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.
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.
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 InsideCatholic.com.
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!
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.
Regular readers will know of my fondness for the writings of Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center at Boston College, as well as for the man who writes them. Wolfe is both a scholar and a gentleman.
President Obama has hit the campaign trail this week, and hit it hard. News commentators tend to focus on what is new and forget some of the landscape that remains ever present, such as the great power of the bully pulpit.
UPDATE (10/25): This race just keeps getting nastier and nastier, mostly because Democrat Jack Conway has otherwise been unable to close the gap and has resorted to re-telling some nasty episodes from Rand Paul's past. The centerpiece has been a report in GQ magazine about Paul's college days when he allegedly joined an anti-religious organization and, with some buddies, tied up a woman and made her bow down before an "Aqua Buddha" idol. The story is strange, and Conway's spreading it doesn't seem to have improved his chances.
Fivethirtyeight.com gives Paul an 89% chance of holding the seat for the GOP and Nate Silver suspect he is right. But, as I write that sentence, I realize that putting Paul in the Senate is not the same thing as electing a standard issue Republican. His "constitutioanl conservatism" reinforced by the confidence that comes with winning an election virtually guarantees that Mr. Paul will, in the Senate, be a big ole pain in the butt for his fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Last Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI went to the village of Carpineto Romano to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of Pope Leo XIII. The visit did not garner much attention from the press, but it should have. Leo was a truly great Pope.
Leo XIII is already, and most widely known, for his authorship of Rerum Novarum, the seminal encyclical that launched Catholic social teaching in the modern era. But, his contributions to the life and health of the Church were more varied. One of these was his attempt to rebuild the Church in France.
In anticipation of Pope Benedict's visit to the UK next week, here at Q & A, we are discussing what the Pope should say and do when he is there. Our commentators are editors at the British Catholic weekly The Tablet, and today we hear from Elena Curti, the deputy editor.
The question: What is the most important thing for Pope Benedict to say or do when he is in the UK?
Elena Curti: While the Church in England and Wales now has solid procedures in place aimed at protecting children, as Catholics we still feel tainted by the cover-ups and evasiveness that have characterised the Church's response to the scandal.
The Holy See this morning has issued a statement from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue condemning the planned "Koran Burning Day" in Florida.