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A Teacher Slandered

In mid-December, six-year-old Isaiah Martinez brought a box of candy canes to his public elementary school. Affixed to each cane was a legend explaining the manner in which the candy symbolizes the life and death of Jesus. Isaiah’s first-grade teacher took possession of the candy and asked her supervising principal whether it would be permissible for Isaiah to distribute to his classmates. The teacher was informed that, while the candy itself might be distributed, the attached religious message could not. She is then reported to have told Isaiah that “Jesus is not allowed at school,” to have torn the legends from the candy, and to have thrown them in the trash. . . . Continue Reading »

My Adoption

My oldest son has traveled back to Vietnam on three, four occasions now. He arrived at our home in 1975 as an eleven-year-old refugee. We, my first wife and I, adopted him five years later. He was part of the contingent of “unaccompanied minors” temporarily housed at the refugee center at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas. Something on the order of 2,200 Vietnamese fleeing the fall of Saigon went through there, finding sponsors, relocating, rebuilding lives. . . . Continue Reading »

Fatherless Churches

Almost fifty years ago, when the Catholic Church unveiled its new rite of Mass in the Sistine Chapel, Cardinal John Heenan, then Archbishop of Westminster, remarked that if the Church used the new liturgy in ordinary parishes it would “soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children.” In 1967, Heenan could proudly assert that in his country “not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men” regularly attended Mass. . . . Continue Reading »

What Popes Can and Can’t Do

A good friend habitually refers to the Wall Street Journal as his “favorite Catholic newspaper”—a bit of whimsy not without foundation, given the openness of the Journal’s op-ed pages to serious Catholic argument on numerous issues. But just as Homer occasionally nods, so does America’s best newspaper. And on Jan. 2, the Journal nodded, big-time, in this description of why Pope Francis was one of the “People to Watch” in 2014 . . . Continue Reading »

Legion Reformed?

Representatives elected by the many good men who compose my former religious congregation, the Legionaries of Christ, are currently meeting in Rome in an extraordinary General Chapter. The multi-week meeting was intended to mark the culmination of a three-year period of “profound re-evaluation” and reform initiated in the spring of 2009 when then Pope Benedict XVI requested a canonical visitation of the congregation in response to the turmoil into which it was thrust by revelations of sexual depravities by the congregation’s founder Marcial Maciel. . . . Continue Reading »

A New President for the National Council of Churches?

As recently as the 1990s, the National Council of Churches, the once great institution of mainstream liberal Christianity, still could make headlines. Under general secretary Joan Brown Campbell they raised money for burned black churches, (much of which forestalled the NCC’s own financial insolvency), stood with President Clinton during his confrontations with the new Republican Congress, and championed the return of little Elian Gonzalez to Castro’s Cuba. In the early 2000s, Campbell’s successor, former Democratic Congressman Bob Edgar helped keep the NCC alive with grants from secular liberal philanthropies. . . . Continue Reading »

Get Thee to a Nunnery

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dropped two balls on New Year’s Eve. At midnight she pressed the button to signal the descent of the famous ball in Times Square, marking the end of one year and the beginning of another. But, from the perspective of the Obama administration, she had already “dropped the ball” by issuing an order just two hours earlier granting temporary relief on the contraceptive mandate to the Little Sisters of the Poor. Without her intervention, the steamroller enforcement of the Affordable Care Act would have proceeded apace . . . Continue Reading »

God’s Envoy

“Congress will probably never send a Minister to his Holiness,” John Adams once wrote. 205 years later, Ronald Reagan proved him wrong. Today marks thirty years since the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, a feat that did not come easy. . . . Continue Reading »

Reflections on the Jahi McMath Tragedy

Last month, a thirteen-year-old girl named Jahi McMath entered Children’s Hospital Oakland for elective surgery to treat sleep apnea. She later suffered a catastrophic cardiac arrest, and was soon declared “brain dead.” The hospital told Jahi's mother and extended family she had died and that they would turn off her ventilator. Her family protested. . . . Continue Reading »

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