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How do you visualize 200,000 dying people?


HIROSHIMA -- It's simply impossible. You stand at the site of humankind's first use of nuclear weapons, and you can't come up with any way to understand it.

What scale is there for the human mind to comprehend so many dying people, suffering with wounds from the atomic blast and crying out for water?

The answer, I thought to myself outside Hiroshima's A-bomb dome, is that there isn't one.

The dome, one of the few remaining buildings after the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the city, makes it all too incomprehensible. Where is the sense in this? What does such horror achieve?

After a few minutes with the dome, I had to ask my translator to leave me be. Almost falling into a bench, I let my eyes fill with tears. This is impossible. This is without any sense.

And yet, as there seems to be always somehow, there is something of redemption.

On this day: CurÈ of Ars


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, Patron of Parish Priests.

In 1959, the 100th anniversary of his death, Treasure Chest Comics ran a story of the Curé of Ars depicting his miraculous powers, which he often attributed to St. Philomena, and his talents as a preacher and a confessor.

In 2009, the 150th anniversary of his death, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a Year for Priests. Click here for the Letter in which the Pope reflects on the life of St. John Vianney.

God's Approval Rating?


President Obama probably should not feel bad about his latest approval numbers. He's only 10 percentage points below God!

Crazy as that sounds, a firm called Public Policy Polling asked 928 American voters in July whether or not they approved of God's performance -- "if God exists." Turns out, they approve of God's performance by 52 percent to 9 percent, with 40 percent undecided! Not very high, I'd say, and these are believers! (Obama's approval rating last week was 42 percent, according to a Gallup poll.)

When you look more closely, turns out that God's highest approval comes with creating the universe (71 percent to 5 percent), and handling the animal kingdom (56 percent to 11 percent). Surprisingly, God does OK with handling natural disasters as well (50 percent to 13 percent). But we're talking about God, after all! None of these sound great to me.

On this day: St. Lydia


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Lydia, who is mentioned in verses 14, 15, and 40 of Chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles.

Paul and Timothy were in Macedonia's chief city, Philippi: "And upon the sabbath day, we went forth without the gate by a river side, where it seemed that there was prayer; and sitting down, we spoke to the women that were assembled. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, did hear: whose heart the Lord opened to attend to those things which were said by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying: If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us."

Why not cut the military?


The Republicans are loath to cut the military budget. The U.S. already spends about as much on so-called defense as the rest of the world combined. I find it difficult to imagine what more we need.

Even the assessment of the costs of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya include materiel replacement costs for items we don't necessarily need to replace. We have a lot of weapons stockpiled.

Papal humor a la The New Yorker


When Pope Benedict used Twitter for the first time recently, The New Yorker magazine did a selection July 25 of imaginary Tweets he might send. It was amusing, but many were more like one-liners any stand-up comedian might use. Here is a different selection which, I believe, is more papally grounded.

When I see all those people in St. Peter’s Square shouting “Viva Papa,” it sometimes makes me think they’re worshiping me, not God. I’ve got to stop thinking that way.

So I got this idea to come out on the balcony with a false nose, mustache and big glasses one time, just to let people know I’m human.


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In This Issue

October 21-November 3, 2016

  • Reformation's anniversary brings commemorations, reconsiderations
  • Picks further diversify College of Cardinals
  • Editorial: One-issue obsession imperils credibility
  • Special Section [Print Only]: SAINTS