Pope Francis

Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee

On October 12, 1870, a good man closed his eyes on this world. Although loved by many, and respected by most at the time of his death, history has since laden Robert E. Lee with abuse and hatred. The change has been long coming, but Dylann Roof's 2015 racist shooting raised disgust to a fever [...]

“The Church’s Greatest Crisis”

On September 21, the well-known German magazine, Der Spiegel, featured a long article on the whole career of Pope Francis under the title “The Greatest Crisis in the History of the Church.” The immediate issues brought up concerned the pope’s handling of abuse issues while he was still in Argentina. Most people are by now [...]

The Sin of Silence

In the Inferno, Dante Alighieri, a critic in his day of Church leadership, famously put the souls of at least three popes in hell, as well as countless other clerics who go nameless, their faces blackened beyond recognition. However, one cleric he does meet along the way is Ruggieri degli Ubaldini (d. 1295), the archbishop [...]

The Pope as Supreme Being

Pope Francis famously downplays law and doctrinal formulations, which he often associates with Pharisaism, in favor of “discernment,” which seems to involve the direct application of ultimate considerations to particular situations. As he put the matter in his address at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family, “The true defenders of doctrine are not [...]

An Open Letter to Archbishop Chaput Supporting His Call to Cancel the Youth Synod

Your Excellency: As a young Catholic I write to share my grave concerns about the looming youth synod. I am grateful for your repeated efforts to promote orthodoxy at this event and your attempt to ask Pope Francis to presently cancel it in light of the sexual abuse crisis. “Right now, the bishops would have [...]

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, [...]

Tear Down this Papal Wall of Silence

In the dark of an August night in 1961, the Russians threw up a barrier between East and West Berlin which came to be known as the Berlin Wall. On June 12, 1987, Ronald Reagan stood at a podium in Berlin and delivered his famous speech, in which he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this [...]

The Other Scandal

The Pope’s popularity in Italy has dropped from 88 percent in 2013 to 71 percent in 2018. But you’d be mistaken to think that the decline has to do with Archbishop Viganò’s charge that Francis had covered-up for Cardinal McCarrick. The poll was taken before that story broke. According to the poll’s author, much of [...]

The Consequences of Changing Church Teaching

The underlying premise of conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s recent book, To Change the Church, is that the Catholic Church is conservative because her claims and demands only make sense if there is 1) a core and agreed-upon set of doctrines and 2) a clear link to New Testament teachings and to the early [...]

Secular Protests of the Papal Visit to Ireland

The closer we get to the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland and specifically to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin the greater seems the criticism, even distrust and outright hostility, of the Church and even the pope. No doubt, much of it is the accumulated effect of the dramatic loss of Faith by [...]

Imagine No Religion, Too

“We simply cannot,” said Pope Francis. His interlocutor was puzzled, wondering what it is that we cannot do. The answer came swiftly and inexorably. “Fight another war. The error came in the early Church when its fathers made a false peace with Rome and allowed Christians to serve in its legions. The only way to [...]

Francis Uses Junk Theology to End the Death Penalty

“One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out.” On August 2, Pope Francis altered the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) regarding the morality and application of the death penalty. The above quote is [...]

The “Francis Effect” Five Years Out

In his recent book on Pope Francis, Lost Shepherd, Philip Lawler reminds us that the papacy should be a source of Church unity. However, as Lawler points out, under the current pontiff this is not so. He lays out two reasons why: the first is Francis’s autocratic style and the second is the divisive program [...]

Why Be (or Continue to Be) Catholic?

On a recent book review TV interview program called Q/A, Ross Douthat, author of To Change the Church, was asked about his own beliefs. He responded quite frankly that he was a Catholic. When asked why, Douthat replied that, as far as he could see, a divine intervention did take place in this world around [...]

German Bishops Debate Who Can Receive the Eucharist

Protestantism comes from Germany, its original spark with Martin Luther, and its earliest excesses with the Anabaptist rule over Münster; the latter crushed finally by the prince-bishop’s army, the former however enjoyed enduring success. From Germany, Reformation ideas spread to other European countries, and from there into the whole world, creating new epicenters of Protestant [...]

Waste Land: Britain’s Culture of Death

April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land… April 23 is St. George’s Day, the national feast day of England. On April 23, 2018 three events occurred. Ealing Council in west London became the first English Local Authority to implement a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for the area around a [...]

The Church and Islam: Dangerous Illusions

When I first began writing about the Church and Islam, I devoted a lot of space to describing ways that Church leaders could resist the spread of Islam. It seemed only a matter of time until they would wake up to the need to resist. As it turned out, however, that assessment was overly optimistic. [...]

Do Catholics Have Legitimate Fears about Immigration?

In a number of talks and statements over the years, Pope Francis has scolded Europeans for their fear of immigrants. He came back to that theme early in March following electoral gains by “anti-immigrant” parties in Italy. According to a Reuters report, “Pope Francis on Sunday expressed concern over national policies dictated by fear.” On [...]

An Open Appeal to the Catholic Bishops of the World

After serving five years as a Catholic campus minister in the 1980s, I decided to begin graduate studies in moral theology. This was in the heyday of proportionalism when its founding fathers still held some of the world’s most influential chairs of Catholic moral theology: Richard McCormick at the University of Notre Dame, Josef Fuchs [...]

The Man Who Was “Ante-Pope”

Before his death in 2012, Cardinal Carlo Martini eerily called himself an “ante-pope,” a “precursor and preparer for the Holy Father.” Martini was the leading antagonist to Popes John Paul II and Benedict—a Jesuit famous for groaning that the Church was “200 years behind.” In Night Conversations with Cardinal Martini, he cringed at the “major [...]

Put Not Your Trust in Trusting Souls

Considering how much emphasis modern churchmen put on trust, it’s worth noting that the Bible does not have much to say about trusting others. Of course, the Bible tells us to trust in God, but there is no corresponding command to trust our fellow men. Of the six references to “trust” in the RSV Reader’s [...]

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