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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.

Blast From the Past: Ratzinger & Habermas

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Earlier today, I quoted from the public discussion then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had with Jurgen Habermas.

Here is another quote from that same event. I am especially struck by his invocation of the Church Fathers.

Too often, mainstream views of religion think everything before the Enlightenment was dark and bestial, but that is a mis-characterization of history. The Enlightenment followed, and was in part spawned by, the Renaissance which, like the ressourcement theology that shaped Vatican II, involved a retrieval of wisdom from the past.

From the future pope:

PBS' \"God in America\"

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PBS began its four-part documentary, “God in America,” last night and it was better than I expected. Oftentimes, the mainstream media takes on religion in a very superficial way, considering religion as “the Easter Bunny with real estate” as a journalist friend once said, but the producers of the show went beyond the surface. The rest of the series will air each of the next three nights and, hopefully, will maintain the standard established last night.

One of the best parts of last night’s show was that the experts they lined up explained how America’s individualism was not derived exclusively from the Enlightenment, but was born of the religious, and specifically Protestant, impulses of the colonial culture. They used the example of Anne Hutchinson’s challenge to the Puritan establishment of John Winthrop to demonstrate the tension that exists in American Protestantism between its devotion to the individual’s direct access to the Scripture and the conformity to established norms derived by the dominant culture from those same Scriptures. The issues may have changed, but the debate itself was at the heart of the contemporary debate about health care reform.

Q & A: Kathryn Getek Soltis

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This week at Q & A, we continue our discussion of the contributions Pope Benedict XVI has made to the life of the Church and we are featuring young theologians who participated in the Fordham Conversation Project.

Our first interviewee is Kathryn Getek Soltis who is the Catherine of Siena Teaching Fellow in Ethics at Villinova University.

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

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September 12-25, 2014

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