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  • In a statement on China released by the Vatican on Dec. 20, the Holy See sought to reassure Chinese Catholics that it understands their concerns because of recent events in the church’s life there. The Holy See declared that it is closely monitoring what is happening to the church in China and asked for “positive signals” from Beijing that would help China’s Catholics “have trust” in the Sino-Vatican dialogue.

    In recent weeks, Catholics in China have been perplexed by the silence of...

  • By some process that none of us understands fully, 2016 has become a year of anger. Anger needs an object. Too often, that object has been the refugee population although there have been alarming reports of hateful behavior, even including personal attacks, on other migrants from both Eastern Europe and from further afield.

    Whether this resentment was latent—and is only now uncontained because of the year’s remarkable political developments—is hard to say. What we do know is this:...

  •  Pope Francis greets Syrian refugees he brought to Rome from the Greek island of Lesbos in mid-April at Ciampino airport in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

    Though he turned 80 a couple of weeks ago , Pope Francis did not slow down in 2016:

    1. Papal globetrotting continued His travel schedule wasn’t as grueling as previous years. He left Europe just once, for a February visit to Mexico.

    But during a layover in Havana, Francis...

  • Pope Francis, in an act of clemency, has allowed one of the chief perpetrators of Vatileaks II, the Spanish monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Baldo, to leave prison and return to his home diocese in Spain.

    The Vatican announced this on the evening of Dec. 20. It said the pope granted Msgr. Vallejo Baldo clemency through “the benefit of conditional freedom” although he has not extinguished his prison sentence.

    The 55-year-old Spaniard was condemned...

  • But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. ~ Lk 1:29

    One of the rhetorical techniques I learned about in divinity school has the fancy Latin name captatio benevolentiae , or the “winning of goodwill.” We might call this “buttering up” one’s audience. Gabriel uses it to good effect in the Annunciation, hailing Mary warmly as “favored one,” and assuring her, “the Lord is with you.” A peasant woman of no means or social standing,...

  • A seminarian holds a rosary as he prepares to participate in a discussion with a youth group. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

    When a Vatican office released a new document about the formation of new priests earlier this month , it reiterated a 2005 policy that has been interpreted as barring gay men from the priesthood, despite the not insignificant number of priests who identify as gay.

    But a priest in Chicago, who has advised two cardinals on theological issues and who has written extensively about the church...

  • “ Exhausted parents clutching terrified children in their arms, young people pushing the old in makeshift carts or wheelchairs and families pulling overstuffed suitcases: the scenes from east Aleppo are those of a new exodus ” (The Guardian Weekly, Dec. 9).

    Our group, a bus full of U.S. college faculty and high school students, descended upon Aleppo during a month-long summer exploration of Syria and Jordan in 1993. Our arrival in Damascus had coincided with the United States’...

  • When a basketball player encounters a shooting slump, he does not stop shooting. Rather, he perseveres, and continues lobbing up the ball. He trusts that sooner or later he will emerge out of this unproductive period, by “keeping on keeping on.”

    Sometimes we face a praying slump, too: We encounter a period of stasis, of non-productivity, of ineffectiveness. We emerge from our spiritual burrow and do not feel refreshed, or enlightened, or enthused. We just feel...

  • Cambridge, MA. In my last post on the Hindu theologian Ramanuja’s 1,000th birth anniversary, I did not mention that it was my 300th blog posting for In All Things. At an average of 1,000 words a blog, the fact of 300 blogs means I have posted around 300,000 words at this site since first posting an entry in December 2007.

    I realize it may seem odd, in today’s fast-moving world, that I have actually counted up the number of posts I have made, but as the accompanying picture shows, I...

  • An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” ~ Matt. 1.20

    What is God asking of me? This is one of the central questions we ask during the time we spend in prayer, as we listen for the voice of God in our lives. But often, God’s plan is underway well before we understand it; human comprehension lags well behind divine implementation! That is, something happens in our lives that we...