Author: David Cloutier

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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14th Sunday OT: Faith and What Blocks It

Readings: Ez 2:2-5; Ps 123:1-4; 2 Cor 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6 “He was amazed at their lack of faith.” So we are told about Jesus’ reception in his hometown. This week’s gospel is helpfully compared to last week’s reading, where Mark tells us about two miraculous healings. With the desperate woman who seeks Jesus’ help simply by touching his cloak, we see that she is praised for her great fullness of faith. Jesus’ ministry is an occasion of division precisely along these lines. Moralists in the Christian tradition have often argued over whether Jesus brought any “new moral teachings,” as...

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Persons, Principles, Policies

Wow, our country is a mess. I’ve read enough of my MacIntyre and Hauerwas to have no illusions about confusing American politics with the Kingdom of God. That said, it would be good if we could at least get a grip on things. A moral grip. Because our shared hysterics do have profound moral foundations, and unless we grant that, we’re going to pretend we can fight a “culture war” (literally) against fellow citizens, with the illusion that we will “vanquish” them (whatever that might mean – that you will post enough Twitter slams to make you feel like...

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Trinity Sunday: God is THIS love

Readings: Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Ps 33; Rm 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20 Who is God? We think we know, but often enough we are stuck with images that fall short. The readings on Trinity Sunday help us understand the fundamental nature of Scripture itself – not simply wise words about how to live, but the self-disclosure of God seeking relationship with us. Who is this God? The first reading makes it clear that God is the God of Israel, the mighty Deliverer from bondage. It is this God Israel hears, and the psalmist then echoes this awe and wonder by shouting...

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