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Vox Nova Takes On Papist


Our friends at Vox Nova have a fine takedown of the American Papist who wonders why more of us on the left have not joined him in applauding a group that stages videotaped encounters with the staff at Planned Parenthood clinics in an effort to "expose" them and their nefarious deeds.
I am no fan of Planned Parenthood. But, these juvenile, staged, videotaped encounters, like the earlier efforts to take on and take down ACORN, are not worthy of comment. They entirely miss the fact that the people they are "exposing" are, perhaps, not as morally indignant as the Papist wants them to be because they are trying to figure out what the hell is going on. If someone goes in with a problem, really any problem, a counselor should not attack them. It takes a while to answer basic questions: Is this person making this up? Is this person mentally unbalanced? Is this a hoax? How desperate is this person? The sense of bewilderment is not the same as a sense of moral laxity.

Silk on Obama and RC's


Over at Spiritual Politics, Mark Silk notes the new members of the Obama Administration's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership Office's Advisory Council. Amongst other problems, Silk notes that the Obama administration has dropped the ball on dealing with the Catholic hierarchy: "If the Obama White House can't round up a single Catholic bishop for this Council, it should be ashamed of itself. (Indeed, the administration's inability to establish decent relations with the Catholic hierarchy represents its single biggest faith-based failure.)"
The fault is not only with Obama. Two weeks ago, at the State of the Union, newly instaled House Speaker John Boehner had Cardinal Wuerl in his box. I do not recall Speaker Pelosi ever having a prominent - or a not prominent - Catholic clergyman as her guest at the State of the Union.

The Complexity of Morality in the Neonatal Unit


Normally, it would not occur to me to read, let alone recommend, a book of moral theology. Better to put pins in your eyes than read through another dry analysis of the moral law. Besides, morals have always bored me. It has never seemed that difficult to figure what is bad and what is not, and my Wildean inability to resist temptation keeps me frequently enough at the confessional that I am always reminded that the remedy for evil-doing is, in the end, the mercy of God.

Get Palin a Strategist Now


Yesterday, Sarah Palin criticized the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in Egypt by recalling the famous television ad Hillary Clinton ran during the 2008 primaries about the phone ringing at 3 a.m. in the White House. The point of the ad was that then-candidate Obama was untested, and might not be able to handle a foreign crisis. I never liked the ad. No matter who picks up that phone at 3 a.m., you know that the caller would be the National Security Advisor. The incumbent in that post, Tom Donilon, would be as likely to hold that job had Clinton won in 2008. And, no matter who picks up the phone, the first question they ask is the same: What do you recommend? And the first command they give would be the same: Assemble the team.

Immigration Reform Back on Front Burner?


God love Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, who with his colleague Chuck Schumer of New York, is beginning to discuss how comprehensive immigration reform can be achieved in this Congress. Graham sees what many in the GOP prefer to ignore, that given demographic realities, adopting a hostile posture to Latinos on the immigration issue is a long-term loser. The difficulty is that many in the GOP base consider immigration one of their top concerns, and they do not favor comprehensive reform.
I have suggested before that one way to defuse some of the partisan edge on this issue is for the President to send up the exact same bill that President George W. Bush sent to the Hill in 2005. Do not change a comma. It would be hard to attack that bill, drafted by Bush, as an example of partisan, liberal over-reach by Obama, which is the way President Obama's initiatives are usually characterized, or caricatured.

The New Translation of the Mass


The new translation of the Mass in English is at the publishers. Controversy continues to surround the translation. Noted liturgist Father Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., recently announced he was canceling speaking engagements about the new translation because he could not, in good conscience, praise the new work. At a liturgical conference in San Francisco, participants were very worried about both the process by which the new translation was achieved and its final form. Still, it appears that come the First Sunday of Advent, we will all be using this new translation.

I am not a liturgist nor a Latinist, so I have no special expertise on the subject. The two smartest priests I know are divided on the subject, one thinks the new translation preferable to the old, the other calls it a disaster. Simply as a Mass-goer, I confess I find some of our current translations a tad pedestrian but I also find some of the new translations clunky.

The Unemployment Report


The Unemployment Rate dropped unexpectedly to 9 percent last month, which is good news. But, the economy only added 36,000 new jobs, a disappointing figure except when you consider that the economy usually sheds jobs in January due to bad weather. This January, the weather was especially bad so it is possible that next month's figures could be decidedly more robust. At National Review, Bob Stein calls attention to the uptick in the rate of civilian employment, which includes things like start-up businesses.

Kudos to Abp Aymond


Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond of New Orleans has announced that the Archdiocese is publishing the sacramental records of slaves and free blacks online in commemoration of Black History Month. This is a good thing in itself, making these important historical records more easily available to researchers. But, it is also a "distinctly Catholic" thing to do. Our tradition is not merely a set of documents. Our tradition attests to the spiritual lives of real people, our forebears, who carried on the tradition they received and handed it on to their children. Unlike the "sola Scripture" crowd, we are not Catholics because we happened to have been born in a place where there are Bibles lying about. We are Catholic Christians because we have been baptized into a community of faith, rooted in Revelation because we are rooted in the tradition that carried that Revelation forth to our own time.


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