Of Many Things
June 3-10, 2013
This December marks the 50th anniversary of “Inter Mirifica,” the “Decree on the Means of Social Communication” promulgated by the Second Vatican Council. The decree is one of the guiding lights for America. The reflections on our mission and identity in this issue are heavily indebted to the insights...
May 27, 2013
As I approach the first anniversary of my ordination next month, my friends and family have started to ask about the experience of being a priest: whether the first year was what I expected it to be, whether I’ve learned anything new. To be sure, there have been many moments in which I’ve been surprised by joy, to borrow C. S. Lewis’s phrase.
May 20, 2013
The British have a funny relationship with spectacle. On the one hand, they have a deep-seated love of pageantry—a centuries-old belief in the power of public performance to tell their national story. Over the centuries, this constellation of fact, myth and élan has done the job of uniting the otherwise utterly dissimilar peoples of Great Britain. On the other hand, the British capacity for self-mockery knows no bounds; this is the country, after all,...
May 13, 2013
John W. Donohue, S.J., who labored at this review from 1972 until 2007, was the last associate editor of America who worked exclusively on a typewriter. Born in 1915, a mere six years after America was founded, Father Donohue was every bit an old-school Jesuit: smart as a whip, cultured, pious but pastoral, gentle and witty. He wasn’t afraid of “the new ways” as he referred to the late 20th century, but he wasn’t exactly impressed either....
May 6, 2013
We’re lucky at America. Our readers are smart, generous and kind. Your feedback is certainly welcome and almost always helpful. It’s also mainly positive; in fact, the good far outweighs the bad. Still, nary a week passes when we don’t receive a complaint about something we’ve published.
April 29, 2013
Seated directly below the canopied altar, facing the facade of the basilica and just to the left of the statue of St. Paul, I was about 20 feet from the pope when he entered St. Peter’s Square. Standing in a modified open jeep, under a long-awaited, bright blue Roman sky, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., appeared overwhelmed. He quickly found his stride, however, bending over to kiss a baby and even leaving his vehicle to greet a disabled child...
April 22, 2013
One of this month’s most frequently tweeted links is to an Easter Sunday interview with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York. In an appearance on ABC, the cardinal was asked to comment on the fact that many gay and lesbian Catholics feel “unwelcome” in the church. Cardinal Dolan responded: “We gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that.”
April 8-15, 2013
Fifty-five years ago this spring “a masterpiece was unveiled in our editorial office.” Thurston N. Davis, S.J., editor in chief at the time, was so taken with the new acquisition that he dedicated his entire Of Many Things column in the issue of April 26, 1958, to a description of it: “It is 12 feet long and of trapezoid shape. Under the satin sheen of the finish, the oaken grain has been matched in a lovely design; the angle-joints are so silky smooth...
April 1, 2013
I was standing at a food trailer wondering whether the advertised hot dog was really a hot dog or something that the Italian vendor merely thought was a hot dog. Just as I was about to commit, a roar erupted in St. Peter’s Square, a mere 50 feet from where I was standing outside the Vatican press office: “Fumo bianco! Fumo bianco!” I poked my head out from behind the trailer and there it was: white smoke billowing from the chimney on top of the Sistine...
March 25, 2013
I arrived in Rome in the rain, grateful for the end of a long, bumpy flight. Though tempted to kiss the ground, mimicking Blessed John Paul II’s customary arrival gesture, I opted not to; in my case, rather than an act of pious humility, it would have been an act of desperate relief. My fellow aviophobes, those among us who are intensely afraid to fly, might have understood, but very few others would. In any event, all things papal, and not just Blessed...