Art

Fernandez & Pizzaballa: Soft Porn v. Hardcore

In every age, the levers of power are worked with equal ambition by Church and state. Members of both assemblies inhabit the moral imagination of their time; both breathe the same compromised air. Self-justified worthies gerrymander realities without apology. They confer high awards on finesse in dissembling. Language obfuscates; clarity is penalized. Two contemporary parallels come to mind, one ecclesial, the other secular. During the COVID-19 panic, the CDC gave the word vaccine a makeover. It tweaked language in order to sell the public on an inadequately tested gene therapy being used as if it were a vaccine in the traditional sense that Edward Jenner might recognize. Continue Reading
What Child Is This?

What Child is this who, laid to rest, On Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping? (William C. Dix, 1865) This Advent, following the October 7th massacre of Israelis, calls us to remember that the Child we wait for is a Jewish child. He was born of a Jewish mother, flower of the seed of Abraham. We know by heart that passage from John: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Yet we say the words without pausing to marvel that the Word took Jewish flesh. Continue Reading
Lepanto, Prayer, & The Game of Martyrs

Yesterday, October 27, was the day Pope Francis specified as a day of prayer for peace. My local parish, unencumbered by desire for moral clarity, invited all parishioners to a noon Mass followed by a special rosary for peace—in the abstract. Refusal to take sides burlesques the famed events of 1571 when Christendom kept churches open and prayed the rosary during the Battle of Lepanto. Yes, Pope Pius V enjoined all Christians to pray. But not for peace. He called them to pray that the Holy League would defeat the formidable Ottoman fleet. Continue Reading
Burning Jews (14th C.)

Moral equivalence is in Rome’s saddle. The Vatican has forgotten the moral necessity of praying to win. Does the concept of victory over Islam, that darling of the interfaith crowd, make our clergy uncomfortable? It certainly seems so. Yesterday, October 21, was the second Saturday after Hamas’ onslaught against Israel. My local parish e-bulletin arrived in the morning with this bit of uplift:
I was deeply moved to hear that the Latin Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem offered himself as an exchange for the children hostages held by Hamas.
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Teilhard de Chardin: Closet Racist? Eugenicist?

Perhaps in dread of the next installment of Pope Francis’ environmental theology, Laudato Sí, v.2, Catholic media is turning search lights again on Teilhard de Chardin. With apologies to professional theologians and philosophers, I admit to weariness with zest for heresy-spotting. And scapegoating. If Teilhard’s mysticism came close at times to the edge of the precipice, it was his fidelity to the absolute primacy of Christ that, in the words of Henri de Lubac “saved him from a fall.” [See de Lubac’s Teilhard de Chardin: The Man and His Meaning.] Continue Reading