Links: voter suppression in Texas; the Times editorial on free speech; take a fundamentalist
For the second time in as many weeks, EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo has drawn attention to Pope Francis’ removal of Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres from the spiritual leadership of the Diocese of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. On “The Whole World,” Fr. Gerald Murray called the pope’s decision “an unjust dismissal” and “a huge mistake.” Robert Royal has called for greater transparency, and I agree, but from my reading of Church history, when such a drastic step is taken, it is only after years to try to rectify the situation, and therefore greater transparency could end up embarrassing the deposed bishop. . It is a characteristic of this pontificate that he does not like to humiliate people. Arroyo and his “papal posse” should be careful what they wish for.
In the Washington Post, columnist Paul Waldman examines the results of the Texas primary, the first election to be held under a new law Republicans signed into law that made it much harder to vote by mail. The results are shocking. Statewide, 13% of mail-in ballots were rejected. In Harris County, home to the state’s largest city, Houston, the figure was 19%. By comparison, in the 2020 election, only 0.8% of mail-in ballots were rejected nationally. If that’s not voter suppression, what is?
In the Chicago Sun-Times, an overview of text messages exchanged between Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. The messages show two public figures working together to protect public health and safety, in short, putting into practice both the teaching of the Catholic Church on the protection of human life and the role of government and civil society in working for the common good. I can’t wait to see how our conservative friends spin this!
To the Catholic Spirit and the Catholic News Service, the Catholic and Anglican Archbishops of Armagh, Ireland, issued a joint St. Patrick’s Day statement, drawing attention to the war in Ukraine and the lesson they are drawing from it for their own people. “We must learn here on this island from Ukraine the importance of continuing progress in peace, dialogue and diplomacy,” the archbishops wrote. “We should never take peace for granted.” In effect.
In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a report on this weekend’s nominee forum for Democratic candidates for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania. There’s no good reason a Democrat can’t win in Keystone State, but at the forum they slumped in support of abortion rights, which may be necessary to win the primary but could prove deadly in the general election. Of all the Senate races this year, I suspect the result in Pennsylvania will be the one that will shape the 2024 contests the most.
The New York Times editorial on freedom of expression unsurprisingly relied on a conception of negative freedom, or free speech. from. The limits of such a view should be obvious to anyone studying Catholic social doctrine. And more attention could have been paid to the fact that the restrictions of expression are typical of the right, but unnatural for the left. Yet if the comments section and Twitter are any guide, the hysterical backlash illustrated how many on the left are unwittingly giving new evidence of the psychological truth expressed by Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s masterpiece. . Hamlet: “The lady protests too much, it seems to me.”
Liberal jurists, and even more so Catholic theologians, have scratched their heads at the bizarre ruminations of fundamentalists, like Harvard law professor Adrian Vermeule, who think it’s time to reunite throne and altar. But it’s even more delightful to see a conservative jurist like Stanford’s Peter Berkowitz take on Vermeule. In a review by Vermeule Common good constitutionalismPublished in the conservative Washington Free Beacon, Berkowitz writes:
It highlights the dependence of the American political order on principles of justice nowhere explicitly stated in the Constitution but clarified in classic works of political philosophy, jurisprudence, and theology. All the while, however, it obscures the modern tradition of liberty, which decisively shapes the political morality that gave birth to and sustains the Constitution. It is one thing to claim that we have diminished our moral resources by abandoning America’s classical and biblical heritage. It is quite another to banish into the shadow of the American tradition the political morality of limited government and its fundamental belief that human beings are by nature free and equal – a particular interpretation of the inherent dignity of our humanity linked to, but not affirmed by , classical philosophers or the Bible.
Two weeks from today, I will be at the University of San Diego discussing Catholics and politics, and specifically the reduction of religion to politics in American culture. The event is sponsored by the university’s Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture and will be open to the public on Tuesday, April 5, from 4-5 p.m. More information can be found here.