“They have healed the wound of my people lightly”: A Response to Bishop Barron

While Christianity is being extirpated from some of its oldest seats around the world, American Catholics are instead forced to confront the seemingly bottomless turpitude of many bishops, exposed by the revelation of former Cardinal McCarrick’s history of sexual predation and the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report. These have been followed by an almost uninterrupted stream of insults from the pope, most prominently in the Vatican intervention at the American bishops’ meeting last November and the continuing battle over Archbishop Viganò’s allegations.

In this climate of woundedness and well warranted mistrust, Bishop Robert Barron has published a Letter to a Suffering Church. He seeks to reassure a discouraged and disheartened American laity in the face of the scandal, describing it as “the Devil’s masterpiece” and reminding readers that the history of the Catholic Church is marred by many such scandals.…

The Modern Abuse of a Word

There is no word in the modern vocabulary so abused as the word “freedom” (with the notable exception of “literally,” the misuse of which figuratively kills me). It’s abused in pithy political sound bites: “freedom isn’t free.” It’s abused when we solicit advice: “you’re free to do as you like.” And it’s even abused within our faith: “Christ has set me free” (which is invariably followed by “so you mustn’t judge me for my sins!”) At root we have forgotten what it means to be free and so our politics, relationships, and faith have all been misconstrued under the false banner of modern freedom. So what then do we mean by freedom and what does it truly mean?

In the classical sense, human freedom is predicated on our ability to follow our teleological orientations.…

The Antithesis of Fatherhood

The mass shooting has become the signature horror of our time and place. Such events have become monstrously common, and yet we seem to understand them no better today than we did twenty years ago. An often-quoted essay in The Atlantic from 2015 examined the plague of mass shootings as a kind of “slow-motion riot”, where each subsequent horror makes its successor more likely. But this is merely to say that mass shootings become more common as mass shootings become more common: a description, not an explanation. When pondering these events, it quickly becomes clear that apart from the obviously mad (Tucson, 2011), politically motivated (Alexandria, 2017), or utterly mysterious (Las Vegas, 2017), the great majority of the perpetrators are disturbed young white men who do not know their fathers.…

The Renewal of the Christian Heart

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Matt 12:34 RSV

Picture Oz Koznowski. That’s not actually his name, but might as well be – he’s the guy who sits two pews back from you at Mass. You know him well enough to wave or nod in the parking lot, but haven’t ever had occasion to learn his name. Stop Oz in the street and ask if he believes in God and he’ll no doubt say yes. Ask how important his religion is to him and he’ll likely answer, “Very important.” But perhaps a better gauge of what’s important to Oz – or any of us, for that matter – is to start a conversation and pay attention to what comes up.…

What is it to be a Catholic?

What is it to be a Catholic? Even better, what should it mean to be a Catholic? This straightforward question should admit to a simple and straightforward answer. However, in our day, there seems to be so much confusion on this point. The secular media certainly misses the point by a wide margin. Many of our Protestant friends and neighbors have gotten a bad impression about us. Even within the Catholic Church there is widespread confusion and misunderstanding. The confusion arises from a number of different causes and deficiencies. It is important then that we should set the record straight and we can do this with the help of God by living up to our high calling.

So let us drop back to the most fundamental truth.…

The Catholic Voter

Politics can be a messy affair, often distressing, but it is a Catholic’s responsibility in this world to vote his informed conscience, in order to work for the betterment of society and uphold justice and the right. To abdicate our role without grave cause is a sin of omission.

But what is a Catholic to do when he feels that he has no good options? Some people, after serious consideration and prayer, may feel that they cannot vote for any candidate. (We are hearing more of this, this year than at any time in recent memory.) On the other hand, there are those who argue that too much is at stake to withhold one’s vote; we just have to hold our noses, as it were, and vote for the person calculated to be the lesser of two evils.…