Not just a pandemic and unrest make this an unusual inauguration. So does Joe Biden.

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200,000 flags dot the National Mall in place of people who cannot attend due to the pandemic

It’s not an easy thing for the director of The Bernardin Center to acknowledge.

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was archbishop of Chicago from 1982 until his death in 1996. In those years, Bernardin became one of the most influential religious leaders and the most effective public theologians not just in the Roman Catholic Church, but around the globe. His influence still is felt today, especially because his critics still feel the need to rebut him. When he lost his life to cancer in 1996, he shared his dying and his death very publicly. …


It’s easy. The same way a Catholic can vote for anybody else. The way the Church tells us to vote.

2020 brings us the twelfth presidential election since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. There are eleven reasons to believe that this twelfth election will not stop abortions. Yet, still Catholic voters are told they must not vote for Joe Biden (who is Catholic) and instead must vote for Donald Trump because of abortion. This has been going on for five decades, and this approach only has poisoned our politics while corroding the unity of the church.

The U.S. Catholic bishops last year emphasized again that abortion is the “pre-eminent priority” in this election year. The bishops actually voted against including a quotation from Pope Francis in their Faithful Citizenship voters’ guide for this year. The quotation they rejected saw Francis calling on us to defend the unborn but goes on to add, “Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable.” Catholic social teaching encompasses a broad range of vital issues affecting everyone. Yet, again, our politics is reduced only to abortion. …


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Pope Francis at a Joint Session of Congress greets Joe Biden in 2015

Can a good Catholic vote for Joe Biden?

Among Catholics, there is almost no question asked more often as we head toward Election Day. And of course, the answer is Yes! Good Catholics also can vote for Donald Trump. There is no “good Catholic” way to vote. There are good Catholic reasons for choosing how we vote, though. That’s what Catholic voters need to pay attention to.

Take just a few words from the official teaching of the Catholic Church as a place to start. St. John Paul II told us that, “Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation.” …


It’s Time to Sing the Praises of Politicians and the Political Vocation

I can remember the chill that ran through me the day I saw the slogan in print for the first time. I was teaching at the University of South Carolina campus in Aiken. It was about a dozen summers ago, and I was driving along Dougherty Road. The lawn sign encouraged me to vote for a candidate in a local election, and beneath his name was the promise —

A Businessman, Not a Politician

So much of where we find ourselves today can be traced to the growing persuasive power of that promise. Scorn for politicians is not new, of course. Far from it. The Reagan era and its praise for private business over public service was only a climax that followed a growing, libertarian distrust of government that grew steadily in the postwar era as though the Great Depression had been forgotten entirely. …


A Catholic Reflection on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Propositions of Religious Liberty

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All of political life is sharing.

That’s not easy to appreciate today when so much of our discourse focuses on maintaining divisions and drawing lines. But the deepest meaning of politics is that it is about a sharing. Political life is about what we have no choice except to share because we dwell together. Our social nature brings us together. That circumstance makes us a community. When we think and work together about our shared life, that is politics.

How do we do this sharing with each other? St. Augustine told us that a community is “bound together by an agreement as to the objects of love.” Our sharing begins in loving something together. But in a pluralist state like ours, how do Catholics, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, agnostics, atheists, and everybody else agree about what to love together and take that first step of sharing? …


Bernie Sander’s Disappointed Supporters Would Do America a Favor If They Would Learn That Quickly

Freedom is hard.

This is not an academic point. Freedom means accepting not just that we disagree, but that others are wrong. And, it means accepting that if others are as free as we are, and they are wrong, we will not get what we want and often we will get what is bad.

Making this argument to my fellow Catholics has been my Sisyphean vocation for 30 years. Yes, I tell them, I agree that abortion is morally evil. But our nation of laws and our constitutional freedom has no place for that until we convince other people to agree with us. …


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I want to take note of a few facts as I begin here —

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) resigned from the House after being accused of sexual misconduct in July, 2017.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) both resigned from the House after being accused of sexual misconduct in December, 2017. Al Franken (D-MN) also resigned from the Senate in December, 2017, and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) announced in the same month he would not run for re-election following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Most of us are old enough to remember when South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford resigned his office in 2009 when he was found to be having an affair, and when Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office before his criminal conviction because he had sought to sell a seat in the U.S. …


Why I Think about Retiring to My Vineyard

As CBS begins streaming Picard this month, I find a kindred soul in the old, bald hero of Maxia. I also understand the desire to retreat from institutions to which you’ve dedicated your life when they become so unrecognizable and so disappointing that the despair feels overwhelming, a life’s work feels wasted.

Thirty years ago, while Star Trek: The Next Generation exploded to syndicated success on UHF stations across America and beyond, I experienced the first stirrings of a vocation to understand our politics through the lens of Roman Catholicism and to live my Catholic faith as an academic vocation devoted to the study of politics. …


The U.S. Catholic Bishops Need To Do Better

One of the real pleasures of being the director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union is found in the opportunities I have for interreligious encounters. We have a thriving program in Catholic-Muslim Studies, and our Catholic-Jewish Studies Program has existed for fifty years, growing up with Nostra Aetate’s implementation and with CTU, itself.
During our Holocaust remembrance observances here in the spring, I had an opportunity to hear a survivor speak about her experiences. She offered an ennobling account of her life, all she has seen and what she has learned about our shared humanity. …


One whistleblower changed the whole Trump era. But it could have been anyone.

The problem with a truth that everybody knows is that no one has a reason to act on it.

Like a rental car or the floor of a movie theater, no one feels responsible. It belongs to all of us, so no one does anything.

Donald Trump’s corruption has been in plain view since the day he was sworn in as president of the United States. (Actually, it has been in plain view for far longer: it’s only mattered since January 20, 2017.)

The problem with the allegations contained in the whistleblower complaint is not that they seem farfetched. It is that they sound so familiar. The transcript of Trump’s conversation with the Ukrainian president sounds exactly like him: the same transactional worldview build on the solid foundation of his own self-interest; the same childish inability to see value in anything that does not serve him; the same thin-skinned obsession with his enemies and winning at any cost. The whistleblower complaint is vintage Donald Trump. And, we all know it. …

About

Steven P. Millies

Steven P. Millies is associate professor of public theology and director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

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