Next month, the USCCB will team up with the Institute for Policy research and Catholic Studies, Catholic University's on-campus think tank, for an all day seminar on the Church and Immigration. Panels on the history of the issue, current policy concerns and a panel of pundits will be featured. You can read more about the event here and find information about how to sign up to attend.
Yesterday, I wrote about Congressman Paul Ryan’s indictment of President Obama’s budget for its failure to take on the subject of entitlement reform, an indictment that is somewhat deserved but not entirely. As I wrote, I think, or at least hope, the President is laying the groundwork for a large debate in the 2012 elections about how we approach this admittedly complicated issue.
That issue and its complications have gotten inside my skin, and so today I begin a short series of pieces on entitlement reform and how the voice of the Catholic Church can and should shape that debate.
One of the things that bothers me most when someone like Sarah Palin complains about the "lamestream media" is that many journalists take great risks to keep the rest of us informed.
Yesterday, an ABC news reporter, Miguel Marquez, was beaten in Bahrain while trying to cover anti-government protests there. Miguel is an old friend of mine - we met the day he arrived in Washington, fresh from college in New Mexico, in the early 1990s - and I have admired his rise through the ranks, first as a policy adviser to Bill Richardson and subsequently as a television reporter.
The audio of the attack on Miguel has been posted and it is frightening to listen to.
I hope that Ms. Palin will listen to it and, the next time she calls out the "lamestream media" she will think of Miguel and ask herself what she has done to inform the rest of us about the unfolding crackdown in Bahrain - or to inform the rest of us about anything other than the fact that there is good hunting in Alaska.
Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, in his capacity as chairman of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, has issued a statement defending the right to organize, a right that is currently being challenged by Wisconson's new governor, about which I wrote yesterday.
The statement says, in part, "The Church is well aware that difficult economic times call for hard choices and financial responsibility to further the common good. Our own dioceses and parishes have not been immune to the effects of the current economic difficulties. But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers."
Moral obligation. As clear as day. It will be fun to see how our friends on the Catholic right do or do not respond to this call from the Wisconsin Catholic bishops. Can you spell dissent?
The Board of Directors at Interfaith Worker Justice have issued a clarion call for all churches to defend workers against the onslaught against their rights being perpetrated in Wisconsin and elsewhere. "Our religious traditions insist that workers, as human beings with inherent dignity, have the right to form associations to improve their conditions at work. Statements issued by a wide array of Catholic and Protestant denominations, the Union of Reform Judaism, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement of Judaism, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Muslim American Freedom Foundation, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and other faith bodies support the right of workers to organize and bargain with their employers over wages, benefits, and a voice on the job," the staement says.
Congressman Paul Ryan has charged, with some accuracy, that the President "abdicated" his responsibility to lead the nation towards confronting its long-term fiscal mess by presenting a budget that does not address entitlement reform. Ryan has promised that the GOP will tackle Medicare and Medicaid in its budget proposals.
Ryan gets high marks for courage and the White House is counting on the fact that Americans will recoil from the kinds of proposals likely to emanate from the GOP. Americans like Medicare a lot and they are wary of the kinds of privatizaion schemes like to be forthcoming from Ryan. The Democrats are hoping that by touching the third rail, Ryan will get burned, but the posture of the White House is hardly a profile in courage. The long-term debt problem will not go away.
One of the central themes of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI has been the Holy Father’s repeated invitation to the secular West, not only that it recall the place of God in human life and in the development of the culture of the West, but that in so doing, our culture turn away from the skepticism about human reason that has infected Western thought, that we, as a culture, rededicate ourselves to the idea that Truth – with a capital “T” – is accessible and not merely the sum total of subjective whims, but true at all times and in all places.
Kansas State Representative Connie O'Brien, evidently unwittingly - which is the most damning part of this - gave yet more evidence that racism has infected the GOP's views of immigrants. During a committee meeting she said that she knew a young woman was an immigrant because of her olive complexion. "But we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country," O'Brien said.
If she talks like a racist, she's a racist. I will wait for some Republican - any Republican - to call O'Brien. Why do I suspect I will be waiting unto eternity?
The Paulus Institute will hold its annual Traditional Latin Mass at the National Shrine in Washington this April. Last year, there was some controversy surrounding the event: the intended presider, Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos, had to beg out at the last minute for fear that his publicly leaked letter urging a bishop not to cooperate with civil authorities regarding a priest accused of sexual molestation of minors threatened to distract attention from the event. Bishop Slattery of Tulsa filled in at the last moment.
One of the things that warms the Tridentine Mass's devotees is the appearance of a prelate in the full cappa magna. My colleague Tom Fox wrote an article about the reappearance of the cappa of late. As he noted, the garment evokes memories of a time - a bad time in the event - when bishops were surrounded by the equivalent of a court atmosphere. Think the Tudors in long robes.
Last week, I called attention to an important new book by Charles Camosy of Fordham, Too Expensive To Treat? Finitude, Tragedy and the Neonatal ICU.
If you have not yet purchased that book - and you should have by now - here is a short article by Professor Camosy on the topic to whet your appetite.