Phyllis Zagano

When Crisis was originally published in 1982, Phyllis Zagano was Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications at Fordham University.

recent articles

A Crisis Interview: Cardinal Law on the Church in America

Crisis contributing editor Phyllis Zagano met recently with Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston at his residence for a discussion about the Catholic Church in America. This is an edited transcript of their conversation. Crisis: A particular question for Americans, and one that American Catholics are a little confused about, is the issue of an “American … Read more

Observations: The Border Babies

The San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top of the News” front page summary one day last month reported that Miwok, the rare baby porpoise, died in the arms of her caretakers at Marineworld in nearby Vallejo, California. Miwok, named for the northern California beach she had washed up on six days before, died from complications resulting from … Read more

Observations: A Mass of Contradictions

Saturday, May 9 was extraordinarily bright and sunny in New York. There was more activity than usual near LaGuardia Airport, as large black limousines buzzed in and around the side roads and heavy traffic clogged the Grand Central Parkway. It was so congested that there was the danger that guests at the very small and … Read more

Who Is Edith Stein?

The words about her will soon outnumber the words by her, and that alone is no insignificant fact. Philosopher, lecturer, teacher, writer, and Carmelite, Edith Stein will be beatified in Cologne, Germany on May 1. The ceremony has been planned for a local soccer stadium so that the maximum number of people can attend. She … Read more

Power, Prejudice, and Porn in a “Catholic” University

June 1983 You know, I really loved the place. And things were going so very well. I’d won a Faculty Research Grant. I’d been picked for summer teaching. I had been asked to develop a course for the honors program, and worked in its guided research division as well. I’d had some other research grants. … Read more

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

The cynic might say that the typical diocese is headed by a bishop and has various operations which are run by priests, staffed by religious, and paid for by the laity. This checkbook approach to the apostolate of the laity certainly exists, even flourishes, in certain parts, but it has severe dangers for those on … Read more

Observations: Moneychangers

Don’t even think of eating your lunch on the steps of the Church of St. Andrew, which faces the broad plaza now called Cardinal Hayes Place in downtown Manhattan. For visitors to the plaza — bordered on the north by Pearl Street and just a shout from the Brooklyn Bridge — the steps of St. … Read more

American Women and the Church: A Dialogue

Sister Marita Carew, RSHM is President of the Executive Committee of the New York Archdiocesan Council of Women Religious, a position to which she was elected in 1985. She is also Provincial Superior of the Eastern American Province of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, presently serving her second three-year term. Sisters of … Read more

Observations: Reverence in Ministry

I’ve just about had it with Eucharistic ministers. Yesterday, as I stood at the altar consuming the Precious Blood, a Eucharistic minister reached in front of me and leaned under the upturned cup to grab a ciborium. She had not yet received from the cup, and evidently did not intend to, for she spun around … Read more

Observations: Bishop Bashing

While we’re all waiting for the Department of Defense to come out with a pastoral letter on the NCCB, perhaps we can investigate why the bishops of this country vote on policy papers without either education or staff preparation for the vote. That NCCB meetings are beginning to seem like sessions of Congress is upsetting … Read more

Observations: At the Movies

There are a lot of first-run movies in my bottleneck of the woods these days—New York City—and three deal with questions regarding women and women’s roles, about sex and sexuality, and, in large or small measure, with religion. One of them is being picketed, one is being applauded, and one is being ignored. The pickets … Read more

Who Owns Catholic Education?

I am getting more than tired of hearing that “Catholic education” is an oxymoron. It used to be you only heard this as a snide remark passed along by an aficionado of another “kind” of school—a private non-sectarian school, or a land grant university. Catholics, you see, were so afraid of creeping secularism (read modernism … Read more

Observations: The First Amendment and Pornography

It appears that the only person in the United States who knows that pornography is not protected speech under the First Amendment is Henry E. Hudson, chief prosecutor for Arlington County, Virginia and new head of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography which cranked up operation last June. In Arlington County, he did what most … Read more

Observations: The City With a Heart

They don’t close streets in New York when the President comes to visit, but they pretty much stopped the City the other day for Brigit Gerney. Brigit Gerney is 49, she has an eleven-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. Her husband died of cancer two years ago. That’s about all we know about Brigit Gerney; … Read more

The Extraordinary Synod: A Symposium

According to recent news reports, the Holy Father will convene an extraordinary World Synod of Bishops next November to discuss the Second Vatican Council “to revive in some way the extraordinary atmosphere of ecclesial communion which characterized that ecumenical assembly.” The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Jozef Tomko, has said that there … Read more

Clericalism and the Emotionally insecure

I am not qualified to catalogue the psycho-sexual disorders of a Roman Catholic priest who finds it necessary to scream, while leaving the office of a professional woman, “Get back in your cage, woman,” and then announce to a clerical staff unsurprised by this latest display of inanity and psychological imbalance, “Where is my whip, … Read more

Observations: Propaganda, Mon Amour

If I ever decide to overthrow the government, I want the Catholic Committee on Pluralism and Abortion to write the ads. They do write nice copy. Their first try, headed “A Diversity of Opinions Regarding Abortion Exists Among Committed Catholics,” ran conveniently enough in The New York Times in the middle of a public debate … Read more

Religion, Politics, and the Press

Those of us who grew up wondering if there really was life west of the Hudson River would be hard pressed to name two or three newspapers whose editorial opinions carry the weight of the great grey lady of 43rd and Broadway. But there had to be a place somewhere, perhaps in what was called … Read more

Pornography and Anti-Catholicism

To dismiss pornography is to ignore what the smut merchants have already pro-claimed: the Church is their enemy. Standard fare pornography, often referred to as “adult material” or “erotica” by the morally unconscious, has been produced over centuries for the express purpose of aiding masturbation. Thousands of sexual underachievers make use of pornography daily, never … Read more

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