Category Archives: Readings in Religion

Column: The Catholic (as) fascist

Published on May 16, 2017; provoked by online encounters with friends who are devout Catholics and support President Duterte’s signature campaign, the misleadingly named “war on drugs.”

I was born into a Vatican II household. Or perhaps it would be more precise to say I belonged to a family that in the 1960s took readily to the new emphases, the changes in the liturgy, in short the opening of windows, made possible by the historic ecumenical council. Looking back on those transition years, I can remember Masses in Cagayan de Oro or in General Santos City where the priest still faced the altar, rather than the congregation. We were aware of the changes and willingly took part in them; we were certain of our Catholic identity, encouraged by the modernizing faith we professed, and tolerant and respectful of other faiths.

It took me some time to realize that there were other kinds of Catholics—resistant to what Pope John XXIII called, in his opening speech before the Second Vatican Council, the “medicine of mercy,” partial instead to the old prescription of “severity.” Perhaps I oversimplify; I must have met relatives and strangers alike who were “catolico cerrado,” who believed in “sola scriptura,” or who were, as the expression goes, more papist than the Pope. But Catholic fundamentalism was first an academic problem for me, in college and right after it, before it became a personal one.

Now it is decidedly personal. Catholic fundamentalism, like other religious fundamentalisms, is open to fascism and helps enable authoritarianism. And I have some friends and acquaintances who do not see any disconnect between their Catholic faith and their support for the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs. Continue reading

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Column: Pacquiao misunderstands ‘spiritual renewal’

Pastor Manny Pacquiao takes center stage, again. Published on March 7, 2017.

Yesterday, in the middle of the afternoon, the following trended on Twitter: #DDSBigReveal, Lascañas, Senate, Manny Pacquiao, Davao Death Squad, and Spiritual Renewal. The six trends were all related to the Senate hearing conducted by the committee on public order to assess retired policeman Arturo Lascañas’ dramatic accusations against President Duterte.

The last, in particular, referred to the witness’ explanation for changing his testimony. Last October, before the Senate committee on justice, he denied the existence of the Davao Death Squad. It was just “media hype,” he said. On Feb. 20, at a news conference in the Senate, and then yesterday, under oath a second time, he said he had been forced to lie the first time because his family’s safety had not yet been secured, but that he really wanted to tell the nation what he knows about Mr. Duterte’s alleged personal liquidation squad because of a “spiritual renewal.”

I can understand why several senators questioned Lascañas’ conversion story. (I use “conversion” here to mean, not a moving from one religion or denomination to another, but rather a turning—that’s the root of the word—from one path to another.) It goes to the issue of motivation. Why change one’s mind, and perjure one’s self? The senators are right in assuming that neither should be taken lightly. Lascañas does have some serious explaining to do.

But I think one reason “spiritual renewal” trended on Twitter yesterday is people reacted to the narrow view some of the senators held about that religious experience. Continue reading

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Column: ‘A bunch of shameless hypocrites’

Published on February 7, 2017.

After the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued its pastoral letter on extrajudicial killings, one of President Duterte’s closest allies took direct aim at the bishops. “Sinners [that] they are, the Catholic Church has no moral ascendancy to judge what is right and wrong,” Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said via SMS. “They are simply a bunch of shameless hypocrites.”

It is good that the Speaker, by all accounts a straight talker and a practical man, was clear about his antecedents, because anyone else paying attention to Philippine politics would have thought he was referring to his own chamber of Congress. Having engineered the most recent wave of political turncoatism in our history, he is no stranger to accusations of hypocrisy. What is a majority composed of newly elected or reelected politicians who changed political parties for power and convenience, after all, but a bunch of shameless hypocrites?

But Speaker Alvarez is a power center in the administration, not only because he is one of the handful of true believers who pushed a reluctant Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to run for president, but because he shares the President’s core beliefs. His broadside at the Catholic bishops, generalized to include the entire Church, springs from the same source as the President’s contempt for the religion of his strong-willed, sainted mother. That the Church has “no moral ascendancy”—this is the authentic Dutertismo note. Continue reading

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Column: Killing suspects is also unchristian

Published on September 13, 2016.

THE VILIFICATION of the United Nations seems to have stopped; now the focus of presidential ire seems to be on the United States. But it is only a matter of time before UN involvement in Philippine affairs comes under attack again; the flawed but functional guarantor of international arbitration and human rights campaigns will necessarily be heard from again.

Here’s a thought, to prepare for the inevitable: The UN is not a remote organization, located half a world away and only distantly connected to goings-on in the Philippines. It is in fact intimately involved in Philippine society. In response to a query I posted about how many people the UN has working in the country, Martin Nanawa of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in the Philippines wrote back: “We have 1,449 National and 240 International Staff in the Philippines under the UN umbrella, which is spread over more than 25 different Agencies, Funds, Programs, and Organizations.”

That’s a lot of ears on the ground; it is folly, or wishful thinking, to suggest that UN experts do not know what is going on in the Philippines.

* * *

To the policy and legal arguments against the extrajudicial killings at the center of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, I would like to add the religious dimension—not because I am particularly religious or find myself on moral high ground, but because many men and women who fight this war or support it are Christian. Continue reading

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Column: Climate and ‘the greatest spiritual crisis of our time’


Published on December 15, 2015.

PARIS—One striking difference between the climate negotiations held in Copenhagen in 2009 and those that ended on Saturday night in this city was the new prominence given to the moral dimension. In the six years since the last attempt to forge a universal and binding agreement to arrest global warming failed, evidence of the serious consequences of climate change has mounted, putting a new emphasis on the vulnerability of the poor and the unprepared.

To the arguments from politics, economics and science have been added moral or spiritual imperatives. Pope Francis’ much-heralded encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si,” has been invoked many times on the road to a Paris agreement. His special envoy to the Paris negotiations, Cardinal Peter Turkson, spoke often and pointedly about meeting the needs of the climate-vulnerable with compassion and solidarity. Other spiritual leaders also made themselves heard.

Continue reading

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Column: Paris, and violence as ‘secret soul of the sacred’

Published on November 24, 2015.

The killing spree in Paris the other week has concentrated our attention, yet again, on the fragility of the human condition. Death, we remember of a sudden, comes like a terrorist in the night.

The murders in the fabled city made a heavy and terrible impression on many people around the world—not because the citizens of Paris are better than those of Beirut or more deserving of our sympathy than the residents of Baghdad, but simply because more people are familiar with the City of Light. France has been the most visited country for years, and Paris—the center of the European world for a good part of three centuries, and an enduring global icon of culture and civilization—remains among the most visited cities in the world.

In “War and Peace,” Tolstoy captures the Russian aristocracy’s obsession with the French, and Paris, even as his sprawling country is sucked into the Napoleonic wars. In the letters Rizal wrote his family during his first European sojourn, his fascination with the world capital was obvious, like a schoolboy crush. In his second European period, he conducted himself like a seasoned lover, his affection for the great city sure and familiar and practical.

In literature as in life, Paris is a symbol—and when the news spread of the attacks the other week, many of us saw that image, personal to many, bathed in unexpected blood. Continue reading

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Column: Thoughts on the Jesuits, going forward

Published on November 17, 2015.

ROOTING THROUGH my notes while doing research on the first Jesuit pope, I realized I had not yet shared the following remarks I made at a Province Forum of the Philippine Jesuits last year. Perhaps they may still be of some use:

Let me start from where I work: Journalism needs more Jesuits. I do not mean the profession needs more Jesuit columnists like Fr. Joaquin Bernas or Jesuit bloggers like Fr. Joel Tabora or Jesuit entrepreneurial advise-dispensers like Fr. Javy Alpasa. Or at least I do not mean that necessarily; it is also true that we in the media can always do with more Jesuit-produced content. The rotating column God’s Word Today is yet another good example; it has the advantage of being written by Fr. Jett Villarin and Fr. Manoling Francisco, among others. It only suffers from the disadvantage of appearing in the wrong newspaper!

What I really mean is that journalism needs more Jesuits as subject experts.

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Column: Duterte, the Pope–and the planet

Published on November 3, 2015.

I GOT the sense that the earth made an extra revolution or two last month; so much history was being made.

In the Philippines, the middle of October was the time for prospective candidates to file their certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections. Despite the carnival-like atmosphere and the unprecedented number of applications for president, the filing period brought clarity to the country’s favorite pastime of politics.

Of the many words that filled the airwaves and the column inches and the digital pages, those of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte were the most awaited and the most analyzed. He had to decline the presidential draft that has been following him for the last several months not only once (at the start of the week) but twice (in the last hours of the filing period). On Monday, Oct. 12, he read a statement that repeated his many attempts to decline the draft, and then added: “We have a problem in the family, and in the order of things, you do what is closest to your heart.” (This was what he told the Inquirer last August.) Continue reading

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Column: The Iglesia’s show of weakness

Written on the afternoon of Monday, August 31, 2015, an hour or so after the Iglesia Ni Cristo protesters left Edsa, and published the following day. The lucky timing led to over 60,000 page views of the original column (my 360th, as it happens), and about 17,500 shares on Facebook. Plus hundreds of very interesting comments.

Wow. What just happened?

As I write this, the smoke has cleared from the Iglesia Ni Cristo protest action on Edsa. The protesters have gone home; the intersection of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and Shaw Boulevard, the main site of the mass action, has been tidied up; the major satellite rallies in Cebu and Davao have been called off.

Protest organizers eagerly declared “victory” when they announced the end of the protest, saying the thousands of church faithful who had taken to the streets can now go home because the Iglesia ni Cristo had reached an “agreement” with the government. What that agreement stipulates they did not say. Neither (as of the time of writing) has the government.

I am skeptical that any agreement has in fact been reached—aside from the strictly logistical understanding needed to allow the protesters to leave Edsa in orderly fashion. Of course I could be wrong, but it does not seem likely to me that a famously stubborn president like Mr. Aquino, buoyed by renewed popularity and unfailingly loyal to his friends, would abandon Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the altar of political expediency. Continue reading

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“Sons and Daughters of the Church, Citizens of the Republic”

On Sunday, the country’s influential Catholic bishops issued a set of six reminders to guide Filipino Catholic response to the ongoing protest actions by the Iglesia ni Cristo. The title of the circular, written by the first rector of the only Catholic shrine built on a historic protest site, accurately sums up the dual basis of the bishops’ reflections.

 

Sons and Daughters of the Church, Citizens of the Republic

Catholic Response to the Iglesia ni Cristo Rallies

What do we Catholics do as our brothers and sisters of the Iglesia ni Cristo throng around the EDSA Shaw area?

We, your bishops, offer you these guidelines:

1.   PRAY WITHOUT CEASING for a peaceful and just resolution of the present dispute, in a manner both pleasing to God and in conformity with the democratic convictions enunciated in our Constitution.

2.  BE CHARITABLE AT ALL TIMES AND IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.  Jesus, the Lord, willed His disciples to be known by their love.  No Catholic should fan the flames of dissension by rumor-mongering and by inflammatory statements.  Let all be kind in disposition, respectful in speech and prudent in action.

3. SEEK ENLIGHTENMENT.  We appeal to our Catholic lawyers, jurists and law professors to contribute to the on-going discourse in a constructive manner, without condemnation.  We seek to be enlightened on what the fundamental law of the land provides, the boundaries of the freedom of religion and the rights and the prerogatives of State.

4.  RESPECT HOLY SITES.  The EDSA Shrine is a Catholic center of worship.  It is a church.  There is a Catholic priest assigned to it.  We ask that all respect the sacred character of the Edsa Shrine.

5.  ABIDE BY THE LAW.  Unless it is convincingly shown that a law offends moral precepts, obedience to the law is a Christian duty.  Sons and daughters of the Church cannot be less observant of the law than other citizens of the Republic.

6.  NO TO OPPORTUNISM.  No politician should gain political ground by abetting dissension or, worse, fostering disregard of the Constitution and the law.  Neither is it morally correct for any political party to aim at gaining an advantage by controlling a religious sect known to propose to its members a chosen set of candidates.

If we turn to the Lord in sincere prayer, then, we are firm in the faith that all wounds shall be healed.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, August 30, 2015

 

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP

 

Postscript: Three Inquirer stories on the CBCP statement, three different angles

Catholic bishops call for charity, warn against opportunists

CBCP tells Catholics: Don’t attack Iglesia members

CBCP to politicians: Don’t take advantage of Iglesia protest

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Column: The most subversive text of the year

Column No. 350, published on June 23, 2015.

For a good many of us, “Laudato Si” (Praised Be) will be the most subversive text we will read all year, or indeed for many years. The extraordinary eco-encyclical from Pope Francis contains explosive truths, not about the science of climate change, but about the persistence of poverty, the excesses of a market economy, the fetish for technology and the technocratic solution, the consequences of middle-class aspirations, the failings of the media, even the role of the human in a “rapidifying” world.

“Laudato Si” offers the kind of radical reading that subverts our assumptions, challenges our deepest convictions, makes us see anew. The lengthy document attempts to give a truly global treatment of the ecological catastrophe we all face; some or many of the notes the Pope strikes will be familiar to us, but taken together, the whole acquires a resonance unheard since “Gaudium et Spes” signaled the reconciliation between the Church and the modern world. Continue reading

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Column: Not ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative,’ but ‘radical’ Catholic

Published on January 27, 2015.

To Church-watchers, the pivotal moment of Pope Francis’ five-day visit to the Philippines may have been his unscripted remarks at the Meeting with Families, on Jan. 16, at the Mall of Asia Arena. When he invoked Pope Paul VI (by name) and his predecessor’s controversial encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (by implication), it was global news—but it was news for the wrong reasons.

In particular, it was the following passage (about 140 words in all) that led many observers or commentators to speak of the Pope’s “conservative” turn, or to cite it as confirmation that the first pope named after the saint of Assisi was not as “liberal” as he was reputed to be. Continue reading

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Column: The Pope’s challenge to the powerful

Published on January 20, 2015.

At the final press briefing Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, held with Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the long-serving Vatican spokesman attempted “a synthesis of the trip”—Pope Francis’ first visit to the Philippines, his second to Asia, and his seventh outside Italy since his election in March 2013. The substance of the Pope’s remarks was the second element of Lombardi’s synthesis.

He noted “the coherence of the message of the Pope: integrity, corruption, scandalous inequality, poverty.” Especially that last point: “The poor at the center of the Gospel.”

This was an echo of Francis’ own summary of his message to the Filipino faithful, which he explained in the news conference on the flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Manila. (Hats off to Pia Hontiveros-Pagkalinawan, who if I’m not mistaken became the first Filipino journalist to ask Pope Francis a direct question.)

“The central message of this trip will be the poor, the poor who want to carry on; the poor who suffered from Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ and who are still suffering the consequences; the poor who have faith and hope. The people of God, the poor, even the exploited poor, those who suffer many injustices, material, spiritual and existential. I’ll think of them when I’m in the Philippines.” Continue reading

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Column: The Pope and the politicians

Published on January 13, 2015.

It is a safe bet that many Filipinos want the upcoming papal visit to be a politician-free zone. Even the politicians themselves are wary, all too aware that just being seen with Pope Francis as he visits the Philippines could be mistaken for that new state of disgrace we can call “epal-ness” or, worse, as an abuse of political privilege. With the exception of the Pope’s courtesy call in Malacañang, there is good reason to keep the apostolic visit free of politics—but not necessarily of politicians.

I would wager that Pope Francis himself, while acutely conscious of the corruption, the venality, the self-seeking and self-perpetuating culture of politics, would welcome politicians of all shades of conviction in his audiences. He has the same high regard for the calling of politics that the pope of his formative years in the priesthood, the intellectual diplomat Paul VI, expressed often and emphatically.

In a characteristically candid interview with veteran Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli in December 2013, he spoke about the relationship between the Church and politics. Continue reading

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Column: The most important papal visit

Published on January 6, 2015.

The most consequential papal journey of the year will not be to Sri Lanka or even to the Philippines next week, although Pope Francis’ second visit to Asia is important indeed. It will be in September, to the new center of gravity of Catholic conservatism: the United States.

Apart from its intrinsic importance, then, the Pope’s second-longest journey outside Italy to canonize the Apostle to Sri Lanka Blessed Joseph Vaz and to condole with the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in the Philippines can also be understood as a series of way stations en route to a historic encounter in Pittsburgh. (His longest journey, longer by a few hours, was the eight-day swing to Brazil in 2013.)

I do not wish to minimize the significance to the fourth papal visit to the Philippines. I understand that the Pope wanted to visit the country as early as late 2013, or just several months after his election—after all, it hosts the largest Catholic population in the world’s most populous continent and, despite the parochialism of much religion news in the country, plays a pivotal role in Asia in the new evangelization.

Unlike the visit to Seoul (his first to Asia, in August last year) and the one to Colombo that’s coming up in a few days, there is no beatification or canonization ceremony to perform in the Philippine visit. Unlike his visit to Rio de Janeiro in July 2013 or the one to Istanbul last November, there is no World Youth Day to grace or Joint Declaration to announce in the Philippines. He is, simply, a pastor visiting his people. Continue reading

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Column: Rizal as Catholic

Published on December 30, 2014.

The mature form of Rizal’s thinking on the Catholic religion can be found in his correspondence with a former Jesuit teacher. Written in his Dapitan exile between September 1892 and the middle of 1893, the five letters addressed to Fr. Pablo Pastells, SJ, are Rizal’s attempt to examine “what little has been left to me by the shipwreck of faith”—that last phrase an allusion to a remark from yet another Jesuit mentor.

What exactly was left? Not enough by the standards of his day; a surprisingly robust amount, by today’s measure. He was no longer a practicing Catholic, but remained very much a cultural one. (I believe this is why he ridiculed the notion, repeated by Pastells in one letter, that he had become a Protestant. Part of this cultural Catholicism was precisely the religion’s embrace of reason. To appropriate a quote from a third Jesuit writing two generations after Rizal: Catholicism “was a reasonable faith.”)

The following excerpts (from Dr. Robert Yoder’s excellent online resource, now maintained by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines) paint a vivid picture: Continue reading

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Column: #popeselfie

Published on December 23, 2014.

I have had the privilege of writing on Pope Francis for different media in preparation for next month’s pastoral visit. Writing has helped turn anticipation into active waiting—very like Advent. Like many, I am drawn to the Pope’s emphasis on mercy and compassion; but I am also magnetized by his candor, his demonstrated capacity for frank talk.

On Oct. 26, for instance, I wrote a “Daily Reflection” for INQUIRER.net, on what Pope Francis considers Christ’s “most powerful message.”

“‘First, it needs to be said that in preaching the Gospel a fitting sense of proportion has to be maintained. This would be seen in the frequency with which certain themes are brought up and in the emphasis given to them in preaching.’

“We can understand Pope Francis’ repeated emphasis on mercy as an attempt to restore a sense of proportion to Catholic discourse. In one of his very first homilies as pope, he introduces the theme in a memorable way.

“‘I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think—and I say it with humility—that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy.’ Continue reading

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Column: Did Pope Francis lose the battle?

Published on October 28th, 2014.

I can understand the struggle-for-reform narrative that allows commentators to call the outcome of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on Pastoral Challenges to the Family a setback—but I doubt whether Pope Francis sees it that way. The narrative arc is clear, for example, in James Politi’s dispatch from Rome dated Oct. 26: “[I]t is hard not to see the turn of events in the Vatican this month as a setback for a Pope who has energized the Catholic world with his quest to make the religion more accessible and modern.”

It is even more hard to see the turn of events as going according to the Pope’s plan, but I will attempt to show, if not exactly that, then at least the nearest thing: That the Pope could not have seen it as a setback, and himself as “losing the latest battle.” (Politi again.) Continue reading

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Column: The quotable Pope: 7 ‘astonishing’ statements

Published on October 14, 2014.

Reading various interviews that Pope Francis has granted since at least 2009 (when he was still archbishop of Buenos Aires), I have realized that behind the pastor with the common touch is a priest of deep culture and massive learning. Three sets of interviews, in particular, reveal a man with a sure sense of self and a certain, expressive, style.

Beyond his celebrated quotes—“pray for me,” “the church of mercy,” “the culture of encounter” and perhaps most famously “who am I to judge?”—he has given us in these three interviews a trove of precisely calibrated statements, that either force us to reconsider something familiar or see something altogether, and wholly, new. Continue reading

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Column: Benedict and Francis on social media

Published on June 3, 2014.

In a column I wrote over a year ago, I teased the country’s two cardinal-electors for asserting, in a news conference they called after they returned from the conclave that elected Pope Francis, that the Holy Spirit did not read social media. It was their good-natured way of expressing just how surprising the turn of events had been: the first resignation of a pope in 600 years, the first pope from the so-called New World, the first pope to be named after Francis of Assisi.

But I thought it was a mistake, theologically, to consider any form of media to be off-limits to God. I traced my argument back to Benedict XVI’s own thoughts on social media. As it happens, in the message he prepared for last year’s World Communications Day, Benedict had chosen to focus on social media. The title of the message was a useful summary: “Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization.”

If online social networks are spaces where the evangel can be shared, then by definition it cannot be off-limits to the source of the same good news. Continue reading

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Column: Jinggoy et al as Pontius Pilate

Published on April 22, 2014.

I realize that many Filipinos will readily volunteer a comparison they think more apt: Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile and others deeply implicated in the pork barrel scam are Judas. The defining act of the crimes they are charged with is the act of a traitor; that is, someone who betrayed the people’s expectations, the public’s trust.

But it is also possible to argue that the senators and congressmen and their staff who allegedly looted pork barrel funds are, in fact, Pontius Pilate. Allow me to make that argument, but first I must prove another point: Pilate’s liability in the judicial murder of Jesus Christ is not the learned helplessness of a pragmatic bureaucrat (“What is truth?”), but rather the sophisticated use of the political power of a ruling elite (“What I have written, I have written.”) Continue reading

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Column: The Pope’s older son

Published on March 18, 2014.

I liked the way it was phrased: Pope Francis has “an older son problem.” That seemed to me to be exactly right: The context was both biblical and within the framework of a famous parable of mercy. Hearing eminent Vaticanista John Allen Jr. say it out loud was satisfying indeed. The definition of the problem itself hinted at the solution. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I had the chance to hear Allen deliver his lecture at the 50th anniversary rites of the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City last Wednesday, and see him engage in conversation with Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in Quezon City the following day, at a fund-raising dinner.

Allen has been a constant reference in my Newsstand blog; he is the primary English-language source for Vatican news, and his reporting on the last days of John Paul II, the remarkable papacy of Benedict XVI and Francis’ turn on history’s stage has been marked by deep understanding of both the Vatican as a beat and Catholicism as a creed, and (not a small thing) by boundless energy. Continue reading

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Column: ‘If a sermon goes on too long…’

Published on December 24, 2013.

Before you listen to tonight’s Christmas Eve homily, you may want to prepare for the ordeal with the following joke. “We know… that both [the faithful] and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them!”

Ah, you might say: That’s exactly how I feel. Or perhaps: I didn’t realize the priests themselves dreaded the sermon. But the passage’s puckish note almost gives the author away. In a year of papal surprises, Pope Francis wrote an extraordinary document, classified as an apostolic exhortation in the Vatican’s elaborate schema, that enjoins all Catholics to rediscover and share the “joy of the Gospel”—and was itself proof of that joy, rediscovered and shared.

Much of the coverage I’ve seen or read on the Pope’s apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” however, focuses on the startling denunciations of consumerist capitalist culture to be found in it. One of the most quoted passages is a stinging rhetorical question: “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” (I am humbled that Francis’ first example of what he calls “an economy of exclusion” involves the use, or misuse, of journalistic judgment.) Continue reading

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Batik-inspired Good Samaritan

This unusual rendering of the central event of the Good Samaritan parable, a color lithograph by the Dutch artist Lion Cachet, from 1896, caught my eye when I visited Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts last September. It took me some time to figure out why. Finally, I read the explanatory text. Turns out the piece was inspired by Indonesian batik – a modest example of the colonial periphery making an impact on the center, and a nice inversion that parallels what happened on that road between Jerusalem and Jericho.

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Column: The Good Samaritan parable as news story

Published on September 17, 2013.

Some readers have asked about the “writing experiment” I attempted last month at the Loyola School of Theology, when I sought to discuss the church-media dynamic by, among other things, rewriting a famous Gospel parable. Perhaps the best way to explain what I was up to is to show, not tell. If you will allow me then, here is an extended excerpt:
Continue reading

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