The National Catholic Review

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  • Robert Kennedy, if he had lived, would now be 91. When he was assassinated in 1968, he was a young man who had been with us for a long time, or so it seemed. He was chasing Communists with a family friend, Joe McCarthy, and then, with other senators, chasing mobsters and, at enormous cost, the Teamster boss, Jimmy Hoffa. Along the way his brother Jack won the hearts of my Notre Dame class of 1960. Bobby was there, beside our first Catholic president, at each dramatic...

  • Through the centuries they have been known as “cretins,” “simpletons,” “morons,” “idiots,” “imbeciles” and “feebleminded,” among other classifications. These labels at various times have enjoyed the status of proper names, among them the Massachusetts School for Idiotic Children and Youth (a progressive organization founded in the mid-19th century) and the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded (which followed in the early 20th century)....

  • If immigration has been a key factor in the development of the United States since its colonial origins, arguably immigration has played an even greater role in the growth of the Society of Jesus in the United States. In a study stunning in the breadth and depth of its international contextualization, John T. McGreevy, through a focus on five emblematic developments in the late 19th century, has deftly captured this remarkable growth of the Jesuit...

  • In American Amnesia , the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson mount the barricades crying: “What Do We Want?”—“A Mixed Economy!”—“When Do We Want It?”—“Now!”

    It is hard to get the juices flowing for a mixed economy, compared with “A Political Revolution!” or “Build That Wall!” But Hacker and Pierson have written a compelling argument for restoring a vital role for government in economic and social policy. They start...

  • Stockholm syndrome is not a phenomenon restricted solely to hostages who find common cause with their captors over time. Biographers, too, sometimes find themselves defending or identifying with the subject of their study, historical figures who, despite their seamy side, steal the sympathy of a writer who spends years in a kind of captivity to his or her subject. The life of a biographer is by necessity one of obsession and absorption; and as the song goes...

  • October 3, 2016

    Each time I attend Mass at my parish church, I struggle to discern: Am I about to encounter my risen Lord, who welcomes and loves me as I am, or am I about to commit a serious sin?

    My fellow divorced and remarried Catholics will recognize this quandary. Our circumstances vary, but we share the knowledge that according to church law, many of us are no longer welcome at the eucharistic table.

    Two new...

  • October 3, 2016

    Andrew Bacevich is clear about what he hopes to accomplish in America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History . He will link “aims to actions to consequences” regarding the role of the U.S. military from 1980 to the present. Bacevich, a 1969 graduate of West Point who served 23 years before retiring as a colonel, and who recently retired from teaching diplomatic history at Boston University, does not shy away from expressing his own conclusions about...

  • October 3, 2016

    Service has become more and more important to Catholic parishes, schools and universities. Many people take it for granted that service is a matter of good people helping the needy. This paternalistic understanding of charity is reinforced by stereotypes perpetuated by the mass media but also by philanthropic organizations and churches. It reinforces rather than resists the division of the world into “haves” and “have nots.” It tacitly justifies the arrogance of the...

  • September 26, 2016

    The central insight of David Walsh’s book is that “...the person is transcendence, not only as an aspiration, but also as his or her very reality. Nothing is higher. That is what this book strives to acknowledge.” Walsh, professor of politics at Catholic University of America, proposes that the change that overcame philosophy around the time Descartes declared his “I think therefore I am”—the shift from metaphysics, or the study of being as being, to...

  • September 26, 2016

    In February, when President Barack Obama submitted his plan to Congress to finally shutter the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, he reiterated his basic motivation: national security. He said the prison is used as a recruiting tool for terrorists, harms our relationships with allies and “drains military resources.” Based on the 2015 expenses of running the prison camps, the current cost to imprison a man for one year in Guantánamo Bay is $5.6 million...