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Why the Curia Remains Italian

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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

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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

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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:

Are Latinos \"Liberal\" on Gay Marriage?

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Over at the Washington Post’s “On Faith” column, they have an article entitled “U.S. Catholic Latinos: liberal on gay marriage?” by Joseph M. Palacios. I am guessing that Professor Palacios did not write that headline because it is exceedingly misleading and gets to one of the perennial problems of nomenclature in press coverage of religion.

Stalin & D-Day

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There is great controversy surrounding the placement of a bust of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Those who oppose the tribute note Stalin’s atrocities while those who defend it note the critical role the Soviet Union played in the war and, indeed, in the success of D-Day.

Had there been no Eastern Front, the prospects for a successful D-Day invasion would have been grim indeed. Of course, Stalin did not choose to have an Eastern Front – Hitler did! Still, once the Soviets were in the war, there was no question in the minds of either Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt that the Western democracies must aid the Soviet effort to the hilt. There should be a way to honor the Soviet contribution to the war effort without memorializing one of the last century’s great mass murderers.

Wikileaks 1; Obama 0

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It is to be expected that the Obama administration would be upset about the disclosure of thousands of documents pertaining to the war in Afghanistan on the website Wikileaks, which is dedicated to combating excessive government secrecy. Governments like to control access to sensitive information, especially in a war where information is not just power as it always it, but the ability to manage information can sometimes permit one the element of surprise. “In wartime, truth is so precious she must always be attended by a bodyguard of lies,” said Churchill in explaining the efforts to deceive the Germans about where the blow of D-Day would fall.

Blast From the Past: Rahm Emanuel

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This week, I overheard someone on MSNBC – I couldn’t be sure who as I was in the other room cooking, but it was a liberal, maybe someone from the Nation – question whether or not Obama’s was a “failed presidency.” Eric Alterman, who has made a career out of questioning the liberal credentials of those who do not share all of his views, has been mouthing off similar nonsense. This, mind you, in the same week that the President signed a sweeping financial reform bill to serve as a bookend with his health care overhaul. The other day, a commenter heaped scorn on my reference to the Upper West Side ethos, but it exists and, yes, Alterman lives there and is one of its principle advocates. This phenomenon of liberal disappointment with Obama recalled a passage in Joanthan Alter’s “The Promise” in which Rahm Emanuel displays his disgust for those liberals who do not understand that some of their moderate colleagues do not share their views.

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September 12-25, 2014

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