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  • Violent protests have erupted on university campuses around South Africa after Blade Mzimande—the Minister of Higher Education and Training—announced on Sept. 19 that universities must decide for themselves on fee increases for 2017, but capping increases to 8 percent.

    Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand (Wits) University has been shut down after running battles between protesting students and private security. Later the police were called to the campus where they used...

  • Sometimes the most important line of a conversation comes after it’s concluded, when you’ve already moved from substance to trivialities. Not long ago, I was walking with a woman toward the door of a funeral home, where her family had been making arrangements. As we got ready to part, she said, “I do believe in the resurrection, but it’s so hard to picture an afterlife.”

    I agreed. Her comment reminded me of a passage from...

  • The importance of Russia in the U.S. presidential campaign has been bizarre. Not the least bizarre part of it is The New York Times’ role in amplifying it. Last week the Times published a front-page story about Russia extending its influence in Europe through the Russian Orthodox Church. The reporter Andrew Higgins described the church as fervently opposed to “homosexuality and any attempt to put...

  • With his popularity among Catholic voters lower than recent Republican nominees for the White House, Donald J. Trump is throwing something of a Hail Mary pass.

    His campaign announced on Sept. 22 that 33 Catholic individuals would advise the candidate on “issues of importance to Catholics,” a group that includes a smattering of Catholic politicians, pro-life activists and one Catholic priest.

    ...

  • The polls suggest that this election will not be the Democratic landslide many had dared to envision this summer. Recent polls suggest that it will be decided by less than five points, as in 2012, 2004 and 2000, and that the Democrats are unlikely to make significant gains in Congress. A close election was to be expected under normal circumstances, but Republican nominee Donald J. Trump is not a normal presidential candidate. He is neither informed nor consistent on public policy, he has...

  • I’ve noticed that when concerned Catholics talk about “engaging” with the online universe, they usually restrict the discussion to

    whether to do so or not, and how to do so in a way that doesn’t overmuch disrupt one’s private piety.

    We’re stuck, therefore, on that first-step level of finally admitting that being religious doesn't entitle us to forgo basic religious responsibilities with regard to the internet. We furthermore tend to simplify the challenge of practicing faith online...

  • Are Catholic leaders jittery about protests, exercising free speech and community organizing?

    In the last few weeks, several Catholic institutions have reaffirmed their rights as private organizations to control what kind of speech is allowed in parishes and on campuses. Critics say that position impinges on the Catholic tradition of lively debate and spirited protest. From the rancor of the 2016 election to the ongoing debate about how police treat African-Americans, how people...

  • The Catholic Church in South Africa is a much smaller church than that of the United States. There are about 4 million Catholics—roughly 6 to 7 percent of the population. Roughly 2.8 million Catholics speak various local African languages. English-speaking Catholics account for the rest. There is only one Catholic weekly in South Africa: The Southern Cross. The newspaper carries both local and international church news and has been published in English since 1920. At the end of September,...

  • What’s old is new again.

    That is the argument being levied by a group of Catholic theologians against a report by other theologians who argue that the Catholic Church’s prohibition on artificial contraception is not rooted in Scripture or theology. That perspective was presented at a symposium on Sept. 20 about international aid held in conjunction with the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

    In August, the U.K.-based...

  • On Sept. 9 inmates at state and federal facilities across the country refused to go to work, in a mass protest over their living conditions. While the strike did not extend to those incarcerated in county jails, the same serious issues exist there too. One of the most troubling that you probably haven’t heard about is the current boom in video-only visitation.

    Starting in the 1990s, for-profit prison technology companies like Securus Technologies, GTL and JPay started selling local...