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The Latino Population Surge & the GOP's Big Problem

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The new census numbers are jaw-dropping. Almost one-quarter of all American children under the age of 17 are Latino. The four states with the largest Hispanic populations are California, Texas, Florida and New York which, together, account for more than half of the electoral votes needed to win the presidency. If no Latinos had voted in the state of North Carolina in 2008, Barack Obama would have lost that state. Instead, he won it narrowly. When Republicans lose North Carolina, they can forget about winning the White House.

Card. Schonborn Calls For Debate on Celibacy

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The Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn, has again caused a bit of a stir by calling for the Church to engage in a debate on celibacy.
Schonborn got spanked last year after he criticized Cardinal Sodano for the latter's mishandling of the sex abuse crisis when he served as Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II. Schonborn was right to raise questions then and he is right to ask questions now.
Will it make a difference? The Church moves slowly, and fifty years ago, the idea that a cardinal would raise such thorny issues and criticize a former high Vatican official would have been unthinkable. Still, no one should expect any change in the rules on celibacy anytime soon. Last year, after Schonborn criticized Sodano, a high-ranking Vatican official told me the question in the curia was whether or not Schonborn had gone off his meds? That dismissive attitude to the cardinal's questions does not suggest that the curia is prepared to face reality any time soon.

The Fog of Morning

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Okay, okay. I know today is the Feast of the Annunciation, not the Feast of the Assumption. But, I was suffering especially today from the fog of morning which, unlike the fog of war, is not always avoidable, at least not before my sixth cup of coffee.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
The historiographic point I was trying to make has been on my mind because of a book review I am currently working on for the New Republic. And, it still holds, although we will have to wait until August 15th for me to link that point to the first cathedral in Baltimore.

Obama Needs to Speak About Libya

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Politico is reporting that President Obama has declined to give a major address about our military involvement in Libya because he does not want to invite comparisons with our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This misunderstands the nature of presidential leadership. If he does not want people to compare Libya with Iraq, he should explain how they are different. What he cannot do is fail to explain to the American people why he is putting the men and women of our Armed Forces in harm's way.
Being President entails many tough calls. The decision to get involved in Libya was one such tough call. Explaining to the American people what we are doing and why is not a tough call. It is his job.

The Assumption & Early American Catholics

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Today is the feast of the Assumption. [Update: No, it isn't, as several readers have pointed out. My bad. My apology is here. The rest of the article still rings true.]

The first metropolitcan cathedral to be built in America, in Baltimore, was dedicated to the Blessed Mother under this title. It remains, arguably, the most beautiful church in America, so distinctly Federalist in its architecture while creating a truly exquisite space for the celebration of the Mass, the building stands as a rebuke to those who believe nothing good comes from dialogue with the ambient culture.

More on Catholic Attitudes on Gay Marriage

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Earlier this week, I reported on a new survey of polling data about Catholic attitudes towards gay and lesbian issues conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. The key finding of that survey was that Catholics are more supportive of gay rights than other Christians, although there remains some ambivalence about the specific issue of gay marriage.

Listen to the Nuns!

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"Listen to the Nuns" was the advice E.J. Dionne proferred lawmakers last year as they debated the health care reform law. It remains good advice on this the one year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
In this morning's Detroit Free Press, Sister Mary Ellen Howard of the St. Frances Cabrini Clinic in that city, defends the new law and highlights some of the advances it is already producing.

RCs v. Evangelicals on Natural Law

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Christianity Today has an important article that examines why many evangelicals are unmoved by the natural law arguments put forward by prominent Catholic scholars in defense of traditional marriage. Of course, the dualism at the heart of natural law reasoning has come under scrutiny in Catholic circles too: Think DeLubac.
The issues are weighty, but at the end of the day, I find myself closer to the evangelicals than to the contemporary natural law crowd. If our morality is severed from our doctrinal beliefs, we are abetting the secularization of public discourse and indeed bringing that secularization into the bosom of the Church. That is not their intent, but it seems to be an inescapable consequence of natural law reasoning. The evangelicals are right to be suspicious.

Cardinal McCarrick on Immigration

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Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington, gave a fine keynote address at the conference on immigration and the Church sponsored by the USCCB and CUA's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies on Monday. The text of his remarks have been published by the good people at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and can be found here.

Patrick Reilly Slanders Jesuits

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Patrick Reilly is the President of the inappropriately named Cardinal Newman Society. Newman, alas, was a careful thinker and Reilly's attacks on what he perceives to be a lack of orthodoxy at certain Catholic colleges are something less than careful.
He has published a new braodside against Seattle University because some of its students are, he claims, referred to Planned Parenthood for some services and others undertake internships with pro-choice groups. I am no fan of Planned Parenthood, but I also know poor women who avail themselves of the services Planned Parenthood provides and which have nothing to do with abortion or birth control. But, as I say, Mr. Reilly is not a careful distinguisher of facts.

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July 18-31, 2014

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