The first images from inside Westminster Abbey were not encouraging. In the nave, interspersed among the seats were small trees. I am not a fan of trees inside where they do not belong. It called to mind the atrium of a 1970’s-era, John Portman-designed Hyatt hotel. It was just weird and I suspect it was the result of consulting a “wedding planner,” the most bizarre professions to emerge on the planet. I thought that you asked friends to help plan one’s wedding, not a professional.
In this morning's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne asks why the rush to beatify Pope John Paul II while Pope John XXIII, already beatified, has not first been canonized?
More NCR coverage of the beatification of John Paul II
Maureen Fiedler: Beatifications and Politics
Michael Baxter: Biography of JPII raises questions about partiality
Michael Sean Winters: Weigel in JPII Heaven
John L. Allen Jr.: In death as in life, John Paul a sign of contradiction
Gerald Slevin John Paul beatification highlights dysfunctional monarchy
John Allen's Beatification Q&As
It is not every day that you get to meet someone you consider a hero, but yesterday I had the chance. Father Ian Ker, the biographer of Blessed John Henry Newman was in Washington to deliver a lecture at Catholic University. Last year, at the time of the beatification of Cardinal Newman, father Ker contributed an item to this blog. And, so when I heard he was coming, I emailed him and we arranged to meet for coffee. In the event, Father Ker also wanted to say Mass before heading to campus, so we shared the Eucharist together as well.
To say that Ker is an engaging conversationalist is to trivialize the depth of his learning. I can say that sharing a bit of time with this great scholar was one of the highlights of my year. And, kudos to CUA President John Garvey for bring Father Ker to campus.
Yesterday, President Obama released the long form of his certificate of live birth. That document has no more substantial legal weight than the short form of the certificate that had been issued long ago. So, there is something a bit disingenuous, if not downright bizarre, about those who are patting themselves on the back like Donald Trump, claiming that the President should have released this document long ago.
But, the birther issue is uglier than a fight over documentation. At its heart, the suggestion has been that President Obama is different from the rest of us, that his presidency is illegitimate, that he is part of a vast conspiracy. Now, conspiracy theories come in all ideological flavors but none that I am aware of speak to, and harnass, the bigotry that still exists in our culture. Many of my conservative friends disagreed with President Obama's policies and regretted his election on those grounds, but even they acknowledged that it was a good thing for the country that a black man can be elected as our chief magistrate. The birther frenzy was begun by those who cannot reconcile themselves to this happy fact.
Yesterday, a group of religious leaders spoke to the press about their new initiative to create a “circle of protection” around the poor and the vulnerable in the upcoming debates about the federal budget. They announced a new website to help recruit and organize religiously motivated voters to call on Congress not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.
Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, who chairs the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development was one of the religious leaders on the call. He said he and the USCCB were honored to be a part of this “unprecedented” gathering of religious leaders. “We are standing on behalf of the poor and vulnerable,” Bishop Blaire said. “We want to bring moral clarity to these (budgetary) issues.”
Bishop Blaire noted that the USCCB’s engagement in political issues is based on four traditional principles of Catholic social teaching. First, does a given program protect human life and dignity? Second, how do certain policies and programs affect the poor and the vulnerable? And, third, Bishop Blaire said that government and other social organizations have a responsibility to promote the common good.
I evidently inserted the wrong link in my post yesterday about Cong. Ron Paul challenging Sean Hannity about his sharia law obsession. The link has been fixed. I apologize for the inconvenience.
The headline at Politico reads, "John Boehner says he's not 'wedded to' Paul Ryan plan." That was fast. Speaker Boehner just pushed the Ryan plan through the GOP-controlled house a fortnight ago. But, then Congress went on recess, and members went back to their districts, and they got an earful about killing Medicare.
What was Boehner thinking? Did he now realize that by allowing Ryan and the Tea Partyers their poind of entitlement flesh, he was running the risk of handing the control of the chamber back to the Democrats? The title of the article could be, "John Boehner remembers that there is a general election too." This is the GOP conundrum, and Harold Meyerson looks at it in today's Post: In order to avoid a challenge from the right, Republicans members of Congress need to back the kinds of policies that will doom them in a general election. It couldn't happen to a nicer party.
All of us who blog about the Church have long looked to Rocco Palmo for inspiration...and for insider gossip! So, I was thrilled to see that at the upcoming "blogfest" at the Vatican, Rocco has been chosen to moderate one of the two scheduled panels. He follows Cardinal Ravasi, who will give opening remarks and, if you know Rocco, you can bet that the blogger will pidgeon-hole the cardinal while they exchange the microphone and Rocco will come away with another piece of insider info. Congrats Roc!
George Weigel's article at InsideCatholic "Remembering Pope John Paul II," begins with the reminder, as if any were needed, that Weigel spent more time with the late pontiff than you did. As one Vatican official said to me when Weigel's biography of John Paul II came out, "After reading it, one is left with the question: Who is that man standing in white next to George Weigel?"
Several conservative Catholic sites such as the American Papist and LifeSiteNews are beating their anti-Obama drums by calling attention to a Fox News report that President Obama did not issue an "Easter proclamation" even though he has issued statements to commemorate the holidays of other, non-Christian religions. You can easily imagine the right-wingers confirming the story, "I saw it on Fox, so it must be true." Alas, it is not true.