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The Danger of a World Without Walls

God’s commandments can be likened to defensive walls. Every ancient city had such walls to protect its citizens. Even though the walls limited movement, within them people could come and go safely. Outside those walls, all bets were off; things could be dangerous despite the open vistas. Scripture says, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: […]

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Working for the Kingdom Despite Human Failures

My father had an expression: “Charlie, people disappoint.” It was his way of saying that even people we think irreproachable, godly, and saintly can let us down, either with sin or simply by being unable to help us in key moments. Something of that comes through in the words of St. Paul from today’s first […]

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Five Biblical Lists of Mortal Sins

The first reading for Wednesday of the 27th Week of the Year, from Galatians, spoke to sins that exclude one from the Kingdom of Heaven. If one dies unrepentant from committing any of these sins, one cannot go to Heaven but rather must be excluded in Hell. It is an important reminder to pay heed […]

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On the Adolescent Fixation of the Modern West

Recently at the Synod on Youth, Archbishop Charles Chaput made the following observation: Unfortunately, many “developed” countries today are actually “underdeveloped in their humanity. They’re frozen in a kind of moral adolescence; an adolescence which they’ve chosen for themselves and now seek to impose upon others. I have written on this topic as well. What […]

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What Our Church Buildings Say About Us

The week in the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours we are reading from the books of Haggai and Zechariah. Both these prophets wrote at the time of the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile, which had begun in 587 B.C. The Jewish people were permitted to return to the […]

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Transparency and Accountability: The Release of Names of Clergy Credibly Accused of Abuse

We have been called upon once again in these past months to address the issue of clergy sex abuse of minors, the suffering it causes, and the resulting loss of trust in the Church.  We have also discussed over the past several months ways in which greater transparency and accountability can be manifested. To that […]

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Forsaking Everything and Receiving More Besides

In the Gospel for Sunday’s Mass, we read this funny story about Peter that speaks to the paradox of losing one’s life only to find it more abundantly: Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has […]

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What Does Heaven Cost? A Homily for the 28th Sunday of the Year

The Sunday Gospel invites us to wrestle with these fundamental, essential, focal questions: “What does Heaven cost?” and “Am I willing to pay it?” I. Problematic Pondering – A rich man asks Jesus, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Though his question is a good one, it is problematic because he couches it […]

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Go with God, Cardinal Wuerl

On this significant day for the Archdiocese of Washington and the universal Church, I want you to know that I receive the news of the Holy Father’s acceptance of Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s resignation with mixed feelings. I hope you will understand that he has been a spiritual Father to me since 2006 when he came […]

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Letter to the Faithful

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Archdiocese of Washington, Pope Francis has accepted my resignation as Archbishop of Washington. I had the privilege of meeting with him to let him know of your pain, sadness and confusion from what has been revealed these past months.  With a heavy heart I said that I could no […]

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