The National Catholic Review

In All Things

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

Monday, September 1, 2014

  • Sep 30 2014 - 1:19pm
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    Twice I have received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. The first time was four years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer; the second, a couple weeks ago when I learned that the breast cancer had metastasized.

    The sacrament involved both the sacrament of reconciliation and the anointing of my head and hands. It immersed me in the love of the church, a profound experience that drove home the fact that as part of the Christian community, I do not stand alone when...

  • Sep 30 2014 - 11:22am
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    Many Catholic dioceses are going through the difficult journey of merging two or more parishes into a single entity.  Usually, after a long process of planning for the change, the moment arrives for the parishes to give up their identity and form a new entity. It is a heart-wrenching experience for many long-time parishioners, no matter how much preparation has gone into the transition.

  • Sep 29 2014 - 4:28pm
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    On Sept. 18, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria began a military offensive outside of the Kobane area in northern Syria, and in no time they had terrorized and seized 60 of the surrounding villages. Over the next three days an unprecedented flight of 160,000 refugees escaped across Turkey’s southern border. The sudden exodus put the refugee issue back on the international diplomatic front burner, but this time, as one official noted, “The pot is now boiling over and the water is spilling...

  • Sep 29 2014 - 2:23pm
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    As the situation deteriorated in Hong Kong following police crackdown on protestors over the weekend, Cardinal John Tong Hon, the local bishop, issued “an urgent appeal” to the government there “to put the personal safety of fellow citizens as her prime concern” and “to exercise restraint in the deployment of force.” 

    The leader of Hong Kong’s 374,000 Catholics urged the government “to listen” to the voice of the 7.1 million inhabitants of this autonomous region on the southern coast...

  • Sep 29 2014 - 2:54am
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     Not since the Second Vatican Council has a gathering of representatives of the world’s Catholic bishops sparked such interest and controversy as the extraordinary synod of bishops on the family which opens in the Vatican on October 5. While the agenda is very wide, public interest has mainly focused on how this synod, and the follow-on synod in October 2015, will address the situation of Catholics who are divorced and remarried, and whether they can be re-admitted to communion.

  • Sep 27 2014 - 3:46pm
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    Pope Francis issued a heartfelt call to his brother Jesuits worldwide to “row together” with him, as he rows with considerable effort in ‘the barque of Peter,” and to “pray a lot,” because “the night and the powers of darkness are always close.” 

    He issued his call during the thanksgiving ceremony in Rome, Sept. 27, for the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus (‘the Society’), as the Jesuit order is called.

  • Sep 27 2014 - 1:41pm
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    From the Vatican:

    "Jesuits 'brave and expert rowers' in barque of Peter...Row then!  Row, and be strong, even in the headwind!"

    Pope Francis celebrated a special liturgy of thanksgiving in the Church of the Gesù in Rome on Saturday, to mark the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. Please find, below, Vatican Radio's English translation of the prepared text of the Holy Father's homily for the occasion.

    Dear brothers and...

  • Sep 26 2014 - 4:49pm
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    In the aftermath of the Scottish Independence referendum last week, it is becoming clear that for many on the defeated “Yes” side, this was only Round One. On the day following the vote, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron declared, in an early-morning statement delivered outside 10 Downing Street, that the question was now settled “for a generation.” Yet the referendum result was decisive; there was a much larger majority for “No” than anyone, even the polls, had predicted. This has not...

  • Sep 26 2014 - 11:03am
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    Positive press greeted the announcement on Sept. 20 of the appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash., to succeed Cardinal Francis George as archbishop of Chicago. Some media view what they deem as Pope Francis’ first major episcopal appointment in the U.S. as a message from the pope. Archbishop Cupich, however, says the pope isn’t sending a message, he’s sending a pastor.

  • Sep 25 2014 - 9:03pm
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    Cambridge, MA. It is more than enough of an opportunity for those of us who are Christian to be mindful during the next days that Jews are observing a series of most intense and varied holy days — from last night (September 24, Rosh Hashanah year 5775) to Yom Kippur (October 3), the day of Atonement.

  • Sep 25 2014 - 9:10am
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    Pope Francis has deposed the controversial bishop of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, Monsignor Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, by relieving him of his duties as bishop of that diocese, and declaring the see vacant. 

    The bishop was accused not only of incardinating a priest into his diocese in 2005 who had been accused of allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with minors in Scranton diocese in the USA, but also of defending and covering the priest and even promoting him to be his vicar-...

  • Sep 24 2014 - 4:58pm
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    Patti Gallagher Mansfield is a New Orleans-based author, speaker and leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. An early American pioneer of the movement, she was present when the Charismatic Renewal began at a retreat for students from Duquesne University in...

  • Sep 23 2014 - 3:33pm
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    Hard to believe but Bruce Springsteen is now eligible for Medicare. The seemingly timeless rocker turned 65 years old on September 23.
     
    Just as his music, which straddles the line between rock, folk and country, defies easy labels, Springsteen the man is giving new meaning to the term "senior citizen." 
     
    So says Chicago author June Sawyers, who's written four books on Springsteen, including a new e-book called "Workingman." I interviewed Sawyers on WGLT Radio, the...

  • Sep 23 2014 - 1:14pm
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    When and where is it?
    Oct. 5-19, 2014, Vatican City

    What is this?
    The synod is a meeting of Pope Francis, bishops, clergy and laypeople.

    What is its purpose?
    Pope Francis has written that the synod will discuss the "challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children, and the role of the family in the life of the church." The discussion will be based largely on responses to a questionnaire sent...

  • Sep 23 2014 - 11:55am
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    Recently, in a corner of a small island in the North Atlantic, an elderly man died. He was 88 years old and had been in failing health for some time. In his life, he had started out as an ordained minister and along the way, unavoidably (or, more accurately, eagerly) got involved in politics.

  • Sep 22 2014 - 2:37pm
    35 comments

    About 18 months ago a Vatican official told me he had asked a U.S.  philanthropist for advice on how to deal with controversy with American nuns. The philanthropist advised: "Just say 'thank you.'"

    The conversation came to mind as I read comments Sept. 18 in The New York Times by Vice President Biden in which he said he advised Pope...

  • Sep 22 2014 - 12:25pm
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    If you happened to pull yourself away from all the Cupich-to-Chicago news this weekend (last night someone in my community called his appointment the most important moment in the American Church since "Humane Vitae," so I’m going to say he didn’t), you might have seen reference to some sort of a dust up between New York Times TV columnist Alessandra Stanley and Shonda Rimes, the creator of some of ABC’s most successful dramas in the last 10 years ("Grey’s Anatomy," "Scandal").

  • Sep 21 2014 - 8:06pm
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    I have been on many papal trips to foreign countries over the past thirty years and have experienced some profoundly moving and faith-filled moments on several of them but I had never before seen a Pope so overcome with emotion that he wept. But that is what I witnessed on Sunday evening, September 21, in the cathedral of Tirana.

  • Sep 21 2014 - 6:13pm
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    Pope Francis drew enthusiastic and prolonged applause when, in his homily at mass in Mother Teresa Square in Tirana, the capital of Albania, attended by some 300,000 people—most of them Catholics but also very many Orthodox and Muslims—he greeted them saying, “May peace be in your homes! May peace reign in your hearts! Peace in your country!”

  • Sep 21 2014 - 9:57am
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    Cambridge, MA. I am just returned from Loyola University in Chicago, where I was graciously hosted for two days by Mark Bosco, SJ, Director of the Joan and Bill Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage.

  • Sep 20 2014 - 9:51am
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    Bishop Blase Cupich, the newly appointed archbishop of Chicago, is a longtime contributor to America.  Readers of the magazine and our website will know him for his many pastoral, thoughtful and forthright articles that have appeared over the years.  Here a few from recent years, with some highlighted quotes:

    "Staying Civil" March 5, 2012 (Looking at the USCCB's response to the HHS mandate):  "[...

  • Sep 20 2014 - 9:03am
    2 comments

    While in my Jesuit training, I spent three years teaching high school at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota. You've probably heard of Pine Ridge; the New York Times and Washington Post love to send reporters out for week-long jaunts after which they write about how sad and desperate it is out there. They're not completely wrong, but they miss an awful lot. 

  • Sep 19 2014 - 4:43pm
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    Pope Francis is going to Albania on Sunday, Sept. 21. It is his first visit to a European country and he has chosen to go to the only majority Muslim country on the periphery of the old continent, where Christians and Muslims who suffered under communism now live together in harmony and have formed a national unity government.

  • Sep 19 2014 - 12:15am
    1 comment

    Americans looking for a signal as to the kind of men Pope Francis hopes to put in leadership in dioceses like Chicago might turn their attention to Sydney, where Bishop Anthony Fisher, O.P., 54, was just announced as the next archbishop of Australia’s only cardinalatial seat. 

  • Sep 17 2014 - 7:48pm
    13 comments

    Mark P. Shea is a Washington-based Catholic writer, blogger, and speaker. Raised as an agnostic pagan, he became a non-denominational Protestant Evangelical in 1979 before converting to Catholicism in 1987. In addition to a number of books and regular articles in Catholic periodicals, Mr.

  • Sep 17 2014 - 9:09am
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    Pope Francis has invited the President of China, Xi Jinping, to meet him in the Vatican to discuss world peace, but he has also expressed his own willingness to travel “tomorrow” to Beijing for this same purpose if that were preferable.

  • Sep 17 2014 - 8:06am
    2 comments

    Today is the Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine (d. 1621), the important Jesuit bishop and theologian. Or is it?

  • Sep 16 2014 - 4:55pm
    2 comments

    Prosecutors in Bogota, Colombia are attempting to determine if any criminal charges will be filed in the aftermath of the suicide of a 16-year-old Catholic high school student. The young man, Sergio Urrego, jumped from an upper terrace of the Titán Plaza shopping center last month and succumbed to his injuries three hours later at a local hospital. He explained in a suicide note that he could no longer endure his treatment at the Gimnasio Castillo Campestre.

  • Sep 16 2014 - 11:33am
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    Paul Mayer, who succumbed to cancer last November, had a knack for noticing a moral crisis. He might have learned it from his German-Jewish parents, who whisked him from Frankfurt to New York just before Kristallnacht. He grew up to become a Catholic and a Benedictine priest, only to leave the cloister when he heard the call to march with Martin Luther King, Jr., at Selma. From there he organized against war in Vietnam, poverty in New Jersey’s slums and nuclear weapons around the world.

  • Sep 16 2014 - 11:30am
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    Born and raised in Scotland, I left in 1979 as an “economic refugee” to live and work in London. At that time, the Scottish National Party seemed small and insignificant, so much so that some people observed that they could hold their annual party conference in a phone booth. Scroll forward 35 years, and we face the possibility of waking up on Friday to a very different political situation. Much has been said and written on reasons for voting “yes” or “no.” Those favouring independence are...

  • Sep 15 2014 - 4:57pm
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    And then there was less than a week to go. The final weekend of campaigning in the Scottish independence referendum has come and gone, bringing with it too many events and gatherings, rallies and gigs to count. Both the official "Yes" and "No" camps would have us believe that spontaneous city-centre gatherings spoke of the strength of their respective positions, but the reality is that these were highly orchestrated, photogenic jamborees. Yet no city or town, highland village or island, it...

  • Sep 14 2014 - 3:20pm
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    Vatican wedding

    Pope Francis presided over the weddings of 20 couples in a historic ceremony Sunday at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

  • Sep 13 2014 - 10:20am
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    PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA — Oscar Pistorius, the famous South African disabled athlete and Paralympian known as the “Blade Runner,” was convicted on September 12, 2014 of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The case, which has generated something of a global media frenzy, highlights not only personal tragedy but sheds light on the South African criminal justice system and the less than healthy side of post-apartheid society.

  • Sep 12 2014 - 6:52pm
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    Glasgow; Tuesday 02/09/14. [Owing to a technical glitch, this blog posting of 2nd September vanished for a while. For the sake of continuity, I now offer it again.]

  • Sep 12 2014 - 10:27am
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    What makes an exemplary baseball player? It is philosophical question that we could answer many ways. We might cite ideals, rules or expectations associated with the game. We might reflect on issues of preference, popularity or professionalism. We could also look for an exemplar that embodies what is good, true and beautiful in baseball. 

  • Sep 11 2014 - 1:41pm
    5 comments

    President Obama laid out a strong case for why ISIL (the Islamic State in the Levant) must be defanged in his address to the nation yesterday. The president grounded U.S. action in humanitarian concerns and referred to the many horrific actions the Sunni extremist group has taken—massacring captive soldiers, killing children, raping and enslaving women, beheading hostages—as he sought to rally Americans for military strikes against ISIL. Even as he did so, he was at pains to clarify that...

  • Sep 11 2014 - 11:51am
    1 comment

    The seven-week long Israeli-Palestinian war in Gaza ended on Aug. 26, leaving more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis dead and widespread destruction in Gaza. But if the situation on the ground does not change soon another war could break out again, Bishop William Shomali, the auxiliary-bishop of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, warns in this exclusive interview with America.

  • Sep 11 2014 - 10:45am
    14 comments

    Senator Ted Cruz had a heck of an evening as keynote speaker at the In Defense of Christians summit’s “solidarity dinner” event last night in Washington. The Texas Republican was driven from the stage by hoots and catcalls, not something you hear everyday from the mouths of staid Middle East Christian bishops and eparchs. The Senator had been energetically scolding the audience for its...

  • Sep 10 2014 - 3:23pm
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    The recently released movie "Calvary" is drawing comments in the Catholic world. Some bloggers from the canon law community are worried that the movie may mislead people about the secrecy of the confessional. The movie opens with a confession scene where a victim of sexual abuse by a priest tells the confessor he plans to kill him Sunday next. He figures that killing a good priest, Father James the confessor, played terrifically by Brendan Gleeson, would garner lots of attention.

  • Sep 10 2014 - 12:29pm
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    These are astonishing days in Scotland, and in the rest of the UK. The mood is unprecedented; febrile, fevered, frenzied. We are seeing and hearing developments that nobody could have foreseen, precisely because we have never been in this situation before. The Scottish Independence Referendum is now only days away. Since the weekend the campaign has taken extraordinary turns that have brought about breath-taking responses; one day in particular (Tuesday the 9th) saw shock after shock.

  • Sep 10 2014 - 9:18am
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    Sister Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B. is a Benedictine nun, speaker and writer. She is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Penn., where she has served as prioress. Focusing on feminist spirituality and social issues, her web column From Where I Stand appears weekly in the National Catholic Reporter. Sister Chittister holds an M.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in speech communication theory from Penn...

  • Sep 9 2014 - 11:43am
    32 comments

    The Vatican has published the names of the 253 persons who will participate at the Synod of Bishops on the Family, October 5-19. Among them are cardinals, bishops, priests, men and women religious, 14 married couples and representatives of the other Christian churches.

    Since this is an Extraordinary General Assembly of the synod—only the third of its kind since Paul VI established the synod as an organ of collegiality in the wake of the Second Vatican Council—the rules for...

  • Sep 9 2014 - 9:20am
    31 comments

    Cardinal Dolan is getting heat. He is grand marshal of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York and says he has no problem with the decision of the parade committee to allow gays and lesbians to march as a group in the oldest parade honoring St. Patrick in America. This is not a religious rite though some attend it religiously. It’s of course associated with Catholics, especially in New York where the saint is patron of the archdiocese’s (some say the nation’s) premier church, St....

  • Sep 8 2014 - 11:26am
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    Coverage of Catholicism in media is in an evolutionary stage. Perhaps most dramatic is the Boston Globe Media’s decision to ramp up its coverage of Catholicism by hiring and promoting the ubiquitous writer John Allen, the CNN commentator and National Catholic Reporter alumnus, and by setting up the Catholic web site “Crux: Covering All Things Catholic.” The site debuted September 2.

  • Sep 8 2014 - 11:16am
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    Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, less than a month after he turned 75, the official age of retirement for a bishop.

    The Vatican gave no reason for the pope’s decision, but informed sources say it is directly linked to the cardinal’s role, some 40 years ago, in the mishandling of the case of the sexual abuse of teenagers by a priest, which has provoked controversy in Ireland with ongoing calls for his resignation.

  • Sep 5 2014 - 11:15am
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    An open-ended ceasefire came into force between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza on Aug. 26 after more than 50 days of conflict that left around 2,143 Palestinians (including some 577 children) dead and over 11,230 injured (including some 3,374 children), according to Palestinian and other sources. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and 6 civilians (including one Thai national) were killed, while 450 Israeli soldiers and 80 citizens were wounded.

  • Sep 3 2014 - 10:52am
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    Last week the California Institute of Technology announced that the full text of Richard Feynman’s Lectures On Physics are now available online for free, at feynmanlectures.caltech.edu.

  • Sep 3 2014 - 8:48am
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    Father Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., is an Oblate priest, theologian and popular spirituality writer. He is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.