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Category: News and Events

trump-cover-finalI was recently asked by Time Magazine for my general opinion on Donald Trump, his relation to Catholic ideas and White Evangelicals and any other thoughts I might have. I was briefly quoted in Time. But I thought I would include here the parts of my remarks that were not used in the article as well.

Trump’s moral positions on life and sexual morality stray widely from Catholic moral and social teaching in many respects. I would also think that conservative Catholics would have problems with him especially on abortion.

He certainly did not endear himself to Catholics when he said the pope needed to be scared into action against ISIS especially the way he said it.

I cannot address the issue of Catholic-Republican organizing because I am not a Republican or for that matter, a member of any political party.

The more pertinent question regarding Trump and the experience of Catholics is that of populism and here Catholics have been on all sides of the question, in Argentina (Peron), and Italy (both Berlusconi and Mussolini) – so I suspect that today this would be the same.

Frankly, I cannot figure out the alleged white-evangelical attraction to Trump. To my ear, he simply is not one of them. He is obviously unfamiliar with the Bible and he does not speak in any evangelical dialect with which I am conversant. I would think that in the end, religious conservatives who haven’t aligned themselves with Trump will find themselves allied behind the alternative Republican option. (more…)

CharlieHebdo

Pens are piled up as people hold a vigil at the Place de la Republique for victims of the terrorist attack on January 7, 2015 in Paris. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

“Dramatic events often focus our minds on the dilemmas we would prefer to ignore,” begins Samuel Gregg in a recent article for the Library of Law and Liberty. He discuses France and Situation de la France, a new book by professor of political philosophy at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Pierre Manent.

In a nation’s life, there are moments that decisively change its trajectory. One such event was the fall of France in June 1940—a humiliation from which, suggests Manent, it has never really recovered. There is no guarantee that a nation’s leaders will lead the people well in these moments: most of France followed Marshal Philippe Pétain rather than General Charles de Gaulle in that crisis. Nor are today’s leaders, Manent maintains, responding adequately to the problems violently thrust into public view by what he unabashedly describes as les actes de guerres committed by an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in early 2015.

The reaction of France’s leaders to the murder of cartoonists and Jews by three French-born Muslims in Paris, Manent observes, was to preside over mass street marches and outpourings of grief while repeating, mantra-like, the same easily disprovable bromides that follow every act of Islamist terrorism (“This has nothing to do with Islam”) and obstinately declining to consider what must be done politically if France is to defend itself against jihadism. Yet such a refusal, according to Manent, is logical because to act appropriately would mean admitting that France’s present political arrangements cannot address the new realities. The point of the book is to identify the nature of the danger, explain why France’s present political regime cannot address it, and then sketch a reasonable way forward.

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 Pope Francis receives Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, in Vatican City on Monday, in a handout photo provided by Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Photo: Vatican press office/European Pressphoto Agency

Pope Francis receives Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, in Vatican City on Monday. Photo: Vatican press office/European Pressphoto Agency

Corporate leaders are working to find common ground with the Roman Catholic Church when it comes to ethics and global business. A recent conference in Rome brought together the Pope, Vatican leaders, and global business executives. The purpose was to improve the relations between the two groups after some of Pope Francis’ negative comments on finance and capitalism.

Francis X. Rocca recently wrote about the meeting for the Wall Street Journal:

At the two-day meeting organized by the Global Foundation, an Australian nonprofit that promotes dialogue among the business community, government and other civil society institutions, participants discussed issues such as how to foster broader job opportunities for young people and women and how to eradicate modern slavery.

The conference was headlined by Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s finance chief. Cardinal Pell is one of the few Vatican officials espousing pro-business sympathies that stand in contrast to those of Pope Francis, who has derided money as the “dung of the devil” and frequently excoriated the free-market system.

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A North Korean soldier holds ammunition to blow up Capitol Hill in Washington, in this poster released by Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency, Jan. 31, 2003. The Korean Banner reads: "Ruthless Punishment to U.S. Imperialism." (Korea News Service/AP Photo)

Poster released by KCNA, Jan. 31, 2003. The Korean Banner reads: “Ruthless Punishment to U.S. Imperialism.” (Korea News Service/AP Photo)

North Koreans might not have food to eat this year, but their government has announced that it has successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) released the following statement earlier today in Vienna:

“Our monitoring stations picked up an unusual seismic event in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) today at 01:30:00 (UTC). The location is very similar to the event our system registered on 12 February 2013. Our initial location estimate shows that the event took place in the area of the DPRK’s nuclear test site. The DPRK also claimed today that it has conducted yet another nuclear test, the fourth since 2006.

ABC News quotes a North Korean reporter on the activity:

“We have perfectly succeeded in testing our first hydrogen bomb,” an anchor said on North Korean state TV. “It was one hundred percent capable from our own wisdom, technology and power. We have now scientifically test-proved a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.”

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Frank S. Meyer

The American political writer Frank S. Meyer is known as the father of “fusionism,” which is usually defined as the synthesis between traditionalist and libertarian thought in modern conservatism. In practical political terms, it brought together social conservatives, free-market advocates, and proponents of a strong national defense to fight against Communism abroad and the welfare state at home and formed the basis of Ronald Reagan’s governing coalition, as well as of think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute and the Acton Institute.

For those of us who came of age during the Reagan presidency and call ourselves conservatives (a group which includes my fellow 40-somethings Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio), fusionism was the basis for our political opinions. With the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Bill Clinton’s 1996 declaration that “the era of big government is over,” it appeared that fusionism had decisively won its decades-long argument against progressive liberalism, even if much work remained to be done to restore the social, economic and military well-being of the United States. (more…)

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Sen. Bernie Sanders

Self-described democratic socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders is doing relatively well in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. He recently polled at 34 percent (an increase from 30 percent in November) and, anecdotally, I passed several “Bernie” bumper-stickered cars on fairly empty roads this morning. Despite Sander’s and democratic socialism’s fashionableness these days, a Frenchman born in 1805 already warned against and explained the dangers of this kind of socialism. Writing for The Federalist, Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg points out how Alexis de Tocqueville “schooled” the senator. “Sanders appears to think all we need to be happy is more money,” Gregg writes. “Alexis de Tocqueville dismantled that idea two centuries ago.”

What exactly is the kind of socialism supported by Bernie Sanders and many other Americans? He’s said that it’s not Marxism and that he supports private business. It’s a “soft socialism” Gregg explains:

Freedom, Sanders maintained, requires government-provided economic security.

(more…)

Some recent headlines:

This certainly sounds bad. Why the recent flurry of these stories? Well, all of them reference a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. By “recent,” I mean it was published November 3. So more than a month ago.

There is a real trend of religious decline among Millennials. As the Pew study notes,

The share of older Millennials who say they seldom or never attend religious services has risen by 9 percentage points. And the share of older Millennials who say they seldom or never pray has risen by 6 points, as has the share who say religion is “not too” or “not at all” important in their lives.

However, I suspect the appeal of these news stories, published long after the survey they are based on, is that they tap into the fears of older generations that they are “losing the youth.” The reality is a bit more varied — and hopeful — to me. (more…)