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.
You’ve probably never heard of the Waupoos Family Farm. I hadn’t either, until I met folks involved in it during a recent visit to Ottawa. Their story vividly illustrates the dictatorship of relativism at work.
WHEN I FIRST visited Lviv, the principal city of western Ukraine in 2002, the transportation from plane to airport terminal was an old bus towed by a Soviet-era tractor; today, the airport is a model of cleanliness and efficiency. In 2002, the Old Town was shabby and begrimed; today, it’s become a major tourist destination, and while there is still more clean-up to do, the charms of an old Habsburg city are beginning to reveal themselves. To sit in a downtown restaurant and speak with the city’s mayor about his plans for further development, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a country at war.
WITH THE EXCEPTION of the two consistories held by Pope John XXIII in 1958 and 1959, every creation of new cardinals since Pope Pius XII has decreased the percentage of Italian members of the College of Cardinals while internationalizing it. (John XXIII’s first consistory actually increased the Italian membership to 40 percent of an expanded college.) That pattern of internationalization, and if you will, de-Italianization has continued with Pope Francis and the college now includes members from 15 countries (such as Tonga, Laos, and Papua New Guinea) that have never given the Church a cardinal before.
I trust it won’t cause heartburn among the editors of Commonweal if I confess to having cheered at a recent article they posted, “Quit Trying to ‘Fix’ Baseball.” Therein, Professor Gregory Hillis of Bellarmine College took on MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s efforts to appeal to millennials – creatures from that deep lagoon known as “social media” – by speeding up the pastime. Professor Hillis called the ball foul, and I heartily concur.
THE DEFENSE OF the indefensible often leads to a kind of derangement in otherwise rational people. That was the case with the defenders of slavery and legalized racial segregation; it has become the case with abortion.
THE ANNALS OF sycophancy are, alas, replete with examples of churchmen toadying to political power. Here in the United States, we’ve seen too much of that among certain evangelical leaders recently. In today’s Sycophancy Sweepstakes, however, it’s hard to top Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
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.