Author: Tobias Winright

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

A Statement from Christian Ethicists on Preventive War and the North Korea Crisis

Responding to the growing nuclear threat from North Korea, President Donald Trump’s administration has consistently failed to rule out a US first strike option as a form of preventive war. Although this approach was threatened by President Bill Clinton’s administration as the so-called ‘Osirak option’ against North Korea in 1994, and again included as part of the ‘Bush Doctrine’ under President George W. Bush’s administration concerning the alleged threat posed by Iraq in 2003, preventive war was and continues to be a major departure from international legal norms as well as Christian ethics. According to the Compendium of the...

Read More

Lent and Revisiting the Catholic Theologians’ Statement on Racial Justice

With Ash Wednesday, Lent is upon us. This liturgical season consists of forty days, not including Sundays, during which persons seeking to become Catholic prepare for their baptism, confirmation, and first Communion at Easter. It is also a time when those who are already baptized Catholics (of course, many other Christian traditions practice the season of Lent, too) remember and prepare to renew their baptismal vows. As my teacher, the liturgical historian James F. White, once put it, “Lent is the season in which we participate in [Jesus’] final trip to Jerusalem and the self giving nature of love...

Read More