The National Catholic Review

In All Things

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

March 2015

  • Mar 27 2015 - 11:10am

    Lent is almost over, and I must say, I am relieved: this is not my favorite liturgical season. Give me the little pleasures of Ordinary Time, or the serene expectation of Advent, rather than the sober confrontation of the forty days. Still, I understand why the church invites us into this time of fasting. Regularly in our spiritual life we need to examine our conscience and invite God’s purification. We need to make a new start. And so once again I bring the old questions before God: Where...

  • Mar 26 2015 - 4:42pm

    “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.”

  • Mar 26 2015 - 11:15am

    Why should I care about Sweet Briar College, whether it lives or dies?

  • Mar 25 2015 - 2:12pm

    With his call for a Jubilee Year of Mercy from Dec. 8, 2015, to Nov. 20, 2016, Pope Francis has opened up a space for possible discussion at the international level. A Year of Mercy provides the opportunity to advance several issues that affect people on the periphery. These are a source of pain.

  • Mar 25 2015 - 8:54am
    Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films)

    Steven D. Greydanus is an American Catholic film critic who writes for the National Catholic Register and founded the...

  • Mar 23 2015 - 3:10pm

  • Mar 22 2015 - 9:42pm
    1 comment

    Cambridge, MA. As readers will know, I am meditating with you on “The Bhagavad Gita in Lent” and more practically, I am also teaching a seminar on the Gita this semester, for about 20 students. We are this week reading Chapter 3 (yes, third chapter, and the semester is at least half over!), on detached action, action as a sacrifice and service for the sake of the world, and hardest of all, action as what happens by way of nature and time and providence, our selves not really the doers of “...

  • Mar 19 2015 - 11:37am

    Pope Francis has called for an “extraordinary Holy Year,” a “Jubilee of Mercy,” Dec. 8, 2015, to Nov. 20, 2016. It offers an opportunity for the church to show the world God’s love. It starts in the home and moves outward around the world. The virtue of mercy is a hallmark of this papacy as Pope Francis seeks ways to ease pain and bring people together. We’ll see an opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and special indulgences awarded for the event.

  • Mar 19 2015 - 10:29am

    Dear Saint Joseph,

  • Mar 18 2015 - 1:15pm

    The plot of “Still Alice” instills terror, especially among aging academics. Dr. Alice Howland, a brilliant cognitive psychology professor begins to have memory lapses in lectures and personal life. Slowly but surely she falls victim to Alzheimer’s disease. Julianne Moore has won a well-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of the degenerating mental capacities that rob Alice of her career and personal independence. A dreadful message is conveyed: No matter how much brain power and intellectual...

  • Mar 18 2015 - 1:10pm

    A few lessons from yesterday's elections in Israel: fear will always trump hope; the two-state solution is a diplomatic dodo; and suggestions that Arab Israelis should not vote will be rewarded, not punished by the Jewish state’s general voting public.

  • Mar 18 2015 - 11:56am
    Julia Sweeney (photo provided)

    Julia Sweeney is an American actress, comedienne, and author who frequently discusses her journey from Catholicism to atheism.

  • Mar 17 2015 - 2:05pm

    Cambridge, MA. With the gospel for the 4th Sunday of Lent (B), we’ve reached a very obvious and yet very subtle moment in Lent: everything is simple, and everything is at stake. In the select section of John 3 we heard at Mass on March 15, the evangelist gives the teaching of Jesus in a very succinct form, of which the famous 3.16 is only a small part: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal...

  • Mar 17 2015 - 12:25pm
    1 comment

    Dear Saint Patrick,

  • Mar 16 2015 - 9:53pm

    It is little remembered now, but back in 1969 a journalist for The Irish Times wrote a book about his people, the Irish. Alan Bestic’s book was called The Importance of Being Irish. It was along the lines of similar books at the time, trying to explain the nature of one’s race to oneselves (as much as to others), much like Luigi Barzini did in The Italians. But the title had an air of pretentiousness about it; that somehow it was important to be Irish. It was the 1960’s...

  • Mar 16 2015 - 5:54pm

    Holidays and special occasions are always noteworthy, especially so when you’re a youngster, when you’re the newest observer/participant when it comes to celebrating the red-circled days of the calendar. It’s not to say that holidays aren’t special for adults—they are—but they don’t have the potency they do when you first become aware of how special they are and of the symbols and the people associated with them. There was one such day for me as a youngster, when festivity and fun were mixed...

  • Mar 16 2015 - 5:02pm

    Forgive me, Father, for I—

    Oh, it’s you again!

    (Gasp!) You remember me, Father?

    How could I not? You’re the one who couldn’t stop

    Saying winter’s four-letter word!

    As a matter of fact, for a while back there,

    You even had me saying it!

    Are you having the same problems again?

    No, no, Father—it’s more even more serious this time,

    I went way past the speed limit—

  • Mar 16 2015 - 4:34pm

    His campaign appearance in Washington seems to have backfired on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but when all else fails and you're slipping in the polls, who ya gonna call?

    That's right. Chuck Norris.

  • Mar 13 2015 - 12:24pm

    Migration and drug trafficking, the reform of the Curia, the challenges of the Synod for the Family and the need to make the Church a safe home for all children and vulnerable adults. In a wide-ranging interview with Valentina Alazraki, from the Mexican broadcaster Televisa, Pope Francis marked the second year of his pontificate by addressing the hot topics that have dominated public discourse since his...

  • Mar 13 2015 - 9:29am

    Can the Roman Catholic Church change? And if so, how? And what’s on the table—traditions, rites, doctrine, none of the above?

    Such fundamental questions go to the heart of Catholic identity, and they’re the same questions Pope Francis has raised almost since the moment he was elected two years ago this Friday (March 13), a dark horse candidate who became the first pontiff from Latin America.

  • Mar 12 2015 - 3:39pm

    Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J., is a Jesuit priest and writer from Nigeria. This speech was delivered at the Vatican on March 8 at the Voices of Faith conference marking International Women’s Day. 

    I stand here as the odd one out, yet truly blessed, grateful and privileged to share this podium with such a diverse and global group of distinguished and accomplished women. I salute and honor the causes and commitments that you promote and represent for our society, our church...

  • Mar 11 2015 - 5:38pm

    'Pope Francis and the Culture of the Internet,' the third and final symposium in America's year-long events series with St. Joseph’s Seminary and College, will take place in New York City on March 28. The event features remarks from Antonio Spandaro, S.J., editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal, followed by an interview and discussion with Matt Malone, S.J. We invite you to join in this conversion about social media, the culture of the Internet...

  • Mar 11 2015 - 5:36pm
    1 comment

    It is now two years since Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio emerged upon the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and appeared before the world as Pope Francis and entered into the affections of us all.

  • Mar 11 2015 - 3:29pm

    Catholicism is undergoing an epochal transformation. For more than a millennium dogma has been the hard core of church life, defining who is in and who is out. Partisans have fought over the correct way to define Christian belief; they condemned their opponents and persecuted them as heretics.

  • Mar 11 2015 - 1:17pm

    One reason the cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis two years ago on March 13 was a brief but powerful speech the Argentine cardinal made shortly before the conclave in which he denounced the “theological narcissism” of the Roman Catholic Church.

    The church, Francis declared, was “sick” because it was closed in on itself and needed to go out “to the peripheries” and risk all by accompanying the shunned and marginalized.

  • Mar 11 2015 - 9:45am
    Garry Wills (Penguin Random House)

    Garry Wills is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American Catholic author who is Professor of History Emeritus at Northwestern University.

  • Mar 10 2015 - 4:07pm

    An Open Letter to Sister Mary Ann Walsh

    Dear Sister Mary Ann,

    As friends, former co-workers and distant admirers, we want you to know that you are in our hearts and prayers.

  • Mar 10 2015 - 9:49am

    Father Matt Malone, S.J., President and Editor in Chief of America Media, announced today that America Media will become the publisher of The Jesuit Post, the online ministry operated entirely by young Jesuits in training and focused on reaching people in their 20s and 30s.  Previously under the sponsorship of the U.S. Jesuit Conference, The Jesuit Post will now be published by America Media, a key...

  • Mar 10 2015 - 9:13am

    With its star figures and cheering crowds, a papal visit can seem like a giant photo-op. With Pope Francis, the event becomes an opportunity to take the church’s message far and wide, even to Catholics who seldom darken church doors.

  • Mar 10 2015 - 1:19am

    On Feb. 25th, Camille Paglia, a self-identified “dissident feminist,” was interviewed for our blog. During the interview, Paglia described what she believes is wrong with American feminism today:

  • Mar 9 2015 - 11:20am

    At "The Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination" conference, the most dynamic panel for my money was the one entitled "Catholic Literati: The Next Generation." (Given this title, I feel for the three men who made up the panel, Randy Boyagada, James Matthew Wilson and Nick Hren. I am almost certain that, similar to the word "hipster," no one would ever use the term "literati," to describe themselves. As in, "Yes, I am a member of the burgeoning Catholic literati. We are meeting for a...

  • Mar 9 2015 - 10:30am
    1 comment

    I write on the issue of the Theology requirement at the University of Notre dame, which is currently under discussion as part of the school’s ten-year curriculum review. I share these thoughts in response to the administration’s call for input, but I also see this topic as relevant to all Catholic universities.

  • Mar 8 2015 - 3:57pm

    Sister Barbara Moore wanted to see the film "Selma," but by herself "because emotionally I knew it would probably be impactful."

    So the Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet sat alone in a St. Louis theater in January and watched the movie about the events of 50 years ago this March 7—the voting rights marches and protests led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama.

  • Mar 8 2015 - 2:05pm
    1 comment

    Cambridge, MA. For much of the past week, I was puzzling over the Gospel for this third Sunday of Lent, the scene in John 2 where Jesus drives the merchants and money-changers out of the temple:

  • Mar 6 2015 - 5:18pm

    Cardinal Edward Michael Egan, who died March 5 at the age of 82, may have had one of his greater moments as a churchman during 9-11 at Ground Zero. In response to New York’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who needed to comfort and console his people before they even knew what had happened at 9-11 when passenger jets took down the iconic Twin Towers, Cardinal Egan went to the scene. On that September morning Cardinal Egan began days of ministry to workers, injured and deceased, that went on day after...

  • Mar 6 2015 - 9:08am

    Pope Francis, in his two years as pontiff, has often urged people of faith to be better people of faith. To walk the talk. To get with the program. To do as Jesus would do. His example inspires us, just as his writings enlighten us. The pope reminds us that God calls us to love, no matter what. He encourages us to be certain that by entrusting ourselves to God, our acts of love and concern for others will be “mysteriously fruitful” in ways that we may never know. (“The Joy of the Gospel,”...

  • Mar 5 2015 - 1:17pm

    The news concerning religion is not very encouraging these days, particularly when it is coupled with terrorism and violence, skewering its true meaning for those who seek its relevance.

  • Mar 5 2015 - 1:01pm

    The “Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination,” the conference organized by the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies and held on the campus of U.S.C., was lovely for many reasons. For one, I have read nearly all the stories of Tobias Wolff (“Hunters in the Snow,” “The Rich Brother,” “In the Garden...”) over and over for years. He virtually taught me to write. Seeing him speak and read was almost surreal.

  • Mar 5 2015 - 12:07pm

    The apparently tireless Pew researchers continue to track the popularity of the "newish" Pope Francis. According to their latest phone survey, the Pope Francis honeymoon shows no sign of ending even two years into his pontificate. In fact his popularity among Catholics is only building. He is rated favorably by over nine-out-of-ten Catholics they surveyed—and "very favorably" by six out of ten.

  • Mar 5 2015 - 3:06am
    Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher star in a scene from the movie "St. Vincent." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Atsushi Nishijima, The Weinstein Company)

    Two worthwhile movies available on Netflix and DVD/Blue-Ray this month represent the tail end of Hollywood’s recent religious craze. 

    “St. Vincent” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” found their way to theaters late last year at the close of an unexpected revival of religious films. Earlier movies in theaters last year included “Son of God,” “Noah,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Heaven is for Real,” “God’s Not Dead,” “Calvary,” "Saving Christmas" and the “Left Behind” remake.

  • Mar 4 2015 - 3:37pm

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said Islamic State militants terrorizing the Middle East are a distortion of “genuine” Islam much as the Irish Republican Army was a “perversion” of Catholicism.

    Dolan’s comments to CNN on March 3 reflect similar statements about the Islamic State group from Pope Francis, but they also echo some of President Obama’s controversial remarks on Islam, Christianity and the history of violence carried out in the name...

  • Mar 4 2015 - 8:45am

    Elizabeth Scalia is an American Catholic editor, writer, speaker and managing editor of the Catholic portal at, where she blogs as The Anchoress. Ms.

  • Mar 3 2015 - 2:22pm

    Part the First

    Recently I heard the author Tobias Wolff read from his short story, “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs.” In the last lines of the story a woman is giving a lecture to students at a renowned college in upstate New York. She is also calling out a group of arrogant and patronizing professors observing the class. “You have deceived yourselves in the pride of your hearts, and the strength of your arms,” declares the woman, Mary. “Though you soar aloft like the...

  • Mar 2 2015 - 7:13pm

    If an academic pedigree is an indication, the hierarchy of the U.S. bishops took a big step forward with the promotion of Auxiliary Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Francisco to Bishop of San Diego on March 3. News of the appointment was broken by blogger Rocco Palmo, March 2.

  • Mar 2 2015 - 4:55pm

    Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., agreed to address questions on criticisms of Pope Francis, political responsibilities as the archbishop of the nation’s capital and the forthcoming Synod on the Family in October. 

  • Mar 2 2015 - 12:35pm

    As the Vatican prepares for the Synod of Bishops on the Family, Oct. 4 to 25, various individuals and groups are offering input on issues they want the synod to address. I asked several U.S. Catholic pastors and other experts to note issues on which people go to clergy for help.

    Most emphasized family relationships more than the theological questions that certainly underlie the issues. The need for permanence in marriage stands out, for example.

  • Mar 2 2015 - 12:07pm

    As state legislatures across the nation have opened for their 2015 sessions, some (such as Wisconsin and West Virginia) are debating so-called "right-to-work" laws. These laws do not, of course, give anyone a right to a job. Rather, they create a special "right" for workers to refuse union membership even after a majority of their co-workers have voted to form a union. This creates a perverse incentive: any individual worker can enjoy all the benefits of union contracts while shirking dues...