Do Catholics Have Too Many Babies?

When we were colonists and fought a war against the king and Parliament so that we could secede from the British Empire and be independent of it, we also fought for the value of personal freedom. That is the idea that in matters of personal choice, the government should play no role. The king only [...]

Was Romneycare Unconstitutional?

You can now divide Americans into two groups: Those who believe government rightfully has the power to force people to purchase goods and services they do not want and those who don't. Among the former are two subgroups: Those who believe only state governments have this coercive power and those who believe the federal government [...]

Quodlibets: Two Recent Proposals

It is easier to see the problems than to find good solutions to them. How often have we heard the clear teaching of the Magisterium distorted, sometimes even from the pulpit? How often have we seen variations introduced into the liturgy, as if we are all bored with the official rite and needed relief from [...]

The Case Against School-Based Clinics

Let me start by telling a story. I was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I lived before coming to Washington. Chapel Hill is a fairly typical up-and-coming community. I think it would be fair to call parts of Chapel Hill a home of Yuppiedom — very successful, wealthy young professionals on the way up. [...]

The Last Word: Cultural Faultlines

I recently attended a remarkable conference in San Francisco on new birth technologies, with special emphasis on in vitro fertilization. The attendees were drawn from a wide variety of professions, including philosophy, moral theology, journalism, public policy research institutes, psychiatry, genetics, neonatology, pediatrics, pro-life organizations, and law. What united this diverse group was commitment to [...]

Quodlibets: The Return of J. F. Powers

The current issue of Critic magazine (no relation) features statements by various authors on their current projects and among the welcome news is that J. F. Powers has finished an as yet untitled new novel. I sometimes fear that a generation of Catholics has grown up without even knowing of Powers. In a way, this [...]

A Bad Penny: Richard McBrien Trivializes Politics and Religion

In the first sentence of Caesar’s Coin: Religion and Politics in America (Macmillan, 294 pp., $19.95) Richard P. McBrien misquotes Lincoln. The error is only a trifling one; it alters neither the meaning of the president’s words nor Father McBrien’s application of them. But the resonances of the Gettysburg Address are so familiar to every [...]

“Equality” Before the Press: Survey of Coverage of Vatican Birth Technology Statement

That the New York Times had as its lead story the release of the “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation: Replies to Certain Questions of the Day” might have been predicted. That it would have run the entire text of the document in the same issue [...]

Quodlibets: On Protesting Too Much

God did not become man in order that men might become theologians, as the saint said, nor did God choose to save his people by means of dialectic. Presumably, too, being in constant dispute with other Catholics is not of the essence of being a Catholic. But it sure is hard to avoid. It was [...]

Common Wisdom: Back to the Future

Not long ago, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati looked out over his diocese and discovered something missing. Catholics. At Mass. Alarmed by diminished congregations, a plight shared with most of his colleagues, he asked American bishops to study reasons for the decline, and what could be done about it. Perhaps I missed it, but I’ve [...]

Illusions and Realities: The Gall of the New York Times

The New York Times is a great newspaper, even though it sometimes does present itself as a missionary sent to earth to enlighten Roman Catholic darkness. So often it pats the head of Catholic “progressives,” and scolds “traditionalists.” Consider this headline: Catholic Church Tenets Are Shaken by AIDS Among Clergy. The story (by Robert Lindsey) [...]

A Crisis Symposium: Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

The notion that theologians constitute a second Magisterium more or less in rivalry with the first Magisterium of pope and bishops has fallen into abeyance, but some years ago a theologian of note discerned a new threat to the second Magisterium from what he called the third Magisterium. This third Magisterium was said to be [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

A recent trip to study the Italian lay movement Communion and Liberation led me to consider the self-imposed limits that most lay Catholics in the United States place on faith-inspired actions in American society and politics. It is time for lay Catholics in this country to establish a concrete Christian presence that will provoke a [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

As with most things in post-conciliar Catholicism, the role of the laity in the Church has become problematic mainly because classical Catholic ways of thinking have been either forgotten or badly distorted. As a number of commentators have observed, in an odd way feminism has promoted a new clericalism. Spokesmen such as Rev. Richard McBrien [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

I am probably not the likeliest contributor to a symposium on the vocation of the layman since I don't usually do the sort of things better Catholics do, like being active in the "faith community," the "parish family," and suchlike. Nor do I find myself caught up in any of the partisan movements which, to [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

During the protracted controversies of the fourth century, Saint Gregory confessed that he felt "disposed to shun every conference of Bishops; for never saw I synod brought to a happy issue, and remedying, and not rather aggravating existing evils. For rivalry and ambition are stronger than reason . . . " This may not be [...]

The Last Word: Counting Out the Laity

Within the Catholic Church, especially in the United States, feminism is a hot topic. I have only recently realized that it can also be a hot property; there's serious money to be made in the feminism business. Back in early October, a group called Time Consultants, Inc. held a conference at the elegant Shoreham Hotel, [...]

The Last Word: Reagan’s Defense

Editor's Note: In light of the October summit in Reykjavik, Iceland — in which the matter of strategic defense was the chief bone of contention between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev — we thought it would be appropriate to identify once again the moral question that is at issue. In this month's guest "Last Word," [...]

Quodlibets: The Wisdom of Chesterton

Michael Ffinch’s new biography of Gilbert Keith Chesterton (G.K. Chesterton; London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson; 344 pp.) begins by noting that C. S. Lewis had predicted Chesterton would be rediscovered fifty years after his death and that June 14, 1986 brought us to that point. In an obvious sense, Chesterton, like England in Orthodoxy, can only [...]

The Last Word: Cuomo

It all began quietly enough. Bishop Joseph O’Keefe, vicar general of the New York Archdiocese, advised all parishes to avoid inviting guest speakers who might “attack the Church” or who reject the “clear, unambiguous teaching of the Church.” That sounded straightforward enough, and (just in case anyone had any doubts) Bishop O’Keefe had the full [...]