Russell Shaw
May 01, 2015
The Pope’s visit and same-sex marriage
By Russell Shaw

When Pope Francis comes to the United States in late September, chances are good that he will arrive in the middle of a bitter, highly politicized national debate on same-sex marriage and religious liberty.

That suggests several large questions for the papal visit. Should the Pope say anything about these high-voltage issues? Given the circumstances, how could he responsibly fail to do that? But if he does say something, what should it be?

Note that this trip will take place just three...

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April 02, 2015
The Devil is Real
By Russell Shaw

Is the devil real? Here is Msgr. Ronald Knox on that: “It is stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil, when he is the only explanation of it.”

Monsignor Knox, eminent British convert, author, retreat master and translator of the Bible, may have been indulging in irony.  But irony doesn’t change the fact that the devil and his demonic associates exist.

I came across the Knox quote in Manual for Spiritual Warfare, newly published by Tan Books and edited...

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March 09, 2015
Hope in secularized times
By Russell Shaw

A man I know was walking his dog when a neighbor woman approached him and inquired about his wife. Not having seen her out and about in quite some time, the lady wondered: Was she well?

“Not really,” the man said, going on to explain what that meant.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said when he finished. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Not really,” the man said again. “Except—say a prayer.”

The woman hesitated a split second, and he could see she was calculating. Then...

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February 20, 2015
The Catholic Church and same-sex marriage
By Russell Shaw

The likelihood that the Supreme Court next June will announce its discovery of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage raises an obvious question for the Catholic Church: What do we do now?

Two steps come to mind. First, press for strong legal protections for individuals and institutions conscientiously unable to cooperate with a legal regime that requires sweeping concessions to the LGBT agenda. Second, give serious thought to the possibility that the Church should quit serving as...

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February 06, 2015
The problem of unserious politics
By Russell Shaw

I try to take American politics seriously, I really do. Serious issues are at stake, after all. But sometimes, entirely too often in fact, the realities of American political discourse  make taking it seriously awfully hard. Considering the seriousness of what’s at stake, this may be what hearing Beethoven’s Ninth performed on the harmonica would  be like.

A while back Jeb Bush, speaking to a group in San Francisco, promised that if he runs for president next year, he will offer the...

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January 23, 2015
Ideals and Norms
By Russell Shaw

Is the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, including indissolubility, an ideal or a norm? Although the question may sound abstract, even esoteric, it has urgent, immediate practical implications. To say one admires the Church’s teaching as an ideal is, intentionally or not, to undermine that teaching in the act of admiring it.

Here is the key to understanding a struggle that surfaced at last October’s Synod of Bishops on marriage and is likely to continue at the synod next fall....

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January 08, 2015
Great Society
By Russell Shaw

President Lyndon Baines Johnson had spoken the words “Great Society” before, but on January 4, 1965 he brought the pieces together as a legislative package for Congress. His State of the Union message stirred a remarkable flurry of congressional activity that in short order produced major new programs in civil rights, health care, and anti-poverty.

In the half-century since then, the Great Society and its offspring have made profound changes in American society. A huge increase in...

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January 05, 2015
Real Life Heroes: Unknown and Unrecognized
By Russell Shaw

Let’s face it, 2014 was a rotten year for heroes and hero worship. Sure, it brought plucky, admirable people who did praiseworthy things. But all too often their good deeds were upstaged by the misdeeds of individuals in many walks of life—entertainers, politicians, sports figures, even clergy—jostling one another in their rush to trip over their feet of clay and drag their reputations in the dust.

Of course this wasn’t new. “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” was the famous lament of a...

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December 12, 2014
The Culture War
By Russell Shaw

For months after the Supreme Court abruptly legalized abortion in its Roe v. Wade decision of January 1973, people who welcomed the result repeatedly declared that the struggle over abortion had now come to a close. The Supreme Court had spoken, the matter was settled, and prolifers could pack up and go home.

Some of the people saying that probably believed it, and for others it was wishful thinking. But in still other cases a different motive appeared to be at work. Declaring the fight...

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November 28, 2014
Dietrich von Hildebrand vs. Hilter and the Nazis
By Russell Shaw

To many Germans in the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler looked like just what Germany needed. Here, they imagined, was a charismatic leader capable of restoring social stability, economic prosperity, and national honor to their battered country. Relatively few saw Hitler for what he was—a megalomaniac demagogue driven by racial fantasies that included hatred for Jews and contempt for Christianity.

Dietrich von Hildebrand was one of those few. He discerned the terrifying truth about Hitler and the...

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