Church politics

John Leo: A Journalist's Call to Accountability

When I learned that John Leo had retired as editor-in-chief of Minding the Campus, my thoughts leaped to T.S. Eliot’s final prayer at the end of Ash Wednesday: “Suffer me not to be separated.” The news came as a wrench, a decisive twist to the bolt on a repository of shaping memories, His writing was at the center of much that had stamped my wits and my interests over decades. The man entered my life through a Xeroxed copy of his December 1, 1965 column in the National Catholic Reporter. Continue Reading
Prêt-À-Manger Eucharist, etc.

More than monuments are toppling. Our sense of the sacred diminishes further with each week that fear of Wuhan virus ranks higher on parish concerns than the concept of sin. Thomas Mann once quipped that nowadays sin is “an amusing word used only when one is trying to get a laugh.” Now we can get our laughs untainted by any nagging guilt right in our own parishes. They have risen from slumber over the concept of sin in order to testify with vigor to hygiene in the age of COVID. Continue Reading
Viruses: Evil Suffered vs. Evil Done

The virus is cruel, but not evil. Because it sickens and can kill, it is natural for us to experience it as malevolent. Yet how could it be? A virus is as much a tribute to God’s handiwork as the dogwood blossoming by my neighbor’s mailbox, or the blue heron standing below the waterfall on our local pond. Viruses have endured longer than the sandstone cliffs on the Jurassic coast of Devon. They are older than the ferns, conifers, and butterflies of the Cretaceous Period. Continue Reading
Confession & Love of Neighbor: A Ramble

My confession finished, I waited for my penance and the sweet sound of  the ancient formula, “Ego te absolvo.” There was a brief silence on the other side of the screen. Then came: “Is that all?” It was a practical question, a commonplace prod to swing open some door I might I have left shut. But in that instant, on that day, the brevity of it struck me differently. Why so brusque? Almost curt. Had my confession bored the man? That must be it, I thought. Continue Reading
Francis: An Unworthy Householder

There are moments in this media-conscious pontificate that compel us to turn our eyes away. To keep on looking is to risk stumbling over the edge of the Slough of Despond. “And his disciples remembered that it was written: ‘Zeal for thine house will consume me.’” (John 2:17) That Johannine passage came to mind when I saw the photograph of Pope Francis kissing the shoes of the leaders of opposing sides in the South Sudan’s brutal civil war. The man we call Vicar of Christ groveled at the feet of the president of South Sudan, the leader of his opposition, and several others in the room—as if a papal kiss equips tribal enemies to sally forth in harmony and goodwill. Continue Reading