SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Michael Warren Davis

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March 07, 2019
Last March, Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined “The Democrats Abandon Catholics”. The Archbishop of New York wrote: “It saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.” Dolan was speaking particularly about abortion. Indeed,
March 06, 2019
Catholics know that 19 March is the Feast of St Joseph. Fewer, perhaps, are aware that the entire month of March is dedicated to the Most Chaste Heart. That seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? March is dominated by the Lenten fast, which is itself a preparation for Eastertide. According to tradition, Our Lord’s foster-father
February 28, 2019
Frédéric Martel’s new book, Inside the Closet of the Vatican, was supposed to expose a “velvet mafia” calling the shots in the Eternal City. Martel, an atheist and gay rights activist, was especially interested in exposing the “hypocrisy” of “rigid” conservatives: by day, they decry homosexuality in the press; by night, they chase rent boys
February 21, 2019
Fr Edwin Dwyer looks like he stepped out of a time machine. With his shaved head, thick red beard and piercing blue eyes, he may very well have celebrated Mass on one of the cold stone altars of medieval England. Like so many young priests, he clearly has no interest in merely blending in among
February 14, 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was roundly panned by conservatives after launching her “Green New Deal” (GND) last week. From her first moment on the national stage, the New York congressional freshman’s hardline progressive ideology and ur-millennial swagger made her a lightning rod for conservative antipathy. But the GND’s references to replacing air travel with light-rail trains, curtailing
February 12, 2019
Every theology enthusiast – I would never use the term dork – has, at some point, identified himself with one of two factions: the Thomistic Aristotelians or the Augustinian Platonists. Granted, the whole debate is kind of dumb. Reading Aquinas’s commentary on Boethius, one realizes pretty quickly that the Angelic Doctor himself is as much an Augustinian
February 07, 2019
Without a doubt, the most evocative moment in Catholic cinema is the excommunication scene from Becket. Richard Burton, playing Thomas Becket, pronounces the delinquent Bishop of London anathema, culminating in these horrible words: “We declare him excommunicate and anathema. We cast him into the outer darkness.” Admittedly, the film omits the full formula of excommunication,
January 31, 2019
Oliver Cromwell reportedly paused over the body of Charles I – freshly liberated of its head – and muttered, “Cruel necessity.” No doubt he saw many of his cruelties as necessary: not only regicide, but also dismantling England’s rich liturgical heritage. Like the Crown, the Anglican Church’s ecclesiastical splendour stood as an impediment to his
January 24, 2019
Last week, the Knights of Columbus and the Marist Institute for Public Opinion jointly published two polls that should give Catholics a bit of much-needed encouragement about the future of American politics. One of them was about abortion. It found that 75 per cent of Americans favoured significant restrictions on the availability of abortion –
January 17, 2019
Fr Leonard Feeney is undoubtedly one of the most polarising figures in the history of the American Church. Having died in 1978, he is still well-known for his strict interpretation of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus: “outside the Church there is no salvation”. Broadly speaking, “Feeneyism” is the belief that, unless one is baptised with water
January 10, 2019
It’s difficult to think of an organisation more representative of mainstream Catholicism than the Knights of Columbus. Called the “strong right arm of the Church” by St Pope John Paul II for its charitable efforts, the Knights were actually founded in part as an alternative to Freemasonry. The Knights are perhaps better known in America
January 07, 2019
As we announced last week. C.C. Pecknold will be joining the Catholic Herald as a contributing editor. An associate professor of theology at The Catholic University of America, Pecknold has authored several books on St. Augustine of Hippo and his relation to modern theology and politics, with a particular expertise for relating The City of God to the world we live