The other night I picked up Churchill’s Marlborough, His Life and Times, for bedtime reading. As I mentioned earlier, I had begun re-reading these volumes with an eye towards visiting the battlefield in Blenheim, but then could not put them down. I have been engaged with them fitfully since – too heavy to bring on a trip, other books with a claim on my more immediate attention. As luck would have it, this week got me to 1707 and the Act of Union with Scotland. The issues then were political and, largely, dynastic.
If you do not read anything else today, read this essay by Michael Gerson on euthanasia.
The people of Scotland voted yesterday to remain a part of the United Kingdom. The vote was not as close as some polls predicted, with 55% voting against independence to 45% in favor. There are lessons in the vote for us Americans and, specifically, for us American Catholics.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan has penned a defense of his decision to serve as Grand Marshal of next year's St. Patrick's Day Parade. I would point out to his critics that nowhere, not once, does +Dolan suggest he disagrees with the Church's teaching in any regard. That is not the point. What is the point, as +Dolan notes, is this: "So, while actions are immoral, identity is not!
It is not uncommon, when my liberal friends mention approvingly the name "Tobin" that they quickly add, "Indianapolis, not Providence." Yet, Bishop Tom Tobin of Providence penned a column in his diocesan paper that examines the issue of the divorced and remarried and their access to communion that genuinely surprised and delighted me.
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a request by President Obama to arm and equip the moderate Syrian rebels. The vote, which crossed partisan lines, was 273 to 156. Those republicans who opposed the measure thought it did not go far enough. Those Democrats who opposed the measure worried it went too far. There is no Goldilocks solution here. Still, the House vote was correct.
First, the caveats.
At his blog, Cardinal Timothy Dolan endorses the People's Climate March, scheduled for next Sunday. First, +Dolan does not get over-excited about the prospect of gays marching in New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Now, he is endorsing a march aimed at calling attention to the pressing need for action to address climate change. Certain rightwing critics denounced him over the St. Patrick's Day parade, and I am sure some will denounce his endorsement of the enviro march.
This story is getting a lot of play in Italy, but mostly under the radar screen stateside. The Holy Father called on a German company set to layoff over 500 works in the Italian town of Terni to think twice about the layoffs.
I am not sure why conservative Italian vaticanista Sandro Magister singled out me in his story about Cardinal Raymond Burke's apparently forthcoming demotion. I am not the only Catholic who wept when +Burke got a red hat. I consider +Burke's influence at the Vatican to have been largely unfortunate, especially when he was on the Congregation for Bishops, but so did many people, including the vast majority of people in several dioceses!
Corruption comes in many flavors. Earlier this month, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife were found guilty of the kind of petty, gross corruption that we usually think of when we employ the word, trading on their official capacity for private gain. Such corruption is real and offensive and it should be punished, to be sure. But, as is often the case, less obvious varieties of corruption (and other sins) can pose a deeper threat to the political life of the nation. Two otherwise unrelated events this week point to such deeper corruption.