Papal Strategy/Style

Dr.-Joseph-Nicolosi

Joseph Nicolosi: The Man Who Would Heal All the Wounded Boys

The success of a man may be measured in this life by the love of his friends and even by the hatred of his enemies. By this measure, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi was a very successful man when he passed utterly unexpectedly a few weeks ago from complications of the flu. His enemies danced on his [...]

On Pope Benedict’s Final Insights and Recollections

“If a pope were only ever applauded, he would have to ask himself whether or not he was doing things right.”  ∼ Benedict XVI, Last Testament, 2016. “The bishops (at Vatican II) wanted to renew the faith, to deepen it. However, other forces were working with increasing strength, particularly journalists, who interpreted many things in a [...]

Intercommunion: The Next Step in Theological Ambiguity?

A recent issue of the Italian daily Avennire suggests the next possible front in the effort to accommodate the sacraments to “pastoral” problems (at least as Cardinal Walter Kasper sees them): intercommunion. The December 9 issue features a brief interview in which Kasper reflects on Pope Francis’s October 31-November 1 visit to Sweden to mark the [...]

The “Concern”

A relative recently wrote an e-mail to me in which he made the following off-handed comment: “What do you think of the pope’s recent course change on abortion?” Now, unless I missed something, on this subject the pope has not changed anything. He has, no doubt, indicated that he wanted to downplay its relative importance [...]

Pope Benedict is Still Misunderstood in Germany

In Germany, reality and media-hype are worlds apart when it comes to Pope Benedict’s latest book-length interview called Last Conversations (Letzte Gespräche) in German (and Last Testament in English). Accused of lacking tact, of wanting to interpret his own pontificate when this should be left to others, and of bashing the German hierarchy when he [...]

The Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment

Pope St. John Paul II was well-known for his vigorous opposition to capital punishment. Yet in 2004, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—the pope’s own chief doctrinal officer, later to become Pope Benedict XVI—stated unambiguously that: [I]f a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment … he would not for that reason [...]

An Apology for Catholics of the Past

When teaching survey courses in French and Western literature, I sometimes note a student’s puzzled reaction to the thoughts of medieval writers. Novice readers will eagerly dive into an Old French text hoping to discover a paean to Catholic life from an age when Christendom was still mostly united, and the Church integrated into every [...]

Must Catholics Believe that Islam Is Peaceful?

The Apostles’ Creed (updated version): I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the peaceful nature of Islam. Amen. Or, anyway, that’s how it ought to read according to Monsignor Stuart Swetland, President of Donnelly College in Kansas City. No, Msgr. Swetland didn’t actually [...]

The Church and Islam: The Next Cover-up Scandal

“#NotMyPope.” In the wake of Pope Francis’ equivocal response to the murder of a French priest by two Islamic jihadists, that’s the top trending hashtag in France and in Belgium. Which raises a question: Is the Pope doing more harm than good by continuing to deny—in the face of a mountain of evidence—that Islam has [...]

Does the First Amendment Protect Warrior Religions?

After every Islamic terrorist attack, whether in Europe or the U.S., people ask what can be done to prevent it from happening again. But when the obvious solutions are proposed, they are invariably met with the objection that “you can’t do that,” or “that’s unconstitutional,” or words to that effect. Some of the obvious solutions [...]

The Problem of the Unofficial Francis

It has become a commonplace in Catholic circles in the pontificate of Pope Francis to discuss, debate, and interpret the pope’s writings, speeches, and (most controversially) off-the-cuff remarks. Yet with this, we have seen an accompanying phenomenon: we find ourselves talking not only about the pope’s recorded words, but about his alleged words as well. [...]

The Pope is Right for the Wrong Reasons

On June 26, the anniversary of the legalization of same-sex "marriage" in the USA, Pope Francis made controversial comments on his return flight from Armenia. He said that the Catholic Church and all Christians should apologize to homosexuals for failing to protect and accompany them. In truth, there is likely an apology due to persons experiencing [...]

On Pope Francis and Church Integrity

"The Church's practice always results from what she receives and contemplates in revelation. Pastoral ministry cannot be detached from doctrine."  ∼Robert Cardinal Sarah, Silent Action of the Heart (July 2015) I. In the Path to Rome, Belloc remarked that as one gets older he becomes more concerned with the human side of the supernatural Church. [...]

Thoughts on Some Papal Sayings

We have a different sort of pope today, one more interested in raising issues than settling them. He speaks informally, in ways that are often puzzling to those looking for a voice of steady authority rather than one of exhortation, dialogue, and immediate personal response. What he says is strongly grounded in his experience as [...]

This Pope Does Not “Do” Doctrine

If you are puzzled, even disoriented by the Holy Father’s conduct of his pontificate (and I stress at the outset that what follows is not intended as an attack on it) you may be reassured by an article in this month’s National Geographic magazine, which contains some possibly indiscreet remarks by the Pope’s spokesman, Fr Federico [...]

Docility in a Time of Dissolution

We are free but somehow not free. As Paul puts it, “the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do.” The conundrum results from Original Sin: our will is turned against itself, because it is not directed as designed. We are social and depend on others, [...]

Fear Not, Faithful Catholics

Many Catholics, especially conservative ones, obviously aren’t thrilled with the pope’s new encyclical. I find myself once again spending a lot of time explaining to non-Catholics why the current pope is either not a Marxist or is being yet again misunderstood for the 999th time. Frankly, I’ve lost most of my credibility with these folks, who [...]

Mixing Up the Sciences of Heaven and Earth

A museum curator here in New York recently showed me some extraordinary documents and I touched them with awe, albeit with cotton gloves.  There was Benjamin Franklin’s annotated copy of the Constitution, and a long letter by Washington refusing to run for a second presidential term, because all he had to commend himself was his character, which was [...]

Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma

Every modern pope has had his own style. Paul VI was personally like a global student chaplain, intellectually sensitive and pained by the fact that so many were falling away from the Church. John Paul II was the international pastor, constantly on the move, proclaiming the truths of the faith and exhorting us to heroic [...]

Irish Liberals Have Second Thoughts on Pope Francis

For the past year and a half many Irish commentators, especially those not known for friendliness toward the Catholic Church, have expressed great enthusiasm for Pope Francis. They have interpreted some of his often casual comments about not judging people, about the Church serving as a field hospital, about the need for Church leaders to [...]

Is the Left’s Honeymoon with Pope Francis Finally Over?

Okay, here we go. We finally have maybe the moment we’ve been waiting for. A major national case of gay marriage, specifically in the country of Slovakia, has prompted Pope Francis to come out firmly and actively against redefining traditional marriage as the Roman Catholic Church has long understood it. In so doing, progressives/liberals who [...]

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