Author: Paul Fahey

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“I’m still teaching the same things I always taught…”

In my spiritual formation as a young adult, the idea of a future schism–refusing to submit to the teaching of the pope–was presented as a “liberal” concept. The idea was that in the name of progress, some Catholics rejected papal teaching on subjects like contraception, same-sex marriage, and women priests. This kind of schismatic believes that Church teaching on these matters hasn’t “developed” far enough, that the truth of their ideas is certain, and that...

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A Reponse to Ross Douthat

Where Peter Is was recently mentioned in the New York Times, in a column by Ross Douthat entitled, “What Will Happen to Conservative Catholicism?” In the piece, he surveys the ways that conservative Catholics in America have responded to Pope Francis. He also analyzes two  potential paths forward for Catholic conservatives other than that of Cardinal Burke or that which he describes as a “schismatic plunge.” The first is: A conservative Catholicism that strains more...

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Are you concerned about the synod?

Some thoughts to consider if you’re at all concerned about the Synod on the Amazon or the final synod document: 1. A synod is ultimately just an advisory body for the pope. Likewise, the Amazon Synod was simply bishops and religious from the Amazon area coming together, as a unified assembly, to inform Pope Francis and Church leadership about the reality of Catholicism in the Amazon and to make the pope and the Church aware...

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Our Lady of the Amazon, a Rorschach Test

By Paul Fahey and D.W. Lafferty Those little statues brought to the Amazon synod by the REPAM group, so callously stolen and thrown in the Tiber, have functioned as a sort of Rorschach Test for the Church. Some Catholics view the image the way the Indigenous Catholics presented it to the pope, as “Our Lady of the Amazon.” This is clear to them because they trust in the orthodoxy and good will of the pope,...

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The lie behind rigidity

Picking up on what the pope said last month about rigid Catholics as well as the parable of the the Prodigal Son, I want to highlight a homily that the pope gave back in 2016. In that homily the pope draws our attention to the older brother as an example of someone who is rigid, and in doing so he also articulates the cause of rigidity: “he had only ever seen his father as a...

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“My power is made perfect in weakness”

When the Church takes up someone’s cause for sainthood, one of the things they look for is heroic virtue. Drawing from Pope Benedict XIV and St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic Encyclopedia defines “heroic virtue” as “…a habit of good conduct that has become a second nature, a new motive power stronger than all corresponding inborn inclinations, capable of rendering easy a series of acts each of which, for the ordinary man, would be beset with...

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The Death Penalty, Doctrine or Personal Opinion?

I’ve seen a lot of confusion in the past year about the Church’s new teaching on the death penalty that was issued last summer when Pope Francis changed paragraph 2267 of the Catechism. One of the key misconceptions I’ve heard is that this new teaching is simply the prudential opinion of the pope and therefore nothing has actually changed and Catholics are free to respectfully disagree. However, I think an attentive reading of the new...

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What did Pope Francis say about rigid priests?

In an address to bishops in Madagascar, Pope Francis warns his audience not to let the fear of not enough priests justify them being undiscerning in priestly formation and accept men into the priesthood who aren’t striving for holiness. He says, “I appreciate your efforts to ensure the formation of authentic and holy workers for the abundant harvest that awaits us in the field of the Lord.” Then the pope goes on to warn against...

Where Peter Is – LIVE (sort of, not really)

I was asked to give a talk about Pope Francis at the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While I’m only one member of the WPI team and this isn’t an official WPI event, I wanted to let you all know about this event and extend an invitation to any faithful readers in the West Michigan area. The talk is on Sunday, July 21st (3:00pm- 5:15pm, Mass to follow) and the title is: Transformed...

Our Father

For the past week, and up until just a couple days before Pentecost, the Gospel readings for daily Mass are from John’s recounting of the Last Supper. Here Jesus repeatedly speaks about, and prays to, “the Father.” I want to step back and reflect on that for a minute. God is completely and utterly beyond us. Take a second and try to imagine something, anything, that isn’t bound by space, time, and matter. We can’t...

What should the Church do?

In a recent blog post titled “The Numbers” Don’t Look Good—What Should the Church Do?, Msgr. Charles Pope reflected on the drop in Mass attendance and reception of the Sacraments over the past several decades. And the numbers don’t look good. One example: in 1970, 54.9% of Catholics went to Mass weekly; that percentage dropped to 21.1% by 2018. The other statistics are just as bad. For some, this decline may be shocking. But for...

When I know better than the pope

During the papacy of Saint Paul VI, both traditionalists and progressives made the same mistake: they thought they understood things better than the Church. The former said that Pope Paul VI shouldn’t have changed the liturgy because they couldn’t square his teaching with they believed to be true. The latter said that Paul VI should have changed the ban on contraception because they couldn’t square his teaching with they believed to be true. As Catholics,...

How vast the Father’s love for us

The picture on the top of this article is one of my favorite religious images. It’s an icon of the resurrection, specifically, of Jesus’ descent into “the place of the dead.” This is the event we remember every time we say the line in Apostles’ Creed, about Jesus “descended into hell.” After his death, Jesus went to the place where the righteous figures from the Old Testament were waiting for the Messiah to defeat sin...

Holiness isn’t about trying harder

I’ve noticed that “growing in holiness” is usually presented by popular Catholic media as something like “We just gotta pray more and try harder, then the Lord will make us holier.” As if becoming holy will take a lot of work, but God makes it possible. Similarly, we often speak of grace as sort of a spiritual vitamin or, as one book I recently saw put it, “The Eucharist gives me the energy to pursue...

The Pope Francis Generation

I’m too young to have known John Paul II. He died before I cared about Jesus, let alone the pope. Benedict was pope during my conversion at the end of high school and during college. But I was too deeply entrenched in culture war stuff to care much about what the pope had to say. Back in college I binged listened to Catholic Answers. I read The Catholic Thing pretty much daily. I regularly read...

The Unprecedented God

My oldest son, Simon, turned six earlier this month. I remember the afternoon we were getting ready to take him home from the hospital. I stood there holding him, absolutely terrified that the nurses would actually let us leave the hospital with this baby. My wife and I had no idea what we were doing. Simon was so helpless, so vulnerable, so dependent on us for everything, and they trusted us to take care of...