Oh-so familiar Top 10 religion stories list (with a few exceptions)…

Near the end of every year, the Religion News Association (the flock previously known as the Religion Newswriters Association) posts its list of the year’s Top 10 religion-beat stories. It’s tough work, but somebody has to do it. I don’t envy the scribes who have to create the list of events that go on the ballot. The archive on the RNA website only goes back to 2002…

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“Brothers and Sisters, Christendom no longer exists” — At curial Christmas address, the Pope’s “hermeneutic of change” …

Over the last two pontificates, what’s formally known as the Pope’s Christmas “greeting” to his Curial chiefs has gone well beyond glad tidings – if anything, the forum has arguably made for the most significant in-house speech of the year for Benedict and Francis both. The traditional opening “bookend” to Vatican Christmas – which closes in early January with the “State of the World” address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See – at today’s appointment…

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The Pope’s latest speech to the cardinals has a backstory — one that was supposed to stay secret…..

This time as well, in the speech he gives every year to the Vatican curia before Christmas, Pope Francis has come out swinging at his unfortunate listeners. Last year he went after the the Judases “who hide behind good intentions to stab their brothers and sow weeds.” Two years ago he had pilloried the “trusted traitors” who “let themselves be corrupted by ambition or vainglory and…

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Crisis at Christmas — A homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent…

Today’s Gospel gives us some background for the Christmas feast that we need to take to heart. It speaks to us of a crisis at Christmas. We tend to sentimentalize the Christmas story as we think of the baby Jesus in the manger. It is not absolutely wrong to be sentimental, but we must also be prayerfully sober about how difficult that first Christmas was…

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Is a Catholic “victims’ rights” movement the next frontier in abuse reform?

For most of human history, when someone was accused of a crime, whatever passed for a trial to assess guilt was a simple affair: Victim v. Defendant. Unsurprisingly, such “trials” often boiled down to who was more powerful, wealthier or better connected, and had only a passing relationship to justice. In the late 17th century…

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On the 250th anniversary of his birth, the little-discussed faith of Beethoven…..

Germany and Austria are preparing for a year-long string of events to honor the 250th birthday of Ludwig Van Beethoven, one of the Western world’s greatest and most prolific composers. The activities will be centralized in the German city of Bonn, where Beethoven was born, and the Austrian city of Vienna, where the composer spent most of his life and composed the majority of his works…

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The ultimate Zion National Park travel guide…

The first time I road-tripped from Los Angeles to Zion National Park, I remember thinking that the Virgin River Gorge, which cuts a deep slash across Arizona’s northwest corner, was something like a certain literary wardrobe: you entered on one side via the quiet Nevada desert, then emerged a handful of twists later into the magical expanse of Utah…

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