The Sea Change of Mercy and Forgiveness

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Pope in America: Implications, Collaborations, Challenges. Read other perspectives here. Pastoral, conciliatory: these are the words that keep popping up about Pope Francis. As he comes to the United States for the first time (in his life, not just since becoming pope), [Read More…]

Vatican’s vendetta investigation of American women religious completes under Pope Francis, with praise instead

What a difference a few years makes. With the final Vatican report of Cardinal Law’s vendetta investigation of American women religious, this ugly episode is finally put to rest. He and Pope Benedict’s team really should have finished it before they left power if they wanted a different outcome. Now under Pope Francis, Fr. Jim [Read More…]

There Is No Other: The Radical Message of St. Francis in Jon Sweeney’s New Book

At the beginning of his new book, When Saint Francis Saved The Church, Jon Sweeney warns that what is to follow will not support the “sentimental” rendering of St. Francis as a gentle animal-loving pacifist. But that’s a bit of a tease. It’s not that he paints a different picture; it’s that he paints one much larger and more significant. St. Francis’ gentle temperament, his interactions with nature, his willingness to work with enemies of the state: these are not the point. Rather, they are evidence of a much more radical one: a view of the world in which there is no Other. [Read more…]

Pope Francis to Remind Conservatives Again Foot Washing Is About Humility Not Piety, and Not Patriarchy

The guideline of only washing the feet of men was invented in 1955. 1955! Before that, washing the feet of women was not uncommon. It was traditionalists who changed and politicized things, to underscore their point about women being ineligible for the priesthood. Pope Francis, who embraces the servant leadership model to his core, is reminding us that this tradition is supposed to be about humility, not piety, and not patriarchy. [Read more…]

Pope Francis: “Who am I to judge” gay people? “Women in the Church are more important than bishops.”

Last week, Archbishop Chaput said “right wing” Catholics weren’t happy Pope Francis hadn’t talked about the hot-button issues yet. I think now they probably wish he’d kept quiet. Is it a 180? No, but a reversal of not just tone but also emphasis, away from attacking those in disagreement over dogma and towards holding up universal Christian values, will restore a culture in which conversation can occur, in which people of faith can discuss what’s essential and what is not. In the long run, this may lead to substantial change. [Read more…]

Fr. Helmut Schüller’s “Catholic Tipping Point” Tour Calls for Disobedience

On a 15-city “Catholic Tipping Point” American tour Fr. Helmut Schüller is outlining reforms he believes can restore vitality to the Roman Catholic Church, including married and women priests, welcoming remarried Catholics and gay members in committed relationships into full communion, and decentralizing power and giving greater leadership opportunities to lay members.  [Read more…]

Will Pope Francis be a reforming pope?

In light of Pope Francis’ similarity in demeanor to Pope John XXIII, his admiration for the gentle, plainspoken pastoral leader, and his quick sainting of the Vatican II architect, you can’t help wondering, as the new book Francis: Man of Prayer asks: will Pope Francis be a reforming pope? Will he, like John XXIII, instigate changes that will alter the course of the global church profoundly and extend beyond his own papacy? [Read more…]

A few thoughts on Benedict and the next pope

It’s fun to speculate about who will be the next pope. But normally there’s a bit of a taboo about that because you are talking about the current pope dying. Not this time. By resigning Pope Benedict is taking the naughtiness out of that game. Here are my first thoughts about on Pope Benedict and what’s next. [Read more…]

What is the “correct” position for a Catholic? — I respond to a reader comment

What is the “correct” position on subsidiarity, or any other issue, for a Catholic when the USCCB, the Catechism, various encyclicals, popes’ comments and the Bible don’t all agree? Which has authority? Or is there a “correct” position? I respond to a reader comment. [Read more…]

Health Care Reform and Catholicism Revisited

Thousands of you read, responded to and shared my August piece about the health care debate and Catholicism. We are now in the final phase of the Congressional process and some things are clearer than they were then. Catholic Church leaders wanted undocumented immigrants included in the bill. They are not. Sadly, the Church stands [Read More…]


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