Pope Francis Should Institute A Year of Confession


It's too bad that the great expression associated with the Holy Father, "the Pope of Mercy" (I believe John Allen coined it), has become polluted by the ecclesiastical politics surrounding the Synod of the Family. The Pope is absolutely right: what Christians need right now is an avalanche of mercy (which, as the Pope is well aware, is not the same thing as cheap grace).I'm prompted by his excellent decision to make today a worldwide day of confession to write about an idea that's been going … [Read more...]

The Death Penalty, The Catechism, The Living God


As you may have heard, America's national Catholic newspapers united in publishing anti-death penalty editorials. They were joined in this by Patheos Catholic.The excellent canon law blogger Edward Peters is not happy, both on form and substance. On substance, he notes correctly that Catholic doctrine always has, and still does, accept the death penalty in certain circumstances. He notes that the Catechism's stance that in the modern age there are practically almost no circumstances where … [Read more...]

Moral Realism Is A Thing


An op-ed in the New York Times fretting that Common Core is teaching kids that there are no moral facts has generated a bit of discussion. A Common Core poster says there are only "facts" (in the sense of "brute facts") and "opinions." My friend Noah Millman says that we shouldn't fret, and uses a second-grade moral example to illustrate his point. But in doing so he merely repeats the confusion that is being fretted about.Here is Noah's example: Eddie takes Billy’s cookie without pe … [Read more...]

When Did God Stop Beating His Wife?


The (by and large quite good) Aeon magazine has a frustrating story on the question of whether God can lie and how it was supposedly the case that the Scientific revolution solved what had been hitherto a frustrating theological question. I say frustrating because it doesn't contain outright falsehoods but does contain enough omissions and prevarications that a misleading impression is left.As the piece itself eventually and grudgingly admits, classical Christian doctrine actually never had m … [Read more...]

Why Catholics Can’t Sing And The Crisis Of Catholic Education


First Things has a great little post by a dejected Lutheran convert about how Catholic liturgical singing is like "plaintive squeaks from depressed marmosets."This is a permanent pet peeve of mine.And yes, this is something parish priests should do more about. You know the phenomenon of how a church will be crowded--except the two front pews. I knew a priest who often wouldn't start Mass until those pews were filled. He would go out in front before Mass and ask people to move to the firs … [Read more...]