pope

To Isolate and Marginalize: Obama takes Cue from Castro

Next week, Pope Benedict XVI will visit Cuba in an effort to repair relations between the country and the Church. Perhaps he should pay a visit to the United States as well. As the Papal visit draws near, there is cautiously brimming hope that the Church will be able to make further strides in Cuba. … Read more

The Dark Gulf Before Us

In March of 1938, when the naïve among his contemporaries still thought they might cut a deal with the National Socialists, Winston Churchill saw his country “descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf.” A gulf beckons today, and no amount of forced optimism or self-conscious jollity will stop the descent to … Read more

Must the Roman Curia be Italian?

Although he’s not very well known in the U.S., save among members of the Sant’Egidio community (of which he’s the founding father), Andrea Riccardi is a major figure in the Catholic Church in Italy: a historian of the papacy, a commentator on all things Catholic, and a player in various ecclesiastical dramas. Most recently, according … Read more

The Ecumenical Future

The Evangelical Church in Germany is a theological muddle, being a federation of Lutheran, Prussian Union, and Reformed (or Calvinist) Protestant communities. Still, it must have been a moving moment when the Council of this federation met with Pope Benedict XVI last month in the chapter hall of the former Augustinian priory at Erfurt: the … Read more

An Out-of-Touch Pope?

Disappointment has been a common reaction from “progressive” sources inside and outside Germany in response to Pope Benedict’s September visit to his homeland. These disappointed progressives say they hoped Benedict would speak a good word for changes that they want in the Church, and he didn’t. Here, then, was an opportunity lost. “A number of … Read more

Liar’s Paradox

Logicians have an exercise called “The Liar’s Paradox” which is used to illustrate a number of things. The basic scenario is this: Your ship goes down, and eventually you drift ashore, where you are greeted by a native who informs you that everyone on this island always lies. Can you believe him? If what he … Read more

Jesus at First Sight

Some years ago, at an excellent high school in Minneapolis, I taught a seminar to junior boys on ancient and early Christian authors. The course began with a full-length reading of Homer’s Iliad, and at Christmas, with the seminar half over, my informal poll always revealed that this was the boys’ favorite work up to … Read more

What Plato Advises

During the Labor Day holiday, I read two dialogues of Plato, the “Timaeus” and the “Parmenides.” These are among Plato’s longer and more difficult dialogues — the first about creating the world, and the second about the One. In the “Timaeus,” we read: “As the ancient proverb well puts it, ‘Only a man of sound … Read more

The Wrong Road to Cultural Revolution

The title of the sophomoric 1,518-page manifesto is “2083 — A European Declaration of Independence,” and its author, Anders Behring Breivik, is the self-confessed murderer of 93 people by current count. Nothing can justify his Breivik’s cold-blooded brutality, but the concerns that motivated him are both perfectly understandable and shared by many of us. Only … Read more

What’s In a Name?

So it appears that Osama bin Laden, in the weeks before his death, was noodling the possibility of rebranding al-Qaeda, since the old name seems to have attracted a bit of bad publicity. I held a brief contest on my blog inviting readers to help these guys out by coming up with a new name … Read more

The Pope’s Tweet: The Medium Is the Message

And so, the pope tweeted. What he said far less important than the fact that he tweeted — but what he said is nonetheless revealing. His tweet: “Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.” What is significant about this comes down to the … Read more

Modern Insights and Ancient Virtues

Most of the arguments that occur over Catholic social teaching, made by people ranging from well-intentioned laity to very well-placed clergy, take place in an ignorance of economics so profound that I’m tempted to call it Edenic. I say this for many reasons. The first is sarcastic: Too many Christians look at the complex mechanisms … Read more

The Children of the Ordinariate

The evening was hot and sultry, the first really warm day of the year. The church was an ugly modern one, with fans whirling in the ceiling in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the heat at bay. But nothing could spoil the sense of being at a moment of history. There are occasions when you … Read more

How to Train Your Gargoyle

When we are spiritually weak, God often uses gentle means to draw us to Himself — aware that anything harsher would drive us off. This is one of the most attractive aspects of our divine romancer: that He woos as a true lover would, and protects like a firm, loving parent. Complications arise when we’re … Read more

Servant of the Servants of God

The statement was pompously worded, expressing regret about what was to follow. Alas, it said, weeping crocodile tears, it gave no pleasure to present this statement to the public, but it had to be done. Pope John Paul II, it declared, was a terrible pope and should not be called blessed. With such an opening, … Read more

Behind the scenes at the Vatican

David Gibson of Commonweal alerts readers to a two-hour special airing on the History Channel tonight, giving a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Vatican and some rare footage of Pope Benedict at home and at work: The show provides an overview of the history of the Vatican, and focuses on everyday life in the … Read more

Just War and Libya

In his weekly blessing yesterday, Pope Benedict called for an end to the fighting in Libya: “My fear for the safety and well-being of the civilian population is growing, as is my apprehension over how the situation is developing with the use of arms,” the pope said. “To international agencies and to those with political … Read more

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