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September 14, 2015

A Catholic magazine ran an article on divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. The writer was a professor of sociology—not a good sign when the issue is one of doctrine rather than social trends. After two pages of statistics and comparisons he got to his unsurprising prescription: let divorced Catholics remarry in the Church and let them receive Communion.

One did not have to wait until the end to discover the writer’s opinion. The article went bad in the first paragraph. He...

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...

August 31, 2015

That Saturday was blustery, filled with persistent showers and a low overcast. I saw our weekend plans running into the storm drains. Late at night I woke, peeked out the bedroom window, and saw stars—a good sign. The storms were passing and with them the winds. Sunday dawned cloudless, the air almost still. It would be ideal weather for our flight into Big Bear City for lunch.

After preflighting the motorglider, I settled into the left seat and my non-pilot friend got into the right...

August 24, 2015

Evangelical Protestants say that infants are not fit candidates for baptism because they are unable to manifest a desire to “accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.” Baptism, they say, is not regenerative—it does not do anything to the soul but is only a public sign to other Christians that the new believer believes.

In contrast, the Catholic Church (like the Eastern churches and “mainline” Protestant churches) always has taught that baptism forgives sins, infuses...

August 17, 2015

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a new pope a year from now. I’m not making a prediction—my prognosticational abilities are not sufficiently developed. I’m just bringing up a possibility, one that I think isn’t farfetched.

Let me begin by turning back the calendar a few pages, to 1292. Pope Nicholas IV, who had been reigning since 1288, died that April. He had been elected only after a long impasse among the papal electors. As it turned out, his successor was elected after an...