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.
Last fall, the Archdiocese of Boston released an ambitious plan designed to stem the decline it has experienced—in priests, Mass attendance, and treasure—since the 2002 wave of sexual-abuse scandals. Whether the plan will work remains an open question. That something needs to be done is a sentiment shared widely among Boston-area Catholics.
Pope Francis looks poised to address Vatican reform with his appointment of an international panel of cardinals charged with making recommendations to improve the Roman curia. Bringing outsiders in for a close look seems to be the point, but it’s not the first time this has happened.
Despite Evangelical Catholicism’s hectoring tone and the particular set of political judgments into which it straitjackets John Paul II, readers ultimately can’t afford to ignore George Weigel.
Pope Francis’s choice of title and his actions in his first days as pope indicate that he places humility and compassion for the marginalized at the heart of his ministry—“servant leadership,” in today’s church parlance.
Catholics at both ends of the ideological spectrum look to a new pope for encouragement. And from the moment he made his first appearance on the balcony of St. Peter’s, Francis seems to have given nearly everyone a reason to cheer. But whatever the direction in which the new pope steers the church, U.S. Catholics struggling to make a life of faith in what is admittedly a vertiginous moral and cultural landscape will continue to take surprising turns, confounding the usual categories.
From Chile to Mexico—and among U.S. Latinos—there was a collective gasp of excitement over the election of Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis. To assess the possible impact of the new pope on Latin-American Catholicism, however, it is necessary to understand several complex and deeply entrenched challenges.
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.
What can the next pope learn from Benedict, and what should we seek from him? Our special series concludes with new stories from William L. Portier and Richard R. Gaillardetz.
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
This is the long-term historical context of the papacy Benedict XVI will resign: one that became more monarchical in the nineteenth century (as a reaction against the democratization of modern political systems), and that is now more centralized than ever before—despite Vatican II.
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.
Garry Wills wants to eliminate priests from Catholicism, arguing that there is only one priest as such in the New Testament, Jesus Christ—and that even the scriptural designation of Christ as priest (in Hebrews) is problematic.
Ongoing News, Analysis & Opinion
To understand dissent, you first have to understand authority. Authority in the church must be based on truth. Episcopal authority is not the source of truth, as some would have us believe.
At a moment when prominent American politicians are promoting a vision in which society is little more than a collection of individualists in competition with one another, John Paul II's image of life as a common banquet seems particularly apt.
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.
The Case for Women Deacons
The Catholic Right’s False Nostalgia
Translating Moral Principle into Public Policy
Collegiality after the Council
There are currently several different, sometimes contending ways of being Catholic. To some degree that has always been so. The notion of the church as a rigorously disciplined and monolithic enterprise is largely myth, and modern myth to boot. What is not myth is the dramatic change in the self-understanding of Catholics brought about by the Second Vatican Council.
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.
When Henri de Lubac, one of the recognized theological giants of the Second Vatican Council, came to express concerns about how the council’s reforms were being carried out, his doubts were seen as a harbinger of, and a justification for, the retrenchment that would follow under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Familiar, If Troubling, Questions
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?
Robert Barron's 'Catholicism'
How a rectory saved me
An interview with Cardinal George
The trouble with the new Roman Missal
The liturgical wars heat up
It's time for St. John XXIII
If George Weigel had lived in nineteenth-century France, he would have been termed an ultramontane—one who looked beyond the Alps to Rome. Instead, he looks from Washington to Rome.
Relativity without Relativism
Moral teaching after ‘Humanae Vitae’
It was in Rome during the heady days of Vatican II. There was to be a meeting of the Consilium, the commission for the reform of the liturgy, where the subject of deaconesses was raised—and not one woman was in the room.
Lisa Sowle Cahill’s middle way
Benedict & condoms
If we forget the Bible, in what sense are we Christian?
The legacy of Avery Dulles
The Canadian cardinal, subject of this 2010 web exclusive, is regularly mentioned as a successor to Benedict. He is scholarly and spiritual and he knows how the Vatican operates. But what about the world outside of Rome?
When bishops speak about health-care policy, Catholics don't have to agree
Might the USCCB be wrong about the health-care law?
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 pope who can and cannot change
A selection of articles from Commonweal on Benedict XVI.
A profile of the ethicist Gilbert Meilaender
No, this “Year of the Priest” has not been the best for priests or for any Catholics. Just when some of us thought we might be turning the corner, moving on, re-establishing some level of trust, it turns out the wounds are far deeper and much more widespread than we thought.
Stanley Hauerwas & the Christian Difference
How a motley crew of French Catholics inspired Vatican II
Beware those authorities who criticize the independent Catholic press on the ground that pluralism equals relativism. What they really favor is monopoly. They want a single joint blast on the trumpet, or an orchestra in full flow. What they do not like are the discordant notes.
A conversation with editors past and present
John L. Allen's The Future Church will disappoint some readers and exhaust others. It recapitulates much of what Allen has reported in recent years and offers an admittedly shaky premise on which to base a forecast.
Catholics, the Church & the Culture Wars
If the priest is going to face east during Mass, so should everyone else.
From the Archive: Why Is Rome Investigating U.S. Nuns?
How I became an adult Catholic
The Vatican stopped saying no to altar girls just fifteen years ago. But to this day, it has never really said yes.
A child of the council explains why he feels like an orphan.
From Nostra aetate to Regensburg.
The Second Vatican Council according to Pope Benedict XVI
Whatever happened to liturgical reform?