Laudato Si’

In the Culture of Death, Abortion is a Sacrament

The feminist writer Florynce Kennedy once said, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” She didn’t give the left enough credit. Abortion has become a kind of “sacrament” because women can get pregnant. Abortion has morphed from a taboo tragedy to a constitutional right: a sine qua non of the Democratic Party, [...]

What Does the Amazon Synod’s Working Document Really Say?

Much ink has been spilled debating the merits and even the orthodoxy of the Instrumentum Laboris (or working document) of the Amazon Synod, which begins on October 6. We’re now less than one week out from the main event and, curiously, there has been no close reading of the Instrumentum itself. So, let’s begin with [...]

The False Prophets of Climate Change

Due to teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s thunderous—and divisive—speech to the United Nations last week, climate change is getting another moment in the sun. It may be tempting to brush off her comments as youthful hyperbole, but Thunberg’s speech does not stand alone. She’s the most prominent figure in a worldwide movement of young people who [...]

Five Ways to Prepare for the Amazon Synod

You’ve read the Amazon synod’s neo-pagan, pantheistic Instrumentum Laboris, relishing Pope Francis’s “mantra” that “everything is connected” (n. 25).  You’ve reread Laudato Si, letting yourself be pierced by “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (n. 49).  But you still want to delve deeper into the spirit of the Amazon synod. [...]

The Conundrum of Progressivism

Progressivism, the view that modern political tendencies should continually be extended, has deep roots. Its beginnings are closely connected to the rise of modern natural science, which rejects the contemplative ideal of knowledge in favor of prediction and control. This approach, which stresses observation, measurement, and mathematical modeling, has led to modern technology and industry. [...]

The Great Emergency

That every five hundred years the Church passes through a crisis is not a novel insight. It may be something of a contrived schematic, since there have been other crises as well, but each of those periods of crisis has influenced the Church to an extraordinary and radical degree: The Fall of the Roman Empire, [...]

Looking at Laudato Si’ in Theory and Practice

Ronald Reagan once said that an economist is someone who sees something happen in practice and wonders if it could work in theory. The new book, Pope Francis and the Caring Society, appears like a team of economists forced to study the encyclical Laudato Si’ in theory and then wonder if it might work in [...]

Hurricanes, Climate Change, Pope Francis, and the Poor

Never letting a serious crisis go to waste, climate change advocates seized upon hurricanes Harvey and Irma as evidence that climate change is real and happening, its effects devastating, and without drastic remedial measures global cataclysm is inevitable. Joining in was Pope Francis. While Irma was hammering the Florida coast, El Papa warned against inaction, [...]

Logan, Technocracy, and the Abolition of Man

The newly released film Logan, the final appearance of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, the metal-clawed and brooding member of the X-Men, is indeed a film heavy on violence and profanity. It does, however, offer a fascinating view of what is possible when man uses technological advancement divorced from any conception of nature and the good. [...]

Paul VI and the Unexpected Lessons of Populorum Progressio

March 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s social encyclical Populorum Progressio. Even today, this document is regularly referenced by some Catholics, particularly Latin Americans, because of its focus upon global poverty. Others, however, view the encyclical as a highly time-bound text and reflective of many now-discredited economic ideas which proliferated in the late-1960s. [...]

Lent All Year Round?

For several years, every Ash Wednesday, I witnessed a curious spectacle: an openly dissenting Catholic lesbian teacher I worked with attended her only Mass of the year, early in the morning, and sported her ashes on her forehead all day, in front of her classes. She fasted and abstained, and we noticed, totally confused but [...]

Humility and Hubris

Much has been written about the Pope’s humility, and he himself has often spoken about the need for humility. Yet it is possible to detect a certain amount of hubris in the positions he takes on political and scientific matters. For example, it takes a certain level of hubris for a man to take a [...]

Laudato Si’ and the Selling of Body Parts

The recent revelations surrounding the selling of fetal body parts by Planned Parenthood highlight a crisis in contemporary society depicted in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’. With uncanny insight, Pope Francis had written, “the culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects…. Is [...]

This Pope Does Not “Do” Doctrine

If you are puzzled, even disoriented by the Holy Father’s conduct of his pontificate (and I stress at the outset that what follows is not intended as an attack on it) you may be reassured by an article in this month’s National Geographic magazine, which contains some possibly indiscreet remarks by the Pope’s spokesman, Fr Federico [...]

Unreliable Eco Forecasts Produce Unnecessary Fear

During this latest period of heightened environmental interest given by a new round of international conferences, hoped for treaties and now also a papal encyclical, there is a rather curious embrace of the predictions of environmental science as forecasts that are to be believed, virtually at face value. “Studies show…”, “predictions indicate…”, “the established science [...]

It’s Time for an Encyclical on Christian Persecution

No-one would describe the New York Times as especially sympathetic to orthodox Christianity. The Grey Lady’s established aversion to anything but all-but-completely secularized versions of the Christian faith didn’t, however, stop it from recently publishing a widely-read article underscoring the on-going brutal persecution of Christians in the Middle East. If the Times is perturbed about [...]

Humanae Vitae and the Sensus Fidelium

“In matters of faith the baptized cannot be passive.” ~ International Theological Commission “Easter is a big deal at St. John’s,” Doug Barnes observes about his church. “It’s like the second-biggest deal behind Christmas.” If you remember your Catechism, you’ll know that Barnes is dead wrong—at least from a theological and liturgical perspective. Easter (Alleluia! [...]

Environmentalism That Harms the Poor

I recently begged the Holy Father, in this magazine’s print edition, to be very careful in anything he might say about global warming in his then forthcoming (but, alas, now published) encyclical on the environment, not least because there has actually been no global warming to speak of for more than 18 years now and because [...]

Fear Not, Faithful Catholics

Many Catholics, especially conservative ones, obviously aren’t thrilled with the pope’s new encyclical. I find myself once again spending a lot of time explaining to non-Catholics why the current pope is either not a Marxist or is being yet again misunderstood for the 999th time. Frankly, I’ve lost most of my credibility with these folks, who [...]

The Tragedy of Laudato Si’

The case of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical Laudato Si’ can be seen as tragic. This is not because it is the terrible document that some say it is; it is because so much of it is so good, and because it had the potential to be a truly great encyclical. Like a tragic hero, who [...]

Which Papal Document will Renew the Earth?

It was my intention to offer a fulsome commentary and critique of Laudato Si. However, as I commenced my third and closest reading of the document, I found myself overwhelmed by its voluminous nature, meandering and mixture of solid proclamation of Christian teaching with incoherent detours into all manner of political controversy. My principal concerns [...]

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