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Myopia v. Majesty

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Last week, the law firm King & Spalding decided to remove itself as counsel for the House Republicans challenging the Obama Administration’s decision not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. Then, one of the firm’s partners, Paul Clement, resigned from the firm to protest their decision and announced that he would continue to represent the Republicans in their effort to see DOMA enforced.

King & Spalding acted under pressure from gay rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign Fund. They sent out a celebratory email that celebrated their role in calling out King & Spalding’s “hypocrisy” and getting them to withdraw. HRC argued that the law firm’s representation of the House in this matter was hypocritical because their website advertises their outreach to the gay and lesbian community. Huh?

Blessed John Paul II: Clio Awaits

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The beatification of Pope John Paul II explains more about us than it does about him. The chants of “Santo subito!” at his funeral came from people who loved him deeply. They may or may not have agreed with any particular decision of his as Pope. They may have supported or opposed the general thrust of his pontificate, reaching out to the world at the same time as he demanded greater conformity within the Church. Still, the shouts came: “Santo subito!” Pope John Paul II was loved, even by those who were ambivalent about his pontificate.

The other day, a young woman with whom I work spoke of being moved to tears when she first saw Pope John Paul II in person. It was his personal magnetism and human approachability that so moved her. “For me, there was something so human about him,” she told me. She disavowed any sense of hero-worship and knew the late Pontiff did not work on water. But, she loved him. This love for Pope John Paul II certainly justifies his being raised to the honor of the altars as far as I am concerned but, then, I am nearly a Universalist who believes we must hold on to the hope that we all will get to heaven.

Bin Laden Is Killed!

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As soon as CNN announced that the President would be addressing the nation on short notice, on a Sunday night, and that the address had nothing to do with Libya, my mind leapt at the possibility. Either Kim Jong Il or Castro or bin Laden was dead but, of that triumvirate of evil, the first two would not require a speech by the President. It must be bin Laden.

Birther Bigotry

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Black Americans experience the vile bigotry directed at President Obama differently from white Americans. I am disgusted by the email sent by a GOP official in California that portrayed President Obama as a baby chimpanzee, but my black friends are not only disgusted, they are wounded, by such evil.
This morning's Post has two columns about the birther bigotry that explain why black Americans experience a righteous indignation that should shame the birther bigots, but won't. Cedric Mobley's article is here and Eugene Robinson's is here.

The Difficulty With Beatifying or Canonizing Popes

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Yesterday, I called attention to E.J. Dionne's article calling for the canonization of Blessed Pope John XXIII. Of course, the last Pope to be canonized was St. Pope Pius X. He was a saintly man but he was a disaster as Pope, inaugurating a series of witch-hunts against modernism which tagged many devout and perfectly orthodox priests as potential heretics including none other than Angelo Roncalli, who went on to become Blessed Pope John XXIII.
The problem, however, is hardly unique to Pius X. I suspect that the skills that make a Pope effective preclude the kind of personal sanctity we associate with sainthood. To become a cardinal, surely you must learn how to throw an elbow, to play office politics, to develop a skepticism appropriate to one charged with decision-making. Surely, staring down the Communist authorities in Poland demanded the kind of steeliness that we do not normally associate with sanctity.

In Defense of Cardinal George

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Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago, has suspended Father Michael Pfleger after the long-time pastor of Saint Sabina publicly flirted with the idea of leaving the Catholic Church is he were to be removed as pastor. Cardinal George was right to do so.

Generally, I think it is a mistake to leave one priest as pastor of a parish for too long a time. No priest can be all things to all men, no matter how gifted he is. It is not an insult to Father Pfleger to suggest that however popular he is, however much he brought life and the life of the spirit to his parish, there are some people there who did not warm to his brand of pastoring. Whenever a priest is in one assignment for too long, a cult of personality is sure to develop and the priest will become, in the minds of the people, virtually synonymous with "the Church," a burden no man should want and certainly no man can fulfill.

The Royal Wedding: A Quick Liturgical Review

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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.

E.J. Dionne Asks: Why Not John XXIII?

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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

Meeting a Hero

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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.

Shame on the Birthers & Their Enablers (That Means You, Ed Henry)

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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.

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