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Today's message is from
Contributor Sr. Joan Chittister

PBS' \"God in America\"


PBS began its four-part documentary, “God in America,” last night and it was better than I expected. Oftentimes, the mainstream media takes on religion in a very superficial way, considering religion as “the Easter Bunny with real estate” as a journalist friend once said, but the producers of the show went beyond the surface. The rest of the series will air each of the next three nights and, hopefully, will maintain the standard established last night.

One of the best parts of last night’s show was that the experts they lined up explained how America’s individualism was not derived exclusively from the Enlightenment, but was born of the religious, and specifically Protestant, impulses of the colonial culture. They used the example of Anne Hutchinson’s challenge to the Puritan establishment of John Winthrop to demonstrate the tension that exists in American Protestantism between its devotion to the individual’s direct access to the Scripture and the conformity to established norms derived by the dominant culture from those same Scriptures. The issues may have changed, but the debate itself was at the heart of the contemporary debate about health care reform.

Q & A: Kathryn Getek Soltis


This week at Q & A, we continue our discussion of the contributions Pope Benedict XVI has made to the life of the Church and we are featuring young theologians who participated in the Fordham Conversation Project.

Our first interviewee is Kathryn Getek Soltis who is the Catherine of Siena Teaching Fellow in Ethics at Villinova University.

The question: What is one of Pope Benedict's contributions to the life of the Church?

Benedict & The New Evangelization


Pope Benedict XVI released his motu proprio erecting the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization this morning. This phrase “New Evangelization” was coined by Pope John Paul II but it has become a central part of Pope Benedict’s agenda and he doubtlessly intends it to be part of his legacy. He has his work cut out for him because it is not yet clear, even to many bishops, what the phrase means.

(N.B. At Q & A this week, we will be continuing the discussion of Pope Benedict’s contributions to the life of the Church with comments from some of the young theologians who participated in the Fordham Conversation Project this past August. This discussion is intended – like all discussions – to be an end in itself, but also to highlight the publication of a new book about the Holy Father, published by the USCCB, Pope Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy, which I highly commend.)

Election Time: AZ-1


UPDATE (10/26) There have been no new polls in this race, and both Real Clear Politics and the Cook Report continue to list the race as "Lean Republican." Paul Gosar, a dentist, is the particular Republican the voters in AZ-1 are leaning to, and it looks like incumbent Anne Kirkpatrick is going to be a one-term congresswoman.
Here is a link to an article from the local press that shows the challenge for Kirkpatrick: people want a change. And, in Arizona, resentment against Washington was reinforced when the Justice Department sued the state over its anti-immigrant law. With McCain running away with his race for the Senate and Gov. Jan Brewer cruising to victory in the governor's race, the wind is at Gosar's back. Last minute ads attacking his inability to pay his taxes on time may not be enough to turn the tide for the incumbent.

Happy Columbus Day


This morning, protesters will gather at the foot of a statue to Christopher Columbus outside Washington D.C.'s Union Station. Some years they throw blood on the statue. They charge Columbus with bringing cruelty and slavery to the New World, and you can read, at Huffington Post this morning, a synopsis of the crimes the Columbus-haters accuse him of perpetrating.

But, Columbus also brought the Gospel with him to the New World. Yes, the good news of Jesus Christ was carried by men who shared all the prejudices, the violence, and the cruelty of late-fifteenth century Europeans. Columbus did not only bring Christ, he brought Christians, and those Christians often did unspeakably horrible things. Yet, despite this legacy of cruelty, there is another legacy, a legacy of those, especially Catholic priests, who defended the native peoples from the militaristic adventurers who made up most of Columbus's - and subsequent - crews.

Blast From the Past: Early Ratzinger


I thought I would close out our week of looking at Pope Benedict's contributions to the Church by recalling one of his very early contributions, his 1968 book Introduction to Christianity.

In the very first chapter, Raztinger recalls Kiekegaard's story of the circus tent that catches fire. A clown, already madeup in his costume, runs to the nearby village to warn them that the fire will spread and engulf their homes, but because of his outfit, they only laugh at him and, the more he pleads, the more they laugh. At the time Raztinger was writing, Harvey Cox had invoked this image in his then-recently published book, The Secular City. Both Kierkegaard and Cox were trying to show the situation of theology in the modern world. Here is what Ratzinger does with the story:

CUA Alum Donilon to NSC


Politico is reporting that Gen. James Jones is resigning as National Security Advisor and that he will be replaced by his current deputy, Tom Donilon.

Donilon is a 1977 graduate of the Catholic University of America and has served in a variety of government positions before coming to the NSC. His brother Michael is a Counselor to Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife, Cathy Russell, is chief-of-staff to Dr. Jill Biden. Tom's brother Terry is the communications director for the Archdiocese of Boston.

In 1981, when I was a freshman, Tom taught a class at CUA on presidential election politics. It was a great class and it really taught us the nuts and bolts of how campaigns are waged and won (or lost). I still remember the trepidation I felt when writing my term paper on NCPAC, the National Conservative Political Action Committee, and its increasing influence. Professor Donilon was so smart, I really did not want to have him read my paper and think it was dumb. If memory serves, however, I got an "A."

Q & A: Father Carron


This week at Q & A, we have been examining the different ways Pope Benedict has contibuted to the life of the Church as a way of calling attention to a truly wonderful new book, published by the USCCB, Pope Benedict XVI, Essays and reflections on His Papacy.

One of the most distinctive contributions of Pope Benedict XVI to the life of the Church has been his embrace of the new ecclesial movements.

In March 2007, the pope held a special prayer service at St. Peter's for these movements. Reflecting on that experience, Fr. Julian Carron, the head of Communione e Liberazione, sent a letter to the members of CL that shows how this one event with Pope Benedict gave CL members a new appreciation for their own charism. I can think of no better way to close out this week of reflections on Pope Benedict's papacy then by reprinting Father Carron's letter.

Father Carron:

Milan, March 28, 2007

Dear Friends,

How to Understand Polls 101


Huff Post has a great article that explains how pollsters use different models to distinguish "likely voters." The models are key - all polls show that among regisitered voters, the Dems are running about even, but that given GOP enthusiasm, when you consider only those who are "likely" to vote, the GOP opens a wide lead. This article helps explain how pollsters draw up their models which are key to understand their findings.


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