This week's Common Good Forum at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, has an excellent essay by Sharon Latchaw Hirsh, President of Rosemont College, on the role of ethics in education. Her essay, as the good folks at CACG note, is an example of the kind of thinking invited by Pope John Paul II's Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which is usually used as a battering ram by conservatives but, in fact, contained much food for thought for people of any and all ideological stripes.
I was not at first opposed to the idea that the start of the new Congress should start with a reading of the Constitution. After all, the British parliament begins its sessions with the pageantry of the Queen’s Speech from the Throne, with heraldic trumpets, and the State Crown, and lots of bowing and scraping to…..to what? Not to this woman, the Queen, because she happened to have been born to the right couple at the right time. But, because the Queen represents the historical roots of the nation’s sovereignty. The Queen is no longer a sovereign ruler; the powers of the monarch have been yanked or whittled away for centuries, but still she is referred to as “the Sovereign.”
Something must have gotten into the punchbowl at the American Papist's New Year's Eve party. He is the first person to earn a spot on the Yahoo Watch in one week.
He has a post up speculating about the appointment of a new Bishop of Rochester New York.
The Papist is not a fan of the incumbent, Bishop Matthew Clark. But here is how he ends his piece: "If what I’m hearing is confirmed by the Holy Spirit, we’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, let’s pray for the poor souls of Rochester, that their day of liberation from heterodoxy may soon be at hand."
Liberation from "heterodoxy"? That is quite a charge. It does not reflect well on Pope John Paul II to think that he appointed a heterodox bishop. I have not been shy about questioning the actions of bishops who make decision with which I disagree, but I do not believe they are heterodox.
The young Papist is unafraid to level such a strong charge. Perhaps he should examine the canon law he likes to invoke when it suits him and see what it has to say about heterodoxy. Those canons also have something to say about calumny.
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is considering a bid for the presidency.
Bachmann is a leader of the Tea Party foolishness that has beclouded sensible political thought in this country. She epitomizes the kind of self-satisfied provacateur who thinks everything that comes from her mouth is an oracle, that her rationales, such as they are, for her political positions have a "QED" quality to them, as if blathering platitudes not only answers complicated questions but effectively ends the debate. She is allergic to nuance and hostile to argument. Please, let her run. Go Michelle. Nothing could better demonstate the limits of the Tea Party wordlview than the sustained glare of a presidential run.
This is not pretty to watch. Congressman Allen West, newly elected Tea Party favorite from Florida, criticized President Obama because, on his recent visit to Afghanistan, he did not physically endanger himself by going up to the front lines of the combat zone. Appearing on Lawrence O'Donnell's show "The Last Word," last night, O'Donnell gave West the opportunity to back off his outrageous criticism. West declined, arguing that true leadership requires putting oneself in the line of fire, and that he had learned this while a Marine.
E. J. Dionne has a smart article in the Washington Post this morning, in which he takes aim at the incoming GOP majority because of their obsession with abstractions. He notes that they speak about "excessive regulation" and "smaller government" but do not really discuss which regulations are not excessive and which are, or which government programs they want to put on the chopping block. EJ calls the new House a "House of Professors" which is a slur against professors, but you get his point.
Over at USA Today, Cathy Grossman gives the lowdown on a new court ruling that holds a cross erected on public lands is unconstitutional. Grossman puts her finger on what is wrong about the Supreme Court's jurisprudence in religious matters, citing Justice Kennedy's comments to the effect that the cross is now a universal symbol of sacrifice that can be shared by all. Justice Stevens responded that, no, the cross refers to a very specific sacrifice. Stevens is right about the significance of the cross, although given the central role of Christian faith in the history of the country, I do not object to the presence of such a cross on public lands, nor to the presence of a Star of David or a Muslim crescent.
But what is truly absurd is the position held by some conservatives that Justice Kennedy's lame justification for the cross in such situations is a "win" for Christians. "If the cross is not about Christ, if it's just some heroic minimalist sculpture, why would Christians fight for it?" Grossman asks. It is the right question.
This morning, the Holy See also named new members and consultors to the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care. Among the new consultors is Dr. John Haas, Presiden of the National Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. It was Hass who recently said of the Pope's remarks on condoms that the pontiff was "wrong."
Say what you will about Pope Benedict, he evidently does not hold any grudges.
The Holy See today announced the members of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. The sole American named to the Council was New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan. It is an inspired choice.
The New Evangelization has two components. First, it will seek to use new media and methods to proclaim the Gospel. For this part of the brief, Dolan is a natural, a media-friendly, gregarious Archbishop who already has his own blog and who happens to preside over the media capital of the world.
Over at Sussidiario, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete writes this week about why so many people continue to question the President's faith. Monsignor suggests it is all politics, but I think racism has a lot to do with it as well.