Human Life Review Blog

Scroll through our blog to find great articles and commentary on current life issues.

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Are We Still One Nation Under God?

  After visiting the United States, G. K. Chesterton asked himself the question, “What makes America peculiar?” He answered it with accustomed perspicacity: “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth in the Declaration of...
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Dreams in a Pandemic

  I am the proud owner of a coffee mug that displays wisely worded encouragement from Thoreau: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. I got it at a high-end “Second Time Around” sale at a well-heeled Episcopal Church in New York City—for...
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Turning Point, or Eternal Return?

  In 2015, when the Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos revealing Planned Parenthood’s illegal side business in selling fetal-body parts, I thought the abortion giant was finished. Recorded by pro-life journalist David Daleiden, the videos were so shocking...
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Closer Than You Think

The aliens have finally arrived, but they’re not shaking their heads with dismay at our self-destructive and violent natures as evidenced by war.
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A Miracle for Life

  Did you ever see a miracle walking? Or running, jumping, laughing, and hugging like any active five-year-old? This is the story of the miraculous healing of a child in the womb attributed to the intercession of Venerable Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of...
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The Odd Couple and Abortion Culture

  I was seven years old when Neil Simon’s Broadway play The Odd Couple became a TV series. Forty-five years later, I still remember Oscar and Felix as perfect embodiments of the liberated and the oppressed—which, I suppose, might reveal something about my own organizational...
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Life is Expensive

  “Life is cheap” is an expression usually reserved for primitive peoples or violent times, be it warring tribes and clans slaughtering each other like chickens or the showdown-at-noon culture of the American Wild West. At least drawing six-shooters was between two men...
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The Sorry State of Love and Marriage

  I had just started high school at the beginning of the Seventies when Erich Segal’s best-selling tearjerker Love Story and its theater-filling movie version were released to harrow the souls of the romantic. Segal had set out to write an elemental love story in a...
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A Prophetic Editorial: Fifty Years since “A New Ethic for Medicine and Society”

  This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of “A New Ethic for Medicine and Society,”  a remarkably foresighted editorial published in the September 1970 issue of the professional journal California Medicine.  The editorial, which has been reprinted many times over the...
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Perpetuating Castes through Special Hate Crimes Penalties

If my act of blind anger against my declassed neighbor will be punished less severely than the same act against the specially classed neighbor, then this “hate crime” law invites me to attack one victim in the other’s place. This, indeed, is raw and ruthless discrimination!
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Walking Away

  When my second son was born, the nurse did not proclaim “It’s a boy!” as one would expect. Instead her words were “Looks like you got a redhead.” Indeed, he was pink from tip to tail with a shock of red hair that stood up like a sail, or, in my imagination, like Woody...
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Building a More Human-Oriented Civilization

By restoring legal respect for human life—the foundation of justice itself—we can move steadily toward fuller realization of the positive possibilities of our nature, including the formation of a more authentically human civilization. But we must begin by protecting the lives of...
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Two Rights and Double Standards

  An old adage warns that “the devil is in the details.” This is especially true of the law, where “standards of review” and precedents (stare decisis) can eviscerate the clearest constitutional norms while apotheosizing the most nebulous. Case-in-point: Linda Greenhouse’s...
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Structures of Spin

  During the pontificate of John Paul II the world began to hear about “structures of sin.” In paragraph 12 (Chapter One) of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the late pontiff described structural sin as a pattern of institutional evil that rendered society hostile to...
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The Thomases and the Truth

Stranded in the grinding dystopia of our Covid-colored world, millions of souls cowering behind screens, our hunger for truth, any kind of truth, has proved as often as not to be a will o’ the wisp
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A Single Woman, Her Brother, and Large Families

The Red Dress with the Chocolate Swath It was the night of the Stonington Opera Party, held annually in a large house on the village square; guests were to don formal attire, prepare an aria, and bring a dish. Getting ready is always a challenge. Matching shoes, earrings, hair ....
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What’s in a Name?

Sure, we tolerate the immigrant and the minority, but do we accept them for who they are, with their curly hair, broken English, strange foods, and cultural habits? Or do we complain that they’re too loud, too intimidating, too distracting, or simply exotic?
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Dirty Old Gentlemen

  In 1965 I was a high school sophomore in suburban New Jersey. A short course—some kind of home economics, I think—was taught every year. It wasn’t about baking pies and such, but about balancing checkbooks, making and keeping household budgets, that sort of thing. All...
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“Lesley, I Mean It, Nobody Heard You”: Capital Punishment Sends a Message

  “Nobody heard you,” said Richard Darman to Lesley Stahl. CBS News had just run a report critical of President Ronald Reagan. Stahl had produced it. Its thesis was that the White House diverted attention from the president’s policies by emphasizing his personality. “Mr....
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Good Humor and the Illusion of Control

Day-to-day events are moving with the speed of an avalanche, so fast, in fact, that they threaten to bury me right here where I sit scribbling. Our moment cries out for a caveat: Between the time of this writing and the time of your reading some important new “fact” may be...
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Intimations of Mortality

When I was growing up, my mom would say our bodies were made up of about 85 cents worth of flesh, bone and fluid, though I’m sure the price tag has increased with inflation. Her point was that the human body is worth more than its material components. On its own, an individual...
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Names and the Nameless

As the novel coronavirus spread across the globe this past spring, a debate in the United States emerged regarding its name: Was it racist to call a virus that originated in Wuhan, China, Chinese? Was it acceptable even to mention the city or country of origin? But the name of...
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Truth and Cupcakes

  Last December it was reported that the United States Supreme Court had left in place a Kentucky law requiring doctors to show fetal images to patients before they abort. This would be in line with the informed consent section of the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling....
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Coronavirus, Conspiracy Theories, and Continued Pro-Life Witness

  My wife and I met 31 years ago, when we were both arrested in front of an abortion clinic during an Operation Rescue protest. Over the years this has become part of family lore, and the coincidence of pro-life activism and romance has not been lost on our children. All of...
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My Romantic Desk

  I am my father’s daughter in one very specific way—I have an eye for discarded, curbside furniture. When, upon close inspection, I discover that a piece is still serviceable, I wonder what the possible back story of its rejection could be. Was the fate of that Queen...
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Two Ideas of “Common Sense”

  My friend listened, neither smiling nor frowning, as I explained why abortion was an injustice. She waited until I finished. “That’s logical,” she said. “But it doesn’t make sense.” Never discount “common sense.” It’s what wins the day in politics and policymaking. Your...
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Unfinished Writing

  Spring, 2019: I started off the day with a rather reluctant middle-school Sunday School class. The hour was early for them, and they had not yet fully realized their daily resurrection from the dead. At some point, in a moment of attitude (adult version, I can be almost as...
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Let the River Run

  On December 15, 2017, Eminem released an album called Revival. He and singer Ed Sheeran collaborated on the song “River,” which I heard for the first time last December. A music video of “River” was released on February 14, 2018.  Here I would like to address...
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Virtually Nowhere

  In February, a South Korean television program called Meeting You featured a segment that was devastating to watch. A woman named Jang Ji-sung, who had lost her seven-year-old daughter three years before, was asked to don a virtual-reality kit—goggles, earphones, and...
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Aquinas in the Park

  I’ve never been much good at giving up anything. To temper my spiritual steel during past Lents, instead of sacrificing an indulgence—pizza or chocolate or a Hollywood melodrama of the 1930s—I have added to my daily routine a meditative or, since the Lord has chosen to...
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Our Lives as Uncontrolled Experiments

Our fickle age usually welcomes the new, the original, the untried. But no one I know places the “novel virus” Covid-19 in a happy category, and rightly so. The pandemic has led us to live—and sadly in some cases, end—our days in modes novel to us, but to paraphrase Yeats, with...
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Corona Time: Notes from My New York City Block

The panhandlers have organized. On the corner, there’s a sign taped to a street lamp urging people to: “SHARE YOUR CHECK- Give generously to NYC panhandlers.” Ambitious, but I suspect it’s mostly the dearth of trusting tourists that’s causing their loss of revenue.
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La Corona: On the Calculus of Mortality

    For this we put aside our claim on love Lay waste our little square of common home Emotion stoked and fearful we refrain Impassioned, rationed and enthroned alone.   Corona is the circle of the sun A super-nova scourg’d upon the earth A clash of opposites to life...
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The Pro-Life Movement Meets Biopolitics

  “We will have to discard simple dichotomies” when the coronavirus pandemic finally subsides, Francis Fukuyama predicts in The Atlantic. Let’s borrow that line for a moment and apply it to the pro-life cause. The dichotomy that concerns Fukuyama is between liberal...
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Singing in the Darkness

  “Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout salvation for the victory of our mighty king . . .” These are the opening words of the Exsultet, the chant sung by the deacon at the Great Vigil of Easter invoking all powers and creatures to...
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Good Things Happen When Medicine Gets Personal

“Tell me about your son.” These were the words I heard over the phone three years ago while searching for a doctor who could give psychological help to my 19-year-old son who has Prader Willi syndrome. In all my years of raising him, this was the first time anyone ever asked me...
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Hollow Footsteps

There had been a notable uptick in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe. Alone on a lonely street in the heart of Paris, I wondered if just standing where I was could make me a target of either suspicion or of hate. The door to the Holocaust Memorial was locked, as only three or four...
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Wanted! Pro-Life Democrats Who Will Run for Office!

The message above should appear all over the country, wherever pro-life activists gather. For many years, they have hoped (in a vague sort of way) that more Democrats would be pro-life. Few, though, have done much to make that actually happen, and those who tried often lacked...
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Does the State Still Have Any Interest in Marriage?

Recently a friend saw Fiddler on the Roof and remarked on how much darker the plot was than he had remembered. It’s a musical, after all, and most musicals (barring West Side Story-style romantic tragedy or Sweeney Todd-style bizarreness) are upbeat. It has a lot of comic scenes...
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Pro-life and the Coronavirus

  Most people probably have spent at least a little time thinking about how to survive a pandemic or other apocalyptic scenario. We live on a farm, so people regularly tell us they’re heading over to our place should it all hit the fan. I usually smile and change the subjec...
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Contrapasso and the Culture of Death

  Dante Alighieri’s 14-century poetic masterpiece The Divine Comedy is not just a work of literary genius—it’s also a spiritual roadmap. Unlike our age of muddy relativism, Dante’s vision is stark. There is good and there is evil. Men and women make a free choice between the...
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What’s in a Name? “Pro-Life” Is Hard to Live Up To

  Your name influences your destiny. So say social scientists and casual observers. In our day, the business of looking to your name to predict your job prospects, or to explain them, or to understand in more general terms who you are or will be in the world, is a subtle and...
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Abortion as We Know It: Call Me Cynical

  Call me cynical, but when I see a young man marching with an “I Support a Woman’s Right to Choose” sign, there’s little doubt in my mind that he probably only supports a woman’s right to choose as long as she’s choosing abortion. What if this earnest lad came home from the...
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After Roe and Doe Are Gone

  When the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the American people will once again have the right to enact substantive legal protection for unborn children. In anticipation, many states have already adopted protective laws, although federal judges have blocked...
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“Nobody loves me, everybody hates me”

One way to understand adolescence is as a crisis of the value of life. I may take my mother’s love for granted, but it no longer seems to suffice. Father’s love seems remote and conditional on my (unreliable!) performance. My sense of self-worth is displaced by fickle fads among...
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Saved by a Flesh and Blood Baby

The article you are reading right now, like any article written by an actual person, is a soon-to-be-obsolete artifact of a passing age. If you use the internet, you have read many things generated by algorithms derived from a combination of pre-determined site objectives and...
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Merī Kurisumasu!

    President Donald Trump has made it a motif of his administration to acknowledge his and the First Lady’s Christian faith in public. One of the most striking ways they do this is by wishing the nation, not a happy holiday season or a safe month of interfaith...
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Calling George Bailey

Every Christmastide we are obliged to see the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Yet we often forget the ordeal the main character George Bailey had to endure before coming to that titled conclusion. For much of the film, life is harsh, mean, sinister, apparently random, and...
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Private Lives, Public Policies, and Abortion

  Every advance in information technology and every expanded frontier for its use seems to propagate media stories of new ways that governments and industries are infringing upon the once sacrosanct zone of individual privacy. From facial recognition software to cars that...
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Why We Repeat the Mistakes of the Past

  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This oft-quoted phrase, usually attributed to the philosopher George Santayana, was probably coined by Edmund Burke when he said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” A more trenchant...
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Spina Bifida: Where Some Have Led the Way

  “The baby won’t live to be fourteen.” Our grandmother would announce her skepticism about my cousin’s life expectancy as easily as she would announce that the weatherman had predicted rain. Of course, there was nothing magic about the age of fourteen—every anticipated...
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The Beautiful Mother

My ex-husband’s mother had a poet’s will. She was a silken beauty, vulnerable, observant, wondering where I belonged. I told her the forced abortion is why I left my marriage. However, she never said a word to him, and he never said a word to her about it. But she and I...
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The Kidnapping of Emily Post

  Emily Post has been kidnapped!  In the years following the Roe v. Wade decision, women I had known for years would tell me, in a manner ranging from blithe to bureaucratic, that they had had an abortion, and then wait for me to deliver the expected: “Hey girl, i...
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A Downtown Debate

In 1990, I was invited to defend life in a Manhattan theater setting. Mounted by the Art & Work Ensemble in Syncronicity Space (located on Eleventh Street, just west of Sixth Avenue) there would be six one-act plays: three pro-choice, three pro-life. After the performance,...
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Rx for Limitless, International Emergency Support

  To compound a prescription for limitless, international emergency support, we need only extrapolate from an American anthropologist’s recent study of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake. There can be no doubt that more natural disasters await us—whether earthquake or...
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Musings at a Japanese Barbershop

  Settling into a chair at a barbershop in Japan, one enters into the same kind of preliminary conversation one does in the United States (or, I imagine, anywhere else in the world). In my case, I usually tell the barber to cut it “very short, just shy of looking like I’m...
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Of Soap and Water

  I briefly wondered who had taught him the English words “soap” and “five.” He couldn’t have been more than ten years old, standing out on the sidewalk in 90-degree heat with his satchel full of soap and a smile that radiated to his eyes. “Soap? Five shekel.” Our guide...
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Our Joyless, Hopeless, World-weary Children

  Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, has joined 18-year-old Canadian Emma Lim and thousands of others in pledging not to have children until the government will ensure a safe future for them.  This is, of course, a glorious example of self-righteous...
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Welcoming the Unplanned Burden

  A few months ago, I stood in the back of church greeting worshipers after Mass. One woman—let’s call her Michelle—was squinting as if she intended to confront me, so I invited her to disclose her mind. She burst out, “How come you won’t preach about the movie Unplanned?...
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Our Bodies, Our Real Estate  

  Last January after Governor Cuomo signed the “reform” abortion bill allowing viable babies that survive abortion to be killed, he had the World Trade Center Freedom Tower lit up in pink, turning the skyscraper into a fey phallic symbol rising over our city to show how much...
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Is Protecting Human Life a Form of Hatred?

  Heather Mallick is a regular columnist for the Toronto Star. In a piece last spring titled “Will Alabama’s war on abortion come to Canada?” she encouraged women in Canada and the United States not to surrender their “right” to choose abortion, ignoring the salient point...
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A Celebration of Centenarians

Recently, the Italian Statistical Office (ISTAT) published data on the sizable number and relatively healthy status of centenarians living in Italy. With so much negative news concerning various aspects of world population—e.g., the decimation of the nuclear family, low birth...
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Remembering Faith

For those of us who really love summer (I actually thrive in heat and humidity!), the sunny yet cooler days at the end of August are bittersweet. This is especially true for me, as it is a reminder of loss. It has been eight years since my mother died, of cancer, on August 30,...
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Talking to Myself

I consider myself a level-headed person. I try not to judge people because I don’t think I have a right to judge. I am not the one at the gates of heaven deciding who gains entrance. But in this day and age, being nonjudgmental isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a daily struggle. Our...
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Hot and Cold: Pro-Life Marches in Japan and the United States

The Tokyo March for Life is held every year on “Marine Day,” the third Monday in July. A public holiday in Japan, Marine Day was inaugurated just before the beginning of the Pacific War to commemorate a 19th-century sea voyage by the Meiji Emperor; today the three-day weekend it...
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Letting Weeping Spend the Night

  It was the twenty-third of May, and I found myself face to face with a small, sticky-sweet-looking red velvet cake. I may have considered the purchase for a few moments; cake isn’t healthy after all. In the end, though, I brought it home, and we had it for dessert. My...
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Koinonia:  77 Years of Fertile Faithfulness

In the beginning was the idea of a community of Christian believers who would hold and share all goods in common. Biblically described in Acts 2:44-45, this community (in Greek, a koinonia and pronounced “coy-no-knee-ah”) harnessed both the fecund imagination and the fiery zeal...
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Heart Beats and Hoof Beats

One aspect to pro-choice thinking is that it’s not automatically about actual aborting but simply about the concept of choice, and, intellectually, that’s hard to argue with. Indeed, my own feeling is this: Do I want the practice of abortion to cease? Absolutely yes. Do I want...
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Against Single-Issue Voting

Some readers of the Human Life Review might not want to hear what I’m about to say. If you’re a single-issue voter, be able to defend your reasons for taking that approach. If you can’t, think harder about your political philosophy. First, though, acknowledge that a single-issue...
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“Meet Me at the Cheese:” The Sophomores Ponder the Sacramental Imagination

Time was growing short. Prom was past, finals and graduation would soon be upon us. But when the students had finished A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I threw at them a chapter from George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic. “Meet me at the Cheese,” I said to the girls, and this is...
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Not Laughing at Choice

It turned out to be open mic comedy night. I’d met a priest I know at a new microbrewery in his parish, and after an enjoyable time and enough beers he went home, while I finished my last one. The comics started after my friend (who had come dressed as a priest) had left, which...
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“Male and Female He Created Them”: Bold Winds of Pentecost Affirm Essential Truths of Human Sexuality

  One day after Pentecost Sunday, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education released “Male and Female He Created Them, Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” From the very first sentence, it rightly describes “. . . an educational...
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Assisi, City of St. Francis and Savior of Jews During World War II

Assisi is a small hill town in central Italy surrounded by a very green countryside that has little industry except for olive cultivation and other farming activities. Known for centuries as a pilgrimage site, Assisi is full of convents, monasteries and churches, the most famous...
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Biology Bullies and the Destiny Blues

The “Shout Your Abortion” online media campaign, dedicated to “putting an end to shame” regarding abortion, is the latest expression of the belief that people not only have the right to have one but they also have the “right” to not feel bad about it. Notice I said “people,” not...
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Revisiting Parental Consent on Abortion

This year has seen a flurry of state-level legislative action on abortion, initiated by both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates. The catalyst for much of this action has been hope (or fear) that the U.S. Supreme Court might modify, if not reverse, the unrestricted abortion...
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Message to Youth

  On April 3, our local newspaper, The Waterloo Region Record, carried a front-page feature about the travelling Anne Frank Exhibit, an international project of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The exhibit had recently arrived at Cameron Heights Collegiate high school in...
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Italy’s Ninth March for Life: A Spirited Affair!

They came in baby carriages, strollers, and wheel chairs, but mostly they came on foot to the rallying point at Piazza della Repubblica, one of Rome’s largest squares. Despite an overcast sky and unseasonably chilly weather, thousands—more than in prior years—gathered in the late...
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Kaleidoscope Hope – Orderliness Emerging from Chaos

  The charm of the toy kaleidoscope from ancient childhood was seeing order come out of chaos. Holding the cylinder to our eye, we would give it a twist; then free-floating pieces, falling randomly, would be reflected by a series of mirrors, transforming randomness into...
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Learning the Language

  Every Thursday morning I have a little cross-cultural experience. The rituals of greeting—taking off my shoes before entering a home, warm exchanges, inquiring about one another’s families—come fairly naturally to me. More difficult is a solicitous style of text messaging, in...
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Heaven on Earth

  A curious path now leads us away from hell and punishment. It skirts nimbly heaven and reward, then ends in the ephemeral cloud of heaven on earth. Its achievements are stupefying. They are nothing less than a repudiation of the afterlife’s heaven and hell plus the...
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Suicide Acceptance, Abortion Acceptance

  Abortion remains at the center of the pro-life movement, which began as a reaction against efforts to legalize the practice in one country after another across the Western world in the middle of the last century. Those efforts largely succeeded, in the United States and...
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Seeing the Seeing-Eye Dog

“Service animals” have been much in the news these past few years. During one recent summer, stories proliferated about problems on airplanes as passengers were bringing all manner of wildlife on board under the rubric of “emotional support.” Suddenly there were service pigs in...
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Rights Talk vs. Reality

  When I was a child, and the neighborhood pack of kids I ran with started squabbling about what to play or how to play it, sooner or later someone would end up yelling, “You can’t tell me what to do! It’s a free country!” Both the assertion and its justification are...
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Vaccinations, Life, and the Common Good

Most of us have a commonsensical grasp of the common good, which we can apply easily if we do not allow ourselves to be misled. Pro-life arguments can be strengthened by appeals to the common good. Pro-choice forces, however, often encourage us to misunderstand or neglect the...
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Carved in Stone

  Gutzon Borglum is not exactly a household name, though the quartet of faces he carved on Mt. Rushmore is familiar to virtually every American. His artistic achievement is probably the most spectacular of its kind ever produced. The lifelike busts of presidents Washington,...
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ERA and Abortion

  The just-adjourned session of the Virginia Legislature turned the Old Dominion into the latest battleground in an effort begun two years ago to force the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the federal Constitution. Although when proposed by Congress in 1972, ERA contained a...
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Selflessness and Sanctity: Three Modern Italian Women

The word selflessness—as in the gift of oneself to assure the welfare of another—is seldom heard in places like the United States, the United Nations, the secular world at large. Then there is Italy, where in recent decades three remarkable women chose life for the unborn...
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Bird Box and Our Inner Demons

  Despite mixed reviews, Bird Box is Netflix’s most popular film ever, with more than 45 million account views in its first week. Some critics claim that its popularity has been meme-driven. Its’ signature image, a blindfolded, hunted character—played by Sandra Bullock—who...
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Mercy Killing Five-Year-Olds

  She tried the “Where do you draw the line?” argument. A young Facebook friend reported that she’d just got home from a college class that had taken up abortion. Most students treated it as self-evidently good. If aborting an unborn child is all right, she asked them, what...
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Defenders of Life: Navigating Between Complacency and Despair

  Once I heard a futures trader explain the thought processes behind his job, and the way he explained it illuminated a mindset about earning a living alien to my own. Oh, I already knew the basics about his daily activity: buying and selling futures of commodities, with the...
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