Book Reviews: Roman Catholicism, Catholic Beliefs, History
Catholic Theologians in Nazi Germany
The role of Christian theologians in Nazi Germany, including members of the Catholic Church, cannot be underestimated. The cooperation between Catholic leaders and Nazi leaders was conditioned in large part on the writings of Catholic theologians who paved the way for this to happen.
Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun
Anyone who has flipped through the cable channels over the past couple of decades has probably come across Mother Angelica's Eternal World Television Network. A cloistered Franciscan nun, Mother Angelica expressed an unapologetic and uncensored Catholic traditionalism which rankled not only liberal Catholics in America, but quite a few Catholic...
The Rise of Benedict XVI: Inside Story of How the Pope Was Elected
People around the world were stunned that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005 - and so quickly, too. It's almost unheard of for the College of Cardinals to act so fast or to elect someone who went into the conclave as a front-runner. Many expected a longer debate in order to find some sort of compromise candidate, not a quick decision on an arch-conservative. So what happened?
Many Religions, One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World
It's common to think of Christianity being grounded in the idea of having faith in God, but another and perhaps more accurate way of looking at it is to focus on a covenant with God. Faith is a one-way street while a covenant requires a two-way relationship, thus allowing for very different ways to conceptualize and understand Christianity as a...
Pope Benedict XVI: Intro to the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger
Joseph Ratzinger may now be Pope Benedict XVI, but for over 40 years he has been a Catholic theologian. Ratzinger's writings have covered a tremendous amount of territory and his opinions have even seemed to change on a couple of points, but there are a number of common themes that run through all of Ratzinger's arguments.
God's Soldiers: History of the Jesuits
There are probably few people who haven’t heard of the Jesuits, more properly known as the Society of Jesus, but just how much do people know about them - their history, their goals, and their methods? That’s a more difficult question to answer because there are so many myths that have developed about the organization (both positive and negative).
Our Fathers: The Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal
There are few who haven’t head of the scandal of Catholic priests who for decades got away with sexually abusing boys and girls. Most information, though, has come through snippets in newspapers and magazines. The true horror of not just the extensive sexual abuse but also the hierarchy’s cover-ups has escaped most people’s notice.
Conclave: The Next Papal Election
Eventually every pope dies and a successor must be chosen. Although the current methods and traditions would be unrecognizable to the earliest Christian leaders, they have been in place for several hundred years with only minor changes or additions. A better understanding of how a pope is chosen provides important insights on how the papacy works and what a pope’s role ultimately is.
Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns
When you think of nuns, what comes to mind? Stern, older women characterized by lethal rulers and the watchful eyes of hawks? Comical, even clownish women as depicted in movies like "Sister Act"? There are many different prejudices and assumptions made about nuns and there always have been - and most of them are probably wrong.
Priests: A Calling in Crisis
The year 2002 was one of profound crisis and crisis management for the Roman Catholic Church in America. This was the year that the stories of priests sexually abusing children - and the church hierarchy covering up for them - really broke out into the open and captivated the media’s attention. What, though, were the causes of the abuse?
Papal Sin: The Structures of Deceit
There was a time when Catholics knew that their popes were human and very capable of sinning - even egregiously. But Catholics also had faith in the institution of their Church to eventually overcome the problems of any one person. Today, however, a cult of personality has developed around the current pope, and the independent authority of...
The Pope's Armada
Are the ultratraditionalist movements in the Roman Catholic Church gaining more or less power? Is their influence over Church politics and the lives of Catholics growing stronger, or weaker? These are the sorts of questions which underlie Gordon Urquhart's project in his book The Pope's Armada.
Inside the Vatican of Pius XII: The Memoir of an America Diplomat
World War II was a difficult time for the Roman Catholic Church - thousands of Catholics died and thousands more participated in the killing, not to mention more than a few atrocities. Vatican power was at a low point, and in the aftermath, many questioned whether Pope Pius XII did enough to exercise moral authority to try to stop the Holocaust. What was it like, though, in the Vatican?
Is the Pope Catholic? A Woman Confronts Her Church
To what degree has Pope John Paul II been faithful to important Catholic teachings and traditions? That might sound like an odd question: if anyone would be faithful to Catholic teachings. it should be the pope, and if anyone has been exceedingly traditional, it has been Pope John Paul II. Appearances, however, can be deceptive - perhaps there...
Galileo in Rome: The Rise and Fall of a Troublesome Genius
Galileo's conflict with the Catholic Church is well known - the stuff of legend, in fact, and that may be part of the problem. It seems as though Galileo has become a martyr in the name of science, struck down by religious bigotry and ignorance even though he was only trying to advance our knowledge about our world and universe. Yet how much of...
All the Pope's Men: Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Works
The Vatican in Rome can be described as the world's oldest and most mysterious institution. What really goes on behind its walls? How are decisions which affect over a billion Catholics arrived at? What motivates the people who work there - power? Greed? Duty? Few people are qualified to answer such questions because few really know enough to even try.
The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia
There is no disputing the fact that the Vatican, by which I mean the clerical bureaucracy which controls and leads the Roman Catholic Church, is a very powerful and secretive organization. There is also little disputing the fact that great power and great secrecy typically help an organization to become corrupt. Has the same occurred with the Vatican?
In Search of an American Catholicism: A History
Catholics have lived in America since 1634, when the colony ships Dove and Ark arrived. Although there have been many changes in the circumstances for Catholics here, there has been one constant: a struggle to reconcile American and Catholic identities. How has this struggle manifested itself and how successful has it been?
Popes Against the Jews
Just what role, if any, did the Roman Catholic Church play in the development of anti-semitism during the modern era? This is a serious question, because the answer to it also helps us answer the question of what sort of culpability the Roman Catholic Church has for the eventual Holocaust and deaths of millions of Jews.
The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice
Catholicism has had a long but often troubled history in the United States. Catholics have lived in America since 1634, when the colony ships Dove and Ark arrived. In many regions Catholics were discriminated against, and ever since there have been periods during which Catholics have been attacked, killed, or relegated to second-class status. But things have gotten better, haven't they?
People today still venerate Mother Teresa as one of the most moral, loving and selfless people to have lived in recent memory, and she appears to be on the "fast track" for sainthood in the Catholic Church. Are all of these positive judgments justified, or is there more to her story than is usually reported in the news?
Catholic Power vs. American Freedom
The role of Catholicism in American society has long been a matter of some debate. Catholicism developed in a Europe controlled by monarchial and even dictatorial political systems, and the Roman Catholic Church adopted many of the principles underlying those systems. America, on the other hand, was conceived as a new political experiment where republican and democratic principles would hold.
That Christianity has a legacy of antisemitism is undeniable. That Christianity, and in particular the Catholic Church, has a legacy of suppression of dissent and unorthodox ideas is also undeniable. What is interesting, however, are the ways in which both of these legacies are not only related, but are in fact dependent upon each other.
Breaking Faith: the Pope, the People and the Fate of Catholicism
What is going on with the Roman Catholic Church? During the past few decades, rancorous divisions have appeared over a variety of issues, including sexual morality, the state of the priesthood, the role of the laity in church polity, women in the church, the Vatican's squelching of dissent, the creation of saints, and much more.
Fire and Roses: The Burning of the Charlestown Convent
The United States of America likes to pride itself on its religious tolerance; although that is often true, such assumptions should not be made in a context of historical ignorance. It has been a long road to get to where we are, and a long road lies ahead of us yet.