A March for Peaceableness

I think, in my 13 years of primary and secondary education, I never once even imagined being threatened by a school shooter. It wasn’t that Chicago was some kind of nonviolent place during my childhood years of the 1980’s (quite the opposite), or even that my schools (or at least my K-8 school) were particularly sheltered. It just wasn’t something you imagined happening. Indeed, there WERE images of real violence in schools at the time – but these were associated with inner-city Chicago schools, and everyone acknowledged the same thing: what was happening there was not normal. A common...

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In Response to “The Good Pope and His Critics” by Ross Douthat

I submitted the following response letter to the New York Times regarding “The Good Pope and His Critics” by Ross Douthat (Mar 18, 2018, p. SR1). Although I have had good success in getting letters published there over the years, this one apparently did not make the cut—so I’m posting it here for the record: Douthat worries about how the papacy of Francis is propelling “Catholicism’s transformation into a confederation of national churches.” However, Douthat himself already reflects such a nation-colored lens when he projects onto worldwide Catholicism “the culture war that everyone in Western society knows well.” The language of “culture war,” especially when it hinges primarily, as evident in Douthat’s piece, on sexual ethics is an obsession found mostly among neo-conservative U.S. Catholics. Even if concerns about sexual morality are expressed also with Catholics who are “conservative in sub-Saharan Africa,” the “geographical divisions” Douthat flags are not so simple or sealed. After all, Catholics in the global south and so-called “liberalizing” Catholics in Europe and the U.S. agree with Francis’s amplification of his papal predecessors’ teachings about the environment, peacemaking, criminal justice, and the economy. As evinced by his encyclical on ecology, Pope Francis’s influence on many of these questions is complemented by, but not reduced to, his public gestures that imitate Christ. In short, Douthat might find “in the [wider] mirror” there are many of us Catholics, in the U.S. and elsewhere, who find...

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Happy 5th Anniversary, Pope Francis!

Including Pope Francis, there have been five popes during my lifetime. I was born some months prior to the closing of the Second Vatican Council in December 1965, and during my elementary school years at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in rural Blakeslee, Ohio (on the most western edge of the Toledo Diocese), I remember seeing a portrait of Pope Paul VI on the wall of the cafeteria. I also recall seeing as many photos, portraits, and busts of the late President John F. Kennedy at some of my relatives’ houses. So it’s perhaps not surprising that I imagined becoming...

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Amoris Alert: Cardinal Wuerl Finds Common Ground!

As is stated in our mission, this blog started among theological friends who were disappointed with polarization in the Church, and especially in discussions of difficult moral questions on the Web. At the time, in 2011, that bridging appeared to be a gradual operation that could be built over time. It was easier to write then. When Francis became pope almost five years ago, it seemed that the times for such charitable discussion across disagreement would grow. And yet, here we are, not blogging… hmmm… One of the narrative threads of Ross Douthat’s forthcoming book chronicling the Francis papacy...

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In Gratitude for the Life and Witness of Sister Anne Nasimiyu-Wasike, LSOSF

Sister Anne Nasimiyu-Wasike, Little Sisters of St. Francis, died suddenly this week. Her friends are understandably quite shocked and saddened by this news. I count myself among them, having been privileged to meet Sister Anne in Nairobi ten years ago when she was my teacher and mentor at the Maryknoll Institute for African Studies. Sister Anne served as General Superior of the Religious Institute of Little Sisters of St. Francis from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2010 to 2016 and was Professor of Systematic Theology and Moral Theology in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at Kenyatta University...

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Economic Inequality: Complicated (in a Good Way)

Economic inequality is a stubborn problem. In a recent interview, economist Angus Deaton offers some very insightful comments about the complexity of the problem. Deaton, who is pro-globalization, but whose work with Anne Case documented the rising mortality rates among working-class middle-aged people, presents a model for the kind of engagement we really need in order to address economic problems in their complexity. As the blog of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago writes: …[Deaton] suggested in a recent piece for Project Syndicate, it’s possible that the term “inequality” itself might be ill-fitting. A better term might be...

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Germain Grisez: A Tribute from a Fellow Mount Professor

The following is a guest post from Dr. Joshua Hochschild, Msgr. Robert Kline Professor of philosophy at Mount St. Mary’s University. Germain Grisez, philosopher and theologian, died yesterday.  I expect tributes to pour in, as his influence on Catholic intellectual life has been strong for six decades.  His students and collaborators, and even many of his critics, will have things to say about his momentous contributions.  I want to add something from the perspective of the place he called home for thirty years. For many people, the first thing they knew about Mount St. Mary’s is that Germain Grisez...

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Important Seamless Garment Pro-life News

The bishop of Little Rock has taken a strong pro-life stand – one that includes not only being anti-abortion, but also anti-death penalty. Many of the people writing for this blog have written about the importance of being broadly pro-life.  I am one such person who finds that being pro-life means having deep concern about our whole culture of death, including abortion and euthanasia, as well as our treatment of death-row inmates, our perception of just war, and our use of the environment in which we live. My source for this from Catholic tradition is from Saint Pope John...

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BCTS condemnation of President Trump’s remarks

On this Martin Luther King Day, our colleagues at the Black Catholic Theological Symposium have issued a statement condemning the remarks that President Trump allegedly made about “s-hole countries.” Please read their full statement. An excerpt: We subscribe to the words of James Baldwin, “Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” Mr. Trump’s comments are woefully racist, ignorant, xenophobic, and inflammatory. Racism is undeniably evil. The evil of racism is always incapable of critiquing itself; therefore, it must be condemned whenever and wherever it arises. Racism is a question of power and not merely...

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