The Catholic Signer

Sunday, August 22, 2010 \AM\.\Sun\.

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, letter to James McHenry, November 4, 1800.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the sole Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, was an endlessly fascinating man.  He led the fight for Catholic civil rights in Maryland and the new nation.  A slaveholder, he supported the efforts to establish a free colony of blacks in Liberia, and sponsored legislation in the Maryland Senate for the gradual abolition of slavery in Maryland, although the bill was defeated.  He lived a long and eventful 95 years, dying in 1832, the last of the signers.  He will be the subject of many blog posts in the future, but today I want to post on what he is most famous for, the signing of the Declaration.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Neal McDonough: Bravo!

Thursday, April 1, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

An actor, a faithful Catholic, willing to lose a role in a TV series because he won’t do sex scenes?  Surely not in this day and age?  Guess again!

Neal McDonough is a marvelous actor who elevates every role he plays, whether it’s in Band of Brothers or Desperate Housewives. So when he was suddenly replaced with David James Elliott 3 days into the filming on ABC’s new series Scoundrels earlier this week, there had to be a story behind the story. The move was officially explained as a casting change. But, in fact, McDonough was sacked because of his refusal to do some heated love scenes with babelicious star (and Botox pitchwoman) Virginia Madsen. The reason? He’s a family man and a Catholic, and he’s always made it clear that he won’t do sex scenes. And ABC knew that. Because he also didn’t get into action with Nicolette Sheridan on the network’s Desperate Housewives when he played her psycho husband during Season 5. And he also didn’t do love scenes with his on-air girlfriend in his previous series, NBC’s Boomtown, or that network’s Medical Investigation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Representative Anh “Joseph” Quang Cao-Hero

Friday, March 19, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.

Expecting heroism from politicians is rather like expecting chastity from prostitutes:  you are almost certain to be disappointed.  Therefore when a politician signs his own political death warrant on a matter of principle, attention should be paid.

Representative Anh “Joseph” Quang Cao is the Congressman representing the second congressional district of Louisiana.  His district is in New Orleans and is overwhelmingly Democrat in voter composition.  He is there by virtue of defeating the unbelievably corrupt  former Congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson.

When ObamaCare came up in the House he was the lone Republican to vote for it.  Now he is  a no vote.  Lifesite News explains why:

He said he could only vote for the bill if the abortion funding were removed, which Democrats have refused to do.

He said he has been flooded with calls and emails but will vote his conscience.

“We have people knocking at our doors, we have groups coming in, lobbying,” he said. “It comes down to me and my own conscience and that’s what I have to deal with.”

“We do need some kind of health care reform to assist many people in the district,” he said. “But again, my decision to support the health care bill cannot contradict my conscience.”

Obama on Wednesday met with Cao and asked him to take a new look at the abortion language in the bill — something Cao promised he would do.

“He’s asked if I would restudy the Senate language and that I would approach it with an open mind. And I promised that I would go back and study the Senate language again,” Cao said, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune.

“He fully understands where I stand on abortion, and he doesn’t want me to vote against my conscience because he, like me, believes that if we were to vote against our conscience, our moral values, there is really nothing left for us to defend,” Cao said. “I’m glad that the president is very understanding. He really shows his own moral character.”

“He did not whip me on the vote,” he said.

Where Cao stands is firmly against abortion funding — which is clearly a part of the Senate health care bill.

Read the rest of this entry »


The State of American Catholicism

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

A traditional Anglican priest-theologian observing the internal life of the American Catholic Church from the outside commented that American Catholicism is becoming increasingly just another form of Protestant Christianity. This suggestion gave me pause and in fact, for quite some time, this observation has remained in the forefront of my thoughts.

The Anglican clergyman in question observed that the America, as far as he could ascertain, really had no cultural identity. What does it mean to be an American? What exactly are “American values?” There probably are as many answers to this question as there are American people. “We the people…” have never been monolithic in our way of life.

The American political experiment and social ethos is by and large a Protestant experiment. There was never a point where Protestant Christianity had to establish itself against innumerable generations of Catholic intellectual, spiritual, and moral heritage as was the case in Europe. This is a characteristic that is very unique to America, both for good and for ill. Protestant Christians share with Roman Catholics a great deal, but certain Protestant tendencies, for the lack of a better term, such as an emphasis on freedom, individual conscience, self-determination (versus self-discovery), etc, which sets itself against, historically speaking, the authority of the Church with a sola scriptura mentality has imprinted a certain social individualist ethos on the American experiment. This, of course, inevitably affects Catholics living within the United States.

Read the rest of this entry »


Some Thoughts on the Political Polarization of American Catholics

Sunday, March 7, 2010 \PM\.\Sun\.

In response to co-blogger Joshua B’s observations and queries at my other blog, Evangelical Catholicism.

Enjoy!


Mass at Midnight on Christmas Morning

Saturday, January 2, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.

This Christmas my local parish was something to behold. Midnight Mass began with light only from decorations on the Evergreen trees, the Priest, escorted by the Deacon and members of the local Knights of Columbus, processed through the Pews with an icon of the baby Jesus to be laid in the Manger. The entire Church was silent and it was beautiful.

As is typical of Christmas and to a lesser extent Easter Masses, the Church was full. This is an unusual circumstance for my parish, as on any typical Sunday the Church is probably half empty. In New England, people who don’t usually come to Church come to Church on Christmas. This is a disheartening aspect of Catholic life in America. Is there anything that can or should be done about it?

Read the rest of this entry »


The Kennedy Mystique

Monday, August 31, 2009 \AM\.\Mon\.

The past week has given me pause for thought on the Kennedy Mystique and what it means in Catholic circles today. I’d intended to remain silent on the topic of Senator Edward Kennedy, he wasn’t someone I had much admiration for, but death is a great equalizer. While it certainly doesn’t put someone beyond criticism, it’s polite not to take the opportunity to attack someone while those who loved him are mourning. And yet, in the end I made some rather strong comments on the topic. Why?

Ted Kennedy isn’t himself the sort of figure one would expect to arouse more than normal political feelings — a sometimes boorish and boozy character, but a party loyalist able to bring a fair amount of rhetorical power to pushing his party’s line and able to bring a self effacing charm into play (when he tried) which softened his partisan edges. The the sort of person I’d tend to admire, but also not someone I’d feel called upon to rail against.

I think the issue is that the combination of the Kennedy name and the Democratic party-line positions holds a certain place in American Catholic history which causes strong reactions among various Catholics depending on how they reacted to that period in Catholic history in this country. JFK was elected at a point when it seemed Catholics had finally “arrived” in the US. They’d made it out of the ethnic ghettos, through college, and into mainstream American society. And while public schools were heavily Protestant, and Catholic “smells and bells” still looked very strange to WASP eyes, Catholicism had become a large and mainstream religion in the US complete with famous converts and Fulton Sheen as a major TV personality. Read the rest of this entry »