On the 25th anniversary of World Youth Day in Denver, Colo., I can’t help sharing one of my favorite personal memories of John Paul II.
TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: You don’t want to be around me at breakfast. I am not a chipper morning person, and it’s best to leave me to the coffee and the newspaper – and I mean newspaper, not online edition – until I become fit for human company.
JULY 25 WAS THE 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical on the integrity of love and the appropriate means of family planning. Issued during the cultural meltdown of the 1960s, and in a year when irrationality stalked the entire Western world, Humanae Vitae instantly became the most vilified act of the papal magisterium in history. And to what should have been their shame, entire national episcopates distanced themselves from Pope Paul’s teaching by a variety of stratagems, many of which exhibited some degree of theological confusion and some were downright cowardly.
ALMOST A QUARTER-CENTURY AGO, Father Jay Scott Newman, back in Rome to finish a graduate degree after his priestly ordination in Charleston, N.C., took me on an extended ramble around the Eternal City: my first hike up the Aventine; my first visit to the crown jewel of paleo-Christian architecture, Santa Sabina; my first exploration of Santa Maria in Cosmedin – and later in the evening, some essential instruction as to what you don’t put on a pasta dish featuring seafood (hint: a certain hard cheese). I had a grand time but little idea then of the impact Father Newman would have on my life and work in the future. Now, as he celebrates the silver jubilee of his priestly ordination, it’s time to do some of what our evangelical Protestant friends would call “witnessing.”
The vacation season is an opportunity to escape TwitterWorld and do some serious reading. These books will help make your summer enjoyable, instructive – or both.
The Church’s custom of reading virtually all of the Acts of the Apostles at daily Mass during the Easter season struck me as particularly apt this year, and for three reasons.
WITH HUNDREDS OF bishops coming to the Vatican in October 2001 for a Synod, I decided to spend that month in Rome conducting interviews for what would eventually become the sequel to “Witness to Hope” and the second volume of my John Paul II biography, “The End and the Beginning.”
I WASN’T SURPRISED by the result of Ireland’s May 25 referendum, which opened a path to legal abortion in the Emerald Isle by striking down a pro-life amendment to the Irish Constitution.
THE BIZARRE COMMENT and the weird gesture have not, until recently, been associated with high-ranking churchmen. Both, alas, were on vivid display last month when Cardinals Reinhard Marx and Gianfranco Ravasi had more than a few of us scratching our heads in wonderment.
A CHAPTER IN a remarkable American and Catholic life will close on June 6, when Abbot Thomas Frerking, O.S.B., concludes more than two decades of service as leader of the monastic community at St. Louis Abbey. His story deserves to be better known.