Russell Shaw

Russell Shaw

Russell Shaw is the author of more than twenty books, including three novels and volumes on ethics and moral theology, the Catholic laity, clericalism, the abuse of secrecy in the Church, and other topics. He has also published thousands of articles in periodicals, among them The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, L’Osservatore Romano, America, Crisis, Catholic World Report, The National Catholic Reporter, and many others. From 1967-1987 he served as communications director for the U.S. Catholic bishops and from 1987-1997 was information director for the Knights of Columbus. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Articles by Russell Shaw

Solving Our Race Problem

Jan 13, 2022 / 09:30 am

Here is today’s quiz: What 19th century novel points the way to a lasting solution to the racial tensions afflicting America today? 

Waiting for Dobbs

Dec 30, 2021 / 08:50 am

The Supreme Court’s long-awaited decision on abortion almost certainly is a done deal. The justices and their clerks know the result but they aren’t letting on, while the rest of us won’t find out for another five months.

Leaving Home for Christmas

Dec 17, 2021 / 10:00 am

Although coming home for Christmas is a beautiful holiday tradition greatly to be cherished, it nevertheless occurs to me that leaving home for Christmas, correctly understood, is equally or even more important.

A Fair Shake for Parental Choice?

Dec 2, 2021 / 09:44 am

Four years ago, in a case from Missouri, a majority of justices of the Supreme Court agreed that a Lutheran church that operated a day school was entitled to funding from a state program for upgrading playgrounds in the interests of child safety.

End of the line for Roe v. Wade?

Nov 22, 2021 / 10:30 am

Starting Dec. 1, the nine justices of the Supreme Court will begin work in earnest on what already looks to be the court’s most closely watched—and probably most controversial—ruling in nearly half a century. 

National (Dis)unity

Nov 4, 2021 / 10:25 am

Are the bonds of American national unity becoming dangerously frayed? To judge from a steady stream of books, op ed pieces, opinion journal articles, and talk show conversations on this matter, the disturbing answer is yes.

Why Purgatory?

Oct 21, 2021 / 11:15 am

Coming just after Hell and just before Heaven, the second of the three books that make up Dante’s Divine Comedy is the Purgatorio--Purgatory. In its ninth canto, Dante places these words in the mouth of the angelic guardian of Purgatory’s gate who, displaying his keys, tells his listeners: I hold them from St. Peter--who bade me err / Rather in opening than shutting out.

Spreading the Thinking of Pope John Paul II

Oct 7, 2021 / 09:55 am

It’s sometimes said Pope St. John Paul II was the most intellectually gifted occupant of the See of Peter ever, but inasmuch as the line of popes stretches back two millennia and includes some known to history only by their names, there is no realistic way of verifying that.

After 'Roe'

Sep 23, 2021 / 08:22 am

In a long, somewhat rambling piece about the bishops and abortion appearing in the September Commonweal, Peter Steinfels makes a crucial point. It’s been made before by others, but it bears repeating at this moment when the Supreme Court, in the term beginning October 4, is widely expected to reverse or significantly modify Roe v. Wade, its 1973 decision legalizing abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming Roe.

The Greatest Catholic Novel

Sep 9, 2021 / 09:51 am

If you think a novel set in 14th century Norway has to be dull, think again. Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter is such a book, and far from being a bore, it is surely one of the most exciting works of fiction ever – to say nothing of being the finest Catholic novel.

Handing on the Faith

Aug 26, 2021 / 11:02 am

It’s hard to imagine that anyone who ever raised children found it an entirely easy job. Challenging, exciting, often rewarding – yes. But easy? You’ve got to be kidding.

Religion and the Court

Aug 12, 2021 / 12:21 pm

Has the Supreme Court sold out to religion? You could be excused for thinking so if all you had to go on was the hue and cry protesting things the court did last term. And now that furor on the left is growing even more intense in anticipation of a new term with abortion and aid to religious schools on the agenda.

Eucharistic Revival

Jul 15, 2021 / 10:07 am

Nearly buried last month in the hubbub surrounding the U.S. bishops’ debate over who is and isn’t worthy to receive communion was a colloquy between two bishops  concerning something that may prove of far greater importance in the long run. 

The Court and Abortion

Jun 3, 2021 / 17:20 pm

The Supreme Court’s announcement that it will consider an abortion case from Mississippi next fall touched off a predictable outpouring of frenzied criticism from pro-choice sources worried lest their cherished ‘right’ to abortion be in jeopardy. No small part of it was what might politely be called exaggeration or, not so politely, baloney.

Bishops, Politicians, and Communion

May 20, 2021 / 17:22 pm

If you’re seeking evidence of how hard it is for the Church to communicate its message in and to our secularized, polarized, hyper-politicized society, consider reactions to the news that the American bishops are thinking of making a statement on Catholic politicians like President Biden who receive communion while backing abortion. 

The Pope and Populism

May 6, 2021 / 13:05 pm

Is Pope Francis a populist? The simple answer is no. A better answer is necessarily more complicated.

The Supreme Court’s Abortion Mystery

Apr 22, 2021 / 09:44 am

Imagine trying to follow a game whose rules and objectives you don’t know and whose players aren’t letting on. That is approximately how things now stand where the Supreme Court, President Joe Biden, and the issue of abortion are concerned. And if that sounds complicated, that’s because it is.

Three Philosophers

Apr 8, 2021 / 10:57 am

Intellectual confusion resembling a smog of the mind has been a deadening presence in Catholicism in the years since Vatican Council II. But here and there amid the swirling mists of bad arguments and lame analogies, a small yet significant body of Catholic intellectuals has stood firm in defense of clear thinking and good sense. 

The Future Is Here For American Catholics

Mar 25, 2021 / 12:07 pm

Eight years ago I published a book called American Church. The subtitle explained what it was about: “The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America.”

Taking Stock at Mid-Lent

Mar 11, 2021 / 00:00 am

Midpoint in Lent is a great time to pause and take stock. Most of us probably started Lent with a bang, filled with determination to make good use of this opportunity for penance and renewal. And now? How are we doing at keeping those good resolutions we made on Ash Wednesday? Forgotten what the resolutions were? Now, while it’s still Lent, there’s plenty of time left for a fresh start.