All people have both the right and moral responsibility when it comes to the things they own.
Catholic social teaching’s defense of private property traces all the way back to Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor). Today, however, given anxieties over data, privacy, and digital rights, Leo’s concern for “land and chattels” seems quaint. Thankfully, Catholic social teaching in the 20th century has a growing understanding that what private property is is less important than what private property does. Used rightly, private property secures and improves the lives of its owners and society at large.
The gospels leave us desiring a host of details about Jesus’ early life.
How did you get to be who you are? It’s a question we ask of those who impress us. It’s also a question that fuels most criminal biopics. We want to know how exceptional souls get from there to there. Experience indicates that who we are now has something to do with where we’ve been.
Rarely is there only one way to do something.
Rarely is there only one way to do something. When it comes to exploring scripture, resist Bible fascists who insist their way is correct. Your best approach is influenced by a lot of factors, including context, time, and personality. Are you engaging this project alone or in a study group? Are you committed across a lifetime or compressing your effort into a single semester? Are you fierce about your goals, or do you tend to quit at the first obstacle?
No matter the particular names you choose, the core message of the Trinity remains unchanging.
One of the paradoxes of our Catholic faith is that its foundational element, belief in the Trinity, the flour to the bread of Catholicism, cannot be understood through human reason. The mysteriousness of the Trinity, however, hasn’t stopped the church from spending centuries examining and clarifying its doctrine. The core elements of the Trinity are described in no uncertain terms: God is only one, but exists in three distinct persons. The divine persons do not share one divinity but are each wholly and entirely God, existing in relationship with one another.
There weren’t always only seven sacraments.
One summer afternoon, driving past a cemetery, I saw six bikers talking, laughing, and drinking beer, their motorcycles parked nearby. My initial indignation was transformed upon noticing a solitary beer can on a headstone. The bikers had not simply pulled off the road for a quick drink on a hot day but were reconnecting with a now-deceased friend.
Godparents used to pay a much more prominent role in new Catholics’ faith formation.
Our culture subscribes to some notions of “godparent” that don’t exactly advance the pastoral plan of the church for this essential ministry. Even people who are unaffiliated or neutral in matters of religion often ask someone dear to them to be a godparent for a newborn. Sometimes it’s a way of affirming a longtime friend. It may also be a way of identifying who among the parents’ extended family might care for their child should calamity strike.
A well-ordered society includes institutions both large and small working together for the public good.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), a Catholic, has often been the target of criticism because he supports cutting federal programs that benefit the poor. When Ryan spoke at the Jesuit-run Georgetown University in 2012, a large group of faculty and staff wrote him an open letter charging that “your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Ryan has often countered that his policies are rooted in the concept of subsidiarity, a key element of Catholic social teaching.
All stories regarding the Assumption contain one consistent belief: Mary was no ordinary person, and as such her body was not left on earth to decay.
Assumption celebrations in the Catholic Church are a blend of the very old and the relatively new. Written stories about what transpired at the end of Mary’s life date to the third or fourth century, though Pope Pius XII didn’t proclaim the dogma of the Assumption, or the teaching Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul, until 1950. The intervening 15 centuries reveal evolving beliefs about Mary’s life and death.
If God knows everything, then there is nothing for God to learn. Right?
Learning is one of the most important things that human beings, as well as other living things, do. We eagerly teach our children, our students, even our pets, and we take pleasure when we see them mastering a new task or gaining a new insight. The person who cannot—or worse, will not—learn is someone we feel sorry for or avoid. We see growth and development as positive and the capacity to learn as being open to newness.
Put simply, natural law argues that nature reveals the difference between good and evil. But who gets to decide what is “natural”?
Broadly understood, natural law refers to a range of moral theories that rely on rational discernment of the natural order as a means of telling good from evil. Within Catholic moral teaching, natural law arguments are commonly invoked to denounce “unnatural” and therefore immoral acts: contraception, same-sex sexual relations, and many assisted reproductive technologies, for example. But where does natural law reasoning come from and just how does it connect nature to morality?