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Essays in Theology

Survey of Catholics illuminates life in the pews

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The research team, commissioned by The National Catholic Reporter (NCR), which included William D'Antonio of The Catholic University of America (CUA), Mary Gautier of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University and Michele Dillon of the University of New Hampshire, recently completed the fifth survey of U.S. Catholics.

Penn State and the Catholic church

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The sexual abuse scandal at Penn State that toppled the president of the university and iconic football coach Joe Paterno has stimulated many references in the media to a similar problem in the Catholic church.

Although the church's crisis is more widespread and goes back more years than we can count, it is drawn from the same sources: human perversity and its principal enabler, human weakness.

Women religious' embrace of Vatican II change commendable

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As Catholic institutions, especially schools, multiplied rapidly in the 1950s, Pope Pius XII urged religious superiors to begin the modernization of their congregations. He mentioned specifically the abolition of outmoded customs, the modification of habits and increased attention to the professional education of sisters.

What to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

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There was no Thanksgiving column last year because, for the first time since I began writing this weekly column in early July 1966, I had to suspend it for about three months for medical reasons.

In 2009, however, I had done a column in thanksgiving for the greatest single asset to the Catholic church in the United States (and I almost certainly can include Canada here): the thousands of nuns who have served the church in so many extraordinary ways: in parishes, in schools, in hospitals, in shelters for women, in prisons, as college and university faculty members, chaplains, residence hall rectors and in so many other ministries, too many to count.

The end of the Western Schism

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With the election of Martin V as pope on Nov. 11, 1417, the feast of St. Martin, the Great Western Schism (1378-1417) finally came to an end.

The Schism began with the election of Urban VI, one of the most unstable popes in all of papal history and the last non-cardinal to be elected to the papacy. So intransigent and unreasonable was Urban VI that the French cardinals, who had seen the last French pope elected with Gregory XI (1371-78), elected an antipope, Clement VII.

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