The National Catholic Review

In All Things

A group blog by the editors, columnists and frequent contributors to America.

February 2016

  • It was on this day in 1990—February 11—that a man of great dignity and bearing emerged from many years of captivity into the sunlight of freedom. It was a long time coming, this “freedom”; as he had spent the large part of his life—27 years—in a narrow, cramped prison cell. Eighteen of those years were spent in the same place, on a remote island, where he was forced to work along with others in a lime quarry. They were difficult years—years that could easily make or break a human being. He...

  • What is it about Ash Wednesday that attracts people so? On this day, you see throngs of people in churches everywhere gathered to wait patiently on line for the imposition of the ashes upon their foreheads, to be told: “Remember man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return” (or a variation thereof). Apart from Christmas and Easter, this is the one day of the year that really draws people in past the threshold of a church door.

    I have often wondered about that: how a solemn...

  • Father Ron Gonzales, S.J. (Sean Salai, S.J./America Media)

    Father Ronald D. Gonzales, S.J., is pastor of Sacred Heart Church in El Paso, Tex. , a Jesuit parish that primarily serves migrants and is...

  • Cardinal Peter Turkson has used a conference address in Iran to call for Muslims and Christians to collaborate in promoting justice and peace. The Ghanaian cardinal, who is president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was on a short visit to the city of Qom, renowned in the Muslim world as a centre of Shi‘a scholarship. His intervention came as one of a series of speeches given in a conference at the A’emmeye Athar Center for Jurisprudence Studies on the role of “...

  • This past week, I had the privilege of visiting the Islamic Society of Baltimore, a mosque that serves thousands of Muslim American families, as well as neighbors of different faiths. Like houses of worship across our country, it’s a place where families come together to pray, but also a school where students learn and a health clinic that serves those in need. My visit was a chance to celebrate the contributions that Muslim Americans make to our country every day and to reaffirm our...

  • The surprise announcement from Rome today of the upcoming meeting between Moscow Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis “shows definitively Francis' vocation as a pontiff, a bridge builder,” Manhattan College Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Kevin Ahern says.

    He commented via e-mail this morning. “[Pope Francis] is confronting the walls of indifference in regards to migration and refugees and also the walls that are dividing people in the church,” Ahern says. “I believe it is...

  • This New Year is off to a bad start. It’s not even two months in, and nearly every day now we hear of another famous person—particularly entertainers and comedians—who have recently died (and that’s not counting certain politicians who are now dying a slow political death in this presidential election year..). It is becoming eerie: Glenn Frey (“The Eagles”), David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Pat Harrington (building super Dwayne Schneider of “One Day at a Time”), Natalie Cole, Lenny Kilmister (...

  • Nicholas Sparks, the popular Catholic romance novelist, in a 2010 photo. (CNS photo/Alan Markfield, courtesy Warner Bros.)

    Nicholas Sparks is a New York Times-bestselling Catholic romance novelist whose books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide in more than 50 languages. A father of five, Mr. Sparks’s novels have also adapted into several successful Hollywood films. These movies based on his work—including...

  • Unlimited needs and limited resources—we are not new to negotiating how to allocate in situations of scarcity. In a family where there are hours of homework to review, meals to be cooked and baseboards to be cleaned, a parent must determine where his or her limited energy can be best spent. In a city where it would be nice to have all the streets plowed immediately after a snowstorm, we prioritize those roads that are most important to get our towns going. And in a country where we have...

  • In conversations with students and others, I have come to realize that many hold a model of discernment that reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”

    When people talk of vocation, they often speak as if they are at a fork in the road. Conceived that way, failure to choose wisely, to choose the “correct” path, could lead to years of self-reproach, or worse, a worry that one has spurned God.

    Some Catholic men stand before this fork presuming the priesthood to be...

  • Dr. Brant Pitre (Image Books)
  • As this is written, the Iowa caucuses are finally moving the presidential campaign into the hands, heads and hearts of voters. Pundits who have been consistently wrong are offering new explanations and projections. Here is a crazy prediction for a crazy campaign. A Republican demolition derby results in a brokered convention and a Democratic meltdown from an indicted or severely damaged frontrunner lead to a Paul Ryan vs. Joe Biden race in the fall. Far more likely, voters will have to...

  • My first reaction was to blame the projection booth, or the producer who wouldn’t spend enough on good film, or the director who hadn’t thought about basics like lighting, or maybe even my failing eyesight. Where was the light, where was the color? Had it been filmed in an evening sandstorm or with grey gauze over the lens?

    But no, director Pablo Larrain knew what he was doing. “The Club” is the story of spiritual darkness, clouded minds, of sunset in miserable lives, of violence and...

  • As noted by Kevin Clarke the other day, the National Labor Relations Board counted the votes of Loyola University Chicago’s non-tenured “contingent” faculty and found a solid majority (142 to 82) had chosen union representation. (Trades and maintenance employees voted for membership in the Operating Engineers on the same day by an even more lopsided 17-6.)

    The university administration had made...