Author: Dana Dillon

Cardinal Sean: Be the Merciful Face of God

For many of us in the world of Catholic moral theology, our thoughts and attention turn to Washington, DC, each January 22, as thousands upon thousands of people converge upon our nation’s capitol to March for Life.  Many of our bishops are there, our colleagues, our students.  This year marks 41 years since the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe vs Wade decision, which paved the way for legalized abortion in all 50 states.  Since then, over 56 million unborn children have lost their lives to abortion.  One of the highlights each year is the homily preached at the vigil the night before the march.  This year’s preacher was Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Boston’s archbishop and member of Pope Francis’ advisory group.  His talk was stunning and wonderful.  Rocco Palmo has the video embedded on his post here, together with some reflections on the homily himself. I will lead with the stunning, almost.  It’s crucial to say that the stunning part came in the last half or so of the nearly half hour talk.  It came after about 15 minutes of applauding those who witness to the right to life of the unborn and all the vulnerable, of insisting that there are no human rights without the right to life, of applauding those who witness to the Gospel of Life though surrounded by the euphemisms and brutalities of the culture of death....

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A Kaleidoscopic Journey of Faith

This latest post in the series on the Faith of Theologians comes from guest contributor MT Dávila, a Roman Catholic laywoman. MT lives in Malden, MA, with husband Rob and 4 children, and in her spare time she teaches Christian ethics at Andover Newton Theological School. Her current project asks lay faithful how they relate activism and public witness to discipleship.    A United Methodist respecting Roman authority? My faith is lived in a home where a kaleidoscope of religious traditions and experiences open windows, change the curtains, rearrange the furniture, build additions, invent new recipes in the kitchen, and switch up the lighting fixtures in the house that is my Roman Catholic tradition. Born and raised in a Roman Catholic Puerto Rican family, my parents gave me the most precious gift of the empowering Catholicism embodied in the Cursillos movement. Focused in a strong laity grounded in the empowering grace of life in the sacraments, Cursillos put before me a host of lay adults who lived fallen human lives in the embrace of and trust in the God that self communicates in love and power through the sacraments and prayer. To this day the faith life and discipleship of the laity is central to my own experiences and my interests as a theologian and an ethicist. How do we let God in to our everyday? How are we to...

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Hiroshima and the Transfiguration of Christ

Each year, on August 6, I’m reminded of the strange convergence.  In the liturgical calendar, August 6th is the Feast of the Transfiguration, where Jesus goes up Mt. Tabor with Peter, James, and John, and they see the manifestation of his glory, as he talks with Moses and Elijah.  It is a feast (and a story) that reminds us of the power and glory that was Jesus’ own, even as he came “in our midst as one who serves”: teaching, healing, washing feet.  And, to paraphrase Philippians 2, he did not cling to the glory that was his, but instead humbled himself, choosing to make his most striking statement of power on the Cross.  Christ did not stay on Mt. Tabor, but moved forward to Calvary. And yet it was on this day in 1945 that the US, led by President Truman, dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan.  Three days later, we would drop another on Nagasaki.  There were certainly reasons to do this, which of course came down to shortening the war, saving American lives, and showing American strength to our enemies and our uneasy alliances alike. But there is no room at all in the just war tradition for truly justifying reasons to use a weapon which cannot discriminate between soldiers and non-combatants.  In all our talk (for instance, in moving into war with Iraq...

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Freedom, Justice, and Blessing

For those of us in the US: Happy Independence Day! As I prepare to celebrate the holiday with family and friends, with hot dogs, hamburgers and all the trimmings, I’m deeply grateful for the freedoms and privileges that being an American citizen has afforded me.  I’m mindful, too, of the cost of those freedoms, both in terms of those who have given their own lives or those of their family members in military service and in terms of the people around the world who know poverty as an effect of our collective wealth.  I think too of all those...

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Love, Truth, and DOMA

A friend of mine wrote me yesterday and asked if I could say something about how to speak to fellow Catholics and others about same sex marriage in light of yesterday’s Supreme Court rulings.  This, of course, is one of the most divisive issues in our nation and in our Church.  It is very difficult for me personally to write about.  The reason for that is quite simple: there are many gay and lesbian persons who are very dear to me.  I love them and value them, like other friends and family members, more than words can say.  And, honestly, part of me wants to celebrate with them, at the very least their feeling of being honored and respected by the Court’s decisions.  But I also believe that marriage is a natural institution that is ordered to the procreation of children and so requires a man and a woman.  This natural institution is prior to the state and as such cannot be redefined by the state or any of its powers.  I’m not going to argue that case here. What I want to talk about is this: we are a Church who holds both of these things (the inherent dignity of every person and our obligation/opportunity to love them; and that sex and marriage have a fundamental relationship to the procreation of children).  Yes, most of us seem to...

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