Busted Halo
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Richard G. Malloy, SJ :
103 article(s)

Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D., is Vice President for University Ministries, the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, and author of A Faith That Frees (Orbis Books).
April 7th, 2010

Question:  I am a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution which is the right to keep and bear arms.  I currently carry a small revolver almost everywhere i go.  I pray to God everyday that I never have to use it.  I am also very seriously discerning a call to the priesthood.  My question is are there any rules about priests being armed is it allowed at all?  if it is allowed must it be concealed?  etc.  Thank You very much and I hope you can clarify this for me. I have also read many scripture verses that would seem to support the idea of good upstanding Christians being armed for the safety of themselves and others.  If I am misinterpreting these passages I defer to Holy Mother Church.  In Christ,…

April 6th, 2010

We live in incredibly complex times.  So often the corporations that provide us with products and services are so large and so interconnected, we can hardly extract ourselves from connections to them.  Years ago, I was in a Jesuit community that decided to boycott Nestle because of that corporation’s practices in marketing infant formula in the third world.  I was amazed when I saw the two page list of food and other companies from which we could not buy products in order to boycott Nestle.

If you can find a health care plan that in no way, shape or form has anything to do with abortion or hospital services that provide abortions, or doctors who graduated from medical schools that taught how to perform abortions,…

March 30th, 2010

If I have a gay brother am I bound to not attend his “commitment” ceremony if I am Catholic?…

You are bound to do what is loving and just.  You are required to follow your rightly formed conscience.  Most importantly, “Ama Deus et fac quod vis” (Love God and do what you will).  St. Augustine, Bernard Lonergan and Matthew Fox all say that.  If you’ve got those three on the same side, it must be Catholic!

It was only in 1972 that the American Psychological Association decided that homosexual persons were no longer to be considered mentally ill.  Society has changed a great deal in understanding of and attitudes toward homosexual persons in recent decades.  The church teaches that homosexuals

March 23rd, 2010

We’re “against” it (LOL).  Seriously, we are called to be stewards of creation.  The church, like all sane and sensible institutions, knows the shift in global weather patterns are deeply dangerous and threaten humanity.

We’re slugging through the snowiest winter in Philadelphia history (I’m writing this on yet a fourth school snow day in 2010.  In almost 20 years of college teaching I’ve only had five snow days, but four of them have been in the past month!).  The wild swings in Philly winters show me that “global weirding” is happening.

The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is measurable.  There were 260 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution. …

March 16th, 2010

Question:  What’s the Catholic teaching on plastic surgery?  If I want to get a tummy tuck or a breast enhancement am I committing a sin?

Sin is the rejection of God who is love.  God gives you, well, your, body and soul!  Do you accept yourself as you are?  Is getting this or that plastic surgery rejecting God’s gift of your body, or does the surgery serve and achieve a truly therapeutic function?  There is a major difference between having breast reconstruction surgery after a radical mastectomy and getting a “nose job” as a high school graduation present so that you look “cuter.”  The real horror that plastic surgery has done to Burt Reynolds, Joan Rivers, and Kenny Rogers (and did to…

March 9th, 2010

Question: At work, I lie often. As long as I am taking care of my family and community, does God really care?…
As Dumbledore told Harry Potter, “It is our choices that show what we truly
are, much more than our talents and abilities” (Rowling, Chamber of
Secrets, p. 333).
To strive to tell the truth means one cannot be bought.  Choosing to
lie, consistently and often, makes us untruthful, unreliable,
untrustworthy persons.  Maybe we’re not as bad as Bernie Madoff, but
somewhere along the line he started shading the truth and eventually
thousands lost millions.  Lying gets easier and easier to justify.
Soon, we no longer know what we’ve said, or who we are.  We lose
ourselves in

March 2nd, 2010

Some definitions to start:
“The Vatican” is the 108 acre plot of land in Rome, West of the Tiber River.
“The Papacy” is the office traced back to St. Peter who traditionally is considered to have been buried at “The Vatican,” so could we say he was the first Pope to “live” there?
The Lateran Treaty of 1929 created Vatican City as a political city state. Constantine gave Pope Militades the land in 313 AD. In 326, the Constantinian Basilica was built on what is thought by many to be the tomb of St. Peter. Pope Symmachus (498-514 A.D.) constructed a palace on Vatican land. Popes have lived at the Vatican since the return from Avignon in 1377.
Ask why the area is…

February 23rd, 2010

Any Introduction to Sociology Textbook would have the numbers on world
religions, and www.adherents.com provides wonderful info on world
religions.  Their 2005 snapshot shows that 33% of the worlds
inhabitants, some 2.2 billion people, consider themselves Christian
(some 1.2 billion of those Christians are Catholic).  About 21% are
follower of Islam (1.5 billion).  Hindus make up 14%.  The really new
category this past century are the growing numbers who consider
themselves “non-religious,” some 16% of the planet.
For Catholics in the USA, the numbers are challenging.  ”The Catholic
Church has lost more adherents than any other group: about one-third of
respondents…

February 9th, 2010

Yes.  But keep in mind what the Bishops of the United States have said
about the participation of Catholics in political processes and measure
what a particular priest says against the collective wisdom of the
bishops.  Here’s a bit of what I offered in Nov. 2008 on my blog
(www.jesuitjottings.blogspot.com):
It is a mistake to think that the Catholic Church tells people how to
vote.  Catholic Bishops tell people they need to form their consciences
and vote accordingly.  The Bishops’ provocative and prophetic statement
“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” (found on the Bishops’
website ( http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/ ) clearly articulates…

February 9th, 2010

Yes.  But keep in mind what the Bishops of the United States have said
about the participation of Catholics in political processes and measure
what a particular priest says against the collective wisdom of the
bishops.  Here’s a bit of what I offered in Nov. 2008 on my blog
(www.jesuitjottings.blogspot.com):
It is a mistake to think that the Catholic Church tells people how to
vote.  Catholic Bishops tell people they need to form their consciences
and vote accordingly.  The Bishops’ provocative and prophetic statement
“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” (found on the Bishops’
website ( http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/ ) clearly articulates…

January 26th, 2010

The theologian Bernard Lonergan argues the innate operations of our being human, i.e., our experiencing, understanding, judging, deciding and loving, contain inherent transcendental precepts or norms.  We should be attentive, intelligent reasonable, responsible and loving in all we do and are.  To the degree that we are authentic, and live attentive, intelligent reasonable, responsible and loving lives, we progress and grow.  To the degree that we are unauthentic, and fail to meet the challenges of being attentive, intelligent reasonable, responsible and loving, we decline.  Our relationships with God, others and our deepest, truest self, falter and stall.  We are in danger of losing all we…

January 25th, 2010

From canonical scriptures, we simply do not know what happens to St. Joseph after Jesus is found in the Temple at the age of 12.  Traditions exist intimating that Mary was a widow at the time of the public ministry of Jesus.  More important than knowing exactly when Joseph died is reflecting on what we do know about Joseph.  He was a worker, (“tekton” in Greek) possibly a carpenter, but surely much more a blue collar worker than a trader for Goldman Sachs.  He was willing to go against the culturally accepted norms of his time and risk taking in Mary, knowing she was pregnant, and that the child was not his.  Thus he protected her from stoning, the penalty for women in her situation.  The first words in Matthew,…

January 19th, 2010

Angels in the Outfield (1951) was written by Jesuit Richard Grady (pen name “Richard Conlin”) and the 1994 remake with Danny Glover is one of the best baseball movies ever (along with Sandlot and Field of Dreams…).  Grady’s story telling was a great way to get “religious” realities in front of the minds and hearts of people, and from there one can accompany people as they come to appreciate and deepen the truths of faith.  His story has lasted and has had more impact than most theology being published in the 1950s.
Sports have become such a huge aspect of peoples’ culture and lives.  The challenge is to relate the realities of our faith to sports, while keeping both in their proper sphere, and keeping

January 12th, 2010

No! (LOL).  If I could explain it, it wouldn’t be what it is!  Seriously, “ontological change” is very meaningful in the context of St. Thomas Aquinas’ medieval theological synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology, a stunning intellectual achievement for both his time and, to some degree, ours.
But once we move out of the Thomistic formulation of questions and the meaning of words in his system, we can find it more than difficult to explain what he meant then, and what it means for us now.  Terms like “ontological change” and “Transubstantiation” need updating for the 21st century.  Jesuit Bernard Lonergan’s work is a great place to start with that task.  Yet, I fear…

January 5th, 2010

Funny you should ask.  I’ve been thinking of formally offering my services as a Chaplain to the Philly Police department now that I’m more settled in my new surroundings.  During the fifteen years I lived in Camden, NJ, I let police know they could ring the rectory door or phone anytime, especially after a stressful tour of duty.  There were a number of cops through the years who took me up on the offer.  Sometimes at 1:00 AM, there was no one else to talk with over a beer or a cup of coffee.  They knew it was better they come and chat with me before heading home.  They didn’t need professional counseling; just a sympathetic and listening ear to get them over a rough patch or sit with them while they shared about…

December 29th, 2009

Is it a sin to treat my dog like a child?  He’s a good dog and I pamper him a bit, but people seem to be thinking that he’s like a baby for me because I am a childless person.…
It is not a sin (i.e., sin is “humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him” CCC#386) to treat your dog or any other pet as a child, but I would challenge those tempted to do so to reflect on the practice.  I always cringe a bit interiorly when I hear someone speaking to their dog or cat while referring to themselves as “Mommy” or “Daddy.”  It always sounds to me that such persons have a deep affective need in their lives which is not being fulfilled by human relationships.
Enjoy the gift of companionship and presence a dog

November 24th, 2009

Question: Should I avoid dating if I think I may want to be a priest?…
No.  Future priests have to develop as healthy, well-adjusted psycho-sexual persons in order to embrace the demands and discipline of celibacy (or marriage if the church ever calls married men to the priesthood–or for those in the newfound Anglican rite.).  Dating as a teen and young adult is a normal, loving way to know who one is and appreciate the wonders and beauty of male – female friendship.  Such experiences of good friendships with women serve as a foundation for adult relationships of all kinds.
For a whole host of reasons, most vocation directors would be wondering about the suitability for priesthood of a young man who declares

November 17th, 2009

Question:  What is wrong with watching pornography?  I’m not really hurting anybody, isn’t it better than having sex with someone else?…
The porn industry does hurt many people, specifically the men, women and children chewed up and spit out by an unscrupulous, to say the least, worldwide sex industry.  The multi-billion dollar porn industry hurts not only those enslaved and addicted by and to porn; it degrades all involved by diminishing what sex can and ought to be as a life giving gift of our loving creator God.  Instead of experiencing sexual relations as the person to person mutual giving human sexuality calls for, porn reduces sex to a selfish, self serving activity that objectifies the

November 10th, 2009

How can I prove to my atheist professor that God exists?…
Kill’em (Just Kidding!).  Short of your professor being convinced by the arguments of brilliant minds like St. Thomas Aquinas or Bernard Lonergan, S.J., there is little we can do.  (Personally I love the argument from contingent being [that which can not exist].  Such being must be kept in existence by a necessary being [that which cannot not exist]).  Still, there is really no sure way to logically or philosophically prove God exists.  All the arguments founder on the meaning of words, and the acceptance of certain presuppositions.  I think the question, “Why is there anything rather than nothing?” is a great question.  Some philosophers

November 3rd, 2009

Question:  If there is a God then why is there suffering in the world?


I often preach that there are only two things of which I am absolutely sure: one, God loves us and, two, humans suffer.  No one has ever disagreed with the second assertion.

This question of evil, known in theological circles as the theodicy question (impress your theology major friends throwing around that term over coffee), is the main question to give believers pause.

The first thing to recognize is that suffering is only a problem for those who believe in God.  If there is no God, there is no reason to think we should not suffer as we do.  It is only when we hope in a God of love and life, a good God who created all, that pain and death become contradictions.

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