Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No More "We"?

I know that several of my Republican friends are tired of hearing me say it -- but I think we have a serious problem with the level of political discourse in American society today.

Thomas Friedman devoted his column in today's New York Times to this topic.

For your consideration:

... Our leaders, even the president, can no longer utter the word “we” with a straight face. There is no more “we” in American politics at a time when “we” have these huge problems — the deficit, the recession, health care, climate change and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — that “we” can only manage, let alone fix, if there is a collective “we” at work.

Sometimes I wonder whether George H.W. Bush, president “41,” will be remembered as our last “legitimate” president. The right impeached Bill Clinton and hounded him from Day 1 with the bogus Whitewater “scandal.” George W. Bush was elected under a cloud because of the Florida voting mess, and his critics on the left never let him forget it.

And Mr. Obama is now having his legitimacy attacked by a concerted campaign from the right fringe. They are using everything from smears that he is a closet “socialist” to calling him a “liar” in the middle of a joint session of Congress to fabricating doubts about his birth in America and whether he is even a citizen. And these attacks are not just coming from the fringe. Now they come from Lou Dobbs on CNN and from members of the House of Representatives.

Again, hack away at the man’s policies and even his character all you want. I know politics is a tough business. But if we destroy the legitimacy of another president to lead or to pull the country together for what most Americans want most right now — nation-building at home — we are in serious trouble. We can’t go 24 years without a legitimate president — not without being swamped by the problems that we will end up postponing because we can’t address them rationally.

The American political system was, as the saying goes, “designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.” But a cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system.

Those factors are: the wild excess of money in politics; the gerrymandering of political districts, making them permanently Republican or Democratic and erasing the political middle; a 24/7 cable news cycle that makes all politics a daily battle of tactics that overwhelm strategic thinking; and a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world. Finally, on top of it all, we now have a permanent presidential campaign that encourages all partisanship, all the time among our leading politicians.

I would argue that together these changes add up to a difference of degree that is a difference in kind — a different kind of American political scene that makes me wonder whether we can seriously discuss serious issues any longer and make decisions on the basis of the national interest.

We can’t change this overnight, but what we can change, and must change, is people crossing the line between criticizing the president and tacitly encouraging the unthinkable and the unforgivable.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In Your Name

Sunday afternoon, I headed out to Immaculate Conception Church in Astoria, Queens, for the baptism of Ann Lopata McAree, baby daughter of my college friends Tim and Melissa.

Four other young ones were baptized alongside Ann. This was second multi-baby baptism I attended in as many weeks. (Last week in Canonsburg, there were six babies!)

The post-sacrament brunch was held at Mojave, a Southwestern-Mexican restaurant just a few blocks from I.C. on 31st Street. (Great location for such a gathering if you ask me.) We filled an entire table at Mojave with the old crew from the Newman Club at NYU.

After brunch, I headed back into the city to find a Sunday evening Mass. (I had missed morning Mass due to an unexpected hangover stemming from just one tasty martini Saturday night at Veloce in Soho.)

I ended up at the new 7 p.m. Mass in English at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. The turnout was respectable for a Mass time only in its third week. Mostly attended by young adults, the liturgy was celebrated by Fr. Jonathan Morris.

The Gospel at Mass provided much food for thought.

At that time, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."

Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

For homilies on this passage, go to A Concord Pastor and Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer.

A hat-tip to Deacon Greg for Fr. Jim's homily. BTW, Deacon Greg has found a new home at Beliefnet. Congrats, Deacon!

The image above shows one of the stained-glass windows at I.C. in Astoria.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Autumn Mist

I've been remiss this week in the prompt posting of a "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend." Is Sunday night too late for another installment? I hope not.

Below is an acoustic guitar version of "Puff the Magic Dragon." The famous tune has been on the brain since the September 16 death of Mary Travers. She was one third of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. They released "Puff" in 1963.


And, PP&M in concert:

The End of An Etymologist Extraordinaire

I was saddened tonight to learn that New York Times columnist and wordsmith William Safire died today at the age of 79 from pancreatic cancer.

Safire's NYT Magazine column "On Language," in which he examined the history and use of words, was one of my favorite parts of the Sunday paper.

Rest in peace, etymologist extraordinaire. You will be missed.

The photo above is from here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On The Road

I'm writing this morning from Jacksonville, Florida. I've been here since Wednesday exhibiting for my gig at the National Council of Catholic Women conference.

The past week has been both busy and hazy (thanks to a first cold of autumn '09). Here's a little round-up:

Last Friday morning, we had a very enjoyable "bloggers breakfast" at The Flame diner on 9th Avenue at 58th Street. Here's a shot of yours truly with Mike and Fran:

It was great to meet Fran in person!

That evening, I flew home to Western Pennsylvania for a quick weekend visit. On Saturday, we went to the Pitt game at Heinz Field. Courtesy of Ed, here's how Downtown Pittsburgh looked from our seats:

There were post-game fireworks:

On Sunday, at St. Patrick Church in Canonsburg, PA, I was blessed to serve as the Godfather at the baptism of Nora Louise Welch. Here's a shot of yours truly with Nora and her dad, my old high school buddy, John:

Had it not been for all of the travel and cold medicine, I would have blogged about the G-20 in Pittsburgh this week.

Yesterday's New York Times had an article about how the summit is a mixed blessing for the Steel City.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Greatest

The disciples of Christ don't look good in today's Gospel at Mass.

From Mark Chapter 9:

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it.

He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”

But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”

But they remained silent.

They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

A Concord Pastor has some background on today's readings.

Friday, September 18, 2009


For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is the tune "Two" from the Brooklyn-based band The Antlers. It's from the new album "Hospice."


Hat-tip: Dave (who has the lyrics for this one)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pharaoh High

LOL: This was posted to YouTube in 2006 but I just saw it for the first time:

"A comedy 3,000 years in the making ... "

Hat-tip: Kellybelle at Ephphatha

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Innocence and Love

Bit of verse for a Wednesday morning:

And so it is that clothed in innocence and love
I moved forward each day mapping out my work
Praying to God and believing in the beauty of things

-- from "Le Laboratoire Central" (1921) by French poet and painter Max Jacob (1876 - 1944).

The verse was quoted by Harold Bordwell in an essay entitled "The Perfect Sinner" in the February 27 issue of Commonweal. Born Jewish, Max Jacob became a Catholic in 1915, according to Bordwell. In 1944, Jacob was taken by the Gestapo and died a month later at the camp in Drancy.

The photo above is by my cousin Sara. Her caption: "Brookline Blvd. I like my neighborhood."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Octogenarian Gold

A few years back, while on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to meet Jack and Margaret Eckenrode of Cecil Township, PA.

Today's Observer-Reporter caught up with this amazing couple (pictured above, ages 81 and 82) after a victorious trip to the Senior Olympics.


Monday, September 14, 2009

"The Dime Standard"

If you have been following the health care reform debate, it likely would be helpful to read this NYT column from last week by David Brooks.

Important graphs:

Obama rested the credibility of his presidency on what you might call the Dime Standard. He was flexible about many things, but not this: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. Period.”

This sound bite kills the House health care bill. That bill would add $220 billion (that’s 2.2 trillion dimes) to the deficit over the first 10 years and another $1 trillion (10 trillion dimes) to the deficit over the next 10 years.

There is no way to get from the House bill to deficit neutrality. The president’s speech guarantees that the more moderate Senate Finance Committee bill will be the basis for the negotiations to come.

The Dime Standard also sets off a political cascade. Since the Congressional Budget Office is the universally accepted arbiter in such matters, the Democrats have to produce a bill that the C.B.O. says is deficit-neutral, now and forever. That means there will be a seller’s market for any member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, who has a credible amendment to cut costs. It also means the Democrats will have to scale back coverage and subsidy levels to reach the fiscal targets.

Second, the president accepted the principle of capping the tax exemption on employer-provided health benefits. The specific proposal he embraced is a backdoor and indirect version of the cap. But what’s important here is the movement and the concession on principle. Soon moderates and Republicans will produce amendments to impose a cap directly. These amendments will credibly raise revenue and reduce costs. The administration will now have no principled argument to reject them.

Third, the president accepted the principle of tort reform to reduce the costs of defensive medicine. Once again, the specific proposal Obama mentioned is trivial. The important thing was the concession on principle. There are already amendments being drawn up to create separate malpractice courts and to otherwise reform the insane malpractice system. The president is going to have a hard time rejecting these amendments just because they might reduce campaign donations from tort lawyers to the Democratic National Committee.

Hat-tip: Sully

image above is from here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I went to "Sunday" Mass yesterday evening at the conference in Houston, Texas. The principal celebrant of the Mass was the Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston. (I'm proud to point out that the cardinal grew up in Castle Shannon, PA, near Pittsburgh.)

The Gospel at Mass was a passage from the Gospel of Mark in which Saint Peter does not fare well. In his lively homily, Cardinal DiNardo spoke of how such blunt descriptions are a defining characteristic of Mark's Gospel.

From Mark Chapter 8:

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.

Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”

And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.”

Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly.

Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”

For a homily on this passage, check out A Concord Pastor. Brother Patrick has a reflection, too.

The image of Saint Peter above is from here.

"Mindless Meanness"

A commentary this morning from CBS' Bob Schieffer:

That was not a State of the Union speech we heard the other night, but it had all the trappings - and when that Congressman hollered "You lie!" at the President, we did get a snapshot of the nation's state.

It was not a pretty picture.

The country is in an angry mood - people are frustrated, tempers are short, congressmen are being shouted down at town hall meetings (where constituents sometimes show up with guns), and at rallies like the one yesterday in Washington where people carried signs such as "Bury Health Care with Kennedy."

The irony of a congressman trying to heckle a president in the midst of a speech that was, among other things, about the need for civility is just one ugly sign of the mindless meanness that has settled over our politics.

How different it was in the aftermath of a far more difficult time, those days after 9/11, whose anniversary we marked on Friday.

I remember watching then, not far from where that congressman hurled his insult, as Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott put his hand on the shoulder of his Democratic counterpart Tom Daschle to announce the Senate had passed a $40 billion emergency appropriations bill, and passed it unanimously.

That day the country came together as it had not done since World War II. It made us proud to know what we could do when we had to. It brought out our best.

Put aside for the moment who is right and who is wrong in the current debate, and ask yourself: Can anyone really be proud of the side of America this argument is bringing out?

Here, here. We've got to be better than this.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Poor South Carolina


Confidential to South Carolina voters: Ya'll just can't catch a break, can you?

Sam and Katie, what's in that Palmetto State water these days?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dona Nobis Pacem

I'm writing this from Houston, Texas. I'm here through Sunday morning exhibiting at a conference for my gig.

It's that time in the week when I usually post a "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend." Choosing a song this week has been difficult as Friday is the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. No ordinary tune will do.

Perhaps like many, I'm still trying to sort out what 9-11 means. Should it be a day for mourning or a day for patriotism? Should it be a day for celebrating freedom or a day of praying for peace?

Certainty evades.

I have been watching a documentary about the life of Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M., the NYFD chaplain who died at the World Trade Center. In the years since I've learned his story, Fr. Mychal has been an inspiration to me.

So, in remembrance of this yet-to-be-canonized saint and all those who died on September 11, 2001, below is a Bach setting of "Dona Nobis Pacem" (Latin for "God, grant us peace").


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Merton on "Praise"

Today's food for thought:

"Do we know what it means to praise? To adore? To give glory?

Praise is cheap today. Everything is praised. Soap, beer, toothpaste, clothing, mouthwash, movie stars, all the latest gadgets which are supposed to make life more comfortable -- everything is constantly being "praised." Praise is now so overdone that everybody is sick of it, and since everything is "praised" with the official hollow enthusiasm of the radio announcer, it turns out in the end that nothing is praised. Praise has become empty. Nobody really wants to use it.

Are there any superlatives left for God? ... "

-- Thomas Merton, 1956, from "Praying the Psalms" published by The Liturgical Press of Collegeville, MN.

Sully: "The Catholic Thing"

Andrew Sullivan reacting to the POTUS' address:

I'm a complicated person as readers well know. And I'm suspicious of government healthcare and also a fan of the drug companies for saving my life. But I am also a Catholic and I was brought up to know and believe that we do have an obligation to care for the sick. It is a non-negotiable demand of my faith, although, of course, how we do it is up for debate. Right now, our conscience is appeased by emergency room care. That's obviously dumb, expensive and horribly unjust.

I don't find Obama's fundamentally private reform measure socialist; I find it pragmatic in an age in which technology has transformed both our ability to be healthy and the expense of it. But the moral case is what got through to me tonight, and as someone who has lived very closely with illness and medicine, I know that in real life I cannot easily walk past someone who is sick and cannot get treatment. A reader sees the Catholic angle as well:

"I am so glad he spoke about abortion. Interestingly, I just received my Florida Catholic newspaper in the mail last week. It comes from the bishops. It had an entire section about the importance of reform. One article spoke about Obama's religious leader conference call that over 140,000 signed in for. They also mentioned that Obama said that abortion would not be federally funded. The article not only called for reform it called for universal healthcare as a basic human right. I think this proves people wrong who were skeptical of Obama reaching out to religious folks specifically Catholics. He gets the social justice aspect of our religion. He just gets it."

Yes, he does. And if the theocons would let go of their partisanship and remember the faith they are allegedly representing, they would too.

Reminder: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a Website dedicated to the topic of health care reform.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"The Character of Our Country"

Tonight, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress in regard to reforming the nation's health care system.

Regardless of where one currently stands on the reform proposals, it can't be denied that the POTUS' remarks will have an effect on the debate in the days and weeks ahead.

So, in case you missed it, I am embedding the address below.

For your consideration:

Go West, Young Man!

Mike Hayes, the “God Googler” and a friend of this space, announced today that he’s headed west – to western New York State that is.

Mike is completing his full-time duties at Busted Halo to serve as a campus minister for students at SUNY Buffalo.

Congrats, Mike! Prayerful best wishes as you begin this new phase of your ministry to young adults.

Back here in Gotham, we’ll miss Mike, his wife Marion (the matchmaker) and their pup Haze (a.k.a. the famous blogging chihuahua).

It’s a bittersweet situation that calls for song:

(Here's guessing that may be the first time "Go West!" has been used in relation to Buffalo.)

"Our Silence Cries Out"

Quote of the day (second of two on prayer):

"True prayer is found not in the sound of the voice, but in the desire of the heart. Not our words, but our desires give power and meaning to our prayers. If we ask for eternal life with our lips without desiring it from the bottom of our hearts, our cry is silence. If without speaking, we desire it from the bottom of our heart, our silence cries out."

-- Saint Bonaventure, also quoted by Fr. Flavian Walsh, O.F.M., in a pamphlet published by the Franciscan Friars' Holy Name Province.

The photo above is from

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"As Much As We Love"

Quote of the day (first of two on prayer):

"We pray as much as we desire. And we desire as much as we love."

-- Saint Anthony, quoted by Fr. Flavian Walsh, O.F.M., in a pamphlet published by the Franciscan Friars' Holy Name Province.

Rain Choir

How about a little something relaxing for a Tuesday morning after a long weekend?:

Hit play, close your eyes and just listen:

Here's a longer version of the same performance with some song after the storm:

FYI: This group is Perpetuum Jazzile from Slovenia. The song is "Africa," a hit in 1982-83 from the band Toto.

Hat-tip: Deacon Greg

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Speaking of historic photos, Deacon Greg has featured this old shot in honor of Labor Day 2009:

Recognize the worker in the middle?

Here's a quote as a hint:

"I come from your midst. I come from the quarries of Zakrzowek, from the Solvay furnaces in Borek Falecki, and then from Nowa Huta. Through all these surroundings, through my own experience of work, I boldly say that I learned the gospel anew."

New O-R Blog: "The Picture Box"

Another blogger has changed venues.

The Grumpy Old Editor, a.k.a. editor Park Burroughs of the Observer-Reporter, has moved to The Picture Box. The new blog is slated to feature historic photos "too good not to be shared."

Park has already featured an old-time picture from McDonald, PA, hometown of yours truly:

The creator of this photo was shooting slightly northwest while standing on South McDonald Street. In the photo, it says "Hotel Valentor" on the building. The structure still stands although changes were made early its history to that front balcony. Most current-day McDonald natives would call this building "The Pitt Hotel."

Speaking of the Observer-Reporter, some of the paper's recent castaways are doing some fine writing over The Bread Line Blog.

Joined Together

Saturday, at the Church of St. Anastasia in Teaneck, NJ, I was very honored to read the prayers of the faithful and serve as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at the beautiful wedding Mass of my friends Anthony and Heather.

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Here's a glimpse of Anthony and Heather during the reception:

A & H, you are in my prayers for a long and happy life together. You are an inspiration to me!

Photo hat-tip:
Ann Marie at FB

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Be Opened!

It's a miracle!

After weeks of Gospel passages in which the message of Christ could be hard to comprehend and accept, today's Gospel at Mass brings an account of healing that the people proclaimed even against Jesus' wishes.

From Mark Chapter 7:

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis.

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him.

He took him off by himself away from the crowd.

He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.

He ordered them not to tell anyone.

But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.

They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

For homilies and reflections on today's Gospel, visit A Concord Pastor, Deacon Greg, Fran, Missy and Fr. James.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

In Memoriam: Bea Browand, 1948 - 2009

Word has come of the death yesterday of Bea Browand, a wonderful woman and political dynamo from the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

Bea was a grassroots political activist in the very best sense of the term. She understood at her core that all politics is local -- and worked hard locally for candidates and causes at the municipal, county, state and federal levels.

Door-to-door outreach, speaking at public meetings, serving on committees, circulating nominating petitions, organizing events, raising funds, making phone calls, recruiting candidates, training volunteers -- Bea did it all and she did it well.

When I ran for the PA House of Representatives, Bea and her husband, Tom, were generous supporters of my campaigns and did not even live in my district.

Bea died far too young from cancer at the age of 61. Bea, her family and friends are in my prayers.

From the words at end of the funeral Mass:


May the angels lead you into paradise,
may the martyrs come to welcome you,
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.

Friday, September 04, 2009

A 5'7'' Steeler?

Apparently ... Stefan Logan is his name. Check out this photo from the Post-Gazette credited to Peter Diana:

Caption: "Steelers' Stefan Logan is greeted by Brett Keisel after scoring a touchdown on a punt return in the first quarter."

From the Trib: "Stefan Logan dazzles with a punt return TD"

From the P-G: "Logan has earned roster spot with Steelers"

Go Steelers '09!

A Final Long Taste

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is the tune "A Final Long Taste" by Dan Schreck.

Dan is a native of Bethel Park, PA, who lives here in NYC. He recently completed a tour-of-duty as director of young adult outreach for the Archdiocese of New York. This Sunday evening, he's slated to perform at Catholic Thrive.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

"If We Change People’s Hearts"

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, has been criticized in some quarters for his presence Saturday at the funeral Mass of Senator Edward Kennedy -- due to the senator’s support for abortion rights.

Some of these critics have stated that Senator Kennedy’s pro-abortion stand should have even ruled out his having a Catholic funeral Mass.

Yesterday, Cardinal Seán responded to these criticisms on his blog.

Some quotes:

" ... We are people of faith and we believe in a loving and forgiving God from whom we seek mercy.


... the pro-life movement is best characterized by what it is for, not against. We are for the precious gift of life, and our task is to build a civilization of love. We must show those who do not share our belief about life that we care about them. We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts. We will not change hearts by turning away from people in their time of need and when they are experiencing grief and loss.

At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other."



From the Gospel of Mark 2:16:

Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

Jesus heard this and said to them (that), "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

The photo above is from Cardinal Seán's Blog.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

"His Sister’s Qualms"

In a recent NYT column, Ross Douthat contrasted the differing positions of Senator Ted Kennedy and his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (pictured above, center), on abortion.

Some graphs:

... Along with her husband, Sargent Shriver, Eunice belonged to America’s dwindling population of outspoken pro-life liberals. Like her church, she saw a continuity, rather than a contradiction, between championing the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed and protecting unborn human life.


In 1992, Eunice participated in the last significant effort to push the Democratic Party away from abortion on demand, petitioning her party’s convention to consider “a new understanding” of the issue, “one that does not pit mother against child,” but instead seeks “policies that responsibly protect and advance the interest of mothers and their children, both before and after birth.”


It’s worth pondering how the politics of abortion might have been different had Ted shared even some of his sister’s qualms about the practice. One could imagine a world in which America’s leading liberal Catholic had found a way to make liberalism less absolutist on the issue, and a world where a man who became famous for reaching across the aisle had reached across, even occasionally, in search of compromise on the country’s most divisive issue.

That was not to be. And it’s entirely fitting, given his record, that Kennedy’s immediate legacy is a draft of health-care legislation that pursues an eminently Catholic goal — expanding access to medical care — through a system that seems likely, in its present design, to subsidize abortion.

But his sister would have written it a different way.

Hat-tip: The Anchoress

The Boston Globe photo above is from here. It is credited to Bill Brett.