February 15, 2016
T he water coming out of taps in Flint, Mich., has been a frightening orange-brown for more than a year now, but the official declaration of a state of emergency was made only last month. In April 2014, under the direction of state-appointed emergency managers, the financially distressed city switched from using water purchased from Detroit to drawing its water from the Flint River to save money. Corrosive water running through old pipes caused lead to leach into the drinking...
February 8, 2016
When a leading candidate for the U.S. presidency refers to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals and rises in the polls; when his competitors joust over who will build a bigger wall and expel more undocumented persons; when the outgoing administration steps up deportation raids to deter future migrants, it is time to reframe the conversation in the United States about our southern neighbor.
Pope Francis’ upcoming...
February 1, 2016
On Jan. 2 the government of Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The cleric, along with 46 other individuals, was accused of inciting terrorism within the kingdom. Following the execution, protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. In the aftermath, Saudi Arabia—as well as Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates—cut off diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran. In a statement released on Jan. 10, the Arab League also...
January 18-25, 2016
In his message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis began with a crucial reminder: “God is not indifferent! God cares about mankind! God does not abandon us!” The reminder may seem obvious, but it is necessary after a year like 2015, which was difficult for many. Last year saw increasing numbers of refugees, troubling religious persecution and tragic violence at home and abroad. In the face of such sorrow, some may lose hope for peace; some may...
January 4-11, 2016
The middle class is now a minority in the United States, according to a study released in December by the Pew Research Center, which warns of “a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point.” We hope not to reach another tipping point, at which policymakers would accept the steady loss of middle-class families as inevitable. This would be another sign that we have given up on the idea of a common good, following the near-extinction of labor unions...
December 21-28, 2015
One of the most moving moments of Pope Francis’ recent trip to Eastern and Central Africa was also one of the most historic. To inaugurate the Jubilee of Mercy, the pope decided that he would open the main holy door not in Rome, as popes have always done, but in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. “Today Bangui becomes the spiritual capital of the world,” he said. On that day the attention of the church and much of the world was focused...
December 7-14, 2015
After the nightmare of the attacks by the Islamic State in Paris on Nov. 13, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land in Jerusalem called for a unification of “forces of good” to put an end to the rampage. It is impossible to argue with that exhortation except to ask how the “forces of good” should mobilize themselves without further contributing to the evils they oppose. There are no easy choices ahead in confronting the Islamic State (for which the bishops used the...
November 30, 2015
The release of a new and shocking report concerning the impact of economic change on vulnerable citizens could not have come at a better time. It comes in the wake of the papal visit and before an election year, when both the American people and leaders of the church are examining their economic and moral priorities. Pope Francis has challenged both the church and Congress to direct their energies toward serving the weak and the poor.
A team of economists—Anne...
November 23, 2015
Speaking to a gathering of Christian business executives on Oct. 31, Pope Francis addressed the need for maternity leave and strikingly insisted that women should not be forced to choose between work and family. They “must be protected and helped in this dual task: the right to work and the right to motherhood.” He argued that the harmonization of work and family life is a way of recognizing that employees are the most valuable resource of a company.
November 16, 2015
Our church has attracted many headlines in recent months. In May we had the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’,” which studied the environment and oftentimes adverse impact of human activity on it. In September we welcomed Francis to the United States, with his addresses to Congress and to the United Nations, many prayer services and parades and visits to prisoners, the homeless, religious women and hundreds of thousands at Philadelphia’s World Meeting of...