30 October 2008

Catholics in the Public Square

Our very own Archbishop Naumann gave an outspoken presentation to the Catholic Campus Center at the University of KU recently, and was featured in the Lawrence paper. This comes on the heels of a heated exchange in the publication Newsweek between George Weigel and Catholic professors Kmiec, Cafardi, and Kaveny, at least one of whom (Kmiec) is tenured at Notre Dame. I came across this exchange on the First Things blog; it is a site I check daily. Here are the links (and rebuttals) to this highly instructive debate:

Weigel's original essay: Can Catholics Back Pro-Choice Obama? (Hint: no)
The Response: A Catholic Brief for Obama

(This essay brings up an interesting argument: bishops intent upon excluding from communion politicians that support public funding for abortion should also take into account the complicity in evil that material supporters of the Iraq war take upon themselves. It is a fairly direct accusation of hypocrisy that I've not come across before.)

Weigel's Rebuttal: Flawed Thinking

Weigel doesn't respond to the "material cooperation in evil" argument. Keith Pavlischek over at First Things fleshes it out a bit:

It might be instructive to think about how their argument (if we may call it that) might be salvaged from complete incoherence. Absent a full-throated defense of absolute pacifism (which would render Obama’s support of the “good war” in Afghanastan equally subject to condemnation) the bishops could declare that selective conscientious objection to the Iraq war is the only morally permissible option for Catholics. On the assumption that the Iraq war is manifestly “unjust and unjustified,” the bishops could simply declare, that no Catholic may permissibly serve in Iraq as a soldier sailor, airman, or Marine. Such service would, they might argue, involve a Catholic not merely in moral complicity in evil acts but with direct involvement with evil (killing in an unjust war). They might then extend a similar judgment to Catholic politicians who support funding of the Iraq war.

You can find his comments in full here. (Go ahead and bookmark the site.)

My thoughts to follow.

27 October 2008

Little Demagogueries If Unchecked Will One Day Embarass You

The history of the stem-cell debate is a study of what happens when politics and science reach out to each other. The politicians were guilty, but the scientists were more guilty, for they allowed—no, they encouraged—politicians to make stem-cell research a tool in the public fights over abortion, public religion, and high finance.

In the small demagogueries of a political season, the science of stem-cell research became susceptible to the easy lie and the useful exaggeration. A little shading of truth, a little twisting of facts—yes, the politics corrupted the science, but the scientists willingly aided the corruption. And with this history in mind, who will believe America’s scientists the next time they tell us something that bears on an election? We have learned something over these years: When science looks like politics, that’s because it is.

From the latest First Things]

10 October 2008

Quote of the Week

Scene: A moral theology classroom. The sun streams in through the windows as groundskeepers run their mowers around the manicured lawns. A well-aged Jesuit with cropped hair and a thick southside accent slouches in the corner while a student presents a short summary of the day's assigned reading to his classmates.

Presenter: Given the choice to either stick with the clear definition of marriage present in the 1917 Code of Canon Law or shift to a more ambiguous but theologically cogent description, the Council Fathers resisted the counsel of the canonists to hold to the ultimately impoverished view.

Jesuit: Those lawyers always need something to sink their teeth into. They can't stand the gray areas, can they, counselor?

Former Lawyer: [short pause] There's a lot of money to be made on the gray areas, Father.

09 October 2008

A Feather In the Cap

The furious fascination I had with The Dark Knight back in the summer has subsided, but lo and behold, another review has just been posted over at The Catholic Thing and I was much gratified to see that it coincided with my own opinions on a number of different points.

You can read the new review here.

I wish I could conjure up a nice post for you, but it's midterm week and I seem to be burning up all my time on reading about the financial crisis. Soon I'll be neck deep in a crisis of my own. In the meanwhile, I'll just keep linking to old posts in the hope that one day I'll have what the critics call an Original Thought.

05 October 2008

Please Direct Your Attention to Everything

Our very own Father Robert Barron is working on a magnificent project worthy of your support. You can watch a short preview of his landmark series "Catholicism" at his website, http://www.wordonfire.org/

Keep an eye on this. It's going to be huge, I think.

02 October 2008

Do Yourself a Favor

... and read this article from the First Things daily posting.

The Regime of Science

It's outstanding.