The release of letters between Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, and Sister Carol Keehan, DC, CEO of the Catholic Health Association, shows how these two Church leaders grapple with the issue of Catholic Identity in the setting of a hospital and the issues that Catholic health care entail. The recent speech by Bishop Gerald Kicanas to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities also deals with the subject of Catholic Identity, there in the context of higher education. Last week, at the inauguration of Catholic University’s new president, the conversations all circled around the students’ and faculty’s excitement to see how a layman would extend and further the restructures Catholic identity of the place, achieved by his predecessor Bishop David O’Connell. Everyone it seems is talking about Catholic Identity it seems.
I suppose there must have been rumors swirling, although I had not heard them, about the departure of Father Thomas Euteneur from Human Life International that he felt it necessary to issue this statement explaining that he engaged in some kind of inappropriate behavior with "an adult female." He assures us that he did not engage in the sexual act.
Mercifully, he did not indulge a discussion of what the definition of "is" is, but otherwise his statement sounds suspiciously like the statements Bill Clinton made during Monicagate, the frankness of his admission offset by endless assurances of what he did not do. He might have added that he did not perpatrate the Holocaust nor did he drop an atom bomb on anyone.
Only some crimes can be excused with appeals to youth. The American Papist's post regarding the on-going discussions between Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, and the U.S. bishops betrays his usual lack of nuance and perspective. But, the Papist continues to characterize Sister Carol's stance on health care as "vocal disobedience" to the bishops and claims she "went behind their back" to lobby for the bill.
Except for Manichaens, there is a difference between disagreement and disobedience. And, where is the evidence for the claim that Sister Carol went behind anyone's back. She published her statements on the web - after sending them to Cardinal George in advance. The Papist, of course, is free to dismiss journalistic standards of finding out what really happened. So, too, is he free to make sweeping claims that distort rather than reveal the truth. But, his failure to abide by minimal standards of accuracy and his penchant for distortion are rooted in something less forgivable, a presumption of bad faith regarding Sr. Carol.
It is right and fitting that the courts are looking at the question of whether or not the health care reform bill passed last year is constitutional. That is what courts ask and answer. But, if the issues were not so important, it would be hilarious to see these conservative judges repudiating the kind of judicial restraint they have been urging for years. They have long argued that the courts should defer to the political branches, but evidently now they are having qualms. They will hide behind a restrictive reading of the Commerce Clause, to be sure, but it is difficult to see the intellectual consistency of their stance. If they argue, as for example Justice Scalia argues, that Roe was wrong to remove the issue of abortion from the political branches, why should the Congress and the President not be able to fashion a health care law too?
Ever since Bush v. Gore, it has required more than a little credulity to believe conservative jurists when they decry activist judges. Now, it is becoming impossible.
The women in the Bush family have something like a tradition of letting it be known that they do not share the social conservative agenda the men in the family have had to embrace to win Republican nominations. The wife of President George H. W. Bush, Barbara Bush, and the wife of President George W. Bush, Laura Bush, both let it be known that they were pro-choice, for example. Especially with Bush pere, one had the suspicion that his views on social issues were more consonant with his wife than with the GOP primary electorate. Now, Barbara Bush the younger, daughter of George W. and Laura, and granddaughter of her namesake, has made a video promoting gay marriage in New York.
I know that the bishops have decided they must fight efforts to confer legal rights on same-sex couples tooth and nail, but they have lost the battle, and Barbara Bush’s renunciation is simply the latest evidence of how even conservatives are abandoning the traditional marriage ship.
Leave it to Leon Wieseltier to say what must be said about the proper calculation of America's moral and strategic interests in Egypt. His short essay, well worth a read, can be found here.
I actually like Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate. But, the last thing we need in the current crisis in Egypt is a prominent American politician running to Israel and viewing the turmoil in Egypt solely through the lens of its effects on Israel.
Huckabee also took a moment to say something truly dumb about the settlements, arguing that any Israeli should be able to live wherever they want within Israel, as if there was no issue about borders awaiting resolution. I was reminded of something one of my most thoughtful and well informed Jewish friends once said when his son was born: "My boy can grow up to be whatever he wants, except a West Bank settler."
I am just back from an all-morning briefing conducted by the staff at the Cook Political Report. Unfortunately, the session was off the record, but I think I will not be breaking the rules to suggest that the 2012 looks to be as fascinating in its way as the 2010 elections were in their way.
Senators David Vitter and Rand Paul have introduced legislation that would alter the heretofore commonly understood meaning of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the United States. They wish to deny such citizenship to the children of undocumented workers. The whole issue is entirely trumped up. There is little in the way of data to show that non-citizens come to America to give birth so that their children can acquire American citizenship. But, why let a little thing like reality get in the way when you are trying to develop a wedge issue, putting a racist policy in constitutional drag, and trying to exploit poor people for political gain.
Maybe it is because he was from North Africa, but the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia should bring out the Augustinian in all of us. Sometimes in life, it is not only the spiritual life for which the gate is small and the path narrow. There are dozens of ways disaster could emerge from the streets of Cairo and Tunis but only one, and a difficult to discern one at that, by which a better future can emerge.