A Church united

On July 5, Pope Francis released his first encyclical, a newsworthy event in itself, but then he knocked himself from the headlines by approving the sainthood causes of two of his renowned predecessors. If the rapid-fire announcements seemed unusual, well, that should come as no surprise from a pope who keeps doing things his way.

Fighting the fear of broader horizons

The phrase "prayer in school" means different things to different people. For some, it's about religion and the freedom to pray, or not, for assistance and guidance. Others see it as an absolute line in the sand, as if freedom of religion meant the same as freedom from religion.

Faith is a common good

It has been a long-standing personal practice, following the publication of a papal encyclical, to scan the Internet to see how it is received by the media.

A noble profession worth exploring

In the play "A Man for All Seasons" the character of Thomas More encourages Richard Rich to forgo political life for the life of teaching. One of the dialogues in the play summarizes the glory of teaching and for anyone contemplating becoming a teacher, it is well worth reading the play and taking it to heart.

The Supreme Court does not decide right or wrong

Now that the fireworks -- political as well as pyrotechnic -- have faded, it's time take a deep breath and look at what the U.S. Supreme Court did and did not do in two same-sex marriage cases.

Racism is still alive, but it doesn’t have to be

For a while, everything looked like it was coming up roses for TV chef Paula Deen. She had lucrative deals with more than a dozen major companies, a rabid fan base, and worldwide name recognition. Now, she is notorious for something else.

From one end of the church to the other

The first time I visited Assisi, St. Francis' Italian hill town in Umbria, I was with a large tour group. We had just spent several days in Rome and the contrast between the two cities was striking. Rome, the seat of power for emperors and popes, is incredible, of course, with its history, its art and architecture, its links to the apostles. But as we neared Assisi, the priest who led our group told us, "You have just moved from one end of the church to the other end." Assisi was the place where power was shed and poverty embraced. Certainly our new pope's choice of the name Francis carries much meaning for our modern age.

Helping to rebuild lives and communities for those fleeing despair

The occurrence of World Refugee Day in June and the celebration of this country's birthday in July bring to mind those who are displaced, without a country to call home, without the most basic sense of security.

A new era of national service in America

There was a 36-hour meeting in Aspen, Colo., on June 24-25 that could be remembered as a launching pad for a new era of service in America. Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, top commander of our troops in Afghanistan in 2009-2010, spoke a year ago at an Aspen Ideas Festival and called for large-scale civilian service to engage more Americans in serving community and country.

The surveillance state

The following unsigned editorial appeared in the July 1 issue of America magazine, a national Catholic weekly magazine run by the Jesuits. There are few words that arouse more suspicion among a properly skeptical public than "Trust us; we're doing what is best for you." But these have been the insufficient assurances offered by the Obama administration and members of Congress about the activities of the National Security Agency, even as more questions are raised about the breadth of the NSA's Internet spying and the Orwellian infrastructure it has been constructing since at least 2006.