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Desert Reckoning

Desert Reckoning

By Deanne Stillman

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Tag: Catholic

John Boehner’s Impossible Task

The speaker of the House was thoroughly conservative in a Republican Party that had moved the goal posts on what constituted conservatism. But he could never be conservative enough for his critics on the right.

Posted on Sep 28, 2015 READ MORE

Pope Francis Elevates the Discourse on Capitol Hill

“God bless America” sounds banal coming from politicians but profound when spoken by the shepherd of 1.2 billion souls. In his historic address to Congress, Pope Francis delivered a blessing of encouragement, not admonition—and spoke powerfully about the hot-button issues that keep our political leaders mired in bitter gridlock.

Posted on Sep 25, 2015 READ MORE

Pope Francis Begins South American Visit With Mass Attended by a Million Followers

Ecuador is the first stop on the pontiff’s highly anticipated weeklong South American trip, which includes visits to Bolivia and Paraguay.

Posted on Jul 6, 2015 READ MORE

The Vatican Will Officially Recognize Palestine as a State

In recognizing Palestinian statehood, the Holy See will join major international entities such as the United Nations and the European Parliament.

Posted on May 13, 2015 READ MORE

Pope Climate Change

Posted on May 2, 2015 READ MORE


Posted on Dec 29, 2014 READ MORE

Pope Unselfie

Posted on Nov 18, 2014 READ MORE

Ian Paisley’s Real Legacy: A Political Postmortem

Although he may have shown a softer side to those who knew him, the Northern Irish politician did more to fan the flames of sectarianism than any other figure.

Posted on Sep 17, 2014 READ MORE

Catholic Church (England and Wales) (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In Health Care Suit Against Catholic Bishops, the Specter of an Early Defeat

The ACLU’s case against the U.S. Bishops Conference—heralded by some as a bold legal stroke—could be thwarted on procedural grounds.

Posted on Mar 22, 2014 READ MORE

Suicides in Northern Ireland Equal to Number Killed in ‘Troubles’

The flames of conflict may be out, but parts of the country continue to glow as a legacy of violence remains with survivors of a sectarian dispute that lasted almost three decades and killed about 3,600 people.

Posted on Feb 13, 2014 READ MORE

Smokin’ Bishop

Posted on Oct 12, 2013 READ MORE


Posted on Sep 26, 2013 READ MORE

Screenshot via NBC News

Father Greeley: Loving Pugilist

Understanding Greeley, the priest, sociologist and novelist who died last week at 85, is essential to understanding the last half-century of American Catholic history and the glorious contradictions of politics.

Posted on Jun 2, 2013 READ MORE

AP/dapd/Daniel Maurer

Three Things the Next Pope Can Do to Save the Roman Catholic Church

I don’t expect the Vatican to take my advice, which is only fair since I’ve been ignoring theirs my whole life.

Posted on Feb 12, 2013 READ MORE

Wikimedia Commons

Catholic Hospital Chain Wins Lawsuit by Arguing Fetus Is Not a Person

A Catholic health provider has abandoned its beliefs by arguing that a dead fetus and a dead person are not the same thing in order to win a malpractice lawsuit.

Posted on Jan 24, 2013 READ MORE

Romney Who

Posted on Jan 17, 2013 READ MORE

White House/Pete Souza

Hiding the Church’s Treasure

I hope the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops contemplating the future of the church’s public and political engagement notice how the good deeds of the Roman Catholic parish of St. Francis de Sales have inspired people far beyond the confines of Catholicism.

Posted on Nov 25, 2012 READ MORE

Woman Denied Abortion Dies

Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, was admitted to University Hospital in Galway, Ireland, where she was found to be miscarrying.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 READ MORE

Religion, Politics and Paul Ryan’s Budget

Is Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint inconsistent with Catholic teachings? Bill Moyers and guests Robert Royal and Sister Simone Campbell discuss that and other issues of faith and politics in the latest episode of “Moyers & Company.”

Posted on Aug 27, 2012 READ MORE


Boehner Goes on the Attack Against Contraception Policy

John Boehner’s keen instincts have compelled him to zero in on the highly charged—and politically advantageous—dispute about religious organizations and contraception coverage that’s currently reaching the boiling point on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, the House speaker made a special speech devoted to the topic on the floor of Congress.

Posted on Feb 8, 2012 READ MORE

White House / Pete Souza

Obama Gets Ready to Defend Birth Control Policy

It’s an election year, so it’s time to play wedge issue roulette. Which culture war favorite is it going to be this time? Gay marriage? The Obama administration’s recent and contested decision to require Catholic organizations to provide birth control coverage to employees? Updated

Posted on Feb 7, 2012 READ MORE

Manfred Bruckels (2005)

Rosa Luxemburg and the Libertarian Left

“Freedom,” Rosa Luxemburg wrote, “is always freedom for those who think differently.” Those are certainly her most famous words, but they must not be mistaken for a general piety of liberalism.

Posted on Jan 14, 2011 READ MORE

AP / Osservatore Romano, HO

The Pope’s Progress

Now, can millions of Catholics around the world be free to use condoms and worship God? Can thousands of priests and others free their tongues and hands to help fight the scourge of AIDS and not worry about the “evil” of condom use?

Posted on Dec 3, 2010 READ MORE

Balls and Chains

Posted on May 23, 2010 READ MORE    

White House / Shealah Craighead

Vatican Says Bishops Aren’t Employees

In an effort to keep a rising legal flood below the chin, the Vatican is prepared to argue that bishops are not employees of the church, therefore the church shouldn’t be held responsible for their sometimes nefarious behavior related to allegations of sexual abuse. We’re not lawyers, but that seems pretty ridiculous.

Posted on May 17, 2010 READ MORE

Flickr / JuditK (CC-BY-ND)

First Female Priest to Raise Italian Eyebrows, Blood Pressure

Maria Longhitano, a married teacher, will be the first woman priest ordained in Italy when she takes her vows at an Anglican church near the Vatican. The Roman Catholic Church, which continues to oppose she-priests in all their heretical curviness, will surely be irked by the proceedings.

Posted on May 13, 2010 READ MORE


Posted on May 13, 2010 READ MORE

Worst Popes Edition

Glenn Beck’s Mormon masterpiece theater, why humans sigh, the 10 worst popes (and no, Benedict isn’t among them) and Aaron Sorkin’s response to the Newsweek gay actor saga.

Posted on May 13, 2010 READ MORE

What Would Benedict Do?

Posted on Apr 15, 2010 READ MORE

Penance Demands Action

At its holiest time of the year, the Roman Catholic Church is being forced to confront a more worldly riddle: What did the Holy Father know, and when did he know it?

Posted on Apr 1, 2010 READ MORE

The Flock

Posted on Apr 1, 2010 READ MORE

Irish Abortion Law Is Targeted

Human rights organizations are on the offensive as groups mobilize pressure against Ireland’s ban on abortion, accusing the government of a deliberate campaign of misinformation and exposing women to undue risk by forcing them to travel abroad for abortions.

Posted on Jan 28, 2010 READ MORE

prayer game

‘Mass: We Pray’ Brings the Excitement of Church to Your Living Room

Why wait for Sunday to practice your best bell-ringing, genuflecting and incense-swinging moves when you can bring the blessings home with the “Mass: We Pray” video game? Bonus: You can trade in Grace points to unlock the Holy Mysteries!

Posted on Nov 18, 2009 READ MORE

St. Annes
Flickr / Infomatique

Insult to Injury for Irish Church Abuse Victims

Although the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse found some 2,000 people who described the abuse they suffered at the hands of Catholic church officials in Ireland, resulting in a five-volume study (download the PDF version here), the alleged perpetrators have been shielded from prosecution, thanks to a successful lawsuit that protects their identities.

Posted on May 20, 2009 READ MORE

Moses at ND
Flickr / Paul J Everett

Obama Scores at Notre Dame

There were many messages sent from South Bend on Sunday. Obama’s opponents seek to reignite the culture wars. He doesn’t. They would reduce religious faith to a narrow set of issues. He refused to join them.

Posted on May 18, 2009 READ MORE

AP photo / Gerald Herbert

Obama Sparks Abortion Protests at Notre Dame

President Barack Obama attempted the impossible during his commencement speech at Notre Dame University in Indiana on Sunday: He asked those on both sides of the abortion debate to “join hands in common effort.”

Posted on May 17, 2009 READ MORE

Pope in Israel
AP photo / David Silverman, pool

Pope’s Nazi Ties Questioned—Again

It was just the second day of his Holy Land Tour 2009, but unsurprisingly, the presence of Pope Benedict XVI in Israel stirred up more static on Tuesday—this time over his personal wartime history.

Posted on May 12, 2009 READ MORE

Notre Dame basilica
UND / Ben Franske

The Stakes at Notre Dame

You have heard the expression “more Catholic than the pope.” We now know that the reaction of right-wing Catholics to Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama falls into this category.

Posted on May 7, 2009 READ MORE

Finding Peace in the Culture Wars

If President Obama’s primary task is to restore economic growth, he has also been waging a quiet, long-term campaign to ease the nation’s divisions around religious and moral questions.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE

Lawsuit Says Church Used Alaska as a Dumping Ground for Pedophiles

A new lawsuit alleges that the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church sent problem priests to remote Alaskan villages, where their crimes would have a reduced chance of discovery. A former monk and advocate for sex abuse victims told the Anchorage Daily News, “They were specifically targeting the Athabascan and the Yup’ik cultures, because they wouldn’t talk.”

Posted on Jan 15, 2009 READ MORE

Gifts Worthy of Christmas

On this consumer holiday, let us recognize those whose satisfaction comes not from accumulating material goods or political power: The relief workers and community builders lending their energy to the poorest people in villages and urban slums scattered around the globe.

Posted on Dec 24, 2008 READ MORE

Flickr / sergis blog

Maryland Police Keep You Safe From Terrorist Nuns

How did two nuns end up on a list of terrorists? Blame a now-defunct investigation by the Maryland State Police, who sent undercover troopers to spy on political groups and identify supposed terrorists, among them pacifists, environmentalists, a congressional candidate and those two feisty nuns. Update 

Posted on Dec 7, 2008 READ MORE


NYT: Mormons Made the Difference in Passage of Prop. 8

Many of us living in California definitely took notice when the battle over Proposition 8 suddenly heated up and became more contentious in the days before it passed. The New York Times has the story on what happened in that final stretch before the election.

Posted on Nov 15, 2008 READ MORE

Abortion Is the Right Issue for Starting the Healing

Obama’s most urgent task is to repair an ailing economy. But one of his most important promises was to end the cultural and religious wars that have disfigured politics for four decades.

Posted on Nov 14, 2008 READ MORE

'No on 8' protest

‘No on 8’ Protesters March on Mormon Temple in L.A.

Tuesday’s elections are a thing of the past, but the battle over California’s Proposition 8 is still going on. On Thursday, a large group of demonstrators marched in Los Angeles in protest of the ban on gay marriage, with the Westwood area’s Mormon temple as their eventual destination.

Posted on Nov 6, 2008 READ MORE

Obama’s Leap of Faith

Barack Obama keeps trying to end the wars over culture and religion, and good for him. The 1960s are so 40 years ago. But Obama’s opponents, as well as some of his friends, won’t let him do it.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE

Using Communion as a Weapon

Word spread like wildfire in Catholic circles: Douglas Kmiec, a staunch Republican, firm foe of abortion and veteran of the Reagan Justice Department, had been denied communion.

Posted on Jun 2, 2008 READ MORE

Fernando Lugo
AP photo / Monica Matiauda

Another Lefty Wins in Latin America

Former Roman Catholic Bishop Fernando Lugo’s campaign against poverty has won him the presidency of Paraguay, a country that has been ruled by the same conservative party for 61 years—arguably longer than the run of any party in any other country.

Posted on Apr 20, 2008 READ MORE

Benedict’s Discomforting Message

The pope came to the U.S. as a quiet but forceful critic of “an increasingly secular and materialistic culture.” Almost any American who paid attention to his sermon Thursday had to be uncomfortable because all of us are shaped by the very forces he was criticizing.

Posted on Apr 17, 2008 READ MORE

Daily Show

‘Daily Show’: Dubya Meets ‘Legs Benedict’

In this “Daily Show” special feature, “Blessed Week Ever,” Jon Stewart surveys the American media’s scintillating coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit, from brilliant observations about the pope’s “gentle” ways to the glory of his White House visit, and offers his own take on just what President Bush might have said upon first meeting the pontiff. Popemania!

Posted on Apr 17, 2008 READ MORE

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