Church politics

USCCB Voter Guide: Clarity Be Damned

The USCCB’s voter guide, updated in advance of the 2020 election, was an evasive inventory of issues that, by sheer volume, effectively sidelined abortion. The manic jumble gave cover to Catholics who preferred abortion-happy Biden to Donald Trump. My essay “Politics As Spiritual Warfare”, in the November issue of Chronicles, cited a Wisconsin bishop’s slippery advice:
Doublespeak does not edify. Writing a column entitled, “How to vote according to our Catholic faith,” Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin repeats the USCCB’s position that “abortion surpasses all other moral issues,” though he adds a caveat.
Continue Reading
Cardinal Ravasi's Embrace Of Art And Fashion

Cardinal Ravasi’s embrace of art and fashion, the two dominant enthusiasms of secular culture, conveys a this-wordly moralism more theatrical than moral. Of all modern substitutes for religion, art is the most esteemed. It veils contemporary materialism in the language of transcendent values. The cardinal wasted no time embracing the peculiar nature of the high-stakes art world. Pope Francis was installed in March, 2013. Two months later Ravasi announced the Vatican’s first foray into the Venice Biennale. Beginning with a modest prehistory in 1893, the Biennale has evolved into the ultimate bazaar. Continue Reading
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