The National Catholic Review

In All Things

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

June 2015

  • Jun 29 2015 - 1:55pm
    2 comments

    The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” It has long been established that this ban does not categorically rule out the death penalty. After all, as Justice Samuel Alito wrote in today’s Glossip v. Gross decision, “[t]he death penalty was an accepted punishment at the time of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” And, as Justice Antonin Scalia added, the Constitution “explicitly contemplates,” in...

  • Jun 29 2015 - 11:23am
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    The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that same-sex couples are entitled under the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the same marital rights as opposite-sex couples, is of monumental legal importance. The most obvious, celebrated and decried impact is the nation-wide recognition of the current and future marriages of same-sex couples, which includes all concomitant spousal and parental benefits and responsibilities...

  • Jun 29 2015 - 12:03am
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    We are happy to announce that America Media is the recipient of 26 awards for journalistic excellence from the Catholic Press Association. Six books written by America editors and columnists also were honored this year. The winners were announced on Friday evening at a dinner to mark the conclusion of the 2015 Catholic Media Conference, hosted by the C.P.A. this year in Buffalo, N.Y. The annual event gathers the top Catholic journalists from across the country and Canada to...

  • Jun 26 2015 - 7:17pm
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    Today the United States Supreme Court once again redefined marriage for the entire country. This time Justice Kennedy and four other unelected federal judges (with lifetime tenure) have declared that every state must define marriage as the union of any two consenting adults. This requirement we are told arises from the 14th Amendment’s protections of due process and equal protection.

  • Jun 26 2015 - 6:37pm
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    The historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges obviously means a great deal for the same-sex couples nationwide who can now enter civil marriages, and for their children. It also leaves open the many significant questions that arisen about effects on the religious liberty of dissenters.

  • Jun 26 2015 - 5:20pm
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    Court-watchers and constitutional-law experts almost unanimously expected that the justices would do what they did in Obergefell v. Hodges. The result is not a surprise, nor is the fact that the author of the opinion for the five-justice majority was Justice Kennedy. His opinion in today’s case confirms and solidifies his legacy with respect to the Constitution and sexual-orientation controversies and it represents the “next step”—and, again, the expected one—in a line of other...

  • Jun 26 2015 - 3:17pm
    33 comments

    “The joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the women and men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ” ("Gaudium et Spes," no. 1).

  • Jun 26 2015 - 12:03pm
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    Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called today's Supreme Court decision interpreting the U.S. Constitution to require all states to license and recognize same-sex marriage "a tragic error.”

    Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman," Archbishop Kurtz said. "As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach...

  • Jun 25 2015 - 3:53pm
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    On June 25, 2015, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dodged a potentially fatal legal bullet. In King v. Burwell, the US Supreme Court, in a majority decision written by Chief Justice Roberts, rejected a challenge to an IRS tax credit regulation that threatened to unwind the entire fabric of President Obama’s signature health care law. This is the second time in three years Roberts has saved the ACA from demise.

  • Jun 24 2015 - 9:35pm
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    Cambridge, MA. One of the lesser noticed but important contributions of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si comes at the very end: “At the conclusion of this lengthy reflection which has been both joyful and troubling, I propose that we offer two prayers. The first we can share with all who believe in a God who is the all-powerful Creator, while in the other we Christians ask for inspiration to take up the commitment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus.” (n. 246) The second of...

  • Jun 24 2015 - 9:20am
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    Father Carlos Esparza, S.J. (Society of Jesus)

    Carlos D. Esparza, S.J., 35, is a newly ordained Jesuit priest from Richardson, Tex. A 1998 graduate of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, he earned his B.A.

  • Jun 23 2015 - 4:39pm
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    Pope Francis takes the title of his encyclical “Laudato Si’” from a hymn of praise written by Francis of Assisi. He speaks in rhapsodic terms of the God of creation and ends with a mystical prayer. This is the gentle, simple beauty of the document. Yet there is another side to the encyclical. It was written not only to praise the true God, but to scoff at false ones...

  • Jun 23 2015 - 1:02pm
    21 comments

    Working for a Catholic media organization can at times skew one's sense of what is Big News in the church and beyond. For the past week it has been, in the words of my colleague Kevin Clarke, #encyclapalooza here at America.

  • Jun 22 2015 - 11:58am
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    Is there anything good to be said for death? I’ve always hated references to “Sister Death”  (sorry, St. Francis) or “Death as Friend.” I’m also uneasy when Darwinian minded theologians defend death’s positive uses. Yes, I accept evolution and acknowledge that generations of organisms have died to produce the “wonderful life” of earth—including most famously, US!

  • Jun 22 2015 - 9:46am
    51 comments

    One expects a debate about Pope Francis’ new encyclical to form around the details of climate science, or the efficacy of carbon credits, or the theological merits of ecology. But a stranger, subtler difference of opinion has emerged, one that I suspect has more political consequence than it lets on: the interpretation of mood.

  • Jun 21 2015 - 5:52pm
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    "The Vocation of St. Aloysius Gonzaga," by Guercino.

    June 21 is the Feast Day of one of the most misunderstood saints in the Catholic church: St. Aloysius Gonzaga.  A little history, then, may be in order to help us begin to understand this complex and holy young man, today one of the patrons of youth.  One must, in a sense, recover the real Aloysius, and the true Luigi.

  • Jun 20 2015 - 4:52pm
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    Cape Cod, MA. Pope Francis’ magnificent encyclical, "Laudato Si'," has already been widely commented on, and receiving careful analysis from many angles. It will, of course, be a topic of conversation, material for study, and implementation globally in dioceses and parishes, as a substantive part of the Church’s teaching in the 21st century. I am just coming off retreat, and have not had time to digest either the encyclical or responses to it, and wish here only to add several...

  • Jun 19 2015 - 12:15pm
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    It has become something of a late-June ritual for law-beat journalists and Supreme Court watchers generally: Joining the merry band of explainers at the invaluable SCOTUSblog's "live feed" for the announcements of the justices' rulings and opinions. On Thursday, thousands checked in, eagerly awaiting news of the decisions in pending cases involving the interpretation of the Affordable Care Act and the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

  • Jun 19 2015 - 9:50am
    3 comments

    June 18, was a great day to be a journalist, a Catholic, a Jesuit priest, a teacher, an American and an editor for America. A journalist, because, although as literary editor, I had no direct connection with the Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical’s coverage, many people around me did.

  • Jun 18 2015 - 3:26pm
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    I was halfway through reading “Laudato Si’” when I heard news that nine black worshipers at a Bible study had been gunned down by a white man. I kept reading, but with a bad conscience, suspecting myself of hiding in an issue...

  • Jun 18 2015 - 7:49am
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    The long wait is over.

    The greatly anticipated encyclical letter of Pope Francis that has been the topic for much discussion and speculation for well over a year has now been published. The encyclical on the environment is now available for the entire world to see, read, ponder—and most importantly (as Pope Francis hopes)—act upon. Laudato Si!

  • Jun 17 2015 - 12:28pm
    3 comments
    Michael Rossmann, S.J. (The Jesuit Post)

    Michael Rossmann, S.J., is a Jesuit scholastic who serves as editor-in-chief of The Jesuit Post, a website of social commentary founded in 2012 by young U.S. Jesuit writers. He is currently completing theology studies at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in...

  • Jun 17 2015 - 9:49am
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    Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and 13 Jesuit law schools have been working in collaboration to address the recent surge in migrations from Central America to the United States.

  • Jun 16 2015 - 2:50pm
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    This Thursday theologians in the New York area will gather at America House to discuss Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. These experts in Catholic social teaching will offer an overview of the content and significance of the teachings within the text. They will also offer background on Catholic engagement on social issues and  discuss the possible impact of this text on national and...

  • Jun 15 2015 - 12:47pm
    3 comments

    Well, it has been some kind of morning here in Catholic media land. One might consider news of two bishops resigning 10 days after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was served with a criminal complaint and the announcement of a defrocked nuncio’s impending Vatican trial to be quite enough for one day.

  • Jun 12 2015 - 8:09pm
    1 comment

    At his death last Wednesday Eugene Kennedy left behind over 50 years of disciplined intellectual writings spanning genres as diverse as original empirical discovery research in clinical psychology, to a wonderfully received play, to hundreds if not thousands of essays and letters to friends. To call him a Renaissance Man is an understatement. Here is just a beginning glance at his contributions to intellectual life in the late 20th and early 21st century.

  • Jun 11 2015 - 4:48pm
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    Catholicism has untold numbers of saints and many of them are beloved. It is only right that in a “universal church” that this should be so; sanctity and holiness are not the exclusive property of a few and the seemingly exponential variety and kinds of sainthood there is offers great hope to those of us within the fold of faith who hope and aspire one day to be not only like them, but to be with them.

  • Jun 11 2015 - 2:58pm
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    Pope Francis will open a homeless shelter on the edge of Vatican City, the latest move by the pontiff to help poor people in Rome.

    The shelter is under construction on Via Penitenzieri, just a few steps away from the Vatican walls, a Holy See spokeswoman said.

    Once completed, the center will be run by volunteers, who will host 30 people at a time.

  • Jun 10 2015 - 2:56pm
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    As the June 18 release of the pope's encyclical on the environment approaches, pre-emptive commentary either lauding or diminishing its so-far unseen contents continues apace. Asked to comment on the galloping punditry that has anticipated the encyclical, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski noted with some amazement the willingness of many folks "making these arguments without having even read the encyclical or engaged [its] arguments." 

  • Jun 10 2015 - 2:23pm
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    U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops President and Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said U.S. bishops would welcome and cooperate with a new episcopal governing mechanism confirmed in an announcement from Rome this morning.

  • Jun 10 2015 - 1:26pm
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    On Friday, June 5, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, reintroduced her Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment to FY16 National Defense Authorization Act, calling for removing sexual assault cases from the chain of command. All Americans, especially Catholics should join her. The United States military has demonstrated a inability or unwillingness to provide justice to survivors of sexual assault within their ranks and to dismantle the culture that perpetuates...

  • Jun 10 2015 - 8:59am
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    Gary Jansen (Image Books)

    Gary Jansen is a writer and senior editor of religion and spirituality at the Crown Publishing Group. His books include “The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved,” “Exercising Your Soul: Fifteen Minutes a Day to a Spiritual Life” and the memoir “Holy Ghosts” (Tarcher/...

  • Jun 7 2015 - 11:11am
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    Service Employees International Union Local 500, which represents adjunct faculty at Georgetown University, reports that Trinity Washington University adjuncts have now chosen union representation (74 voting yes, 54 voting no). They join a wave of non-tenured university and college instructors across the United States -- at public and private institutions -- who have organized to address poor working conditions. America's higher education institutions have contracted out a rapidly growing...

  • Jun 7 2015 - 10:42am
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    Some of the most basic labor protections in American life – the minimum wage and overtime pay – were established in 1938 when Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act. But contrary to popular belief, Congress excluded certain categories of workers from coverage. Among these were domestic workers: housekeepers, maids and childcare workers who work (and sometimes live) in the homes of their employers.

  • Jun 6 2015 - 6:00pm
    2 comments

    It was all so beautiful, heartbreaking and sad: the haunting drones of the Celtic bagpipes, the slow procession of a grieving family behind the casket of the loved one, the packed church, with over 1,000 people gathered together in the solidarity of sorrow; the comfort of the familiar prayers and the scripture readings, the intercessions, the music, the singing and the eulogies, both spoken and unspoken.

  • Jun 4 2015 - 8:12pm
    2 comments

    Francis’ encyclical on the environment will take its place among at least 10 other papal letters issued over the past 125 years that have not only offered specific judgment and guidance on matters of public morality, but have interrogated their philosophical and moral assumptions from the perspective of scripture and doctrine. So while an encyclical on the environment is an expansion into new moral territory, such expansions are part of a well-established tradition.

  • Jun 4 2015 - 5:04pm
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    There is that old refrain—or retort—from childhood that is usually said upon instances of bullying or teasing: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Unfortunately, when it comes to the reality of living in the Holy Land—specifically Israel—words, sticks and crucially—the stones—have become very harmful to the public order, not to mention the peace. And given the recent history of Palestinian-Israeli relations, a lot more than stones have been hurled by the...

  • Jun 4 2015 - 3:27pm
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    Employment laws in the United States alter the private contractual nature of employer/employee relationships. Various federal, state and local laws provide for everything from workplace health and safety requirements to minimum wages and benefits.

  • Jun 3 2015 - 5:11pm
    1 comment

    In our daily lives, we often find ourselves immune to the constant parade of images, voices and “opinions” which cumulatively make up the background “noise” of our existence. We become jaded from having to deal with the complexity as well as the enormity of things and situations and it gets to the point where little—if anything—surprises us anymore. That is, until something happens to bring us up short and snaps us out of our irrelevant reveries and self-delusions.

  • Jun 3 2015 - 9:00am
    6 comments
    Father Brian Campbell, S.J. (Loyola Press)

    Father Paul Brian Campbell, S.J., is a Jesuit priest who serves as publisher of Loyola Press in Chicago. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he joined the Jesuits in Dublin before studying philosophy in Paris and theology in Japan. After ordination, he studied...

  • Jun 1 2015 - 2:21pm
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    Nostra aetate at CUA

    Cambridge, MA. It is already a week since the Ecclesiological Investigations conference at Georgetown University ended. This was a four-day event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican II, by “remembering the future,” as the conference’s title put it. 

  • Jun 1 2015 - 9:47am
    1 comment

    When you go hiking up a mountain with your fit husband and fit daughter and find that, between the altitude and the steep grade, you can’t keep up with them, even though it’s a hike you’ve done before, you eat a little humble pie. Then, when your boot slips on some rocks on the way back down and you fall and bruise your tailbone, you eat a big slice of humble pie. You see by the solicitous looks on their faces that you have in fact aged while you were not paying attention, and maybe you...