Today, at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI imposed the pallium on Cardinal Angelo Scola, the new Archbishop of Milan. This is a special vestment, worn only by metropolitan archbishops and worn only within their metropolitan province. Usually, the pallia are imposed on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul at a special Mass at St. Peter's in the Vatican. In earlier times, the pallia were imposed in an archbishop's cathedral. I asked a Vatican watcher what was the significance was of this special imposition of the pallium on Cardinal Scola and he emailed back "Habemus papam." That may be a bit excessive. But, we certainly habemus papabile.
It has taken me more time than I wished to respond to a query over at Commonweal from Father Joseph Komonchak about a post I wrote here at “Distinctly Catholic.” My original post, which can be found here, dealt with a recent speech by Archbishop Charles Chaput in which I faulted Chaput for gliding past some of the difficulties in his reading of the American founding.
One does not respond casually to a query from Fr. Komonchak who knows more about Vatican II than anyone I know. Additionally, I had to track down a specific book that I had lent someone because part of it was on point. But, in the event, the issue Fr. Komochak raised is perennial so the lack of timeliness does not diminish its import.
The question is twofold: Does the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Religious Liberty endorse the notion of freedom at the heart of the First Amendment? and, secondly, does the fact that we even have to ask the question make Pope Benedict squirm?
Timothy Noah, who has joined The New Republic, explains one of the worst shell games in economic talking points about who pays what in taxes. Yes, the rich pay a higher percentage of total income tax revenue than the rest of us because they make more than the rest of us.
And, if you tune into Fox any night of the week, you will hear someone lamenting that the poor do not pay any federal income tax. That's true, of course, but it is also true that federal payroll taxes, and state sales taxes and property taxes, take up a larger percentage of their income than do income taxes for the very rich.
Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
If you ever go to an amusement park, at the beginning of the line to get on the roller coaster, there is a sign that reads, "You must be this tall to board this ride?"
As the United Nations get ready to decide on whether or not to recognize Palestine as an independent state, the same question should be applied. Are the Palestinians tall enough to ride this ride?
Of course, there is a prior question. Which Palestinians are being measured? In the West Bank, there is still a woefully corrupt government structure that, among other things, was unable to prevent terrorists from conducting attacks against Israel. The much maligned security wall the Israelis constructed has kept the terrorists from bombing pizza parlors and discoteques. In Gaza, the Palestinan government does not harbor terrorists, it employs them. Hamas runs Gaza and they are rightly considered a terrorist organization. So, the two territories that would constitute a putative Palestinan state are not even governed by one government. Should Hamas get a seat at the UN? Why not Hezbollah too?
Cong. John Fleming of Louisiana bemoaned President Obama's budget proposals yesterday, noting that after he had paid his taxes and fed his family, he had only about $400,000 left over. Times are tough.
The Republicans may be wrong when they repeat their mantra about “job killing tax cuts” seeing as jobs increased after Bill Clinton raised taxes and have not done so in the ten years since George W. Bush lowered them. Other economic factors have more to do with job growth than the tax rate. I believe there is something dangerous, not just wrong, in the affinity some Republicans have for the Austrian school of economics with its anti-Christian understanding of the human person.
But, the efforts of some GOP governors and state legislatures to restrict the franchise is not only wrong and not only dangerous, it is profoundly un-American. Regular readers will know that this is not an adjective I use lightly.
I have just received a copy of a letter (text below) sent by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, to all of the bishops in the U.S. that calls their attention to the newly released census data on poverty. Archbishop Dolan writes that the numbers are so shocking that the Administrative Committee wanted to do more than simply issue a statement, and decided that a direct, and specific call from Dolan to his brother bishops might better galvanize bishops, priests and laity to demand that our political and economic leaders address these issues of poverty.
It is heartening to see the USCCB recognize that the Church's stance on poverty is every bit as critical as its stance on other issues. And, it is very encouraging to see Archbishop Dolan writing with such passion about this issue.
Here is the full text of the letter:
September 15, 2011
Dear Brother Bishops,
Over at USAToday, Cathy Grossman looks at the President's ramping up of his "God Talk."
President Obama will officially lay out his plan to reduce the federal deficit today. He is including a call for higher taxes on those most able to pay them, including a special super-tax on millionaires. The GOP response was not long in coming. “Class warfare may make for really good politics,” said Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) yesterday. “But it makes for rotten economics. It adds further instability to our system, more uncertainty, and it punishes job creation.”
Yesterday, at the symposium on “Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization” sponsored by the USCCB, the day entailed three major talks, followed by questions and an evening discussion among all three speakers and the group of young theologians the USCCB invited to attend the symposium. Unfortunately, the organizers only allowed time for a few questions at the end of each talk, and the evening discussion was not open to the press. Nor were we invited to ask questions at the conclusion of the talks and, as you can imagine, I had several.