October 3, 2016
It was a time of great economic uncertainty and political turmoil. The next election promised to move the nation closer to a terrible precipice, and the native-born were frustrated by their diminished status, one accelerated by an apparently endless flow of newcomers who seemed destined to dislocate and replace them. Cries of “America for Americans” rose across the anxious republic.
Was that 1856 or last week? It appears it has been both. Responding to the “dog whistling”—or worse—of...
September 26, 2016
On Sept. 1, John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University, announced that the school would formally ask for forgiveness and seek to make restitution for the institution’s involvement in the sin of slavery. By doing so the Georgetown community engaged in a process in which all Catholics are called to participate, one that the church has used to dramatic effect as it sought to redress wrongs in its own history. The journey of reconciliation is usually told from the point of view of...
September 19, 2016
Crime is an easy target for outrage; it has no defenders. But all too often, the easiest way to signal opposition to crime is to call for ever harsher and less effective measures against criminals. Especially in a campaign season, politicians are only too ready to succumb to this temptation. The rhetorical exploitation of fear for political gain, often against better empirical evidence, is currently blocking action on criminal justice reform despite significant bipartisan consensus that it...
September 12, 2016
A recent study reported in The New York Times (8/3) determined that people who read books live an average of almost two years longer than nonreaders. Indeed, the lives of readers are likely to be not only longer but deeper. Reading can help develop empathy and build the capacity for more compassion, joy and love. As the United States observes September as National Literacy Month and students return to school, that is all the more reason to be concerned about...
August 29-September 6, 2016
‘I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae,” wrote St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans (16:1). What did Paul mean when he referred to Phoebe as a deacon? What kind of diakonos was she? How did she serve the church? Was she ordained as a deacon? And if so, what did her ordination mean? These questions, which may once have seemed arcane, have taken on greater urgency in the wake of Pope Francis’ recent decision to appoint a commission to study the historicity of...
August 15-22, 2016
Editors' note: A version of this editorial first appeared online on July 28.
At its national convention in July, the Democratic Party, under Hillary Clinton’s leadership, adopted a platform that opposes a compromise that has held for almost four decades. Since 1977, the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, has been routinely adopted into federal spending bills every year. As with any real compromise, no one on either side of the issue finds...
August 1-8, 2016
At the memorial service for the five police officers killed in Dallas on July 7, President Obama asked, “Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other?” On one Dallas street a few days earlier, some Americans already had begun to answer. On July 10 a small group of protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement marched down the street, frustrated with police brutality toward black Americans. On the other side of the road, a small group of counter-...
July 18-25, 2016
The “Brexit” referendum revealed some deep divisions in British society: between Scotland and England, between London and the rest of England, between young and old; the economically well off and those the economy has left behind; and, perhaps most alarmingly, between those ready to welcome immigrants and those fearful of more immigration. It also revealed a fundamental divide between the political, financial and journalistic leaders of the United Kingdom and the society they putatively lead...
July 4-11, 2016
When Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” was published one year ago on June 18, the document was cheered by Catholics and non-Catholics alike for its bold call to preserve “our common home” for future generations. But what was dubbed the “climate change” encyclical by many in the press is about more than reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The pope’s “integral ecology” includes another inconvenient truth: “It is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the...
June 20-27, 2016
On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.” The report described five cases in which young, previously healthy gay men were diagnosed with a rare lung infection—a report that would eventually become the first official publication on the H.I.V./AIDS epidemic in the United States.
By 1989 the number of reported AIDS cases in the United States had...