Fr. James V. Schall

The Rev. James V. Schall, SJ, (1928-2019) taught government at the University of San Francisco and Georgetown University until his retirement in 2012. Besides being a regular Crisis columnist since 1983, Fr. Schall wrote nearly 50 books and countless articles for magazines and newspapers.

recent articles

The Political Philosophy of Joseph Ratzinger

Joseph Ratzinger was aware of the central event of modernity, namely the transferal of basic Christian categories from the transcendent order to the political order of this world.

Why I Believe in Islam

Years ago, after another outrage in Beirut, I recall a comment by a Jihadist intellectual. He was disgusted with the then widespread belief that such atrocities only happen within Muslim countries, a sign of their civilizational inferiority. He longed for the day when such frequent bombings would also be an everyday event in Western cities. That … Read more

Christmas: Sane and Glad

The lesson from Isaiah at Midnight Mass on Christmas reads, “Thou has increased their joy and given them great gladness.” I am often struck by the fact that in Christianity joy and gladness are not so much a product of our own activities but something much more, something that happens when all that the Greeks … Read more

The Nativity of Our Lord

Editor’s note: the Rev. James V. Schall, SJ,  joined Crisis Magazine as a columnist in January of 1983. He passed away in April. On this second day of Christmas, we honor him by republishing this timely and timelss column, which originally appeared in the December 1995 print edition of Crisis. Requiescat in Pace, Father Schall. … Read more

Proper Liturgy Needs Doctrinal Truth

“This is why respect for truth is ultimately inseparable from what we call worship. Truth and cult are inextricably united—one cannot exist without the other, however often history may have separated them.”  ∼ Joseph Ratzinger (1982) Liturgical thought today seems to downplay the importance of doctrine while elevating the significance of practice. The harmony of lex orandi … Read more

What Makes the Christian Worldview Different from the Rest

One cannot live without developing opinions about the nature of reality, so every well-defined culture and faith naturally introduces its members to a way of seeing the world. While we can easily name many different worldviews, perhaps the five most important ones are: 1) Chinese, 2) Indian, 3) Muslim, 4) secular humanist, and 5) Christian. … Read more

Time to Rethink the Abortion Question

“Can a woman forget her nursing child that she should have no compassion for the son of her womb?”  ∼ Isaiah, 49:15 “Every man is in a direct relationship with God. Faith claims no more for the first man than for each one of us, and vice versa no more for us than for the first … Read more

“With the Help of the State”

“It’s time to face up to the harms the Sexual Revolution has caused. Whether you’re male or female, straight or gay, young or old, religious or irreligious: what kind of a world do you want to help create? A world in which every child has a legally recognized right to a relationship with both parents? … Read more

“The Church’s Greatest Crisis”

On September 21, the well-known German magazine, Der Spiegel, featured a long article on the whole career of Pope Francis under the title “The Greatest Crisis in the History of the Church.” The immediate issues brought up concerned the pope’s handling of abuse issues while he was still in Argentina. Most people are by now … Read more

Ratzinger Understands that Power Must Be Ordered by Reason

How do we recognize what is right? In history, systems of laws have almost always been based on religion: decisions regarding what was to be lawful among men were taken from reference to the divinity. Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the state and to society, that is to … Read more

On the Catholic Appreciation of Leo Strauss

“Strauss embraced classical philosophy over religious faith, not as a system of set doctrines, but as a ‘way of life’ following the model of Socrates, featuring a Socratic ignorance and a searching (zetetic) or erotic skepticism. In this view, the philosopher lives happily with merely human wisdom, not because he has refuted divine wisdom, but … Read more

What is True About “Kids”?

The back page of The New York Times Sunday Section for July 29, 2018, in the section devoted to children, listed, in large bold print, 19 statements about “kids.” Each statement began with the phrase “The truth is kids….” Nothing else appeared on the page except the words The New York Times. No one was … Read more

Why Be (or Continue to Be) Catholic?

On a recent book review TV interview program called Q/A, Ross Douthat, author of To Change the Church, was asked about his own beliefs. He responded quite frankly that he was a Catholic. When asked why, Douthat replied that, as far as he could see, a divine intervention did take place in this world around … Read more

What We Know About Evil, Hell, and Final Damnation

“Hell is the place God created for the angels who rebelled against him. We say ‘place,’ but since angels are spirits the word ‘place’ is metaphorical. Hell is a condition but also a society of those who are separated from God. Having rejected God and having lost his angelic privileges to God’s company, the devil … Read more

“The Deepest Truth About God”

“The deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake on Christ who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.”   ∼ Verbum Dei, #2, cited in Placuit Deo I, 1. Several weeks ago, Clifford Staples called my attention to a recent document from the Congregation for the … Read more

What is Easter?

Easter Sunday this year falls on April Fools’ Day. A tradition exists about “Christ the Fool.” It probably originates from when Pilate sent Christ to see Herod. Herod was anxious to see him. See him do what? See him perform. He had heard much about this man and his miracles. So naturally the king wanted … Read more

What “Accompaniment” Really Means

These reflections are written against the background of the way in which many activities, once treated under the natural law, came to be considered human “rights” under civil law. A couple of decade ago, it became clear that the subversion of natural law would be carried out under the aegis of “human rights” as understood … Read more

On the Strange Function of Absolutes

Most people today “absolutely” maintain that they do not hold or live by “absolutes.” They live by their desires and choices, which are readily changeable. No one is much bothered by the “logic” of his own views. The proposition that “No absolutes exist” is itself an absolute. If it is true, an absolute exists. If … Read more

What, Indeed, Is the Quran?

Most people know that the Quran (Qur’an, Koran) is the holy book of the Muslim religion, hence of about a fifth of the world’s population. But knowing this much, we still must grasp the peculiar nature of this famous book, if, indeed, because of its origins, it can be called precisely a “book.” If we … Read more

When the “Reformers” Abandoned the Eucharist

The first lines of Belloc’s 1936 book, The Characters of the Reformation, are these: “The break-up of united western Christendom with the coming of the Reformation was by far the most important thing in history since the formation of the Catholic Church fifteen hundred years before.” We live in a time when the Reformation is … Read more

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