My article “Preaching on Catholic Social Teaching” appears in the July issue of The Priest. It’s a big one (seven pages in the print mag, though with photos), but was thoroughly fascinating and fun to work on. Check the whole thing out here.
Next month will mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Populorum Progressio, which is subtitled “On the Development of Peoples.” George Weigel glibly — and falsely — dismissed it. (Probably something there he doesn’t want you to see?) On the other hand, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI both praised it in remarkably strong terms.
The August issue of Sojourners includes a commentary piece of mine on religious freedom in the US and in the world today. A snippet:
Some who gnash their teeth over these issues seem unconcerned about other offenses to religious freedom. They said little, for example, about state government efforts to interfere with Christian ministry to migrants and refugees. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence not only withdrew his state’s help to Syrian refugees trying to escape a historic humanitarian crisis, he also tried to convince the archdiocese of Indianapolis to cease its ministry to them.
You’ll find the full piece here.
The July issue of Sojourners includes my feature article on the creation of The Telling Takes Us Home, a new “people’s pastoral” from a group committed lay folks in Appalachia. The letter is a significant step forward in a tradition that goes back to the historic This Land Is Home to Me, signed by every bishop in the region in 1975.
“The letter is possessed of the spirit of Appalachia,” says Jonathan McRay, a Virginia-based activist who was raised in the Christian Church of Christ and now identifies with no particular denomination. “It’s imbued with a gritty and raw quality because it was derived from the voice of the people living there. You can feel that woven into the seams of the whole thing.”
Allen Johnson, co-founder and coordinator of Christians for the Mountains, recognizes “the voices of the disenfranchised” in The Telling Takes Us Home. “It understands that the Good News is likely to come from these people, not from books and degrees. And it is trying to call that forth. Coal is the Pharaoh in Appalachia. The pastoral helps us think about how to stop building his pyramids.”
You’ll find the whole thing here. I’m particularly excited about this because it’s my first publication in a magazine I have long admired, and also because my byline happens to be appearing in this July issue alongside those of two other writers whose work I admire: Charlie Camosy and Karen Swallow Prior.
Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism is a new documentary, airing this month on PBS stations throughout the month of June. I’ve read and watched most of the important books and films that have told and retold this story over the years, because I love and admire Pope John Paul II. He formed and inspired my faith in Jesus Christ like few other people have done for me.
So I was curious to see this new telling, and I was pleased when Our Sunday Visitor asked me to review it.
Here’s a snippet:
[U]nlike many prominent tellings of this story, “Liberating a Continent” at least manages to hint at the crucial ways that Reagan’s vision and John Paul’s were not alike but were in fact at odds. Narrator Caviezel notes that the pope was gravely concerned about new threats to human dignity introduced into Poland by the arrival of Western culture and capitalism, including consumerism and, as one historian of Solidarity interviewed in the film puts it, “separating morality from the economy.” A former prime minister of Poland cites the pope’s warning that “once we discovered freedom, we could get completely lost in that freedom.”
Left mostly unsaid is that these latter threats did indeed materialize powerfully along with the Western-style capitalism Reagan was so intent on bringing to Eastern Europe. (Some would argue they are inseparable from it.) Unfortunately, vast numbers of the Catholic faithful who had chanted “We want God” in Victory Square in 1979 were also quick to welcome the consumerism and exaggerated notions of economic freedom that Reagan championed but that John Paul II warned sternly against. More explicit acknowledgement of this aspect of the story would have rendered this film more honest and more interesting and set it apart still further from similar efforts.
The full review is here.
Richard Doerflinger has served the church in the United States through his work in the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities for nearly four decades. I have long admired the fact that this layperson has helped provide the bishops with a sound and credible voice, that he helped them speak so effectively on the abortion issue, and that he was so clearly attentive to making sure the church’s concern for human life reached well beyond that single issue.
Doerflinger retires this week. Here’s my Q&A with him as he steps away, just posted by OSV Newsweekly.
Fifty years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, you might think we already know everything important there is to know about the Council, its history, and its teaching. Drawing new insights from evidence that has been available for decades, David L. Schindler and Nicholas J. Healy Jr. have authored a notable new book on the process that led to Dignitatis Humanae, the Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, and the contents of that historic document.
Here’s my review of that book, which appears in the current issue of Commonweal magazine.