Praying With Strangers, Now That The Pope’s Gone


The best part of the papal visit for me wasn't the pope himself, but all the people he drew together in his wake.  I'm at First Things today, talking about how to keep making connections to all the people who filled the streets, now that we can't rely on one big event to introduce us to each other. The papal visit drew people out, and made it easy to disclose our faith to each other. It felt like a much more joyful and communal version of the annual Catholic Census that happens on every Ash W … [Read more...]

Pope Francis Retold Our American History


Catherine Addington has a great piece up today at The American Conservative on the way Pope Francis spoke to American Catholics, and emphasized how our American identity can be a gift we bring to the church: In his remarks to Pope Francis at Independence Hall, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia name-dropped Alexander Hamilton in praising the contributions of immigrants to the nation’s civic fabric. It may have been a coincidence that Hamilton was mentioned just as so many people are dis … [Read more...]

It’s Hard To Be A Priest In America, Spread Thinner Than Ever

Met Benedictines Sister Gertrude and Sister Scholastica on the Capitol lawn, and we all got verklempt about the Pope's speech together

I've got more popebloggery at FiveThirtyEight, this time, looking at Pope Francis's guidance to his brother bishops on pastoral care, and how the demographics of American Catholicism make his call hard to live up to:In his final exhortation to his brother bishops in Washington, Pope Francis urged them to find ways to encourage the spiritual growth of priests, “lest they yield to the temptation to become notaries and bureaucrats, but instead reflect the motherhood of the church, which gives bi … [Read more...]

How Do You Quantify the Francis Effect?

(the local pizza place put this up)

Over at FiveThirtyEight, I've rounded up Catholic nerds and data nerds to try to answer the question "How can you tell if Francis (or any other Pope) is a success?"  I actually made a bet with a friend on the success of Francis's papacy not long after he became pontiff (and the bet comes due in 2016); it was pretty hard to find something to measure.  I promise you that what we went with wasn't this, though:PEG: I think before you even think of metrics, you have to think about what criteria co … [Read more...]

Ridiculously Over-Engineered Approaches To Empathy


When I was complaining about a plane delay on facebook, a friend of mine generously bought me a kindle copy of Margaret Drabble's The Millstone, and told me that I might particularly enjoy it as a recovering Stoic and Kantian.  She was right.I also liked how much it reminded me of Ben Hoffman's recent post on "Werewolf Feelings" but let's address Drabble first.  Here's a scene where the protagonist carefully doesn't overreach with a lover. And even then, at that moment, I did not have the co … [Read more...]

A Sondheim Song for Your Papal Mixtape

pacific overtures

My parish started its Adult Sunday School (taught by Dominican friars) this past weekend, and we kicked off the semester with a discussion of the Pope's encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.  I'm not about to summarize the whole encyclical or even the whole class, but I am pleased to tell you that, if you're building up a Laudato Si mixtape, I have a song to recommend.One of the themes of our discussion was what Pope Francis terms "the technocratic paradigm" where we increase our power t … [Read more...]

I’m So Glad I Watched Colbert’s Biden Interview

I don't have much to add to it, I just figured a lot of you would enjoy watching it, but might not have done it yet.  I got all verklempt.  … [Read more...]