There was a time when I admired Charles Krauthammer. An article he wrote in The New Republic, in response to Mario Cuomo famous Notre Dame speech, helped me to see the error of my ways and turn away from my previous pro-choice stance. Back then, Krauthammer was precise and exact in his arguments and allowed himself to be exposed to arguments from serious liberals as well as serious conservatives. Now, he discusses policy on Fox News and the only one to challenge him from the left is the always predictable and never incisive Juan Williams. No wonder Krauthammer's intellectual gifts have become blunt and ill-used.
A group of St. Francis University students and faculty gathered this week to read some of Ellen Goodman's writings. You will recall that university officials cancelled a talk by Goodman because of her pro-choice views under pressure from the Cardinal Newman Society. Of course, it doesn't matter that Goodman was not intending to speak about abortion, only about civility. Such distinctions are lost on these modern day inquisitors.
Actually, comparing the Cardinal Newman Society to the Inquisition is a slur. Against the Inquisition. The Newman Society is more like Daniele de Volterra, the man brought in to cover up Michelangelo's nudes in the Sistine Chapel. Mind you, Ellen Goodman is no Michelangelo, but that isn't the point. Censoriousness is an ugly trait, sometimes imposed upon us by necessity to be sure. But, CNS, like de Volterra, picks the wrong fights and reduce the Christian faith to a kind of smug puritanism. I am no fan of Goodman, but I am even less of a fan of CNS.
The Holy Father today named Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle as the new Archbishop of Manila. The new archbishop gave a talk at the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec in 2008 where he obviously caught the attention of then-Archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Marc Oullett, who is now the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. And, well he might. Thanks to Rocco for providing this extract from Tagle's talk:
Four words I never thought I would write: Michele Bachmann is right. There is something devilish about Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan.
Cain’s plan, among other difficulties, fails the test the U.S. bishops have set for all public policies relating to the federal budget and government spending: It fails to protect the poor. As an analysis in this morning’s Washington Post shows, the 9-9-9 plan would raise tax rates on the poor and middle class and provide huge windfalls to the rich and super-rich. It makes no economic sense but that does not mean it fails to make political sense.
Over at Spiritual Politics, Mark Sill demonstrates anew that he may be the most thoughtful non-Catholic commentator on things Catholic writing in America today. He takes on Rick Santorum's evident unfamiliarity with a core concept of Catholic Social Teaching, the preferential option for the poor, and recalls George Weigel's attempts to water-down the phrase to meaninglessness.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, at the USCCB MediaBlog, has a post up about the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services not to continue a grant to the USCCB for its work assisting the victims of Human Trafficking.
There are many unanswered questions here and the fact that the ACLU was suing the government over these grants might well be part of the picture. It is also possible that HHS, if it intends to expand the conscience protections regarding the mandated services under the Affordable Care Act which I sincerely hope they will do, thought it necessary to throw a bone to pro-choice groups. Still, the victims of human trafficking should not have to pay the price of political calculations.
This is a story with legs. Stay tuned.
Over at Vox Nova, Morning's Minion raises two concerns about Faithful Citizenship, the continued, and inappropriate use of the category of "intrinsic evil" to frame political choices and the lack of attention to the social consequences of the economic meltdown.
MM has a point, actually two of them. Still, opening up Faithful Citizenship at this time would have meant opening a Pandora's box best left closed.
Over at Crisis Magazine, which one would want to describe as an intellectual mouthpiece for RC neo-cons but hesitates to do so while it persists in publishing intellectual drivel, has an article up by Nicholas G. Hahn III in which Mr. Hahn attacks the bishops for their "immigration obsession." His nose is out of joint because the USCCB has a special part of its website educating Catholics on the justice of the DREAM Act and the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Hahn believes that, having failed to evangelize our own, the bishops are trying to "replace" US Catholics with immigrant Catholics. He urges them to abandon the cause.
There is too much bile in Hahn's article to refute, but I will only call attention to his most absurd, and central, claim. He writes:
Tuesday, Archbishop Jose Gomez gave a talk at Loyola Marymount University to inaugurate that school’s Hispanic Ministry and Theology lectures. His speech, entitled "'Greater America': The Hispanic Mission and the New Evangelization," amplified some of the themes he addressed at the Napa Institute earlier this year, which I wrote about here. Gomez, both in his talks and in his day job as Archbishop of Los Angeles, confronts the reality of the Church in the twenty-first century in this country, and if these early talks are any indication, that future is in good hands.
At last night's debate, Herman Cain said that one of the advantages of his 9-9-9 plan was that it is simple. He is not entirely wrong. It would have been better, politically, if the President had organized his health care reform around the simple-to-understand proposition - Medicare for everybody. The part about Cain's plan that has people swooning is not so much the 9-9-9 part, it is that he starts by eliminating the current, byzantine tax code.
But, there is also something to Mitt Romney's observation that simple answers are often inadequate. Ask Barack Obama, who promised change, a simple enough noun to understand.
Still, Cain's proposal is not only simple. It is a big idea, simply expressed. When you get to the details, many American who currently enjoy deducting their home mortgage interest might think twice. But, Americans like big ideas, and the bigger the better. In his World War II memoirs, Winston Churchill observed: "Their [Americans'] national psychology is such that the bigger the Idea, the more wholeheartedly and obstinately do they throw themselves into making it a success. It is an admitable characteristic, provided the Idea is good."