Commonweal has a very important article up by Peter Steinfels about the increasingly large number of Catholics who are leaving the Church. It makes for sober, and very thoughtful, reading.
The Washington Post's Arts & Style section this weekend had an article about a new exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library dealing with Henry VIII. The theater that adjoins the library is producing Shakespeare's play about Henry.
In discussing the dissolution of the monasteries, the author penned this sentence: "And as the exhibition demonstrates, while Henry's motives were amply mixed, he was also intellectually engaged in the formation of a new, more modern Christianity, a faith built upon actual knowledge of scripture rather than obedience to a distant, dogmatic and pedieval church." Huh?
Donohue has issued a press release that says, in part: "The point is that Winters, a Catholic dissident, is unhappy that Sirico is not in rebellion against the teachings of the Catholic Church. That's true, and that is why he doesn't write for the National Catholic Reporter."
In fact, as my commentary suggests, I believe that Father Sirico is entirely entitled to change his views on gay marriage. My issue is not that he fails to become a "dissident." My issue is that Sirico should be less sanctimonious given his own wrestlings with his faith. But, of course, Donohue is not the type to recognize sanctimony as a problem, is he?
Yesterday, at Q & A, we heard from Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox who discussed the role of social conservatives in the Tea Party. They pointed out that there is a great deal of actual overlap between the two groups, despite the obvious conceptual differences between them. The Tea Party presents itself as an anti-government, libertarian movement and social conservatives are far from libertarian. I do not think that essential tension can survive the long, thorough scrutiny of a presidential nominating process, when candidates can’t avoid debates and when individual candidates must develop a coherent, reasonably consistent public philosophy. But, in a midterm, when voters only focus at the end of a campaign and are unlikely to notice any inconsistencies except those on the surface, the tension between the “Don’t Tread on Me” ethos and the comprehensive moral compass of the social conservative movement may not prevent some Tea Party candidates from keeping them united through November 2.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts, as the late, great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said.
This past weekend, on his show "The World Over" on EWTN, host Raymond Arroyo spoke of the Pope's speech at the Synod in Rome.
There was much he could have focused on in that speech, but Arroyo chose to focus on the thing that jumped out at me too. The Pope said, "Let us remember all the great powers of today’s history, let us remember the anonymous capital that enslaves man, which is no longer in man’s possession, but is an anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed. It is a destructive power, that threatens the world."
In explaining this, Arroyo said the Pope was refering to foreign capitals.
No he wasn't. I will grant that the Pope's reference was a bit opaque, especially for someone as clearly spoken as Pope Benedict. But, he was clearly not refering to capital in the plural, to cities that house governments, he was refering to the capital in capitalism.
Quick quiz from the religio-political estuary: What do Belgian archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard and Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck have in common? Bingo. They both recently made remarks about homosexuality that strike most others as foolish or worse.
Archbishop Leonard made a remark about AIDS being a “sort of immanent justice” for those who live a libertine lifestyle. This harkened back to a debate that I thought had ended in the late 1980s, when some religious leaders claimed AIDS was God’s punishment against homosexuality. For Americans, of course, the experience of watching one’s favorite bartender or neighbor or movie star die too early and die such a horrible death moved most Americans to sympathy with AIDS sufferers not judgment.
Last week, I attended -- and wrote about -- a panel discussion on the Catholic Vote in the upcoming midterms sponsored by Catholic University's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.
A video of the panel is now available here.
I have asked the presenters to do what I have been doing the past few weeks, pick a race and comment on it. Today, we hear from Robert Jones and Daniel Cox of the Public Religion Reasearch Institute as they analyze the Colorado Senate race and the significance of the Tea Party in that race. Jones is the CEO and Cox is the Director of Research at the PRRI.
My story about Father Robert Sirico being a pioneer in the gay marriage movement in the 1970s raises many issues. But it also does not raise others. Distinctions are in order.
First, Father Sirico’s case is not like that of Bishop Eddie Long or Rev. Ted Haggard. They were hypocrites, preaching one thing while doing another. Father Sirico, clearly, had a conversion experience and changed his mind about same-sex issues. He is entirely entitled to do that. Father Sirico’s statement is evidence of integrity, not its lack, no matter what you think of his earlier activities or of his present stance on the issue of same-sex marriage.
While the Catholic hierarchy, from Maine to Minnesota to California, seeks to prevent same-sex marriages from gaining legal recognition, one conservative Catholic commentator, Fr. Robert Sirico, has special expertise on the subject, although in recent years he has said nothing about that expertise. In Washington state and Colorado in the 1970s, Sirico performed some of the first same-sex marriage ceremonies in history.
Sirico is most known as a regular commentator on EWTN’s “The World Over” with Raymond Arroyo. There, Sirico frequently excoriates those whose understanding of their faith differs from his own. Sirico also is the head of the Michigan-based Acton Institute, an organization that is dedicated to laissez-faire economics. His commitment to libertarian ideas in economic matters may lack any precedent in Catholic social teaching, but they echo a libertarian commitment from earlier in his career.
We conclude our two weeks of examining the pontificate of Benedict XVI today with a contribution from Michael Peppard, Assistant Professor of Theology at Fordham University and, as mentioned, part of husband and wife team of new theologians who particiapted in the Fordham Conversation Project last August. Mr. Peppard was one of the principal organizers of that conference.
The question: What is one of Pope Benedict's principal contributions to the life of the Church?
Michael Peppard: On May 15, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI did something expected but extraordinary: he published a book of biblical scholarship. From where I sit—admittedly in a biased position, as a biblical scholar myself—this was his most significant contribution so far to Catholic theology.