Lumen Gentium

The Day the Music Died

One day, out of curiosity, I Googled “symphony orchestras in the Muslim world.” The results were rather dismal. One site—“About Symphony Orchestras in the Arab World”—contained the following (badly translated) information: Symphony of Saudi Arabia: “Non-existent…” The Orchestra of Emirate of Qatar: “This orchestra has no clear identity…100% of foreign elements” [i.e., none of the [...]

Extra Ecclesiam, Ecclesia

“All the way to heaven is heaven.”  ~ Catherine of Siena “You got any change, man?” I’d only made it a few blocks from the Denver Sheraton, and I’d already heard that request three times. “Sorry, I’m tapped out,” I mumbled. “That’s OK,” he replied with a smile as bright as his big orange Broncos [...]

Divorced and Remarried are Called to Heroism…

The universal call to holiness is considered by many to be the most important development of the Second Vatican Council. The main location of this call is the fifth chapter of the Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium: Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank [...]

Catholicism, Islam, and the Perils of Arguing from Authority

Like many Americans, I didn’t know much about Islam before the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. And, to tell the truth, even after 9/11 I wasn’t inclined to look too deeply into the matter. The events of 9/11, disturbing as they were, were not quite enough to overcome a certain inertia in me. [...]

Fifty Years Later–Vatican II’s Unfinished Business

Fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Church in the United States is in the throes of a struggle. Loyal Catholics are showing renewed vigor and vitality, and are helping the Church to move forward in unity. At the same time, the Church is also being exhausted and drained from within [...]

The Pope Gets Political

Evangelium Vitae - the "Gospel of Life" - is a warning and a plea to the people of the United States and other developed nations. The warning is that ours is fast becoming a culture of death. The plea is for us to join together in building a new culture of life. Pope John Paul [...]

Can the Bishops Win This Battle?

This past September, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, sent President Obama a letter that was long overdue. “I write with a growing sense of urgency about recent actions taken by your Administration that both escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage,” the archbishop [...]

Georgetown’s Catholic Apologist for Islam

A non-Muslim activist lawyer has filed charges of discrimination against the Catholic University of America with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR). The university is discriminating against Muslim students, he contends, by “forcing” them to conduct Islamic prayer services in rooms filled with crucifixes and other symbols of the Catholic faith. The [...]

Unaccomodating

Two millennia into the Christian era, the niceness of Christians is on the way to becoming the biggest threat to Christianity. “I came to cast fire upon the earth,” Jesus famously said. The characteristic gesture of our religiosity may be the limp handshake of peace. “God doesn’t need ‘nice’ Christians,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput writes [...]

A Light to the Nations: The Meaning and Future of the Catholic Church

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten, not made; of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made.     We've said those words thousands of times at Sunday Mass. [...]

Hiring and Firing Bishops

  Napoleon Bonaparte was a man who liked having things his way. To that end, you might say, he set about remaking the face of Europe. Another of the things he liked having his way was the Catholic Church, and to that end he set about remaking the hierarchy in France. In negotiating a concordat [...]

Privatizing Religion

At a party back around Christmas, a man I hadn't met before asked me what I do. I said I was a writer who, among other things, wrote fairly often about the situation of the Catholic laity in the Church. "Oh," my new acquaintance responded innocently, "so are you a eucharistic minister in your parish?" [...]

Can Non-Catholics Be Saved?

Unam Sanctam is the sort of document that gives our Protestant brothers and sisters a real jolt, primarily because it looks at first blush as though it teaches that Catholics cannot have Protestant brothers and sisters. Written by Pope Boniface VIII in 1302, this papal bull concludes with a shocking dogmatic definition:   We declare, [...]

Listening to the Laity

  My last month's column, on the subject of polarization in American Catholicism, touched off a lively and substantial discussion. My thanks to all who took part. I don't propose to respond here to what was said, but simply to expand on an issue I raised originally but didn't really develop.   Near the end [...]

Why Vatican II?

One of the many peculiarities of contemporary Catholicism resides in the fact that so many people on the extreme left and extreme right of the Church are in basic agreement about the Second Vatican Council. In fundamental ways, they insist, Vatican II was a sharp break with the Catholic past. People on the left generally [...]

Sins of Omission: Catholics, Marriage, and Politics

The California Supreme Court supremely violated the will of the people of that state when it overturned California’s eight-year-old Defense of Marriage Act. The court declared that homosexuals have a right to marry the person of their choice. The Catholic governor of California supported this ruling, as did several other prominent, publicly Catholic Californians. The [...]

On Clericalism

Imagine a man who wakes up in the morning with a headache, fever, and chills. The symptoms persist and are there when he goes to bed that night. Next day, it's the same thing again -- headache, fever, chills. This continues day after day, week after week, over and over. Finally the poor man starts [...]

Shrinking the Bishop’s Conference

  When 250 or so American bishops travel to Baltimore in mid-November for a sentimental journey into the Catholic past, they may find more comfort in looking back than looking ahead. But look ahead they must. Their national organization, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has come to a historic turning point.   Since [...]

Structures of Self-Deceit

A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Garry Wills is a remarkably learned man. Graced with a powerful and confident mind and an elegant style, Wills is a forceful writer, with a clarity of conviction that is all too rare nowadays. Devoted to the rosary, the Mass, and the creed, he is deeply pious. But, above all, he [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

In 1946, Pope Pius XII asserted that the "laity are the Church" and thereby signaled an entirely new way of understanding the Church and her mission. Vatican II, of course, articulated that understanding and the ensuing years have added clarification and development. The establishment of the Council for the Laity and the new Canon Law [...]

Distinguo

ALTHOUGH THE FATHERS of Vatican II, particularly in the Constitution on the Laity, spoke of an enlarged role for lay people in the areas where they have special competence, the post-conciliar scene has involved an odd crisscrossing. Not a few clergy have moved into the world, assuming the tasks (and clothing) usually associated with the laity, while some lay people look [...]

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