March 2010 Archives

Mitch Daniels for president!

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I actually know very little about the Indiana governor, but:

At 5'7", the Indiana governor wouldn't be the tallest man to occupy the White House, and he'd be the baldest president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

You had me at short and bald. Somebody please tell me he's got a beer gut, too!

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Lay Ministry as Clericalism


There's much to chew on in Russell Shaw's argument that over-emphasis on lay liturgical ministry is a form of clericalism that is opposed to Gaudium et Spes's vision of Catholic engagement with the world:

The clericalist buzz surrounding lay ministry today places a premium on what lay people do in church. What they do out in the secular world is given comparatively short shrift. De facto, this reinforces the Kennedyesque project of privatizing religion, according to which, for Catholics like Pelosi, their split with the Church over things like abortion and gay rights is a "difference of opinion" in which their opinion wins. In another famous passage, Vatican II deplored "the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives." The council called this "one of the gravest errors of our time" (Gaudium et Spes, 43). That was 1965. Forty-five years later, the dichotomy is thriving. To be sure, many things account for it. Secularization, expediency, and ignorance come to mind. And also, I submit, the clericalist notion that to be an involved Catholic lay person means doing ministry in church -- an idea whose silent corollary is that what goes on outside church doesn't have all that much bearing on one's religious identity. Let's be clear about this: Lay ministers are good people. Many of them do exemplary work in the community six days a week, with "ministry" on Sunday a kind of frosting on the cake of their commitment. The problem isn't with how good people like that organize their lives and live their faith. It is, as I keep repeating, with the mentality that exalts lay ministry and ignores lay apostolate. Lay people engaged in living their faith may or may not be lay ministers, but they will certainly be lay apostles in the world -- in their marriages, families, friendships, civic responsibilities, jobs. And in politics, if that's their line of work. That doesn't mean toeing the hierarchy's line on contingent political questions allowing for diverse opinions within the framework of agreement on principles. It means taking time and trouble to know and understand the principles and making conscientious decisions -- prudential judgments -- that apply them to concrete cases. Having done that, the laity, as Vatican II also said, "must bring to their cooperation with others their own special competence, and act on their own responsibility" (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 7). Two years after Kennedy spoke in Houston, Vatican II began. In its four years, it spoke on many matters. What the council had to say about the laity, conscience, and political life was and remains forward-looking and sound. Kennedy's message of privatization sank in with many members of the Catholic political class. The wisdom of Vatican II apparently did not.
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