Month: April 2012

Faithful Citizenship Fridays – The American Political System as Mirror to the Church?

Abortion. Illegal immigration. I think a knee jerk reaction with these two highly volatile issues in the upcoming US election is to categorize them as: Abortion: Catholic position = Pro-life = Conservative = Republican Illegal immigration: Catholic position = dignity and worker’s rights for all = Liberal = Democrat In today’s political climate, most issues seem to map out in this way, so that every single issue is categorized along the lines of one political party or the other. Most recently, the Ryan budget has been discussed in this way, as has the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. But there are numerous problems in trying to classify Catholic teachings into these two (and only two) nice, neat categories of liberal/Democrat and conservative/Republican. The document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship notes this: 89. As Catholics, we are led to raise questions for political life other than “Are you better off than you were two or four years ago?” Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity. So, one of the problems with making the church map on to two-party thinking is that it denigrates a very long, deep and nuanced tradition of Catholic thought. As the bishops say, we’re in this for the...

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Missing the Point on Poverty

There has been a lot of discussion this week about the morality of the Ryan Budget.  Since Paul Ryan’s statement on subsidiarity, the media and blogs have been full of posts either supporting or correcting Paul Ryan’s use of Catholic social teaching. (Lest anyone be unsure, I completely disagree with Ryan’s use of Catholic social teaching and examined the question of subsidiarity here last month). This week’s discussion heated up as the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development released 4 key statements/press releases pleading with Congress to “to draw a circle of protection around the programs that serve “the least among us.” when dealing with housing programs, SNAP/food stamps, agriculture and the Child Tax Credit. The housing letter is available at: The SNAP/food stamps bill letter is available at: The agriculture spending letter is available at: The Child Tax Credit letter is available at: There is a beautiful coherence and symmetry to the four statements – they all have one clear message – protect the poor and vulnerable. While they acknowledge (as do we all) that we live in difficult and complex economic times, we cannot in good conscience balance the budget or protect the economy through sacrificing the poor and vulnerable within our communities. In the Letter on Snap, Bishop Blaire reiterates the three key moral guidelines for evaluating the morality of...

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Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious: Initial Ramblings by a Feminist Catholic Reader

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. Their mission statement succinctly describes their work: The purpose of the conference shall be to promote a developing understanding and living of religious life by: assisting its members personally and communally to carry out more collaboratively their service of leadership in order to accomplish further the mission of Christ in today’s world. fostering dialogue and collaboration among religious congregations within the church and in the larger society. developing models for initiating and strengthening relationships with groups concerned with the needs of society, thereby maximizing the potential of the conference for effecting change. On April 18, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an eight-page document explaining the conclusions of their four-year investigation, claiming that the “goal of the doctrinal Assessment” is “the renewal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.” Further, the Assessment notes that its “overarching concern” is to assist LCWR “in implementing an ecclesiology of communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the Church as the essential foundation for its important service.” The implication seems to be that (1) the LCWR is in need of renewal; (2) the LCWR is not in communion with the faith of Jesus Christ and the Church....

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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at the University of San Diego Today

It isn’t every day that one gets to be in the presence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, but I was privileged to have this experience today. In the program book for today’s talk, “Cultivating Peace and Justice,” which is part of the Compassion Without Borders Symposium in San Diego, I learned that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet. Born Lhamo Dhondup in 1935 to a farming family in northeastern Tibet, he was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avolakiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Compassionate Buddha and patron saint of Tibet. The Buddha Chenrezig has promised to work for the welfare of all living beings until they have obtained the highest degree of enlightenment. In his talk today—to a sold out crowd at the Jenny Craig Pavilion at the University of San Diego—the Dalai Lama emphasized the need for “genuine concern for others’ well-being.” As social animals, human beings have a basic nature equipped with a sense of other-concern, he explained. At this most basic level, we understand that, like other animals, we depend on others for our survival. But there is a second, higher level, to which he gave more attention: the interior life of the mind and the use of intellect to build compassion and...

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The Major Moral Crisis of our Time….

is not to be found in the arguments (bickering, perhaps?) of online groups in the US during election season. It is rather to be found in the fact that Westerners simply overlook violence done to Christians outside that context. John Allen suggests that we in the West have a particular set of blinders, partly born of the sense that Christianity is always necessarily the oppressor. Maybe it’s time for a different narrative, on behalf of those who are directly killed for their belief in Christ…. Edit to add: If you want a very thumbnail read-only version of some of his points, try this piece at the National Catholic...

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