Russell Shaw

February 24, 2014

Gay Marriage: Back to the Court

By Russell Shaw

When the Supreme Court last June overturned a section of the Defense of Marriage Act saying that in the eyes of the federal government only man-woman unions count as marriages, the court said it wasn’t questioning the authority of the states to bar same-sex marriage if they wish. Thirty-three states now do.    Predictably, nonetheless, dozens of lawsuits in many parts of the country are currently underway in an effort to hand gay marriage advocates what they’ve wanted all along—a Supreme...

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April 05, 2013

Marriage surprise

By Russell Shaw

Surprise! Approval of same-sex marriage has risen sharply among Americans in just a few years – according to one poll, from 41 percent in favor in 2004 to nearly 60 percent now.Some surprise. The same media trumpeting this change lately worked hard to bring it about. Major sectors of the communication industry, both news and entertainment, have served as advocates for same-sex marriage, and the present situation reflects their handiwork. Don't be bashful, guys, stand up and take the credit...

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March 25, 2013

Pope Francis

By Russell Shaw

The surprising election of Pope Francis plainly was nosurprise to the people who really counted: the cardinals, that is, who swiftly chosehim on the first full day and fifth ballot of the conclave. While not a speedrecord, the timing showed the electors had no difficulty agreeing that theArchbishop of Buenos Aires was the man for the job. Here was a grievous blow to punditry. In retrospect, itshould have been obvious that Cardinal Bergoglio, a top contender in theconclave of 2005, might...

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March 08, 2013

The Pope we need now

By Russell Shaw

“I hope we get a nice pope,” a good Catholic woman told me soon after Benedict XVI announced his resignation.“I don't care whether he's nice or not,” I replied. “I just hope he's strong.”Actually, I'd be glad if the next pope were nice, with a winning smile and a friendly manner. But vastly more important than being nice is that he be a tough-minded realist, with a backbone of steel. That's what the Church needs now.The problems that will face him are immense: the twin anti-Christian...

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February 22, 2013

The personal vocation of Pope Benedict

By Russell Shaw

For the last several weeks I've been teaching an online course about the role of the Catholic laity. We'd just gotten to the subject of personal vocation when the startling news came through: Benedict XVI was stepping down as pope.Posting a question that Monday morning to get my students' discussion rolling for the week, I began by remarking that Benedict's action was "the most striking example of personal vocation that I've seen in a long time."My students, bless them, were quick to pick...

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February 08, 2013

Authentic Lent, Cardinal Newman style

By Russell Shaw

Why is it that Ash Wednesday and Lent remain relatively popular even in highly secularized times like these? It's a serious question that touches on matters deeper than might at first be supposed. The popularity I speak of can be seen year after year on Ash Wednesday, when people – some of them perhaps not all that often in church – stream up the aisle to get their ashes. Not a few then return for Mass or Stations of the Cross on weekdays during Lent. How come?The answer can found in...

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January 29, 2013

Gender

By Russell Shaw

Defenders of traditional marriage may not believe it, but the Supreme Court's apparent intention to decide two important same-sex marriage cases by midyear may be a stroke of good fortune for their side. This timing means the Supreme Court's first head-on tangle with this issue almost certainly will come before President Obama gets an opportunity to nominate another justice for the court and thereby probably tip its balance in favor of gay marriage.True, it would be foolish to predict what...

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January 18, 2013

Demography

By Russell Shaw

The disruptive results for individuals and society spawned by the revolution in attitudes and behavior regarding sex, marriage, family, and childbearing that erupted a half-century ago have become too obvious to ignore. These things were predictable--in fact, some people actually predicted them from the start--but by now their impact has grown so painfully apparent that even secular voices are being raised in alarm.The problems are increasingly visible in the United States. They include an...

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January 08, 2013

Roe at 40

By Russell Shaw

As the pro-life movement contemplates four decades of legalized abortion in the United States and asks itself what really needs doing to halt this hideous scandal, pro-lifers should consider adding a new word to their vocabulary: ambivalence.According to the dictionary, ambivalence is the state of having mutually conflicting emotions or thoughts about something. And where abortion is concerned, that obviously is how things stand with a substantial number of Americans. They don't like...

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December 19, 2012

Tough religion and evangelization

By Russell Shaw

Much has been said lately about how to do evangelization. I've contributed a bit to that myself. Now I begin to think that, instead of always stressing niceness, it might be good to give tough religion a try.That idea was inspired by a reading of Eric Metaxas's biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian and pastor executed by the Nazis near the end of World War II for  involvement in the plot against Hitler. Metaxas's book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Thomas...

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