What is to be our response??

When I noted that I was assigned to write a post for this week, I was going to write a post about the top 5 things that ethics teachers ought to think about at the beginning of the year. Maybe that’ll be a post next week or next semester. But other events have come into play – namely the publication, from many media outlets, of the grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania over the 300 (300!!!) priests who have credibly abused people in the past 70 years. More than that, there is the clear indication that bishops deflected alarms about...

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The Vocation of the Theologian in 2018: Reflections on CTEWC

“Speak fearlessly.” -Petr Stica (Germany) “We need bold action.” -Emmanuel Katongole (Uganda/US) “We must get away from wooden, dense, constipating discourse.” -Dennis T. Gonzalez (Philippines) “Not without my sisters!” -Tina Beattie (UK)   The Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church conference took place two weeks ago in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Much has already been written on the conference, and many of the talks will be published in the edited volume that comes out next year. But those publications will have a hard time capturing the spirited discourse that emerged in the conference sessions and around meals. CTEWC,...

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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Love is the Bread of Life

Reading 1:  1 Kings 19:4-8 Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34 Reading 2: Ephesians 4:30-5:2 Gospel: John 6:41-51 As Christians, we are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us.” When you live in a country where the president regularly insults individual citizens however, it is easy to forget this.  Paul’s call to get rid of our “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling . . . along with all malice” and be “kind to one another, compassionate” sounds naïve, like a call to give in to the bullies of public discourse.  Yet, this Sunday’s readings...

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Parenting, Masculinity, and Structures of Sin

I think a lot about parenting. I can’t help it. I’m a parent. Often, my thinking about parenting is colored by my research as a theologian and an ethicist. It’s an occupational hazard of a research agenda that looks for connections between theological ethics and ordinary life. This means that my work on the ethics of free time colors my reflections on the time I have together with my children, while my research on digital distraction has spilled over into my real life in a way that has most of my extended family convinced that I am a luddite....

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Death Penalty Development: A Conditional Advance of Justice

In a doctrinal clarification apropos for the feast day of Alphonsus Liguori, patron of moral theologians, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has modified the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty. Where the 1997 version left open, at least in theory, recourse to the supreme temporal punishment, Pope Francis has more strongly judged that the death penalty is “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” quoting the Holy Father’s address of 13 October 2017. These changes build upon prior remarks by popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI calling...

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Three Takeaways on the Death Penalty

The announcement this morning that the Catechism’s teaching on the death penalty is changing (again – this section was also revised between the first and section edition of the Catechism, after St. John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae) is a welcome completion of the development of Catholic moral theology. It will be greeted with some celebration and some gnashing of teeth by political partisans, but the development should be understood as a key moment strengthening the consistency of the teaching authority of the Church. There are three key lessons to keep in mind in evaluating this: Church teaching...

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Diagnosing Polarization: Different Approaches

The Georgetown conference on overcoming polarization continues to bear fruit, the latest coming in an essay Robert George just published at First Things. The essay is a revision of the remarks he made at a particularly powerful panel at the conference. George leads with the memorable quote we all probably wrote down at his panel: Catholic social teaching is Catholic moral teaching; Catholic moral teaching includes Catholic social teaching. It is a mistake—a common one, yet a profound error—to speak and think of “social” and “moral” teaching as separate and distinct categories. We need to begin treating this way...

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Greater and Deeper Reality is God’s Love

Reading 1:Amos 7: 12-15 Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 85 Reading 2: Ephesians 1:3-14 Gospel: Mark 6: 7-13 Every morning, I wake up, pour myself some coffee, and read the news. Lately, this has proven to be a descent into despair.  The international community, the economy, our public discourse, everything seems to be breaking down.  It’s even bad locally.  This morning I read about how a man attempted to burn a gay pride flag.  What was shocking about it was that it did not seem to be any planned endeavor but rather just casual violence, something to do when one is bored...

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