The Popes and America

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Pope in America: Implications, Collaborations, Challenges. Read other perspectives here. In September 22-27, Pope Francis will visit the United States, making stops in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. Most discussion in anticipation has focused on the Pope’s attendance at the World Meeting [Read More...]

Rome, for Protestants

Most people today ooh-and-aah when they experience or envision a trip to Rome. It was not always so. Until the era of modern tourism, trips to Rome were rare, undertaken only by the wealthy. For devout Protestants, encountering Catholicism’s Eternal City could often induce more revulsion than admiration. Prior to Italian unification in the 1860s-1870s, [Read More...]

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Secular Hymnody

Abbey 1

In 1345, on a cold Tuesday night just before Easter, a miracle happened in Amsterdam. A dying man, given the Eucharist, vomited it right back out. His caregivers were amazed to see that it had reemerged from his mouth whole. They threw the host on a fire, perhaps thinking that this was the least sacrilegious [Read More...]

Napoleon and Christianity

The 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s well-known defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 has recently been marked in Europe and elsewhere. In addition to commentary on the battle itself, much attention has focused on Napoleon’s politics, diplomacy, and military skills. It is for his actions in these areas that most of us know the [Read More...]

Show a Bishop some Hospitality

On Monday, April 20, Boston’s Archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, visited Gordon College, where I teach. It was an instructive time for the entire college community. His talk was entitled “Our Common Concern for the Least among Us.” Recognizing abiding differences between Catholics and Protestants, he nonetheless enjoined all Christians to pursue what we might call [Read More...]

Hating One’s Enemy in Early America

1755 was one of the bleakest years in the history of Britain’s American colonies. That year, Britain launched a massive campaign to stop French aggression in the Ohio river valley, in the early stages of the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War). Benjamin Franklin tried to warn British General Edward [Read More...]

Anti-Catholicism: The Defining Religious Principle of Early America?

I have been reading Owen Stanwood’s excellent book The Empire Reformed: English America in the Age of the Glorious Revolution, which has taken me back to my own doctoral research and first book (now a cult classic!) The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism. Stanwood shows just how much weight “anti-popery” carried in early English America, and [Read More...]

Lenten Confessions: The App

It was bound to happen.  As apps proliferate for all kinds of purposes, it was probably just a matter of time before one was invented to probe the recesses of conscience for sin.  With version 1.0 appearing in 2011, “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” was released several months ago in its 2.0 version.  2.0 not [Read More...]

Simple Living Pontiff Style


It’s easy to love Pope Francis. In one of his first acts as pope, he stopped by the hotel where he stayed before the conclave to settle his bill himself. With no fanfare he melts into the dark streets of Rome at night to hang out with the homeless. Shunning the official Papal Apartment of [Read More...]

Year of Mercy-ing

I was struck by Jeremy Lott’s year-end piece at Real Clear Religion: “The Year of the Sinner.” Apparently, Pope Francis (it is so much easier for non-Catholics to have a pope without Roman numerals after his regnal name) caused a stir in some quarters by telling America that Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s basic identity is that [Read More...]