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Blast From the Past: Clement VII

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As Pope Benedict XVI reached the sanctuary at Westminster Abbey for the ecumenical prayer service, I knew he would not say the one thing I most wanted him to say. In my heart of hearts, I wanted him to look around at the magnificent abbey and ask if we might not have it back.

Westminster Abbey and all of England was, of course, lost to Rome because of Henry VIII's desire to annul his marriage. Parts of Germany, Switzerland and France had all been overcome by Protestantism, but not England: It departed from the Roman Church for reasons of state, both in Britain and in Rome. Because the issue was not only that Catherine was barren; the issue was also decided by the Sack of Rome in 1527. Here is Eamon Duffy's account:

Yahoo Watch: Gay Rights Groups

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In this morning's Washington Post, Richard Soccarides, who was an adviser to President Clinton on gay rights issues, had this to say about the failure to overturn "Don't Ask; Don't Tell": "The Washington-based gay rights groups made a decision early on that they were better off going along with the president's timeline and that right now that looks like a serious miscalculation." Of course, gays and lesbians who lack health insurance might feel differently. Gays and lesbians who watched their 401ks plummet or who lost their job in the recession might feel differently. Gays and lesbians who were worried about predatory credit practices might feel differently. It is not like the President of the United States has been sitting on his hands these two years. The myopia of Soccarides's remark is stunning.

Q & A: Dennis Coyle on the Tea Party

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Q & A continues its looks at the Tea Party with these comments from Professor Dennis Coyle, a politics professor at the Catholic University of America and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.
The question: Will the Tea Party be a curse or a blessing for the GOP in November?
Professor Coyle:
With friends like these, who needs enemies? That is what perplexed mainstream Republicans are asking themselves in light of the surprising success of Tea Party-backed candidates in party primaries. Seemingly fringe candidates are roiling the political waters with their dynamic and sometimes puzzling personalities, their provocative statements and controversial backgrounds. Most surprising was the victory of Christine McDonnell over Rep. Michael Castle in Delaware, which seems to have dashed overnight Republican hopes, or perhaps fantasies, of taking over the Senate. It is enough to make one suspicious that Tea Party success is the product of some vast left-wing conspiracy intent on infiltrating the Republican Party and filling it with unelectable candidates.

Yahoo Watch: Jimmy Carter (and most everybody else too!)

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So, Jimmy Carter thinks his ex-presidency is "superior" to that of other ex-presidents. The former President has since tried to qualify his statement, but let's be honest. The man is regularly praised for being a better ex-president than he was a president, a claim made for no other president in recent memory. Still, it was clumsy of Carter to pat himself on the back so obviously.

Q & A: Mark Silk on the Tea Party

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This week, Q & A examines the effect the Tea Party will have on the GOP's prospects in the upcoming midterm elections. Today, we hear from Mark Silk, who writes the blog Spiritual Politics and is a contributor at BeliefNet. Silk is a professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

The question: Will the Tea Party be a blessing or a curse for the GOP in the upcoming midterm elections?

Mark Silk: I predict that come November the Tea Party will be a blessing for the Republican Party -- unless the Democrats can manage to hang Tea Party extremism around GOP necks. As a constituency, the Tea Party represents little more than the social conservative base of the GOP, re-energized. What distinguishes it from the religious right of yore is that the leadership -- and especially the money boys at Tea Party Express -- has fixed the messaging firmly on low taxes and small government. But it’s never been a movement of libertarians.

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August 15-28, 2014

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