Russell Shaw

An address by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on gay rights as a priority of U.S. policy deserves far more attention than it’s gotten up to now.

As a statement of the views of the Obama administration, Clinton’s remarks were a remarkably candid — and remarkably chilling — exposition of official determination to make the world safe for LGBT at home as well as abroad.
Speaking last month at United Nations offices in Geneva, Clinton first sought to spin a muddled synthesis linking...

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December 20, 2011
Maybe we are expecting too little for Christmas
By Russell Shaw

The problem many of us have with Christmas isn’t that we expect too much of it but that we expect much too little. My Christmas wish for all of us, myself included, is that we raise our sights and ask for all that God really wants to give us. If we can open ourselves to receive that, we may be astonished at what we get.
There’s a hint of it in something written by Father Alfred Delp, S.J., a German priest executed by the Nazis near the end of World War II. Speaking of Christ’s...

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As active U.S. military involvement in Iraq draws to a close, what does the moral scorecard on this adventure look like from an American point of view? Granted that a comprehensive weighing of results will only be possible some years from now, at the moment the picture is something like this.
In a perverse way, American policy in Iraq has been a model of consistency from start to finish. The original decision to invade back in 2003, based as it was on faulty intelligence and mistaken...

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November 22, 2011
The meaning of silence in a media age
By Russell Shaw

I have to admit that it really didn’t impress me very favorably the first time I read it: “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization”—that will be the theme of next May’s World Day for Social Communications, the Vatican announcement said.
That’s really strange, I thought. After all, even as it stands World Communications Day isn’t exactly a red-letter event in most people’s calendars, and giving it an obscure theme like that one is hardly calculated to help.
For those who...

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There’s a widespread impression that the international financial system which the United States and its friends put in place after World War II is breaking down. The old system may of course be patched up and limp along for some time to come, but sooner or later something else will take its place. What that will be no one now knows.
Against this background, it’s a pity that friends and foes of the Vatican’s new statement on international financial reform hastened to all but torpedo...

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October 26, 2011
Persecution in America
By Russell Shaw

“What the Catholic Church in the United States really needs to stiffen its backbone is a good persecution.” How often, I wonder, have I heard somebody say something like that? How often have I said something like it myself?
Be careful what you ask for—you may get it. The persecution of religion in America has begun, with the Catholic Church a prime target.
Don’t think I’m making the wild-eyed claim that this new persecution either is or ever is likely to become a bloody one...

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October 18, 2011
Getting the message in the Church?
By Russell Shaw

Draw yourself an organization chart representing the Catholic Church. What you’ll get is a sketch of an ecclesiastical institution that on paper looks like a genuine world class internal communication machine.
Those boxes and lines could lead the beholder to suppose that if the Pope says something on Monday morning, then by the following Sunday evening a billion or so Catholics around the world will have a pretty clear notion of what he’s said. The Church’s network of dioceses,...

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September 27, 2011
Is America fighting wars without end?
By Russell Shaw

Is America condemned to endless war? And if so, what implications does that have for the American psyche—the American soul?

A friend of mine who is a practicing poet writing under the pen name Pavel Chichikov shares a poem composed after hearing the roar of F-16s—presumably engaged in protecting the citizenry—over the section of Washington where he lives.

A meditation on “security” as Americans have come to know it, it has a simple point:  security comes at a price. “There is a...

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September 14, 2011
Could the riots in Britain happen here?
By Russell Shaw

Commentary on the riots in London and other British cities has frequently made the point that what happened there could be a forerunner of something that might happen in America. And why not? After all, it already has—think of Watts, think of the eruptions in Washington and other American cities after Dr. Martin Luther King was killed. The scenery is familiar—we’ve been here before.
Yes, there are differences. The obsession in London with grabbing consumer goods was a distinctive,...

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August 30, 2011
Two easy steps for one-on-one evangelization
By Russell Shaw

A man I know was sitting on a boardwalk bench several weeks ago watching the ocean and thinking about nothing special. Two young men, maybe 18 or 20, came up and sat down beside him. The one nearest him leaned over and said:

“Excuse me, sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
He was very polite and seemed slightly nervous. The older man smiled and shook his head, indicating that he had no objection to being asked.
“If you were to die right now and find yourself standing at the gate...

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