The ‘troublesomely urgent’ advocate

I read the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a dictionary close at hand. The section about prayer (CCC 2613) uses the word “importunate” to describe two parable characters: The first, “the importunate friend,” invites us to urgent prayer: “Knock and it will be opened to you” (cf. Luke 11:5-13). The second, “the importunate widow,” […]

Parish mergers a painful reality

The plan announced last month to merge 12 parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was the result of months of discussion and review by parishioners, pastors, deans and regional bishops on up to Archbishop Charles Chaput, who gave final approval. As thoughtful and inclusive as the process was, no one is happy with the result, […]

Death penalty perpetuates violence in society

Two hundred and five Pennsylvanians currently sit on death row. In Pennsylvania, even though hundreds of people have been sentenced to death, only three people — those who waived their right to appeal — have been executed since 1978 (the year the General Assembly reinstated the death penalty). Further, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on […]

How to help Catholics come back to church

Why do Catholics leave the Church? It’s a fair question that occupies the minds of Church scholars and leaders. It also occupies the hearts of people sitting around kitchen tables because almost every Catholic knows another Catholic who does not practice his or her faith. A son or daughter, sister or brother, parent, loved one, […]

The federal mandate and the crushing of religious freedom

On Jan 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a mandate placing first amendment rights and religious freedom in the crosshairs. The mandate, as a provision of ObamaCare, requires “preventive health services” to be covered by all health insurance issuers and all group health plans. Those insurance plans must provide (with […]

HHS Mandate: The More It Changes, The More It Stays the Same

Since the announcement of the Department of Health and Human Services mandate that would force religious employers to violate their consciences and pay for abortion-causing drugs, sterilization and contraception, much misinformation has been bantered about regarding health care, Catholic Church teaching and the impact this new regulation will ultimately have. On Feb. 10, the Obama […]

Lenten sacrifice an act of ‘living for others’

The beautiful and familiar “Peace Prayer” attributed to St. Francis of Assisi concludes, “It is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” This prayer, although timeless, offers all of us a directive for Lent. It touches on the […]

What are you going to give up this Lent?

The Lenten rules about fasting from food and abstaining from meat have been considerably reduced in the last forty years, but reminders of them remain in the fast days on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and in the abstinence from meat on all the Fridays of Lent. Beyond these common sacrifices that unite us spiritually […]

Lent should be time of grace, defeating temptation, Pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The 40 days of Lent are a time of spiritual renewal in preparation for Easter, but they also are a time to recognize that evil is at work in the world and even the Catholic Church faces temptations, Pope Benedict XVI said. The Pope explained the meaning of Lent during his […]

Nickels, dimes and family size

A few years ago, I spoke with a young man preparing to get married. His aunt told him that she thought he and his fiancée were too financially-strapped to have a child, and that it wouldn’t be fair to bring up a baby in poverty. Keenly aware of his joblessness and his minuscule bank account, […]