Busted Halo
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Michael O'Loughlin :
49 article(s)

Mike O'Loughlin is a writer living in Washington, D.C., covering religion, politics, and culture. In addition to Busted Halo, his writing appears in the Advocate, National Catholic Reporter, Foreign Policy, Religion & Politics, and America. He's also appeared on Fox News and MSNBC. Follow him on twitter at @mikeoloughlin.
June 5th, 2014
Pope Francis stops in front of an Israeli security wall in Bethlehem, West Bank, on his recent visit to Palestine. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, pool)This Sunday, Shimon Peres, president of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestine, will join Pope Francis at the Vatican for a “prayer meeting for peace,” the Vatican Information Service said. The prayer meeting, which the Vatican has been careful to note is not a prelude to formal peace talks, is the result of the pope’s recent trip to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. “We’re meeting to pray, only that,” the pope said, “and then everyone will go home.” The pope’s trip was full of symbolic gestures that promoted peace and condemned…
May 1st, 2014
While the NBA shoots and scores, Congress sits on the sidelines
By last weekend, nearly everyone had heard about the racist rant caught on tape, attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and released by the celebrity gossip outfit TMZ. Right away, anyone who’s anyone was weighing in on Sterling’s rant. Speaking at a press conference in Malaysia, President Obama lamented that the nation still struggles with issues of race, and said that he had “confidence that the NBA commissioner Adam Silver, a good man, will address this.” Tuesday, Silver did just that, announcing a lifetime ban on Sterling’s attendance at NBA events, a $2.5 million fine, and that he planned to ask NBA owners to strip Sterling ownership rights. In total, a mere four days passed…
April 3rd, 2014
The role young adults can play in addressing the great challenges facing society today
U.S. bishops celebrate Mass at border fence in Nogales, Arizona. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)Last weekend, more than 100 students gathered at St. Clement Parish in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Representing Catholic campus ministry centers from colleges and universities throughout the United States — Catholic, private, and public — these students were wrapping up a year of leadership training and faith formation as participants in ESTEEM (Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission), a project of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management and the St. Thomas More Catholic Center at Yale University. The students spend their ESTEEM year attending workshops,…
March 6th, 2014
The U.S. Capitol (CNS photo/James Lawler Duggan, Reuters)This week in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as president, the last time the event was held in March. It was the first of four inaugurations for FDR, the one during which he uttered the now famous “The only thing we have to fear is … fear itself” line. The next day, he declared a four-day banking holiday to prevent people from cashing out their accounts and convened a special session of Congress and launched the New Deal. Eventually, New Deal legislation would unleash the bulk of the modern social safety net in the United States. The Works Progress Administration gave jobs to unemployed Americans to build post offices, bridges, parks,…
January 16th, 2014
Fifty years ago, LBJ challenged us to end poverty. Are we any closer?
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s State of the Union address in which he declared “unconditional war on poverty in America.” He challenged Americans to end the great injustice: It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime. Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the state and the local level and must…
December 5th, 2013
Pope Francis waves as he arrives for his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)Pope Francis rocked the media again last week with the release of “Evangelii Gaudium,” (The Joy of the Gospel) an apostolic exhortation laying out his vision for a well-run, joyful church and a more just world. America magazine’s James Martin, SJ, wrote that he was unable to “remember a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising, and invigorating. Frankly, reading it thrilled me.” New York magazine’s Dan Amira had some fun with the document, publishing a quiz called, “It’s Time to Play ‘Bill de Blasio or the Pope?,’” in which he asks…
November 21st, 2013
Parents listen to their daughter during dinner in the family’s home. (CNS photo illustration/Sid Hastings)In New Hampshire this past weekend, Gov. Martin O’Malley, Democrat of Maryland, told more than 1,000 Democratic activists that pride in oneself and in one’s city is able to transform lives and communities. Speaking at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Manchester, the Catholic O’Malley recalled his tenure as mayor of Baltimore in the early 2000s, which at that time was the most violent city in the United States. He highlighted a campaign he started to drive down crime and drive up pride. It was simple, he said, once residents believed things could be better.…
November 7th, 2013
A man panhandling holds an American flag in San Francisco’s financial district. (CNS photo/Robert Galbraith, Reuters)I had the pleasure of rereading Economic Justice for All earlier this week as I was researching another writing project. The first time I encountered this pastoral letter, written in 1986 by U.S. bishops, I was a senior in college, some time in 2007, completing an assignment for a Catholic social justice class. I remember being blown away, moved by the unequivocal words of support for the poor and middle class. This document stirred my passion for using politics for good, as a way to lift up the disenfranchised. It would not be an exaggeration to credit Economic Justice for All with inspiring…
October 17th, 2013
How the U.S. government shutdown impeded government’s good work
The statue of Grief and History stands near the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington. (CNS photo/ Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)This past weekend, I ran the Chicago Marathon. I sometimes use my time running to think of ideas for columns, hashing out arguments and counter-arguments, and figuring out what I want to say, who I want to interview, and discern what people might find interesting or helpful. Knowing that my Church & State column would be due following the run, I decided to spend some time thinking about what’s going on in the world of government. Of course, with the government having been shut down for two weeks by race day, the answer was, not much. The small but influential contingent of Tea Party Republicans…
October 3rd, 2013
What lessons could U.S. leaders learn from Pope Francis?
U.S. Capitol is photographed behind a chain fence in Washington. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)The U.S. government is shut down. Have you noticed? Probably not. Planes are still flying. Trains are still moving. The post office is open, Social Security checks are still being delivered, and the military remains on guard. For most Americans, the closing of the federal government doesn’t interfere with the daily grind. Now, this isn’t to diminish the very real problems that a government shutdown creates, especially for those who rely on government for their livelihood and services such as nutrition assistance. For them, the shutdown of the government is quite painful. Rather, it’s worth noting…
September 19th, 2013
Children eat breakfast at the Baltimore Catholic Charities Head Start program in Edgewood, Maryland. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)First, a heartwarming story out of Boston. Glen James, a homeless man in his 50s, was walking through a parking lot when he noticed a black bag. Curious, he opened it, and what he found was astonishing. According to the Boston Globe, inside was $2,400 in cash, $40,000 in traveler’s checks, a passport, and some personal papers. James could have used the money to find a place to live or buy the essentials that many of us take for granted. Instead, he did what all of us should do: He turned the bag over to the police. “Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a penny…
September 5th, 2013
Pope Francis caught even BuzzFeed’s attention over the weekend when expressing his views on possible foreign intervention in Syria via Twitter: War never again! Never again war! — Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 2, 2013 We want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace. — Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 2, 2013 How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake. — Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 2, 2013 And to hammer home the point that the Catholic Church is against launching missiles into Syria, bishops here in the United States have launched a campaign of sorts against a possible war. In an e-mail blast, bishops implored…
August 22nd, 2013
A destroyed Protestant church is seen in Mallawi, Egypt, August 17. (CNS photo/Reuters)Rowan Williams, the erudite former Archbishop of Canterbury, lamented that some Christians in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western nations claim “persecution” whenever they don’t get their way. At the Edinburg International Book Festival, Williams said: Persecution is not being made to feel mildly uncomfortable. I am always very uneasy when people sometimes in this country or the United States talk about persecution of Christians or rather believers. I think we are made to feel uncomfortable at times. We’re made to feel as if we’re idiots — perish the thought! But that…
July 25th, 2013
President Barack Obama talks about the Trayvon Martin case at the White House. (CNS photo/Larry Downing, Reuters)I was at a restaurant in the H Street corridor, a so-called up-and-coming neighborhood in northeast Washington, D.C., a couple weekends ago. Edison bulbs hung from the ceiling. Diners enjoyed 12- and 14-dollar artisanal drinks. Much of the menu consisted of organic, farm-to-table ingredients. At the bar, a group of three white men were drinking when the local Fox affiliate interrupted the Nationals baseball game. The jury in the George Zimmerman trial had reached a verdict. As it was announced that Zimmerman had been found not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of the unarmed…
July 11th, 2013
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Lampedusa, Italy. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Well, it’s official. Pope Francis is a hit. Esquire magazine, not exactly an outlet that praises the Catholic Church on a regular basis, highlighted some of the reasons why Francis is so “awesome”: ”He has said that he believes priests should be ‘shepherds with the smell of the sheep’ and he is living that way. He has, pointedly, not moved into the papal apartments, remaining at a cheap hotel where reportedly he eats breakfast with ordinary people. He refuses to take the papal limousine, traveling by minibus instead. More significantly, on Holy Thursday this year, Pope Francis became the first…
June 27th, 2013
A man holds a program and U.S. flag during the opening Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom observance at the Baltimore basilica. (CNS photo/Tom McCarthy Jr., Catholic Review)This summer, Catholic bishops in this country are again devoting the 14 days prior to the Fourth of July to their “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign. These two weeks, they said, will be spent educating Americans about what they see as the government’s infringement on the freedom of religion. As such, it’s also a good time to reexamine how we, as Catholics, contribute to the public square. How do we, as disciples of Jesus, live our faith today? The campaign, now in its second iteration, is the result of what the bishops view as government…
June 13th, 2013
Working with others to do good.
Ad promotes Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CNS photo/courtesy of CCHD)Pope Francis was the fifth most discussed topic on Reddit a few weeks ago. Reddit is the online cool-kids-table, where it seems that everything we find entertaining online originates. BuzzFeed is described as last week’s Reddit. Reddit users tend to be trendy Millennials, who have a penchant for finding content that will go viral, paying particular attention to progressive issues. Oh, and most are agnostic or atheist. So what was the pope doing there? Francis had made headlines for an off-the-cuff homily in which he gave a shout-out to atheists: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us,…
May 30th, 2013
Given recent violence, does the death penalty make sense?
People protest outside Georgia Capitol in support of death-row inmate Troy Davis before his Sept. 21, 2011 execution. (CNS photo/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)I was talking to a friend last week when I asked, “You’re opposed to the death penalty right?” It was less of an inquiry than a way to transition to the next portion of our conversation. After all, she is in her 20s, Catholic, a Democrat, and more to the left of many issues than me. I began to tell the story I had in mind without really considering her answer when she interrupted me. “Oh, not necessarily,” she said. “In some cases, I’m against it, sure, but sometimes it just seems fair.” I was taken aback, surprised really. I decided to…
May 2nd, 2013
Tomorrow marks two weeks since law enforcement officials captured suspect number two, cowering in a boat, hidden by a tarp, and bleeding from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his neck. The night prior, the suspect’s older brother was killed in a firefight with police.
April 17th, 2013
When I got home from the office Monday, I did what I do most days: I changed into running clothes and put on my sneakers, readying myself for a few miles to alleviate the daily stress. Of course, Monday wasn’t like any other day.
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