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Must Read on Philly

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I know, I know: Who wants to read something that is sure to depress them? But, read it we must. Philadelphia Magazine has a long story about the sex abuse scandal that continues to rock that city.

The most damning quote:

"When you spend that much time in the Vatican,” a St. Louis priest said of Rigali a decade ago, “you’re like one of the Bernini columns, just one of many holding up the place. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself.” Rigali is gentle and caring, quick to show up at the bedside of an ailing priest. But he is not dynamic. “Justin Rigali wouldn’t have enough inner authority to say in a homily, ‘Love your neighbor,’” said the priest. “He would say, ‘As the Pope said when he was in Toronto: Love your neighbor.’”

And, as rumors continue that Cardinal Rigali will soon be replaced, we can only hope and pray that Rome understands Philadelphia needs a bishop who will be a balm-speader for that troubled archdiocese, not a bomb-thrower.

Crazy Cons Attack Card. O'Malley

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Earlier this week, I called attention to a posting by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, at his blog, in which he spoke about the Church’s stance towards contemporary issues regarding gays and lesbians, defended the Church’s beliefs about traditional marriage, and placed the Church’s stance on gay marriage properly alongside the Church’s stance against divorce and other threats to traditional marriage.

Most importantly, Cardinal O’Malley placed the entire issue of defending traditional marriage within the Church’s most fundamental anthropological and ethical belief, the inviolability of human dignity. The key graphs in O’Malley’s statement read:

Huntsman's Mormon Faith

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Dan Gilgoff at CNN has an article up about the religiosity of newly minted presidential aspirant and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Like Mitt Romney, Huntsman is a Mormon, but the two seem to approach their religion quite differently.
There is a lot to learn about Huntsman, and examining a candidate's religion has become par for the course, which is not entirely unwelcome. Before we entrust the vast powers of the presidency to any man or woman, we should know a lot about what does and does not motivate them, whence they derive their values, what influences have shaped their worldview. It is imperative, however, that Americans embrace the spirit of the Constitution's ban on religious tests for office. As voters, we tend to embrace a whole range of concerns and considerations when assessing a candidate, but it is bigotry to consider a person's religion against them. A candidate should be able to explain how his or her religion does or does not inform their views, but we are not electing a Theologian-in-Chief.

Obama's Speech

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Generally speaking, when a President finds a speech being criticized alike by the more extreme partisans of both left and right, he probably got it just about right.
Last night, President Obama outlined his policy regarding the war in Afghanistan. The increase in troops he ordered in January 2009, the "surge," always came with a timetable. Obama never gave Gen. Petraeus an open-ended engagement nor, to be clear, did Petraeus ever ask for one. Naturally, any commander would rather have more resources than fewer, but Obama's decision to draw down 10,000 troops this year and an additional 23,000 next year reportedly fell within the parameters Petraeus outlined.

Mystic Chords of Memory

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If you happened to wander into St. Joseph’s Church in Willimantic, Connecticut yesterday and heard the organ music, you would have been tempted to shout up to the organist, “Could you try that last number…without the mittens.” In an effort to touch the mystic chords of memory, I returned to the instrument where I largely learned to play as a teenager and where I performed my one and only recital. Alas, it has been a few years since I touched the keyboard, so there were many and frequent wrong notes. But, I did, in fact, touch those mystic chords and they were not only musical in nature.

No, Rep. Labrador Is Not the \"Key\"

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I had archived this article at Politico, which speculated that Idaho freshman Congressman Paul Labrador could be the "key" to GOP efforts on immigration.
Unfortunately, every once in awhile, the headline writers at Politico get a bit carried away. (Remember the one about Abp Dolan boosting Cong. Paul Ryan's budget plan, a boost that did not actually occur.)
In this instance, the article notes that Labrador is a Latino and a former immigration attorney, as well as a Tea Party darling. But, the article also notes that he does not support a pathway to citizenship for those fellow Americans - yes, I believe most of the so-called "illegals" are now fellow Americans - who lack proper paperwork to achieve a legal status here. Non-starter.

Don't Count Gingrich Out

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Yes, Newt Gingrich's campaign has had a very shaky start and, according to Politico, it just got shakier. But, staff do not make a campaign, a campaign makes the staff. There are plenty of bright young operatives who will be thrilled to work on a presidential campaign. There are plenty of young Republicans who would be very willing to work with Gingrich even if they knew he could not win for one very simple reason: Gingrich has more ideas in a day than the rest of the field has in a month. He would be a fun person to work with. And, no matter who is the next Republican in the White House, and whether that person arrives in 2013 or 2017 or 2021, Gingrich will play a big role in any future GOP administration simply because of his intellectual firepower.

In Defense of Liberal Internationalism

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In the last two days, I have been highly critical of certain foreign policy positions articulated by the neo-isolationists of both left and right, as well as that of the neo-conservative hawks. What, then, should be America’s role in the world? In a word, actually two words, America’s foreign policy should be pursuit of liberal internationalism, an engagement with the world with a view towards promoting liberal values such as personal freedom and human rights, as well as the promotion of democratic governments and open societies. Our policy today should be based on the same values that inspired the greatest foreign policy minds in American history, those brilliant men who gathered around Harry S. Truman in the wake of World War II and devised the Marshall Plan, NATO, and the policy of containment of expansionist Communism.

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