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What’s the one thing journalists need to learn from the Christianity Today firestorm?

Let’s consider this an educational moment. Since journalists are paying lots of attention, right now, to Christianity Today and other things linked to the late Billy Graham, let’s do a flashback to some poll numbers published in the fall of 2018. This polling was done by the Billy Graham Center Institute at Wheaton College, working with LifeWay Research. One of the goals was to understand why evangelicals voted the way that they did in 2016. Lots of things grabbed my attention, but here are some numbers that I think journalists need to ponder at the moment in light of the recent CT editorial by departing editor Mark Galli. You may have heard about it. The headline proclaimed: “Trump Should Be Removed from Office.” But back to CT in 2018. The bytes that jumped out at me: * Only half of the ...

The lies of Netflix’s ‘The Two Popes’…

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes (Netflix) First Things has comprehensively demolished the new Netflix movie The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins as a grumpy Pope Benedict and Jonathan Pryce as a radiant Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, today known as Pope Francis. Netflix is spending huge sums trying to win Oscar nominations for the picture, which was directed by the acclaimed Brazilian Fernando Meirelles. (Netflix is spending huge sums on a lot of things this season.) If you don’t write about movies for a living, you may be under the impression that filmmakers telling stories about real people make at least some vague gestures in the direction of truth. You would be wrong. The movie is about Bergoglio contemplating retirement but instead being summoned to see Pope Benedict...

The readings for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God…

January 1 is the Solemnity (Holy Day) of Mary, Mother of God.  To call Mary the “Mother of God” must not be understood as a claim for Mary’s motherhood of divinity itself, but in the sense that Mary was mother of Jesus, who is truly God.  The Council of Ephesus in 431—long before the schisms with the Eastern churches and the Protestants—proclaimed “Mother of God” a theologically correct title for Mary.  So far from being a cause of division, the common confession of Mary as “Mother of God” should unite all Christians, and distinguish Christian orthodoxy from various confusions of it, such as Arianism (the denial that Jesus was God) or Nestorianism (in which Mary mothers only the human nature of Jesus but not his whole person). Two themes are present in the Readings for this ...

A few suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for concerned Catholics…

 |  Dec. 31, 2019 COMMENTARY: May 2020 be a year full of grace for everyone. We’ll all need it. During and after the grim martial law period in the early 1980s, many freedom-minded Poles would greet each other on Jan. 1 with a sardonic wish: “May the new year be better than you know it’s going to be!” As 2020 opens, that salutation might well be adopted by Catholics concerned about the future of the Church, for more hard news is coming. So let’s get some of that out of the way, preemptively, before considering some resolutions that might help us all deal with the year ahead in faith, hope, and charity. Financial scandals in the Vatican will intensify. It’s been clear for some months now that the dam of secrecy, masking irresponsibility (and worse), is cracking. So expect more dis...

The beauty of a wedding anniversary…

“My soul takes pleasure in three things, and they are beautiful in the sight of the Lord and of men; agreement between brothers, friendship between neighbors, and a wife and a husband who live in harmony.”Sirach Among these three beautiful things, the third perhaps stands out as most notable and worthy of honor and remembrance: when a wife and husband live in harmony. But what exactly is living in harmony? Surely there are degrees, and there can still be real harmony even in a relationship regularly dogged by misunderstanding and dissension. It’s not uncommon that young newlyweds resolve to have a better marriage than those they have seen up close. And perhaps this is fitting. Yet often a husband and wife, sometimes sooner and sometimes later, come to a more nuanced view of the complexitie...

Chinese Communist Party announces ominous new ‘administrative measures for religious groups’ for 2020…

The new measures will be implemented starting from February 1, 2020. Activities, rallies, programs of religious communities must have the approval of the Religious Affairs Office.  Religious organizations must “spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party” by educating “religious staff and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party”. Beijing (AsiaNews) – As of February 1, 2020, new administrative measures will be put in place for Chinese religious groups.  According to a communication published by Xinhua, published yesterday, they complete the “Regulations on religious affairs” revised two years ago and implemented on February 1, 2018. The text of the “Administrative measure...

This Sunday, the pain and high purpose of family life…

By Tom Hoopes, December 26, 2019 The family is essential to society’s health and a rock of emotional security to all who give themselves to it. Family life is difficult drudgery and can have a heart-numbing effect on our dreams and hopes. This Sunday, the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Year A, the readings show both. For Joseph in today’s Gospel, family life is a combination of high purpose and hard work. The Gospel begins with the departure of the magi and the message of an angel. It is hard to imagine a more exalted moment for a father, when great men have sought out his child and angels intervene for his safety. But the message of the angel must have been hard for Joseph to take: “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell yo...

Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon announces medical leave of absence…

Joliet, Ill., Dec 28, 2019 / 09:20 am (CNA).- The Diocese of Joliet announced Friday that Bishop Daniel Conlon will take a medical leave of absence from leadership of the Illinois diocese. During Conlon’s absence, “Bishop Richard E. Pates, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines, will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese,” the diocese said in a Dec. 27 statement. “Bishop Conlon expresses his deep affection for the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Joliet and will keep them in his prayers during his time away. He also asks for their prayers,” the statement added. The diocese did not say what health problems Conlon is facing. Conlon, 71, has been Joliet’s bishop since 2011. From 2002 until 2011 he was Bishop of Steubenville, and before that a priest in the Archdiocese of Steuben...

You can still buy homes for $1 in beautiful towns all over Italy — here’s a roundup…

(CNN) — While most good things get more expensive, one dream got ridiculously cheap in 2019 thanks to the rise of the €1 home in Italy. The story quickly went viral, drawing global interest, particularly as other towns and villages from the northern Alps to sunny Sicily were attempting the same thing. Soon, some of these towns found themselves besieged by buyers. Mayors fielded thousands of requests, websites crashed, sleepy villages were invaded and locals freaked out. The silence of narrow alleys was broken by foreign voices and loud reporters. Dusty cobwebbed doors were unlocked for the first time in decades as people lined up early in the morning to secure an Italian casa dolce casa (home sweet home). As CNN reported in November, some of the first buyers have already moved in and, for ...

When you pray, the Christ Child awakens…

Just as when He awoke in swaddling clothes in a manger, Christ can awaken in our hearts in prayer. In that mysterious moment, His eyes communicate the same invincible joy that they did when they gazed into the eyes of His virgin mother. We know in that single instant what she knew — that He has given Himself to us and for us, and that we are the object of His delight.  If we allow ourselves to be captivated by His gaze of love, we will soon find that we cannot but give ourselves to Him in return. Just as He opened His eyes and saw the world for the first time, when we allow Him to open His eyes in our prayer, it is as if we have been seen for the first time. When we rest with Him in silent prayer, the Word who made the world opens His eyes anew and sees us and the whole world again th...

On the value of silence before the great mystery of the Incarnation…

Something at Christmas urges me (a man of many words) to write of holy silence. Perhaps it is due to one of the great Christmas antiphons, which speaks of the birth of Christ as a magnum mysterium (a great mystery). During Mass recently, the words of Zechariah came to my mind: Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord … Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling (Zechariah 2:11, 13). There is a common idiom: “Words fail me.” It is in this context that we can best understand God’s call to fall silent before the mystery of the Lord’s incarnation. Notice in the passage above that the call to silence follows the call to “sing and rejoice.” Is there a difference between singing and rejo...

Chinese Protestant pastor Wang Yi sentenced to 9 years in prison after saying ‘Communism is incompatible with Christian faith’…

HONG KONG — A secretive Chinese court sentenced one of the country’s best-known Christian voices and founder of one of its largest underground churches to nine years in prison for subversion of state power and illegal business operations, according to a government statement released on Monday. Wang Yi, the pastor who founded Early Rain Covenant Church, was detained last December with more than 100 members of his congregation as part of a crackdown on churches, mosques and temples not registered with the state. While most of Mr. Wang’s parishioners, including his wife, Jiang Rong, were eventually released, Mr. Wang never re-emerged from detention. As part of his sentence, he will also be stripped of his political rights for three years and have 50,000 renminbi, or almost $7,200, of his asse...