Rediscovering Paul VI

When the Vatican recently announced its new candidates for sainthood, there was a remarkable name on its list: Pope Paul VI. On December 20, 2012, Pope Benedict declared Paul a Christian of “heroic virtue,” granting him the title, “Venerable.” Paul VI is now one approved miracle away from beatification, and a second from formal canonization… . Continue Reading »

Russia’s Cruel Adoption Ban

You may have read that Russian president Vladimir Putin recently signed a new law banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Andrea Roberts read the news with “disbelief” and was sure this meant certain death for the dozens of Russian orphans with special needs for whom she helps to find American homes each year… . Continue Reading »

Don’t Let N. T. Wright Steal Christmas!

Peter Leithart, remarking on the trendsetting biblical criticism of N. T. Wright, has questioned the way that many (presumably English) Christmas hymns fail to capture the political and social context of the birth of Jesus Christ. Leithart claims that Advent hymns (unlike Christmas hymns) capture the here and now… . Continue Reading »

Mark O’Brien’s Triumph (It Wasn’t About Sex)

When I was a child, I was terrified of polio. Even more, I feared the disease’s vivid icon: the iron lung. I still remember my horror at the thought of being encased in metal looking at the world through an angled mirror installed above my head. I was an early recipient of the vaccine, and stopped fearing polio while still quite young. But I never fully lost my iron lung queasiness”which was why I was nervous one July day in 1996 as I knocked on the door of the Berkeley apartment of an anti-assisted suicide activist I was to interview. The man’s name was Mark O’Brien… . Continue Reading »

Christ’s Birth and Our Potential

Two weeks ago, as fathers have done since Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I held my just-born daughter to my chest, closed my eyes, and uttered a prayer of thanksgiving to the God who has blessed me so abundantly. My wife was not recovering from the ordeal of labor as I held our daughter. She was standing next to me, holding my hand. Our daughter is adopted, as is our son… . Continue Reading »

It’s a Destructive Life

Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life portrays the decent life of a small-town American, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), an everyman who saves his community from an evil Scrooge”Henry F. Potter (Lionel Barrymore)”and who only comes to realize his accomplishments by witnessing what terrors might have occurred had he never lived. George Bailey represents all that is good and decent about America: a family man beloved by his community for his kindness and generosity… . Continue Reading »

God With Us, Every Day

There is nothing new under the sun. True enough when the pessimistic author of Ecclesiastes penned the phrase, and true enough today. Except for one thing: the Incarnation, the Christian claim that God became man in Jesus Christ. The Incarnation really is something new. Prior to the conception of Jesus, God was not a human being. With the conception of Jesus, God was and remains for all time a human being… . Continue Reading »

A Pastoral Opportunity Lost?

At their annual November meeting, the U.S. bishops failed to approve a pastoral message on the economy. “The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times” was approved by a clear majority of the bishops voting, but objections raised in large part by retired bishops were sufficient to deny the document the supermajority it needed. All of which strikes me as a lost opportunity… . Continue Reading »

Far As the Curse is Found

Like many other carols, this rarely sung verse of “Joy to the World” leads us into the profound mystery of the Christmas feast. In the little child whose birth we celebrate, we gaze on the face of our champion in a struggle that could not be won without him. Listen to St. Leo the Great … Continue Reading »