George Weigel: Time to Reset U.S. Policy on Syria

Defending an international norm with a limited strike? "Absent serious ends, there can be no serious consideration of means," Weigel argues.

Friday, September 13, 2013 3:25 PM Comments (9)

In Naitonal Review today, George Weigel takes up the question of whether the proposed U.S. strike on Syria is justified according to just war criteria.

The problem with our public debate, he suggests, is that is has focused almost entirely on the "means" (military action v. diplomacy) while it has mostly ignored the "ends" (regime change v. punishment, etc) of U.S. policy on Syria. The reason for this skewed approach, he writes, is that the Obama administration has offered a sharply limited goal for its proposed military intervention in Syria--punish Assad and deter future use of chemical weapons. . For the moment, that plan is on hold while the Obama administration studies Putin's...READ MORE

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Cardinal Dolan's Update on the HHS Mandate

The January 2014 deadline for compliance with the federal contraception mandate is just months away, so what will the U.S. bishops do? The New York cardinal offers a few hints.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:34 PM Comments (35)

Today, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York headlined a Sept. 11 press conference at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that was designed to showcase the Catholic Church's stance on Syria. An audio recording of the press conference is here.

On the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the USCCB president outlined Pope Francis' case against military intervention, and advocated stepped up dialogue and diplomacy as the best way to address Assad's reported use of chemical weapons, and to secure a political settlement to Syria's civil war. 

But the cardinal was also asked to explain what the bishops will do about the Health and Human Services contraception...READ MORE

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Throwing Syrian Christians "to the lions"?

Syrian rebels from an extremist group move into the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, deepening fears that this embattled Christian minority will be extinguished, and that U.S. military intervention will embolden Islamist fighters.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 12:37 PM Comments (6)

Syrian fighters from a radical Islamist group fighting the Assad government have moved into the Christian town of Maaloula, reinforcing the "worst fears" of Syrian Christians, who have already beeen fleeing their nation in droves. Today The New York Times reported that the rebel incursion in a Christan town where Aramaic is still spoken may also

complicate President Obama’s task as he struggles to convince Americans that a military strike against Mr. Assad will not strengthen Islamic extremists."

The Times reporter spoke with Mother Pelagia Sayaf, who leads the community at Mar Taqla, a monastery in Maaloula. Mother Pelagia confirmed 

 that the 53 nuns and orphans staying...READ MORE

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Are the Prayers for Syria Starting to Work?

UPDATE: On Sept. 10, Obama tells the nation that he has asked Congress to delay debate on his proposed strike on Syria, a shift announced three days after Pope Francis led a world day of prayer and fasting for peace.

Monday, September 09, 2013 6:59 PM Comments (6)

On Sept. 7, as the Obama administration lobbied U.S. Senate and House leaders to secure Congressional authorization for a proposed military strike on Syria, Pope Francis led a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and across the Middle East.  

Two days later, on Sept. 9, President Obama told Fox News, "I fervently hope that this can be resolved in a non-military way."

[UPDATE 9/10 9:30 p.m.:  During a televised speech to the American people, Obama said he had asked Congress delay debate on U.S. military intervention in Syria until the administration had time to assess an alternative plan proposed by Russia. The president acknowledged skepticism that the fresh...READ MORE

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"Thank you, God, that I have a job."

On Labor Day, Peggy Noonan echoes Blessed John Paul II's teaching: work is not just about getting a paycheck, it's a "spiritual event."

Monday, September 02, 2013 1:51 AM Comments (44)

Peggy Noonan marked Labor Day weekend with a column in The Wall Street Journal that celebrated the joy of work. 

A job isn't only a means to a paycheck, it's more. "To work is to pray," the old priests used to say. God made us as many things, including as workers. When you work you serve and take part. To work is to be integrated into the daily life of the nation. There is pride and satisfaction in doing work well, in working with others and learning a discipline or a craft or an art. To work is to grow and to find out who you are.

In return for performing your duties, whatever they are, you receive money that you can use freely and in accordance with your highest desire. A job...READ MORE

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Doubts About the Case for a U.S. Strike on Syria

Even a "limited" strike, say critics, is no substitute for a coherent policy with a specific, defensible goal.

Friday, August 30, 2013 12:23 PM Comments (3)

The proposed U.S. military strike on Syria has been presented as a "shot across the bow" of the Assad government, accused of using chemical weapons against its own people. Is sending a "message" reason enough to employ military force?

On Aug. 29, the Obama administration released an unclassified intelligence report presenting evidence that the Assad government used chemical weapons to kill an estimated 1,400 people, including 400 children.  According to the New York Times 

A critical piece of the intelligence, officials said, is an intercepted telephone call between Syrian military officials, one of whom seems to suggest that the chemical weapons attack was more devastating than...READ MORE

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The Catholic Church and Same-sex Marriage: Time for Retreat?

Jody Bottum, the former Editor-in-Chief of First Things, argues that the battle against same-sex marriage has been lost, and the bishops are turning off young people by continuing the fight.

Monday, August 26, 2013 4:19 PM Comments (270)

Is it time for Church leaders to retreat from the public debate on same-sex marriage? 

Jody Bottum, the former editor-in-chief of First Things, believes that the time has indeed arrived for the U.S. bishops to call a truce, at the very least, and re-focus their energies on evangelizing Asia and preparing the faithful for marytrdom.  In a lengthy Aug. 23 post in Commonweal, The Things We Share: A Catholic's Case for Same-sex Marriage, apparently timed to coincide with a New York Times story on  about his change of heart, and the launch of his latest book, Bottum  states the following

We are now at the point where, I believe, American Catholics should accept state recognition of...READ MORE

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Do Opponents of Same-sex Marriage Need "Rehabilitation"?

Oregon's labor commissioner suggests that bakers who refused to supply cake for lesbian wedding need "rehabilitation."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 5:57 PM Comments (310)

"Rehabilitation," a term once associated with charitable programs designed to help social outcasts change course, got a bad rap when Chairman Mao ordered millions of Chinese to leave their homes and jobs in the city and take up hard labor in isolated rural villages.

Now, the term has resurfaced in Oregon, after the Christian owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to supply a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.  The state's Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian told the Oregonian that he didn't want to shut down the bakery, whose owners have been accused of violating a state statute banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Acakian sought to present the intention's of the state in a...READ MORE

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About Joan Frawley Desmond

Joan Frawley Desmond
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Joan Frawley Desmond, is the Register’s senior editor. She is an award-winning journalist widely published in Catholic, ecumenical and secular media. A graduate of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family, she lives with her family in Menlo Park, Ca, in the San Francisco Archdiocese.