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Dem & GOP Moderates

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This morning's Washington Post has an article about Maine's two "moderate" GOP senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. The designation "moderate" affixes to them, as it does to other GOP politicians like Massachusetts Sen. Scoot Brown when they break with their party's orthodoxy. But, they do not break with the GOP on taxes or budgetary matters that might put them closer in tune with Catholic social teaching, they break with the GOP's commitment to the unborn.
Conversely, when you think of what earns a Democrat the title "moderate" it is usually because they do adopt a pro-life position.

Obama's Forebearance & the Photos

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In defending his decision not to release photographs of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, President Obama noted that there was no need to display that corpse like a trophy, that America had no need to spike the football.

The President’s forebearance is exceedingly counter-cultural. We live to spike the football in the end zone. Part of this stems from our firm conviction that we are at the center of history. We claim credit for bringing down communism, with a nod to Pope John Paul II, forgetting that it was a labor union in Poland that was the actual instrument that began kicking the final leg out from under communism, already hollow to the core because of its own internal contradictions and lies. We recall the heroism of U.S. troops who brought down Hitler, and heroic they were, but so too were the British troops and the Soviet troops heroic. And, it is always charming to read how Anglos resent the influx of Mexican immigrants and adopt an attitude of hostility to the newcomers….in places named San Antonio, Los Angeles and Santa Fe. Who are the newcomers?

What About Montini?

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This past week, understandably, the entire Catholic world has been focused on Pope Blessed John Paul II and his beatification. In the days leading up to it, E.J. Dionne called for speeding up the process of canonizing Pope Blessed John XXIII. The effort to beatify Pope Pius XII is stalled, given controversies surrounding his tenure, specifically how he responded to the Nazi threat.

Lost in all of this has been any atttention to someone whom I think will go down in history as one of the truly great pontiffs, Pope Paul VI.

Paul, of course, lacked the personal charm of his predecessor John XXIII and his once removed successor Pope John Paul II. Still, he shares credit with John for shaping the Second Vatican Council and credit with John Paul II for implementing it. Indeed, there is scarcely a more difficult job in the world than being Pope in the years immediately following a Council in which the reception of the conciliar texts must begin.

Budget Showdown (Again!)

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With the fast-approaching deadline for raising the debt ceiling, House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House are busy negotiating some budget cuts that will ensure sufficient numbers of GOP votes in the House to get the debt ceiling raised.
To be clear, the responsibility for passing this vote falls to the majority. It always has. With power comes such responsibilities. Evidently the House republicans are already backing away from their plan to kill Medicare as we know it. This is no surprise: politicians tackle seniors at their peril. But, I remain deeply worried that the GOP will look for further cuts in programs that aid the poor.
In a powerful speech at the Rerum Novarum conference this week, Bishop Stephen Blaire urged that Congress not balance the budget on the bakcs of the poor and he noted that the poor, unlike other powerful groups, have no one to advocate for them. That is our job as Catholics. Call your congressmen now.

Please Give

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At last weekend's White House Correspondent's Dinner, President Obama made a funny joke about NPR, asking if they were still there. As you recall, the House Republicans tried to cut off funding for that important news source.

NCR, unlike its secular equivalent, does not receive government funding, so we are enturely reliant on the support of our readers.

I am hoping that regular readers of Distinctly Catholic enjoy this feature, which was added since the webathon last year. I hope you will also consider giving generously so that this column, and all of NCR's many features, can continue. Thank you very much.

Torture: Intrinsically Evil

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The role of torture in procuring information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden has become one of the principal sources of debate this week. That debate highlights some of the intractable differences among foreign policy experts and it also indicates the distorted way some Catholics view politics.

Of course, it will be many years before historians sift through the mostly classified evidence surrounding the interrogation of terrorists in the past decade. And, historians by training learn that they must let the evidence tell the story, not try and cram that evidence into an existing narrative fashioned out of other, non-historical, ambitions. Now, and for the foreseeable future, the two sides in the debate will use whatever evidence supports their case and neglect the evidence that undermines it.

Weigel on Catholic Social Teaching

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Inside Catholic has a column up today by George Weigel on Catholic Social Thought and the 2012 election. The factual premise for his article is the widespread canard that this great and rich country is essentially bankrupt.

This great and rich country needs to take in more revenue to afford the government programs that express the solidarity called for by Catholic Social Teaching, and, as I have suggested previously, I would be content to return to the tax rates that existed on the day Ronald Reagan left office.

Weigel's analysis is just as shaky as premise. But, what really caught my eye was his assertion at the end of the article that the health care reform law violated the principle of subsidiarity. It did no such thing.

Subsidiarity is a two way street, something conservatives forget.

Yes, it seeks solutions for social problems at the smallest and most personal level of society. But, it also demands that when these lower levels fail to protect society, the government must step in.

Myopia Abounds

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I chastised the Human Rights Campaign Earlier this week, I chastised the Human Rights Campaign for its myopia when it put pressure on a law firm to disassociate itself from a client, the U.S. House of Representatives, in its case seeking to require the Justice Department to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. Liberals should understand that whatever their views on gay marriage, the right to legal counsel is also a rockbed of a civilized society and there is no shame in defending a client whose views the lawyer does not share.
Now, we learn that some are challenging a California judge's right to rule on gay marriage because he is gay. They argue that he could benefit from his ruling and therefore should be disqualified. So, women judges cannot rule on sexual discrimination suits? Maybe Hispanic judges cannot rule on an immigration case? And, why should a conservative, heterosexual jurist who sees the maintenance of traditional marriage as a definite societal good be allowed to rule on the mattter of gay marriage? There is a solution here: Only eunuchs should be allowed to rule on gay marriage cases.

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July 18-31, 2014

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