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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.

The fog of war in Libya

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The phrase "fog of war" describes perfectly the difficulty military leaders have in ascertaining the facts on the ground. It's certainly at work in Libya. Conflicting reports detail who is advancing and who is retreating, where the bombs are falling and at whom the tanks are shooting. But the thickness of the fog is not a mere consequence of battle. It is a consequence of politics. The fog in Libya stems primarily from the fact that the goals of the military operation are themselves shrouded in uncertainty.

Bad Ideas 101: Temperance Lecture During St. Patrick's Day Week

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The idea of Temperance has a long and proud and important place in Catholic teaching. But, that place must leave exceptions and one of those exceptions is the time around St. Patrick's Day. But, that is when Catholic University scheduled a panel discussion on Temperance. Bad idea. Only fifteen people showed up. You can read about it here. But, be prepared to laugh really hard.

Women & Health Care

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The White House has released a new "fact sheet" that looks at some pressing issues relating to women's health issues and how the Affordable Care Act will help to address those issues.
The more people learn about the actual law - not the overheated caricature of the law found on certain right wing sites and at Fox News - they are going to see the value in it.
Still, the administration has to understand that for all the good policies in the law, their sales effort needs a human face. They need to find the five year old with a pre-existing condition who had previously been denied coverage and let him become the face of health care reform. Let him do for health care what Ryan White did for AIDS funding. And, not unimportantly, then make it seem like the GOP is not attacking this proposal or that, they are attacking that little boy.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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