Serious words at funny Al Smith dinner

Political insiders know that the Alfred E. Smith Dinner strives to honor decades of civic and religious traditions.In election years, it's a tradition that the presidential candidates appear -- wearing formal, white-tie attire -- and satirize their own public images, while also aiming a few gentle shots at their opponent and the ranks of elite journalists in attendance.Thus, Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney, with a nod to his Mormon fuddy-duddy reputation, reminded the audience of … [Read more...]

Behind the Catholic flight from pews

Early in Father William Byron's research into why millions of Americans are leaving Catholic pews, he heard about one woman's tense encounter with a parish receptionist and he's been sharing the horror story ever since.The woman wanted to tell a priest about her feelings that she had lost "the Catholic church I grew up with." However, she wasn't sure she wanted to share the details with the woman who answered the parish telephone -- who kept pushing for specifics.The petitioner finally said, … [Read more...]

Rise of the “secular Catholics”

As a rule, opinion polls are not as important to bishops as they are to politicians.Nevertheless, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips recently asked Bishop Joseph Malone of Maine if he realized just how out of step he is with current doctrinal trends in his own flock."So, bishop, times are changing," she said. "Views are changing. ... So, why not get on board with the 43 percent of Catholics?"The puzzled bishop replied: "The 43 percent who?""Who have no problem with gay marriage," said … [Read more...]

Bishops change course on religious liberty

When it comes to changing course, ecclesiastical bureaucracies are like giant oceangoing vessels that struggle to turn quickly when obstacles appear in their paths.It took time, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made a sea change in how it works on religious freedom issues.Faced with what they see as dangerous trends in the Obama administration, the bishops recently announced the creation of their own Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. The goal is to address church-state … [Read more...]

Catholic dad’s fight against abuse

It wasn't hard to connect the dots when, after decades of lurid news about the sexual abuse of the young, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered a Good Friday sermon bemoaning "how much filth" was in the church, including "the priesthood."Weeks after that signal in 2005, the cardinal became pope. Then at World Youth Day 2008, he said, "I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured. ... These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal … [Read more...]


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