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Postcard: Vermont


I am up in Vermont today, checking out a law school. I had heard the city of Burlington referred to as a center of socialism, and indeed their longtime mayor, and one of the Green Mountain state’s current U.S. Senators, Bernie Sanders, is a self-described, not a Fox-described, socialist.

Ex Corde: The Mandatum


All this week, we are looking at Ex corde Ecclesiae, the encyclical of Pope John Paul II on Catholic higher education that celebrates its twentieth birthday this Sunday. I had originally thought only to do a couple of posts on the subject. Perhaps it is my being on vacation in Connecticut where I can take long walks, it seems we will be focusing on the subject in these pages all week.

Perhaps no issue is more central to the debate over Catholic identity, more contentious in terms of the relationship between ecclesiastical authority and the academy, and more given to ideological posturing than that of the mandates required to teach theology. “It is necessary that those who teach theological disciplines in any institute of higher studies have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority,” states the text, unambiguously enough. Is this right?

Blast From the Past: Baltimore, MD


As mentioned, all this week, and probably next, this Blast From the Past section will be revisiting the 1970s edition of the Compton Encyclopedia, with which I grew up and which are still in my old bedroom. Some of the differences are stylistic, such as yesterday’s fulsome, almost devotional, entry for Christmas. Some other differences are demographic, such as the following entry.

“Baltimore, Md. The sixth largest city in the United States is Baltimore. Its location near Mason and Dixon’s line makes it a ‘border city.’ Along the waterfront is a busy area of factories, warehouses, railroads and docks. Here it is easy to realize that this is one of the nation’s leading ports and industrial centers. A few blocks north, in the quiet dignity of Mount Vernon Place, one becomes aware pf Baltimore’s historic past and its deeply rooted ties to the ‘old South.’”

Yahoo Watch: Anti-Muslim Bigots


I am not a fan of religious bigots whether they be the anti-Catholic Nativists of the nineteenth century or the anti-Muslim bigots of our own time. But, the way that these bigots are so thoroughly inalert to the anti-American impulses they are giving voice to, their denial of religious freedom, their stupidity about the history of Christian-Muslim relations, and the broad sweeping generalities they make about the Muslim world, all are profoundly anti-American as well as profoundly bigoted.

The good folks at the Center for American Progress have compiled a set of links to the latest ridiculousness being peddled by the anti-Muslim bigots. Read it and weep.

Q & A: Msgr. Kevin Irwin


This week, Q & A is examining Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 encyclical by Pope John Paul II on Catholic higher education. Today we hear from Msgr. Kevin Irwin, Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America.

The question: What have we learned from the implementation of Ex Corde?

Msgr. Irwin: I have been privileged to serve for a quarter of a century at The Catholic University of America located “inside the Beltway” in Washington, D.C. Therefore it should come as no surprise that the processes of government, the way debates take place in the Congress and the wording of the lobbyists’ appeals eventually would influence how I appreciate national debates and matters of international import, including university and church life.

Ex Corde & Catholic Identity


No concept is more clearly identified with Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Ex corde Ecclesiae” than that of “Catholic identity.” As discussed yesterday, this coming Sunday, the Feast of the Assumption, marks the 20th anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae, which seems especially fitting because one of the difficulties in that document’s implementation has been a hijacking – an assumption, if you will – of the meaning of that phrase, Catholic identity.

To some, the Catholic identity of a university means little more than banning pro-choice speakers from Catholic universities. Now, mind you, I do think there is something to be said for holding that there are things which are beyond the pale of a Catholic campus, ideas that do not deserve a Catholic forum, certain points of view that can and should be verboten. I do not think a representative of Planned Parenthood should be given an honor, or a platform, at a Catholic University: The group is in the abortion business, proud of their work, and whatever other good works they do, their actual participation in providing abortions is the kind of evil that has no place at any Catholic institution.

Blast From the Past: Compton's Encyclopedia, 1970 Edition


As many of you know, I am working on a biography of the Rev. Jerry Falwell. One of the themes of his sermons, before, during and after the Moral Majority period of his career, was that America was losing its soul, changing in ways that were inimical to the Christian faith. To give you an idea of how much things have, in fact, changed, all this week I am taking advantage of my sojourn in Connecticut to peruse the encyclopedias I was given as a boy. They are the Compton’s Encyclopedia, 1970 edition, and they were designed for students so they are a little undemanding, but they clearly show how different the world looked back then, and it was that world which Rev. Falwell wanted to hang on to. By way of example, the following entry for “Christmas” might not survive in later, more politically correct editions.


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August 29-September 11, 2014


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