Face to Face with the Death Penalty

Last May in Tucson, Arizona, two young men named Armando Estrada and Rosendo C. Valenzuela were working for Mamie Gong, an elderly Chinese woman. Mamie, who owned a trailer park and some land outside the city, had hired the men to help her clean up some trash that had accumulated on the vacant parcel.   … Read more

It’s Time to Talk Honestly about Natural Family Planning

Welcome to NFP Club. The first rule of NFP Club is: You do not talk about NFP Club. You can’t talk to engaged couples about NFP — you’ll scare them away. You can’t talk to experienced older couples, either, or you’ll get an earful about the bad old days of rhythm-and-blues and 23 children. You … Read more

Stealing from Supernaturalism

Christopher Hitchens, in a fairly typical misreading of the Judeo-Christian tradition, is fond of pointing out that “the Jewish people did not get all the way to Mount Sinai under the impression that murder and theft and perjury were okay.” Oblivious to the Church’s entire tradition of the natural law, he fancies he’s scored a … Read more

More Summer Sounds

Last month I began a look at the flood of fantastic summer releases, which only confirms for me that we are indeed in a golden age of recording. This month I’ll pick up where we left off.   Three new CPO releases convince me that only now are we getting a fuller glimpse of the … Read more

Is Gay Marriage Good for Families?

In connection with the same-sex marriage controversy now burning in California, I read the following about a priest from a famous gay-friendly parish in Pasadena: The Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, who has been blessing same-sex unions for 16 years, told the San Jose Mercury News this month that she … Read more

Catholic Art

  “Don’t talk to me about those idiots, cluttering the fields with their easels. Had I the authority of a tyrant, I’d order the police to shoot them all down.” This was Edgar Degas, speaking less about the then-contemporary rage for landscape painting than about the ideals of the Impressionists. He was, to understate the case, … Read more

McCain’s Opportunity, Obama’s Challenge

In May 2007, Benedict XVI flew to meet with the bishops of Mexico, Central America, and South America. While on the plane, the pope answered a question from a reporter about the Mexican bishops who were threatening to withhold the Eucharist from Catholic politicians who voted in favor of legalizing abortion. The Holy Father expressed … Read more

Listening to the Children of Gay Parents

Out from Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting Dawn Stefanowicz, Annotation Press, 245 pages, $14.95 As a clinical law professor in 1986, I represented six-year-old Tiffany in a proceeding to terminate her mother’s parental rights. It was a heart-breaking and difficult case because the mother-daughter bond was strong — and hugely inappropriate. My little client’s … Read more

Angels without Wings

I like to think of myself as a seasoned mom.  But even a seasoned mom sometimes meets her match. It’s in our most trying motherly moments, I have found, that God graces us with the gift of humility — by opening our eyes to our helpless dependence upon others. One warm spring Saturday morning a … Read more

Message Refused: Humanae Vitae, 40 Years Later

  I know a woman – and, in fairness, I must say that she’s a truly good Catholic woman — who’s slightly bonkers on the subject of birth control. I suppose there are people like that on both sides of this argument, but this woman happens to be bonkers on the pro-contraception side. You can’t … Read more

Brideshead Reinvented

Brideshead Revisited, the classic Catholic novel by Evelyn Waugh, was made into a highly successful television miniseries in 1981. The 11-part series — written by John Mortimer, produced by Granada Television, and starring Jeremy Irons — was praised for its fidelity to Waugh’s novel, particularly for its respectful treatment of the Catholic faith. Every major … Read more

Faith in Flanders

Antwerp is home to glorious churches, but it’s difficult to pray in them. At the cathedral dedicated to Our Lady, a large section at the base of the nave, with a glorious view of the whole church under its superb gothic arches, is set aside for prayer. But it feels bleak. The Blessed Sacrament is … Read more

Concerning Eucharistic Desecration

For those who may have missed it, P. Z. Myers, a washed-up academic at a third-tier school who takes out his bitterness on Christians and calls it "science blogging," claimed that some human toothache named Webster Cook had received death threats for stealing a Eucharist and threatening to desecrate it. Reader John Farrell repeatedly tried … Read more

Sins of Omission: Catholics, Marriage, and Politics

The California Supreme Court supremely violated the will of the people of that state when it overturned California’s eight-year-old Defense of Marriage Act. The court declared that homosexuals have a right to marry the person of their choice. The Catholic governor of California supported this ruling, as did several other prominent, publicly Catholic Californians. The … Read more

Will the Iraqi Constitution Protect Christians?

Two weeks ago I spoke with Bishops Mar Sarhad Jammo and Mar Bawai Soro about their plan to protect Iraqi Christians from violence and ensure religious liberty. The bishops expressed hope that one day the provisions of the Iraq Constitution protecting all religious minorities from discrimination and persecution could be implemented. In speaking with Manny … Read more

Bent Juel-Jensen

In the Danish town of Odense, the tomb of Saint Canute IV, who had tried to conquer William the Conqueror, has a bullet mark from a clash with Nazi occupiers. Bent Juel-Jansen (1922-2006) fought in the Danish resistance, helping Allied airmen escape, and later served two years in the navy, having been born in that … Read more

Faith and Reason in the West

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI returned to a theme he has advanced several times in his papacy: the importance of faith combined with reason, and the inadequacy of either faith or reason alone. This idea of the complementary nature of faith and reason received international … Read more

The Devil Went Down to Gotham

The Batman franchises have long struggled to find the correct balance between good and evil. In the original Batman, Tim Burton’s love for the visually (and emotionally) bizarre, combined with Jack Nicholson’s apparent inability to control himself, produced a film whose focus quickly shifted from Michael Keaton’s mildly-tormented title character to Nicholson’s wildly over-acted Joker. … Read more

What about Din?

About 30 years ago I organized (or found it to be organizing itself) a peculiar Friday afternoon group that came to be called Beer ‘n’ Bull. Despite its rather rackety sound, it is a surprisingly sober conclave, mostly of my college students and (now) former students. Obviously the (very loose) membership has changed over 38 … Read more

InsideCatholic Book Club: ‘Exiles’

What is “Catholic” fiction? Is it fiction written by a Catholic? Must it include Catholic characters and treat distinctly Catholic themes? Does it reflect a “Catholic sensibility”? Should the reader even bother with such questions? To try to sort through some of these issues, Amy Welborn, Matthew Lickona, Bishop Daniel Flores, and Joseph O’Brien spent … Read more

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