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Opinion Roundup

June 10, 2011

Several unrelated, but interesting, observations today:

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury has sparked an interesting debate in England, with a statement on political affairs a statement on political affairs that comes perilously close to identifying liberal economic policies with Christian charity. But the venerable Tablet, a Catholic newspaper, goes a step further with an editorial that not only denies the problem of anti-Christian sentiment in Europe, but argues that with the rise of the European Union, Catholic social thought is triumphant:
    Never before have so many European Governments conducted themselves in accordance with the recognisably Christian principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
    In European countries today, many nations allow legal abortion, recognize same-sex marriage, subsidize embryonic stem-cell research, and deny the rights of parents as primary educators. Euthanasia in legally available in some countries; prostitution in others. And the Tablet sees the reign of “recognizably Christian principles!” The editorial illustrates how far some Catholics (or, in the case of Dr. Williams, Anglicans) have traveled down the road toward acceptance of liberal ideology as a substitute for traditional Catholic teachings.
  • Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, in a Friday potpourri column, offers a simple yet compelling explanation for why US lawmakers must take action against Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is caught up in a “sexting” scandal: This is decadence. It is pornography. We can't let the world, and the young, know it's "politically survivable." Because that will hurt us, not him, and define us, not him.
  • In the same column, Noonan argues against the proposition that Mitt Romney should not be selected as the Republican presidential candidate because of his Mormon faith. She observes: “Mormons have been, on balance, a deeply constructive force in American life, and it is absurd and ignorant not to support a political figure only because you do not prefer or identify with the theology of his church.” At The Catholic Thing, Francis Beckwith makes a similar argument, with greater theological depth. Catholics can make common cause with Mormons on political issues, he argues—just as they can make common cause with Protestants. But the religious opposition to Romney, polls show, comes more from Evangelical Protestants than from Catholics. And that opposition is considerable; a Pew Forum survey finds that roughly 25% of Americans would reject Romney because of his faith. Is it possible to win the presidency—or the Republican nomination—when one-fourth of the voters are beyond reach even at the outset of the campaign?
  • Finally, John Allen devotes his weekly column to a list of what have been, in his view, the 10 most important foreign trips by Roman Pontiffs. Agree with him or not on the rankings, the list makes for interesting reading. And few people, I suspect, would disagree that the most important papal trip was that epochal visit to Poland by Pope John Paul II.


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