The Pope, Catholicism and American Politics

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One of the lasting images from this week's events in Rome is President Bush and former Presidents Bush and Clinton, kneeling before Pope John Paul's body in St. Peter's Basilica. It's been 45 years since John Kennedy had to reassure non-Catholics that the Vatican would not dominate his presidency. In 1984, Ronald Reagan sent America's first ambassador to the Holy See. Last year, Catholic candidate John Kerry lost the Catholic vote. We look at the stormy history of Catholicism in American politics. How does Pope John Paul's "culture of life" apply to abortion, the death penalty and the war in Iraq? What about poverty and civil rights? Did the child sex-abuse scandal cost church leaders precious credibility? We examine the intersection of religion and American politics with Catholics and other students of religion, political science and culture.
  • Making News: Pfizer Agrees to Pull Painkiller Bextra from Shelves
    Another much-used anti-inflammatory drug has been pulled off the market. Pfizer says Bextra will no longer be sold, even though the pharmaceutical company "respectfully disagrees" with the Food and Drug Administration that the Cox-2 inhibitor increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Marc Kaufman, who reports on science and health for the Washington Post, says the move will impact patients, pharmaceutical manufacturers and investors.
  • Reporter's Notebook: Remembering Bobby Jones as the Masters Starts
    Despite the presence of several top players at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, not even Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus has yet reached the mythological status of Bobby Jones. Jones won the Grand Slam in 1930, a feat no other golfer has ever achieved. Then, at the age of 28, he immediately retired from golf-sort of, as Chicago Sun Times sports columnist Ron Rapoport recounts in his latest book, The Immortal Bobby.
References for today's religion and politics discussion:

Pfizer's Bextra

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Bextra

Kaufman's article on Pfizer suspending sales of Bextra

Bobby Jones

Rapoport's column on Bobby Jones

Masters Tournament



Warren Olney