Author Archive for Russell Shaw

Synod of Bishops and the Year of Faith
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Synod of Bishops and the Year of Faith

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Listen to Archbishop Rino Fisichella and at first you might suppose that the new evangelization was a pretty simple affair. Declaring the “path” of evangelization to be clear in Scripture and tradition, he puts it like this: “We are called to renew the proclamation of Jesus Christ, of the mystery of his death and resurrection, […]

Kansas City Bishop on Trial
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Kansas City Bishop on Trial

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Thanks to media, American Catholics will soon be treated to another sad chapter in the story of clergy sex abuse. In fact, that may already have happened. Without little advance notice, the trial of Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City, Mo., for supposedly not moving fast enough to tell authorities about a troubled priest […]

The Church Is in Deep Trouble
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The Church Is in Deep Trouble

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Worried conservatives reacted negatively to the news that Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York had invited Barack Obama to the Al Smith Dinner in October. But the cardinal plainly believes the invitation serves the best interests of the Church—declaring war on the President of the United States by excluding him from this politically tinged festive […]

Mission Territory
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Mission Territory

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Will the present whiff of secularist persecution be a help toward healing what ails American Catholics as a Church? Leaving aside predictions, I’ll only say: it may. Cardinal Timothy Dolan has a flair for getting people’s attention. The Archbishop of New York did that recently by declaring the Big Apple “mission territory.” Many other bishops […]

The Crisis of Community
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The Crisis of Community

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In recent years social critics like Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) and Charles Murray (Coming Apart) have documented and deplored a decline of community among Americans. It’s  a development that affects churches along with other institutions of civil society. But “decline of community” is an abstraction and hardly self-explanatory. A story told by a man I […]

The Vatican's Real Communication Problem
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The Vatican’s Real Communication Problem

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“Smart move.” That’s how many loyal Catholics reacted to the announcement that the Vatican had hired a veteran American newsman as a consultant to grapple with its communication problems. In many respects, the reaction was correct. As an experienced professional with Fox News and Time, and a serious Catholic, Greg Burke is an excellent choice […]

The Marriage Debate is More Than Just a Word Game
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The Marriage Debate is More Than Just a Word Game

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President Obama’s announcement this May that he supports same-sex marriage underlines the urgent need for the Church to launch a massive new program to educate Catholics on the nature of sacramental marriage and on the vast difference between a marriage like that and civil marriage. The Church should also continue to participate in the debate […]

Book Review: <i>Suicide of a Superpower</i>
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Book Review: Suicide of a Superpower

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I was nearing the close of Pat Buchanan’s new book Suicide of a Superpower (St. Martin’s Press) when I read that MSNBC had fired him as a political commentator for expressing views offensive to political correctness as practiced at that left-leaning network. (“Left-leaning” as applied to MSNBC comes from the Los Angeles Times, which is […]

Benedict at 85
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Benedict at 85

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Nearing his 85th birthday on April 16 and, three days later, the seventh anniversary of his election to the throne of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI—even after so many years—apparently remained something of an enigma for many people. A small but telling incident before Easter may hold a key to understanding this unusual man. In case […]

This Fiesty Manifesto is Just What American Catholics Need
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This Fiesty Manifesto is Just What American Catholics Need

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“Social issues.” It’s a squishy, equivocal term suited to a mentality ill at ease with the hard-edged implications of “moral issues” and “morality.” What implications? That there are definite moral truths that show some things to be always and everywhere wrong and deserving of condemnation. Not what the “social issues” mindset cares to hear. There’s […]

Newman, the Supreme Court, and Broadcast Pornography
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Newman, the Supreme Court, and Broadcast Pornography

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Reading about two free speech cases now before the Supreme Court, I found myself thinking of Cardinal Newman. I’ll get to Cardinal Newman in a minute, but first let me say a word about those cases pending in the court. The basic issue in FCC v. Fox Television Stations and FCC v. ABC is the […]

The Mandate Controversy and the Bishops' Response
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The Mandate Controversy and the Bishops’ Response

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In determining to fight President Obama’s famous—or should I say infamous?—contraception mandate, the American bishops, I suspect, were devoutly hoping two things would not happen. The first undesired outcome was that the issue would become politicized. The second was that it would be seen as an argument over contraception itself. Predictably perhaps, both have occurred, […]

Bishops Set to Meet with HHS Mandate on Agenda
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Bishops Set to Meet with HHS Mandate on Agenda

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A quiet, closed-door meeting in Washington next month will be of crucial importance in shaping the Church’s response to the nation’s biggest church-state crisis in decades. When some 40 bishops of the administrative committee of the national bishops’ conference gather March 14-15 at conference headquarters, they’ll be looking at the Obama administration’s January mandate to […]

The Crisis in American Marriage -- Catholic Division
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The Crisis in American Marriage — Catholic Division

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I was chatting with a priest who is a judge with the marriage tribunal of his large Eastern diocese when he shared an interesting tidbit of information. In his diocese and the other dioceses of his state, the number of requests for marriage annulments has lately fallen by 10%. Good news? Fewer marriages on the […]

Signs the Secular Left is Facing Up to the U.S. Marriage Crisis
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Signs the Secular Left is Facing Up to the U.S. Marriage Crisis

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Is it possible that secular liberals, some of them anyway, are starting to realize  that knocking the supports out from under traditional marriage may not be such a great idea? If so, and if their next step is to think seriously about how to halt this destructive process, it will be the dawning of a […]

Hillary Clinton Pushes for Coercive Power of State on Behalf of LGBT Interests
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Hillary Clinton Pushes for Coercive Power of State on Behalf of LGBT Interests

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An address by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on gay rights as a priority of U.S. policy deserves far more attention than it’s gotten up to now. As a statement of the views of the Obama administration, Clinton’s remarks were a remarkably candid—and remarkably  chilling—exposition of official determination to make the world safe for LGBT […]

CL20 - hbratton notxt
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Christmas: Expect More!

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The problem many of us have with Christmas isn’t that we expect too much of it but that we expect much too little. My Christmas wish for all of us, myself included, is that we raise our sights and ask for all that God really wants to give us. If we can open ourselves to […]

Iraq Scorecard, December 2011
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Iraq Scorecard, December 2011

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As active U.S. military involvement in Iraq draws to a close, what does the moral scorecard on this adventure look like from an American point of view? Granted that a comprehensive weighing of results will only be possible some years from now, at the moment the picture is something like this. In a perverse way, […]

Silence is Important for... Communication?
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Silence is Important for… Communication?

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I have to admit that it really didn’t impress me very favorably the first time I read it: “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization”—that will be the theme of next May’s World Day for Social Communications, the Vatican announcement said. That’s really strange, I thought. After all, even as it stands World Communications Day isn’t […]

The Vatican -- Highly Relevant on Financial Reform
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The Vatican — Highly Relevant on Financial Reform

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There’s a widespread impression that the international financial system which the United States and its friends put in place after World War II is breaking down. The old system may of course be patched up and limp along for some time to come, but sooner or later something else will take its place. What that […]

The Persecution Has Begun
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The Persecution Has Begun

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“What the Catholic Church in the United States really needs to stiffen its backbone is a good persecution.” How often, I wonder, have I heard somebody say something like that? How often have I said something like it myself? Be careful what you ask for—you may get it. The persecution of religion in America has […]

Hello? Anybody out there?
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Hello? Anybody out there?

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Draw yourself an organization chart representing the Catholic Church. What you’ll get is a sketch of an ecclesiastical institution that on paper looks like a genuine world class internal communication machine. Those boxes and lines could lead the beholder to suppose that if the Pope says something on Monday morning, then by the following Sunday […]

America's Endless War
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America’s Endless War

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Is America condemned to endless war? And if so, what implications does that have for the American psyche — the American soul? A friend of mine who is a practicing poet writing under the pen name Pavel Chichikov shares a poem composed after hearing the roar of F-16s — presumably engaged in protecting the citizenry […]

Could the London Riots Happen Here?
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Could the London Riots Happen Here?

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Commentary on the riots inLondon and other British cities has frequently made the point that what happened there could be a forerunner of something that might happen inAmerica. And why not? After all, it already has — think of Watts, think of the eruptions inWashingtonand other American cities after Dr. Martin Luther King was killed. […]

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