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Joseph A. Komonchak Receives the John Courtney Murray Award

Joseph A. Komonchak has received the John Courtney Murray Award from the Catholic Theological Society of America, the organization’s highest honor. Regular readers of Commonweal are no doubt familiar with Joe’s work: He is not only a longtime friend and contributor, but also (of course) a leading scholar on Vatican II, the editor of a five-volume history of the council, and the author of more than one hundred and fifty articles.

Signal Failure

On May 13, one day after the train derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured more than two hundred, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut $251 million from next year’s Amtrak budget. The following day a reporter made the mistake of asking House Speaker John Boehner whether insufficient funding for Amtrak might be partly to blame for the accident.

Video: Peter Steinfels with a Proposal for the Next Synod

Now on the homepage we're featuring “Contraception & Honesty: A Proposal for the Next Synod,” by Peter Steinfels. In this video interview, Peter explains what prompted him to write “Contraception & Honesty” and talks more about the issues he raises in it. There was a “glaring gap” in the work of last year’s synod, Peter says: "[T]he lack of attention to the question of contraception.

Rescue Mission

At a July 2013 Mass on the Italian island of Lampedusa, Pope Francis blamed the “globalization of indifference” for the plight of migrants fleeing war, poverty, and religious and ethnic persecution. So far that year, about fifty people had died attempting to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean from Africa.

New stories on the homepage

We’re currently featuring three new stories on the homepage.

First is Robert Mickens’s latest Letter from Rome, in which he writes on what’s likely to be a “long and forceful campaign by church officials to defend” the canonization of Junípero Serra, on the behind-the-scenes work to launch the Holy Year of Mercy, and on photographic evidence of a female archbishop inside the Vatican. Read the whole thing here.

Letters | Teaching prisoners, seminarians & ourselves

Shortsighted

Kudos to Robert Cowan for saying that the objections that scuttled Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to pay for college classes for prison inmates were “shortsighted.” By refusing to fund what these politicians sardonically labeled “Attica University,” they show themselves penny-wise but pound-foolish, as well as ostrich-like in their refusal to see some basic facts.

Held to Account

In a March 2014 interview, Pope Francis was given an opportunity to comment on the sexual-abuse scandal, a subject he had said remarkably little about since his election. Acknowledging the “deep wounds” suffered by victims, Francis went on to defend the church as the only public institution to address such crimes “with transparency and responsibility.” No one else has done more, he continued, and yet “the church is the only one to be attacked.”