Pope Francis

The Vatican: Integral Ecology and Liberation Theology

The extraordinary Synod of Bishops for the Pan Amazon region, coming to the Vatican in October, is a very big deal. It would be a mistake for people to dismiss it as inside baseball among Catholics. Far-reaching issues of broad societal concern are at work here under cover of ecological ideals and social justice rhetoric delivered in a Christian idiom. Under cover of deep ecology, liberation theology has come in out of the cold. And it is gunning to even the score between the industrial West and the Third World. Continue Reading
Francis & Mirages of Fraternity, part 1

Pope Francis’ Christmas message, clotted with the word fraternity, was such a brew of pernicious banality that it is hard to know where to start. From the perspective of our 24-hour news cycle, a Moloch that feeds on contrived obsolescence, the papal dispatch asks to be addressed before the end of Christmastide. However, what matters is not one passing item in the news but its substratum, something steady and abiding. In this case, that bedrock something is hostile to the very civilization—however flawed—which has sustained the Church that gave it life and breath. Continue Reading
Priesthood: From Uncle Fultie to Uncle Ted

This is no easy time for the priesthood. The culture that produced and celebrated Bing Crosby’s portrayal of Fr. Charles O’Malley in Going My Way (1944) and, two years later, The Bells of St. Mary is extinct. Decent, congenial “Fr. Chuck” was a blithe symbol of goodness, honor, and virtue that an entire nation could trust and embrace. Not any more. On both sides of the screen, the cultural landscape has changed. In the culture at large, and the eyes of many Catholics themselves, the priesthood has become a tainted profession. Continue Reading
The Holy See's China Gamble

In Beijing on Saturday, the Holy See signed an historic and consequential agreement with the People’s Republic of China. The Vatican issued a press release stating that Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, undersecretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, and Wang Chao, deputy minister for foreign affairs of the People’s Republic of China, signed a “provisional agreement” on the appointment of bishops. It concludes: “The shared hope is that this agreement may favour a fruitful and forward-looking process of institutional dialogue and may contribute positively to the life of the Catholic Church in China, to the common good of the Chinese people and to peace in the world.” The announcement reveals no specific details other than it grants China the power to appoint bishops, and is “provisional,” subject to “periodic reviews.” What are the arrangements to be reviewed? Continue Reading