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Catholic World News

Opinion Roundup

March 25, 2011

  • The single most talked-about passage in a new book by Pope Benedict XVI is his treatment of efforts to evangelize Jews. In the National Catholic Register, Jimmy Akin provides an admirably complete and balanced analysis of what the Holy Father is—and is not—saying.
  • This week’s revelation that American diplomats at the UN had misrepresented the views of the Holy See is not breaking any new ground, reveals Austin Ruse, who has worked in the trenches at the UN for years. American (and European) diplomats have been working steadily to undermine the influence of the Church, he reports. Fortunately the new representative of the Holy See at UN headquarters in New York, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, seems fully prepared to play hardball.
  • The emergence of a new public-opinion poll, claiming to show that practicing Catholics were favorably disposed toward legal recognition of same-sex unions, drew a variety of reactions. At US Catholic, Bryan Cones saw the poll results as an indication that Church teaching has lagged behind the understanding of the ordinary people in the pews, since “the experience of the faithful is telling them that same-gender relationships are capable of being loving, fulfilling, and life-giving.” Well, whatever else “the faithful” might believe, if they think that homosexual relations are “life-giving,” they’re just plain wrong. That’s really the point, isn’t it?
  • Thomas Jefferson took a keen interest in theological studies, notes Stephen Prothero in a Wall Street Journal column. Decidedly unorthodox in his own beliefs, Jefferson produced his own version of the Bible, incorporating only what he felt was important. Prothero’s column shows Jefferson as a forerunner of today’s “Jesus Seminar” scholars. He dismissed conventional notions of Christian morality, and asserted his own:
    None of that prevented Jefferson from claiming to represent real Christianity, or from dismissing his clerical despisers as "Pseudo-Christians"—imposters peddling a counterfeit faith. Religion is about doing good, he insisted, not abstract theologizing.
  • John Allen foresees that traditionalist Catholics will be unhappy with news from the Vatican in coming weeks. The follow-up document on Summorum Pontificum will fall short of their expectations—although more objective observers may see the new document as a strong affirmation of the Pope’s plan to broaden use of the traditional liturgy--and talks with the Society of St. Pius X are likely to reach a dead end soon.
  • The death of screen star Elizabeth Taylor has drawn some interesting reactions. L’Osservatore Romano saw her as the "last remaining star in the firmament of old Hollywood," and—while acknowledging her unhappy private life—praised her ability to “redeem herself thanks to an ever more decisive commitment to charity work, often in tandem with her friend Michael Jackson." Camille Paglia revealed that she was an enthusiastic fan for a very different reason: she saw Taylor as an iconic figure: “She is Babylonian pagan woman -- the goddess Ishtar, the anti-Mary!” Is it fair to say that at least one of these obituary notices is praising Taylor for the wrong reason?
  • Finally, have you ever wondered why so many spam messages, promising illicit millions of dollars, originate from Nigeria? Chinwuba Ivizoba how the corruption of the country’s public life has spawned an enormous interest in email scams.


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