The killing of Osama bin Laden has caused many people, already skeptical of America’s continued military engagement in Afghanistan, to start beating the drums for an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from that country. After all, now that we have the man behind the attacks of 9/11, and reports indicate that there are only 100 or so Al-Qaeda terrorists left in Afghanistan, what are we doing there?
Several Christian organizations have banded together to fund a radio ad running in Cong. Paul Ryan's district. They do not only challenge the Ryan budget from the standpoint of traditional social justice: They point out that it is distinctly anti-life.
"The Catholic Church has always been clear on the sanctity of life at all stages. As a pro-life Catholic, Congressman Paul Ryan ought to know this," Father Thomas Kelly says in the ad. Father Kelly is a resident of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, in Rep. Ryan’s district. "But the budget he authored and Republicans in Congress recently passed abandons those pro-life principles by depriving vulnerable children, seniors and families of healthcare and economic support they need to put food on the table during hard times. When it comes to being pro-life, actions speak louder than words."
Our friends at Vox Nova have jumped into the fray regarding Speaker Boehner's upcoming commencement address at Catholic University. They ably demolish Father Sirico and Kathryn Jean Lopez's objections to the letter signed by many Catholic academics.
You have to admire the bravery of CUA Professors Stephen Schneck and Vincent Miller for going on the Bill O'Reilly show last night to discuss the letter that many Catholic academics signed encouraging Speaker John Boehner to do a better job lining up his policies with Catholic social teaching, especially as regards funding for the programs that aid the poor.
Unsurprisingly, O'Reilly drew false distinctions about the difference between "advanced capitalist countries" and "quasi-Socialist" countries, and he outright lied about the letter being unsigned by any bishops: I am told by the people who initiated this letter that it came from academics exclusively and no bishops were asked to sign it.
But, O'Reilly's foolishness cannot go unanswered, and it is a rare breed of man or woman who relishes the idea of dealing with the idiot pugilists at Fox. Hats off to Schneck and Miller for standing up to this blowhard and explicitly demonstrating the moral neccesity of protecting the poor in budgetary decisions.
The scenes of devastation along the mighty Mississippi are heartbreaking: The farms that have been inundated with flood waters to spare a city, the homes, all of them poorer, too close to the river and in danger of being swept away, the reigniting of flooding fears in New Orleans and that most haunting question that city ever faces, “Will the levee hold?” Coming so soon after an unprecedented number of tornados swept through the South just a few weeks ago, leaving death and destruction in their wake, this new crisis shows once again how vulnerable we human beings are.
After disasters such as the flooding and the tornados strike, of course, people need help. Much of the immediate assistance is local: Firemen and EMTs rush to evacuate people from homes threatened by the onrushing waters of the flood or pick through the debris left by a tornado, looking for survivors and getting them to a hospital. The Red Cross flies in supplies. State troopers work with local law enforcement to prevent looting. Local churches and union halls become makeshift shelters for the displaced.
John Gehring weighs in on the controversy surrounding the letter sent to Boehner by a group of prominent Catholic academics at the blog of Faith in Public Life. You can read Gehring's incisive comments here.
In commenting on my post yesterday, reacting to the letter sent to Speaker John Boehner by a group of Catholic academics, CatholicCulture.org has this to say: "Thus the argument that Boehner’s appearance at Catholic University is similar to Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame relies on the preposterous suggestion that cutting taxpayer support for welfare programs is as morally offensive as forcing taxpayer support for the destruction of unborn children."
Excuse me? What precisely did President Obama do in the way of "forcing taxpayer support for the destruction of unborn children"? This is a canard. Even when pro-life groups could not convince enough Senators to support the Stupak Amendment as part of the health care overhaul, President Obama signed an executive order essentially applying the Stupak restrictions to the new bill.
And, while we are at it, yes, programs that help pregnant women help prevent the destruction of unborn children. What precisely have the Republicans accomplished to protect the unborn?
One of the reasons the Catholic bishops and the Holy See need to stick to the Dallas norms, and remove from office those bishops who do not comply with the norms, is that until the Church really has the sex abuse crisis behind us, it will haunt even the most unrelated activities of Catholic priests.
So, the newly nominated House chaplain, Father Patrick Conroy, S.J., has found himself at the center of a dust-up because he is a member of the Northwest Province of the Society of Jesus which recently entered into a multi-million dollar settlement with victims of clergy sex abuse. There is no indication that Father Conroy had anything to do with the abuse, with the settlement, certainly not with any cover-up, but the mere fact of his association with the Northwest Jesuits has evidently caused people to take a second look at his nomination.
This is crazy, and the craziness will continue as long as there is any sense that the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are not doing all they can to guarantee that children will be safe when they come to Church.
The Tea Party was going to "take our country back," remember? And their followers (they are not really leaders, are they) got to Congress and tried to change the political landscape in fundamental ways. And, they got to Congress, many of them, by warning about the dangers of "socialized medicine" which was never a very accurate way to describe the Health Care reform law President Obama passed but which sure sounded ominous.
So, it was not surprising that when they had the chance, they went after one of the biggest targets in the budget, Medicare, and sought to change it into a voucher program. After all, Medicare actually is socialized medicine. What evidently did surprise them was the discovery that older Americans - indeed, all Americans - actually like socialized medicine and don't want the GOP messing with Medicare.
I wonder: What is it about us Catholics that we seem to be the only ones arguing about graduation speakers this time of year? There are two answers to this question and both speak well of Catholicism.
First, a secular university can live by its own lights, but a Catholic university must conform to both the methods and norms of a modern university and to the life and faith of the Catholic Church. This makes Catholic institutions of higher learning far more interesting than their secular counterparts, more resistant to fads, the kind of place where a reductionist or a megalomaniac or a poseur will fund a bump in his road and be exposed or frustrated in his ambitions. The interplay between faith and reason, and I would add, the access to truths that are only available within a committed faith life, these enrich Catholic universities immeasurably. They also breed controversy, in the best sense of the word.