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Top Films of 2015

In 2015 at Commonweal, film critics Richard Alleva and Rand Richards Cooper covered the gamut, from Hollywood hits to foreign independents. We're highlighting the reviews from this year that you'll most want to revisit, whether it's historical drama (Selma, Bridge of Spies) or an adventure in space (The Martian). Some of the films featured here are available to stream, while others are still in theaters; learn a little about them before pressing play or buying your ticket.

Letters | Arguing about the synod, John’s gospel


Kudos for Commonweal’s array of assessments of the Synod on the Family. Above all, Christopher Ruddy’s contribution forced me to ponder aspects of the deliberations I had not considered; after reading, thinking, and rereading, I had to agree with some of what he wrote and disagree with perhaps more.

Normalizing Carnage

In early October a troubled twenty-six-year-old, armed with five handguns and a rifle, opened fire at his community college in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine people and wounding seven. Back at his apartment investigators found two pistols, four rifles, and a shotgun. In late November a man armed with an assault rifle killed three people and wounded nine at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

Don't Shut the Door

One prominent Catholic commentator has lauded the new House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for his “statesman’s commitment to the principles of Catholic social doctrine.” It’s a debatable assertion, to say the least, much of it resting on Ryan’s strong anti-abortion convictions while ignoring the congressman’s more cramped views on issues of social justice and economic fairness.

Letters | Mortal sin, Celibacy, Sci-fi parody, Etc.


At least one letter writer in the last issue cheered on Donald Cozzens’s analysis in “Sins, Mortal & Otherwise," yet this seems to be forgetting the theological points that make the entire idea of mortal sin still relevant.

The Synod on the Family

In October 2015, cardinals, bishops, and lay auditors met in Vatican City for the second session of the Synod on the Family, to focus on making programmatic changes based on the dialogue from the 2014 session. From the outset, Francis made dialogue the goal of the synod—about the church’s teachings on family life, and the pastoral challenges that arise from differing interpretations and changes in family formation and sexuality.

After Paris

Like all acts of terrorism, the attacks in Paris on November 13, which killed 129 people and wounded hundreds of others, came as a horrible shock. Yet they were not exactly a surprise. ISIS, which immediately claimed responsibility for the slaughter, had long threatened to strike in Europe, and several of its earlier attempts had been thwarted.