On the Third Day of the New Creation, God Established the Chair of Peter

It was not on accident that John chose to start his Gospel with the words “In the beginning…” A picture paints a thousand words, but in John’s case: three words painted with the power of a thousand reinforcing images. In three words, all … [Read more...]

Munus Docendi

Fr. Karl Rahner (1904-1984) began as a faith-filled and imaginative theologian, someone who, even now, still provides unmatchable insights into the nature of divinity, and into the searching soul who longs to cleave to God. Rahner worked … [Read more...]

From Benedict to Francis

A Brief Survey of Papal Teaching on Preaching, 1917-2013

On the fifteenth of June in 1917, Pope Benedict XV issued the encyclical, Humani Generis Redemptionem, “On Preaching the Word of God.” This is the most recent papal document which was devoted specifically to preaching, at least at the level … [Read more...]

Toward a Theology of the Papacy

Reading Between the Lines of the Church Fathers

Most Catholics seem to know, whether they accept it or not, what the job of the pope is. He sort of runs the Church from a central location; he is infallible (protected from error) in his serious public pronouncements on the subject of … [Read more...]

What Is the Spirit Saying through Pope Francis?

When I was in seminary, I learned in moral theology the importance of avoiding moralistic preaching. In short, moralistic preaching is when a priest simply states the rules. For example: a priest preaches that abortion is wrong and sinful; … [Read more...]

The Roman Synod of Bishops

Editorial, May 2009

About every three years I have published an article on a Roman Synod. They usually take place every three years. Representing HPR, I have covered twelve of them since 1971. This month I thought it would be helpful to explain briefly what a … [Read more...]

He turned out to be Pope

THE SMILING POPE. The Life and Teaching of John Paul I. By Raymond and Lauretta Seabeck (Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, Ind. 46750, 2004), 253 pp. PB $14.95.

This is an interesting book, simply written; it is also a book of practical spiritual guidance for our times. Albino Luciani was the Holy Father, Pope John Paul I, for thirty-three days. Most people know little more about him. This … [Read more...]

A Crusading Pope

THE DEEDS OF INNOCENT III. Edited and translated by James M. Powell (Catholic University of America Press; order from Hopkins Fulfillment Service, P.O. Box 50370, Baltimore, Md. 21211, 2004), 320 pp. HB $59.95.

Innocent III was one of the most significant popes in history and certainly the most important pope in the medieval period. A skilled and energetic figure in the papal bureaucracy, Lothari di Segni was elected pope in January 1198 at the … [Read more...]

The Highs and Lows of the Renaissance Church

THE POPE’S DAUGHTER: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF FELICE DELLA ROVERE, by Caroline Murphy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) 359 pages, ISBN 0-19-518268-5, $28.00

Julius II is best remembered in history as the warrior-pope. Whether that image is of the belligerent figure trying to storm the gates of heaven in Erasmus’ satire Julius Excluded or the gold-armored pontiff (as played by Rex Harrison) … [Read more...]

The Roman Question

ROME IN AMERICA: TRANSNATIONAL CATHOLIC IDEOLOGY FROM THE RISORGIMENTO TO FASCISM. By Peter R. D’Agostino (The University of North Carolina Press, P.O. Box 2288, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27515, 2004), 315pp. HB 59.95.

A crucial moment for the modern papacy was brought about by the “Risorgimento” (1848-70) which led to the confiscation of the papal states in order to reunite the Italian peninsula. Catholic belief, at least since the time of Constantine, … [Read more...]

First Millennium Petrine ministry

The teachings of the Fathers show that the Church has always affirmed the primacy and supremacy of the bishop of Rome.

As I followed on television the pastoral visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States in April 2008, I was reminded of an observation made by a friend of mine during our vacation together the previous Christmas. My friend, marveling at … [Read more...]

Ravenna and the Roman primacy

How is it that no other bishop but the Roman bishop ever claimed a universal primacy in the Church?

After two decades of modest progress, the Joint International Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission, meeting in Ravenna, Italy, October 8-14, 2007, issued a study document on ecclesial communion, conciliarity and authority[1. … [Read more...]

The Magisterium: A Precious Gift

Without an authority able to teach divine truth unerringly, we could never be sure we correctly understood divine revelation.

The Magisterium is one of God’s greatest gifts to his Church. For without an authority able to teach divine truth unerringly, we could never be sure we correctly understood divine revelation. History confirms this, showing the variety of … [Read more...]