John O’Malley’s book on Trent is especially welcome; it is beautifully written, richly but manageably detailed, and unostentatiously learned.
Jacques Dupuis was not a likely suspect for the charge of endangering the church’s doctrine. But at the end of his career he found himself ensnared in doctrinal disagreements that took a personal toll.
Studying a cause for canonization often reveals more about the people promoting the saint than about the candidate herself. Kateri Tekakwitha’s cause offers an especially illuminating glimpse into American Catholic history. Her path to sainthood tells us a great deal about how U.S. Catholics have understood themselves, both as members of the church and as citizens of the nation.
Many religious people feel a need for clarity. They need to have a sense that they are right, or at least on the right path and relatively sure of their direction. This is an understandable yearning, but what may be insufficiently appreciated is the place for confusion in our spiritual life.
Is There More to Nature than Matter?
Broadway’s most recent foray into Catholicism has come to an abrupt halt. The closing of the The Testament of Mary, after only forty-three preview and regular performances, was announced hours after Fiona Shaw failed to garner a Best Actress Tony nomination on April 30 (and despite three Tony nominations, including Best Play). The end of the run means New York audiences will be deprived of an uneven but powerful night of provocative theater.
The award-winning novelist and short-story writer talks about writing, reading, the place of faith and religion in fiction, and the meditative qualities of authors like Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor.
The Faith of a Catholic Novelist
Religious Freedom & State Power
Saving Chesterton from the Chestertonians
In winning election as Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio defied the papal pundits, even though they should have seen him coming. His rise marks the decisive shift within Roman Catholicism toward Latin America and the developing world.
The humility of Benedict's decision to give up power will affect future papacies, all to the good.
John Thavis presents many stories that will make you laugh. Others may make you cry.
Divisions in the church are usually seen as mimicking those of secular politics. Conservatives or traditionalists are pitted against liberals or progressives. But Timothy Radcliffe, a Dominican friar and the former head of his order, suggests a more fruitful way to understand the Catholic split.
Evaluations of Benedict's tenure have balanced the pros and cons of his deeds according to the lights of the balancer. What is untallied, except for his failure to unmistakably demand accountability in regard to clerical sexual abuse, is what has remained undone. Underlying conditions like the limitations of the clergy or the eroding credibility of church teachings on sexuality are no better than when he took office.
Even Benedict's most ardent supporters concede that his papacy has been marred by too many scandals and too many gaffes. And the courtly secrecy surrounding the deliberations to elect the next pope provides a reminder of the lack of transparency and accountability in the operations of the entire hierarchy.
Now It's Rome's Turn
Benedict, Eight Years Later
Benedict is a traditionalist who was affected by modernity. He would not be troubled that he had to reach far back to find a precedent for papal resignation. He knows that a pope hobbled by sickness and weakness would be a dispiriting symbol in a media age. Then again, perhaps his traditionalism inclined him to this decision.
What exactly is the special bond among the three Abrahamic faiths? This is the question addressed by Jon Levenson, professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University, in Inheriting Abraham.
A Friend Remembers Dorothy Day
Lessons From the Picket Line
The fruits of the intellectual and artistic exchange among Christians, Jews, and Muslims that constituted Christian Hebraism’s modus operandi are displayed in abundance throughout this small but splendid exhibit.
Capitalism & the Good Life
In October 1963, Bishop Luigi Bettazzi addressed the Second Vatican Council on the need for collegiality. He was the newest bishop participant and, at thirty-nine, one of the youngest. Now eighty-nine, Bettazzi is the most active of the five surviving Italian participants, keeping faith with the council by writing and lecturing about it tirelessly.
Christmas wasn’t only a happy day for children, my mother reflected in a quieter tone; it celebrated God becoming a human being.
Who were "the wise men from the east" who traveled such a long way to see a Jewish baby? What did they make of him? Many artists, before and after Luther, set their minds to imagining the scene of the magi’s visit to Bethlehem.
There are few women in the pantheon of great jazz instrumentalists, and even fewer jazz performers in the pantheon of great Catholic artists. Mary Lou Williams was both. Yet even though she composed three Masses, jazz has yet to find a more central place in the liturgical life of the Catholic Church in America.
Ayn Rand, an atheist, considered charity a sign of weakness. Paul Ryan’s Randian views—notably his budget plan’s drastic cuts to food stamps, which now aid 46 million—have not sat well with many Catholics.
Does regulation of an Orthodox practice associated with circumcision constrain the free exercise of religion?
Pawan Sinha is a neuroscientist at MIT. His special interest is visual learning and how the brain recognizes what it sees. Many scientists stay inside their laboratories and study their data. And God bless them. They make important discoveries, and some of them even change the way we live. But Pawan Sinha isn’t one of those.
In the fall of 1965, I worked in the final session of the Second Vatican Council. A young priest and doctoral candidate, I was tasked with distributing documents and collecting votes and amendments from my assigned section of bishops. Almost half a century later, a bound set of those documents holds a prized place in my library—and the events and personalities of those days hold a prized place in my memory.
In the days after Vatican II, confession slipped its old juridical moorings, with its distinctive laws, regulations, judgment, and penance. At the moment it is searching for new moorings. What will confession look like once it finds them?
How the Brazos Biblical Commentary Falls Short
Lent is a time to listen
How persuasively is the church making its case against gay marriage?
The Mystery of What God Has Done for Us
The trouble with the new Roman Missal
The liturgical wars heat up
On Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s painting The Silver Goblet
Lisa Sowle Cahill’s middle way
Benedict & condoms
If we forget the Bible, in what sense are we Christian?
‘Three Faiths’ at New York’s Public Library
Although I hate to admit that I was ever unhappy in Africa, where I lived for twenty-six years, I have to confess that my first year as a Jesuit scholastic in Nigeria, over forty years ago, was not the easiest, either for me or for the fellow Jesuits with whom I lived, or (to put it more honestly) who had to live with me.
Could the vogue for Herbert McCabe portend a renaissance of liberation theology and the revolutionary spirit of the ’60s? His admirers have not linked his Catholic faith and his socialist politics, and McCabe himself denied an intrinsic connection. Still, there exists a bond between his theology and his radicalism, a bond particularly worth examining today.
Way back in the twentieth century, when I decided to pursue doctoral work in theology, I never imagined that I would one day teach in an Oxford college. Neither did I imagine that John Henry Newman, of all people, would come to loom large in my day-to-day life.
No figure in the Christian pantheon except Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist has inspired, provoked, or confounded the imagination of painters more than the Magdalene. With the help of Scripture and artists, it may be possible to uncover a credible human being without so many of the dubious trappings.
'The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from Burgundy'
Extending the argument against sex-selective abortion
In his new book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, Fr. James Martin tries to introduce a new generation of spiritual seekers to the Jesuit tradition.
A review of the book On Evil
A pope who can and cannot change
If complex life is the marvel we all say it is, quite possibly unique to this planet, then meat is, so to speak, that marvel in its incarnate form. If the mind is the activity of the brain, this means only that the brain is capable of such lofty and astonishing things that their expression has been given the names mind, and soul, and spirit.