was the occasion for the first instance of notabel public dissent from Church teaching by a prominent layman, when William Buckley's National Review ran an article entitled "Mater, Si, Magistra, No."

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July 18-31, 2014

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