Why They Hate Pro-Lifers So

The pro-life argument is overpoweringly clear to me. But in argument against supporters of legalized abortion, I was always puzzled because I could not grasp their reasons. Maybe they didn’t understand their own reasons, either. I seldom heard reasons for their point of view, but far more often intense emotional blasts. “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” Pro-choicers do not make it easy to attribute reasonableness to their presentation of these matters. But why, I ask myself, do they hate… Read more

On Loving Karen

My dear Karen died of a hard-fought cancer on August 12, 2009. I wrote the following verse a few months later. Reprinted from All Nature Is a Sacramental Fire (St. Augustine’s Press, 2011). * * * Thank you, lady, for reminding me what it was like To fall in love with Karen Fifty years ago. It was her eyes that did me in, Blue as the sapphire stones She bought along the Indian Ocean. Blue, with sadness deep behind them,… Read more

Ave Maria at the Beach

For the last three summers, I have been very lucky to hire students from Ave Maria University to help me finish some writing, pack up boxes of books, arrange my papers, clear out the beach house and give things to various charities, and the like. I hope they forgive me for calling them “the kids,” but when they are with me, that is how I feel about them. They seem like my own grandchildren. They are intelligent, with very well-developed… Read more

Welcome to America, Pope Francis!

The first pope to visit the United States was Paul VI in October 1965, just before the close of Vatican II. Pope John Paul II during his long reign visited seven times. And Benedict came in 2008. So there is already a tradition of popes getting to know our country. The history of famous Europeans writing their first reflections on America after their visits here is also extensive, including Alexis de Tocqueville, Charles Dickens, G. K. Chesterton, Jacques Maritain, and… Read more

Pope Francis Asked for Help on Economics

On the plane from Paraguay last week, Pope Francis seemed to ask for dialogue with Americans on points he might address during his visit here in September. Following a question from a journalist about reaction to his recent remarks on economics, the pope said, “I heard that there were some criticisms from the United States. I heard about it but I haven’t read about it, I haven’t had the time to study this well, because every criticism must be received,… Read more

Papal Humility

On his way from Paraguay back to Rome recently, Pope Francis showed signs of personal humility, directly in front of the world’s press, that must be unrivaled in papal history. Three times in the short interview of sixty-five minutes, Francis confessed that in his public teaching, especially on economics, he had not spoken well, or not fully, or else had done so with a considerable lack of knowledge, or with an inward resistance to dealing with economics. He thanked reporters… Read more

Blue Environmentalism – Part Three

Henry Adams saw that science and technology were the masculine “Dynamo” of our progress – but he intuited that they needed to be balanced by a feminine nurturing of nature, which nurturing he expressed in the symbol of the “Virgin.” There is now a battle under way in Western culture as to the precise meaning of the symbol of the Virgin. The pristine mountains, waterfalls, lakes, forests, and rivers have come to be seen, in and of themselves, as Virgin… Read more

Blue Environmentalism – Part Two

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6). This tells us that the world came about as the result of a decision, not from chaos or chance, and this exalts it all the more. The creating word expresses a free choice. The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion. Creation is of the order of love. God’s love is the fundamental moving force in… Read more

Blue Environmentalism – Part One

In view of the new encyclical of Pope Francis, I would like to revisit the idea of “Blue Environmentalism.” This short series is an adaptation of some of my writing from 2003. * * * It would be a shame for the Magisterial significance of Laudato Si’ to be obscured among arguments over empirical worldly assertions concerning the environment. Instead, it seems better to turn our attention to the general moral imperative the pope urges upon us. We must think… Read more

Millennia of Experience Matter

One of the things I like best about the Catholic intellectual tradition is that, having passed through the storms of so many diverse cultures, it has picked up along the way a very rich vocabulary for discussing even humble matters. For instance, the Latin word (from a Greek root) caritas. What the word gives in the original is the name for the love proper only to God, white-hot and outward-going. It means the very energy that (as Dante put it)… Read more