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The Meaning of Public Relations -- Notre Dame Style


The University of Notre Dame has attracted magnified, national attention twice this year.

The first was sparked by its decision to award President Obama an honorary degree. A fierce debate ensued between supporters of the decision and protesters who argued that Obama's pro-choice position on abortion should have made him ineligible.

The second cause has been triggered by the dismal performance of the football team and the subsequent firing of coach Charlie Weis. The school has moved on this issue with a kind of delicacy one might expect of a bomb squad in action.

The Obama controversy got nasty, and has repercussions. In certain respects I think it was a political move to demonstrate a type of broadmindedness that would appeal both to the Catholic mainstream and to American public's sense of toleration, real or not. But whatever the motives on either side, it was unmistakably a legitimate religious moral debate.

An Exchange between Terrence Tilley and Fr. Thomas Weinandy


In the current issue of the Quarterly of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Doctrine, charges that Terrence Tilley of Fordham University, past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, was guilty of "doctrinal ambiguity and error" in an address last June on the Incarnation.

In response, Tilley has written the following open letter to Weinandy, which is posted here with Tilley's permission.

Why I Hate the Rich


This morning’s Washington Post had a truly stunning story headlined “Some Obama donors are feeling left out: They lament not getting access to president, other traditional perks.” The article notes that President Obama has not rewarded big time contributors with government jobs. “The numbers pale in comparison to Clinton’s administration – during which coziness with donors was legendary – or to that of George W. Bush, who gave hundreds of jobs and other perks to wealthy supporters over the course of his presidency.” Bush, according to the non-partisan watchdog group Public Citizen, gave 40 percent of his largest campaign “bundlers” jobs in the administration.

A Hollywood consultant named Andy Spahn told the Post, “Under Clinton, we did spend time at the White House. We did spend time in Camp David. We did spend time with the president in Los Angeles. There has been real frustration in the donor community in general. There is so much less of that than I think ever occurred in the past.”

Gumbleton on Obama's Afghan strategy


Every Thursday we post the transcript of the homily that Bishop Thomas Gumbleton delivered the Sunday before. The homily we posted yesterday is for the First Sunday in Advent.

Gumbleton was speaking two days before President Obama announced his strategy in Afghanistan, namely, that he was sending in more troops. This announcement had already been leaked by the time Gumbleton preached Sunday morning, and the war was very much on the bishop's mind.

Read the homily (or listen to it, an audio player is at the bottom of the homily). It is Gumbleton at his most passionate, his most eloquent. A sample:

So perhaps we too, as we enter into this Advent season and we look for this new coming of Jesus into our lives and the feast of Christmas, we must plead for peace, beg for peace, work for peace, make peace the constant theme of our lives ...

Doctrine chief for U.S. bishops takes on leading theologian


In the most recent issue of the Quarterly of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Doctrine, subjects the June presidential address of Terrence Tilley, a Fordham theologian and past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, to a withering critique -- in effect, suggesting that it offered clever rhetoric masking “doctrinal ambiguity and error.”

Read Allen's full story here: Bishops' theologian critical of Fordham theologian

Papal princes immune to censure


Writing an opinion essay in the Irish Times this morning, Jason Berry, who has published two books on the clerical abuse crisis and has written on the subject dating back to the mid-1980s in NCR, writes: "The Catholic Church’s hypocrisy [on dealing with clergy sex abuse] starts right at the top of the organisation."

He argues that while priests have been defrocked for their abuses no bishop has yet similarly been punished.

"Since the 1990s, the Vatican has forced at least 15 bishops and one cardinal (the late Hans Hermann Groer of Austria) to step down for sexual abuse of youngsters," Berry writes. "The Vatican has defrocked dozens of priests but not one bishop has been so punished – they have been removed from office but not from the priesthood."

Cardinal Egan's Shamelessness


The release of documents, under court order, from the Diocese of Bridgeport makes one literally sick to one’s stomach. The moral callousness displayed by then-Bishop Egan is so at odds with even the most basic standards of human, let alone Christian, decency, that everyone who reads them is understandably upset.

Well, almost everyone. Remember that while these documents are being seen by the public for the first time, they have been available to church officials all along. Why was Egan not removed from office? I know the Bible says, “You are a priest forever” but it doesn’t say anything about remaining as the cardinal-archbishop of New York when there is such bald evidence of moral turpitude.

Forget Tiger Woods. Is your marriage solid?


Some food for thought here, an essay in the Christian Science Monitor by Angela Kays-Burden, a licensed master social worker who holds Christian ministerial credentials through Elim Gospel Fellowship.

Kays-Burden writes:

Tabloids have pounced on Tiger Woods for his apparent failure to uphold family values. Their stories use traditional morals to define adultery as scandal and include words like "sin" and "confession."

At the same time, the purveyors of our pop culture often portray marriage itself as an arcane institution that our progressive society should move beyond.

In recent years, television shows and Hollywood movies have promoted our acceptance of – and even our appetite for – infidelity. Major networks are complicit in helping to erode the significance of life-long commitments and loving relationships between husbands and wives.

The same adulterous affair that in real life becomes a threat to reputation, career, and endorsements, produces laughs and envy on prime time. Sex is sold as a need-based commodity rather than an expression of shared, committed intimacy.

Public sees GOP friendlier than Democrats to religion


Just got this media release from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:

Who Is Friendly Toward Religion?

More Americans continue to view the Republican Party as friendly toward religion (48%) than rate the Democratic Party that way (29%). President Barack Obama's administration, however, is seen as friendly toward religion by more people (37%) than the Democratic Party as a whole. And all three get higher ratings for friendliness toward religion than the news media (14%), scientists (12%) or Hollywood (11%).


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In This Issue

September 25-October 8, 2015


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