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The Pope's State of the Church Address


Each year, the Holy Father gives a Christmas Address to the Curia which serves as the equivalent of a President's State of the Union. Two things jump out at me from the Pope's remarks this year.
First, on the issue of sex abuse, Benedict XVI "gets it." He brings up the issue and the first thing he says is that the Church must care for the victims. He speaks about those who help the victims heal and praises their work. He asks the central question: How could this happen? There is no prevarication. There is no insistence on limiting civil statutes of limitation to avoid paying damages. There is no gay-bashing. The Pope gets it.

After Don't Ask; Don't Tell


The repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell is a singularly happy event. The nation has taken a step forward in the long slow march of justice. The intellectually corrupt concerns of Archbishop Timothy Broglio notwithstanding, the repeal of DADT is a triumph for truth as well, indeed, a spectacular vindication of the 8th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. DADT required gay men and women to bear false witness and its repeal should be seen as a victory for truth as well as justice.

DREAM Act Fails: Profiles in Cowardice


By a vote of 55-41, the U.S. Senate this morning failed to invoke cloture on the DREAM Act, effectively killing the bill.
Among those voting against the measure were five Democrats, Senators Max Baucus and John Tester of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Shame on them all.
A big heaping of shame on Sen. Sam Brownback, a convert to Catholicism, who said he would vote no but hoped the bill passed. That is the quintessence of political cowardice.
Three Republicans boke ranks and voted for cloture: Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah. Mr. Bennett lost his renomination battle last year, but he still gets a prize for breaking with party discipline to do the right thing. Dick Lugar, not for the first time, has proven he puts policy before partisanship. Ms. Murkowski, who won re-election as an Independent, gave notice that the Republicans cannot count on her vote at all times.

Catholic Bishops Lobby for DREAM Act


Four U.S. bishops - Cardinal Roger Mahony and Coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City and Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau, Alaska - just held a press call to urge the U.S. Senate to pass the DREAM Act.
"I ask Senators to do the right thing," Archbishop Gomez said. Cardinal Mahony discussed meeting young students at Los Angeles' many colleges and universities who would be affected by the DREAM Act. "They really consider themselves Americans," the cardinal sais, noting that many of them do not recall the countries of their birth because they were brought here at such a young age.
Bishop Wester said he had been lobbying Utah's two senators, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Robert Bennett, both of whom have supported the DREAM Act in the past but are facing strong pressure to back the GOP leadership in opposing the bill now. Wester said that the DREAM Act was "an important first step" towards comprehensive immigration reform.

PolitiFact's Lie of the Year


This is one competition you don't want to win. The non-partisan, indpendent fact-checking organization,, has announced its "Lie of the Year," and, as you can well imagine, the competition was stiff. But, the winner was "Government Takeover of health care." This lie won both because of its complete lack of veracity and because of its reach. Think about it? When did you hear a Republican discuss health care and NOT repeat the lie?
Of course, our friends in the conservative Catholic blogosphere will not comment on this award. They are too busy repeating the lie. But, the next time you hear them blather on about morality, remember that violating the 8th Commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness," is an offense against the moral law as well.

Truth and Dare


The closing days of a session of Congress resemble a game of partisan chicken. And, it is up to the President and the leaders of Congress to decide what proposals they most want to pass before Christmas.
It is a moment of truth for the White House. For all the talk about Obama's moving to the center, which is an undoubtedly smart political move, it is just as important that he move towards the 2012 electorate. If push comes to shove, will the White House push harder for the repeal of Don't Ask; Don't Tell, or for the enactment of the DREAM Act?

The mess in Phoenix


What is going on in Phoenix?

Bishop Thomas Olmsted earlier this year pronounced the excommunication of Mercy Sr. Margaret McBride because she concurred in the decision, made by a pregnant woman whose life was threatened if her pregnancy continued and her doctors and authorized by administrators, to...Ah, there it is. What did the patient and doctors decide?

Gehring on the Phoenix Situation


John Gehring, of the group Faith in Public Life, has a thoughtful commentary on the situation in Phoenix where, according to reports in the Arizona Republic, Bishop Thomas Olmstead is threatening to remove the Catholic designation from the hospital where the now famous abortion took place to save the life of a mother.

I have less of a problem with "dogmatic certitude" than I do with an "imperial style." But, as Gehring points out, the issue is not dogmatic certitude but the application of the moral law to a concrete situation which is complicated to say the least.

Complications, of course, do not require us to set aside our moral teaching. On the contrary, it is precisely in the difficult situations where the moral law is itself most pastoral, providing clear guidance when emotions and values are in conflict.

White House & Clergy Urge Passage of DREAM Act


The White House hosted a press call this morning about the DREAM Act. Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, noted that the bill would assist some 65,000 students who, upon graduating from high school, are unable to go to college or join the military because they lack proper documentation. Their parents brought them to the U.S. when they were children without proper visas. The DREAM Act was drafted a decade ago by both Democrats and Republicans.

Higginbottom noted that the DREAM Act has been supported by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, originally appointed by George W. Bush, who wrote members of the Senate arguing that the law would help with recruitment efforts, a pressing concern while the war in Afghanistan drags on. Joshua Dubois, head of the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives, called this a “critical moment for the government…and for the young people” the law is aimed at helping.


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August 28-September 10, 2015


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