Home » Opinion
  • On Cardinal Newman becoming a saint



    On Sunday, Oct. 13, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) in Rome. This 19th-century English convert to Catholicism was a brilliant mind, a literary genius possessed of an incomparable gift for satire, a pathbreaking theologian, educator and leader of souls, a great preacher, and now, to top it all off, a saint.

    Read more
  • Newman -- Prophet of the Great Apostasy



    A "biglietto," in Italian, is a ticket or card. In May 1879, a messenger from the Vatican Secretary of State brought a message to a 78-year-old English priest, written on a biglietto, that the priest had been created a cardinal that morning by the recently elected Pope Leo XIII. The papal messenger was received in the Palazzo della Pigna, near the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which you may know if you have visited Rome. The priest was of course John Henry Newman. He had written his masterwork, "An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent," nine years earlier, and regarded himself as coming to the end of his life as a writer. The speech which he gave on that occasion, known from that day onward as his "Biglietto Speech," was effectively his last word.

    Read more
  • Padre Pio's 'Last Mass'



    I don't think of myself as a relics junkie, but I just may be one. It started a few years ago, when relics of the saints began showing up in Boston more regularly. St. Charbel, St. Maria Goretti, St. John Vianney, St. Anthony of Padua, Padre Pio: we stood in line to venerate them, to pray in the presence of their remains, and to ask their intercession. And while we mostly made the rounds, we did miss the vials of blood from Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.

    Read more
  • Returning thanks



    A foreign leper is cleansed and in thanksgiving returns to offer homage to the God of Israel. We hear this same story in both the First Reading and Gospel today. There were many lepers in Israel in Elisha's time, but only Naaman the Syrian trusted in God's Word and was cleansed (see Luke 5:12--14). Today's Gospel likewise implies that most of the ten lepers healed by Jesus were Israelites -- but only a foreigner, the Samaritan, returned.

    Read more
  • A September Sunday



    On the last Sunday in September, I was visiting with my sister and brother-in-law on Cape Cod while I recovered from minor surgery (although, to be honest, I subscribe to the theory that it's never minor when someone gets sliced open, then sewn back up, especially when that someone they're slicing and sewing is me). In any case, I'm fine, but I was in Osterville for the weekend. I'm a baseball guy and my brother-in-law, another Dick, leans toward football. The Patriots and the Red Sox were both on TV, but there was no immediate choice to be made, the Pats' game started at 1:00 and the Sox didn't begin until 3:05.

    Read more
  • No schism



    A schism in American Catholicism? I think not. As a matter of fact, I have no hesitation saying there is not now and will not be a formal break between any significant body of American Catholics and Pope Francis -- and this despite a disturbing amount of media chatter on the subject lately.

    Read more
  • St. John Henry Newman



    As I compose these words, I am preparing to leave for Rome, where I will attend the canonization Mass for John Henry Newman, and then for Oxford, where I will give a paper on Newman's thought in regard to evangelization. Needless to say, the great English convert is much on my mind these days. As I read the myriad commentaries on the new saint, I'm particularly struck by how often he is co-opted by the various political parties active in the Church today -- and how this co-opting both distorts Newman and actually makes him less interesting and relevant for our time. I should like to show this by drawing attention to two major themes in Newman's writing -- namely, the development of doctrine and the primacy of conscience.

    Read more
  • Does heaven pass away?



    Q. We all hope to spend eternity in heaven. However, Jesus says in Matthew 24:35 that "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." If heaven passes away, and earth will not provide a home for their glorified bodies, what will become of those who are saved? Where will they spend eternity? (Woodbridge, Virginia)

    Read more
  • What kind of 'believers'?



    This past June I was in the Munich area for four days, giving a public lecture on Evangelical Catholicism and doing a lot of media interviews. My hosts were exceptionally gracious, but it was also obvious that the Catholic Church in what was once Germany's most intensely Catholic region is in terrible shape. The numbers tell the tale.

    Read more
  • What I learned talking with thousands of skeptics on Reddit



    I just finished my second dive into the Reddit AMA world. One of the most popular websites in the world, Reddit is a forum for all sorts of online conversations and presentations. The AMA (for Ask Me Anything) is a 21st century version of the medieval "quodlibetal" questions, during which a game theology professor would entertain any inquiry that came from the floor. Now, things are a bit cruder and more rough and ready on Reddit than they were in the universities of the Middle Ages, but you get the idea. When I engaged in the exercise last year, I received almost 12,000 questions and comments, making mine the third most commented-on AMA after those of Bill Gates and Jordan Peterson. This time, I've received over 15,000 comments and counting, making mine the second most commented-on AMA of the past year, just after Bill Gates and ahead of Bernie Sanders! I mention this not to show how popular I am with the Reddit crowd (I'm sure most of them have never heard of me), but rather to demonstrate just how massively interested young people are in the questions of religion.

    Read more
  • The myriad sounds we hear



    The variety of sounds in a city is bewildering. Recently, I identified sounds I heard while standing on the corner of Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. At the Metro station, a young man belted out music on an amplifier that could be heard for blocks thanks to high buildings ricocheting it.

    Read more
  • An early Boston convert to Catholicism



    On Oct. 20, 1839, William Comstock wrote to Bishop Benedict Fenwick of Boston from his home at Number Four, Medford Turnpike, Charlestown. He reveals that his wife Mary, along with himself and their four children, desire to enter the Catholic Church and hopes the bishop will grant them an interview to discuss this prospect.

    Read more
  • The ministry of making room



    Our family learned this summer that we are expecting a baby in March -- due on the feast of the Annunciation. A delightful date to think of welcoming another child. As the weeks progress, our baby's presence grows. I have to make room for my expanding waistline with looser shirts and roomier jeans. Soon the bin of maternity clothes will be dragged out from under the bed, since none of my regular clothes fit the way they did a month ago.

    Read more
  • How do you grow in faith?



    As a lay person enrolled in St. John's Seminary's Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree program, a question that I often received from friends, family, or colleagues was "what are you going to do with your degree?" To this, I often replied that it was the other way around: the degree program was doing something with me. The sum of my experiences in the MTS program -- the academic, human, spiritual, and apostolic formation that I received -- helped me to more fully embrace my call to holiness and to better define my role as a member of the Body of Christ.

    Read more
  • Life by faith



    Because of his faith, the just man shall live. We hear in today's First Reading the original prophetic line made so central by St. Paul (see Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). We are to live by faith in Christ who loved us and gave himself on the cross for us (see Galatians 2:20).

    Read more
  • My big brother, Jim



    My brother Jim and I were Irish twins, born less than a year apart. He arrived on Dec. 9, 1935, and I showed up the following Dec. 9. We were the middle two of four siblings, our sisters Marguerite and Marilyn were the bookends that kept us propped up and in line.

    Read more
  • It's time to create a pro-life culture



    Charles Camosy is a most unusual pro-life optimist. Make that a Catholic pro-life optimist. He chronicles the debased language of abortion supporters -- calling an unborn baby's heartbeat a "cardiac pole vibration," for example -- and describes our consumerist society as a "throwaway culture" that devalues life, whether a baby's, a refugee's, a disabled person's or a dementia patient's.

    Read more
  • The model New Evangelization bishop



    Out on the Kansas plains, he was just turning 21 when the Second Vatican Council promulgated its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church ("Lumen Gentium") and its Decree on the Pastoral Office of the Bishops in the Church ("Christus Dominus"). So it's unlikely that the Fathers of Vatican II had Charles Joseph Chaput in mind when they described the ideal diocesan bishop in the third millennium of Christian history -- an evangelist, sanctifier, and governor who would accept those weighty responsibilities so that the Gospel might be proposed for the salvation of the world.

    Read more
  • How to do social justice



    As I worked on the committee for the Social Justice Convocation that takes place Saturday, Oct. 5, at Boston College High School (you can register at the door), one of my tasks was to meet with the keynote speaker and talk about some ideas we (the committee) had about topics for her keynote talk.

    Read more
  • Thirty years of building minds and changing lives



    Sportscaster Al Michaels' coverage of the 1989 World Series, as the San Francisco Earthquake hit, and the fall of the Berlin Wall are two moments from 1989 etched in my brain. It is hard to believe this was 30 years ago. Mostly, it is difficult to believe that I am 30 years older than when those moments occurred.

    Read more
  • Love here and now



    It's tempting to romanticize bygone eras; to wax sentimental about life in medieval monasteries or the villages that surrounded them; to dream of glorious cathedrals under construction; to imagine knights riding east, a band of mendicant preachers on foot, and cloistered nuns; to relish the distant sound of bells and voices chanting vespers. I know how tempting it is because I fall to it too often, usually on days when the world seems particularly hostile to faith, to anything that hints of cross or Christ.

    Read more
  • A great chasm



    The rich and powerful are visited with woe and exile in today's Liturgy -- not for their wealth but for their refusal to share it; not for their power but for their indifference to the suffering at their door.

    Read more
  • Big decisions await the Red Sox



    I suppose that it's too early to speculate on what will happen with the Red Sox once the next baseball season begins, and I know it's too late to do anything about what took place in this baseball season. Why don't we just refer to 2019 as "the recent unpleasantness" and let it go at that? The timing, however, seems right to ruminate about the off-season because it's already upon us and it's here before October, much sooner than we had either hoped or expected.

    Read more
  • Cardinal Newman



    "In your opinion, what is the best book of Catholic apologetics?" Although that question, put to me unexpectedly several years ago by someone I was chatting with, took me by surprise, I didn't have to spend much time searching for the answer.

    Read more
  • True cross of Christ



    Q. Is there any verifiable evidence as to what happened to the cross on which Jesus was actually crucified? Did the followers of Jesus ask for it and get it, or did it remain in place for further use by Roman soldiers? (Southern Indiana)

    Read more
  • Balderdash on the Tiber



    Today's first reading is from an explication of the academic program of the reconfigured Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences by Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, the institute's rector (translation provided by the institute):

    Read more
  • Embracing Laudato Si'



    Following is the text of the statement on climate change and the environment issued by the bishops of the four dioceses of Massachusetts, Sept. 16, 2019. "St. Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness." In June 2015, Pope Francis made this observation in his powerful encyclical, Laudato Si' -- On Care for Our Common Home.

    Read more
  • Don Rodman's legacy of generosity



    At the end of August, we lost a long-time member of our family at Catholic Charities. Don Rodman -- auto-dealer extraordinaire, generous philanthropist, and first ever Catholic Charities Board Member Emeritus -- passed away at the age of 88.

    Read more
  • The founding of Emmanuel College



    This month, Emmanuel College in Boston celebrates its 100th anniversary. It was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur -- whose history this column has discussed previously -- but warrant our attention once more to mark this special occasion.

    Read more
  • What is to be learned when going to college?



    College, like history, is a most humbling and humanizing of events. Those who attend to both will never be the same. At best, we can leave ourselves behind and study someone or someplace else. As grand as this objective is, it can never be achieved without wearing a new cloak. How brilliant the idea of having students in the past adopt a gown or uniform for lectures, exams and other special occasions. Oxford may be one of the few universities left to require a uniform. It's called "subfusc," and consists of a black suit for men or a black skirt and cardigan for women, and a huge billowing black robe with funny ties.

    Read more
  • Prudent Stewards



    The steward in today's Gospel confronts the reality that he can't go on living the way he has been. He is under judgment. He must give account for what he has done. The exploiters of the poor in today's First Reading are also about to be pulled down, to be thrust from their stations (see Isaiah 22:19). Servants of mammon or money, they're so in love with wealth that they reduce the poor to objects; they despise the new moons and Sabbaths -- the observances and holy days of God (see Leviticus 23:24; Exodus 20:8).

    Read more
  • The demise of Dave Dombrowksi



    When Dave Dombrowski was brought on to head up baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox, he was hired to win "now" -- and he did. His problem was that "now" doesn't have a very long shelf-life; it soon becomes "then."

    Read more
  • Hooray for our side



    We began our football season Sept. 7 with a loss in double overtime to Kenyon College, the alma mater of President Rutherford B. Hayes. It was a beautiful day for football. It would have been perfect, but for the score. It left me down in the dumps for about six hours afterward.

    Read more
  • Voting for pro-abortion candidate



    Q. My family have all been cradle Catholics, but currently we are at odds. How can any Catholic vote for a Democrat who professes to be pro-abortion? How can Catholics look forward to someday meeting their Maker when they have voted into office those who will kill innocent human beings? (Pleasantville, Iowa)

    Read more
  • The sin of anti-Semitism resurfaces



    The world reacted with horror and outrage earlier this year when a town in Poland marked Good Friday with a ritual beating of a Judas effigy. The effigy was crafted to resemble a stereotype of an Orthodox Jew. Adults dragged the effigy through the town while children beat it with sticks. It was later hanged and then burned.

    Read more
  • Ironies in the fire



    The eminent sociologist Peter Rossi was a world-class punster whose scholarly accomplishments fed a sometimes-whimsical view of the human condition -- in which, Rossi memorably observed, "there are many ironies in the fire."

    Read more