Our friends at Vox Nova look at the union-busting in Wisconsin through the lens of Laborem Exercens. Towards the end of his life, Pope John Paul II was asked which of his three social encyclicals was his favorite and he cited Laborem, his first, as his favorite. It is mine too. One wishes that there was a single Catholic Republican in the Wisconsin legislature who would read it and think twice before continuing with the assault on workers rights.
My friend Mark Silk posts about how his students at Trintiy College reacted to former Senator Rick Santorum's recent remarks about the Crusades.
There is, of course, room for disagreement about many things in public life and, indeed, about interpreting history. But, putting a smiley face on the Crusades is not a serious intellectual project. It is an embarrassment.
Don't miss Adam Kirsch's review of Timothy Beal's "The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book." The different uses to which the Bible is put - prehaps better to say subjected - is a subject that defines so much of American culture. This goes on the Must-Read column.
Congressman Keith Ellison is so far to the left of me, it hurts my neck to turn in his direction. But, according to Politico, the liberal congressman from Minnesota has called on President Obama to come to Wisconsin and stand with the workers.
I agree entirely and for two, somewhat contradictory, reasons. First, you know and I know and Richard Trumka knows that some of those protesters voted Republican last autumn. How did that work out for you guys? Second, as I never tire of saying until I am blue in the face, only when the Democrats reclaim their status as the unabashed defender of the working class will they return to majority status. Too busy pussy-footing with their friends at Goldman-Sachs, the national Dems have sold the working class down the river with bad trade deals, bad tax policies, and attacks on their cultural values. President Obama has found in the Tea Party and their over-reaching members a perfect foil to shape the debate back towards a Rooseveltian dynamic. Shame on him if he fails to take the opportunity.
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has issued a press release praising Bishop Stephen Blaire, chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development for his endorsement of labor rights and the stance taken by the Wisconsin bishops in the face if an unprecedented attack on a right the Church has recognized since at least 1891.
Here is the release from CACG:
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Affirming Catholic Moral Insistence for Unions and Collective Bargaining
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good endorses the statements by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee and Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, on the rights of workers to unionize and bargain collectively. For Catholic teachings as expressed in papal encyclicals from Rerum novarum in 1891 through Pope Benedict XVI's recently released encyclical, Caritas in veritate, unionization and collective bargaining are required elements of a moral economic or political order.
Just arrived at the condo we are renting in Puerto Rico and – voila – there is wifi! So, while I was in transit and enjoying a late lunch looking out over the turquoise waters of Luquillo Beach, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, was issuing a statement supporting the stance taken by the Wisconsin bishops in favor of the right of workers to unionize and bargain collectively. That right has been under attack by Wisconsin’s new governor. Bishop Blaire’s letter took the form of a letter to the chairman of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Archbishop Jerome Listecki. The text follows:
Watching TV night, there were criticisms from across the political spectrum that President Obama failed to speak out more forcefully on behalf of the people in Libya who have taken to the streets in an effort to overthrow their tyrant.
There is no argument but that Gadhafi is one of the most evil people on the planet. There is no argument but that the people of Libya should be free from that evil regime. But, Gadhafi has helicopter gunships and the people do not. The last time I heard about helicopter gunships shooting on innocent civilians, the evil tyrant was Saddam Hussein. You will recall that in the first Gulf War, the U.S. encouraged both the Shia in the south and the Kurds in the north to rise up against the regime. They did so, believing that American encouragement would come with some degree of American protection. To their everlasting misery and to America’s eternal shame, they were deceived in that belief. When Saddam unleashed his gunships, the protesters the U.S. had encouraged were slaughtered en masse. The United States did nothing.
The Obama Administration has determined that part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton, is unconstitutional and they will no lobger defend the law in court proceedings.
This puts the administration on a collision course with the USCCB to be sure, and just so, I fail to see the political benefit in this move for the administration. The USCCB has declined to join the effort to repeal the health care reform law and it gave a mixed verdict on the new conscience regulations. Of course, the move will help with fundraising in liberal circles, which is a prime concern. And, in the strange world of liberal jurisprudence these days, I suppose the determination that DOMA is unconstitutional makes sense. But, why not wait until the courts sort it out?
NCR has been given a corrected version of the text of Cardinal Peter Turkson's magnificent address to the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, held in Washington last week. We reprint it here and hope it will receive the wide distribution it deserves, and that its insights will make tehir way into sermons throughout the land, and especially in Wisconsin!
Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in the United States:
“Protecting Human Life and Dignity: Promoting a Just Economy”
Washington, D.C., 13-16 February 2011
The Legacy of Rerum Novarum:
The Current Challenges of Catholic Social Teaching
Former House Speaker and potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was asked to address the, ehem, disconnect between his defense of marriage and his personal conduct. Every sinner has a saint inside waiting to come out, but it is hard to see how Gingrich could survive a presidential run if questions like this are going to be asked, and they will be asked. If Mr. Gingrich was a little less convinced he was right about everything, he might not be such a target for the charge of hypocrisy. But a Newt without the certainty would not be Newt. The rest of us just have to be careful to walk around the broken glass everywhere.