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Q & A: James Roberts


We finish our week of interviews with editors of the British Catholic weekly The Tablet here at Q & A with the comments of James Roberts, assistant editor.

The question: What is the most important thing Pope Benedict must say or do when he is in the UK next week?

James Roberts: The Pope has one job, ultimately, and that is to save souls by spreading the Gospel message. On a pastoral visit, it is in order to focus primarily on strengthening the faith of the flock, but a state visit is to the whole country, and the focus must be different. Large swathes of Britain have forgotten the Gospel message, or have never heard it. The Pope’s viisit must therefore be a missionary one.

Blast From the Past: Leo XIII


Leo XIII was an outstanding Pope and Benedict XVI was right to commemorate his birth last weekend. But, there was a blemish on his record and it directly involved the Church in the United States. In early 1899, Leo dispatched an apostolic letter to Cardinal Gibbons entitled "Testem benevolentiae" in which he condemned the heresy of "Americanism."

America was not the first country to be singled out for papal condemnation, although as far as I can tell, we were the first to have a heresy named for us. Gallicanism had long haunted the Vatican's efforts to influence the Church in France, but it was never condemned as a heresy.

Yahoo Watch: Phil Davison


Not every day you see a public official meltdown so thoroughly in their own passion. But, Phil Davison, a Republican in Ohio, had such a meltdown the other day and, thanks to the good folks at Youtube, it has gone viral.

It brought to mind Gov. Howard Dean's famous speech the night he lost the Iowa caucus in 2004. Dean lost the caucus, but his meltdown afterwards cost him any chance at a recovery in the subsequent nomination battle. I post both videos below.

Election Time: MI-Governor


Michigan was the last state in the nation, along with North Dakota, to hold a referendum on liberalizing state abortion laws before Roe v. Wade. In November 1972, Michigan voters roundly defeated a proposal to that would have permitted abortions for any reason in the first twenty weeks of pregnancy by a whopping margin of 61% to 36%. According to Catholic historian John McGreevy, Catholic union workers constituted the largest part of the majority voting against the effort to legalize abortion.

Blast From the Past: Leo XIII


As mentioned yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the bicentennial of Pope Leo XIII's birth last weekend, going to Leo's birthplace in Carpineto Romano.

One of Leo's most seminal accomplishments was to renew Catholic scholarship which, understandably, had not flourished during the reign of his predeccesor Pius IX, author of the Index of Forbidden Books. Leo's method was very conservative, in its way. In an 1879 encyclical Aeterni Patris, Leo called for renewed focus on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. It was, you will pardon the expression, a distinctly Catholic way of inaugurating renewal. Leo encouraged Catholic scholars to return to the great medieval theologian who was much more adventurous a thinker than some of his followers. After all, Thomas had tried to introduce Aristotle to Christian philosophy, a revolutionary different way of approaching philosophy from what went before. Thomists may have grown timid in the nineteenth century, but Thomas had not been timid.

Yahoo Watch: John Zmirak


Just when you thought that at least Catholics of all stripes understood we have no business telling Muslims when or where they can build a mosque, along comes Mr. John Zmirak writing in the pages of

Zmirak's unique contribution to the debate is to lay it at the feet of multiculturalism. Thus, he writes, "Bishops throughout Europe are so desperate to maintain their multiculturalist bona fides that they tacitly support the ongoing influx of orthodox Muslims into their countries and echo the false charges of racism against those who fear the imposition of Islamic law." Zmirak advocates attending a rally this coming Saturday to protest the mosque. I will say this. If you want to go see a bunch of bigots, at least now we know where to go to see them. Maybe they will burn a few Korans while they are there!

Q & A: Christopher Lamb


This week at Q & A, we are hearing from editors at the British Catholic weekly The Tablet about Pope Benedict's visit to the UK next week. Today, we hear from Tablet news editor Christopher Lamb.

The question: What is the most important thing Pope Benedict must say or do while he is in the UK?

Christopher Lamb: While many describe Britain as secular there is also clear evidence of a hunger for spirituality. On one level this is seen at the popularity in “new age” phenomenon such as horoscopes, astrology and crystal readings. But there is also interest in the Church’s contemplative tradition. The popularity of the BBC’s The Monastery which filmed five men who spent 40 days at Worth Abbey, West Sussex is one such example.


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September 12-25, 2014


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