Pope

Pope St. Martin, Martyr for the Truth

Today is the feast of Pope St. Martin I, the last Pope to be venerated as a martyr in the Catholic Church. If you don’t know the story of Pope Martin I, you’re probably not alone. And if you’re assuming right now that he was killed during a persecution by a pagan Roman emperor or by invading barbarians, you’re probably […]

"The Exhortation to the Apostles" (detail) by James Tissot

I will give you shepherds

My diocese was given a unique Thanksgiving present this year by Pope Francis. After our bishop died in June, we entered that uncertain time of vacancy in the diocese, that time of transition while waiting for a new bishop. We all had much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving when the Pope gave us our new shepherd the Tuesday before […]

"Get Behind Me Satan" by Ilya Repin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Peter, the Rock

No sooner does Jesus praise Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi and dub him “the Rock” than he rebukes him as the devil or Satan.  Peter had confessed Jesus to be the Messiah.  But his idea of what it meant to be the Christ left no room for suffering, sacrifice or the way of the cross as the cost of discipleship. […]

Saint Peter

Peter, the Pope and the Keys

When we think about the Pope, we often think of the Vatican.  But the roots of the Papacy are in the Old Testament as well as in the Gospel story of Jesus changing Simon’s name to Peter and giving him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Reflection on the Mass readings for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year […]

Saint Peter

The Mormon Fallacy

It was a beautiful spring day in Dublin Ireland. I was finished with my work meeting and decided to walk through the park near my hotel.  The park was crowded with people, sitting on the grass, playing catch near a pond, reading books under a tree or just enjoying the rare sunshine in this area of the world where it […]

Travel Lessons for Life: Planning and Letting Go

Life should be approached the same way one approaches a trip to Rome. If you have been to Rome, you know that the only predictable thing about a trip to Rome is the unpredictability.  A store will close when you need it opened, a funeral will be happening in a church you wanted to visit, the Pope will decide to […]

Photography © by Andy Coan

When the Lord asks, “Do you love me?”

On many occasions I’ve heard non-Catholics object to the papacy.  Often, they say something like this: “I just can’t believe that one man on earth, the Pope, is holier than everyone else.”  So who ever said that being sinless is either a prerequisite or a consequence of being named Pope? For the Pope, the bishop of Rome, is the successor […]

Photography © by Andy Coan

The Way of the Cross and the Road to Salvation

Truth in advertising — after all the glowing reports of the benefits of a product, potential side effects need to be mentioned. Informed consent — before surgery, patients have to be told of all the things that could possibly go wrong. That way, they have the chance to opt out before it’s too late. As soon had the truth came out at […]

Photography © by Andy Coan

The Biblical Roots of the Papacy

“More Catholic than the Pope?” There is nothing more quintessentially Catholic than the Papacy. When we think “Catholic,” we think Rome, the Vatican, the dome of St. Peters. But the roots of the papacy actually go back to Jerusalem and the messiah-kings who ruled there. Like most heads of state, David and his descendants, the anointed kings of Judah, realized […]

St. Peter's Basilica at Night (and Ponte Sant Angelo over the Tiber)

Irrationality and Infallibility

Not too long ago I spoke with yet another Protestant minister who is about to leave his ministry and join the Catholic Church. He said he ended up in this situation because he had a seminary professor who kept challenging his students to, “Think it through.” He tried to think through his opposition to Catholicism because he had a parishioner […]