The current back and forth over what Cardinal Francis George and the other bishops may have said or not said about the Catholic Health Association and other Catholic groups prompts a larger question that is rarely discussed at the episcopal level. Do church leaders have an obligation to disclose their discussions about matters that affect the church? And if so, how far does that obligation extend? Indeed, do church members have a right to know?
Patterson Catholic High School in the Patterson, NJ diocese is shuttering its doors, like many diocesan-owned and operated schools. Now the diocese wants to convert the Catholic school into a secular charter school funded by state tax payers. The diocese gets government money for leasing the space to the government and the government gets immediately available space for overcrowding classrooms. Patterson Catholic gets a new birth certificate as a government-approved secular charter school. One local editorial supports the plan.
There was a time, not so long ago, when black folk had difficulty voting in South Carolina. But, today, in that state’s Republican primaries, an African-American man, Tim Scott, appears likely to win the GOP nomination to run for Congress in the First Congressional District, defeating, of all people, the son of Sen. Strom Thurmond who ran for President on a segregationist platform as the candidate of the Dixiecrat party in 1948.
In the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary run-off, Nikki Haley, a first generation Indian-American, appears likely to win the nod to run for Governor, despite having been called a “raghead” by one opponent and facing charges about the sincerity of her conversion to Christianity by two pastors and allies of her opponent. Haley, however, won the only endorsement that seems to count for anything in the GOP these days, that of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
I am the most unlikely of football (that is, soccer) fans. I learned to play in junior high almost fifty years ago, an idea that is most frightening. More recently I was present when my five-year-old nephew played in the final tournament of his league and scored a goal because as he was standing there gazing at the sky or his parents, the ball appeared, and though surprised, he kicked it in when the goalie, another five-year-old, was looking the other way. Don’t worry; they all got a plastic trophy, because this is all about fun and sportsmanship, right?
I have just now returned from a week in Sweden for the World Summit on Media for Children and Youth. Sweden doesn’t have a football team in the running, but it was preparing for last Saturday’s royal wedding between Princess Victoria and now Prince Daniel, a commoner. Changing planes in Frankfurt, Germany, last Friday though, was an entirely different reality. I even bought a pack of Official FIFA World Cup trading cards and am giving them to one of our sisters who was born and raised in Portugal; she’s a true fan.
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tIn the latest twist to the saga of intra-Catholic tensions over health care reform, the U.S. bishops’ top communications officer has accused a Catholic media outlet of “fabricating” critical quotes from Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, about the Catholic Health Association during a recent closed-door gathering of the bishops in St. Petersburg, Florida.
It's red. It's a Honda. It's got 50,000 miles on it -- and it is my oldest daughter's first car.
We got it last week, in one of those rites-of-passage for parents that brings memories flooding back. In my case -- having come of age in the 1970s -- the memories are not good. They are, to be kind, substandard. They are memories of a certain variety of Detroit steel called the 1974 Dodge Dart Swinger.
It was a two-door "sports coupe," which meant it was a slightly-less-unwieldy behemoth than the other cars on the road. It was beige, inside and out, with all the aero-dynamics of the step-in GMC van my father drove to deliver bread. No air-bags, no seat belt. I loved it, for sure -- but when I look back on it, I am not only stunned I survived in it, but that the American auto industry survived along with me.
Last week, to the amazement of many, General Motors announced it was not shutting down its plants for the traditional two week summer layoff period. Orders for automobiles were coming in too fast for the now-downsized manufacturing giant.
We were going through our normal routine yesterday evening, setting the dinner table, cleaning snow peas picked fresh from the garden that morning, and my youngest son asks me: "Dad how long have we been fighting in Afghanistan."
I realized he was watching the evening news on television (I had tuned it out) and was watching a report that June in Afghanistan "is rapidly becoming one of the war's most lethal months for foreign forces."
I stole that headline from Jon Stewart's "Daily Show." It refers to a segment last week in which correspondent Samantha Bee profiles two priests and a nun calling for corporate responsibility from Wall Street, specifically Goldman Sachs.
Featured were Father Seamus Finn, OMI, from Investing for Catholics, Maryknoll Father Joe LaMar from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and Sister Barbara Aires, coordinator of social responsibility for for the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, N.J. (A fourth woman on screen is not identified.)
Bee plays devil's advocate: "Jesus wants us all to be rich. The pope gets it. Have you even seen his ceiling?
But LaMar is quick with the comeback: "He moved in after it was done, so he had nothing to do with that."
Despite the potshots (calling Sister Barbara "the money nunny"), the piece does show priests and nuns working to bring the gospel to Wall Street by demanding more "transparency" from CEOs at shareholder meetings.
Anyone looking for an antidote to this restless age of sound bites, tweets, post-modern relativism and a general sense of impermanence would have found it Sunday in Washington at a gathering of friends celebrating the 60th wedding anniversary of Bill and Lorraine D’Antonio.
Bill was a member of the NCR board for nearly 20 years during the 1980s and 1990s. He taught at the University of Notre Dame from 1957-71, was Fulbright Senior Fellow in Italy in 2004 and today is an adjunct professor of sociology at Catholic University in Washington.
He pioneered an ongoing study of American Catholics, the first of which was sponsored by NCR in anticipation of Pope John Paul II’s second visit to the United States in the fall of 1987. Additional studies followed every six years. In all, four surveys have been completed, all of which have been extensively reported in NCR and have also eventually been published as books.
Bill and Lorraine have six children (in six states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Kentucky, New York and Connecticut); 14 grandchildren; and eight great grandchildren.