Yesterday, we commented upon what happens when the Vatican does a bad job of getting its message out because of a failure to understand how the media works. Today, let’s focus on what might happen if the Vatican and the bishops did a better job with the media.
“The council fathers also heard an example of the American pastoral approach to ecumenism from Stephen Levin, Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio. There was need, he said, for ‘a dialogue not only with Protestants, but also among us bishops.’ So many opponents of collegiality and ecumenism, he continued, ‘preach to us and chastise us as if we were against Peter and his successors or as if we desired to steal away the faith of our flocks and promote indifferentism. They speak as if our Holy Father, John XXIII, had never cited in our day the expression of St. Augustine: “They are our brothers; they will not cease to be our brothers until they cease saying Our Father.” They speak as if the whole doctrine of the freedom of conscience due every man, so clearly stated in Pacem in Terris, were offensive to pious ears. Again and again in this aula they continue to chastise us as if the prelate who feels compelled by clear evidence to acknowledge the gifts of the Holy Spirit in persons of other ecclesiastical bodies were denying the faith and giving grave scandal to the innocent.
Okay, I admit it. I was cheering for Spain in the World Cup final for the simple reason that Spain is a Catholic country and the Netherlands is a Calvinist country. I exchanged emails about this with a Unitarian friend who was cheering for Holland on the grounds that their victory would be a victory for free-thinking over medievalism - his words. I was delighted that Spain and medievalism won. Of course, I also wish that the winds had been favorable for the Armada!
The University of Illinois has evidently fired a professor who, in teaching the class “Introduction to Catholicism” explained in an email what the Catholic Church teaches on the difference between a homosexual inclination and homosexual activity. One of the students was evidently offended by the professor’s statement of the Church’s teaching.
The news reports are a bit sketchy, and this is the kind of story that often has more than meets the eye at first glance. Still, it is difficult to imagine that anything the professor wrote warranted his termination. Liberals who support academic freedom must be as incensed by this as conservatives who worry about political correctness. Academic freedom does not cut both ways, it cuts all ways.
Of all the House races I am watching in November, none is more compelling than Virginia-5. Democratic incumbent Tom Perriello won the conservative, rural district two years ago by a few hundred votes. I profiled Perriello for NCR last year. Despite the conservative leaning in his district, he has remained a champion of climate change legislation, and he voted for both the economic stimulus and the health care reform bill, all positions that will be used against him by the GOP this fall. There is no member of Congress more courageous than he.
This morning, Politico reports that Perriello had a great fund-raising haul in the second-quarter, raising $660,000. He now has $1.7 million cash-on-hand. His opponent, Robert Hurt, has not released his second quarter numbers but it is doubtful he can match Perriello’s cash-on-hand figure, seeing as Hurt just won a hard-fought primary and, as of May 19, had only $119,000 cash-on-hand.
This week in Q & A, we will address the upcoming confirmation vote for Elena Kagan. Our first interviewee is Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow and Research Director in Public Law at The Brookings Institution.
The question: What is the best reason to vote to confirm, or to vote not to confirm, Elena Kagan?
Ben Wittes: Elena Kagan should be confirmed both on her own very considerable merits and out of deference to the President's qualified choice. The two issues are related but importantly distinct. Let me take them in turn.
In their efforts to defend their racist law, Arizona officials have cited increasing violence along the border, Sen. John McCain claimed that Phoenix has become the “No. 2 kidnapping capital in the world,” (after Mexico City, of course) and Gov. Jan Brewer asserted that “Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying there that have been beheaded.” The problem is that none of this is true.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post on Sunday demonstrated the falsity of each of these claims, but his article appeared on the “Sunday Opinion” page. If the Governor and senior Senator of a state make claims that are demonstrably false, shouldn’t that be on the front page, in the news section? Be that as it may, this is what we are up against in the struggle for immigration reform. Out-and-out lies.
The Vatican is probably thinking that it doesn’t matter what it does, it can’t get a break from bad press coverage. There is something to this: As I have argued earlier, the coverage of Pope Benedict’s role in the sex abuse crisis, especially that in the New York Times, has been tendentious, with alarming lede paragraphs and subsequent quotes and documents that are markedly less conclusive and evidentiary than anything that would warrant such an inflammatory lede.
That said, the Vatican seems to be quite capable of shooting itself in the foot with no help from the Times. News reports indicate that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is set to issue new guidelines for the handling of clergy sex abuse cases and that, those same guidelines will also deal with other matters, such as the canonical penalties visited upon those who attempt to ordain women. This is a trainwreck.
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Monyihan was prescient about many things, and his prescience often cost him many barbs from entrenched interests all around the ideological spectrum. But, the Huffington Post has an item up at their website which shows Moynihan was discussing global warming while serving in the Nixon administration almost forty years ago. Today’s fire-breathing conservatives, including Robert George’s American Principles Project which cited Sen. Inhofe as an expert on global warming, will not be satisfied with this new piece of evidence that global warming is not part of a socialist plot. And, the rest of us do not need further proof. Still, it is interesting to note how far today’s GOP has come from the Nixon years when universal health insurance, environmental protection and, now, global warming were considered on the policy merits and not as items in conservative ideological foolishness.
“An adherent of the Enlightenment, a very learned man, who had heard of the Rabbi of Berditchev, paid a visit to him, too, and to shatter his old-fashioned proofs of the truth of his faith. When he entered the Rabbi’s room, he found him walking up and down with a book in his hand, rapt in thought. The Rabbi paid no attention to the new arrival. Suddenly, he stopped, looked at him fleetingly, and said, ‘But perhaps it is true after all.’ The scholar tried in vain to collect himself – his knees trembled, so terrible was the Rabbi to behold and so terrible his simple utterance to hear. But Rabbi Levi Yitschak now turned to face him and spoke quite calmly: ‘My son, the great scholars of the Torah with whom you have argued wasted their words on you; as you departed, you laughed at them. They were unable to lay God and His Kingdom on the table before you, and neither can I. But, think, my son, perhaps it is true.’ The exponent of the Enlightenment opposed him with all his strength; but this terrible ‘perhaps’ that echoed back at him time after time broke his resistance.”