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The McCarrick Mess

When I was going through school, the devil was presented to us as a myth, a literary device, a symbolic manner of signaling the presence of evil in the world. I will admit to internalizing this view and largely losing my sense of the devil as a real spiritual person. What shook my agnosticism in regard to the evil one was the clerical sex abuse scandal of the nineties and the early aughts. I say this because that awful crisis just seemed too thought-through, too well-coordinated, to be simply the result of chance or wicked human choice. The devil is characterized as “the enemy of the human race” and particularly the enemy of the Church. I challenge anyone to come up with a more devastatingly effective strategy for attacking the mystical body of Christ than the abuse of children and young people by priests. This sin had countless direct victims of course, but it also crippled the Church financially, undercut vocations, caused people to lose confidence in Christianity, dramatically compromised attempts at evangelization, etc., etc. It was a diabolical masterpiece.

Why Accompaniment Involves Apologetics

I recently granted an interview to the National Catholic Reporter concerning the upcoming Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, to which I was elected a delegate. In the course of the conversation, I stated that I would bring the issue of apologetics before the Synod, since so many young people have questions about, and objections to, the faith. But when the interview appeared, the author expressed her puzzlement that I would mention apologetics, though it is clear that the working document calls for “accompaniment” of young people. It seems many think doing apologetics and accompaniment are mutually exclusive. To my mind, they’re mutually implicative.

Por Qué Acompañar Implica Apologética

Recientemente concedí una entrevista al National Catholic Reporter acerca del Sínodo sobre los jóvenes, la fe y el discernimiento vocacional que se avecina, y del cual he sido elegido delegado. A lo largo de la conversación, afirmé que sacaré el tema de la apologética ante el Sínodo, pues muchos jóvenes tienen preguntas y objeciones sobre la fe. Pero cuando la entrevista apareció, el autor se mostraba asombrado de que yo mencionara el tema de la apologética, a pesar de que el documento preparatorio del Sínodo hiciera una llamada clara al “acompañamiento” de la gente joven. Al parecer muchos piensan que acompañar y hacer apologética son caminos mutuamente excluyentes. A mi modo de ver se implican mutuamente.

All Sinners Are Welcome!

While I was in central Georgia, filming the Flannery O’Connor episode of my Pivotal Players series, I saw a sign on the outside of a church, which would have delighted the famously prickly Catholic author: “All Sinners Are Welcome!” I thought it was a wonderfully Christian spin on the etiquette of welcome that is so pervasive in our culture today. In a time of almost complete ethical relativism, the one value that everyone seems to accept is inclusivity, and the only disvalue that everyone seems to abhor is exclusivity. What I especially liked about the sign in Georgia was that it compels us to make some distinctions and think a bit more precisely about this contemporary moral consensus.

¡Bienvenidos Todos Los Pecadores!

Mientras estaba en Georgia, filmando el episodio de Flannery O’Connor para mi serie Pivotal Players, vi un cartel a la salida de una Iglesia que le hubiera encantado a la famosa y escabrosa escritora católica: “¡Bienvenidos todos los pecadores!” Me pareció que era un precioso giro cristiano al lema de acogida que impregna nuestra cultura actual. En un tiempo de casi total relativismo moral, el único valor que todos parecen aceptar es la inclusividad, y lo único que todos parecen aborrecer es la exclusividad. Lo que me gustó especialmente del cartel en Georgia es que nos obliga a hacer ciertas distinciones y a pensar con un poco más de precisión sobre el consenso moral de nuestros tiempos.

Getting out of the Sacristy: A Look at Our Pastoral Priorities

For the past several days, I’ve been with my Word on Fire team, filming for the Flannery O’Connor and Fulton Sheen episodes of our “Pivotal Players” series. Our journey has taken us from Chicago to New York to Washington, DC, and finally to Savannah and Millidgeville, GA. At every step of the way, we have met numerous people who have been affected by Word on Fire materials: sermons, podcasts, YouTube videos, and the “CATHOLICISM” series. Many have told me that their exposure to Word on Fire started a process that led them back to the Church. Now I’m telling you this not as an advertisement for my media ministry, but rather as an occasion to muse about what I consider to be a needful change in the way the Church thinks about its essential work.

Salir de la Sacristía: Una mirada a nuestras prioridades pastorales

Desde hace varios días, he estado con mi equipo de Word on Fire, filmando los episodios de Flannery O’Connor y Fulton Sheen para nuestra serie The Pivotal Players. Nuestro viaje nos ha llevado de Chicago a Nueva York a Washington DC, y finalmente a Savannah y Millidgeville. A cada paso del camino nos hemos encontrado con personas a las que les ha llegado el material de Word on Fire: homilías, podcasts, videos de Youtube y la serie CATOLICISMO. Muchos me han dicho que su contacto con Word on Fire empezó un proceso que les ha traído de vuelta a la Iglesia. Y no les digo esto para hacer propaganda de mi ministerio en los medios, sino como una ocasión para reflexionar acerca de lo que considero debe ser un cambio en la forma en la que la Iglesia piensa acerca de su labor más esencial.

What “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” Gets Right and Wrong

The original “Jurassic Park” film from twenty-five years ago rather inventively explored a theme that has been prominent in Western culture from the time of the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment—namely, the dangers of an aggressive and arrogant rationalism. But what is bothersome in the latest film, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” is the emergence of a new and much more problematic motif.

The Question Behind the Question

On the afternoon of June 14, a rather spirited, fascinating, and unexpected debate broke out on the floor of the USCCB spring meeting about the use of videos rather than texts. I will confess that as this lively discussion unfolded, a smile spread across my face, for I have believed for some time that the issue of how we communicate is perhaps as important as what we communicate—that is, if we are interested in moving the conversation beyond a very narrow circle.

Sowing the Wind and Reaping the Whirlwind: A Reflection on the Irish Referendum

I will confess that as a person of Irish heritage on both sides of my family, I found the events in Ireland last week particularly dispiriting. Not only did the nation vote, by a two-to-one margin, for the legal prerogative to kill their children in the womb, but they also welcomed and celebrated the vote with a frankly sickening note of gleeful triumph. Accompanying the entire process, of course, was the subtext of the Catholic Church’s cultural impotence, even irrelevance, in the wake of the great crimes of the last several decades. Is there a way forward for Ireland?