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Q & A: Robert Jones & Daniel Cox on CO-Senate


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.

What the Sirico Story Does (and Does Not) Mean


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.

Fr. Robert Sirico on gay marriages he once performed


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.

Q & A: Michael Peppard


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.

One Cheer for Ohio Elections Board


The Ohio Board of Elections has agreed with Congressman Steve Driehaus that ads by the Susan B. Anthony List saying he voted for taxpayer-funded abortion are factually inaccurate. State law prohibits such ads.

This issue is contentious and regular readers will know that I agree with Driehaus that the health care reform law does not provide federal money for abortions as groups like Susan B. Anthony List allege. The USCCB also reached the same conclusion and I think they were mistaken also. Indeed, I think the bill that passed is even better than the Stupak Amendment the USCCB supported because it will result in fewer private insurance policies that cover abortion.

Matthew25 Launches First Values Ad


The progressive ecumenical group, Matthew25Network, has come up with an ad that it is running in Southside Virginia, where Tom Perriello is running for re-election. It is an area with many churches as readers of my article on that race will recognize. So far as I can tell, this is the first radio ad to specifically focus on values voters and it is running on Christian radio stations.

Score One for Reid


Politico's Jonathan Martin claims that last night's debate in Nevada "fizzled," and it certainly had fewer fireworks than one might have anticipated. Sen. Harry Reid did fall in to Washington-speak at times, and he unaccountably failed to note that the immigration reforms he supports are much like those proposed by former President George W. Bush.

Still, the dominant fact of the evening was that Sharron Angle's way of speaking was halting at best. There were long pauses between words in simple sentences. A friend said it was like listening to the crazy woman on the block, the one you try to avoid because listening to her makes you feel like you are going crazy too. It was literally painful to listen to her.

Democracy sometimes yeilds unfortunate results. Nixon won twice. But, I just can't bring myself to believe that the good people of Nevada will vote to catapult Angle into a position of power.

Gerson, Hitchens & God


Michael Gerson appears simultaneously intrigued and baffled by Christopher Hitchens. He has come to recognize that Hitch is a personal tour de force, a profoundly moralistic man who achieved his morality without help from any faith. Gerson’s essay, however, makes me less intrigued and more baffled about its author than its subject.

Gerson writes, “Of course we can be good without God, but why the hell bother?” You need not stray far from the self to attain most moral convictions: It is better not to steal than to steal, it is better not to cheat on one’s wife and risk the marriage than it is to seek gratifications away from the marital bed, being kind to another makes both the giver and the receiver of the kindness feel warm inside. So what? A possum cares for its newborns. My three dogs, who are each from different rescues and unrelated, are insanely devoted to each other and quite defensive of each other too.

Election Time: The Lay of the Land


Sometimes, midterm elections are a big yawn and, sad to say, for most Americans they still are. It is safe to assume that a minority of those able to vote will actually make it to the polls on November 2 to help decide the direction of the nation. It remains one of the most inexcusable facts of our political life that elections are not held on a Sunday, or that Election Day is a holiday, or that the entire nation has not shifted to mail-in voting to increase turnout. It is an even more inexcusable fact of American society that so few Americans see politics as important enough to get interested, get involved and make a difference. But, there it is.


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September 26-October 9, 2014


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