Yesterday’s conference on the Church and Immigration at Catholic University was fascinating in every regard. Robert Royal raised an important point that we who advocate for immigration reform are sometimes a bit to dismissive regarding the breaking of law, although I think it must also be said that it is incumbent upon legislators to draft laws that are just, and our current immigration reform have, as one participant put it, all the moral force of laws against jaywalking.
I mentioned earlier that I had been prescient. In January, I wondered why the United States, with all its many financial burdens, had not taken steps to draw down the enormous U.S. forces in Europe. After all, these bases produce a lot of revenue to the neighborhoods where they are located and they could just as easily be closed or at least relocated to Ohio.
I have received confirmation that the White House will shortly announce just such a draw down of troops, especially Army forces. In Germany, which once had more than a whole Army division, only three brigades will be left. The large Air Force installations in Europe will not be affected by the changes.
It will be curious to see how this plays politically. Coming on the heals of President Obama's desire to let Europe take the lead in confronting the crisis in Libya, I suspect conservatives will be yelping about an abdication of U.S. leadership. But, I suspect many swing voters feel the U.S. is over-extended and that there is no excuse for maintaining foreign military missions that serve no direct and obvious purpose.
As mentioned previously, today the USCCB and Catholic University's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies are co-sponsoring a conference on immigration and the Church. It is being live streamed here.
The Anchoress explains what we do, and do not, know about the apparent suspension of Father Corapi, a favorite on EWTN. Her counsel to not rush to judgment is wise. And, she is undoubtedly correct when she writes that there is something excessive among the hero-worshippers of the "truth-telling" priests on EWTN.
(N.B. One of those EWTN priests, Msgr. Stuart Swetland, really is a hell of a good guy and completely without the bombast of his colleagues.)
Still, everytime I flip channels and come across the supremely self-confident Corapi screaming about whatever cause he is embracing on any given day, I confess I have had the thought: Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much. Stridency is rarely evidence of real, genuine faith.
It is also telling that Father Corapi's statement is so breathtakingly self-centered as to cause one to question whether he has any clue about why the Church must take all accusation of priestly impropriety seriously.
Re-read this imaginary letter I penned from Pope Benedict XVI to incoming Speaker John Boehner. A source has told me that a part of it is about to come true. I am working on getting confirmation.
Maybe Sarah Palin has simply long desired to see the Holy Land. Then again, maybe she is just checking off another box in anticipation of a planned run for the presidency. But, she has gone to Israel and is demonstrating her capacity to give dog whistles in Hebrew as well as English.
It is one of the defining features of the modern Religious Right that they have embraced Israel. Anti-Semitism used to be the provenance of the right, but in today's America, it is more often found on the left, and a large part of the reason for that has to do with the politics of Israel.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan was featured on last night's "60 Minutes" and the episode demonstrates one of the main reasons his fellow bishops selected him to lead the USCCB last November: The man radiates personal warmth and he joy in his vocation is evident to all. As our own John Allen, who was the sole expert commentator called upon by CBS, noted, the bishops are aware that they have an image problem and they want to put their best face forward. Dolan is one of their best faces.
On Wednesday, the last day of his Latin America tour, President Barack Obama will pay his respects at the tomb of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero at the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador.
At a press briefing on the trip, Press Secretary Jay Carney said:
"Then the last day, Wednesday before we come back, the President will have an opportunity to tour the National Cathedral in San Salvador and, at the National Cathedral, to pay respects at the tomb of Father Oscar Romero, who, of course, is a hero to many people in the Americas."
The visit is of enormous symbolic significance, not least because Romero was gunned down by paramilitary troops who were armed and encouraged by the United States. Romero was and is, as Carney noted, a hero to many people in the Americas. His stand against the national security state of his day was prophetic and he met a prophet's end: Murdered by those who resisted his call to conversion and his defense of human dignity.
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has inaugurated a new program to encourage interfaith cooperation in community service on college campuses nationwide. President Obama announced the new program in a video message.
"As a Christian who became committed to the church while serving my community, I know that an act of service can unite people of all faiths – or even no faith – around a common purpose of helping those in need. In doing so, we can not only better our communities, we can build bridges of understanding between ourselves and our neighbors," President Obama said in the video message. "While we may not all believe the same things – and we don’t have to – we can certainly agree that together, we can make a difference."
You can see the entire video message here.
Michael Gerson is probably the most thoughtful conservative writer in America today. In this morning's Washington Post, he looks at the tactics of James O'Keefe, the young man who produces these sting videos aimed to entrap conservative targets such as ACORN and NPR. Gerson exposes the danger of this type of muckracking faux-journalism. With enough editing, you can make anyone look like a monster, but the point of journalism is not to make anyone look like a monster, it is to report the reality of a situation. O'Keefe is not a journalist he is just a politcal hack in the long history of hacks. Had he been a young adult in the early 70s, I am sure he would have been one of those who broke into the Watergate. If he had been around in the 50s, I am sure he would have helped Joe McCarthy smear innocent people. And, of course, because ethics and ideology are never all on one side, one can imagine him air-burshing photos for Joe Stalin's KGB in the 1930s.