Priesthood

The Tyranny of Tolerance

When the Supreme Court re-defined marriage in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision to include same-sex relationships, it was immediately clear that this sea change would create a conflict between this newly-discovered constitutional right, and the first freedom listed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: the right of religious liberty. Everyone from pundits [...]

The Best Preachers are Signs of Contradiction

In late June of this year, I had occasion to concelebrate a newly ordained priest’s First Mass. Following a well-established custom, this newly ordained priest had asked an older, more seasoned priest to preach the homily. Since we had already passed Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi—three consecutive Solemnities with rich and suggestive texts [...]

Carbon Monoxide Clericalism

Invisible, odorless, and deadly, carbon monoxide clericalism is less a power-trip than a survival mechanism that proves counter-productive. Simply describing it is the first step toward prevention or cure. Then let us all pray for a serious intervention of the Holy Spirit, for without the reform of the priesthood, it is difficult, if not impossible, to renew [...]

More Reasons to Support a Celibate Priesthood

Usually I don’t bother with pieces about “the first (y) (x),” where y = special interest group and x = profession. They always drip with a smugness that I, who looked up to the Jafar character as a child, find nauseating. The bien pensant journalist always seems pleasantly surprised their pet minorities have risen to [...]

On the Failure of Homiletics

“They have all zeal and no truth, and we have all truth and no zeal.” ∼ Bishop Sheen on the Church’s enemies In The Light of Christ, the fine new book by Father Thomas Joseph White, OP, we read that “[b]elonging to the Church does not give people a blank check so that they can live [...]

Clothing the Naked Catholic Square

Secularized man has succeeded in making himself a shadow. By eschewing every trace of moral absolutes, tradition and, indeed, the very anchor of nature itself, he has made himself a ghost. So etiolated, he can only rely upon the whimsical demands of the gaseous self. In this claustrophobic universe there is no longer need for [...]

Advice to a Young Priest

The illusion of one being perpetually young was shattered in my case recently when a publishing firm asked me to write some advice to a young priest from the perspective of an elder. For me, youth was a permanent state. I was the very youngest in my college class and, in my Anglican years, at [...]

The Best Priest I Ever Knew

I may be something a bit rare in Catholic circles, both a convert and a revert. Between my conversion in 1985 and my reversion in 1993, I lived the life of a non-practicing orthodox Catholic. There really is such a thing; someone who for various reasons is not practicing but who does not question any [...]

Letter to a Priest

“The synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulas but the free availability of God’s love and forgiveness.” ∼ Pope Francis I do want to love this pope, the sure desire of any Catholic heart. [...]

Passages from Vatican II that Every Catholic Should Know

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). While all agree that the council was a milestone in the history of the Church, the meaning and application of Vatican II and its sixteen official documents has been a source of contention right down to the present day. Numerous [...]

Priestly Celibacy and the Demise of Marriage

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus used to call it “the parish paper,” a gentle barb at the pretensions of the self-described “paper of record,” but also, I think, a subtle pastoral hand extended to those who think they get all the advice they need when they look in the mirror. Yes, I’m talking about the New [...]

Advice for the Pope in Light of the Synod

The Holy Father has been very good in lecturing priests and telling us what to do. We are to go out into the world and “make a mess.” We are to “smell like the sheep.” We are to welcome all with compassion, forgiveness and mercy. We are to be good and kind pastors who administer [...]

The Priesthood and the Choice

I heard an excellent homily last week, delivered by a young priest who spoke with passion and energy. It was clearly his own take on how the Gospel reading for this daily Mass spoke to him. He crafted it to offer lessons to us. It was beautiful, but that wasn’t what struck me. What moved [...]

What Did the Pope Really Say about Gays in the Priesthood?

Very few popes give off-the-cuff interviews to reporters to begin with, and even less joke and have fun with the reporters. So, when Pope Francis did just that as he returned from World Youth Day, it was a stunner. It wasn’t so much that he said he “does not judge gays”—after all, the meaning itself [...]

The Gospel According to Garry

For more than a decade, Garry Wills has been devoting much of his energy to Catholic matters.  In Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit (2000), he explained that the papacy was never intended by Jesus and that most popes have had a malign influence on the Church and the world.  In 2002 he followed with Why [...]

The Catholic Left’s Latest Call for the Ordination of Women

In early December the independent and very liberal National Catholic Reporter weekly newspaper published a long, carefully reasoned editorial declaring that “The Ordination of Women Would Correct an Injustice.” If the Church were deliberately perpetrating an injustice in the matter of ordination, of course, it would be a serious matter. The NCR editorial was a [...]

The Harvest is Plentiful But the Laborers Are Few

On Sunday, Jan. 25, 1959, Pope John XXIII proclaimed that it was time to drag the church out of the Dark Ages and into the modern world. It was time, he said, to open the stained-glass windows and let in some fresh air. Shortly thereafter he convened the Council of Vatican II to implement his [...]

We are Non-Roman Catholics

The first reaction of visitors to my lovely parish church is generally one of bewilderment, as they anoint themselves with air after reaching out for a holy water font inside the door and coming up empty. No statues, either. No stations of the cross. No confessionals or Rosary group either, for that matter. The first [...]

Did Bishop Finn Deserve Indictment?

Two weeks have passed since the indictment of Kansas City’s Bishop Robert Finn. The bishop’s critics are demanding his resignation, while his defenders protest his innocence. Let’s step back a pace, and put the matter in perspective. The indictment of an American bishop is a big story—a huge story, an unprecedented story. Yet oddly enough, [...]

Your Holiness, It Is Time for a Theologian Who Is Not Clamoring for Women Deacons to Write an Open Letter to You

Your Holiness: Forgive me for taking so long to write this letter. As you well know from your many years of service in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, since the late 1960s it has been fashionable for theologians to write open letters critical of the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church. [...]

Guidelines for the Protection of Priests

When the United States bishops meet in Seattle in June for their semiannual conference, they will review the implementation of the 2002 "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." It has served, for almost ten years, as the primary mechanism to safeguard minors from sexual abuse in the American Catholic Church. While the [...]

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