Tag Archives: catholic social teaching

Paul Ryan: The intelligence-wisdom gap

August 19, 2012

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The all-American picture of the All-American family struck our Facebook walls hours after the announcement: A trim dad, donned with a baseball cap and a sweatshirt, sits on the porchswing beside his beautiful wife. Three children smile on their laps. The headline pleads above: “Please say a prayer for the Ryan Family.” The caption explains below: “They are about to face a terrible and merciless onslaught of lies, rumors, and smears from the progressive/Democrat propaganda machine known as the, ‘Impartial and Objective Main Stream Media.”

So the culture-war detonates with a prayer, sealing Mitt Romney’s vice presidential designate from criticism because he’s a pity-worthy victim. Political discourse – always filled with passion and never for the faint-hearted – is no longer about reasonable verses unreasonable or practical verses impractical. It’s good verses evil, the wholesome verses the malicious, the decent verses the vile. Think of that harmless family. Think of the children.

I actually sympathize as they face the potential onslaught. I have no reason to doubt Paul Ryan’s sincerity or his religious devotion. I honestly wish him no harm. He might be a great guy. Perhaps we’d be friends. Maybe he’s one of those give-you-the-shirt-off-my-back libertarians, individualy charitable but suspicious of candy-doling but power-hungry governments. I should listen – especially if he’s the admired GOP intellect and policy wonk. At the same time, my American citizenship obliges me to gauge a candidate’s intellectual coherence, what previous generations called wisdom – and, since he’s a self-advertised Christian, his representation of Christ and his teaching. Romney opened that door when he played the religious card, apparently forgetting how the deck was once loaded against him. He hailed Ryan’s Catholicism and, in a Virginia campaign ad, accused the president of waging a war on religion. Many are leaving churches of all stripes because the faithful are seen as Bible-heaving, take-no-prisoners zealots, so I need to see what we’ve been dealt.

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Socially approved cheap shots

May 28, 2011

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One wonders: Is anti-Catholicism the last permitted prejudice? Sample the approved and publicly flaunted ignorance of the facts. Recently, 75 Catholic academics signed a letter criticizing House Speaker John Boehner for his legislative record on alleviating poverty. Left-handed compliments came swift and sure, with the Syracuse Post Standard Editorial Board providing a sample: “It is a welcome change to see a Roman Catholic politician challenged for a position on an issue other than abortion.”

These routine inaccuracies are getting boring. The US Catholic hierarchy took the side of the labor unions in Wisconsin; the bishops wrote a letter to Congress in general to remember the “least of these;” they published a Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in 2005, very little of which dwelled on abortion and much of which implies radical societal change. And then there are all those soup kitchens and hospitals and charities and … Never mind. Doesn’t matter. See no good; hear no good. We’ll throw our cheap shots left and right because people wearing red drapes make easy targets.

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Saintly heights and wretched depths: Catholicism’s triumph and despair

May 20, 2011

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Don’t stop me. I’m doing it. I’m throwing every stitch of clothing into a pack, including those wool socks for polar weather and the straw hat to fend off Amazon bugs. I’m on a world-wide quest, an expedition, a voyage, a mission. I will find the great reset button in the sky and I will press it. Brace yourself for a sudden jolt and then bathe in Wonderland’s warmth: Closeted skeletons will vanish and doors will creak open and formerly crazy aunts will roam free. Best of all, cardinals and bishops won’t listen to attorneys any more. They’ll remember the Church is strongest when it embraces weakness and they’ll follow their Lord to the cross, not their lawyers to the negotiating table.

I must find the button because things are now askew. On the one hand, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops rang eloquent in a May 5th letter in which they called budget-debating senators to remember the poor; on the other, fallout in the wake of recent indictments involving the Philadelphia archdiocese suggest magisterium still doesn’t get it. They’ve stalled. They’ve withheld information from its own sexual-abuse review board. They’ve tarnished the church’s reputation while skating the legal ice, naïve of their own harm and supplying fodder for their many opponents. Just to confuse things even more, a

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Learning From The Mother Church

May 13, 2011

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Much ink has been spilled over Roman Catholicism’s wrongs – especially the colossal priest sex scandals. They cannot be minimized. And yet I still see hope. The Mother Church has much to teach evangelicals and other so-called “Bible believing” Protestants. Her doctrine still upholds what we call “traditional family values,” including a pro-life abortion stance, then delves deeper and advocates Christ’s burden for the poor and the environment. Thus, she can speak prophetically to both American political parties.

A group of Catholic academics wrote a letter to Republican House Speaker and church member John Boehner before his commencement speech to The Catholic University of America. They pulled no punches. “We write in the hope that this visit will reawaken your familiarity with the teachings of your Church on matters of faith and morals as they relate to governance.” They say his voting record “is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings. From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress.”

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Glenn Beck: The Wisconsin Unions = The Muslim Brotherhood = World Domination

February 22, 2011

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Breaking news: Don’t believe those Wisconsin workers when they claim they’re only battling for their collective bargaining rights – and do not be lulled by all their concessions. They’ve got hidden motives, and Glenn Beck heaved up his charts and graphs to “prove” it.

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Cannibals in a Con-Artist Culture

June 4, 2010

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A riddle and a question have hounded me recently. The riddle: “What is the difference between members of the pro-life movement and cannibals?” The answer is easy: “Cannibals eat their enemies.”

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