Russell Shaw
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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August 23, 2011
Presidential candidates and religion
By Russell Shaw

As America gears up for another presidential election season, do we really have to  agonize yet again over whether being a Mormon disqualifies a person for the presidency? Since the answer apparently is yes, at least let’s try to get some use from the discussion by understanding what’s really at stake.
With two Mormon ex-governors in contention for the Republican nomination, the polls—those omnipresent, omniscient, and too often uncriticized monitors of public opinion—find fully 25...

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August 03, 2011
The 'Dolan Doctrine' and Catholic politicians
By Russell Shaw

Heat, not light, is the usual fruit of political passion. How refreshing, then, that some significant light on the vexed question of Catholics in politics managed to break through amid an ugly little controversy a while back. With another election year hard upon us, it’s worth reflecting on what transpired then.

In May, some 80 professors teaching at assorted Catholic colleges and universities whipped up an argument with a letter protesting the Catholic University of America’s decision...

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July 12, 2011
Why God lets bad things happen
By Russell Shaw

Why did God let that happen?

For centuries that question has been asked about items in the endless catalogue of human misery. About the Holocaust, Midwestern tornadoes, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. And about intimate personal tragedies: a teenager killed in an auto crash, an old person dying unwanted and alone, a marriage that collapses amid bitter recriminations.
Why does God permit such things?
Start with the fact that whoever claims to have the definitive answer is either talking...

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