One of Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s “Clinics for Abortion & Reproductive Excellence” — named to yield the Orwellian acronym CARE — is located about a mile away from my parish in Bethesda, Maryland. Earlier this year, 40 Days for Life prayed daily outside Carhart’s abortuary, which specializes in late-term “terminations.” Parishioners from a number of local churches participated in the 40 Days program, hoping to save some innocent lives and to help women in crisis pregnancies find genuine care.
Among the tenured professorial skeptics, few Gospel episodes have been sliced, diced, and tossed to the dissecting room floor as “mythology” more often than the story of the Magi: the “wise men from the East [who] came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him’” (Matthew 2:2).
Joshua Wong is a young Chinese human rights activist, recently sentenced to 13 and a half months in prison on the Orwellian charge of “incitement to knowingly take part in an unauthorized assembly” — meaning, in Chinese Newspeak, urging others to protest peacefully the tyranny now throttling Hong Kong.
From 1991 until 2005, Cardinal Camillo Ruini served Pope John Paul II as the papal Vicar for Rome — the man who handled the daily affairs of the diocese of which the Pope was, of course, bishop. Ruini was a creative cardinal-vicar who energized the Diocese of Rome for the New Evangelization — a concept he grasped perhaps better than any other Italian prelate.
How bad a year has it been? Let me not count the ways. Good books can hearten us in 2021 and beyond, though. Herewith, then, some suggestions for Christmastide book-giving.
The juxtaposition of Thanksgiving with the Church’s annual month of prayer for the dead hadn’t previously struck me with force; that it did this year has something to do, I expect, with my late sister-in-law, Linda Bauer Weigel.
The McCarrick Report did not, it turns out, please everyone, even as the world press weirdly turned it into an assault on John Paul II. But it certainly underscored that McCarrick was a singularly accomplished deceiver.
So, brave men and women of “Courage,” thank you for your witness. Please continue to take up the challenge that St. John Paul II issued on Oct. 22, 1978: “Be not afraid! Open the doors to Christ!” Your courage should inspire every Catholic to a similar fidelity, and to the mutual, prayerful support that helps sustain the integrity of love.
The Pandemic of 2020 has been hard on every Catholic. Eucharistic fasting for this length of time may remind us what 20th century heroes of the faith in underground Churches endured, and what 21st century confessors in China and elsewhere endure today; and that is no bad thing. Still, it is very, very hard to be the Catholic Church without being a vibrantly eucharistic Church.
Sixty years ago, Father John Courtney Murray, SJ, published what I regard as the finest Catholic analysis of American democracy ever penned: “We Hold These Truths — Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition.”