February 15, 2016
Osama bin Laden has been dead almost five years now, but the movement associated with him is still very much around. The Islamic State may have eclipsed Al Qaeda in the terror it holds for Americans, or the attraction it holds for young Muslims flocking to its self-proclaimed caliphate, but the terror group that the United States went to war with in 2001 is alive and well, with branches today in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, Central Asia...
February 8, 2016
The doings of Pope Francis have tended to be popular by default, but his Jubilee Year of Mercy is off to an unusually slow star t. Pilgrims aren’t pouring into Rome as expected; media reports have been little better than dutiful. Fears of terrorism might have something to do with the pilgrim count, together with the jubilee’s purposeful avoidance of Rome-centrism. But I...
February 1, 2016
From the moment Daniel Berrigan took the stage at Cornell University on April 17, 1970, he and everyone else there knew he would be arrested. Among the thousands of students present were countless F.B.I. agents. Some had traded their blue suits for hippie disguises, but one could still pick out those Fordham and Boston College boys a mile away. Daniel and his brother Phil had been ordered to report to prison a week before for destroying draft records two...
January 4-11, 2016
Ranging around a used furniture shop last week, I discovered a painting of two Roman Catholic cardinals enjoying conversation over a glass of wine. When I picked it up to look more closely, the shop owner recommended that I read the consigner’s notes taped to the back. They began: “In times past, when cardinals and bishops enjoyed respect….”
A great deal more followed about the painter and the chain of title, but my mind...
December 21-28, 2015
A Jesuit friend and I stood in a snow-covered field near Midland, Ontario, and we were silent. It was very cold. In the distance, through swirling snowflakes, we could see a tall wooden cross. We were at St. Ignace, the site of a settlement founded by French Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century. We were also standing where two of these Jesuits, Sts. Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant, were martyred. It was intensely...
December 7-14, 2015
It wasn’t until I moved across the state line to what the sign at the top of my block tells me is “the most beautiful little city in Kansas” that I realized how carefully Jesus had chosen his words when he said, “Love thy neighbor.” Previously, I had regarded the word “neighbor” as a metaphor for anybody and everybody. Now I think it possible that “neighbor,” as it occurs in that phrase, is intended in the most literal sense. Not all and sundry, but the...
November 23, 2015
This time of year, the Mother of God is very pregnant. The skin around her belly stretches to hold the weight of her child. She feels him squirm and settle as no one else ever will. He presses against her organs. She gets short of breath and has trouble finding a comfortable position at night for sleep. She wonders if she can stretch any more than this to contain her son and all he will become, yet each day she does.
November 16, 2015
The English journalist Auberon Waugh is usually credited with coining the term “the chattering classes,” his sneering moniker for the mostly educated, mostly informed portion of the population that often confuses gossip for fact and prides itself on insider status as it makes decisions for the unheard majority. The Catholic Church has been blessed and cursed by such a class since at least the days of the Medici, though for tech-savvy American Catholics the...
November 9, 2015
It’s been more than four years and 100 lawsuits since the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services first proposed requiring religious institutions to include “free” contraception and early abortifacients in their health insurance coverage.
Only God (and the Government Accountability Office) know how much this administration has spent on this crusade. Almost certainly more than it would take to provide...
October 26, 2015
I try not to write too often about working with the media because it can sound like “Look at me, I’m on TV.” It is also a threat to humility, an occupational hazard for anyone who has ever appeared in print or on television. Nonetheless, part of our ministry at America is helping the so-called secular media. In the words of John Courtney Murray, S.J. (or Pedro Arrupe, S.J, or Daniel Lord, S.J., or St. Ignatius Loyola, depending on your “sourcing”), one way...