SAYING A GOOD WORD FOR AMERICA
Norman Birnbaum writes: For the past seven years, Father Thomas Reese, as editor of the Jesuit weekly America, opened its pages to most of the controversies within the Catholic Church–abortion, condoms, stem-cell research, sexuality and church governance. The former Cardinal Ratzinger, guardian of doctrine in the Vatican, made known his extreme displeasure with the magazine. Now Father Reese has resigned. Reportedly, Jesuit headquarters in Rome thought that a conciliatory gesture to the new Pope was appropriate, but many American Catholics are appalled. They fear that the former Cardinal, now Pope Benedict XVI, will continue to censor debate in the church. True, the Jesuits know how to serve popes while subtly defying them. Father Reese’s successor, associate editor Father Drew Christiansen, pointedly remarked that he would consult Father Reese. Catholics and non-Catholics alike should express their solidarity with America.
GET USED TO IT, TONY
D.D. Guttenplan writes: On the morning after his party was returned to power with the lowest popular vote of any government in a century, British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged the loss of forty-seven Labour seats in a revealing phrase: “I–we–the government–are going to focus relentlessly now on the priorities the people have set for us.” In the closing days of the campaign it was obvious that outrage at the war had made Blair, once his party’s biggest asset, an albatross around the necks of Labour candidates. Speculation about how long Blair will hold on began even before the votes were counted. But as his regal identification with the government suggests, the Prime Minister won’t go quietly. Indeed, his postelection Cabinet reshuffle, though granting a few spots to allies of Chancellor (and presumptive successor) Gordon Brown, was a promise of business as usual. Still, Blair’s much reduced majority gives Labour’s surviving radicals much more leverage; controversial proposals for national identity cards and further privatization of the health service are unlikely to get through. And with the election of Ed Miliband in Doncaster and Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam, Parliament now has two former Nation interns. Today, Commons, tomorrow the House of Representatives!