The stubborn persistence of justice

Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Oscar Romero and The Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice By Matt Eisenbrandt University of California Press (226 pp, $37.95) For those old enough to remember it, the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero on March 24, 1980 still resonates as one of the late twentieth century’s more tragic events, its historic significance extending well beyond the borders of El Salvador. For many, Romero’s killing remains a…

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Pope Francis and Me: A Fantasy

The scene: A sitting room in the papal residences of Domus Sanctae Marthae, The Vatican  The ambience: Warm, dim lighting. In the middle of the room between two comfy chairs is a coffee table bearing a plate of fruit, cheese and bread, two wine glasses, and a ceramic decanter filled with the finest Malbec. Pope Francis: My son, you have wandered long and far in the wilderness of doubt, but you have not completely abandoned us, have…

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Vatican News Flash: Gays are People, Too

First, all you snickering cynics out there—including my fellow Catholic atheists and otherwise gay brethren—let’s not make fun of what rhymes with “relatio.” Instead, let’s take the Vatican document released today, relatio post disceptationem (Report After Debate), seriously and at face value. One of the report’s 58 sections, “Welcoming homosexual persons,” has prompted the usual hysterical responses, both from outraged conservative Roman Catholics who think the Church is being taken over by radicals and from…

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“Bling Bishop” Faces Day of Reckoning

For the Joseph Ratzinger legacy file, here’s some fun news out of Berlin: a Roman Catholic prelate appointed by Pope Benedict is on the hot seat after reports that he approved renovations for his residence amounting to €31 million (US $42 million), and that a state prosecutor in Hamburg has charged him with lying in a legal case. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, 53, evidently has a very high opinion of his worth as a shepherd of…

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Pope Francis: Numero Uno Paradigm-Buster

Earlier this year when I signed the book deal for The Trial of Pope Benedict, I was convinced that this would be the end of all my writing about popes—and the Roman Catholic Church, for that matter. The book was intended as a kind of closure: my one and only statement about an institution I had no intention of returning to, much less thinking about on a daily basis, and a j’accuse indictment of the…

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