“To Know the Unsurpassable Joy”: A Message from The Hermit

Benedict and Francis kneeling

In the wake of yesterday's post on the futility of picking papal teams, I received the following message from My Friend The Hermit (Br Rex Anthony Norris of The Little Portion Hermitage). He thought it should be for my eyes only, but I think differently. Thank you, dear Brother. This is wonderful advice to carry with us into Holy Week: It is to know and to make known Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen that is the beginning and end of the mission of the Church. For that, dear reader, you … [Read more...]

When It Comes to Popes, I’m on Team Jesus

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I hate choosing sides. It might be the Libra in me, or the hoarder's inability to make decisions, or the hideous memory of being picked last for everything in grammar school. I can't even fill out a decent NCAA bracket, because I can find some reason why just about any team should win the mirror-ball trophy from the Big Dance with the Stars.So I am particularly peeved by the swelling tendency to pit papal clique against papal claque, as though Catholics had to wear their popes on their … [Read more...]

Pope Francis: Intervention for a Hoarder Church

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I got my wish. Last week, the conclave elected as a successor to St Peter and to the retired Pope Benedict XVI a man who seems to embody the best of my two favorite popes (John XXIII and Benedict)---doctrinal faithfulness and pastoral joy. I even called St Joseph's Day as the perfect date for the inaugural Mass. What I couldn't predict is that the erstwhile Cardinal Bergoglio, with whose name I wasn't even familiar when it was announced, would take the papal name and embody the best of my … [Read more...]

Salus Populi Romani—A New Pope Goes Home to Mamma: UPDATED

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Image sourceJorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, you've just been elected pope. What're you going to do next?According to a tweet from the always knowledgeable Rocco Palmo, Papa Francesco is not going to Disneyland. He's doing what every good Italian boy---and the new pontiff, though hailing from Argentina, is of Italian extraction---and every good Bishop of Rome does first. He's going home to Mamma.Specifically, in this case, Pope Francis will make a private visit sometime tomorrow to … [Read more...]

A Clock Set to Eternity: Why It’s Never ‘Time’ for the Church to Do Something

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What time is it? For Catholics, it's always eternity.My Patheos Catholic Channel colleague Mark Shea asked for prayers yesterday because he'd been invited to participate in a HuffPost discussion about "whether it's time to end the celibate priesthood." Leaving aside the chances (nil) that what the Huffington Post wants to do with this topic is anything resembling discussion, the question itself gives me fidgets. It's emblematic of the cluelessness of so much of the interregnum blather, from … [Read more...]

Your Average Joe, with a Twist: Betting on a Pope

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I'm pretty good at handicapping the ponies (Pete McPortland's daughter could hardly be anything less), but when it comes to papabile, I might as well be a hunch bettor. Ask me who the next pope will be, and I'm likely to give you the equivalent of "whichever cardinal has the cutest name" or "the guy who's praying with blinkers on for the first time."I can't even rely on my foolproof college basketball system for predicting a win in the Religion News Service's brilliant take on papal March … [Read more...]

The Dowager Pope and the (Very) Fallible Media

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Gaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.How long can stupid go on? The renunciation of the papacy by Pope Benedict XVI is certainly providing a test case. Not only is the MSM uncharacteristically obsessed with the story---more so, from what I can tell, than many Catholic commentators and even your average Catholic-in-the-pew-a-couple-of-times-a-month---but it continues to heap ignorant on ignorant in truly unprecedented fashion.Like today. I mean, we know that when it comes to Catholicism the New York Times is … [Read more...]

Breaching a Contract, Breaking Faith: Religious Freedom in Cincinnati

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We're used to thinking of religious freedom as an individual right---my freedom of conscience to believe and practice as I choose. But as the continuing debate over the HHS mandate demonstrates, freedom of religion under the First Amendment also guarantees the rights of religious institutions. When those freedoms collide, what gives?In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, for which I perform occasional work as an independent contractor, the cases of two dismissed Catholic school employees are in … [Read more...]


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