Author: Beth Haile

Evan McMullin Appeals to Pro-Lifers Wanting to Vote Their Conscience

Polls show Evan McMullin tied with Trump and Clinton in Utah, a deeply conservative state with a strong pro-life presence. But Utah also reveals the potential for a more consistent ethic of life to form the basis of a national platform. Utah is the only state with a Republican governor to reaffirm that it welcomes Syrian refugees. In recent years, Mormon leaders have also advocated a moderate approach to immigration reform in the United States, a reflection both of the church’s values and its increasingly diverse membership. “A lot of the rhetoric that demonizes or divides just doesn’t resonate” in Utah, says Boyd Matheson, a former chief of staff to U.S. Senator Mike Lee and president of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank in Salt Lake City. The McMullin campaign can be an opportunity for pro-life voters to illustrate both parties’ failure to offer a platform that conforms with their principles and maybe shift the debate on life issues in the...

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What Elena Ferrante Reveals About the “Right” to Privacy

I was listening to an NPR interview this weekend with Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante’s translator, who was practically in tears over the alleged revelation of her true identity by investigative reporter Claude Gatti. If you haven’t been following, Ferrante is an pseudonym for the author of the very popular Neapolitan Novels, who has argued that anonymity is necessary for her work. Last weekend, her identity was claimed to be revealed as Anita Raja, a Rome-based translator. This revelation was met with fierce criticism as a somewhat vindictive invasion of the author’s privacy For the last week, I have been puzzling over the anger around the unmasking of Ferrante. Gatti used financial statements related to royalty payments and real estate records to draw his conclusion, but the anger surrounding his claims appears to be not so much about his methods as the very goal of his work—to reveal the identity of an author who wants to remain anonymous. I don’t want to talk about Gatti’s methods or even whether it was honorable for him to try to discover Ferrante’s true identity, but I am interested in whether his actions constituted a vindictive invasion of the author’s privacy and what the Catholic tradition might have to contribute to this discussion. First of all, though we talk about a right to privacy, we should be clear on what we mean. Privacy is...

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Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Times: Political Hope

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 147 EX 17:8-13 PS 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 2 TM 3:14-4:2 LK 18:1-8 The reading from the gospel this week follows Jesus’ comments about the coming of the kingdom of God, an event that is far enough off that the disciples will long to see it but will not (17:22). This interim period between the present and the future kingdom is a time of tribulation, and Jesus’ followers will be tempted to lose hope. This week’s gospel is an exhortation to be persistent in the face of that tribulation, and to “pray always without becoming weary.” The reading affirms God’s faithfulness that He will hear His people’s prayers and will not fail to answer them. The gospel and our other readings are about hope. During this pretty dismal election season, I have been thinking a lot about hope and its critical role as a political virtue. Charles Mathewes, in his still-relevant text The Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times call the cultivation of hope the central political task of today.” When we look at political life, we are tempted toward anxiety and despair. We see how our best efforts fall short, and even our attempts at good are perverted. I was recently chatting with a person who had voted for Obama eight years ago, fired up by the optimism of the...

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What We Can Say About Donald Trump’s Character

Donald Trump’s campaign continues its spiral downward with the release of a video showing him speaking of women in lewd and vulgar terms and himself as a sort of sexual conqueror. As a person interested in virtue ethics, I found myself putting the theory to the test with Trump’s statement and subsequent apology. First, virtue ethics is an ethical approach that values an agent’s character over rules and duties (deontological ethics) or consequences (consequential ethics). A virtue approach to ethics is ideal during an election because it doesn’t allow any particular action or issue to usurp one’s support of a candidate. If we felt like we needed to withdraw support from a candidate every time they misstep and violated a duty or promoted a policy that would potentially lead to more negative consequences than positive, it would be impossible to ever find a candidate to vote for. Plus, as I mentioned last week, the social tradition of the Church lends support to examining a candidate’s character over any particular action or issue: “Those with political responsibilities must not forget or underestimate the moral dimension of political representation, which consists in the commitment to share fully in the destiny of the people and to seek solutions to social problems. In this perspective, responsible authority also means authority exercised with those virtues that make it possible to put power into practice...

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Conscience Formation and Faithful Citizenship for Parishes

The director of my state’s Catholic Conference came to my parish last night for a candid conversation of Faithful Citizenship. It was extraordinarily well done and I was very proud both of my parish for encouraging the conversation and my fellow parishioners for their participation. There were a couple of things that made this program a success that I want to briefly highlight for those who might facilitate similar conversations in their own parish communities. 1. Simplify Our director did a really good job of speaking in clear, and easy to understand language when describing policy and when talking about moral theology. Words like “subsidiarity,” while one of the four “principles” of CST in the revised version of Faithful Citizenship, are not self-explanatory. People want very badly to understand the moral tradition that is supposed to inform their conscience, but they can’t always wrap their minds around the jargon. Even “conscience” can be difficult to understand. One woman mentioned that in her field of healthcare, all presentations had to be made on the reading level of a sixth-grader. This is something to consider when we talk about the moral tradition. It is also something to consider when addressing policy that we want Catholics to understand. The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is a major issue for both presidential candidates but very few people understand what it is all about (or who...

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