Author: Matthew Shadle

Pope Francis Gets Political in Mexico

Before Pope Francis had even embarked on his just concluded journey to Mexico, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump critically remarked that the pope is “a very political person.” Commenting on the pope’s planned Mass in Ciudad Juárez along the border with the United States, Trump opined, “I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico,” and he speculated that Francis was serving as a pawn of the Mexican government. As John Gehring has noted, Trump is right to see Francis’s visit to the border as political. But the Mass, and the entire...

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Where is Structural Sin in Laudato Si’?

  In an early commentary on Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, my friend Kevin Ahern noted with some dismay the absence of the concept of “structural sin” (sometimes called “social sin”) in the encyclical. What is structural sin? The theologian Kenneth Himes has defined it as “the disvalue . . . embedded in a pattern of social organization and cultural understanding” (“Social Sin and the Role of the Individual,” Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics (1986), 84), when this “disvalue” is interpreted through a theological lens. The absence of this concept is indeed surprising since the encyclical directly...

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Unless You Become as Little Children…

At a plenary session of the Synod of Bishops on Thursday, Fr. Manuel Dorantes recounted the following remarkable story (also here), first told by a bishop in one of the synod’s two Spanish-language discussion groups. According to the bishop, he was celebrating a first communion Mass at a parish in his diocese, and a boy, upon receiving the Host, instead of consuming it broke it into two and gave a piece each to his two parents. His parents were civilly remarried after a divorce and therefore unable to receive communion. At least according to one reporter, some participants at...

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Evolution and Theological Anthropology in Laudato Si’

  Much of the commentary about Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, both before and after its release, has focused on the controversial issue of climate change. My instinct, however, is that in the long run its incorporation of Darwinian evolution into its teaching on Catholic anthropology will end up being equally, if not more, significant. Francis’s predecessors Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI recognized the scientific truth of evolution, but never brought this science into dialogue with their teaching on the human person. Francis, by contrast, has begun this dialogue, even if tentatively and incompletely. On October 22,...

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Was Liberation Theology Created by the KGB?

Was Latin American liberation theology an invention of the Soviet KGB? So argues Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former intelligence official under Romania’s communist regime, first in an essay published on National Review Online, and later in an interview at Catholic News Agency. Pacepa’s account is almost certainly false, but it feeds into many Catholics’ knee-jerk hostility to liberation theology, as a result of its troubles with the Vatican, ignoring the two’s quite complicated relationship. At dotCommonweal, David Gibson rightly takes the CNA interviewer to task for letting Pacepa make his claims evidence-free, but it is also necessary to set...

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