John O’Malley’s book on Trent is especially welcome; it is beautifully written, richly but manageably detailed, and unostentatiously learned.
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.
Religious Freedom & State Power
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.
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.
John Thavis presents many stories that will make you laugh. Others may make you cry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Report on the new translation of the Roman Missal
Learning to Live with Change
Robert Barron's 'Catholicism'
The trouble with the new Roman Missal
In Hull’s view, the revolution in the Catholic Church's liturgical practice was “the worst wound ever inflicted on the Mystical Body.”
The liturgical wars heat up
A homilist's education
Lisa Sowle Cahill’s middle way
If we forget the Bible, in what sense are we Christian?
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.
A short & unfinished history
A pope who can and cannot change
A selection of articles from Commonweal on Benedict XVI.
Stanley Hauerwas & the Christian Difference
If the priest is going to face east during Mass, so should everyone else.
The Vatican stopped saying no to altar girls just fifteen years ago. But to this day, it has never really said yes.
The bees are coming back to the Exsultet.
A child of the council explains why he feels like an orphan.
Even by modern standards, 2008 was a cacophonous year.
The Second Vatican Council according to Pope Benedict XVI
Whatever happened to liturgical reform?
The bishops, the Vatican & the English liturgy
Catholic bishops are usually loath to acknowledge dissent within their ranks. So it was surprising when the U.S. bishops publicly released the results of an internal poll that showed them almost evenly split on new English translations for the Mass. The divisions among the bishops revealed that perhaps they do not walk in lockstep as much as conventional wisdom holds.