The Pope announced this morning that he had accepted the resignation of Bishop John "Mort" Smith of Trenton. Bishop David O'Connell, who had been coadjutor since July, assumes the helm of the gem of a diocese in central New Jersey. Here is the statement Bishop O'Connell issued on the occasion. A lion has been born.
Yesterday, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut gave his final speech on the floor of the Senate, where he has served for thirty years, following his father who served Connecticut as its senator for twelve years.
Dodd's storied career included principal authorship of such important pieces of legislation as the Family and Medical Leave Act, permitting family members to take time off after the birth of a child or during a major illness without fear of losing their job. He helped shepherd the health care reform law through the Senate after his great friend Sen. Ted Kennedy took ill and died. He has been a champion of aid to our brothers and sisters in Latin America throughout his career, starting with hiw own service in the Peace Corps.
Advent is the season in which the attention of the Church focuses most naturally on the Blessed Virgin Mary. In our own country, the seasonal focus on Mary is furthered by the coincidence of our nation’s patronal feast, the Immaculate Conception, falling within the Advent season. As well as the most observed feast of the year in the United States, Our Lady of Guadalupe, lands in Advent too: In my neighborhood, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the only feast commemorated with fireworks and they go on for a good fifteen minutes after the close of Mass.
Advent is the season of expectancy as the Holy Father said during his Angelus talk Sunday, and we all await the birth of the Savior, but Mary was the only one who was “expecting.” She was free from the stain of original sin, but not from the emotional or the hormonal or the social or the psychological anxieties that attend childbirth, and hers was an age when childbirth was a dangerous moment for both mother and child. This act in the human drama that we call Christmas can be seen in many ways, but it must always be seen first in a very practical, historical way, as a recollection of the birth of that child by that woman.
According to Salon.com, incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner has been keeping strange company, to wit, Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue. Terry is so out-of-control, he has been banned from the premises of the USCCB and its meetings.
Mr. Bohener is admirably pro-life - although the rest of his policy positions are less admirable. But, he should know that the mainstream pro-life community considers Terry an extremist who has defended the murder of doctors who perform abortions. He is no pro-life hero and Mr. Boehner should find better uses for his time.
We continue our examination of the delicious prospect of a presidential candidacy by Sarah Palin. Today, we hear from Catholic University's Matthew Green, who is a professor of politics and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.
Professor Green: I’d say the odds are better than even that Sarah Palin will run for president in 2012. She remains a major media presence, thanks in no small part to the actions of others – whether it’s an unauthorized biographer who rents a house next door or her daughter’s “success” as a nationally televised ballroom dancer. Given all the buzz that surrounds Palin, and her Alaska-sized ego, I think she’s unlikely to pass up the chance to put her hat in the ring.
I never took the LSAT and avoided the GRE by getting into grad school via the seminary. (Breathing? We'll take him!) But, I could spot the flaw in Michael Gerson's logic in this morning's Washington Post. Gerson writes, "Third, some House leaders want to begin laying the foundation for entitlement reform, since large, unfunded entitlement commitments are the main cause of the American fiscal crisis." Hmmm.
Bishop John Wester, of Salt Lake City, has issued his first pastoral letter, commending the kind of resistance to the encroachment on Advent by the commercialization of Christmas about which I blogged yesterday. Kudos to Bishop Wester.
This week at Q & A, we are looking at the prospect of a presidential candidacy by Sarah Palin. We are not the only ones doing so.
In a blistering op-ed at Politico, Joe Scarborough takes on the former Alaska Governor, saying in public what most establishment Republicans are too timid to say in private: Palin is a bad choice for the GOP.
I am having a tough time getting my head around the idea that the release of a bunch of diplomatic cables is "news." These documents are the stuff of historians and, even there, normal diplomatic channels are not what they once were. The White House takes the lead in most crucial foreign policy assessments, not the State Department. Ambassadors still play vital roles on issues like trade, but the hot button stuff is decided in the White House Situation Room. So, I doubted the cables being leaked would reveal much of any significance, the perturbed, angry protests of "wise men" like David Gergen notwithstanding.
Of course, politicians the world over, are notoriously thin-skinned and they may not appreciate the candid assessments the cables contain. But, pride has so thoroughly consumed the souls of most politicians, will they protest the indiscretions when such protests will only amplify and repeat the offense? I doubt it.
Yesterday, I mentioned the danger of allowing consumerism to swamp the true spirituality of the season and the need to actively resist that consumerism. Today, I want to expand on that a little.