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April 4, 2016
Cardinal Robert Sarah

We were gathered around a campfire high in the Sierra Nevada. This was a Catholic backpacking trip, so talk naturally turned to goings on within the Church. After we discussed several topics, there was a lull.

I poked at the fire with a stick, sending a plume of sparks into the air, and looked at the priest to my left. His illuminated face looked Mosaic. A man with extensive contacts in Rome, he knew many of the “players,” so I asked, “When the next conclave comes around, who is on...

December 14, 2015

The Church Comes Home is a book about the ultimate in atomistic Christianity: starting your own church in your own home. The authors are Robert and Julia Banks. I found an advertising blurb used to promote the book to be unintentionally instructive:

“Home churches are as old as the New Testament, and now the Bankses help you carry on the tradition in your community of faith! Discover how to start a home church of your own, determine doctrine, form a network with...

November 9, 2015

I received a report of what a recent and devout “revert” (a one-time Catholic who has returned to the Faith) suffered through when assisting at Mass in a large Midwestern diocese she was visiting.

To me the most annoying thing wasn’t that none of the parishioners she spoke with knew where the tabernacle was located (hint: not in full view within the church, which is what the regulations insist on). And it wasn’t that the priest skipped the introductory rites and ad libbed his way...

October 12, 2015

Bishop Musonius of Neocaesarea died in 368, and St. Basil sent a consolatory letter to the Christians of that city. He praised the deceased as “a bulwark of his native land, an ornament of the churches, a pillar and foundation of the truth, a firm support of the faith of Christ, a steadfast helper for his friends, a most formidable foe for his enemies, a guardian of the ordinances of the Fathers, an enemy of innovation.”

This seems a fine eulogy, except that the final sentiment is...

September 7, 2015

In recent years the term “scandal” has achieved new vitality in politics, finance, and religion. Hardly a day goes by that headlines do not feature the word, particularly in reference to the Church. The word has become so ubiquitous that Catholics use a shorthand when speaking among themselves. We refer to “the scandal,” with no need for further elucidation. We all know which scandal we mean, even if we do not all know what is meant by the underlying term.

Most Catholics were brought...