September 17, 2021

Pope Gregory XVI (1765-1846) opposed gas street lamps and railroad engines. Although these examples are silly today, Catholicism’s cautious stance toward modern advancements had some merit. For example, our modern notion of individual liberty is a monumental achievement of modern thinking.  But Gregory XVI was well aware of the downside. The French Revolution (1789-1799), waged under the banner of liberty, was accompanied by Reign of Terror. It involved over 16,000 executions, including many clergy and religious. Property was confiscated; Catholic… Read more

August 26, 2021

International Workers Day (May Day), the counterpart to our September Labor Day, was inspired by an 1886 event here in Chicago. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor obtained a city permit for a May rally/demonstration in the Haymarket area (now a trendy restaurant spot).  Late in the evening someone at the rally threw dynamite. Police began to fire wildly into the dwindling crowd. Soon seven officers and four workers were dead. Eight workers were quickly rounded up, including a… Read more

August 17, 2021

A major cause of our loneliness epidemic is the 50-year deterioration of intermediate-sized groups—ethnic clubs, lodges, parishes, neighborhood associations, precincts, young adult clubs and even families. The extended family no longer lives within walking distance. Seniors relocate among strangers; their children often live in other towns. A person who uses a social media platform has, on average, about 150 “friends.” Several surveys reveal that if friendship implies steady, close and dependable, the actual number is less than five. Gallup Poll… Read more

August 5, 2021

I’m against social distancing. I’m into physical distancing instead. There is already too much social distance in our country. Covid-19 is accompanied by a dramatic increase in the amount of time people spend alone. “People last year spent far less waking time—an hour and a half less [per day], on average—with people outside their own household,” write Ben Casselman and Ella Koeze in N.Y. Times (7/29/21), summarizing a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Time spent all… Read more

June 29, 2021

The Working Catholic by Bill Droel Modern Catholic social doctrine dates from May 1891 with the publication of On the Condition of Labor by Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903). Customarily, social encyclicals are subsequently released on significant anniversaries of On the Condition of Labor. In May 1981 Mehmet Ali Agca, a criminal from Turkey, shot Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) in St. Peter’s Square. Thus John Paul II’s anniversary encyclical was delayed until September 1981. It is titled On Human Work…. Read more

June 2, 2021

The Working Catholic: Labor Day Part IIby Bill Droel Covid-19 brings us an opportunity to experiment with different work arrangements, including shorter hours. For example, the 100 employees at Kickstarter (, a popular crowd-funding platform, will work four days per week in 2022, a minimum of 32 hours. Their pay remains the same as when the company required 40 hours. Aziz Hasan, Kickstarter CEO, says this is not a gimmick. “It’s really about…a more potent impact… [And] it opens up… Read more

May 14, 2021

The Working Catholic: Shrine, Statue and Boat by Bill Droel Three Catholic women, champions of the poor, are honored with landmarks in lower Manhattan. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, SC (1774-1821) came from a prominent New York City family and married a wealthy merchant. But difficulties arrived soon enough, including the death of her husband to tuberculosis. Thereafter Seton became a Catholic and moved to Maryland. There she established a Catholic academy for girls; the first Catholic school in the U.S…. Read more

May 3, 2021

The Working Catholic: After Covid by Bill Droel The parish’s live-stream Mass should continue. In fact, we should invest in a second camera and even consider some programming during the week. No, say other parish leaders. Live stream was helpful, but its continuation will discourage people from returning to the church building. Similar questions are raised about parish meetings via Zoom; about the merits of investing more time and money in the parish website; about the viability of the parish… Read more

March 9, 2021

The Working Catholic: Truth by Bill Droel God has a plan and God plants purposefulness inside God’s creation. The universe has an order, even though we do not yet completely know all about it. Behavior is purposeful, even if we sometimes are guided by impulse or at times violate the intended purpose of nature and life. Events are meaningful, even if our complete understanding of them eludes us. As God’s purposeful partners, we are capable of imposing meaning even on… Read more

March 4, 2021

Lent is the time for particular attention to sinfulness. Yet this year as in years past an increasing number of Catholics and others forego participation in the sacrament of reconciliation (aka confession). Why? The dominant explanation is that workaday Christians simply do not feel sinful. Our culture is saturated with psychological language about self-fulfillment, replacing the language of evil. Yesterday’s poor behavior is merely a step on the way to a better self. As particularly related to sinfulness, the insights… Read more

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