Theological Dissent

On the Strange Function of Absolutes

Most people today “absolutely” maintain that they do not hold or live by “absolutes.” They live by their desires and choices, which are readily changeable. No one is much bothered by the “logic” of his own views. The proposition that “No absolutes exist” is itself an absolute. If it is true, an absolute exists. If [...]

The Triumph of the People’s Church

Continuing his commitment to a doctrinal vision that prioritizes the lived experiences and insights of ordinary Catholics over the authoritative teachings of the Church, Pope Francis recently affirmed the importance of what he called a “free and responsible” form of Catholic theology—a “creative fidelity”—in the life of the Church. Speaking before a Vatican gathering of 100 [...]

Protestantism, Modernism, Atheism

“The reality of the apostasy of faith in our time rightly and profoundly frightens us,” said Cardinal Burke in honor of Fatima’s centenary. In 1903, Pope St. Pius X declared himself “terrified” by humanity’s self-destructive apostasy from God: “For behold they that go far from Thee shall perish” (Ps. 72:27). How much more “daunting,” said [...]

The Tragedy of Commonplace Church Scandals

Despite curbing my online reading, scarcely a day passes without noting some new scandal caused by a theologian, priest, or bishop. It’s true, of course, that small stories from faraway places achieve an immediacy impossible without the web, but, still, the outrages are all too real. I suspect stories come readily to mind: commemorations of [...]

The Perfidious James Martin SJ

James Martin SJ gallivants around the country telling young men and women that their sexual lifestyles are acceptable to the Church, which is not true; that the Church welcomes them no matter what they may be doing, which is certainly true. James Martin SJ tells them that the teachings of the Church will probably change [...]

Hearing the Still, Small Voice of Orthodoxy

After his confrontation with Ahab and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, where he called fire down from heaven and killed those prophets, Elijah fled for his life, first to Beersheba then to Horeb (I Kings 18:16-19:18). At Horeb the Lord appeared to Elijah, but before this appearance, the prophet experienced a powerful windstorm, [...]

The Idea of a Catholic University 50 Years After Land O’Lakes

William Inge (1860-1954), Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University and Dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, was frequently in the literary crosshairs of G.K. Chesterton for his anti-Catholic polemics and strident promotion of eugenics. Fortunately, Chesterton also rejected his advocacy of nudism. Given Dean Inge’s eclectic version of progressivism, one is struck by his cynicism about [...]

Fr. Jim Martin “Canonizes” Sr. Jeannine Gramick

When I think of a holy hero who speaks with authority, who reflects my beliefs and values, I think of Pope St. John Paul II, worthy of canonization. When Fr. James Martin, S.J., who was out hawking his new book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship [...]

The Problem of Catholic Pretenders

Catholics always have been taught that the word “catholic” means “universal,” and arguably one of the hallmarks of the Catholic faith is that it recognizes no borders; while there are many rites, of which the Latin is the predominant one, there is one truth, one set of dogma. As I consider this from St. Louis, [...]

Teaching Them Better

In “The Preacher,” a 1956 episode of Gunsmoke, a minister who has lost his faith is relentlessly hounded by a bully until Marshal Matt Dillon intervenes. Asks the persecuted preacher: “Why, Marshal, why are men always fighting and hating each other?” Leaving aside the answer that St. James, in his Epistle, gives to that perennial [...]

The Gospel According to Jim

"I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by grace for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other [...]

Why America Has It Wrong About Homosexuality

The Jesuit magazine America carries an editorial in its current issue titled “Unjust Discrimination.” The editorial refers to the alleged injustice committed by church officials when they dismiss employees who formally enter into same-gender civil "marriages." The editorial argues that the Church should not automatically dismiss but rather dismiss only when there was an instance [...]

What Real Church Reform Looks Like

During my first tentative explorations into Catholicism, some Protestant friends pointed out examples of “bad Catholics” in their attempts to dissuade me from swimming the Tiber. The type is well-represented in literature, of course, including the “here comes everybody” of James Joyce, the Flyte’s of Brideshead Revisited or Crouchback’s of Sword of Honor, and many [...]

How Catholic is Kaine?

A recent flattering article in the New Yorker describes Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's vice-presidential running mate, as a "devout Roman Catholic." Not only that, but the paean proceeds to declare that the pious senator "is more comfortable quoting Scripture than any Democrat to reach the level of Presidential politics since Jimmy Carter." There is more: [...]

When Jesuits Ignore Papal Decrees

On September 1, John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University confirmed and published the recommendations of the university’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation. For almost a year the members of this group have been studying the ties of the Georgetown Jesuits with black slaves, and particularly, with the sale of 272 slaves [...]

How a Small-Town Parish Disposed of Its Troublesome Priest

The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. The innocent don’t need such protection, but there aren’t any innocent people in this tale. Some years ago, I was living in a small, mid-western town populated mostly by people whose livelihood centered on agriculture. It was [...]

Blaming Christianity for Islamic Terrorism

It is difficult for faithful Christians to understand why they are being blamed by some of their own religious leaders for inspiring a terrorist attack that killed 50 and wounded dozens more in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Earlier last week, Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, the bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida, posted a statement [...]

Letter to a Priest

“The synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulas but the free availability of God’s love and forgiveness.” ∼ Pope Francis I do want to love this pope, the sure desire of any Catholic heart. [...]

Is Marital Indissolubility Only an Ideal?

One way that dissidents (including various episcopal conferences that had been derelict in teaching Catholic marital morality in the immediate periods before and after Humanae vitae) sought to dilute the clear Magisterial teaching the encyclical provided them was to reduce its vision of married sexual life to an “aspirational norm.” In other words, the idea [...]

Docility in a Time of Dissolution

We are free but somehow not free. As Paul puts it, “the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do.” The conundrum results from Original Sin: our will is turned against itself, because it is not directed as designed. We are social and depend on others, [...]

German Bishops have Prepared the Way for a De Facto Schism

The German bishops are offering us a new kind of Christianity despite their claim that no change is being proposed other than in pastoral approach and language. A new pastoral approach would be commendable if applied as Pope Francis intends, to accompany the broken, wounded and lost into the field hospital that is the Church. [...]

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