It’s a pity we teach metaphysics to students before they have children. There is nothing like the happy presence of a son or daughter to make us thankful for life, and to God for giving it. While delighting in our children, how easy it is to grasp the all-important distinction between essence and existence, between [...]

It’s a pity we teach metaphysics to students before they have children. There is nothing like the happy presence of a son or daughter to make us thankful for life, and to God for giving it. While delighting in our children, how easy it is to grasp the all-important distinction between essence and existence, between [...]

Observers have been marvelling at the uncommonly warm reception given to Pope John Paul II’s latest encyclical, The Gospel of Life. The Newsweek cover story was especially welcome. Contrary to some opinion leaders, the Bishop of Rome does not simply "make up" Catholic teaching; he is more bound to it than any one. So there [...]

The real crisis of our times is not a crisis of economics or fiscal policy — it is a crisis of the spirit, and its impact on education is profound. The election sweep of November 1994 was not triggered by that concern for the economy that is usually the wheel horse for political change. The [...]

The United Nations has been holding a series of conferences ostensibly devoted to the subject of development. I have attended the last two meetings, entitled: "The World Summit on Social Development," held in Copenhagen from 6-12 March 1995, and "The International Conference on Population and Development," held in Cairo last October. These two were preceded [...]

Ireland is a small country on the other side of the ocean, and of no great interest to most Americans. But a recent "Letter from Dublin" published in The New Yorker (April 3, 1995) may be of interest, not for what it tells us about Ireland, but about the liberal agenda, which is much the [...]

A wise maxim teaches, with a sly turn, that “anything worth doing is worth doing . . . badly.” That maxim was borne out, all too amply — and all too sadly — by Gov. Robert Casey, in his late presidential campaign, which was celebrated, staffed, funded, buoyant — and short. I reviewed in this [...]

In Kentucky, a recent social-studies test question included a picture of a homeless person lying on a sidewalk next to the gutter. Fourth graders were questioned as to what should be done to help the homeless. The teacher’s scoring guide gave the highest mark to the pupil who answered, “Some of them even have to [...]

With his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II brings a new urgency to a call that has echoed throughout the papacy: the need for a renewed understanding of and commitment to evangelization. Already, in Christifideles laici the pope referred to evangelization as "the fundamental apostolate" of the Church. In Evangelium vitae, he expands on [...]

A week after Tad Szulc’s biography of Pope John Paul II appeared in the bookstores, David Shaw, the media critic of the Los Angeles Times, wrote a remarkable four-part series arguing that the American press — obsessed with issues of sexual morality and incapable of understanding the Church in terms other than those drawn from [...]

Poland, contrary to what we tend to think, belongs to Western Europe. In the very moment its national destiny was born, Poland chose the Roman Catholic Church and the Latin liturgy, paying dearly for this choice, which it never forsook. That said, Poland lies on the borders of the East and shares its Slavic ethnic [...]

When I was a child before I believed in God I was told Bible stories; I was given picture books featuring the life of Our Lord and made to sing hymns. None of this moved me in the slightest except in the direction of boredom. I felt repelled by the whole business, particularly by the [...]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church can be read through, read in, or consulted on any of the subjects it covers. For the mature and knowledgeable believer, it represents a rich source for continued meditation, as surely as it is an informative guide for the less knowledgeable, the perplexed, the ignorant, or those simply uninformed. [...]

In the name of eliminating discrimination, we continue to pursue policies that define people by color. In schools and universities, at work, at the polling place, even in the courts, race is an important, sometimes deciding, factor in admitting students or devising curricula, hiring or promoting employees, determining political representation, and selecting a jury. It [...]

The older I grow the more I listen to Haydn. There is something measured in his pace that goes with daily life. The sturm und drang of youth is over and I can no longer bear the emotional excesses of Romanticism. Of course, there is always Mozart. But listening to him involves the pain of [...]

When each new issue arrives, I rip out page after page of perfume-infused advertisements, then pin the issue to the clothesline until the remaining odor of fashionability dissipates. Far more offensive and less easily separated from the publication, however, is Vanity Fair's fashionable contempt for religion. The February 1995 issue stinks in particular because of [...]

Recent developments in vaccine technology and biotechnology in general have advanced a new version of abortion under the semblance of birth control. Funded by various international agencies, particularly the World Health Organization, research over the past 20 years might soon make available several types of vaccine technology whose sole purpose is to terminate a pregnancy, [...]

An astonishing thing happened in April. I found myself in a room with five hundred people who agreed with me. Obviously, this was not an assembly of Catholics. Quarreling Catholics are the lacerating reality of my adult years. This was a secular mix. But in conversation, as well as from conference speakers, about challenges facing [...]

This is probably my last USCC Watch column. If the proposal of Cardinal Joseph Bernadin’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Mission and Structure of the NCCB prevails at the June meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, there will be no USCC to watch. The United States Catholic Conference, created in 1967 to serve [...]

The word “breakfast” obviously means the moment when we break a fast, when we first eat in the day after our night of sleep. The word probably had something to do with the older and perhaps wiser rules about Holy Communion, fasting from midnight before one receives the Sacrament. To break the fast, with its [...]

End Notes

The great historians have distinctive voices and even when we are dubious about how they tell the story we go back to them again and again for the pleasure of seeing the world through their eyes and hearing once more their voice. Reading Marvin O’Connell encourages thoughts about what precisely historical narrative is. Aristotle, in [...]