Dr. Scott Hahn: Mentoring in Ministry

Mentoring is winning the right to be heard through friendship. How can mentoring be part of a “divine conspiracy” for a unity of life that coordinates the people in our lives?

Dr. Scott Hahn, Fr. Scanlan Chair of Biblical Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, gives personal testimony to the importance of mentoring in evangelization from the perspective of being mentored himself through high school and college to putting that mentoring into action in his own family. Dr. Hahn’s talk, “Mentoring in Ministry,” was sponsored by the Catechetical Institute at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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Dr. Michael P. Krom: What Do I Owe My Neighbor?

What is justice? What does justice require of me in my interaction with my neighbor?

Michael P. Krom is chair of the philosophy department at St. Vincent College and author of a forthcoming book tentatively entitled, “Justice and Charity: A Thomistic Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching”. In this lecture, as part of the Pope Francis’ Vision for the Renewal of the Church Symposium, Dr. Krom explores the line between natural justice and charity while discussing the philosophy of justice.

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Rt Rev. Mark Davies: The Real Victory To Be Won

On election night in America, Bishop Mark Davies reflects on the Catholic view of history. He notes, with Blessed John Henry Newman, that the Catholic view enncompasses both looking backwards at the long history of the Church and looking forward with confidence to the ultimate victory of Christ.

Rt Rev. Mark Davies is Bishop of the Diocese of Shrewsbury in the Province of Birmingham, England. Bishop Davies’ talk “The Real Victory To Be Won” was sponsored by the Catechetical Institute at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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Fr. Don Calloway, MIC: The Rosary: Spiritual Sword of Our Lady

What is the most powerful weapon on earth? In this talk based on his recent book, “Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon,” Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC argues that the rosary is a spiritual sword that has won decisive battles. And he has the stories to prove it.

Fr. Don Calloway, MIC, is Vocation Director for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception and author of several books about Mary. Fr. Calloway’s talk was sponsored by the Chapel Ministries Dept. at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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Marriana Leach: Authentic vs. Counterfeit Love in Dating Relationships: How Far is Too Far

How do I know I’m ready to date? What do I do when I have a crush on someone? How do I get the love I am looking for?

Marriana Leach, writer and speaker for The Culture Project, offers practical thoughts on the reality of the beauty of the human person, virtue, and communication her talk entitled “Authentic vs. Counterfeit Love in Dating Relationships: How Far is Too Far”. Ms. Leach’s talk was part of the Gift of Human Sexuality Symposium at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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Dr. Ralph Martin: Pope Francis, Mercy, and Evangelization

What is Pope Francis’ contribution to this magisterial tradition on evangelization? Where does Pope Francis’ theme of mercy fit in his teaching on evangelization?

Dr. Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries and Director of Graduate Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, looks at Pope Francis’ encyclical Evangelii Gaudium to answer these questions in his talk entitled “Pope Francis, Mercy, and Evangelization.” Dr. Martin’s talk was part of the Pope Francis’ Vision for the Renewal of the Church Symposium at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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Ifeoma Anunkor: Changing the Culture That Creates Racial Disparity Through Abortion

Reported abortion statistics tell a depressing tale about the African American community and abortion. How did the early proponents of abortion make such inroads in the African American community? How can we dialogue with African Americans in a way that shows compassion and not condemnation?

Ifeoma Anunkor, McFadden Fellow at Human Life Review, discusses the connection between abortion and the Eugenics movement and offers suggestions on how to win the culture war in the African American community. Her talk, “Changing the Culture that Creates Racial Disparity in Abortion Rates,” was sponsored by the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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Pope Francis’ Vision for the Renewal of the Church Symposium: Dr. Eduardo Echeverria

Is it possible to affirm a single truth within a plurality of expressions? What is the relationship between doctrinal truth and pastoral practice?

Dr. Eduardo Echeverria, Professor of Theology and Philopsophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, shows how Pope Francis, following Vatican II and St. Vincent of Lerins, views pastoral practice within the framework of development of doctrine. This talk is based on his 2015 book entitled, “Pope Francis: The Legacy of Vatican II”.

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Pope Francis’ Vision for the Renewal of the Church Symposium: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

In this time of upheaval in American society what is the mission of the Church? Archbishop Chaput points to both Pope Francis and St. Augustine in order to illustrate that the mission of the Church in the modern world is consistent and continues to provide the opportunity for salvation through the preaching of the truth in love.

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, is the Archbishop of Philadelphia and author of numerous books. His newest book, “Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World” was released in February 2017.

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Andrew Doran: Christian Persecution in the Middle East: Genocide and Survival

Andrew Doran currently serves as vice president and senior advisor for In Defense of Christians which he helped to co-found in 2014. Mr. Doran previously served on the executive secretariat of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO at the U.S. Department of State. An armed forces veteran and attorney, living in the Washington D.C. area, Mr. Doran was honored with the 2016 Franciscan University Alumni Citizenship Award for his work to preserve and protect Middle Eastern Christianity.

In this talk Mr. Doran discusses the state of Christianity in the Middle East and some policy initiatives begun through In Defense of Christians aiming to promote greater awareness of and protection for these ancient and vital Christian communities.

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Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ: What is True Happiness?

Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. is a Jesuit priest, educator, author and speaker. Former President of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington from 1998-2009, Fr. Spitzer is currently the President of the Magis Center and Spitzer Center which focus on producing resources that educate and promote the debunking of four common secular myths. Fr. Spitzer also has a regular show on EWTN, “Father Spitzer’s Universe.”

In this insight, Fr. Robert Spitzer briefly describes the four levels of happiness which he has laid out in his book, “Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts”.

You may purchase a copy of the book at MagisCenter.com

Dr. Mark Roberts & Dr. Michael Sirilla: Philosophy for Theology: “Is There Contingency In God?”

Participating in the Disciplinary Intersection Series:

Dr. Mark Roberts, Professor of Philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville, argues that contingency and necessity are modes that can be applied to propositions and presents several arguments to show how contingency can be stated of God.

Dr. Michael Sirilla, Professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, responds by elaborating on Dr. Robert’s argument with a quick survey of Catholic thought and highlighting a dilemma he sees in Dr. Robert’s argument based on St. Thomas’ definition of contingency.

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George Marlin: The Tragedy of Christian Persecutions in the Middle East

George Marlin, Chairman of Aid to the Church in Need, accepted the University’s Poverello Medal on behalf of his organization which has been around since Pope Pius XII commissioned a Dutch Norbertine priest, Werenfried van Straaten, to raise money and devote himself to the material and spiritual needs of people displaced by the Second World War. They went on to work behind the Iron Curtain and are dedicated to helping persecuted Christians around the world.

Today that means a lot of their efforts are focused on the Middle East. Mr. Marlin shared from his new book, “Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy”, about what has been going on there. Though it has largely gone unreported by the media in the West, a systematic genocide is taking place against Christians in the Middle East. Christian communities that were hundreds of years old when Islam first arrived and have survived for over 1300 years since are disappearing in our time. He gave a brief report of the devastation in Syria, as well as the situation for Christians in Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

You may purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.com

Listen to the audio:

Dr. Logan Gage: The Nature of Evidence for God’s Existence

Dr. Logan Gage, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville, has done academic work on the nature of evidence for ordinary beliefs. He notes that many people wrongly think that there can’t be evidence for faith because they’re thinking of the sorts of evidence that are used in a courtroom. Others think that you have to be trained in the rigorous philosophical and theological proofs for God’s existence to have real confidence. But this is not true. Most people have access to other sorts of evidence, things like the testimony of other believers or their own experiences, that in any other context we would consider good evidence.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Homily: Mary, Mercy, and the Eucharist

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a homily at the Mary, Mercy, and the Eucharist Conference in 1996.

“Behold this heart that so loves man.”

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Homily: Losing Your Life To Save It

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a homily at the Defending the Faith Conference in the summer of 1995.

This homily includes the story of when Fr. Scanlan met Mother Teresa of Calcutta and of praying with Pope John Paul II.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Jerusalem Fire Rally

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers the homily on the opening night of a FIRE Rally in Jerusalem, on November 10, 1992.

“(In) every suffering, every glory, every joy, every disappointment… you will see the steps of a disciple.”

“God is clearly leading me.” – Fireside Chat with Father Mike Scanlan, TOR

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, president emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, sits down for a fireside chat and discusses his experience of being grasped by God and giving his whole life to God while in law school at Harvard.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: 40 Years of Household Life

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, former President and Chancellor of Franciscan University of Steubenville, shares a special message for the celebration of the 40th year of Household Life on campus.

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Honored, Named President Emeritus

During commencement on May 14, 2011, Franciscan University chancellor and former president, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, was named president emeritus by Father Terence Henry, TOR, current president of the University.

Fr Mike on Conferences | 40 Years of Steubenville Conferences

The founder of our summer conferences, President Emeritus of Franciscan University Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, on the impact of the conferences.

Franciscan University of Steubenville will celebrate 40 years of conferences this summer. Since the first gathering for Catholic priests in 1975, the University’s conferences have grown to provide spiritual renewal each

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, Catholic Charismatic Conference, 2010

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, delivers a homily during the 2010 Catholic Charismatic Conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Fr Mike Prays Over Conference Attendees

Fr Mike prays over conference attendees

“The Pro-Life University” – Fireside Chat with Father Mike Scanlan, TOR

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, president emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, talks about the many instances where the prayerful and peaceful activism of Franciscan students has resulted in the closure of numerous abortion clinics. He discusses the time he and Steubenville Bishop Ottenweller were arrested with 45 others for their protest in front of the abortion clinic in Youngstown, Ohio.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Homily: Do Not Fear

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a homily at the “Taking the Higher Ground” Catholic Men’s Conference in 1996.

“Do not fear. The Holy Spirit is the source of courage.”

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Homily: Give Your Life to the Lord

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a homily at the “Taking the Higher Ground” Catholic Men’s Conference in 1996.

An exhortation for men to become “Godly Men” in the face of the corrosion of family life, marriage fidelity, and sexual immorality.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Now is the Time for Prayer

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a talk at the Prayer and Intercession Conference in June of 1989.

“Be a man of prayer, be a woman of prayer, and you can change the world.”

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Sources of Courage

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers this talk about the seven sources of courage at the Charismatic Leaders Conference in June of 1994.

50th Anniversary of Solemn Vows Tribute Video, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, passed away on January 7, 2017.

This video tribute from 2011 celebrates the 50th anniversary of Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, making his solemn religious vows. Most Rev. Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., Father Francis Martin, Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Regis Martin, Mrs. Charlotte Fletcher, Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Ralph Martin, Dr. Alan Schreck, Father Michael Higgins, TOR, Ms. Mary Kay Lacke, Sister Isabela Bettwy, Dr. Mary Salter, Dr. Maryann Sunyoger, Dr. Ed Bessler, The Hon. Jeff Fortenberry, Sister Ann Shields, Most Rev. R. Daniel Conlon, and many others express their sincere thanks, poignant stories, and well wishes to Father Mike.

Franciscan University Symposia Celebrates 25 Years of Ex Corde Ecclesiae

The 1960s through 1980s saw a dramatic shift in Catholic higher education as numerous Catholic colleges and universities declared themselves outside the authority of the magisterium.

Having personally witnessed the breakdown of education while a student during WWII, Pope John Paul II recognized the negative effects of this modern crisis on modern students. The year 1990 saw the pope’s release of Ex corde Ecclesiae (“From the Heart of the Church”), an Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Higher Education, aimed at bringing Catholic colleges and universities back to their roots in the Catholic faith.

On November 14-15, 2014, Franciscan University of Steubenville will begin the celebration of Ex corde Ecclesiae‘s 25th anniversary with the first installment of the Fidelity and Freedom Series—a free three-symposium series continuing into 2015.

The November symposium, titled “Academic Freedom and Revealed Truth” is open to all interested in better understanding and implementing Ex corde Ecclesiae.

“The primary aim of the Fidelity and Freedom Series is to reflect on Ex corde Ecclesiae so that we might develop a deeper appreciation for, and understanding of, the central issues at the heart of this apostolic constitution,” says Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, president of Franciscan University. “We will address the themes of the relationship between academic freedom and revealed truth, the dialogue of faith and reason, and engaging the culture.”

Father Sheridan expressed his hope that “the deliberations we pursue on our campus will be of help not only to us, but to other universities and to the culture at large.”

Questions to be addressed at the symposium include “What is academic freedom?” “Does a Catholic university support a different type of academic freedom than a secular university?” “Does the Catholic university, and in particular the academic freedom it maintains, provide the model for university education generally?”

Presenters who will discuss these questions at the November 14-15, 2014 symposium include Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, JD, JCD, serving as symposium host; Dr. Terrence Tilley, professor of theology at Fordham University in New York and the Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, Chair in Catholic Theology; Dr. Reinhard Hütter, professor of Christian theology at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina; Richard Jusseaume, president of Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio; and Father Peter French Ryan, SJ, executive director, secretariat of doctrine and canonical affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Symposium commentators will be Franciscan University professors Dr. Stephen Hildebrand, director of the Graduate Theology Program; Dr. Scott Hahn, the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization; Dr. Daniel R. Kempton, vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of political science; and Dr. John Crosby, director of the Graduate Philosophy Program.”Fidelity and Freedom: Academic Freedom and Revealed Truth” begins on Friday, November 14 at 2:45 p.m. and ends on Saturday, November 15 at 1:00 p.m.

For more information and to register, go to the Fidelity and Freedom Series webpages.

There is no charge to attend the Fidelity and Freedom Series, which is sponsored by the Franciscan University Henkels Lecture Series.


What’s Behind Pelosi’s Attack on Archbishop Cordileone

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the U. S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, and one of the most powerful Catholic politicians in the United States, has recently warned the Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco, to cancel his plans to speak at the June 19 National Organization for Marriage march on the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Calling the event “venom masquerading as virtue,” Pelosi urged Archbishop Cordileone to stay away from the event, and “join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred.”

Pelosi has partnered with other self-described Catholics including California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and progressive Catholic activists like Fr. Ray Bourgeois, Marianne Duddy Burk, Mary Hunt, and Jeannine Grammick in protesting in a letter the Archbishop’s appearance at the pro-marriage rally.

And, while the parade of progressive politicians and Catholic dissidents is not surprising, Catholics should be much more concerned about the real power behind Pelosi’s attacks on the Archbishop.

Read more from Dr. Anne Hendershott’s latest at Crisis Magazine.

When the Government Takes Your Children

Many people who have followed the Justina Pelletier case—largely ignored by the mainstream media, by the way—have thought that there has to be more to it, or that it’s an outrageous out-of-the-ordinary affair. This is the case where the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families forcibly took custody from her parents over a year ago of a teenager who had been treated for years for mitochondrial disease (a genetic disorder), when they brought her to Boston Children’s Hospital for consultation about a related gastrointestinal problem and resisted a quickly-made diagnosis by a medical resident and a psychologist there that she instead had a mental problem. Justina has been confined to Children’s Hospital for over a year and then DCF assigned her to a group home and then foster care and a juvenile judge awarded the agency custody of her until she turns eighteen. Justina has written that she feels like a prisoner and she has been denied both schooling and the opportunity to attend Mass or receive Holy Communion—all this, while the hospital and DCF claim they’re “helping” her. Her parents’ have engaged in a protracted legal battle with DCF and now their attorneys have filed a habeas corpus action.

Read more at Crisis Magazine

Lenten Meditation: Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ

By Linus Meldrum

An anomaly both then and now, Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ, c. 1480, has often been called a tour-de-force of perspective.  This small tempera painting was found by Mantegna’s son in the artist’s personal collection at his death. The Early Renaissance masterpiece likely disturbed its viewers with its strangeness—the composition, the point of view, and the insistent description are unnerving.  Jesus had never been seen quite like this.  Christ, having been removed from the cross has been placed upon a marble slab.  Rather than the typical embrace of His Mother, we see Mary at the side, age-appropriate and weeping.  The other figures are likely St. John, with his mouth agape, and Mary Magdalene, given her relationship with the anointing of Jesus and the presence of an alabaster jar at the rear of the slab.  Christ, lightly covered by a damp cloth, rests His head upon a pillow.  We see His wounds. His hands are pulled up in near-gesture.  A barely discernable halo flickers around his head. The Lamentation is sometimes paired with Mantegna’s drawing in the British Museum titled Man Laying on a Stone Slab.  The drawing depicts a man in a reclining pose, eyes closed, yet lifting himself—like a sleepwalker about to rise.  My mind forms a question: did this drawing spark Mantegna’s imagination to conceive an image of Christ which helps us to anticipate the Resurrection?

Read more at Crisis Magazine

Buffalo’s New Bishop Confronts Politician’s Duplicity on Abortion

By Anne Hendershott

Faithful Catholics in Buffalo were discouraged to read in their local paper late last month that their allegedly pro-life Catholic senator Tim Kennedy (D-63rd District) intends to vote in favor of New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo’s expansion of abortion in the State.  Kennedy won his seat in 2010 by running as a pro-life candidate ousting then-Senator Bill Stachowski—a Democrat with a strong pro-life record.

Claiming that his position on abortion has “evolved” after much thought and prayer, Kennedy joins a long list of self-described Catholic politicians like Governor Cuomo himself who claim that they are “personally opposed to abortion,” yet would never stand in the way of those who choose abortion.

Read more at Crisis Magazine

When Life Imitates Art – A Cautionary Tale

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman at age forty-six from a heroin overdose early last month (Feb. 2) has sent the usual shock waves through the highly publicized stage and screen worlds of Hollywood and New York.  And while it was hardly the first time a life was lost to heroin addiction among the glitterati, it happened this time around to someone singularly gifted in the performing arts.  Here was a star whose nimbus clearly outshone all the others.

“What have we been robbed of, by his death?” asked Anthony Lane in a glowing remembrance in The New Yorker (Feb. 17 & 24).  “Not so much a movie star, I think, as somebody who took our dramatic taxonomy … and threw it away.  Leading man, character actor, supporting player: really, who gives a damn?  Either you hold an audience, so tight that it feels lashed to the seats, or you don’t.”

Read more at Crisis Magazine

The Ukrainian Struggle: Freedom with Dignity Over Corruption and Power

By Dr. Alexander R. Sich

In 1998 my family returned to the U.S. from our first home leave overseas, for what eventually ended up being twelve years living and working in Ukraine—including experiencing first-hand Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. News reports in recent days have rekindled memories of our Ukrainian experiences. My own personal recollections lead me to believe that what Ukraine is experiencing now is not, as some outsiders might think, merely a new chapter in an old Cold War struggle between East and West. The protestors are fighting for more than freedom for freedom’s sake, but a freedom with dignity that has been out of reach for far too long.

Read more at Crisis magazine

The Supreme Court: Activism and Abdication

Serious Catholics and political conservatives since the 1950s have strongly criticized the Supreme Court for making public policy and acting as a kind of “super-legislature” to further a leftist socio-political agenda, instead of interpreting the law and judging. We have seen such judicial lawmaking on pornography, abortion, legislative reapportionment, sodomy laws, and the list could go on. While this has certainly been a valid and much-deserved ongoing criticism of the Court, cases in each of its last three terms indicate a new, contrary problem: over-deference to the political branches on both the federal and state levels.

In 2011, the Court decided the companion cases of Camreta v. Greene and Alford v. Greene, which concerned whether a child protective system (CPS) operative and a law enforcement official who backed him up could be sued under federal civil rights laws for an aggressive interrogation of a nine-year-old girl—which under international norms possibly constituted psychological torture—to get her to say that her father abused her. Along with many other organizations, the Society of Catholic Social Scientists filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the girl’s claim (I drafted the brief), mostly because we wanted to focus the Court’s attention—as we tried to do over a decade before in the important parental rights case of Troxel v. Granville—on the CPS’s systemic misconduct that in one article I called “a grave threat to the family.”

Read more at Crisis Magazine

Heinrich Pesch and Solidarism: Time to Be Rediscovered?

The passing of the eminent American Catholic economist, Dr. Rupert J. Ederer, at the age of ninety on Thanksgiving Day 2013 calls attention to the great, but equally unsung, economic thinker and system that he devoted most of his career to furthering: Heinrich Pesch, S.J. and solidarism. Pesch, who died in 1926, was thought to have inspired Pope Pius XI’s great social encyclical Quadragesimo Anno five years later. In spite of Pesch’s relative obscurity, Ederer called him an economic “system builder,” on par with Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes—although the system he constructed was based firmly on Catholic teaching and the natural law. The word “solidarism” rings of the principle of solidarity, which has been stressed more recently in Catholic social teaching. In fact, solidarism is also referred to as “the solidarity work system.” There is some indication that Pesch’s solidarism influenced the famed Solidarity trade union movement in Poland that rose to prominence a generation ago and led the way to the collapse of Eastern European communism.

Read more here

The Christmas Miracle

I picture him as a tall Texan, his outsize appearance easily eclipsing everything in sight, save only the immense shrine that he and a busload of tourists have come to Rome to see.  And then, throwing up his hand at the end of an exhausting exploration of the world’s most beautiful basilica, I hear him asking the expert guide the one thing he’s come all this way to know:

How much does it weigh?

I love that story.  In fact, I imagine him wandering endlessly about the Eternal City in witless search of answers to all sorts of endearingly absurd questions.  The Coliseum, for instance, about which he would surely want to know, “Why wasn’t it finished?”  Or the Pantheon, whose opening in the ceiling would have utterly mystified him.  “What’s the point of a dome unless you’re going to close the freaking thing?”

As a species of reductionism, however, revealing the mindset of a man for whom the merit of anything can best be measured by the ton, it is priceless.  One thinks of C.S. Lewis skewering that fellow in one of his books because, in surveying the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, he can only imagine it as raw material for cornering the salt market.  Reductionism, as someone once said, is the sin of seeing the pearl as the oyster’s mistake.

Read more at Crisis Magazine

John Paul II’s 1983 Visit to Poland: Anniversary Reflections

It was sixty years ago that the Hungarian émigré historian, John Lukacs, published his first book, The Great Powers and Eastern Europe, a masterful treatment of the subject, whose conclusion, including an elegy on the lost world he left behind, has haunted me for years.   Surveying the wreckage of that shattered and divided world, he declared that “only the magnetic force of a rejuvenated, remade, and truly united Western Europe, one that has recovered the erstwhile spiritual greatness of that Christian continent, can eventually develop enough attraction to penetrate the steely barriers separating the West from Eastern Europe’s modern police state.”

That was written in 1953, beneath the cloudless skies of the Eisenhower years, which means that thirty-five more years would need to elapse before the world could witness the final and conclusive collapse of the Soviet Empire in Europe.  It all started a quarter century ago, in other words, beginning with the so-called Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in November of 1989, which smashed the fist of the single-party Communist state, leaving the rest of us, especially those smugly ensconced amid the flesh pots of the capitalist West, in a state of stunned surprise.

How, we asked ourselves, could a people divided for more than forty years by such a massive and impregnable symbol of Soviet sanctioned oppression as the Iron Curtain, come suddenly together in spontaneous and joyous fashion to dance atop the ruins of the Berlin Wall?

Read more at Crisis Magazine

Let Us Not Forget the Wonder of Creation

In his fantastical account of “The Unthinkable Theory of Professor Green,” G.K. Chesterton invites us to imagine an astronomer regaling his audience in great and gorgeous detail about a strange new planet he’s just discovered.  Only gradually do we realize that this utterly amazing place is in fact our very own world, replete with wonders we’d scarcely been aware of before.

Isn’t this the whole point of travel?   Not to poke around places and people of such weirdness that you’d swear you’d wandered onto a sci-fi movie set.  Do we really want to run into a community of pod people while on holiday?   Wasn’t it bad enough watching “The Night of the Living Dead” on television?  Who needs a close encounter with the real thing on a vacation?

Again, Chesterton has the sense of it.  “It is not,” he tells us, “to set foot on foreign land; it is to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”  And isn’t this the challenge that awaits us all?   How to arrest the attention sufficiently to allow us to stand in silent awe before the real world?  When jadedness sets in, we need a sudden jolt to set the circuits going again.  We need to open up the hood and let the wind sweep out all that is sour and stale on the inside.   Indeed, without a sense of wonder, and at least some minimal capacity for surprise and delight, we will never awaken to that “dearest freshness deep down things” (Gerard Manley Hopkins).

Read more at Crisis Magazine.

Holder May Undermine Rule of Law with Challenge to Zimmerman Verdict

The aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial has brought an expected, but very disturbing, reaction. From all indications, the jury weighed the facts of the case carefully and applied the law (as it was presented to them) to the facts correctly. The prosecution had more than its fair share of opportunities to make its case, and one following the trial could not help but to think that they simply did not come anywhere close to providing proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, the lead-up to the case was troublesome. The police and the prosecuting attorney’s office did not think they even had probable cause to make an arrest, and Zimmerman was charged only after misleading media coverage, the bringing in of a special prosecutor (who later fired an employee after he testified that she had withheld evidence from the defense in the case), allegations by the lead detective in the case that he was being pressured to make an arrest despite the lack of evidence, and the firing of the police chief because he believed the same. The reaction of certain groups, elements of the public, and the Obama administration since the verdict has shown how the coveted American principle of the rule of law has fallen victim to the imperatives of identity politics.

Read more at Crisis Magazine.

When Politicians Allow the Murder of Infants

By Dr. Anne Hendershott, Professor of Sociology at Franciscan University of Steubenville

Now that the verdict is in on Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist convicted of delivering live babies—most of them African American—and killing them, perhaps President Obama might finally be willing to respond to the horrific crime.  Silent on the facts of the case, it is curious why neither the President nor the First Lady have been willing to comment on the house of horrors Gosnell presided over.

Prior to the Gosnell case, President Obama was quite willing to involve himself in violent cases—especially when the cases involved African American children.  In the days following the death of Trayvon Martin, the teenager who was shot last year by a neighborhood watch captain in a gated community in Florida, President Obama told a gathering of reporters in the Rose Garden that “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” And, in a speech last month that addressed youth violence in Chicago, First Lady Michelle Obama compared herself to Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl murdered there: “Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her.”

Read more at Crisis Magazine.

A Cardinal Boycotts Boston College

By Dr. Anne Hendershott, Professor of Sociology at Franciscan University of Steubenville

At Boston College’s commencement ceremony on Monday, Cardinal Sean O’Malley won’t be in attendance. The leader of the Boston archdiocese announced on May 10 that he would not deliver his traditional graduation benediction at the Catholic school because the college had invited Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny—a supporter of abortion rights in Ireland—to deliver the graduation address and receive an honorary degree.

The cardinal said the invitation has caused “confusion, disappointment and harm” by ignoring the U.S. bishops “who have asked that Catholic institutions not honor government officials or politicians who promote abortion with their laws and policies.”

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Superhero films: a search for moral greatness

By Emily Stimpson

What movies such as “Iron Man” and “Spider-Man” say about our culture and about human nature

(An Interview with Dr. Jonathan Sanford, Professor of Philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville)

With summer just around the corner, there’s already buzz about what this season’s blockbuster films will be. At the top of the list of sure-fire hits are the superhero movies: “Iron Man 3” hits theaters May 3; “Man of Steel” (Superman) will be released June 14; and “The Wolverine” comes to the big screen July 26. It’s clear Hollywood has found success in showcasing movie heroes who fly. Or scale tall buildings. Or wield mystical hammers. Basically, they fill the screen with super-powered heroes, then watch the money flow in.

Why is that? Why do films like these never fail to attract moviegoers of all ages, sexes and socioeconomic demographics? What explains our culture’s perennial love of superheroes, a love that only has seemed to grow in recent years with the popularity of the latest Batman trilogy, the Iron Man films and even television series such as “Smallville”?

Read more at Our Sunday Visitor.


Mass Evangelization

Sharing faith with the Eucharist

Within the first few weeks of his papacy, Pope Francis won widespread praise for his emphasis on “a poor church” that is “for the poor.” His warm and casual disposition, personal simplicity and tender outreach to “the poorest, the weakest, the least important,” as he expressed it in the homily at his inauguration Mass, may prove to be a defining feature of his papacy.

It is undoubtedly true that Pope Francis’ personal style is distinct from that of his immediate predecessors. How could it not be so? Inevitably each pope has his own personality, context and point of emphasis. But what is equally true is that the content and purpose of Francis’ outreach are in clear continuity with the legacy of the Second Vatican Council and especially Blessed John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; the new pope’s outreach is an embodiment of the new evangelization.

Read more at America.


Memo to Lady Gaga: “Born This Way” Doesn’t Mean “Act This Way”

It remains unclear whether sexual orientation is genetically determined. Even if it is, that doesn’t justify advocacy for same-sex marriage.

A growing laissez-faire libertarian attitude toward social issues among Americans is arguably the most important weapon available to same-sex marriage advocates. Certainly there are LGBT militants with unwavering commitment to the issue, but the vast majority of those who “support” same-sex marriage can hardly be said to support anything. They just have a hard time saying no. They much prefer the sanitary hands off approach—let them live out their sexuality as long as I don’t have to get involved.

Read more at Public Discourse.


The Right to Redefine Marriage?

The main argument proposed by those seeking to redefine marriage so that same-sex couples can be legally declared married is that homosexual persons are being unjustly denied a fundamental right. Everyone has a fundamental right to marry — the argument goes — but homosexuals are denied this right.

But this argument simply begs the question; it presupposes a particular — and false — answer to the question: What is marriage? A right to marry does not give people the right to compel everyone else to treat an entirely different kind of relationship they might have as if it were marriage.

The Causes of Violence in America

The airwaves and the opinion columns continue to discuss the terrible December 14 school massacre in Connecticut and have brought us additional stories of senseless multiple murders in places like Oregon and western New York. Much of the discussion is now focusing on renewed calls for more gun control. As I go on to say, there are certainly some serious public policy issues that must be debated. There are, however, other deeper questions that are being raised by a few commentators, but are unlikely to receive much attention in the media generally—even though they represent the crux of the problem.

Within a couple days of the Connecticut massacre, the secular left raised their predictable demand for gun control. While most people would have thought that respect for the dead—even more so because most of them were children—and their families would have inhibited political commentary and clamoring for legislation so soon, the left was not deterred. It seemed to be another situation of not letting a crisis go to waste; it was a prime opportunity to promote an ideological and policy agenda. To its credit, the major organizational opponent of gun control, the National Rifle Association, held its tongue for a week before stepping up to call for armed security guards in all public schools. Even then, it seemed reluctant to get a full-scale debate going that soon after the tragedy by refusing to answer media questions at its press conference.

Read more at Crisis Magazine.

Say No to Physician Assisted Suicide

Howard Ball’s lead essay on this issue is clear and helpful. Yet I think the term “Physician Assisted Death” is evasive and euphemistic. Physicians have for centuries helped patients to die—that is, to endure the process that ends in their death. The question is whether physicians should help them kill themselves—and whether the law should allow physicians to do so. Thus I will use the term Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS). This raises a moral question (Is PAS morally right?), and a legal question (Should PAS be against the law?).

Read more at Cato Unbound.