Posts By This Author

Supreme Illogic

by Joe Nangle 11-01-2008
Catholic social teaching and gun control

For decades the city government of Washington, D.C., banned handguns among its citizens. Permits were given for special cases but, by and large, these lethal weapons were not to be in the possession of residents in a city that, tragically, has vied with other metropolitan areas to be the “murder capital of the U.S.” So the recent decision of the Supreme Court repealing the District’s handgun ban deserves our attention.

All of the majority votes in the Supreme Court’s verdict came from the five Catholic justices on the court: John Roberts Jr., Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito Jr. This highlights the irony that Catholic social teaching—which provides modern Catholics and others of good will with resources to apply biblical wisdom to many of the common problems facing us in 21st century life, including violence, arms production, and weapons proliferation—has remained the Catholic Church’s “best-kept secret.”

The facts of the court case are straightforward. Security guard Dick An­thony Heller, who had a permit to carry a gun when on duty, challenged the D.C. law, seeking permission to have a weapon in his home. The District Court threw out Heller’s case, but the D.C. Circuit Court reversed the lower court’s decision, and on June 26, in a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld that reversal.

A Second Spring

by Joe Nangle 08-01-2007
The continuing vitality of liberation theology

Still Scandalous

by Joe Nangle 06-01-2004
Has the Catholic Church learned anything?

A Living Example

Brazilian Catholic archbishop Helder Camara brought a "preferential option for the poor" to the center of Christian social thinking.

Fully Alive!

by Joe Nangle 11-01-1999

Heart surgery opened my arteries---and my eyes.

The Daily Grace of Give and Take

by Joe Nangle 03-01-1999

The final column of a six-year run gives the author permission to write in the first person, wouldn't you say?

The Children's Funeral Parish

by Joe Nangle 01-01-1999

Early in the 1980s, I served a parish in Woburn, Massachusetts. This suburban city, some 12 miles north of Boston, had boasted of tanneries for 300 years.

Whose Life Is It, Anyway?

by Joe Nangle 11-01-1998

Ecology does not begin and end with the human, but it certainly includes us. All other beings share the planet and the cosmos with us, and we with them.

A Spirituality of Ecology

by Joe Nangle 09-01-1998

Put aside the Holy Scriptures for a while and read God's first revelation—nature itself. Such was the advice offered some years ago by a profound, Christian thinker.

The Nature of God

by Joe Nangle 07-01-1998
Through Olga, I heard Jesus' message in an entirely new way.

Some days ago I received an unexpected call from Lima, Peru. A brother Franciscan there told me that Olga Valencia had died and, knowing of my friendship with her, he had attended the funeral. The news brought a flood of memories.

It's hard to pinpoint my first encounter with Olga. Surely it had to do with some request of hers for help—work, food, a handout. For she was the quintessential Third World mother, continually asking, begging, cajoling those of us in positions of privilege for charity on her own behalf and that of her numerous offspring. I must confess that in those early years she struck me as a whining, bothersome, pestering person, whom I tended to dispatch as quickly as possible.

One day her oldest child, 9-year-old Jose, was killed by a hit-and-run driver. It took Olga four days to bury him, and I walked alongside her during those terrible hours. From a halting investigation of the accident, to a still more halting autopsy in the city morgue, to a funeral director who wanted his money up front, to dealing with the accused driver—everything stood in the way of Olga's burying little Jose with dignity.

In the end, out of desperate necessity (no embalming in Peru) this mother, her husband, and I took Jose's body to the paupers' graveyard and buried him there. Then I drove them home, sat with them for a while, and left them to pick up once again the threads of their miserable existence. That day forever changed my relationship with Olga, and in some ways forever changed me.

The Receiving End of Mission

by Joe Nangle 05-01-1998

Once in a while you get to see people assimilate a value from a different culture. It’s an enriching experience for everyone concerned.

A Modern Salvation Story

by Joe Nangle 03-01-1998

The drama that unfolded in the arrest and court proceedings of Theodore Kaczynski deserves serious, even prayerful, reflection. In part it focuses our attention on that most basic of all communi

Community for a "Dead Man"

by Joe Nangle 01-01-1998

"The hardest part in this is seeing the pain, not only the pain of those I love, but the pain of everybody involved.

Pax Christi Pilgrims

by Joe Nangle 11-09-1997

A unique faith community gathered recently in Washington, D.C., to celebrate its Silver Jubilee.

The Power of an idea

by Joe Nangle 09-01-1997
Paulo Freire's liberating legacy.

High Stakes in School

by Joe Nangle 09-01-1997

School in all of its dimensions inevitably marks our later efforts at community living.

The Difference Between a Community and a Cult

by Joe Nangle 07-01-1997

All Economics Is Local

by Joe Nangle 05-01-1997
Ecumenism will happen not so much as a result of doctrinal discussions, but through real-life activities on behalf of a suffering world.

His Life Dilemma

by Joe Nangle 03-01-1997

The many communities that Father Jim Healy served during 35 years as a Catholic priest came together recently at his memorial service.

A Special Community

by Joe Nangle 01-01-1997

For the first time in memory, the Latino community took to the streets of Washington, D.C., in large numbers on October 12, 1996.