Kresta in the Afternoon – May 15, 2009 – Hour 1

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    First Topic – Maintaining Catholic Identity and Promoting Abortion on Demand. What Doesn’t Fit Here?

    Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame, sits on the board of Millennium Promise, an anti-poverty organization which reportedly supports the distribution of condoms and encourages the establishment of abortion services where legal. “Any Catholic university that supports a program to reduce poverty by eliminating poor children has a serious problem. No Catholic should be taking a leadership role in an effort that distributes contraception or promotes abortion," said Patrick Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. Patrick is here to discuss this latest news and the efforts of the Cardinal Newman Society.

    Second Topic – Is Catholic Social Teaching Liberal?

    In a speech that he delivered in Washington last month, drawing kudos from many liberal Catholic analysts, Father John Langan of Georgetown argued that American Church leaders should engage the Obama White House on a broad range of issues, rather than allowing their relationship to deteriorate solely because of a disagreement on abortion. But one sentence leapt out at Phil Lawler: “There seems to be a fairly strong prima facie case for Catholics to support the Obama administration and its agenda as an effort to move American society somewhat closer to the ideals of Catholic social thought and to move our society forward from the pit which it has dug for itself.” Is it really true-- is it really self-evident-- that Obama's policies match the social teachings of the Catholic Church on issues such as welfare and economic justice? Sadly, I think that many Catholics who answer that question reflexively, with a strong Yes.  Phil has analysis.

    Third Topic – What “Church” Does Notre Dame Belong To?

     Notre Dame is speaking and acting as though it were not a member of the local Church, let alone Rome. Those are the sentiments of George Weigel who says there is a high-stakes “political game” here. The Obama administration is full of very smart political operators. Reading last November’s electoral entrails, they’ve sensed the possibility of driving a wedge through the Catholic community in America, dividing Catholics from their bishops and thus securing the majority Catholic vote Obama received in 2008. And they’ve shrewdly judged that the soft underbelly of Catholic resistance to the Obama administration’s radical agenda on the life issues is composed of Catholic intellectuals, their prestige institutions (like Notre Dame and Georgetown), and their opinion journals—the very people and opinion centers who claimed last year that Obama was the true pro-life candidate. It’s a clever move on the political chessboard, and barring extraordinary actions from the bishops, it will likely meet with considerable success. George is here to discuss it.

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