Author: Dana Dillon

Advent, Christmas, and Hospitality

I used to think of myself as something of an Advent purist. We had to celebrate Advent as a time of anticipating and longing, and an essential part of this was resisting Christmas songs and decorations and celebrations at long as possible. Often, this has also helped me to put off these distractions until after my fall semester grading is done. I also tend to surround myself with theologians and others who are a bit obsessed about proper liturgical practice. But in the past several years, I have undergone a shift in this. This happened in part because a...

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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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Sr. Thea Bowman and the Hope of Unity

I was recently re-reading Bryan Massingale’s book Racial Justice and the Catholic Church and was reminded in that text of Sr. Thea Bowman’s speech to the US Catholic Bishops in 1989.  The entire speech can be heard here: I have watched it before and sometimes shown parts of it to my students, particularly for the power with which she captures the tension for Black Catholics between the experience of the Church as educator and therefore the bringer of not just opportunity but also the Gospel, and the experience of nonetheless feeling “like a motherless child” in a Church that...

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Suicide Prevention and the Catholic Moral Tradition

. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), whose motto for the month is “One conversation can change a life,” are reminding us how important it is that we talk more openly about suicide and its connection to depression and other mental illnesses. Far too often, those who struggle with mental illness are barred from getting the help that they need because of the stigma around mental illness and its treatment. We need to talk more openly and honestly about these issues and just how widespread they are. In fact, suicide rates in the US are now at a 30-year high. Suicide is, of course, a moral issue. That is true not only because suicide, if freely undertaken, is a major moral failing, but also because the ways that we speak about suicide and about mental illness and about one another can impact the likelihood of those who need help getting it (or not). In other words, how we talk about suicide is also a moral act. I would like to offer some guidance from the Catholic moral tradition. It is commonly and mistakenly reported that the Church teaches that suicide is always a mortal sin and unforgivable, and that those who die by suicide are in hell. It is crucial to nuance and correct this. In keeping with its vision...

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