News Analysis

The best of the web: anchovy pizza, Flannery’s limitations, Caviezel’s cross

Anchovy pizza (Jeffrey_Allen/Flickr)

The decline and fall of anchovy pizza

Did the Church destroy anchovy pizza? At The Federalist, David Marcus put the case for the prosecution. “Throughout much of the 20th century,” Marcus wrote, “anchovies were as associated with pizza as cream cheese is with bagels, or mustard with hot dogs. In movies, television shows, and (of course) pizzerias, anchovy pizza was ubiquitous.” But today they are the least popular pizza topping. What happened?

“I place the blame squarely at the feet of the Roman Catholic Church,” Marcus argued. “In particular the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (Vatican II), which closed in 1965 and officially made abstaining from meat on Friday optional except for the seven Fridays in Lent.”

Previously, Italian pizzerias in Catholic neighbourhoods had needed meat-free toppings on a Friday; once the abstinence laws were relaxed, the anchovy gradually vanished.

It’s a small sign of how religion shapes society, Marcus wrote – and a reminder that secularisation can bring changes for which we are unprepared.

Flannery O’Connor: faith and our limits

At Charlotte Was Both, Amy Welborn reflected on Flannery O’Connor. “As far as I’m concerned she’s a saint and maybe even a Doctor of the Church,” Welborn said.

O’Connor was a successful writer who fell ill and had to return to her mother’s farm. Her story and her novels, Welborn wrote, are “a helpful and necessary corrective, it seems to me, of the current spiritual environment which privileges choice and health and seeks to baptise secular notions of success, achievement, and even beauty. What is missing from all of that is a cheerful acceptance of limitations and a faith that even within those limitations – only within those limitations – we are called to serve God.”

An actor urges young Catholics to take risks

At Aleteia, J-P Mauro reported on a speech by the actor Jim Caviezel, who addressed a convention of Catholic students. Caviezel, best-known for playing our Lord in The Passion of the Christ, began by speaking about a more recent role, as St Paul: “The name Saul means ‘Great One.’ The name Paul means ‘little one’. While making this film I learned that by changing one little, tiny letter, we can become great in the eyes of God. But it requires us to be little if we wish to be great. This is the way of the saints. This is the way of the holy and this is the way Saul became St Paul.”

Caviezel recounted the filming of The Passion: “I have been literally scourged, hit by whips, crucified, struck by lightning, yes, open heart surgery.” It had taught him that in Christ’s suffering “was our redemption. Remember the servant is no greater than the master. Each of us must carry our own cross. There is a price for our faith.”

Caviezel urged the students to be bold. “I want you to go out into this pagan world and shamelessly profess your faith in public. The world needs proud warriors, animated by their faith. Warriors like St Paul and St Luke who risk their names and reputations to take their faith, their love for Jesus into the world.”