In his presidential address, Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago, recalled that three years ago, when he began his tenure as head of the USCCB, the Church in America was preparing for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. George also recalled the election of President Barack Obama. Irrespective of one’s political affiliation, Cardinal George noted that the election of the first African-American citizen to the presidency was a unique historical accomplishment.
I will be in Baltimore attending the plenary meeting of the USCCB the next few days and will be blogging live from the Marriott hotel where the bishops are gathered.
So, the posting schedule here at Distinctly Catholic, and the content, may be different this week.
The agenda is a bit think for this year's meeting but the most important item on the agenda is election of new officers, which takes place tomorrow morning.
This, from Dana Milbank in yesterday's Washington Post:
The internal dynamics of the Democratic caucus - and the egos of the principals - seem to dictate this ridiculous outcome. The external politics is screaming - Young Blood!
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the anti-poverty program sponsored by the U.S. bishops, released a report Oct. 26 to assure critics that “No CCHD funds will go to groups whose actions conflict with fundamental Catholic social teaching.” Now CCHD critics are up in arms, charging that the same report that contains the pledge extols the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), which, critics claim, “participates in promotion of abortion, homosexual ‘rights’, and other issues in conflict with Catholic social and moral teaching.”
You will need to subscribe to read the whole story, but an article I wrote about Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner and the two ways American Catholics express themselves politically, and how both fall short of the vision presented by Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate, is this week's cover story at the Tablet.
Yesterday, the National Catholic Register ran a post repeating charges that Bishop Kicanas of Tuscon, expected to be elected the head of the USCCB next week, looked the other way while rector of the seminary at Mundelein, approving for ordination a man who went on to be a sexual abuser of children.
All the news reports indicate that incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski has garnered 98 percent of the write-in ballots cast last week in that state's election. The election observers from the campaign of Tea Party favorite Joe Miller are questioning the validity of about ten percent of those ballots, but even that appears to be an insufficient number to narrow Murkowshki's margin.
It should not surprise that Mr. Miller is insisting that only those ballots that spell Ms. Murkowski's name correctly be counted. He insists that the law demands nothing less. But, the law is actually silent on the issue os proper spelling as it is silent on the issue of voter intent. Nonetheless, there is something creepy about the desire to disenfranchise voters who do not dot their "I's."
Alas, Mr. Miller, whose goons "arrested" a reporter whose questions the candidate found nettlesome, is not exactly the kind of man to be overly concerned about niceties where democratic processes are concerned. I have no great love for Sen. Murkowski, but of all the Tea Party candidates this year, Miller was the most frightening. His defeat is a good thing for democracy and a good thing for Alaska.
The Vatican this morning issued a press release regarding the start of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland to examine the issue of clergy sex abuse and what the local churches there can and should do to confront the evil.
I can't recall ever before seeing a deadline in anything emanating from the Holy See, and the presence of one here suggests that the higher-ups might finally recognize the need for some urgency in addressing the clergy sex abuse crisis.
Better late than never I suppose.
It has been almost two weeks since the voters rendered their verdict, and we in the commentariat are still trying to figure out precisely what that verdict was. Of course, politicians are also trying to figure that out, from Nancy Pelosi’s “it was the recession” state of denial to Rand Paul’s “We are taking our government back.” Here at Distinctly Catholic, we have heard from expert analysts like Professor Steve Schneck of CUA’s IPRCS and from those involved in shaping the election like Catholic United’s Chris Korzen and NRLC’s Douglas Johnson.
Fred Rotondaro is the Chairman of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a progressive Catholic organization begun after the 2004 elections which played a vocal, and critical, part in the effort to get universal health insurance passed earlier this year.
As part of our on-going look at the election results, we asked Rotondaro for his thoughts.
Fred Rotondaro: Conservatives, moderates and progressives should have all learned the same lesson on Nov 2nd. American public policy is not decided in one election. It's an ongoing process-- a brawl if you will that takes place over many elections, many decades.
A second underlying theme is that the major issues are often symptoms and not underlying causes of what needs to be changed in the nation. America has deep problems today and they do relate to jobs, the deficit, and politicians' disconnect from the average American. But the causes go back three decades and more. And dealing with one problem will often complicate solving a different problem.