Month: February 2014

Term limits can limit the bad and the good (Opinion by J. Pepper Bryars)

Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, has written a bill calling for term limits in the Alabama legislature. There's an old saying about Congress: "They're all a bunch of crooks, but our guy is pretty good." That adage helps explain why the overall institution can have abysmal approval ratings – 13 percent last month, according to Gallup – but its individual members enjoy high reelection rates – 90-percent in 2012, according to Bloomberg. Congressmen and senators represent a region's ideological views, become familiar to its voters and build war chests of campaign cash to frighten challengers. They usually only leave by choice. The recent "once in a lifetime" open congressional races in Mobile and Birmingham are perfect examples of the lack of turnover. It's called the power of incumbency, and conservative Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, wants to shatter the practice in Alabama. He recently introduced a bill to establish a constitutional amendment limiting our state legislators to three four-year terms. It cleared an important state Senate committee last month and awaits consideration in the full chamber. It must also win approval from the House and eventually voters statewide. Should conservatives support the amendment? When weighing any legislative effort, it's often useful to see who opposes or supports its passage. While there are many arguments for term limits, a key indicator is that they are opposed by most of the establishment – from career politicians to special interest groups. "Some career politicians oppose term limits on ideological, outcome-based grounds," wrote Patrick Basham in…

Mother Angelica is proof that women can lead in the Catholic Church (Opinion from J. Pepper Bryars)

Mother Angelica, founder of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). (File) Pope Francis made news last month when he told a group of women visiting the Vatican that women should become more involved in the Catholic Church. "I hope that more spaces are widened for a feminine presence in the Church that is more widespread and inclusive," he said to members of the Centro Italiano Femminile, a women's group founded to promote democracy. Although Pope Francis also said he was "pleased to see many women sharing some pastoral duties with priests," he didn't amend his earlier statement that the priesthood would remain reserved to men. Some critics continue to view this belief as sexist, discriminatory and proof that women are powerless in the Catholic Church. In reality, those criticisms couldn't be further from the truth. Women have always held influential roles in the Catholic Church, and since the earliest days of Christ's ministry many women – mothers, missionaries and sometimes martyrs – have spread the Gospel. For instance, the Catholic Church accords the title "Doctor of the Church" to saints whose works have contributed significantly to the formulation of Christian teaching. It's an exclusive club; while there have been 266 popes, there are only 35 Doctors of the Church. Of the 12 named in the last 100-years, four were women. When Pope Benedict XVI conferred the honor on Saint Hildegard of Bingen, a nun who died in 1179, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano published a special insert devoted to the female…