It’s been a busy year here at the website. We are so grateful to all our readers and commenters for the lively conversation! Just in case you missed some highlights, here’s a rundown on the 20 most popular posts from 2013.

A Special Vocation: To Show People How to Love

The inspirational guest post from Providence College’s Paul Gondreau, reflecting on Pope Francis’ Easter embrace of their son. If our year was filled to the brim with the new pope’s powerful actions, then here we saw a very early and personal glimpse of the effects his actions of love would have on the world.

Doing Moral Theology with Les Miserables

Beth Haile uses the classic Victor Hugo tale, revived in last year’s film, to explain some concepts in Catholic life. Its characters show the limitations of typical deontological and consequentialist approaches to the moral life, instead orienting us ultimately to the practice of mercy as key to moral identity.

Love Truth and DOMA

In the wake of this year’s Supreme Court decision, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Dana Dillon ponders the challenging and potentially painful conversations ahead on this topic. She asks, “What if we led with love, and made a commitment to criticize with love, and never carpingly?  What if we also took seriously that, despite our good intentions, we have failed to come up with truly peaceful means to address the concerns of everyone around this crucial issue?”

What You Can Do with a Degree in Theology

Theology professors often encounter students who might want to major in theology, but who are anxious about their employment prospects. Jason King explains the many possibilities, reflecting on what his own majors at St. Vincent’s College have done with their degrees.

F**k Patriarchy

Meghan Clark expresses frustration with the news coverage of the infamous “Steubenville rape case,” which evinces a seeming sympathy for the perpetrators and an indifference to the victims.

An Option that’s not Optional

In the context of the endless budget battles of Washington, Meghan Clark explores how we should understand the concept of a “preferential option for the poor.”


In the midst of endless debates over sexual norms, Jason King takes the occasion of a Wall Street Journal editorial to remind us of the epidemic of pornographic material in our society and how it disrupts our view of human sexuality.

Reasons Not to Send your Daughter to College

Emily Reimer-Barry responds to Mr. Alleman, author of “6+2 Reasons NOT to Send Your Daughter to College,” pointing out seven areas of shared concern, including the assumption that women and men have equal dignity, and then responding to each of Mr. Alleman’s reasons point-by-point, demonstrating the false assumptions, flawed logic, or distorted interpretations in his analysis.

Subsidiarity is a Two-Sided Coin

A classic post in which Meghan Clark lays out a clear explanation for why “subsidiarity does NOT mean smaller is better.”

Francis, Footwashing, and the End of Misunderstanding

David Cloutier uses Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday footwashing at a prison to shed light on how Francis’ symbolic actions can overcome Catholic polarization.

What is Happiness

Might Peter Singer and Alasdair MacIntyre have more in common than we think? Charlie Camosy tackles the question, via a reflection on the perennial moral question of defining happiness objectively.

Diocese of San Diego Fires Catholic School Teacher Because of Her Ex-husband’s Abusive Behavior

Emily Reimer-Barry explains that a Catholic school teacher in her diocese was fired because her ex-husband had a pattern of abusive and unpredictable behavior. In her letter of termination, the diocese explained this was out of concern for the safety of the students, faculty, and parents of the school. Dismissing the survivor of domestic violence only exacerbates the vulnerability of the woman and her children and does nothing to hold the abusive partner accountable. The USCCB document “When I Call For Help” offers more fruitful alternatives.

Edward Snowden and Catholic Social Teaching

While he lost out as Person of the Year to the pope, Edward Snowden’s impact continues to be felt in our debates about privacy. Patrick Clark takes a look at the Snowden case from the perspective of Catholic social teaching, suggesting that it is case where libertarians and Catholics may be aligned.

The Promotion of Peace

Christopher Vogt’s entry in our Catechism Commentary series takes a look at what Catholics are obligated to do to seek peace. The complexities of conflict were evident again this year, especially in the early fall tension over Syria. Vogt reminds us that all Catholic thought on war must aim at genuine peace.


Jason King takes the occasion of a new Star Trek movie to explain the lessons science fiction can teach us about Catholic life.

Catechism Commentary: Human Acts

In another of the entries in our Catechism Commentary, John Berkman surveys the basic language Catholic moral theology uses to assess human action, refreshing us especially on the classic distinctions between object, end, and circumstance.

How to be Fired From your Job at a Catholic Institution

Emily Reimer-Barry tells the stories of five people fired from their jobs at Catholic institutions, finding the following elements particularly troubling: privileging of sexual morality, double standard morality, a standard of perfection for Catholic workers, a climate of silence, fear, and shame; and the possible consequences of brain drain at Catholic institutions because of the above. She reframes the problem as an issue of Catholic social thought that should be governed by the principle of the dignity of the worker.

Catholics, Contraception, and Feminisms

Jana Bennett takes a look at how a feminist perspective can make a case for the value of Natural Family Planning. She writes, “artificial contraceptive use deserves the kind of hard look that I imagine many people in this room give to their food use (organic, local) or their shopping habits (not Walmart) vis a vis the impact of those decisions individually and communally.”

The New Papal Genre and Magisterial Teaching

This year, some of the most talked-about papal teaching came in Pope Francis’ interviews. Patrick Clark analyzes what theologians are to make of this “new papal genre,” and especially its relation to official teaching.

Catholic Relief Services: Best Pro-Life Organization Ever?

Charlie Camosy defends Catholic Relief Services against a stream of attacks on their works of mercy, suggesting that their work may be the most “pro-life” thing going on in the Church today.

Again, thank you for your readership. We look forward to a 2014 filled with joy and excitement for our Church!