Church

Steeples in Charleston

Have you ever overheard people discussing how world religions are basically the same, and only superficially different? “We have different opinions about the small stuff,” someone says, “but when it comes down to the essential beliefs, every religion is the same.” This has been described as the “God on the Mountain” perspective. God (or whatever [...]

Have you ever overheard people discussing how world religions are basically the same, and only superficially different? “We have different opinions about the small stuff,” someone says, “but when it comes down to the essential beliefs, every religion is the same.” This has been described as the “God on the Mountain” perspective. God (or whatever [...]

Pope Francis’ latest press interview on the plane from Mexico created confusion about the Church’s teaching on contraception. The Holy Father said, “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.” The Papal spokesman, Fr. Lombardi, trying to clarify matters, seemed to say that [...]

Fr. Paul Scalia’s homily at the funeral of his father, Justice Antonin Scalia, was “remarkable in its moving profundity,” as one of my colleagues wrote. But why was the homily so good? Can we analyze it and understand why it was so perfectly appropriate and profound? Such reflections can be helpful to both pastors and [...]

Catholics talk about natural law, but what’s it all about? Basically, it’s a system of principles that guides human life in accordance with our nature and our good, insofar as those can be known by natural reason. It thereby promotes life the way it evidently ought to be, based on what we are and how [...]

Today, an historic meeting between Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and Pope Francis takes place in Havana, Cuba. The Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church (UGCC), largely at the center of the tensions between the ROC and Rome, at times finds herself struggling against nationalist and secular influences. While certainly not as widespread as the [...]

Have you seen “Spotlight” yet? The critically acclaimed film recounting the Boston Globe’s investigation of clerical sex abuse? I recently attended a screening, and the critics are right: It’s an excellent film, although incredibly painful to watch. And for a devout Catholic, viewing “Spotlight” requires a great deal of endurance and humility—the victims’ stories are [...]

No better example of a tendency of the most famous to be most quickly forgotten, is Albert Schweitzer. He lived ninety glorious years as theologian, musician, missionary, physician, and ranked at the top of each. His Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 was almost an afterthought, for by then he was what Blessed Teresa of Calcutta [...]

There has been a great deal of talk in the Church lately about a supposed opposition between rules and reality, theology and life, doctrine and pastoral considerations. Some of the talk has gone to extremes, suggesting that rules, doctrine, and organized thought matter little in comparison with the pastoral needs of the immediate situation. Such [...]

Catholics—even more so liberal Catholics—are usually quick to criticize anyone who seems to interpret Scripture too literally. Indeed, liberal Catholics often don’t even want to view a lot of it as historical. Liberal Catholics and leftists generally are also ready to rebuke people who adhere to aspects of traditional Christian morality, especially sexual matters, as [...]

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino! ∼ Hilaire Belloc When my wife and I were first married—oh, about half a lifetime ago—there was no wine for us to drink at our reception. It was not that others had depleted [...]

The very goal of the Christian’s life—true worship of God—is a subject too often brushed aside as irrelevant to the question of transmitting the Faith, despite the growing urgency among the faithful to find new ways to catechize. What’s rightly perceived as a catechetical crisis ought to show us the relationship of worship to truth. [...]

Now more than ever, there are calls for a more pastoral Church. That's a good thing. It's the clergy's job to be our pastors, and who could object to priests, bishops, and popes doing their job? “Pastor“ means shepherd, so we find what pastors should do by looking at what shepherds do, especially in the [...]

Renaissance political thinker Niccolo Machiavelli castigated Christianity for making its adherents weak. Looking to the next world, he charged, Christians forget their public duties in this world, leaving their communities weak in the face of their enemies. Early Christian martyrs were hardly cowards. There were martyrs in Machiavelli’s day as well, and as I write [...]

This month marks the 450th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Peter of Michael Ghislieri, the great Dominican of peasant birth known forevermore as Pope St. Pius V. Cardinal Borromeo brought Ghislieri the news of his election on January 7, 1566; he was crowned Pius V ten days later on his sixty-second birthday. Few [...]

"And the angels said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke ii. 10, 11.) There are two principal lessons which we are [...]

It seems to me that we take “hope” for granted. Of course, as good Catholics we know that we are not to presume the mercy of God, or his blessings. So we might protest that we do no such thing; we know that God is in no way obliged to give us anything, that everything—including [...]

In 1994, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a letter officially specifying that it is licit for females to serve the altar in the role that has traditionally been known as “altar boy.” Bishops were not bound to permit the practice, and a 2001 follow-up specified that pastors may also choose to reserve altar service [...]

For much of my academic life, I considered the terms, “values,” “rights,” and “social justice,” to have equivocal meanings. When these terms were used without clarification, they disrupted any fair social order. Each of the phrases had two or more meanings that usually meant the direct opposite of each other. Conversations and legislation in which [...]

In the Broadway redaction of Pygmalion, Professor Higgins regretted how proper English is considered freakish, and “in America, they haven’t used it for years.” The problem glares in the speech of television commentators, for whom coiffures are more important than diction: while grammar is banished from the social media, our urban landscape has become a jungle [...]

When our children were very young—full of beans and wonder—I would often tell them the story of young Henry, whose mother had wisely packed him a sandwich and apple before sending him and his little dog off to explore a distant and dangerous world. His travels took them as far as the backyard where, encircled [...]

During their recent ad limina visit in Rome, the German bishops heard a message from Pope Francis that could have come straight from the mouths of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI (here). While the bishops had not, or only grudgingly, accepted it from the latter two, they seemed enthusiastic when spoken by [...]

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