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In Defense of Sister Mary Ann Walsh


Yesterday, I published a response from Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations at the USCCB, as part of my Q & A series. Sister Mary Ann referred to an earlier incident in which the Catholic News Agency published an article that attributed quotes to Cardinal Francis George, the president of the USCCB, but which both Walsh, and Cardinal George for that matter, deny he ever made.

Sister Mary Ann’s comments have predictably caught the attention of some rightwing critics. The Catholic Key blog, the official blog of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was disappointed that Sister Mary Ann did not use the occasion to question the orthodoxy of some of the writers here at NCR. This criticism was echoed by Father Z, whose blog “What Does the Prayer Really Say” is to crazy conservative Catholic thought what a honey comb is to bees.

Blast From the Past: Arius & The Blogosphere


There is a seemingly natural tendency to yearn for an earlier, simpler Golden Age in the life of the Church. But, this passage from Eamon Duffy’s history of the papacy shows how perennial are some of the methods in intra-ecclesiastical controversies. They did not have the blogosphere in the early 4th Century, but that didn’t stop them. And, the tale is a caution to those who blithely equate polling results and popularity with the sensum fidelum.

Q & A: Sister Mary Ann Walsh


This week, Q & A is looking at the Shirley Sherrod episode. Yesterday, NPR's Michel Martin had some very smart observations and today, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of Media Relations at the USCCB offers some more smart commentary.

The question: What does the Shirley Sherrod episode tell us about race and politics and the media in the age of Obama?

Sister Mary Ann Walsh:

The tale of Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department leader dumped when a fringe group cooked up a story backed by an out-of-context video clip to accuse her of racism is a cautionary tale for the church. For sure, pseudo-journalistic efforts that set out to destroy reputations are not limited to politics, and damning words include more than the epithet “racist.”

Yahoo Watch: Congressman James McGovern


Congressman James McGovern (D-Mass) is opposed to the Afghan War as he made clear in an interview last night on “Hardball.” But, in making his case, he offered an argument that is not only wrong-headed, it is pernicious. He said that we should not be concentrating on nation-building in Afghanistan because we need to be concentrating on nation-building here at home.

Why the Curia Remains Italian


John Hopper at the Guardian laments the fact that the Vatican remains such a decidedly Italian, even Roman, institution. Of course, seeing as all the claims to papal authority are constructed on the fact that the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, it is hard to see how this can ever entirely change. Nor is it an entirely bad thing that the Vatican is so Roman. Cultures in countries that have vineyards seem decidedly less puritanical than those that lack them.

But, what was very funny in Hopper’s article was this observation: “This in turn is a reflection of how little the Vatican has been internationalised even though it is now 32 years since the last Italian pope.” I was reminded of an episode suring the American Revolution, when Benjamin Franklin, serving as an unofficial ambassador to the French Court, received the news that British General William Howe had taken Philadelphia.
“I beg your pardon, Sir,” Franklin rejoined, “but Philadelphia has taken Howe.”

More on Latino Catholic Views on Gay Marriage


Yesterday, I looked at the new survey of California voters and their views on same-sex marriage, specifically the great divide between Catholic Latinos and Protestant Latinos, with 57 percent of the former supporting same-sex marriage compared to only 22 % of the latter. I am sure that this news caused some conservatives, who view same-sex marriage as a profound threat to traditional marriage, to decry the lack of proper catechesis and some liberals, whose hostility to the hierarchy is unbounded, to celebrate the willingness of the Catholic laity to adopt a position at odds with the hierarchy. But, I think both stances are wrong. There is a lesson and an opportunity in the survey results.

Q & A: NPR's Michel Martin on Shirley Sherrod


This week at Q & A, we will be looking at the controversy surrounding the video, firing, and apologies directed at Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department employee who spoke so movingly about the need to move beyond race, only to have her words distorted by a rightwing blogger. Our first interviewee is National Public Radio's Michel Martin, how of the show "Tell Me More."
The question: What does the Shirley Sherrod episode tell us about race and politics in America in the age of Obama?
Michel Martin:


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August 15-28, 2014


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