US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Is there salvation outside the church?

By John Switzer| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Can my Buddhist husband be saved? What about my Jewish neighbors and my sister-in-law who is an atheist?

An ancient doctrine says extra ecclesiam nulla salus ("outside the church there is no salvation"), so how does this affect those who are not Christian? You may be surprised that the doctrine still holds, but this doesn't mean that salvation is unavailable to those of other religions or of no religion at all.

The trouble with angels

By Alice Camille| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
These celestial beings are elusive and mysterious—but totally necessary.

Once upon a time I believed in angels. Then I got older and gave up childish ways. Then I got even older and became a child again. Once more I believe in angels. You may be presently too old to put your faith in such creatures; or not yet old enough. Wherever you stand on the "angel issue," you've got company.

Does the church still ban books?

By Heidi Schlumpf| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
What do Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Immanuel Kant, John Milton, and Galileo have in common?

Required reading for university freshmen? Maybe.

How does church teaching change?

By Bryan Cones| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Every doctrine or practice familiar to Catholics has a history of its own, and some official expressions of church teaching are quite recent, such as the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception (1854) and Assumption of Mary (1950). That doctrine is slow to become official or may even change has to do with the nature of divine revelation: By definition, it is God’s self-giving, and God cannot be fully captured by any human expression.

What is theology?

By John Switzer| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

In the 11th century, St. Anselm of Canterbury described theology as fides quaerens intellectum, “faith seeking understanding.” A monk who eventually served as archbishop of Canterbury, he reminds us that our thinking skills are a gift of the Creator; there is no reason to neglect them in matters of faith.

Glad you asked: Is it a sin to drive an SUV?

By Kevin Considine| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Gas-guzzlers aren't generally chic in Catholic circles. These days many of us are wondering whether we can drive one with a clear conscience. But is it a sin?

Simply defined, to sin is to say "no" to God. It is a rejection of God's free gifts as well as the grace-filled relationship that God always offers. It is to choose what is not good while exercising one's mature free will. Often it is as simple as choosing what is easy or what is the societal norm without using the eyes of faith.

Ratzinger on the record

Meghan Murphy-Gill| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

This is an article that appeared in the October 1973 issue of U.S. Catholic. We are publishing it as part of our 75th anniversary celebration.

Lost in the Shouting: The Meaning of Vatican II
By Desmond O'Grady

At the time of the second Vatican Council, it was said the bishops were learning their two R's: Rahner and Ratzinger.

Did God cause the earthquake in Haiti?

By Meghan Murphy-Gill| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

When horrible things happen in the world, it's natural to seek an explanation. Explanations offer a sense of control and meaning in situations that seem devoid of both. The devastation in Haiti caused by the January earthquake has left many asking, "Why did this happen?" Answering that question can be confusing and difficult when we consider our faith in an all-loving and all-powerful God.

When bishops brawled: An interview with Philip Jenkins

By A U.S. Catholic interview| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Have you ever had a fist fight about the natures of Christ? If you have, you would fit right in among ancient Christians, says this church historian.

Christians today may take it on faith that Jesus has both human and divine natures, but any church historian will tell you that in the early church the question sparked a wild and even deadly debate that lasted for centuries, centering on three church councils in the mid-400s.

What is heresy?

By Michael Cameron| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The ancient Greek word hairesis meant “choice” and identified one’s intellectual “choice” among the many philosophies of late antiquity. The word originally carried no negative judgment. But Judaism and Christianity insisted that certain core ideas about the nature of God and his saving work were non-negotiable.