Home » Opinion
  • The synod and celibacy



    In just three months a relative handful of bishops meeting in Rome is expected to reach a decision with potentially momentous consequences for the entire Western Church. The bishops will be participants in a long-awaited regional synod of bishops for the Amazon region of South America. The decision they are expected to reach is to ask the Pope for permission to ordain elderly married men to celebrate Mass, or at least for permission formally to study doing that.

    Read more
  • How far is too far for Mass?



    How far would you drive for Mass? I don't know if anyone has ever done a study of such a pedestrian topic, but it is a question that will become increasingly relevant. Once upon a time, driving farther than your local parish was simply a matter of choice. For example, when I was a child, my parents took strong exception to our curmudgeonly pastor.

    Read more
  • Mary during the ministry of Jesus



    Q. I am wondering what Mary did and where she lived during the three years of Jesus' ministry. Did she travel with the "women who ministered to him?" (Wichita, Kansas) A. In the Gospels, once the public ministry of Jesus has begun, Mary is mentioned in only a few scenes. We can assume that his mother did not accompany him throughout the course of that 2 1/2-year period but continued to reside at Nazareth.

    Read more
  • Summer at the lake



    Chemists and economists speak of equilibrium conditions, where the concentrations of reactants and products, or supply and demand, are in balance. If you have a bottle of soda water with the cap on, carbon dioxide bubbles up from the water, but molecules dissolve back into the liquid at the same rate. Neither state gets ahead.

    Read more
  • The quiet hours of Leonid Brezhnev



    On first meeting Dr. Andrzej Grajewski, you probably wouldn't guess that this mild-mannered Polish historian is one of the world's leading experts on the ecclesiastical Dark Side of the Cold War: the relentless communist assault on the Catholic Church. But he is, and his expertise comes primarily from years of patient combing through the Bad Guys' secret intelligence service files. Some of those files went up the smokestack in 1989 (or are still locked down in Moscow), but many are now available to scholars. Grajewski's recent research in that often-sordid underworld raises some interesting questions about the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981.

    Read more
  • Two patients? Not according to the proposed ROE Act



    "Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." -- Elie Wiesel. When I began my medical school rotation in obstetrics, I was surprised when the lecturing obstetrician stated, "We are the only specialists who deal simultaneously with two patients." I was sensitive to any remotely pro-life words during my medical studies. In my early days of higher education, I'd conscientiously tucked my pro-life leanings into a neat, silent, "do not open" box in order to remain well-liked and respected. I remained strongly pro-life ... in silence.

    Read more
  • We deserve better



    Have you ever wondered why the greatest, the richest country in the history of mankind has such a rotten educational system? How it is that over the last 40 years, we have had one elementary and high school reform movement after another, and still math and reading scores have remained flat? And why do countries like Slovenia and Lithuania, which spend a fraction of what the United States spends on elementary and secondary education, dramatically outscore American kids on intellectual achievement tests?

    Read more
  • For the love of Jesus: 90s fashion choices



    As a middle-aged man in America, there are many fashion disasters littering the family photo album. There is the shirt with trees on it, paired with a stunning denim-like wide-collared jacket with white piping from the 1970s. Then, there are the photos of me with the rolled collars and cuffs of the 1990s. I was fortunate to attend Catholic school, where my wardrobe consisted of navy pants and a light blue shirt for eight years. This saves me from having to reflect too regretfully on the bad fashion choices of my past.

    Read more
  • Growing things



    When we moved south, we were happy to leave the snow -- and the snow thrower -- behind. We knew the summers would be hot, but no one ever told us just how fast everything grows down here. Back in Wakefield, mowing the lawn was a weekly job. But if it rained or things came up, it wasn't the end of the world if it went two weeks.

    Read more
  • Morality at the movies



    The most likely place to find uplifting messages about the human spirit these days is in superhero movies. Spider-Man risks himself to save others because he takes to heart his beloved uncle's words, "With great power comes great responsibility."

    Read more
  • Taking the call



    In this week's First Reading, Elijah's disciple is allowed to kiss his parents goodbye before setting out to follow the prophet's call. But we are called to follow a greater than Elijah, this week's Liturgy wants us to know.

    Read more
  • A mid-season assessment



    Question: What's wrong with the Red Sox? Answer: Not as much as you think. In fact, not much at all. At least, that's what I think. Since the early days of April, when the Olde Towne Team came stumbling out of the gate, Red Sox Nation has been wringing its hands, wondering what the matter is. Mookie wasn't hitting the way he did last year, and the pitchers weren't ready to start the season. They weren't playing well at all. They had the same players they had last year, but it didn't seem like the same team. What went wrong?

    Read more
  • The summer reading list



    Continuing a venerable tradition, I offer the following for your canicular reading pleasure: John Hay spent decades at the center of American public life as Lincoln's secretary and biographer, a Republican political operative, an accomplished diplomat, and Theodore Roosevelt's secretary of state. And what's not to like about someone who replied to Andrew Carnegie's gift of Scotland's finest in these terms: "I thank you kindly for the 'corpse reviver.' If a man could only drink enough of it, he would either never die, or wouldn't care whether he did or not." John Taliaferro's biography is terrific: All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt (Simon and Schuster).

    Read more
  • An unexpected voice, a painful message



    For those who say the Church doesn't get it, or the Vatican doesn't get it, I offer up Msgr. John Kennedy. Msgr. Kennedy has perhaps the most unenviable job in the Church today. He is head of the Vatican office that investigates allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

    Read more
  • Evangelizing the Amazon and the gift of priestly celibacy



    Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and, since 2002, the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. It's a day on which, pondering the divine and human love flowing through Jesus' heart, we ask him to make his priests' hearts like unto his, with ardent, pure, spousal and shepherdly love. It's a day on which we pray to the Harvest Master not merely for more priestly laborers in his fields, but precisely for holy laborers.

    Read more
  • The future of Boston's Catholic schools



    As the new superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, I have enjoyed meeting countless people committed to the future of our schools -- principals, teachers, parents, students and clergy. The passion I have seen is nothing short of inspirational, and I look forward to visiting every school in the Boston Archdiocese.

    Read more
  • Catholic Charities North's 100 years of service to the community



    This past week, we held a gathering at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem to celebrate Catholic Charities North's 100 years of service to those in need in the North Shore community. In 1919, Catholic Charities North opened its doors in Lynn, when the archbishop of Boston commissioned Father John A. Sheridan of Sacred Heart Church in Lynn, to establish the agency with the goal of assisting and counseling families in addressing the many problems that arose in the community, following the First World War. Over the years, as the demand for services increased, Catholic Charities North has answered that call and diversified its services to meet the ever-growing range of needs of a wider range of people throughout the North Shore community. Today, Catholic Charities North operates out of three community service sites (Lynn, Salem, and Gloucester) to address a wide range of needs. While there has been an explosion of not-for-profit organizations focused on a specific service or need in recent years, CCN distinguishes itself by addressing the critical needs of the vulnerable across all stages of life: from toddlers to our seniors. CCN services include:

    Read more
  • The Temperance Movement in 19th century Boston



    In the papers of Bishop Benedict J. Fenwick of Boston is a letter dated June 6, 1836, from Horace Mann, at the time a Massachusetts Representative from Boston, conveying a resolution unanimously passed by members of the Massachusetts Temperance Society. The enclosed resolution reads as follows:

    Read more
  • Opening Minds through Art at Youville Place



    All too often, Alzheimer's disease is an emotionally isolating condition. Those who live with the disease experience memory loss, confusion and trouble with language, all of which interfere with the ability to have meaningful connections with others. For the majority of people who do not have Alzheimer's, cultural stigma and a general lack of understanding about these cognitive symptoms compounds the communication barriers.

    Read more
  • Hispanics and the 2018 bishops' letter against racism



    At the end of 2018, the Catholic bishops of the United States approved "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love," a pastoral letter against racism. Have you read this important letter? Did you know that such a document existed? Have you heard about it in homilies and catechetical sessions? Do you know what it says about Hispanics?

    Read more
  • Blessed and given



    At the dawn of salvation history, God revealed our future in figures. That's what's going on in today's First Reading: A king, and high priest, comes from Jerusalem (see Psalm 76:3), offering bread and wine to celebrate the victory of God's beloved servant, Abram, over his foes.

    Read more
  • A dangerous game



    A week or so ago, in a game at Kansas City with two outs in the top of the second inning, Eduardo Nunez of the Red Sox cracked a vicious low liner directly at the Royals' pitcher, Danny Duffy. The ball caromed off Duffy's right shin bone in the direction of first base where first baseman Ryan O'Hearn gathered it up and easily made the putout to end the inning. Meanwhile, Duffy was on the ground, writhing in pain. After a few minutes he got to his feet and limped gingerly to the dugout. I thought, "Well, that's the end of his day." But he was back out there in the third, though not for long.

    Read more
  • Whose republic? Which 'liberalism'?



    Extra credit question: Name the author of this admonition about the insecure cultural foundations and potentially perilous future of the American republic -- "Seeds of dissolution were already present in the ancient heritage as it reached the shores of America. [And] perhaps the dissolution, long since begun, may one day be consummated. Perhaps one day the noble many-storeyed mansion of democracy will be dismantled, leveled to the dimensions of a flat majoritarianism, which is no mansion but a barn, perhaps even a tool shed in which the weapons on tyranny may be forged. Perhaps there will one day be wide dissent from....[the understanding] that the eternal reason of God is the ultimate origin of all law [and] that this nation in all its aspects -- as a society, a state, an ordered and free relationship between governors and governed -- is under God..."

    Read more
  • What makes for Christian communion?



    The question of intercommunion within our churches today is a big one, an important one, and a painful one. I'm old enough to remember another time, actually to remember two other times. First, as a young boy growing up in the pre-Vatican II Church, intercommunion with other Christians, Non-Romans, was a taboo. It just didn't happen. An individual maverick may have ventured it, but he or she would have been called out for doing it, were it known. Then things changed. In the early years of my ministry, I worked in dioceses where intercommunion, at least for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and inter-church gatherings, was common, even encouraged. As a priest presiding at a Eucharist at these gatherings, I was allowed to positively invite non Roman Catholics to receive the Eucharist, as their own faith and sensitivities allowed.

    Read more
  • Jeremiah revisited



    Last month, California's Senate passed a bill (S.B. 360) that would require priests to report crimes of child abuse they hear in confession. It doesn't apply to all penitents -- only, roughly speaking, to other priests or church employees. Failure to report would be punishable by a fine or imprisonment. The lower house of the legislature is expected to take the bill up in September.

    Read more
  • Justice Thomas and eugenic abortion



    Jean Vanier, who died last month at the age of 90, was the revered founder of L'Arche, an international organization for the intellectually disabled and those who cherish them. Vanier once wrote that a society that discards "those who are weak and non-productive" soon becomes "a society without a heart, without kindness--a rational and sad society, lacking celebration, divided within itself, and given to competition, rivalry and, finally, violence."

    Read more