US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Change we can believe in: The pope, condoms, and church teaching

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint |
Church teaching is the same always and everywhere—except when it isn’t.

Using the words “pope” and “condom” in the same sentence is bound to draw attention; when it’s the pope himself using the latter word in a sentence of his own, the world takes notice.

Femme fidele: How women who work for the church keep the faith

By Heidi Schlumpf | Print this pagePrint |
How women who work for the church keep the faith

It’s lunchtime at St. Clement Parish in Chicago, and although some of the city’s best restaurants are within walking distance, most of the staff members instead opt for microwaved leftovers and conversation with colleagues around the conference table. The building engineer and associate pastor stop by for a quick bite, but otherwise this makeshift lunchroom is Estrogen Central.

A large parish of 4,000 mostly middle- and upper-class families, St. Clement boasts 12 full-time, well-educated lay employees. Only two are men.

Church ladies: Women in leadership

By Renée M. LaReau | Print this pagePrint |
Scratching the stained-glass ceiling, an increasing number of women hold leadership positions in the church. Here's a look at the gifts they bring and the challenges they face.

America the anxious

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint |
Only our better angels can guide us to interreligious understanding.

American politics always seems to turn on the next "threat" to our security, especially in an election year. Warnings about hordes of brown-skinned Spanish-speaking "illegals" had kept the nation on high alert through most of 2010, but as elections drew near and pundits and politicians saw demonizing immigrants as a loser among Hispanic voters, the search was on for a new bogeyman.

Will the center hold?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint |
The church as we know it won’t last if its broad middle begins to shrink.

Pop culture journalists had the brass ring of celebrity stories dropped on them in August when author Anne Rice, grande dame of the current vampire entertainment empire, announced that, 10 years after her return to the Roman Catholic faith of her childhood, she was leaving once again.

Extending family: What makes a Catholic household?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint |
Is there really only one way to make a Catholic household?

Early in June, just as the U.S. Senate was debating a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the Pontifical Council on the Family issued a document that in no uncertain terms rejected that and more. "Family and Human Procreation" not only lamented "gay couples [who] claim for themselves the same rights as those that are specific to husband and wife, [even] the right to adopt" but also heterosexual couples "willingly made sterile" by having only one or two children.

Issues that matter: U.S. Catholic through the years

By Father Raymond A. Schroth, S.J. | Print this pagePrint |

In 1961 Robert E. Burns, the executive editor of the Voice of St. Jude, told a group of editors at the Catholic Press Association Convention in Vancouver that "the Catholic press has suffered too long at the hands of well-meaning but untrained and unskilled practitioners."

He called for attractive layout, meeting the readers' needs, and "teaser titles" to pull the reader in.

The great awakening: How lay people have shaken up the church

By J. Peter Nixon | Print this pagePrint |
The Second Vatican Council unleashed a wave of lay participation in the church—and there’s no turning back.

Joan Higgins remembers when things began to change at her San Francisco parish. "It was 1968," she says. "We had a new young pastor who was very forward-looking. He turned around the altar, moved the tabernacle to one side, and instituted a moment of collective silence for reflection after communion." The young priest also introduced another innovation: a parish council.

Pastoral discretion advised: Is excommunication the best response?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint |
Law must always be tempered by mercy if justice is to be truly served.

Excommunication was once considered a passé feature of the ancient church, conjuring up images of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV walking barefoot in the snow in 1077 to Canossa to seek the mercy of Pope Gregory VII. Or perhaps one thinks of the memorable scene from Becket, when Richard Burton's Archbishop Thomas, with no lack of ceremony, turns his authority against Peter O'Toole's King Henry II.

Hispanic Catholics: Does the church speak your language?

By A U.S. Catholic interview | Print this pagePrint |
In a 1993 interview, Father Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J. tells U.S. Catholic about the challenges the church faces when it comes to ministering to Hispanic Catholics.  

Father Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J. warns that the US. Catholic Church is facing a pivotal moment in its history: It can begin now to serve the diverse needs of Hispanic communities, or it can stand aside and watch even more Hispanic families find new spiritual homes in other churches.