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Home » Opinion
  • A work in progress



    All Saints Day gives me hope. Don't get me wrong. I know that the distance between me and anything that could be called sanctity stretches longer, wider, and deeper than the Grand Canyon -- maybe even the Milky Way. But I'm grateful to be a few lightyears closer than I used to be, not because of anything I've done or achieved, but simply because God's mercy is everlasting.

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  • All Souls Day and the Catholic Cemetery Association



    The month of November, including All Saints and All Souls Days, is a special time in the Church's calendar. The faithful are encouraged to remember their beloved dead in the particular prayers, scriptures and celebrations of this time of the liturgical year. They are invited to visit the resting places of their beloved dead, to inscribe the names of their loved ones in the Book of the Names of the Dead, and to pray at all times for the repose of the souls of not only their own beloved dead but also all the faithful who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising, including those who have no one to pray for them. We celebrate in communion with all the angels and saints and the communion of believers who have preceded us in death.

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  • Cardinal Humberto Medeiros: The Boston years, 1970-1983



    Shock, surprise, and a generally tepid welcome characterized the arrival of Humberto Medeiros when he took the reins as the fourth Archbishop of Boston on Oct. 7, 1970. Despite his excellent record in Brownsville and the fact that Critic magazine named him one of the 12 bishops with the most promise for their future in the American Church, Medeiros' appointment was a surprise to most and, unfortunately, not welcomed by some. As the first non-Irish or Irish-American to serve as bishop, save the founding prelate Jean Cheverus, Medeiros's appointment placed him in an apologetic position from the outset. While the rationale for his appointment can only be speculated, there is no doubt that, from the outset, he vigorously engaged in his new work, following the iconic Cardinal Richard Cushing.

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  • Saints, here and there



    The first reading focuses us for today's solemnity. In the Book of Revelation, St. John reports "a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue."

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  • Quo vadis, MLB?



    There has been very little good that has come of the Great Pandemic of 2020. But at least sports fans during September were offered a veritable smorgasbord of games to choose from on TV. The football season got underway; the NBA playoffs were in full swing; and there was a baseball game being played virtually every night.

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  • 'Catholic' Bible vs. King James



    Q. I was raised Catholic and love my religion. But my brother has become a Pentecostal. He says that the King James Bible was published before the Catholic one and that Catholics added other books to the Bible afterward. Can you tell me when the Catholic version and the King James were published? (Richmond, Indiana)

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  • What now for the Supreme Court?



    As I write this, it is unknown whether President Donald Trump will win or lose his bid for reelection. Either way, however, his most lasting legacy may be his naming three new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court -- including, of course, Amy Coney Barrett.

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  • Prudential voting in bad times



    Sixty years ago, Father John Courtney Murray, SJ, published what I regard as the finest Catholic analysis of American democracy ever penned: "We Hold These Truths -- Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition." In recent decades, Father Murray has been accused of being an uncritical celebrant of the United States. That unjust charge is decisively refuted by the most pungent sentence in "We Hold These Truths," which I shall cite in a moment.

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  • Just a parish priest



    It is a providential occurrence that Father Michael McGivney will be beatified this Saturday in Hartford during the year in which we mark the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX's declaring St. Joseph the patron of the Universal Church.

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  • Superstition has no place in life of faith



    A contemporary government official, in a high-profile speech, once enthused about the benefits and powers of science. She also spoke disparagingly about people who believe that "personalities can be determined by looking at planets coming in front of invented constellations," and people who are "still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process, let alone, oh my goodness, a random process."

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  • The Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle



    This past Sunday, Oct. 18, the Catholic Church throughout the world celebrated Mission Sunday. As we reflect on the Holy Father's chosen theme this year, "Here I am! Send me!" we remember those who have answered the call to missionary work in years past. Today, we offer a brief history of the establishment of the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, an organization of diocesan priests that has been serving continuously in Latin America since 1958.

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  • Cardinal Humberto Medeiros: The Brownsville years, 1966-1970



    Humberto Medeiros was not only surprised when he was named bishop in Brownsville; in fact, he had to find on a map where the Holy Father had sent him! Still, commenting on Medeiros' appointment, the dean of American Catholic historians, and a former teacher of Medeiros at Catholic University, John Tracy Ellis, spoke of his appointment as "a striking example of the right man in the right place." On the southeastern border of Texas with Mexico, Brownsville had only become a diocese in 1965, separating from Corpus Christi. For all practical purposes, Medeiros was the first bishop as Adolph Marx, who took the reins as bishop in September 1965, resided in the diocese for only a couple of weeks before traveling to Rome for the fourth session of Vatican II. He died on November 1 while on a home visit to Germany. For this reason, and others, Medeiros faced some significant challenges when he arrived to serve the newly created diocese.

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  • Love commanded



    Jesus came not to abolish the Old Testament law but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17). And in today's Gospel, He reveals that love -- of God and of neighbor -- is the fulfillment of the whole of the law (see Romans 13:8--10).

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  • The rise and hard fall of a hard drinker



    Just 90 years ago, Sunday, Sept. 28, was the final day of the 1930 baseball regular season. In the last of the eighth inning that day, at Chicago's Wrigley Field, Lewis "Hack" Wilson of the Cubs singled, driving home shortstop Woody English from third base. It was Wilson's 191st RBI of the year, establishing an all-time record, which has stood the test of time for nine full decades, longer than almost any other batting record in baseball. And there is nothing that baseball honors more than longevity.

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  • How not to choose a president



    Let me begin with what I suspect will be a welcome promise -- I won't tell you which candidate to vote for or how I plan to vote. As to the first, by this point in the campaign I suspect that you've made your choice. As to the second, I also suspect you don't really care very much how I cast my ballot.

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  • Democracy and distrust



    I have to say a word about the hypocrisy of the Democrats' attacks on Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The traditional knock on Catholics in public office has been that they can't be trusted, because "they owe a blind obedience to an infallible pope, who has the keys of their consciences tied to his girdle," as John Locke put it.

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  • Vaccine from aborted fetuses



    Q. I have been reading about vaccines being developed that use cell lines from aborted fetuses. Can you explain to me the Catholic teaching with regard to using these cell lines? (Albany, New York) A. Currently, the only vaccines readily available in the United States for rubella, chickenpox, and Hepatitis A have been manufactured using fetal tissue from procured abortions. Your question is a good one: What should a Catholic do if faced with this dilemma?

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  • Coming to know the original three-dimensional Carlo Acutis



    Last Saturday in Assisi, Carlo Acutis was beatified. On Monday, the Church celebrated his feast for the first time, on the 14th anniversary of Carlo's 2006 death of acute leukemia. The time between Carlo's birth into eternal life and his being raised to the altars was almost as brief as his 15 years of life on earth. In that short span, however, Carlo not only experienced the "life to the full" (Jn 10:10) that Christ came into the world to bring, but became a teacher to his parents, peers, the poor, and now the whole Church.

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  • Joe Biden, pre-conciliar Catholic?



    The image of the pre-conciliar Catholic Church in the United States as catechetically effective and politically potent can be hard to square with the long-term damage done to Catholicism's role in American public life by that very pre-Vatican II Catholic, John F. Kennedy.

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  • Stormy weather



    When we moved to New Orleans, we were told that the four seasons here are a little different from what we'd been used to. Instead of spring, summer, fall, and winter, it's Mardi Gras, crawfish, hurricane, and football. Of course, the most difficult part of that list is hurricane season, which technically begins on June first and doesn't end until Nov. 30.

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  • Cardinal Humberto Medeiros: Priesthood in Fall River 1946-1966



    Humberto Medeiros's ordination on June 15, 1946, in Fall River foreshadowed his eventual role in the hierarchy, initially in Brownsville, Texas and ultimately in Boston. His early years of priesthood found Medeiros on a parish "merry-go-round" of assignments. He spent relatively short stints at St. John of God in Somerset, and St. Michael and Our Lady of Health, both in Fall River. In the fall of 1947, realizing Medeiros' potential, Bishop Cassidy approved Medeiros to begin doctoral studies at his alma mater, Catholic University. For the next three years, Medeiros moved between taking classes at Catholic University and returning to Fall River for summer assignments, including most prominently work at St. Vincent Camp in Westport. In September 1949, in order to complete his dissertation, Medeiros was granted permission to conduct research in Rome. He lived at the North American College. In July 1950, he returned and was assigned as a part-time assistant at Holy Name Parish in Fall River, while simultaneously serving as the assistant to the chancellor of the diocese, Father James Gleason. In the fall of 1951, he defended his dissertation and was awarded a doctorate in sacred theology (STD).

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  • Faith at home is faith for others



    Did you know that one of the most famous lines attributed to St. Teresa of Kolkata was never spoken by her? "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." What Mother Teresa actually said came from her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1979:

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  • Follow Cardinal Seán's Example: Be a Missionary, Wherever You Are!



    October is known in our Church as the Month of the Rosary. It is also Mission Month and it kicks off with a great day -- the Feast of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Patroness of the Missions. Although she never left her convent, she prayed constantly for missionaries and the missions. She was also a regular correspondent with missionaries, helping them spiritually and emotionally as they ministered.

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  • Caesar and the king



    The Lord is king over all the earth, as we sing in today's Psalm. Governments rise and fall by His permission, with no authority but that given from above (see John 19:11; Romans 13:1). In effect, God says to every ruler what He tells King Cyrus in today's First Reading: "I have called you . . . Though you knew me not."

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  • The new conventional wisdom



    Old habits die hard. But, like most everything else, they eventually die. So it is with the age-old tradition of teaching young baseball players how to hit. Conventional wisdom has always -- at least until recently -- been that they were coached to "swing down on the ball." Common sense would tell us that, since the ball is being pitched from a mound and is therefore coming toward the hitter in a downward trajectory, to swing down on it would only increase the likelihood that it would be hit on the ground, thereby greatly reducing the chances of its being a hit.

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  • A rosary for our nation



    I've found myself praying for my country a lot these days. As a family, we remember to do so when we say grace at dinner. At other times -- usually after reading some terrible headline or seeing the latest total of fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic -- I'll say a silent prayer as well.

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  • Four principles for Catholics during election season



    Every four years, Catholics face an intense dilemma in regard to the vote. There are ardently Catholic Democrats who wonder how their co-religionists could possibly choose a Republican candidate, and there are ardently Catholic Republicans who express precisely the opposite opinion. And both sides, typically, look with eagerness to their bishops and priests to resolve the tension. Each presidential election cycle, the Church endeavors to clarify the issue, usually to the satisfaction of very few. However, under the rubric of "once more unto the breach, dear friends," let me try to provide some direction by articulating four basic principles.

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  • Marrying an 'anti-Catholic'



    Q. My goddaughter is considering marrying a man who will not get married in the Catholic Church and says that their children will not be raised Catholic. If she does this, can she still attend Mass and participate in the sacraments? (City and state withheld)

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  • The hard road of national renewal



    Earlier this fall, I was happy to be one of the initial signatories of "Liberty and Justice for All," a call for national renewal drafted by scholars concerned about the dangerous deterioration of American public life. The temper of the statement can be discerned from its opening paragraphs and its conclusion:

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  • Secularism no basis for human fraternity



    ''Fratelli Tutti," the pope's recent encyclical, presents an outlook and advocates policies to foster friendship among the entire human family. Friendship is not possible if the inequalities among us are too great -- even Aristotle made this point. Moreover, we cannot be friends with those we exclude and ignore. Therefore, the focus of the encyclical is rightly on practices that foster equality and inclusion.

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  • Is mandating a COVID-19 vaccine ethical?



    Virginia State Health Commissioner, Dr. Norman Oliver, told a local news station in August 2020 that he planned to mandate COVID-19 immunizations for Virginians once a vaccine becomes available to the public. The following day, Gov. Ralph Northam, pulled rank on the Commissioner and announced there would be no vaccine mandate after all. The Health Department walked back the commissioner's earlier comments while the Governor's Office issued a statement focusing on vaccine accessibility and fair distribution, not a mandate.

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  • Humberto Cardinal Medeiros: Youth and Education 1915-1946



    On Oct. 7, 1970, Humberto Sousa Medeiros, until then the second bishop of Brownsville, was installed as the seventh bishop and the fourth metropolitan archbishop of Boston. Father Richard E. Gribble, CSC, a member of the faculty of Stonehill College in North Easton, author of a forthcoming biography of Cardinal Medeiros, has written a series of four articles for The Pilot for this month of October.

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  • World Mission Sunday -- a Time for Re-dedication to the Missions!



    On World Mission Sunday, this year October 18th, we celebrate our baptismal call to mission as we gather at the Table of the Lord. Catholics around the world will do the same, praying that the Holy Spirit will give us the grace to evangelize. We pray that through our prayers and charitable giving, our faith may be shared with all people, wherever God has placed them.

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  • Dressing for the feast



    Our Lord's parable in today's Gospel is again a fairly straightforward outline of salvation history. God is the king (see Matthew 5:35), Jesus the bridegroom (see Matthew 9:15), the feast is the salvation and eternal life that Isaiah prophesies in today's First Reading. The Israelites are those first invited to the feast by God's servants, the prophets (see Isaiah 7:25). For refusing repeated invitations and even killing His prophets, Israel has been punished, its city conquered by foreign armies.

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  • History, skulduggery, and bad luck



    Time for a bit of ancient baseball history, mixed in with a touch of skulduggery and a bushel of bad luck. In the summer of 1934, a 15-year-old kid snuck into a tryout on the St. Louis Cardinals held at their home field, Sportsman's Park. The kid was too young to participate legitimately since the Cardinals couldn't have signed him to a player contract at his age. At the tryout, he outran and out-threw all the other 800 participants, but he left crestfallen when no one from the Cardinals even approached him. Later, though, Cardinals GM Branch Rickey sent scout Charlie Barrett to pay a call on the kid and his parents to explain that he hadn't been approached because, being only a sophomore in high school, the team couldn't sign him to a contract, and because the Cardinals did not want to draw the attention of other teams to the youngster.

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  • The Court confirmation deal



    When did confirming someone for a seat on the Supreme Court become a traumatic ordeal for the candidate and the nation? How did we get to the point where a nominee's intelligence, character, and experience no longer suffice? Once again, these questions have forced themselves on the country's attention in the confirmation process of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the opening created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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  • The toxic waste of Roe v. Wade



    Great Britain's parliamentary democracy has no constitutional text, but rather a "constitution" composed of centuries of legal traditions and precedents. So, when British courts make grave mistakes, those mistakes can be fixed, more or less readily, by Parliament. The American situation is quite different. Given a written constitution and the principle of judicial review, grave mistakes by the Supreme Court are exceptionally toxic and hard to remedy, as three wrongly-decided cases illustrate.

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  • Heaven helps us



    It's mind boggling to realize that all the socio-economic shutdowns, educational disruption, and public health crisis of the past six months are the result of one microscopic coronavirus spreading unseen across the globe. If this crazy year has proven anything, it's that there's a whole lot more going on around us than we can see.

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  • Two kinds of feminism



    ''Today, our nation mourns the loss of a trailblazer, not only in the field of law, but in the history of our country." So begins President Donald Trump's proclamation on the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ordering the American flag to be flown at half-staff around the world in her honor.

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  • Is God calling you to serve him and his Church as a deacon?



    How does one discern a call from God to a vocation in the Church? God calls all people to holiness. Within this call, God calls each of us to a particular state in life. For some, this particular call is to marriage. Others are called to religious and consecrated life. Still others are called to ordained ministry as a deacon, priest, or bishop. As a young boy, I thought I was being called to the priesthood. In time, I discerned that God was calling me to the married state. This call was confirmed on the day of my wedding when I saw my beautiful bride and was reconfirmed when each of my three children were born.

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  • Avoiding flu is more important than ever this fall



    Why worry about the flu, you may wonder, when there are so many other problems plaguing humanity? Those other problems are precisely why you should worry! Both the flu and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses that can result in similar symptoms and complications. Because health experts expect that the coronavirus will start surging at the same time as the flu, critical health-care resources will already be strained with COVID-19 patients.

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  • Living on the vine



    In today's Gospel Jesus returns to the Old Testament symbol of the vineyard to teach about Israel, the Church, and the kingdom of God. And the symbolism of today's First Reading and Psalm is readily understood.

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  • Statistics matter, some more than others



    I got an email from an old pal the other day, asking if I agreed with him that RBIs were baseball's most meaningful statistic. RBIs are important, of course. Runs are how we keep score, and if there is no one on your team to drive them in, the chances are that your side ain't gonna win many games. Even if you do have power hitters in the lineup who can drive runners in, there have to be runners on base in the first place.

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