12/01/1999

Normally the average Catholic need not worry about a group of academicians who meet every year to discuss the "historicity" of the Gospels. These debates have been going on inside ivy walls for over a century. But with the recent national road-show of the Jesus Seminar, founded in 1985 and led by Protestant scholar Robert [...]

Normally the average Catholic need not worry about a group of academicians who meet every year to discuss the "historicity" of the Gospels. These debates have been going on inside ivy walls for over a century. But with the recent national road-show of the Jesus Seminar, founded in 1985 and led by Protestant scholar Robert [...]

The time of year approaches when the nation, for its sins, must suffer the annual Ordeal-by-Manger. Allowing for minor local variation, the ritual has by now acquired a familiarity so practiced in execution, so inevitable in outcome, that even schoolchildren can predict the denouement. Act One opens when the town fathers of Smithville undertake to [...]

It was another tumultuous day in the House of Representatives on September 30, as the Committee on the Judiciary brought to the floor the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (see "Congressman Graham Springs a Bill," October 1999). It was tumultuous because the exertion evidently strained the collective wit of the Democrats in the House. Just [...]

Pope John Paul II is convinced that it is essential to the exercise of the Petrine ministry to foster unity as an instrument of evangelization. In Ut Unum Sint (1995), he wrote: "Believers in Christ...cannot remain divided. If they wish truly and effectively to oppose the world's tendency to reduce to powerlessness the mystery of [...]

The Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration on Justification is at once an ecumenical breakthrough of historic significance and an ecumenical dead end. For Lutherans who came of age before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the signing of the declaration on October 31—Reformation Day—was a remarkable moment. We were formed in a theology that emphasized precisely those doctrines [...]

It is impossible within a short space to take issue with all the mistakes made by John Cornwell in his new book, Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII. As Kenneth L. Woodward rightly stated in his review of the book in the September 27, 1999, issue of Newsweek: "Errors of fact and ignorance [...]

Of all the saints in heaven, no other figure is more frequently portrayed in film than Joan of Arc. Little wonder, for her life was filled with all the drama and adventure one thinks of as being "cinematic." A devout, young shepherdess who came to be called simply "the Maid," Joan heard celestial voices that [...]

One hundred years ago, just before the turn of the last century, Pope Leo XIII addressed an apostolic letter to James Cardinal Gibbons and the American hierarchy condemning "the opinions which some comprise under the head of Americanism." To this day, traditionalists proclaim and progressives lament the move as the papal suppression of a new [...]

"A lying mouth destroys the soul" (Wis. 1:11). Lying has become a governing etiquette in an age that has abandoned most refinements of manners. This may be a result of the general philosophical confusion about truth, but a mental breakdown of culture is rooted in a deeper and more universal heartbreak, for the 20th century [...]

On October 9th, in Sydney, Australia, the most popular Catholic writer of the 20th century died at the age of 83, disdained by nearly everyone. Well, no, that's not quite right. But how does one explain the phenomenon of Morris West? He is in truth more like the Italian-American storyteller Mario Puzo, whose 1969 The [...]

Room for Doubt

Stephen Sondheim, one of whose songs is called "Sorry-Grateful," says that ambivalence is "my favorite thing to write about, because it's the way I feel, and I think the way most people feel." That may be the way people feel on the East Side of Manhattan, but I suspect the average movie-goer would be rather [...]

The best prescription for millennium jitters is the liturgical year. In a sense, each liturgical year is millennial because it contains within itself a complete cycle of salvation history, which is what gives the term millennium its biblical significance. It also anchors us to the source of the temporal millennium as we celebrate the approach [...]

Every three weeks I take my mother for three consecutive days of chemotherapy. At age 86, she has joined the ranks of those of us who sometime in our lives battle cancer. The cancer ranks seem ever expanding, frighteningly so. Who does not have someone in the family who is fighting this particular fight? And [...]

No one knows the date of Christ's birth, neither the year nor the day. For most of human history, people have not been as careful about time as we are—even when it involved the most influential man who ever lived. But whoever decided during the long years of the Church's persecution by the Roman Empire [...]

Adolf Frederick V, grand duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, was born during the presidency of James Knox Polk, who was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. We might focus on the mighty Polk's birth, as that partum from his mother's womb coincided with the third partition of Poland. A more dour eye would rather focus on his [...]

Cicero, the Roman orator and philosopher, was concerned with this moral question: How can one be honorable and virtuous in a corrupt regime? He was not upset by the immorality of individuals but by the corruption of institutions designed to check and counteract these individual disorders of soul. When these institutions are corrupt and overlook [...]

Mr. Alnutt, captain of the African Queen, escaping down river with Rosie the spinster sister of a now-dead Methodist missionary, has cases of gin aboard. A scandalized Rosie watches him take his first drink. He continues on into oblivion. In the morning, he wakes to find Rosie pouring the gin into the river. And she [...]

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