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.”
The image of the pre-conciliar Catholic Church in the United States as catechetically effective and politically potent can be hard to square with the long-term damage done to Catholicism’s role in American public life by that very pre-Vatican II Catholic, John F. Kennedy.
The statement challenges the national drift toward concentrations of political and economic power while affirming the importance for a healthy democracy of natural associations (the traditional family) and the free associations of civil society (including the Church) — and thereby underscores the third foundational principle of the social doctrine, subsidiarity.
Defending Roe’s abortion license has become imperative for the Democratic Party. And because of that, far too many Catholic politicians, including the Democratic presidential candidates in 2004 and 2020, have put a canine fealty to a shabby judicial diktat above the truth of science (the product of human conception is a unique human being) and the moral truth we can know by reason (in a just society, innocent human life is protected in law).