Category Archives: Commentary

Just war? Enough already

Commonweal 16 June 2017, pp. 9-14 A question for sports fans: What would you make of a coach who drills his team exclusively on last-minute desperation plays, while neglecting the basics? What would you make of players whose whole mindset … Continue reading

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Playing the long game

Long before President Barack Obama and hundreds of pundits popularized the notion of “playing the long game” in seeking societal change, a 1917 editorial in the Times Literary Supplement stated: “The long game is the Church’s game.” Having only seen … Continue reading

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Pacifism in action [an interview with Gerald Schlabach]

U.S. Catholic February 2017 Gerald Schlabach first started thinking about peace and violence in the mid-1980s. He and his wife worked for the Mennonite Central Committee in Nicaragua during a time of ongoing civil revolution. A member of the Mennonite … Continue reading

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Abortion & social justice:
“prolife progressive” is not an oxymoron

Commonweal 6 January 2017 It should be easy to be a prolife progressive. If we could somehow start from scratch and map out political alliances and coalitions according to the logic of people’s stated values, social-justice advocacy would coalesce with … Continue reading

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Pope Francis’s peacebuilding pedagogy:
A commentary on his 2017 World Day of Peace message

It is not too soon to anticipate the challenge of “reception.” All signs suggest that Pope Francis’s 2017 World Day of Peace (WDP) message represents only an initial response to the appeal for clearer teaching on gospel nonviolence issued at … Continue reading

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The virtue of staying put:
What the “Benedict option” forgets about Benedictines

Commonweal  16 September 2016 In recent years the term “Benedict Option” has been circulating in certain sectors of the U.S. Catholic Church. For a Benedictine oblate such as myself, this should be a welcome development. After all, the charism of … Continue reading

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Mennonite-Catholic relations — Joetta tells our story

My wife Joetta, pastor of Faith Mennonite Church, recently spoke at the Third Way congregation here in Saint Paul about Mennonite-Catholic relationships. She told our story in a way that speaks for both of us.  Click here or on screenshot below to … Continue reading

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What if we win? Nonviolence and the challenge of governance

Advance paper for Pax Christi International / Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace conference, Rome, April 2016: “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence” Gerald W. Schlabach And what if you win? As I … Continue reading

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Praying the Our Father – a Lenten self-examination

Lenten reflection 16 February 2016 Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 6:7-15 A fine book on ethical teaching in the New Testament bears the title of The Great Reversal. While God’s saving work always fulfills the deepest longings that our Creator has written … Continue reading

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Though this page too will crumble (Valentine card no. 35)

Someday we will have made love for the last time. Will we know this at the time as one inept and final fling? Or will cooling embers simply have turned to wisp-whipped ash? Must I name a heart suddenly failing? … Continue reading

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The glamour of evil: look beyond surface to find authentic joy

America magazine 8 February 2016 In the Roman Catholic rite for the baptism of adults, as well as in the ritual for the renewal of baptismal promises, a striking question confronts us: “Do you reject the glamour of evil?” The … Continue reading

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Feast of the Holy Family (Advent/Christmas relection)

Lectionary readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14, Colossians 3:12-21, Luke 2:41-52 Set against the background of our preliminary readings from Sirach and Colossians, today’s gospel reading is almost playful. Pious interpretation may hesitate to suggest that the twelve-year-old Jesus, who had lingered … Continue reading

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Sed contra (a poem)

I suppose I will always be suspect to you, heir as I am to martyred dissent, beholden to untidy reality no catechism can tame, gripped by loyalty to bishops and creed through a second simplicity not simple at all, a … Continue reading

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Remembering my friend, Ivan J. Kauffman (1938-2015)

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.” – Reinhold Niebuhr Some men and women measure their hope by business plans, grant proposals, and bullet points.  Ivan J. Kauffman measured … Continue reading

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Evangelizing as a people of peace:
Paul’s clue, John Paul’s globalism, Francis’s principles

Abstract: To judge from some of its wildest critics and enthusiasts alike, Gaudium et spes and its friendly engagement with the modern world would almost seem to have made the Church as a body superfluous.  The Council fathers certainly called … Continue reading

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Paul’s clue, John Paul’s globalism, Francis’s principles

Lenten reflection

March 10: Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent At some point in almost every Christian ethics course I teach I find an occasion to clarify: “Christian ethics is not really a should, so much as a therefore.” The gospel … Continue reading

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“As”

A pebble in our shoes, that little word: “Forgive us our sins as …” “as we forgive those who forgive us.” As we forget? No, of course not. And yet I do remember. And remembering I hurt anew, wincing. And … Continue reading

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What is marriage now? A Pauline case for same-sex marriage

Amid endless debates concerning same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, one biblical passage is often curiously absent. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul reflects on the merits of married and single life. If unmarried persons struggle with sexual self-control, he says, they … Continue reading

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“The Little Nation” by Jessica Powers

Having recently discovered the poetry of Jessica Powers, thanks to Give Us This Day, I find this one especially delightful and apropos in these days that tempt us even more than usual to trust in violence. I guess it also … Continue reading

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