US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Bad call: Bishops take on popular theologian

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The U.S. bishops’ recent action against a popular theologian has some Catholics crying foul.

Only church nerds have a least favorite Sunday of the year, but since I am one, I can with certainty say that mine is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost. Though the three-in-one divine nature is a central doctrine of Christian faith, it brings with it the inevitable theological one-liner from most preachers: “It’s a mystery!” Ha ha.

Glad You Asked: What are the Ten Commandments?

By Alice Camille | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Are there different lists of the Ten Commandments?

So much is debated about the Bible that you’d hope when it comes to the Ten Commandments, at least, you’re on solid ground. There are 10, right? And they’re chiseled in stone—quite literally—so we know exactly what they are, number by number. Or do we?

Spanglish Lessons: Diversity and theology

By A U.S. Catholic interview | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Who’s the norm, and who’s the diversity? So wonders this Latina theologian, who suggests that tensions in a parish may not be such bad thing after all.

Asked to introduce herself at a Hispanic ministry meeting a few years ago, Carmen Nanko-Fernández gave her name and then added, tongue firmly planted in cheek, “I’m a theologian, and my preferred theological method is pastoral hostility.”

Glad You Asked: How did Jesus found the church?

By Kevin P. Considine | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
While they are obviously connected, the link between Jesus and the church as we know it today isn’t exactly clear.

The Jesus movement of the first century was a group of mostly Jewish followers who were of little social importance and who often met in homes—a far cry from the cathedrals we know and love today. The pope today claims universal ecclesial authority, and because the Vatican is a nation-state, he is a head of state and even has diplomats. Jesus was certainly not a head of state and did not have diplomats (and neither did his disciple Peter).

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

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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.

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.