If there’s anything Catholics in the United States should have learned over the past two decades, it’s that order – in the world, the Republic and the Church – is a fragile thing. And by “order,” I don’t mean the same old same old. Rather, I mean the dynamic development of world politics, our national life and the Church within stable reference points that guide us into the future.
THE SECOND VOLUME of my biography of “St. John Paul II, The End and the Beginning,” benefited immensely from the resources of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance [IPN, from its Polish initials], which was established after the Revolution of 1989 to preserve records related to the Polish experience under the Nazis and the communists.
THE HEADLINE ON a March 3 story on the Crux website was certainly arresting – “Cardinal on charges of rigged synods: ‘There was no maneuvering!’”
SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS ago last month, Sophie and Hans Scholl and their friend Christian Probst were executed by guillotine at Munich’s Stadelheim Prison for high treason. Their crime? They were the leaders of an anti-Nazi student organization, the White Rose, and had been caught distributing leaflets at their university in the Bavarian capital; the leaflets condemned the Third Reich, its genocide of the Jews and its futile war.
ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO, a friend took her son with her when she went to a beauty shop to get her hair cut. The hairdresser was snipping away and the boy was engrossed in reading on his Kindle when another mother came into the shop with her daughter in tow. The daughter was carrying an American Girl doll, and the mother announced to the entire beauty shop, “We’re here to get the doll’s hair cut. We’re transgendering her!”
IN HIS JUNE 1908 apostolic constitution, “Sapienti Consilio,” Pope Pius X decreed that, as of Nov. 3 that year, the Catholic Church in the United States would no longer be supervised by the Vatican’s missionary agency, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide). American Catholicism had grown up. The U.S. Church would now be a mission-sending Church, not “mission territory.”
THE SCRIPTURE readings for Lent in the Church’s daily liturgy invite two related reflections. The weeks immediately preceding Easter call us to walk to Jerusalem in imitation of Christ, so that at Easter, we too might be blessed with baptismal water and sent into the world on mission. The preceding weeks, those immediately following Ash Wednesday, propose a serious examination of conscience: What is there in me that’s broken? What’s impeding my being the missionary disciple I was baptized to be?
A FEW WEEKS before Ash Wednesday, an Associated Press squib with Lenten implications appeared in the Washington Post sports section:
EUROPE’S WHOLESALE abandonment of its Christian faith is often explained as the inevitable by-product of modern social, economic and political life. But there is far more to the story of Euro-secularization than that, as three ecclesiastics, a Presbyterian minister and two Italian priests demonstrated this past Christmas.
It was unfortunate that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, recently described “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, as a “paradigm shift.” Perhaps the cardinal meant “paradigm shift” in some sense other than … paradigm-shift-as-rupture.