Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the USCCB ad hoc committee on religious liberty, just announced that there will be another Fortnight for Freedom in 2015 and the theme will be "Freedom to Bear Witness." I cannot believe that the conference really wants to devote resources to this failed effort, which never seems to reach anyone who does not watch EWTN on a regular basis. And, I am the only one who is perplexed by the fact that Archbishop Lori's plans do not seem to have much to say about the challenges to religious liberty in countries where Christians are being crucified.
In this afternoon's reports on the synod, Washington's Cardinal Donald Wuerl made an interesting point: With all the media attention generated by the synod, the Church's support for marriage and teaching on marriage was being disseminated by the world's media for two weeks almost non-stop, and in a manner no diocese or episcopal conference could achieve one their own. Finally, someone who does not dump on the media.
Sometimes, you can tell about the relative influence of different parts of organization based on how much time the leader of that organization devotes to a given topic in a big, annual, survey speech, like the one Archbishop Kurtz gave this morning. Religious liberty was mentioned. Immigration reform did not get a mention. So much for "sterling leadership" by Msgr. Jenkins and his senior leadership team who worked on +Kurtz's draft: 11 million undocumented immigrants, most of them Catholics, do not merit a mention but fighting a contraception mandate does.
UPDATE: Here is a link to the text.
Archbishop Vigano’s talk to the bishops opened the USCCB meeting. Interestingly, he focused much of the talk on young people and the need for the Church to reach out to them.
Distinctly Catholic: The agenda appears sleep-inducing, but already, one has the sense that the bishops are not thrilled about the perception that they are hostile to Pope Francis.
In this morning's Bolletino, the announcement makes it official: Cardinal Raymond Burke has been named Patron of the Order of Malta. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, currently the Vatican's "foreign minister," will replace +Burke as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. The position of Patron of the the Order of Malta is usually given to a retired cardinal, or as a second task to an active cardinal. It has almost no responsibilities.
The USCCB sent out a tweet linking Pope's Francis' warning about the temptation to want to come down from the Cross to their fight for religious liberty. You can see the tweet here. First, the Holy Father used that warning in an entirely different context. Second, call me overly sensitive, but at a time when Christians are actually being crucified in Iraq, I think invoking the Cross to shore up support for the religious liberty struggle here in the U.S. is offensive.
Catholic University's School of Business & Economics will be co-hosting a conference next Monday with the Acton Institute. The topic will be the relationship between religious and economic liberty, about which the only interesting question is whether the devotees of Ayn Rand at Acton are trying to jump on the religious liberty bandwagon, or vice-versa. Either way, teaming up with the Acton Institute raises some serious issues about the Catholic identity of the only university in the U.S. owned by the bishops.
The latest frontline in the culture wars has come into focus: In the face of decisions by Catholic universities to extend health care benefits to those who have contracted same-sex, civil marriages, some bishops and some commentators are digging trenches, bringing up the mortars, and lobbing shells. The whole thing puts one in mind of the Western Front in World War I.