There was a time when the Church did not take a position against the capital punishment. Indeed, there was a time when “the death penalty was a possible punishment in the Papal States. It was only in 1969 that Pope Paul VI formally banned the death penalty, even though it had not been imposed since 1870.” 

But we have seen a development in the approach of the Church to this ultimate penal sanction. In point of fact, we have seen a development since the first edition of the Catechism itself. More...

Hopefully Not Until Later: Religious Freedom and the HHS Contraception Mandate

At the end of last week, as reported by The New York Times and others, “the Department of Health and Human Services issued two rules rolling back a federal requirement that employers must include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. The rules offer an exemption to any employer that objects to covering contraception services on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” [1] Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, hailed the Trump Administration’s announcement and issued the following joint statement: More…

Not Even What They Want

As of this writing the House of Representatives is moving forward “on legislation that would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for instances where the life of the mother is at risk and in cases involving rape or incest.” While the legislation has support from the White House, it is not likely that it will survive a filibuster in the Senate.


Catholic teaching on the subject is clear and unambiguous. “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” More...

Filial Correction vs. Religious Assent 

Yes, it really is the case that a “group of clergy and lay scholars from around the world have” presented “Pope Francis with a formal filial correction, accusing him of propagating heresies concerning marriage, the moral life, and reception of the sacraments.” “They cite in particular Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, Amoris Laetitia, and ‘other words, deeds and omissions,’” and “accuse the Pope of upholding seven heretical positions about ‘marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments’ which, they say, has ‘caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church.’” More...





The Pope on a Plane

And so the Holy Father was asked for his view about President Trump’s recent suspension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is getting to be a common occurrence: Pope Francis takes questions from reporters in flight, a controversial question is proffered, the pope answers said question, and the answer itself makes news.

There are certain partisans who wish that he would not speak so extemporaneously, and it cannot be denied that remarks to reporters are far more subject to subsequent pundit manipulation than words in an encyclical. On the other hand, the words of encyclicals don’t get quite the media dispersal that are afforded direct comments in front of reporters. Thus we observe people, including many Catholics, who think that Pope Francis represents some radical departure from Church teaching, when, in fact, the things that he says, both in official writings and on airplanes, are completely rooted in the Catholic teaching that preceded him. More...

Racism Is Actually Really Bad (in Case You Were Wondering)

At first it seemed there would be nothing to write regarding the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia; that there would be little approaching insightful commentary to be offered. The death of Heather Heyer was plainly an unmitigated tragedy; the actions of the driver who caused her death were clearly of sufficient recklessness to constitute manslaughter, if not murder; and there is no moral high ground to be seriously claimed by neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, white nationalists, or other white supremacists. More...




How Should a Catholic Vote After All?

We should be chary of trying to enlist God on behalf of our partisan politics. This used to be common sense. But nowadays not everyone is restrained by such reticence. In recent years it has become common to hear the assertion that Catholics are bound to vote for the most anti-abortion candidate available between the two major parties. I don’t say the most pro-life candidate available, because similar claims aren’t generally made about other forms of illegitimate killing. 

Now that approach would make the voting decision for a Catholic a simple one if, in fact, it was a position with magisterial support. But it is not. More…



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The icon of St. Joseph the Worker is by Daniel Nichols. Editor: Jack Quirk. Please go like us on Facebook here Join the discussion on Catholic social teaching here.