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DC's Most Influential Catholic

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The Washington Post has a long profile of National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, an alumnus of Catholic University. Donilon, whose brother is the communications director of the Archdiocese of Boston, may not be the highest-ranking Catholic in Washington, but he may be the most influential.

Donilon was a professor of mine in 1981 when he taught a course on presidential election politics. He is very smart, very comprehensive in his analysis of any given topic, deeply read as well as widely read (they are not the same thing) and super funny. As the article details, he also is pointing the country towards some of the long-term foreign policy challenges that were neglected woefully by the neo-cons in the Bush administration.

USCCB & The 111th Congress

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As the 111th Congress comes to a close, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has to ask if their current methods for trying to influence the nation’s political system are working. And if they are honest, they will admit the answer is “no” and begin re-thinking how they can help build up a more just society.

Just this past Saturday, Republican senators, joined by a handful of conservative Democrats, blocked consideration of the DREAM Act. The bishops lobbied for the measure but there was nothing like the effort they expended on behalf of the Stupak Amendment-language on restricting abortion funding last year. In the event, they lost that vote too. Those were the two biggest issues on which the bishops weighed in this year and they lost both.

Yahoo Watch: CatholicVote.org

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Over at CatholicVote.org, which is now home to the blog "the American Papist," they list their top ten reasons for hope coming out of 2010.

Poor Pope Benedict: His fine, foundational speech at Westminster Hall and the "Pope Visit to England" only merited #7 on their slot. (Oddly, the accompanying video only has shots of the Pope in Scotland, not England, but not matter.)

#9 is a true winner, "Tea Party and Subsidiarity" although from my reading of the Tea Party, they miss the fact that subsidiarity is a two way street, requiring action at the lowest level of government possible, but demanding it at higher levels when lower levels fail to act. At least the accompanying video is on the mark, showing shouting, angry white people.

But, the number one reason for hope? The 2010 elections. That's right, the Speakership of John Boehner is greater cause for hope among Catholics than anything else. Yeesh.

Ross Douthat & the New Evangelization

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In his essay today at the New York Times, Ross Douthat discusses two important new books on the role of religion in American culture. And, though he does not employ the phrase, he makes the case for the New Evangelization. He writes about the happy consequences of faith, the increase in altruism, etc. But, the Christian faith will only flourish when it is grasped as true, not when it is seen to be sociall beneficial. That is why we need a New Evangelization. Not to protect "traditional marriage." Not to engender altruism. But, because we believe the admittedlty outrageous claims of our faith are true.

Dems Backing Off Religious Outreach?

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This artilce by Tiffany Stanley at The New Republic highlights one of the principle difficulties afflicting the Democrats today: After Obama's 2008 victory, they have paid little or no attention to closing the "God Gap." The article is a must-read for anyone engaged in Democratic Party strategy. America may not be a "Christian nation" but it is a nation of Christians and the Dems ignore religiously motivated voters at their peril. Even more important than outreach, religiously motivated voters must be considered when framing the Dems' message.

The Pope's State of the Church Address

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Each year, the Holy Father gives a Christmas Address to the Curia which serves as the equivalent of a President's State of the Union. Two things jump out at me from the Pope's remarks this year.
First, on the issue of sex abuse, Benedict XVI "gets it." He brings up the issue and the first thing he says is that the Church must care for the victims. He speaks about those who help the victims heal and praises their work. He asks the central question: How could this happen? There is no prevarication. There is no insistence on limiting civil statutes of limitation to avoid paying damages. There is no gay-bashing. The Pope gets it.

After Don't Ask; Don't Tell

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The repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell is a singularly happy event. The nation has taken a step forward in the long slow march of justice. The intellectually corrupt concerns of Archbishop Timothy Broglio notwithstanding, the repeal of DADT is a triumph for truth as well, indeed, a spectacular vindication of the 8th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. DADT required gay men and women to bear false witness and its repeal should be seen as a victory for truth as well as justice.

DREAM Act Fails: Profiles in Cowardice

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By a vote of 55-41, the U.S. Senate this morning failed to invoke cloture on the DREAM Act, effectively killing the bill.
Among those voting against the measure were five Democrats, Senators Max Baucus and John Tester of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Shame on them all.
A big heaping of shame on Sen. Sam Brownback, a convert to Catholicism, who said he would vote no but hoped the bill passed. That is the quintessence of political cowardice.
Three Republicans boke ranks and voted for cloture: Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah. Mr. Bennett lost his renomination battle last year, but he still gets a prize for breaking with party discipline to do the right thing. Dick Lugar, not for the first time, has proven he puts policy before partisanship. Ms. Murkowski, who won re-election as an Independent, gave notice that the Republicans cannot count on her vote at all times.

Catholic Bishops Lobby for DREAM Act

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Four U.S. bishops - Cardinal Roger Mahony and Coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City and Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau, Alaska - just held a press call to urge the U.S. Senate to pass the DREAM Act.
"I ask Senators to do the right thing," Archbishop Gomez said. Cardinal Mahony discussed meeting young students at Los Angeles' many colleges and universities who would be affected by the DREAM Act. "They really consider themselves Americans," the cardinal sais, noting that many of them do not recall the countries of their birth because they were brought here at such a young age.
Bishop Wester said he had been lobbying Utah's two senators, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Robert Bennett, both of whom have supported the DREAM Act in the past but are facing strong pressure to back the GOP leadership in opposing the bill now. Wester said that the DREAM Act was "an important first step" towards comprehensive immigration reform.

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