James Dobson has been a critical leader among the religious right for some years now and he has all the subtlety of a chain saw. His organization, Focus on the Family, and its offshoots, do more to spread the conservative Christian creed than any other and have since the Moral Majority folded shop in the late 1980s. Indeed, when someone asked Jerry Falwell who would carry on the torch of the Moral Majority, he did not point to fellow minister Pat Robertson but to the layman Dobson.
Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., gave a conference at the Provinicial Chapter of the St. Joseph Province last June on the subject of new vocations to that province. Those who are unfamiliar with the archbishop may recall his giving the homily at the Red Mass earlier this month here in Washington. Those familiar with him, will be unsurprised by the eloquence and the passion of his conference. It is available online here.
At Politico this morning, Jonathan Martin and Alex Isenstadt argue that the political map likely to result from the upcoming midterms will look a lot like the map the 2004 elections yielded, with Democratic gains in the South and rural Midwest over the past two election cycles, headed back to the GOP. The red v. blue map will look as it did before the nation soured on the presidency of George W. Bush.
A couple of articles on today's "Morning Briefing" and Maureen Fielder's article about the anachronism of the College of Cardinals warrant a comment.
First, in the story "Vatican Pitbulls Make Cardinal" Mary Hunt writes about then-Bishop Donald Wuerl unfortunate experience in Seattle where he was given special authority over certain areas of church life at the expense of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. She wrotes that the uproar in Seattle cause the Vatican to pull back and to transfer Wuerl. In fact, it was not just local opposition in Seattle that caused the Vatican to reconsider its attack on Hunthausen. Cardinal John O'Connor was nobody's liberal but he recognized the restrictions against Hunthausen as a threat to the entire episcopacy and vocally supported a protest by the entire bishops' conference. He gets at least some of the credit for ending that scandal.
Christine O’Donnell now claims that she thought she had bested her opponent Chris Coons in their discussion of the Constitution, during which she asserted that the separation of church and state was not found in that founding document. To be sure, the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the text of the First, or any other, Amendment, but it is there. As Michael Gerson writes in this morning’s Washington Post, the real problem is that O’Donnell “seems unmotivated by any strong, developed views of the Constitution.” Ya think?
I do not know if Juan Williams' indelicate words about Muslims on planes warranted his termination. I do know that his years of spewing idiocy dressed up as commentary did warrant his termination. Sometimes, one need not examine overly closely the motives for an act to relish its result.
This week at Q & A, I asked the participants in last week's panel on the Catholic vote to pick a race they think is really interesting and write about it. As mentioned previously, you can find a video of that panel here.
Professor Stephen Schneck was not on the panel, but as the Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, he was the sponsor. Today he looks at the governor's race in Texas.
Stephen Schneck: Governor Rick Perry (R) of Texas is going for a history-making third term. It’s increasingly looking like he’ll succeed, with polls now showing about a ten point lead over Democratic challenger Bill White, the popular former mayor of Houston.
Perry got to this point by playing a tricky game, dancing enough with the Tea Partiers to co-opt their momentum and marginalize their fringe—but disentangling himself from their clutch in time to keep enough independent moderates and Texas Latinos in play. Only an unprecendented turnout by Latino voters could disrupt Perry’s endgame at this point.
Some have already remarked on the fact, mostly unfavorably, that the new batch of cardinals to be created at the consistory next month, is weighted very heavily towards curial officials. It is stunning that only two Hispanic bishops made the grade, one of whom is retired from episcopal ministry, when Latin America has more of the world's Catholics than any other continent.
The new website for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is up and running. They have a fine essay by Father Bill Byron, S.J. to launch their "Common Good Forum." It is worth a visit. In this tumultuous political time, Byron's is a voice of calm, and enduring, reason.
Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee, has replied to my post yesterday about a press call sponsored by Catholics United regarding anti-abortion ads in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In that post, I wrote that Mr. Johnson interrupted the call, presenting his side of the argument. By using the word “interrupt” I did not mean to suggest that Mr. Johnson was in any way rude in his questioning. I did mean to suggest, and repeat now, that Mr. Johnson had no business being on a press call and that his presence there constituted an interruption. Mr. Johnson's full reply is printed in the Comments section after my article.