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When Pope Francis was interviewed by the Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, he began with a joke and a smile. But the Pope’s initial, light-hearted exchange with this prominent European atheist serves as an important window into our Holy Father’s approach to the modern world.

Pope Francis walked into the room where Scalfari was waiting, shook hands with him and with a smile said, “Some of my colleagues who know you told me that you will try to convert me.”

Scalfari responded,...

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November 06, 2013
The art of accepting, or rejecting, help (part II)
By Alice von Hildebrand

Reflecting on rejecting requests for help leads me to a different question: when should help be requested? And how should it be requested?

Dickens’ genius is best expressed in his sketching of “characters” and personalities. In this context, one that immediately comes of mind is Harold Skimpole in Bleak House.  He is introduced by one of his benefactors, Mr.  Jarndyce: “he is grown up – he is at least as old as I am – but in simplicity and freshness, and enthusiasm, and a fine...

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October 29, 2013
The art of accepting, or rejecting, help
By Alice von Hildebrand

One of the remarkable contributions that Soren Kierkegaard has made to philosophy is his analysis of despair, “The Sickness Unto Death.”

The great Danish thinker has diagnosed a spiritual and psychological disease affecting innumerable modern men; a disease of such gravity that only God’s grace can heal it. Clearly, he is making a subtle reference to Lazarus’ sickness – which was not “unto death” (John: 11-4) – and warns us that spiritual and psychological sicknesses are...

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October 17, 2013
Pope Francis' program
By Russell Shaw

Among Catholics who've been rattled by remarks by Pope Francis in his famous interviews, some have sought solace in blaming the media. They have a point. Sensationalism, oversimplification, and ignorance (headline writers notwithstanding, "proselytism" and "conversion" are two quite different things) really have marked some of the papal coverage to date.

But when you're through criticizing the press, the fact remains that the reporters have gotten it essentially right. Pope Francis truly is...

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October 14, 2013
Five hundred years of faith
By Msgr. Arthur McDonald

On Columbus Day in 1992, Blessed John Paul II offered Holy Mass in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, during which he gave thanks to God for the sending of the Gospel message and the Sacraments to the Americas, by missionaries from Spain.

It is a mystery of history that the Spanish have had to suffer verbal and written attacks by authors, historians and teachers ever since. No one know the answer. Some speculate that it is a lasting resentment perpetuated by England...

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October 07, 2013
Public prayer
By Russell Shaw

On the face of it, the religion clauses of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment seem pretty clear: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That isn't so hard to understand, is it?

Granted, the meaning of "an establishment of religion" requires explaining, and the extent and limits of religious free exercise need to be specified. But surely these matters aren't so terribly obscure that they require an endless stream...

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As by now everyone in the world knows, Pope Francis offered a lengthy and wide-ranging interview to the editor of Civilta Cattolica, which was subsequently published in sixteen Jesuit-sponsored journals from a variety of countries. As we’ve come to expect practically anytime that this Pope speaks, the interview has provoked a media frenzy. To judge by the headlines in The New York Times and on CNN, the Catholic Church is in the midst of a moral and doctrinal revolution, led by a...

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*This column was originally written as a letter to the editor of the Italian daily "Il Foglio." It is translated and reprinted here with permission.

To the director:

The reactions to the interview with Pope Francis have been varied and diverse, from enthusiasm to discomfort, even among people who share the same battles on the subjects of abortion, gender ideology-inspired laws and criticism of the contemporary “dictatorship of relativism” - an expression of Benedict XVI’s that Pope...

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September 27, 2013
A simple suggestion: cosmetic asceticism
By Alice von Hildebrand

Pope Francis – this great lover of poverty – keeps reminding his sheep that penance should play an important role in Christian life. This advice should be taken very seriously. Modern man seems to be allergic to the very word. The “American dream” is to succeed in making life easier, more pleasant and more comfortable.

Pain killers (sold by the billions) aim at controlling the slightest discomfort, be it a mild headache or the drilling of a tooth for sixty seconds. Gadgets are...

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September 23, 2013
All the single laity
By Eve Tushnet

“It is not good that the man should be alone.”

Being alone is the first thing God pronounces “not good,” after so many proclamations of the goodness of His creation. And yet being alone is an increasingly common condition in American life. The latest Census data found that over a quarter of Americans lived alone, up from 17 percent in 1970. Marriages happen later and less frequently than they used to. Catholic parishes have mostly responded to this change in two ways, neither of...

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April 23, 2014

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