The Editors

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New Stories on the Website

Right now we’re featuring three new stories on the website.

First is Robert Mickens’s latest Letter from Rome, in which he looks at Francis’s decision on streamlining annulments, which did not “just drop out of the sky”:

Works of Mercy

The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East has been much lamented, but little has been done to alleviate it. The number of displaced persons is staggering, and the news stories and photographs of those who have perished trying to escape the carnage in Syria and elsewhere are heartbreaking. Humanitarian efforts are faltering. Only half the funds pledged by the international community to feed, clothe, and house refugees has been forthcoming. It is estimated that 7 million Syrians have been internally displaced, while 4 million have fled the country.

Bought & Paid For

Republicans and Democrats could not be further apart on immigration, the Iran deal, taxes, banking reform, Obamacare, and on and on. But mainstream Republicans and Democrats do agree on one thing: the presidential candidacy of billionaire Donald Trump would be a disaster for the GOP. Democrats, of course, are gleeful at the prospect, while Republicans are fretful and at a loss as to how to sideline the fire-breathing New York plutocrat without alienating his base of support among the party’s most vociferous partisans.

The State of Catholic Marriage

How many Catholics marry within the church—or even get married at all? How many divorce and remarry, or know (or care) whether their new marriage is valid in the eyes of the church? And how many who seek an annulment know how to go about getting one, what’s involved, and what the costs are? With the number of Catholic marriages in the United States declining steadily since the 1960s, it’s safe to say that today’s Catholics aren’t as conversant in, or concerned about, what characterizes a Catholic marriage as previous generations might have been.

A Better Way

How good is the deal the United States and its partners have struck with Iran to dismantle that nation’s capacity to build a nuclear weapon? On the face of it, the agreement looks like a remarkable achievement for President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the five major powers that have been in negotiations with Iran. Of course, everything depends on whether Iran’s compliance can be verified with confidence.

Commonweal Interviews

Featuring the best of our interviews—including Woody Allen, Jorge Luis Borges, Mary Gordon, (Sister) Elizabeth McAlister, Christian Wiman, and Mario Cuomo—this reading list spans seventy-six years, five popes, and thirteen U.S. presidents. These conversations cover a wide range of topics and sketch the contours of a complicated American Catholic history in dialogue with secular politics, culture, and views of religion.

Leaving the Club

Now up on our homepage is an article by Richard Cohen about the curious phenomenon of the one-novel novelist. Until today, Harper Lee was one of the most famous examples of this phenomenon. Other notable examples: John Berryman, Berthold Brecht, Woody Guthrie, Noel Coward, and Napoleon. Some one-off novels are classics (Wuthering Heights, Invisible Man); others are remembered only because their authors were famous for other things (leading Britain through World War II, crushing democracy in Spain).