Whose Bourgeois Morality

IN THE LATEST debate over “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marriage and family, a fervent defender of the document sniffed at some critics that “the Magisterium doesn’t bow to middle-class lobbies” and cited “Humanae Vitae” as an example of papal tough-mindedness in the face of bourgeois cultural pressures. It was a clever move, rhetorically, and we may hope that it’s right about the magisterial kowtow. I fear it also misses the point – or better, several points.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church at 25

JOHN PAUL II called the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 to assess what had gone right and what had gone wrong in two decades of implementing the Second Vatican Council. In Vaticanese, it was styled “extraordinary” because it fell outside the normal sequence of synods. But Synod-1985 was extraordinary in the ordinary sense of the word, too.

Fencing with Bigots

… BEING AN imaginary dialogue between a nominee to a federal appeals court and members of the Committee on the Judiciary of what once imagined itself “the world’s greatest deliberative body”…

The Transmigration of Theological Nonsense

DURING THE LONG Lent of 2002, Sister Betsy Conway, who lived in the Bostonian epicenter of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, spoke for many self-identified progressive Catholics when she told syndicated columnist Michael Kelly, “This is our Church, all of us, and we need to take it back.”

A Memoir I Never Expected to Write

WHEN THE SECOND volume of my John Paul II biography, “The End and the Beginning,” was published in 2010, I thought I was finished with John Paul book-making. I hoped I’d done my best in bringing to a global audience the full story of a rich, complex life that had bent the curve of history in a more humane direction.

Superheroes? Stardust? Vessels of the Incarnation?

WHEN I WAS first introduced to the fascinations of the DNA double-helix in a biology class at Baltimore’s St. Paul Latin H.S., 50 years ago, the “unraveling” of this key to unlocking the mysteries of human genetics had taken place just a dozen years before. Yet, in the five decades since my classmates and I built plastic models of the double-helix, humanity’s knowledge of its genetic code has grown exponentially. And it seems likely that, as a species, we’re only at the threshold of our capacity to use this knowledge for good or ill.

Resist the Temptation to Domesticate God

SOME BIBLICAL SCHOLARS consider the Book of Deuteronomy to be a collection of sermons: catechetical homilies on the great theme of the Exodus and the fulfillment of that epic adventure in God’s gifts of the Law and the land to the people of Israel.

Why Church Fights The Culture War

THOSE WHO PERSIST in denying that the Church is engaged in a culture war, the combatants in which are aptly called the “culture of life” and the “culture of death,” might ponder this June blog post by my summer pastor in rural Québec, Father Tim Moyle:

Ecumenism and Influence-Envy

Defending the indefensible is never pretty. Or so we’re reminded by recent attempts from the portside of the Catholic commentariat to defend the madcap analysis of America’s alleged “ecumenism of hate” that appeared last month in the Italian Catholic journal, La Civiltà Cattolica (edited by the Jesuits of Rome and published after vetting by the Secretariat of State of the Holy See).