Photo: Christopher Gannon, GANNETT
By: Cathy Lynn Grossman - USA TODAY
After Cardinal Timothy Dolan
, archbishop of New York and head of the U.S. bishops, gives the closing prayer for the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week, he'll head to Charlotte for a repeat performance for the Democrats. And today, another religious figure was named to a speaking slot at the DNC: Sister Simone Campbell, head of a group of nuns and sisters known as NETWORK, according to an Obama campaign staffer who declined to be named because information was not yet public.
Back when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was fighting the Obama health overhaul drive, the Affordable Care Act, on abortion and contraception, NETWORK, a Washington-based social justice advocacy group, and other Catholic women religious came out in favor of it.
This summer, while the Catholic bishops orchestrated a national campaign to fight a mandate that birth control be included in insurance plans without exemptions for faith-based schools, hospitals and charities, NETWORK was also out on the public relations trail. Campbell led the nine-state Nuns on the Bus tour to focus attention on Catholic social teachings to care for the poor.
According to The Washington Post
, Campbell said she agrees with bishops on abortion and artificial contraception. But, she told a church audience in Charlotte,
... reclaiming the full spectrum of life issues to include hunger, homelessness, racism, immigration, capital punishment, war and more. "I am pro-life, all of life
Last week, when Dolan's office announced he accepted the RNC invite, spokesman Joseph Zwilling was careful to note this was absolutely not an endorsement in shepherd's clothing. He also noted Dolan's offer to close out the Democrats' meeting with a blessing as well.
This, despite Dolan pounding the Obama administration relentlessly for the last six months on what the Catholic Church and many conservative evangelicals see as offenses to religious liberty.
Today, Zwilling announced Dolan has accepted an invited from the DNC, noting...
It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organizers, as it was to the Republicans, that the Cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate...
Yesterday, Dolan was in the news asking both President Obama and Mitt Romney to sign a civility pledge to stay off personalities (bye-bye birther and dog-on-car wisecracks) to campaign on their policy proposals.
By: John Inazu
- Editorial in USA TODAY
For anyone who believes that the battle over the Department of Health and Human Services' "contraception mandate
" is simply the Catholic Church vs. the Obama administration, consider Wheaton College.
Last month, the Christian liberal arts college in Wheaton, Ill., joined Catholic University
in a lawsuit filed against HHS. Numerous Catholic organizations have already brought suit to challenge the requirement that private employers offer contraception coverage to their employees as a standard health insurance benefit. These organizations — many of which self-insure — believe that subsidizing or facilitating the use of contraception would violate a core teaching of Catholic doctrine. But last month, the Christian liberal arts college in Wheaton, Ill., joined the lawsuit.
The Wheaton lawsuit is significant because the school has long been regarded as a flagship college of Protestant evangelicals. By joining the fight, Wheaton signals to evangelicals that the contraception mandate is not just "a Catholic thing," but a threat to their freedom as well. The lawsuit highlights that the mandate requires coverage for "abortion-inducing drugs" as well as "contraception" (the former sure to draw evangelical interest more quickly than the latter).Time to unite
Evangelicals are wise to join this legal conflict, and they would have been wise to have done so even if the mandate had been just "a Catholic thing." The legal challenges implicate an interest that all of us — Catholics and evangelicals, religious and non-religious — should value and safeguard: the right of private groups to dissent from the prevailing state orthodoxy.
Freedom from state orthodoxy transcends any one value or belief. In the 1940s, the Jehovah's Witnesses confronted the orthodoxy of patriotism. In the 1960s, civil rights groups stood against the orthodoxy of Jim Crow. In the 1980s, gay rights groups challenged the orthodoxy of heterosexuality.
Today's orthodoxies have shifted again.
Two years ago, A group of evangelical students asked to be included among the student organizations at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. The group limited membership to those who affirmed an evangelical understanding of the Christian faith and who believed sexual activity belonged in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. Those views conflicted with the dominant views in California higher education. In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez
in 2010, the Supreme Court sided with state orthodoxy, and the evangelical group was forced off-campus.
Shortly after the Martinez decision, journalist Jonathan Rauch observed in The Advocate
that gay Americans and their allies were "emerging into majority status
." Rauch offered this corollary: As society's views changed, the "morally deviant" label would fall upon those who espouse moral disapproval of homosexuality, not the other way around. Evangelicals who pin their beliefs on their understanding of Scripture, rather than cultural currents, will not find themselves part of the new state orthodoxy.Political marginalization
Evangelicals and Catholics need not shudder at the prospect of being politically marginalized. After all, Jesus did not. But political marginalization does not require political passivity. And one means of resistance is asking courts to protect the ability of private groups to dissent from state orthodoxy, even when those positions are outside America's mainstream.
Seventy years ago, a religious group far more on the political fringes than Catholics or evangelicals took just such an approach. In dozens of lawsuits that reached the Supreme Court, the Jehovah's Witnesses asked the justices to protect their religious beliefs and practices under the First Amendment's rights of speech, press, religion and assembly. These beliefs and practices were not the soft-pedaling evangelism that many of us have experienced at our doorsteps — they included abrasive street preaching, untoward ridiculing of other faiths, and a staunch refusal to comport with the patriotism that infused a country at war.
The top court listened. As Justice Robert Jackson wrote in West Virginia v. Barnette
, a 1943 case exempting the Jehovah's Witnesses from a mandatory pledge of allegiance: "The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts." He also warned that protecting these freedoms meant passing beyond mere platitudes: "Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order."Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
recently highlighted the right to differ in a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She emphasized that freedom of thought, conscience and religion "all speak to the same capacity within each and every human being to follow our conscience, to make moral choices for ourselves, our families, our communities." She challenged regimes whose message is "if your beliefs don't have government approval, beware."
As Clinton intimated, the right to differ protects moral choices that lack government approval. It is at the heart of the claim that Catholics, and now evangelicals, are making against the mandate. It is the claim that should have prevailed in Martinez
. And it is an idea that ultimately benefits us all.John Inazu is associate professor of law and political science at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of
Liberty's Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly.
By: Castel Gandolfo - Catholic News Service
Italy (CNS) -- Assumed into heaven, Mary is with God and is ready to listen and respond to cries for help, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Joining God in heaven, Mary "does not draw away from us, does not go to an unknown galaxy," but becomes "even closer to each one of us," the pope said Aug. 15 during his homily at Mass for the feast of the Assumption.
With his 88-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, seated in the front pew, the pope celebrated an early morning Mass in the Church of St. Thomas. Using a white-handled cane, the pope walked to the church across the square from the main entrance to the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo.
Mary's assumption, he said, gives believers "a sure hope: God expects us, he awaits us. We are not moving toward a void."
"And going to that other world, we will find the goodness of the Mother (Mary), we will find our loved ones, we will find eternal love," the pope said.
Pope Benedict, who set aside his prepared text for much of his homily, said that Mary's closeness to God ensures her closeness to all God's creatures.
"Mary, totally united with God, has a heart that is so big that all creation can find a place there," a fact illustrated by the votive offerings people around the world leave at Marian shrines and statues when their prayers are answered, he said.
Mary's presence in heaven shows that "in God there is room for man," he said.
At the same time, he said, she demonstrates that "in man there is room for God," and when God is present within individuals and they allow God to influence the way they act in the world, the world becomes a better place.
Many people today speak of their hopes for a better world, he said.
"If and when this better world will come, we do not know. But one thing is certain: A world that moves away from God will not become better, but worse. Only the presence of God can guarantee a better world."
The Christian hope for a better world and for finding a place with God for eternity "is not just yearning for heaven," but allowing one's desire for God to "make us untiring pilgrims, increasing our courage and strength of faith, which is at the same time the courage and strength of love," he said.
Later Aug. 15, Pope Benedict recited the Angelus with visitors crowded into the courtyard of the papal summer villa.
Continuing his reflection on the meaning of the Assumption, he said that "it shows us, in a brilliant way, our destiny and that of humanity and of history. In Mary, in fact, we contemplate that reality of glory to which each one of us and the entire church is called."
By: David A. Fahrenthold & Paul Kane
- The Washington Post
Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan
is Capitol Hill’s ultimate self-made man. He began as a 19-year-old intern delivering congressional mail and propelled himself upward with a mastery of detail and a talent for cultivating powerful mentors.
Ryan is now a seven-term congressman, a committee chairman and the chief architect of GOP ideas on Medicare, the budget and the national debt. Ryan’s big ideas bear the stamp of his own story: they stress independence and self-reliance, the qualities that took him from the mailroom to a spot on his party’s presidential ticket. What government owes its citizens, Ryan says, is not a guarantee of happiness — only a fair shot to pursue it.
“He lost his father early and had to grow up sooner than he wanted to,” said Rep. Jeff Flake
(R-Ariz.). “That certainly has informed his policies and his outlook. We’re better off looking inward . . . individual responsibility is where it’s at.”
Ryan, 42, still lives in his home town of Janesville, Wis., with his wife, Janna, and their three children, and he sleeps in his congressional office on weeknights. In his private life, Ryan pursues the hobbies of an everyman with an overachiever’s zeal. He sweats through grueling “P90x” workouts in the House gym. He beats other legislators in contests to recite the most lines from “Fletch.” And he fishes for catfish — with his bare hands.
Flake remembered once calling Ryan’s cellphone on a weekend: Ryan answered in a whisper. Flake talked for five minutes about the farm bill before Ryan cut him off: “Can I call you back? I’m in a deer stand.”
Ryan has, in many ways, lived a life that is the inverse of his running mate’s.Romney
is the son of a politician who found great success in the private sector. Ryan is the son of a lawyer who died when Ryan was 16. He has spent almost his entire adult life in Washington — either in government or in think tanks trying to influence government. He has cited his Catholic faith and author Ayn Rand as major influences on his conservative thinking.
Despite their differences, Romney and Ryan have an unusually easy chemistry together, one that began in 2007, when the two met for the first time.
“They hit it off instantly. They really wonked out, about taxes, budget, entitlement reform,” said Cesar Conda, then an adviser to Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign. Conda was taking Romney around to meet congressional Republicans. The meeting with Ryan was supposed to last just a few minutes. It went close to an hour.
“When Romney and I left the office, Romney was saying, ‘Wow, I really like this guy,’ ” Conda, now chief of staff to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
, recalled Saturday.
People have always liked Ryan. The story of his political life has been his success in charming people — including a string of powerful friends in Congress, think tanks and the conservative media — in small rooms.
But now, the big rooms. Stadiums, even.
Ryan has never run for anything bigger than his congressional seat and has rarely had to campaign hard for that. It remains to be seen whether he can work the same magic of his town hall meetings on the vast crowds of a presidential campaign, many of whom will be getting to know him for the first time. In a recent CNN poll, 54 percent of the public said they either didn’t know Ryan at all or had no opinion about him.
By: Michael Gleeson & Reuters - Sydney Morning Herald
She was coming last, 150 metres from the finish line and almost 44 seconds behind the winner.
But the crowd's focus in the women's 800m heat was set on Sarah Attar, who was living out a historic moment that had nothing to do with gold, silver or bronze.
It is the hugest honour to be here to represent the women of Saudi Arabia. It is an historic moment. I hope it will make a difference. It is a huge step forward. It's a really incredible experience.
As US runner Alice Schmidt told AP: "She carried the weight of Saudi Arabia's women on her shoulders."
In London on Wednesday, local time, Attar became the first female track and field athlete to represent Saudi Arabia at an Olympics.
The 19-year-old, who wore a white head cover, a long-sleeved green top and black leggings and who sported luminous green running spikes, received a generous ovation and a loud cheer from a capacity crowd at the Olympic stadium as she came in last of the eight runners.
"This is such a huge honour and an amazing experience, just to be representing the women. I know that this can make a huge difference," she said.
It was such a unique opportunity [to represent Saudi Arabia]; they invited me and welcomed me and to make that first step for women is just the most amazing feeling ever.
"For women in Saudi Arabia, I think this can really spark something to get more involved in sports, to become more athletic. Maybe in the next Olympics, we can have a very strong team to come."
Attar, who clocked two minutes 44.95 seconds - more than 43 seconds behind heat winner Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei of Kenya - was the second Saudi woman to compete at the Games following judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani.
Attar runs at Pepperdine University near Los Angeles and usually trains as a long-distance runner.
"To see how the crowd reacted to her when she was running was very touching and very exciting," Attar's father, Amer, told AP.
The International Olympic Committee had extended a special invitation to Shaherkani and Attar after it pressed Saudi Arabia to end its ban on female participation.
Some conservative Saudis had criticised their countrywomen's participation in London after Saudi Arabia broke with its practice of sending male-only teams to the world's biggest sporting event. Allowing women to compete was a significant step forward for women in a country that still disallows sport for girls in schools.
The female competitors marched behind the men at the opening ceremony.
AP reported many people in Saudi Arabia did not consider Attar to be truly Saudi because she was born in California. Her mother is American and her father is Saudi and she has spent little time in Saudi Arabia.
But the editor-in-chief of a Saudi-based online sports newspaper shesport.com, Ahmed al-Marzooqi, said that did not take away from the significance of the moment.
"I think her run will support our cause here," he told the news agency.
"They showed to all people and religious authority in Saudi that women in sports do not clash with Islamic tradition and Saudi society."