Abortion and the Return of Paganism in Ireland

Irish pagans rejoice in the freedom to kill unborn children. In October 2014 I preached about a decision by the US Supreme Court which was a preview of the Obergefell decision that came in June 2015, and in part this is what I said: "It has been many decades, some would say centuries, since the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the primary engine for the formation of culture in the West, and now we are seeing the rapid abandonment of the Gospel as a source of law in the West. For fifty years and more the trajectory of law and culture in Europe and the United States has been away from the Christian worldview and towards a new paganism, particularly in regard to sex, marriage, reproduction and family life: no fault divorce, birth control, abortion, in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, embryonic stem cell manipulation, assisted suicide, multiple remarriages, and now same sex marriage. These changes in law and custom are but a reflection of the post-Christian character of

Of Bad Popes and Bad Presidents

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bishops of Rome were saintly scholars and heroic pastors who inspired great devotion among Catholics because of their radiant goodness, and for the Church to have the service of such men is a great blessing. But in that blessing lies a danger. When we have so many valiant shepherds on the Chair of St Peter, one after the other, we can forget that many scoundrels and notorious sinners - to say nothing of average men of modest ability - have also served as popes, and that forgetfulness opens us to undue distress when a pope comes who doesn't measure up to his predecessors. Pope Alexander VI - Rodrigo Borgia, pictured above - reminds us that the office of the papacy can certainly survive and in some ways even flourish when occupied by a man who is manifestly unfit to be the Pastor of the Universal Church, and that knowledge should console anyone who is troubled by the character or actions of a man who sits on the Chair of St Peter but

The Evangelical Possibilities Presented by the Victory of the Sexual Revolution

On 12 October 2014, I preached at St. Mary's, Greenville about the wider theological and pastoral context of the legal and cultural debates over same sex marriage. Here is the text of that homily: As I explained last Sunday, the Synod of Bishops is meeting right now in Rome to discuss challenges to marriage and family life in the context of proclaiming the Gospel in our time, so it seems particularly appropriate that the Supreme Court of the United States announced last week that they would not accept appeals to several decisions by federal district courts which struck down laws against same sex marriage in five states. And by their refusal to hear those appeals, the nine Justices were declaring that the disputed decisions of the lower courts would stand, thus allowing same sex marriage to become law both in the five states which had appealed and in the other states which are included in the geographical areas of those district courts. Though isolated court battles will con

Magdalene Parker Mileski

On 15 May 2007 I preached at the Mass of Christian Burial for Magdalene Parker Mileksi, one of the most extraordinary teachers to shape my life. Here is the text of my homily ...                                                             Silas Marner . This, of course, is the title of George Eliot’s classic novel about loss and gain, hatred and love, sin and redemption. But for generations of Maggie Mileski’s students, it is also a byword. For us the name Silas Marner stands for terror in the classroom, for our cold indifference towards literature transformed into reverence for learning, and for Mrs. Mileski’s own disciplined learning ordered to cultivating wisdom in us. But only a gifted teacher could bring about such a change in sullen adolescents, and what a gifted teacher she was. It is thirty years this August since I became Maggie’s student, and in those days I was an atheist who dreamed of being a physicist. I thought that reading Silas Marner and all the rest was

Communion with the Church by Degrees of Fullness

A Lecture Addressed to the  Theological Students' Association  of The Catholic University of America by Father Jay Scott Newman, J.C.L.  Assistant Professor of Canon Law  at The Pontifical College Josephinum 18 April 2001 In his De Praescriptione Haereticorum , Tertullian famously asked with derision, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?", meaning "What has philosophy to do with theology?" I begin with this reminder because, although I am here to address the Theological Students' Association, I am not a theologian; I am a canon lawyer. And some among you may well ask with derision, "What has canon law to do with theology?" It's a fair question, so before I explore the topic at hand today, I need briefly to digress and establish something of a lingua franca for our discussion. Because she is a human society, the Church has had law, and therefore lawyers, since her foundation, but canon law as a distinct science and course

Who is Pope Francis?

Since the election of Pope Francis, Catholics of every stripe have been reading tea leaves to divine what sort of man he is, what kind of pope he will prove to be. Those on the Left see and fear a Jesuit who was held in contempt by the other Jesuits in Argentina because he stood in the breach against Liberation Theology, and those on the Right see and fear a Jesuit who behaves like a Jesuit in the celebration of the sacred liturgy. And partisans of every kind are stamping and sweating like frightened horses, wondering what these signs portend. To one and all I say: Chill out. Papa Bergoglio is the 266th Bishop of Rome, and there will be a 267th. In our long history we have had great saints and craven cowards and brave reformers and depraved degenerates along with mystics, theologians, fools, worldlings, philosophers, warriors, diplomats, and a few men of world-historical stature. They each did their bit and then went to their judgment. And after each came another. The same wi

Chrism Mass Homily of Pope Francis

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS HOLY THURSDAY CHRISM MASS ST PETER'S BASILICA 28 MARCH 2013 Dear Brothers and Sisters, This morning I have the joy of celebrating my first Chrism Mass as the Bishop of Rome. I greet all of you with affection, especially you, dear priests, who, like myself, today recall the day of your ordination. The  readings  of our Mass speak of God’s “anointed ones”: the suffering Servant of Isaiah, King David and Jesus our Lord. All three have this in common: the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God’s faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for prisoners, for the oppressed… A fine image of this “being for” others can be found in the Psalm: “It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe” (Ps 133:2). The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an imag