Peggy Noonan and Nicholas Kristof want to fix the Catholic Church. With Noonan writing for theWall Street Journal and Kristof writing for the New York Times, neither columnist needs parchment on a door in a university town to float thesis statements, but both of them should have done more homework before pontificating as they did.
For a column published April 17, Noonan used her coffee-klatch writing style to revisit an essay from 2002 in which she had criticized church leaders up to and including then-pope John Paul II for being out of touch or stupidly careerist (as the cardinals shepherding Catholics in Washington, D.C. and Boston at the time proved to be). Using her eight-year-old column as a launch pad, Noonan suggested that the Vatican needs new blood. Of the men there, she wrote, “they are defensive and they are angry, and they will not turn the church around on their own.”
To understand Catholic charities in the United States today, we need to remember two simple facts. First, the Catholic experience in America has been different from the Church’s history in Europe. Second, while the founders’ belief in religious liberty remains deeply ingrained in the American spirit, a new and belligerent kind of secularism, alien to the American character, now threatens the mission of Catholic charitable ministries.
It also attacks America’s historic commitment to religious freedom. Since the nation’s earliest years, the Catholic Church has worked with American civil authorities in many mutually supportive ways to advance what Thomas Jefferson called the “wholesome purposes of society.” As the country has grown, so have its challenges. And so has its relation with the Church. In the United States, we have never had a marriage of Church and state at the national level. Therefore, unlike Europe, we have also never had a bloody divorce between religious faith and public life.
Bishop Tobin has done the right thing in withdrawing from CHA, and makes a statement that Catholic hospitals must conform the the teachings of the Church. Congratulations Bishop Tobin! Let us pray that others will soon follow your example and make a stand for what is right. – BK
Providence, R.I., Bishop Thomas Tobin has requested that the Catholic Health Association rescind the membership of a hospital system sponsored by the Diocese of Providence because of the association’s public support for healthcare reform legislation.
“Your enthusiastic support of the legislation, in contradiction to the position of the Bishops of the United States, provided an excuse for members of Congress, misled the public, and caused serious scandal for many members of the church,” the bishop wrote to the CHA in a March 29 letter provided to Modern Healthcare. “Even the association with CHA is now embarrassing, and for that reason I request that our name be removed.”
Critics, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have said the reform law did not go far enough in specifically preventing money from publicly subsidized insurance plans to pay for abortion services, among other concerns. Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of CHA, has said she’s “confident” the law does not allow federal funding for abortion.
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Indiana Right to Life’s political action committee will no longer support Democratic candidates for office after the defection of putatively pro-life Hoosier Democrats Brad Ellsworth, Joe Donnelly, and Baron Hill on the abortion funding language in the health care bill. Ellsworth is running for U.S. Senate this fall.
Carson City, NV (LifeNews.com) — The home state of the top Democrat in the Senate filed a lawsuit today against the new pro-abortion health care law. Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons announced he will rely on outside attorneys to sue the federal government over the health care scheme because the state’s attorney general wouldn’t file suit.
The lawsuit is a bit of a hit to Sen. Harry Reid, the pro-abortion Nevada Democrat who heads the Senate and refused calls from pro-life groups to pull the abortion funding from the bill.
Here we are among the calla lilies, many of us meditating on the eternal resonance of events in and around old Jerusalem, yet spring chores still need doing, and the crabgrass of ignorance is even more stubborn than the weeds that threaten suburban lawns.
Could anyone familiar with the people involved think the Old Gray Lady of American journalism would pass up a chance to encumber a target who rejects conventional wisdom about abortion, gay marriage, and the ordination of women?
Nothing else perfumes the air of a newsroom like a whiff of self-righteousness, or intoxicates certain reporters faster than evidence of mismanagement and hypocrisy at the Vatican.
The press and the pope deserve credit for confronting scandal.
There is an interesting and very modern thing that often happens when individuals join and rise within mighty and venerable institutions. They come to think of the institution as invulnerable—to think that there is nothing they can do to really damage it, that the big, strong, proud establishment they’re part of can take any amount of abuse, that it doesn’t require from its members an attitude of protectiveness because it’s so strong, and has lasted so long.
And so people become blithely damaging. It happened the past decade on Wall Street, where those who said they loved what the street stood for, what it symbolized in American life, took actions that in the end tore it down, tore it to pieces. They loved Wall Street and killed it. It happens with legislators in Washington who’ve grown to old and middle age in the most powerful country in the world, and who can’t get it through their heads that the actions they’ve taken, most obviously in the area of spending, not only might deeply damage America but actually do it in.
And it happened in the Catholic Church, where hundreds of priests and bishops thought they could do anything, any amount of damage to the church, and it would be fine. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That is Mathew 16:18, of course, Christ’s great promise to his church. Catholics in the pews have been repeating it a lot lately as they—we—absorb the latest round of scandal stories. “The old church will survive.” But we see more clearly than church leaders the damage the scandals have done.
A week into the whirlwind sown by a NY Times article that traveled around the world before accuracy, fairness or balance could get their pants on, Cardinal William J. Levada, the pope’s successor as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written a long and rather stunning reply to the Times, in which he writes very personally.
Rocco Palma, who reproduces the entire piece at his site, writes that in all the coverage and defense of the Pope you may have read, “you’ve seen nothing like this.
It is rather easy for a news vessel as large and powerful as the NY Times to smear and “take down” a public figure. All it takes is a few headlines and a thousand well (or poorly) crafted words; it takes many thousands of words to fairly defend the public figure and and bring clarity to the story, itself, once those headlines have been fired off.