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The Dallas Charter Is On Life-Support

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First came the revelations in Philadelphia, then Kansas City-St. Joseph. Now, the diocese of Gallup, New Mexico is in the spotlight with a series of articles in the local paper about how Bishop James Wall has failed to fulfill the promises he made to the people and clergy of Gallup to live up to the Dallas norms.
Later this month, the bishops of the United States will gather outside Seattle for their summer meeting. At the top of the agenda is an examination of the Dallas norms, adopted in 2002 to put an end to the scandal of clergy sex abuse. This was a solemn pledge made to the Church of the United States by her bishops. In effect, the bishops promised: We can't undo what has happened already, but we promise we will not let it happen ever again.

The Church at Her Best

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Many years ago, a priest said to me, “The Church is her best at a funeral.” I thought at the time that this was not only right but wise, and my experience since then has confirmed it. Wednesday, many of us in the NCR family celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for our friend Joe Feuerherd and, indeed, the Church was at her best. Why is this?

Preserving an Architectural Icon

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Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is attempting to negotiate a solution to the fight that has broken out over the extension of the DC-area Metro to Dulles Airport. The airport authority wants an underground station that links directly to the terminal, but the additional cost strikes tax payers as exorbitant. They favor an above-ground terminus for the Metrorail.
If you have never been to Dulles, you may not be able to appreciate the concern the airport authority has to preserve the views of the main terminal building. It was designed by Eero Saarinen, who also designed the only other American airport terminal that is truly beautiful, the TWA terminal at JFK airport in New York City. I was at Dulles yesterday, and was reminded of just how striking a building it is.

Rating Bachmann's Chances

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Sarah Palin is not the only conservative female contemplating a bid for the GOP presidential nod. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann from Minnesota is also seriously thinking of throwing her hat into the ring.

Bachmann has become a Tea Party favorite and she knows that the loose-knit organization is her best chance at gaining traction. She founded the Tea Party Caucus earlier this year. She mentions the Tea Party and “Tea Party Principles” in almost every sentence. Bachmann also embraces all the major social conservative issues necessary to win the GOP nomination: She is pro-life on abortion, opposed to immigration reform, and against gay marriage.

Romney Gives Obama an \"F\"

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I think Mitt Romney's charge that President Obama is "ineffective" runs at cross-purposes with the general GOP indictment of the President, which is that Obama is a threat precisely because he has been effective. After all, this is the President who achieved universal health care reform, a goal that has eluded several Presidents of both parties in the past and which, according to current GOP mythology, threatens the very fabric of our society. Which is it? Threat or ineffective?
Of course, Romney focused his remarks on the President's inability to lower the unemployment rate. But, the real way to address the ailing economy, with good old-fashioned Keynesianism, is no longer possible with the GOP in control of the House. Does anyone really think that cutting taxes for zillionaires will create more jobs? That's dreaming.

Silk Takes on Donohue Over John Jay Report

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Mark Silk, who pens the must-read blog "Spiritual Politics" is a scholar and a thoughtful commentator on religion and politics. The two qualities rarely combine so nicely in the same person.
And, Silk has had the fortitude to take on Bill Donohue before. Now, he looks at Donohue's diatribe against the John Jay report because it declined to endorse his bigoted idea that gays are the problem in the pedophilia crisis. Bigotry is uninformed prejudice. Donohue's photo could appear next to the dictionary entry in Webster's.

NC: Battleground in 2012?

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The Washington Post looks at the forthcoming presidential contest in, of all places, North Carolina, land of Sen. Jesse Helms and a state that, until Obama's surprise, narrow victory in 2008, had voted for the GOP presidential candidate everytime since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976.
The article also notes that North Carolina is another state in which GOP-dominated legislatures are seeking to pass laws that make it harder to vote. This is, in a word, revolting. Every state has a chief election officer, usually the Secretary of State, who is constitutionally charged with trying to increase voter turnout. After all, one of the more frightening indicators of the ill health of American democracy is low level of participation in elections. We should be bending over backwards to encourage turnout.

Run, Sarah, Run

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John King, one of CNN’s star anchors, was not in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania waiting for Godot last night. He was waiting for Sarah Palin. This was intended to be the next stop on her “One Nation” tour of the Northeast, or at least he thought so. The details were sketchy.

This is why Palin will be formidable if she enters the race for the GOP presidential nod. Instead of having a team of schedulers working out a trip like this well in advance, with a press secretary, passing exact information to reporters and trying to encourage them to cover the event, Palin’s trip appears to be of a different sort. They are announcing the stops on the tour as they go along. She is not playing by the normal rules for engaging the press.

Memorial Day Greetings

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It seems bad form to say "Happy Memorial Day" given the somber central theme of the day. It used to bother me that a day set aside for remembering veterans has become a day for BBQs and the beach. But, while I hope everyone takes the time to offer a prayer for our veterans today, I have come to the conclusion that celebrating with friends and family is a perfect way to commemorate the sacrifices made by our veterans. They served precisely so that we can be free to gather with friends and loved ones when and how we wish. They served so that we can set about our daily lives free from the tyrannies with which history is riddled. It is wrong to say that our veterans served, and died, for backyard BBQs, but it is not wrong to say that they served and died for the rest of us to pursue happiness with our loved ones.

"Distinctly Catholic" will be back tomorrow. Enjoy the day.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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