The National Catholic Review

In All Things

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

October 2014

  • Oct 29 2014 - 4:46pm
    6 comments

    Ross Douthat’s article in the New York Times on Sunday sounded the alarm: Pope Francis through his Synod on the Family has brought the church to the edge of a precipice. If the synod continues on its present trajectory, it will “sow confusion among the church’s orthodox adherents” and could lead “eventually to real schism.” This is a dire prediction. It is also call to...

  • Oct 29 2014 - 2:46pm
    7 comments

    As the occasional wag has said, The New York Times is fascinated by the Catholic Church because it cannot imagine any other institution that claims infallibility.

    That came to mind October 26, when columnist Ross Douthat cavalierly suggested that Catholics help Pope Francis exercise his Petrine ministry by resisting him. Such hubris is breathtaking even for The Times.

  • Oct 29 2014 - 11:43am
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    Sister Mary Prudence Allen, R.S.M., is an American Catholic philosopher and member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan.

  • Oct 28 2014 - 9:28pm
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    Cambridge, MA. Last week I shared with you the problem the preacher faces when a particular reading begs for political application and commentary, in an era when many of us detest preachers who use their pulpits as the opportunity to pontificate on issues that need to be discussed, not declared definitively. The Exodus 22 reading was particularly acute in this regard, since – to...

  • Oct 28 2014 - 12:52pm
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    Why does so much of Pope Francis' speech seem to be haunted by the Devil?

    "For Francis, the Devil is not a myth, but a real person," explains Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., of Salt and Light TV, in a new video that is part of The Living Word...

  • Oct 28 2014 - 12:45pm
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    Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., of Chicago gives up pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Chicago on Nov. 18, when Archbishop Blase Cupich becomes Chicago’s next episcopal leader. Here is an e-mail Q&A that Cardinal George, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.) granted to America.

  • Oct 28 2014 - 12:26pm
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    In the Service of the Word: The Catholic Media & The New Evangelization
    A symposium to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Decree on Social Communications of the Second Vatican Council
     
    Co-sponsored by America and Saint Joseph’s Seminary and College
     
    When: December 13, 2013
     
    ...
  • Oct 27 2014 - 5:09pm
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    Pope Francis’ first public word to the cardinals who elected him was “movement.” In a homily delivered in the Sistine Chapel the day after his election, he preached that the church must move by journeying, building and professing Jesus Christ crucified. “When we stop moving,” he said, “things go wrong.” He concluded with one of his favorite Italian words, “Avanti.” The church must “go forward.”

  • Oct 27 2014 - 5:01pm
    3 comments

    The idea that the Catholic Church in the United States should get out of the civil marriage business drew new attention on October 20th when Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia tossed out the proposal in Manhattan at a lecture sponsored by the journal First Things. The archbishop did not formally endorse the idea, but some have.

  • Oct 26 2014 - 7:30pm
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    The Crossroad Cultural Center announced the passing of Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete on Oct. 24:

    Early this morning, our dear, dear friend and the Chairman of our Advisory Board, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, returned to the Father.

    He lived his final days, through pain and suffering, the way he lived all of his life, in complete abandonment to Christ and His body, the Church, with unconditional gratitude.

  • Oct 25 2014 - 10:53pm
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    People here in Kansas City are pretty excited about the Royals these days. The fountains are spouting blue water, little Royals emblems are showing up in odd places (our best tea shop and patisserie is now decorating their petit fours with tiny Royals logos made of marzipan), and people who have never watched a baseball game in their life are tuning in to the game and reading the sports page.

  • Oct 25 2014 - 10:51pm
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    Several years ago I attended the world premier of the opera “John Brown.” Brown was a serious Christian who abhorred slavery and came to believe that it could only be uprooted through force. Was the violent raid he led on the armory at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 justified? The opera, composed and written by Kirke Mechem, doesn’t say. It simply depicts the historical circumstances that led Brown to undertake a signature act of American terrorism and shows us the...

  • Oct 23 2014 - 5:55pm
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    Cambridge, MA. As readers of this blog know, I occasionally post a reflection related to a homily I’ve just given on a given Sunday, in the parish where I help out. Preaching of necessity clarifies my thinking, and though I never write out a homily, I don’t mind sharing it with you. But for this coming Sunday, Oct. 26 (30th Sunday of Year A), there is an interesting challenge in the first reading, on which I have decided to seek your input several days in advance. Namely, we have...

  • Oct 23 2014 - 12:19pm
    1 comment

    This is part three of a three-part series on Catholic colleges and universities led today by lay leaders after a history of priests or women religious at their helms. Read Part 1 on Trinity University Washington here and part 2 on the Catholic University of America...

  • Oct 22 2014 - 9:23am
    1 comment

    This is part one of a three-part series on Catholic colleges and universities led today by lay leaders after a history of priests or women religious at their helms. Read Part 1 on Trinity University Washington here.

    John Garvey, The Catholic University of America

  • Oct 22 2014 - 9:00am
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    Alice von Hildebrand is a Belgian-born Catholic philosopher who retired from the classroom in 1984 after teaching at Hunter College in New York City for 37 years.

  • Oct 21 2014 - 4:20pm
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    The recent two-week synod on the family has been an educational effort similar to that surrounding the Second Vatican Council and the U.S. bishops’ pastorals on peace and the economy. It led to hundreds of stories in media, prompted both sides of debates to make their cases on such neuralgic issues as receiving Holy Communion after divorce and remarriage and openness to lesbians and gays.

    It brought a degree of transparency even to those more comfortable hunkering down behind closed...

  • Oct 21 2014 - 9:04am
    1 comment

    This is part one of a three-part series on Catholic colleges and universities led today by lay leaders after a history of priests or women religious at their helms.

    Catholic colleges and universities enroll an estimated 810,000 students, according to the Official Catholic Directory. For decades, and for some institutions for over a century, heads of these organizations have been members of religious orders that founded them. Others have been led by clergy.

  • Oct 20 2014 - 5:15pm
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    Over two October days, I
    attended a Flannery O’Connor forum
    in which enough people attended to make up a quorum.
     
    I learned many things which I didn’t know before
    about prayer and writing and everything in between—
    About how Flannery saw it all in her prayers sight unseen,
    how she wanted to be a great writer and a great pray-er
    and her struggle to combine both for her eternal
    Happiness....
  • Oct 20 2014 - 2:50pm
    1 comment

    A guest post from Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, the English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office at the Vatican, and served as English-language spokesperson at the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome. 

  • Oct 20 2014 - 10:34am
    2 comments

    Israel-Gaza still smolders. The op-ed pages, news stories and recent books still argue about the outcome of the war. Some even suggest that Gaza, with its 2000 dead, has won because it withstood Israel’s overwhelming land and air attack. Other commentators toy with despair because peace seems nowhere on the horizon.

  • Oct 18 2014 - 7:05pm
    12 comments

    What does the final report of the Synod on the Family mean for the church?

    Essentially, the “relatio” (or report) published today, at the close of the Synod, will serve as a starting point for future discussion.  It was also presented with great transparency, including even sections that did not win the necessary votes for complete approval.   

  • Oct 17 2014 - 3:04pm
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    When the much anticipated and much discussed preliminary session of the Synod on the Family concludes on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, a concelebration of the Mass will take place at the Vatican and will be presided over by Pope Francis, along with the bishops and cardinals who attended and participated in the Synod. The eyes and ears of the world will be also be present (as they have been throughout the deliberations), through the various media outlets and news organizations.

  • Oct 17 2014 - 11:38am
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    It is hard to believe, but it appears that a five year court odyssey for a Pakistani Christian mother of five will continue. Yesterday an appeals court in Pakistan upheld the death sentence against Asia Bibi for "blasphemy" against Islam. Bibi, 45, has been imprisoned since 2009 while appealing her death sentence for allegedly denigrating the prophet Mohammed and Christian evangelizing. Accused by Muslim co-workers after a dispute over a communal water source, according to her defense team, ...

  • Oct 17 2014 - 11:06am
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    Got a brief reminder this morning  from Jesuit Refugee Services about a Jesuit missing in Afghanistan now four months in the form of a letter to the teachers and students at a school in Sohadat in western Afghanistan where Father Alexis Prem Kumar was known and is missed. It follows below.

  • Oct 15 2014 - 1:10pm
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    Mark Brumley is a California-based writer and CEO of Ignatius Press in San Francisco, one of the biggest U.S. Catholic publishers and multimedia distributors.

  • Oct 14 2014 - 5:40am
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    If the rumors are true, today at Vandenberg Air Force Base, near Lompoc, California, the U.S. Air Force will land its robotic space plane X-37B after 22 months in orbit. 

    What—you didn’t know the Air Force had a “space plane”? That it was robotic (among other things it supposedly lands itself)? That it had been circling above us for the last 671 days?

  • Oct 13 2014 - 10:49am
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    America magazine and Saint Thomas More Chapel at Yale University, seeking to recognize the finest literary work of Roman Catholic intelligence and imagination, announce the creation of the George W. Hunt Prize, a $25,000 award that will consider works in a variety of genres, including journalism, fiction, poetry, drama, music, memoir, biography, history, art criticism and academic scholarship.

  • Oct 13 2014 - 9:55am
    77 comments

    Today the Synod of Bishops issued a document that represents a stunning change in the way that the Catholic church speaks about the LBGT community. The Synod said that gay people have "gifts and talents to offer the Christian community." This is something that even a few years ago would have been unthinkable, from even the most open-minded of prelates--that is, a statement of outright praise for the...

  • Oct 11 2014 - 8:15pm
    4 comments

    Cambridge, MA. I was intrigued to read in today’s New York Times (October 11) an article by Mark Oppenheimer on “conditionalism,” a theological perspective on the non-eternity of hell proposed, in modern times, by Dr. Edward Fudge. Read it yourself here.

  • Oct 10 2014 - 5:26pm
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    Continuing to set a standard on the working conditions and treatment of adjunct professors, Georgetown University has reached a tentative agreement with SEIU Local 500 on all of the terms of the university's first collective bargaining agreement covering part-time faculty members on the main campus. The agreement remains to be ratified by the SEIU local.

  • Oct 9 2014 - 4:29pm
    3 comments

    Senior Catholic leaders meeting at the Vatican are deep into passionate debates about how the church can respond to the realities of modern family life, yet at the same time they have repeatedly stressed that they are not going to alter long-standing doctrines, such as the teaching on divorce and remarriage.

    Does that mean the hopes for real changes are DOA just a few days into the high-level summit?

  • Oct 9 2014 - 4:18pm
    1 comment

    CNN has this list of likely winners for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced tomorrow, but says the "smart money" is on Pope Francis:

  • Oct 9 2014 - 12:41pm
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    In a blunt assessment of the response of the Iraqi government to the suffering of Christians from the northern Nineveh province, a leading Chaldean Catholic bishop said, "Our people have been abandoned."

    Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil blasted both the Iraqi government and local and regional Muslim leaders not only for their lack of material support to Christians following the vast dislocation of the community in flight from ISIS militants over recent months, but also for an...

  • Oct 9 2014 - 9:55am
    4 comments

    The theology schools at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and the Jesuit-run Santa Clara University in California are among 10 Christian theology schools awarded grants to integrate studies in hard sciences into their theological curricula.

    The grants, called “Science for Seminaries,” were announced Oct. 9 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and supported by funds from the John Templeton Foundation.

  • Oct 8 2014 - 11:01am
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    Many iPhones lit up the night Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane was announced as the replacement for my former boss, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I. The appointment of Bishop Cupich as the new ordinary for the Archdiocese of Chicago has been presented by many in the media as a discontinuance of “George the Corrector.” It did not take long even for the infrequent follower of religious politics to weigh in about the differences between Cupich and George.

  • Oct 8 2014 - 9:34am
    19 comments

    Addressing the Catholic Finance Association in New York City: October 7, 2014.  

  • Oct 8 2014 - 6:44am
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    Anne Rice is a New Orleans-born author of gothic fiction and Christian literature. She is best known for her novel series The Vampire Chronicles which revolve around the central character of Lestat. Two of the books were adapted for Hollywood films, Interview with the Vampire:...

  • Oct 6 2014 - 12:55pm
    3 comments

    Cardinal Péter Erdö of Hungary, as the relator for the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the Family, opened this historic discussion in Rome on Oct. 6 with a presentation that seemed intended to lower expectations on the eventual outcome of the synod in 2015 while holding out a few strands of hope to those who seek alteration in church disciplines—particularly regarding the treatment of...

  • Oct 5 2014 - 2:03pm
    1 comment

    “Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas; or to see who is more intelligent,” Pope Francis told the 191 synod fathers from all continents gathered with him in St Peter’s Basilica as they concelebrated mass on Sunday morning, October 5, for the opening of this crucially important synod on the family.

    Synod assemblies “are meant... to help God realize his dream, his loving plan for his people,” he said.

  • Oct 5 2014 - 8:30am
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    Sometime ago as I stood at the back of a parish church following Mass greeting members of the parish, a family approached and its youngest member, a boy of about 5, asked me, “Why do you call us brothers and sisters? You’re not my brother.”

    I said to him, “There is a sense in which we are all brothers and sisters because we are all members of God’s family.” He looked at me then looked back at his mother who was standing behind him. When she shook her head affirmatively he turned back...

  • Oct 4 2014 - 6:37pm
    4 comments

    Speaking at a candlelight prayer vigil in St Peter’s Square on the eve of the opening of the synod of bishops on the family, Pope Francis made clear that he wants ‘the synod fathers’ to listen attentively to God and to the cry of the people, and to keep their sights fixed firmly on Jesus and do “whatever” he tells them.

    He described the coming together of the 191 synod fathers with the Bishop of Rome as “an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is manifested in a journey of...

  • Oct 3 2014 - 3:22pm
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    InterVarsity Christian Fellowship organizations in the massive, 23 campus, 450,000 student California State University system have been brought under new rules by which many of them may be “de-recognized” as official student groups. The change comes as a result of the C.S.U.’s 2011 decision to change its student club membership policies to an “all comers” policy.

  • Oct 3 2014 - 2:14pm
    1 comment

    “A broad freedom of expression” in “a climate of respect for every position, mutual charity and an authentic constructive sense” will be the hallmarks of the extraordinary synod of bishops on the family that opens on October 5.  

    Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the synod, stated this at a press conference in the Vatican today when he presented the agenda and new methodology for that important event.

  • Oct 3 2014 - 11:32am
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    America asked two prominent members of Congress, both Catholics with famous names, to respond to Pope Francis’ repeated calls to empower the poor.

  • Oct 2 2014 - 9:32am
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    Poet James Merrill once described his fellow writer Elizabeth Bishop as “a genius masquerading as an ordinary woman.” I thought of that line after spending two days this past summer working on a profile for PBS-TV’s Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly on the Quaker folk singer Carrie Newcomer.

    Newcomer has been described as a “prairie mystic” (she lives in Bloomington IN) and as “a minister of the wide-eyed gospel of hope.”

  • Oct 2 2014 - 7:26am
    2 comments

    As reported in America’s Sept. 29th Current Comment “Protecting Human Dignity,” California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law the country’s first “affirmative consent” bill, mandating that sexual partners on state college campuses must give “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” for sexual activity to be considered legal.

  • Oct 1 2014 - 3:00pm
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    Thank you to Michael Paul Gallagher, S.J., in Rome for sending this translation of the homily Pope Francis delivered during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Jesuit restoration. The Vespers service took place on Saturday September 27 at the Gesu Church in Rome. You can read more about it here.

  • Oct 1 2014 - 2:41pm
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    “Nothing like this has happened in Hong Kong before. I’m just praying that it won’t become like Tiananmen, the situation is similar in many ways.  We must pray this does not happen!” This is what Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun told me by phone from Hong Kong on the evening of October 1.

  • Oct 1 2014 - 12:58pm
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    Catholics in the U.S. will mark the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life with special days to highlight prayer, service and community.

    The observances were announced Oct. 1 at a media conference in Washington, D.C., led by Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C. Bishop Burbidge heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

    The U.S events are the national response to the Vatican-initiated yearlong celebration, set to begin the first weekend of Advent...

  • Oct 1 2014 - 7:25am
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    Peter Thiel, a member of the Forbes 400 list with a net worth estimated at $2.2 billion in 2014, is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur. Co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, Mr. Thiel has been involved with some of the biggest companies in...