BeliefWatch: Lisa Miller

The Catholic Church Attacks Nuns

Earlier this month, in something of a surprise, a nun at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix was excommunicated for approving a first-trimester abortion last year at that hospital to save the life of a critically ill patient. “An unborn child is not a disease,” said Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Phoenix diocese. “While medical professionals should certainly try to save

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The Troubled Future of Catholic Celibacy

In 1998 a Roman Catholic nun named Marie McDonald wrote a brief and painful summary of her concerns to her colleagues and superiors. It was labeled “strictly confidential.” She was worried, she said, about the sexual abuse of nuns by Roman Catholic priests in Africa. The memo—titled “The Problem of the Sexual Abuse of African Religious in Africa and in

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A Women’s Place is in the Church

Here they are, the members of history’s oldest and most elite all-male club, trying to manage what began as a domestic crisis. For decades, priests in America, Europe, Ireland, Brazil (and God knows where else) abused—raped or otherwise molested—children and teenagers not in the frescoed halls of the Vatican but in their own backyards: on camping trips and in cars,

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Can Science Explain Heaven?

There are those who believe that science will eventually explain everything—including our enduring belief in heaven. The thesis here is very simple: heaven is not a real place, or even a process or a supernatural event. It’s something that happens in your brain as you die. I first encountered this idea as I was researching my new book, Heaven: Our

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Is Pope Benedict XVI a Bad Shepherd?

Two years ago Pope Benedict XVI—once known as “God’s Rottweiler”—displayed his gentler side on a pilgrimage to America. Television pundits spoke of his soft white hair, his smile, “his great warmth and his sense of humor,” says Thomas Noble, head of the history department at Notre Dame. On the trip Benedict confronted head-on the American church’s sexual-abuse crisis, a catastrophe

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