Pope Francis

Right to Work as a Religious Liberty Concern

With a new Republican governor and a legislature with a strong Republican majority, Missourians saw some changes this year coming out of their state capital. One of the quickest and most striking turnarounds had to do with right-to-work legislation. This had been a top priority for Show-Me Republicans for years, fought ardently by labor unions [...]

Metaphysical Mischief: The Bergoglio Gloss

Every theology necessarily incorporates a philosophy, for there will always be a natural way of thinking that under-girds the exposition of revelation. Like everyman, popes have philosophies, and although it is not the business of a pope to advocate any philosophy, the philosophy every pope presupposes will influence his representation of the Catholic faith and [...]

How to Think About Luther?

Traditionally, Catholics have viewed Luther as a heresiarch, and the Lutheran break from Rome as a religious and civilizational catastrophe. More recently, in line with current ecumenical and pastoral initiatives, that view has softened. The softening has been quite noticeable during the current pontificate. The pope recently took part in a joint liturgy with the [...]

Amoris Laetitia and the Four Last Things

Hell—St. Teresa of Avila told her nuns to mentally visit the inferno during life so they would not be imprisoned in it after death. St. John Vianney sighed because the saints, who were so pure, cultivated holy fear while “we, who so often offend the good God—we have no fears.” At last month’s Rome Life [...]

When President Trump Met Pope Francis

It was 35 years ago this coming week that a pope and a president met together at the Vatican—and went on to change the world. It was Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan. They met one-on-one at the Vatican Library. To this day, no formal transcript of their conversation has been released. The Reagan [...]

Debate Continues Over Amoris Laetitia

The ambiguities of Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, continue to provoke a lively debate even as we pass its one-year anniversary. Allies of the pope marked the event by rallying to his support as they beseeched the faithful to contemplate this maligned papal document. On the other side of the ledger, orthodox theologians continue [...]

Does History Repeat With Amoris Laetitia Confusion?

The Holy Father actually said to the College of Cardinals: “In a matter of such importance it seems right that Catholics desire to follow one single law propounded authoritatively by the Church. So it seems advisable to recommend that for the present no one should arrogate to himself the right to take a stand differing [...]

Martin Luther: Defender of Erroneous Conscience

Two trials, two appeals to conscience. Trial 1: I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. Trial 2: If the number of bishops and universities should be so material as your lordship seems to think, then I [...]

Girl Boy Scouts … and 71 Other “Gender” Options

The Boy Scouts of America has announced a major policy reversal, a rather dramatic shift in the foundational policy of the organization. It is now accepting girls as Boy Scouts. Yes, girl boy scouts. That is to say, the Boy Scouts of America is accepting “transgender boys”—girls who are biologically female but are declaring themselves “boys,” or, [...]

Amoris Laetitia and the Post-Modern Papacy of Pope Francis

It has been nine long months since the publication of Amoris Laetita, but there is still no end in sight to the confusion and turmoil it has unleashed within almost every corner of the Catholic Church. Bishops have now turned to the excruciating task of implementation as they try to elicit the pastoral implications of [...]

Can the Orthodox Way End the Divorce and Remarriage Debate?

On his flight back to Rome from World Youth Day in Brazil (2013), Pope Francis speaking about the season of mercy and the Church as a mother dispensing mercy, praised the pastoral practice of the Orthodox Churches on marriage and divorce, the pastoral care for the divorced and remarried Orthodox faithful and the possibility of [...]

Manzoni’s The Betrothed and Pope Francis’ Economics

The parsing of literature to support any given political, economic and social agenda is not an uncommon practice, but one that, nevertheless, must be done with great care. Viewing high culture through a reductive critical and ideological prism often risks diminishing the contribution literature makes to culture by viewing the entirety of an artist’s work [...]

Pope Francis and the Pacifist Jesus

In his recently released message for the 50th World Day of Peace, Pope Francis called on humanity to adopt nonviolence as a “style of politics for peace.” Continuing a tradition inaugurated in 1968, the Holy Father began his message by painting a picture of a “broken world” in which humanity finds itself “engaged in a horrifying [...]

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 [...]

Vatican Ostpolitik and the Death of Fidel Castro 

Upon the passing of Fidel Castro, the mainstream media are presenting the Cuban tyrant, the longest-reigning dictator in human history, in a much more benevolent way than they would the passing of any other strongman. For example, the headline in The New York Times reads: “Fidel Castro, Cuban Leader Who Defied U.S., Dies at 90.” [...]

The Prophetic Voice of Four Cardinals

“We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.” ∼ St. Paul Out of “deep pastoral concern,” four cardinals of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, His Eminence Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne (Germany), His Eminence Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop emeritus of Bologna (Italy), His Eminence Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order [...]

Does Amoris Laetitia Resolve Genuine Moral Dilemmas?

The interpretation of Amoris Laetitia by Cardinals Schönborn and Kasper is now well known. Communion for those in a second union represents a change in practice, not in doctrine. What Francis is doing is simply inviting the Church to insert her settled doctrine on mitigated culpability into her reflections on how the divorced and remarried [...]

When Walls Are More Merciful Than Bridges

A few days before the U.S. presidential election and at a time when European countries are hastily constructing barricades along their borders, Pope Francis said that nations should not be building walls, but bridges. “Mercy,” said the Pope, “is much more effective than walls.” He added that “all walls fall.” Well, yes. At the Last [...]

On Allowing the Unworthy Reception of the Eucharist

Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor accused Christ of insufficiently loving the “weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man.” Christ, he declared, cared only for those “great and strong” souls who would freely obey him for the sake of the bread of Heaven. So the Grand Inquisitor would “care for the weak too”—the “millions” who are too [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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