Here is a news item that will be sure to cause some controversy. The Koch brothers have donated $1 million to Catholic University's new Business School. Yes, those Koch brothers, the ones who have led the campaign against climate change science and funded every right-wing venture under the sun.
My friends who range themselves amidst the Catholic Left need to learn a bit about the culture of a bishops' conference meeting. I have noticed this before, but this year it was particularly evident.
I frequently link to Mark Silk's pith blog posts. Here is a link to a more extended essay that exhibits Silk's typical flair with ideas and language, and addresses a very timely issue, the relationship of the just war tradition to the pacifist ideal at the heart of Christianity. Silk goes on to look at how the eastern Orthodox churches approach these issues. Here is a snippet that perfectly demonstrates Silk's ability to get to the heart of the matter:
Last week, I attended a briefing on "Vulture Funds" sponsored by JubileeUSA and the American Jewish World Service. "Vulture Funds" is a term that refers to hedge funds that invest in high risk bonds, and when a country has a sovereign debt crisis, the fund managers refuse a settlement with the other creditors, hold out, and seek to reap their rewards, often by bogging the debtor nation in endless litigation.
Today, the bishops go into executive session and I head back to Washington. The annual "homecoming," which is what a USCCB meeting always feels like, comes to a close for us scribes even if the bishops must now attend to their most pressing issues behind closed doors.
Distinctly Catholic: I think everyone was surprised that the first ballot decided the election. It isn't easy to get more than 50 percent of the vote in a contest with 10 candidates.
No real surprises in the voting for the various committee chairmen, with one exception. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces defeated Bishop David Malloy 126-110, to lead the Committee on International Justice and Peace. +Malloy was formerly the General Secretary of the USCCB and, consequently, was well known to all the bishops. Usually, such familiarity serves as a path to victory. This time, not so much.
On the third ballot, a run-off between the two top vote getters on the second ballot, Houston-Galveston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo was elected the Vice President of the USCCB. DiNardo received 147 votes to Archbishop Charles Chaput's 87 votes. +DiNardo was slated to assume th chairmanship of the Divine Worship Committee, and now the conference will need to create a new slate of nominees for that post.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who served the past three years as Vice President of the USCCB, was elected the President on the first ballot with 125 votes. No other candidate received more than 25 votes.