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Q & A: Christiana Peppard

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The USCCB's publication of a new book, Pope Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on his Papacy, has been the occasion for two weeks of discussion here at Q & A about Pope Benedict and his contributions to the Church.

This week we are hearing from the young theologians who participated in the Fordham Conversation Project, a gathering of under-40, untenured Catholic theology professors from around the country.

On these last two days of the series we get to hear from a husband and wife team, Christiana and Michael Peppard. It is a measure of the uniqueness of the times in which we live that the phrase "husband and wife team" has not, in previous generations, been applied to theologians!

Christiana Peppard is a doctoral candidate at Yale University, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Ethics Education at Fordham University, and the Scholar in Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Score One for O'Donnell

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Christine O'Donnell and Chris Coons squared off for a debate last night in Delaware and neither scored either a slam dunk or a career-ending gaffe. But, the bar was so low for O'Donnell, her calm demeanor and ability to articulate the her beliefs belied the image of her as a crazy, witchcraft-dabbling, ranter. Additionally, Coons did not help himself by being so condescending. Repeatedly, after O'Donnell spoke, he began his replies by saying "Where do I start, Wolf?" appearing too chummy with a consummate Washington insider like host Wolf Blitzer and making it seem like it was some unreasonable burden to confront O'Donnell's words. Yes, O'Donnell strings together cliches and platitudes and confused them with a coherent worldview, but watching Coons last night, two words kept rummaging through my mind: Martha Coakely.

Election Time: The Catholic Vote

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Yesterday, Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies had a panel at the National Press Club, examining the Catholic vote and the upcoming midterm elections. The panel included CUA politics professor Matthew Green, who addressed the electoral landscape this year, Public Religion Research Institute’s CEO Robert Jones, who presented the results of a new survey his organization conducted, and Greg Smith, who discussed the polling data from Pew surveys this year and how those surveys compared to previous years. The panel was moderated by Mark Rozell of George Mason University.

God in America: Part II

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The price of admission was met when the PBS special dealt with Lincoln and how the experience of the Civil War altered his religious convictions from a basic Deism to a belief in a providential, and loving, God.

They noted that you only have to listen to the lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic to know that "God is entering history." They focused on the uniquely theological content of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, which remains the ur-text for American civic religion.

I wish they had focused more - or will focus in subsequent segments - on how paradigmatic Lincoln's experience was. It is suffering that moves us to embrace the God who suffered.

Before the face of evil, be it the war dead of Antietam and Gettysburg or the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, who can pray to any God other than the God who did not spare His own Son?

Blast From the Past: More Ratzi!

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This from then-Cardinal Ratzinger's book with Habermas. Food for thought for anyone who tries to think John Courtney Murray, still less Mario Cuomo, solved it all.

And yet it seems to me that one question remains unanswered. Since total consensus among men is very hard to achieve, the process of forming a democratic will relies necessarily either on an act of delegation or else on a majority decision; depending on the importance of the question at issue, the proportion of the majority that is required may differ. But, majorities, too, can be blind or unjust, as history teaches us very plainly. When a majority (even if it is an utterly preponderant majority) oppresses a religious or a racial minority by means of unjust laws, can we still speak in this instance of justice or, indeed, of law? In other words, the majority principle always leaves open the question of the ethical foundations of the law.

The Holy Father spoke to this issue during his speech at Westminster Hall. It remains an enormous quandry.

Q & A: Beth Haile

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We continue the discussion with young theologians who participated in the Fordham Conversation Project as they discuss the contributions made by Pope Benedict. The discussion is intended to complement the publication, recently released by the USCCB, Pope Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy. Today, we hear from Beth Haile of Boston College.

The question: What is one of Pope Benedict's contributions to the life of the Church?

Pope Denounces \"Anonymous Capital\"

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Yesterday, while speaking at the Synod in Rome, Pope Benedict denounced the “false divinities” that litter our culture, and he listed the usual suspects of terrorism, drug abuse and violence. But, he added a new false god to the list: “anonymous capital.” Here is the key part of the text: “…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.”

Election Time: IL-Senate

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UPDATE (10/25): Not a lot of movement in this race. It is still rated as a Toss-up at both Real Clear Politics and Cook Political Report. Fivethirtyeight.com gives Republican Mark Kirk a 64% chance of winning the seat once held by President Obama.
Both candidates are, in a sense, running against the national type this year: the Republican Mark Kirk is an experienced member of Congress running as a moderate and Alexi Gianoullias is the former businessman with no DC resume. Charges and counter-charges dominated the debates, but there were no knockouts. The RCP poll average has Kirk up by 2.7 percent, which is within the margin of error. This race will be decided by turnout.

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August 15-28, 2014

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