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Shame on the Birthers & Their Enablers (That Means You, Ed Henry)


Yesterday, President Obama released the long form of his certificate of live birth. That document has no more substantial legal weight than the short form of the certificate that had been issued long ago. So, there is something a bit disingenuous, if not downright bizarre, about those who are patting themselves on the back like Donald Trump, claiming that the President should have released this document long ago.
But, the birther issue is uglier than a fight over documentation. At its heart, the suggestion has been that President Obama is different from the rest of us, that his presidency is illegitimate, that he is part of a vast conspiracy. Now, conspiracy theories come in all ideological flavors but none that I am aware of speak to, and harnass, the bigotry that still exists in our culture. Many of my conservative friends disagreed with President Obama's policies and regretted his election on those grounds, but even they acknowledged that it was a good thing for the country that a black man can be elected as our chief magistrate. The birther frenzy was begun by those who cannot reconcile themselves to this happy fact.

Bp Blaire & the Circle of Protection


Yesterday, a group of religious leaders spoke to the press about their new initiative to create a “circle of protection” around the poor and the vulnerable in the upcoming debates about the federal budget. They announced a new website to help recruit and organize religiously motivated voters to call on Congress not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, who chairs the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development was one of the religious leaders on the call. He said he and the USCCB were honored to be a part of this “unprecedented” gathering of religious leaders. “We are standing on behalf of the poor and vulnerable,” Bishop Blaire said. “We want to bring moral clarity to these (budgetary) issues.”

Bishop Blaire noted that the USCCB’s engagement in political issues is based on four traditional principles of Catholic social teaching. First, does a given program protect human life and dignity? Second, how do certain policies and programs affect the poor and the vulnerable? And, third, Bishop Blaire said that government and other social organizations have a responsibility to promote the common good.

Boehner Backs Away From Ryan Plan


The headline at Politico reads, "John Boehner says he's not 'wedded to' Paul Ryan plan." That was fast. Speaker Boehner just pushed the Ryan plan through the GOP-controlled house a fortnight ago. But, then Congress went on recess, and members went back to their districts, and they got an earful about killing Medicare.
What was Boehner thinking? Did he now realize that by allowing Ryan and the Tea Partyers their poind of entitlement flesh, he was running the risk of handing the control of the chamber back to the Democrats? The title of the article could be, "John Boehner remembers that there is a general election too." This is the GOP conundrum, and Harold Meyerson looks at it in today's Post: In order to avoid a challenge from the right, Republicans members of Congress need to back the kinds of policies that will doom them in a general election. It couldn't happen to a nicer party.

Congrats Rocco!


All of us who blog about the Church have long looked to Rocco Palmo for inspiration...and for insider gossip! So, I was thrilled to see that at the upcoming "blogfest" at the Vatican, Rocco has been chosen to moderate one of the two scheduled panels. He follows Cardinal Ravasi, who will give opening remarks and, if you know Rocco, you can bet that the blogger will pidgeon-hole the cardinal while they exchange the microphone and Rocco will come away with another piece of insider info. Congrats Roc!

Obama's Easter Proclamation


Several conservative Catholic sites such as the American Papist and LifeSiteNews are beating their anti-Obama drums by calling attention to a Fox News report that President Obama did not issue an "Easter proclamation" even though he has issued statements to commemorate the holidays of other, non-Christian religions. You can easily imagine the right-wingers confirming the story, "I saw it on Fox, so it must be true." Alas, it is not true.

Reminders: Ker & Rerum Novarum


Schedule reminders: Today, at 4:15, Father Ian Ker will be delivering a lecture at Catholic University entitled, "Newman's Idea of a University - Some Misunderstandings." The lecture will be held in the Great Hall of the Przybyla Center.
And there is still time to register for the conference on the 120th anniversay of Rerum Novarum, which will also be held in the Great Hall of teh Przybyla Center, next Monday and Tuesday. The conference will feature Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, John Sweeney, past president of the AFL-CIO, columnists E.J. Dionne and Harold Meyerson, noted historian Rev. Gerry Fogarty, S.J., the USCCB's John Carr and Kathy Saile, Alexia Kelley from the White House office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Initiatives and many more. You can get the full schedule and register (the event is free but registration is requested for planning purposes) by clicking here.

Closing a Real Pro-Life School


Governors across the nation have been struggling to balance their budgets, often with unhappy consequences for programs that aid the poor and the vulnerable. Some of the battles, such as the attack on collective bargaining rights by conservative Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio, have exposed the anti-union bias behind the purportedly budget-saving measures. But, perhaps no single measure is so repulsive as the effort in Michigan to close the Catherine Ferguson Charter School in Detroit. And the utter silence in Catholic conservative circles is shocking.

Gingrich Explains His Conversion


Newt Gingrich's article about his conversion to Catholicism in the National Catholic Register today will not rival St. Augustine's Confessions anytime soon. Nonetheless, while he does not put it this way, it is clear the he understands that his faith found him as much as he found it. Just so, his essay is a fine one and especially appropriate at this Eastertide when the Church welcomes so many new Catholics into the fold.
Many have criticized Gingrich for his conversion, usually with nasty comments about his personal life. I think Mr. Gingrich needs to study the Church's social teachings a bit more seriously, but I for one am delighted anytime anyone becomes a Catholic. As for his past personal foibles, they are in the past and, since he became a Catholic, they are appropriate for discussion in the confessional and nowhere else. Besides, if the Church only welcomes the sinless, it would be empty. It is a big Church and there is plenty of room for Gingrich.


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January 29-February 11, 2016


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