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Episcopal Failure in Phoenix

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Bishop Thomas Olmsted has ordered St. Joseph Hospital to cease calling itself Catholic because it failed to abide by a series of ultimatums he issued previously. As well, the hospital chapel will no longer be able to reserve the Blessed Sacrament on premise nor hold Masses there.

I wrote about this mess earlier this week. I am glad to see that at least today the bishop mentioned God and not just canon law.

The decision comes after negotiations between Bishop Olmsted and Catholic Healthcare West, which runs the hospital in question. None of us knows what went on in those negotiations but if the bishop's public statements are any guide, it was less of a discussion than an interrogation.

We know something else about the entire sad episode. It represents a failure on Olmsted's part of the highest order. When discussions like these end up being conducted by press conference and in the pages of the local newspaper, the local bishop has failed to lead.

Giving ultimatums is not leadership. Giving ultimatums is what those who have failed to lead resort to in desperation.

UConn Set To Break Record

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It is not often that you wake up knowing that news will be made that day, but tonight we know news will be made. The UConn women's basketball team is set to break the all-time record for most consecutive wins by an NCAA team in any sport. The record is currently held by the UCLA men's basketball team during the years of John Wooden.

In Connecticut, you will see signs that read "Geno is God" a reference to the UConn coach, Geno Auriemma. You will discover thousands of people attending women's basketball games. The Women Huskies are the talk and toast of the Nutmeg State. It is quite remarkable.

It is also quite new. If you do not think government has the power to change the life of a culture, recall that Title IX, which required equal funding for women's athletics at colleges and universities, was only passed in 1972. That is within our lifetime, a large and increasingly wide avenue for women's equality has opened up, providing young women with opportunities and life lessons that had previously been reserved for men.

One more thing. If you have never watched a game of UConn women's basketball, be prepared. They are really, really good.

Silk on Military Chaplains after DADT

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The always wise and balanced Mark Silk has a good post that explains how the military chaplains should show the same sense of balance in a military without DADT as the First Amendment jurisprudence would commend.

Of course, we all have our problems with First Amendment jurisprudence which resembles goulash, but Silk is right to resist the more extreme interpretations of what the repeal of DADT does and does not mean for military chaplains.

DC's Most Influential Catholic

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The Washington Post has a long profile of National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, an alumnus of Catholic University. Donilon, whose brother is the communications director of the Archdiocese of Boston, may not be the highest-ranking Catholic in Washington, but he may be the most influential.

Donilon was a professor of mine in 1981 when he taught a course on presidential election politics. He is very smart, very comprehensive in his analysis of any given topic, deeply read as well as widely read (they are not the same thing) and super funny. As the article details, he also is pointing the country towards some of the long-term foreign policy challenges that were neglected woefully by the neo-cons in the Bush administration.

USCCB & The 111th Congress

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As the 111th Congress comes to a close, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has to ask if their current methods for trying to influence the nation’s political system are working. And if they are honest, they will admit the answer is “no” and begin re-thinking how they can help build up a more just society.

Just this past Saturday, Republican senators, joined by a handful of conservative Democrats, blocked consideration of the DREAM Act. The bishops lobbied for the measure but there was nothing like the effort they expended on behalf of the Stupak Amendment-language on restricting abortion funding last year. In the event, they lost that vote too. Those were the two biggest issues on which the bishops weighed in this year and they lost both.

Yahoo Watch: CatholicVote.org

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Over at CatholicVote.org, which is now home to the blog "the American Papist," they list their top ten reasons for hope coming out of 2010.

Poor Pope Benedict: His fine, foundational speech at Westminster Hall and the "Pope Visit to England" only merited #7 on their slot. (Oddly, the accompanying video only has shots of the Pope in Scotland, not England, but not matter.)

#9 is a true winner, "Tea Party and Subsidiarity" although from my reading of the Tea Party, they miss the fact that subsidiarity is a two way street, requiring action at the lowest level of government possible, but demanding it at higher levels when lower levels fail to act. At least the accompanying video is on the mark, showing shouting, angry white people.

But, the number one reason for hope? The 2010 elections. That's right, the Speakership of John Boehner is greater cause for hope among Catholics than anything else. Yeesh.

Ross Douthat & the New Evangelization

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In his essay today at the New York Times, Ross Douthat discusses two important new books on the role of religion in American culture. And, though he does not employ the phrase, he makes the case for the New Evangelization. He writes about the happy consequences of faith, the increase in altruism, etc. But, the Christian faith will only flourish when it is grasped as true, not when it is seen to be sociall beneficial. That is why we need a New Evangelization. Not to protect "traditional marriage." Not to engender altruism. But, because we believe the admittedlty outrageous claims of our faith are true.

Dems Backing Off Religious Outreach?

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This artilce by Tiffany Stanley at The New Republic highlights one of the principle difficulties afflicting the Democrats today: After Obama's 2008 victory, they have paid little or no attention to closing the "God Gap." The article is a must-read for anyone engaged in Democratic Party strategy. America may not be a "Christian nation" but it is a nation of Christians and the Dems ignore religiously motivated voters at their peril. Even more important than outreach, religiously motivated voters must be considered when framing the Dems' message.

The Pope's State of the Church Address

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Each year, the Holy Father gives a Christmas Address to the Curia which serves as the equivalent of a President's State of the Union. Two things jump out at me from the Pope's remarks this year.
First, on the issue of sex abuse, Benedict XVI "gets it." He brings up the issue and the first thing he says is that the Church must care for the victims. He speaks about those who help the victims heal and praises their work. He asks the central question: How could this happen? There is no prevarication. There is no insistence on limiting civil statutes of limitation to avoid paying damages. There is no gay-bashing. The Pope gets it.

After Don't Ask; Don't Tell

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The repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell is a singularly happy event. The nation has taken a step forward in the long slow march of justice. The intellectually corrupt concerns of Archbishop Timothy Broglio notwithstanding, the repeal of DADT is a triumph for truth as well, indeed, a spectacular vindication of the 8th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. DADT required gay men and women to bear false witness and its repeal should be seen as a victory for truth as well as justice.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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