Deacon James H. Toner

Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Air War College, a former U.S. Army officer, and author of Morals Under the Gun and other books. He has also taught at Notre Dame, Norwich, Auburn, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He serves in the Diocese of Charlotte.

recent articles

The Core of Integralism

Integralism has led to a firestorm of controversy in Catholic intellectual circles, and it has its able and enthusiastic defenders as well as its strident detractors. What is at the core of Integralism?

priest

What to Do When You Have a Weak Priest

Suppose your priest or pastor. . .     preaches homilies or teaches in ways that reject or repudiate Church dogma or doctrine (CCC 2037*); approves, supports, or helps to finance organizations or causes which deny or distort Church teaching;  lives in a manner that gives scandal (CCC 2284) to parishioners; tolerates parish school faculty or staff … Read more

GFP

The Scandal of “Gay-Friendly Parishes”

The Church, we know, cannot bless sin. It appears all right, however (even, evidently, laudatory), to have so-called Gay-Friendly Parishes (GFPs). Under that umbrella, these GFPs tolerate or encourage activities, associations, publications, shows, and similar celebrations (even Masses) that more orthodox parishes rightly spurn or condemn. At the outset, we must be clear that James … Read more

College

Totalitarian Democracy Revisited

“Not many of you should become teachers. As you know, we teachers will be judged with greater strictness than others.” (James 3:1) What happens in our country’s college classrooms matters. It matters, of course, to the students themselves. It matters to their professors. And it matters, greatly, to the country, whose reins of leadership will … Read more

Olivier Maire

When Compassion Becomes Misguided

Tragic news from France informs us that a Rwandan man, Emmanuel Abayisenga, murdered Fr. Olivier Maire, 61, the French provincial superior of the Montfort Missionaries (the Company of Mary). Abayisenga is also the main suspect in an arson attack on the cathedral in Nantes, in northwestern France, in July 2020. The suspect had been under the … Read more

priest

The Future of the Church Lies in the Past

“Are they ashamed of the abomination they have committed? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” (Jeremiah 6:15) Nuisance callers want the person called to talk, so they will often ask, “Can you hear me all right?” or “How are you today?” Television shows have “teasers” at … Read more

Priest

“Just Call Me Father Bob”

In the past few decades, a number of people contend, we have made great progress in no longer being stuffy and pompous. We have, for example, finally scrapped many of those old-fashioned titles. A cardinal may still be addressed as “Your Eminence,” but many clergy now use first names, with optional titles—as in the case … Read more

Pride March

The Sacred Church and the Secular Church

Today there is a sacred, orthodox Catholic Church, and there is a mundane or secular Catholic church. Today’s secularized Catholic “church” is not precisely a parallel, nor is it an ersatz, religious institution. This secular church is a profane perversion, a sacrilegious caricature, attempting not just to substitute for Christ’s Church but to hallow pan-sexualism, … Read more

Education for Darkness

Pity today’s college teachers, especially those at the rank of assistant professor. After years of graduate study, they were fortunate enough to find a college teaching job. Soon, however, they discovered that the subjects and courses they love to teach must be made “user-friendly.” This means emphasis, primarily, upon getting good student evaluations. One usually … Read more

The Politics of Sorrow

Some years ago, I served at a parish with a priest—let me call him Father Micawber—who frequently asked me to preach. It seems he was satisfied with my homilies, with a single exception. “You should be more upbeat,” he told me. “We want people to leave Mass happier than when they came in the door.” … Read more

The Bedrock of Friendship

I am part of a small circle of acquaintances of yesteryear—all 1968 alumni of the same college—who share stories, anecdotes, quotations, book recommendations, and video clips. Recently, we were treated to this declaration, attributed (without citation) to Thomas Jefferson: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from … Read more

When Will Pope Francis Update the “Hail Mary”?

Pope Francis wants to change the wording of the “Our Father” or “Pater Noster.” I wonder, though, why he should stop there. Isn’t it time to update the “Hail, Mary”? Although there have been a number of attempts to change this beautiful Marian prayer to make it more contemporary, the time may now have come … Read more

Time to Rediscover the Idea of the Soldier of Christ

Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my arms for battle, who prepares my hands for war (Psalm 144). During the 1970s, the United States Army descended into chaos. Discipline, tradition, morale—all were lost during, after, or because of the Vietnam War. I do not mean to argue here for or against the justice … Read more

Imagine No Religion, Too

“We simply cannot,” said Pope Francis. His interlocutor was puzzled, wondering what it is that we cannot do. The answer came swiftly and inexorably. “Fight another war. The error came in the early Church when its fathers made a false peace with Rome and allowed Christians to serve in its legions. The only way to … Read more

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 … Read more

Truman’s Decision Was the Best of the Bad Options Available

Editor’s note: The following essay by Deacon Toner is a response to Prof. John Paul Meenan’s critique of Deacon Jim Russell’s defense of President Truman’s decision to use atomic weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.  President Warren Harding, not a bright man, is supposed to have said, as he mulled over certain … Read more

What it Means to be an Educated Human Being

We are born and live in a certain location and in a certain time. By what appears to be the caprice of geography and chronology, we are thus, in a sense, “locked into” a particular place and period. In other words, we are trees in a forest we cannot descry; consequently, gaining perspective—seeing macroscopically instead … Read more

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