J. Peter Nixon

By this author

A day late and a dollar....

The Republicans have finally gotten serious about health care reform.  The bad news for them is that they are four years too late.

Earlier today, Senators Hatch (R-UT); Burr (R-NC); and Coburn (R-OK) released the details of their Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act (a.k.a. “Patient CARE Act).  Hatch, in particular, is no stranger to health care issues, having co-sponsored the State Childrens Health Insurance Program back in 1997.

The bill largely follows the outlines of a health care reform proposal developed by a group of conservative policy wonks dubbed the “reformocons.”  In an article published in Commonweal’s print edition in December, I questioned whether the wonks would find Republican politicians willing to carry their water.  I am happy to have been proved wrong, as the return of Republicans to the actual work of legislating is a welcome development.

A "war on aspiration"

Adam Shaw (he of the "Pope Francis is the Catholic Church's Obama" fame) has posted another column attacking Francis, which is sure to go viral.  Here is how it starts:

Pope Francis has declared war on those who aspire to provide a better life for themselves and their families, expressing the misguided snobbery of a man for whom money has never been an issue.

In the first week of his papacy, when briefing the media, the pope exclaimed:

"Woe to ye rich"

Like Eduardo and Mollie, I was disappointed to read this story about a wealthy Catholic donor who may decide not to contribute to the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral because he is upset about some of Pope Francis’ comments about wealth, poverty, and capitalism.

Crime and Punishment

God help me, I’m still rooting for Walt.

I’m certainly not blind to the evil he has done: the killings he has committed or ordered, the way that lies--even the ones he tells himself--have come to define his life, the destruction his “product” has wreaked on the lives of thousands of people he has never met.  I understand why many viewers are taking, if not pleasure, then a certain degree of righteous satisfaction in the judgment being visited upon him.  What goes around comes around.  Ye reap as ye sow.

Discerning the Body

I was intrigued by the conversation that ensued in response to Paul Moses’ essay in the WSJ a few weeks ago in which he spoke of how his father’s death had become the occasion of a powerful experience of Christian community.  “I saw a theological term made real,” wrote Moses, “that God’s people make up the body of Christ.”

I’ve recently had an experience like the one Paul described. One of the reasons for my absence from these pages over the past few months is that my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in April. Since then we have been walking a difficult path that has included surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy, with more treatment to follow. My wife’s care has been excellent, however, and we have every reason to hope for a full and complete recovery.

Like Paul, I have been overwhelmed by and deeply grateful for the support we have received from family, friends and our parish community. The phrase “I’ll pray for you” can all too easily become a commonplace. In this case, however, we truly feel that the prayers of others have become a palpable thing, holding us and healing us when our own strength--particularly mine--falters.

Quick Thoughts on Pope Francis

Why Bergoglio? Obviously I wasnt in the conclave or even in Rome, but if I had to sum it up in a sentence Id say hes a Latin American Sean OMalley.Much of the boomlet for OMalley over the last couple of weeks focused on his simplicity, commitment to the poor and personal holiness. His administrative chops and seriousness on the issue of clerical sexual abuse were a clear asset, but without the former elements he wouldnt have been as compelling a candidate.As many others have observed, Bergoglio has similar qualities.


Reading the coverage of today's March for Life in DC reminded me of some writing I did ten years ago on my now-closed blog Sursum Corda. That year was the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I wrote a week of daily reflections on the subject. You can read the originals here if you are interested.The following piece was probably the post that generated the most reader commentary, both positive and negative. I read it again today.

Encountering Jesus

I suspect the number of Commonweal readers out here in my particular part of Northern California may number in the single digits. Nevertheless, for those of you living within driving distanceof Concord, CA (about 25 miles east of Oakland, CA), let me offer an invitation to a new Adult Formation program my wife and I are facilitating.It's called "Encountering Jesus" and the idea is to look at various images and understandings of Jesus in the history of the Church that have powerfully shaped Christian prayer and spirituality.

For Further Reading

I noted yesterday that the papal nuncio had cited--not approvingly, I hasten to add--a post from DotCommonweal that addressed the issue of religious freedom as well as the relationship between the bishops and the laity with respect to matters of public policy.It occurred to me later that the Archbishop Viganmight benefit from reading other pieces in the magazine that deal with these issues, particularly Commonweal's symposium from earlier this year that responded to the U.S.

An Expanding Readership?

Anyone who writes for publication wonders from time to time whether anyone is reading their work.