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June 30, 2016

I was invited to Thursday dinner at the largest parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Arriving right on time, I was disconcerted to find the rectory empty except for the housekeeper.

“I’m sorry,” I said to her. “I must have marked the wrong date on my calendar.”

“No, you have the right date,” she replied, “but dinner will be a bit late. All the priests are still hearing confessions.”

“On a Thursday?”

When the four priests returned to the rectory, the pastor...

May 23, 2016

Late one Saturday afternoon, I was snoozing on the sofa when the doorbell awakened me. Craning my neck, I noticed two well-dressed young women at the screen door.

“What can I do for you?” I called out, thinking they were Avon ladies and not wanting to be disturbed.

“We’re Witnesses of Jehovah, and we’d like to share some Scripture truths with you.”

I was up in a flash. My wife was about to put an early supper on the table. “Go ahead without me,” I told her. “I have work...

May 9, 2016

A slight detour on a cross-country trip took me to Possum Kingdom. The tiny community is in north-central Texas and lies nestled against the shore of a lake that attracts many people during the summer but few on the chilly day that I visited. I dropped in to see Bill and Mary Keeley, long-time friends of the family. When I was a teenager, they lived across the street from us, and I am godfather to two of their now-grown children.

Bill had sent me an e-mail a few weeks earlier, seeking...

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...

February 10, 2016
Lucca, Italy

I’m in Lucca, the walled city.

I arrived yesterday afternoon from Florence. From the train station it was a fifteen-minute walk to my hotel, the San Luca Palace, located within the walled historical center near the westernmost gates, Porta Sant’Anna and Porta San Donato. The hotel is one of the nicest I’ve seen in Italy: an elegant breakfast room, fine parquet flooring along the hallways, and everything new and clean. My room is oversized, with a shower so large I can turn without...