COMMENTARY: Catholic Democrats and bishops at odds again

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is clearly confused about Catholic teaching on life issues. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,”‘ Pelosi said that abortion is still an unsettled issue in the church. While the bishops try to straighten out Pelosi, who confuses medieval discussions about “ensoulment” with historical teachings on abortion, the Democrats are trying to sound like they are both for and against abortion. Pelosi is at best misinformed, and has misinformed a nation. The Catholic bishops will try to counter her bad information.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service Head of White House faith-based office resigns (RNS) The director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, Jay Hein, has resigned to care for his ill father. Hein, the White House office’s third director, will leave Aug. 29 and return to Indianapolis to support his father, who is battling cancer, said spokeswoman Rebecca Neale. Hein alerted his staff and state liaisons to religious and secular nonprofits during the week of Aug.

No contest

An Italian priest who proposed a beauty pageant for nuns says it was all a big Miss Understanding.

The Book of Gustav

OK, hurricanes are unpredictable things, but as you can see, the National Hurricane Center is predicting that Gustav will be hitting New Orleans, oh, just about the time the gavel comes down to open the Republican National Convention up there at the other end of the Mississippi. If I believed in that sort of thing, I’d say it was one of those divine punishments that is being visited upon the GOP by an angry God set on reminding voters what that Party’s still sitting Administration accomplished three years ago to the day. But believing as I do in a more merciful Deity, I’d prefer to believe that a Jonah, say maybe Streetprophets’ pastordan, is being dispatched posthaste to St. Paul, to call upon the assembling delegates and hangers-on to repent forthwith. And perhaps they will don sackcloth, from the most magnificent senatorial Pooh-Bah down to the least intern amongst them; and they shall refrain from the shrimps and the filets mignon and every other bespoke foodstuff; and the Anointed McCain will sit in ashes; and the Assemblage will turn from its evil ways.

Biden and Abortion

As Joe Biden prepares for his self-introduction as Barack Obama’s ticket-mate, it’s a good time to think a little about what he brings to the table in re: the abortion issue, and how this may matter with respect to his Catholic co-religionists. The first thing to say is that, by Democratic Party standards, Biden is center-right on abortion. (Here’s an outline.) His NARAL rating is only 36 percent, the result of his opposition to public funding for abortions and his support of the ban on the “partial-birth” abortion procedure. He accepts as part of his faith his church’s teaching that life begins at conception, but strongly supports Roe v. Wade on the grounds that he doesn’t want to impose his religious views on those who do not share them. That is to say, he declines to go along with the Catholic Church’s position that, inasmuch as its position on abortion is derived from Natural Law rather than Revelation, it may be imposed by law on non-Catholics.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service Appeals court affirms limits on funeral protests (RNS) A federal appeals court has upheld an Ohio law that limits picketing at funerals, rejecting an appeal by Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay Kansas congregation that has held protests across the country. Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro pastor Fred Phelps, argued that a law amended in 2006 by the Ohio legislature was unconstitutional because it imposed unreasonable restrictions on speech. She suggested that attendees could “avert their eyes” from protests and are voluntary participants at funerals. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, saying the rule “serves an important governmental interest” and is reasonable.

Young Muslims getting the word out about faith

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-From their cramped office behind a barber shop, four young men are trying to get the word out: This is who we are, this is what we believe. As Muslims in an overwhelmingly Christian community, they see it as their responsibility to tell what Islam truly teaches-to non-Muslims and other Muslims. They aim to do so through Sunnah Publishing, an educational nonprofit they formed four years ago. Hamza Kantarevic knows he looks exotic, and perhaps threatening, in conservative West Michigan. He and his colleagues at Sunnah Publishing hope to answer questions at their first public conference, “Islam in America,” beginning Friday, a few days before Ramadan begins. The seminar features Muslim scholars from Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and New Jersey addressing a wide array of topics, from what Islam teaches about violence and women to Muslim positions on intelligent design and the environment.

Catholic bishops take Pelosi to task on abortion

Prominent Catholic prelates are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., of misrepresenting church doctrine on abortion, saying Catholic law on the issue has been settled for centuries.

Appeals court affirms limits on funeral protests

A federal appeals court has upheld an Ohio law that limits picketing at funerals, rejecting an appeal by Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay Kansas congregation that has held protests across the country.

Catholic bishops take Pelosi to task on abortion

Prominent Catholic prelates are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., of misrepresenting church doctrine on abortion, saying Catholic law on the issue has been settled for centuries.

COMMENTARY: Americans ready to break addiction to driving

Citizens are clearly ready to break their addiction to driving. Even in smaller cities not normally known for urban living, young adults are flocking to downtown housing from which they can walk to work. Even before gasoline prices spiked, property values began rising in neighborhoods served by public transportation and declining in far-flung areas dependent on automobiles. For quality-of-life reasons, young families are choosing to remain in the city when children arrive. Isolated living on a suburban lane lined with minivans seems to hold little appeal.

Young Muslims getting the word out about faith

c. 2008 Religion News Service GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. _ From their cramped office behind a barber shop, four young men try to get the word out: This is who we are, this is what we believe. As Muslims in this overwhelmingly Christian community, they feel a responsibility to tell what Islam truly teaches _ to non-Muslims and other Muslims. They aim to do so through Sunnah Publishing, an educational nonprofit they formed four years ago. “Living in America, we’re the ones who suffer” from misconceptions about Islam, said Maaz Qureshi, 27, a Pakistani and Grand Rapids resident since 1997.

Even in tough times, charitable donations stay strong

c. 2008 Religion News Service MOBILE, Ala. _ When parishioners at All Saints Episcopal Church began distributing groceries to families in need a few years ago, they gave away about 100 boxes of food. Within the last year, the Rev. Jim Flowers said, they began stocking and giving out 175 boxes, and they still run out of supplies. While this city may not have encountered the widespread economic hardships some U.S. cities have experienced, Americans along the Gulf Coast, as elsewhere, have nevertheless spent a summer grappling with soaring gas prices and rising food costs.