Author Archive for Russell Shaw

Destroyed Wedding Cake
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Pope Francis Tackles the Marriage Epidemic

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Much has been made of Catholics’ negativism toward Church teaching and practice on marriage as it was reflected in survey results released by several European bishops’ conferences and some U.S. dioceses. The mostly self-selected respondents predictably disagreed with the Church about many things, leading progressive Catholic media to claim this showed the need for change. […]

Pope's Vision for Restructuring the Church
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Pope’s Vision for Restructuring the Church

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Pope Francis is contemplating a major reworking of the top-level administrative machinery of the Church. Commentators sometimes describe this as “reforming the Roman Curia,” but if the Pope’s own words–together with public and private proposals intended to influence the result–are any indication, the project could extend far beyond reshuffling dicasteries and straightening out the affairs […]

Pope Francis on Gays
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Pope Francis on Gays

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Two days after Pope Francis’ now famous remarks on homosexuals and homosexuality, I heard a homily in which the homilist said Francis was giving us light “to see things in a way we never saw them before.” That certainly is true. What the homilist didn’t say is that in the present instance the Pope also […]

Why Leakers Do It
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Why Leakers Do It

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Why do leakers do it? Probably many Americans have asked that question lately, moved by the cases of Edward Snowden, the security contractor who spilled the beans about government surveillance of phone calls and electronic communication, and Bradley Manning, the army private who leaked documents allegedly showing American blundering in Iraq. In passing, it’s easier […]

The Phony Inevitability of Same-Sex Marraige
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The Phony Inevitability of Same-Sex Marraige

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Claims that something is inevitable are generally of two kinds. Sometimes the claim is simply a statement of fact (“Inevitably, the sun will rise tomorrow”). Other times it expresses a wish or perhaps a fear (“So-and-so is sure to be the next president of the United States”). The claim that same-sex marriage is inevitable in […]

American Church
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American Church

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In the question period after a talk I’d given on my new book, American Church, a woman raised an important point: “If the Church in the U.S. faces as many problems as you say, why is it doing so much better here than in much of Europe?” Great question. My answer–which I also give in […]

Our Anticlerical Pope
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Our Anticlerical Pope

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Is Pope Francis our first anticlerical pope? Technically speaking, he isn’t–his two predecessors also were more or less critical of clericalism–but he is well on his way to being the most outspoken one. Consider a widely circulated quote from a 2011 interview he gave while he was still Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. In case […]

The Crisis of Idol Worship
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The Crisis of Idol Worship

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In one of his typically simple, direct, and forceful homilies, Pope Francis warned recently against idols and idolatry. “We have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security,” he told a congregation in Rome. The […]

Making Matters Worse
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Making Matters Worse

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“Is Traditional Marriage Toast?” That question recently caught my attention as the heading of an article in the neo-conservative Weekly Standard. The answer was either “very possibly” (a subhead attached to the piece) or “probably not” (an objective reading would suggest that). Take your pick. Be not afraid. Marriage and family life won’t vanish, given […]

Impregnable America?
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Impregnable America?

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On the evening of the Boston Marathon bombing I was doing a radio interview about a book I’d written. Before getting to me, the host asked listeners to pray for victims of the atrocity in Boston and for the nation. When my turn came, I said, “My prayer is ‘deliver us from evil.’” The host […]

President Obama and 'Equality'
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President Obama and ‘Equality’

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As all the world surely knows by now, “equality” is the ideological key to President Obama’s domestic policies. That all people are created equal, the president says, is the “most evident of truths.” Whether that’s so or not, it is unquestionably the case that you express any reservations whatsoever about equality these days at no […]

Same-Sex Marriage Approval Ratings
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Same-Sex Marriage Approval Ratings

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Surprise! Approval of same-sex marriage has risen sharply among Americans in just a few years–according to one poll, from 41% in favor in 2004 to nearly 60% now. Surprise! Some surprise. The same media trumpeting this change lately worked hard to bring it about. Major sectors of the communication industry, both news and entertainment, have […]

What Pope Francis Will Do
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What Pope Francis Will Do

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The surprising election of Pope Francis plainly was no surprise to the people who really counted: the cardinals, that is, who swiftly chose him on the first full day and fifth ballot of the conclave. While not a speed record, the timing showed the electors had no difficulty agreeing that the Archbishop of Buenos Aires […]

What We Need in a New Pope
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What We Need in a New Pope

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“I hope we get a nice pope,” a good Catholic woman told me soon after Benedict XVI announced his resignation. “I don’t care whether he’s nice or not,” I replied. “I just hope he’s strong.” Actually, I’d be glad if the next pope were nice, with a winning smile and a friendly manner. But vastly […]

Papal Resignation Rates an A+
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Papal Resignation Rates an A+

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For the last several weeks I’ve been teaching an online course about the role of the Catholic laity. We’d just gotten to the subject of personal vocation when the startling news came through: Benedict XVI was stepping down as pope. Posting a question that Monday morning to get my students’ discussion rolling for the week, […]

The Popularity of Ash Wednesday
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The Popularity of Ash Wednesday

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Why is it that Ash Wednesday and Lent remain relatively popular even in highly secularized times like these? It’s a serious question that touches on matters deeper than might at first be supposed. The popularity I speak of can be seen year after year on Ash Wednesday, when people–some of them perhaps not all that […]

The Supreme Court Looks at Marriage and Gender
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The Supreme Court Looks at Marriage and Gender

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Defenders of traditional marriage may not believe it, but the Supreme Court’s apparent intention to decide two important same-sex marriage cases by midyear may be a stroke of good fortune for their side. This timing means the Supreme Court’s first head-on tangle with this issue almost certainly will come before President Obama gets an opportunity […]

Secular Second Thoughts on Sexual the Revolution
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Secular Second Thoughts on Sexual the Revolution

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The disruptive results for individuals and society spawned by the revolution in attitudes and behavior regarding sex, marriage, family, and childbearing that erupted a half-century ago have become too obvious to ignore. These things were predictable–in fact, some people actually predicted them from the start–but by now their impact has grown so painfully apparent that […]

The Challenges that Face the Prolife Movement
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The Challenges that Face the Prolife Movement

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As the prolife movement contemplates four decades of legalized abortion in the United States and asks itself what really needs doing to halt this hideous scandal, prolifers should consider adding a new word to their vocabulary: ambivalence. According to the dictionary, ambivalence is the state of having mutually conflicting emotions or thoughts about something. And […]

Tough Religion and Evangelization
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Tough Religion and Evangelization

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Much has been said lately about how to do evangelization. I’ve contributed a bit to that myself. Now I begin to think that, instead of always stressing niceness, it might be good to give tough religion a try. That idea was inspired by a reading of Eric Metaxas’s biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian […]

Catholic Politics
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Catholic Politics

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The cardinal looked grim. “This is the situation now,” he said. “One political party is dangerous and the other is stupid.” Since that was said in a private chat, it wouldn’t be fair for me to name the speaker. But his comment expresses sentiments that probably are widely shared in the American hierarchy today, as […]

An Inhuman Economic System
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An Inhuman Economic System

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If someone is looking for material for a book with a title like Profiles of an Inhuman Economic System, consider what follows to be a contribution to the cause. It’s about a man I know whom I’ll call Joe. His wife told me his story. Joe is an honest, conscientious guy who, a couple of […]

Critiquing the Campaign
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Critiquing the Campaign

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As the 2012 campaign passes into history, it’s not too soon to note some of the genuine horrors of this increasingly strange way of choosing a president. First, though, let me repeat a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic Democracy in America that I cited many months ago when the campaign was heating up. The […]

Pondering the Future of American Catholicism
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Pondering the Future of American Catholicism

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Two new books by thoughtful Catholic authors take deeply different views of the future of American Catholicism. Both deserve serious pondering. One of them is called Why Catholicism Matters. The subtitle tells it all: “How Catholic Virtues Can Reshape Society in the 21st Century” (Image Books). It’s the work of Bill Donohue,  feisty president of […]

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