The Deeper Issue at the Synod

Looking back on the controversy that preceded Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, I get the impression that there was an even deeper issue in play than the question of the morally appropriate means to regulate human fertility. Underneath that debate, another issue was being contested: How should Catholics do moral theology? Continue Reading »

​Unconstitutional Catholics

In late January, the Supreme Court granted review in Glossip v. Gross, a case involving a constitutional challenge to a drug protocol used in the imposition of capital punishment by lethal injection. Under current practice, lethal injection works by way of three drugs: the first sedates the person . . . . Continue Reading »

Christian Duty in Ukraine

Although many Christians have suffered and even died in Ukraine, chur­ches across the globe keep silent about what is happening. This is quite in contrast with the way in which international organizations and national governments approach the situation there. The discussions at the Security . . . . Continue Reading »

Rolling Stone, Alan Dershowitz, and Catholic Priests

By now, virtually everyone has heard of the Rolling Stone fiasco, with its explosive article, “A Rape on Campus,” having been unmasked as deeply flawed. Although the magazine featured a long story about campus sexual assault, the police found no evidence to substantiate the allegations of rape at the University of Virginia.Perhaps fewer are familiar with the case of Alan Dershowitz, the well-known Harvard Law professor who tells his own frightening story of a false accusation. Dershowitz’s reputation for integrity, built over the course of a lifetime, was recently threatened by an uncorroborated allegation of sex with an underage woman. While that accusation has now been stricken from the record, Dershowitz notes that “you can’t unring a bell.” His sterling career and good name having been called into question. Continue Reading »

The Difference Cardinal George Made

On September 2, 1939, the House of Commons debated the British government’s response to the German invasion of Poland the previous day. The ruling Conservative Party was badly divided between those demanding that Britain fulfill its obligations to Poland and those addicted to the habits of appeasement. “Party loyalty” was being invoked to drown out Conservative opposition to Conservative prime minister Neville Chamberlain when the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, Arthur Greenwood, rose to speak. Then, from the Tory back benches, came the voice of an anti-appeasement Conservative, Leo Amery, who cried, “Speak for England, Arthur!” Continue Reading »

Left, Right, Prudence, Principle, and Catholic Social Doctrine

A long-running battle between the so-called Catholic left and the so-called Catholic right concerns which political issues the Church should speak about and which ones she shouldn’t. One crucial distinction is that teaching the basic principles of Catholic social doctrine go to the heart of her charism, but she has no special expertise in prudential judgments about how to apply them. Continue Reading »

What Women Bishops Mean For Christian Unity

On July 14, 2014, the General Synod of the Church of England voted to permit women to be consecrated as bishops in their church. It followed a long, and sometimes bitter debate, and a vote in 2012 that barely fell short of the required two-thirds majority among lay representatives. Part of the decision—debated as to its enforceability—guarantees parochial opponents access to male priests and bishops. Continue Reading »

Will Catholics Comply?

Sometime soon, the Supreme Court will announce its decision in the Hobby Lobby case. Depending on how the justices rule, certain institutions may find themselves exempt from the controversial HHS mandate that requires them to arrange for the provision of contraception, sterilization, and certain abortifacient drugs. Although Hobby Lobby is a private corporation with Protestant owners, the case has implications for many others. Continue Reading »

The Bishops in Council

Twenty-five years ago this month, Pope John Paul II made his first pastoral visit to the United States, meeting the American bishops in Chicago. In his address to them, the former university professor used a style that was both innovative and pedagogically effective: he quoted from an array of . . . . Continue Reading »