Melinda Henneberger muses over the success of the television show Downton Abbey and takes issue with some who claim that its popularity is due to a nostalgic yearning for the “classy” job creators of the aristocracy. As Henneberger points out, “…by that logic, I guess we also revere the Baltimore drug dealers, New Jersey mobsters and Albuquerque meth cooks who have been big hits, too, with American TV audiences.” If you take even a glancing look at the show’s writing, it is clear that the heroes of Downton are not really the rich patriarchs (who often mismanage money, make appallingly bad judges of character, and fall in love with the maids), and that they certainly should not be idealized as a warped right-wing example of the good old days.
Alessandro Speciale reports on the Pope’s recent statement suggesting that a marriage can be recognized as void by the Church due to the lack of faith of one or both of the marriage partners. The article notes, “According to Miguel Angel Ortiz, a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, Benedict wasn’t so much addressing the specific issue of remarried divorcees but addressing the relation between the spouses’ personal faith and the validity of marriage, including its commitment to fidelity.”
During last week’s Catholic Schools Week, Sister Dale McDonald reflected on the purpose and ongoing importance of Catholic schools in today’s world on the family, Church, and society as a whole. She states, “Catholic schools make a significant contribution to society by educating millions of students who will advance the nation’s fundamental goal of developing a ‘good society’ that values the worth and dignity of the human person.”
Sister Simone Campbell, of Nuns on the Bus fame, recalls spending time with poor families and seeing how the assistance they received from federal programs providing food stamps helped not only the individual families but the greater community. In that vein, she wonders how some (notably Paul Ryan with his infamous budget proposals) can align cutting services to the poor with following the Gospel. She says, “I question how anyone can link a Catholic pro-life agenda with a budget plan that takes food from hungry families, denies lifesaving health care to sick people, and pushes vulnerable families further into poverty. It’s simply not possible, especially when that plan further enriches the wealthy with tax cuts while supporting military spending not even requested by the Pentagon.”
Michael Sean Winters applauds Archbishop Gomez’s decision to remove church leaders from their public positions for their failure to adequately stand up for children during the sex abuse scandals, while simultaneously calling for the Church to follow the bishop’s lead and do more. MSW argues that “leadership in the Church requires in every age a commitment to protect the vulnerable, a commitment to candor and a willingness to be subject not only to the judgment of God but to a reasonable degree of accountability for one’s exercise of leadership.”