Thursday, December 4, 2008

Catholic Intellectuals

I took my NCR (National Catholic Reporter) to Chili's to read at least one article. Right on the front page, upper left hand corner, is " 'Poped out' Wills seeks broader horizons," by John Allen, Jr. I have been reading NCR since the 1960s and Garry Wills for almost that long--mostly opinion pieces, but also his book, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America. I liked the book.

A couple of items in the very long article, by NCR standards, raised my eyebrows and so I decided to send a letter to the editor.

Then I remembered that I am a BLOGGER and I can write my comments for all to see, without the filter of some editor--and then I can send them the URL.

The first thing I thought might be a bit off was the "Historian and journalist Garry Wills, perhaps the most distinguished Catholic intellectual in America over the last 50 years...". I wonder if 50 years precludes Uncle Fulty (as he was known in my parents house)--Bishop Fulton J Sheen? Bishop Sheen held the attention of my agnostic Father for 30 minutes each week. And what about Father Andrew Greeley, someone I have read (non-fiction only), although I don't always agree with him? So, at the beginning of the second paragraph I was asking myself if I agreed with the tenor of the piece.

Then, later on, toward the end, there is a discussion of torture and Constitutional Rights. I admit to being one of those opposed to torture. However, I am also one of those who is opposed to the idea, ensconced in law long ago, that said that the Bill of Rights didn't extend out past the US territorial waters if you were not a US Citizen. Torture in GITMO or in some European rendition site is not a violation of the US Constitution. It should be, but it isn't.

If NCR wants to do something, it should start a campaign to pass a Constitutional Amendment saying that the Bill of Rights extends to actions by the US Government wherever there is a US Government presence, overt or covert.

But, back to the article. One gathers that the author, John Allen, Jr, is celebrating the fact that Professor Wills is a Catholic opposed to the hierarchy and setting his own standards, or as Mr Allen says, "he parts company with church teaching on papal infallibility, abortion and transubstantiation...". On the other hand, Mr Wills accepts the Nicene Creed and says his Rosary every day--I hope he doesn't have the same problem I have, falling behind from time to time and having to then double up to catch up.

I guess the end of the long interview finds me figuring that I would be happy to share a pew during Mass with Professor Wills, and share a donut afterwards. But, I don't think I want him teaching the Confirmation Class.

And, the good news is that, unlike our Episcopalian Brothers and Sisters, we haven't split ourselves into two parts, one supposedly "liberal" and the other supposedly "conservative."

Regards -- Cliff

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