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  • That’s it for four years, sports-loving people.

    Like almost all great sporting endeavors, the Rio Olympics ended with passions stirred by success rewarded respectfully and disappointment accepted civilly; at least, that’s the aspiration. To the armchair athlete, it’s been an uneasy mixture of thrill and discontent.

    Certain achievements defy easy description, notably U.S. swimming phenom Michael Phelps’s amazing, career-ending haul of medals....

  • South African local government elections, held Aug. 3 but only recently resolved, produced major upsets for the ruling African National Congress. The statutory two weeks allotted after the elections to form governments was certainly needed this time in a number of major cities. The outcome also suggests an uneasy period for municipal governance in general and the A.N.C.’s leadership in the country.

    The vote produced a number of surprises, particularly in the nation’s large cities....

  • Two men in different parts of the globe came across the same scene: They both saw a human being who was down and out. The afflicted men held signs that explained the particulars of their plight; they hoped a kind stranger would stop to offer them a reason for hope. The men who stopped to take notice of the homeless and unemployed men were themselves public officials—or, as those in the field like to view themselves, public servants. One was Mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque, N.M., and the...

  • For more than a year now, religiously motivated voters and political pundits have tried to figure out what role faith plays in the life and politics of Republican White House hopeful Donald J. Trump, discerning whether or not the Manhattan real estate mogul might make a good partner on issues ranging from abortion to religious liberty and everything in between.

    The conclusion among those who have mined his past, visited his former churches and studied old interviews is that, like his...

  • I’d start with stracciatella . It’s such a fun word to pronounce, and what’s there to explain? Other than to say, “It’s chocolate chip.” Of course, they’d want to know how that was different from, the similar looking, bacio , and I’d explain that it was made with the famous chocolates from Perugia. Over here was cioccolato al arancia , dark chocolate with orange flavoring. Of course pistacchio was pistachio. Where’d they think we got it from? Niocciola was hazelnut, all by itself.

    ...

  • Reuters Health released a story on Aug. 17 suggesting that Catholic hospitals cannot fully care for women with emergencies during their pregnancies and complaining that physicians at Catholic institutions are unable to make referrals for abortions or sterilization procedures. The venerable news wire apparently did not have the resources to reach a single administrator at one of the 600 or so...

  • Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege of making two extended visits to Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Ind. Both trips involved my work on the board of the American Benedictine Academy, a group of vowed monastics and Benedictine oblates that strives to preserve and promote the monastic tradition and its values.

    In the course of those visits, I spoke several times with Sister Mary Margaret “Meg” Funk, a delightful woman who is the author of several books explaining...

  • “It is really hard to maintain composure when these images are shown to you over and over each day. I have to look in the mirror and realize that Sterling or Castile could have been me.”

    Ephraim White, a Baton Rouge, La., resident, spoke to me following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. He described the effects of these tragedies on black men and women in the United States.

    Sterling was killed by police officers in Baton Rouge on...

  • Pope Francis will travel to Assisi on Sept. 20 to participate in the closing session of the World Day of Prayer for Peace. This event first took place 30 years ago, when St. John Paul II invited the leaders of the major world religions to come here to pray and fast for peace.

    This year’s event is organized by the Franciscan Families, the Diocese of Assisi and the Community of Sant’ Egidio, which has kept alive over the past 30 years “the spirit” of that first...

  • A new survey confirms what many have suspected: Catholics born in the 1980s and ’90s are less likely to be active in parish life and are more doubtful about God’s existence than their older peers. That’s according to a study published Tuesday by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate , which revisited a 2008 survey in order to look for changes in how Catholics of all ages...