All of us who blog about the Church have long looked to Rocco Palmo for inspiration...and for insider gossip! So, I was thrilled to see that at the upcoming "blogfest" at the Vatican, Rocco has been chosen to moderate one of the two scheduled panels. He follows Cardinal Ravasi, who will give opening remarks and, if you know Rocco, you can bet that the blogger will pidgeon-hole the cardinal while they exchange the microphone and Rocco will come away with another piece of insider info. Congrats Roc!
George Weigel's article at InsideCatholic "Remembering Pope John Paul II," begins with the reminder, as if any were needed, that Weigel spent more time with the late pontiff than you did. As one Vatican official said to me when Weigel's biography of John Paul II came out, "After reading it, one is left with the question: Who is that man standing in white next to George Weigel?"
Several conservative Catholic sites such as the American Papist and LifeSiteNews are beating their anti-Obama drums by calling attention to a Fox News report that President Obama did not issue an "Easter proclamation" even though he has issued statements to commemorate the holidays of other, non-Christian religions. You can easily imagine the right-wingers confirming the story, "I saw it on Fox, so it must be true." Alas, it is not true.
Schedule reminders: Today, at 4:15, Father Ian Ker will be delivering a lecture at Catholic University entitled, "Newman's Idea of a University - Some Misunderstandings." The lecture will be held in the Great Hall of the Przybyla Center.
And there is still time to register for the conference on the 120th anniversay of Rerum Novarum, which will also be held in the Great Hall of teh Przybyla Center, next Monday and Tuesday. The conference will feature Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, John Sweeney, past president of the AFL-CIO, columnists E.J. Dionne and Harold Meyerson, noted historian Rev. Gerry Fogarty, S.J., the USCCB's John Carr and Kathy Saile, Alexia Kelley from the White House office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Initiatives and many more. You can get the full schedule and register (the event is free but registration is requested for planning purposes) by clicking here.
Governors across the nation have been struggling to balance their budgets, often with unhappy consequences for programs that aid the poor and the vulnerable. Some of the battles, such as the attack on collective bargaining rights by conservative Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio, have exposed the anti-union bias behind the purportedly budget-saving measures. But, perhaps no single measure is so repulsive as the effort in Michigan to close the Catherine Ferguson Charter School in Detroit. And the utter silence in Catholic conservative circles is shocking.
Newt Gingrich's article about his conversion to Catholicism in the National Catholic Register today will not rival St. Augustine's Confessions anytime soon. Nonetheless, while he does not put it this way, it is clear the he understands that his faith found him as much as he found it. Just so, his essay is a fine one and especially appropriate at this Eastertide when the Church welcomes so many new Catholics into the fold.
Many have criticized Gingrich for his conversion, usually with nasty comments about his personal life. I think Mr. Gingrich needs to study the Church's social teachings a bit more seriously, but I for one am delighted anytime anyone becomes a Catholic. As for his past personal foibles, they are in the past and, since he became a Catholic, they are appropriate for discussion in the confessional and nowhere else. Besides, if the Church only welcomes the sinless, it would be empty. It is a big Church and there is plenty of room for Gingrich.
Eugene Robinson, in this morning's Washington Post, reminds the President that most Americans are more concerned about job creation than deficit reduction. The President is well-advised to go on a week-long tour of factories and companies that are hiring people and encourage others to do the same. And, he can use those visits to remind people that one of the best ways to deal with the long-term deficit is to create a vibrant economy in which all those who want work find it, and therefore pay taxes.
UPDATE: The link has been fixed.
I am not much of a fan of Congressman Ron Paul, the libertarian darling whose views are not my own. But, he did a fine job in an appearance on the Sean Hannity show, debunking Hannity's fear-mongering as regards the introduction of sharia law in the United States which is, I would submit, a reasonably unlikely possibility and is invoked by Hannity and others merely to whip up anti-Muslim bigotry.
The relationship of religious law to civil law is not a new concern. In 1765, in his first published work, John Adams penned "A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law" in which Adams vented his own anti-Catholic prejudices. Adams outgrew his anti-Romish bigotry but I wouldn't hold my breathe to anticipate Hannity will outgrow his.
Congress went on recess over the Easter holiday. It was the first time many members had been back in their districts since the House of Representatives passed a budget plan that, among other things, changes Medicare from a guaranteed benefit for seniors into a voucher program. Those who voted for the proposal, including its author, Rep. Paul Ryan, got an earful from voters on the subject.
Notre Dame law professor Rick Garnett has an op-ed at USAToday about the upcoming Supreme Court case on the ministerial exception for civil rights laws. This is a dicey subject but I mostly agree with Garnett. Too often secular liberals warn that any public pronouncements by religiously motivated leaders risks dismantling the deparation of Church and State, a position that is mostly nonsense. But, this really is a case of separation of Church and State and, as Garnett rightly argues, the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom should be upheld broadly by the Court.